Archive for April, 2009

Reply to some random fitness blog

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Nate showed me this little blog entry today – Five Pounds and Not an Ounce of a Clue and I just have to shake my head at this writer. He clearly knows nothing about being fit. So, I had to reply to his blog (not sure if he will accept the comment I left). Here is my comment:

Okay, first thing you should know about keeping fit… pound for pound, muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue. If you were training for a while, stopped, and then lost weight, chances are you lost muscle mass. For someone just starting to get fit, three days a week of exercise is fine. After a while though, three days a week just maintains your current fitness level – unless you increase the intensity of your workouts on those three days (i.e., heavier weights, more time on cardio). Failing that, you should work out more often if you want to actually gain muscle toning, muscle bulk, better cardio, and increase your overall fitness level. You should, every so often, push your limits.

Regarding the “gut” issue, you should try to breathe through your diaphragm. When working out at your maximum intensity, you will feel your diaphragm contracting repeatedly. It’s a sure physical sign that you are working at your hardest. When you are not exercising a lot, you don’t need the amount of calories that are in a cheeseburger and fries, unless that’s all you ate all day, and even then, I’d say go for a long walk. To avoid having a gut, you really need to keep up with the cardio.

To keep fit, you need to keep active. There is no shortcut to being fit. Some people may be genetically pre-disposed to being thin, but that does not even guarantee fitness because without muscle training and cardio, thin people are just weak walking skeletons. With proper weight training, a person with a small body frame need not necessarily be weak! How I know this is simple…

I have a small body frame, but I am not weak. I am 5’3″ and I weigh 54 kg (about 115 lbs). I was always fit and active as a teenager and the past 10 years I have dedicated myself to staying fit and healthy (this should be about your health and not just appearances). I started doing martial arts (because I never got to as a child and because I missed getting exercise – there was no time when I was in university), over the years I included weight training and running. I do taekwondo on a regular basis and cross-train that with running, cycling, and weight training. I also include skipping in my workout routine as it builds the calves and the shins. I had a knee injury and surgery almost 6 years ago, and I took the physiotherapy exercises I was given and improved upon them. I am actually stronger than before my knee injury.

A while back, I kept a training blog detailing my training up until I tested for my 2nd dan black belt – Cass’ training blog. It takes more than an hour three times a week to really improve. I generally prefer two-hour workouts.

To sum up, anyone can be fit. No excuses. It is a lot of hard work. There is no shortcut, no easy way. It gets easier over time and you will feel better about yourself. BUT you really have to WANT to be fit and healthy. You have to be determined, and you got to love being healthy. If you exercise for any other reason but fitness and to be healthy (such as for appearances’ sake), you’re more likely to get frustrated and find it all worthless. After you get used to working out over time, a good workout should leave you smiling and feeling good about yourself.

Book Nook

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Reading time again!

For some reason, I went on a phase of reading graphic novels. Here are the graphic novels I read recently:

Anita Blake: First Death by Laurell K. Hamilton
Watchmen
Fallen Angel – To Serve in Hell (volume 2, IDW comics)
Fallen Angel – Back in Noire (volume 3, IDW comics)
30 Days of Night – Dark Days and Annual 2004
Star Wars Omnibus: Rise of the Sith
Spike: After the Fall
Angel: After the Fall (volume 3)

I really liked the Anita Blake character, so chances are likely I will read the novels, but first I wanted to see how well I like Hamilton’s Merry Gentry character. That series, starting with A Kiss of Shadows, is about a faerie who is working as a private investigator in the human world. Anite Blake: First Death is a new story by Hamilton and is only available in as a graphic novel.

Yes, I admit I am one of those who had to read Watchmen after they decided to make a movie based on it. More than that though, it is pegged as the graphic novel to read if you’ve never read one before so I figured I should read it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to read it before seeing the movie, but that’s okay. There has been differing opinions about the movie versus the book, but I thought both were equally good. The graphic novel has a certain appeal to graphic novel readers and the movie has a certain appeal to movie-goers. I found the story in the movie did not change a whole lot from the graphic novel and in that regards it was well made and Allen Moore should be happy that the movie didn’t change the story too much. (Yes, I have heard of his comment that if he wanted Watchmen to be a movie he would have written it as a screenplay and not as a graphic novel (or something to that effect), but he didn’t so whatever… he should stop grumbling because now he’s making even more money having movies made and having new people introduced to his graphic novels. Consider the movies to be marketing for the graphic novels.) In any case, I recommend reading and watching Watchmen. Although I am not particularly fond of the ending of the story, I think the story makes some very good points about society. The story is most definitely a commentary on our society, the nature of humans, and why we want to believe in superheroes so much.

Fallen Angel is another graphic novel series that I particularly like. The series was first published by DC comics. DC published 20 issues of the series, then the series was moved to IDW comics. The IDW run is complete now at 33 issues. The story will continue in July as Fallen Angel: Reborn. It will guest star a favourite character from the Buffyverse – Illyria! If you’re a Buffy/Angel fan like I am, you won’t want to miss a story involving both Fallen Angel and Illyria.

30 Days of Night is an interesting graphic novel series. The first volume has an interesting storyline and a movie was made based on the first volume. If you haven’t seen the movie, you might want to check it out. It’s a little fantastical, a little violent, and a little “ew… gross!”, but it’s a vampire story. The vampires have decided to take over Barrow, Alaska since the town experiences polar night. In the story, the sun does not rise for 30 days (in the real Barrow, Alaska the sun does not rise for 67 days, according to Wikipedia). When the sun sets, chaos ensues (of course!) and people are trying to survive the 30 days of night while the vampires roam the town. Dark Days is the continuation of the story and the Annual 2004 has some short stories and introduces the character Agent Norris who is part of the 30 Days of Night: Rumours of the Undead novel, which I am planning on reading.

I am rather enjoying the Star Wars omnibus graphic novels. Rise of the Sith takes place just before The Phantom Menace. The Darth Maul story is particularly violent, but I find it amusing that in graphic novels they can sometimes make you like an “evil” character. There are two stories of Qui-Gon and Obi-wan as well as a short story about a female bounty hunter. The story, “Jedi Council: Acts of War” is my favourite story in this collection.

Ah.. Spike! What girl can resist the charms of Spike? Not even Buffy could, given some time. Spike: After the Fall tells the story of what happened to Spike immediately after the last episode of Angel. Angel: After the Fall (volume 3) is out now and continues the story from volume 1. According to IDW Publishing, both Spike: After the Fall and Angel: After the Fall graphic novels have made the New York Times best-seller lists. 😀

Here are the novels I’ve read recently:

The Fall of Atlantis by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin
Star Wars – Heir to the Empire (book one of the Thrawn Trilogy) by Timothy Zahn
The World Wreckers by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Web of the Witch World by Andre Norton

Bradley once again has created some memorable characters in The Fall of Atlantis and an intriguing story. It is a novel worth reading.

The Tombs of Atuan is the second novel of Earthsea and I was particularly amused by Tenar. This was quite an amusing story.

Star Wars – Heir to the Empire is the first real Star Wars novel. It is the first novel in The Thrawn Trilogy, and it captures the essence of the original Star Wars trilogy. I found I did not want to put the book down because there was action and adventure one after the next, what I always loved about the Star Wars movies.

Ah… Darkover. I finally got to go back to Bradley’s Darkover novels. I really like these novels. There is a certain hm… “je ne sais quoi” about them. I think it might be because they have the same action and adventure feel as Star Wars, but there is also an overall sense of intellectual questioning in the stories. I particularly liked The World Wreckers. Although at the simplest the story is about saving the planet Darkover from destruction (so that others may sweep in and rebuild it for “planetary investment”), Bradley manages to weave a complex tale involving at least seven characters who turn out to be fundamental in saving Darkover.

I found I enjoyed the second novel of Witch World, Web of the Witch World, more so than the first. I think this might be simply because the story picked up pretty fast, but I suppose if you didn’t read Witch World you might not understand fully what was happening in this novel. I think it will be interesting to see how Norton opens up the world she created.

I finally finished reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. A brilliant read and much more philosophical than it would seem to the casual peruser. Ah… I still love astronomy. At one time, astronomy and astrology were considered to be the same, astrology being a more difficult study as it involved interpreting what you see in the skies. I do think I am akin to the classical astrologers, such as William Lilly. After I finished reading A Brief History of Time, I studied some astrology, as I find myself doing every so often. I am still making my way through William Lilly’s Christian Astrology. It’s hard to read that book without wanting to have your natal chart in front of you so you can compare it to what Lilly is writing about.

Following is a list of books that I’ve started reading:
30 Days of Night – Rumours of the Undead by Steve Miles and Jeff Mariotte
A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton
A Clash of Kings (book two of A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin
Winter’s Heart (book nine of The Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (as of today, I am on part two of book two, page 384)
Gormenghast (the sequel to Titus Groan) by Mervyn Peake
Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Always Coming Home by Ursula K. LeGuin

I’ve decided to put these three books aside for now – for various reasons:
Dawnthief (book one of Chronicles of the Raven) by James Barclay
Running with the Demon (book one of The Word and the Void) by Terry Brooks
The Sum of All Men (book one of Runelords) by David Farland

~~~C