Gratitude Moment

Normally I find it infinitely boring discussing workout and diet routines, no matter who is doing it. In fact, I can bore myself, but I’m having a gratitude moment…

If you have never had an interest in body building or those who do, you most likely won’t be familiar with Frank Zane.  And if you’re not one who believes in the positive body mind and spirit aspect of working out your body, I doubt my thoughts or, Frank Zane’s will be of much interest to you either.  However, perhaps you’ve had a teacher who so influenced you in life, you’ve never forgotten them.. For me it was Frank Zane, Mr. Olympia  Mr. Universe, Mr. USA and my Math teacher…

Finally, after fourteen years of my old pilates performer, I received a new pilates performer for Christmas, which has me thinking about Mr. Zane, and while he couldn’t really interest me with his Math instruction, the fact  he exuded the example of discipline and what it could achieve, not only lead me to respect him then, but, give him thought whenever I’ve struggled with medical or physical change and my own workout habits through the years, have been challenged.

Frank Zane, unlike many bodybuilders, (including Arnold Schwarzenegger, who Mr Zane defeated) now in his sixties, still has a very impressive physique, that’s discipline.  And it’s naturally attained muscle, which makes it attainable to anyone with a desire to be healthier on any level. It’s difficult not to be an aging woman seeking answers and not be inspired to some extent. 

In the 1960’s someone with the physique of  Mr. Zane was a bit of a freak. Cut, ripped, pumped to the max, muscled out bodies weren’t yet in fashion and certainly weren’t the norm. Definitely not found standing in the front of a classroom teaching Math to junior high schoolers.. But, there he was. A very soft spoken laid back kind of guy,(unusually calm actually) clearly handsome, confident, obviously proud of his accomplishments.

He was oddly impressive, even to a junior high student and definately everything a junior high school-er lacked. He spoke easily about his personal life, freely answering silly questions we asked of him, like, “Could he swim?”  I began that year understanding the importance of weight bearing exercises and have continued them,  in some form, my entire life.

Though he spoke openly and occasionally gave exhibitions (only the boys could attend, I never got that) it wasn’t exactly that he spoke about the importance of some sort of “organized” workout, but that he was more an example, just by being, at a  time when few were concerned about building muscle or extreme workouts and  hanging on the beach seemed to be enough of a workout for most of us. 

I’m finding as I age, the workouts I’ve willingly looked forward to for physical and psychological change seem to come harder for me.  Yet,  I’m not willing to allow those workouts to fall away, or to envision myself a year or more from now (approaching age sixty) after a lifetime of caring, as a physically diminished and failing old (er) woman, incapable of physically functioning because I couldn’t or, wouldn’t be  disciplined enough for an hour out of my day to do some form of weight bearing training that clearly makes a difference in my life. I’m also of  Frank Zane’s belief that our physical wellbeing totally affects our mental and spiritual wellbeing. His long held belief’s  incorporated into his weight lifting regime not only have value but, clearly work. 

While I attempt to make my own changes now by following a similar regimen geared toward my own ability,  I can’t help thinking; while Mr Zane could never interest me in his teaching of math, what he was capable of teaching me seems to have had far more value in my life, than he could ever have imagined. Thanks Mr. Zane!….. 

My Follow-up

When You’ve Gone to Far~ The Importance of Photographs When Weight Training

(what weight lifters know)

My personal taste for the female form is that women should have the appearance of overall health,  muscle is most attractive when obviously “toned” but maintains an appearance that is long and lean, smooth and feminine. While I can appreciate the dedication it takes to build muscle bulk, I personally feel, hard, angular, over-worked muscle mass (as seen left) is manly and unattractive.

Three things come to mind when viewing the photo’s at left; knees are extremely unappealing, stockings would have gone a long way in creating a more pleasing appearance, (softening the legs somewhat) and most importantly, not heeding the advice of bodybuilders makes for a very tendon ridden, over muscled, un-feminine and very unattractive leg, on a woman.  A look  one may not recognize they have attained, until it’s too late.

What bodybuilders know, and the average individual should as well; there comes a point when we are working out, whether building  muscle mass, or working out for health, when taking photo’s is really the only way to see those changes.  Scales cannot differentiate between body-fat and muscle mass. Muscle is denser than fat, taking up less space, but, they weigh the same. (though muscle can weigh more as  biology changes) Scales are simply a number of your physical totality.  Cameras can differentiate, therefore, photograph’s become a very important part of your workout tools..  Though you need to be mindful that cameras cannot differentiate between bulky fabric and body weight, so, be brave, take the photo’s without clothing.

Whether attempting to build muscle or resistance training for skeletal strength and health, there simply comes a point in routine and workouts that one needs to stop focusing on scale numbers, (provided we are speaking of a relatively normal body weight and you are not competing) and begin measuring  success by taking photographs to see the change.

The only draw down with photo’s; one must be able to have a somewhat open and honest “body image” in order to focus on the positive while keeping the negative in check which allows us to see what we might wish to work on further,  have achieved and  may wish to change.  Lest you think I’m being judgmental or critical of another,  the photo’s at left are mine. (The far left enhanced by lightening, the leg at close left is the original photo.)

Remember, if you find yourself needing to tweak your workout, (as I do)  muscle has memory…so just backing off of your routine or, stopping your workout, then, beginning again with the same routine will only pick up where you left off and rebuild and bulk up what you may wish to change.

If you’ve found yourself in my position and work out at home and are a home Pilates user, you may wish to seek advice with a Pilates instructor in a Pilates studio for an hour or so and have her advise you.  Or,  perhaps at your local gym, spending an hour  (my choice) with a personal trainer, having him (or her) evaluate your workout routine and gearing it more toward something that will bring you the end result you desire while still challenging your interest….

No matter your choice, you may find as you continue along that you are not losing weight as you work out but,  photo’s can show you a different you…a healthier you perhaps, with a  more upright posture and your clothing fitting you better,  perhaps you’ll change clothing sizes as your body becomes more toned even though the number on the scale may not change.  You may even find,  you are more comfortable with what you see in the photographs than what you see on the scale….or, you may find, like me, you’ve gone farther than you wished and need to tweak your workout.  No matter what the situation, I think you’ll find, photographs have value in your routine.

Whatever your taste or your personal desires, be kind to yourselves, stay healthy.