Gym and Love and Hate

It’s 4.47 am as I begin writing this. I have just submitted my article. I LOVE THAT. I’ll still have edits after the peer review, but the worst is over. Squeee!

So let’s focus on the love first—and sorry to burst your bubbles, but it’s not romantic. 🙂 Brazilian men can be quite pleasing to the eye, but it’s not *that* kind of post…
Here’s my big 5 Loves for the last week, in no particular order:

1) It was almost exactly a year ago that I happened upon, which I was thinking about the other day because I realised that I MISS PROTEIN ICE CREAM. I love protein ice cream. So I re-watched hers video, and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend—especially the part where she puts a cushion in front of her pregnant belly so Summer, from inside, wouldn’t lose her hearing because of the VitaMix. 😀 Pretty much too cute for words.

(In the absence of protein ice cream, I consoled myself with “Yogoberry” at the mall last night—Brazil’s answer to the fro-yo craze. I had mine with oreo bits, Jessica with… condensed milk. Spot the Brazilian!) 😉

2) thanks to Jenna, for this brilliant idea: I am new to and loving baked chickpeas. With a dusting of cinnamon, Lindsay recommended them in yogurt. And it’s delicious. Then I started having them with cold milk and my bran sticks (or with oatmeal and flax and unsweetened yogurt, whatev) as if they were breakfast cereal, and it reminded me of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal from my youth… only not quite so artificial. Crunchy, sugarless-but-still sweetish goodness in a bowl.

3) I’ve been hanging out with an old high school friend who married a Paulista and the blast-from-the-past has been so much fun… that it’s made me nostalgic! High school was the 90s for me, so I went back and started watching that 90s icon of ass-kickery and fantasy mayhem: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Forget Angel, I’m totally Team Oz. (source)

4) This past Sunday was the last of the Campos do Jordão music festival I’ve been loving so much… and this final concert was in São Paulo. After a phenomenal performance by a youth orchestra, the pianist played as his encore Débussy’s “Claire de Lune“. To hear it live, played to perfection on a beautiful instrument… I never imagined I would get a chance in my lifetime. It was unreal. (OK, this photo is from last weekend during their rehearsal with the opera singer (!!), because this weekend’s photos were all blurry… go with it. The conductor’s smile says it all… “yep. She’s *that* good!”) 😀

5) When does 16 days = 40? When Puff Mei comes EARLY!!! Just when my bed had sprung a slow leak that was getting… less slow with each day, THE COUCH ARRIVED! I’ve slept on it once, it’s hella firm, and it changes the room *completely*. Let’s check out before

and after:

It’s like it’s a real room now!
What are you lovin’ this week?

Now: back to the gym!

I told her I preferred free weights to machines… it’s just more “real world” to me. But we were chatting up a storm and she forgot until we were almost finished and then she said “oh, that’s not right”. Well, I wasn’t going to complain, really… I would have just gone rogue later.

Here’s an interesting point for you: the magic number is 16.

Every gym I’ve ever been to says, “it’s 8-12 reps”. Not here—when I get to 16, it’s time to raise the weight. Hm.

Here’s another interesting point for you: going rogue would have been bad.

My gym, as I said before, promises results. This is where the five meetings come in: they test you medically (#1), they give you a weight program (#2), they make sure you’re doing it right (#3), they look at your diet and nutrition (#4), and they follow up with you at the end to see how you’ve progressed.

And along the way, you fill in your workout sheet each day, and it gets checked by staff… and they interact with you regularly as you work out (even the foreigner no one can talk to gets smiles, thumbs ups, and “tudo bem?”), but even if it sounds sorta Big Brother, it’s all very friendly. Judgement-free.

That means that they watch to see that you’re following the chosen path—so had I gone rogue, I’d have been breaking the rules. That just means that I wouldn’t have been eligible for “guaranteed results”, but it’s not like I was aiming to fail and get my money back: I wanted the fitness!

When she realised that we hadn’t given me free weights, she said, “come back Monday and we’ll do a new one”. Just like that, I was getting a freebie! That’s Brazilian service… but I ended up working through the “casual drop by” I’d been offered so we turned my “review” on that Thursday into my free weights program.
So my path to health, cardiovascular improvement, and increased muscle mass (my three stated goals, with the added benefit of leading to number 4: weight loss so that my cholesterol is kicked back in line), was paved with this:

1) Smith machine squats: 3 sets, up to 16 reps [they all are, let’s leave this out], 5 kg plates

2) Dumbbell bench press: 2 sets, 9kg

3) Seated row: 2 sets, 28 kg

4) Skull crushers: 2 sets, 8kg

5) Lateral raises: 2 sets, 3kg

6) Distinctly Brazilian Don’t Know What to Call This: I strap an 8kg ankle weight on. I stand on the bench in front of the bench press machine. I drop one leg off the bench and bend the knee on the bench. It’s like a squat, but not. And it’s bloody hard. 2 sets.

7) Bosu ball sit-ups: 3 sets, as many as I can

8 ) Back raises: 3 sets, as many as I can.

Right now, I like it. And if I do it three times a week (their recommendation), I get a new program in another 3 weeks. 😀 Which is good, because I’m wishing I could do more “muscle confusion”.

Tomorrow is appointment 4: the nutritional consult. I don’t know if it’s actually with a nutritionist, and I know where my weaknesses lie… but knowing and doing are different things. 😀
OK! This post took me 41 hours to write. Is that normal? I still want to hear what you’re loving this week!