30 December 2011

Gym: 30 December

At a different gym today (part of the hotel this time--a different hotel, closer to downtown Columbia, South Carolina--which means it's tinier than the previous one), I could only handle 10 minutes on the bike and 2 sets with 10 reps at 105 pounds of lat pulldowns before I got tired of the whole scene.

I need to do this more frequently and regain my stamina. It's amazing how quickly it disappears after so much time building it up.

29 December 2011


My workout on Tuesday is kicking my ass today. My biceps are sore and tight and my lower back is sore and achey. My abs, however, are not sore--I need to work on them more.

27 December 2011

Gym: 27 December

I'm here in Irmo, South Carolina, where my beau and AIDS/LifeCycle partner hails from. We are spending the holidays down here. The hotel we're at has a membership agreement with a local fitness centre, so I checked it out this evening.

They don't have the programmable bikes I like (that tell you distance, calories burned, average speed, heart rate, and all that, in addition to the Random Hill programs), so I ended up doing only 10 minutes on the race-bike-type of stationary bike.

Then, I did weight training. I started with 2 sets with 10 reps at 50 pounds of vertical pec decks--yeah, I don't know what that is, either. You sit on the thing and push the bars away from your chest. Then I did 2 sets with 10 reps at 112.5 pounds of lat pulldowns, 2 sets with 10 reps of those back crunch things with a 10 pound weight, and 2 sets with 10 reps at 75 pounds of chest presses (the first 4 reps of the first set was at 87.5 pounds, but then I lowered it). I headed to the gym's rowing weight machine (not a rowing machine--this one is a stationary weight machine with plates and a pin to select the weight. It works the delts, rhomboids, lats, and traps) for 2 sets with 10 reps at 80 pounds. Then, I was outtie.

21 December 2011

Strong Incentive To Bike

Instead of using public transportation, I really should bike everywhere to prepare for AIDS/LifeCycle in June.

Read about my latest public transportation adventure.

27 November 2011

Gym: 27 November

I have plenty of excuses for not having exercised for the past two and a half weeks. I had a lot of hours at my two jobs, I caught the boy's crazy illness that knocked me out for more than a week, and then Thanksgiving. But really, excuses are just that: excuses. They aren't really reasons.

Not having reasons not to go to the gym isn't enough to get me there--I need reasons to go to the gym, or at least some peer pressure. So today, after brunch, more work, and a nice wander around, my boy and I got ready to go to the gym. He got distracted, and I ended up heading over there to watch Netflix on my phone while riding the bike for 57 minutes on a Random Hill program. The bike said I made it 19.31 miles with an average revolutions per minute of 87 (I try to keep it between 95 and 105, but some of those hills were steep--and after the first 40 minutes, my legs started kind of seizing a bit) and an average heart rate of 123 (I didn't really measure my heart rate much), for a grand total of a machine-estimated 525 calories burned.

I didn't do any weight training this time--I thought an hour on the bike was enough. I'll do less bike time and some weights at my next visit this week.

09 November 2011

Gym: 9 November

I have been meaning to go to the gym I just joined during the morning, when I would assume I'd have it basically to myself. That hasn't yet happened, nor has actually going to the gym. So I bit the bullet and went this evening at 5, after "training" at the restaurant (wiping down shelves, unwrapping an ungodly number of chairs, and screwing together tables and such), I went to work out.

After 25 minutes on one of those electricity-generating stationary bikes (48 watt-hours generated), I wobbled off the bike and did some weight training.

I upped the weight for my lat pulldowns this time: 2 sets with 10 reps at 110 pounds. I could have done another set or a greater number of reps, but I do like to conserve my energy to work out other muscles. And I've been feeling icky (not even as close to as icky as the boy, however), so I didn't try to max anything out.

Next were chest presses again, which weren't really things I did before this new gym, but the machine was free, so I went for it and did 2 sets of 10 reps at only 80 pounds. That's more weight than last time, but 2 fewer reps per set.

Last, I did these kind of sit ups for my back. There's this machine that is really just a glorified fulcrum--you brace your feet on the base, lean over the pads that support you on your thighs, and lower and raise your upper body using your abs and back muscles. To make it slightly more challenging, you can hold weights in your hand. I used to do these with personal trainer number two, and I enjoyed feeling the soreness. So I did 2 sets of 10 reps with the added 10 pound weight that was laying nearby.

I won't say this was a vigorous workout or anything particularly amazing. But sometimes, just doing anything is a success.

30 October 2011

Gym: 30 October

I joined a gym, finally. I didn't go back to my old gym, cheap and awesome though it is--I won't be downtown taking lunch breaks nearby, and I know I won't commute to it just for exercise (although an argument could be made that I'd go there to visit my boy, whose office is near my old gym, but I'm realistic--he'll be busy doing that whole working-while-at-work thing).

So I joined the one close to our apartment yesterday, even though the monthly fee is triple that of my old gym. Although I'm blogging activity, being slightly more conscious about eating, and starting to be physically active, I feel I need even more than that, and the collective fitness environment of a gym is encouraging to me.

Today, the beau and I went to the gym together--and not the one near the apartment even, because the only thing it doesn't have is a steam room, and he wanted to relax in one. So, we trekked downtown--and neither one of us brought flip flops for the steam room, so we never went in. Ah well.

I did 30 minutes on the stationary bike, which ended up being about half the distance and half the calculated calories that the beau did in an hour. I shoved that right in his face, but then again, he can go for hours and hours and hours if he'd like; I quit at 30 because I wanted to die.

So I went to this fun ab machine (click for iPhone picture) where you kneel on a pad (either straight or angled to one side) that's on a track and crunch your abs to pull your knees up close to your chest. I did 1 set with 10 reps on each side (angled the pad to the left and then the right) to work the sides of my abs. I hope my "home gym" has this doohickie--I enjoyed it!

Then I did some chest presses, 2 sets of 12 reps at 70 pounds, followed by lat pulldowns, 2 sets of 10 reps at 100 pounds. The last time I did lat pulldowns was 8 August--same sets and reps, but 132 pounds! I felt I could have done more weight today, but I wasn't going to push myself. I can build up to it again, I'm fine with that!

I'm glad I was conservative with the lat pulldown weight--my next machine was the overhead press. I squeezed out 1 set of 8 reps at 70 pounds, then 1 more set of 8 reps at 60 pounds, and I felt wiped--the arm exercises were done for the day.

But David wasn't--he wanted a few more minutes (to get his 1 hour) on the bike--so I looked around and found the rowing machine, which I have only used once or twice with my personal trainer at my previous gym. I did 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and another 60 seconds. Yeah, I think I was supposed to go continuously--but damn, I'm going to feel that one!

So, a 1 hour workout, some good aerobics and weight training, and a fun activity with the boy. I felt I earned all of those hush puppies I just fried up for us for dinner.

24 October 2011

Cycling: 23 October

Yesterday, David and I went for a ride together around Rock Creek Park. We did something a little different from the last time we rode together: I rode his road bike, and he rode my trail bike. The road bike was a lot easier--I could have rode much longer than the 11.1 miles we did, especially because we stopped for about half an hour at a nice picnic area near the creek. But I'm perfectly okay with short trips! By December, hopefully, I'll start being comfortable doing 20-mile rides in one go--without too much complaining!

23 October 2011

Cycling: 21 October

On Friday, I biked a bit--6.91 miles over the course of the day, in several trips: the first leg was at 4:30 AM to get to the kitchen for work, the second leg was to get to the restaurant for orientation for my new second job, the third part was to have lunch with David, and the fourth was to get home, with a brief stop-over at Mr. Yogato to pick up my hops plant and put it in a pot here at the apartment.

So, it wasn't a continuous 7 miles, but I got some cycling in, and that's what counts!

17 October 2011

Activity: 17 October

Although I didn't end up going out biking during the beautiful day we had today, I went for a nice walk tonight while David was preparing for his classes later this week. So, I used the time to enjoy the outdoors, make a few calls, and get some calories burned.

I walked 4.82 miles in a little under an hour and a half--that's 18 minutes per mile, or 3.33 miles per hour. Not exactly marathon speed, but it was a nice stroll around some of the neighbourhoods bordering Rock Creek Park and the National Zoo.

Cycling: 15 October

On Saturday, I got a good 10.8 miles in on my bike, as well as 2 hours of squatting while weeding. My quads still feel a little weak from my abysmal 25 miles last Sunday, but I feel good about how it's going--I have biked measurable distances twice in one week, and I've done other activity as well. I am thinking about going biking today, but I'm allowing computer troubles to keep me at home. I want to develop a free-weight routine to do with my beau during the winter, and I wanted to start working on the videos.

10 October 2011

Cycling: 9 October

It was a beautiful weekend: so the beau and I headed out to Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley for a relaxing break.

We brought our bikes and decided to do a short, 25-ish mile ride from a book my boy's previous assistant gave him with bike trails in Virginia.

And I think I made a good show. I did 24 miles--we added a bit of distance by going the wrong way after stopping at the cafe a little after mile 17. During that break, my legs started feeling like they wouldn't hold my weight (and, in fact, my left leg buckled a little). At about mile 22 or 23, I made David go ahead to get the car (5 miles away). I was slowing down dramatically because my legs were not interested in working anymore, and I was in such low gears and going so slowly going up hills I feared I would just fall right over. After David went ahead, I rested for a bit and then rode another mile and a half or so before he came with the car.

I may have insanely muscular legs, but they don't have endurance. Still, I'm proud of the 24 miles I did in the beautiful, hilly area around the Shenandoah River. It was at least 20 miles more than I have done in one go... Well, almost ever. Except for that one group ride in Saudi Arabia, where the land was completely flat.

Hills kick my butt! But if I want to prepare for AIDS/LifeCycle in June, I have to get used to them--one day of the ride is the "Quadbuster." I'm not looking forward to that ride...

06 October 2011

Cycling: 6 October

I spent an hour cumulative wandering around on my bike today. Okay, so I stopped every 15 minutes for various reasons, but it was still an hour (even if I only ended up clocking 8 miles... It's a start!).

This weekend, hopefully, David and I will head out west an hour or so to some nice mountainous scenery, where we'll go for a half-day trek on our bikes. That will be awesome!

04 October 2011

Excuses: 3 October

Three days of activity and I fell off the wagon. But it wasn't my fault--it rained on my day to cycle! And then the next day was, well, I think I got sick for a few days. And then it was DC State Fair, and it was all cold and wet and stuff. Then I was busy and tired.

My excuse today? No need for one! I biked downtown, and I'll get a few miles in throughout the day. I've been starting to consider eating more calorically and financially thoughtfully, too.

To encourage me to keep it up, however, beyond this blog and gathering around me people who encourage me to be physically active and nutritionally reasonable, I have decided to see whether I can switch my registration for AIDS/LifeCycle 2012 from Roadie to Cyclist. Earlier this year, I went to California (from Saudi Arabia) to volunteer while David cycled for seven days from San Francisco to Los Angeles. We registered for the event this year, too, but he kept nudging me to switch to be a cyclist, even though I'm incredibly intimidated by the entire idea. So... I e-mailed some of the coordinators yesterday. Let's see what happens!

In the meantime, I'll try to bike a bit more--at least twice a week for now (winter is coming, after all). If I get a gym membership, I could perhaps use a stationary bike (which I actually think I enjoy for longer rides, anyway, because I can watch Maangchi cook delicious food) a few times a week, too/instead.

But you! You can help too. I need to raise $3,000 to be able to cycle in the event (which really costs a heck of a lot of money when you have to feed, house, and entertain about 3,000 cyclists, volunteers, and camp "followers" around all of California). So check out my donation page and be generous!

23 September 2011

Activity: 23 September

Well, besides helping bake for 6 hours (which wasn't very physically demanding), I did my third day of the VirtuaGym body-weight program: a repeat from Wednesday's exercises. The entire six weeks of the program is basically just a repeating 5-day cycle of body weight exercises on days 1, 3, and 5 and then running (which I switched to bicycling and doubled the time) on days 2 and 4. The speeds, reps, and times don't change from week 1 to week 6--so I might increase the challenge level as I go.

Even though this is only the second time I did the exercises, I improved my time by 10% (27 minutes instead of 30). I'm still all wiped out after doing them, innocuous though they seem. My shoulders, abs, and the entire area around my butt/groin/quads hurt from the other day. And yet, I felt a lot more capable doing the exercises today, despite the soreness. I love that tightness, the throb of a well-worked muscle. I should start stretching--especially if biking will be my almost-every-other-day aerobic exercise. David, my beau, and I have yoga deals at a nearby studio, so we'll start that this weekend, I think. It's a wonderful activity to complement parkour, so I'm all for it!


Marched in place for 3 minutes, 20 reps of windmills, 25 squats, 30 reps of lunges (once each leg is a single rep), 12 wall push-ups, 2 sets of 15 reps of "front rotations" (swinging your arms in big, slow circles in front of you), 12 "board to mountain"s, 2 sets of 15 crunches, 12 board holds, 2 sets (10 reps and 6 reps) of back raises, and marching in place for another 2 minutes.

22 September 2011

Cycling: 22 September

Today was Car Free Day in DC. (I want that to be hyphenated, because otherwise there's uncertainty in its meaning, but they don't hyphenate, so I won't either. Sigh.) I got my disc brake fixed on Tuesday, so it's a perfect time to get outside and be car-free!

I biked perhaps 11 or so miles over the course of an hour (split up in three sections). I finally got the iMapMyFitness iPhone app to work with GPS--apparently, I had a setting on somewhere that disallowed it access to GPS.

So, day 2 of my attempt to get back in shape is at least a success! I biked the length of time I planned, got dehydrated, and ate healthy-ish. I'm feeling sore from yesterday's workout (shoulders, arms, those muscles directly under your butt), and I'm terribly happy about it.

Tomorrow may be a challenge: I have paid work from 9 to 3, followed by a 4 to 5 walk-through of the DC State Fair area, and a birthday party in the evening. Before the birthday party is, of course, the time I will need to do the exercising thing. I'm feeling good about the routine at the moment--let's hope I feel the same tomorrow!

21 September 2011

Activity: 21 September

Well, I haven't been terribly active since returning to the US. You would think without employment and such, I'd have more time to get back into shape. That's totally true. And yet...? I don't have a gym membership, and I've been enjoying the lazy life of a houseboy. And last weekend, I bent the disc brake on my front wheel beyond repair when the wheel decided it no longer wanted to be associated with the rest of my bicycle while I was riding to a plant show on Route 1 in Beltsville, Maryland.

So, after feeling a bit disgusted with my lack of physicality, I finally decided to start a body-weight workout program. Inspired by Lifehacker's convict-conditioning workout post, I'm finally getting my fat ass on the floor and doing some crunches.

I'm using VirtuaGym's Chrome App interface--they have an entire series of programs using body-weight exercises. I'm doing a Beginner Shape program: I'm active, but I haven't been regularly for a while, and I'm looking to slim down and build lean muscle rather than strictly tone or build intense musculature. I need to lose another 26 (gasp...!) pounds before I'm back to where I want to be. It's not just a number, however--I could lose 25 pounds and still not look like what I want. I need to eventually build up muscle mass as well while maintaining my weight around 185. VirtuaGym's program would be an awesome circuit workout for muscle toning and weight loss. But not yet--I'm too far removed from that level of activity! I can only do one set of what I did today; my abs and quads hurt already from the lunges, squats, and various push-up-type workouts.

In 30 minutes, I did 11 activities: marched in place for 3 minutes (not as easy as it sounds!), 20 reps of windmills, 25 squats, 30 reps of lunges (once each leg is a single rep), 12 wall push-ups (psshhht, really? I did 'em anyway. Reaallllyyy slowly.), 2 sets of 15 reps of "front rotations" (swinging your arms in big, slow circles in front of you), 12 "board to mountain"s, 2 sets of 15 crunches, 12 board holds, 2 sets (10 reps and 6 reps) of back raises, and marching in place for another 2 minutes.

Taken individually, most of these exercises are piddly. Granted, lunges usually make me unsteady, because it's a repetitive activity that requires balance, and anything involving upper-body strength ("board to mountain"s and board holds) leave me shaking with muscle weakness (because I don't have much in my upper body). But I would likely have been able to do all of these exercises easily--if they hadn't been back-to-back for exactly 30 minutes. I think the workout wasn't supposed to last that long, but I took a break to check my e-mail and get some water. I was (am) also sweaty and disgusting. I clearly need to do this more often.

Tomorrow, the program has me running. Like, outside. For 30 minutes. Maybe I'll change that to bicycling for an hour. I'm not much of a runner.

01 September 2011

Cycling: 1 September

It has been a while since I exercised more than just a commute. Since I have returned to Washington, DC, I have not been to a gym, of course, but I have cycled almost every day--if only a few hundred feet (sometimes several miles interspersed throughout the day). But I don't count all of that, because it's commute--not sustained activity with the intention of burning calories.

Today, I rode up to Takoma Park for Soupergirl's restaurant's soft opening. I could have walked, or rode the metro, or taken the bus, but I didn't--I biked! It was good, a lot of small hills and cars. I need to do this more often so I can ride with my other half!

22 August 2011

How To Ship A Bicycle

When traveling with a bicycle, one must observe the carrier's regulations and specifications. For example, I will be flying British Airways back to Washington, DC, via London. British Airways allows two checked luggage items of 23 kilograms or less each for such international flights. One of those items may be substituted for appropriately packaged sporting equipment of equal or lesser weight for no additional charge. For bikes, packaging must be a bike box or bike bag.

But what does one do when one lives in Saudi Arabia and the local bike shop doesn't seem to understand that bicycles actually get shipped in boxes, not fully assembled on the back of pick-ups?

I gave a thought to just wrapping the entire bike up in some clear plastic like a bag, but I wanted a modicum of protection. So I cut up some small cardboard boxes and taped them together around the bike to fashion my own bike box--at just under 17 kilograms, I'm certain this feat of engineering will protect my bicycle while en route to DC.

My only concern is the British Airways employee I'll encounter at 7:15 AM on Wednesday--will s/he accept my second item of checked luggage? S/he better...!

18 August 2011

Cycling: 18 August

I made a rice and chickpea vegetable stew today followed by peanut butter sesame seed scones.

Both were delicious. But I ate a ton.

So I went for an hour-long bike ride. I went out to one of the as-yet unopened beaches and climbed a sand hill for a while, then I followed along the tall security fence with the chicken wire on top for a bit. I traipsed around the undeveloped desert area that will at some point be... Something.

I don't know if it's dehydration, lack of frequent activity, or just that I didn't do it in a group, but I didn't push myself as much as when I went on the group ride a few weeks ago. I wish I had time for it in the past few weeks, but, y'know, something always came up. This, my last week at KAUST, will be no different: my house inspection is at the same time as the ride on Saturday, and my last night in the Kingdom is the Tuesday ride. I could probably ride then--but I just cleaned my bike and I plan on breaking it down, padding it, and creating a makeshift bike box for airport transit.

12 August 2011

Cycling: 12 August

It's official: I'm moving back to Washington DC for gushy romantic reasons. My last day in Saudi Arabia is 23 August--my flight back leaves at 5 AM on 24 August, and then it'll be a whirlwind of activity for DC State Fair on 27 August.

So I've been keeping very busy, organizing contests for the Fair, planning and packing for an international move, and attempting to find employment back in DC. It's quite stressful, so on top of the emotional trauma of moving in general, moving internationally, starting a new job, and all of that, I now am going through it all again, but in a shorter time frame, with a bunch of other stresses on top of it.

So, I needed a break. I have been feeling hella fat lately (and I am, because of Ramadan. I basically feel as if I'm sneaking any meal during daylight--it makes me eat even more, if that's possible.), so I thought going for a bike ride would be great to relieve a bit of tension and make me feel a little better about my physical shape.

Not so! I went out for about 40 minutes this afternoon. But there is apparently sand all up in my chain, and I might be a little dehydrated--it was a rough ride, even on mostly paved surfaces. And, because of Ramadan, I've been told it's considered uncouth to drink water in front of people during daylight hours. So I had to find hidden places to sneak a drink of water. Which means I didn't really drink any water.

One of the impatiences I have at KAUST is the physical activity--not that it doesn't exist, because it seems to, but the lack of a culture of support (thus this blog, which does actually help, but I still need more). I miss parkour, but I could get over that--yoga has been interesting, and there are other classes I could have seen myself getting into. But my motivation isn't there. The environment in Washington DC is really a lot more conducive to physical and nutritional health. Or, rather, it's easier for me to be healthy and active there.

I look forward to my return--when I get there, this blog will most certainly be updated more frequently, because I'll be more active. Although I packed most of my personal possessions for transport already, I still have my gym clothes and bike--they'll come with me on the plane, because I fully intend to use them up until my last day here.

08 August 2011

Yoga: 8 August

I went to yoga tonight. I actually enjoy it, which almost surprises me. But the holds, movements, and stretches really do work a lot of muscles. Especially ones that I seriously need to either develop, tone, or loosen--arms, abs, and hamstrings, respectively, pretty much.

I will be hurting tomorrow. And Wednesday. But I'm going to continue doing physical activity every day, because I eat like crazy every day. I need to balance it somehow!

Gym: 8 August

Continuing on my theme of "short workouts are better than no workouts," I went to the gym for lunch again today. I can tell that my arms will be sore from yesterday's workout, but it does usually take two days to feel the full burn. I spent less time on weightlifting and more time on the bike, anyhow.

I did 20 minutes on the stationary bike: my average heart rate was 147 beats per minute with a high of 163 and my average speed was 27.96 kilometers per hour (or 17.37 miles per hour). Not bad, I think, considering that my resting heart rate falls below 60 bpm and I kept slowing down on the bike today.

After bicycling (and rehydrating--in the middle of the day during Ramadan, even!), I decided to hit the lat pulldown machine. I hadn't been able to recall the weight I had used the last time (it had been so long!), and feeling that the machine was a familiar friend, I decided to stick the little pin under the 60 kilogram plate. Yup, 132 pounds. That's about 15 pounds more than I ever did in DC, even, and of course I didn't figure that out until after the fact. And yet, I struggled out 2 sets of 10 reps each, although the last few reps in the second set were, well, weak. Looking back, the last time I used the machine, I had done 50 kilograms (110 pounds)--not very different, but I remember that being a struggle!

I decided to call it quits after that and stretched my gluts, hamstring, quads, and more hamstring for 5 minutes. I will be going to yoga tonight, also--that'll work the abs that desperately need that help!

07 August 2011

Gym: 7 August

It's been a hella long time since I was last in the gym, it seems! I haven't done a great deal outside of the gym, either--just bicycling and snorkeling, once each. In general, at least, I'm a bit more active by bicycling to and from work each day. But it's Ramadan, and the idea of fasting makes me ravenous, so I've been eating even more--but less often, which isn't really the way to go.

At least I have cut back on my latte intake. And at least I have been a little bit active--it's an improvement from nothing at all! Tiny steps.

Keeping that in mind, today I had something of a light workout.

I warmed up on the stationary bicycle for 10 minutes at what initially was a nice intensity but quickly became drudgery. Probably because during Ramadan, I cannot drink water in public, and my office is encased in glass.

Abandoning the aerobics, I did 2 sets of 12 reps each of low rows with 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds). Then I thought that it was too easy and did a third set of 12 reps.

On the pec machine, I did 2 sets of 12 reps with 40 kilograms. My muscles weren't happy with me on that one.

By the time I got to the shoulder press, my muscles were unhappy with the activity they weren't used to doing anymore. So I did 1 set of 10 reps at 30 kilograms (about 66 pounds).

I finished off the workout with 2 sets of 10 reps of plank walks.

I think it was about 30 minutes, all told. Tomorrow night, I have a yoga appointment with a friend. Gotta keep it movin'!

Machine: Low Row

The low row machine is something I am not sure I used prior to coming to KAUST. The machine primarily works the lats, with a dash of biceps tossed in for good measure.

Machine: Shoulder Press

These machines are named so creatively, aren't they? The shoulder press works the shoulder muscles--the deltoids, as well as a bit of the triceps and traps.

Machine: Stationary Bicycle

The stationary bicycle works, of course, the legs. For me, primarily the quadriceps. I'd love to work my hamstrings, but I don't pull my leg up on the uppedal--I only push down, which works the quads. Either way, I mostly use the stationary bicycle as a calorie-burning warm-up activity. I don't focus terribly on developing muscle in my legs, I have way too much there as it is! Other activities are needed to tone and hone the muscles there.

05 August 2011

Snorkeling: 4 August

For my birthday yesterday, I treated myself to a snorkeling adventure that's organized every Thursday from the campus marina. About 16 of us went out to this awesome, really long reef somewhere in the Red Sea and hopped in to swim around. I don't have a protective underwater case for my camera, so I don't have any photos of fun coral or fish. Which would have been nice, because I'm not conscious enough in the mornings to remember to put contacts on for such an outing and I couldn't wear glasses with the snorkel mask--I was pretty damn well blind unless I was right up next to coral and fish. Next time I go snorkeling, I'll definitely remember the contacts. It was still awesome, and I was exhausted afterward. I think I might have been out for an hour or an hour and a half of swimming.

In the photo above, you can see waves break against the reef and the bright blue patches of water where the reef is.

30 July 2011

Cycling: 30 July

Today was the first group ride I attended with the campus cycling club. They have mountain/trail bike sessions on Saturday and Tuesday evenings for an hour. I have never before ridden as part of a group (unless you count that one time I wheezed up Connecticut Avenue from Adams Morgan to Cleveland Park and pretty much gave up while the two others traveled ahead to the coffee shop to wait for me).

Today, however, I kept grinning like no one's business. It was pure awesome. Glorious. Amazing. Sweaty. I feel tired, but I could have whipped it out, climbed some hills, and fallen a few more times. I only fell once, trying to mount a 5-foot-tall sand incline thing. Everyone else was doing it, but I was timid and didn't power through. But I'm fine (I know you worry)--it wasn't a steep incline, so I could easily catch myself as I slid back and tumbled.

Riding through sand, however, is tough work. It's worth it, however--it's much more fun and effective doing road/trail/beach riding than random resistance training on the stationary bicycle at the gym. I got a much better workout outside than I believe I ever would have on the bike inside the gym. Plus, I got to meet a lot of cool people--and even prodded one of them to get some work-related stuff done for me.

I would love to log a route on MapMyRide, but it doesn't have satellite imagery that includes the campus (a problem encountered because of the expedited university construction). I was told the 1-hour ride was about 15 kilometers (almost 10 miles). So it isn't a terribly far distance, but there were hills, beaches, and other parts that made it a challenge. Although I'm sure many of my friends wouldn't have any issue at all riding here--it is, in actuality, very flat and nice, and as long as you bring enough water, it's not very different from riding in Washington, DC--except for the almost complete lack of traffic.

28 July 2011


I have found many reasons not to exercise this week. I have suggestions of "gym," "yoga," and "cycling" in a reasonable schedule on my calendar--it adds up to about 9 hours of physical activity a week. I think that's a good number! And how much of that did I do this week? Exactly none of it, so far. I still have the chance to go to the gym tomorrow, before the full week is over and I wasted it by not working out. But I'll probably skip that and just make some delicious gyungdan for a house party late tomorrow afternoon.

But as a self-flagellatory exercise, let me list the excuses I found reasonable at the time here:

  • DC State Fair Board Meeting
  • Goodbye dinner for departing coworker
  • Goodbye lunch for same departing coworker
  • Lunch with nondeparting coworkers
  • Waiting to have a meeting that never happened and didn't have a lunch break
  • Had to "get stuff done" that never got done
  • Had to prepare food for a late brunch I invited people to

Lately, my work schedule has been a bit up in the air--things happen with only minutes for me to prepare for them, sometimes. Or things that I prepare for don't necessarily happen. So although I do get lunch every day, sometimes it's later than what seems reasonable, and those days, instead of taking a late lunch break to go to the gym, I grab some food and come back to the office. After work is always hard, as a general rule for tons of people. The desire to just go home and veg out is strong in most of us. It's doubly strong for me, as I am attempting not to fall at the running pace of DC State Fair stuff as well as still unpacking and keeping in contact with loved ones.

Maybe I'll start getting some sort of order in my life, in terms of exercise, at least. Or, I might have to start being comfortable with squeezing it in wherever I can and just acknowledging that it might not be at my most motivated times.

27 July 2011

Machine: Bicycle

Not the stationary kind, either! No, this baby is fully functional: 24 speed, 19.5 inch frame, rugged 26 inch wheels for both trail and town riding, hydraulic disc brakes, coil-spring front suspension with hydraulic lockout (I don't really know what that means, but it has it!), Shimano gear shifts, pleasing black and white design with random red accents... What more could a man ask for?

Perhaps a bike rack and a lock? And a well-adjusted bum, too. I have had this bike for a week, and my poor little cushion is all sore. I don't really ride it all that much--to and from work, primarily. I joined the Cycling Club on campus, and I plan on attending their hour-long rides on Saturday and Tuesday evenings, but I still need a water bottle and holder for the bike, as well as the motivation to leave work early enough to go home and change into different clothes before the rides.

I feel as if this bike needs a name. It has personality. I want to call it something like "Railbank." I don't know why it popped into my head, but it did and I like the sound of it. Then I Googled, and it turns out railbanking is a real word--it is the process of preserving unused train tracks that are sometimes converted into public-use cycling trails. I thought it would be more like using a guard rail or even hand rail to bank (in the sense of altering your vertical position to a tilted one while turning, not the act of going to the financial institution to store monetary goods), but I guess reclamation for recreation is bad-ass, too.

20 July 2011

Gym: 20 July

Today, despite my soreness, I wanted to try to repeat Monday's routine. I even had fantasies of attending tonight's yoga class. But driving full-tilt after such a long period of almost utter nonmovement isn't healthy, and all those collarbone breaks and physical therapy taught me to listen to my body when it says "Halas!" (One of the very few Arabic words I've been able to pick up--it means "Enough!")

I overworked myself on Monday--not in an incapacitating way, but I'm more sore than I'd like to be two days after a workout. It also shows me how much stretching I don't do, and I definitely should be.

The stationary bike was broken today, so I hopped on the treadmill. For 12 minutes. That may possibly be the longest time I've been on such a contraption in well over a year. I don't deal well with running, although I find I'm able to last much longer on a treadmill than outside (where a block and a half is about as far as I get). I averaged 9.1 kilometers per hour (about 5.65 miles per hour) and was doing a preset incline gradient program. There were periods of 2%, 3%, 4%, and two 6% spikes sandwiched between no-incline portions. I increased the speed of the treadmill during the incline periods, but really and truly, running kicks my butt, so on the flat portions, I slowed it down to a nice walk so I could wipe my face, grab some water, and check my heart rate for fun (highest was about 167, although it descended rapidly to about 140 before the next incline/speed increase).

I repeated the 50 kilogram lat pulldowns from Monday, but this time pushing through 12 reps in both sets.

I wimped out on the pec machine, however: 2 sets of 10 reps with only 35 kilograms. But my pecs are more, well, not-pecs.

And that was all. Less than 30 minutes of activity (tinkering with the broken bike and alerting the staff about it ate up 10 minutes, and I had to grab some lunch before a meeting). But that's less than 30 minutes I would have otherwise not been active at all. Success!

Machine: Pec

The pec machine works, well, the pecs (pectorals). Instead of man-boobs, I hope to develop functional muscle groups that also look stunning outside of a shirt.

19 July 2011

Machine: Lat Pulldown

The lat pulldown machine works the shoulder, biceps, and back muscles. (Trap, biceps, and lats--thus, lat pulldown machine.)

Workout: Side-Rotating Weight Things

Using my iPhone, this is the best I could do to record the side-rotating weight things.

I hold a side plank position and rotate my upper body to put my hand with the weight through the space between my chest and arm. I can never remember whether I'm supposed to rotate my hips or not, but I don't think I'm fully supposed to. It works a hell of a lot of muscle groups, but I like it because I think it works the sides of my abs.

I will have to figure out how to take better videos if I want to keep posting them. I was at least able to remove the sound--there was a British lady on the television in the gym talking about something or other, and I was breathing heavy and counting audibly.

Yoga: 18 July

I attended my first-ever yoga session last night. My best friend Brittany is a big ol' fan of yoga, so it seemed appropriate to spend the evening of her birthday doing yoga for the first time.

It was a great experience--static holds are not something my muscles are used to, but I enjoyed the hour and definitely sweated. I'm very sore all over, kind of like the first time I did parkour. Both yoga and parkour seem to hit most of the muscles in your body--and when you're unused to using them, it's amazing where you end up feeling sore. The soles of my feet are killing me right now!

Gym: 18 July

I am trying to go to the gym under the library during lunch--it's outside my office and right down the stairs, so there's no real reason why I can't go regularly. I have gone a few times, but I'm turning it into a regular habit and will hopefully follow through if I engage myself by posting those workouts here.

The first log is from yesterday, 11:55 AM to 12:45 PM.

I cycled for 5 minutes on the stationary bike to warm up before starting a kind of random-hill-type activity for 33 minutes. I am still figuring out how to use the bike--it's not as fancy as the preset-activity ones I'm familiar with. I have found it difficult to build up to even this length of time on the stationary bike. I have been on it about three or four times in the past two weeks, and each time has been easier, but I feel like I'm slogging, not pumping along as I had been before.

The following numbers do not include the 5 minute warm-up session.

Average speed: 18.4 miles per hour
Average heart rate: 145 beats per minute
Heart rate high: 171 beats per minute

I stretched my legs for about 3 minutes, focusing on my hamstring, mostly, which is tight as all get out anyway.

Then I worked on the lat pulldown machine--2 sets of 12 and 10 reps, both at 50 kilograms (about 110 pounds). I had been doing 2 sets of 15 reps at about 100 pounds back in DC, so I'm satisfied with this.

I did 1 set with 10 reps of plank walks. Kind of like this video I found, but I don't use the inertia of my swinging lower body to help me in the motion.

I did 10 reps on each side of side-rotating weight things (video) that my DC personal trainer Hanna taught me. The weight was 8 kilograms (about 17.6 pounds)--the other option was only 4 kilograms, and that just seemed too little to me. I think I had built up to 15 pounds when my personal trainer made me do these, but I also did more than one set (Sometimes. I think.).

I then attempted a hollow hold, which lasted for 15 seconds. Then I did 15 crunches, followed by demotivation and a shower.