Spring break 2015

I was going to regale you with a more detailed description of this year’s spring break trip but after I had written out a long post, something went wrong and it was deleted before I could publish it. Poor me.  I think it’s the WordPress gremlins having a little April 1st giggle.

I don’t want to try to recreate it so I’m just going to say that this year’s trip was to the mountains where we spent lots of time exercising by doing real work. This would have made my dad happy. He grew up on a farm in Oklahoma and he could never understand why I’d pay to go into a building and push heavy weight around. He’d tell me I should spend time doing something useful like hauling alfalfa or mending fences.

I didn’t mend fences but I did dig a trench for flood control, move a bunch of rocks around (for the same reason) and did some seeding…in the middle of a spring snowstorm. It was actually a lot of fun!

Surprisingly I ended up with a couple of blisters after the second day.  Even after years of weightlifting without gloves, I still managed to rub just the right spots, just the wrong way!

Surprisingly I ended up with a couple of blisters after the second day. Even after years of weightlifting without gloves, I still managed to rub just the right spots, just the wrong way!

My younger son had a blast thinking up his own projects.  He worked on them for hours out there in the trees.  I took this photo one morning.  It’s his little cache of tools he kept by his bed.

Hmmmm....what does my 11 year old like to play with?  A book about knots, a hatchet, a homemade bow, a machete, a geology hammer, a big weird fork thing, a map, a small saw., rope..and Kleenex?  A boy's treasure chest!

Hmmmm….what does my 11-year-old like to play with? A book about knots, a hatchet, a homemade bow, a machete, a geology hammer, a big weird fork thing, sticks, a map, a small saw., rope..and Kleenex? A boy’s treasure chest!

Why would he need all those tools?  Why to build a survival shelter, of course!

Hard at work on his shelter

Hard at work on his shelter

When it was completed, he took some of his tools and hid them away in there.  He stayed there with some snacks and a book for a long, long time.  He wanted to spend the night in his shelter but we didn’t have a sleeping bag and the temps were quite cold after the sun went down.  He thought it would be fine.  I vetoed it this time but warmer weather is on its way and we’ll definitely be going back soon.  Next time, I’ll let him sleep in it.

Inside

Inside

My two favorite exercise companions were with us and, as usual, we spent time walking with them and playing with them!

The morning after it snowed a little in the night.  The light looked just like that!  It was blue just as the sun was starting to come up.

The morning after it snowed a little in the night. The light looked just like that! It was blue just as the sun was starting to come up.

The snow mixed with the dirt in the yard and made MUD!  So much fun digging in that stuff!

The snow mixed with the dirt in the yard and made MUD! So much fun digging in that stuff!

One afternoon,  I looked out the window and saw some wild turkeys!  We’d been on the lookout for turkeys since my son wanted to see if he could successfully get one with his bow (the season was underway in our area).  He’d gotten his tag and had been practicing on targets at home. He was ready!  We’d planned ahead and brought all the ingredients we’d need to make a good meal with whatever he could harvest.  I sounded the alarm. He strung his bow and headed out.

wild turkeys

wild turkeys

On the hunt!

On the hunt!

Need I tell you how it turned out?  The next picture says it all….I wish it was a clearer photo but you get the drift.  Here he is returning.

Disappointed!  Every hunter knows the feeling!

Disappointed! Every hunter knows the feeling!

Turns out he was able to stalk them for a while but then they got spooked and flew over a fence and out of sight.  We didn’t eat turkey for dinner but we’ll take our ingredients back the next time we go up to the mountains.

We had a wonderful spring break this year.  We exercised doing real world tasks and got useful things accomplished!

Celebration Of Service Friday (#10)

Sometimes a simple photo is equal to many pages of prose.

United States Soldiers holding the American Flag on top of Ghar Mountain in Afghanistan.  This was a re-enlistment ceremony.

United States Soldiers holding the American flag on top of Ghar Mountain in Afghanistan. This was a re-enlistment ceremony.

Crossfit Reflections

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Over the years, I’ve contemplated trying crossfit.  There are many people I know who swear by it.  According to them it’s the best thing since sliced bread.  At times, there’s a little good natured friction between the crossfit crowd and traditional lifters.  If I had to pick a side, I’d stay in the weight room doing what I do.  I don’t think crossfit is for me.  That’s not because I don’t think it’s an effective way to exercise but it requires things I sincerely don’t want to do.

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First, I’m not fond of getting my heart rate into the upper ranges when I’m doing my gym thing.  If I’m sprinting at the track, no problem, but I don’t like doing that as part of a lifting exercise.  I do work diligently but I don’t like the feeling of truly exhausting myself consistently in workouts.  I like to lift hard and leave the gym feeling my muscles have been challenged but I don’t want to droop for the rest of the day.  I use workouts to generate, not deplete, my energy for other things.

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I also don’t like being timed during exercise.  Sometimes I go fast, sometimes I go more slowly depending on how I feel.  Daily competition for time doesn’t interest me and I think it has the potential to encourage injury as you start to fatigue.  Form is always important.  If you deviate from proper form (and there are times I purposely allow it for myself) you have to do it with intention and strict attention so you don’t get hurt.  Trying to do a series of exercises fast, leaves a lot of room for sloppy movements.

crossfit-meme

The one other concern I have is that crossfit involves a lot of jerky movement.  I say this from observing the crossfitters at the gym I used to attend.  There seems to be a lot of “throwing” the weights around.  I’m sure this isn’t what’s supposed to happen and that good supervision and training would lessen the prevalence of this but it’s easy to slip into less-than-perfect-form when you’re doing some of their movements.  Beginners, those improperly trained and people over 40 (me) would be at particular risk from injury when tackling these exercises.

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Even though crossfit isn’t for me, I have seen people really change their physiques doing it.  It’s another choice for people who want variety in their workouts.  Lots of people love it.   I say…more power to them!  When you find something that floats your boat and gets you to look forward to exercise, it’s a wonderful thing.

Celebration Of Service Friday (#9)

“What shall I say of the gallantry with which these Marines have fought! … I cannot write of their splendid gallantry without tears coming to my eyes.”
Lieutenant General James Guthrie Harbord

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No Excuses

Just a little reminder that if you’re determined to get in shape, or stay in shape, you can do it if you want it badly enough.  You might not be able to afford a trainer, a gym membership or even proper equipment but where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Image from Google

Image from Google

Mid-March Assessment

 

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I was hoping that I could retain a good portion of my mass even if I worked out differently than I always have.  It isn’t going well.  I’m not happy with the amount of muscle I’m carrying right now.  I don’t think I look terrible but I’m certainly not satisfied.  I’ve developed that thin, reedy look that doesn’t please me.  I look more like a ballerina or aerobic bunny than a lifter.

One day I’ll probably have to accept this type of physique (and I’ll be happy to have it) when I just can’t go as hard and heavy with the weights…but that day hasn’t arrived yet.  I think the lighter, less challenging routine has given my body a good rest so now I’ll turn up the heat.  I want my bigger shoulders back!

 

I need to pump up shoulders and triceps and melt a little more winter fluff off my frame at the same time.

I need to pump up shoulders and triceps and then work on getting shredded.  Lots of work ahead!

Celebration Of Service Friday (#8 )

“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….”

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Aircraft-Vehicle-F-15-Eagle-United-States-Air-Force-Fighter-Aircraft

*I will be out of town on Friday, and I may or may not have internet service so here’s the Celebration Of Service Friday post, just a little early.

“Look At Me, Look At Me, Look At Me NOW!”

 

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“Look at me, look at me, look at me now!”  This is a quote from one of my favorite kid’s books.  I think of it often in conjunction with the sport of bodybuilding.  Physique athletes are notorious for examining themselves in shop windows, reflective metal, large puddles and of course, mirrors of all kinds.  They are drawn like a moth to flame toward any surface they can examine themselves in. These days, every phone has a camera so they take it a step farther and generously share their reflections with the rest of the world.  The selfies they post show them from the right, from the left, from the front, from the back, from a 30 degree angle, then from a 31 degree angle, in bright light and in shade.  I don’t know why they feel the need to take photos, then share them with a wider audience.  I’m a physique athlete but I’m glad I’m not like that!

Now, look at these!  The other day I walked into a lovely public restroom and since there wasn’t anyone else in there I snapped a few photos so I could show you how it was decorated.

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Such lovely shades of brown, tan, creme and chrome.  The wood-like doors were particularly striking.  I knew you’d want to see my restroom photos…perhaps they will give you decorating ideas to make your bathroom at home more inviting.  Happy to be helpful!

Standing Upright Rows (A Personal Favorite)

Standing upright rows are fun to do and best of all, quite effective for building muscle in your shoulders and back.  They are easy to do and I highly recommend adding them to your program if you don’t already do them.

You can see the various muscles upright rows work in the illustration below.

upright row rear

Many different muscles are brought into play when doing this exercise.  If you look carefully at the illustration, you will see that the figure is doing the rows with a wide grip.  I do that too, on occasion, but usually, I use a close grip and in that case, your elbows should be much higher at the top of the movement.

barbell-upright-row-performed-by-woman

When using a close grip, like the woman above, your elbows should be close to ear height when you raise the bar.  I like using a barbell but you can also use dumbbells for this exercise.

dumbbell-upright-rows

For me, it’s simply easier to keep proper form, particularly when I’m doing heavy rows if I use a barbell, but using dumbbells is a viable variation that many people like.  You can also do upright rows using bands.

uprightrow

 

Whichever equipment you decide to use to perform upright rows, take care to use proper form and you’re guaranteed to get great results.

Celebration Of Service Friday (#7)

“Posterity! you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”
President John Adams

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John Adams’ quote serves as a reminder that whether we choose to serve in the armed forces or not, we owe a debt of gratitude to those who worked to win, preserve and pass on the gifts of liberty and freedom. Many have been military members but there are those who worked diligently for freedom, as civilians, in the realm of ideas as well.  ALL citizens of the United States are responsible for doing the same. We cannot rest on our laurels.  Freedom is a forever fight, one that takes place on the battlefield of ideas long before arms are taken up.  Don’t think that because you’re not in the military you’re excused from duty.  You are expected to show up and you’re expected to work.  It is your responsibility as an American!

It doesn't matter which side of the barrier you find yourself on.  We are all equally responsible for preserving the welfare of this country and for protecting the gifts of liberty we inherited from generations past.

It doesn’t matter which side of the barrier you find yourself on. We are all equally responsible for preserving the welfare of this country and for protecting the gifts of liberty we inherited from generations past.

 

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