Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Egg-zaw-sted.

So, I haven't blogged for two weeks.... work life and school life have been extremely busy. A while ago, I used to talk about how bored I was at work, and how some days, I used to just sit in the office and stare at the wall. Well, be careful what you wish for..... work has been extremely busy -- dealing with a lot of different issues, some complex student mental health stuff that takes up a lot of time, and also trying to launch a few new programs and partnerships. It's all very exciting and invigorating stuff, but it takes heaps of time... both in terms of real hours and mental/emotional time in the off-hours.

School has been picking up steam. Even though a while back I was feeling like I was losing confidence with my 'academic' self... I am really invigorated by the content (have a bit of a crush on my professor, to be honest) and am feeling like I'm working at a level of academic rigor that one would expect from a PhD-level program. At the end of my Tuesday night class, I have to admit... I feel completely brain dead. The class is intellectually challenging and mentally exhausting, but it's all good at the same time.

In fact, last night, I was completely wiped after class. But I also had a heap of work to do after I got home, and realized that I hadn't yet made it to the gym. Sebastien has given me the new kettle bell workout, which is incredibly challenging (sometimes a bit too much so), and the 'newness' is reinvigorating, both in terms of my spirit and my body. You need to shock your body out of older routines and into new ways of doing things -- it keeps it fresh and forces your body to respond, luckily in a way that results in good changes. Even though I had a pile of work to do, I still managed to get to the gym last night and cranked out close to 800 calories on the elliptical machine. It was a good night.

The kettle bell workout, as I said, is challenging. I think we started off a bit heavy on it, and I was worried on Saturday that I was overdoing it. So, I slowed down, got Sebastien's thoughts, and we've agreed to lower the weight and reps, but still keep the format. That's a relief. We talked tonight about how Sebastien feels confident in my ability to push myself in terms of my capacity for cardiovascular work (which the kettle bells does incredibly), but I reminded him that his confidence is only one part of he puzzle. I have to have that same trust and confidence... but we're getting there. It's a new way of doing things, so I need a little bit of time to work through the pains and kinks, and eventually feel better about how we're doing things.

Tonight we dove back into kettle bell hell (adjusted weights and reps) and threw in some pushups for good measure. At one point, I offered to lift heavier weight instead of doing the pushups... but Seb didn't buy it. He asked why I didn't like the pushups... well, it's true that they're challenging, but I don't like the fact that the floor is dirty.... yes, dirt and germs are one of my little OCD-issues. So, he laughed and told me to hit the floor. I'm glad he's so forgiving... HA!

So after kettle bell hell, we (read: me) hopped back on the treadmill for some interval jogging, and it was at that point that I realized I had no more energy left in me. Because of my crazy work schedule (a few late nights, VERY full days, and some very early mornings), I think I'm functioning at full-tilt. Throw in my regular workouts, and I'm probably overdoing it altogether. And I felt it tonight. As I was on the treadmill, I felt so exhausted... so tired. And began to feel like I did four months ago when I first started working out. So, we stopped there, and dove into the core-work. 300 crunches a day.... normally manageable. But tonight, at about number 75, Seb noticed that I didn't have much fuel left in the tank. I did another 75 and then we called it a night... after some amazing hamstring stretches, of course... ;)

I realize as I'm sitting here that as much as I have this renewed focus on health and wellness, and that we've achieved the goal of making physical activity a part of my daily life, that I still need to pay close attention to balance. Yes, I've been working and studying at full tilt. Yes, i've been working out, full steam ahead. But it dawned on me a few moments ago, that part of why I was so egg-zaw-sted tonight was that I'm pretty sure I was completely dehydrated when I got to the gym. I didn't drink as much water as I should have today.... and I really did feel it. Let's just say, lesson learned.

So, I continue to find tremendous strength and fun in working out. It has become a spiritual experience of sorts... that last night as I was hammering out the 800-odd calories on the elliptical trainer, that I began to tear up at the sheer sense of accomplishment. Four months ago, I could barely do a 10-minute stint on the treadmill. Now, I can go for an hour on the elliptical (my former nemesis) on top of a full strength routine and followed by 300 ball crunches. It's pretty freakin' cool, if you ask me. Here are some other cool things....

  • I drilled another hole in my belt this morning... I'm my father's son, why buy a new belt when you have a perfectly good Makita that can do the trick for you, right?
  • When I put on my pants this morning, before tightening my belt, I sucked in my belly, and the pants fell to the floor. All good...I just have to make sure that doesn't happen in public.
  • My light-weight winter coat, which I couldn't do up last year, has now been resurrected, and there's a comfortable amount of room in it, buttons closed, and all.
  • My black blazer, which last September was tight when I did up the button, now has to be altered. It's too big.
  • My watch, which used to tighten only to 2 notches, is now on notch #5.
  • And, most significantly.... I've embraced 'the numbers'. I weigh in with Seb every week, and we do a more comprehensive assessment once a month. Tonight at my weigh-in, the first two digits on the scale (and I'm not telling you what they are, 'cause it's not polite to ask a lady such personal questions..... ha!) are numbers that I haven't seen since the turn of the new millennium. Literally.
Seb told me to make sure I celebrate these moments... so, I'm sitting here with a bowl full of strawberries and a big ol' mug of green tea. I know it's not particularly indulgent, but it feels good, and treating myself like gold is a great way to celebrate.

So there you have it... It's all good. I'm feeling great, and learning lots along the way. Thanks to all of you for your support. Knowing that some of you are religious readers of this blog means the world to me.

Kia kaha.


PS. I'm pooping regularly again. Thanks for asking... oh you didn't ask??? you know you wanted to... !

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kettle Bells


This... is a kettle bell. It is a Russian instrument of torture, er, I mean, strength training that has become popular in North America -- particularly with those people who do mixed martial arts (and that would be my trainer). That said, it is also Sebastien's instrument of torture. The 16kg bell is know as one 'pood'.. and ironically, an intense kettle bell workout last night actually helped me poo. But I'll get to that later.

I was introduced to the kettle bell last week during my traning session. Basically, I stand with the bell in both hands, squat to the ground, swing the bell between my legs (taking great care to not hit myself with it), and then swing it upward over my head. Rinse and repeat. 30 times. And then take a water break. And then do dumbell curls. And then do 30 more kettle bell swings. And then more dumbell curls. And what's that again? Yeah right, more kettle bell swings, but this time with one arm. But, Sebastien's being nice now and making me swing the damn thing only 15 times... per arm. Oh yeah, with a dumbell curl break inbetween another set or two.

And I wonder why my blood pumps when I do it.

Basically, it's like doing close to 200 squats, holding weights, while activating every muscle group in my body. So after doing this last week, I was on a bit of an adrenaline high. So high, that I wrote my 'thankful' blog entry... (see last week).

Well, on Friday morning, I wasn't so thankful.

My legs were so sore I had to crawl up the stairs from my bedroom to go pee (don't worry Dad, we're not at the poo part yet). My quads have never been that sore. My hamstrings felt tighter than a frog's ass underwater. My hip flexors were so sore that I walked around the office on Friday like had just shat my pants (don't worry, still not the poo part). :)

After some soaking in an Epsom salt bath, and more stretching and more exercise, things loosened up. My muscles... not the poop. So much so that on Tuesday night this week, I cranked out my full 45 minute elliptical session, followed by 300 crunches (non-stop). I was on my high again!!!

But I hadn't pooped in 2 days. Something wasn't working with my system. And for those of you who know me well, you know that I can set my watch by how regular I am. Literally. About 7:15am and about 6:00pm each day. All good.

But not so much the other day. So, I went to my training session last night, ready to brag about my 300 crunches -- I think I subliminally thought that the more crunches I did, I might actually squeeze the poop out. It obviously didn't work. I told Seb about my kettle bell pain -- and I haven't seen him smile that big in a while. It's like he took some sick pleasure in my pain. At that moment, I knew I shouldn't have told him how much it hurt. Why? Cause he made me do it all over again last night. Same cycle. Same blood-pumping workout. And this time, I didn't accidentally hit myself in the 'nads. One word -- ouch.

So, my workouts continue to invigorate me. I'm still getting good results, and I've started letting Sebastien do a weigh-in every week. I've come to accept the fact that in order to measure my progress, that I need to do the numbers thing sooner or later. So, I decided sooner rather than later. I'm happy to say that the numbers are moving in the right direction and I continue to lose where it counts and gain where it matters. And I still managed to drop weight this week in spite of not pooping for 2 days.

All that said, you'll all be thrilled to know that I had a breakthrough this afternoon. Literally. I had a very satisfying poop. It was at about 2:30pm, so a bit off schedule, but I'm looking forward to getting back on cycle in the next day or so.

And that my friends, is how I'm doing these days. Loving my workouts. Suffering (in the best way possible) at the hands of my trainer and his kettle bells of torture. And I'm back on the path to regularity.

What else could a guy ask for???

Until next week.....

Kia kaha.

PS. See, Dad -- the 'poop' part wasn't so bad after all, right? ;)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

And for these things....

Doesn't the prayer at the Thanksgiving table typically end with something like "...and for these things we are truly thankful"???

I think it does.

That said, I've been taking the time to think about what I'm thankful for. Here goes...

My family.
They've never left my side. They always have been there, and they always will.

My friends.
They treat me like gold and help me to believe that I am wonderful just as I am.

My trainer.
He has undying confidence in my potential, and sometimes more faith than I do for what I will accomplish in the future.

My co-workers.
They respect the fact that I'm on a new path, and give me the time, space and understanding I need to navigate it.

The people who work at my gym.
They greet me enthusiastically every time I walk through the door each day and make me feel more and more like I belong there.

The people who work out at my gym.
They put up with my 'boy smell'.

The sales person at The Running Room.
I think she finally figured out what is the best shoe for me. For $150, she better have figured it out.

My dog.
She gives me a reason to get up at 5:45 every morning and go on a 4-5 km power walk.

My TiVo.
He (yes, he) records all of the shows that I miss while I'm at the gym or out walking the dog -- making my TV watching more purposeful.

The people who invented this blogger.
Because their invention gave me the catalyst to do one of the scariest things I've ever had to do -- share my thoughts and feelings with those people who care about me the most.

And the creators of "Will & Grace"
Because when I'm feeling crappy, nothing makes me feel better than a W&G marathon. Seriously, how can you not laugh at that shit!

And so, during this season of thanks... and giving... I share with all of you my thanks and my love.

Kia Kaha.

PS. I'm back on track.... have had pretty awesome results in the past two weeks...


Saturday, October 4, 2008

How Chris Got His Groove Back....

Okay, so I had a funky two weeks... but I feel like I'm getting my groove back... and it didn't take a week-long romp on an island with Taye Diggs to do it... although, I wouldn't turn it down as a possibility.... !

Focus, Christopher, focus.

I feel like I'm getting back into the swing of things. Accepting the reality of how long all of this is going to take, and also the fact that any effort I put in is going to yield progress is an important first step. And I feel like I'm getting to that point.

Also, setting some smaller goals have helped. Today's goal was conquering my fear of the elliptical trainer. Sebastien has got me doing a cycle of three two-hour workouts once each per week -- a cardio warmup, some strength training on major muscle groups, 45 minutes of more intense cardio, and some core work. Oh, yeah and some stretching, rest periods and lots of water for good measure. So today, I did legs and shoulders today. Legs are fun. Because they're my strength. So I feel good when I do leg work. After a full leg workout, I was supposed to hop on the treadmill for 45 minutes of more intense cardio (walking and light jogging), but alas, all of the treadmills were taken. I have a particular treadmill I like to use, and someone had just hopped onto it, looking like he was there for the long haul.

Ironically, the elliptical machines were all free. My nemesis. I've tried it a few times in the past, but just feel unbalanced, uncoordinated, and like I'm not grounded -- especially because, well, I'm not on the ground. I know, the logic is baffling. So, I hopped on and set myself a 10-minute goal. I would try to find a resistance level, hand position (I don't like those handles that move back and forth -- I have short arms) and pace that I liked. I found it quite easily, in fact. Don't know what made this attempt different than the others, but it felt okay.... for the first few minutes.

After about 3 minutes, I started to hate it again. Felt uncoordinated. Felt awkward. Didn't feel grounded. So, I took a few deep breaths, found a spot out through the window to focus on, and talked myself through it. Before I knew it, I was at the five-minute mark, and was feeling like I was back on pace again. 5 minutes later, I hit the ten minute mark, and happily hopped off the machine to grab a sip of water. 10 minutes... goal achieved... gold star for me.

But the treadmills were still occupied, and it didn't seem like anyone was going to be done anytime soon.

So, I decided I'd try to do at least half of my 45-minute cardio session on the elliptical. That meant I'd need to do another 12 minutes or so. I did another 15 instead. 25 minutes down, 20 to go, and still no treadmill. Oy.

I went through a series of negotiations in my head, and debated about calling it quits and heading home for the day. But the goal of completing my whole workout was too important. Giving up was not an option. Treadmills were not available. Recumbent bikes are even more awkward than the elliptical. So back on I went for another 20 minutes.

Sebastien has been persistent in trying to convince me that the elliptical machine will help me see some good results. Many of his clients in the past have had some of their greatest success because of cardio work on those machines. I wasn't totally convinced. But now I kind of get it.

After 45 minutes on the elliptical, I kept a very consistent heart rate, and burned about 400 calories -- not a bad finish to a full 2-hour workout. Once I got into the groove of it all, it felt really good. Minimal leg strain, didn't have to stop half way and stretch out my calves (like I normally do after walking/jogging on the treadmill), and hopped off that machine feeling like I had one of the best cardio workouts I've had in a long time.

So, I conquered the beast. For now. The true test will be if I hop back on the elliptical tomorrow when I go back to the gym. But for now, I feel good about it, and am enjoying the afterglow of my accomplishment. And again, Taye Diggs had nothing to do with my afterglow. LOL!!!!!

Kia kaha.