Wednesday, February 22, 2012

207- Couple of Updates

I did my weekend long run on Sunday, and this time I changed it up a bit.  Instead of walking 1 mile downhill to the path I ran/walked.  I got to the path at 11 minutes instead of 17 minutes like last week.  I ran my usual loop on the path, 1.1 miles to the park, up a set of stairs and back down 1.1 miles to the base of the hill.  Last week, when I walked down the hill, I was able to run the whole 2.2 miles without walk breaks, even though my left calf (bad ankle side) was on fire.  However, when I got to the large hill, I had to take a few walk breaks going up.  On Sunday, I had to take 2 walk breaks during the 2.2 flat miles for fear of doing damage to my calf- it just didn't feel right.  BUT, when I got to the base of the hill, it felt fine, and I RAN UP THE WHOLE 1 MILE HILL without stopping.  I was pretty excited about that.  The whole journey, walk breaks, stoplights and all (4.3? miles) took just under an hour.  By summer, I'd like to knock 10 minutes off that time. 
In other news, I've been working on my pull-up for some time now.  If this bores you, just skip down to the next paragraph.  If you are interested in the progression/explanation of what I've been doing, carry on.  I see progress, but it is soooo slow.  When I first started at CrossFit, there was no band thick enough to assist me in doing even one pull-up.  I substituted ring rows (with all the other fatties).  From ring rows, I began doing jumping pull-ups, and even now I use those most often as my scaling in workouts that involve pull-ups.  There was a workout nearly a year ago where I used 2 bands to assit me in pull-ups (which sucks because you have to have someone help you into them, and that is annoying, plus time consuming when the clock is ticking), and then shortly after, there was a time when I was able to use the thickest (black band) to do a few pull-ups (again, difficult to get into/time consuming).  Most girls that show up on day one are able to do a pull up with the medium-thick green band.  Strong girls start with the medium blue band, and if you can do 10 blue band pull-ups, you can probably eek out a few kipping pull-ups.  I've been taking time nearly everyday at the gym to hang from the bar, practice kipping swings, and generally flail around like I don't know what the hell I'm doing.  A month or two ago at the new gym, I decided it had been a long time since I tested my luck at using the green band.  I jumped up on a box, put my foot in the band, let myself fall into the band, and tried to rocket myself back up.  Not even close.  Oh, well. 
Yesterday, we had some time left over after the workout, and I decided I'd take some time to work on my pull-ups.  I practiced swinging and stopping myself, hanging, chalking up, etc.  Then a green band was staring at me.  I stuck my foot into it, let myself fall into it, and bam!  One pull-up with a green band.  Instinctively I went for another, bam!  2 pull-ups with the green band.  Now THIS was progress.  I could not get to three, but I didn't care.  I took a short break, and knocked out 2 more before I decided to call it a day.  Now, I can spend time each day before the workout knocking out a few green band pull-ups instead of flailing around on the bar!  Soon, I can start doing green-band pull-ups as my scaling for workouts (like a normal beginner).  Soon, I'll be using the blue band.  And soon, I'll be doing unassited pull-ups. 
I just happened to catch an episode of Biggest Loser last night and was delighted to see Bob doing CrossFit inspired moves with his team!  He had them jumping on boxes, swinging kettlebells, and doing barbell work like hang cleans and overhead moves!  Its not enough to get me to watch that show regularly (the shameless plugs for that Subway crap? GAWD...), but I do love the attention he's bringing to functional movements.  Of course he's gotta throw them on the eliptical for some ridiculous amount of time so they can lose muscle mass because that's what shows up on the scale first (muscle loss) and the viewers want to see pounds drop.  Its a billion dollar business.  I get that.  Afterall, its not the "Fittest Loser" its "The Biggest Loser" and losing muscle and water and some fat is a much faster way to get the scale to change than simply losing fat.  But who wants to watch a show where it takes contestants years to lose fat and become healthy?  No, americuns want instant results at any cost.  To each his/her own- personally I feel the show would send a much better message if it showed inches lost in relation to scale numbers.  As I've learned with myself many times, I can lose many inches without the scale changing one bit.  That might just be too much head thinking for the average American mindlessly glued to the crap that network TV pumps out...I digress. 
In other news, I read kind of a depressing blog post about fat cells.  I have known for some time now that fat cell numbers are stagnant.  You can not by any natural means lose fat cells.  You can merely shrink (or grow) the fat cells you do have.  When someone becomes morbidly obese, fat cells can even divide to create more storage, but once again, if that happens, you are still stuck with those new fat cells.  Here is the depressing part.  Bear with me, you're going to have to be a little visual.  Lets say you have a plastic garbage bag full of balloons that have not been blown up.  The plastic garbage bag retains its rectangular shape, and holds 2,000 balloons.  Now, if there was a way to slowly begin inflating each of those balloons inside the bag, even a little at a time, what would happen?  The bag would begin to expand.  It would become mishappen and look awkward.  If it were possible, some of the balloons would expand and split into two balloons.  Right before the bag bursts, we begin to let the air out of all the balloons, and the newly created balloons too.  The bag shrinks down.  The bag is badly stretched.  Even if all the air is let out, there are now 2,500 deflated balloons in the bag, and it can never return to that original rectangle.  Even if the stretching recovers slightly, there are simply more elements inside the original bag that can not be taken out. 
Complete post on fat cells is here:
I like how his recommendation for obese people that "can't seem to lose the weight even with legitimate efforts" to just keep trucking.  Yeah...I don't know about you, but if I keep doing something over and over and keep seeing the same thing, or no results, I do not just "keep trucking."  I understand what he is trying to say- that eating well and exercising regardless of weightloss are far better than giving up, but he does a poor job of conveying it. 


  1. Hey congrats on your progression through the pull ups! I loved reading that, actually, so its funny you said we could skip it. I think its interesting that the bands at my gym are almost the opposite of yours, blue is the second highest band whereas black is the second lowest. Green is right in the middle. Were you dead hanging or kipping? Either way, again, congrats!

  2. Yay, great job on the pull-ups! I'm looking forward to getting there someday.

    Agree that the blog post was not encouraging. Hmm, looked at the linked studies. The damning sentence from one abstract:

    "However, the number of fat cells stays constant in adulthood in lean and obese individuals, even after marked weight loss, indicating that the number of adipocytes is set during childhood and adolescence. "

    That is depressing, but it doesn't explain to me the numerous people I've seen online who spent huge amounts of time obese from childhood on, then became muscular and lean, like Mr. Low Body Fat or Bitchcakes, and talk about how not hard it is for them to maintain. I always wonder if they studied many people who had lost significant amounts of weight and followed up with them over the long term to see if those cells do eventually break down. Also, traditionally, many people lose their weight through dieting, without focus on body recomposition and metabolism change. I wonder if these things make a difference or not.

    Tim Ferriss seems to think taking green tea extract aids in the breakdown and disposal of fat cells. From "4 Hour Body":

    "EGCG appears to increase programmed cell death (apoptosis) in mature fat cells. This means that these hard-to-kill bastards commit suicide. The ease with which people regain fat is due to a certain "fat memory" (the size of fat cells decreases, but not the number), which makes EGCG a fascinating candidate for preventing the horrible rebounding most dieters experience. Super cool and important." He cites no supporting studies here, however.

    But here's a good page on this:

    "It was once thought that adipocyte acquisition was permanent and that weight gain/loss caused only variation in cell size (8); however, it is now believed that adipose tissue undergoes dynamic remodeling throughout adulthood. Adipogenesis occurs when extra fat mass is needed for significant caloric gain or for cellular homeostasis (9). In obese or overweight individuals, the increased fat mass can be a result of either increased cell size (hypertrophy) or increased fat cell number (hyperplasia) or both. Adipose tissue hyperplasia is a result of increased adipogenesis, which includes preadipocyte proliferation and adipocyte differentiation. Thus, potential therapeutic agents, especially from low-toxicity natural products, that have the ability to reduce or inhibit adipogenesis or increase cell death by apoptosis could have a profound impact as a strategy for treating and preventing obesity and related metabolic disorders."

    So, here is a well-detailed study contradicting the conventionally accepted wisdom. I found a bunch more online, too. I always wonder about those depressing declarations of how it's impossible for us to really achieve what we want to. Scientists are so goddamned sure of themselves, until they are CONSTANTLY proven wrong by other scientists. Take heart, and keep trucking. :)

  3. Good thoughts on the Biggest Loser. I have it on in the background while I'm doing other things in the evening. It's for entertainment purposes only, ever so often they might throw out some interesting fact.