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Archive for April, 2011

Heavy Lifting

I was officially challenged by both the Fitjerk and Lou Schuler to lift heavier. While it is easy to blow off the Fitjerk, (how could you not want to with a handle like that?) Lou wrote the book(s) on lifting. So applied my little brain to getting around some of the physical and logistical problems I have had with getting to heavier weights. weight benchThe logistical problems are (were?) my equipment. The physical is my wrists and my fear of hurting something that would take me out of the game. Since mid-winter, my right wrist has been bothering me when I bend my hand back. I think I did something to it learning to cross country ski.

I originally started doing front squats, realized that was a non-starter, and switched to back ones. I had been snuggling up under the bar from behind, but that was bending my wrists as I replaced the weight. Now I come under from the front. My only fear with that is if I over balance, the weight will roll forward onto my head. I do take some of the weight off to do cleans, my upper body just isn’t there yet. I’m pretty stoked, I went from 58 to 72 lbs already. I know, I should be lifting more weight with my lower body, but I am trying to get my upper body, especially my wrists, up to speed. I need to be able to manhandle these weights around to some extent, so I can’t be doing lower body lifts that my upper body can’t handle.
hanging straps for doing more weird stuffHere is my pullup bar with straps for doing hanging leg raises and a little help with those wicked wipers.
The bad news is my weight set, while stating on the box it is a “hundred pound set”, is not. I have (4)10, (6)5 and (4)2.5. The bar weighs 12 lbs. Now, I’m no math wiz, but I get 92 every time I add that up. Depending on how dedicated I am this summer, that might last me till August at the rate I am increasing at now. I’ve already made up my mind that I will join a gym this fall. I have been lusting after a squat rack anyway, and the very kind emails that Lou has sent me have made me realize how much better it would be to have some kind of training program.
Just to put it in writing, my current goals are:
1. To do a handstand pushup-no feet on the wall
2. To bench press my own weight
3. To do 20 swiss ball pushups with my feet up on the higher part of my Bowflex – so my feet are slightly higher than my body.
4. I just added this one after seeing Charlotte’s blog- the scorpion yoga pose.
It will be slightly harder to achieve these now that warm weather is here, bringing back all my other activities that were put on hold for the winter. I have every confidence that I will need to write a new list by next fall.

What’s your Legacy?

My little puppy with a weird tuft of hair

She's got this weird little tuft of hair, random puppy fur?

I just can’t get off the philosophical bent today. I was taking a walk with my dog, BB, and listening to music. Once more, the feeling of how amazing life is, and how wonderful every minute is, even the bad ones, hit me. That got me to thinking about how some people waste their lives, make excuses or just procrastinate on really living. I don’t know if it is possible to change people who are heading that way, or if they even would realize that there is a problem. I don’t mean to be snarky, but some for some people, plumbing the depths of their soul seems to be puddle jumping.

However, for anyone who may be reading this who does reflect on their life, my question for you is: “what is your legacy?” or “what is your epitaph?”. What will people remember you for? Will they be tongue tied after your death, trying not to speak ill of the dead? Maybe your legacy will be nothing earth shattering, but will it at least be positive? Are you admired for anything? If you don’t want to wait till the end of the story, what is your reputation now?

I got to thinking about that, as I ran up a hill. I was pretending that BB told me to do it. I was very tired, and all I could think of was why was I putting this challenge before myself? There were no bragging rights, no one would know whether I did it or not. The only motivation was the challenge. That it was hard, so it would be great to do it. Plus, it fit my reputation. Then it hit me, I have a reputation. Mostly a good one, for pushing myself in physical ways that most of my friends wouldn’t. But it did get me to thinking, everyone has a reputation. For being smart, lazy, hardworking, positive, depressed, crazy, helpful, or whatever else it is. That led me to the thought that everyone has a reputation, and reflect on what it is, and change it if it is negative. Reputations are malleable, over time.

Happy Easter

Having said that, we aren’t doing anything to celebrate Easter, other than going to church. Which, it could be argued, is the best way to celebrate it.  Now that the kids are gone, we don’t do holidays, and I don’t mind a bit. I was trying to figure out this morning  how I could have gone from enjoying holiday festivities to being grateful to avoid them.

I think it is because of how I react to things. If every day is like Christmas morning, then Christmas morning is overkill. When I was a kid, holidays were the exciting punctuation to an otherwise drab life. Even as an adult, anticipation seemed to revolve around the preparation for some event or another. I don’t want to go all Pollyanna on you, but now it seems that everyday events are loaded with anticipation and satisfaction.

Let me give you an example. Yesterday I was trying to get my GPS working with my computer. It took several hours, and when I finally got done, I was doing the happy dance. Both the struggle and the success were so entrancing I enjoyed every minute. I feel as if I have achieved the goal of living every minute, and it is a great feeling.

I’ll get a little philosophical here, I was thinking this morning that the God who made the mountaintop and the sunset, made mud and slime. All are necessary for life. If you can learn to appreciate the value of slime, how much more will you enjoy the sunset?

Anyway, have a happy Easter, however you celebrate it, and enjoy every minute of whatever you are doing.

If it sounds too good to be True….

Wendy’s announced a new “Natural cut fries with sea salt”. It sounds healthy, but as the this Yahoo article explains, they can only go so far.

the company’s product development team found a way to leave the potato skins on, make the fries crispier and give them a much tastier flavor. What they didn’t manage to do, however, is make the fries an actual all-natural product. That, says CMO Ken Calwell, would be too difficult given fast food customers’ demands for items that are cheap and can be hoisted through a car window.

While they are not steaming off the skin, they are pre cooking, freezing, spraying with sodium acid pyrophosphate, dusting with dextrose, and, finally, cooking them in vegetable oil containing dimethylpolysiloxane, to prevent the oil from foaming. So much for natural. If you want natural food, you have to cook it yourself. Which is a healthier way to live, and will prevent much overeating, as you then have to take the time to do so.

Every Little Bit Helps

After reading the article on “The Most Dangerous Thing You’ll Do Today.”  I just had to comment. I’ve seen/read/heard something about this before, but I either didn’t notice or register the statistics.  If you don’t want to read this, or the link gets broken, the synopsis is that sitting all day is a risk factor for heart attacks all by itself. The take home message from the article is that you need to not sit all day. Just standing is enough to prevent the high risk. Of course, moving and fidgeting are good too. One excellent point is that we don’t have to segment our day, putting exercise in a box that occurs at a certain time. Add activity in small increments, make extra trips, run extra errands, pace while you talk on the phone, etc.

This fits with something I have noticed. There is a lot of talk today about “metabolic syndrome”, a group of problems-overwight, especially belly fat,  high blood pressure, insulin resistance and bad cholesterol. But the people who fit this group, tend to sit. A lot. I’ve often wondered if it is the “chicken or the egg”, do they sit because being overweight is hard, or did they get overweight from sitting so much?

So, if you are overweight, if you are trying to avoid a heart attack, it you just want to be healthier, get up. Of course, I would like to see everyone get up and walk, but at least get up.

I Took the Challenge

This morning I took the challenge that I described yesterday. In case any one reading this doesn’t know me, I work out at home, so I am very careful lifting weights, especially since I do it in my basement, and no one would hear me scream. So the amount of weight I lift is very conservative. I may never know what my one rep max is unless I go to a gym, or find some very strong and accommodating friends. Having said all that, I have broken my previous 60 lb barrier, by figuring out a way to lift the bar off of the bench without bending my wrists back. I only did 62 lbs, but that is higher than 60 ;-). My bar weighs 12 lbs, hence the odd numbers. If anyone has “real” weights, don’t laugh, this is a cheap, 100lb set that my husband got for free.

This challenge was harder than I thought it would be. First because I don’t usually bench press or do hipthrusts with weights. I do 30 squats with no trouble, but that is in 3 sets of 10. This is a good marker of progress, I think I will make it a regular feature of my workouts, incorporating one of the exercises each session, and measuring every month. The nicest thing is that since you divide by your body weight, it is equalized for size.

Here is my score:

  • Bench press-5.94
  • Dead lift-10.8
  • squat-16.2
  • Hip thrust-8.1
  • pull ups-10

For a total of 51. Not the best, not the worst. I hope to add two points next month, as I improve the bench press and the hip thrusts. The pull ups get me. I have been trying to break the 10 rep to a set barrier for awhile now, and I can’t seem to do it. On the “Fitcast” podcast they had that as a question, and the consensus seemed to be “more volume”, so I am trying that, but I have tried that before, and I can do two sets of ten, with only a short rest in between- on a good day- but I can’t do even 11 at a time. 10 on most days is really hard, the last two take forever because I won’t quit till my nose clears the bar. If doing 10 in the morning, 10 more in the afternoon and ten in the evening works, I may be raising my score that way.

I thought I’d spread this challenge further

I read this challenge first on Charlotte’s blog, “The great Fitness Experiment”, now it’s creator, The FitJerk has posted it on his blog. I wanted to spread the challenge further, to give us a measure to judge ourselves against.

The Challenge

Below is the exercise order and a table to help you calculate your scores. First things first… don’t bother doing the math in the gym, just write your numbers down and you can total it up when you get home. Here’s how the scoring works: (weight lifted)/(your weight) x (# of reps)

As an example, if you weigh 130lbs and did squats with 120lbs for 12 reps, your score would be 11.1 – notice how if you lifted your bodyweight, you would get 1 point per rep and more than that if you lifted heavier.

Exercise Reps Load(lbs) % Body Weight Score
Bench Press
Deadlift (RDL)
Final Score


  • Do not substitute exercises for their machine counter parts. This is a purely free-weight lifting challenge.
  • Do only one set of each exercise and rest exactly two minutes between each set.
  • Always use a spotter. Your set is done when your form starts to become shaky.
  • Do one set of warmup with 30-50% of your bodyweight for each exercise before you decide to go all out.

Have fun, and if you do it, let me know your score. And no, I haven’t done it yet. I just read it and thought it was worth talking about.


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