lol kegels. . . are those still a thing?

Are kegels still a thing? Are good little personal trainers and fitness instructors still suppose to discuss “holding your pee” and “picking up the family jewels” with their clients? Are there any out there have actually ever done it? I wonder these things. I guess people could still be doing kegels. I mean I could be doing them right now while writing this and no one would know as long as I keep a straight face.

I remember when I first heard about them. I thought it was a joke. Really. I was sitting in a big conference room at my very first fitness conference. I had just completed my certification after just turning old enough to be able to sign the conference liability waiver form all by my lonesome. I was sitting there next to my boss, who sitting next to his boss, while this lady at the front of the room started talking about this funny german sounding thing called kegels. It took me awhile to figure out what the hell the lady was talking about. When I figured it out I thought for sure she had to be joking. I mean this sounded way too ridiculous to actually be an exercise that people did at the gym with trainers no less. So I waited. I waited and waited for the punch line. It never came. Although, there was one good joke from the presenter about looks of hard concentration on all our faces while we all tried to follow her kegel directions in mass.

Yeah, so it wasn’t a joke. I got to spend an hour sitting on the carpet next to two of my bosses trying to “hold my pee” while they “picked up their family jewels”. When the workshop was done I smiled and nodded and thanked the presenter just like everyone else. I agreed with everyone about how great this was, about how everyone needed to do this more, just like stretching. We all totally needed this for our core and blah blah blah. But I got the impression everyone was faking it (lol . . . faking it). I mean I couldn’t possibly be the only one thinking: “Crap I can’t believe I just paid money for that. I could have just stayed home and masturbated – for free.”

After this workshop covering what everyone (at the time) said was very important and needed to be addressed with our clients/participants went back to being that thing no one talked about. The few times I have heard the word kegel since has always been in the company of words like “doctor told me to” or something similar. Or at least that is how it went down in my gym, becuase neither boss ever brought up kegels ever again. Well, not in my presence at least.

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You will look great in your coffin when you die of a heart attack.

Strength training is something that I personally enjoy so I thought I would point out some of the reasons I think strength training is awesome (or at lease mostly better than cardio).
I may just be re-presenting the wheel to civilization all over again only painted a different colour (bright pink with tiger stripes and polka dots!) with my post, but  *shrugs* it makes me happy.

The main point I want to make is cardio and strength training are not mutually exclusive.

When I completed my presonal trainers course, the instructor at the time pushed cardio and strength training together. We were taught that one without the other meant an incomplete package that would never allow you to fully reach your fitness goals. When people asked “if you strength train/body build do you also have to do cardio?” the response was “No, you don’t have to do cardio, but if you don’t it just means you will look great in your coffin when you die of a heart attack.” At the time I bought into this no questions asked and did steady state cardio for nothing less than 50-60min per session 5-6 days per week with strength training because I didn’t want to die of heart attack and I was also told that if I wanted to change my body composition the only way to do it was with lots of cardio.

Thinking back on this I don’t understand how it is the instructor could say this or why the hell I fell for it. The evidence and reasoning for why this statement was ass backwards was even being delivered within the course. We were taught that cardiovascular exercise is an endurance exercise in which a repeative motion is done for a sustained period of time resulting in an increased heart rate. We were also taught that gains in endurance can translate into some gains in strength, and that gains in strength also translate into some gains in endurance. The two are not mutually exclusive. Also anyone that lifts has probably noticed that their heart rate elevates when they lift. That combined with muscle fatique are the reasons we have rest periods beteween sets when lifting. That is why shortening rest periods is a simple but effective way (one of many ways) to increase the intensity of a workout. Any strength exercise (espeically the big compound lifts) will get the heart rate up very effectively especially if the lifter is pushing for their personal best. The above statment suggests that strength training will not exercise the heart muscle and people must therefore do special excerise just for the heart or else! But really anything that elevates the heart rate exercises/trains the heart muscle/cardiovascular system. And studies are showing there are plenty of benefits to be had from short bursts of high intensity exercise.

Cardio can easily become repetitive and boring, especially if you are using standard equipment like ellipticals, treadmills, and spin bikes. With strength training the variations are endless with all the mixing and matching of motions, equipement, weights, reps, sets, and rest periods. It is relatively easy with all these options to keep the body adapting to new things. You can also add more of a “cardio” element to your workout while maintaining a strength and power focus by adding plyometrics and dynamic moves, such as kettlebell excercises.

Strength training can be much more time efficient. If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to training or you don’t want to dedicate a lot of time to training focusing on strength training can be the more efficient way to spend your time. Strength training burns more calories over the long haul in terms of the afterburn following your training. Also, focusing your strength training on compound multi-joint excerises means you can get in and effective full-body workout in a relatively short time window.

So  . . . cardio good or bad?
I say some dedicated cardio is ok, if you want to do it. And if you do choose to do some cardio, you don’t need tons of it (unless you are training for an endurance event-those are entirely different beasts). I suggest shorter, less frequent, higher quality/intensity sessions in the form of interval training intead of long steady pace sessions. I am not saying long steady pace cardio is bad, just that not doing dedicated cardio sessions for an hour 5-6 days per week is probably not going to leave you dead of a heart attack but looking great in your coffin.

Twins. Not as cool as it sounds.

A coworker today told me she expecting twins. I congratulated her and I wish her family the best. But now that all the congratulating is done and I am sitting and thinking to myself about being a twin, I have to say I feel sorry for the little fetuses. I feel sorry for them because I am a twin myself and would not wish it on anyone. Sorry to my fraternal twin who happens to be the one person I know for sure reads my blog. No insult intended. Really. Let me explain.

Being a twin means a life time of being treated like one half of a person instead of as your own person.

I have lost count of how many times someone has said something stupid like “I wish I was a twin. That would be so cool. We would do everything together” or “When your sister broke her arm did you feel it?” or “Can you read each others minds?” or “Which one of you is older?” or “You are twins, why don’t you dress a like or like the same stuff or think the same?”. These questions are all totally ridiculous and are based on silly assumptions and pre-conceived expectations of what twins should be like. These assumptions and preconceived expectations of what twins should be then got forced onto us.

I remember kids in school being upset with us for not conforming to what their idea of what twins should be. I remember friend’s parents also being disappointed by us not filling their arbitrary expectations. People would line us up to compare us to see how similar we are, but couldn’t be bothered to learn the differences so they could tell us apart later. People expected that because we were twins we should dress like we are the same person, that we should eat the same, have the same hair etc. People seemed to equate having a twin to the cartoon episode where some genius kid makes a clone of himself to do his homework and clean his room for him so he can goof off. (That would be just so cool. I totally planned being a twin from birth so I could use my twin as carbon copy slave and fool all those normals.) Ergo they treat us like one person when we are two.

If friends and parents were bad, teachers were worse. I didn’t get fair treatment in school until I went to a separate school all together from my sister. Even changing schools does not really solve the problem because that only means teachers couldn’t confuse us. At home neighbors and friends still couldn’t be bothered to differentiate. I have never truly been treated like one complete person until I left home for university where no one knew I had a twin unless I told them.

Some twins choose to embrace the “twin” in twins. I have known several sets of twins who loved to play their similarities up for all it was worth and deliberately fulfill people’s expectations. This is their choice of course. They are free to do as they like. But seeing other twins do that always burned me up. (It still does.) When they did that it made it that much harder for my sister and I to be treated like two people instead of two halves. This kind of behavour fueled people’s misconceptions about twins.

Personally I find this inability for people to differentiate between the two of us to be truly pathetic and indicative of an innate human laziness.

No, I am not new here.

The days and times that I hit the gym vary a lot, so there really aren’t any people that I bump into regularly when I workout. But when I was at the gym this week I did recognize the “gentlemen” in question from previous visits.

Yesterday morning, I arrived at the gym and this guy comes up to me puffing his chest out and tried to begin a conversation with “You must be new.” The impression I got was he wanted to chat and was going to waste my precious bit of gym time. I walk to and from the gym. I only have a fixed amount of time in which to train before I have to get home and get ready for work. Every minute counts. Also this guy just gives me the creeps. I just don’t want to talk to him. So I responded with “No. I am not new here. I have a charter membership” and walked away. Mission “end conversation before it gets going” accomplished.

Today I decided I was very glad I did not encourage conversation yesterday because this guy was at the gym again. He did not bother trying to open conversation with me again (thank you!). The next lady who walked in however was not so lucky. She got an even better line I did. This guy decided a great way to open conversation with her was with “Hey, you have it good; young and beautiful.” (He said something else but I don’t really remember. I was too busy checking my ears for excess wax.) There was an awkward silence before the lady responded. I didn’t catch everything she said, but it sounded as though she was steering the conversation into more stranger appropriate small talk. I was wondering at the lady’s ability to move past this so smoothly until I saw later that she was in the gym’s personal trainer office (she was one of the new PTs). Regardless of what she may or may not have thought of this guys choice of conversation starter, as a gym employee she was stuck. She had to be professional and couldn’t be perceived as rude. Giving a deadend answer and walking away was not an option for her.

Personally I think this guy’s choice of conversation starters were atrocious. At least he was an equal opportunity offender. He also kept tying to make conversation with the one other guy in the weights area. (At least he was spared the bad pickup lines.) After a few interruptions this guy just started flat out ignoring the older man. He was wearing of head phones afterall. Head phones at the gym generally indicates that a person does not want to chat.

Territorial about food? Yup, that’s me.

I read a blog post the other day that had me thinking “Yup, that is me”. It was about sharing food and territorialism regarding food (you can read it here if you like).

I am not always super territorial about food. My level of territorial-ism varies with my mood and hunger levels. If I am cracking down trying to eat squeaky clean and increasing my exercise because last summer’s capris are a bit too tight (and I hate buying new clothes when I have perfectly good clothes in my drawers) I highly recommend you stay clear of my plate. Especially if we go out for dinner and I am allowing myself a flex meal and the plate in front of me contains the first apple crumble or brownie sundae I have seen in weeks. It is times like these that I want to strangle the person/people who say “hey lets share a dessert” and don’t even wait for my response before they say this to the waitress and send her away. The only thing that saves these people from a cave women clubbing over the back of the head is the lack of a club in my hand. What I really hate is the look I get when I say flat out that I am ordering my own dessert. I get either the “you are a bad fatty” look or “I thought you were into fitness & health. You must not be for real since you are eating dessert” look. What I hate even more is when someone puts these looks into words. Usually I just let it slide and concentrate on my bowl and how yummy it is and how that person can go suck it. But I have been trying to push back lately by pointing out  “it is ok to enjoy dessert” or “there is nothing wrong with enjoying my food”. 

I also become more territorial about my food when I have a had a bad day. This is when I want a big plate of starchy something and no you can’t have a bite. I then want some chocolate or ice cream and no you can’t have any of that either. Of course I often don’t have the chocolate or ice cream available in my home. I purposefully don’t buy it so it isn’t available for me to eat all the time. And the reality is once I buy it it  just doesn’t last any significant amount of time anyway. This is also one reason why I can be so territorial about my food when we go out. We don’t go out very often. But when we do, I promise myself a dessert or at least some special fully loaded entree. By the time we get to an outing I have probably already been really looking forward to that dish for a long while. And it is mine. All mine. Sharing just does not cut it.

The author in the blog post also talks about her extreme food tracking using spreadsheets. My food tracking has never been that elaborate, but I have done calorie counting. I have followed the super tight meal plan with no room for anything tasty that is not on the list of approved foods. After a few weeks just about any calorie dense anything, dessert or not, was pure heaven. Buttered toast may have destroyed my calorie count but it tasted like a vacation on the beach with fluffy puppies as far as the eye could see. I am still surprised my partner lived past saying “I thought you weren’t suppose to eat that” to me. I must have given him a really scary look because he never opened his mouth about it again. I remember another time when I had an epically bad day (the kind of day that would make me go postal if it ever happened again) at the end of which I took out a box of x-mas chocolates that I had been carefully enjoying one or two at a time and put away the remaining 80% of the box in one sitting. Again my partner asked (very cautiously) “Don’t you want to save some for later?” I tightened my grip on the box and said “No not really” and kept eating. My guy had the good sense not to ask again and to not try to take any chocolates.

As a side note: one great advantage of sharing my home with my dog is I never have to share my chocolate with her.