Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Journal of Getting in Shape #2

The journey gets more interesting. There are so many different ideas about "the right way" to work out, that it almost turns the science into an art-- or a religion. I have no intention of becoming a preacher, so I will stay away from the debatable parts. But there are things that most people agree on. Here are some that I have now experienced for myself.

Planning is a good thing. The way most people work out, is to do whatever they think of as exercise from when they were growing up. Some people think aerobics and turn to Tai bo or running. Some people remember push-ups from gym class and vow to do sets of them every day, etc. Such things have benefit, but in most cases, it is only a small fraction of the benefit one can get from a well planned use of their time. 50 push-ups per day, for example, is no where near as good for you as 50 push-ups every 3-4 days with rest in between.

Rest is very important. Muscles don't grow when you exercise. They grow when you rest after exercising. And, it takes 3 to 4 days of rest. This is why planning is so important. If you exercise your arms and shoulders on Monday, you should not exercise them again until Thursday at the soonest. Do legs or abdomen in the mean time. But it's not just the individual muscles that need rest. You also need real relaxation and plenty of sleep. It takes a lot out of your body to build muscle. If you tax your body too much on other things, it will put muscle building on hold.

Appropriately planned exercise feels good. If you loath exercise, it is probably because you have had bad experiences in the past. Usually this is related to doing too much, too quickly, or with bad form. For your first week of a new exercise program you should not work any muscle to the point of fatigue. Start very slow or you can easily find that the next day you are nearly crippled with stiffness and pain. But in as little as a week or two, you can start testing your limits on the safer exercises.

Protein suppliments are good. Building muscle occurs when the body repairs damage done to muscles during exercise. When muscle cells are pulled apart, the body builds them back stronger. And muscle is mostly made of protein. This protein is delivered via blood. And there is a window of about an hour after exercising where the body is especially active in trying to use protein from the blood to rebuild muscle. You could eat a can of tuna and a raw egg before and after your workout. Or, you could have a whey protein shake right after your workout for a similar effect.

Progress can happen very quickly. After your first week or two of a real sustained effort, you will feel noticably stronger. You will have a much easier time finishing your reps. In another week or two after that, what took you an hour to do with many breaks might start taking you 30 minutes or less. Soon, you can be essentially continually lifting through a series of several exercises with only a few seconds of rest between sets. And you will know your own strength as relates to the weights, so each different exercise will be dialed in to give the muscles involved a really good (but not overdone) workout. I have a feeling it gets better from there, but I'm not there yet. This is about week 5 for me.

To be continued.

Last Pics From Japan

Obaasan found a nice way to move bring kids out shopping.

Kikyo has her fair share of trips too,

when she wasn't hanging out in the shade of the kerosene tank.

Kouki was a walking Disneyland.

And Kikyo had no trouble with the local cuisine,

though Obaasan sometimes helped anyway.

Kai tried his hand at bowling.


Got some!

Kouki and his mom, Yukie smiled for the camera,

as did everyone else.

And then the trip was over... This is Kai playing in the sprinklers back in Oregon.


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Broccoli. 100, 200.

My quest for a better spinach salad continues. But I didn't have any spinach last time I wanted to try one. So I used a pound of little broccoli tips. I suspect that anything you would normally make with spinach will succeed with broccoli too. Different, but good nonetheless.

I thought it would take longer to get here, but I've made it to 100 push-ups and 200 sit-ups. I think that's enough for what I want to do. It took me over an hour to get them done the first day that I did that many. But it's down to 30 minutes now. Sweet! I didn't expect to reach that point for another month or so.

And more good news... I didn't give away my barbells after all. I found them in my disused relequary. Well, disused closet anyway. Today is my first day for real curls. Will it hurt like hell tomorrow after the first real workout for a new set of muscles? Or, will the push-ups and sit-ups somehow help? Only one way to find out.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Journal of Getting in Shape

I was looking for a picture of myself to include in my Japan post. There were few to choose from because the camera tends to point away from the person pushing the button. But then I noticed something... I did show up in 2-3 pictures, but not as myself... I showed up as some fat guy that only vaguely resembled me. How and when did that happen?

This is not some self-absorbed "I'm not pretty anymore" post. I have none of those kinds of self-esteem problems. But I did decide it would be good to get myself into better shape. So here is a journal of that effort.

May 18, 2009: Weight: 215 pounds. It would sound better to say, weight is the same as Michael Jordan's weight when he was at the peak of his game. But unfortunately I'm not 6' 7" tall. Typical foods: hamburgers and similar sandwiches, steak, tacos, pizza, brocolli beef or sweet and sour chicken. Typical amounts: No breakfast. Sometimes no lunch. Then lots for dinner. (Ah... so that's how it happened.)

Week of May 18 - 24: Started simple exercises with a chart: Monday + Thursday: Pushups. Tuesday and Friday: Situps. Wednesday: Curls. Only did 45 pushups or 75 situps depending on the day. Have no proper weights for curls, so used a PowerMac G4 which was too heavy, so I only did 10. Started to focus on food. Switched to chicken soft tacos for a couple of lunches. Walked to safeway to buy a banana for others.

Week of May 25 - 31: Managed to increase to 75 pushups and 90 situps. Searched for my weights... Did I give them away? Can't find them anywhere. Did deep knee bends instead. The point is to exercise a different set of muscles on a 3 day cycle. This should give the muscles a chance to heal and grow between workouts. (Thanks to my friend Allen Sneidmiller from 12 years ago in Korea for that tip... It's a good one.) Also focused more on food. Looked at and bought a whey protein suppliment. It's basically a multi-vitamin with 50 grams of protein included. Why not?

May 27: Made a great wilted spinach salad. Stir-fried about 3 oz. of thin sliced steak. Cleaned and threw a big bunch of still-wet spinach in the pan and covered it. Paul Neuman's light vinagrette... Easy, healthy, and good.

May 30: Bought a book, "Men's Health Home Workout Bible", on the recommendation of my friend Jay Carter. I'll let you all know if it's worth the read once it gets here. But working out, like anything else, can be done well or poorly. It seems wise to hear what one or two experts has to say, to hopefully get the most out of the effort involved.

May 31: Dug about 2 cubic yards of hard clay dirt. Mixed it with about 3 yards of compost and other ingerdients. That was about 4 hours of fairly aerobic exercise with some lifting in the middle. Had lemonade througout, and a protein shake when I finished. More wilted spinach salad for dinner. Weight: 204 pounds. Nice to see 11 pounds lost over 2 weeks, but I know the first 2 weeks are the easiest. It gets harder from here.