Saturday, March 18, 2006

Working Out

(Originally posted on Saturday, March 18, 2006 by Tim)

While it wasn?t a New Year?s resolution, Cat and I have been very dedicated to a regular exercise routine since the beginning of the year. For me, it started with my stepping on the scale after the holidays. In general, I use the holidays as an excuse to eat a lot of stuff that I don?t eat during the year. It?s not like I can?t get the things I eat over the holidays, but usually I show more restraint during the year.

Cat likes to say that I?m a lazy eater. What she means is that I eat what?s around. Since she is vegetarian, we have little meat in the house and I eat mostly vegetarian when at home. When we visit people for the holidays, there are a lot of non-vegetarians around and hence a lot of meat around. I tend to eat a lot more meat during the holidays.

For example, while we were visiting Cat?s parents, I felt the need to buy a pepperoni stick. I love pepperoni! It?s spicy and salty and fatty. What more could a person want in life? I suppose they could make it sweet as well and it would be perfect. There?s a million dollar idea for you, the sweet pepperoni stick. I?d buy them. In fact, I?m getting a craving for pepperoni stick in maple syrup right now.

No, I?m not the one who is pregnant.

The point is, that I kind of go nuts eating over the holidays. As a result, when I stepped on the scale in January, I was up 7 pounds. This left me with a dilemma. I want to eat more, but I don?t want my weight to get too high. I?d actually like to keep it around 145 pounds and I was at 157 right after New Year?s. Immediately cut back on how much I was eating and I lost about 5 pounds in the first week or two. It wasn?t fun. I?d walk through the grocery store and think things like, ?Mmmm, that looks good. Hey what about that? It would be fun to make that dessert?. I couldn?t take advantage of the thoughts though. Anything beyond the basic meals of the day would thwart my efforts to lose weight.

I needed a way to eat more and still lose weight. Lifting was my answer. The idea was that each pound of muscle burns 40 Calories per day just resting. If I could put on an extra 5 pounds of muscle, I could eat an extra 200 calories of food a day! Now, I tend to be obsessive about everything. The starting obsession was how minimal a workout could I do and still accomplish my goals. In line with this, Cat and I started out with 2-3 workouts a week for 15 minutes each. I would lift one set of bench press, one set of leg press, one set of curls, and be out of there in a flash. I think it was working. My weight was stable and dropping very slowly (1-2 pounds a month). However, somewhere over the last three months, the focus of my obsession changed.

At the end of graduate school (9 years ago) I had managed to get my bench press up to 225 pounds. For those of you who don?t lift, that?s two of the 45 pound plates on each side. It was one of those, ?OK, I can die now goals?. Well, I?ve gotten into trying to increase my bench press again. I want to see if I can get back to 225 pounds. This has resulted in a substantial increase in workout time. Cat and I now work out 6-7 days a week for 45 minutes each. We alternate lifting with aerobic workout days. I wasn?t big on the aerobic workouts, but my weight got stuck at 150 pounds and I tried them out to try to break through. I think it?s been effective. It might just be my imagination. I?ve found that 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer isn?t too bad with a book in my hand. I get my heart rate up to 150 for the bulk of the workout and pretty much don?t notice it with my head in a book. It?s also a great time to do some leisure reading. Now if only I could find a way to grade and workout at the same time, I?d be all set!

So I have these two goals: Get my weight down to 145 pounds and get my bench press up to 225 pounds. I realize that they are in conflict with one another. To get my bench press up, I need to put on more muscle. This doesn?t drop my weight. I don?t remember being over 150 pounds in graduate school and I?m hoping to shift fat to muscle to achieve the bench press goal. In the end, 225 might have been my peak and I might be too old to achieve it again. I?ll definitely let you know if I make it.

Speaking of lifetime goals, I have a list of things I?d like to accomplish. These aren?t the really serious goals, these are side goals that would be nice.

Goal #1: Understand quantum mechanics. OK, I just don?t get it. I understand the results that come out of quantum mechanics, but I could never derive anything from basic principles in the field. I?ve made a run at this one a couple of times. My current attempt involves taking a step back and relearning my calculus. Right now I?m stuck on trying to learn how to do proofs. If you know of any good books on math proofs (Math Proofs for Dummies? Math Proofs for Your 3 Year Old) let me know.

Goal #2: Obtain a rank of Master in chess. I used to play chess seriously in junior high. I?m reasonably good at the game and it would be really cool to work my way to a rank of Master. I?m not sure how realistic this goal is. I had a friend in graduate school who was very good at board games (much better than me) and he had gotten close but not quite there.

Goal #3: Beat Diablo II on hardcore mode. This is a video game goal. Diablo II is a game where you fight your way through the various levels of hell defeating different demons on each level. You have to win the game three times at increasing levels of difficulty. On hardcore, you only get one life. If you die, then you have to start over. It?s a well done game. It?s also reasonably old. I think it came out about 6 years ago. Only the most diehard of gamers among my students have played it.

Goal #4: Explain to dogs that if it comes out of the rear end of another animal, you don?t eat it. Just kidding, this isn?t a goal (certainly not a realistic one). It?s likely to become a future blog post though.

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