Wednesday, November 25, 2009

*Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle ........

The weather is heating up again - currently 33 degrees at 3pm.

You can tell I'm stuck at home - three posts in 3 days!!!

I have just completed my second 10 minute session on my bike, having completed the first 10 minutes this morning. Also, started an upper body circuit session using body weight or medicine ball - managed one circuit this morning. It was a little cumbersome at times moving from one exercise to the next but I managed it without any discomfort.

Watched Masterchef last night - it was hilarious! It was the return and revenge of the croquembouche. You had to feel for poor Alex Lloyd as he tried to construct a croquembouche but it was still bloody funny! His 'creation' that he presented to the judges was priceless but hey, he gave it a go. To stuff up so badly on national TV - for some people their ego just wouldn't allow them to even try something so far out of their comfort zone or to continue when they knew things were going so badly (and there a couple of times when Alex almost walked out). So good on him for trying - I don't think I'd like to recreate the croquembouche. At least not with everyone watching!

Tonight is the final. Who will be Australia's first Celebrity Masterchef - the model (Rachel), the swimmer (Eamon) or the musician (Kirk)? My money is on Rachel but then I've never been very good at picking winners.

*Lyrics from "Bicycle Race" - a single by the rock band Queen. It was released on their 1978 album Jazz and written by Queen's frontman Freddie Mercury. The song is unusual for a Queen single in that it shows off the band's humorous side. Among other comic moments it has a middle eight which features bicycle bells. Fans would often replicate this at Queen concerts with their own such bells.

To release this song Queen staged a bicycle race with 65 naked women. The video was originally banned and subsequently re-edited with added special effects to censor the offensive imagery.

It was released as a Double-A side with the song "Fat Bottomed Girls". A crudely retouched photograph of a naked cyclist from the bicycle race was used for the single cover (now sporting a bikini bottom) (Wikipedia).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

*Down, up pedals, down, up, down.....

Yes, another day sitting on my bike pedalling away for 10 minutes but I swear the RPMs were a little faster! Then I faithfully did the other exercises as explained to me by the physio at the hospital. Its probably the first time that I have had the time and the patience to do as I'm told, when it comes to physio-prescribed exercises (tho' don't tell Craig!).

I had a surprise visit from Roy this morning, which was nice. I got to see his medals from the Olympic Dream 10km race which was on in Melbourne last Sunday. This year it was the Kerryn McCann medal.

Aside from that, I've not been up to much - there's been no further cruising of the Mall on crutches and that dress! (well, not since Sunday anyway but that was with my partner in crime). I've been eating healthily - lots of protein and omega 3s, drinking lots of water, chocolate. I think I'm paying for my chocolate (over) indulgence from last week! And playing with my iPhone - its the best little multifunctional toy I've had and I love it!

Uh oh, time to go, my favourite show is on - Masterchef! And they have to make Croquembouche (I have no idea how to spell it). Burnt fingers coming up for sure.

And ihatetoast - Team Edward, Team Jacob..meh...give me George Clooney any day!!!

*From the lyrics of the "The Pushbike Song" - a popular Australian song originally recorded by The Mixtures, a Melbourne band that formed in 1965. Written by brothers Idris and Evan Jones, "The Pushbike Song" was released in 1970 and reached the top-spot for two weeks in the Australian charts in March 1971. It also proved popular in the UK, reaching the number two spot on 16 January (beaten by George Harrison's My Sweet Lord), and number 31 in Canada. (Wikipedia)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baby steps

It's been a week today since the arthroscopic procedure in my left hip where the surgeon did a labral repair. I'm moving ok and only require crutches for longer distances such as shopping at the Mall. And even then I'm hoping to give crutches the boot - bloody uncomfortable things they are. About the only benefit is the attention you get as you try to manoeuvre around the shops, as Strewth can attest to!

Anyway this morning I sat and pedalled slowly on my (stationary) bike for 10 mins. Zero resistance I might add but hey it's progress! I have to confess my bike looks very neglected - dusty, cobwebby and just plain unloved. It's been longer than I care to admit since I've ridden my bike. So I plan to build on my cycling and eventually also get mobile, as in cycling on cycle paths.

Tomorrow week I have an appointment with the surgeon in Melbourne. This is 'crunch time' - when he shows me evidence of damage and his prognosis. He did comment last week that maybe I should pursue a new fitness a cyclist. Was he joking? I'll find out next week.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The deed is done

As I write this I am sitting back in bed watching Ellen on TV. Daytime tv has a lot to answer for. I now know about twi-hards and that Bella and Edward are the new 'hot' names and that New Moon is sending million of females world wide into a frenzy........apparently.

I had the arthroscopy Monday afternoon and was allowed home Tuesday afternoon armed with my 'really useful' crutches. Rehab has included quantities of dark choc and Magnum icecreams. Along with panadol, feldene and endone......

I have some pain and swelling but hopefully this will get better over the following days. Once the pain and swelling have gone then I can ditch the crutches.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sunday snippets

I have been looking for crutches for the pending arthroscopy (8 sleeps and counting) and so went to the chemist at the Mall on Saturday to enquire about hiring a pair.

"We don't hire crutches - we sell them" replied the bright young assistant when I enquired.

"Why on earth would I want to buy crutches?" I asked, bemused.

The look she gave me suggested I must've suddenly grown two heads. "They're useful items to own" was her response. "...and anyway," she continued, "after about 6 weeks its cheaper to buy them than hire them".

I could've said that I hadn't planned on using them for 6 weeks but I realised it was futile to continue the conversation so I left, pondering the usefulness of crutches. To think I have managed 48 years without a pair of crutches - what have I missed?!

Today we went to another chemist, in Florey, where I could hire crutches for as long or as little as I wanted, at minimal cost. So now these 'useful' items are propped up against the bedroom wall for the trip to Melbourne next weekend.

Useful things to do with crutches

#1: Stool made from bike parts and crutches

Take a few metal crutches, a couple of bicycle wheels and inner tubes, and a few bolts along with some insulation and a piece of plywood and you have the makings for a stool. An adjustable height stool. (Acknowledgments to Ryan McFarland -
Do real men eat tofu?

In our house, certain people (of the male species) turn up their nose at tofu - they consider it the domain of tree loving, sandal wearing, hippy types who listen to Enya and whale music whereas they (apparently 'real men') eat meat - the beefier the better. So should I tell Mr CJ that the dessert he enjoyed last night was Tofu Chocolate Mousse? Nah, what he doesn't know won't hurt him!
Synch or sing.........

A fan who has tickets to Britney's Sydney concert prefers the lip synching: "I'd probably be disappointed if she was singing because I know she doesn't have a great voice," she said. "So, I'd rather that she didn't sing." Come again?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Me, Myself and i (phone)

Yesterday I bought myself an iPhone. As you know, I love technology and this is my latest toy! And what a toy it is! I've set up my calendar, downloaded music and videos, organised photos, searched applications for anything remotely useful, kept tabs on my email, compiled a shopping list from recipes I've chosen, logged my daily food intake and exercise and sent text messages. You know the one thing I haven't done? I haven't made or received a phone call yet!!!

Had an appointment with my sports doc yesterday after having an ultrasound scan the week before on my right hamstring. I now have to have an x-ray of the area as the pain has flared up despite the cortisone injection. The weakness and pain has greatly increased. Best case scenario: I have a fracture of the ischial turberosity. However, if the xray does not show a fracture sports doc is recommending an MRI. Worse case scenario: the tendinopathy is so bad that surgical repair is recommended. The scan images are inconclusive - she can't tell if there is a fracture or if its thickening and inflammation of the tendon (which has increased since the last scan).

Briefly the surgery involves: first cutting the lower edge of the gluteus maximus (buttock) muscle. This allowed the surgeon to get down to the level of the hamstring tendon attachment to the ischial tuberosity. The portion of the hamstring muscle referred to as the semimembranosus tendon is then cut about three to four centimeters away from its insertion point on the tuberosity. This procedure is called a tenotomy.

The cut tendon and muscle are allowed to retract (pull back) away from the tuberosity. Then the surgeon reattaches the tendon with sutures (stitches) to another part of the hamstring muscle (to the biceps femoris tendon). This is a way to shield the affected tendon from ongoing mechanical stress. The goal is to give the semimembranosus a chance to heal by protecting it from overuse.

Sounds like fun. Ok, so fingers crossed its a fracture. I will be running again by January.

Today it was a weights session in the Play Pen - my name for the area of the gym which has the big boys toys - the heavy duty weights machines. Its where I usually get a workout just setting up my machine because I generally have to remove several 20kg plates before putting on my 5kg plates! There were not too many in the play pen today so I managed to get my session done pretty quickly before moving on to doing abs/core exercises and then finishing with 20mins cardio on my fave machine - the crosstrainer! I am so looking forward to the day I can run outdoors in the changing scenery.

What is that?


This is the loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs with aging. People who remain inactive tend to lose about 0.5% of muscle mass every year and the muscle mass that is being lost is being replaced by fat cells in the body.

Men and women attain their highest strength levels between 20 and 40 years of age.

Around 45 years of age muscle mass begins to decline by around 15% every year and by the time a person is 70-80 years old, muscle loss increases to around 30%. This reduces strength so activities such as taking walks, climbing stairs and other normal routine chores become difficult and are then avoided, which further increases weakness. This increases risks of falls and the chance of injury.

Loss of muscle mass occurs more in physically inactive people than in active people. Sarcopenia can also be due to reduced hormone levels as we age, and in women, the fall in oestrogen levels after menopause also contribute to sarcopenia. Poor nutrition is also a contributing factor.

Less muscle mass means a slower metabolism which means unless there is a reduced caloric intake, there will be weight gain, generally known as the 'middle age spread'.

"If you don't use it, you lose it".

Weight training forces your body to build muscle. This muscle building process does not happen while you are lifting weights, it occurs for hours after your workout is over. Lifting weights actually breaks down muscle fibers, which react by getting stronger during the time after your workout is over when you are resting. It takes energy to rebuild these muscles. Calories, lots and lots of calories. Not only that, but the more lean muscle mass you posses the more calories are needed just to maintain that muscle. And we’re not talking about getting huge massive muscles. When you weight train you can adjust the amount of weight you use and sculpt your body anyway you see fit. Just firming up your overall musculature will tone and shape your body while at the same time making it possible to keep the weight off. It’s a win-win situation for anyone who is serious about losing weight and then keeping it off.

Weight training is the best way to boost your metabolism to its fat burning heights. Not only does it strengthen your body it burns calories while you are sleeping, turning your metabolism into a fat wasting machine.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Your time starts now…….

(with apologies to Masterchef)

Gary: The workout today is a tough one, designed to challenge you to your core, to push your boundaries, test your endurance and fire up those muscles until they burn. Do you think you are up to the challenge?
Matt giving 'that' stare' down his nose: You will be up against the clock and you will have 20mins to complete the workout. Are you ready for this?
George, punching a fist into an open hand: we're looking for passion and energy and fire in the belly. Serve that up to us and we'll be very happy.

(CJ to camera: the workout today is a challenging one - its on the crosstrainer, aka the elliptical trainer. The workout includes a 2 min warm up and then I have to increase resistance to L8, go hard for 2 mins and then increase resistance again to L12 for one minute. I have to do this 6 times. So yeah I'm a little apprehensive, given I've done weights workouts on consecutive days and Xena caned me in yesterday's session).

Gary: your time starts…….now! (doing chopping action with hands)

The legs are a little slow to start - they're feeling heavy and sore from the weights session yesterday, and this is only the warm up. Pump up the music, I'm going to need it. Watch the people below in the pool to take my mind of the awfulness of how I'm feeling. Ok, warm up finished - up the resistance and go hell for leather…………what's with the air con, or rather the lack of it?……… it time yet? (glance at monitor - still have 45 seconds to go on first interval)…….ok, up the resistance to 12……….now it feels like striding through mud…..or glue……..back to L8…...funny, its not feeling so bad at this level now…..

(Camera pans to clock: 15 minutes to go)

Gary and George wander over for a chat: so tell us what you're doing.

Well, I've completed one interval session and starting my second. As you know, I have 6 interval sessions to complete in 20 minutes.

Gary and George, look at each other with a raised eyebrow: So you don't think you have bitten off more than you can handle? You'll want to make sure your technique doesn't falter or your pace slow down. Good luck!

(CJ to camera, looking a little hot and sweaty now with a rosy glow starting to emerge: both Gary and George wandered over to see how I was going. It was something I didn't need at that point - I was trying to stay focused on the job. I think I'll be able to finish the session in the time frame but I'm hoping my pace won't drop off or that I'll tire too much. We'll see…..That clock is really distracting)

More than halfway through the session now - feeling pretty good. The pace has picked up and the legs are feeling strong. Its hot but that's to be expected, given the resistance and intensity. The music is rocking, that always helps. Must remember to drink. Grab the towel, mop up the sweat pouring down my face.

(Camera pans to clock - 3 mins to go)

Gary, looking up at the clock: Okay, watch the pace - you have three minutes to go, chop chop! (he always states the bloody obvious).

Now I'm definitely feeling hot under the collar - will the legs maintain the pace?, is it possible to put in more effort?, will I be able to finish it the way I started? (well actually better, I hope. I do recall a slow start)

George: 1 minute to go - you should be thinking about finishing up

Last minute at L12 - resistance seems to have got harder but pushing through the pain barrier. But I think I can do this - I just need to hold it together a little longer.

Matt: Time's up! Step away from the machine. Your workout has finished.

And the verdict?

I'm Queen of Cardio! (punch air with fist) Another session completed…..and obviously I have way too much to think about while doing my workout on the crosstrainer!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


This morning was my weekly session with the PT who shall be known as Xena (as in Warrior Princess, because she can kick arse and holds world records in her weight grade for powerlifting). I made the mistake of mentioning that I was in the gym yesterday doing a weights session. Uh oh, bad mistake given the look I was getting ie the death glare. Seems I had broken one of her cardinal rules, "Thou shalt not do a weights session the day before her session". Ouch! No amount of justifying on my part (eg that it was a holiday so I would have time to do the session without being rushed, etc) was going to change her mind on this and by the end of the session I was going to regret even mentioning yesterday's session.

First off, deadlifts. Easy, I thought, as I squatted down, grabbed the bar, chest out, head up and….oh my god, where are my thighs? My quads, glutes and hammies were in revolt after yesterday's session of squats, lunges and one legged leg presses. And it didn't get any better. And there was no sympathy to be had from PT Xena. Though, thankfully she decided against any further leg work and focused instead on upper body sets. I sweated, grunted and gritted (not painting a pretty picture I know) my way through supersets of chest presses, shoulder presses, lat pulldowns, an exercise involving lifting, extending and lowering a weight plate, pec deck flys, trips pushdowns and biceps curls. And last but not least, decline reverse crunches and incline crunches with a weight plate. By the end I had problems even clutching my drink bottle - I had dead arms. Hey, at least I know I am alive!

Did you know?

Now, depending on who you talk to, or what you read, late night eating either leads to weight gain, has no effect on our weight or is dependent on the types of food you eat eg no carbs after 6pm, having a protein and carb snack will promote sleep, calories from chocolate bars after 8pm don't count if you're standing in the pantry (alright, I made that one up) etc. Following is an interesting item about meal timing and weight gain in the November issue of GI news, the Official Glycaemic Index newsletter published by GI News, Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sydney.

Meal timing and weight gain
A new study published in 'Obesity' (in mice) suggests that it’s not just how much you eat, but when you eat it, that influences weight gain. ‘How or why a person gains weight is very complicated, but it clearly is not just calories in and calories out,’ said Prof Fred Turek, director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology at Northwestern University. ‘We think some factors are under circadian control. Better timing of meals … could be a critical element in slowing the ever-increasing incidence of obesity.’

To test whether ‘when you eat’ can affect body weight, the researchers studied two groups of mice and found simply modifying their feeding time alone greatly affected their body weight. Over the six-week study period, the group of mice that ate as much as they liked of a high-fat diet during their normal sleeping hours (our day time) gained significantly more weight than the mice eating the same type and amount of food during their naturally wakeful hours (our night time) although both groups of mice had actually consumed about the same amount of calories and performed the same amount of exercise over the six weeks.

Of course human studies are needed to determine if timing of food intake influences our body weight, but this study suggests that late-night eating may be worse, in terms of weight gain, than eating during normal waking hours says Fred Turek.

GI Group says: This study, while only in mice, may also have implications for shift workers.

CJ says: If you don't want overweight mice, don't feed them late at night!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


...has won the 2009 Emirates Melbourne Cup. You know, the race that stops the nation? My money, if I'd placed a bet, was on Alcopop so its probably a good thing I didn't place a bet! Got a text from son #3 to say that he was at the Melbourne Cup - that there were lots of people, the weather was kind of ok, and that no, he hadn't placed a bet. Being in the ACT, we have the day off - its Family and Community Day. This means we can gather together as a family, around the TV, at a club, ACTTAB or at one of many functions to watch the race on the big screen. Nothing like quality family time!!!! However, this year is the last year that we will be having a day off for the Melbourne Cup. Next year apparently the public holiday is being moved to Monday 27 September. In a way I don't mind that we won't be holidaying next Melbourne Cup day because its more fun to joining in the festivities at work - participating in the office sweeps, watching the 'fashions on the field', sharing a slap up afternoon tea (or very late lunch) and then watching the Cup with work colleagues.

Exercise-wise, I went to RPM class last night after work. It was hot, sweaty and hard work and I was really glad when the hour was up. I was lacking a lot of strength in my dodgy hip which meant the resistance I was using was really pathetic, but it was still hard work. We have brand spanking new spin bikes - they're so cool. Each bike has a monitor that shows RPM, watts, time, distance and gear used. I think its also shows calories burned but as this is not calibrated to the user's weight and height but is based on averages - someone who weighs about 65 - 70kg, it's not relevant to me. Besides I know I'm burning up the calories!

This morning I hit the weights - umpteen squats and lunges and one legged leg press that leave the legs like jelly - wobbly. Leg exercises I can do as tolerated so it really varies from week to week what I can do. Next came supersets of assisted pull ups, incline chest press and dips. Man this is hard work and with no air conditioning to speak of, it was hot, hot, hot too. I backed up with supersets of lat pulldowns, barbell curls and chest press using a weighted bar. I had to change the pull-down attachment on the lat pulldown machine which had me almost swinging in the air trying to change the damn thing - they are not designed for height challenged people. Fortunately some guy came to my rescue and did it for me before I did something really embarassing, like fall off the seat. Now that's a thought - so far I haven't done a CJ at the gym! (touch wood)

Finally I finished off with some core exercises (yes Craig, I am doing them) and then 20 mins of intervals on the cross trainer. By the time I left the complex I looked like I'd been swimming!