After my Tony Soprano dining extravaganza last Friday, my calorie intake went like this: 1,697, 1,972, 2,034, 1,936, 2,049, and 1,704. I have been consciously avoiding refined sugars (no dark chocolate Snickers) and limiting myself to one or two glasses of wine in an evening. But it hasn’t exactly been a hardship.
And when I weighed myself at the gym tonight, I had lost a couple of pounds, down to 162.5 lbs. I’d like to report that I’m feeling more energetic and lively as a result of this new conscious-eating exercise, but that would be lying. I’m mostly sore.
That has nothing to do with my caloric intake, though. I blame The Pit. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been wandering among the burly weightlifters in the gym’s sub-basement, sampling the joys of hoisting iron sans machines. And my hammies and quads are not accustomed to such rigor.
Still, I went downstairs tonight after work determined to work my way through any pain, and 25 minutes on the EDM got the juices flowing in a way that convinced me to descend once again amongst the masses of muscularity.
Like my earlier journey through the resistance machinery, I haven’t had much of a routine — just moving from station to station, staying out of everyone’s way and trying not to embarrass myself too much. Until this week, when I borrowed a relatively simple routine from former weightlifting champion Marty Gallagher that he says is all us amateurs need to do to get SUPER FIT!!!
Here’s the routine:
1. Squats: You put a barbell on your shoulders and neck behind your head and squat up and down (three sets of eight reps). Tuesday night, I started at 50 lbs. and worked my way up to 70. Tonight, I started at 50 and worked my way up to 80.
2. Bench Press: Lay on your back. Raise and lower a barbell loaded with iron over your scrawny chest. This is more difficult than I had imagined — chiefly because that barbell full of iron does not balance by itself. It’s kind of all over the place once you lift it off the rack. There is a certain incentive to keep it airborne, however, given that its hovering unsteadily up there above your chest and (gulp!) throat. I managed three sets of eight reps hoisting 50 lbs. on Tuesday; tonight I figured I’d settle for the same level of achievement, but was astonished how heavy the load seemed to be. I grunted my way through three sets of eight again, lamenting my wussiness — until I noticed that I hadn’t loaded two 25-pound plates on the barbell. I’d mistakenly slapped on two 35 pounders! (I could’ve been killed!) That made me feel better.
3. Deadlifts: This is where you lean over a barbell and simply straighten up (24 times) and try to do so in a way that doesn’t strain your lower back — which is precisely what I accomplished on Tuesday, midway through my second set of reps with 90 lbs. I’d started out with 80 with the intent of adding 10 lbs for each succeeding rep, but when I felt that twinge in my lower back, I hesitated . . . then soldiered on like an idiot, finishing another set of reps with 100 lbs. My back, astonishingly, was none the worse for wear when I descended into The Pit tonight, but I decided not to push it. I did three sets with 90 lbs.
4. Overhead Press: Holding two dumbbells at shoulder level, you simply push them skyward, taking care to avoid conking yourself on the skull during their descent. Thirty pounds in each hand is all I can muster so far, and I’m only able to hoist that poundage by arching my back in a way that causes a particularly unattractive protrusion of my belly.
5. Triceps Extensions: Take a single dumbbell in both hands and lift it over your head in a way that suggests homicidal activity, and then lower it slowly behind your head in a way that threatens to send you backpedaling into oblivion and you’ve got the idea for this one. I can manage 35 lbs. on this maneuver, or about the weight of an otherwise innocent pick axe.
6. Biceps Curls: Can I just say that I love biceps curls? So simple, yet so personally awe-inspiring? I mean who doesn’t want to leave the gym every night with their biceps all taut and tingly? You feel like you can conquer the world — like you’re Superman. Or Michelle Obama. In The Pit tonight were two massively muscled, ornately tattooed guys, taking turns curling 35-pound dumbbells in each hand and exhibiting a grand sort of — how would you put it? — gruntability. And yet, there I was, right next to them, calmly curling a couple of 25-pounders. I could almost swagger back up the steps to the locker room.
Anyway, this new conscious eating plan, combined with The Pit, has me looking at this fitness thing in a new way. Maybe I’ll even start stretching.