Monthly Archives: January 2014

Fixed with a Flex

Today my weight was down half a pound. Not really a big deal, but that in combination with having a week that made me zombie-esque tired, I took the day off from working out. Things are still going well considering my weight is still up from the start of this week but I need to pack down some more calories before I start lifting heavy things against gravity again.

If you had told me a year ago that I would excitedly be sharing my weight gains with strangers, I would have thought that was crazy. I do like to affectionately call my blog followers my imaginary friends, so maybe I do have a little streak of weird.

I am now tracking my weight and workouts to a degree that some may have described as “obsessive”, to which I give a big thumbs up and then I flex. Next you can listen to me list a million things worse that I could be obsessed with.

While working out yesterday, D and I were getting all sorts of looks. Some were rude, and some were confused, but all felt like a really big compliment to the effort we were putting in. He said he felt like barfing, and I was holding on to machines to stay upright between my last sets while the gym- goers surrounding us were using the machines as theatre chairs, probably betting on me to go down first. I have found that in some cases, there is no bigger compliment than a dirty look. Take it in stride, and keep going. Then flex at them. After all, you don’t have success if you don’t have critics.

Ah, yes… reading that last paragraph back I now understand the obsessed descriptor.

Also, don’t bet against me.

Let me add in a very important point here: pushing to failure is a phase. When done right, these workouts are very draining, especially on the Central Nervous System and I don’t encourage this as a permanent method of training. As long as that is clear, I would like to add that there are few feelings that match the rush of knowing you worked as hard as you could, without peeing your pants.

exhaustedfromsuccess

Tomorrow is a new day, another workout, and a chance to reach a new high. If you haven’t ever had the borderline-wet-your-pants-in-the-gym feeling then I strongly urge you to go for it, but in a safe way. Not safe like wearing Depends, but safe like working out properly. Get yourself a trainer or shoot me a message. Let’s squat and trot together, friends.

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Repeat to Failure

Lately I’ve been a little annoyed being part of a silent herd of people, anxiously traveling to their destinations at a speed that is just never fast enough. I’ve got caught up in the Toronto sidewalk mentality to want to push past whoever is in front of me and go faster. Hurry up and wait. Never have enough. Speed through life by dragging your feet.

I believe I have discovered the root of my annoyance of repetition. To be honest, I’m sure I’m nowhere near figuring myself out but here is a start.

After 2 years of working in the same gym I’ve seen the same people come in every single day and workout. This is good. They are committed and dedicated. This is good. They look identical to when they first started. This is bad.

Why are people happy with not making progress?! This is like the people who purchase sessions with a trainer and then think that they have made an investment towards their health and the hard part is over. Maybe I am so frustrated by them because I spent a long time in that place, myself. Now I want to tow everyone with me to the place where people aren’t wasting their time in such a consistent and effortful way.

I am going to switch up my program soon and focus on strength more than size. I am surprised at how much I am enjoying these bodybuilding workouts however there will come a time when that will absolutely hinder my ability to run. Also, my friends are tired of me asking them to feel my muscles. Can’t stay in one place too long!

Stop wasting your time! 🙂

drivetowalk

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Glutton for Protein

Yesterday was leg day, today was cardio strength day, and tomorrow will likely be forced rest due to poor planning. This sounds like a terrible remix to Rebecca Black’s song Friday.

On the topic of punishment… (it is a bad song, get it?!) my sky high levels of enthusiasm have brought me to the lows of accumulated pain and suffering. Some may call it delayed onset muscle soreness. I rode the subway home from work and it got me thinking why there is no “leg day” preferred seating. Instead I just hung on like everyone else who I assume had NOT just done legs. It’s cool, though- I understand Rob Ford has bigger issues.

What was most painful was leaving the subway station and climbing up 6 flights of stairs. It felt like I was trying to climb the rope in gym class all over again. Except this time I had no legs. And everyone else in the class was Indiana Jones.

If my weight is down tomorrow morning then I have to take the day off… my body fat is getting so low that when I tuck my iPod into my shorts, it just falls through to the ground. Or! I could buy new shorts and workout!

When I embarked on this haphazard quest of rehabilitation turned bodybuilding (apparently), I really never thought that eating would be the hardest part. Don’t get me wrong, none of this is too easy, but the next time someone complains how hard it is to lose weight I will absolutely throw the most scientifically educated hissy fit.

Gaining muscle is no walk in the park. You can lose weight by literally walking in the park.

What I have learned is to build size you need to eat. Put on those special pants you save for Thanksgiving and power down some protein and some carbs and then knock back some water. Repeat until exhaustion of your body, lack of food, or loss of hand-eye coordination. Hello meat sweats, my old friend.

Embrace your inner glutton- in a preferably protein specific way. I am playing a little loose with the word glutton.

Lately, my workouts have all been feeling like they are forearm specific since I can’t grip the weight that my other body parts can move. I tried using foam grips which were too big for my hands and that really worked against me. Lesson learned. So I have been warning all the guys that I am planning to try gloves and then I make them promise they won’t make fun of me. They all say they won’t, but I know they are taking this advanced notice to prepare their heckling.

I will be too busy eating to pay attention to them anyways.

Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy protein and that is almost the same thing. Back to eating!

crockpot

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One Year + One Week + One Day

Today my roots of running resurfaced as I set a new PB for my leg workout. The same death defying workout (not actually but my quads will say otherwise) from last week, except I heaved to completion in almost fifteen minutes less time. In theory, it seems like less time means less pain however that assumption would be incorrect, as I tested this morning.

Cardio strength training is making a re-appearance to my program (unbelievably, no this was not it yet) so I have scheduled myself in with another trainer, R, tomorrow to workout. I am really focused on learning all that I can and so far this year, I can proudly say I have already soaked up so much more about fitness, training, and nutrition. Luckily, I have some co-workers who are dedicated, selfless promoters of all things fitness and I feel like I am standing on the shoulders of giants.

Side note: If anyone has any suggestions how to thank a person for sharing daily life-altering wisdom, I would love to hear it. All I have got so far is the priceless stuff… as in, actually priceless, like high fives and shouts across the gym such as: “YOU DA MAN”!

I am getting excited to start running again to see what a difference my strength makes. I already notice a substantial difference in my strength and in my body composition which feels rewarding enough. Well, I guess not enough, because I am still charging ahead.

There are 14 weeks until I race again.

If I needed a good omen then I found it: this race- to be exact- will be one year, one week, and one day after my surgery.

Let’s do this, PB.

change

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Ugly Pretty Face

True friends don’t tell you about your problems, they just help you resolve them.

Instead of D telling me that he thinks I can lift heavier (okay, so he did say this once) he offered to put me through a leg workout today. Despite being a little sleep deprived and on an overly full stomach I thought this was a great idea. I learn something new each time we work out together so I have ultimately learned to never miss a team workout.

First up was barbell squats. 3 sets of 12,10,8 reps increasing the weight with each set. I knew I was in trouble when he added 20lbs for my warm up… I mean, the barbell already weighs 45lbs, my legs will pick up on what is happening. My last set was at 25lbs a side and my last rep was spent mostly at the bottom of the squat trying to figure out how gravity suddenly increased exponentially. It was pure heart pounding pain and absolutely worth it for the feeling at the top. After my last rep of unintentional super slow motion, another trainer walked over to comment on my intensity/ express sympathy for what was to come… this was the first exercise of four.

Next up was deadlifts with the trap bar. 3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps increasing weight each set. One rep in and my legs were burning. The highlight of this was dropping the 95lbs on my last rep of my last set. I wanted to make sure everyone knew I had lifted something heavy… I say that as if I didn’t already attract attention as a noisy mess of sweat.

Olympic barbell stiff leg deadlifts. I like to think if my gym had trading cards that this would be listed as my specialty. So, gratefully, I didn’t feel quite as terrible through these. I find my grip fatigues before everything else which gets frustrating. My hands are left in a gripped shape like your mittens after handing out cups at a water stop in freezing cold weather. The hardest part was seeing how much my legs were shaking in the last set. That is why when I run I gradually increase my music volume- so I can’t hear my breathing get heavier. Purely mental but definitely applicable. When you see the shake, you can’t deny the fatigue.

The grand finale was high rep low weight lunges. 30lbs, 3 sets of 20 a side, no break between, and my legs’ ability to support me standing is already questionable. Luckily for me (so I thought) D had a client show up so he couldn’t experience the pain with me. With one set left, I sat for a brief second to which I immediately heard yelling from across the gym to get back up. This guy is good. I propelled myself through the last set with loud grunts and the fear of attracting everyone’s attention yet again.

I do not consider myself to be vain but I live in what I would expect to be the vanity hotspot of Toronto, so it is all relative. After my 26 years of living, I have spent many hours looking at myself in the mirror and only today I realised that I think I look best in the last rep of my last set of my workout.

Whoever came up with the “over the shoulder glance” never lifted like this.

That face that spans pain to joy, and strength to weakness. Tyra Banks invited an “ugly pretty face” but let me tell you-  THIS is the real thing. My attraction to this feeling is that it is purely unmatched. You just cannot reproduce this face until you are deep into your workout, often with over half your body weight on your back or in your hands.

You can learn a lot about yourself in a gym. When someone with minimal body fat is telling you to not stop but everything hurts. When your knees are visibly wobble and your grip is slipping. Still with reps to go. I learned I love that place.

When the going gets tough, the tough get ugly.

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I Am a Quitter

Sometimes we hang on for too long. Whether it is dedication, laziness, stupidity, or otherwise, very few of us live always looking to jump into something new. We like where the couch has a worn-in groove for us, we like familiar faces around us, and we like the security that monotony can offer.

There is comfort to be found in discomfort. Only the weak quit, right?

That uneasy unknowing of what may come is overwhelming if we consider a deviation from our routines.  Anyone can tell you the downsides to their situation, but then how many can give you their steps to resolution. Collectively, why do we agonize about things that we keep in our lives? Why are we so eager to tell others about our complaints, but not how we are going to improve?

Life gets hard but how did we get convinced that this needs constant promotion?

So when is throwing in the towel appropriate? When can we release our grip on what we know best and open our palm to whatever the world may hand us? Just because we know something best does not mean it is best for us. Events, people, and tribulations, all come into our lives for a reason and although we cannot control their entry, we absolutely determine their cause.

Having only two hands means we need to let some things go to hold on to what is most important. This is not a ball pit and everything is not equal. Not knowing what you want doesn’t mean you hold on to as much as possible, it is a process. It is moving and pursuing despite requiring a backslide or two. Thankfully, momentum works in mysterious ways.

For a generation of people who tend to search out the new rather than repair the old, I know many who are just hanging on. We still exist- the hard workers who were raised with fresh air and vegetables. Brought up by parents who asked questions to which they knew the answers, so that we would have to think for ourselves.

So as much as quitting is not something I find pride in, I am going to have to take it up. I have been doing the same things for too long and I do not want to settle.

Like I said before, I expect big things from myself this year. To make that happen, I need to release my hold on old practises so my hands are free to keep reaching.

wholeheartedly

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Started From the Bottom Now We’re Here

I am working hard, I am lifting heavy, my body fat has dropped (stay away Polar vortex), and I am building the body that will carry me to my goals this year.

I made the mistake of not taking baselines post injury because I chose to focus on what I hated (my tight pants) instead of appreciating the potential for progress (referencing my tight pants works here too). There have been many times that I have scoffed at people who say, “I want to work out for another month before I set my baselines”, and I easily point out the flaw to their plan without recognizing myself as a fellow baseline avoider. A sheep in trainer’s clothing.

As much as I would love to know how much muscle I have gained, I will forever be left to make assumptions with my biased interpretations of my self image. The only fact I know is that I was not previously ready for beach season. Now I am ready for it. According to women’s fitness magazines, this is a measurement of health.

Have you set baselines? Go weigh, measure, and assess your fitness. Use any dissatisfaction as motivation to chase your goals. I am diligently working away on erasing any “post surgery restrictions” from my file, and adding to my progress daily. I would love to look back on my journey from a statistical point of view and be able to graph it, chart it, and analyse it… if I so desired.

To tackle this year: my first- and hopefully not last- triathlon as well as a 23:59 5km. If you read along last year, you will know that my current PB is 24:32 and yes I expect you to remember these stats. That was a challenge that came together on my second attempt. Word on the street is that Guelph is a great triathlon for newbies and I will do the tried, tested, and true 5km course in London at the Forest City Road Races.

Right now I am focused on building, re-building, and re-creating in the gym. More squatting than trotting. And let me tell you I am standing on the shoulders of giants and I expect big things from myself this year.

Cue the baselines.

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Haaayyy Girrrrrl

Some people may say that my standards are high but I just know what I like.

I don’t need a Schwarzenegger, but I like to be the girl in the relationship. So naturally, you would think, I could find all the macho men I could ever want in a gym. Not the case, as I am consistently only approached by the guys who gave up on the grocery store and decided to use their gym memberships to test pick-up lines. Why me? Not sure. Can anyone answer this. No, really.

Picking up in a gym is actually hard to do despite how often people practise. For the most part guys get their adrenaline pumping and get all hot to trot but then girls don’t want to be approached when they are looking their “worst”. That is subjective, and also off track. It is surprising how often I get to watch attempted date invites go awry and so I am going to clear up the basics here.

Lucky for you, I am egotistical enough to write a blog entry about the men that have hit on me in order to share a small slice of wisdom.

1. “Haaayy girrrrrl, you got ankle weights here?”
Wow, nothing makes me more weak in the knees than a man in ankle weights. Oh wait, no… everything else does.
Tip: Maybe you need ankle weights and that is fine but don’t present it as the most macho piece of equipment. Ask a girl where something is to start a conversation, that is fine. Only ask where something heavy is if you can lift it.
Tip #2: Gyms don’t have ankle weights. Your masculinity is overwhelming.

2. “You must be new here.”
No, you must be new here because I have worked here for a year and a half and never seen you before.
Tip: Try honesty. Don’t say you work out 5 to 6 days a week when your body says “what is this place?!”

3. “Can I show you some exercises on the cables?”
Actually, I am a trainer.
Tip: If you want to get rid of a know-it-all, tell them you have a posterior Bankart lesion and torn labrum so please take that into account. Then watch them awkwardly back away. Better yet, make up a body part.

4. “You have great shoulders.”
If asymmetry, scars, and misshaped bones are your thing then here I am!! Just kidding, I’m not a freak but my shoulders are literally the only place on my body where I have a visible issue.
Tip: Compliments are great but select your body part carefully. (Booty is off limits, trust me.)

5. “Hello, angel.” *chest bump*
Select if you are going to be the dreamy boy band guy or the bro before you approach a girl. This is no joke I had someone say this to me and gave me a “hug” that was an aggressive run-into like I was between him and his football.
Tip: Have a game plan. Try to stay relaxed while executed said plan. Do not chest bump.

benchpresscouple

After being approached/ seeing others get approached/ contemplating how to approach, this is my best advice:

1. Never interrupt a set.
This will mean immediate dismissal from any consideration of any relationship of any sort.

2. Be normal.
This might seem like an obvious tip, but people can get intimidated in the gym, hormones get excited, and sometimes weird things result.

3. Do your regular workout.
Lifting heavy is only impressive if you can actually lift it.

4. Eye contact.
You will fail if you ask someone to take out their headphones before they have made eye contact with you. Big fail.

5. Keep coming back.
If you see a person often then build rapport slowly and casually. Don’t do the panicked won’t-see-you-again-I-need-you-number thing.

The gym is not a dating service and the mirrors are not to help you scout. However, if you need to go find your dream lifter, take these tips into account.

barbellkiss

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Let Them Eat Pie

What makes each little box on the calendar different from the one beside it? Is it the order it comes in the week? Isn’t there always one before and one after it? What about each day; one day came before and one day comes after? So why is January 1st our best day for new beginnings?

As much as I am waving my foam finger for goal setting, one of the first rules to be successful is that the goal setter must want it and be committed to it. If you decide in December you have a goal but it can wait until January, you don’t want it enough. If you come up with an idea on January 1st because it is January 1st, you don’t want it enough. If you set the same resolution every year, you don’t want it enough.

If you don’t want it, you won’t do it.

So what do you want?

The resolutions I often hear make me realise that few people had to sit through four years worth of goal setting education (I love my Kinesiology degree I promise!) or else we have a lot of rule breakers. So, you want to be more fit. Great let me know when you get there. Oh right, it isn’t measurable. It is also subjective, general, and there is no defined timeline. Maybe the biggest issues with resolutions is just that we need more education on goal setting. I think we set generic goals so we can have a new topic for small talk with co-workers for a few weeks.

I also think by titling something a New Years Resolution, you are destined to fail. You have tied your goal to the connotation that you can carelessly shrug it off in three weeks because it was “only” a New Years resolution. It is like a new toy that gets less shiny and is just plain old boring “this year” before you know it. Few people will follow up with your progress past the end of the month so that you won’t inquire in return what their (lack of) progress is.

If the purpose of your goal setting is because it is a new calendar year then don’t set a goal because you don’t have a reason. Wait until you have a desire, a cause, an internal motivation, or something to propel you besides a lame excuse for a night of boozing.

When I was little, I once decided that my resolution was to not eat pie all year. I remember people laughing and re-telling me this as I grew up. I clearly misunderstood the objective of setting a goal, particularly because I didn’t like pie, but now it seems even funnier to me. I really think that this resolution was as invaluable as what the majority of the population sets. At least I followed through on mine!

This post is not meant to discourage goals in any way, all I want to express is that it needs to have a significance that overrides a date. There is no perfect time to start something good for yourself- you will always be busy, and you will always have distractions. That is something we all need to navigate once we prioritize our seemingly endless list of to-dos.

You can only begin once you know where you want to go.

The other 364 days of the year will be good to you, I promise.

2014

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Year of The Fit

I had originally planned to spend my New Years Eve celebrating with friends at a house party. We would have been laughing, screaming, and making jokes that wouldn’t be funny to our sober selves, and then I would have spent all of the first day of my 2014 sleeping and wondering why. This isn’t all bad, it is just an accurate summary. Each year as I get older, it gets harder to convince me that anything can justify a tight, sparkling, mini dress in Canadian winter weather.

If I am going to (try to) show off to strangers, I would rather it be in the gym.

So when a last minute change of plans arose, I actually took the opportunity. I had a client whose babysitter let her down so she offered me the job. Let me please clarify that I haven’t babysat in probably 6 years and this is not the usual work I do for my clients. A little bit of convincing was required but it worked. So at 7pm off I go to meet my 2-year old date.

He greets me with a hug and shows off his coordination skills as he jumps and runs as fast as he can. Needless to say, I am really impressed. He politely asks me if I want to share his dinner with him and once it is gone, he asks if we can watch some TV. While we sat and watched cartoon pigs sail around the world, he slyly slipped his hand into mine. Just real casual.

As we are getting him ready for bed, he got caught in his pants trying to pee, slipped in the puddle, and bailed. I don’t care what anyone says, I’d rather see that then a roomful of people counting backwards from 10.  The hardest part of parenting must be to keep a straight face half the time. The learning to pee mishap was rewarded with a high five and clean underwear, and given the title of my least messiest New Years.

As I spent the rest of my evening hanging out on the couch, I flipped through the fitness magazine I brought with me and thought about how happy I was that I wasn’t drinking. WEIRD, RIGHT?! I was actually happy to go home and crush a protein and water in my blender bottle and sleep. Hopefully this means big things to come this year because my head is definitely in a good place.

Upcoming this year: a 5k race in May, shortly followed by my first triathlon. And hopefully no more babysitting on holidays 🙂

proteinbottle

As a side note: I have issues with New Years resolutions… this is a continuation of my lifestyle and is not a resolution…
You can read my gripes about resolutions tomorrow.

HAPPY 2014!!!!!!

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