Snow Day Poll!

Snow day today, and got in a version of my Legs/Shoulder workout at home.  Aside from all the gym stuff I didn't have access to, there were two things that I really found myself missing (sitting in my gym bag in the office):  my Gym Boss timer (for my rest between sets) and my notebook!

What training accessory(s) can you absolutely NOT do without?

Weighing In

Yes, pun intended.

Excuse me, is this seat taken?

Obese people and airplanes - what's your take?  Having been sat upon during many a flight, I am all in favor of requiring people of a certain stature to purchase two seats.  However, to be fair, I think that airlines should also provide at least a row or two for those poor individuals who stand at over 6' tall.  

IS there a way to handle this dilemma with tact and respect?

The Biggest Snoozer

I've never been a big fan of the show "The Biggest Loser".  For me, it's neither exciting nor inspiring to watch severely obese individuals beat themselves up in an attempt to lose record amounts of weight in record time.  This is in no way a refection on them - I applaud anyone who makes healthier life changes.  But come on, let's get real!  How difficult is it, really, for someone who is 400lbs to lose weight?  Particularly when you throw them in a controlled environment, force them to do insane amounts of exercise, and dangle an obscene amount of money in front of them in the same way you'd taunt a horse with a carrot?

Well apparently I'm not alone in my less than warm-fuzzy-feelings for the show.  Read on:

‘Biggest Loser’ has big health problems

An Open Letter #2

Dear Guy on Smith Machine,

I'm very pleased to see that you're enjoying your training today.  However, it's a bit disturbing to me just how much you seem to be enjoying it.  Your grunts of effort (pain? discomfort? exultation?) are loud, and far too similar to...uh...well, you know.  Perhaps, if you must make so much noise in order to complete the reps in your set, you might be better served by lessening the weight?

Also, I'm not sure what that last exercise you were doing was supposed to be (picture a body row, with the head thrown back, and the pull to the bar incorporating an undulation of the spine.  While GRUNTING), but it was beyond odd, and made me hurt.

Your friend,
The Girl at the Squat Rack

Polar FS3C Heart Rate Monitor

If you know me, you know that I LOVE new toys :)

This is the Polar FS3C Heart Rate Monitor - very basic, reasonably priced, and incredibly simple to operate.  It has ONE button.  Just one.  And once you're working out, you don't even need to press it.  That's right - it will scroll through the different display screens like magic!  All you do is hold the wrist unit near your chest (where the HRM strap is) and voila!  It beeps and scrolls!  Love it!

No bells, no whistles.  No personalized workouts, no percentages, no nothing.  Just the time of day, the elapsed time exercised, and your heart rate.  And a back-light, of course, for those of us who hop on the treadmill before dawn and refuse to turn the light on.

I currently have mine set with a minimum heart rate of 130 and a maximum of 139 (my target zone for cardio workouts) and the wrist unit will beep at me if I am outside of those perimeters. 

Next on my wish list: the Polar WearLink+ Coded Transmitter and Belt Set.  It's a soft transmitter, rather than the enormous plastic T31 that came with my watch, or the T34 that came with my treadmill.  The only problem is that it costs almost as much as the heart rate monitor itself :) 

Rest for the Wicked

I've taken the past few days off from training due to a nasty chest cold, and I swear it's left me with the same feeling as a well planned taper.  I'm sitting at my desk right now, raring to go.  Sadly my lungs don't agree with me, as a few well timed hacking coughs have proven (thus cementing my decision to continue to rest until Wednesday's planned cardio and lifting).  But aside from that, I feel great - it's as though the past 3 days of rest were magical.  I lost a few pounds, my muscles seem more defined, and my desire to move has increased by leaps and bounds. 

Up until this point, I've barely been taking rest days, at least not full rest days.  Sure, there were days that I didn't run, or days that I didn't lift, but very rarely a day in which I did neither.  It doesn't matter that I know better, of course.  It's just always difficult to actually follow through and take the rest when it's needed - which more than likely led to this recent bout of whatever-the-f'k that hit me last week with a vengeance.

It only goes to show - you don't need to be a world class athlete to need a rest day.  Us normal people need them too. 

PS - us normal people also have to google the correct usage of "proven vs. proved".

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo

A few quick questions for you kids:
  1. Do you prioritize your gym time/running time? 
  2. Do you schedule the rest of your life around it? Work/Family obligations?
  3. Is this the way it should be?
I realized the other day that I am, for the most part, guilty of putting my fitness goals ahead of the rest of my life.  In the past year, I haven't gone to an audition if it conflicted with my gym window.  I schedule other classes around my training plan (ie, Tuesday is a rest day so I take my musical theatre class that day).  I pick my clothing and shoewear based on the day's training.  I am building an extensive supply of Lululemon pants and classy gym tops so that I can wear my gym clothes to work, and when  I'm going to train upper body I wear sneakers, while when I'm training lower I wear whatever since I will change into lifting shoes.  I won't go out and party if I've got a run planned for the next day.  Heck right now I won't go out and party at all since I'm dieting down for a competition.

But why?  I'm not a professional athlete.  I don't make money running, or lifting, or modelling.  If anything, this is a hobby that, while healthier than being a club kid, is actually not that healthy at all.   I go far beyond what is generally accepted as the recommended amount of physical activity for a healthy adult.  I run far enough to cause blisters, stomach upset and the occasional dehydration.  I lift heavy enough to cause excessive strain, wear and tear on my muscles just to affect a physical and aesthetic change.  I modify my eating to create a desired end result that is only maintainable for a month at best, and ultimately leaves me weaker than when I began.

And yet this what I choose to prioritize in my life.  Is it right?  It makes me happy, so that's got to count for something.  I'm still married, so it's not yet caused a disturbance at home...

Ultimately, it comes down to one thing - choice. This is how I choose, at this moment, to live my life.  Good or bad, right or wrong, it's my choice.  Conversely, it's not my place to say that other people are wrong for NOT behaving in this manner - I salute the people I see at the gym who show up each day to put in the requisite 30 mins of movement that makes them feel as though they've done something.  I applaud the cardio bunnies - if that's what makes you happy, go for it!  And as for the guys who lift in jeans and boots, who never fully finish a movement or use full ROM - hey, if it works for you then it's not my place to poo-poo it.

So before you pass judgement on the guy sweating next to you on the elliptical, or the crazy CF devotee who shouts 3-2-1 GO! at every chance (while counting zone blocks and extolling the horrors of grain), just take a step back, breathe, and choose to smile (inwardly).

Because when we forget that we're all in this by choice, it's then that the prioritization takes on an unhealthy, obsessive quality.  As long as you choose to do something, you can still choose to do something else.

Weather or Not

Snow day!

The view out my window is gorgeous!  I wish I were brave enough to hit the road and go for a snowy run, but instead I'm going to open the blinds and hit the treadmill :)  It would be different if I were in walking distance of a trail - it's the cars that concern me in inclement weather :)

How do the elements affect your outdoor workouts?  Do you head out regardless?

Keeping Time

Do you eat when you're not hungry?  I'm not talking about mindless eating or snacking, or even emotional eating.  But conscious eating - knowing full well that you aren't the least bit hungry, but going ahead and eating anyway.  No gluttony involved, but rather eating a planned meal or snack.

I find that I tend to hoard my food all day long, pushing my meal time back more and more until I'm no longer hungry.  Or saving the bulk of my snacks until later in the evening, and then having to consume them right before bed because I simply lost track of time :)

So let's hear it - what about you?

Digging the Sweat Stuff

I love sweat.  I mean, except for when it drips into my eyes and burns like the devil, of course.  But to finish training and actually be dirty...It's kinda delicious, isn't it?

I wonder though why we guage our effort on something so easily manipulated.  If the environment is hot enough, you'll sweat regardless.  And if the ventilation and cooling is good, you may sweat a little less.  Does that change how hard you worked?  If the person who crosses the finish line next to you is dripping while you're lightly misted, did they run a better race?  Does no sweat angel equal a sub par performance?

Caloric Deprivation and Deep Thoughts :)

I'm not sure if any of you follow my contest prep journalling, but I posted something yesterday that I think carries through to much of life.  It's about how imperative it is for us all to really, truly, show up for our lives.

You can find my plopplings here.

Gym Etiquette

Should I tell the guy working out in the mustard yellow ringer T with the black band and brown pants with boots that he looks an awful lot like a Starfleet Officer?  Or would that be innapropriate?