Tag Archives: working out

Last Chance?

Sometimes a thing catches your eye and fills you with such a sense of absurdity that you laugh out loud.  Then your wife, sitting next to you on the couch, looks at you and seems about to ask what you’re cackling over but then lets out of muffled sigh instead as if to say “You know what?  Nah…”

But my wife would never do that to me.

IMG_8947

Nestled safely between box sets of Unsolved Mysteries and Lost is your LAST CHANCE!

As we sit next to each other on the couch in our family room I just noticed a DVD case on its side under the TV with about 50 other DVD cases.  Remember them?  There was a world before streaming.  This DVD says (in blazing, italicized letters no less) LAST CHANCE WORKOUT.

I’ve been doing so well with my fitness plan these past few months.  First I did Insanity Max:30 where I stripped a whole lotta’ fat off my frame and found out I have no muscle.  Now I’m doing BodyBeast where my aim is to bulk up and make some serious gains in mass.  Yes, I know I did it backwards.  I did it that way as a joke on my trainer.  Duh.  No, if I had been thinking clearly I would have done it the other way around.  Apparently you bulk first and then shred.  My trainer does both at the same time and he has telekenesis.  Guy’s amazing.  Sometimes he bulks in the morning and then shreds after lunch.
Just. Because. He. Can.
I got a lot out of the shredding part.  I got pretty lean – down to a set of abs that were almost perceptible to the naked eye.  In fact, it’s only because I know Im capable of doing that again pretty quickly that I don’t mind having almost completely lost them due to this bulk.  This is the part where anyone who’s actually seen me in the past month says “No way, man, you’re looking amazing!  Are you shred-bulking or bulk-shredding?  Whatever it is, sign me up!”  I’m eating a LOT of food these days.  I’m also lifting heavier and heavier weights.  My trainer ties  70 lb. dumbbells to his ankles when he does his 12 mi. run.  That reminds me that I’ve been meaning to ask him if I should do a little running while I’m trying to bulk.  He’d probably advise against it at least until I’ve been doing this long enough to know what’s what like, say, 18 years.

sagi

This is the guy from BodyBeast.  He’s an Israeli named Sagi (pronounced Sah-GEE).  And that quote tells you he’s peddling some hard core bullshit even if he is unbelievably ripped.  My trainer friend looks kinda’ like him but not as douchey.

My point is that I’ve become very comfortable at this routine.  That’s comfortable, not complacent.  I enjoy what I’m doing and I enjoy seeing the results (not as quickly as I’d like but I’m the guy who stands in front of a microwave and yells HURRY UP!”).  And I’ll also admit that over the years I’ve been frustrated with fitness.  There have been times when I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and would never figure it out.  Not all of us were blessed to have gym access growing up on the streets of Compton.  I don’t know who I’m talking about since I’m from Newark but you get the picture.  Would I rather have figured this all out 20 years ago and been a stud with a full head of hair?  Would I rather have had girls beating down my door?  Would I rather have had a shot at achieving this goal earlier and getting it out of my way so I could legitimately cash in on my success and become a whale in my 30’s knowing I had already been jacked?  What was my alternative?  Oh yes, being me.  OK, so it’s not that bad.  But I’m comfortable with where I am with my fitness goals and progress here and now.  The downer in me says I’ll probably never reach my true goals but I need to murder him.  Bad downer.  Bad.

So why write all this?

How much do you have to hate yourself to do a workout called Last Chance?  I’m trying to picture anyone looking for a program.  “Let’s see… There’s Insanity.  Nah, too much cardio.  There’s P90X.  Nope, too many jumps.  There’s Tae-Bo. Too urban.  I guess I have no other options.  Oh look!  There’s a crazed woman on this box and she says it’s my last chance!  I don’t know what it is but something in her eyes is forcing my to believe it.  I’ll buy this DVD now because, having exhausted no other options, I realize I have no options left.  Thank God I found this DVD before it was too late!  What would have become of me?”

Yeah, that just happened.

My wife and I also watched a movie last night about aliens.  It stars Amy Adams.  I think it’s called Arrival.  Not bad.  The two aliens were called Abbot and Costello, no joke.  Unfortunately they weren’t remotely funny.

I Hesitate to Tell You that My Life is Bizarre

Being a writer is tough.  I know.  I asked one once.

Sometimes your mind spins in a million directions throughout the day as you take in one seemingly improbably event after another.  You think to yourself: “Damn, this is gonna’ make a great blog post when I sit down to write it!”

But hours later when you sit down to write it you hesitate.

You’re not sure if you can’t prioritize or perhaps you’re thinking back and realizing it only seemed funny to you.  Sure, that cat who was minding its business on the couch in the waiting room of your doctor’s office should not have been slapped by that child who should not have been there and is probably a satanist.  Wait a minute, that actually is funny.  You think back again.  Perhaps you hesitate because you can’t remember and you start to feel like Julianne Moore in Still Alice.  If you haven’t seen it, don’t worry.  Spoiler alert: she battles Alzheimers Disease throughout the flick.

Tonight I hesitate for one reason.  I don’t know that you’ll believe the things I’m about to share.  But hesitation is only good for a moment then it becomes angry and spiteful not unlike Christina Aguilera.  Oh well, here goes…

img_8713

I cut the cord!

Our microwave broke right before Thanksgiving.  It was three weeks outside of the warranty.  Lowe’s wouldn’t touch it.  An appliance reply lady said it would be cheaper to buy a new one.  We’ve been using a borrowed microwave from my wife’s aunt.  The woman actually has at least two of everything you could ever need in her house.  She lives alone and does not know how to use most of her things.  I contacted General Electric where I received some of the best customer care I’ve had in a long time.  A service rep informed me that they would essentially pay us for the full cost of that microwave.  All I had to do was peel a sticker off the inside.  Oh, and I had to provide proof of purchase.  Done and done.  Oh, and I had to cut the cord off the microwave and send a picture of it.  Rachel at GE did not explain this one to me very well, nor even exactly what kind of picture she wanted.  I experimented before settling on the picture you see here.  On closer review, perhaps I was not supposed to pose with the cord?  Why bring this up now?  Well, after emailing the pictures to GE I got another reply from them that they had not received the pictures.  Turns out the email was still in my drafts folder.  No, I did not take new pictures.  Yes, the check is on its way.  Go GE!  You bring good things to life.

img_8717

Limey, you’re a terrible friend.

I had friends over this past Saturday and decided to get creative with my bar.  Say hello to Mr. Limey.  He’s British, naturally.  I thought the evening went beautifully until my wife informed me after our guests had gone home that I was a little drunk.  Limey was supposed to see to it that I kept it classy.  Bastard.  He hate me because I’m also Irish.  The next day my wife changed her words a bit to say that I wasn’t “drunk just talkative”.  I’m not sure which is worse.  My apologies to my guests that night.  I thought we had a good time.

My workout is going very well (I think).  I’m on week 3 of BodyBeast.  This is the first phase and it’s called “Build”.  The next six weeks after this are called “Bulk”.  Then the final three weeks are called “Beast”.  I don’t like to brag – because there’s precious little I can honestly brag about – but somehow I was blessed with calves the size of Howitzers.  Think I can skip leg day and continue to work on my pathetic chest?  I think that’s a distinct plan.  Seriously, though, calves?  I only know one person who says “Man I wish I had calves like yours” and he’s a trainer.  I’m also never sure when he’s pulling my leg.  No one walks around saying “Gotta’ get huge calves!”

img_8690

Thanks, God.  Couldn’t have made this my biceps?

Finally, it is Ash Wednesday.  Or at least it was until an hour and five minutes ago.  At midnight on the dot, this Daddy went straight to the fridge.  As a Catholic, Ash Wednesday is one of our two fasting days.  I’ve gone days in my life where I’ve eaten less.  But when someone tells you that you can’t eat; that’s when you want food.  Also, I’ve been up around 3000 calories a day on this BodyBeast diet.  To drop down to almost nothing really was painful.  Thank God a day is just a day.

And thank you for reading this far.  I’m off to bed.  I’m sure there are many more bizarre events to happen for me tomorrow.  Don’t hesitate to share this post with others.

A (Long) Short Story for the Trainer

If you’ve read even a tenth of the thousands of posts I’ve made over the past few years then you know of my obsession with getting swole as the kids say.  Tonight I’d like to write a short piece in tribute to a friend who usually reads this blog (though he never comments).  I’ve mentioned him before, needled him with my words, had fun at his expense.  Most of the time I think he’s gotten a kick out of it.  Sometimes I think I pissed him off.  Always, though, I’ve been grateful for his help.

My friend’s name is Joseph.  We work together, teaching different levels of the same subject to high school students.  When I first met him almost four years ago the thing I noticed was that the guy is pretty much in shape – the kind of shape all men want to be in.  Many achieve that shape in their teens and lose it.  Some gain that shape later in life as a result of a mid-life crisis.  I always wondered about how to get that shape but never seemed to have the right tools, knowledge, or plan.  Stifling my raging jealousy I asked if he would train me (having found out he actually had done that sort of thing).

And then I spent two and a half years not taking his advice all the while wondering why I still looked like a creature from a 1950’s horror movie and he, well, he looked great.

Ultimately I discovered a program called Insanity.  I mentioned to him that I wanted to give it a shot.  To my surprise he praised the program highly and said to go for it.  He did warn me that it would be one of the hardest things I’d ever done.

I shrank back a bit nervous but undeterred.  I tried to keep all of his maxims in mind.  The biggest phrase he repeats again and again is that it takes time.  You know what I did?  I adopted the attitude that I would probably finish the 60 day program and still look like shit but that I would promise myself to be satisfied just for finishing something that hard.

What’s funny is that this guy actually offered unsolicited compliments along the way, commenting on how noticeable the change in my appearance was.  This was funny to me as I couldn’t really see it.  Oh, I convinced myself I could see dream results but I wanted to believe that this was in my mind lest I find myself getting let down again.  I also knew not to ever compare myself to him.  He’s worked out a long time and it shows.  To mirror his results I’d have to do this until I’m 60.

mustang parc gym

I ran out of media room on WordPress so I’m using whatever files I have.  It’s a gym.

Anyway, I finished Insanity, took a tiny break of about two weeks for my dad’s funeral, and started my current program – BodyBeast.  This one is designed to bulk me up.  I still have mixed feelings about my progress.  And I have mixed feelings, too, about whether I will ever achieve the look I’m after.  What’s interesting though is that the trainer enthusiastically invited me to work out with him this week.  He wants to see the workouts, offer his advice, and, I suppose, his encouragement.  I’ll admit I’m a little nervous.  It must be kind of cool for him getting to watch someone who is where he was 20 years ago.  It’s not so hot for me knowing I’ve got 20 years to go but from him I’ve learned not to focus on that.  My true fear is that my performance – either the ultimate results or just in the gym here and now – will be disappointing to him.  I did a back and biceps workout tonight, lifting weights for about an hour, following the program.  I feel pretty good.  I don’t know how I’ll feel in a few days standing in this guy’s house watching him run circles around me with heavier weights, more reps, and a blood-thirsty look in his eyes.  Have I mentioned that he turns psychotic when he works out?  But if I keep his own words in mind I should be fine.  It’s all about fixing my form, doing what I can, doing something at all, and waiting 20 years.  He said to me once: “Don’t look at a scale, don’t take measurements…  Do your pants fit better than they did a month ago?  Then you’re doing fine.”  Well, my pants certainly do fit better these days.  And for that, I am grateful.  And I offer my thanks for the help and a prayer that he doesn’t demolish what’s left of my morale.

I’m going to be the badass-est 60 year-old on the beach.

Of Broken Toes and Broken Dreams

“Ever have your spirit crushed, Mr. H.?” asked a student once.

OK, work with me.  It’s called a literary device.  Sure, no student ever said that but it’s possible that one could have.  More to the point I need to set up this next bit.

“Kid,” I said, “I’m a Mets fan.  Every year since 1986.”

See, wasn’t that cute?

In all honesty this past Thursday I had more than my spirit crushed in the form of a few small bones in the toes on my right foot.

At the Catholic high school where I teach I also assist in other ways.  One of those ways is to transform our very large gym (one of two, I might add) into a worship space for about 1200 people who gather once a month for mass.  I arrived early on the day in question.  It was just before 7AM.  I had really high hopes of starting a new workout that day too.  The thing is that my trainer clued me in to the secret of working out pre-breakfast.  Factor in a lengthy commute and my need to be there at an ungodly hour and the workout last out to a few extra minutes of sleep.

Boy am I excited about this workout, though.  After everything I’ve tried I’ve always felt that nothing has worked for me.  I have a vision in mind fueled by a desire for better heath vanity.  I now know that there are no easy fixes, that I should have done this when I was a teenager.  See, back then I had the time.  I had no social life thanks to a lack of friends or a personality, so I could have been pounding my societal aggression in the gym for hours on end.  Instead I was – come to think of it I really can’t account for my teenage years.  Must have blocked them.  I certainly wasn’t drinking, getting high, or dating like the cool kids.  But I squandered those years – years when I could have been setting myself up for success.  It’s hard, damn near impossible, to achieve the kind of success I want at my age.  The people I know who’ve done it can all maintain it.  That’s always easier to do when you reached it in the first place.  But when you’re married with kids and a job, not so easy to get started.

But this new program…  Having reached the conclusion that I need to be happy with whatever gains I see; I was really eager to jump into this.  I might only lose a few pounds, probably wouldn’t really put on any muscle but I’m OK with that because it’s better than nothing and if I achieve my potential I can’t be disappointed in what my potential actually was.

But it needs to start another day because I was tired that morning.

I walked into the gym to discover a group of kids even more eager than me already rolling out racks of chairs to set up on the gym floor.

“Kids, I love the energy!” I shouted as I put my coffee down.  You’ve got to praise them at every step.  It’s easy with these kids.  I love them like my own.  And like a proud dad I feel the urge to encourage them because they are so awesome.  And I mean that.  “But hang on a bit because we have to roll the floor mats out first.”

Then I proceeded to walk them over to the side of the bleachers where a giant machine on wheels resides.  “This baby here contains enough floor matting material to cover the whole gym so we don’t scuff up the floor with the chairs,” I said as I motioned for them to give me a hand wheeling it into place.  The thing weighs 1,000 pounds fully laden.

Did I mention they’re eager kids?

In their eagerness they pushed the rack really hard before I had a chance to get my foot out of the way.

Ever hear bones break?  It’s not a pleasant sound.

I looked down to see a hard graphite wheel rolling up onto my foot and then… staying there!

“Love you kids but get this thing OFF ME!!!” I shouted.

They pushed and after what seemed like an eternity it rolled off.  The other side.  Taking an additional pounding blow on another toe.

I tried to act tough.  Who complains about broken toes of all things.  I finished helping the kids and even taught a class before seeing the school nurse who instructed me to go home and elevate it.  It was in her office that I first removed my sock.  Oh God, it was so gross…

And because I knew I’d need to see a doctor, it turns out I do indeed have two broken toes and will be wearing a boot for the next month.

On the upside, I’ve been wanting to introduce a Bermuda-themed look into the school dress code for some time.  Think about it.  These kids already love me for my style.  It’s the most amazing thing.  Remember those teenage years I mentioned?  Yeah, they seem not to matter now because the teenagers of today look up to me.  Do you know how gratifying it is to have 500 teenage boys literally trying to copy everything you’re wearing?  I’m apparently a trendsetter.  Let’s see how they dig shorts with my tie and jacket…

But that workout will have to wait.

Just like another Mets World Series win.

I think God’s trying to tell me something.

Getting Really Real

I noticed something after my 15 minutes of planking last night.

Planks suck.

But, I also learned something else.  A few something else’s, actually.

The first thing is that planks, though sucking the big one, must actually be really effective.  My core was on fire today.  It was a good kind of burn; not sore just really engaged.

Another thing I learned was that my trainer is not the cruel psychopath I had begun to think he was.  At work we discussed my plank.  And if you didn’t know I was writing about a workout plan that sentence would be positively dirty.  As I mentioned, I had been feeling quite confused about the training plan he set me on this time out.  It seemed like he was all over the map.  He had me do tabatas one day, a kettle bell workout the next, then run, then more tabatas, then that plank thing.

This all seemed very different than the workout routine from last summer where he stressed short workouts and consistency — like six weeks of the same thing — before switching it up.

Then he dropped that automated trainer on me and I seriously thought he was saying “I’m done with you.”  It felt for a minute like he was telling me that he didn’t trust my level of commitment enough to continue training me personally, like it wasn’t worth his effort anymore.

So I moved past that assumption pretty fast and realized he was just adding something into the mix with the pre-planned workouts from Spartan.

Today at work he showed me another workout.  “This one’s crazy,” he said.  That sounded encouraging.  He opened up his inbox to reveal somewhere around 1400 emails from Spartan and searched for one in particular.  “It’s one I did that time that I told you about.”  He had, in fact, told me a few months ago about a particularly grueling workout.  Funny thing is I didn’t know he had been using these workouts himself for a long while.

“Try to do five sets,” he said.  Then he let out a maniacal laugh before restating that it was all about consistency and having the desire to just do it.

I came home and took care of a few things like dinner and getting the kids to bed.  And then I got changed for this “crazy” workout.

Looking over the plan in my email I started with the warm-up.

75 jumping jacks and a 5 minute run.  What was cool was that I had discovered that I still had some fight in me.  After my 5 minute run I wasn’t in the least winded.  Just a few months ago I couldn’t go more than a minute without breaking down.  Now it seemed I could do this with ease.

The workout proper was every bit as crazy as he had suggested.

But I did it.  OK, I only did three sets but I did them with good form and to exhaustion.

The truth is that this was the best workout I’ve ever had.

I finished up and grabbed some water before heading to the shower.

As I did I was overcome with the need to say a prayer thanking God for my trainer.  He seemed to know this time exactly what I needed to do.  I have never felt this good after working out.  More importantly, he’s given me the right routine at this time to quickly boost my ego.  After this workout, in fact after this week of workouts, I’ve noticed quite a few changes.  I’ve actually put on 3-5 lbs. of muscle and my clothes are fitting better.  Maybe he’s been reading my blog and realizing I’m desperate to reach my goal and that my goal is to look like him.  At least I’m grateful that he’s taking me seriously (not that he hasn’t before) but there’s something different this time.

I think it’s getting really real now.

I still need help with a few things.  OK, I need lots of help.  When he reads this maybe he’ll take pity on me.  I mentioned form.  I’m big on using and keeping proper form.  I’m of a mindset that 1 burpee with the proper form is better than 100 crappy burpees.  So I’m focusing on little things like that.  My burpee itself could still use improvement.  But where I really need help is with my pull ups.  I need to find a way to rig up a decent pull up station at home so I can just do them.  It may take a long time but if I commit to doing at least 3 a day than I know Ill get better at them.  He bangs out ten at a time and that inspires me.  So if he reads this or if anyone reads this, say a prayer I get better at this one.

On that note, I think I’ve earned a little rest.

Fatty Visits the Dentist

Last night when I got home from Parent-Teacher Conferences I was delighted to discover that the bodyfat calipers I had ordered a few days earlier had finally arrived!

And then I spent about thirty minutes trying to figure out how to use the damn things properly.

Here’s the result.  Apparently I have about 14.5% bodyfat.  OK.  I’m not too disappointed.  I thought I was at 25.  But I’m not thrilled either.  I’ve got a bit of work to do.  I understand from trainer that 10 and under is where I need to be in order to see the kind of results I’m looking for.  4.5% might not seem like a lot but believe me, it’s going to take forever.  Forget about trying to get down to trainer’s 4% (you read that right).  I think we can put that in the category of “never gonna’ happen”.

This morning I was treated to a dentist appointment.  Yay.

Dentist assured me he was going to try to save the tooth.  I went in expecting a root canal (had them before, they’re not that bad); but, true to his word, he only had to crown it.

The lighting in the dental suite suits my skin tone.

Spent the rest of the day resting for a bit (I had off today), getting the kiddos, playing on the playground with them, taking daughter to a girls club meeting, picking her up, and then carrying out day 3 of our Lenten exercises.

Unlike the exercises I do to try to look not-fat, these are good for the soul.

Top it off with a homemade tuna melt on wheat bread and we’ll call it a day.

See, honey, I can take care of things when you’re away.

Get Your Lent On

Well what do you know, I did hit the gym!

Remember my trainer pal?  How could you forget…

Getting ready for work this morning, and knowing I’d have a great deal of free time since the students weren’t actually in class today due to career day, I packed a gym bag.  I’m serious about getting back what I had gained.  It wasn’t, in my estimation, a huge gain but the loss of that gain seemed phenomenal.  I’m probably just imagining that I’ve gained 800 lbs.  Wasn’t it just seven weeks ago I ran a 5K?  And finished it?!

Trainer texted me.  “You bring your kettlebell because I’ve got an awesome plan for you today!”

He sounded so excited.

Funny thing is, I had thought about it but genuinely forgotten the iron.

“Sorry, man, I forgot it,” thinking it would get me off the hook.

“Tough.  You’ll use mine.”

Crap, his is 35 lbs. and he swings it with ease like it’s a balloon.  Mine’s 25 lbs. and I’m so freakin’ weak.

You know what amazed me in this exchange?  He hadn’t forgotten about me.  At just the moment I was preparing to jump back into this thing and face my lifelong goal of getting shredded, thinking I’d be on my own since I had clearly exhausted his kindness, he let me know he was still somehow and somewhat invested.

Now the big question is, is he still invested enough to see me all the way through this goal?  And am I invested enough to take whatever shit advice he gives me and just freakin do it?

What’s the goal, you ask?  Geez, I thought I said it already.  Getting shredded.  Could we just do a whole head transplant between me and trainer?  Probably not (cursed lack of scientific advancement) but you get the idea.  I know I’ll have to workout and run and whatnot for like 20 years according to him.  But I still think he was just testing my resolve when he said that.  I think I could get in his shape by Easter, right?  In fact, today my bodyfat caliper arrived in the mail.  Right after work I pinched myself (literally).  Turns out I’m at 14.5%.  That’s exciting I think.  I’m not even sure I measured correctly but if I did it’s not as bad as the 25 I thought I’d be.  So the trainer is going to take me down to 10 by the end of Lent.  Yes, suddenly my dream of physical perfection and its subsequent promise of good health, scads of energy, the undying ogling from my wife, and the respect of everyone were within a six-week reach.

Did I mention that I was taking a narcotic for an abcess tooth today?

That’s all.