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Rut

Wednesday August 3, 2011
Workout – 75 kettlebell swings at 62lb (sets of 40, 20, 15)
Post-Workout – 2 purple sweet potatoes, 1 turkey sausage
Breakfast – 6-egg omelet, salsa, steamed broccoli
Lunch – baked chicken breast, yellow squash
Dinner – salmon filet, red cabbage, 1 glass red wine

Thursday August 4, 2011
Breakfast – 6-egg omelet, salsa
Lunch – sliced turkey breast, salad, coconut butter
Dinner – Moe’s chicken fajita; 1-2 glasses red wine (probably)

Yesterday morning, I decided to get back to those things I do well, if only to lift myself out of my rut before it turns into full-on Zoloft-level depression. I dragged myself to the gym to get my early-morning kettlebells in, which distracted me temporarily, until I almost crashed into a perfect-looking redhead in a dark grey pantsuit and oversized sunglasses. I glared at where I thought her eyes would be, knowing that she wouldn’t want to talk to me even if I were wearing a tailored Armani number, let alone my sweaty Warrior Dash t-shirt and frayed basketball shorts.

Aside: The Fasted Workout

You ate dinner, you slept well. You’re up at 6:30am, well after your early morning cortisol surge (between 4-5am) has dwindled. Your glycogen (long-term energy) stores are at their lowest right here, right now. Your body is ready for a quick, intense surge of activity that will shred fat in order to provide you the oxygen you need to power your muscles through said activity. And before those stress hormones can rear their ugly heads, you’re already home, stuffing your face with potatoes and some lean meat so your muscles can suck in all that sweet, sweet glucose (and bring the protein along for the ride.) The keys to a great fasted workout:

–         Intensity: A burst of anaerobic activity (sprints, or metabolic conditioning like kettlebells or burpees or *shudder* Fran) increases your body’s energy demand and forces the breakdown of fats much more effectively than a leisurely jog would.

–         Brevity: Your body doesn’t really want to work hard after a good long sleep; it wants to eat. Your stress hormones are twice as high in the morning than in the evening, and a good way to shoot those levels up even more is with a long, drawn out weightlifting or running session. If you burn enough calories with your run, sure, you might neutralize some of that fat gain (like marathoners tend to do). But rest assured, your body is sacrificing muscle to keep glucose levels stable during those 15-20 miles, and chronically high cortisol levels prevent bone mineralization and contribute to stress fractures. I don’t want to do more than 10 minutes of work on an empty stomach.

–         Recovery Carbs: Eat something with easily absorbable nutrients. Glucose (the by-product of starch breakdown) goes to your muscles, fructose (half the by-product of regular table sugar) goes to your liver instead, where some of it might get converted to fat later on. This is why a sweet potato (or any root veggie) is better than a frozen yogurt, though both of them are probably better than nothing. About 30-40 grams (1 large potato) should do it.

–         Recovery Extras: The less fat you have in your immediate post-workout meal, the faster you absorb nutrients, and the faster you recover and shut down stress hormones. This is also a key time to add in some fast-absorbing amino acids, since your muscles are *starving* for them. People advocate for whey protein here, since it absorbs faster than “whole food” protein. They might be right. I might go buy some today, actually. Half a scoop (10-15 grams) should do it. Or, eat a lean chicken sausage or some turkey breast slices. Take a shower, get dressed, then eat a big honking fat-and-protein-heavy breakfast (giant omelette, anyone?) to shut down your insulin/cortisol surge but still keep your muscles swimming in happy fuel.

–         Put it all together: the fastest fat-burning of my life was when I did the “Burpee Challenge” in May 2010 and worked my way up from 1 to 100 burpees, fasted, every morning before breakfast. Is this overtraining? Maybe, maybe not. But 2-3 sessions a week couldn’t hurt. You can also drink a little coffee in the morning (this speeds up carbohydrate absorption, which is bad in most situations, but GREAT for a post-workout state.)

Wow, it felt great to write all that down. Needless to say, I’ve really been in the foulest of moods all week, having nightmares about this dating drama not getting better over the next year, two years, ten years, being a 50-year-old bachelor still reminiscing about the last time he had a girlfriend or even a date, so many lonely decades ago. Even the flashes of a happy future seem like fantastical set-pieces that could never happen in real life. Can I imagine myself getting married? Going on a vacation to Paris or New York or even the beach with a girlfriend? Bringing a girl home from a bar and making out with her in my kitchen? None of this seems within my grasp, not just now, but ever.

I would love to look back at these thoughts in a month or two and shake my head incredulously at my distortions of reality, and I think it’s going to happen, but right now I’m lost in a sea of negative energy. After getting home from work yesterday, I wanted nothing more than to mechanically fold my laundry, cook my fish, and listen to my Morrissey Pandora station until I fell fast asleep. But I got a text from my friend Ryan, begging me to go with him to the Young Professionals mixer that evening. I was not in the mood, to say the least, especially not with Ryan, who outshines me in every way possible (younger, chattier, taller, better-looking, I could go on. And I will. Nicer hair, better skin, happier, more confident, funnier, easier to talk to, more spontaneous. More attractive.)

But he persisted, and peer pressure is a funny thing, so I went, against my better judgment and common sense. I nursed the same glass of wine for an hour or so as I got jostled from one end of the bar to another, never finding a conversation to jump into, never catching the eye of anyone attractive, and never able to get Ryan to engulf me in his effortless charm and hook me into a conversation with one of his ‘targets.’

‘This was a *great* use of your time’, I muttered to myself, pondering the pile of unwashed clothes in the corner of my bedroom. And to be honest, there weren’t a whole bunch of lookers in the place (don’t get me wrong, beggars can’t be choosers), and it was 105 degrees in there, and everyone seemed to be lost in their own conversations with the same friends they came in with, *and* I wasn’t in a particularly engaging or charming mood (what’s new?), but still. Every time I leave the house, I expect to meet someone interesting or special. Isn’t that what the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy is all about?

Highlight/lowlight of the night: I walk up to a nice-looking brunette with a tattoo of a crescent moon on her forearm, and introduce myself. And as I described it in my Facebook post, I “got as far as ‘nice to meet you’ before she quickly realized her mistake and put one foot gracefully behind the other, turning face-first into a brick column and trading in my awkwardness for a bloodied nose.” I asked her if she was OK, but she sped off for the bathroom, a trail of blood dripping from her cupped hands onto the stone floor. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I sort-of did both as I nonchalantly exited the bar and lay my wine glass flat on an empty patio table, like it was a checkmated king.

So how was *your* night?

An interesting link that gave me some pause yesterday: http://www.davidwygant.com/blog/why-most-shy-men-appear-as-stalkers/7335/

And come on, Match.com. *One* date in *one* month? What the hell?

Next time: we eat bacon.

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