OKAY, NOT STRICTLY CHOCOLATE. I didn't fill a bowl with M&Ms and Yoo-Hoo and chase it down with a Swiss Miss stirred with a Toblerone bar. (That happened before I woke up.) Rather, I am describing the mini-meal I had before going to the gym for my weightlifting routine. This time, I left sufficient minutes between eating and lifting to avoid the same nausea I felt on Monday. However, I also made sure I ate something I would want to retain: a homemade chocolate protein bar.
If you have visited the health-bar section of your local supermarket or drugstore, you have seen enough slabs of compressed nutrients to build a road to Iceland — which would then be devoured by invading Vikings. Many of these are crap. High fructose corn syrup, poor balances of nutrients, insufficient fiber, and the like.
The website I visited, bodybuilding.com, has a message board forum on which one popular thread listed home recipes for protein bars. The advantage with this is that you know exactly what goes into each bar, so at the end of the day, you can rely on them to be of a certain nutritional level.
So I made the following recipe:
3 cups Quaker oatmeal
8 scoops chocolate protein powder
2 cups skim milk
1 package Jello fat free/sugar free chocolate pudding mix
1 tbsp peanut butter
Mix, pour into a glass dish, refrigerate or freeze, then cut up. I will say that fridge-only bars stay fairly mushy, and that a couple of hours in the freezer before cutting them up and returning them to the icebox is a good idea. But I had one of the slabs this morning before motoring off to the gym, and it was a chewy chocolate dream.
I did more or less the same routine as on Monday, except that I was able to do the work on the proper machines. I got there at opening (5:00 a.m.!) to have full access to all machines, because last time I had to substitute one shoulder machine for another due to a guy doing innumerable bench presses on the one I needed. Now, had I hit that Mega Millions score, I would be calling contractors to design a house with a gym. Not to be. Not yet anyway.
Recovering from the infamous squats was somewhat easier this time. I have no idea when I will begin putting actual weight on the bar during the squats. This early part of the routine is supposed to last 6 weeks. Maybe by week 24. At any rate, I got through all of the exercises as well or a little better than on Monday. The degree of difficulty I am having with some of them lets me know that my previous workout routines simply were not sufficient to grow and maintain muscle and burn fat.
Tomorrow, I plan to get 20 or 30 minutes of cardiovascular work in. According to some of the real muscleheads on the aforementioned message board, cardio somehow interferes with muscle growth. I suspect this is in the case of athletes who follow days of lifting with a 10K run. This is not me. The only way I am traveling 10K on my feet is if I put on in-line skates and someone tows me behind their car. I need the endurance training and heart-healthy benefits, and what I do isn't so intense from a tear-down-the-trapezius sense that I will reverse what minuscule gains I have made merely from watching a half hour of Wakeup Call on CNBC while flapping my thighs on the elliptical trainer. That's a good 400 calories I can drop there.
So if you see a maroon Toyota with a maroon of a driver slowly wending its way toward the town gym early tomorrow morning, you know it's me, reversing the sins of the past. If you then see me steer toward the bagel store on the corner, kindly shoot out one of my tires.