Monday, February 24 – Tuesday, February 25

Squats!

I almost didn’t go to the gym on Monday. Having failed to go on Saturday, missing Monday would’ve been a real setback.  The thing is, I had a very tough day at work on Monday, getting more done single-handedly than I would have thought possible.  To get it all done I had to take only a couple of very short breaks and stayed an hour after my usual quitting time.  About the only good thing is that the worksite was fairly close-by with no traffic issues.  Still, I was beat.

Around 7:30, however, my conscience got the best of me and I shambled my exhausted self off to the gym.  It was crowded, as is usual for a Monday, but as I was loading weights on the squat machine I noticed that one of the squat racks was free.  Could I do it? I did.  I went to the rack, loaded the bar, and for the first time in months did some real squats.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, we’re not talking about world-class amounts.  In fact, my weights were distinctly mediocre, which makes sense given that it was my first time in way too long. Just to get accustomed to the exercise I started out at 6 x 135, then moved up to 6 x 185, and finally 3 x 6 x 225. By the last set it didn’t seem as awkward as the first couple sets had been. I also did my best to get sufficient depth on all the reps, which is a very important thing to do in order to get the best value out of squats.  My goal is to move up steadily but slowly, eventually getting back to multiple reps at 315+ as I’ve done in the past.

Tuesday was a much easier workday.  I did the same type of work as on Monday, there was just less of it.  I didn’t plan to go to the gym, in fact I was a bit sore from the squats (as I’d fully expected), though I did buy some creatine and whey protein.  While most of the countless muscle-building and weight loss supplements are worthless, these two really do work.

Published in: on February 27, 2014 at 3:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, February 22 – Sunday, February 23

I’m a bit peeved at myself for not going to the gym on Saturday.  Yes, I had a number of errands to run on what will be my last day off from work for two weeks, but that’s no excuse. It’s more like a matter of looking for excuses where none exist.  On a better note, in the evening we had a nice dinner at a popular Italian restaurant.  I had shrimp Parmesan; while I’ve had veal and chicken that style many times, it was my first experience with shrimp.  Came out very well.

On Sunday I worked a nine-hour shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.  A very busy shift, I’d have to say.  I spent most of the time either filling orders or helping customers. Sometimes helping a customer is a simple matter of giving directions to the proper aisle, but it also can be much more involved.  Being busy had a major advantage, as the long shift seemed to zoom right by.

Published in: on February 27, 2014 at 12:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, February 20 – Friday, February 21

I’m glad the workweek is over

There’s no doubt that this was a very tough week at my regular job. Monday was a nightmare, Tuesday and Wednesday were easier but still hectic, and then Thursday was in between Monday and Tuesday?Wednesday.  Possibly a bit closer to Monday.  This actually was a good thing, as Thursday’s worksite is usually the worst one on my regular rotation.  Fortunately I didn’t encounter too much traffic coming or going.  That was especially surprising after work, as afternoon traffic in that area tends to be ferocious.  I’m figuring that next week should generally be easier.

I had a pretty nice gym session on Thursday.  More upper-body work, continuing with the same machines that I’ve been using but at higher weights.  Hoist moveable-seat row machine: 5 x 8 at resistance level 17 of 18.  Hammer Strength plate-loaded dip machine: 3 x 10 x 300, 2 x 10 x 270.  Hammer Strength plate-loaded rows: 3 x 8 x 200.  Life Fitness seated incline press: 3 x 8 x 200.  All of these represented increases from last time.

By this point my left elbow probably has healed enough that I can do some free weight work.  Maybe not bench presses, but rows for sure.  Yet something’s holding me back.  This puzzled me at first, but what I believe is going on is the recognition, at some subconscious level, that significant elbow pain would make it hard or even impossible for me to do my jobs, especially the work at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.  If I had a desk job it would be a different story.

Speaking of the Major Home Improvement Retailer, I worked a 5-hour shift there on Friday.  It wasn’t as busy as most of my shifts have been.  I took advantage of the lull to review some of the online training materials I had already completed.  Now that I’m more used to how things go, the materials make a lot more sense than they did when I was a newcomer.

Published in: on February 24, 2014 at 2:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, February 18 – Wednesday, February 19

Made it all the way through

Tuesday was a fairly hectic workday but nothing at all like Monday’s insanity.  And that’s something for which I’m extremely thankful.   Working as I do in two relative low-stress jobs, I’m no longer accustomed to the rat race.  Getting to Tuesday’s worksite, off the Sunrise Highway, was actually a slight bit challenging as it was snowing (yet again!) in the morning, resulting in some rather slow traffic.  By the time I left for the day driving was fine.  I had been planning to go to the gym in the evening, but by 6pm my energy level was dropping like the proverbial stone.

Wednesday was about the same as Tuesday in terms of work intensity, maybe a shade easier. It was at the easy-to-reach location near the eastern end of the Long Island Expressway. As I was going against the flow of traffic both ways I had a very easy time getting there and back.  Not long thereafter, I headed off to hot yoga.  I had some concerns as to how I’d do, as like the day before my energy level wasn’t particularly high.  And of course I knew the temperature in the room WOULD be high! Would I be able to make it through the entire 90 minutes without having to lie on the mat and rest?

My fears proved unfounded.  Even though my balance on some of the one-legged positions left a bit to be desired, I somehow drew on energy reserves and kept up the pace for the whole session.  Admittedly, the studio owner was leading the session, and she’s generally a bit slower-paced than the usual Wednesday instructor.  She’s also very much a hands-on type, and on two occasions pushed me into stretches I didn’t think physically possible.  I’m very glad I went.

Published in: on February 23, 2014 at 4:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, February 17

Ugh!

It was a brutally tough day at work, the toughest in over six months.  I worked nine and a half hours with no breaks to speak of.  About the only saving grace was that because of the Presidents Day holiday, traffic on the Long Island Expressway was lighter than usual.  Needless to say, my plans for going to the gym in the evening got precisely nowhere.

Published in: on February 19, 2014 at 1:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, February 15 – Sunday, February 16

While I usually have Saturdays off and work on Sunday at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, this weekend was a bit different as I worked a 5-hour shift on Saturday and had Sunday off. As is typical for that sort of business, Saturday was very busy. I had my regular orders to fill, and between them I helped customers in various parts of the store.  It’s fortunate that I’ve been working there long enough to know where most things are located and actually give advice as needed.  Okay, limited advice, but I’m getting there.

After getting out in the mid-afternoon I went to the gym and did some leg work.  Still machine based, though I’ve increased the weights.  I started out with the plate-loaded squat machine, 5 x 8 x 450.  I’ve figured out what stance to use in order to get a decent range of motion.  Next came some lying leg curls, on a Life Fitness machine, 5 x 8 x 140.  I really don’t like seated leg curls and figured this would be a decent variation.  I finished with Life Fitness seated leg extensions, 4 x 8 x 175.

Sunday was a day for running various errands.  I was going to hit the gym again but was a bit worn out and decided to wait another day.

Published in: on February 19, 2014 at 1:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, February 13 – Friday, February 14

Snow day!

Around 5:30 in the morning on Thursday I got a text notifying me that the day’s work assignment would be cancelled on account of the snow and that I’d be working on Friday instead.  Based on the conditions, with about eight inches of new snow, I probably wouldn’t have had any trouble going in on Thursday.  With all the snow that’s fallen this winter, eight inches is basically nothing.  It also helped that the workplace was fairly close by.

When I left the house around 9:30 the roads weren’t too bad.  I went to the Verizon Wireless store at the mall hoping they could solve this problem I’ve been having with my phone’s browser.  Given the general unhelpfulness I’ve encountered there in the past I had low expectations, though as it turns out the store didn’t open because of the weather.  I then went to the gym, which was surprisingly crowded, and did more of the upper-body work that I’d started a few days earlier.  Yes, still machine-based, as an attempt at bench pressing still bothered my elbow, but I figure that as long as I keep going up in weights the machines should still be useful.

I did as follows: Hoist moveable seat row machine, 4 x 8 at resistance level 16 of 18.  On Monday I used resistance levels of 14 and 15.  Next came the Life Fitness seated incline press, 4 x 8 x 200.  Up 20 pounds from last time.  Finally, I used the Hammer Strength plate-loaded dip machine, 4 x 10 x 270.  On Monday I had gotten to 270 only on the top set.  I was going to do some more work, but I had a late lunch with the family instead.  Sushi, which always hits the spot.

Friday, I “celebrated” Valentine’s Day by working at both jobs.  Not that it was a terrible ordeal, as the regular job went quickly and easily.  It was a busy evening at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, in addition to my regular duties I also did some general customer-assistance work. I’m now reasonably effective at that , as I’ve finally figured out where most things are located.  Most, not all.

Published in: on February 17, 2014 at 3:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, February 11 – Wednesday, February 12

Double dose of brutal

Tuesday was the easier of these two days.  Which is saying pretty much nothing, to be precise.  Oh, taken on its own Tuesday was a fairly slow-paced day, being at a workplace to the north of me that’s just about easiest one on my cycle.  No traffic issues, and I was done in the early afternoon. I considered making another gym trip, but did some errands instead.

Wednesday was bad coming and going.  Although the worksite was very close by, it was one of those workdays when just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong.  Being extremely busy is okay, dealing with multiple frustrations can be okay too or at least tolerable, but being extremely busy and having to deal with a nonstop array of frustrations, well that’s another story entirely. By the time I was finished with work I was utterly ground down and was looking forward to the evening’s yoga session.  That should be an excellent way to de-stress, right?

Think again.  The yoga instructor, with whom I’ve had many sessions, was in a particularly energetic mood this evening.  At least that’s the most likely explanation for the way she drove everyone to the brink of collapse, or so it seemed.  She really really pushed us, and even seemed to call fewer breaks than usual.  The woman next to me, whom I haven’t seen before, looked to be on the verge of collapse at several points and finally had to leave the room before session’s end.  Somehow I made it through, but it wasn’t easy.

Published in: on February 15, 2014 at 3:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, February 10

The recovery continues

It was a reasonably easy workday, at a conveniently close-by worksite.  Just as well, for after yesterday’s long shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer I was due for an easy day.  Even though it was a Monday, which is always a busy day at the gym, I went in the early evening for another step in my recovery from my elbow injury.  Everything turned out really well.  I did upper-body exercises including back work, and although I still limited myself to machines I was able to handle heavier weights without any elbow pain at all.  Next step: tiptoeing (so to speak) back into free weights.

As for the specific exercises, they were as follows.  Hoist moveable-seat row machine: 2 x 8 at resistance level 14/18, 3 x 8 at 15/18.  Hammer Strength plate-loaded dip machine: 10 x 180, 10 x 230, 10 x 250, 10 x 270.  Hammer Strength plate-loaded rows: 3 x 8 x 180.  Life Fitness seated incline press: 3 x 8 x 180.

Published in: on February 12, 2014 at 3:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, February 8 – Sunday, February 9

I spent most of Saturday doing various errands including laundry and shopping.  As a result, I didn’t go to the gym, though the “as a result” part might not be correct as there was no real chain of causation.  In other words I probably wouldn’t have gone even I had been less busy.

Sunday was a very busy day as I had a nine-hour shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. It was one of those shifts in which I was a jack-of-all-trades, doing a number of different things in different departments.  Among much else I spent about 20 minutes with a customer and persuaded him to buy a $900 door.  While it took a bit of time it was a whole lot easier than selling during my unlamented foray into life insurance.  Of course that’s attributable to the crucial yet often overlooked difference between selling and soliciting.  I also spent some time greeting customers at the entrance, having to tell several of them that we were out of rock salt and in fact there’s none at all available anywhere on Long Island. And of course I had some of my regular duties, with a couple large orders to stage for the next day’s delivery.

Published in: on February 12, 2014 at 3:24 am  Leave a Comment