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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

when you question your life choices

An internet buddy of mine went to the Crossfit Games this past weekend and had her sports bra autographed by KLOKOV. And posted a pic today of said event. Plus a pic of her and Klokov with his arm around her.  In some alternate universe that could've been me, you feel?

Also? I woke up at some ungodly hour this morning with an excruciating charley horse in my left calf which is all down to, I'm sure, the fact that I have been horrendous about my water intake lately.

My eating has also been crap. I ran out of my stock of healthy meals in the freezer and so yesterday I took two yogurts and a Quest bar to work with me for lunch. Then I didn't have time to eat one of the yogurts. Then I came home late after the gym and had half a Coke Zero, a giant leftover biscuit from the barbecue place I ate at after work Sunday night, and leftover mac n' cheese from same.

Oh, yes, I did work Sunday, which was another unfortunate life choice. Also why I didn't have time to cook and restock the freezer.

I don't know who Jim Rohn is, but he can shut right the fuck up.

I'm seriously gonna hydrate properly today though. That cramp was an intense way to welcome the morning.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

peeeeee arrrrrrrrrr

I dunno if I've mentioned it in here before, but my friend adopted a new ginger kitten several months ago and named him Max. As in, one-rep max.  In an example of random coincidence, I had a friend in high school/college who back in the '80s also had an orange cat named Max. That Max weighed a whopping 25lbs, had a head the size of a grapefruit, and was called Max after Cedric Maxwell. (If you don't know who that is, you obviously were not a fan of the Bird-era Celtics. Your loss.)  But I am not here to discuss great sports teams of my youth or cats who were even bigger than my beloved fat Eddie (but, srsly, what's with orange cats and being jumbo-sized?), but rather one-rep maxes and PRs.


 (one-rep) Max:
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(one-rep) Max:

(and just for a change of pace,) Eddie:

Mainly I would like to talk about PRs and one-rep maxes today so I can brag about how I went for one Sunday and got it. But in doing so, I've also got to talk about my not-so-glorious failure a couple weeks ago. That's the thing about lifting weights, kids. Sometimes you win. Sometimes gravity wins. The days that gravity wins, you can be pissed as hell. (Ask me about the time I [gently, I'm not a COMPLETE idiot] punched the side of the power rack in frustration.)  You can get down on yourself.  (Ask me about the million times I've told myself I suck.)  And after all that, sometimes you can try to figure out why gravity won.

So, yeah, a couple weeks ago I was at the gym doing rack pulls** and I was feeling good. Strong. I started out at 155x8.  It felt like I was picking up nothing, almost literally. Huh. Next I did 185x8.  Usually when I do these, I get about 6 reps at 185, but I have gotten 8 reps a time or two before. On this day, not only were the 8 reps doable, they didn't even feel difficult. I started thinking this was a day to go for a PR. Since my all-time rack pull PR was two plates*** (225) x3, and that was over a year ago, and since on a good day lately I've been able to do 225x2, I figured I'd go for a one rep max. And I figured that one rep max would be...235? But you don't (or *I* don't) just skip from 185 to 235. I did a set of 205x5 which was, again, what I've been getting lately on a good day. It felt good. Almost--but not quite--"easy."  Okay, I thought, I should be able to tie my rep PR at 225 and then get my one rep max at 235.  Took my proper amount of rest between sets. Pulled 225. Times two. Dammit. The fact I didn't tie my rep PR should have told me that despite how well the earlier sets had gone, it was not the day to try that one rep max. But I had gotten the idea into my head and sometimes ideas don't leave my head as promptly as they should. Sigh. I then tried three times to budge that 235 and couldn't even get it a millimeter off the rack.

I was pretty angry. I didn't punch anything though. Go me.  (Sigh again.)

Part of the problem was that someone had switched out a bench press bar for the oly bar that belongs in the power rack and the knurls on it were in a different place and also were very rough such that my palms were getting all torn up.  But I didn't want to use that as an excuse. The reason that bar did not move was NOT because my hands hurt, kwim?  On sober reflection, I was pretty sure that my progression was wrong, i.e. that the way I'd worked up to that 235 was not ideal.  

My pitiful amount of weightlifting knowledge may indeed be pitiful, but I do know that it's unwise to try for a one rep max too often. So I gave it a couple weeks and decided to try again Sunday, fueled by a blenderful of protein green smoothie, Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, and a whole wheat bagel.  And I did my progression differently. I started out lighter: 135x8. Then 155x8. Then 185x8. Then 205x5. And then I went directly to 235 and got that single glorious lockout. I wish I had video proof of it for y'all, but I was not filming.  

Mainly I'd have liked you to see the ridiculous new gym pants I was wearing.  I think I may have let on earlier that I Have a Problem with buying gym clothes. In that I, y'know, keep doing it. Especially when they're on sale. Athleta has these pants on sale.  I thought they were cute and I thought they were similar to some other Athleta capris that I have and like very much. And they have pockets. Well. They came in the mail and they are indeed pretty cute and very comfy and high quality and lalalala, but in direct sunlight they are far, far more neon green than that website photo would lead you to believe. I felt...conspicuous. 

Um, but that's a digression. We were talking about going for PRs and one-rep maxes. Allegedly.

Here are a couple articles about warming up for a one-rep max. I've read the T-Nation one ages ago and, yeah, apparently did not learn anything from it, because if it's to be believed I still did way too many warm up reps today.  My max might be higher than 235 if only I tested it correctly, huh?

Though according to this if my three rep is 225, my one rep should be 238, and if my eight rep is 185, my one rep should be 230, so 235 *is* in the right ballpark.  I tried a couple other one-rep max calculators on the interwebs and they all gave me the exact same figures, so I guess there is one scientifically accepted formula for this shiz. 

I'm sure this was all as boring as crap for those of you who don't lift and who don't want to read my links or play with that max rep calculator for like twenty minutes. Sorry. Here's a sleeping baby kitten and Klokov bending over for your time.

If there existed a picture of Klokov holding a baby kitten, I'm pretty sure the internet would explode.


**I tried to find a video of rack pulls to throw in here in case there were those of you who don't know what they are, but 90% of them were people pulling from their knee height or above, which NO. I could probably pull 300 lbs if I were pulling from above my knees. God.

***I swear, half the appeal of lifting is the lingo. Throwing "I pulled two plates" into a conversation makes me feel so much less like your average middle-aged working stiff and so much more of a fucking badass. I know. SAD.

Monday, July 7, 2014

the most important meal of the day

Or something like that.

Would it bore you guys for me to throw the occasional healthy recipe/food experiment up in here?  I promise that if I start doing this on the regular, I'll improve my food photography skillz. Or at least try to.

Tropical Fruit Protein Smoothie, aka "my breakfast"

1.5 cups So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk "beverage"

2 scoops (62g) Optimum Nutrition banana creme whey protein**

1 nectarine, skin n' all***

140g Trader Joe's frozen organic mango

Chuck all ingredients in blender.  Blend.  Drink!  Makes 2 normal or 1 Andrea-sized servings.

**for a tangier, less sweet smoothie, replace 1 scoop of whey and 1/2 cup of coconut milk with a 7oz container of Fage 2% plain Greek yogurt. This only works if you aren't out of yogurt, goddammit.

***well, not "n' all" do need to remove the pit.  But you'd figure that out without instructions, right?


Sunday, July 6, 2014

some reviews of random crap

1.) Trader Joe's Sweet Italian Chicken sausage

I bought these for the first time a few weeks ago, just to try.  I really wasn't expecting much--I mean it's healthy(er) sausage, how good could it be?

Fucking amazingly delicious, people, that's how good.

I honestly think I like them better than my go-to non-healthy sausage (Perri sweet Italian) and they're 100 calories each rather than 230. But don't take just my word for it.  I mentioned them to a co-worker a couple weeks ago, knowing that a.) she's a TJ's shopper and b.) she and her boyfriend try/are trying to watch what they eat.  Well, last Monday on her day off, she texted to tell me she'd bought some and cooked them up with onions, mushrooms, and peppers, and they were quote unquote orgasmic.

Two thumbs way up, man.

2.) these Zella "Move It" capri pants

and these Athleta "Karma" capris

and "woven stretch" athletic pants in general.

Those of you who are old enough to remember the '90s may remember that there was a hot minute in the mid-90s when nylon track suits, or as we called them, "wind suits", were fashionable. I want to say it was spring of 1995, based solely on my memory of wearing one to a Celtics game with my mother and where I was living then.  Anyway, all the hot trendy mommies that spring were wearing them on their own time, and as I was a hot trendy mommy, so did I. But what I remember most about them was that, working in pediatrics, I'd have my patients' moms come in wearing these wind suits and if the child was a toddler/preschooler and thus of an age to sit on their mom's lap, they'd be continually sliding off. It was sorta hilarious, but you could NOT hold a child on your knee in those things without constant readjustment.  They were slippery mofos. (Um, the track pants, not the children in question.)  Also, they were noisy and made a swoosh-swoosh sound when you walked.

That, kids, is my previous experience with woven-fabric athletic wear.  Can I say, the technology has vastly improved in the last 19 years.  Both those Zella and Athleta pants are so freaking comfortable. They're so lightweight, they're basically like wearing nothing, a fact I've greatly appreciated on recent 90 degree 1000% humidity days. They don't make any swishy noises. And you could probably hold a toddler in your lap without incident. Though I haven't tried, so I won't swear to it.

3.) the pedicure I got today

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it on here, but for the past six years, I have gotten pedicures at an expensive spa-type place from the nicest esthetician in the world. I usually only go during the summer, or during the holidays, or when I really need/want my feet to look nice, because it's too expensive to go every three weeks all year round. But I am very loyal to this woman.  I mean, I am not even a runner, but my sense is that I have, frankly, gross feet--I've almost lost both my big toenails twice from hiking/long distance walking--and she has never made me feel like she was bothered by how much damn work my feet are for her. And she always gets them looking pristine no matter how gross they are going in. Unfortunately, she has drastically cut down the hours she does nails. She has some back trouble and most of her days are now scheduled for facials, which are far less taxing on her body than pedicures.  I totally understand and sympathize but our schedules do not mesh at all now and I have been forced to go to other (cheapy) places for my last couple pedis.

The one I got today was...not good.  This woman did not clean up the polish she got on my skin when she was sloppily painting my nails plus my pinky toe on the right foot smudged even though I didn't put on shoes for over an hour after I left the nail salon.  I know this review is of no use to anyone reading this. I just wanted to bitch, okay?

4.) those Nike "comfort thongs"

Do I need to search for a picture of these?  I've posted them before. Including on my feet. God.

Anyway. Yes. I have been wearing these for a few weeks now, long enough to have formed an opinion. My opinion is, they should have named them something else because thongs are butt floss underwear which I personally only wear when the chances of me getting sex are pretty high.  These flipflops will not entice anyone to have sex with you. Unless maybe they have a foot fetish and your pedicure is better than mine? I don't know your lives, readers.

Okay, unfortunate name aside, I do like these, though not perhaps as much as I was hoping to like these.  I think they run weirdly narrow for a flipflop.  When I first got them that led to me feeling like there wasn't enough shoe/sole surrounding my foot. (Stop looking at me like that.)  My foot wasn't hanging off them in any direction, it just felt kinda like they might be. (Seriously, stop looking at me like that.)  Multiple wearings has dulled that sensation and I'm fine with the fit now.  Also, despite the "comfort" part of the equation--the memory foam insole--they really aren't as shock-absorbing as my 2 year old Reefs which are the most comfortable flipflops I have ever owned.  I can walk further without discomfort in those Reefs than I can in these Nikes.  I think it's that while the Nike insole is cushy, the soles are hard.  A plus for the Nikes, however, is that that insole *is* so cushy they don't lead to the dreaded heel calluses that flipflops (and clogs, for that matter) usually give me from the insole repeatedly smacking back up into my heel as I walk.  Also, they are just very cute and sporty-looking.

5.) Reebook adjustable speed rope

So, in my quest to find something that will entice me to do cardio rather than "cardio" and, specifically, intervals, I decided to buy a jump rope.  Off I went to Amazon to peruse them. There were many many many choices. I bought the one above solely and completely because it claimed to be easy to adjust the length and I knew I would have to shorten whichever one I got.  In case you've forgotten, I'M SHRINKING. Ahem. Anyway, they didn't lie. I was extremely easy to adjust and it adjusts in such a way that you can change the length back and forth without trouble. Which would come in handy if more people than one wanted to use it. It cost like $15 which is probably pretty much ridiculous for $2 worth of plastic and foam, but whatever.  That crappy pedi I got today cost $25 plus tip.  Everything's expensive these days. God.

I probably got a whole wind suit for $15 back in 1995.



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

in which i tell you a secret

...and discuss how the decision I just made is probably gonna fuck up my health. C'est la vie!

Now, this is only a big secret in that I'm not supposed to tell anyone at work about it yet, but I figure the chances of anyone I work with finding this blog are about .3483 in one million.  I could be wrong about that. But it's my defense.

There's a new position being created in my department in the hospital and it was offered to me.  It's an overnight position, 40 hours, 6 pm-4:30 am, Monday through Thursday.  There are many reasons this appealed to me and made me express interest in the job and accept it when it was offered.  Shall we enumerate them? Oh, why not.

1.) Money! The shift differential amounts to an almost $7000/year raise. That's a lot--A LOT--of money for just changing your hours.

2.) I am not not NOT a morning person.  The hours of the job as it stands now, with the horrid commute, means I get up between 4:30-5 am four days a week and that is so far from what my body likes, it's not even funny.  It's been ten months since I started at this hospital and it's just now that I don't feel completely like death getting up at 4:30.  Plus, when I was recovering from surgery, then semi-unemployed/self-employed last year, and not on anyone else's schedule, I pretty much worked out that left to its own devices, my body would go to sleep around 1:30-2 am and wake around 8:30. I think adjusting to going to sleep at 8 in the morning is going to be a lot easier than adjusting to waking up at 4:30. I might be wrong. We'll see!

3.) The work itself.  My department has two divisions, which without going into too much boring detail basically are an inpatient unit and an outpatient unit. When I was first hired per diem, I was mostly in the inpatient, but as they offered me more hours and, eventually, a full time job, more and more of my work has been on the outpatient side. Which is fine, but it's also what I did for 25+ years at my old hospital job and, while I'm good at it, it's also very routine for me. The stuff they do on the inpatient unit, especially what the job involves overnight, is completely different, a new challenge, and just very interesting to me.

4.) The politics, etc.  It's a big department.  The number of people one has to deal with on day shift is exhausting to me as a mega introvert. And there's so much draaaaaaammmmmmaaaaaa.  Almost all the people I work with are perfectly nice individually, but get them together and there's always someone who's convinced they're working harder than everyone else or that they're getting the crap assignments or whatever. Or someone who takes offense to something someone else said. Or or or. It gets a little high school.  Plus--back to the mega introvert again--when we're not actually with a patient and we're at our computers doing work there, we're all in a big room and these people never shut the fuck up.  Ever. As a matter of fact, the other day two of us were in there (everyone else was with a patient at the moment) and we were both working away quietly when our supervisor comes in and asks why we're not talking and says it's too quiet. Kill me now.  Overnights right now is just one person (who are thus used to working by themselves quietly) and my new position will be to help them out during their busiest hours.  The woman who works Mon-Wed in particular is an absolutely delightful person and I know we will be able to work very well together collaberatively.

5.) Did I mention it's Monday-Thursday? Andrea will actually not be working any weekend days (aside from occasional coverage) for the first time in ten years. There are so many yoga classes and workshops that happen on Friday night or Saturday afternoon that I haven't been able to go to with my schedule as it is, so many things with friends on Saturday that I can't participate in...  Looking forward to being more in tune with other people's weekends!, mentioning that I'll be able to go to my favorite teacher's Friday yoga class again, plus attend some of her workshops, brings me to the on-topic part of this post. Not that you people aren't fascinated by the minutiae of my friggin' life, I'm sure. Ahem.  Anyway, one of my first thought was how all this was going to play into my fitness life. As it were.  One bad thing about the hours is that, if I take public transport, I can't actually get home at 4:30 am. However, there *is* a Y within convenient walking distance of the hospital that opens at 5 am. My thought is that it will work out perfectly for me to end my shift at 4:30, change at the hospital, grab a snack/breakfast , and then hit up that Y when they open. I'd be able to get my workout in and still be home before 7:30 and ready to collapse into bed by 8.

I was wondering, though, if there was any information on the web about how working overnights effects muscle growth or fitness, so I tried to do a little research last night. I couldn't find anything about that with a cursory search, but I did find out a whole lot of scary shit about how working overnights is gonna give me a heart attack or cancer.  The cancer thing especially worries me because apparently, melatonin is a natural cancer preventative, and people who sleep during the day and are in artificial lighting at night just do not produce the normal amount of melatonin in their bodies. And supplementing with melatonin is not the same as the stuff your body produces on its own.

It's kinda scary. But not scary enough for me to pass up what feels like a really positive career opportunity.

This all happens in September, kids.  If anyone has any suggestions for adapting to night shifts, any links to info on how, if at all, working overnights effects your fitness, or articles debunking that my lack of melatonin production is gonna kill me, I'm all ears.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

dislocating your shoulders for fun and profit

The end of last week I worked three overnight shifts in a row to cover a co-worker's time off.  Overnight shifts are twelve hours. Day shifts are ten. To preclude my getting a shit ton of overtime, I left work early last Monday (the day I got my biometric screening!) which enabled me to go to a yoga class I can't usually attend.  It's always an adventure to attend a new class with a teacher you're not familiar with. They all have their own styles and their own different spins on things, you know?

This Monday night class was ostensibly a beginner's class, but unlike the teacher of the Wednesday night beginner's class, this teacher was heavily into vinyasa flow. Which is not my particular preference--I don't go to yoga to exercise, I go to the gym to exercise and yoga to stretch out my poor abused body and chill. But it was fine.  And, as a bonus, she taught us a shoulder stretch I had never done before, but which felt amazing.  I wanted to add it into my gym warm up routine, but I realized when I tried to that the yoga straps the Y used to have had disappeared. So I bought my own with my Amazon Prime. But while I was waiting for my two day shipping to deposit said strap at my door, I started wondering whether this stretch was in fact safe or liable to damage me.  I decided I would take video of myself doing this stretch and show it to my friend Auntie Hammie, who is the Official Shoulder Safety Officer in our little group of online weightlifting chicks.  Meanwhile, the strap came while I was working my overnights and in my zombie-like condition, I didn't of course get any video taken, never mind uploaded, etc.  But I did visit my massage therapist friend M2 yesterday and demonstrated the stretch to her. She was of the opinion that if I didn't feel any pain when I was doing it, it was fine to do. She, however, could NOT get her arms back over her head when she tried it. I was telling Hammie this and she said, "Oh! It sounds like you're talking about shoulder dislocations." I avowed that maybe I was, maybe I wasn't, because I have no frigging idea what a "shoulder dislocation" is.

So today I finally took video.  Disclaimers: please to ignore dirty house, bloated model, and slanted camera angle. Some day I will a.) vacuum b.) wear a shirt that covers my belly when I'm bloated and c.) buy a tripod. But today was not that day.  I am, however, wearing those Nike flipflops I was talking about.

So, what say you, smart blog readers? Are those "dislocations"?  Do you endorse or condemn this stretch? It really makes my pecs and shoulders feel great so I hope it turns out that it is in fact actually good for me.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

my first biometric screening (tm)

That's it. I am officially going to start referring to myself as a Healthy Living Blogger. Y'know, despite the fact that I drink beer. And wine. And the occasional hard liquor. And more coffee than your average village in Columbia. And eat lots n' lots of cheese. Some of it in the form of large bowls of mac n' cheese. And, oh yeah, I also eat limited edition confetti poptarts. And at least one brownie every Friday ever since I've been forced to go to this lunchtime conference at work where there's a whole table full of them. And I get less than 6 hours sleep a night most nights of the week. And I do "cardio" not cardio. But yes, boys and girls, despite this plethora of regrettable health habits which should serve as inspiration to actually no one, I stand before you today (ok, I sit before you balancing my laptop on my crossed legs, which is also a shitty health habit) and declare myself Queen of Healthy Living.

My HDL yesterday was 74.

I'm sure everyone reading this is aware, because *you* are all in tune with your health and fitness n' shit, but optimal value for HDL (i.e. "good cholesterol") is 60 or above. Fourteen muthafucking points over optimal, okay? I feel like I should have been given a gold star. Or a t shirt with the number on it. Something. Nope, all I got was a cheery, "You exercise, don't you! 'Exercise is medicine.'"

How'd this all come up, anyway? Well. As part of my shiny new employer-contributed-to health insurance, we have a thing every June wherein if you do three simple things (an online survey, an attestation that you do not smoke, and an in-person biometric screening in the cafeteria) you receive $400 off your health insurance for next year. And my screening was yesterday. They did a finger stick for (non-fasting) cholesterol. They took my blood pressure. (I tanked on that because I have documented "white coat" syndrome.)  They weighed and measured me and provided me with my BMI. The good news is that my BMI is 21. The bad news is that OMFG I am now 5'1.  I have shrunk a whole inch. I was so outraged by this, lulz, that she did it twice to make sure. Nope, 5'1. At this rate, I will be 4'11 by the time I'm 80.  

I'm looking into one of these.

Not srs. 

Well, a little srs.  I don't WANT to end up 4'11. Sad face.

The other blow to my ego was that they tested my body fat percentage with one of those handheld doohickeys and, despite my firm conviction that I am about 22-23% body fat, the bastard thing told me I'm 26%.  Not too outraged over that because I know those handheld things are inaccurate enough to be basically worthless and change wildly just due to how hydrated you are and so forth, but also because according to the little chart the cheery nurse showed me, a woman my age is optimally *supposed* to have between 24-32% body fat. So, yeah, I'm perfect there too.  

Queen of Healthy Living, all y'all.