taking joy in human unreason

On Physical Things

I swear, there are few things more encouraging for someone in a weight-lifting slump than to read about someone else’s success, and admittedly, struggles. Hell, weight-lifting is about struggle.

My only problem is a general frustration with the slowness of my progress. About four years ago, I began a weight-lifting routine, following my father’s suggestions and instructions on how to do the exercises (he used to “geek” about weight-lifting himself, with tons of books and years of experience; plus, we have similar body types, so, with the exception of the difference in upper-body potentials, he could teach me a lot). The difference in only a couple months, which was how long I stayed with the routine before my father sold our weight set, was friggin’ amazing. I tightened up, became quite strong, and looked very good for my weight (which will probably always be what is considered overweight for my height if I keep a good level of muscle and train for strength). I moved up in lifting ability on almost every other workout, increasing my capacity rapidly.

Of course, I haven’t done much about my weight since, so I essentially started from ground zero when I began weight-lifting at the end of May this year. I took my father’s advise on routines and styles, but did a hell of a lot of Internet research as well on form, styles, periodization, and all that stuff that a fourteen-year-old would leave to her father to handle. But it’s been so much more trouble this time around–problems with protein intake (I wasn’t a vegetarian before), problems with my knee (which has had no real reason to need to become stronger since my injury). I’m trying not to overtrain, which would be entirely too easy given that I don’t do much with my days during summer other than read, do web stuff, and work out, and to set a schedule now that I can maintain in college just so that I can get in the habit of doing it, you know? I’m not going to have two hours a day to dedicate to this in college, as much as I may want to–although I suspect I would indeed overtrain and burn out. I also didn’t want to start a level of intensity this summer that would leave me feeling bad when I have to slack off during the school year, despite the fact that I have the time right now to do so.

So I do a basic full-body workout (about 5 exercises) on the weight machines we have at the apartment complex “clubhouse” about three times a week. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes, is pretty much the same workout I did before, and wears me out. But I’ve spent so much of the summer with an inadequate supply of protein (I now drink whey protein shakes) that the amount I can lift has stayed pretty much static, sometimes increasing, often decreasing–a net change of zero. I don’t count pounds (although I did bite the bullet and weigh myself a couple of days ago), as it doesn’t really matter much in the end–I need to increase muscle mass and (thus) raise my metabolism to work away the fat. Somewhere in that process the numbers may begin dropping, but I know the first measurable difference will be in clothes size. So what do you do? Workout harder? Injury is not zesty, particularly knee injury, and that leg press is already kicking my ass. It’s been a month and a half–I don’t think I need to “shock” my body with a different type of routine yet. I dunno.

I’m trying to find another way to give myself a motivational boost by beginning a running program to increase endurance, stamina, and all that good stuff. Of course, even doing fast walking this past month, I’m way out of shape (no marathons for me, but major kudos for those who can), but I’m taking it slowly. Very slowly, in fact; I’m just doing intervals so that I can gradually increase the intensity and duration of the running. Running even a minute leaves me gasping for breath and wondering if I’m actually getting any oxygen past my gaping mouth. The good thing is, though, that when I get settled at school in September, I can use the track for my running. Running on treadmills is evil. No, really. We used to have a joke in Physics that involved some electromagnetics equation that, when manipulated, spelled iB=EvL. Or something close to that. Get it? IB equals evil? Yeah, it’s dorky, so what? Well, it turns out we were just kidding. Running on treadmills is uncool and feels unnatural.

I think the first thing I need to do to feel better about working out again is to stop taking my mother, because with her goes the Rat, and somehow I always end up “babysitting” her–in the middle of my friggin’ workout–while mother-deary slams the balls to the wall (single player “racquetball”…). But I feel bad, because I don’t think she would go by herself even if I offered to babysit for her. But I shouldn’t feel bad, ‘cuz that’s her choice, right? Yes? No? Grr.