Friday, May 6, 2011

Weight, Weight, Don't Tell Me

195.6 lbs., but that’s okay. I think we’ve got this figured out.

A dress I ordered from Ebay arrived tonight (a T shirt jersey sundress with Buddha on it. The green isn’t the best shade for me, but there were no alternatives). It came in a small packet, about the size of the pouch for one of those fold-up rain ponchos. The mailbox guy was amazed that such a small package contained a dress. I told him that it was obvious he wasn’t a transvestite.

Today was my last session with Torquemada (that is, until and unless I get in more money. Click early and often. Pretend I’m on the ballot for an All-Star team). The investment in the training sessions was absolutely worth every penny and then some (the gym gave me a deal). I will miss that Napoleon complex.

When I started working with her (3 weeks ago, give or take), I felt well, better than I did at the end of last year, but not the greatest. Pot belly (and weak muscles underneath), not really a lot of upper body strength, the legs were good (or so I thought). I figured a half hour on the elliptical and a half hour on the treadmill, maybe take a yoga class and I’d fix all that.

Yeah, right. And monkeys fly out of my butt (and some of the exercises I’ve been doing, it sure as hell feels like that’s what just happened).

Today, after sweating the oldie in the gym (No, I don’t mean sweating to the oldies. I mean this oldie sweated. A lot. Buckets, even), I felt…

Long, lean and lanky. I’m not. Yet. I mean, 195 lbs. is a substantial distance from where I started, but I’m still technically obese. However, a couple of hours after the workout, I felt like a tall drink of water and I was wearing flip flops (well, Fit Flops, but no heels).


Understand, this has been an intense course of weight training, flexibility classes (yoga and Pilates) and cardio. Today’s cardio was more intense than usual: Torquemada is a believer in the Cardio Blast: for instance, on the treadmill, walk 5-10 minutes at 3 MPH, then increase to 5 MPH (In my case, more like 4 or 4.5) until you hear God clear His throat and you see the Grim Reaper on the next machine (He wears the blackest Nikes you’ve ever seen. And yes, there is a gold skull and crossbones and the swoosh is gold), then back the speed down to 3 or 3.5 MPH so your heart doesn’t explode. Unfortunately, this particular treadmill’s speed down switch didn’t work and I did 25 minutes of the 30 minute workout at 4 MPH (loooong, loping stride on the walk). I learned that I can sustain an even faster pace and that I will be avoiding that particular machine. I don’t know about you, but I like options, particularly if they are the means of slowing a galloping pulse.

There was a young lady on a machine next to where we were working and the smell of pot was pretty strong on her. The Pushy Peanut and I were giving each other “Did she or didn’t she” looks when she looked over at us, “Um, yeah, I uh, work at a pot dispensary and the smell gets into everything. And I sample some of the cheap stuff, too.” She finished her set (kind of half-assedly, actually), slumped and said, “Oh, wow.” I don’t know if there really is such a thing as a contact high, but I was thinking hard about Oreos when I left.

I had a breakthrough today, the last guided session on the machines. For the first time in 8 sessions (and yoga and cardio and Pilates in between. Okay, one Pilates class, but I plan to take more), I was able to isolate the muscles I wanted to work, leave my neck and my shoulders out of things (unless they were part of the target) and “engage the core.” That’s why I felt tall and strong today; those muscles that help one stand erect are actually getting strong enough to do the job. I was assured that the arm flaps would be going soon, if I keep faith with what I’ve learned:

1.       Form is everything. Do this little experiment with bicep curls: extend your arms and make fists. For the first move, have your fists face each other (like you’re playing “One Potato, Two Potato”), now bring your fists back by your ears. Feel which muscles are working. Lower your fists. Now turn your hands so that your arms are palms up. Bring your fists back to your ears again and feel which muscles are working. Different muscles in the forearm are engaged depending on the form you’re using. This applies to any weight bearing exercise. Isolate and contract the muscles you want to work. I FINALLY got that nailed on the obliques (muscles along the sides of the abdominals. Chubby Checkers’s favorites. Look it up)

2.       Burning good. Ripping, tearing, screaming pain bad.

3.       When you’re trembling and your form starts to deteriorate, you have sufficiently worked that muscle. Move on to the next one. And be prepared to feel it later.

4.       Water, water, water. Your body will demand it AND it helps to flush out toxins, as does sweating. It’s great for your skin and if you think that’s girlie, dig this: the skin is your single biggest organ (unless your name is Ron Jeremy) and the Ellis Island for infections. You want to keep it healthy (and how many moisturizers out there talk about “superior hydration”? Yeah, you can get that from a bottle of water. Bottle reusable).

5.       Always control the weight. The upward/outward/downward push may work the muscles as shown on the machine, but there’s a benefit to be had in resisting as the weight is returned to the starting position. The muscles get additional work on the backswing, nobody likes the sound of clanging weights (because they’re usually accompanied by loud grunting. Yeah, guys, we hear you. We’re not impressed. And you probably have nuts the size of Skittles). Plus, if you’re working with free weights, controlling the weight on the return to starting position lessens the chances of tearing, hyperextension or dropping the fucking thing on your foot. Until Nike comes up with steel-toed sneakers (Fuck Reebok), control the weight.

6.       I’m still working out the “complex carbs before working out” step due to a gluten sensitivity (Got eczema? A lot of sinus problems for no particular reason? Feel bloated? Eliminate gluten for a week, including oats and see if things change). However, I understand the principle: it’s priming the engine before you begin the big burn.

7.       Take in protein immediately after the workout. Your muscles will feel like they’ve gone through Parris Island (that’s where the Marines go to boot camp) and you need to build them back up. Torquemada got me into drinking Muscle Milk Light and shot-gunning a 2 scoop, 12 oz. drink (the Blender Cup is a beautiful thing). Since the Muscle Milk Light comes in Peanut Butter Chocolate, I am a happy camper and it keeps me away from the Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and the Snickers bars. There’s a pretty good flavor range, if you look online. The selection’s not as great in stores (Vitamin Shoppe, for one. I’ve seen the ready to drink in Fresh N Easy and in coolers at convenience stores).

I will miss my training sessions with Torquemada/The Pushy Peanut/Napoleon (she confessed to enjoying bossing people around. In related news, the sky is blue). I was able to push what I had learned from The King to the back of my head (except for the bit about “always control the weight.” I nearly took out his toes one day. And King, if you’re reading this, I still ain’t no Hollaback Girl). She got me to do lunges without falling over (although the asphalt impregnated right kneecap doesn’t like those very much) and to push harder.

And she got me to feel long and lean.

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