Winding Down

The last weekend of summer break is upon us! On Monday, the denizens of Flock Hall 2.0 begin classes again, and the "Summer of Fitness" comes to an end.

While I have not lost as many pounds as I would have liked, my body has changed dramatically. On the last days of June and July I recorded a set of body measurements, including, chest, waist, hips, thighs, biceps and forearms. The difference between the June set and the July set was fairly dramatic - I lost a total of 11 inches over all, and my biceps and forearms became much more symmetrical (click here to see the actual numbers). Because of kettlebells, I am no longer a bipedal fiddler crab, and I no longer need shirts sized XXL. My actual weight loss has been hovering around 60 pounds for a few weeks now, but I am certain that I have lost a bit more fat than that, and gained muscle in its place. My final set of measurements for the summer will be done on 8/31/08, but I imagine they won't be as dramatic as the last set - I have had more off time in the last month than I did in July.

As for the sports goals I set for myself, I have made great strides in some areas. In the running category, I have increased my mileage quite a bit, and I posted my first 5 mile run last week. Granted, I did 5 miles because I got lost in the woods near my mother's house and had to keep moving to avoid being eaten by midges and mosquitoes, but still... My running has slacked a bit in the last week due to a bit of apathy and some ankle soreness, but over all I feel very good about my progress in this area.

In strength training, I am slowly making gains on pull ups and dips. I currently do these on a machine that gives you a boost, effectively reducing your body weight to make the exercise easier, but I am using less and less help each week. In push ups I am on week 3 of the 100 push ups program, and making progress. With the kettlebells, my snatch test has improved to 90 reps in 4 minutes with a 16kg, and my cardio capacity for longer sets is greatly improved. At the beginning of the summer, a one minute set was terrible - now, I can finish a four minute set without dying, and I recently did 200 one arm swings in 10 minutes.

Handball has been going well also - I am finding that my shots have a lot more snap to them (due to the strength training I think) and my accuracy has improved quite a bit lately. My left hand is more dependable for short shots, and I'm picking up more off the back walls with it as well, but it is still weak on overhead shots. The main problem has been getting opponents on the court regularly, but that is nothing new.

The non-athletic areas that I wanted to work on - meditation, bird training, my reading list, etc., have gone fairly well. As always, I would probably benefit from more meditation and reading, but I have done quite a bit over the last two months. The birds have gotten much more manageable in recent weeks as well, especially Imelda - she is no longer quite the flapping idiot she was back in June.

Now for the bad news. I have only played squash a few times this summer, and I've played tennis only once. I played a fair amount of badminton earlier in the summer, but of late we have missed the club play times more often than not. I have refrained from the racquet sports partly because my forearms have been killing me from kettlebell and gripper training, but the recent slow down has been due to lack of opponents and general laziness. To be honest, by the time Friday rolls around I've been too tired from other workouts to even consider playing 2-3 hours of badminton in the evening, and dragging my regular partners out to the tennis courts has proven just about impossible (they all hate tennis).

Taken as a whole, I'd say that the Summer of Fitness has been a success, but it could have been better. I think the lesson in this experience is two-fold. Firstly, I have come to realize that I need to concentrate on activities that don't require partners to do. I have been pretty frustrated when my friends have not had the time to join me on the courts. It's caused me to not burn as many calories as I might have if I had just focused on solo activities. In the future I plan to work more on running and kettlebells and not depend so heavily on the various games we play to get my workouts for the week. I will try to look at playing court sports as a treat, and view my daily workout as a personal activity.

Secondly, and more importantly, it is clear to me that true fitness is actually within reach. I had seriously doubted my ability to get fit again due to my age, genetics, family history, lifestyle, and chronic injuries, but now I know that I can do it. This experiment has proven to me that I don't have to settle for just being less doughy. I now know that I can actually have a "no, I don't mind playing on the skins team" kind of body again.

So - what's next?

Goals for the coming semester includes:
Lose more weight (I have another 60 pounds to go).
Run a 10k.
Achieve proper, unaided pull ups and dips.
Successfully finish the 100 push up program.
Do 150+ reps in the Secret Service Snatch Test.

I'll soon be posting the "Big Calendar of Flock Sports" which will include all of my planned workouts and runs, along with a listing of times when I'll be available for handball, badminton, squash and the like. If you want to see it, drop me an email and I'll give you access to it (it's on Google calendar).

Do you have goals for the next few months? Share them here, and then you can come back and gloat about it when you succeed!


Anonymously Lost said...

I think the summer of fitness did go pretty well.

I personally only have two specific goals: to start running and, to start using the 16kg KB for the snatch test. :)

Mischief said...

my goal: The splits. Both styles. With a sword balanced on my head. Seriously. What am I doing to get there? Drink lots of water, try to attend yoga class faithfully and do my stretches before bed time. I've also decided that my fitness goals will become the goals of my students so that I have more excuse to work on them :D

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