Monday, Apr. 25, 2005
Dear Diary:

Fear me, puny humans.

My trainer almost cut off the index finger of her left hand right at the base of her finger nail while chopping basil on Thursday. She was only in to work briefly on Friday and today she's got this humungous wad o' gauze plus a metal protector wrapped around her damaged digit.

She was game to help me wrassle with the MarnCo Assisted Pull-up Machine™ but I couldn't see the point in her doing anything that might harm her finger. I said I would do negatives instead, using a bench to get myself into pull-up height, slowly lowering my body to full extension on a ten count.

"Why don't you try a pull-up, see how close you can come?" she asked.

So I went to the pull-up bars on the cable machine and to our mutual shock I did an unassisted pull-up. And another. And another. Three. I took a rest and did three more. Another rest and I was able to get another two.

If the gym had not been awash in zygotes from the local elementary school, I would have hopped up on a bench and begun beating my chest, making territorial gorilla sounds. It's important not to alarm children unduly so I did not scar them with the image of a white-haired 53-year-old woman beating her chest and making territorial gorilla sounds.

But I wanted to.

So I've done it, actually hauled my ancient carcass through not one, not two but eight unassisted pull-ups. Oh, but it was sweet, that first moment when I felt my feet leave the ground and my body rise up towards the bar. No more hanging from the pull-up bars like a dead mackerel while the guys snicker at me. I got game.

I got to rest on my laurels about 4.6 seconds. Then my trainer said that since I was almost at three sets of three pull-ups, it was entirely reasonable to shoot for three sets of five pull-ups by my birthday in May. This is both the beauty and the curse of strengthening your body. Every time you reach the bar, someone just sets it a bit higher.

If I do manage to pull off 15 pull-ups by my birthday I do not care whether or not there are zygotes present. I will hop up on a bench, pound my chest and make scary territorial gorilla sounds. A woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do.

One of my three loyal readers, Sasha (who is a nutritionist in Austria) was instrumental in helping me make goal. About a month ago I whined about how I was losing weight but from calliper measurements it appeared that my body was breaking down muscle instead of fat. She said:

and this might be the important thing for you: as you said in your last post, the body breaks down muscle after training for energy. But you are trying to prevent that from happening.

Insulin is the "storage" hormone and will stop muscle breakdown after training, and actually help amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to get into the muscle cells. Therefore, it will help build muscle. This means you should try to eat/drink something right after training (best within 30 min of the end of it) that contains both carbohydrates (to trigger insulin) and protein (for the muscle).

My colleagues who work with professional athletes tell me that a ratio of protein:carbs of 2:1 is optimal (there are shakes out there that provide that, which makes it easier).

That's what I've been doing since I heard from her. I bring in a baggie of Vector cereal for my carb hit. Right after my workout is done I munch on it, washing it down with my protein drink. Without changing anything else, in the last month I've lost three pounds and callipers show it's all fat. Even better, I've been gaining a little muscle.

I love my three loyal readers. Every time I get mired in some way, hands are extended to pull me out of the problem. This internet is an amazing place, eh?

I know this will sound freakish, but this is the first time in a long time I've been happy to see the number on the scale go lower. Yes, I am the one woman on the planet who's been unhappy to see her weight drop and that's not because I'm fitness model thin or anything.

Why the gloom?

Well, back when I was shedding muscle, I was shedding snacks. See, every pound of muscle you add to your body speeds your metabolism by about 35 calories a day. That may not sound like much, but add ten pounds of muscle to your body and lo and behold, between the exercise it takes to make the muscle and the metabolic turbo charging from the muscle itself, not only are you buff looking, heck, you can eat like a horse.

I love to eat. I do not have the willpower to throw myself on a low calorie diet. Over the last three years I've shed almost 60 pounds and I've done it through very slowly changing the kinds of things I eat (less processed food) and by folding exercise into my life.

I'm as vain as the next woman, but vanity couldn't push me to do this. A non-cancerous lump in my breast back in 2001 scared me into cleaning up my overall health. Nothing like a little raw terror to cannon butt off sofa, eh.

The unexpected bonus is that it has strengthened my spirit. I'm the granddaughter, daughter and sister of suicides. My remaining sister has spent most of her adult life on anti-depressants. I myself have wrestled with depression on and off.

I haven't had to fight depression since I began to be a little more aware of what I shove in the cakehole, to make sure that my aged carcass gets regularly flooded with exercise-induced endorphins, nature's little happiness chemicals. Maybe this is a co-incidence. Maybe it's not.

In the meantime, I'm still no where near running 10K/6.2 miles. Whatever smugness I might feel about being Marn-Ra, She Who Can Do A Pull-up, instantly gets smacked down by the treadmill. It's hard not to be bitter.

My mom-in-law has been begging me to take her hyper German Shepherd, Shadow, along with me when I start road training. I have been trying to tell her that taking the dog out for four and eventually five mile runs will only make the beastie more fit and more energetic, but my reasoning is falling on deaf ears.

Yep, me the cat person, the person who deep, deep in her heart believes that Cats Rule, Dogs Drool may soon be spending several hours a week running with an extremely hyper German Shepherd.

The universe has a very dark sense of humour, indeed.

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 518.24 miles. 10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck Quadruple Duckage. You rack up the miles when ya train for a 10K.

Goal for 2005: 1,250 miles - 2000 kilometers


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