My Resistance To Weight Lifting

Photo Credit: drpretty via Compfight cc
Well, now that yesterday’s unpleasantness is behind (Ha! “Behind” – see what I did there?) us, we can move on to more important things…
(Crickets chirping.)
Funny, it’s the screw-ups that make the best copy, isn’t it? There is just not a whole lot of gripping drama to “My stomach seems to have recovered and my blood pressure is a little low.” Error makes for better reading than compliance.
So, given that I will probably not be indulging in any humorous diet screw-ups today, I am free to turn my attention to something I should’ve started last week: resistance exercise.
I had sorta been waiting until I could make it up to the gym at our local community center, but I can see that waiting is not doing me any favors. 70 pounds of weight loss has led to a whole lot of sag. So, rather than waiting until I get out of the house and up to the gym on a regular basis, I am forced to turn my attention back to my fall-back tools for “weight lifting”: resistance bands.
I will be the first to tell you, I am not a fan of resistance bands. I feel like they don’t provide enough resistance, forcing really high reps to get any kind of significant benefit out of them. I am also not clever/flexible enough to figure out how to use them to target specific muscles, so I end up doing sort of general exercises (like standing rows) instead of muscle-specific ones (like, say, cable pulldowns). Once upon a time, I was a gym rat, and the downshift kinda drives me crazy.
However, doing 50% of something is always preferable to doing 100% of nothing. At least that is what my mother used to say when I would fail to turn in homework assignments back in school. So, I have put together a little resistance band workout that I will try to use 2 or 3 times a week:

  • Chest Presses (To target that hideous mass of loose skin on my pecs)
  • Standing Rows (To try to get some work on my largely ignored back)
  • Shrugs (See if I can develop shoulders again)
  • Overhead triceps extensions (The most awkward of all, as it involves putting a heel on one end of the band then reaching up with the other end.)
  • Bicep curls (Standing with legs spread holding down the center of the band, grabbing the ends in each hand and curling – another weird one.)
  • Forearm curls (Same as before, just engaging only forearms)
  • Crunches (‘Cause, abdomen fat/skin)
No legs resistance work here – the 3 – 4 times a week on our single speed bikes is about all the leg work I want or can handle.
Hopefully, this will have some positive result, though I am not holding my breath. I honestly feel like I might as well be doing isometrics instead – the bands provide similar resistance, and isometric exercise doesn’t involve trying to jury-rig ways to keep the bands in place. Keeping my fingers crossed.
If anyone out there is successfully using resistance bands, let me know – I am just positive I am doing this all wrong.
Just Waiting Until I Smack Myself With These Oversized Rubber Bands,
– Hawkwind

The Evil That Lurks Within

No, this isn’t food porn. Read on.

So, the good news is that I finally broke the “70 pounds” mark for weight loss this week, coming in at 231 this morning.
The bad news is that I probably lost all 4 pounds for the week yesterday, as the result of an exceptionally poor food choice last night.
We have been doing extremely well in our dietary discipline, overall. We have been very diligent about keeping ourselves above 60 grams of protein a day, restricting ourselves to under 20 grams of carbs a meal, and our caloric intake shows it: we generally average right around 800 calories a day. Our logging (with Baritastic) has been consistent, and we are managing about 6 days of exercise a week, with one of us inevitably not wanting to get out of the house on one day of each week.
Yesterday, however, temptation struck.
How bad could it be, really, to have a little ice cream, right? Even marathoners and weight lifters and the like give themselves a day off from their training and dietary regimens, right? So, surely, it will be no big deal if we go out and get ourselves the smallest, tiniest, ice cream (ok, frozen custard) from Freddie’s, right?
This, you see, is how rationalization leads to really bad results.
As it turns out, that little tiny ice cream desert I had contained over 600 calories – almost a day’s intake, all by itself. It also contained nearly 4 meals worth of carbs (76 grams), 58 grams of which were sugar. On the sort-of bright side, it did contain 10 grams of protein, so there is that, I suppose.
Now, what do you think happens to a recently operated upon stomach that has had almost no exposure to processed sugar for months when you dump one of these little delights into it?
Yeah, let’s just say that I didn’t walk the dog last night because I was too afraid to get more than 5 steps away from the bathroom.
This was the first time I have thrown up since the surgery, and let me tell you – it is no fun at all. It may be that the stomach is now reduced in size, it may be that things are still healing internally, but it was painful like nobody’s business. Then, of course, came the second half of the operation. I was in and out of the potty half a dozen times in about 2 hours. Around visit #3 I stopped worrying about weight gain and starting worrying seriously about dehydration.
So, yeah. Today I can not bear the thought of eating anything. There was some speculation last night that I would wake up craving sugar today, but no siree. You couldn’t get a teaspoon of sugar into me without holding me down and shoving it up my nose or something. As it is I have no idea what the heck I am going to eat today that won’t make me violently ill again. Hummus, maybe, I could possibly manage plain yogurt. The idea of digesting anything with texture is just not a good one right now.
Bright side? I don’t see this happening again, especially as a “reward” for several weeks of good behavior. Amazing, the damage that 4 ounces of ice cream (frozen custard) can do.
But, I lost 4 pounds. So, there’s that.
Shooting Pepto-Bismol And Hoping For The Best,
– Hawkwind

Energize!

As August winds down, the temperature begins dropping as we welcome the winds and rains of the monsoon. Children return to school, and family schedules slowly begin to normalize. Everywhere we go, we can feel the approach of fall in the air – that gentle slowing of movement and metabolism that heralds the oncoming winter season.
Except, of course, in my house. Here we are suddenly bouncing off the walls, getting out of the house more every week than we used to do in any given month. Drive-throughs have been replaced by home-cooked meals, though admittedly very small ones. Long-range planning has suddenly become a concept, where we usually used to only deal with whatever any given day had in store for us.
The schedule around here has certainly changed. I am now getting up around 6 every morning. We head out for a morning bike ride every day, and still walk the dog every evening. Bed time is now closer to 10 – 11 pm, rather than my usual 9 pm. 
It isn’t just more time awake, though. Everywhere you look, there are signs of increased energy. Vixen is running around the house, growling and yipping and playing with toys as if she were a puppy again. Lor is pulling out arts and crafts projects that have lain forgotten for years and re-starting work on them. And I am now really writing: instead of hastily writing the blog and then going back to reading or gaming, I am now spending a minimum of 4 hours a day writing, 6 days a week. It is as if someone slipped a permanent vitality potion into our (high protein, low carb) breakfasts each morning.
A dietician will tell you that it is due to the complete shift in the protein:carbohydrate ratio in our diets. A personal trainer will inform you that it is due to the increased amount of exercise we are getting. A doctor might say that it is simply due to losing excess weight and stabilizing our daily nutrients.
I think that these are all at least partially correct answers, but ultimately I think it has more to do with mindset than anything: We are no longer resigned to living with the sedentary lifestyle brought on by my obesity and our other illnesses. Lor and I are suddenly interested in the world outside our front door because we no longer feel ourselves cut off from it. And Vixen is just spastic because, well, Vixen.

It is not all sunshine and roses, of course. Our increased energy expenditure has us now dropping down for naps for a couple of hours every afternoon. We do get to the far side of a long ride or day and look at each other, realizing that we have pushed just a little too hard and now are going to have to struggle to make it home. But this is no different than any other kind of resistance exercise – you push to failure, then next time you are a little bit stronger.
We still have lots of things we want to add – Lor wants to start an aerobics class, I desperately want to get back to the gym. But, I no longer look at those things with a resigned malaise as “may happen some day”. I now know, with a little more time investment, we will actually get there.
More Naps May Be Required,
– Hawkwind

In Transition

(Transition Offense, for those who have no idea what I am referring to here.)
I got to spend some time at ABQ Health Partners Bariatrics yesterday for my 1-month surgical follow-up. My Nurse Practioner, Patricia, laughed at the “oops, I ate bread” story, expressed concern that my blood pressure was too low, and congratulated me on my continued weight loss. She then warned me that a stall might be coming as my diet changed, and then approved me to move to the “regular food” diet – ready to eat any food I wanted, provided I abided by the rules we have been getting hammered into us for the past several weeks. You know: protein first, no liquid before or after meals, less than 20 grams of carbohydrates with any meal in a day.
With that, she released me into the wild. Total time in the office: 19 minutes.
I stood blinking in the sunlight outside the office, my head swimming at how quickly everything took place, and then realized that I was, finally, able to start eating like a normal person again. Admittedly, a normal person who eats 4-ounce meals that take 30 minutes to ingest, but, you know, mostly normal. 
So…now what?
We briefly discussed going out to a restaurant to celebrate, but after the Panera disaster on Saturday I was not really feelin’ it. Other than steakhouses and seafood joints, I could not think of any restaurants who specialized in high-protein, low carbohydrate fare, so I decided to just skip it. Instead, we headed to the grocery store.
Where I bought greek yogurt. With fruit in it.
I remember 6 weeks ago, Lor’s absolute delight in wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s and buying all these items she had been missing, and felt kind of jealous. I felt no sense of joy, really. No overwhelming relief that the worst was past and now I could start enjoying my new diet. Mainly, I felt panic. How was I going to handle 60 grams of protein a day without using protein shakes? I felt like someone had taken the training wheels off my dietary bicycle, and I was now teetering precariously as I rolled down the street.
So, instead of a celebratory meal, I had a P3 instead:
12 grams of protein, and roasted meats, hard cheese,and nuts – all things that have been denied me for weeks now. That settled me down the way a stiff drink used to. Heck, eat three of these a day, with two yogurts for snacks, and I am already upwards of 50 grams of protein, right? Nothing to this 60 grams a day thing!
Then, for dinner, came Lor’s secret weapon. It turns out she had been planning for weeks to make us a pizza to celebrate my return to real food. Not just any kind of pizza, though – a pizza whose crust was made out of baked ground chicken.
Yeah, let that settle in for a bit. It is a real thing: Chicken Crust Pizza.
Except, instead of going all “veggie friendly”, Lor piled it with beef marinara, Canadian bacon, regular bacon, and fresh mozzarella. A single slice of this heavenly marvel came in at a whopping 23 Protein, with only 4 Carbs. The best way I can describe the taste of the crust is a deep dish pizza crust cooked in an oven at the same time as a roasting chicken. We (barely) managed a slice each. (Mind you, each slice is about half the size of a standard slice of pizza. So, yeah, pretty nutrient-dense.)
So, yeah, maybe this “real food” thing will work out after all.
Now I Am Ready To Go Back To The Grocery Store,
– Hawkwind

The 15-year Itch

Only 9 years later than the rest of the world, I am working my way through The Name Of The Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. Frankly, the book is astonishing. Equal parts epic fantasy and fictional biography, it contains beautiful language, a magic system based on scientific principles, and a story so captivating that, 500 pages in, I find I do not care that the protagonist is only 15 years old. It is the kind of story that makes me wish that I had written it.

As I frequently do with writers whose works I admire, I have spent some time researching Mr. Rothfuss as an author. As it turns out, The Name of the Wind is his first novel, and he began writing it in college. He had “completed” the trilogy it is a part of 6 years later, but continued working on the books for another 9 years, until the work was published. While I admire his dedication to theĀ development of his story, I freely admit that there is not a whole lot here for me to learn from and apply to my own writing career.

The problem is, unlike Mr. Rothfuss, I do not have 15 years in which to write my first novel.

Consider the problem: In 15 years, I will be 61 years old. Nothing wrong with that, many people have made great contributions in their sixties. But now, in 2016, Mr. Rothfuss has yet to complete his trilogy. Following his example, at 70 years old, I would not yet have completed my novel. (Remember, this is a trilogy we are talking about). Fifteen years after that, I will be 85…I am sort of running out of time to produce anything more than one “masterwork” if I am to emulate his schedule.

Now, I run into a difficulty here. Do I desire to produce something beautiful, like “Name of the Wind”? Or, in the name of time management, should I merely be settling for good enough? Right this moment I am working on my first serialized novel for Fiction Vortex, which is actually due out at the beginning of next year. Every day I re-read the story I have created so far, and am terrified: What if this is just “good enough”, but not great? Do I really want to produce a novel that isn’t great, in the name of expediency?

This is my dilemma. So far, the only solution I have found is to distribute the episodes as I write them in order to get honest criticism back from picky readers, hoping that the friction of critique will rub off the elements that do not contribute to greatness. My greatest fear is not to crash and burn spectacularly. My greatest fear is that of a reader opening my book, reading a few pages, and then shrugging and going on with his or her life – completely unaffected by what I have created.

 

  • Jeremy C. Schofield