Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: September 2008

September’s Workout Plan

Every month I try to update and tweak around my exercise plan a bit, because we all know that doing the same thing over and over makes your weight loss and fitness level stagnate.  I also get into trouble one way or another if I don’t walk into the gym with a plan.  I’m not quite as adventurous as Charlotte, but I do like trying new things, or old things in new combinations.  In June, I pretty much concentrated on the hundred pushup challenge while maintaining my cardio, and working fake HIIT on the treadmill.  July, I worked on increasing my top running mileage from 3 to 4.  August, I cut my 1 mile time down from 9:30 to 8:55 and worked the abs hard.  On off days, I did DDR, yoga, skating, and/or climbing.

So, what am I going to do this month?  It’s been hard to come up with a plan, because all I want to do is ADD to my program, but I only have a limited time to do everything.  I want to add Cybil the Cybex into my life, and become one with the assisted pullup/dip machine but I also want to add back my yoga and not give up DDR and still run distance and HIIT and improve my mile and…ARGH!!!  It’s too hard, peoples!  I need the ability and the capacity to spend 3-4 hours at the gym per day.  In other words, have someone pay me the same salary I make herding cats and posting on my blog (otherwise known as producing video games) to workout.

Well, it’s not going to happen any time soon, so I have to pick and choose.  And since, it’s the first month at the gym and I’m going to make use of it most days.  After skipping yoga for about a month, I realized that I just CANNOT do that if I want to keep pushing my running further and faster, so that’s gotta be there too.  It’s also promising to get colder soon, which means I will be undertaking a 5k soon, though I’m not even signing up until it gets out of the 90s (and I’m hoping to not have to run in the morning).  So here is the first version of my September workout plan, complete with time estimates…

Day 1: 20 mins on Cybil, 20 mins arms/squats, 20 mins running

Day 2: 5k run for time, 20 mins core/bootie, 15-20 mins yoga at home

Day 3: 40 minutes of DDR, 15-20 mins yoga at home

Day 4: 1 mile run for time, 20 mins full body strength, 20 mins on Cybil

Day 5: 4 mile run, 15-20 mins yoga at home

It looks sane at first glance, but let’s dig a bit deeper to find the problems.

Day 1 is actually seems sane, until you realize that I’m probably not going to stop at 20 minutes doing an arm rotation.  I love me some arm workouts.  And now I have more machines to play with.  I do pullups and tricep dips and lat raises and bicep curls and tricep kickbacks and modified bench presses and shoulder presses and now 40 minutes have gone by.  Since I’m in denial and say that I only have 60 minutes, 5 days a week to work out, I have to pretend that I intend to do 20 minutes and then… oops, I spent 40 mins doing it.  Every time.  So realistically, I’m at 1 hour 20 mins here.

Day 2 is already screwed from the get-go.  While I would LOVE to run a 30 minute 5k, I’m closer to 33 right now, and with warmup and cooldown that’s at least 40 mins.  My core/bootie regiment is a little more sane than my arms, so 25-30 mins is much more accurate – though I haven’t tried any of the machines at the gym so I could be just as screwed.  Then, I have to fit in some yoga SOMEWHERE, so add another 15-20 mins.  So, for day 2, I’m somewhere between 1 hour 20 and 30 minutes.

Day 3, again, looks sane.  But 40 minutes of DDR time is really closer to an hour because it only counts time during the songs, not during loading screens.  Which is GOOD, but definitely takes longer.  Then yoga again, for a grand total of 1 hour 20 minutes.  This is also the day I might blow off if I’m heading out to skate or climb over the weekend, and planning ahead.

Day 4 is a day of denial as well.  If I can’t do an arm workout in 20 mins, I surely can’t do a full body strength training session in 20, even if I cut some exercises.  Add in the rest of the cardio and we’re looking at 1 hour 30, easy.

Day 5 is slightly sane.  Right now, 4 miles and warmup/cool down is about 50 minutes.  With yoga, I’m only looking at 1 hour 10 minutes at the most.  This is also probably the day I would blow off the run to either rock climb or skate if I needed something fun to do and had already done my DDR workout.

Even without the rose colored time traveling glasses to make these workouts actually fit in my schedule, I’m going to give it a try.  I took it a little easier for the last 6 weeks or so because of crazy work hours, and recovering from crazy work hours, so I can definitely use a month of ass kicking.  Plus, my parents will be staying with us for a while starting next week, so I can definitely use some extended *me* time away from the house.

This is my plan, and I’m sticking to it.  I’ll be back with a workout report at the end of next week and let you know how it went!

5 Random Things

I like description in threes (she’s a lean, mean, fighting machine who needs a tall, cool, and frothy pint of beer…doesn’t that just flow?), and lists in fives (the last five fruits I’ve eaten have been grapefruits, oranges, grapes, peaches, and strawberries…just gives enough variety to get to know a person and their tastes), so five random things it is!  Just to have some sort of outlet from my randomness, I’ll save them up to be a decent chunk of post instead of just an offhand “Hmmm, I went to the store today and saw the cutest little mini-peaches called donut peaches“.

1.  Tuesday’s run was a new personal (adult) best mile run time of 8:55.  I’m only 1:05 away from my best time ever, 7:50, which was in junior high school.  I’m improving between 5-10 seconds most weeks, so I’m not too far away until I hit a wall.

2.  I just watched The Big Lebowski for the first time.  Yeah, I know, I’m terribly late to the party.  What an awesome movie.  Some days, I just wish I could be the Dude… totally oblivious and in a white-russian-and-illicit-substance fog.  Someone at least needs to bring the wearing of bathrobes as a overcoat into style.

3.  Tuesday also was my first day at the new gym.  There are soooo many machines, it’s unfathomable that they could ever all be full, but I’m used to the office gym which has one treadmill, a bike, a rickety elipse which I won’t touch, and a perpetually broken stairmaster.  I did go around 6:30, so I’ll see if I change my tune today when I head there closer to 5.  The funniest thing is – they have alarms on the weights, so if you drop them, it makes this obnoxious air horn sound (trying to embarrass the lunkheads who grunt and drop weights, the gym is all about not being pretentious).  This guy would totally do it on purpose.  I’m totally frightened that I’ll do it on accident.

4.  Had a great conversation with an ex-coworker of Zliten’s Wednesday night.  I love talking psychology with people that can talk it back – it totally wakes my brain up. It’s also incredibly inspiring to hear about someone who beat the odds just by getting into his own head and solving the problem. Totally reinforces my ideals that people can do amazing things just by giving their mind a chance.  This has totally started the wheels spinning for a post or series of posts, but worthy of note immediately.

5.  Why is frozen fruit just so good?  I had a snack of frozen strawberries and frozen grapes last night while I was waiting for Zliten to decide he was hungry enough to grill us some dinnah.  Amazing.  And they don’t go bad!  I’ve had these grapes for 3 weeks now and they are as delicious as when I first got them.  Seriously, if you’re having issues with sweet cravings or just want something quick that doesn’t go bad and is healthy for you – frozen fruit, baby.

Death of a (hardcore) Gamer? (Part 2)

If you haven’t read Part 1 first, go there to read about how I got a really fat ass and had a blast doing it.

So how did I actually transform from a hardcore gamer to… whatever it is I am nowadays?  It started with the purchase of a REALLY GREAT TV, and obtaining a DVR.  From 19 to 57 inches comes pure love. This was also right around the time Network TV started getting good again. It didn’t help that we were also both in newbie game designer jobs, which meant lots of MAKING games, not much time for PLAYING games. And when you’re playing just about the same thing you’re working on 50-100 hours a week, sometimes you need to do something else. ANYTHING ELSE FOR FUCKS SAKE, NO MORE ELVES AND ORCS!!!! When elves and orcs become your reality and livelihood, shows about dead people and games about real life are much more of a fantastical escape. So, we became tube zombies most nights of the week and playing weekends (when TV sucks and most of your friends are online then anyway).

Moving to Texas really put the proverbial nail in my gamer coffin.  First of all, we moved a packed 2 bedroom apartment into what was really a junior one bedroom.  My desk ended up in the corner of the dining room, and Zliten’s ended up in the space between our kitchen counter and the couch, just about in splashing range of the kitchen sink.  At least he could see the TV in the living room instead of just hearing it and staring into the corner like a bad, bad girl.  The reason we had that set up was I had the laptop (referred to henceforth lovingly as lappy), so I could dork from the couch.  However, that doesn’t work so well for gaming for a long period of time (long sessions on the old couch killed my back – my chiropractor said that laptops kept his business thriving and I believe him!), after a few hours of EQ I would have to beg off in pain and we’d do something else.

Then Zliten started working crazy man hours in preparation for a project launch, and I just don’t like to play without him, so I usually got home, made myself dinner, turned on the tube and dorked on the lappy until he got home.  I think the boredom actually got me up and out to the gym eventually, which was a GOOD thing, but weekdays were for TV, and weekends were for going out.  Since our place was so tiny, we couldn’t entertain (I think we had P over once, T+V over 2 times, and mostly just for the pool), and frankly, we were uncomfortable there, so we were never home.

The biggest change was going from almost complete shut ins to social animals.  In San Diego, we would go out MAYBE once a month to a party, a bar, or just to hang out with friends.  We didn’t have a core group of peoples the whole 6 years we were there – you know, the friends you pretty much count on having plans with during the weekend unless you hear differently.  Our core group was our guild.  It’s totally weird to move to another city and go from homebody to social butterfly, it’s usually the opposite, right?  Even though in San Diego we didn’t hang out that much – all the San Diego transplants to Austin sort of formed this tight-knit bond and instead of being friends of friends or acquaintances we’d see at parties, we all started hanging out.  A lot.  Like, Friday drinking at someone’s house, Saturday going downtown, and then Sunday doing errands and then a BBQ.  Where do you fit gaming in there?

Then the amazing happened, we found the perfect house for the perfect price in the perfect neighborhood.  The only problem was – it needed TONS of work just to make it livable.  Right about that time, I got serious about calorie counting and the gym.  It was horrible timing, of course, but I knew if I made it through the first 2 months I could make it through anything.  So after work, we would head to the apartment, eat dinner, workout, head to the house, paint/clean/fix/etc, and then head home exhausted and do it all again the next day.  With weekdays like that, and weekends with our social schedule, there was zero game time.  We consoled ourselves that once we moved in, we’d have time!

Once we were settled, things just didn’t take a turn for the better game-wise.  There was just never a good time.  We always had something to do with the house, whether it was just cleaning up or finally painting the bathroom, or unpacking and organizing – it was hard to justify a whole day of playing.  That was, if our friends weren’t over.  Now that we had an awesome space to entertain, we had people over constantly if we weren’t out and about.  I think we got one good night of playing with our guild before the people we were closest to cancelled their accounts because they didn’t play much either.  Then it was a whirlwind of family around to see the new place, it felt for a few months we were either cleaning in preparation for, spending time with, or cleaning up after family visits.

By early 2008, it was just a habit not to game much.  I hadn’t had my desktop hooked up for months by then, and I hadn’t patched up anything on my lappy in ages.  There was a period that we were hardcore into Rockband, but after a while that went by the wayside as well.  Oh, Rockband.  The game that helped me get 3 boys into skirts…

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the awesome rocking, and also how un-fat I have gotten since February.

Ok, moment over.  Basically since then, my life just doesn’t have room for much gaming.  Sure, I play here and there, but I’m becoming one of those people who I thought were in the minority – gamers that didn’t want to play games that took time.  A game has a lot of value to me if I can either A) play it at work from a browser in 5-10 minute increments to kill time B) doesn’t take coordinating a lot of people to do something together OR C) is easier to play with people IRL than online.  Instead of dinging 65 (yes I know I linked it before, but you know you want to watch it again) lately I’m lucky to ding 25 in PuzzleQuest on the DS before I get bored with it.

So how do I get my fix nowadays?  Well, I’ll be damned if this doesn’t look hardcore, but it really just functioned to let 3 of us play the same MMO in the same room, otherwise we probably just would have hung out and done something else.  But it looks damn good on the TV, doesn’t it?  Other things that keep me from twitching lately are Ikariam, poker on my DS, and the simple fact that I’m just too worn out after a day of work and the gym and dinner to do anything but watch Netflix, or Stargates, or West Wings, or whatever’s been DVR’d.  Sometimes we just sit outside and enjoy our patio and watch the sun set and swat mosquitos.

I think it’s also that gaming, for the San Diego years, was a way to live in relative poverty and not be so down about it.  I mean, we could barely afford food besides ramen some weeks, but we could entertain ourselves on 20 bucks a month for 2 subscriptions to EQ.  Living as a high elf who had the power to mesmerize anything with her beauty and sparkly sprinkles from her fingers felt GOOD to someone who could barely stand the way she looked in the mirror and had no power to do ANYTHING as a peon Quality Assurance or Customer Service grunt.  Buying upgrades in the bazaar helped me feel better that I could not afford to, nor fit in any clothes I wanted to buy.  I also had the unique experience in which it did not hurt my career, becoming familiar with the world and it’s lore helped me fall in love with a world enough that I grativated to working for and under it’s spell for almost 5 years, going from peon to producer.

Now, I don’t have such problems.  Sure, money is pseudo-tight right now due to circumstances beyond our control, but it’s not so bad – I don’t have to eat ramen and drink well vodka, thankyouverymuch.  I’m not having issues making a minimum payment on my maxed out credit cards, or taking direct deposit advance to make the rent check clear.  We are years away from that happening, and if it comes to that, I hear manwhoring pays well.  I may not be the most commanding person in real life unless I’ve had a few drinks, but my name IS fifth from the top on our newly released game credits, and it’s not because of alphabetical order.  I look in the mirror and don’t think – gee, I wish I looked like my avatars, I think – hey, you’re looking good today, woman!

So it’s not so bad, I guess.  Just like I’ve had phases where I was ridiculously into games, right now, I’m just not there.  I still play, I still enjoy, and yeah, I still long for the time, the will, and the reckless abandon to live it, but for now, I’ll enjoy the stolen time I can and have faith that someday, something extremely compelling will pull me back.  For now, I’m off to the gym to play the treadmill game.  It’s pretty grind-tastic, you have to keep running in the same spot over and over until your progress bar fills up.  But, just a bit more to go, and I can unlock these hot little black satin pants with flames on the butt that I’ve been saving since college for such an occasion that I want to show off my “hot ass” as such.

Taking a Break…

Last week, my workouts started to really suck, and I knew it was time to take a break. The last time I felt like this – I bruised my heel and injured my ankle. The time before, I got a really bad cold (I even stayed home from work, which is completely NOT normal for me). It was coming up on 4 months since I took a significant break from working out (more than 2 days in a row off, or less than 5 days in a week) so I declared this holiday weekend a mini-vacation for my muscles. I spent the long Labor Day weekend resting my poor tired stumps of legs, and beyond some swimming and shopping, my butt stayed firmly planted in a comfy seat.  Like the bad olive, I gave myself permission to “do what I want”!!

Additionally, I gave myself permission to eat what I wanted and not count calories. I ate french fries two days in a row, and red meat more often than normal. Thankfully I did not decide to have french fry salad as pictured over there, which looks disgusting!  There was whiskey, rum, wine, champagne, and beer. However, yesterday, even though I was still in “eat whatever I want” mode, I sought out the salad bar and for dinner we had some homemade shrimp stir fry instead of fatty, greasy food. I estimate that I had around my maintenance calories each day, maybe a little bit more. Yesterday morning, I felt really awful and sluggish, but after a day of veggies, veggies, and more veggies, I’m feeling great.

Mentally, I needed a break from worrying about everything as well. For the most part, I stayed away from just surfing the web, which just eats hours of my day if I let it. I lost myself in a game for hours to the point where it screwed up my sleep schedule. That being said, I slept in until after 11 am one day, and made it until about 10 am two others. I spent two afternoons at the pool and replenished my stores of vitamin D and now have some color instead of my pasty office tan (see, look, a little color in the cheeks there). We had a nice, small BBQ gathering. We went shopping and picked up some shoes (because I sooo needed some shoes, let me tell ya, heh) and other assorted things. It felt like a super long, eventful, but also relaxing weekend. Perfection.

I can tell it did me good, because I intentionally chose healthy food yesterday and today, and I woke up yesterday feeling like it was time for a workout. My calves and hamstrings are still a little tight (so obviously I needed the time off), but my neck is the most tense area right now, which is a sign that I’ve been doing more sitting than I should, and it’s time to move. Tomorrow, it’s right back into the swing of things, and for the first time in a while, I’m more than ready for it. I’m not dreading work like I have been since we started working overtime on and off, I’m not dreading my workouts like I have been the last few weeks, and I’m not resenting going back to my calorie counting tomorrow, I actually welcome it. I also took a break from even stepping on the scale, but today I’m weighing in at 171, which is not bad.

How do you know you might be overtraining?

  • You have trouble sleeping or feel exhausted a lot of the time (check!)
  • Muscle pain and soreness beyond normal or that lasts longer than normal (big check!)
  • Lack of motivation and energy (check!)
  • Sudden inability to complete workouts (check – couldn’t do 4 miles without walking last week!)
  • Headaches
  • Lack of appetite (yeah, not so much for me…)
  • Elevated morning or resting pulse (don’t keep track but I bet I had that)
  • Weakened immune system (no sickness, thank goodness)

So how do you prevent it?

  • Warm up before your workout and cool down properly (I’ve gotten better at this – you can’t just break into a run and you can’t just stop and get off the treadmill)
  • Make sure to eat something before and/or after exercise (I usually eat some fruit about 30 mins before and then have dinner soon after)
  • Stretch! (I do a short stretching routine after running but I’m bad about it otherwise unless I’m getting my yoga in)
  • Schedule recovery periods in your routine (I do 5 days a week, which is generally great, but coming off extended hours at work and stress, I needed a break)
  • Get adequate sleep (I get grumpy if I don’t get my 7-8 most nights, so I’m ok here)

There’s a lot of other information out there, so check it out if you’re feeling like I did, and give yourself permission to take a break, even if it evokes some strange and irrational fears that rattle around your brain.  I did not negate the progress I’ve made in the last month, I did not lose muscle tone, and I did not do anything to harm myself or my routine just by getting off the grid for a long weekend.  I gained 1 lb over the weekend, which I am about 99% sure is water retention from salty food yesterday and my body rehydrating itself after my attempts to pickle my liver with alchohol, and will be gone in a day or two.  I haven’t worked out yet, but I don’t think I’m going to suddenly only be able to run a 12 minute mile again or only do 12 pushups.  I did not have to hurl myself headfirst into the grill like the poor chalk elephant pictured here.

So even though it felt self indulgent and lazy to consider it at first, I know it was a needed rest.  I feel relaxed, refreshed, and ready for anything.  I’m going to take it (somewhat) easy this week with my workouts and really push the yoga that I’ve been neglecting.  Next week, though, I’m really ready to kick it up a notch and I’ll be back later in the week to share my September workout plan.

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