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Bike 5 miles. Aerial silks class. Bike 5 miles. Bake cookies. Bike 7 miles. Party. Acrobatics. Dancing. Bike 5 miles home.
Good day. Now, tired and sore all over.
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Oh, hard workouts, I'd almost forgotten what they were like. Two one-hour/ten-mile bike rides on Monday (home to/from Waltham). Aerial Silks Tuesday. I have lots of unexpectedly sore and tired muscles today all over my legs, arms, hands, back. Uf.
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Parties in which I get to hang out with neat people I don't wind up seeing very often otherwise, and meet new people, and do networking.

The Gym. That'd be Bally's in Porter Square. The old, not climbing, not gymnastics, mundane gym. In which I pick up heavy things and put them down again right where they came from (unlike moving). In which I run to nowhere for 30-40 minutes. I was feeling a little lethargic and don't-wanna before I went, but then I went and was immediately better and had a good workout.
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Special thanks to [livejournal.com profile] flexagon for introducing me in spring 2009 to what has become my weekly acrobatics and gymnastics class. It is my regular hardest workout of the week. It is full of fun silly human tricks that I have been able to introduce other friends to. Had a good run of it tonight. :-)
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I was never castigated as a child, as I hear some children are (mostly in they style of some old victorian governess), to have better posture. As I consider it now, I doubt such authorities would actually teach me to have my best posture, but they might have taught me a right posture.

It is easy for me to hunch my upper back over, sometimes it feels good like leaning in to focus more intently on some small bit of work in front of me, sometimes it is just lazy. It is easy for me slouch my lower back and curl my tailbone under and sag down to some point of lowest energy in my chair. Sometimes I imagine that the ideal chair would allow me to do this but in a shape that was somehow good for me.

Sitting up takes work. Sitting up for a long time takes endurance. When I really think about putting my body into what I imagine good posture is supposed to be like I tense some little muscles in my lower back that within a minute are complaining that they're obviously not built to hold my 200 lb body in that position - at which point I give up and relax back into the slouch until I think about it again.

From what little seated meditation practice instruction I've had, and some principles from yoga, it seems like there ought to be a neutral low-energy upright position that doesn't involve being held there by little muscles. OR, my little muscles are atrophied from a lifetime of laziness and ought to be developed.

In the last week I've done an unusual amount of walking around without a backpack. That is what got me thinking about this enough to write it up. When carrying the weight of a backpack (an extra 10-20 lb probably) I'm thinking more about carrying that weight than carrying myself. When I finally get the chance to walk and just walk, I notice that it feels different to curl my lower back in various ways and it feels different to carry my shoulders at different positions. I'm still not sure what "right" is, but I sometimes I notice that something is wrong and I try something else and something else until I find something better.

I feel like my internal metrics are pretty sloppy. I don't know if I'm straight up or leaning. I'm imagining a magical medical future where some real-time MRI-like device embedded in a chair analyzes the stresses on my cartilage and muscles and teaches me a best position for my body as it is now and trains me to work for a better position by strengthening a few muscles here and there. That'd be cool. Until then I'll have to work on paying attention to my own body (often a good skill) and maybe look for tips here and there.
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The class I call "acrogymnastics", which the instructor calls "acrobalance", has been mostly gymnastics for the last few weeks and less of the partner acrobatics tricks. I've gone along with that and spent extra time working on my basics like handstands and building up towards a front handspring. I think it has been working and I've been seeing improvements.
On Sunday I did an unassisted balk walkover off a 14" block. This was new and exciting. What usually happened when I tried to do this was that I stalled out halfway through the move and my arms buckled and I crumpled to the ground. On Sunday my arms were feeling much stronger and I was able to kick off harder and get over. Last night this was going so well that I moved down to an 8" block and did a couple from there. I don't expect to keep up a 6-inch-per-4-day rate of improvement, but it's still neat progress.
Other fun things last night included an assisted front flip (landed on one foot too hard and my ankle hurts. boo). I based while [livejournal.com profile] flexagon did airplane and A stood on her back. And I picked up J and R in a double-piggy-back.
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Based on how sore I am today, I must have had a hard workout last night. This is good, but lately I've been down to one hard workout a week instead of the two or three I would do a couple months ago. I need another. If I get desperate enough I may yet go back to ye olde mundane gym. Part of the problem is scheduling. It's pretty easy to find other things to do instead.
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I've been having a lot of fun with my increasing fitness lately in climbing and acro-gymnastics. This new good feeling has on occasion turned my my thoughts towards those of the newly converted zealot: "wow, this is awesome, this is clearly better, everyone should do this"
This may be partially true, but for the other part I should probably try to not be a jerk about it.

. . . . .

and I don't have to look very far to see examples that make me think humbly that I have a lot more improvement yet I could do.
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weight log for the last two years

Of course there are also other changes this simple number doesn't show.
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Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] flexagon for taking me to 'Acrobalance'. I'm not quite nuanced about the jargon, but I would describe tonight's class as half general gymnastics (head stands, hand stands, cartwheels, flips) and half partner circus tricks. The first thing we tried had someone crouching in front of me holding my ankles with my hands on their shoulders, then I crouch and roll back and they wind up inverted straight up their shoulders resting on my outstretched arms and holding my ankles for stability. That was probably harder than I should have done to start out on, but after a bunch of tries we got it right a couple times. Next [livejournal.com profile] flexagon stood on my shoulders, which was remarkably straightforward and worked the first time. Poof! She's 5'10" taller! Then a handstand in which I lay on my back and the handstander is on my hands. Finally, good old airplane ... with a third person standing on the flyer. :-) As I alluded to in the title, being the heaviest person there by at least 20% I was on the bottom end of all these maneuvers.

class details )
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In addition to the two days of climbing a week, and the one or two nights of dancing a week (did 2 this week), I added at least 7 miles of biking per day, M-F this week. Dancing Friday night was an extra hard three hour session with fewer than unusual songs taken off as breaks and possibly more vigorous fast songs and more big dips. Then Saturday was all helping moving for [livejournal.com profile] catya, [livejournal.com profile] shayde and [livejournal.com profile] omegabeth. Much stuff was moved, and I was still tired from dancing the night before. Now to try and rest up before climbing tomorrow.
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Another couple moments of feeling the improvement. Yesterday at climbing I did a route almost easily which a month ago I just barely did for the first time. I also did a new one for the first time. A week ago I would have looked at it aghast at how unreasonably hard it looked. Last time I went I half did it and this time I did it.
This morning I was doing a little stretching and yoga at home and felt unusually strong doing some crunches and core/ab work. Probably part of that is from being fresh in the morning and not tired from other things yet.
Anyway, good health feels good!
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Pretty often I feel generally strong. This is good. My knees have been behaving themselves the last few weeks. I started down the path to get a referral to a physical therapist to get them checked. That feels a lot less pressing now, but might be a good idea anyway. I haven't gotten a good night's sleep since last week Tuesday, but this is offset by the fun late night activities which caused some of that.

Fun late night activities have been including swing dancing Monday and Friday, and climbing Wednesday. I'm still regularly climbing on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. I guess I haven't been blogging about it because it has become kinda routine. Still fun, still challenging. I might have kinda plateaued for the last few weeks, but I put on good performances today on a hard 5.8 and an easy 5.9. I've only gotten to the mundane gym about once in the last month.

I'm still larger and heavier than I want to be. There was pretty little food dicipline around my birthday party and thanksgiving. I've started to get better about that in the last week.

Progress? Eh, not so much.
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Arrived 5:30pm Tuesday.
Went to an overnight stay on election night instead of going to fabulous parties. (Maybe we can charitably imagine some virtuous sacrifice, but really it was just dumb planning and being inobservant when I signed up for this sequence a couple months ago.)

Swallowed a little radio transmitting thermometer so that they can data log my core temperature for the next 36 hours.

Pee into a variety of containers, including one big one to collect all my pee for 24 hours. (Totaled over 3.5 liters.)

Got woken up by nurses at 6am. They took my various resting vital signs.

Laid quietly in bed (but not asleep) breathing into a hood for 35 minutes having all of my gasses measured.

Gave a blood sample, drank a sugary beverage, gave blood again every 30 minutes until 2 hours out. Had to just lie in bed and couldn't really move for those 2+ hours.

Didn't get anything but that sugary beverage until lunch around 1pm on Wednesday.

Played silly computer games that were supposed to measure various mental aptitudes. They were easy. Some of them were kinda fun. It makes me a little curious about games like "Brain Age" that are supposed to be good mental exercise, and how if they're really well designed they should seek to the edge of your abilities and always be a challenge. Hmm.

Got a small sample cut out of my left quadricep.

Found out that last week's "V-O-2 max"(?) test rated me at 47.2 ml/kg/min, which they tell me shows that I'm in pretty good shape. Must be all that biking.

And got randomized into the control group. Not what I wanted, less exciting but also less work. Eh.
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Getting studied on Wednesday, they measured the strength of my knees and my grips. That way if I go on the experimental calorie reduction I can come back in a year and see how much I've wasted away. Right now, I think I'm pretty strong. I learned I can exert 160 Newton-meters of torque at the knee kicking forward through the quads, and 130 Newton-meters of torque pulling back through the hamstrings. The grip device reported "44", which I'm going to guess is linear Newtons of force.
The interesting thing about my knees is that a couple years ago when I was in physical therapy for knee trouble, one of the things they told me was that I needed to strengthen my quads, which didn't make much sense to me as I thought they were pretty strong from biking and other things. What they told me on Wednesday was that the normal ratio of strength on that joint is closer to 2:1 and they were surprised how strong my hamstrings were. They said that this imbalance sometimes causes knee pain. Aha! Now the comment about my quads from years ago made sense.
So, there are a few exercises from the old PT routine that I may resume, and I've been thinking about my bicycling technique and whether I can change the way I use my muscles to pedal. But I shouldn't do too much. It might throw off the study.
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Four weeks of no gym has left me not quite up to the level of lifting I was at before. The first week of that was lots of lifting related to moving, but after that I really could have gotten back earlier than I did. On the plus side, I finally feel settled enough to take a break from house-stuff-shuffling and get some better quality exercise.
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About two months ago I posted that I could lat pull 90 lb and chest press 80. Now I'm up to 120 and 100, and the 120 lat is getting too easy and I'll go up another rung next time. I think I now have a strength goal (actually strength-to-weight-ratio goal) of being able to do 10 pullups. On the assisted pullup machine I'm about 50 lb short of being able to do 1. I did some other weight machines that I don't usually do and now I think I've been neglecting them and should work on those parts more. Lifting inclined or straight up from the shoulders I could only do about 65 lb. Now, I'm pretty sure I shouldn't expect to be able to lift the same amount in every direction with every different muscle in my body, but I still think I should be able to do more in those motions. I think my goal here is "impressive dance moves".
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Biking six miles every day (three each way to/from work) hasn't been a sufficient workout for a while. Biking sixteen miles of a zillion errands yesterday left me tired last night, but it wasn't enough for me to be sore today, and thus it is also not a sufficient workout to really get me improving. So tonight I got to the gym and ran to nowhere for 35 minutes and ran pretty hard compared to what I would have done a couple months ago.

Improving fitness definitely feels good, but it's still kinda frustrating that the chub isn't coming off noticeably yet, and this is definitely not the season to be over-insulated.
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Exercise for the day: biking around to 6 open houses covering at least 7 miles. I even saw one that was really nifty!
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Sunday and Tuesday I went to the gym and did things stronger, longer and faster than I thought I could. I guess I'm really getting back into it and need to keep pushing until I find out what my actual capabilities are.

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