17 February 2006

Pumping Iron

As devoted readers will remember, I made a New Year's resolution to work out more, which seems kind of vaguely formed and half-assed compared to some of my friends very concrete resolutions to lose x pounds in y months. Well, after hopping on the scale at the gym after my first day of working out about a month ago, I decided that I definitely need to be little more concrete in my goals. So I've since upped the ante and vowed to lose 10 pounds by the end of March. I've managed to make it to the gym on campus four days out of each of the past couple weeks since then. I haven't regularly worked out in a couple years, and I've figured out (or remembered) a couple important lessons about having a workout regimen.

1) It's good to have a plan.
My first day in the weight room, I meandered around the different machines, but didn't really have any objectives. At one point I finished a set on a machine that resembled a bench press and decided I wanted to find the machine where you bring your forearms together across the front of your chest. (I'm sure it has a name, but I'm too lazy to look it up.) I sat down at a slightly different machine, and realized it wasn't the one I was looking for but was virtually identical to the one I'd just used. Unfortunately, I noticed a woman looking at me just as I sat down, so I had to do one set on this new machine to save face. I’m sure she was impressed.

2) It's important to have an excuse to work out
I quickly get burned out and bored with working out , so I'm kind of glad I've gotten a little pudgy. At least it'll keep me motivated to keep going to the gym in the mornings. Also, I've started playing a pick-up game of basketball every week with friends. For the record, I suck at basketball, and I tend to be a liability for whatever team I'm on. Luckily, it's a very relaxed group, and everyone's just there to have fun while getting a workout. The time goes by a lot more quickly than on a Stairmaster or some other such infernal device.

3) Don't overdo it.
I have a horrible habit of always wanting to lift weights (or bike, or run) as if I were still in the shape that I was in when I rowed crew my freshman year in college. Inevitably this leads to pain followed by regret followed quickly by burnout and self pity. (Ok, maybe not the last one.) One day after doing a couple ambitious sets on my calves, I had a strange pain in the top of my right calf that wasn't quite the same pain as a muscle that was just a little too tight. Luckily it went away after a couple days, but I've been a little leary of the Calfercizer since then. I apparently didn't learn my lesson, though, because I almost booted after an overzealous workout on the erg (rowing machine) on Monday. Anne assured me that I probably wouldn't have been the first to throw up in the gym, but it still would've been embarassing.

I've actually been enjoying getting up a little early and getting in a quick workout before I start my day, and I'm hoping I can stay motivated and keep going. I've been steadily dropping pounds, if not quite at the pace I'd hoped. Luckily, a week at a conference where I only left the hotel once (which came the week after a gluttonous Super Bowl party), didn't seem to set me back too much. Which is good because we've got a lot of leftover beer (I blame -- or credit -- the deliciousness of Anne's Dark and Stormies).

07 February 2006

An entertaining weekend

We were pretty busy this past weekend because we entertained on both Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Saturday, our friends Maggie and Kelly came over. As usual, it was fun to hang out with them, especially because this was the first time they'd ventured over the bridge to see our place. I had a very Piedmont Grocery-esque experience while picking out the olives for that evening's meal. I also got some cornichons (little pickles) and as I was putting them into the plastic cup alongside the olives, a rich, middle-aged lady said to me "You're not putting the cornichons in with the olives, are you?" I was a bit stunned because I'm not used to backseat shopping like that, and I've combined cornichons and olives numerous times without incident. Not knowing what to say, I blurted back "Well, they'll all end up in the same place eventually." That probably wasn't the most tactful reply, but my impression was that this woman could stand to not be taken seriously every once in a while. She harumphed in a way that said "Suit yourself, philistine," and went back to her shopping. Luckily, none of the other dinner ingredients inspired such outbursts from my fellow shoppers. We made a potato-leek soup followed by spinach quiche. For dessert our guests brought a blueberry-peach galette. Mmmm.

The next day was even more gluttonous because it was our annual Super Bowl party. In spite of the fervor of our very partisan crowd, we weren't able to urge Seattle out of a clinically Seahawks-style performance. But at least we had good company and lots of good food. (And a lot of leftover beer.) We made a couple appetizers as well as drinks. A particular hit were the Dark and Stormys. Anne just learned about this drink at her book club. It's a mix of ginger beer, rum, and (optional) lime. They're quite tasty and easy-drinking. Everyone else brought appetizers that were unimpeachably delicious.

It was a little tricky dragging my ass out of bed this morning after all of that indulging. I'm off to a conference in Sacramento in a little bit, where I'll probably indulge a bit more (especially after my talk on Thursday afternoon). I guess that means it's up to Anne and Lucy to finish off the Super Bowl leftovers. I think Lucy has a pretty strong opinion about who should take care of the rest of the smoked salmon.

05 February 2006

Pirates? In Utah?

Friday night we went to a great movie called Pirates of the Great Salt Lake. It was part of the opening weekend of the San Francisco Independent Film Festival. Independent movies without distributors are always a risky call, but this one was (intentionally) really funny. It'’s about two guys who live in Salt Lake City and want to be pirates. They dress and talk like pirates, and even have a dilapidated boat that they paddle around the Great Salt Lake in search of plunder and treasure. The movie centers around a treasure map and a conflict with an unscrupulous pawn shop owner who wants the treasure for himself. The main characters aren'’t particularly adept pirates -- at one point they steal their lunch from a lemonade stand. (It's the pirate code to only eat what they can steal). The pirate captain has run away from home because his mom can'’t accept his pirate lifestyle. (There'’s a hilarious scene where she walks in on him in his room while he'’s dressed in pirate garb and watching a pirate movie). Did I mention that the treasure is cursed?

Anyway, it far exceeded our expectations (which have to be kept in check at a festival like this) and I hope that it can get a distributor and play somewhere else. If you'’re reading this in the Bay Area, it'’s playing again at 4:30 this afternoon at the Women'’s Building in the Mission (at the same time as a certain football game). And if it comes to your town, I highly recommend it.

On another note, yesterday may have marked the point where I finally became a true Californian because I wore flip-flops in the winter. I love California. But since we Californians (I can say that now) don'’t have a horse in today's race, go Seahawks!