Tag Archives: Women’s health

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.

 

BlogRun

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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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Happy Birthday Shoulder

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
           -William Shakespeare

I spent my one year surgery anniversary knocking back rum and cokes, plowing through chocolate eggs, and not exercising. So far off the rails it pains me to put it into print.

All these comebacks sure are tiring. I won’t let health go unappreciated again.

This has been a week of resetting, refocusing, and pushing back. I should be prepping for a 5k race that is four days away and somehow I have ended up exhausting the exercise database in my brain for ways to avoid getting fat. Today a trainer smacked my leg to tell me to activate the muscles to which I stopped and screamed, “Stop jiggling my fat!!!”

Each workout since the infamous doctor-says-no-lower-body-exercise fiasco of three weeks ago increases in creativity. I’ve said this before, but I think it needs to be restated: my clients do not get hurt, I give great advice but I don’t take it. The other trainers just laugh when I walk by carrying a 10lb body bar saying, “This counts as body weight, right?”… People pay me to push them, and this gets difficult to turn off, I guess.

Today I did the Stair Master, single leg Romanian dead lifts (10lbs what up!), single leg hip bridges, and modified knee extensions. My knee felt tired but not painful, so I did some Peterson step ups but three later, I had to stop. It felt like I had just pogo-sticked up Kilimanjaro on one leg. The best part of it all was that a celebrity’s bodyguard was beside me bench pressing about twice his body weight and I was working substantially harder. I tried to play it cool but the sweat stains and muffled crying sounds probably blew my cover.

As with all situations, there is a silver lining. Each time your feet are taken out from under you, the world is opening a door of opportunity to rebuild your physical and mental strength, and develop consistency, resilience, and pride. In my case it was technically only one leg that went out from under me, but my point remains. I would rather be hurt from exercise than develop issues from being sedentary, a hundred times over. Injuries allow us to learn so much about ourselves, and offer us the chance to improve in much more than just a physical way. We can all admit that starting anything is easier with a kick in the butt.

Sure, some things haven’t gone the way I had them playing out in my head. I did, however, spend my one year surgery anniversary surrounded by friends and family, laughing loud and eating well. Compared to a year ago, my shoulder is significantly better, my overall health is definitely better, and I have lots of zig-zagged footsteps behind me. Maybe I need to think less about how I thought things would be and focus on all the greatness that is now.

I can hardly wait to work up a sweat again tomorrow.

(Throwback to my shoulder a year ago…)

shoulder

 

 

 

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First Things First

Sometimes one commitment has to overrule another. So for a few reasons there will be no triathlon for me in the near future. An overestimated range of motion in my bad shoulder, and a lack of ability to train my best for two different upcoming events are main factors.

In April I will race 5km but the triathlon will have to wait. Maybe later this season or maybe next year. Right now my priority is to do one thing (well) at a time. As much as I am disappointed in having to scale back, I can recognize how much I love to get carried away. My workout today was full of dropping weights to perfect my form before I add weight back. Maybe the feeling of progress just gets addictive or maybe we give ourselves too much credit thinking that our reflection has better form than we do. Regardless of how we get there, a lot of us seem to end up pushing more than we can at some point.

One of my clients set a new personal best pushing 8 plates (360lbs) on the decline leg press yesterday because he put half the plates on the wrongs pegs- he thought he was taking them off and not loading them. So for some of us, it is accidental.

My running has been going slowly but now I am officially registered to race and what is better motivation than the realization of approaching deadlines. The hardest part of running right now is the weather. If I didn’t have a job I probably wouldn’t leave my apartment… seriously. It is spring and it is snowing in Toronto. Motivation seems like an idea only for those who don’t live in layers of bundled clothing.

I am looking for a sub 24 minute run on April 27th and hoping for an injury free journey there. My plan is to run 5k outside this weekend and then I will base my next month of training off my time. Here we go again!!

dreamers

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Buns of Steal

Gym rage. This is like the equivalent of ‘roid rage, but omitting the steroids.

I went to another new gym today. This particular location was surprisingly quiet considering how many plates were amassed on all the machines. Here is a tip: if you can push 8 plates quietly, you are doing it wrong. Although being surrounded by workouts of a minimal range of motion was unimpressive, that was not was made me mad.

Side note: Isn’t it interesting how each gym has its own different atmosphere from every other gym? I would love to study the differences in training efficiency based on the “feel” in the gym. Once I figure out how to measure “feel”…

Anyways, since this was my first time here, I was unsure of where everything was and where to go just to be out of the way. In my gym, I know the popular and unpopular spots so when I need space I know right where to go. How comfortable. After consecutively lunging myself into peoples’ way, I took the last available bench to do Bulgarian split squats. Just to clarify I have my back foot on the bench and drop down into a low lunge. This is not a picture of me, but it is the best picture Google has to offer. If this woman jumped her right foot a little more and dropped down a little lower she could do a Buns of Steel workout video instead of these textbook pictures. Fun fact: try using the seat on a machine instead so you can adjust the height. That booty won’t build itself!

splitsquat2

Sorry I got a little distracted there. Gym etiquette would state that I am equal to that moron curling in the squat rack while you’re waiting to squat so I was keeping an eye out for anyone who actually needed a bench. Sure enough, a girl about my age starts lurking me and comes to hang out uncomfortably close by. As I finish the end of my first set  I say, “Hey do you need to use a bench? I can do this anywhere”. Please note I actually said that these can be done anywhere. She says yes and moves in but as I walk away I see her reflection in the mirror doing exactly what I was doing. I just about choked on my Gatorade. Is there no such thing as gym etiquette anymore?!

So I did what anyone would have done… I sent some aggressively capitalized text messages to all of my friends who work out. I especially emphasized that she wasn’t going low enough for it to be a workout. That is what really made me mad. Once my phone hit low battery I decided to resume my workout and then I noticed she was just following me. Shamelessly; there was awkward eye contact, note taking on her ipad, and just her tagging right along.

I guess this is just a compliment but let me tell you, I would be much more flattered to have someone come up to me and just say: “I like the way you look, could you recommend some exercises”. Or maybe she just didn’t know any exercises and I was picked at random. Regardless, if you copy someone’s workout and you catch up to them, do not kick them off what they are doing.

Actually now that I think about it, it is pretty funny. However, not an effective way to workout.

At least we are all in the gym!!

5years

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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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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.

deadliftquietly-470x260

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Women’s Rights

Be warned: this might turn into a rant.

Today was my last day working out in London while I was home to visit family. While the gym I was temporarily using does offer a women’s only area, I didn’t think twice about it before heading out to the gym floor. The main gym is hardly co-ed as it was filled with guys working out in small groups and walking around like they expected girls to ask for their autographs. If you aren’t looking at them then they will stare you down in the mirrors until you do. These guys just reinforce why women deserve a private area to wear their stretchy pants.

At my gym in Toronto, there is no option for a women’s only area. The ladies who don’t feel comfortable in front of the men are relegated to stick to the cardio machines, or let their attendance slowly drop off. Women brave enough to trek into the free weights risk the careful watch of creeping men or the ignorant looks from those who consider them flawless at their “gym ratting” ways. I do see the benefit of offering a separated option in a gym, but if it is done right.

The New Years resolution crowds must have got a head start on January because all of the benches were full, all of the cables were taken, and training partners were eager to step in. So I did a lap and ended up in the women’s area.

I have previously expressed my frustration at women working out differently than men (waving 2.5lb dumbbells at their reflection in the mirror) but as I entered the women’s section I realized that we are set up for it. This area was primarily cardio machines and I had to dig through a pile of mats to find the single Olympic barbell in the place (no joke). Even if you can scout out the barbell, there is no squat rack, and there were only 5 or 6 renegade plates from the co-ed section. The machines looked like they were plastic and I expected to see “Playskool” covered up somewhere. This room begs you to ride an elliptical from any of the endless aisles of cardio that dominate the space, and overlook the mess in the corner (attempted “free weight” section).

Let’s give women some cables and some benches, and some direction as to what would be most valuable to women in the gym. As much as I appreciated being alone with the free weights, it was ridiculous how many women were just doing steady state cardio. Hey, who knows, maybe they are training to become long distance elliptical riders in which case I support their training. In all fairness, maybe they are just doing a cardio day. I know from working in a gym that too many women neglect resistance training, and I am just trying to make a point here. Check out what I wrote earlier (not in a rant): Annie Get Your Guns.

Women are absolutely different than men and this does require some minor changes in training, however, this does not mean in any way that a woman is restricted from going heavier than 5lb dumbbells. Next time you see someone who has a body similar to your “goal self”, ask them how they got there. I would be shocked if anyone said “mindless hours of cardio!” I am not biased at all…. however I have science on my team.

The best advice I can give someone (over blog): get a trainer for a short period of time and learn all you can. Ask lots of questions and pay attention. Show up early, warm up on your own, and cool down on your own. Then follow their advice!!

WHYYYYYYYYY

WHYYYYYYYYY

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The Boxing Day Sweats

Yesterday was leg day. Even though it was a terrible workout it still counts as a workout I can cross off as completed! I didn’t consider that I was completely fueled by chocolate, turkey, and alcohol (or that is how it felt, anyways). Normally I really do eat healthy- it is just that every rum and coke is just celebrated on this blog if it sounds like they come often.

It really feels as if the accumulation of consecutive nights of casual drinking is stored in your sweat glands. There it patiently waits until leg day.

I headed for the gym with a belly still full from Christmas dinner, and with the excitement that comes from going too long without a workout!… about 2 days. This was the first day that my brother didn’t join me since I have been home. He said he was sick but I think he was scared.

I could make a lot of excuses for my rough workout- I didn’t do my usual pre workout ritual  of waking up before the sun and standing all day, and I was using equipment I wasn’t used to. But really, I think I have to blame the fact that I was full of turkey, mashed potatoes, and chocolate. This really goes to show how important the fuel is that we put into our bodies. It didn’t take more than a few days for me to feel sluggish and slow. On the other hand, I would rather sweat it out than miss Christmas dinner! ‘Tis the season for meat sweats!

By the last exercise of my workout- single leg seated leg press- I had to drop the weight by 20lbs.

And I still struggled.

More meat sweats.

I really appreciated being in a gym in a different city where no one knew I was a trainer, as I whimpered and shook my way through my last set.

The holiday season is a time of year for food, drink and packed schedules, but I have somehow fit almost all of my workouts in. And they all feel just as great when they are over! I hope everyone has been getting their workouts in!! Happy Holidays!! Now go sweat!! 🙂

meatsweats

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