Saturday, April 02, 2005

First Blood...

We broke our New-Gym cherry tonight!

We started the day by heading over to the clan shop earlier and working on the trailer and helping with assorted projects.

(Some of you are probably wondering what the hell I'm on about...)

The Explanation:

We are a clan ('Clan' in this case is the Scottish/Irish type.. in Gaelic 'Clann' means 'children of..' - we use it to mean an extended family, and in some cases, an extended family by choice) of folks who reenact 5th century Irish history... we make furniture, clothing, brew mead, recreate historically accurate religious ceremonies, cook historically accurate food ((as historically accurate as we can make it...)), and learn to do many of the same crafts that were practiced during that time period; brewing, leathercraft, blacksmithing, bronzesmithing, wood carving, period carpentry, etc.

We host a few events per year, in which we camp and feast and have a great time... in between we work and refit and fix things and build things. To that end, we have a large shop where we do a lot of our projects that cannot be done at home. We have a trailer that we use to haul many of the mundane items that are needed.. Cast iron cookware, torches, tools, fire dogs and spit, etc.

The trailer is equipped with a jockey box for dispensing our homemade beers and ales, and a sink with filtered drinking water and hot water for washing dishes and utensils, etc. Today we worked on the trailer in preparation for our next event which takes place the beginning of May (Beltane).

There, this tangent has been brought to you by Bear at no extra charge. Individual mileage may vary.

In any case... after working on the trailer, etc., we came home, changed into gym clothes, and headed off to the new gym. Since it was Saturday night, and windy and rainy, it wasn't particularly crowded. A good night for becoming (somewhat) oriented.

We did our cardio, which was great on the new machines (each equipped with a TV with umpteen-zillion channels! Just bring your own headsets!), then I went over to the leg section and started working. I found a squat machine that absolutely kicked my ass!! I'll be spending a lot of time sweating and grunting on that friggin' monster!! When I was done, I felt like I was going to puke, but I want to work hard and start piling on the weight over time. I can feel the effects of that exercise through my entire body!! I did some work on my calves and hamstrings, then moved over to a floor exercise area and stretched for awhile before we went over to the abdominal area and worked on abs.

I have to admit that I find myself a bit bewildered and somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer number and selection of machines available there... But Fuck! if I cannot manage to get into fantastic shape, it is entirely my own fault... I have everything I could ask for in the way of tools at this place... it is beyond description!! What a great Gym!!

I have never been out of shape or unfit until very recently, and I have decided that I don't much like it. I let myself put on some extra weight, and I have been eating all sorts of unnecessary crap... not a good way to go. I already feel lighter and healthier just from the change of diet (both quality and quantity) and, quite possibly, simply from having made the decision to get my fat ass back to the gym.

I am of the belief that the whole physical fitness thing has somehow become tied in with my self-esteem and has contributed greatly to the H & G issue that initially got me started on this blog. (If I am not happy with me, how can anyone else possibly be happy with me?)

Apparently, my fitness level is very closely related to my general sense of well-being (big surprise, right folks?) and losing my generally high degree of fitness had quite a psychological effect on me.

Well, now I'm back on the road to health and fitness, and I am happy about it. My big weakness, as always, is diet. Diet is HUGE!! I tend to develop a mindset when I eat that THIS meal is my LAST meal and I had better eat as much as I can fit. This is a pretty ridicuous habit, and has to be put aside right now.

Healthy food in appropriate quantities is the rule. I plan on doing the bulk of my shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store... fresh fruits and vegatables, fresh fish, poultry and meat, and fresh dairy products... very little in the way of processed foods.

Portion control is the main issue with me. I am going to have to exercise a great deal of discipline until my habits have changed and become part of the daily routine.

I weighed in at 247 today. I am 6'0" tall. I don't much care about my weight as much as my body composition. I have decent muscularity, I have just added some padding over it that has to go.

For dinner tonight, I stir fried some mixed vegetables with chicken. Very little oil (I use sesame oil), and very little in the way of sodium. It was delicious, and it was healthy. This is definitely the way to go. More fish (need those omega fatty acids!) and poultry, and less beef and other crap.

So. This is the plan. I will update the weight and body composition thing as time passes. Wish me luck!!

I am pleased to find that I haven't lost much in the way of strength gains that I worked so hard for (a little.. but it will come back relatively quickly, I think...), mostly, I am finding that my endurance has suffered, and my recovery time isn't what it was,... but, with work, these too will improve.

I am bench pressing 220 pounds (from 265). So, there was some loss there.

My bicep curl is the same... (I use 45lb dumbbells, and do three to five sets of 7-12 reps).

Most of the other stuff has remained more or less the same.

Mostly, I have to control the diet, get the fat off, and worry about building muscle later on.... the fat is the major issue as far as I am concerned.

One thing that I noticed, is that I feel like a complete freak compared to the other folks that train at this gym. They are pretty much all lean and fit. I could stand to lose about 50 pounds, I think. This is actually a good thing, because it gives my competetive spirit a kick-start, and motivates me to push myself and work my ass off, which is what it is going to take to regain some semblance of physical fitness.

My second priority after the fat and cardio issue is regaining flexibility. I am going to have to find the time to stretch on a daily basis. I am still fairly flexible, but I want to see some major improvements in this area.

So... that is the scoop on the new gym. I am very happy with it and consider it well worth the cost.

Elysia and I gave each other gym membership at the YMCA last year as a Valentine's Day present (2004).

We were pretty hard charging, and between February and the end of August I lost about 27 pounds (probably more in total weight of fat lost... I put on between 8 and 15 lbs of muscle during this time... so the total weight loss in terms of fat is slightly skewed..).

We were going strong, and the YMCA closed for two weeks, which they apparently do every year.

We stopped training during that time, and then Elysia stepped on a piece of metal in the driveway which pierced her foot... this took a great while to heal, because, unbeknownst to us, a piece of rubber (from the sole of her boot) was lodged in the wound, and it simply wouldn't heal until she finally managed to find it and remove it.

Immediately after that we both caught a miserable flu, which we traded back and forth from about October until about February or March of this year (this flu season sucked mule balls), and then in January, I had a Vasectomy which set me back, which was followed by round two of the friggin *@!$#(&! flu (AGAIN!). We are finally both healthy and prepared both physically and mentally to get back to work.

The long and short of it is this; we had some relatively decent excuses to become lazy, we jumped at them, developed some pretty shitty lifestyle habits, and didn't like the outcome. Now we have learned that this is a pitfall to be avoided. The fear that I had was that I would have to go through this deconditioning phase every bloody year, over and over. I didn't like that at all. It screwed me up once, (I let it screw me up) and I was afraid that it would happen again. This place, conversely, is open every single day except Christmas Day. If I don't make it to the gym, its because I didn't get my lazy carcass over there. It is less than half the distance from my house than the YMCA, and it is a thousand times better in the way of space, equipment, classes, everything! This was definitely a good step for us. I'm thrilled!!

I don't expect to become lean and fit in a couple of months, but I do expect to be able to realize some measurable improvements beginning very shortly and so long as I can maintain a weight loss of a pound to a pound and a half per week, and put a little muscle on here and there, I am sure that I can kick my metabolism up enough so that my body will be able to find its own equilibrium and control the weight so long as I eat sensibly and stay active. That's the plan.

As I am writing this, I can feel a pleasantly sore and 'spent' feeling. I miss this feeling... I didn't realize how much until I felt it again. I'm glad that I am back on track. It does my mind good as much as it does my body good.

At this gym, they sell these shakes for $5.00 a pop. You pick a nutritional pack that they add, as well as a flavor or flavors... i.e., a fat burning pack, I assume with creatine and some proteins and such, and perhaps strawberry, banana, pineapple, and orange. They whip it up in a blender, you fork over five bucks... drink it, and I am to believe that this in some way helps you to lose weight. They also have muscle building packs, which, obviously, are supposed to help you build muscle, and a few other packs that do things that I don't completely understand. At first glance, this seems like unnecessary bullshit to me. I am pretty skeptical about the whole thing. I am also somewhat leery of taking these supplements, without knowing precisely how they work, physiologically, and whether or not they are even worth taking. Most of the companies that produce these things cannot affored four million dollars of medical testing prior to marketing the stuff, and, as a result, quite honestly, nobody actually knows what the hell they do.

A lot of the guys at this gym are quite obviously juicing (taking steroids), and while they are undoubtedly huge, I tend to wonder what effects this is having on their overall health (I can't remember every having seen very many older guys who have been doing steroids... so, they are either dead, or have been forced to stop because of deteriorating health). I don't want any part of steroids, or any of that crap. If I make gains, it will be the hard way, sweat, pain, and nutrition. Period.

As far as the dietary supplements that the shakes are made with, I don't really know enough about it to be able to form an opinion. From my general knowledge of physiology and nutrition, I am a bit stand offish and somewhat reluctant to use them. I tend to wonder if the supplements are a). worth it, or b). harmful in any way. Any body out there have any experience with this stuff??

In any case, I'm not paying $5.00 for a shake. I'll just make them myself if I decide that they are worth it.... but I sort of think they aren't. Any body care to offer any info that contradicts my opinion??

This pretty much ends my rampage about the gym.

The other point I wanted to touch on in this post, is my readers who consistently stop by, and then quietly leave....

Who are you folks?? Where are you?? Some are here in the U.S., on the Eastern Seaboard, and somewhere in the center of the country (Central Time Zone), some of you are in Canada, others are in Finland, Australia, Mexico, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Korea, and Japan. At least one of you is from Malaysia, or thereabouts.

I would really like to hear from you... if you care to, drop me a comment, say hi, let me know what you think of my blog (if you think it sucks, just say "It's fantastic!" and I'll know what you mean!).

No pressure, here... I am just curious, and would like to hear from you guys and gals. I have a few readers who quietly stop by each day and move on. Do you folks have blogs?? I would be interested in reading them if you do.

Anyway... even if you decide not to drop me a comment and say hi, thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. You are always welcome, and I appreciate the time you spend reading my writing. Thanks folks.


this_is_mine said...

It's Fantastic.

Just kidding. I haven't gone in depth into your blog yet, just skimmed a couple posts. I have you bookmarked, and will be back once the school work slows down.

I found you in the referer list in my stats. Someone must have come from your site to mine through the next blog button.

I'm the Canadian.

Bear said...


Thanx for stopping by, and thanx again for leaving me a comment. Its one thing to know that folks are at least visiting your blog by seeing the counter click off the numbers, and its a totally different thing to actually be able to put a (name? face?) ((You know what I mean... to individualize) a visitor.

I really enjoy the sense of community that we have when we visit one another, share thoughts and opinions, et al.

Good luck with the school work. I gather you are an engineering student... what do you plan on doing when you finish school (I'm a nosey bastard, I admit it...)??

Anyway, its nice to hear from you, my friend. Stop by again.

In Peace and Brotherhood,


Kathy said...

Checking in from the Central Time Zone here! I just started reading yours after you left your comment on mine the other day. I'm enjoying myself. Thanks for sharing!