Four weeks and five kilos

Today marks the end of my fourth week of training, and I can also celebrate having lost five kilos in that time. The latter is very satisfying, of course, but it would not be possible without the training. As long as I keep doing what I am currently doing, the weight will take care of itself.

Having said that, I do have a number in mind regarding how much I want to lose, and I am not even close at this time. Not that I was needing a gastric bypass or anything, but I started out with a surplus of fat that I could do well to get rid of. Another 10 kg’s or so should do it, I think.

Today I am very happy that it is Sunday and a rest day tomorrow. Today’s gym session was good, but I can really feel that the muscles need rest. Recuperation is also important, and particularly so when you are not a young pup anymore. First race of the TT runs tomorrow (weather permitting), so I think I’ll check it out. Other than that, I will just put my feet up and enjoy the day off.

 

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Get more sleep – dummy

Today was a real struggle in the pool. I was sluggish from the first meter, and I knew right away that it was going to be a tough grind. 1,200 meters in a 25 meter pool is 48 laps, and I could not stop myself from counting down each one. But when you are tired after four of them, ’44 to go’ seems a lifetime away.

I am not sure what the reason was, but I suspect that lack of sleep was the most important factor. I went to bed way later than planned (poker, of course), and was not ready to wake up when the alarm rang.  I should have learned my lesson from last time, but evidently I didn’t.

So I got what I deserved, a grind of a workout that was neither fun or refreshing. However, I managed to get through it, so hopefully it had some effect. At least I didn’t give up and cut it short, which I guess is some sort of a positive to take away from it.

 

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Music and training

Without music in my ears, the gym sessions would be much more of a chore than it is. I like all kinds of music, really, but for the gym, I want the music to be loud and fast. Today, just before doing my bench press, Volbeat appeared just as if on cue:

No doubt the weights go up easier and in a better tempo than they would have done otherwise 😉

The last two days sessions has been good. Yesterday I did my now standard 1,200 meter swim in 30 minutes. I saw a note in the pool that they have swimming lessons for people of all abilities, so I am seriously considering looking into that to see if I can improve my technique. I know I mentioned that the main purpose of the training is to get into shape, but I would take a lot of motivation from improving how fast and how long I could swim as well. I always do better if I can look at a task as a competition, because I absolutely detest losing, even if it is against myself. We’ll see what kind of courses they have to offer.

In the gym I am still trying to find the correct weights to use for the change in my program, where I reduce the number of reps in each set. I am getting there, but I still feel I can put on heavier weights in some of the exercises. For example, in the Dumbbell Chest Press, I am now using dumbbells of 12 kgs, and I am fairly tired at the end of the third set. However, I am sure I could do the same with 14-15 kgs as well. The problem is that I am a bit scared of losing control of the dumbbells when I am at the top of my lift, and that if they are too heavy, I will not be able to recover. So for now, I will focus on technique and balance and take it further when I feel more confident.

I also had a chat with Ronny (who gave me the program) today, and he said that at the level I am now it is no big deal if I don’t lift the absolute max of what I am capable of. Since I am also trying to lose weight I don’t eat a whole lot, and that is not really compatible with lifting too heavy. So the plan is to continue burning away the considerable fat deposit around my waist, and when I am happy with where that is at, I will change the diet and gym program to something that is more suited for getting strong.

On a different note. Yesterday I booked tickets for my son, Kasper, to come visit me in the summer. He will arrive at July 9th, and I am already excited!

Good times :)

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Heavy loads

Today was the day for the first changes to my gym program. Instead of doing sets of 15 reps like I have been doing, I’m supposed to increase the weights and do between 8 and 12 reps. The number of sets remain at 3, though I am supposed to increase that in a few weeks time.

Figuring the right amounts to lift in each exercise can be a bit difficult when you have as little experience as I do, so I spent a fair bit of time trying to figure things out. One of the problems is that some of the machines have quite a big gap between the the options. So while I might be able to do the reps quite easily at one weight, the next step up is just too much. However, in the end I think I figured out a good starting point for most of the exercises, so with a few minor adjustments on Thursday, I will be good to go.

In many ways I think that is is preferable to lift heavier with fewer repetitions. It might hurt sooner, but the pain doesn’t last as long.

 

 

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Start of week four (and craving some sweets)

Last day of a nice three-day weekend today, but also the start of the fourth week of my work out regimen. Unfortunately, there was very poor weather today, so I spent most of my time on front of the computer and watching Rafa Nadal’s first match French Open. So when the time came to go to the pool, you could say safely say that I was less than enthusiastic to go.

The law of physics are correct: An object that is in motion, wants to stay in motion, but an object that is stationary wants to remain stationary. And today, I was this stationary object…

However, and this is where telling everyone I know about my ‘new life’ comes in, the potential shame of failing to follow through on my ambitious project weighs heavier than the comfort of my work station.

So I got off my lazy a… and drove to the pool. And once the stationary object got moving, there were no issues. Like last time, I swam for 1,200 meters in 30 minutes. I feel like I could do a little bit more, but I don’t think I need to empty the tank completely every time. After all, just three weeks ago, I didn’t do any exercise at all, so it is probably best to aim for for slow but steady progress.

In addition to feeling lazy, I have also been craving sweets in a big way today. Or maybe pizza. Actually, both sweets and pizza. For the last three weeks, I have been eating very healthy, but the variety has not really been good. I think I have to figure out a way to make the diet a bit more interesting, because today I really wanted to eat something tasty. I even have a few bars of chocolate in the cupboards, but in the end I managed to contain my urges and settled for an apple.

Lost about 4 kg’s and don’t want to mess this up.

 

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On the sunny side.

Sometimes we actually do have sun on the Isle of Man (Click image for a larger version):

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And it comes just in time for the TT races, of course. Let’s hope that it will last, though it would greatly surprise me if it did. The picture is from the terrace of our apartment, and if you look closely you can see PokerStars HQ halfway up the hill in the center of the image.

So obviously I am spending most of the day indoors..

Ok, ok. Maybe it’s wasting a good opportunity to get some sun on the face, but I have never been someone who get a bad conscience sitting indoors on a sunny day. First of all, I had some work to do, and secondly I had already planned a longer poker session. Sundays are by far the day where you find the best games, so I saw no reason to change my plans. In addition, as you can see form the picture, I have a very nice view from the apartment, so I have been able to enjoy the wonderful day even sitting by the computer.

And for me, this is close to as perfect as a Sunday can get.

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18 out of 20

18… That’s how many workouts I’ve had over the last 20 days. It’s by far the most ambitious I’ve ever been when it comes to taking care of my body, but so far I am sticking with it.

Six times per week might seem like a lot, and that was my initial thought as well. However, for me it is ideal. Not because I am such a physical specimen that I can take more training than others, but rather because it doesn’t give me any time to relax. I know that if I just take a few days off, it is very likely that I will not get back into it. Maybe I’m a bit like an alcoholic, but I am addicted to putting my feet up and doing nothing. One day on the sofa, and everything is ruined 😉

Today was Gym day, and though I am still far away from enjoying it, it seems more tolerable now. Lifting weights up and down has never been my definition of fun, but I must admit there is a certain satisfaction in noticing some progress. I suspect that the first time I will see a hint of muscle toning, I will feel pretty good about myself.

In yesterday’s pool session, I changes the routine from seeing how fast I could swim 1,000 meters to seeing how far I could make it in 30 minutes. I ended up at 1,200 meters which I am quite happy with. I think my technique is pretty crappy, so I probably have to improve that before I am able to make any huge strides forward. Problem is that when I start thinking about it while swimming, I forget everything else and am just as likely to drown as I am putting my arms in the ideal position.

In the end, it is not really about setting personal bests, though. Maybe my poor technique actually results in a better workout since I am clearly not moving through the water with the least possible resistance.

Tomorrow is actually a day off from working out, but since everyone needs their rest, I count it as part of the program and I am sure I will be at it again on Monday.

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From $39 to $2,500,000 and beyond

Today is the anniversary of Chris Moneymaker’s win in the World Series of Poker’s Main Event. For those of you who know nothing about poker, Chris Moneymaker was a regular accountant who through a couple of tournaments on PokerStars  (costing him $39 to enter) managed to win a seat in the biggest and most prestigious poker tournament in the world. From there went on to win the first prize of $2,500,000. For more on Chris, Brad Willis of the PokerStars Blog has written this very interesting feature.

For those of you who are not up to speed about what’s been going on in poker over the last ten years, I can tell you that Moneymaker’s win really was the watershed mark, the paradigm shift that created an explosion in the popularity of the game. Not only did he have the perfect name for a guy who’s just won two and a half million dollars, but he was also a regular guy that allowed hundreds of thousands of players all around the world to think ‘Why not me?’.

At the time of this event, I had already played poker for a few years, and I remember following the final table on a live stream from home in Norway. And as the game progressed, there was little doubt who was the sentimental favorite. The accountant was up against a number of seasoned poker professionals, but managed to overcome them all to be crowned world champion. I had no idea at the time, but his win would allow me to be quite successful at poker of the next few years, mainly because of all the new players who started playing online. Most of them were not very good, so it was very profitable times for those who knew how to play the game well.

It also helped me in my current career, since I now work for PokerStars, the company for which Mr. Moneymaker is an ambassador. Without question, PokerStars is the company that profited the most from the subsequent boom in online poker, and who knows if I they would have found room for me eight years down the road if it hadn’t been for the enormous expansion that has taken place later.

So happy anniversary Chris. And thank you :)

And yes, I want to the gym today. It was a grind, but I am not giving up.

 

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Personal freedom

If a friend told you that he was going to do something he was really passionate about, but there was a not insignificant chance that he would die doing it, how would you respond?

What if it was your significant other?

With the Isle of Man TT Races coming up, this question occurred to me. With more than 240 riders perishing over the course of the race’s 106 year history (this number includes the smaller Manx GP), it is easy to see why this becomes a legitimate concern.

The writer Patrick George has written this interesting piece where he takes a closer look at this aspect of the race. He correctly makes the point that such a race could never be organized today if it hadn’t been for the long tradition, and I would like to add, the somewhat contrarian attitude that can be found on this little island. The notion that no one should come and tell us (After more than two years, I can say ‘us’,  I think) what to do is pretty strong around here.

With the ever growing ‘Safety at all cost’ philosophy that is getting so integrated in most aspects of life,  I think it is is very good to see that there still are places where you are allowed the ultimate freedom. I do think there are many areas where you need to keep the public out of harms way, of course. It would just be plain stupid to let everyone wander in and out of building sites, and a loud warning sound seems like a good idea when you blow stuff up. However, if people want to risk their own lives without endangering other people, then why not?

So, while I think I would beg my friend not to take part in the TT, it would only be of pure selfish reasons. I can see no reason why anyone should have the right to deny him a chance to live his dream if he so chooses.

Oh… on a different note.

Was back in the pool today and did my 1 000 meters in 25 minutes which I am quite happy about. However, I think I will just swim 30 minutes from now on and see if I can get further and further for each time. My goal is to do 1 200 meters on Friday.

Time will tell, I guess….

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It’s not always easy

But then again. If it was, everyone would do it, right…?

Today was a tough day in the gym. I got really busy at work around the time I usually go, so I had to postpone until after work. It really makes a huge difference. I was actually tired most of the day, mainly because I had a longer online poker session yesterday. I ended it as planned at 11pm, but after 3.5 hours of playing 9 to 12 simultaneous tables of Pot Limit Omaha, I was so wired it took me more than 90 minutes before I managed to sleep. Then up at 7am, which was too early for me today.

Anyway, I resisted the temptation of going straight home (Our apartment is on the way from work to the gym) and got stuck into the workout. I could feel from the start that it was going to be a grind, so in a flash of inspiration, I decided that this was the day to increase the weights I use for some of the exercises. Figured that if it was going to be a tough day anyway, I might as well go all out. Not sure of the logic is impenetrable, but that’s how it went.

Usually I count my reps from in ascending order starting from one, but today I found myself constantly counting down. It was as if my subconscious was just looking forward to getting the whole thing over with and preferred to think in terms of ‘how much longer musty I be here’ rather than seeing how many reps I could handle. But it’s alright. I know that there will be days like this, and the main thing is to be persistent and not listen to the little man with the big belly sitting on your shoulder, tempting you with pizza. I managed to to resist today, and it feels like a win.

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