Welcome to The WatchCat
Thursday, November 15 2018 @ 01:10 pm PST

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How many times now have I had to go back to the gym after a hiatus due to surgery/injury/illness/house projects? I can't say "too many" because I'm proud of the fact that I always end up back there.

The setbacks annoy me. They always seem to show up when I'm just short of a goal, like the way I was so close to doing 300lbs on the sled. I got back to the gym this week and I'm back to doing 240 on that machine. And I did 2.5 miles on the elliptical at varying paces (including a cooldown) within 30 minutes. Upper body work was around 70-80lbs.

Though I'm tempted to growl over how much better I'd like to be, I have to remember that two and a half years ago I could barely run for two minutes at a time. And a year before that, a fifteen minute walk would wear me out. So being in this kind of shape is still pretty darn good. Today when I'd showered and changed, I put my heels on and headed out, with the "yeah, don't you wish" feline walk earned by a workout well done.

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Vertx: Training Tip: No Such Thing As the "Weaker Sex"

"The average woman walking into the gym will never even change their muscular circumference..."

Once again I find myself unable to qualify as the average woman! ;) While I'm not fanatical enough to put a tape measure around my muscles, I do notice when the shoulders of a jacket become tight, when the bottoms of sleeves suddenly hurt, when I can't zip up my knee-high boots anymore. So I guess I'm doing better than I thought.

I suspect that only other women over 30 understand how I can work out at the level I do and lose very little weight. The idea of enervation is an interesting one: "women develop neural pathways that allow them to access and activate muscle cells they already have." It might also explain why a handful of upper-body strength exercises are consistently difficult for me. Maybe. But I'm balancing that against the aforementioned muscle gains. And for the past week, I've been busy with a project that even the guys hate: shoveling and hauling a load of topsoil. I looked in the mirror last night and realized my shoulders looked different. Actually, almost everything looked different. Only the scale had little to say.

If you've been on the blog for several years, you probably remember that I had a chronic illness. A lot of things went into making it go away, and I think I'd call it "remission" instead of a cure. With everything that's gone on this past year, I've had too many hints that it could easily return. But while I'm writing to celebrate the fact that I've worked hard enough to actually build my muscle, I'd also like to remind people (particularly women) that there are reasons for working out beyond losing weight and fulfilling yet another "should." Whether due to enervation or muscle building, improved functionality is an amazing thing. I shoveled/hauled dirt for SEVEN HOURS yesterday.

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Workout update...

I went to the gym a couple days ago and had a great workout...
...until I tried to do upper body work. Couldn't lift worth a darn. Couldn't figure out why. I knew I was sore, but I've learned that the best way to work out soreness is to work out again. But not this time. It just made things worse, and later that day I was having trouble just raising my arms above my shoulder.

A day or two later, I noticed a bruise on my forearm, caused by banging my arm on a rail Wednesday when I slipped going down some stairs. I'd caught myself before I went down completely but I'd known I'd hit my arm.

A few minutes later the whole situation clicks into place.

I'd injured my shoulder as well on Wednesday, and then tried to lift weights on it on Thursday.

Someday I'll figure out which pain to pay attention to and which to ignore!
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Workout Update

I'm slowly getting back into the routine of regular workouts at the gym. Up until recently, the demands of getting settled into the house created enough physical work that I was skipping the gym, but it provided neither stress relief nor cardio. Now, several times a week I'm making a point of heading to the gym for an hour's workout. I want to get my running in good order again! But today's workout wasn't too bad, all things considered. A few highlights:

2 miles on the elliptical with resistance/ramps, 23:45

"Sled" weights:
20 reps 120lb
20 reps 140lb
20 reps 160lb
20 reps 180lb

20 reps 40lb
30 reps 60lb
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workout troubleshooting?

So I was working out with the weights today and realized one of my problems...

My arm muscles, in general, can deal with the weight. But my wrists are hurting and so I hold back.

Any ideas of how to fix it?
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Workout update...

One of the trainers showed up a little after I got my workout going today. Once I'd finished on the weight machines, I walk over to get some water.

"Good workout?" he asks.

I grin. "Not done yet."

And I go pound out 3 miles on the treadmill, .75 of one at the "Danger Zone" speed.

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More enthusiasm than sense...

Most days this title phrase applies to my male feline, who has been known to run into walls and fall off of chairs. But, alas, this past weekend it applied to me.

First off, yes, I am okay. (Just have to throw that in there for the family members who read this.)

Friday's schedule was a bit off-kilter, and so I went to the gym later than usual. Thus I'd had some espresso already, which given my heart rate issues, might not have been entirely wise. So I very sensibly decided to take things slow.

My translation of this was to spend more time on weight machines and less on cardio. Spent about an hour and a quarter on weight machines, then moved over to the treadmill.

At this stage I must interject that my iPod is very old and quite possibly more stubborn than I am. I wanted to get to the other half of the alphabet of artists but it just wasn't going there. So I saw my 2 songs from the Top Gun soundtrack and decided that since I was just going to do a 15 minute run, those could get me started.

Have I mentioned how much I love... Well, "Danger Zone" led the playlist and I decided that I just couldn't run slow with that song playing. So I cranked the treadmill speed up...

Ok, compared to what you military guys do, I wasn't going fast at all. But I'd moved my pace up to shave about two minutes from my normal mile's pace. And so to avoid flying off the treadmill, I pretty much ran on the balls of my feet for five minutes. Good fun, but I thought it might be wise to check my heart rate. Hmmm... 203. I kept up the pace for a while, but given the post that was behind my treadmill, I eventually decided I'd better slow down so that I wouldn't get flung into the post when I passed out. Slowed it down, went home, showered... and when trying various shoes with my outfit, I started noticing that my feet were not their normal happy selves in high heels. My arches felt like they were getting ready to snap.

So, I've been limping around a little for the last couple days. Didn't keep me from trekking around the Oregon Coast a bit (pictures to come) but that was largely due to being able to wear my battered combat boots. I'm mostly recovered now, and plan to go back to the gym tomorrow. But I've got that treadmill's number...
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Workout update...

Looks like I'm back on track! I'm still not up to the full weight load I could manage before my gym shut down last fall, but upper-body strength is always a tough battle for women and I'm glad to say I'm progressing in most of my weight-machine areas. Push-downs are still my nemesis; for whatever reason I'm not making strong gains there.

But today's interaction with the elliptical was rather amusing. The thing seems convinced that I'm going to kill myself on it. Simply put, I have a very high heart rate, and, at least according to the machine's monitor, its patterns are completely random. I tried to do the machine's performance test and received, "cannot compute your score." So I said fine, I'll do the program where I tell it where I want my heart rate to be. So I entered what for me is a conservative target heart rate...158...and it warned me three times about that being too high before I could begin. And then....I think for about a third of the workout, the screen flashed "SLOW DOWN." I was amused... and pretty much ignored it. If machines could talk I think this one would have cussed me out when my heart rate hit 178. I keep waiting for the day that some paramedic or fitness "expert" forcibly pulls me off the machine after seeing my numbers. Obviously I didn't die...and for the most part it felt pretty good.

But the best part was that I did my 3 miles at an average speed of 11 minutes each, which isn't top-notch by any means but it is what I was doing months ago before my gym closed and my routine was disrupted.

So I'm back in action...darn near shouted Hooah in the gym when I realized it. And then I completely insulted my heart rate by celebrating with an espresso.
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Workout update

It's been a while since I've posted a workout update, largely because things have been going well. I've made substantial progress, although travel set me back a bit because between the actual travel and the subsequent sickness, I went about a month and a half without a regular workout routine. The losses were aggravating but nothing I worried about.

Until today.

Today's workout was Bad News. Humiliating as I stumbled out of the gym to my car. I made it through my usual weights and 15 minutes of the stair stepper (a slow 40 floors) before realizing that I wouldn't be able to keep it up for the length of time I wanted to work out. I switched to the elliptical but only lasted a few minutes there. (This was doubly embarrassing because I was wearing my USAF shirt.) Rubber muscles, heart rate that refused to return to normal... I sat in my car for about five minutes before realizing that it wasn't helping much. I was half hoping for a tap on my window of someone checking on me. (Not that I would have necessarily trusted this mythical person, but it would have been nice to have a chance of a second opinion on what the problem was.)

Some of the problem might have been muscle fatigue from Krav Maga the day before, although I thought I'd done ok. Not great; first day back never is, but I made it through the hour without anything worse than taking a 30 second breather. (Well, I have a fashionable array of bruises, but they're nothing new for the training.)

So I'm thinking that it comes back to diet and hydration, with an additional nod to the fact that my stress is high and my body a little off-kilter right now. I had eggs and toast this morning, but I was severely delayed in getting out the door this morning so the calories might not have been hanging around like they were supposed to. Normally two packets of oatmeal or a big bowl of whole milk yogurt and granola does the job, so I think I'll be going back to that. And my hydration this morning was bad...I freely admit it. But unfortunately, even after eating properly and hydrating I'm still feeling the ill effects, so I'm not entirely sure of what's going on.

So that's the current WatchCat Workout update. I'll hope to be back with better news soon.