Lazy Arse…

It has been sometime since I last put thought to screen – sometimes there just isn’t much to comment on. However, this week seems to have been a week where arse(s) features heavily, if not always for the right reasons.

First, let me start with my own particular affliction – painful knees (stay with me here). For many years my right knee has always found ways to remind me it’s there, and that I, and it, are getting older. We havent quite reached the ‘weather vain’ status, where it notifies me when the weather is a bit damp and cold, but it does need a bit of coaxing first thing in the morning, and doesn’t like it when I rush around. Until now, I have always been able to rely on the left knee for support and balance. Until now.

About three months ago, the left knee decided that it had been abused for too long, and would no longer stand for it (or me) without sending shooting pains to my head or just throb like a sulky teenager. For Crossfit this presents a problem, and creates a vicious cycle where the pain creates bad movement, and bad movement creates more pain. Typically, I took the ‘non-intervention-it-will-get-better-on-its-own’ approach, but last week I decided enough was enough and took myself off to a physio to get fixed.

(I am sure I have aired my theory before that Crossfit was created by physiotherapists/chiropractors and the like, to generate income. One breaks me, the other puts me back together. It should not have surprised me therefore that the face greeting my at the reception was none other than Teri from the same crossfit club!)

After a few different assessments the conclusion was delivered

“You have a lazy arse”

“What?”

“Your Glutes are engaging very late, making your Quads do all the work – that’s putting stress on your knees”

“Makes sense, what now?”

“Now I get to inflict massive pain on you legs and make you do ridiculous exercises – this is the bit of the job I love…” She didn’t really say that, but you could tell that’s what she was thinking! I got my own back by pretending it didn’t hurt and asking if I could book a session every day…

My second ‘Arse event’ was thanks to Frank.

There is an unwritten, but clearly understood code when it comes to what to wear, and how to wear it, especially for men. ‘Skins’, or tights are fine – but MUST be worn under shorts, after all, this isn’t fucking ballet.

I was wearing mine for the first time, and wondering whether I would ever get used to the slow, but incessant plucking of my leg hair, when Frank walks over to congratulate me on yet another fashion blunder. I didn’t notice at the particular moment that Frank was only wearing tights, but it became abundantly clear when we started doing bear walks in a line…  Andy summed it up best

“Frank, for the love of God, cover up your fucking arse!”

The third and final interaction with ‘an arse’ came on eBay. I have decided to get rid of loads of ‘stuff’ that has been lying around the house (i.e. Helen had hinted to the point when the hint was now a clear instruction) and sell it on. This should be a straight forward exercise were it not for the brainless arses that seem to spend their whole adult life surfing eBay and asking stupid question about things they have no intention of ever buying. To those frustrating arses I say this “Bid or fuck off you stupid arse”

I’ll let you know how the knees get on…

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Confession time…

In April I started ‘eating clean’  (such a wonderful phrase that suggests I used to eat dirt!). By that I mean I started eating a Paleo Diet. No Bread, Rice, Sugar etc, and it has been going pretty well having manged to shed more than two stone so far, but about 2 weeks ago it all seemed to have gone a bit pear-shaped!

I tend to weigh myself far too often, curious about how much my weight fluctuates during a week/day… Did you know for example that I lose an average of 3lb overnight? I must be a very restless sleeper cos I’m sure I dont lose that much during an average WOD!.

Anyway, I have been losing typically 1lb a week fairly consistently and was very happy with that as eventually I will get to where I want to be, and I am clearly putting on muscle from my Cross fit sessions. However, about 2 weeks ago, I suddenly put on 4lb! WTF I thought, how the shitting hell has that happened? Who the fuck has spiked my food? Four weeks effort down the tubes!

I was to say the least slightly apoplectic (always wanted to use that word) and ready to throw in the towel. May be I just needed a big poo? I really couldn’t understand what had gone wrong or what had changed – at least that was my story at the time …

I can now confess that I knew exactly what had gone wrong. In a single week I had fallen off the Paleo track twice.

The first time was staying in a hotel in Bromley. I was eating in my room and ordered steak and salad and was very clear that I didn’t want chips – It duly arrived without chips, but with a fucking huge bread roll!

There was no mention of the roll in the description so maybe the chef had thought he was doing me a favour, or was secretly trying to de-rail my Paleo efforts. Whatever, I wasn’t tempted. I ate the steak and salad, and left the role on the tray where it stayed, just in the corner of my eye…

I should have put it outside the room but I didn’t.

Over the next two hours it stared at me. I’m sure at one point it spoke to me.

“eat me, you know you want to”

“I don’t” (yes, I am now talking to a bread roll)

“Eat me, no one will know”

“I don’t want to eat you”

“Is it because you can’t”

“No, I just don’t want to eat you”

“Are you scared of what might happen”

“No, of course not… but I am curious…”

The rest is a blur, but I was suddenly surrounded by crumbs and empty butter wrappers with a butter stained knife in my hands. ” Oh shit, WTF have I done?”

Of course, all I had done was eaten a (very large) bread roll, but I was expecting my stomach to expand uncontrollably and then explode, rather like the scene from Alien. It didn’t, although I did feel uncomfortable and burp a lot (and I mean a lot) probably more to do with the speed at which I had consumed the offending roll, rather than its effect on my stomach.

This event was swiftly followed by another conversation two days later, but this time with a large sausage roll meant for George after he had finished playing Rugby (there were two, so he didn’t go without). Similar outcome, but this time sat in my car surrounded by pastry crumbs…

The net result of these two events? – I assume the inflammation we read so much about from gluten and the additional weight gain. Proof or coincidence I don’t know, but me and gluten are now no longer speaking to each other!

There is a line…

Along the Paleo journey I have been introduced to some interesting new (and healthy) food options, all of which I have been assured are “good for you”, and most of which are nice. But there have been the occasional “you want me to eat/drink what?” moments

On the good side…

I must give a big shout to my still favourite snack from The Naked Ape (http://www.thenakedape.co.uk). these are absolutely fantastic and have saved me on numerous occasions from having to eat crap – I always keep a couple in my case for emergencies. They wont fill you up, but they will keep you going for a few hours when your surrounded by sandwich shops!

I am also (probably not completely a good thing) becoming addicted to very dark chocolate – at least 80% cocoa, and have been amazed by how much difference there is in flavour depending on the origin – I think I am well on my way to becoming a chocolate snob/bore

Coconut – who knew? Me and Mrs Trog are on three a week (shared) and had a mild panic this week when Morrison’s didn’t have any on display. We were saved from having to write a ‘strongly worded letter’ by a very helpful man who got us three from ‘out the back’. (I always offer to open them so I can have the milk…)

My latest discovery in the ‘good things’ list is the ‘bulletproof coffee’. I did hear about these some time ago, but I dismissed them as somewhat fanatical in nature – they really do sound horrible when you read how to make one, and you will wonder why spoil a good cup of coffee? However, I was very wrong – they are delicious and easy to make, and can easily get you through a morning if you have no time for a decent breakfast!

On the bad side…

There is however, and should be, a line that no man be asked to cross. It is a good rule in life that nothing green should be drunk. Take Crème de Menthe for example – do you know anyone that has survived a Crème de Menthe hangover? – exactly, always fatal. So when I returned from holiday to see instructor Pete drinking a green liquid, I had to demand WTF is that? I was offered a taste… I tried it… it tasted like green stuff. I have green stuff growing on the flat roof of my kitchen. I can see it from the bathroom and have often wondered what it is and how I could get rid of it. I have NEVER wondered what it would taste like scraped off and blended into a green drink!… but now I know… it tastes like shit.

Now I am sure you can send off for a DVD on just how good for you this green stuff is, and I am sure they will say it is soooooo good that it is more than worth the £40 it is going to set you back. However, I think we are drifting too far away from the caveman here and into Neanderthal territory

I will not be partaking of the green stuff… EVER… unless of course the DVD says it makes your penis bigger, in which case £40 is a bargain!

Just 1lb of fat…

When I made my first trip to Crossfit I weighed in at 18st 10lb, the highest I have ever been, with a desire to be 15st (last achieved about 25 years ago!)

The lightest I have ever been as a fully grown man was 12st 13lb at 22, with time spent playing squash or working out most days.

Like most men I guess, my ability to loose weight quickly when I was young made me complacent, and see any weight gain as a ‘temporary’ thing that could be easily sorted by a couple of weeks exercise and a few less burgers…

As I got older I was starting to recognise the extra effort required each time, but work/ambition seemed to provide enough excuses to ignore the issues, and before I could say ‘”Christ, I’m 30″, I was up to 16st… by 40 this was 17st … and by 50, we hit the jackpot at 18st 10lb.

This week I weighed in at 16st 11lb, still a long way from my target of 15st, but just 1lb away from nailing my second stone. As you can see from the graph the loss has been steady at about 1lb a week which got me to thinking – just what does 1lb of fat look like and what effort is required to shift the little bugger!  The simple answer is 3500 calories or a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day (I know this is an over simplification…)

The Paleo diet is certainly working – because of injury and holiday I have been out of the gym for 4 weeks, but still maintaining my weight loss. The exercise is certainly increasing my metabolism and helping with tone (Frank even said I was developing a waist today… I do worry about him). I had thought by now it might start getting harder, but so far I am still on a steady 1lb a week.

It would be nice to be at 15st before Christmas so I may have to start turning up the exercise dial!

Mr Sensible Head (…not)

Coming to terms with being 50 and accepting that you have neglected your body for the past 10 years 15 years 20 years is difficult, but is apparently a critical part of reaching 60.

On M0nday I arrived to find Frank and Pete lying next to each other on the floor like two star fish, panting to get their breath back. A small crowd had gathered around them and ‘Eye of the Tiger’ was blasting out over the sound system. Clearly, I had missed something pretty spectacular, and based of the evidence before me, concluded there were three possibilities:

a)  They just finished a wrestling match?

b) They just finished a dance off?

c) They hadn’t been able to deny their lust for each other any longer

I considered a) for a short time and concluded that Pete would have been up for this but Frank wouldn’t, and as Frank can probably run faster than Pete, logically, whilst they would have chased each other for a long time (both wont give up), they would not have finished in the same spot.

So, could it have been a dance off? This was an interesting possibility. I haven’t seen Pete dance, but I have seen Frank dance.  It was possible that Frank was exhausted from trying, and Pete was exhausted from laughing, but I concluded that “Eye of the Tiger” wouldn’t have been the first choice of music, even for Frank

Oh dear, that only left c)… awkward… but hang on, they were still fully clothed… and suspiciously close to the rowing machines. Of course, Sale Sharks! (check this out on YouTube if you don’t know what it is)

I mention this because, having recovered from the possibility of a love match between Frank and Pete, the next next thing I heard was “Bob, why don’t you have a go…?” My response was quick and assured – “No thanks, not yet” A sensible response avoiding pain and probable exhaustion. Sensible head firmly in place

Tuesday I started with my sensible head on again. We were doing overhead squats, which I can’t really do – My squat is still not upright enough, and my arms don’t seem to want to go behind my head, a bad combination with a heavy bar! So sensibly, I decided to work on my form and flexibility. This got a confirming nod from Andy and a “right thing to do” comment. So far so good…

When we got to the WOD however, sensible head fell of and was replace by ego head. The WOD was 10 to 1 rep of overhead press (40kg) interspersed with 20 double under skips which for me = 40 single skips (as I can’t do double unders either!) so, a total of 400 skips. What’s the problem I hear you ask? Simple, my calf’s are big and very very tight so I knew 400 skips was going to be a problem… So, I should have stopped after about 280 when it was starting to hurt… I REALLY should have stopped at 360 when it was really hurting… And I REALLY, REALLY shouldn’t have tried to do the last 40 on one leg (left if you’re interested) … And I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, should have accepted Andy’s kind offer of an ice pack,

But no, instead of doing the sensible thing, I chose the option that means I have now been walking around for 5 days like Douglas Bader, swearing every time I had to climb a flight of stairs (see what I did there?)

Anyway, lesson learnt and sensible head firmly back in place!

The Great Burpee…

From the moment I started Crossfit, one exercise has been a clear favourite – the Burpee. Sometimes something just feels so natural that your body just seems to fall effortlessly into its metronomic rhythm. And so it is for me with the burpee…

Adding 50 of these babies to any workout will make sure it’s a real crowd pleaser, and I for one like to use them as a great way to cool down. In fact, so committed am I to the potential life extending benefits of this exercise that I have decided to share some top tips.

One: as with any fast movement, make sure you don’t have anything loose flapping around. Personally I like to make sure my belly is well strapped in – went down too quickly once and winded myself really bad…

Two: this isn’t strictly in the book, but I find it a great way to get into the prone position is to drop to your knees first, then finish the move with some sort of grunt to make sure you release all/any air you have managed to get into your lungs. I find shouting “Bollocks” really works, but “Shit”, “Christ” or “Help” will probably do the job just as well.

Three: once in the prone position, take a few moments to admire the floor and the relative comfort it affords before you attempt to do battle with gravity and pull your legs in the general direction of your head. I find counting to 10 at this point helps to maintain an appropriate pace, or alternatively, wait for one of the instructors to shout at you in their usual encouraging way, telling you to keep going in case you had forgotten (?)

Four: As your legs finally get into something approaching a squat position, or what I fondly refer to as the ‘Froggy’, make sure you control any urge to let rip with your rear end (I think we all know what I am saying)

Five: The jump. Easy to go too high on this and waste time which isn’t going to get you on the leader board, so just high enough to get a piece of paper under your feet. If you haven’t got a piece of paper to hand, ask a friend to shout when you’re high enough, and then stop going up

Six: Finally, whilst you try to steady yourself for the next rep and take in some much needed oxygen, look down and admire the sweaty silhouette you will have left if you followed step three properly and ask you self this – is it getting smaller? No, then get your lazy arse down for another one and stop complaining!

Last, and on my last legs…

There comes a time when we all have to leave the comfort of induction and go play with the big boys… or in my case, much smaller boys (and girls).

This is a tense time. Frank and I had bonded (or at least got used to each other) and he had become painfully aware just how unfit I was – The joke was out there and it was an old joke. Now it was going to become a new joke again, or so I feared.

Also, if you remember, I had weeks of arriving at the gym to see these much fitter specimens finishing there WOD (Workout of the Day) and looking pretty knackered. Clearly, what we had done on induction was a watered down version. How the hell was I going to feel after a proper session?

Despite my biggest fears, the reality was that you could not find a more supportive, friendly and encouraging (and unfortunately fitter) group of people, which is great, because I, for the most part, finish last –  and a rather strange shade of red with purple highlights!

A few times I have managed to finish quite close to Frank (which feels great), however, having completed a partnered workout with him today, I have come to realise that Frank is a man easily distracted… and a man who frequently loses count. I can only imagine that on those rare occasions where I have come close to his time, poor Frank has probably done at least 20% more than the rest of us…

And so my journey to the height of physical fitness has begun. All that is required now is commitment, effort and £60 per month (very reasonable). This along with my new Cave Man diet, have caused my body to shed 22lbs, and parts of it hurt like they have never hurt before. It’s Hard. When I arrived at the gym today and saw the WOD I thought ‘this is it, this is the day when if all falls apart’ and when I got to my 10th Wall Climb, I thought the end had come! But no, I finished and had enough breath left to swear at Pete…

I have come a long way, I just wish there wasn’t still so bloody far to go!