Going back and forward…

My gym activities have been a little bit compromised, as I went to Porto the last couple of weekends, which meant that I had to plan some stuff ahead, and I also had some other plans after work that didn’t allow me to workout. However, one of them was a kickboxing class, which was an amazing experience that I really want to try at least once again. I have been looking for some good places around here to take that kind of classes, but it has revealed to be a quite hard quest.

To make things work, last Thursday I sat in the car for another trip to Porto (for Easter) and my back started hurting like hell. I couldn’t find a comfortable position and I didn’t know why I was feeling that pain. Maybe it was because of carrying two heavy bags of shopping, maybe it was because of my sitting position, but the truth is that it didn’t even allow me to go running, as I had planned.

I was afraid it was my kidneys dying – my sister was kind enough to terrify me –  but I took some ibuprofen and, on Monday, I restarted stage 2 of my workout program. I had to, because those resting days had caused severe damages on my body, especially because I was too lazy and too weak to keep eating healthy, so I ate everything. Almost.

It was good to find out that I was still able to lift as much weight as when I stopped (I always think that set backs are too quick and too severe) and I’m trying to get myself back on track. It is hard, sometimes, if you don’t see that many changes. I’ve been focusing on my belly, which is the hardest part to work, for me, but I am now trying to look the other way and to work the whole body.

The workout plan is for 12 weeks, so we’ll see…

Shitty mad world

Sometimes, this amazing mad world is just a shitty mad world, where shitty things happen to good people or even to regular people.

The world woke up sad, scarred, terrified watching the news in Belgium. It’s crazy how human beings, who share the same nature as the ones they hate, can kill so many people, so many innocents just for the fun of it, because of an idea, of a religion.

I felt unsafe during the whole day, I was afraid of going into the subway, of mixing with other people, as you can never know who that person besides you is, after all.

Still, I met my housemate and we went for a nice walk in downtown, stopped for a glass of ginjinha with her in a very typical place on a nice street, followed by a great dinner cooked by my mother specially for me, I slept early after eating a piece of ovos moles and preparing everything for today, as a normal person.

Turns out that, while I was just living, being happy, a colleague of mine was suffering a stroke. A funny, nice and young girl, who is now fighting for her life in the hospital, not knowing what will happen to her future.

It could be me, no one is safe from an accident, but it was her, someone close to me, whose place is now empty, waiting for her, who just went to the gym and came out in an ambulance.

It’s crazy how things really change in a blink of an eye…

Lisbon – Porto – Lisbon

Going back to Porto for the weekend is like a short holiday experience: buying the ticket, packing little stuff in order to bring more clothes, preparing quick meals, planning those 2/3 days ahead in order not to make lost money and time out of that trip.

It is great having people waiting for us, hug them and telling them the news, eating comfort food and disgracing my healthy eating habits. However, coming back is the bad part. Just as in the case of holidays, the way there is exciting, there are many things to do, many expectations, but the way back means 3 hours of reading/sleeping, which is very nonproductive when it is 18h30 and there is dinner to cook, meals and clothes to prepare for the next day, laundry to do, the gym bag to pack, dishes to wash, etc, and you’re stuck inside a vehicle, just waiting for time to pass. The next day, you are sleepy and you feel like you left a big mess behind, which will be waiting for you when you go back home, even if you did your best to get things done (btw, note to self: when you hang your wet clothes, make sure there are no socks inside any towel, as you risk letting it fall on the street).

Still, it is awesome being able to see your family and friends so quickly and so often, as though you live in another city.

Finding a flatmate

Me moving to Lisbon was planned in a very wide way (I’ve known for a very long time that I wanted to come here and I was doing everything I could to make it happen), but very sudden if we talk in terms of materialising that decision, as I moved within a weekend.

My biggest problem was finding a house. Although I have many friends living nearby, they don’t live in Lisbon, but in a very nice surrounding, which would take me a lot of time – and money! transports here are very expensive – to come to work everyday.

That’s when my only friend from highschool, who has moved to Lisbon for college, told me about her friend who was looking for a new housemate.

She didn’t know – now she does – that it would change my life completely within that major change. My new house is awesome, very close to work (I come and go by foot everyday) and with metro, supermarkets and the river at a short walking distance.

The icing on the cake? My housemate.

I arrived here with the intention of respecting her space, her individuality and independency and not talking too much about her life (or mine), as I thought it was her idea as well: just having someone to split the bills, bothering her the least possible.

But the world is very unpredictable, and we ended up having dinner together almost every night which leads us to sharing personal information about ourselves, sometimes until too late at night, when we both need to go to sleep.

I tend to build a barrier between me and other people, because I know that they always leave, even though we might still share the same space. But having a great home environment such as the one I have is very important for anybody, but especially for those who land in a new town, away from almost anyone they know.

Workout plan – building muscle

Starting a workout plan is a big deal: you establish goals, you have some expectations and you want to start seeing results.

I really liked my trainer in my former gym, back in Porto – he was very careful and meticulous and he paid attention when I told him my intentions: to lose localised fat and to build muscle. He came up with a circuit training plan (for the fat part) and a routine workout for the muscles. I alternated between them, but after two or three weeks I was bored and I wasn’t seeing that many results.

That’s when my lovely-not-PT-but-seems-to-be-one sister in law told me about bodybuilding.com. Sign in, she said, state your goals and you’ll have a workout plan suited to your needs and your data (age, gender, high, etc).

I followed her suggestion and, within a few minutes, printed my new plan: 3 phases of 28/29 days each, one day for each muscle group.

It was strange finishing workout within 45 minutes, not killing myself on the treadmill and doing short sequences (3×10/3×12). But the truth is that I started pushing harder, lifting heavier (that’s why so little repetitions) and – the best part! – noticing some changes.

Why is this a good option?

  • This isn’t a plan made especially for you and your progress won’t be monitored by the person who did it, but unless you have a PT, that won’t happen either if you ask for a trainer to make you a plan: they are all based on a standard plan that may have some small changes according to what you demand.

  • There won’t be anybody correcting you if your posture is wrong or if your lifting too little or too much, for example. But neither does that happen if your plan is made by the gym (at least not in mine): they may show you how it must be done, but it is not so easy when it is you doing it. The good part? Body building displays a video for each exercise.

  • Pushing harder. Body building makes you go further and you go from squatting with an empty bar on week one to squatting with 10kg plus the bar within a short period of time. My opinion is that they are not afraid of any legal problems, whilst gyms care too much about it to push you to your limits.

  • This leads us to our final advantage of this online plan: you work every muscle group – thus, you work your whole body regularly and evenly – on different days. This means that there is time for resting, thus allowing muscles to grow.

Some people advised me against this idea and I wasn’t very sure about it in the beginning, but now that I see real results, I feel stronger and I really enjoy working out, I’m glad I went for it.

Every gym should have a David

I was used to having a gym staff/trainer available to, at least, tell me how machines work and to correct me if I’m doing something wrong. As I follow an online plan (I will talk about it in an upcoming text), sometimes I cannot know if I’m doing the exercise correctly. Being fair, even if it was made by a trainer, I would have things to correct anyway.

I landed this low cost gym very close to my house, which is great and allows me to workout after work, cook dinner or go out with friends and even go to bed early. However, I’ve been noticing that there are some major defects that I was not used to and – which is the worst part – affect my workout: the lack of benches for the big number of members (they are always taken, sometimes by a towel only…); there are too little machines, which makes your waiting time longer than your workout time; and I don’t know where the trainers hide when I’m there: I know they exist, because I’ve seen a few, but they are never around (if I have a question I have to search for them) and they don’t look at us to correct or to suggest some changes.

My workout is quite intense, so I have to mingle with all those inflated guys who lift 30kg dumbbells, and I used to feel a little bit shy as I lift way less than them and I’m not quite sure about some exercises.

And then David came along. He’s an American (I’m guessing) very muscled guy who put his workout on hold to help me, teach me and suggest me some options for the same exercise, more suited to my abilities.

It happened more than once and as he figured out it doesn’t bother me – in fact, it actually helps me – he came to the point where he instigates me and makes me push forward.

It’s great having support like this, as I always workout by myself, and I will follow his suggestion: when you need help ask for us working out down here. Don’t listen to the staff guys, tell them to fuck off. They don’t know what they’re doing.

Me being me wherever I go

I may have moved, but I brought my crazy idiosyncrasies with me to this new town, and it’s amazing to see how my stories can amuse my friends.

First of all, I am delighted with drivers stopping on crosswalks: sometimes I even haven’t decided if I will cross the street yet and they are already stopping to allow me to pass (nobody agrees with me, but I’ll keep my opinion until someone proves me wrong).

The other day I saw a big muscled man at the gym, wearing a muzzle. Yes, like a rotweiller, he had a weird thing on his mouth with irons and leather, and he starred at me in a very creepy way.

Yesterday I had a crazy moment when I thought I would be kidnapped or shot, or both. I ran like hell, I felt my heart popping really strong and I felt terrified for my life for the first time. Maybe it was just a misunderstanding, but as I wasn’t wearing my glasses and I was caught by surprise, I couldn’t tell what was really going on.

On top of that, when I was already in bed trying to sleep, I found out that my car had been mugged. However – obviously! – there was nothing to steal, so they only left a broken umbrella on the front seat.

I once read the sentence If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’ have any kind of luck at all. I’m pretty sure it should be my motto…