Monthly Archives: July 2013

Hiking

This sign scared us.

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Um, where is the ice going to fall from?  Should we be scared, like right now?  Should I not look up?

This sign was outside the mountainside condo that we were considering renting.  As there was no sign indicating that ice would fall on us outside of the ancient baby carriage factory, that is where we will live.

“What has Chris been eating while you guys have been driving all over central MA checking out apartments and gyms?” -you say.  I’m glad you asked.

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Yogurt in the car outside one possible residence

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Yogurt in the car outside a possible gym

The yogurt, protein bar, and almond-filled cooler comes everywhere with us.

Today we went hiking. “We” means Chris, Lindy, and Cooler.

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Rambo style!.

Hiking was rough for Chris.  He had promised me we’d go hiking today and I think he really did think he wanted to hike when we left this morning.  Unfortunately, his body fiercely rebelled against doing extra physical work in its calorie deprived and exhausted-from-squatting-last-night state.  And the hilliness, rockiness, and unevenness of the trails we were on didn’t help things.

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Carry me?

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“I am so tired that I just plopped down on this rock.  Is there a beautiful view just behind me?  There is?  I don’t care. Too exhausted to turn around.” -Chris

The man is considering joining a gym that looks like this:

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Is this “Bad Ass” or “Terrifying?”

But walking through the woods is too much.

I mock him lovingly.  I do understand his situation.  He always works his butt off in the gym; he never deviates from his diet plan; he doesn’t sleep very much, and he is so lean right now that veins stick out all over him.  In this state, hiking would be a bit harder than normal I suppose…  So why does Chris agree to do things like this with me, knowing the activity will decimate him?  Well, 1) because he enjoys pushing limits (remember Durkin) and 2) because he loves me and has told me repeatedly that he doesn’t want his contest prep to get in the way of us having fun together.

Chris, you’re pretty awesome.

 

 

The Journey: So Much Yogurt

We made it.  I am writing this from our new home:  a hotel in Westborough, Massachusetts.  We’ve been busy.

Last Saturday, we dumped everything we own into a UHaul.  It is so good that Chris is strong.

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Extra large UHaul box that Lindy can’t even lift needs to be carried out?  No problem for muscle man.

Like really, those muscles aren’t just for show.

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“Oh, the dresser needs to be moved? Let me just pick up the whole thing myself, while it is still packed with clothes, and carry it outside.  Yeah, I wear my sunglasses indoors.” – Chris

I was totally impressed by Chris’s moving skills.  Not only was he able to manhandle dressers and hefty boxes but, in a grand feat of mental tetris, he perfectly fit all our stuff into the UHaul.

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The UHaul Tetris champion

Sunday morning, Chris awoke at 5 am, bright eyed and bushy tailed.  Sunday morning, I awoke at 6 am, groaning, as this was still one hour prior to our agreed upon waking time, but Chris had returned caffeinated from McDonalds and was joyfully bustling about the apartment.

After returning our friend Jeremy’s air mattress, we were on the road by 7:45 am, me in my Corolla and Chris in the perfectly packed UHaul, for what was supposed to be an 8 hour drive to my parents’ house in St. Louis.  We hit a torrential rainstorm around Tulsa, the city with highways perpetually under construction, and had to drive turtle-like because we couldn’t see the road and there was absolutely nowhere to pull off.  This was the least fun driving of the entire trip.

Chris’s plan for the trip was to eat large amounts of Fage Greek yogurt.  Large amounts.  As in, four tubs a day dispersed throughout his first four meals of the day.  The last meal of the day was supposed to be several Pure Protein bars.  He had made this plan a few weeks ago and figured this was the easiest way to hit his macros while traveling.

When we were finally able to pull over, after Torrential Tulsa, at the first rest stop in Missouri, Chris breathlessly informed me that 1) at this moment he would pay $10,000 for movers to come and drive the UHual for him through the super narrow construction lanes and never-ending torrential downpour and 2) he had gotten so hungry during the downpour that he had deviated from the plan and consumed protein bars instead of yogurt as yogurt would have required pulling over to eat and, as stated previously, we were unable to pull over.  Stupid Torrential Tulsa.

We made it to my parents house that night in 9 hours.  Chris sprinted and I repeatedly ran at my “fast” speed up a hill near their house for our workouts.  For dinner that night, my mom made tacos.  Chris enjoyed the Greek yogurt.  (And almonds.)

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Does his putting the yogurt on a normal dinner plate make this less or more weird of him?  Also, what a fine drinking glass the gentleman dines with!

Monday, after a firm discussion Sunday night, Chris awoke very quietly at 6 am while I slept peacefully until 7 am.  On this, day two of our journey, we drove 13 hours to Durkin, New York.  Although it rained most the day, it wasn’t Torrential Tulsa so it was much less stressful and everyone was able to eat their yogurt…while sitting in their UHauls…at gas stations.

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This is probably what all the other truckers were eating.  Fage (pronounced “Fa-hay” I believe) is really all they sell in truck stops these days….

Our goal that day was to make it to Erie, PA.  However, Chris is a limit pusher.  So of course, if our goal was to make it to Erie, PA, we were not going to spend that night in Erie, PA (never mind that there were 8 different nice looking hotels right off the highway to choose from and it was still light out as we drove through Erie, PA). We were tougher than those wusses needing to stop at Erie, PA.  We were going to push past Erie, PA…into the abyss.

The abyss turned out to be Durkin -located one hour of dark, windy, deer-infested road past Erie and giving us the joy of paying $20 of New York hotel taxes.  But we beat our goal.  Erie, PA was like competing at 6% body fat but with Durkin, we were at 3%!  You won Chris! ……

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A full-size cooler and a sidekick cooler were brought inside each night.

On Tuesday, Chris allowed me to sleep what he claimed was a bit more although it didn’t really count because we had just crossed over into the Eastern time zone and I had announced before bed that, since it was just us keeping a schedule with each other, we didn’t have to act like we were on Eastern time yet and we could still pretend we were on central time; I could sleep more if we didn’t switch over! But he disregarded my logical wishes and woke me up.  Which brings me to something that needs to be discussed:  Chris always needs about 30 minutes less sleep than I do, but when he’s dieting, he needs much less sleep.  We have spent hours hypothesizing reasons for the diet-induced sleep reductions and there is no clear answer other than that many physiological changes (hormonal, cardiovascular, body compositional, etc.) are clearly occurring and these influence sleep.  Anyway, his lack of needing sleep is probably my least favorite part of the whole contest prep thing.  I suppose I’ll survive.  He did carry the dressers.

Tuesday afternoon we drove through beautiful parts of New York and Massachusetts and around 5:30 pm arrived at our current hotel home.

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Our hotel kitchen packed with bodybuilder food

The first thing we did after getting to the hotel was to find a grocery store where Chris bought foods other than yogurt.  He only ate four tubs of it a day for 3 full days…why did he need something different?

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Yogurt cooler (those are all 2 serving tubs).

We went to a Gold’s gym affiliated with our hotel after the grocery store Tuesday night.  We did not go to the pre-selected Worcester gym that Chris had been excited about because we could not bear the idea of driving much and, well, because the Gold’s was free.

Wednesday and today we’ve been apartment hunting.  There were some anguished moments where we decided we should just go back to Oklahoma and commute each day by airplane, but tonight we’ve got it narrowed down to two good choices:  an ancient baby carriage factory (renovated, fortunately) with a short commute or a condo on a mountainside with a longer commute.  The ancient baby carriage factory is farther from fun things but closer to work and the mountainside condo is farther from work but closer to fun things.  The mountainside condo is also close to the gym that Chris was initially excited about.  Also, it’s not really on a mountainside; it’s just partway up one of the steepest hills I have ever seen in my life (scared-my-car-might-go-vertical-and-flip-over-backwards steep).

We’ve also been gym hunting.  In the last two days, we’ve visited eight apartments and five gyms.  (If we live in the ancient baby carriage factory, the gym Chris found online will be too far away).  It does look like the gym situation will work out too.

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Chris on Wednesday morning wondering if we should just commute to work by airplane from Oklahoma and give up the apartment hunting

In other news, Chris’s weight is down to 199 lbs and he’s looking leaner.  Despite the stress of living in a hotel and deciding big things like where we’ll live and what gym we’ll go to, he’s doing well. During previous contest preps, when things started getting intense, Chris’s robotic instincts increased and his sense of humor decreased.  Fortunately, right now, his sense of humor is fully intact.  Today we were being shown an apartment in what the realtor promised us was a “nice area;” when we left the showing and were alone in my car, Chris could barely keep it together.  I asked why he was laughing and he told me, “I’m about 95% sure I just saw a drug deal go down on the corner from the window of the “nice area” apartment we were just shown.”  When I asked how he knew, he described the body language he saw, and confidently told me, “I’ve watched a lot of Nat Geo drug busts and I’m pretty sure that’s how these things go down.”  Later we saw an intact toilet sitting on the balcony of another “nice” apartment we were being shown.  Chris also laughed at this.

Life with my bodybuilder, even in a hotel far away from the familiar, is good.

The Gym Comes First in a Cross-Country Move

This Sunday we leave Oklahoma to move to Massachusetts.

Chris (still in Florida) called last night to let me know that he has called a gym in central Massachusetts and has confirmed that both the joining fee and the monthly membership fee listed on their website are accurate.

We do not have an apartment yet in central Massachusetts.

We do not know what city we will live in, only that it will be in central Massachusetts.

We do not know what hotel we will stay at while we search for apartments in central Massachusetts.

However, now, we DO have a gym in central Massachusetts.

I’m so glad everything is settled.

In all honesty, I love that Chris looked into the gym situation already.  Both of us get cranky when we don’t get our workouts in, so, even if we don’t commit to this gym forever, it’s nice to know it’ll be there waiting for us after we’re cramped and achy from driving for 3 days across the country.  I also feel relieved that the rates are not astronomical.  After living in the midwest my whole life, I’ve been assuming that everything in the northeast will cost more than I can even imagine (online comparative cost of living calculators are terrifying when you’re moving from Oklahoma to Massachusetts) so it’s a big relief that gym fees appear reasonable.

Aside from not being able to afford life, another concern we have of central Massachusetts is just how cold is it going to get.  I know it gets very cold, but how cold is very cold? (Yes we’ve looked it up online but what will it feel like and what will we need to do differently in daily life?)  When I tell Oklahomans that I am moving to Massachusetts, the standard response is, “Wow.  It’s cold there,” followed by some good wishes for us to find a sturdy igloo and some nice sled dogs and to mind we don’t mess with the polar bears.

Supporting the igloo / sled-dog / polar bear possibility are the following findings I have made after extensively examining way too many apartments on the central Massachusetts section of Craig’s List:

1)  Most apartments listed have window unit AC.  Everyone knows window unit AC is poop.  Is window unit AC alright in central MA because no one actually turns on their AC?  (Or maybe it’s mandated by the polar bears?)

2)  The apartments appear to utilize an entirely different heating system than any I have ever seen in the midwest.  On Craig’s List, there is talk of “forced water” and “oil not included in rent” and there are pictures of humongous floor vents (will my feet soon be covered in floor vent burns?) and long covered rectangular boxes near to the floor that I assume are heat emitting devices.  How cold is it that they need an otherworldly heating system of water forced into rectangular boxes by oil spewing from floor vents (because I assume that’s how the system all fits together) to handle it?  Do polar bears come up through the floor vents?

The cost of living calculator says we can’t afford polar bear protection…

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens…

To conclude, here are some things Chris has eaten this week (photos courtesy of his mom again):

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Oatmeal, eggs, and coffee

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Looks like normal-person casual cocktail sauce but Chris knows the weight in grams of that condiment

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Greek yogurt and almonds

Only a matter of time until the restaurants catch on to this delightful combo

 

 

 

 

Hypoglycemia and Candles

It is mid-July and Chris weighs 203 lbs.  When contest prep started, back in mid-May, he weighed about 220 lbs.  He competes in October.  He feels good about his progress.

When I tell people these numbers (and people want to know these numbers), the logical question they ask is how much more weight he has to lose.  The answer isn’t simple.

Two years ago when Chris last competed, he weighed 196 lbs a week before the competition.  His starting weight, 6 months before that competition, was 227 lbs and by three months into contest prep, very roughly corresponding to where he is now, his weight was 202 lbs.

So how much more does he have to lose?

Well, hopefully, he has gained muscle over the last two years and will appear both more muscular and less fat (“leaner,” we say) when he competes this time.  More muscle increases weight and less fat decreases weight.  So we really can’t predict what body weight he’ll compete at.  A good estimate is “something around what he competed at last time give or take many pounds.”  Helpful huh?  He works with Layne Norton and puts full faith in Layne to help him reach the weight where he’ll look his best.

To find Chris’s previous body weights just now, I consulted the case study we published on Chris’s physiology during his last contest prep.  In this case study, we found that, around this time during the last contest prep, Chris’s fasting blood glucose was low enough for us to classify him as hypoglycemic.  The next time, one week before Chris’s competition, that we measured his fasting blood glucose, it was back in the normal range.  What’s interesting here is that, in the weeks before Chris left for Florida, he had a few periods of mild hypoglycemic symptoms which tended to occur under reproducible circumstances (a meal containing significant carbohydrate followed by an intense morning workout).  In the last few weeks, since he’s been in Florida, he hasn’t been experiencing the hypoglycemic symptoms.  We speculate that what happened last time may have happened again:  his body struggles to maintain his glucose levels initially during the contest prep but eventually adjusts.

Back when Chris was having the occasional hypoglycemic symptoms, we visited the Yankee candle outlet in Oklahoma City.  Chris loves the Yankee candle outlet.  Big-bodybuilder-man loves smelling candles.  Like a hyperactive middle-school girl, he has to de-lid every single scent of candle to sniff it and evaluate.  That day, though, he held himself back from full candle exuberance as he finished sniffing a cinnamon scented candle, leaned back, and told me, “Whoa, I think these candles are making me secrete insulin.”  That’s probably a common bodybuilder problem:  candle-smelling-induced excess insulin secretion triggering acute hypoglycemia.  Oh Chris.

“This is my store.” -Chris (seriously, he really said this)

Legitimate Eggs, Broccoli, and Cottage Cheese

Chris is still in Florida.  Fear not!  The egg, cottage cheese, and broccoli consumption continues.  Below, a brief photographic walk through of the processes.  (All photographs are courtesy of Chris’s mom and yes, it’s awesome that she also takes pictures of Chris preparing food and emails them to me.)

First, Chris is making eggs.  Lots of eggs.

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Peppering the egg-circle

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What a peppered egg-circle!

Next, Chris is making his aforementioned standard “pre-bed” meal.

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The start of the “pre-bed meal” preparation

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That’s a man-size broccoli bowl

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Time to pepper the broccoli

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Now we must flavor the broccoli with lemon

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Lemon-peppered broccoli is ready!

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Chunky cottage cheese from a container is ready!

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“Oh yeah I’m gonna enjoy this.  Best. Pre-bed meal. Ever.” -Chris

If dieting bodybuilders judged food competitions, everyone would win (assuming,that is, that you were able to convince the bodybuilders that the food fit into their daily macros).  You made dog food covered in turds?  And it fits into my macros? Best. Meal. Ever.

Yes, I know, I’ve posted on the cottage cheese and broccoli pre-bed meal before, but seriously, the guy eats this every night and those of us hanging out with him have to regularly smell the stench so a mere two posts about it is nothing.   

The other day at the gym, I saw an irritating sign for “legitimate hardcore products” on the outside of a refrigerator full of sugar-dense sports drinks.  Know what I think a “legitimate hardcore product” is?  A regular pre-bed meal of cottage cheese and broccoli.  Also, an egg-circle.

Chris should stand in that gym refrigerator clasping his cottage cheese and broccoli (or egg-circle) with a sign nailed above him stating that his robot-like consumption of nutritious food, avoidance of inappropriate food, and intense workouts are the real “legitimate hardcore products”. (And of course, it’s completely necessary to use the word “legitimate;” I never buy anything that doesn’t use the word “legitimate” in it’s advertising.  You want me to buy that toilet paper?  I only buy “legitimate” toilet paper.)

When the refrigerator door is opened by someone wanting a legitimate hardcore product, Chris would pass out a log of what he’s eaten and done at the gym for the last 3 months.  If anyone asked Gym-Refrigerator-Chris what miracle supplements he boluses, what he ingests mid-workout, or any other variation around the theme of “how do I get muscular without actually doing anything hard?” a ear-splitting buzzer would sound and Chris’s refrigerator door would slam shut.  Perhaps a large pail of cottage cheese could also automatically empty on the inquirer’s head. 

Good idea huh?  My ideas are legitimate hardcore ideas.

Wedding Planning

According to all bridal magazines and the internet, now is about the time that Chris and I should start doing things so that a wedding ceremony and reception really happen and people really show up for it next May.  We have a site picked out and some other big stuff settled, but the Bridal Magazines and Bridal Websites of Ultimate Knowledge (abbreviated henceforth as “the BMs”) say we now need to do more things.  So many things.

For example, we need to decide on a theme.  I don’t get this.  Isn’t “marriage” the theme?  We need another theme?  Yes, according to the BMs.  Our wedding must be “victorian vintage” or “cherry blossom” or “rustic country style.”  (These are real theme suggestions).

Our theme would have to be something like “exercise physiology” or “lifting weights” or “working in the laboratory” —things that define much of our shared interests and life together.  Now, a “working in the laboratory” themed wedding would be amazing, and “Bride” magazine would certainly feature it, but exercise / lifting translates better into joyful celebration.

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Measuring the abdominal fat of my beloved.  Is “Abdominal Fat Assessment” a good wedding theme?

With the lifting / exercise “theme,” I envision some small lifting related decorations.  (My dad suggested mini chocolate dumbbells as favors; please, if you know of or are yourself a mini chocolate dumbbell supplier, we need you.)

Chris envisioned our ceremony corresponding to prejudging at a bodybuilding show, followed by a “cocktail hour” of powerlifting (in which all guests must compete), followed by a “reception” of a  bodybuilding night show.  It’s every girl’s dream.

Me:  “Does everyone have to wear fake tanner?”

Chris:  “Of course everyone wears tanner.”

And that’s why boys generally don’t get to do much of the wedding planning.

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Chris, at a show 5 years ago (where everyone wore tanner)

I’ve also had to veto his ideas of us getting married in powerlifting singlets, of serving only plain chicken and rice, of putting a food scale in the buffet line, and of me walking down the aisle to “Indestructible” by Disturbed (Chris:  “But it was the song I posed to at my first bodybuilding show; it’s special!”  Me:  No.)

But I still sort of like the exercise physiology / lifting / exercise themed wedding idea.

So my question to you, dear blog readers, is what would you do to make a wedding exercise physiology / lifting / exercise themed?  For some reason I’m having trouble finding much on this theme in the BMs. (It was probably the big theme last season).

I have no idea if we’ll end up really using this theme or any theme, but I would love to hear any real (or hilarious) suggestions you all may have.  Please leave a comment with your suggestions.

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Florida

This morning Chris sent me pictures from Florida (where he is visiting his parents this week):

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Chris’s parents’ refrigerator

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Close-up of the cottage cheese and yogurt tubs

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Frozen vegetable takeover! 

I know, people are always going on trips to Florida and sending pictures of their refrigerated protein sources and frozen vegetables.  And the pictures look just like the postcards.  Geez.

The night Chris arrived in Florida, he sent me the following text:

Chris:  “At parents.  Eating a full lb of cot cheese.”

Travel does not disrupt the lifestyle.