Saturday, November 19, 2005

Shocking Weekend Display of Discipline

BY SOME WONDROUS MIRACLE of will, I actually levered my scabrous bulk out of the bed before 7 a.m. today. No, I didn't then settle down on the couch (or, worse, the toilet) for another couple of hours in dreamland. If I can get my gym clothes on before the urge to set the alarm forward another 15 minutes, I am guaranteed to get to the club, where I can then fall asleep in the sauna.

Which is not to say there aren't potential speed bumps between my parking lot and the gym. Said bump today was the first frost of fall, beautifully (if obstructively) encrusting my windows and even the painted surfaces of my car. My scraper, oddly enough, was in my apartment. I'm not sure how it got up here. My theory is that, when I cleaned out my last car prior to selling it, I took the scraper up with a mass of other assorted crap. I know I had been giving it to the smokers in my poker game to prop open the back door and eliminate the ned for me to buzz them in after they satisfied their addictions.

With no scraper save my pathetically ineffective driver's license, I simply sat in the car for 5 minutes with the defrost settings blasting, and thought about the workout I had ahead of me. This would complete my first of six weeks at this beginner level. Once again, my legs were smarting from the last one. Not my quadriceps again. The second time through for squats actually went a little easer. This time it was my calves. I had done seated calf lifts the first time because the gear I needed to do them standing was in use. (Imagine standing on the edge of a step and levering yourself up and down out of boredom or as a stretch, and that's the motion. Oh, and while holding weights.) I was able to use the right setup the second time I visited, and good gravy, did my calves ever feel it. I was walking slowly and making turns in the office with uncharacteristically delicate care. Perhaps this is why I posed such a tempting target to the drive-by haberdasher — he may have sensed I couldn't escape and thus might help him make the week's nut.

With the last workout on Wednesday, though, I figured the actual muscles might be able to bear the abuse, despite the lingering pain. I don't have a full handle on the exact process by which a muscle heals after exercise and the physical symptoms at each stage. All I know is hurt/no-hurt. The worst thing that might happen is I would cut the second set short by a few reps. I could also reduce the weight and finish out the set that way. Vee haff vays of making you lifft.

I also thought about the week in terms of nutrition. The only deviation from my eating plan was the Thursday night dinner at my parents' house. This points to a recurrent snag in my plan. I eat dinner there on Sunday nights. My mother enjoys cooking for three people on those occasions, and it's always good and usually abundant enough for leftovers. I have to find a diplomatic way to let them know I may not be eager to join them when they're eating certain things. Thanksgiving is only once a year, and I believe my gym is actually open that day, so I can anticipate the food siege to come. (Mmmmmm . . . food siege . . . calls to mind catapults flinging pumpkin pies over castle walls and directly into Homer's gaping maw.) But it's the recurring date I have there that I will need to integrate into my menu. I got off to a good start, though, so tomorrow's dinner should not impact what, otherwise, has been a flawless first week of careful eating.

At length, the frost melted on my car enough to make it street legal, so I tooled through the clear, chill town and into the parking lot of the gym. My workout went smoothly, even the squats, which are second on the list, so it makes the rest of the exercises something of a downhill jog. But the last item on the list was the dreaded standing calf raises.

The correct machine was not being used (this is why I go early!) so I glanced at my list of exercises for the right weight and began the first set of 20. By the 15th lift, I was really grimacing. I did hit 20, though, and after about a minute's rest, I started the final set of exercise for the day.

This time, when I hit 15, I hit the wall. ¡No más! as Roberto Duran might say. I unracked the weight and staggered over to my sheet to record my reps. There, I noticed that I was only supposed to have done two sets of 12, not 20.

If my calves still didn't feel like freshly tenderized meat, I woulda pimp-walked out of that gym.

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