Mixed Tape Monday; overcoming resistance, finding a manageable life, and density training

"They call it Stormy Monday, but Tuesday's just as bad. Wednesday's worse...and Thursday's also sad..."

Ok, it's not exactly stormy Monday. (By the way, if you've never heard the version of Stormy Monday by Eva Cassidy, look it up.)

I don't know about the rest of you, but five hours into sitting at my desk and I'm torn between wanting to take a nap, and running into coworkers' offices singing the Monkee's theme song.

Sitting. Makes. Me. Stir. Crazy. Or just crazy. Anywho, a few thoughts as we get the week cracking.

Overcoming resistance 

My personal library includes the complete Sherlock Holmes collection, every book, including two signed copies, ever written by David Sedaris, and the as many artist self-help books I could find in the last 15 years.

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(With the exception of the Artist’s Way, which I had, but a cat peed on it...I took it as a sign on multiple levels.)

My current effort to free the artist within is being guided by Steven Pressfield’s "War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle." Much like a bad line from a Tom Cruise movie (bonus if you can name it), he basically had me at hello. The first chapter begins:

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.”

It's like he's been sitting in my living rooms these past 15 years. Sure the book is about discovering your inner artist, but mostly, it's about overcoming resistance. And nowhere is that battle more evident than every time you show up for a workout. I don't care if you train for a living, train for a marathon, or train for a weekend of wings and beer, sometimes the hardest part about a workout is just showing up.

Put on your shoes. Put your gym bag on the front seat of your car. Commit to at least half of the workout today. Commit to 30 minutes. Find a way to get yourself started. Because once you do, as Pressfield hammers home, then you have conquered resistance for that day. Boom.

A manageable life

As is often the case, I have several books going on at once. In “Waking Up to Your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention,” author Ken McLeod describes a manageable life as “one in which you can breathe.”

Sigh. Sounds good right?

When I was in college I used to say yes to everything. I joined a sorority (long story), played lacrosse, worked on the newspaper, worked at the writing center and pretty much said yes to everything. I haven't always been much better in my post college years either, often finding myself overcommitted to any number of things.  

How can you even consider taking on a new workout routine if you're brushing your teeth while putting on your shoes and shaving your legs and walking the dog all at the same time? (More importantly, if you can do all of these things and actually not miss any spots on your legs, tell me your secret. I can't do it even when I'm single tasking with a spotlight and magnifying glass on my legs...) 

He talks about the manageable life in terms of meditation. If you can’t find time to meditate, do you have a manageable life? Are there things you can cut out to devote a little more time to yourself? If you’re having difficulty finding time to exercise…do you have a manageable life?  

I certainly can't say that I necessarily have a manageable life, but I appreciated the concept and hope you might too.

Density workout

These types of workouts are of a similar style to the metabolic circuits I talked about a few weeks ago, and which a friend has recently dubbed the "Kim Lloyd is trying to kill me workouts." Unlike the metabolic circuits, where you do a certain number of reps for five exercises, a density circuit challenges you to fit as much volume as possible into a certain time frame. (Volume is your total workload, or how many sets and reps you perform in a given workout.) So in the metabolic circuit, you'll do five sets of ten pushups, for a total of 50 pushups. But for a density workout, you'll set a timer for 15 minutes and do as many reps as possible before the timer goes off. Make sense? I'll explain.

I like density workouts if I'm pressed for time but still want to get in a full body circuit.  I first used these routines as part of John Romaniello's Fat Loss Forever program a few years ago. The concept is simple but brutal. 

Take a series of exercises, in this case, we'll start with two:

A1. Renegade Rows - 5 reps
A2. Dumbbell push presses - 5 reps

Set a timer for 15 minutes (or five minutes if you're just starting out), and do as many sets of five as possible, alternating between the two exercises. Rest for 3-5 minutes, and move on to the second set.

B1. Goblet squats
B2. Dumbbell romanian deadlifts

Choose a weight that's on the lighter side, because at the end of 15 minutes, your muscles will be screaming. I use 10-12 pounds for the upper body workout and 15-20 for the lower body circuit. Track your sets, and the next time you do the circuit, try to fit more sets in to the same time. 

There are a number of variations of density training; I happened to steal the one above from Born Fitness and if you click on that link, you'll also see that he has a a bodyweight workout. As with most subjects, this one deserves a full length post in the near future.