Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category.

Thoughts On Squat Thrusts

I am starting to have a bit of a fitness crisis. I have not been working out much lately.

For the past few years, I have mostly been doing squat thrusts for fitness. I do between 10 to 20 sets every minute for about 30 minutes. And the issue is that it is making my legs get bigger and making me worried I might become some sort of quad monster.

I know that squatting a lot can make your legs bigger, especially the thighs. It can make the front of your legs bigger. Or the back. Or the outside. For me, sometimes it feels like all the growth is on the inside, particularly near the top. It is starting to crowd my boys out. I sometimes worry that I will have a hard time fitting into a seat on airplanes. Or I will have to spend the reast of my life walking like I have to go number two all the time. Like I have to ride the fudge dragon. Sign the paperwork. Serve an ace. Plus I just don’t like feeling my legs touching.

Sometimes I also feel like I am encouraging uneven leg growth by all my workouts these days. Sometimes I do kicks and punches, and the kicks seem to work the inside more that the rest of my leg.

It’s not that I did not think my legs would get bigger. I wasn’t expecting them to get bigger quite that way and cause problems.

I started this about eight years ago. I read an article on the New York Times about workouts people were doing outside of gyms. I read the comments on the story (which are not a cesspool like Breitbart). A lot of people talked about their no-gym workouts. One commenter said they did the “prison workout”. I search for that term, and I found a few pages that used that term for different sequences of burpees. I guess they are easy to do in prison yards or cells. Some people did nothing but burpees for their workouts.

I found out later that some people use the term “prison workout” to refer to workouts using different calisthenic exercises, because those are also easy to do in your cell.

One common sequence was to do countdown sets: A set of 20, then a set of 19, a set of 18, etc down to 0. I thought, “How hard can it be?” So I decided to try it out.

I went down to the small, not very good fitness room in my apartment building. I decided not to jump since I have had knee problems in the past. But I still did the pushup. I think I got down to 16, but I think I did three sets of 16 before I realized that I was losing count. I only lasted ten minutes. How hard can it be? I found out it can be pretty hard.

The next day my arms were tired. But I decided to persevere. So I started doing workouts in my apartment. Eventually I started adding some kicks and punches, jumping jacks, mountain climbers and a few other exercies, but squat thrusts were the basis. I think the squatting helped my knees. I was a bit worried then about my inner thighs getting bigger. But it was not too bad then.

I was unemployed when I started this. I started working out on my own to save some money. I quit the gym not just to save money, but also because I never really talked to anyone when I was there.

After doing this for a year, and after I had another job, I thought about going to a gym again. There was a boxing gym near my apartment. I thought about going in to ask about rates and schedules. But before I ever did, and the class was doing squat thrusts. I thought to myself, why should I pay money so some doofus who barely made it out of high school can yell at me to do something that I am doing on my own anyway.

My first few years in Austin I did not do too many squat thrusts. I was living on the second floor and I was worried about disturbing the people below me. The complex had a nice gym, but I got tired of people knocking on the door like I was some damn doorman. It only happened a few times, but it should not happen at all. Now I am on the first floor in an apartment with a wooden floor.

And now my legs are really starting to get big. To the point where sometimes getting in and out of my car is difficult. And now I have to keep pulling my sweatpants up every few sets. I don’t have the thigh gap the ladies love.

I like squat thrusts because I feel like I am preparing myself for anything. I feel like I can push myself harder than with other workouts. Plus I don’t need to go to the gym. And the squats help my knees.

I don’t have great range of motion, but a bit better that the Crossfit Efficiency burpees. Burpees and squat thrusts have the fundamental motions of the human body. Another issue with the way I do them is that my spine is neutral, and not much arm/shoulder action. But it is my one stop fitness shop.

I found out about this guy named Funk Roberts who really pushes burpees. Funk Roberts said to have feet wide and put your hands in between, but that really hit my inner thighs. Having my hands about shoulder width with feet a few inches behind and pointed out was okay.

Portrait of the Imperial Bodyguard Zhanyinbao (1760) by unknown artist, available at Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use.


Language: The word “diet”

I want to look at how people use the word “diet”.

When I was younger, people would use the word “diet” to refer to something temporary. The word was mostly used as a noun. They would “go on a diet”, usually before some event, such as a wedding or a reunion. The main idea was to reduce the amount they ate, or to radically change what they ate. This would be done temporarily. After the big event and they impressed their old friends, people would go back to their old patterns of eating behavior.

Today we call this behavior a “fad diet”: A short-term change or reduction. This is why some people say “diets don’t work; you just go back to your old way of doing things.” Many of the screenshots on the fatlogic subreddit are from people in the fat acceptance/health at every size movements who use the word “diet” in this way.

The word “diet” was used to refer to the short-term change. But the normal, regular eating habits and patterns were never given a label.

If you talk to a biologist who studies another species, they will talk about the diet of that species. The biologist uses it to mean that species’ patterns of eating behavior: what they eat, when they eay, in some cases where and/or how they eat. They do not use the word “diet” to refer to a temporary change or restriction.

Over the past decade, people’s use of the word has been changing. More and more people are starting to use it in the second sense of the word. People talk about “low carb diets”, or “the paleo diet”, or the “Mediterranean diet”. I read and hear people talk about changing their diet, not “going on a diet”.

Now, people use the word “diet” to refer to their normal, common, consistent eating behaviors.

This is a good change. The fact is, everybody is always “on a diet”. Even Elvis was on a diet. It seemed to be fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, with lots and lots of pills. It was a terrible diet, but it was still a diet.

Maybe this is why many of the people in the screenshots on fatlogic can’t lost weight, and why they think “diets don’t work.” They are using the word to refer to something temporary, something that will get them towards some distant goal, and once they reach that goal, they will go of the “diet”. Stop using the definite and indefinite articles when using the word “diet”. Use pronouns. Do not go on “a diet”. Think about “your diet”.

As I get older, I am finding out that intense exercise is not as helpful to keeping in good shape and preventing myself from getting fat as it used to be. Now I need to pay attention to my diet.

I don’t need to go on a diet. But I do need to change my diet.

Image from My World, assumed allowed under Fair Use.


Language: Big Words

As someone with a degree in exercise physiology, spends more time than I should in the bowels of Reddit and Craig’s Lust, and a guy who tries in general to pay attention, I have noticed a few things about the use of language by some of the larger members of our society.

It is interesting that a lot of fat people like to say they have “a lot of meat on my bones”. You might have some meat, but frankly you also have a lot of fat on your bones, and that’s the turn-off.

Fit women never call themselves “curvy”, yet they themselves are not rectangular.

A lot of fat women describe themselves as “sassy”, and say they are “queens”. I don’t hear these words from fit women.

Fat people think they are “normal”, and everybody smaller than they are is “skinny”, as if being “skinny” is some sort of condition. Thin people seem to describe themselves as “thin”. As far as fat people calling themselves “normal”, it implies that fit people are abnormal. Then again, maybe few fat people have friends that exercise.

Usually when a woman calls herself or another woman “a real woman”, it is someone who is fat. Has any women pointed to a women who runs marathons and called those women “real women”?

Another observation: How can you tell if you are fat? Here is a little test. If you have no problems saying you would not date a fat person, but you get upset if you hear a fit person say they would not date a fat person, then you are fat.

Image from University Of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, assumed allowed under Fair Use.


A Lot More Difficult

I used to be able to work out more than I can now. Part of it is due to scheduling, part of it is due to age.

I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted as long as I exercised. But now, sometimes even if I do exercise regularly, it is not enough. I am reaching a point where I may have to make some serious changes to my diet. Like giving up chocolate. Cutting out junk food will require some serious mental discipline.

I used to work out to make my whole body bigger. Now I work out to make my stomach smaller, and that is a lot more difficult.

Perhaps there is a limit to what exercise can do. Working out more as I get older is not as hard as I thought it would be. Eating less, on the other hand, is proving to be a lot more difficult than I thought.

Image from Wikipedia, assumed allowed under Fair Use


Tumblr Ladies

I will start a list of Tumblr sites with pix of fit ladies.

More sites to look at:

Tumblr sites: – not many pix – plays a song – good stuff – good stuff – possible defunct, has some good stuff – good stuff – possibly defunct – good stuff – good stuff – possibly defunct – up through Oct 2011


Added stuff on 2014-01-21_00.16.01

Image from Google Search, assumed allowed under Fair Use


Fitness and Emergencies

The big news tonight is the explosions (probably bombs) that went off at the Boston Marathon this afternoon. I saw it on TV at work. There were a lot of responders running around, bystanders all over, it looked pretty chaotic.

Ever since 9/11/2001, there has been a lot of talk about disaster preparedness. I think that fitness is a big part of this. If something bad happens, you need to get away from it. I know this sounds obvious, but I think a lot of people forget about it.

In the 2000s, I was working for a large corporation in downtown Chicago. We were on the 18th floor. There were a few large people who complained about potential drills (which I don’t remember ever doing; guess who was in charge of coordinating the drills). They whined about having to go down 18 flights of stairs. Not whining about going up stairs against gravity. But whining about going down.

Going down is the easy way. If you cannot go down stairs without hurting yourself, you are in serious trouble.

In December, 2004 there was a fire in the LaSalle Bank Building in the Loop. I was still at work in the next building when that happened. It was all over the news. I thought one person died, but according to articles I found on the web, there were no deaths. But there could have been. A disaster can happen any time. I heard a lot of stories of people who were out of shape in the World Trade Center in NYC who thought they would not be able to make it.

Granted, if you are right in front of a bomb that goes off then you are hosed, even if you are a world-class decathlete. But being fit will help you recover from injury, and also help you stay calm while you get to safety. It could lessen your chance of injury so the responders could spend time on people who are more seriously injured. It will not make you invulnerable, but it will reduce your risk.

I know this is a bit rambling and incoherent. I have been planning for some time to write about this, but I felt that perhaps it was time to state this idea now. I may revisit it later.


Mas Oyama and Meditation

I found a site recently called Badass of the Week. One of the featured badasses was Mas Oyama. After WWII, he spent months in the mountains and trained intensely the entire time.

For a time in my life, that was what I wanted to do: go off into the middle of nowhere and practice martial arts all the time. And meditation. Lately I have felt that I have been getting lazy and lacking focus. I am trying to meditate more often.

I used to meditate frequently. I stopped several years ago. Looking back, I was less unhappy then. (I don’t know if I can ever say that I was happy.)

My watch beeps every hour on the hour. So now I start about half an hour before and wait until the beep. When I start timing, I keep looking at the watch to see if I have gone 20 minutes.

I am not too sure if I want to do martial arts anymore. Hitting people was nice, but people hitting me is not so nice.


The Petraeus Scandal Has Arms

Much has been written about the Petraeus scandal.

Much will be revealed.

Much will be revealed more than it already has. Like the fact that Petraeus is a Dominionist.  Many in the military think that his reputation was inflated, that he was better at PR than waging wars. He trumpeted the surge, and said little about paying off Sunni warlords. Remember the MoveOn brouhaha? Perhaps now people will look at it differently.

Many things are mysteries. Who are these twins that have driven a general and an FBI agent batty? Is Paula Broadwell the incarnation of a James Bond femme fatale? Is Holly Petraeus really Holly Petraeus, or Phil Hartman in the Witness Protection Program?

So much for “Duty, Honor, Country.” A lot of conservatives think if you just repeat some ideal that means you are living it. I heard that slogan (DHC) all the time growing up. It did not prevent my dad from treating my mom like crap. I never bought into the military worship we see today.

But let’s take another look at Paula Broadwell. A lot of people have commented on her arms. Yowza. What amazing arms she has. The whole body is amazing. People have also commented on Michelle Obama’s arms.

Paula Broadwell is a triathelete. I don’t know if that was enough to get her arms that way, or if she did some weight training as well.

I think that arms are a good measure of a woman’s fitness. Nobody ever compliments obese women on their arms. And there are a lot of fit women who do not have great arms. Jill Biden runs, but does not get compliments for her arms. I just did a bit og Googling, and her arms look good, but not as striking as Michelle Obama’s or Paula Broadwell’s.

A lot of men will work on their arms to the exclusion of everything else. You still see guys who have large arms, and legs that could be used to mix drinks. Any boxer or martial artist will tell you that big arms are nice, but to generate real power you need to use your legs.

Women, on the other hand, seem to leave the arms for last. Which in a way might be better than doing arms first. I think that if a woman has great looking arms, that is a sign that she is really really fit.


More Notes on Four Hour Body

I checked out The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss again to refresh a few points. Here are a few more notes from the book.

You can lose weight by exposing yourself to cold. An engineer looked at swimmers, and calculated they could not expend enough energy swimming to account for their physiques. He realized that because they were in water their bodies were expending energy to keep warm. Apparently the water is usually around 78 degrees F. So now this guy drinks cold water first thing in the morning, takes cold showers, and dresses more lightly in the wintertime. I try to take cool showers. I have never been into hot showers. So I start the water on warm, and every few seconds turn the water down a little bit. Sometimes I get it pretty cold. But I cannot start cold.

He also references gut bacteria, and their effect on physique. You can control your gut bacteria based on what you eat. Pickles and sauerkraut are good. Kimchi is the best, but if you are not Korean be careful. I had a Korean roommate in college. If you are not careful, everything will smell like kimchi. You can find more about it here and here.

The two strains of bacteria are bacteroidetes  and firmicutes. Lean people have more bacteroidetes than firmicutes, and for obese people it is the opposite. (I would guess that firm people would have more of the bacteria with the word “firm” in it.)

Splenda is bad. Probiotics and prebiotics are good to eat, as are kefir, cheese, kimchi and sauerkraut.

I try to get pickles from SprawlMart, but usually I forget.

Fun fact: A human body contains more bacteria cells than human cells.

Image from the Four Hour Body website


Fitness Journey 008

So for the first two semesters I went to TKD three times a week. The workouts were pretty intense: lots of blocks and punches up and down the gym, kicks in place, calisthenics. A few times we did jumping kicks and punches down the length of the gym.

I would also walk across campus to the gym and get there about 30 minutes early. I would go through the stretching routine before class. I got pretty flexible pretty fast.

I do not remember if I did any exercise on the off days.

During breaks I would do kicks, punches and blocks in the basement.

Image from Wikipedia