Sunday, July 11, 2010

Working Out

So I'm a little over 5 weeks of going to the gym. I've taken a couple days rest during that time, but have otherwise gone every night. I haven't made a lot of progress in terms of weight loss, but I've definitely increased my muscle weight. Since the scale doesn't tell the difference, I must have been losing body fat as well. I took a before picture when I first started and another at 3 weeks. Seems like I've lost a slight amount of weight from my mid section. So it seems to be working. It's just slow progress.

I do cardio on the elliptical for a little over an hour. An elliptical is sort of like a treadmill but without the impact. That's good since my feet and knees start to ache after a while of normal jogging. I get my heart rate at about a mid aerobic rate where I'm panting a little bit, but could still kind of talk if needed. After an hour of that, I go lift weights for about another hour. I think about that sometimes. I'm going to have to commit 2 hours of working out every single day for the rest of my life if I want to be in shape. Do I want it that bad to make that kind of commitment? Um. I guess so. I know really serious body builders will spend 5 hours every day working out. I'm not really sure why. Obviously they know something I don't. But you can only work out your muscle so much before you're tearing it more than your body can repair it. And it only takes so long to lift a weight. What more are they doing?

Anyway, I'm back to being just a beginner again. I used to be in fairly decent shape when I was into martial arts. Ten years ago, I did a jump spinning kick in a match, slipped on a small rain puddle from the leaky roof, and came crashing down on one of my knees, crushing the end of my femur inward. I had a doctor tell me I might never walk again without a serious limp. I would triumphantly say he was wrong. But I think he only said that to scare me into taking the physical therapy seriously. I never ended up going and my knee didn't recover very well. I wondered if it ever would.

But I realized the other day as I did quad extensions, that my knee didn't hurt like it normally would. I think I've finally made a full recovery 10 years later. I mean, during those 10 years, I've tried to get back into shape, but then I'd go to work out my legs, hit that snag with my knee and get discouraged. Get depressed, more like it. I hate to admit it, but I really kind of did spiral into a depression after that. People spiral into depression after a loved one dies or after they lose a limb or are horribly disfigured. What a wimp I am if a sore knee does it to me. But it really did change my life. It ended my ability to do martial arts to dance or do anything active at all. It seems so silly that such a minor thing like that affected me so much and for so long. Now, it could take a year or more to get back to where I was. But, no matter how long it takes, the only way to get there is to keep going.

Anyways, back to the working out thing. I'm basically doing my old methods. Work on toning for 6 weeks, then bulking for 6 weeks and repeat. When bulking, you lift as much as you can for 8 reps and 2 sets with a minute wait between sets for each muscle you're working on. When toning, you lift as much as you can for 15 reps and 3 sets with a minute wait between sets. I do a split set for both with a 2 day cycle during bulking and a 3 during toning. My 2 day cycle is a standard push / pull method. You do all the muscles you need to push with - triceps, pecks, delts, quads / gluts and obliques(just to fit them in somewhere) on push days. Pull muscles would be biceps, lats, posterior delts, lower back, hamstrings, and I put calves there so I'm not doing leg press and calve raises on the same day. I also do my forearms on pull days. When I do a three day split, I do all the leg stuff on Day 3 instead. I also add the in and outside into my leg routine--push your legs apart on one machine and bring them together on another.

You need carbs in your system while you work out or you won't build muscle. I try and eat bread or cottage cheese and fruit right before I leave to the gym. I've cut refined / processed sugar out of my diet completely and haven't had any for about a year now. That means no chocolate, cookies, ice cream, etc. And rarely do I drink soda--maybe one a month. As a side note, once you get refined sugar out of your system, it's amazing how sweet other food tastes. Wheat bread tastes like cake to me.

Everyone has different gifts and challenges when it comes to working out. I have freakishly large calves and decent sized biceps. My legs in general are fairly easy for me to work out. However, other than my arms, I have very weak upper body strength right now. Good thing I go to the gym late at night where less people are around to see the pathetically light amount of weight I'm bench pressing. I've always had weak pecks though. Not sure why. That, coupled with the fact that I'm toning... by the time I get to that 3rd set and I'm struggling after 12 reps in that set, that small amount of weight feels unbearable. All the weight I'm doing is low compared to what I used to do before I hurt me knee, but in a few more months from now, it'll be different and less embarrassing. I don't know why I let it get to me. No one at the gym gives a damn what I'm lifting. So making it a macho thing is silly on my part.

In either case, I've done body building, I've dieted, and I've done cardio. I've done all 3 of those things on a consistent basis for 6 weeks or more at various times in my life. But I've never done all three at once. Until now. I have about another month or so to see how it's panning out. Hopefully well. Like I said, I've seen only slight, but noticeable results so far. I'm pretty determined to get into really good shape for once in my life.

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