Posts Tagged ‘workouts’

I left my gym bag out in the rain the other night. Everything was drenched including my training log. I was reaching the end of the book anyway but this officially killed it. It’s been sitting on my table drying ever since & it is finally dry enough to carefully peel the pages apart & do a little analysis of my progress.

I started this log book on April 22nd, 2010 making me 18 months post-partum & weighing in at more than I am comfortable sharing (let’s just say NONE of the baby weight had left me).

Ending this log book on July 15th, 2011 I was 30lbs lighter & 28 weeks pregnant. I’m still not telling you my weight ’cause I suspect you can do the math.

Squatting has long been the most difficult lift for me. I started with box squats (squatting to a box with mats underneath it – as I progressed we removed mats until I the box was low enough that I was hitting depth) & 95lbs on the bar. I will admit right now that squatting brought me to tears more than once out of pure frustration at how slow my progress was.

We finally lost the box on November 2nd! That is over 6 months of weekly workouts to get my squat deep enough (the goal is hips below the knees or at least bringing the thigh parallel to the floor).

Last week my top set (heaviest of the day) was 175lbs for 6 reps.

We have found that I very much need to have some weight on the bar to help me getting to depth. With an empty bar I very much struggle to get deep enough. Interestingly the pregnancy has seemed to really help me in this respect because it has helped my hip flexibility in conjunction with attention to stretching. In February I competed & almost missed all 3 of my squat attempts due to depth but now most of my squats while training are deep enough.

Deadlift has long been my favourite lift ’cause it is my best one (how can you not like something you are good at?!).

At the start of this logbook I pulled 185lbs for 5 reps as my top set. Last week I pulled 220 for 5 reps on my top set. My form has improved here too with the improvements in my hip flexibility making it easier to get into a good starting position & to keep my hips down therefore not rounding my back so much.

Bench press has progressed from a lift I didn’t enjoy to one I look forward to. My first bench session had me pushing 100lbs for 3 reps. Last week I hit 105lbs for 10 reps. The numbers here don’t look very impressive but my form has improved significantly. It took many months to find my arch (in my back) & utilize my legs in the lift. This spring we backed my numbers off twice because of form issues but I’m pleased that I am working back up.

I have not tested one rep maxes for any of my lifts recently so currently my known one rep maxes are: Squat – 190lbs, Deadlift – 320lbs & Bench – 115lbs. I must admit I am anxious to be able to test these after our baby arrives as I think it will be interesting.

Lessons learned over the past 14 months:

1. Progress doesn’t tend to happen in nice, predictable, evenly-spaced steps. It’s more likely to be seen in leaps, plateaus & back-steps.

2. Perseverance takes concerted effort at times. It is SO much easier to stop & the world is happy to accept your excuses, in fact sometimes it seems the excuses are constantly being given to you.

3. Sometimes it is necessary to ignore those around you. This has become especially true since I found out I was pregnant. Everyone agrees that if you were doing it before you were pregnant you can continue it while pregnant – in theory. In practice very few actually believe this & I have spent the past 28 weeks fielding questions & concerns & doubts about whether or not I should be lifting at all.

4. It’s ok to cry in the gym, as long as you keep going. I haven’t shed tears there in some time but when I am pushing through a tough set & feeling like I cannot finish I can remember those times I cried but continued & pulled through & it gives me the strength to keep going. Those memories also remind me why it is important to stick with the workouts – I never want to go back to that out of shape place.

5. Building confidence in one area of your life really helps build it elsewhere. I think I hold myself taller & present with more confidence & life overall. I know there is something I am working hard at & getting results in. It boosts my morale.

I am excited to see what results the new logbook will reveal when I reach it’s end. It is interesting to see the numbers grow but it’s the memories of those workouts that are a big part of the progress. I can look at some of the numbers & see that there has been little improvement but I know that now I power through those accessory sets with strength & stamina where the first few months were painful & slow. I can feel twinges in my legs or back or shoulders the day after a workout now whereas a year ago I was aching for days from a similar workout – my recovery has improved so significantly.

On a related note I developed gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy. It was an incredibly stressful time & required not only the use of insulin (despite my best efforts at the time with my diet & exercise) but a short hospitalization to get that insulin adjusted properly. Not surprisingly I have once again been challenged with gestational diabetes but am able to keep my numbers within range through my diet & exercise alone.


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I write a LOT of posts for this blog – in my head. As I’m driving, while lying in bed waiting for sleep (mine or Mr. Magoo’s) & lately on the treadmill. Unfortunately I’ve been doing a terrible job lately of getting those posts typed up.

For Christmas Grumpy Bear got me a gift that is actually at the top of lists of gifts not to get your wife for any occasion, but it was an appropriate gift. I will admit my reaction was very mixed at first. To be honest it took me a good couple weeks to really feel good about this gift.

What was this horrifying terrific gift?

12 weeks with Shelby Starnes, a highly recommended nutritionist (our trainers have been with him for almost 2.5 years). 12 weeks which, as long as I follow his advice, will guarantee I’ll lose weight.

What are my reservations?

The diet is pretty strict – probably the strictest I’ve ever tried (& oh, how I’ve tried different things). I just wasn’t sure I was prepared for it, but Sarah said “you’ll never really be prepared – you just have to do it.” Wise woman.

So I’m now almost 2 weeks in to my 12. I’ve lost 8lbs so far. I don’t expect to continue to lose at that rate but it is exciting to see such a great result right off.

Along with a very specific diet plan (which is carb rotation diet with very specific amounts of protein, carbohydrates & fat per meal) he has also prescribed the supplements I need each day & the timing for these & additional cardio workouts pretty much daily.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

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So when everything was said & done I decided against competing in the Ottawa Women’s Open Powerlifting Competition this past Saturday. Between the OPA (Ontario Powerlifting Association) being unable to prorate the membership (which would be good for 1 month of 12), having to register for the competition & having to buy a little stretchy suit (which a good friend pointed out I should really reframe & call a superhero suit) it was going to be $200.

Instead I went as support to the other ladies I lift with & my trainer, Sarah, who was also competing. I am SUPER glad I went to cheer. Because I was “helping” I was in the backroom with the competitors observing warm-up, listening to all the talk & seeing everyone’s nerves. And then watching the competition I was able to see how a real competition runs & what to expect.

Watching was exciting. So great to see people meeting personal goals, to hear the room erupt with applause when someone pushed HARD & made a lift. Sarah set a Canadian squat record, for her weight category, of 413lbs which was super exciting to watch – it got very loud in that room! Awesomely motivating event to attend.

I have the Push/Pull at our gym in one month which I will most definitely be competing in (& it looks like Grumpy Bear will be too!) – I am going tomorrow to register for it. One month to focus & train hard.

Going on Saturday has been a real turning point for me in my focus & motivation. I have been so focused over the past months on making changes that I can “maintain forever” but I’m not seeing success as far as actual weight loss. It’s been discouraging.

But watching my trainers on Saturday, hearing them talk about their diet & goals & planning made me realize my mistake. They plan ONE week at a time. They focus on ONE week at a time. Sure it’s part of a larger plan but they aren’t worrying about 6 months from now right now.

So I am working hard at focusing on just this week, & on the harder days, just this day. Ok – I can’t go forever without chocolate cake (who can?) but I can make it through this week.

To help me solidify this I have started journalling my food again & will start bringing my journal in to Sarah next week for some added accountability & input.

As for the progress I am making there is a lot to report. Although my weight is still not down my progress in the gym has been going very well. I look forward to my sessions for the most part & have started adding in more cardio sessions. And my recovery is great.

Two weeks ago I FINALLY lost the box on my squat. I have been doing box squats all along to help me with form – especially in getting good enough depth. My hips are tight & it’s taken a year of box squats (slowly lowering the box) & daily stretches to reach a point where I can squat to depth (thighs must break parallel with the floor). This past week I squatted 155lbs for 8 reps without a box!

Today I benched – my next weakest lift. My form is constantly critiqued & is improving slowly. In June I couldn’t break 100lbs. Tonight I hit 130lbs.

As for deadlift, my favourite lift, I had a fabulous session last week. I’ve been struggling with hand strength & have been doing a variety of things to improve it. It’s been frustrating having my hands give out before my back. I pulled a solid 300lbs – something I looked forward to smashing at the Push/Pull.

I can definitely say I am proud of my progress in the gym – but it’s just a stepping stone – there’s still a long way to go.

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I can feel her there, just beneath the surface. Little bits of her keep breaking through, imperceptibly. And I think I am the only one who can see her or feel her, for now.The strong, amazonian woman I’ve always been is slowly emerging.

I see her as I towel off & catch a strong, shapely shoulder appearing. Her muscles ache at night as they grow & strengthen from our workouts. I feel her sturdiness in my bones inspiring me to stand taller, her agility in my stride.

Finding a way to unveil her has been an ongoing struggle but in the end when she stands tall in the light of day it will be worth it.

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This evening I made a quick trip through Wal-Mart for a couple of items. When I hit the checkout & the rack of chocolate bars I must admit I was debating them.

Then a woman with an ass of steel & thighs to kill for walked between me & the chocolate bars.

All thoughts of chocolate left my mind.

It’s too bad my own aching muscles didn’t remind me of my goal on their own.

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Yesterday I competed in my second push/pull powerlifting meet. The first time was two & a half years ago before we moved to Costa Rica & I got pregnant with Diaperbutt.

It was a lot of fun. The neat thing about powerlifting is that although it is a competition it’s a really supportive environment. Everyone cheers for everyone else, offers tips freely & groans along with you when you miss.

This competition was a push/pull so just bench press (push) & deadlift (pull). You get 3 attempts at each lift. Generally you want your first lift to be something you know you can achieve, the second one to be a challenge & the third to be icing on the cake. You cannot decrease the weight so you have to be careful not to go too heavy to start.

For bench press I lifted 95lbs on my first lift, 105lbs on my second lift & missed 120lbs on my third lift.

For deadlift I pulled 265lbs on my first lift, 285lbs on my second (should have been 295lbs but I goofed & jumped the line & lifted on someone else’s turn!) & then 305lbs on my third go. I felt pretty good about that as my goal for the day was to break 300.

Two & a half years ago when I competed there were only 3 women lifting (myself, my trainer & one other). Yesterday there was 7 women lifting!

Winners were determined by using the Wilks formula which attempts to level things out despite differences in body weight. I ended up with a score of 148 with the winners coming in over 200.

I felt good about the day but must admit my body weight tainted the experience for me a bit. I’m pleased with where my fitness level is & how it is improving but would like how I look to more accurately reflect that. I will definitely compete again, hopefully much sooner than two & a half years! Bringing my body weight down would most certainly help my score, along with training hard to improve my lifts!

Sigh. Why does eating strict have to be so hard?

Grumpy Bear took some video so when I figure out how to get it off the camera & onto my computer I’ll post it.

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Three times THIS week I have been told I’m an inspiration (re: working out), by three different people.

And although it is flattering to hear such words it also leaves me kind of scratching my head in wonder. How could I possibly inspire someone else to workout & push themselves harder when I feel like such a slacker who is often merely going through the motions.

It would be fabulous if I felt similarly inspired by my own actions!

Grumpy Bear says it’s not surprising. He says that it is something that I keep working towards my goals even though the progress is soooo slow.

So there you go, I am inspirational!

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