Friday, February 10, 2012

Hard Core

Thursday 9 February, 2012
08:40 - Snick. Beep. 109 mg/dL. Still not under 100. The real goal for me is to be under 90 in the morning but I have not been there very often. There's many different schools of thought out there about what serum glucose should be but I believe in tight control. I need tight control because I don't have good discipline and self control when it comes to food. That makes living a long time without super major complications a lot tougher than it would be if I had some self discipline.

My 8 year old is back at school and all better now except for one bloodshot eye. I guess the looming specter of missing last night's pizza party was all it took to facilitate instant healing. Well, that and $20 for the doctor to tell us that nothing is wrong now. So the house is back to normal and there's even more eggs in the fridge this morning. Oddly enough, when I'm at the fridge getting the eggs, I notice a brand new gallon of apple juice sitting right next to the gallon of milk with the sugar-free chocolate syrup stuck right there between them. Funny how I couldn't find it a couple of nights ago.

I fry one egg and decide to get the scale out and see what 1 ounce of shredded cheddar really looks like. I want to know how much I've been over doing it all these years. To my surprise, I've been under doing it actually. By about half. So today I'm going to celebrate and actually melt 1 ounce of shredded cheddar on my egg and top it with 2 Tbsp of salsa. I grab my last Carbmaster yogurt and I know that I'm probably going to be sharing it with my boys.

This is a 5 gram of carbs breakfast and I debate whether or not to inject any NovoLog insulin at all and finally decide on 1 unit. I'm not really sure if 1 unit is actually a functional injection or not but I'm a little gun shy this morning and don't want to over do it. I've got nothing planned today. I may or may not ride on the trainer. I may or may not work out. I'm still sore from the last two days and I know that I'm leaning much more strongly toward the may not than the may so in my mind I'm just figuring on the may not. That's funny too because today I'm going to talk about:

Fitness Rule # 5: Exercise.

Before we discuss exercise I want to mention that I'm not a doctor. I don't even play one on TV and it's been a long long time since I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. So when in doubt check it out. If you have any doubt about your ability to safely exercise go see your doctor and find out. I think I'm a pretty normal guy. Average height and average weight. Nothing I can do is too exceptional so I think my advice is going to be for normal people too. You have to decide if you're normal or not.

Exercise will make you a much healthier person that can live a much more functional life a lot longer than if you don't exercise. Fitness is defined differently for everyone, so you have to decide what fitness for you is and how fit you want to be. A little time with a certified personal trainer can help you immensely with that. Fitness does not take a lot of time. But it can. Fitness should and can be something you enjoy. Yes it is work but it's worth the work. You are worth the work.

First let me say that there is a monstrous amount of information out there about fitness and working out and exercising so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here. What I am going to do is share some of my strong opinions on the subject. If you can barely reach over and grab the remote without getting out of breath and working up a sweat, or if you are already a total fitness freak, I believe that I have valuable information for you here.

First let me say what exercise is not. Exercise is not parking further away from WalMart so you can walk 64 extra steps today.  Exercise is not gardening or mowing the lawn or vacuuming or doing the dishes. Exercise is not letting the dog out in the back yard and standing out there with him for 10 minutes playing fetch. Exercise is not picking up the dog poop either. And it's not changing poopie diapers or chasing the kids around the house. Those things are life. Not exercise.

I don't believe in recreation for exercise either. Bowling is not exercise. Neither is darts or taking the kids swimming. Golf is not exercise and neither is dawdling around on a bicycle. Even things like walking and rollerblading and throwing the Frisbee might not and probably won't be exercise. If you can comfortably wear makeup and perfume while doing it, it's probably not exercise. No need to pretend. No need to fool yourself. Recreation is fine and fun and it will contribute to your health but recreation is not exercise.

Exercise requires sacrifice - I'm not talking about no pain no gain. I'm talking about a time commitment, however small. I'm talking about some difficulty. Stress. Exercise should stress and strain your muscles and your lungs and your circulatory system. It should be hard. Hard core might be a better word for it. Exercise should be hard core. I'm not talking about screaming and grunting, but it should make you feel like doing that. There should be sweat and plenty of it. If you are going to exercise you need to push yourself. Each time. You have to commit to the sacrifice of pushing yourself each and every time. Exercise without pushing yourself is wasted exercise. So have some respect for yourself. Sacrifice and push yourself because you are worth it and your family deserves it.

who's burning fat?
To lose weight build muscle - Fat doesn't burn fat. Muscle burns fat. If you want to lose weight you need to or should burn fat. Most of us have plenty of it. The best way to burn fat is sleeping. At least it's the easiest most enjoyable way that I know of. I'm not saying that sleeping is exercise. I'm just saying that if you build muscle you will burn more fat all the time, every day, and all day long. To build muscle you have to apply stress to those muscles so that they adapt by becoming larger and stronger.

A lot of women are reluctant to build muscle because they don't want to look like a man freak. Fair enough. Let me assure you that you will not look like that. I promise that your muscles won't become too big or look odd in any way. Just like me, you probably don't have that kind of genetic potential. Trust me, you've got nothing to worry about just like I have nothing to worry about. I've been lifting weights for the last 29 years and I have yet to develop man freak muscles. I still have all my soft gentle curves and you will keep yours too.

To lose weight build the big muscles - Everyone knows a little bit about muscles and where some of them might be but it doesn't have to be too complicated. You don't have to know what a bicep is or even a bicep brachii. It doesn't matter if you know what obliques are or how many heads you have in your calf muscles. Burning fat is real simple: you need to build the big muscles starting with the legs.

Your biggest baddest fat burning muscles are in your legs so you've got to work your legs. Next is the back and chest. You don't need to call them anything, just work your back and chest. We're not going to worry about our deltoids or triceps or traps and we're not even going to worry about our core. All of that will take care of itself when you build the big muscles. To build the big muscles you need to do resistance training. Some people call it lifting weights. Some people call it working out. I call it exercise. Hard core exercise.

To build the big muscles work hard core - I'm talking to the point of failure hard. It should be uncomfortable. it should hurt. In a good way. Take your effort right up to that very moment where effort is no longer possible. When you stop doing what you're doing, there should be no doubt in your mind that you couldn't have done it any more. And you shouldn't be able to do it again. Work hard. Work hard core. You deserve it.


the straight arm plank
What kind of exercise should I do? What ever you enjoy. I like cycling and I also work on building my big muscles. You can walk or run or jog or cycle too. It doesn't matter. Just don't confuse life with exercising. Don't confuse recreation with exercising either. Try to be well rounded. Don't just lift weights. Don't just do yoga. Don't just do the elliptical. Do a variety of things. Just do them hard core. Push yourself hard. If you're not pushing yourself hard your exercise quickly regresses back to recreation and then your recreation quickly regresses back to just being life. What have you really accomplished?

I don't like gyms what can I do? You can do plenty. I've never had a gym membership. And I don't have much equipment. One of my favorite workouts is carrying my 1 year old up and down the three floors of stairs in my house.Then I get my 3 year old on my back and carry him up and down the stairs. Then I get my 6 year old on my back and carry her up and down the stairs. Last I get my 8 year old on my back and carry her up and down the stairs until I can't make it up a flight of stairs any more. Then I get my 6 year old back on my back and keep going until I can't take another step, then the 3 year old, then the one year old. It's one of the hardest and most fun "workouts" I have ever done. Try it - I triple dog dare you.

body weight squats
You don't need weights. Use water filled milk jugs taped shut, or 40 pound bags of solar salt. Or you can get a nice set of multi-select dumbbells like I have. I've got a barbell too and some plates but I don't use a bench. If I need something like a bench I use an exercise ball. That way I'm working my core too. One thing you will need eventually is a way to do a chin-up. For me its a chin-up bar hanging in the kids' playroom door. Drives my wife nuts, but you've eventually got to have one. Just for the reminder if nothing else.

I hate lifting weights. Do I really have to do that? Well, yes and no. You have to work your muscles hard against resistance. You can lift your own weight or the weight of your kids. Or you can actually lift weights. It's up to you.

I hate aerobics. Do I really have to do that? No. You don't have to, but it will build up your respiratory and circulatory system and make you more fit. If you work out with weight a certain way you can be aerobic most of the time anyway, but does it really hurt that bad to mix in a 30 minute walk or spin on the bike or go for a short run?

I'm a fat slob and can barely get up off the couch. How do I start? You (and everyone else too) should start right here:
wall sit

The 5 minute (hard core) workout - do the straight arm plank and hold it with good form for 90 seconds. Immediately do a wall sit  and hold it with good form for 90 seconds. That's it. Really.

Do this hard core workout in the order listed. Work your way up to doing this 3 times a week with good form, holding that form for 90 seconds. When you have reached that level of fitness, advance to doing it 5 days a week. If you master that level of fitness, move up to doing it until failure. If you can't do a straight arm plank start on your elbows or elbows and knees. Google these exercises. There is a ton of information.

I scoff at you! I'm a little beyond your 5 minute workout. What can I do? First of all, have you tried it? It may sound easy but it's hard core. It's plenty hard and will push you. You can stick with it for the rest of your life and be plenty fit. Try it before you scoff and decide you need to move on. I triple dog dare you. But if you really do need more that's fine. Try this:

The 15 minute (hard core) workout - Warm up with 30 solid hard core minutes of aerobic activity. I use cycling on a trainer and then complete the following resistance training exercises:
  • Dumbbell (or milk jug or solar salt) squat. Do 1 set of 20 reps
  • Push ups. Do 2 sets to failure back to back with chin-ups.
  • Chin-ups. Do 2 sets to failure back to back with push ups.
  • Dead lift. Do 1 set of 20 reps.
  • Straight arm plank. Hold with good form for 90 seconds.
  • Wall sit. Hold with good  form for 90 seconds.
dumbbell squat press
That's phase one. Some things of note: Do this hard core workout in the order listed. For the squats and dead lifts use a weight you cannot quite do 20 reps with and go to failure until you can do 20 reps and then increase the weight slightly until you cannot quite do 20 reps again. You should spend no time resting between these exercises. Move from one to the other as fast as you can. When you do the reps, they should feel slow and controlled. Use perfect form. No momentum. Hard core. Focus on what your muscles are doing and how they are feeling. This routine should take no more than 15 minutes. Do this routine no more than 3 times a week. You can stick with this for the rest of your life or after 6 to 8 weeks move on up to phase two:
  • Dumbbell squat press. Do 2 sets of 12 reps back to back with push ups and chin-ups.
  • Push up. Do 2 sets to failure back to back with squat press and chin-ups.
  • Chin-ups. Do 2 sets to failure back to back with squat press and push ups.
  • Alternating stiff leg dead lift and regular dead lift combined with upright barbell row. Do one set of 12 reps.
  • Straight arm plank. Hold with good form for 90 seconds.
  • Wall sit. Hold with good  form for 90 seconds
  • Hanging knee raise. Hold good form for 90 seconds.
That's phase two. Use the same hard core principles and hard core guidelines as per phase one and do this for another 6 to 8 weeks. After that you can go back to the 5 minute (hard core) workout and start the process over. Remember no rest between sets and slow, controlled and perfect form. If this becomes mundane for you, then it's time to hit the library and build yourself a new hard core workout with all the knowledge you can gain there. Or drop me an email and I will send you my phase three.

If you employ my hard core opinions about exercise in your war against fat you WILL lose weight. You will also enjoy a high level of fitness and all of the other wonderful benefits that exercise can shine into your life. Just remember that exercise requires sacrifice. If it gets easy for you, you are not working hard core enough and it has devolved from exercise to recreation and will soon devolve again to life. It won't be exercise anymore and you will be breaking Fitness Rule #5. You will quickly find yourself gaining weight and becoming much less fit. Find or invent a new workout. Always remember to build the big muscles by working them hard core. Everything else will take care of itself.

12:51 - Snick. Beep. 115. I guess I needed 2 units of insulin at breakfast. Lunch is more leftovers. 2 ounces of low-carb diabetic loaf of meat atop a piece of cheese toast with 1 ounce of shredded cheddar. That was topped with 2 Tbsp of muffaletta spread. Rounding out this peace sign small plate meal was a cup of steamed broccoli, 7 steamed baby carrots and 5 units of NovoLog insulin to go with the 40 grams of carbs.

19:06 - Snick. Beep. 107. Tonight is soup night. 1 and 1/2 portions of Hot & Sour Soup which will include one egg and a huge salad with 1 ounce of shredded cheddar, some sliced onion, sliced green onion and about 4 Tbsp of muffaletta spread topped with Italian dressing. I need 3 units of insulin to combat the roughly 20 carbs.

23:56 - Snick. Beep. 100. I like that number. I pop a bowl of popcorn to top of my day of rest. Today went from maybe to maybe not to not and I enjoyed the break. Hard core. It was time to rest. Now off to bed.


  1. Hopefully you give the workouts a try Alan. I think they will surprise you! I appreciate your comments on my blog. Thanks for reading.

    1. Had a good chuckle imagining myself carrying my kids up & down the stairs...20, 19, 15 &13!! Maybe I could do the four stairs with my 13 yr old!! I'm going to start doing the 5 min hard core one! Thanks! Christine

  2. Just imagine how strong you would be now if you had started when they were small. Its like the guy that started carrying a calf when it was born. By the time that calf had grown to a cow, he was one strong dude.