Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Eagle has Landed

Photo by Maggie Q. Magniloquent, Some Rights Reserved
This, my friends, is a brand-spanking new elliptical machine, snuggled up next to the (now obsolete) recumbent bike and rowing machine.

Having tried it out the past two days, I have to say that the elliptical is much more of a workout than the bike ever gave me.  For one thing, it is a "weight bearing exercise", as my mother is fond of saying.  That means that instead of sitting on my ample butt and pedaling, I am working said butt, and legs, and arms.  I can feel the workout in my butt and legs most pronouncedly, and even had wobbly legs getting off the machine this morning.

I am sweating up a storm, which is slightly inconvenient on the elliptical, since I wear my glasses so I can read and see the display - - on the bike, I left my glasses off, so mopping up my sweat with my t-shirt was an easy thing to do.  On the elliptical, with the glasses on, it requires a pause to mop the brow, plus a certain grace and balance.  Glasses off - mop mop mop - glasses on, pedal pedal pedal.  On the good side, the workout is so exhausting that picking times to pause is easy to do, since I am pausing repeatedly to get my heart rate back down to 120 bpm, rather than pushing 150 bpm, which is all too easy to do on this machine.

I am also much more on display with the elliptical than I ever was on the rowing machine or bike, since I sat below the level of the window on each of them.  With the elliptical, I am framed perfectly in the middle of the window, and on full display for all the hydro workers and tradesmen who congregate in the alley behind my bedroom.  

I am still trying to find a program on the elliptical that works for me, that is not just straight pedaling (which is boring), but which is not soul-destroying, either.  Yesterday doesn't count because I was flitting from one program to another just trying to figure out how to use the machine.  Today I did 15 minutes on the interval program (too intense for me - I was noticing weakness in my legs from this), and 5 minutes on manual, at a low intensity.  Tomorrow I will try another one of the programs, to see if there is one that my body can tolerate.

I have to say this - the machine is very easy to use, and easy on my joints, as advertised.  Plus, it is super quiet in action, except when the machine is changing levels.  I am not really having any knee pain while I am working out, and although I am feeling a little stiffness in my back now, mid-morning, it's not the crippling back pain I used to experience before I started to work out.  So, an intense workout without being crippled - I'll give that two thumbs up.

I have to say, having worked out for half a year on the rowing machine and bike, it feels like I've only now started to work out, using the elliptical.  Interesting.  We'll see if the results are anything to sneeze at.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Tool Use Separates us from Animals...

I have the luxury of a second bedroom in my new apartment, and have turned it into a workout room / guest bedroom.  In the city, in small spaces, everything needs to serve a dual purpose and my workout space is no different.  There is space for the workout equipment, but also space for a daybed for guests.  I partially separate the daybed from the workout equipment with a free-standing 3-panel screen, which permits me to visually establish different zones within the same room.  I am not sure whether the feng shui of the room is positive, what with all the workout equipment in there (!), but it's the best I can do with the space available.

My longest serving piece of workout equipment is my old faithful Schwinn 205P recumbent bike.  I have had this bike since the late 1990s, in my old house, and I remember using it 6 days a week when I was working out and getting in shape the last time. 

This bike has your basic strap-tension system for resistance, and a little computer that gives you stats like time, distance, calories, speed, and an odometer. The bike also has a socket for an optional pulse monitor, which I don't use (I use a chest strap with a wristwatch as my heart rate monitor).  The frame is welded steel, and the bike can disassemble into two parts (the flywheel and the seat + frame), and both parts are heavy enough that you get a workout trying to move the thing.  It's very comfortable to use, and is your basic, entry level bike. 

My current program is to do 20 minutes on the bike, 5 days a week. Boring, yes, but it's a chance to read. 

Last year I bought a rowing machine, the Infiniti R100.   This air rower offers  features including: air magnetic resistance system; angled foot rests with pivoting heel supports; computer with a variety of programs (including white water, pace boat, ramp, and manual programs); adjustable air vents; and a nice full stroke for those of us who are tall-ish (I am 5'9"). 

I have to confess that I do not use this machine to its capacity, as I only do a couple of minutes each day, 5 days a week, usually on the manual program.  For the short amount of time that I use the rower, the programs are not useful, and I do not have a stroke rate that permits me to race the computer and win (I only go about 30 strokes per minute, which is enough to get my heart into the 140s range by the end of 2 minutes with ease). 

I like the rower, now that I have learned how to use it without overflexing my knees.  It reminds me a lot of the Nordic Trac ski machine that I used to own - both of these pieces of equipment are great for getting my heart rate up, but I could never stay on them long enough to do a full workout - - they are too intensive for me. 

This week yet a further piece of equipment is coming into the workout room, after long having been recommended by my mom - a Precor elliptical machine. 

This machine will be new to me, but my mother and stepfather rave about theirs, which they have used for years.  This model, the EFX 5.33 apparently features automatic inclined angles from 15 to 30 degrees, moving handlebars, 10 programs, 2 User IDs, 20 resistance levels and touch and telemetry heart rate monitoring, which I hope will work with my chest strap.

My parents rave about the smooth action of the elliptical, and how easy it is on the joints, as well as how effectively it gets them into their target heart rate zone.  This is all hearsay for now, as I have yet to try the machine, but I have read good things about it, and can't wait to try it.  Tuesday is the big day (the unit gets delivered in the afternoon).  I am told it is  behemoth - big and heavy - so I need to pick where it will live and be happy with that, as once it is placed, it's not going anywhere.  That's not ominous at all...

Friday, 22 June 2012

Hot Times in the City

Photo courtesy Matsuyuki, licensed CC-BY SA
It has been a week of record hot temperatures in the city this week, with humidex readings over 40 degrees centigrade most of the week.  The only good news - it's *only* 30-some degrees with the humidity today after a rainstorm last night, so the humidity has broken somewhat.  It's still damn hot for someone who wears all-black to work every day (like yours truly), and I am still suffering whenever I step outside, but what can you do?  I am a slave to my funereal clothing choices.

The big move was last week, when I packed up and moved all the way across the street (!).  It was the worst of all possible moves, because it was close enough that we could do a lot of moving ourselves, but not all of it, what with all the books and furniture.  This meant that I had to pack everything up, only to unpack it again, within sight of the old apartment - talk about frustrating!

Photo by Maggie Q. Magniloquent, some rights reserved
... and crippling.  Don't forget crippling.  The new place has stairs - lots of them - and unpacking meant lots of trips up and down to bring things from the living room to the bedrooms and storage room, several flights below.  

Thanks to the move, my good routines were disrupted.  I was not able to work out last Friday, as the workout equipment was not entirely set up in its new location in the guest bedroom.  And who knows where the scale was - certainly not me!  Plus, with the move and unpacking came more eating out than normal, as the kitchen was in no shape for cooking, which meant that our past habit of healthy meals was somewhat on the back burner, exchanged for panzarotti from Pizza Pizza, subs from Subway, and a celebratory Mexican feast at Habaneros on Wellington.  

Photo by Maggie Q. Magniloquent, some rights reserved
All is now unpacked, and, with another week of workouts under my belt, the routine is now back on track.  After this little interlude I have gained two pounds, but I am confident that I will quickly get rid of those and consider them to be only a minor blip.  I have still lost more than 30 pounds, and did not cross back into 300+ pound territory, so that is good.  And I look at this past week and how unusual it has been both for the amount of eating out, and the disruption to the routine, as an outlier, and gaining back a little has not demotivated me.  

I consider it a major triumph that after the move I got right back into the workout routine, and completed all 5 planned workouts this week, despite the heat and despite not wanting to work out.  Sure, some days I had to trick myself by saying I was only going to work out for 10 minutes on the bike rather than the full 20, but I ended up doing the full 20 on the bike every day this week, plus the 2 minutes on the rowing machine at high intensity.  Each workout left me dripping and a hot pink mess, but that is to be expected with the heat that we've been having this week.  I may try putting the fan on in the room while I work out, just for air circulation, and see if that helps at all.   

Onward and (hopefully) downward!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Still Here, Still Working Out, Still Losing Weight...

Well, it's been a while since I last posted.  April was a perfect month for workouts, while May, in contrast, was a disaster.  I was demotivated and stressed at work, and many of my workouts slid by the wayside.

April 2012
Here I am sometime in April.  Yes, yes, looking very glamorous, I know.  By the time this photo was taken, I had been working out solidly for about three months.

June 2012
And here I am at the beginning of June, a couple of months later.  Can I see any progress?  Perhaps I am slightly less jowly in the mouth, and I have a tiny bit more definition in the place where my cheekbones will eventually be.  Not yet, of course, but eventually.

As for the weight, I've lost 35.3 pounds since I started working out, which means that I've hit my personal goal #2, to break 300 pounds.  OK, I'm still a super heavyweight, but I am 35 pounds less of the woman that I used to be.

This month I am back on the workout trail, and I have worked out the past 8 weekdays straight, right on plan.  I switched the workout from lower time on the bike, and higher time on the rower at moderate intensity.  Now I am working out 20 minutes on the bike, plus 2 minutes on the rower at high intensity every day.  That appears to be keeping my heart rate in a good target zone, longer. 

I am also trying out an iPad app for fun, called Gympact.  The idea behind this app is that you set a target number of workouts each week, and also how much money you want to put up for grabs.  The Pact is a weekly commitment running from Monday to Sunday. If you meet your Pact, you get a cash reward for each day committed, paid for by those who didn’t get to the gym.  In theory.  Rewards are apparently $0.50 to $0.75 per workout made. 

I worked out all last week, but the app had an update Sunday evening that wiped out my account.  I am trying it again this week to see what happens - I am 3 for 5 workouts this week, right on track for my target.