Labor Day! One of the most loved holidays by American teachers who’s school year starts before Sept 1. That’s the weekend you get the extra rest you need after most energy is drained managing the chaos that is called “back-to-school”. I’ve heard teachers talk about opening a year and comparing it other years just like the elders back in my home state of Minnesota talk about the “great blizzard of 19-whatever”. Opening a school year is always hard. I expected it to be harder for me, personally, just because this time around many things are new to me, and it has met, if not exceeded, my expectations for difficulty.
So I’m chillaxin at least a day this weekend and blogging. If you look closely, you can see the “L” key on my laptop has broken off. I use “L” a lot – Love, Lift, Live… Luckily, it still works. Just a little awkward.
Joining the gym closer to my house was a smart move. I’m not in love with the equipment (a bar weighed 40lbs, not the standard 45 lbs – glad I checked), but the gym’s location and 24-hr access make my life work better. I’m able to get started earlier in the morning so I can actually finish my planned workout and have time to warm up, cool down, and shower before I want to arrive at school at 6 am. I need to workout uber-early anyway. I’m deadlifting at least twice a week now (YAY!!!!!!!) and this is one of those gyms that has a posted rule about loud noises. It’s all good. The eccentric part of my deads is a little harder now that I’m trying to be as quiet as possible.
I started the week wrong. The plan was to get a lift done first thing Monday morning. Alarm was set for 3 am. A second one for 3:15 am. Slept through both. I woke up with the sun at 6:15, so I still had enough time to throw on clothes, grab food, and get to work with enough time to prepare for first period at 7:30. Didn’t throw off more than that one day.
Sleep is OK. I’m averaging about 6 hours a night, which is normal. Not great, but if I have to get up at 3 am to make this all work, I’m grateful for 6 hours. That’s the minimum I can do and feel human. My goal for this 3-day weekend is an accumulated 24+ hours of sleep. I treat sleep like some people treat cardio. I have to – it’s my main strategy for controlling cortisol. When I get enough sleep, I will drop water weight, too. Two days in and I’m on track. Check out THESE numbers, baby. BOOM! Type-A-Overachiever Status!!! It was a little tough this morning when I woke up early, but I put my head down and grinded out another TWO HOURS!
At the gym, things are moving along as they are supposed to now that I’m feeling better. The program I was given a the beginning of August is unlike anything I’ve done before. Since I’m working with a coach, I can’t divulge details, but it’s a daily undulating periodization program. The exercises don’t vary, but the number of sets, reps, and loads do change from workout to workout. Some days I’m training for hypertrophy, other days for strength. I haven’t done a traditional bodybuilder body part split for months. I like it! Yesterday was the first time I did “singles” – many sets of 1 rep. That was weird and fun. And I’m deadlifting and squatting 2-3 times a week. Sweet! But squats are that exercise I don’t do well technically – which is why I’ve been doing overhead squats as a warm up for months. My squats are still not great and not heavy, but they feel more solid. Let’s check video…
This video was from last November. (Advance it to 1:08 to see a similar weight on the bar.)
This video was recorded yesterday…
As of yesterday, I am 45 weeks out from my next competition. Could be 41 weeks if I decide to do another local show instead. I think I have about 25 pounds to lose and I’m anxious to get started. Probably more anxious than my coach. The directive from our last Skype session when we went over my latest DEXA results and this new program was “stay the course”. I am anxious to do a mini-cut, though. My clothes are getting tight and I’m uncomfortable. I’ve gained about 7 pounds since last November – that’s pretty decent for an “off-season”, I guess. And I’m burning more and eating more. Carb intake is up from an average of 160 grams per day last November to 270 grams a day now. Some days I’m up around 320 grams. But I want to lose weight as s l o w l y as possible. Starting soon would be awesome. I think I need to start my prep at 40 weeks and will need to be convinced otherwise.
Competing is what keeps me motivated, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. Living this way is how I stay balanced. I need this to keep from losing myself trying to meet expectations of others. Especially now that I’m working in a building where I have observed that the unspoken expectation is that teachers will work 10-12 hours a day. At each staff meeting, there is a “thank you” ceremony for someone who has “gone above and beyond” (which is secret code for “volunteered to work more than the 7.5 hours a day we are paid” – most of us do, but I’ve managed to cut my hours down from 70 a week to 40-45 a week, until now). The rewards have included candy. It’s an unhealthy expectation/reward combo. I’m a bit flexible with my diet, sure, but because I train how I train, I can be flexible right now. Not sure if/when I’m going to point out that they are rewarding stress with sugar. I can see the effects of long term stress in my new colleagues. Long term elevated cortisol will change how the body stores fat. I’m not judging – I’m worried for them. So much younger than me and on the same path I was on. So, do I say anything? Maybe, but it usually doesn’t work. Rather just do my thing and let people ask when they are ready to know. But this is why I need to re-establish my boundaries and stick with the program. I’m surrounded by new people who didn’t know me before. A few have seen my pics, but they didn’t watch me do it. They have no idea and aren’t going to be as supportive as my friends at my old school.
These boundaries ultimately have made me a better wife and teacher. This recharges me. This prepares me to handle the stress each day. Always working toward a goal helps me keep the day in perspective. It makes me happy.