Tag Archives: exercise

Mr. Euclid

First, thank you to everyone who has continued to offer their prayers for my family following the death of my dad two months ago.  They mean so much more than you know and I pray for each of you daily.

I want to tell you all that Dad’s been quite active lately, at least in my mind.  Over the past month especially he’s been showing up in my dreams.  As I told me wife today, the dreams make absolutely no sense on one level and more sense than anything I can think of on another.


Artist’s rendering of a shape

Last night I went to bed as normal.  At 4AM I awoke from the following dream.  My father and I were in a very ethereal setting.  I can actually still envision all of this.  It’s almost like we were on a cloud but it wasn’t that hokey.  We were looking at, really examining, an equilateral triangle that was simply floating in the air in front of us.  He was instructing me on the properties of the triangle.  His words made perfect sense to me and I never liked math.  Dad was an actuary with a savant’s knowledge of all things mathematical.  I distinctly remember him saying (in this dream) as he had many times when he tried teaching me geometry in high school “According to Mr. Euclid…” referencing the Greek father of geometry.  What are you getting at, Dad?  Triangles?  Really?  Is it the Trinity?  I already believe in the Blessed Trinity.  Remember?  You taught me the sign of the cross as a four year-old when you taught me my first prayers.  Were you trying to show me something else?  Are you popping into the dreams of other people too or is it just me?  This is so strange.


Hairy but solid

Another thing that’s going on (and I really don’t think the dreams are related) is that my Restless Leg Syndrome has intensified.  It’s now gotten to where the muscles in both legs cramp up about halfway through the night.  I get out of bed and, like this morning, leg down to see that my toes are curled and I have to physically unbend them.  It’s painful.  But, I’m getting it looked into.  This morning I’m going for an EMG/nerve conduction test.  I’ve had several of these done before.  Read about one of my experiences with it here.  In the meantime, enjoy this picture of my leg.  It may be the cause of great pain right now but at least it still makes my trainer jealous as all get out.  “Your calves seem to eat everything in sight” he told me.  Trainer?  My offer still stands.  I’ll happily trade you my calves for everything above your waist.  Then again he could just be messing with me…


I’m Fixed (I Think)

I’ve been a way for a while.  Actually, I’ve been busy blogging the whole time but for a different blog.  You see, friends, I am in the midst of an 11,000 mile road trip with the family.  Yes, you read that right.  It’s a mix of business and pleasure.  The business part is coming from the fact that my wife and I serve on a board that has put us to work traveling the continent this summer.  Yours truly is the documentarian.  The pleasure part comes from the fact that this is just fun for us.

While traveling and writing I had an opportunity to spend an evening with Kate.  Kate is an old friend who happens to be Annie’s daughter.  You all know Annie.  She’s my biggest fan and I love sharing my posts if for no other reason than that I know she’ll read it and comment.

Today she emailed me with a question.  You may recall that about a five weeks ago, before this trip, I began a diet called 21 Day Fix from the folks at BeachBody.com.  In conjunction with this diet I entered into a contest called DietBet.  Just so you know, DietBet uses an app where you’re assigned a goal weight and then asked to weigh in again within 3 weeks.  If your second weigh-in matches the goal weight then you win a share of the money what people paid in to be in the contest.

In my case I first weighed in at 196.9  Before you say anything remember I have a narrow frame.  My assigned target was 4% of my total weight or a bit more than 8 lbs.  I followed the recommended diet which was heavy on vegetables.  I loathe vegetables but for the first time in my life I decided to just do it.  Day after day I munched on carrots and salads, stuffed the blender with kale and spinach, and actually ate broccoli.  It wasn’t easy.  I also switched to black coffee and gave up drinking soda altogether.  Unsweetened tea became my friend.  Seemed like a lot to go through for 8 lbs.  But I did it.

On the exercise front I dropped running.  Maybe one day I’ll take it up again.  I just felt like it was never really for me.  A friend had gotten me into it and he was very helpful both as a guide and a model.  But I know in my heart I was never going to matriculate into the kind of elite athlete he is.  There will be no mud runs in my future any time soon.  I’m still hopeful to get somewhat leaner and a bit more in shape over time but switching my diet I at least know that I’m doing something right and if nothing else the black coffee can serve as a penance of sorts.  I did do 21 days of their workouts which were brutal.  I haven’t seen any results but I never do.  If anyone else has seen them, they’re not saying.

So how’d I do?

Let’s just say that starting a diet and then going on a road trip is not such a good idea.  When you’re driving a car ten hours out of a day it can be difficult to eat right.  Difficult, but not impossible.  We stopped at supermarkets in the morning and grabbed fruits and vegetables that wouldn’t spoil quickly and that took care of a lot.  Just eating the damn veggies every day appears to be helpful even if you’re going off-script with the rest of it.

When we got close to day 21 we were in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  We stopped at a Walmart and bought a scale.  When the day came I took the scale out.  I was not too hopeful.  I took off my shoes and stepped up.

To my surprise I was half a pound under my target!

I did it.  I got my money.  I’m happy.

Will there be any before/after photos?  Well I took them but I’m no fool.  Somehow I have this mental block about posting shirtless pictures of myself online for the world to see.  Nothing on the internet ever goes away.

But there you have it.  Would I recommend this total plan to others?  Absolutely.  In fact, I started it up again after a few days off where I enjoyed some good foods.  But guess what?  I still ate the vegetables, still poured nothing into my coffee, still stuck with the tea.  I guess it’s just a way of life and I’m hoping to stick with it further.  My new goal is to get to 175.  I’ll come back at you if I get there.

Shred This…

Running again, you ask?

No.  I think I’ve got the running thing under control.  I mean that in the sense that I’ve been able to get back on track with relative ease.  I’m back to what I had been running before a blistered heel sidelined me.

Of late I’ve been refocusing my goals a bit.  And that is why my whole body aches this morning…

Let’s review.  You all remember my trainer pal?  We’ll call him TP.  One hires a trainer based on his potential to deliver solid results.  One might choose a financial adviser who has great personal wealth.  Follow along.  That adviser would have the tools to show you how to increase wealth.  So, a jacked-up trainer has to be able to show you how to get, well, jacked-up as well.  Keep in mind that TP is a friend and that I, therefore, did not hire him.  In fact I’m only paying him in boxed wine and tears.

Also of note, TP is a beast.  Let me restate that.  He’s not a man.  He’s a super-man.  This is the kind of guy who does it all.  Let me explain…

So on the running front, TP runs 2 min. miles.  Interestingly, he does not sweat.  Rather, like a hog, he concludes each 27 mile run by dropping into a pit of mud and rolling around.  He emerges from said mud, completely clean.

I asked him to give me some advice on how to really step this up.  “Fix your diet,” he replied.  I thought my diet, rich in healthy foods like Frito’s and onion dip was just fine.  But, you see, I was wrong.  In addition to little fixes like working out first thing (before eating breakfast) and avoiding something called “enriched flour” he suggested I not eat after 8PM.  I had actually heard these things before but never thought they’d do much good.  Of course he tells me these things right after I’ve eaten a five pound bag of enriched flour at 8:01.  Most important, he tells me, I should have a “cheat day” once a week.  Now we’re talking.  I began to imagine the joys of spending a whole 24 hours going through my favorite fast food menus with reckless abandon, knowing that I would still come out on top.

Apparently, enriched flour=new, whole grain=ancient.  Gotcha.

When asked what kind of things TP eats on his cheat days I was brought back down to earth.  “Pizza,” he replied.  I thought a moment.  “Wait,” I said, “You make your own pizza, right?  Don’t you use whole grain crust and put healthy crap on it?”  Even his cheat day isn’t a cheat.  Will power.  That’s what I need.

Having been at this for about four months now I expressed to TP my desire to take it further.  “I don’t want to be that jackass who asks ‘when do I see results’ but… still no visible six pack, TP.”

This is where he instructed me to invest in something called a kettlebell.  Not familiar?  A kettlebell is a small but dense cast iron ball with a handle.  It was invented in Germany in 1207 by a group of Saracen invaders with the purpose of defeating the Huns in Tuscany.  Unsuspecting Huns would ride their elephants through the streets of Navarre, France and the Germans would drop kettlebells on them from the roofs of office buildings killing both man and elephant instantly.

This thing not only defeated the Goths and Vandals but helped launch the Mars rover into low-earth orbit.  No joke.

Something like that.  Look, if you’ve ever picked one of these things up your first thought is that it is a torture device of epic dimension.  He suggested I go with something manageable like a 25-pounder.  At first I was offended.  “I can lift more than that!”  Came TP’s reply: “No, you can’t, tough guy.”  In fact when he started talking about this, his eyes glazed over and he became somewhat crazed.    “This is the one thing that will get you where you want to be!!”  I thought that was Uber.

During a long break at work the other day, TP and I headed to the torture chamber, AKA the fitness center, where he laid down the law.  “These are the 27 basic movements we’ll do with our kettlebells.  Ready?”  He prefaced it by telling me something I wanted and needed to hear.  “This baby right here (pointing to the torture instrument) is what’s going to get you shredded.”  Well why didn’t you say so?!  Apparently working out with a kettlebell a couple of times a week is one of the best things you can do to burn fat and build muscle (both mass and tone).  “Will the kettlebell help me look like you?” I asked.  “Ha!  No,” he said.

We started out doing fine.  Pull ups were first followed by the following bizarrely named movements: clean and press, hip swings, and the snatch.  Yes, the snatch.  Three sets of 12 reps on each.  By the third set I was faltering.  “Sorry I didn’t hit all twelve on that one,” I said.  “It’s OK.  Do what you can.”  That’s encouraging.  “And don’t forget,” he added, “I’ve been doing this since I was 17.  It’s going to take time to see results.”  In my mind I’m doing the math.  “Hmm…  17 to, what’s this guy?  35?…  I’m currently…  Wait, I think I’ve got this…  No, carry the 1…”  He was still speaking when I blurted out “56!”  Not sure he understood what I was saying.  But by the end of our workout I understood what he was saying.

That iron ball changed my life.  I grabbed some water and caught my breath.  “That was pretty awesome,” I said to TP.  “Not done yet…” he responded, no sweat evident anywhere on his body.  “Let’s hit the track.”

With that, beast-man took off on a 3 mile “cool down” run.  Actually I don’t recall seeing him after that.  He may still be running.  Because he can.

On a final note, to prove his beastly stature, TP recommended one more thing to me.  We’re both teachers and we had a long evening of parent conferences ahead of us.  “Do 10 push ups between each conference.  25 meetings, 250 push ups.”  OK, 10 at a time?  I can do that.  I swear it’s not a competition as that would be really, really dumb (he’d take me down) but someone who’s name rhymes with PT quietly upped his game and did 12 at a time.  This left me with a dilemma.  I swore it wasn’t competitive but there’s something in the man code that forbids a guy from making any rationale sense when another man is doing more push ups than he is.  I had to catch up somehow.  And yet, I still only hit 275.  Did I just say that?  Only 275?  OK, that’s actually not bad.

Kept a running scorecard of my push up’s on the board.  Parents who came for conferences were able to ask “What’s that?”  I was able to brag.

All in all, though, I still remember that less than two years ago I couldn’t do any of this.  I was broken, in pain, and declining fast.  So what if it takes me the next 18 years to reach the goal?  What else would I be doing by then?  And for how I already feel after just a few months, the humiliation is worth it.  Realizing what you couldn’t do is a good motivator to help you do more.  I chose this trainer because of his ability to deliver results.  And he’s been worth every penny.

Choosing Wisely on a Diet

I think the salad cancels out the drink.

Or it would have if I had eaten the salad.

How’re My Babies Doing?

Hey new bloggers (and seasoned vets alike)!

It’s a new year and I think we’ve all caught a gust of wind for our blogging sails.  Just thought I’d check into offer some encouragement and see how things are going.

I have been inspired to post a bit more lately and I’m actually enjoying it again.  Also, I’ve received dozens of new followers and for that I’m grateful.

In the meantime, I quit my gym membership so that other resolution (to get in shape again) is going to take a slightly different turn.  A friend of mine (who’s also been a trainer in the past) is going to set me up with a routine involving just my body weight.

Until then, it’s back on the diet.  Fortunately, I get to eat like this.


Back on the Horse, er, Bike

OK, so I was presented with a choice tonight.  And choices are what define us, I suppose.  Well, tonight I chose to go to the gym and do something.  It didn’t have to be a huge something, mind you, but I know that I’ve got to start doing just that small something; because that’s better than a big nothing.  Seriously, I’ve been worried about some health issues lately.  Throw in my chronic degenerative spine and sciatica — I sound like a man much older than I am — and I realize that if I don’t do something I cannot say I tried to stave this.  I want to be able to say that I tried.

Courtesy of Wikimedia (public domain)

So tonight I thought about whether I’d try to do that grueling push-up/pull-up routine again.  Ultimately (on my way to the gym) I decided to ride the bike.  Kyle had told me I needed to ride for an hour a day three times a week.  I had decided the previous night that, although my intentions in starting a few days earlier were great and in fact zealous, I needed to hit the reset button on this whole thing.  I would have gladly tried a few sets of strength exercises if my chest wasn’t still as sore as it was.  I’ll get back there very soon, trust me.  But I hopped on that bike and rode my heart out for sixty minutes, never dropping below 95 RPM’s.  I felt great.  I was tired, I was sweaty, but my heart was pumping and I was alive!  OK, that was a bit over the top.  Anyway I was getting back in shape and my worries were starting to melt.



Then I went home and ate a bag of Fritos and a pint of ice cream.  And it was good.

Countdown to the “Plan”

Today, I got “the Plan”…

The “plan” is a layout and overview of my life for the next three months from my new personal trainer. More will be written about this in the coming months; but since I have not yet fully embarked on the “plan” I figured I’d indulge a bit. It’s kind of like Mardi Gras…


In all seriousness, one of my new goals as far as cycling is concerned is to keep at it for an hour and not dip below 90 RPM. I did manage to get a jump on that this afternoon.


Three months? Think I can do it? Why not vote in my poll?