Session no 2

Somebody might complain if I don’t post this. Wait… somebody already complained. 😉

So let me tell you how my family spent their Saturday this weekend. First of all, I should mention my aunt was visiting us. She travelled all night by train, but she was brave enough to join our morning training session.

This is what we did:

Split Squat
Sumo Deadlift – dumbbells
Standing Shoulder Press – dumbbells
Bent-Over Row – dumbbells
Front Plank Hold
Side Plank Hold

My mother struggled on the split squats. No surprise here, considering she was in a lot of pain from the previous session. However, it was so bad that I’ve decided to replace them with goblet squats after the 2nd set. She didn’t give up that easily and she returned to split squats on the last set and completed the exercise.

The rest was rather easy, she was surprised how fast the workout was going. Part of it was because I didn’t have to explain every single bit, she already knew a lot from the previous session. Also, I didn’t force her to lift heavy weights. We worked with 4-6 kg dumbbells which was rather light for her, but enough to create some damage to muscle tissue.

What made me really happy – she did much better on the side planks. I was really worried last time, but the improvement was surprising.

My aunt seemed to get along just fine with the split squats. I couldn’t tell from the exercise, but the next day she didn’t feel any pain in her glutes, which makes me think she wasn’t doing them properly. It was just for fun and to keep her busy, so I wouldn’t worry too much. She refused to try the rest of the exercises due to some injury and jumped straight to planks. I’m not sure that was a wise decision or not, but since I’m no doctor I just let her do whatever felt comfortable. In fact, she’s now going regularly to the gym. I was very interested in her programme, but from what she mentioned it didn’t seem worth detailing it here. I simply told her to avoid crunches.

The rest of the day was spent chatting about diets and supplements. My aunt is very into Herbalife products and I had the chance to check a few labels.

Although I’m happy the trend of shake diets is taking off, I can’t seem to agree that their products are the best choice. First of all, they use the same products for both fat loss and weight gain diets. The only thing that changes is how much solid food you’re having. Which means their shakes contain grains and a fair amount of carbohydrates. They have only one formula based on peas protein which is gluten and dairy free. However, it does contain sweetener AND sugar. Also, marketing is almost brutal. The shake base contains very little protein because they sell the protein powder separately. Unfortunately, they only have one type, 75% soy – 25% whey.

What also stroke me were the daily amounts they were recommending. My dad was completely baffled because the charts suggested he should weigh 63 kg at 1.70m. That is one skinny dude! In my case, it turned out I don’t need to lose weight, but to lower my fat percentage. I was recommended a diet with 60-70 g of protein and about 900 kcal per day. During the V-diet I was on 1200 on non-workout days, 1600 on workout days and about 200 g of protein. That was a very tough diet, so you can imagine how shocked I was when I heard their recommendation. I partly understand these numbers because they suggest a solid meal per day, similar to the transition phase of the v-diet. In order to get spectacular results in this situation you need to seriously starve those poor people.

My aunt lost 6 kg in 4 weeks, 4 of them in the first week, which is a normal weight loss rate. My cousin, who is also on this diet,  lost 11 kg in about 2.5 months. None of them trained seriously. Overall, the programme is working, but that’s just the simplicity of a shake-based diet. You can’t go wrong if you stick to it.

The annoying bits don’t end here, though. They have strict rules, it’s almost like a ritual. Drink water only half an hour before and after your meal! Have a fruit snack at 11 am! Don’t prepare your shakes with water (it’s not tasty, there aren’t enough nutrients)! Use fruit juice or soy milk! Are you kidding me? More soy?? Their protein bars are based on grains and they talk very little about nuts.

Not to mention, the products are insanely expensive, only to convince you to join their network of distributors and get more discounts.

At least they got the amount of fibre and vitamins right, which is enough to improve the well-being of their customers. With this illusion in mind, the rest is a complete mess. There’s no lesson about proper nutrition, no difference between calories and very little information for athletes. They sell some energy boosters mostly based on caffeine and that’s about all.

In conclusion, they’re promoting a strict diet with a touch of sugar and they designed everything for the average consumer, fussy and lacking will-power. The distributors are encouraged to call their customers and check if they’re taking all the pills correctly, if they drank their water and, probably, pooped every day. They even invented the concept of “cheat pill” which is a fibre supplement you’re supposed to take if you eat something unhealthy. I’m not sure what falls into this category – cake, maybe? The reason behind it must be the slow absorption of nutrients, I don’t see any other logic.

I bought mom a huge bag of total protein and 1 kg of psyllium husks that will last forever. She’s having a shake every morning, instead of breakfast and one in the evening, with 50 g of hazelnut paste. Simple and effective. Also, she’s taking Thermopure which contains caffeine, green tea extract and raspberry ketone. Unfortunately, she is now ill and she won’t be able to train this week. I really hope she recovers soon. I am convinced that although the exercises are making more harm to her weak body at the moment, on long term she would actually benefit from them and her health will greatly improve.


How mom spent her 50th anniversary

Lately I stopped giving any details about my mom’s situation. We were quite excited about the V-diet, but ordering the stuff turned out to be an expensive pain so we gave up. However, I did convince her to begin a low carb diet and she lost about 5 kg already.

Yesterday morning I hugged her and kissed her, said “Happy birthday!” and made a protein shake for breakfast. Chocolate smooth. She deemed it as being “not gross”.

Then I went shopping for her present:

10 kg dumbbells should be more than enough for now. They’re not great, they only have 1 and 2 kg plates, so no fine tuning here, but I don’t think it matters that much at this stage.

I was planning to keep an eye on her menu throughout the entire day, but she had to rush to the hospital and see grandpa, so the afternoon shake was skipped. She had dinner at a friend’s house and ate their steak and tomato salad (I’m so proud), then we had the first training session.

I freaked out a bit even during the warmup. The lunges looked difficult, but she adjusted her form quite rapidly. By the end of it we were both tired. Then this followed:

Goblet Squats
Conventional Deadlift with Dumbbells
Bent-Over Row with Dumbbells
Plank Hold
Side Plank Hold

She has to repeat each exercise 5 times and complete 5 sets of all exercises.

The pushups were a mess, I’m not surprised. However, I’m worried about the side planks. She has some problems with one shoulder, but holding the plank on any side became almost impossible by the end of the session. I didn’t force her, but I’m not giving up on the exercises.

People kept calling to congratulate her and she was allowed to have short conversations. Someone asked if I made any cake for her. We had a  good laugh about it.

Little brother got very interested in our training and was disturbing the session, so I kept him busy with some pushups. He complained about it, said it’s torture, but was still eager to train and I decided to teach him bird-dogs. Epic fart!! We decided to stop at that point.

I was called a ‘hag’ for forcing them to finish the exercises. I must admit, a certain sick pleasure derived from that. I somehow understand why Matt smiled more as we complained and cursed more during training and why he never looked too upset, in spite of the horrible things I’ve said to him.

We ended the session with a protein shake with hazelnut paste.

This morning mom confirmed she can feel all her muscles. I’m sure it’s not the sort of pain we’ve experienced when we started, but I’m pleased with this outcome.

My brother was still very interested so I did the V-burn challenge for beginners with him. He had problems with pushups and hand walkouts but in spite of the poor form he had the right attitude. He pushed himself to the limit and struggled until he learnt the correct movements. By the end of the session he was shouting at me.

I promised some pizza for lunch. 😉

I think I need bacon

Today is not my day. I woke up with a horrible back pain. Horrible as in… I couldn’t roll in bed kinda pain. Or I couldn’t stand properly. Or move my arms. Or wash my face over the sink. I knew this was coming. I was in pain yesterday, but it was the “I can’t really turn and look back” or “that thing may as well stay on the floor” kind of pain. The level I’ve reached today was surprising. A hot shower helped, to some extent. You’re not supposed to roll your lower back, but this case was borderline acceptable so I tried foam rolling the sore muscle again. Yesterday that made me feel better. Today… I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t hold the right position. I gave up and cycled to the gym wondering if it’s worth the trip.

I immediately started feeling better, even during the warm up. Once the blood was pumping through my muscles, the pain significantly diminished.  Never underestimate the power of training again!

Things went well until the last exercise – the barbell complex. This was a disaster. It turns out I can’t do bent over rows with 20 kg. I struggled to finish the 10 reps, did the power cleans and as I was preparing to do the overhead press my arms decided – no, that’s not going to happen. I tried to jump a bit and get the load off my chest, but there was no nerve firing in my arms, no muscle contracting. Dead! I couldn’t give up so easily, I still forced myself to do the exercise, but after 6 reps it was over. I wanted to cry. So I started screaming a bit. I skipped the remaining reps and went straight to squats. On the 2nd set I simply gave up right after the rows. I threw away the weight and sat down. I’ve never felt so angry and so hopeless in the gym before. Thus, I switched to the light bar and did the 3 sets with 18.5 kg. At least it was vaguely more than last time (17.5 kg). I’ll try 19 kg next time.

The deadlifts are still going well. I’m already dreaming about lifting 100 kg. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m definitely above 80 kg. I was tempted to skip the warm up and lift 50 kg from the very beginning (8 reps), but I haven’t done Romanian deadlifts in a while and I needed to remember them. So warm up is still 40 kg, but we’re getting there. 🙂

I tried to order mom’s protein today, but it seems that myprotein decided they don’t deliver after all. I called them again and they told something completely different this time. I hate their customer service. I’m not sure what I’ll do. I might get it on my address and then forward it home, if mom really wants to go through with this. This adds another failure on today’s list. By the time I figured out there’s no way I can order the stuff from other sources I was already pretty upset. So upset I bit into a fork. I will remember this day every time I look in a mirror.

What’s next, Murphy?

Moms are awesome!

Lately all my conversations involve some sort of reference to training. Posh garden party? Talk about deadlifts, max reps, squats, racks, gyms…you get the picture. Sounds silly, but I always learn from these conversations. I’ve heard something reassuring recently. I was chatting with this guy in college (he does judo) and he mentioned that his 59-year-old mother has started weight training. Apparently, her doctor recommend it so she would get into shape. She doesn’t need to lose weight, but get stronger and have a better posture.  It’s going well for her (no suprise here) and this gives me hope.

My mom hasn’t started proper training yet, but she is on a low-carb diet at the moment. She already lost 4 kg. Every time I talk to her the weight is smaller. 🙂