Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay: Training For Long-Term Results

The smartest way to train and/or diet is to do as little as is required to get results.  Don’t feel like you’re slacking- the body adapts and you will need to dig deeper at some point.  And eating a lot less or training a lot more will backfire and take you off track at some point.  With consistency and patience, you can reach your goals and find a nice balance to maintain your hard-earned health and new physical abilities.  I am a competitive bodybuilder, so I take the process a little farther, but the principles are the same.  However,  I don’t ever think that what I’m doing in the gym is any sort of “beast mode”.  I do what Coach Alberto programs for me to do each week.  Despite what my pictures may lead one to believe, I did not get younger as the years went by.  My joints and connective tissues are at least 54 years old – possibly older considering how creeky I feel some days!  My program is based on the principles my friend Colin describes in this article.  To read Colin’s other articles in this series, look under the “Guest Blog” category in the menu on the right. ~ Tammy

 

In my previous blog I went over some tips on how to get started with weight training if you are in the beginning stages. Today I want to go over some more advanced topics of training. This will be an article for you to reference back to once you’ve been training consistently for a handful of months and the “newbie gains” have started to slow.

As I previously mentioned when you’re new to training it doesn’t take a lot to start seeing some decent results from your training. Just show up consistently, do the work and your body is going to change (it’s that pesky consistency part that usually stops people from seeing any real results.)  So in the beginning life is good. You’re showing up, you’re building muscle and your body composition is changing. You just keep showing up and you’re rewarded for you efforts.

What happens though, when your body is no longer changing? Fast forward a year down the road, you keep working out hard but you’re just not seeing improvement. You are working just as hard as you were before, why aren’t you changing anymore? It’s because your body has adapted to the stressors you’ve given it. It can handle everything you throw at it with ease now, so it has no reason to adapt any further. (It’s also worth mentioning that results WILL slow down the longer you train, even if you are doing things “right.”)

You see, in order for your body to change it must adapt to what it’s doing. Yes, adaptation is a GOOD thing. Your body adapting to what you’re doing is what facilitates change. The thing is, once your body has adapted, it needs a new training stimulus to further advance. So in the beginning you want your total volume to be relatively low (volume is simply sets x reps x weight) and it should continually increase over time. This is called progressive overload which basically states that your body will not change unless it’s forced to adapt to a tension above what it’s currently used to. So for your body to continue to change over time you must be doing more volume over time as well.

Now volume is extremely important when it comes to building strength and muscle. It’s most likely the most important part of training, however, that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing that comes into play. Other things such as time under tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage are all factors for muscle-building. The problem is, many people place those things things ahead of total training volume and that’s a mistake.

For instance, a lot of people like training to failure on every set of exercise because it will create a lot of muscle damage and metabolic stress. While it’s true training to failure does have its place, if you do it too frequently, it will significantly reduce your training volume.  Just think about it.  Say you are doing 3 sets of 10 reps on bench press. Perhaps you can normally do about 100 lbs for 10 reps before failing. If you take your first set to failure and get all 10 reps and fail trying to get an 11th you will be really fatigued for you next set. So on your second set you may only get 6 reps. Now you’re extremely fatigued for your 3rd set and can only get 4. You’ve now done a total of 20 reps at 100 lbs for a total volume of 2000 lbs (remember volume is sets x reps x weight used so in this case it’s 3x20x100.)

Now let’s say instead of training to failure you leave a rep in the tank. You do your first set to 9 reps and since you haven’t fatigued yourself so bad you are able to get 9 reps for all three sets. Now you’ve done 2700 lbs of volume, 700 lbs more than when you were going to failure or 35% more total volume. Certainly with training to failure you’ve created more stress and muscle damage, but you’ve significantly sacrificed the most important aspect of training to do so – volume. This is why I don’t like to put a limit on rest periods as well. Longer rest periods have actually been shown to produce greater results in hypertrophy (essentially muscle-building) than shorter rest periods and I’d personally contribute that to being able to move more total volume with the extra rest. (1) Obviously not everyone can spend several hours in the gym nor do you have to, but the point is volume is important and it’s not smart to sacrifice volume where you can help it.

One question I get frequently is if volume is so important and is the key to strength and muscle gains, why wouldn’t you just go out and do as much volume as possible? Quite simply it’s because if your body isn’t used to high volume, the chance for injury becomes high. Plus if you start with high volume, even if you get lucky and don’t get injured, see tremendous progress, but now you’ve set your volume threshold high.  To see further progress, you’ll have to do even more volume to see better results again.

So while you want to continue to see volume increase, you want to progress at a reasonable rate. Basically, the less volume you can do while still seeing results the better off you’ll be down the road. (I hope you’ve been paying attention through this series because that’s been a pretty common theme throughout.)

This is why I strongly suggest keeping some sort of training log so you can look back at what you’ve done and make sure you’re continuing to see progress going in the right direction. Plus, it’s fun to look back at how far you’ve come. Especially when you inevitably get to a point where you feel like things aren’t working, it can be a real boost in morale to see how much progress you really have made.

Pic for Blog 6

Okay so that’s the article for today. The main takeaway from this should be that in order to continue building muscle over time you have to continually do more work over time. Your body will adapt to what you give it, and if you never give it a reason to adapt to a new stress it will never have reason to make further change. If what you’re doing right now is producing results by all means keep it up, just realize that eventually it won’t be enough.

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If you are looking for more information from me you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you will get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance, and possibly a small kick in the rear from time to time…  Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you are sensitive you may want to pass. But if you’re serious about changing your life and taking ACTION, you should love it.

 

Lastly if you’re ready for change RIGHT NOW and want to take the guess work out of it, I am accepting clients for both training and/or nutrition help. If you’re looking for coaching just head here and choose the option you would like. I’d love to help you reach your goals!

 

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Getting Started with Weight Training – Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay

cropped-orig_weights1

If you read my last blog you understand the importance of a good strength training routine when it comes to losing weight and that building muscle can be your best friend. However, if you’re new to training you might be wondering where exactly you should start. So that, my friend, is exactly what we’re going to talk about today.

The first myth I want to dispel right away is that in order to see progress you have to beat your body to a bloody pulp and leave the gym crawling out on your hands and knees leaving a trail of your own filth along the way. It’s just not true, and likely counterproductive. Especially as a true beginner, the truth is you can actually do very little (and should) to see results. If you’ve never lifted before, to start out you can just show up to the gym, do a set or two of a handful of exercises a few days per week and you’ll be surprised just how well it will work. Those of us in the business call that “newbie gains” and trust me, anyone who’s lifted a long time is jealous of how easy you can see progress!

As you get more experienced it takes more complex and systematic approaches to training but as a beginner the training response is so powerful that literally all you have to do is show up, do some work, be consistent and you’ll see progress. This is not the time to look for complex or extreme programs, you don’t need it. As a beginner the emphasis should be on building good habits and work ethics, learning proper form/technique and finding something you enjoy. It’s later on down the road you’ll need to worry about things like periodization and progressive overload (which you probably have no clue what they mean nor do you need to at this point, but I will explain in the future.)

If you are totally new to training, start small. Do something manageable that you KNOW you can do each and every week. If that means lifting two days per week, doing 4 exercises and just a couple of sets of each one, do that. You want to gain confidence and momentum and if you start off with a program that requires a lot more work than you’re used to chances are you’ll become discouraged and you’ll be much more likely to quit. Get in there and get some wins, show yourself that you can do it, then start adding more work after you’ve done it consistently for a while.

Keep it simple, make it enjoyable and don’t get caught up on picking the “perfect” exercises. Also don’t worry about performing the movements perfect either. Don’t get me wrong you’ll want to learn proper technique for sure, but you’ll never master it before ever starting. So get in there, do the work and learn as you go. People who wait to have all the knowledge (no such thing as knowing everything) before they start will struggle. In fact doing too much research ahead of time will likely overwhelm you and keep you from even attempting to start. Step one is just showing up and starting, doing ANYTHING.

Where exactly you should start and what you should do unfortunately is not something I can tell you with generic advice in a blog. That is highly dependent on each individual and their training history amongst other things. But what you can do is use the above advice to try and set a starting point for yourself and just make sure you keep working. While there are certainly more optimal ways to do things there is NOTHING more important than consistency and adherence to your plan. You can do a lot of things “wrong” and still get great results, as long as you don’t keep quitting. Maybe it’s possible but I’ve yet to see anyone who worked hard for multiple years at something without quitting that didn’t get some pretty darn good results. There is a time and place to try and be as “perfect” as possible, but most of the time the most important part is just showing up. Oversimplification? Possibly, but I dare you to try it and prove me wrong…

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If you are looking for more information from me you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you will get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance, and possibly a small kick in the rear from time to time…  Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you are sensitive you may want to pass. But if you’re serious about changing your life and taking ACTION, you should love it.

 

Lastly if you’re ready for change RIGHT NOW and want to take the guess work out of it, I am accepting clients for both training and/or nutrition help. If you’re looking for coaching just head here and choose the option you would like. I’d love to help you reach your goals!

 

 

 

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[Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Delete]

Everything happens for a reason, right?  You may not believe that, but I do.  I believe that if it’s not a blessing, it’s a lesson – if something is “off” in my life, if something isn’t working, there is something I need to learn.  The “Great Birthday Funk of Year 54” certainly hasn’t felt like a blessing.  Must be a BIG lesson I’m having trouble learning.  I’ve already shared one thing I’ve learned-I think I’m what is called a “highly-sensitive-personality” – which means my brain processes things differently.  Not sure how much of that was hard-wired from birth, but I would bet that being a teacher, having to observe and listen to 30+ kids every hour for 20 years will change the brain to be able to process a mass amount of stimulation every minute without going nuts. (Which is one reason why teacher-interns are so tired.  Most people do not have to process as much input as a teacher.)  I will not notice some things – husband will move something in the yard and I’ll notice it weeks later.  But I will notice things other people miss.  And I’ll ruminate on them.  If I’m feeling a bit blue, I’ll notice things that will feed that funk monster.

OK, sure – getting sick may have been prolonged my funk a bit because I may have been fighting off that virus for a while before I knew I had it.  It’s also likely that getting sick may have been a consequence of the internal stress I felt.  My immune system needs to work pretty darn hard because of how I train (especially during times of slightly restricted calories) and because of what I do for a living – teach geometry to sophomores. (Can I get an “Amen” from my fellow high school teachers?)  Getting sick was probably a logical outcome from being exposed to sick teenagers when that immune system was stretched a bit thin.  However, getting sick meant I couldn’t workout, so couldn’t work through stress.  That meant I indulged the birthday funk longer than I usually let funks last.  I don’t mind being a bit pissy from time to time, but letting myself get run down so I couldn’t lift, well, that’s just unacceptable.  Time to Work. The. Problem.

What can I [Ctrl]?  What can I alter [Alt]?  What can I [Delete]?  Seems like a good process to do every so often, doesn’t it? A little “reboot”?

I decided that I may not be able to [Ctrl] some things, but I can control many things.  For a few days, I paid attention to what was happening around me that triggered negative emotions.  I wanted to find things I could change.  We all have negative things we must deal when we are doing important work.  For example, on any given day, working with a teenagery teenager IS important to me.  Out of the 170 kids I see every couple of days, any one of them can have a bad day and some have many bad days.  I can’t help that.  I have learned how to work with them without internalizing their negativity, but it does take a lot of patience and it can drain my reserves for things that happen away from work.  So the TV in the weight area of my gym that is set on a channel that plays UFC highlights every morning was something that I saw as a negative, but might be something that could be fixed, right?  I asked for it to be changed and it was… for about a week.  I must be in the minority of members who use that part of the gym who think watching people do violence on each other at 4 am every morning is unpleasant.  And that’s OK.  (It’s like strawberry ice cream.  I don’t like strawberry ice cream.  Many people do.  No judgments. No worries.  I won’t eat it.  Problem solved.)   If it bothers me and it cannot be changed, I will change something I do [Ctrl].  I made an [Alt].  This week, I used the gym that is closer to work instead of the gym closer to home (same gym, different locations) on the days it was convenient to do so.  Honestly, I like that I have this option.  So this wasn’t just a negativity to [Delete], but also a nice change.

Controlling the negativity is also part of classroom management.  Teenagery teenagers can fuel each other’s negativity, which is almost all directed at me, the math teacher.  New seating charts work wonders!  I don’t just move the  kids, I move the desks.  I rearrange the furniture to increase the efficiency of whatever the activity will be that day.  I also spent some time thinking about repetitive tasks I do and found ways to make them more efficient.  Boom.  More negativity to [Delete].

What else can I [Ctrl]?  Too much time on social media.  Too much thinking about what to post on social media and monitoring comments.  Too much fitness/soft porn on Instagram, which just got on my “what the hell are you thinking” social justice nerve.  And one single minute spent with negativity on social media is a waste of time that could be spent in the real world doing something joyful.  I can [Ctrl] oodles of that.  So for the time being, Instagram has been deactivated [Delete].  I reorganized ( an [Alt]) my personal Facebook page a little so I can [Ctrl] who sees what I post.  My Lifting My Spirits page is almost always a positive place to hang out, but it has been a lot of work to keep posting content and monitoring comments to keep things positive.  I will post a little less often.  People don’t really need to watch me do lat pulldowns twice a week.  And I’m allergic to selfies.   Anyone with a page knows we have to deal with trolls occasionally – fewer posts will reduce my exposure to that unpleasant task.  It’s like picking up dog poop in the back yard.   More negativity to [Delete]!  I’m not bothered by what they say, but by the incomprehensible rationale as to why they give themselves permission to say it.  It’s annoying.  I don’t have an obligation to be exposed to that.  It diminishes my energy.

These [Alt]s have been a little bit of an adjustment.  Not being on Instagram has made me feel a bit disconnected, but that’s OK.  I can contact my friends directly if I want to know what they ate for lunch.  :)

Today is the first day of our spring break from school.  It’s a beautiful day.  Just hung my first load of laundry out for the season.  I feel light and joyful.  [Ctrl][Alt][Delete] is a good process.

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Max Lift Testing Results

Took me nine weeks to get through the last “8 week” cycle.  Such is life.  (The new one is getting off to a slow start, too, thanks to a crappy head cold.) At the end of this last cycle, I tested the main lifts in my program with AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) sets with a certain weight.  From that, my current 1 rep max (1RM) is calculated and entered into the next spreadsheet sent to me by my coach.  Each spreadsheet cycle is adjusted based on what we want to accomplish during that cycle.  During the last cycle, the goal was to at least maintain strength during a mini-cut, hopefully build some lean mass and get stronger.  My personal goal was to improve strength on my bench press.  That lift has not been progressing at the same rate as all the others.

Results…

Leg Press

This is a hard one to compare over time because I’ve used different machines in different gyms.  And I’ve worked on improving range of motion, so I’ve had to start over a few times.   But I’ve tested on the machine I’m using now a couple of times, so I guess this is a lifetime PR on this machine, right?

Dec 20, 2015: 1RM = 563 lbs

Feb 26, 2016: 1RM = 609 lbs   Increased 7.6%

RDL

A bar with weights.  Easy to compare.  I set a lifetime PR with this one.  This lift just keeps getting stronger, but I suspect I’m going to hit a limit with it soon because of physics.  My bodyweight isn’t going to go up, so the leverages have to have a limit, right?

Dec 22, 2015: 1RM = 264

Feb 28, 2016: 1RM = 270  Increased 6%

Bench Press

Dec 21, 2015: 1RM = 124

Feb 25, 2016: 1RM = 126 Increased 1.6%

Disappointed.  This lift was stronger back in May 2014.  My 1RM then was 127.  This lift just doesn’t progress like the others.  And I lose it and have to start over after each show prep.  So to test this time and miss my lifetime PR by one pound was frustrating.  I actually tested this lift twice, once at the beginning of the week and a second time the following weekend when I had more rest.  Same result, so it’s real.

HS Shoulder Press

I use this machine for my main shoulder work because the impingement issue in my right shoulder makes free weight work feel unstable.  The improvement on this lift was a surprise.  I did what I needed to do with the AMRAP set – and it was easier than it should have been.  So I added weight and did another AMRAP.

Dec 23 2015: 1RM = 45

Feb 28 2016: 1RM = 52 lbs   Increased 15.5%

Barbell Row

Like the RDL, this lift progresses predictably. I hit another lifetime PR with it.   And also like the RDL, I think there is a limit coming up soon.

Dec 26, 2015: 1RM = 169

Feb 26, 2016: 1RM = 186 lbs  Increased 10%

Pulldown

Like the leg press, this one is hard to compare over time because I’ve used different pulley machines in different gyms.  On paper, it looks like it has regressed, but I know that’s not true.  I did use the same pulley machine for these two tests.

Dec 23, 2015: 1RM = 156

Feb 29, 2016: 1RM = 163 Increased 4.5%

 

I passed all my tests.  Basically lifetime PRs in everything that I can compare over time, except the bench.  But it’s progressing and I’ll get there.  And I’m not a power lifter.  It’s just my ego.

It’s worth noting that I’m basically healthy.  My coach has done some smart programming – both in the gym and with my food.  He also makes a point to support me when I’ve decided to back off from something I’m supposed to do if I’m not feeling it.  (I assume he knows I will push when that feels appropriate, too.)  54 years old, scoliosis, lifting heavy things, and the only issues I have are minor.  A little tendonitis here and there.  I’ve got an old quad pull that likes to act up every so often.  I respect these things.   I listen to them.   If something feels funky, I pull back.  I’ve learned my lesson with that.  I have been “beast mode” and ended up getting hurt, nursing something for months – years.  Nope.  Not worth it.  It’s true I need heavier weights to progress, but not all the time.  One more rep is progression.  An extra set is progression.  If I had completed one more rep in that bench press set, I would have set my PR.  But it wasn’t going up easily enough from the bottom, and had I grinded it at the weakest part of my range of motion, I could have injured my right shoulder that has impingement issues.  Not. Worth. It.  I know what PRs feel like when I’m strong enough to get them with good form.  I also know I’m not competing with anyone – I’m setting up the next spreadsheet cycle.  It’s ok to take some more time to get stronger.  Even if I hit it, I’d want to set another one next time, so it doesn’t matter.

Made a video of the lifts.  Sorry, no narration.  I’m sick today, so I’m saving my voice.  Had to teach with a bullhorn on Friday.

 

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Lift to Lose Fat – Guest Blogger, Colin DeWaay

 

Colin continues his series for Lifting My Spirits with this Part 4 – Training.  This is an excellent resource for those of you who were asking me whether you should lose weight first and then lift, or start lifting right away.  I’m posting this one with my before/after picture because I didn’t start to see the results I wanted until I started weight training in 2010

Tammy - before and after 8x10 - Copy

In my first blog for Tammy I discussed why the majority of people who lose weight struggle to keep it off long-term and gave some tips on how to keep the weight coming off by avoiding plateaus. In the second blog we talked about flexible dieting and the importance of avoiding super restrictive diets. Last time we talked about how to calculate your macros and I gave you a couple of options for tracking them. So now that I’ve covered much of the nutrition side of things for weight loss, I’d like to move onto training. Don’t you worry though – there is still plenty to talk about with regards to nutrition in the future.

Just like there are many misconceptions with regards to dieting, the same goes for the best way to burn fat from training. It seems most people think the only way to drop the weight is to spend hours running on a treadmill. But these people tend to run and run but get nowhere, literally.

While steady state cardio does tend to burn more calories while actually working out, it can’t hold a candle to the powers of strength training in the long run. See with steady state cardio (IE. Jogging) once you’re done with the exercise and your heartrate returns back to normal you’re done burning calories for the most part. But with strength training and other forms of interval training you get what’s called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.) With EPOC your body continues to burn calories while at a resting state as it tries to recover and repair itself from what you just put it through. This effect can happen for a few hours up to even close to two days depending on many factors. (1)

The other benefit to strength training is adding lean body mass to your frame. This not only helps with body composition (“toning” is the combination of muscle mass plus lower body fat) but increases in muscle mass helps your body burn calories even in a rested state. While some have severely overblown the affect additional muscle mass has on your daily expenditure, each additional pound of muscle could help burn roughly an additional 6-10 calories per day. (2) While it’s not a lot, every little bit helps right?

Now before you start worrying about getting “too big or bulky” I’d like to squash that right away. Trust me, people spend years TRYING to get “too big” and can’t. I don’t think anyone in the history of time has ever “accidentally” built too much muscle. Plus less be honest, if that scenario ever really did happen, could you just train less then? Anyway especially for women, who have about one tenth the testosterone of men, they’ll have a much harder time adding that extra muscle. Honestly for most people to get the results they want, I encourage them to do everything they can to TRY and build too much muscle.

Okay you get it, muscle = good. Strength training is better than cardio for fat loss. But should you be doing cardio at all? Well I’ll say this: Some cardio for general cardiovascular health is never a BAD idea, as long as it’s not extreme. However, honestly at least in the beginning the less cardio you can do the better. Remember how I previously talked about eating as many calories as possible while still losing weight so you have room to make adjustments when things stall? Cardio works similarly. You want to do as little as possible while still losing weight for the same reason. This way when things stall you have more options to get it going again. You can take away calories, you can add in cardio to supplement your weight training. You have options. But if you go low cal and do a bunch of cardio right off the bat, what are you going to do when you hit a plateau? You can only take away so many calories and do so much cardio.

The other thing to think about with regards to cardio is what kind to do. Once again I’m going to pick on poor steady state cardio. Sorry, it’s just not a very efficient use of your time! Perhaps you’ve heard of something called HIIT? It stands for high intensity interval training. This has been shown to be more effective than it’s steady state counterpart while allowing you to burn more calories in less time. (3, 4) It does, however, require some intense work and can be tough for some individuals to perform.

Basically you perform extremely intense exercise for short intervals mixed with a period of rest. This could be done by sprinting, biking, car pushes, sled drags, prowler pushes, etc. The point is you put forth maximum effort for a short period, maybe 20-30 seconds and then do a little active rest like walking until you feel recovered and do it again. Typically 3-5 minute rest periods are good for most people. I see a lot of people make the mistake of doing things like 30 seconds on and off, but chances are they aren’t putting in the maximum effort required to get the most of this training or they wouldn’t be able to go again in 30 seconds. If you can carry a conversation at all after your interval, chances are it wasn’t intense enough.

You can also combine the best of both worlds so to speak. High intensity interval resistance training has been shown to be very effective for additional calorie burn from EPOC as well as fat oxidation. (5) While I would approach this similarly as to save this type of work for further down the road, it can be a good option for anyone who has time restraints in the gym. If you need to get in and get out, working on strength training with very short rest periods can be an effective training method.

With all of this said there is one caveat to it all (there always is, isn’t there?) I’m basically telling you what I see as the most optimal way to go about burning fat. But what’s optimal isn’t always what’s best for each individual. If you absolutely hate one form of exercise and love another one, you’re going to have a lot better success doing the thing you love. Regardless of how “optimal” something is (this goes for both training and nutrition) the #1 factor in seeing results is adherence to the plan, being consistent. If you aren’t going to stick to something, it’ll never work. There is nothing wrong with steady state cardio so to speak, it’s just less efficient for both fat loss and body composition. But if that’s what you love and what you’ll continue to do, by all means do what you love.

So that’s all I have for this article. Not even sure what I’ll talk about next month, but don’t you worry, I’ll be back!

 

Also if you are looking for more information from me you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you will get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance, and possibly a small kick in the rear from time to time…  Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you are sensitive you may want to pass. But if you’re serious about changing your life and taking ACTION, you should love it.

Lastly if you’re ready for change RIGHT NOW, I am accepting clients for both training and/or nutrition help. If you’re looking for coaching just head here and choose the option you would like. I’d love to help you reach your goals!

 

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Filed under Guest Blog, Weight Loss

Hey Tammy! Pay Attention!!!

I’ve learned the hard way that it’s best to pay attention when strange, random, seemingly unrelated events start happening.  Here’s a list of the really odd things that happened this last week…

Sunday was my birthday.  Hubby made it really nice.  Humbled and grateful for the hundreds of birthday wishes I received on Facebook and Instagram.  On my personal page, I “liked” and thanked each one.   The next day, I realized that no one from my bodybuilding team wished me a happy birthday.  (I’m friends with about two dozen on Facebook and I’ve met a few in real life.)  That’s OK.  I guess I’m not such a good friend – a little used to that since I’m an introvert and I suck at being a good friend to a lot of people.  My time online is usually spent uploading content and managing the pages.  I don’t interact with people personally very often.  But on Facebook, birthdays aren’t something we have to remember – it tells us.  So no one from my team?  Really?  That stuck out as a thing.  Why is that something I noticed?  Why is it important?  A sign to reflect.

On the LMS FB page this week, I had to delete and ban a couple of guys.  One who LOVES me (he capitalized it, not me), but started to lecture me on why I shouldn’t have muscles.  Definitely putting out the vibe that I should care that he would love me more if I were locked in a basement.  The other appears to be using pictures of my feet for his personal porn.  Just add it to the list.  There is a guy in the middle east somewhere who wants me to carry him around like a baby.  No.  No.  NO.

More signs.

I have a general habit of unfollowing pages on FB and IG occasionally when I don’t like what they are posting at that time.  It’s not my business to tell them how to do things.  I expect people unfollow me for the same reasons – again – none of my business.  But this particular “unfollow” click  de-evolved into an unpleasant confrontation with two young women on my own IG page.  Under my “it’s my birthday” post even.  Not getting into the details of it.  Nothing about it made me think less of these ladies.  It was just a thing.  And it was just another sign.

My last blog post was about feeling old.  By Friday of this week, I felt older and more out of place in the social media fitness world.  Super weirdness – the clocks at school this week weren’t working properly.  At least once a day, the minute hand would start sweeping like the second hand.  Feeling old, watching time sweep by like that…I couldn’t help but see it as a metaphor for how life is passing by so much faster now.  You seriously have to admit that was weird – had to be a sign.

Yesterday morning, when I felt confused/sad/beat up/tired on the inside, I was standing in the hall outside my classroom smiling and greeting students.  Three former students walked over to say hello and a couple wanted hugs.  Over the course of the day, I heard from many former students.  Randomly.  That’s a big sign.

So what is going on?  Not sure yet.  But here are  my thoughts about these signs this morning…

  1. It would seem like I’m supposed to shift focus from social media to something else.  I would rather write. And Hubby and I have talked about other projects that we want to do, but I haven’t made time.
  2. The birthday thing is the most petty, but it does bug me. I could just be feeling “introvert-weird” at the moment.  Need more time to sort that out.
  3. The part of my social media involvement that I don’t want to give up is the part that appeals to me as a teacher.  It’s this blog.  I’ve neglected it, but I think it’s time to do this thing how I started – just document on the blog.  I never set out to be a public figure.  You’d be hard pressed to find anything I’ve ever posted where I said “I want to inspire people”.  However, I’m humbled when I hear that has happened.  I see it as a blessing.  Perhaps something I posted was someone else’s sign.  That feels a bit bigger than me and I’m not taking that for granted.  I know what you might be thinking – I started it.  I know.  I started it when I sent my before/after picture to Siouxcountry back in Dec 2012, but I never expected what has happened since.  Remember – I’m an introvert and the attention is NOT comfortable.  It’s amazing, I don’t understand it, I’m grateful, but it’s not comfortable.
  4. My trust in the basic decency of humans has been violated one too many times – thanks to Mr. Bunion Fetish Guy.  (You’re creepy and weird, btw.)  I know many people are going to think that this is just part of being online.  Yes.  Absolutely right.  But I control my life.  My real life right here. right now, in real time where I breathe air and do stuff.  I decide how I’m going to be treated.  I don’t WANT to grow a thicker skin.  I’m not even sure I’m capable of doing that, considering how my brain is wired as a highly-sensitive introvert.  I don’t like being distracted.  I’m too old to waste time with BS.  (Some of the weird love/hate thrown at me has caused my husband and I to worry about my personal safety at times.)   If this is something that is part of the online experience, I can fix it easily – I won’t be online.
  5. What is constant, what I can control, is my work ethic.  Training is going well.  I’m recovering well even though I’m doing a minicut.  My plan is to compete again summer 2017 and my trajectory appears to be for an improved, more competitive physique at that time.  That’s my goal.  That’s my motivation.  How I share this process is the question, isn’t it?

First thing this morning, I deactivated my Instagram account.  Didn’t delete it.  Just put it away for now.  Everything posted there is on the LMS Facebook page anyway.

Not sure what’s next.  Just want the time to figure that out.

None of this changes what’s important.  I’m a wife.  I’m a teacher.  I’m a bodybuilder.  So I’ll do what I do anytime signs are flying at me like this – I put my head down and lean into it.  Home.  Teach.  Train.  Take care of what’s important.

I need to write a funny blog pretty soon. Too damn serious around here lately.

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Filed under Life, Opinions, Venting, Ranting

I’m 54 Years Old Today

I’m 54 today.  When I was a kid, my mom made me a heart shaped birthday cake every year.  That was awesome!  I looked forward to it every year.  Once I wasn’t a kid, a Valentine’s Day birthday started to be a drag.  It’s hard to go out for a quiet birthday dinner without fighting crowds.

Hubby always makes it nice.  He’s awesome.

I’m sure most don’t think 54 is “old”, but I am very aware that I’ll be lucky if there are 54 birthdays ahead.  In fact, my mother died when she was 56.  Her early death was a motivating factor for me to fix my health in the first place.  Also a motivating factor to quit wishing to be a bodybuilder and actually do it.   It seems likely that I will live longer than she did.  Even so, I want to live as though nothing is promised.  Friends my age have died unexpectedly.  Each day is a gift.  Each hour is a gift.

As hard as I’m trying to work my gratitude, I’m feeling old today.  I have a sense of urgency to do things because there may not be much time left to do them.  I have things I want to accomplish in my sport and I started bodybuilding late.  When I get in a funk, I feel sorry for myself and feel isolated.  That’s when I feel really old.  Too old for this.  Silly old woman trying to hang in a sport with younger folks.  Most of the people I know who train like I train are decades younger and we don’t seem to relate to each other well. Different life stages, perhaps, but also my introversion makes it hard for me to establish connections quickly. And I probably make a few uncomfortable. Many people my age or gender don’t want to lift – much less lift heavy.  Yup, old and weird. I’m sure many have no idea why I’m doing this thing.

But when I lift, I don’t feel old.  There is something about training that makes everything else go away.  I’m calm.  I’m focused.  I feel like I’m in my element.  A fish in water.  I feel like that in my classroom, too.   It’s everyplace else where I feel like I just don’t quite fit in.  And maybe that’s a good thing.  Mostly that’s a good thing, I guess.  Just have these days…and they aren’t always birthdays.

 

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Filed under Life