Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Shenanigans and Fat Fears

So over the weekend I took a large group of friends to my parents' farm where we had an amazing Halloween party as well as adventures hiking, visiting an apple orchard and otherwise enjoying ourselves.
My friend brought her lyra, a metal hoop for performing aerial tricks. The performance is similar to aerial silks, though it requires less strength and more flexibility. I gave it try twice, once during the day and once at night after I had changed into my costume. Overall, I have to say it was lot of fun. The metal bar can dig painfully into your skin and sometimes leaves bruises, but the structure allows you to try a lot of things that would take much more effort to do in silks. That said, I still prefer silks for several reasons. Mainly I'm partial because my strength is much greater than my flexibility, so I excel more at silks, but also I like the work out I get at silks more than relaxed, gentle exercise of lyra.

Costume might be hard to recognize, but I am Link from Zelda: Ocarina of Time in the Water Temple outfit. Honestly this was kind of a last minute throw-together because I realized I wasn't going to be finished sewing my other costume in time, but it was great to wear because it was so comfortable! (Also it made lyra tricks possible)

In other news, like most women I worry about my appearance on a regular basis. I absolutely refuse to weigh myself because I find weight to be a very deceptive means of health measurement, especially for women, but also for men, who exercise on a regular basis. The last time I was weighed I was at the doctor's office, and I came in at 137 lbs. At 5' 0" that is a hell of a lot. The nurse at the scale repeated the measurement a few times, thinking the scale was broken, because I don't look big at all. I have wide hips and shoulders, but I'm trim and athletic; I'm just extremely dense with muscle. 
A lot of us fall for the weight scam. We believe that we need to weigh less than a certain amount to look pretty or be healthy, and that simply is not the case. Muscle weight is much denser than fat weight. In addition, muscle allows you to burn more calories in a sedentary state than fat does, so if you weigh a lot because you have a dense, muscular body, you are not only healthy, you are probably burning more calories per minute than the average person (which for me translates to a free ticket to pig out at Red Robin every once in a while). 
However, lately I've been looking in mirror and noticing that my body has more fat than it used to. I'm noticing fat on my back as well as my stomach, and it worries me. The really troublesome thing about this development is that i don't have an explanation such as eating more or working out less. I've been working out plenty and enjoying salads for lunch and light dinners with snacks throughout the day. I have been more stressed out than usual, however, and I'm afraid that might have contributed to the issue. I've also been focusing on aerial silks, which is much more of a weight-building activity than it is cardio, so I wonder if the fat is a by-product of increasing my protein consumption to recover from my work-outs. My stomach and shoulder muscles have also been bulking up lately, so I might be seeing  muscle bulging under fat, and simply think it means i'm getting bigger. A body index monitor would solve some of this. 

As it is, I'm planning to change my schedule around a little bit so that i do cardio (aka reading H.P. Lovecraft on an elliptical trainer) on Friday nights and doing silks once over the weekend. I'm also hoping to add gymnastics to my Wednesday night schedule, and that should increase my weekly cardio load. As far as eating goes, I guess Red Robin indulgences will have to be off the schedule for a little while, replaced with more veggies and good stuff. If I find any great recipes I'll put them up here. wish me luck!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Level 1: Beginner

Like a lot of people who start blogs, I have no idea whether or not I'm going to keep at this, but I figure it'll be a good exercise, so I'm going to give it a try. In part, this blog is just a way for my to track my own progress, so that I can check out my goals when I forget what they are and look back at what I used to suck at when I've become really good at it and am now sucking at new, more challenging things.

If you are person who is not me, and you are reading my blog, you may be asking yourself, "Why the fuck should I read this chick's blog?" (Or maybe now, "Oh wait. It's a chick? The fuck?" I'm hoping to start putting up pictures soon so that this is not an issue.) Anyway, to answer the initial question, you should read this blog because I am really awesome. See below.

  1. I used to be obese, but I have lost weight through diet and exercise. So I'm a success story.
  2. I still pig out on unhealthy food sometimes and also loaf around, so if you do those things, you are in good company.
  3. I'm a nerd. I play video games; I read comics; I go to cons; I play table-tops, and-God yes-I even freaking LARP.
  4. I do aerial silks and parkour, so hopefully I will eventually have pictures and videos and of my developing badassery. I've also done pole fitness in the past and may get back into it sometime soon.
For me, working out became a lot more fun when I realized that what I'm doing when I go to the gym is a lot like grinding out a skill for a character. When I play a video game, I tend to go out on worthless side quests that don't really interest me or offer any reward because they will give me experience and EXPERIENCE IS FUCKING KING. XP unlocks skills, and skills unlock the ability to destroy my enemies in new, creative ways, and achieve challenges that get me stuff and extra plot and all sorts of other things that have no actual bearing on my real life.

Working out is much the same. I earn XP taking parkour classes or playing soccer or working out for an hour on silks. Sometimes I can only fit in half an hour of work, and it's not very much, but even that little bit of XP gets me a little closer towards my ultimate level increase. Like the rather insightful Bethesda leveling system I can grind out hours of time on particular skills. Instead of blacksmithing I'm working on my vaults. Instead of focusing on my sneak ability I'm trying to improve my handstands. Like a game, working out can be really goddamn frustrating when I fail at the same quest over and over and again, getting ripped to shreds by enemy bullets in the form of my inability to perform a top-out, knowing that I have to complete this goddamn fucking challenge in order to move on to the next thing. But also like a game, overcoming a challenge when I work out is absolute euphoria. I feel like I'm saving the fucking world and I seriously want to jump up and down shouting about how awesome I am. Also sometimes I do. 

The difference obviously is that unlike video game achievements, successfully working out really does have a direct impact on my life. My body is healthier, and I look better. I'm more capable of running around with my friends. I feel good about myself (well, sometimes, anyway). Whatever; you've probably been hearing the benefits of "going to the gym" for like most of your life. The point is, don't think those things are out of your reach. Getting to them is fucking annoying; it's hard, and it's miserable. But it's also fun, and really rewarding when you treat it like a game. This is my journal of how I do that.