Tag Archives: fitness

On The Fly

The confidence that I had in my fitness a few days ago is now as unstable as my knee, wavering in a stiff breeze. Since I am still two and a half weeks out, I am reconsidering my my race prep strategy. It is definitely a heavy schedule and I think I might have given myself a little much credit to think I can conquer and thrive with this program.

Last week I did two workouts a day, twice, just to fit it all in around my clients, but that resulted in runs ending early, running too slowly, or just putting myself through unnecessary pain for mediocre outcomes.

It also resulted in me barely being able to keep my eyes open past 5pm.

Throughout the week, I was happy with the effort that I was putting in, but when it came time to run a 5km (yesterday’s planned workout), I was too burnt out from my workouts for the run to come together as planned.

My 5km turned into a 4km in 20:10; I guess I would rather run a decent 4km than a bad 5km. It’s not like I should practice gutting out that last kilometer in preparation for the race or anything. In a race scenario I would be asking a lot of myself to get through that last kilometer with my fastest pace with these type of training runs. Just because I am confident that I am capable of a sub 25 probably doesn’t mean I should get comfortable and train like an idiot.

I haven’t actually made any changes to my programming yet, but I think I’m asking too much from my body. It does seem to be a trend that no one else thinks my muscles are as big as I do, so maybe I should step back and re-evaluate.

I have convinced myself that any inactivity could give my knees a chance to go back to their old ways of getting all bent out of shape. So instead of listening to my body I’m just trying to keep things moving aggressively. Logical.

A rolling stone keeps rolling faster, and faster, and faster.

As long as I can squeak out my sub 25 run in 19 days then I will consider myself to have been successful.

For now, anyways.

 

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Friends in Hilly Places

I have finished my last hill workout for the week. The countdown to race day is almost all counted down!

I left the gym at a nice trotting speed, warming up as quickly as my tin- man joints would unhinge. A lot of sun, a little breeze, and the weightlessness of the first few minutes of a run is a feeling I’ll never tire of.

About a kilometer from work there is a notorious hill known to runners, cyclists, and any drivers who have attempted it in the Canadian winters or in standard cars. I headed in its direction to see if it it had lessened with environmental wear and tear, a change in gravitational pull, or even continental drift, perhaps.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

When I reached the base of the hill, there was a man running ahead of me and I thought to myself how tired he looked and how much he must be dreading this ascent. I was feeling (moderately) fresh as a daisy so I casually waited at the bottom until he had neared the top before I began. I didn’t want to pass him and make him feel bad, of course.

Well, guess who felt bad when he turned at the top and came back down to run more hill repeats; completely the same workout as me.

But with an Ironman t-shirt and Ironman tattoo. Not sure I placed my pity appropriately.

I ran my first uphill and as we passed each other halfway we did the customary acknowledgement of each other’s presence on Earth with a half- second of eye contact and the accompanying head nod. Quite generous for Torontonians who customarily put their weight into smashing shoulders on sidewalks, but we are runners after all.

As I cruise back down in my recovery period, I pretend to be super casual and not wheezing like a dying hyena as we pass and he knocks out another hill repeat. We upgraded to the smile and nod this round, appreciating our common “enjoyment” of running up hills. I notice that he looks much less tired up close and I doubted my own sweaty, tomato-red face was giving the same impression.

Two rounds later, I’m trying to get myself back to the top again and I hear a  “Looking strong!” and I look up to see that my running companion has now become my cheerleader. That little ego boost definitely gave me a push to the top of the hill and as we both switched directions again, I made sure to clap and cheer as much as my breathlessness would allow.

As we alternated turns running, it turned into a cheer- fest and definitely an experience in the reliable friendliness of the running community. Halfway up his last hill, my new friend stopped to let me know this was his last one and he ran off into the sunset.

Well, it was 1pm. But you get the idea.

It’s like the Universe is cheering me on, now. On to race day!

Hills! #run: The Roads, Life, Bike, Quote, Rollers Coasters, Open Roads, Crosses Country, Things, Roads Trips

 

 

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Chicken Large

This week I have eaten so much chicken, I expect Loblaws to turn me away like a poacher walking into the zoo. Or I will have to buy my next armfuls of chicken among the whispers and rude stares of other chicken- less grocery goers. I have reached the realm of pre- 9am chicken, and on some days I even continued to put it down for every other meal.

Dedicated to the diet, some might say.

When actually, chicken was on sale and I bought excessive amounts apparently forgetting that I am cooking for one. And forgetting that I’m really not a big fan of chicken. I have always been a sucker for a sale, but that is often much more shoe related and much less chicken related.

Luckily my workouts this week have been heavy and I have been working hard so the repetitive force feeding should be going to good use. Also, I am two runs closer to however many runs I’ll get in before I race. I have no game plan for my race prep which is not my style, but since I finished my school year less than a week ago, I have hit my stride at this ‘relaxation’ thing and gathering my thoughts is like herding cats.

Back to chicken.

Today was a slow day at work and I had a long break early in the day. Chicken time. A gym member walked by and stopped to comment on how early it was to eat meat. “You must have been up real early”, she said. I had only been up for three hours, but I accepted the justification and ate on.

Eating a lot is essential to gaining strength and size, but timing truly is everything. I can verify this with my personal experience of eating chicken breast, green beans, and broccoli this morning, (followed by an apple, a muffin, and a coffee) then attempting a 45 minute weight session followed by a 30 minute run.

It was the unhappiest little chicken.

After throwing around some heavy weights for an hour, despite the revolt of 2015 going down in my stomach, I got a solid 30 minute run in on the treadmill. After I finished, I sat down to refuel (turkey this time!) and I had a member tell me he never wanted to work out at the same time as me so he didn’t have to be so embarrassed about his own workouts.

And just that like, it is all worth it.

Where’s my chicken.

Squawk on.

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Hamster Ball

It has been a long time since I last wrote without the purpose being work, school, or dictionary- length to do lists.

So once again I come back to my blog, my old friend who I have been avoiding only for productivity related reasons, I swear. It’s not you, it’s me.

My workouts are still going, and my running is still going,

I am less than a month away from a 5km race that I signed up for after running for three 2- minute intervals and it seemed liked a good idea. It must have been the runner’s high. As of now I have one 5km run under my belt in a time of 26:07. At least I’m not risking over training and burning out.

My post- surgery PB is 24:32 so that is my ultimate goal regardless of what my physio might tell you. I’ve got a ways to go but I’ve learned to never doubt what your legs can do on race day. Or maybe the lesson is to never doubt what your heart can make your legs do.

The weather in Toronto is still anti- running (says my inner 80 year old) and as much as I’ve always boycotted “riding the treadmill”, after several months of doing my best my hamster in a ball impression on said treadmill, I’m finding it hard to drag myself out in the blasting wind and freezing temperatures. Apparently missing outdoor runs has aged my attitude about weather by a few decades. Very fitting, as it now matches my 80 year old perspective on… pretty much everything else.

April is a good time to re-evaluate your fitness goals for the year that you probably set in January with the best intentions but then forgot about at the first sight of cake. It is time to get out your thesaurus in an attempt to make your goals sound different than the unaccomplished attempts of January and get back on the horse. Or hamster ball, as the case may be.

There is still a lot of 2015 to come; keep your eyes on the prize, my friends.

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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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Lattés and Timbits

Last week during a training session I asked my client what he had eaten that day. Specifically, I wanted to know what he had for protein. He immediately responds with “I had a Starbucks latté…” then seems to shrug off everything else as incomparable.

Honestly, I tell myself that these responses are attempts to delay the impending workout because they require me to rant about food. That also helps to convince me I am not terrible at my job.

I actually laughed off the conversation a little because that client is a huge success story of mine. Yes there is milk in a latté, and yes there is protein in milk. I will acknowledge that and move on.

However, I may have to rethink my self- consolation now, because it seems another one of my clients follows the same dietary plan.

My client, M, comes strolling in almost 10 minutes late for a session with a big smile on his face and one hand rubbing his Buddha belly. I asked him why he was late and he said “Oh sorry, the line at Tim Hortons was really long”.

Not another one.

M is still wiping his face as he starts warming up and of course I have to ask him what he ate. With a big smile he tells me he “crushed” a chicken sandwich, a ten pack of Timbits (for all you non-Canadians, these are heavenly little bite sized cakes) followed by TWO extra large coffees with two creams and four sugars each. Let me put my disgusted facial expression into facts. These two extra large coffees alone contain 48 oz of coffee which is about 480 mg of caffeine. Health Canada recommends no more than 400 mg in one day and any more than this can result in insomnia, nervousness, elevated heart rate, muscle tremors, and irritability. He pretty much maxed out how much his liquid bladder can hold and how much stress his heart can take then came to workout.

timhortons

I spent the whole hour expecting to see this whole meal again. I would have been happier if it had come up, really. I am a good Tim Horton- loving Canadian and I have also been guilty of overindulging, except my version doesn’t make a dent in this “light, pre- workout meal”.

The first exercise we did, M says “watch this” and with each rep he would yell “one Timbit, two Timbits, three Timbits” until he had “burned off” all ten. He followed up with “this set brought to you by Tim Hortons”. As we go on to the next exercise, he informs me that we will be burning off the chicken sandwich next. This was all scientifically based on the order the food was eaten, of course.

I spent the rest of our workout trying to convince him that he hadn’t burned off that meal, while he tried to convince me that he effectively covered all the food groups. Let me add the disclaimer that M has lost about 60 pounds so far and has about 60 to go.

A few hours later I receive this text: “I just saw a fitness ad that says would have to do 20,000 sit-ups to lose 1 pound of belly fat. Thanks a lot Tim Hortons”.

Lessons to be learned: There is indeed too much of a good thing. Size matters. Listen to your trainer. In the end, you can’t out train a bad diet.

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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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Get Smart

The more things you read,
The more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
The more places you’ll go.
              -Dr. Seuss

My life (and therefore blog) currently seems in a constant state of loading. The knees always bent and arms back, ready to propel forward. Cue the setback and then start to reload the pattern. Well today I’m Air Jordan.

No one really appreciates deadlines. They push us towards a median and force us to choose a route. Just the way your instincts take over when you are driving and don’t know where you are going but you will always pick one direction or another. No matter which way you choose, it always is a better option than crashing into the median.

You can do anything but you can’t do everything.

I have been weighing my options and thinking about going back to school. My confidence in this decision has been as unsteady as my left knee. However, based on the theory that no one ever feels comfortable when they upset their life plans, I have decided this is my best route to pull a last minute swerve towards.

What solidifies a decision more than making it non-refundable?

My fellow squatters and trotters I am going back to school. I will still be training at the gym and hopefully adding more to my schedule without sacrificing too much. That is of course very flawed logic but I won’t really admit it until the scheduling Gods crush me.

My confidence in this decision is now really strong because I am more excited than a first grader at the thought of buying lined paper and a binder. I am completely old school and I don’t plan to change anytime soon. A good old pen and paper never just crashes and erases what you wrote, and the distraction of doodling hardly compares to the vast timewasters built into the internet. I just need my neighbour to take my picture with a big toothy smile and my thumbs wrenched into my backpack straps.

airjordan

Knowledge is a work in progress… just like my abs of steel. Because I have time to take on more…

That’s coming up next!

 

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Born to be Mild

“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
              -Leonard Cohen

My body has days that make me feel like I was made for a desk job and upper body hobbies. Followed by many rum and cokes.

When a homeless man stops you to say “you are beautiful just the way you are”, it really implies you look terrible and nobody loves you. I had already taken out my rage on all my clients so (luckily for him) I just gimped on by. It was awkward like when you have cruise control on and you pass a car going 1km an hour faster than them and it takes an uncomfortably long eye contact to get by. Just your casual social discomfort being a happy Torontonian.

Despite my body telling me to slow down sometimes, I resist the urge to feel like I was destined for early entry into the inevitable world of grunting sounds every time you stand up. It is a slippery slope from the time you make your own involuntary sound effects.

On the plus side, I had someone tell me in the gym that I should go to a vet now because I work out like an animal. I won’t lie, that made me immediately feel better. I have no problems in the world when someone compliments my workouts. It may as well be a big high five from Arnold Schwarzenegger. I am redefining blood, sweat, and tears, baby- tear referring to my torn body parts of course and not tears in my eyes.

I have been working away on upper body now and I feel like a wannabe bodybuilder who builds their biceps, ignores their legs, and ends up with a weirdly disproportionate body. I have been struggling with my post-surgery shoulder however I’ll chalk that up to pressure changes and I absolutely won’t complain about the heat. I spent so much time preparing my clients for a beach season that I was starting to think wasn’t coming.

So what is next? … defying the mild and embracing the wild hopefully.

progress

 

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It Is What It Isn’t

On Monday I was missing a ligament in my knee, but depending who you ask, it is there today.

I’m not a doctor.

Friday afternoon, just hours after my MRI, I felt something tear in my knee. It was so weird, like being flicked against the inside of your skin instead of the outside. Complete with a snap, crackle, and pop.

So on Monday the doctor told me that I dislocated my kneecap and tore the ligament that primarily stabilizes the kneecap in its tracking. The solution could be rehab or surgery and that was to be determined after seeing the MRI. I thought the imaging would have been deemed useless since the tear conveniently occurred after it, however I was assured it was still relevant. So I figured they would see a ligament on the verge of tearing.

I’m not a doctor.

So I get the phone call that the ligament in question is indeed attached. So naturally I was confused how it reattached itself in a few short days. I am always impressed with the human body but this would be a whole new level of science. When the doctor was holding my knee in his hands and testing it, he said there was no ligament so I took this opportunity to casually remind the doctor that the popping happened after the MRI. In return, I was told “I highly doubt it was torn”.

Later that afternoon at work, someone who treated me many times after the car accident was in the gym working out. He kindly let me interrupt his workout to casually ask him if he could find my medial patellofemoral ligament. He concluded the left knee didn’t have one.

I slunk back to the first doctor to request another MRI. He doesn’t even seem phased when he sees me in his waiting room anymore. I have to have set a new record for MRI requests in a ten day span.

Part of me hopes that it is torn so that I can save myself the embarrassment of getting a second MRI for no reason. But at the same time, I realise how ridiculous that is. What is one more blow to my ego, anyways.

I do know something is wrong, but that is all I know.

I’m not a doctor.

mpfl

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