65 Weeks Out – Waiting

As I start this blog, I am sitting in the office of my husband’s orthopedic surgeon waiting for his follow-up visit. This is our second visit. For the first one, we waited an hour past his appointment time to be seen. Right now, we are 23 min past our appointment time.

Waiting.

Meanwhile, on the job front, the decision of what to do next has to wait a few more days.  I needed to visit with someone, but our schedules did not coordinate this week.  I am excited, but don’t want to blog about it yet.  It’s a big decision, so I need to gather as much info as possible.

More waiting.

There are only two patients left in the waiting room. Hubby is one. Should be the next one in.  And yes! He’s in!!

And I wait.

Now we are running errands. Well, hubby is running errands. I’m in the car.

W.A.I.T.I.N.G.

I place a very high value on hubby, so this day is actually nice.  I do not mind waiting for him.

Now about the stuff people who read my blog are more interested in  – the gym stuff.  Growing muscle stuff.  Competing stuff.   Something interesting is happening. I’ve been careful about macros since I figured out I haven’t been careful.  Since I’ve been on spring break for a couple weeks, I’ve gotten a tiny bit more sleep, but not nearly as much as I would like.  If I get 8 hours one night, I won’t the next.  I’ve been working out in the early afternoons instead of the early, early mornings.

Nothing memorable happened at the gym this week – small progressions by adding reps because weights went up in the last couple weeks. The interesting thing is the weight gain. Up about 3 pounds in the last month, but I’m really feeling it this week. There is new fat, I’m certain of that, because there has been a ton of stress, I have a cortisol, issue…do the math. That’s how I got obese in the first place. I’ve had enough DEXA scans to know that I gain about 4 lbs of fat with every pound of muscle.  The pumps are big. Really big.  When I eat, I feel it in my arms and chest. After a couple sets of anything upper body, my bra and shirt become uncomfortably tight.  Street clothes are tight, too. Glutes are bigger and shorts that should fit, don’t. Bought a new short sleeve shirt. It was too big everywhere – on purpose. It was at a thrift store and I really liked it, even though I knew it would be loose. Too big everywhere except in the arms. <insert happy dance with bicep flexing here> I’m going to have to let out some gathers in the sleeve.  So does this mean I’m in an anabolic growth spurt?  I like it.  If I’m gaining fat, I’m also gaining muscle.  I’d love to be growing a little bone, too.  I’m not bulking my food – I’m still running deficits.  The deficits are smaller than they are when I cut.  I’m obviously getting enough when I need it.  When I go back to work next week, we’ll see how things change.  That’s when I don’t eat regularly because of my teaching schedule, I get less sleep, I workout at 0-dark-thirty, and the while the next three weeks are annually the most stressful teaching weeks for me, there are extra stressors added in this year.  Can’t wait.  Oh well, it’s temporary.  I can ride this out.

The decision to work for a year and not compete was a good one, even if I’ll need to buy bigger, clothes for my non-shrinking, non-prep, sleeve-busting body this summer. The hard part is watching others compete while I work and wait.

Waiting. For another 65 weeks.  (Approximately.  I don’t have the next show picked yet.)

That is the real type of waiting I wanted to write about and my day just revolved around the topic.  Someone asked me a while ago if I was having a hard time watching competitors prep for shows.  At the time, I didn’t think so.  But maybe it’s going to be a little tougher than I thought.  I’m not planning to compete in anything – strongman, power lifting – nothing.  There is so much going on in every other aspect of my life, that I like the idea of keeping training as simple and stress-free.

And then there is waiting and patience while training.  Changes are supposed to be less dramatic now.  I will do the work.  Keep chugging away making small forward progressions.

A year from now will be very exciting to see what I’ve built.  Just wait.  :)

 

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Cortisol

Introvert Eats Ego

I know.  I know.  I KNOW!  But sometimes, I can’t help it.

Despite appearances – blog, a Facebook page, competing, I am an introvert.  I don’t interact with many people online or in person.  When I do explore and see what others are doing, like I did this morning, I never get jealous about appearances, but I do get jealous about lifting.  My initial response is “Yay you!!”  And then sometimes, it turns inward in an unhelpful way.  It’s inspiring if they are advanced lifters, but when I see women doing things I should be able to do - like squat anything over 130 pounds, I get bummed.  I have a few things I do pretty well, but cable pulldowns aren’t really all that sexy in the lifting world.   I get a little attention because of my age and that I didn’t quit.  And neither of those things impress me much.  I still have only been lifting for a few years and I am currently in an extended “improvement season”, which means I’m just putting in work.  Nothing truly exciting is going on.  I have a brand new Inzer lever belt I haven’t used because I don’t have heavy leg work in my program because I couldn’t do it.  So I’m putting in work to get to be able to do it in the future.  And it pisses me off when I see that belt just laying there in my car.  Waiting.  Heck – for a few weeks, I left it in the box it came in.  Just got it put together last week.  Now it’s riding around in my car.

I see people doing things I wish I could do and it’s a reminder that I’m really just average.  And getting older.  I haven’t been the new and shiny for a long time.   Feeling average and old – not reality, just feelings.  And then I see someone doing something I should be able to do, I look at what I’m posting, and my ego gets served up.  Ego on a plate.  Nom. Nom. Nom.  And that’s OK.  I’m an intermediate lifter now, I’m told.  Things will happen slower.  Things will be less dramatic.

I can’t lie – everyday I have to recommit to staying public because I think what I’m doing is a little boring and I’d like to just do the work and not be distracted.  I like to keep to myself - which is why blogging is better for me than Facebook.  But I am an average blogger – I’m not a funny blogger , I don’t have time to research so I’m not an informational blogger.  I’m not really doing anything here except documenting my journey.  The Facebook page is harder to keep up and maintain.  Trolls abound.  So much more negativity to deal with over there.  The videos are a little work to do, but the hardest part is putting those visuals up and hoping people don’t think I’m overly impressed with myself – which I definitely am not.  I think about the energy and the time I would save if I just stopped being public.

And then I remember why I don’t want to stop posting.

I remember what it felt like to walk into that gym when I believed I did not belong there.  I remember what it felt like to be embarrassed to have let myself get into that condition.  I remember how it felt to have to pay strangers to help me and trust that they knew what they were doing and weren’t just taking my money and going through the motions. (And that is why I get ENRAGED when I see bad training and bad coaching.  These women are trusting you, assholes, and you’re not even bothering to correct bad form and then dismiss science.  Just keep them emotionally dependent, usually injured,  eating almost nothing, doing hours of cardio, and guilt them when their metabolisms adapt and they stop losing weight - anything to keep them hooked into your ‘old school approach’.  I even saw a coach berate clients on his Facebook page for not following his ‘old school’ program.  Jerk.)  I remember how hard it was to change my daily life.  I remember the guilt I had because the people around me were basically forced to adjust their routines because of my decision.  It took a lot of courage and faith to do those things when body-image and self-confidence weren’t great.

Every time I get ready to quit being public, I hear from someone who borrowed some courage from me.

I don’t really care if I’m “inspirational”.  I don’t care how many people are following.  To be honest, it’s a lot of pressure to keep posting when I’m feeling very – average.  But there is something about what I’m doing that seems to be helpful, so unless something comes up that prevents me from keeping up the public part of my program, I’ll continue.  I guess I felt like I needed to say out loud that whenever my ego gets a little too inflated, there is a pin right there to pop it.  I still need a bit of courage to do what I do.

But if you need to borrow some, help yourself.  I don’t think it runs out.

 

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Filed under Life, My Lifting Log, Opinions, Venting, Ranting

66 Weeks – Gravity

“I think that gravity sets into everything, including careers, but pendulums do swing and mountains do become valleys after a while… if you keep on walking.”  ~ Sylvester Stallone

The things that have been going on in my private life and professional life have weighed me down.  Gravity has been applied – not just in the seriousness of things, but also on my spirit.  This week, I felt the weight lift a bit.  I’ve decided to use gravity positively – I want to be pulled towards something that excites me.  Next week, I’m going to meet with a friend to explore a new opportunity in teaching.  I don’t know if it will work out, so I’ll wait to talk about it when I know there is something to talk about.

As I sort things out and make plans, I’ve got my eye on my “true north” – real life.  I’m focused on home, training, and my nutrition.  I have to keep my focus there, because if I don’t, I run the risk of the gravity of stress pulling me away from my health.  Crash?  No way.  Work stress is what did me in before.  Totally not worth it.  If I can help it, this level of unhealthy unhappiness will NEVER happen again…

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I spent the last week sorting things out in my mind and finding my center.  Center of gravity?  OK, center of my personal gravity.  I had time to complete an Excel spreadsheet with daily macros.  My ego thought I had this macro thing down pat – so wrong!  Over the last few months, there were only 4 days when I hit all my macro ranges on the same day.  That was a surprise.  However, my average carb, protein, and fat grams over the entire time were in the right ranges, so while not optimal, it wasn’t a disaster.  The body responds to what we do consistently long term.  So while I’ve been too busy every day to think straight, I’ve managed to cycle all my macros in some fashion, high or low, around the targets I was supposed to hit.  Since I saw that, I’ve made it a point to hit targets every day.  Protein and fats are stationary, non-moving targets.  Daily protein intake is 145-160 grams and fat is 85-90 grams.  Carbs change depending on my daily burn data from the Bodybugg.  My goal is to stay just under maintenance.  I don’t want a high deficit – usually 200 calories under, and no more than 300 calories.   So if I’m having a high burn day, I eat more carbs.  Most days, I’m around 170-200 grams.  My weight jumped up a couple pounds in the last two weeks before break – thank you cortisol, my old friend!  But now I’m stable most days or dropping a little.  I’m sleeping.  I’m recovering.  I’m getting stronger.  I’ll add in a couple cardio sessions a week to deal with the stress-induced fat gain.  They will probably help with stress and sleep, too.

My week of raising heavy objects has gone well.  I’ve been adding weight or reps to everything.  My bench is nothing to brag about – only 105 for 5 – but I haven’t bench pressed in a looooong time. When I started again a month ago, I was at 85 for 5.  I think I did 115 once a very long time ago.  (A log exists, but I don’t know where it is.)  Lat pulldown is still at 180 on a heavy, low rep day, and 135 or 150 on the higher rep day.  Even bicep curls are up.  Barbell is at 65 for 5 and dumbell curl is 25 for 9.  That is big progress for me.  Biceps have been stuck for a year.  I’m so happy with my decision to not compete this year!  I like to compete, but I love to make progress.

Part of my “sorting things out” process is to eliminate distracting annoyances.  I really like my regular lifting gym, but it’s too small for the number of people who are using it right now.   Solution – I’ll head back to my old gym.  I have an “uber-cheap-you-can’t-get-it-anymore” membership at 24 Hour Fitness.  There are two of those in my town.  Both are huge in comparison, but neither have platforms.   So I have three locations I can use.  My plan is to cycle between them.

I did one of my leg workouts at 24 this week.  That workout included goblet squats with blood flow restriction.  I’m sure guys thought I was nuts when they saw me put knee wraps on my hips.  Hahaha!  Didn’t get video of that exercise, but I did record my Barbell Thrusts.  I should do the single leg version of these, but they don’t have bumper plates at 24, so I had to use a minimum of 135 pounds to be able to roll the bar over my legs.  Didn’t want to try 135 with one leg, but maybe I should have.  It felt very easy and I kept adding weight.  Here is my 185.  I’ve done more than this when I did this lift on a Smith Machine, but this is the heaviest I’ve done on the floor.

That is my favorite ab exercise.  Usually I do it with a barbell, but it wasn’t convenient that day.  Dumbbells work.  Those were 22.5, so the total weight was still a bar.

Standing calf raise machines are really different.  At American Iron, I do 120 lbs.  At 24, that was 310.  Must be the anti-gravity devices they have at 24.  Hahahaha!

So my interaction with the force of gravity this week has been productive.

I have one more week of spring break left and a lot of things I need to accomplish before school starts again on April 14th.  The changes that are coming will be bittersweet, but necessary.  It’s sad and exciting to be at a fork in the road.  But I’ve stopped struggling with the reality of which path I need to take.  I’ve had a certain amount of success when I “zag” when it’s expected to “zig”.

 

 

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Filed under Life, My Lifting Log, Teaching, Videos

67 Weeks – Clarity

Published on Saturday.  Edited on Sunday.  Processing continues…

Life happens, right?  I really have been walking around in a fog for the last month.  Not the worst time in my life, but stressful.  And then this morning – clarity.

I’ve been lucky and have been able to train with sufficient focus for a few years.  It looks as though 2014 is literally karmic payback time.  Life was already a little stressful before my husband’s accident (he’s recovering well, thank God), but after that, there was just so much extra for me to worry about do that I haven’t been able to keep all the balls in the air.  I’ve been waiting for the spring break from school that started today to get caught up on work and sleep.

But without getting into details, in the last 72 hours, the Universe has provided several unrelated events that I interpret as a sign that I’m supposed to be doing something else.  I have a few years before the state says I can retire,  but it’s pretty clear that changes are afoot.   And that makes me incredibly sad.  Heart broken.  I’ve been feeling that sadness and grief for the last two days.  This morning, I woke up feeling nauseous from it, but a few minutes of reflection and prayer got my head to the right place.  It’s time to find my courage and embrace the change that is happening.

Some of this is out of my control.  But no worries – things will work out exactly the way they are supposed to.   It has been harder over the last few years to do what I do.  The gap between what kids need to know to be successful in upper level mathematics and what they have actually learned has been getting wider.  I will keep my mind open and follow the path as it presents itself.  I’m wondering now if the next move should be into the middle grades.  Maybe I can use what I’ve learned in upper levels to help prepare younger kids for what’s ahead.

One of the reasons I’ve accomplished what I have as a teacher is that I take ownership over my practice as if it were my business.  So what happens next, whatever that turns out to be, it will be my decision.    My priorities are lined up correctly – husband and training come before any job.  But I am that teacher – the one that likes to ask questions, rock boats, build programs.  I like to invest myself.  I like to empower kids – I do not teach or practice compliance.  I teach”Badassery 101″.  My students will run things.  And that, I suspect, is why I am not a good civil servant.  ;)

I will continue to reflect, pray, and talk with hubby and friends, so that a plan will be made that sets things up to honor what’s important and helps me transition to the next thing.  Just in case my kids are reading this – don’t worry. We still have AP exams right around the corner and you will rock it.  I will help you stay fiercely focused.  My loyalty is to you.

But enough of that.

My life works best when I’m lifting.  Lifting is better when I’m focused.  I’m excited about the progress I’m making – especially considering I’ve been making progress while navigating the change in routines that come from two people sharing a car, one of those people healing from an accident, and that car needing repairs.  Too much stress and too many little things bothering me.  But that stress over the last couple of weeks has started a weight gain, too.  Not worried.  I know how to handle that.  Make some decisions and move on.  I’ve also been working with a new coach online who adjusted things in my program so that I can stay on track while handling this crazy time.  (No negative issues with previous coach and I still recommend him.  Change is good and even necessary.  I like learning new things from new people.)

So on this first day of spring break, I reconnected to my joy of lifting.  Today’s lift was an upper body hypertrophy split.  I’m getting stronger and bigger.   I’m excited about what is going to happen over the next year.  I’m certain that the next time I compete, the improvements will be quite noticeable.  I don’t think for a second that the obstacles I have to navigate are over.  2014 is going to be a challenge.  I’ve had challenges before and I am confident in my ability to get a thing done.  I’ve done a lot already, and I’m not talking about bodybuilding, because I haven’t accomplished much there – yet.  It took me 16 years from start to finish to get that Bachelor of Science in Mathematics – my most feared subject in high school.  There have been some awards, a national certification, and a masters degree.  I’ve accomplished almost* everything I chose to accomplish letting time be the variable.  I’ve taught for 18 years and I think I’ve taught every level of mathematics from 8th grade through calculus 2.  And I can give a pretty decent pep-talk, I’m told.

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I’ve told people that I feel like the old dog at the pound that no one wants to adopt.  Well, that’s just how I feel at work.  I feel joy when I lift.   Afterwards, I feel hopeful and excited about the future.  I daydream about new adventures and new opportunities.  I dream about having a life where my success is based on my hard work.  The responsible, grown-up part of me knows I have to wait until the state says I have earned my retirement.  There is a possibility that this is all happening because there is some amazing opportunity in education I don’t know about yet because everyone knew I wasn’t available.  No matter what happens, I will maintain forward progression.

This week was not great, but today was pretty good.

*I did not get the Presidential Award for Teaching in Mathematics.  I decided to wait to apply again when there was a president I wanted to meet.  ;)

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Faith, Life

68 Weeks Out

WORKOUTS

This is a deload week for me.  I do a deload every 4th week.  For each exercise, the sets are reduced by one and I either keep the weight the same as it was the week before or I drop it a little.  Deload weeks help me recover while still lifting.  But they make for uninteresting status reports.

I won’t deload the two leg exercises I use for blood flow restriction work.  It’s already light.  I feel like I finally figured out how to do it.  I’ve learned how tight the straps need to be.  Read some more about it and started making the first set a very high rep set – 30 reps.  Felt that.  Legs stay a little big for a day afterwards, too.  I like that.

Today’s workout was upper body hypertrophy.  Chest, back, shoulders, and arms – all in the 8 to 12 reps range.  Even with the deload, I was so pumped after two sets of bench press and two sets of hammer smith incline press that my bra and shirt were too tight.  Hahahaha!  Love it!

FOOD

I am logging food and counting macros, but each day varies.  I am using the Bodybugg to track calorie burn as the day progresses.  I am not too concerned with meal timing – my day is pretty regimented since I’m a teacher.  I eat when I have time to eat and it happens at the same time every day.  But when I get home, I synch the Bugg to check the burn and then I eat enough in the evening to stay just under maintenance.  The Bugg resets at midnight and when I wake up in the morning, I’ve got a deficit around 200 calories.  I’m trying to maintain my weight eating as much as I can.  I keep the protein and fat grams basically the same, and I have a minimum amount of carb grams I will eat every day, but if I need more calories, I eat more carbs.

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This video is a great resource for info about calorie deficits and surpluses and how to use timing to optimize body composition.

OTHER STUFF

My “get more sleep” goal was given up when my husband had his car accident, but I’m still trying.  Didn’t have a good week with that this week.  Slept only about 5 hours every night.  Even on a night when I’ve got more time, my body just didn’t want more than 5.  Or my mind.  Doesn’t matter – it’s not enough.  My husband is a great sleeper.  The dogs are great sleepers.  I suck at sleeping.

Emotionally, I’ve struggled a little bit this week.  I’ve been edgy and easily annoyed.  I suppose that’s to be expected with only 5 hours of sleep a night.  There is also a lot of extra stuff to do dealing with the aftermath of the accident while trying to lesson plan for three very rigorous math classes.  Oh, and grades were due this week so I had piles of grading to catch up.  Luckily, we have one more week before spring break – two weeks off this year!  That’s two weeks without an alarm clock.  I will be able to catch up on sleep.  Yay!!!

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Filed under Competing, Life, My Lifting Log, Nutrition

69 Weeks Out

A fellow high school math teacher friend and I loosely keep track of the number of times the magical number “69″ appears as answers to example questions, test questions, publicized statistical information, etc.   While I am happy with my decision to wait a year to compete, life is a little ‘challenging’ right now, so to motivate myself, I felt compelled to calculate the number of weeks until the first weekend when I might compete –  yeah, it’s 69 weeks from tomorrow.  Go figure.

My life has changed a bit in the last few weeks.  I miss blogging.  It’s unlikely that I will be able to stick to a writing schedule, but I am going to attempt to keep a weekly journal here.  It may be boring, but if I can do it, I will have  documentation of my program as I work on improving before I compete again.

My current workout split is a four day lift plan – upper heavy, lower heavy, upper hypertrophy, and lower hypertrophy.   The switch from five days lifting to four was made to free up my schedule a little bit because of life things.  I can tell after a few weeks of this that I am recovering better with three rest days a week instead of two.

While I have a “lower heavy” day, my right hip really can’t handle heavy loads.  I am learning how to use blood flow restriction training with goblet squats and hex bar deadlifts.  The first week, I didn’t have the straps tight enough.  The second week felt better.  I like the knee straps around my hips – they help me spring up.  There isn’t a lot of pain.  It does become uncomfortable at the end of the 15 rep set.  Because the weight used is supposed to be light, I don’t feel like I’ve worked much.  I think the straps were tight enough the second week, so I have to increase the weight I’m using or increase the number of reps.  I did notice that the pump in my quads lasted about a day, so maybe I am doing it right?

I haven’t done barbell bench presses in a long time, so I’m happy to be doing those again.  (I’ve been using dumbbells and Hammer Smith machines.)  My strength is pretty good for bench considering I haven’t done them in a while.  I think the most I’ve ever done is 115 for 1.  I’m currently at 100 for 5 after a couple of weeks.

Everything upper body has been going well.  The upper body days are my favorite now.  I do miss the 5th day of lifting that was dedicated to shoulders and arms.  However, with the added stress, the extra rest day is a good idea.

I am supposed to be hitting macros, but to be honest, I’ve been “loosely” following macros and eating for energy.   I’m attempting to maintain my body weight around 150 pounds right now.  I have been able to do that on more food.   From November until January, I was doing a very, very, very slow cut.  By February, I was starting to feel it in my energy levels.  I felt “off” – felt like I was slowing down.   Added in more food.  I’m maintaining my weight with extra food – mostly carbs.  Most days, I’m over 200 grams.   Protein is around 150 g and fat is around 85 g.

I haven’t done much cardio.  It tends to trigger a stress hormone response for me and I feel more anxious.  Because I have an extra rest day, I added a stairmaster HIIT one morning this week.  That would bring the number of cardio sessions I’ve done since November to… wait for it… 3.  But I do want to try and do one HIIT a week now. I think it will help with recovery.  Thinking about doing kettlebell swings for it, though.  Easier to do those at home in the dark hours of the early morning.

The biggest thing impacting my program right now is life.  The classes I’m teaching are challenging – precalculus, AP calculus AB, and calculus BC.  I’m barely able to keep up with lesson planning and my grading is a couple weeks behind now.   My husband and I have always been a two-car couple and we are now learning how to manage with a single vehicle while keeping all the extra appointments a guy with a recovering kneecap needs to keep.   Still working my way through a bunch of insurance paperwork while waiting to find out what the medical insurance will cover.  I’m sure we’ll be able to work this out.  I’m not worried.  I can’t be.  Stress won’t help me.

I get up early on weekends to work.  Peanut “helps” me.

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Peanut helping write calculus lessons last weekend.

I am going to keep my manicure appointments.  I love the hour I have to sit there and just visit with Janette.  Sure, I like the nails, too, but sitting still for an hour is awesome.

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School colors – green and white

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An Update

So the first week of my 52nd year was a little bumpy.  During this second week, the dust is settling.

Hubby is home and recuperating.  His healing will take time, but I’m grateful he is home to do that healing.

My coach reviewed all the data and he liked my progress pictures.  He reminded me that the DXA info doesn’t tell the whole story.  I’ve tightened up a bit in the last three months.  I am not competing again until summer 2015, so I have a lot of time to improve.  I got a great pep talk and a new training protocol that reduced my workouts from five to four a week.  That is a good thing right now.  There is more to do since I’m trying to pick up a little of what my husband normally does – and that’s really impossible since he does a ton of stuff every day.

Sleep is still a goal, but it’s probably not a reasonable one every day right now.  No worries about that are allowed.  If I’m tired, I don’t mind.  It’s going to be OK.  What I’m focused on at the moment is living in the moment – take each day as it comes.  I will not worry.  When I put my mind to it, I can compartmentalize things pretty well.  Every so often, I let all the things pile up in my head (insurance, medical bills, lesson plans, grading, etc.) and then stress over the pile of poo, but when I’m in crisis mode, I just handle the next thing and not think too far ahead.

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