Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Crow's Gym Thoughts: The Sixth Thirty

Crow's #Gym Vol. 151
I was reading another one of those victory lap articles on how too much exercise is bad for you. As long as I have been a gym enthusiast there is always some scientific study done at great cost to prove that too much exercise will kill you. They get some college students place them on treadmills for 12 hours a day or some crap like that and don't feed them properly and demonstrate how they get sick, then they headlines in medical journals are all "YEAH WE DON"T HAVE TO EXERCISE!" They are like those people trying to prove that red wine really was created by God to save the health of humanity. I assure you all that like killing yourself with saccharin it just ain't going to happen, so strap on them gym shoes and get back to work!

Crow's #Gym Vol. 152
Make note of your environment when you work out. Recently my gym decided to do some "deep cleaning" during the time that I was working out. The toxins and dust that filled the air would have been enough to make my workout a far worse decision than not working out at all. You see what I am talking about here, hard lifting leads to huffing and puffing and huffing and puffing air full of pollutants kind of negates the whole "getting healthy" thing. Always keep these things in mind, whether you are running in a dusty windstorm, working out in a moldy basement, or yes even that once a year rafter dusting that your gym may be going through. It is all about your health after all.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 153
What do you do when your desire to work out wanes? Yes believe it or not everyone wakes up some days and just don't want to invest the time and energy into the gym, the exercise bike, the running trails or whatever it is that we do for health and exercise. That would also include me. I have no real secret to what it takes to just do what I have to do, but I do have a reward at the end of it. The self righteous feeling of overcoming that which most people do not, makes it so worth it afterwards. Trust me and go out there and just get your exercise on. You'll thank me for it.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 154
The pros and cons of having a training partner. I have had a training partner for quite a while and I have not had a training partner for quite a while. The two most pertinent advantages are that you can do every set to absolute failure if your partner spots out your sets, and in theory you would have perfect rest times waiting and spotting your partner. The cons are also just as obvious. You become a slave to each other's schedules and if you use your gym time to think like a lot of us do, you probably will have to give that up. Keep in mind that each way works for different types of people and you don't know which type you are until you try them both. You may even change as you go.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 155
Let's talk about bodybuilding for a moment. Any sort of exercise intended to build muscle is bodybuilding. Simple English really, but there are a lot of people that get stigmatized one way or another by that word. Either you are too cool for school and you thing certain people aren't bodybuilding, or you are one of those people that doesn't want to be a bodybuilder, it's all bodybuilding. Some people go as far as to make up other terms for it. The good part about bodybuilding is it is a single user sport. You aren't in competition with everyone, you are simply in competition with yourself. The world is full of idiots, it's up to you whether you want to listen to them or not.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 156
Probably the hardest part of continuing along with a fitness oriented lifestyle is the shaming that you have to put up with. Yes I realize that bullies are people that stand around and prey on the weak, but if you haven't been paying attention it isn't that easy anymore. As a fitness enthusiast, a bodybuilder, or just someone trying to lose weight we are subject to quite a bit of shaming and bullying as well since people simply love to attack those they perceive as doing better than them. No matter what you do, don't change up your path because people use shaming as their envy device. You should see it as an example of someone who really isn't a friend.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 157
Don't you just love the winter doldrums? Don't get me wrong I am doing all the right things. Working for size, putting on some weight, but like anyone else I see myself with the broad chest sleek waist, and I just ain't there right now. Throw in the fact that my pants are a bit tight and it makes my back a little sore. Here's where the advice comes in. As you lose all the weight and get down to the size you want to be, the first instinct is to get rid of all your "bigger" clothes. Well DON'T because the worst and most depressing part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is having to go out and buy bigger clothes for life's little fluctuations, and if you have them tucked away in a closet already, it will save you a LOT of misery, just in case, of course.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 158
The gym is like the internet. Most people find their way there because of some demon. In my case it was the smallest kid in school, some it is the fattest kid in school, others because it is what has been expected of them. Whatever your reason for going to the gym, starting an exercise routine or a diet, it doesn't matter what brought you, it only matters that you find the reason to keep it up.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 159
With Christmas coming up I can imagine that the ability to control ones eating becomes a form of torture that the Egyptian army wouldn't even think to employ. I know, and I understand. Between all the family members who don't understand that you keep a moderately healthy diet, and gift you nothing but fat, grease, sugar and perhaps more synthetic food substitutes than you can name, to the endless Christmas dinners that have never been a part of a healthy diet, it can be torture. Of course if you have maintained a moderately healthy diet for a prolonged period of time I have good news! Eating like crap for a day won't kill you, and for all you know between the upset stomach and the nutrients your body doesn't usually get, it might even help you in one way or another. Enjoy your holiday, don't use it as a way to punish yourself.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 160
Do you spend any time the day after you work a muscle aggravating it? I don't mean posing in front of a mirror (although that is one way) but just flexing and stretching the muscles that you worked to get a little more pain out of them. It does give you a little added stress to inspire muscle growth, and if you think about it this way, it is a good way for you to remember how good your last workout was as you are getting the most out of your next workout.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 161
As we enter "resolution season" I just want to take a minute to remind people of the resolutions they should take before "going to the gym" and "losing weight" which will make those goals easier. The first should be "don't be an asshole" because this is usually the first thing that interferes with "going to the gym" and "losing weight." Failure to get along with people, or manage yourself in a social environment are the two most common reasons that people don't get healthy. People who can't get along with other people stop going to the gym, stop learning from others and quit. Don't blame me for this fact, do something about it.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 162
The after holiday gorge. We all have family that doesn't comprehend that we eat healthy and live a fit lifestyle now. I will help your mental stability by telling you they are NOT actually out to get you, they just don't understand you anymore. Again this is not because they hate you it is because they remember the things you used to love (and probably still do) and that is what I am looking at when I have a pile of Snickers Bars, Fiji Gift Food Boxes and all the other things that were at one time a VERY safe bet for me on Christmas. You have two choices, give it all away at work or do what I do, which is the next Sunday camp out in front of Football and eat as much of it as you can, then throw the rest away. You deserve it, you survived Christmas!

Crow's #Gym Vol. 163
How set up are you, if you can't get to the gym? I ask this of course because snow season is upon us, and mother nature has no respect for anyone's need to get their gym on. One of the best investments I ever made was on a used pair of "Building Blocks" which are a dumbbell system that can be changed in 5 lb increments between 5 and 50 lbs by simply pulling and inserting a pin. Great little system for when you can't get to the gym, and you don't need an extra room to house all the dumbbells that these things replace. A good health aficionado is always on the lookout for things that will compliment their healthy lifestyle, so keep things like this in mind for emergencies too!

Crow's #Gym Vol. 164
Progress vs. Perfection. It's a hard balance to understand but everyone who spends any time at the gym either understands this or are in the process of learning this. Most of us do it the hard way. Lift too much weight and you will get an injury, lift too little weight and you won't get the results you desire, Still it is better to have a little caution, because lifting too little and doing it "perfectly" will give you far greater results than sitting at home with an injury, because you lifted too much. As I always say, "You don't go to the gym to show off, but if you go to the gym enough you will be able to show off elsewhere."

Crow's #Gym Vol. 165
As we enter "resolution season" it may be difficult to get a good workout in at the gym, with all the extra people there. Don't despair! It doesn't last long and when you realize after all the resolutioners have given up on getting healthy, and you are back to being one of the few people left in the gym, you have come a long way. Just like having to workout and diet everyday to look good, surviving the wave of false inspiration and continuing on the path is a great victory.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 166
Setbacks at the gym are as common as setbacks in life. It's all in the attitude as to whether or not you overcome them. The difference from that point on is what separates the fit from the failures. If you can look at every setback as a learning opportunity, and then carry on, improve then you have what it takes to be one of "those people" and by "those people" I mean the fit who just don't understand. Well now you know that they actually do understand, do you?

Crow's #Gym Vol. 167
Bodybuilding is a lot like programming a computer. No seriously, there are some amazing similarities. In a computer program you need good code or else the programs will fail, and in bodybuilding you need good form or the exercises will fail. Well using this logic, what do you do when the programming is starting to fail and cascade out of control? You go back to where the code was stable and start over from there. This is the same theory that will get you past workouts that are beginning to crash and burn too.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 168
As you see the flood of resolutioners in the gym this time of year, and of course feel the pinch of equipment being in short supply, you should just make a resolution of your own, like many of us have done every January until the resolution bug leaves the uninitiated. Try some new types of exercises. Every year I find at least one or two new ones that are more effective than the ones I had been using. It's the one gift the resolutioners always seem to give me, along with reverse power of example..

Crow's #Gym Vol. 169
Of all things that happen in the gym, the most important is that YOU have a great workout. While on that subject it is also important to know that only YOU know if you had a great workout. I say this because I have had a great workout because I lifted heavy, I've had a great workout because I lifted with perfect form, and it is very very rare if I have both in the same workout, but damn I have had a lot of great workouts, and nobody can tell me differently. That's what you want to feel every time you leave the gym, so go get it!

Crow's #Gym Vol. 170
Choosing a gym is a very important decision. Make sure you pay more attention to where you will get a good workout in a safe environment, before you take into account which gym will make you look cool. If your gym has faulty equipment, and too many people then what kind of a workout are you getting? It's also important to make sure that the gym that you go to fits into your budget. No reason to work on your physical fitness at the expense of your mental well being.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 171
Do you ever need a little extra to get up and get motivated toward exercise? My workout routines didn't gain any traction until I started making deals with myself and sticking with them. Perhaps the most amusing of them all was that my favorite television show was on at a certain time of the day and I had decided that I would only watch it while walking a treadmill at the gym. Shockingly enough that not only worked but it managed to get me to do a full hour on that machine, then another machine. Then I started getting there earlier so I could lift first. By the time they cancelled that show, I had forgotten that was why I originally started going.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 172
What I have always considered to be the first piece of advice I give to any person who wants to take the gym seriously (You don't go to the gym to show off, you go to the gym so that you can show off elsewhere) evolves and becomes a multi faceted piece of advice almost daily. The new way to think of it is "Don't kill yourself" and be it with too much weight or too much expectations, it is just important to know that the only person you are competing with is yourself. Nobody else can ever be YOU either.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 173
Knowing when to step up from a step back is just as hard to accept as stepping back is to begin with. As I had talked about before, there may come a time when your workouts have struggled to a near stop and may be going backwards. This is the time to just drop your weights and get your form perfect again, well like anything else you get comfortable with what is easy and normal. When you start lifting weights and not feeling them, your form is great but you are no longer stressing your muscles it is time to step it up again. Trust the little voice in your head, the happy one not the one talking about how everyone is out to get you.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 174
The never ending battle of the Gym Rats vs The Resolutioners. Yes with January comes the two types of egos that can make the gym a bit uncomfortable, but that really is all it is. In another month the people who have all the initiation to get healthy in January, and none of the resolve to continue past February will be gone, and of their own volition. Don't become the reason they don't want to come to the gym. Do what I do, start a blog where you can share the funny stories of the whacky things they do. It's a much better solution than try to teach someone etiquette that have no problem embarrassing themselves. It never ends well.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 175
Fads, facts and fiction. Like anywhere else the gym world, the health world, the real world have so many fads, but not all are fiction, and not all can be completely explained. Just watch the television infomercials and you'll know that there are at least a million fads that someone is trying to sell you. Copper, this, diet that. It's good to at least pull the facts out of the fiction, and to do this you sometimes need to experiment, but make sure you know what you are doing. Want an example? Copper infused clothing is a pile of crap, and you know this by all the successful lawsuits that have sued these companies out of business, but the "compression" that they all use is not. I always revert back to compression when my everyday aches and pains get to me. I can't tell you why it works, but I can tell you that it almost always works. My trials, my errors.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 176
Here's one for the books. Ever find the perfect piece of gym clothing? Yeah well take it from me, the second you do go out and buy up the rest of them. Experience has taught me, all to often that the perfect piece of gym clothing will be discontinued, altered or rendered unusable by the next time you go out and buy it. I have had the same favorite gym clothes for years and not because I am cheap, but because every attempt I have ever made to replace them has been futile. Live and learn..

Crow's #Gym Vol. 177
Don't accept mediocrity as your standard. Yes you may have a long way to go, or you may have a shorter path, but when you look at yourself in the mirror you should always see a work of art and a work in progress. The worst thing you can ever do to yourself is cater to the standards of others. They may not be able to dream or achieve as well as you and you will never know til you give it YOUR nest shot.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 178
There are no such things as "phantom" aches and pains. I hear this term all the time and in the past I have managed to use it myself, more out of denial of something I am doing wrong than a serious explanation of something that just feels wrong. If you find that you have an ache or pain that is beyond the normal aches and pains that your muscles will feel the day after a good workout, and you find yourself unable to figure out the problem logically, then it really is important that you point it out to your doctor as soon as possible. Every day with an ache or pain that could be remedied and prevented is a day too much.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 179
Don't EVER underestimate the power of the internet to help you with your workouts. I mean you are here of course so you must be interested, but thanks to Google you can almost instantaneously get the help you need to get past any workout hurdle. It sounds silly to say this, I know but it still took me years to figure this out, and maybe, just maybe I can help save you a few years of floundering around just to try and figure out how to make a certain muscle work harder.

Crow's #Gym Vol. 180
Two legs in perfect working order, or even in less than perfect working order are all you need to start a good exercise program. If you have a spare 30 minutes, then you have all the makings of the best workout program going. I know I know, "I don't have 30 minutes" is almost always the answer I get, but even in my worst time crunches I could take a sandwich to work, start my lunch break walking 15 minutes one direction and 15 minutes back, killing two birds with one stone. You know you should try it some time.