Numbers to live by (regimen #6)

Suddenly I have a plethora of good news and I hardly know where to begin. It's such a rare and lovely situation; forgive me for wanting to sit back and sip it slowly, single-malt style.

The good news is that I have a trainer again. The better news is that it's the trainer I've wanted all along: yes, I'm working with Val again. Her life has calmed down enough that she has time to add back a few clients, and that calmness coincided with my decision to toss her a why-not email to see if maybe she'd still have time for me.

I had begun laying groundwork to work with someone else and I realized that the 'fit' just wasn't there. I understood Val's methods, and agreed with them, and I just didn't want to work with anyone else.

We met yesterday, and a day later I'm still turning over the new numbers in my head. It's a lot to think about.

I stopped weight training in the fall, mostly due to dragon*con. After I got back home and committed to working Tromadance this coming January, I realized that I was willing to sacrifice weight training for a while in order to focus on cardio work, to ensure that I'd be in the best possible shape for dealing with the higher-than-usual altitudes of the trip.

(Fort Collins is 5,000ft above sea level. Park City is 7,000-10,000ft above sea level depending on where you are.)

I shouldn't be surprised that this work has paid off, but I am, and it has. When I first started my exercise program in January of 2004, my resting heart rate was 82 beats/minute, and my blood pressure was 111/82. Yesterday it was 64 beats/minute, and 98/56.

I thought about it while I was doing pool laps today, and for a moment the difference was crystalline: I realized that I was pushing myself hard in today's swim because it felt good. I could feel the exertion in my muscles, feel myself breathing harder than normal, but it was exertion, not exhaustion. There's a difference. Push harder, and the muscles respond. Slack off, and the breathing slows back down to normal.

I got in the water before I could lose my nerve, dodging kids and parents and heading for the lane markers. It was everything I remembered: chlorine tang, water chill, the slowing drag of the water on limb and torso. I got in the water and my fear went away, unlike so many people I know whose fear only begins the moment they land in the water; I got in the water and knew I was slow, and clumsy, and far different than I was ten years ago…but I was home.

My muscles, worn out after weightlifting, only had enough strength for me to do one lap. One measly lap. I wanted to hate myself for it, but instead I picked a quiet spot near the wall and let my body float in the current, and I discovered that the water was stronger than my self-hatred.

'chlorinated', 1 June 2004

Remember? One lap. One. Now, every day: forty-five minutes, and an unknown number of laps, the daily tally slowly increased, one at a time, until they made a stack that was tall enough and strong enough that even I had to admit respect.

Still, the current numbers have come with a bit of a tradeoff. My body fat calculations indicate that my shift in focus from weightlifting to endurance cardio has dropped my underlying total lean mass by about four pounds. Translation: I've lost a bit of muscle, which must be expected. Even with that, my final target weight still looks to be 170 pounds (25% bodyfat). Thirty-three down. Twenty-five to go.

* * * * *

Now that I have a new weights routine from Val, I plan to resume weight training in the next few days. I fly in 17 days, and I'd like to get past the initial muscle soreness of a new weights regimen before I fly. Silly me, planning to do workouts while vacationing.

Here's what's on tap:

Group 1

  • Dumbbell bench presses on ball
  • One-armed row (on one leg)
  • One-legged squats against ball on wall
  • weighted crunches

Group 2

  • Dumbbell pec flies on ball
  • Prone reverse flies on bench
  • Backwards lunges w/medicine ball
  • Alternating twisting crunches on ball

Group 3

  • Pushups - hands on ball, feet on floor
  • Bent, fixed-arm standing lat pulldowns
  • One-legged supine hamstring pulls on ball
  • Oblique crunches on ball with tubing

Group 4

  • Pushups - feet on ball, hands on floor
  • Standing alternating bicep curls
  • One-legged leg extensions
  • Reverse situps on ball

Group 5

  • 'W-O' lateral raises
  • Tricep kickbacks
  • Calf raises
  • Oblique crunches with medicine ball

Twice weekly, do two sets of 12 while ensuring instability (balancing on a ball, single leg/arm exercises, etc.) to encourage balance. Once weekly, do three pyramid sets (12/10/8 reps) while stable (on floor or bench, using both legs/arms, etc.) to encourage strength.

Do only 4 of the 5 groups. Omit a different group each time. Mix up the order of groups.

Whimper only when no one's looking. ;) Know that yes, the soreness is coming, but that it will pass. It always has, and always will.

…and for those of you who are trying to keep up with what I look like from month to month, here are two more photos -- me posing with friends at the bowling alley (I'm in the blue shirt) and me making hand gestures to explain what went wrong with the ball I'd just rolled.


You look amazing. You ARE amazing.

I started reading this blog years ago, at least 2 or 3. It's startling to see such a huge change. You look absolutely fantastic in those photos.