Back at it

I don’t make new year’s resolutions. I simply decide I’m going to do things and do them. I’ve been planning to get back to two things, one of which lends itself to a third.
First, I’ve put on some weight over the last year. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but enough that I’m not happy with my appearance…and that’s really my impetus. I don’t look at the scale as other than a device that can provide a measurable metric. I base my goal on my appearance and whether I’m happy with myself. Right now, I’m not.
How’d I get here? Some is work interfering in my ability to get a full match of lunchtime soccer in regularly. Mostly, though, that’s just one of a number of excuses, along with needing to make sure my daughter got off to catch her ride to school in the morning, then making sure she got off in time to drive herself once she got her license, and making sure I was available if she called because something happened while she drove to school. So I had good reasons to not head to the gym before work, but they were still excuses. I could have tried to find time during the day or gone after work, so…an excuse.

Now, I’m back at it. I pack two sets of clothes on soccer days. If I don’t get in a full match, I can hit the gym after work and I’ve started going on Tuesdays and Thursdays after work. Worst case, I can always use the treadmill at home.

Second, the need, yes, need to write has been niggling at me again. I can’t recall the last time I wrote something not for work. I’ve had a few story ideas pop into my melon, one may have been from a dream. I’ve started laying them out in yWriter, but haven’t really tried writing any parts of them. I’m also fairly sure it’s been three years or so since I wrote a poem. Sad, I know. As I said, though, I’ve found an urge to write. Such an urge that during some goofy “game” around Christmas, I told my wife and the others that my goal (game term) for this year is to start writing again. I suppose this post will serve as my first step toward that goal. One post. It’s a start.
Which leads into the third: blogging. Much like my poetry writong, all of my blogs have been sorely neglected. I have no reason, again, other than excuses so I won’t waste my time trying to enumerate them. They’d just sound trite and overused.
So…here I am. No more excuses. It’s writing time. Fiction, poems, blog posts, and writing prompts. Hope you enjoy some of them. They are coming anyway.

Too stupid to stop

I’m a soccer nut, as I’ve written about before.  Play it, coach it, watch it, and now ref it.  And I don’t let minor injuries get in my way.  I strained my hamstring back in March/April.  I might have skipped one or two of the lunchtime games before I was back on the pitch.  I tried to keep my work rate lower.  I didn’t go full speed after balls…mostly.  I didn’t try to explode away from folks or chase them down…mostly.  Gradually, my hammy has gotten better.  It’s still not one hundred percent.  If I hadn’t been too stupid to properly rest it, I’d likely be at full strength by now.

Last week, in the gym, I made the mistake of doing the Nautilus overhead press. Now, I know that my body doesn’t like that machine so I used light weight on it.  Didn’t matter.  Something about that motion on that machine pinches something or forces my muscles to work harder than they should.  Walked away from one set with a pain in my left trapezius.  Because I didn’t push it, though, the pain faded by the end of the day.  Monday, I skipped soccer due to a bruise on the bottom of my foot and hit the gym.  I got into the Nautilus upright bench press and craned my head around to the right when the guy at the desk said something to me. Ow!  Left trap screamed at me.  I wasn’t even pushing anything at that time.  I finished my workout, mostly cardio.  Too stupid to stop…yep.

It’s Wednesday now and the pain is less and I can move my neck more without pain, but here I am, back at the gym.  Not smart enough to stop, but I avoided any exercises that would have any work for the trap…well, except seated rows…and I went light.  Trap actually feels a bit better after the light work and getting warmed up.

Note that I’m composing this from a stationary bike, which means I was smart enough to skip soccer today.

Forty -Three and Fit

It’s been waaaaay too many months since I’ve been to the gym.  I’ve been playing soccer three days a week and doing pushups, but it’s not the same as pushing and pulling heavier weight.  Due to coaching, I need to leave work earlier than normal, so during kids’ soccer season, I give up my gym time.  It’s a trade-off I gladly make.

Last week, I got back into the gym for the first time since February.  Forty-five minutes of cardio, preceded by Nautilus equipment for chest, back, and shoulders three days in a row.  I was sore through the weekend.

I’ve read recently that cardio first is the wrong order, so I’ve tried switching it up.  Not sure it makes much difference since I’m not trying to bulk up.  I’m simply going for a little more definition, maybe a bit more strength, and overall fitness.  I used to spend time on the ab machine.  I have also recently read that crunches are a wasted exercise. Planking, as they called it in the article, is supposedly better because it involves not only the front abs, but also the obliques and lower back muscles.  I’m not going to give up crunches completely**, but I have cut them from my gym time.  Much like pushups, now I plank multiple times a day at home or in my cubicle…wherever, whenever.  It also works to get the blood flowing a bit on those days when the sleep monster is attacking.

If you’ve got suggestions for quick and easy exercises that can be done in a set or two, a minute or so, that don’t cause a sweat storm, please let me know.  I’m not planning on giving up the gym, but the more time I can shave off away from the office, the earlier I can be headed home to the fam.

I’m on a mission.  I’m not out of shape.  I can outrun and outplay a lot of folks many years younger than me on the pitch, but I want to trim some fat and tone up.

It’s the year of Forty-three and Fit!

**Why not give up crunches completely?  While the article I read said that planking is better for working the core, including the abs, I still believe that muscles should be worked like they are going to be used.  My abs are used for sitting up, pulling my legs up, and other “crunching” type movements more than for simply holding myself rigid.  Maybe I’m wrong, but doing crunches certainly won’t hurt.

Link: “Push It”, the Tuesday Picture Prompt at Flashy Fiction

Push ItPush It, the Tuesday Picture Prompt for 25 June 2013 is waiting for you at Flashy Fiction.

Slip into your workout clothes, jog on over, and share a story about having blurry vision.

Write Something!

Still Life…or a rather uninspiring workout view

Still Life shot from the gymI love nature…the great outdoors…fresh (and not-so fresh) air.  In the middle of summer heat and humidity, I’ll drive home with the windows down instead of using the air conditioner…as long as I don’t have anywhere to go that I’d prefer not to show up at dressed as a big sweat spot.

That being said, this isn’t exactly the most exciting view (picture to the right) for cardio exercise.  Running in the treadmill staring out the window at trees right outside the window.  I know, I could always take my butt outside and run, but I don’t run at a constant pace very well without the treadmill.  The treadmill also provides the ability to adjust the incline which doesn’t vary much at all here where I work.  This gym also provides my favorite cardio machine, the StepMill, as well as the recumbent bike from which I’m composing this post.
StepMill 7000 PT

For those who aren’t inclined to watch the trees grow, there are the standard TVs with ESPN, Fox News, CNN Headline news, ESPN2, and a local network affiliate.  Or, you can stare at the digital display on whichever machine you’re using…or even at the other people at the gym…which I discussed in a couple previous posts:

At the gym…Watching the Ladies
At the gym…A Manly Competition

Maybe they left the trees this close to help cut down on the sun/heat coming in the windows. If they just relocated the first couple trees, though, they’d still accomplish that, in addition to opening up the view to more of the woods and critters, which would provide a look at slightly less still life.

Of course, I’m probably the only person who’s spent this much time pondering this view.

At the gym…A Manly Competition

(almost) Every time I go to the gym to workout I find an interesting assortment of folks…(continued from yesterday)

There are the guys in there that have a coordinated outfit…if they are Nike fans, they’ve got the Nike shirt and matching Nike shorts or Nike sweat pants and socks and Nike shoes with colors that are complimentary (substitute any brand name). These guys are wearing their jewelry…rings, necklaces…and you never see them actually do any exercise. They may go the extra yard to complete the illusion of being there to workout by hanging a towel around their neck. These guys aren’t difficult to spot, either, because aside from their snappy (?) wardrobe, they are fairly loud as they talk to everyone in the gym. Why do they talk to everyone? Because they know them all from all the time they spend in the gym not working out and chatting everyone up. The other thing that adds to their illusion is that most of these guts are thin…which makes it believable that they do workout.

There are the hardcore weight lifters.  In baggy sweat pants or shorts that are too small and too tight, with muscle shirts or sweatshirts with the arms ripped off, these guys won’t be caught dead on a weight “machine”…it’s free weights only because while dropping the stack of weights on the weight machines may be frown upon, it wracks up cool points to lift heavy weights and drop them like the dead lift guys at the Olympics.  Well, it scores points with the other guys who are into that.  The rest of us cringe and wonder how many times of that happening before the weights go through the floor.  These guys look like this:

Of course, there’s also the ultra competitives.  These guys show up in any combination of clothing, from fashion victim to “did they pick that out in the dark?”  On the weight machines, they risk hurting themselves because, as long as anyone is in the gym and might see how little weight they are using, they tack on ten to fifteen to twenty pounds more than they can really handle and strain as they move the stacks, not quite completing each set.  Then they get on the treadmill (or elliptical machine or stair stepper) and start jogging.  Then someone else jumps on the machine next to them and Mr. Competitive has to sneak a peak at how fast the competition is going and increase his speed to make sure he’s running faster.  Of course, it doesn’t matter if he can’t sustain the pace.  He struggles on, trying to keep the game face, but getting more and more out of breath until they have to admit defeat and hit the ‘cool down’ button and hope they don’t do a faceplant on the treadmill.  And if the person who hops up on the treadmill is a chick, he’s toast.  He’d die before letting her run at a faster pace than he does.

At the gym…Watching the Ladies

(almost) Every time I go to the gym to workout I find an interesting assortment of folks.

There are the ladies in the tight shirts or cropped shirts or shirts that accentuate the fact that they are wearing pushup bras or bras that certainly weren’t worn for the purposes of holding their jiggling parts in control during exercise.  Along with these tops, spandex pants or shorts usually accompany these tops.  First, ladies, we all know that just because they make spandex that you can fit into doesn’t mean you should squeeze into them, right? Second, spandex is not always the best material for all types of workouts.  Generally, the ladies wearing these outfits are completely made up and flit around on a piece or two of cardio equipment trying not to break a sweat because they aren’t really there to exercise.

The ladies who are there to workout may still have on a cute, figure flattering outfit if they are in shape, but they are found pounding away on the treadmill, pedaling their buns off, or pumping away on the elliptical machines…or getting their sweat on in one of the classes, like Zumba.  They are nearly oblivous to the people around them and find it annoying when dumb asses try to get their attention or otherwise interrupt their workouts.

Then there are the really hardcore ladies who not only get their sweat on, but also like to feel that muscle burn that comes from hitting the weights or weight machines…hard.  they have no qualms about making noise and showing a straining face as they pump out those last few reps of a set.  They don’t have time for knuckleheads either:  Leave them alone or feel embarrassed because they can push more than you.

Tune in tomorrow when I’ll talk about the fellas.

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