Category Archives: Ramblings

The Next Four Minutes

At what point does a comeback just evolve back into life?

I was running on the treadmill yesterday- doing my four minute run interval absolutely overwhelmed with excitement at the idea of my four minute run interval- wondering to myself at what point my comeback morphs into the daily grind of a gym goer.

Every day of work that I put in feels like another brick and mortar of recovery and it motivates me to keep pushing further from the day I caught my leg in my pants, fell down, and couldn’t get up. Maybe I am back to regular workout status once people stop interrupting my workouts to ask me, “How is your (enter any mixture of injured body parts here)?”

Now that I am running again (on a treadmill, for four minutes at a time) I am in a permanent state of runner’s high. My body was in withdrawal for almost two years, and now that I have had a reminder of how it feels, I’m in a constant state of awaiting my next four minutes.

Maybe we would all benefit from the comeback mindset. The mental setting that we have much progress ahead of us, and each step forward is a milestone worth telling the world about. Every time we finish a workout there is a crowded arena screaming our name. Every time we lift heavier, our name is in the paper for setting new records. And every single rep we complete, we can remind ourselves, “I couldn’t do this before”.

With the mental, physical, real, and imagined highs of the comeback journey, there must be the moments that bring our feet and faces back down to the ground; the universe giving us a friendly reminder that we aren’t as invincible as we briefly consider ourselves to be. Considering yourself to be in a “safe” place usually means that your face is about to hit the ground, so maybe embracing the comeback status is protective.

As long as progress continues, combined with the awareness there is much ground to cover, I suppose it doesn’t need any label other than that.

 

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Clientology: A Top 10

There are a few clients on my roster that I would like to drop for a small selection of reasons. Not to be rude but as with all public service jobs, the people will make or break it. On a good day, personal training can be great, but on a bad day it can be 12 hours of listening to people complain and argue with you.
Lucky for you, I have made a list of the top ten things that will anger your trainer and you should probably avoid all things on this list at all times. Or find a new trainer.

1. “Oh no, the physics is all wrong”.
Do not pay me to train you and then tell me that I don’t know what is best for you. One of my clients in her 70s refuses to do Lat Pull Downs because “the physics and angles are wrong”. I kindly reminded her that I was there to teach her how to properly use the equipment, followed by a 15 minute scientific explanation and demonstration. She began but then decided half a rep in with a dramatic sigh of disgust that indeed, no, this was not a biomechanically appropriate exercise for any human. Another elderly client rules out step ups because she has stairs in her home and could do them on her own.
Me: “So, do you do step ups on your own?”
Client: “Well, I could.”
And hypothetically, you could be fit, too.

2. “That WAS 12”.
Do not count. Me trainer. You client. You do the exercises and don’t tell me my count is wrong because it isn’t. If our counts are different and you choose yours over mine I am instantly enraged and in return I will no longer laugh at your jokes this session. My job is to count over and over and over again. While you are working out I am involuntarily counting everyone’s reps because I can’t turn it off. I have caught myself counting breaths, counting steps, and counting other people’s reps by accident. I can tell you stories, respond to your questions, and cue you meanwhile I actually cannot lose count if I tried. Nothing makes me angrier than a client finishing three reps short and telling me I can’t count to 12. I am literally standing and counting to 12.

3. “My son can deadlift more than some NHL guys”.
Well it’s too bad you aren’t as strong as your son. How about you start working out and then you can brag about how much you lift.
After being told this exact line every time we did deadlifts I snapped at my client that it was too bad the NHL wasn’t a deadlift competition. I don’t care if you know someone who is strong because it does not make you stronger by association. I spend as much time in the gym as I do in my house, please don’t think I haven’t seen some people lift heavy things.

4. “Can you lift this?”
Do not ask me if I can do your workout. I made your workout.
When clients ask me if I can lift as much as them or if I could do their workouts I want to straight up tell them it is too stupid of a question to answer. Unless we are the same age and gender, with the same background, injuries, and trying to reach the same goals, these questions (and answers) are pointless. These questions always come from the guys that just want a big pat on the back, so don’t make me embarrass you and just ask me how it looks. Yes I see you lifting heavy things, I was the one who taught you.

5. “Sorry I’m late, you can still do a full hour, right?”
No. Don’t show up late and think I won’t make you regret your life choices.
Yesterday a client was running late, then got caught in traffic and showed up 15 minutes before the end of the session. I’m not kidding. No we can’t do an hour now because you paid me to watch TSN for 45 minutes. 15 minutes later he had sweat dripping off his nose and was laying in the corner.
Come on time.

6. “But this is haaaarrrrrrd”.
Yes I know.
I push myself harder than I push most of my clients so it gets hard to listen to someone who spent their life getting fat complain about how hard it is to sit on a bench and stand up again. I love people changing their lifestyles for the better and it is a process, but please don’t cry your way through it.  This is a waste of both our time, but mostly it is beyond boring for me to watch you sit on a bench and whimper. It is extremely painful for me to try to motivate someone who does not want to be motivated. And TSN is on the TV behind you. You do not want to make me choose where to focus my attention.

7. This is not therapy.
When I ask you to move heavy things I don’t mean put your emotional baggage on my back.
I have a degree in Kinesiology and no I don’t know what you should do about your bad decision making and poor life choices. My clipboard is for tracking your sets and reps, not your emotions. Please don’t use your session to tell me every shockingly intimate detail about your life; sometimes exercise can help you de-stress HINT HINT. I’m flattered you want to confide in me but I’ll pass.

8. I did not make you fat but I would like to help you.
Do not blame me when you don’t lose weight instantly because you did one workout then you pounded back beers and wings all weekend. This is a team effort but I am not your babysitter, I am not your mother, and I did not force feed you for the first 40 years of your life. You should consider that I see you 2-3 hours out of the 168 hours in a week. No matter how good a trainer is, they cannot account for the other 165 hours a week you aren’t with them.

9. Accept critique.
Or tell me in advance you have paid me to high five you and tell you that you are perfect the way you are.
I let a client do an entire disaster workout (not to the point he would get hurt) because he came in to train in an aggressively terrible mood, and he took my form cues as a personal attack. One rep in I told him to make a change to which he got mad and said I didn’t even give him a chance to do it right. A second identically terrible rep followed, then a defiant “OKAYYY?!” accompanying more incorrect reps. It is mind blowing how much money people spend to ignore me.

10. “But my friend says this way is best”.
Oh your friend sounds qualified. This isn’t NASA but I did a four year Honors Specialization degree and your friend ripped the workout page out of a Cosmo. This goes back to my point to let me do the job you are paying me to do.

I bet my clients could come up with a good list of their top 10 pet peeves about me… 🙂

 

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Oh The Places You’ll Go

The most dangerous thing in life is our biases and preconceptions. Living as if our younger selves were fortune tellers means always holding ourselves up to a idealized standard that never really existed. I pictured myself at a very different place at 26, but now that I am here, I am not in that elusive magical cookie cutter life. I also used to think that 26 sounded old, but I still act immature so that can’t be right.

The older I get, the more I wish I had taken Dr. Seuss more seriously. The cartoons in his rhymes always suggested to me that the books were not to impart anything substantial, but looking back, Dr. Seuss was one of the first cheerleaders in most of our homes.

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew,
Just go right along, and you’ll start happening too”
-Dr. Seuss

Lately, my head has been overwhelmed with a constant effort to decipher what I think I want from what I actually want. Even that sentence confuses me. There have been a few occasions where the amount of conflicting ideas screaming over top of each other in my head make me think that I will be the next Torontonian sleeping on the subway and talking to imaginary friends. Except I plan to gracefully exit this phase at some point. Fingers crossed that crazy can just be a pit stop.

Moving to Toronto was a situation that I did not think through and was not a part of a plan in any way. It was a good idea at the time and I happily arrived to a new city feeling like I was moving forward but was really chasing my tail. It was an opportunity that the world gave me to grow up real fast but I responded by dragging my heels and wasting as much energy as possible to stay in my comfortable little rut. So, instead, I learned some life skills the hard and tedious way after they came around a few more times. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks though; throw me a treat Universe, I get it.

After reading through some of my posts, I feel like my blog is a motivational speaker that struggles with motivation. There is always a point and often a positive message that gets sidetracked or overtaken by stories or stats of how much I can deadlift (115lbs for 3×10. See how I slipped that in there!) At least I believe I can keep myself from living in a van down by the river. (If you don’t get that joke you should watch this and laugh with me)

So tonight I skipped my food prep for tomorrow and most of studying to write this, and dance around my apartment. It is hard to take life advice from Taylor Swift but she sure can make me dance. And yes, this was my life changing revelation. Just roll with it.

 

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Back For More

It has been way too long since I have posted anything. Full time work, part time work, and full time school do that I guess. Sorry to admit that I would rather be known for being a hard worker than for my blogging consistency. I’m back on track now I swear.

I have another MRI on my knee tonight, however my limited (non- existent) background in medicine makes me think my knee is almost good to go. If you are going to tear a ligament, it looks like this is the one to go for. My theory is that it was on the verge of tearing since the car accident, so my body is used to functioning without much support from it. There is a knee surgeon who works out in my gym and yesterday I picked his brain a little. I asked if he would recommend operating on a torn MPFL and after seeing my leg day he thought I was crazy to consider surgery. He told me that he does full knee replacements and so would not be the surgeon for me, to which I replied that I probably should get a spot on the waiting list now. By age 26, I have worn my knees out to Bambi status, and I am banking on robotic body parts being available soon. This is not a complaint because I’d rather use my body up than be laying on my death bed commenting on my joint fluidity.

I hope the afterlife has squat racks.

On that glorious note, I took off my knee brace for Monday’s workout. It was terrifying, exciting, and significantly reduced the smell of my workout. Someone should invent braces that come with built in fans like they have for those mascot costumes. When I instructed a running group at my previous job, my “smelly knee brace” had a more wide- spread reputation than I did. I think it made people run faster so they wouldn’t get caught downwind. Whatever it takes to make them run.

When I was working out, I kept looking in the mirror trying to figure out how far I am from my body about four months ago before my kneecap dislocated and my hopes, dreams, and body weight came crashing down. I temporarily felt disheartened to realise I am in a permanent state of re-building, until I realised that everyone in the gym is there for the same reason. Sure, some of us do it with a sickness of going until we cramp up into a sweat-soaked mess but everyone has the goal of change.

Still being warped is frustrating because I have been struggling to increase weights and still maintain good form in my workouts. My hips are out of alignment, and my spine is curved so my back is still imbalanced. I guess I just got a little too comfortable and when I feel comfortable, I am not aligned, and every other body part dominoes along into my personal take on anatomical structure. Doing high volume and low weight workouts is working well for me though and I love the change of stimulation. I would absolutely recommend adding this phase into your workouts (depending what your goals are) because 4 sets of 30 reps isn’t easy on anyone.

If your workout isn’t mentally hard, it probably isn’t physically hard enough.

Getting motivated and back at it.

I think this is Abraham's greatest quote.

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No Squats & No Trots

I can’t lie, it is hard to watch people run by me in shorts and tank tops. They are all rubbing in my face that I can’t run right now. How rude.

This week I saw a doctor who thinks I have damaged the cartilage and meniscus in my left knee. The last time I saw him, I had just been hit by a car. Looking over my file he didn’t seem surprised to see me again. He prodded and poked around then he sent me on my way after requesting an MRI.

So after having every fun exercise eliminated from my temporary repertoire, I nestled in on the stationary bike for a thrilling resistance- free ride. My doctor told me only about a hundred times: no squats.

Maybe he reads my blog.

Cardio equipment at the gym has the same etiquette as using a public washroom. Am I wrong?!

So here I am, biking in slow motion watching the Raptors game on the TV, listening to my iPod, and occasionally texting on my phone. Yes you heard me right; my workout was actually that uninvolved. Calling it a workout is quite generous since it was a sweat free 45 minutes. Anyways, I am in a row of 12 bikes, all of which are available. There are two more rows of cardio equipment behind me and everything is empty.

So a woman comes over and sits down right beside me. Then she doesn’t turn on her TV and watches mine. Then she reads what I text and mimics me every time I move.

Why do people do this?! Am I just crazy about my personal space?? Actually don’t answer that. But really. I bet she is the person who sits beside you on the subway and leans in to read your paper instead of her own. And I bet she would use the bathroom stall right next to you.

On another note, I think I should formally do a study on the (predicted) correlation between how increased physically injury drastically impairs patience and social skills.

My apologies to those how get in my gimpy way.

deadfall

 

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You’re Always a Day Away

“I’ll start tomorrow, I’ll start tomorrow”; the mantra of the unmotivated, the lazy, and the people who “can’t make time”.

And I will start tomorrow.

My plan was to go out last night, come home early, and start a final month of clean eating, specific training, and sleeping enough (which is elusive on a daily basis). It was all laid out until I revealed to my friend that it was my last night drinking for the next month and I was the target of her mission to party hard. We met somewhere in the middle and shared a little wine, however it left me today saying, “I’ll start tomorrow”.

Today (on second thought) I decided that my priority was relaxation and did I ever conquer that. Except for the fact that I was watching March Madness and got three more of my picks wrong. Besides that, I did rest not stress and I think this is an even better way to start my last month of training. Let me just be clear that the last time I took nearly an entire day off was… almost 4 months ago. It was Christmas holidays and  a week of parties with my family is hardly actual rest.

After spending most of my day horizontal I am even more excited to run hard and lift heavy tomorrow. So maybe there can sometimes be some validity to waiting until tomorrow.

Mondays were made for fresh starts!

tomorrow2

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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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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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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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To Be Honest

Honesty is generally a trait we really appreciate in a person. However, we all know someone who is just a little bit too honest, right?

I can’t take credit for this one but I just have to share because it made me laugh pretty hard. I found this on Imgur and attached the link at the bottom. Check out some of the unbelievable (and hilarious) things that actual researchers have been cited as saying…

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honestly-bakery

honestly-ketchupcups

honestly-scarynoise

Check out even more #overlyhonestmethods at http://imgur.com/gallery/yPH3k

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