Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Some Thoughts On Weight

No, no, the other kind.

NancyP asked a number of posts back about how to increase the weight in her free-weight routine without getting an injury or creaking joints and muscles. For the real deal from somebody more experienced than me, I refer everyone to Mistress Krista.

But here's what my experience has been:

When I came to Chicago, I'd been using 5-lb free weights for years and years. I think I first picked them up when I dropped all of my pill/depression weight when I was 18/19. What I realized, at 23, was that I was doing insane amounts of reps with these little weights and seeing absolutely no results. I felt better because I had a routine, but it wasn't doing me any good I could see as far as building muscle.

I did something I don't recommend - I went out and bought 20 lb weights. Anybody in their right mind would have gotten 10 or 15 lbers, but not me. I started doing one set of 3-5 reps with each exercise. It was cool because I cut down the time it took to do my routine, and when I combined this with my twice a week martial arts classes, I noticed a big difference in strength in two weeks. Every week or two I would add one more rep, until I was doing 1 set of 15 of each exercise.

Because I increased by so much weight, I did have some overtraining pain (felt a bit like carpal tunnel in my forearms, actually), and had to slow down in the increase in reps. It took a couple months before I was pain-free again. Which is why I don't recommend going up more than 10 lbs at a time unless it's just a free weight you use occasionally for a few exercises.

When it was relatively easy for me to do two sets of 15 with the 20 lbs weights, I switched to 30 lb weights and dropped my reps to 1 set of 5 again, increasing by 1 rep a week until I got to two sets of 15 for all of my exercises but my bicep curls, which I'll be switching over to 30 lb weights this week.

Going from the 1 set of 5 with 20 lbs to what I'm at now has taken me about... a year and a half, I think. Which seems like a hell of a long time, but there have been a lot of down periods in there: sickness, stress, etc. where I did some backsliding and had to retrain. My ideal is to get up to using 50 lb weights at some point, which I think is doable so long as I ease up into the next weight range slowly and continue to eat enough protein.

Ah, and there's that protein thing.

Eat a lot of protein. Make it a point to eat eggs and lean meat and fish. Jenn was working out with 10 lb weights for months and was trying to figure out why she wasn't able to get up to 15 lbers. When she mentioned this to a friend who lifted weights regularly, he asked how much protein she ate. As I recall, she just sort of stared at him blankly. When she upped her protein, she was able to move to 15 lbs no problem.

As for the weight machines, I try to set everything as close to 100 lbs (or my body weight, for the leg press) for my lower body, and 70-90 lbs for my upper body. I do about two or three sets of fifteen. I do the gym twice a week. My free weights I do every morning.

I have a feeling a lot of this "inexplicable" weight loss I'm experiencing actually has a lot to do with my weight-lifting routine. I eat more now and do less cardio than I did the last time I was at this weight (and I was a few years younger), and I feel like it's pretty effortless now that I have the routine down.

I also eat really frequently - at least five times a day. Lots of yogurt and soup and protein bars, oatmeal, eggs, bacon, fish, pork chops, salad, sometimes some potatoes, etc. During the weekends I'm less structured, and only eat three times a day probably, but since I don't work out on the weekends (not even free weights), it doesn't bug me.

A lot of my success at sticking with this was by deciding I was going to do this to be stronger and kick ass - not to be skinny and weak. As a result, I've lost weight, but I'm not weak.

The other part is that every time I fucked up and didn't go to the gym (cause I was sick, stressed, lazy), or didn't eat the "right" things, or missed my morning weights routine, I didn't guilt myself about it. If I guilted about it, I'd binge eat and avoid the gym like the plague (which is what happened with my MA classes).

There's been a lot of forgiveness instead of self-hate.

That makes a huge difference.

Post script:

Switched out my bicep curls weight from 20 to 30 lbs this morning. I went from 2 sets of 15 to 2 sets of.... 2.

So it goes. You just build it up one week at a time.

Bill O'Reilly Gets the Smackdown

Dude. Fucking awesome.

(thanks, Jenn)

The New Single Woman

Natalie over at Philobiblion answers the question: "Is it possible to be a single woman in one's fifties with a full life and a lot of joy?"

Her answer: "Well, of course..."

(via Alas)

Where Are All the New Feminist SF/F Writers?

I reserve comment.

My Art Is A Big Bag of Dope

I wonder, you know, if fantasy - big, chunky fantasy with the politics and beliefs of naive teenagers - is not just another form of sedation. Another form of over the counter sedation. Shit, maybe literature and film and music has just become it, in a general way. Do we read/watch/listen for escapism? Our art will never be outlawed, but is it now performing the same task as a big bag of dope?

Ben Peek's writing in response to VanderMeer's essay about "real-world" politics in fantasy fiction.

This got me to thinking about why I haven't been writing a lot of explicitly "political" posts about, say, Justice Alito, the lack of a true progressive party in America, abortion rights (well, not lately anyway), Katrina relief, or/and etc.

I mean, the post that got me the biggest hit count was, predictably, one on abortion. If I was looking for hit count numbers, I could make this the all-about-my-opinions-on-abortion blog. That always gets a rise out of people. Or I could make it a purely fat-acceptance blog. Or pure SF blog. Or "pure" whatever blog. I could write a really cool women-in-war blog (and in fact, I should write more about that here).

The reason I've steered clear of posts that have to do with "timely" political issues like Alito and Bush's "oh duh" moment (yea, we need alternative energy resources! We've known that since 1970 you fucktard!) is that I'm burned out on approaching them in non-fiction. I see this bullshit on CNN and read it in other blogs every day. And unless they really piss me off, I'm not going to waste space here when so many other people are talking about Old White Dudes. I'll write my letters through NARAL and PP and keep writing posts about feminism and science fiction and keep writing SF/F stories and mix up this blog with a diversity of posts.

I don't want it to be all white guys in politics, all the time.

In fact, later this year when I get back into boxing classes and recover from the wackiness that's been my life for the last few months, I'd like to get back to talking more about women, weightlifting, boxing, and martial arts. Recording my own successes and failures has, I know, helped and inspired at least a handful of people, and that's something.

Changing the world in some small, secret way...

The truth is, I write about politics, about the world, every day. That's how I process it. It may not show up here, but it'll show up in my fiction.

Yea. Fantasy Fiction. About the Real World. What, you think you're divorced from it?

Silly rabbit.

I've had at least one editor call a story of mine, "too didactic." Yea, it was a story about abortion - only the one being denied the abortion was a man. It all made sense in the story, mostly. Sorta. I had another story that touched on the issue with a bit more skill, and that one sold pretty easily. I tend to work out my beliefs and politics in my fiction.

My story, "Wonder Maul Doll" (Yea, WMD) just finally sold as well. It's about a bunch of women sent off to a foreign country in search of deadly organic weapons in order to boost a president's election campaign, and it pretty brutally shows how many people are killed and ruined for one woman's (false) accusations.

Most of my stories deal with war and feminism to one extent or another. Even tDW (The Dragon's Wall), the fantasy saga, is a story about the genocide of an entire race based entirely on fears and fictions of who those people are.

Oh, but wait.

tDW, being a "big, chunky fantasy," must just be another of those dull stories "with the politics and beliefs of naive teenagers" and therefore "just another form of sedation." Like "Ender's Game," or "The Forever War." Totally removed from the real world. Another form of escapism. Doesn't get you to think about The Real World at all.

I certainly think that some stories - not fantasies in particular, but ALL writing (including lit, mystery, horror, romance) - are indeed forms of escapism. There are bubble-gum stories where nobody suffers much and everything turns out OK and nobody's going through a political crises or performing illegal abortions or running a country on anarchy. And yea, sure, there's a place for those stories.

But you know what? Some of the shit you might think is the most awful of fluff can surprise you.

I've been re-reading Mike Moorcock's Elric stories recently, and I've been struck by the moral ambiguity of some of the tales. What is good and evil? Is wholesale slaughter or random killing ever justified? How much power does one have over the expectations of the people around them? Should humanity be "saved" if it's really Insane, Evil, Corrupt? Is humanity worth saving at all? Are you willing to sacrifice yourself for your beliefs? Does that legitimate those beliefs?

S&S stories are notorious for being badly written tales of escapism, but there's some great stuff out there that will challenge you to re-think your positions on "real life" ideas if you give it a chance.

I don't plan to write pure fluff. I'm not keen on bubblegum. Will some of it be read that way? Sure it will. It might even be something Baen would publish! But if I'm writing doorstoppers and pulling you out of this world, it's to take you somewhere different so you'll be able to read about the issues of the here-and-now in another context. And maybe, just maybe, I can get people thinking about things just a little differently.

Because what I don't want to be faced with when I come home is another blaring night of CNN and hysterical left and right-wing bloggers screaming about the same issues. I want somebody who'll show me another way of looking at it, somebody who reminds me that history churns on, that we've been here before; we'll be here again.

I love adventure stories. I can go somewhere else for an hour, a day, and wake up the next morning with a view of the world that's just a little bit different.

Same Old Story, Only It's A First World Army - Ours

In a startling revelation, the former commander of Abu Ghraib prison testified that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former senior U.S. military commander in Iraq, gave orders to cover up the cause of death for some female American soldiers serving in Iraq.

Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark....

Sanchez's attitude was: "The women asked to be here, so now let them take what comes with the territory," Karpinski quoted him as saying. Karpinski told me that Sanchez, who was her boss, was very sensitive to the political ramifications of everything he did. She thinks it likely that when the information about the cause of these women's deaths was passed to the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld ordered that the details not be released. "That's how Rumsfeld works," she said.

That's certainly heartening. Shows real respect for your fellow comrade-in-arms.

Read the rest

Agent Drops Frey

Sure, being given the smack-down by Oprah's pretty bad, but you know you're in trouble when even your agent (who should be happy with all the publicity) drops you.