Category Archives: Videos

2017 Prep Update: Day 94

Crazy week!  Monday, Jan 9 was supposed to be our first day of second semester after a three-week break.  Didn’t happen.  Weather here made it necessary to cancel school on Monday and Thursday.  We had delayed starts the other days.  Roads were slippery.  No sunshine.  No dog walks.  We all had cabin fever.  I was able to get a ton of  work done to set up for the new semester.  That will pay off for me later since I’m prepping for the show in July and taking an online class to earn CEUs to renew my teaching licence next year.  We live close to the gym I use, so I was able to get in and had extra time…but sadly, it was a deload week.

Every four weeks, whether I feel like I need it or not, Coach has a deload week programmed into the cycle.  I appreciate it because I know that is why I have stayed relatively injury-free since I started working with him in 2013.  Usually, to deload, I’ve reduced loads.  This time, I kept the loads where they were the week before, but reduced the number of sets and reps.  I also skipped all hamstring work for a week to give my left one a chance to heal up.

Usually, I’m happy to have that deload week.  This time, it was hard.  The week was stressful because of the weather, scary driving, and the schedule disruptions.  I didn’t want to increase cardio for stress-management because I needed to rest that hamstring.  Also, I’m three months into a contest prep diet.  Even though my calories were increased a bit, it wasn’t so much that I wanted to divert those resources from healing that hamstring.  By the time Day 92 rolled around,  I was in a funk.

Funk = this is bullshit.  Why do I bother?  I’m not built right.  I’m too old…yada, yada, yada.

Sunday, Day 93 = first leg day in a week.  And no hamstring pain!!!  I was able to do what I was supposed to do on leg press.  I was cautious and brought the weight and reps down for leg curls.  But no pain during the movements at all.  I can still feel it when I stretch that hamstring, but it’s much less intense.  And I’ve noticed the ankle on that leg has become slightly stiff – I suspect that’s the issue flowing down the kinetic-chain.  (That knee was a bit wonky last week, too, but that went away.)  I’m hitting those hamstrings again tomorrow morning.  I know I’m still healing, so I plan to continue to be cautious.

And magically, the funk lifted.

Food wise, I have been struggling with logging.  Monday-Friday, I am on it.  Weekends?  Not so much.  I don’t think it matters too much since I eat the same way – I just don’t want to log.   I’m a flexible dieter, so I don’t feel too deprived from food choices (except I miss pizza – I don’t eat celery, but this is just funny).

I’ve been logging food since 2009, so I think I’m just taking psychological breaks while I can.  Prep progress on the scale is still happening.  Things have settled into the “normal” bouncing that I’m used to.  No change for a few days, up a pound, down a couple, etc.   I look at it as a mathematical pattern.  It’s not linear, but it’s still predictable, so I’m good.  At some point, it won’t be predictable.  I’ll stall for a long time…and then it will get going again but I’ll have to fight for it.  I think that will happen sometime around March.  At least I hope I can make it that long before things get frustrating.

I’m not super concerned, but I don’t think I’ve done a good job with making each day of the 275 day project as awesome as it could be.   And I don’t think it matters all that much.  I’ll probably talk about that in each blog because I need to stay centered on that idea… It.  Doesn’t.  Matter.  I do this bodybuilding thing for much better reasons than what is ever going to happen at a show.

Oh, and just between you and me, I’ve decided to toss in a few extra sets of things not in my program on days where they won’t interfere with what IS in my program.  Nothing crazy.  Today, I did some light lateral raises and these face pulls.  Just getting some blood flow in there.   Recorded the face pulls just to see what’s going on with the rear delts.  Haven’t worked them directly in a long time.   Nothing upper body is scheduled for a couple of days, so it’s all good.  😉

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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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26 Weeks Out: Monsters in My Head

The mental game is the hardest part of bodybuilding for me.  Probably for most competitors.  I haven’t wanted to write because I didn’t want to give the “monsters in my head”, as my coach called them, attention.  I would also prefer to write about successes instead of struggles.  But they aren’t going away, so I better address them.  But first…

Food Update

For about a month now, I’ve been cutting calories.  My daily deficit has been between 400 and 500 calories a day.  During most of that time, I’ve been packing, moving, and setting up a new classroom so the calorie burns have been high enough that I could still eat a decent amount of food and have that deficit.  Once the room was set up and I needed to spend a little time writing lessons plans, the calorie burn dropped off by about 600 calories – felt that.  I go back to work tomorrow and I expect the daily activity level to jump back up to normal, but to get through these last few days of vacation, I have split my workouts into 2-a-days.  That bought me an extra couple hundred calories to eat.

I have been on some kind of calorie cut since September.  Started pretty slow – 100 to 200 calories a day at first and a little more aggressive lately.  I just looked back on my logs and I have lost around 8 pounds since summer just from a little calorie restriction.  Slow and steady.

Lifting Update

Since last summer, all my training blocks have been based on Daily Undulating Periodization protocol with alternating hypertrophy days and strength days.  (If you want to know more about it, here is a nice place to to start.  There are a lot of resources that come up with a search on “What is DUP training?”  I did not design my own program, so I’m not a good resource.)

There are three main lifts and three secondary lifts.  This isn’t a ‘body part’ split.  Exercises change, but I’m usually working chest, legs, back, and shoulders every  other day.  Rep ranges and weights vary.  I like it.  It’s fascinating to me that my body has adapted to handle the frequency.  My capacity for work has increased.  When I can get sleep, I recover well.  So when I wasn’t sleeping – job stress – I wasn’t recovering and I started feeling it in my knees.  And then there was that quad pull.

For the last four weeks, coach had me working a program he named “Tammy’s Healing Block”.  I had a quad pull that needed time to heal.  My knees needed a break from squats, but I believe it was standing all day at work that was killing them.  I’m done with the healing block and I’m happy about that.  I’m bored with it.  It was nice to have a little back-off time to work on my Sumo dead lift technique.  After a couple weeks of form check videos and coaching, I think I’m on the right track.

Monsters in My Head

Before I wrote about these things, I waited to see if I would work through some of it so I could write about how I got around it.  Or just wait to see if it passed as I rested and healed up.  The negative thoughts do get worse when I’m tired, but they haven’t been going away, either.  It’s worse now than it’s been in a long time.

I can’t dismiss the possibility that I might be working through a mild depression because of some circumstances.  2014 was an incredibly difficult year.  I can’t write about everything because some things are private, but I have shared a couple things…

  • husband’s car accident (He’s OK, but we had to change our daily routines quite a bit.)
  • not one, but two, job changes (Moving a classroom is very much like moving an apartment.) If you haven’t seen it, here is my new room’s transformation.

The stress of these things have taken a toll.  I’m probably feeling it.   The structure of my training and having a goal for next summer help me quite a bit.  (Fingers crossed that this new teaching position is going to be a smooth transition and a nice place for me to be.)

The thing that is really hard for me lately is that I feel like a misfit.  I don’t really belong anywhere.  Most women I know don’t train or have different goals for their training.   Most people I know my age are busy being parents and grandparents.  Most bodybuilders I know are male, younger, and are in a different life stage.  People in general just look at me funny when they find out I’m a bodybuilder.  (One kid even said “You don’t look like a bodybuilder.”  Ouch. But that is what I tell myself almost every morning, too.)

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I don’t toot my horn that much, but  I am an award-winning, accomplished, educator with a degree in mathematics, 19 years in the classroom – I’ve got some skills and damn near killed myself to get them.    I am just a few years away from retirement.  I’m at a certain point in my life that is different than many people I interact with in bodybuilding.  I say this because when I look at what is posted on social media by fitness people, I cringe.  There are very few things out there worth following.  Too many egos, too much soft porn, too much fat-phobia… not much intellect, grace, poise, or reflective thought.  A few exist, but not many.  But more often than not, they are social idiots.  Smart, but their arrogance or  makes them boring.  (There was one guy, highly respected and referenced, who I followed for a few days.  Didn’t take long for an argument to break out in the feed and his comments quickly deteriorated to using female genitalia in a derogatory way.  Boys posturing in the gym.  Not much different than what I deal with in the classroom, so in my mind, I see kids, not grown-ups.)

I haven’t written much about this feeling of isolation, but I think I should.   It’s hard to set goals and go after them because that separates you from the crowd.  There is a psychological need to “belong”, so pushing yourself out of the pack can be hard.  This year, I’ve had a couple of split-second moments where I thought about setting competing aside.  Pretty sure I’d get a lot of support for that decision, too.  It would make some people more comfortable.  But I can’t do that.  This is important to me. So I rely on my coach to keep things on track.  If I had to do the thinking and planning on my own, I would fall away.  Whatever is working is working because I’m just following directions.  There are weeks when that is a struggle, too.  (Like this week.  I felt like a slacker all week.)

The “You’re-Too-Old-What-Are-You-Thinking Monster” never goes away.  If I were 20 years younger, my story wouldn’t be the novelty in social media that it is now.  You probably wouldn’t be reading this blog if I were 35.   In a month, I will be 53 years old.     I struggle hard for every ounce of muscle now because I’m an intermediate lifter and have moved past the phase of “newbie gains”, but in my mind, I wonder if I’m struggling because of my age.   I have a meno-pot that is slowing converting to loose skin as I lose weight.  It will show up on stage in certain poses and I wonder about how that is going to hurt me in judging.

I feel a sense of urgency about chasing this bodybuilding dream because I don’t know how long my 53-year-old body will allow me to train this way.  The younger ones I follow online talk about how they can be patient because they will be able to compete into their 50’s.  (Yeah.  Until they are that old.  Wow.)  When I read comments like that, the more I feel like I’m working against the clock as someone who is just getting started in her 50’s.

Will I have time to build the physique I see in my mind?

Will I ever be competitive or will I always be the “Good-For-Her-Getting-Up-There” last place competitor?

And that’s the biggest monster in my mind – the one that comes out and tells me repeatedly that this is folly.  This is some kind of mid-life crisis.  It is a mid-life transformation, that’s for sure.  A course-correction.  But am I too late?  Am I a silly, female version of Don Quixote?  Having the phrase “World’s Oldest Bodybuilder” after my name is NOT the goal.

So that’s where my head is at.  Fighting it does no good.  Denying it doesn’t help.  I will find a way to snuggle up with the monsters in my head to quiet them down, I guess.  I’m going to keep my focus on the goal and train.  Lifting helps everything.

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29 Weeks Out: Dear Santa, Please Bring Delts

delts

Full Disclosure: This photo has been altered. LOL!

 

I’ve always said that if I were to have implants inserted, they would go in my shoulders.

But no.  Not gonna happen.  I’m doing it the old-fashioned way.

I have other lagging parts, addressing them, but I also know posing can be adjusted to de-emphasize them on stage.  But not delts.  I need them for that V taper I want.

Last year, they started to grow a bit during the strongman training.  Between the log press and keg carry training, those delts were getting worked a lot.  It seems they like volume.  Coach has me doing something with shoulders every workout.  The reps and weights vary – not always heavy.  They are recovering well and feel healthy.  If I need to, I give them a break.

I like these lateral raises with kettlebells against a high incline bench to isolate the delts.  I had to modify it to a one-arm version because the little gym by my house doesn’t have pairs of kettlebells (lame), but I think that turned out to be a happy accident.  It’s easier for me to focus on form and try to keep the traps from working too much during this movement.

I received my new training block from coach this week.  It’s called “Tammy’s Healing Block”.  Perfect!  Four weeks with new exercises which will give my joints a break.  This semester has been been so stressful.  I’ve been training through sleep deprivation and distraction.   We are on Christmas break from school for the next three weeks and the timing is wonderful for this new block.  Squats have been replaced with leg press for a few weeks.  I am supposed to do sumo deadlifts instead of conventional – so I’ll have to bring the weight down since sumo is basically a new technique for me.  I’ve played around with it, but wasn’t serious about it.  This will be fun.

About Teaching…

My last week as a middle school teacher was a roller-coaster.  My algebra kids took the high school final exam on Wednesday.  Our calendar is a little different than high school, so I had less instructional time to prepare them.  We got through it, but it’s been at a brutal pace.  Grades were lower than they are used to.  Kids and parents were worried.  The district policy is that 8th graders have to earn a 70% on that exam for it to be considered a “passed” exam.  (High school kids only need a 60%.)  After so many years as a calculus teacher getting kids ready for an AP exam, I used the same strategies on 8th graders – so it was a level of academic stress they haven’t had before.  We had fun, but they worked HARD.   I gave a practice exam the week before and predicted that 65% of my kids might earn a 70% on the actual exam.  That number of kids passing would be impressive and would be a big growth from previous years’ scores.  But it didn’t work out that way.  I ran those scantrons THREE times to verify what I saw – 72% of them passed!!!  If they were 9th graders, 82% of them would have passed!!!!!   I hoped they would do well, but I didn’t expect that.  I’m so proud of them for not cracking under the pressure and not giving up.  That’s really all I asked them to do in the minutes before the exam – don’t quit.  No matter what.  Push.  Can you even imagine how a success like that will impact a kid who puts it all together and hits an academic goal that big before entering high school? I’m so excited for them!

algebra pic

Look at the future – no need to worry. They got this.

 

I planned to wait until the last day to tell my students that I was leaving.  That was Thursday.  I knew it was going to be an emotional day, but it turned out to be one of the saddest days in my career as a teacher.  Early Wednesday evening a student from our school was hit by a car in a crosswalk.  She survived and is in the hospital – I cannot share details.  I honestly don’t know exactly what is happening with her, but it’s serious.  I’m assuming that “no news is good news” in this case.  Thursday morning, some kids knew already and the rest were told.  It was also the last day before Christmas vacation, which is always emotional.  I’ve done this for 19 years and I know that three weeks at home with family is not always a happy time.  I debated about whether to tell my classes that it was also my last day, but if I didn’t tell them, they would come back in January and I’d be gone with no explanation.  I wanted them to know that I will be teaching at the high school most of them would be attending in the fall.  (Mental note to self – I need to go to freshman orientation next summer.)

I went over to the new school yesterday to pick up keys and books.  It’s huge.  This will take some getting used to.  The teacher I’m replacing was a veteran who realized that it was time to leave.  It happens.  It’s a hard, but good decision to leave the classroom when you hit that point and I applaud her for her strength to do it.  I suppose that’s what I just did, too, but what saves me to fight another day is that it’s never been about kids. The education system is more oppressive now than it’s ever been since I started.  I am hopeful that this new spot is the right spot.  Everyone is telling me what I want to hear – let’s hope it’s true.  I’m a good teacher – damn good.  I’m effective if I’m allowed to use my energy to be a teacher and not a civil servant.  The last few years have been rough.  Those 8th grade algebra kids gave me an amazing gift – validation with data that every principal will understand.  After telling 105 kids that I needed to leave to protect my health, crying with those boys and girls,  hugging almost all of them, I decided that I will NEVER allow anything to distract me from the heart of my practice again.  Principals need to be stronger.  The best ones protect their non-compliant, highly effective teachers from the system.   There aren’t many administrators like that because the good ones won’t be hired by weak superintendents chosen by school boards of non-educators elected by the public.  (Yup – I have an opinion and I’m not afraid to use it.)  Fingers crossed that I’ve landed in the right building this time.

 

The next three weeks of break will be spent hanging with hubby, resting, lifting, packing, moving, setting up a new room, and lesson planning for new classes.  It feels like I’m getting my life back.  I’ve learned a lot.  Risks sometimes don’t work out.  Or – this was the path all along.  Time will tell.

 

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Tahoe – A Walk Among Trees

Lake Tahoe is less than an hour’s drive from our house.  Today, we headed up there hoping to see some fall colors.  I wanted to hike to Chickadee Ridge to feed the birds.  We’ve done it before during the winter.  It didn’t really work so well today – birds aren’t as hungry right now, I guess.

We didn’t hike far – just a couple miles.  Hubby had knee surgery last February.  I didn’t mention it, but my left knee has been hurting, too.  We took it easy and took a lot of pictures.  Hubby is a professional photographer, but I just snapped some with my phone to share with you.

 

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40 Weeks Out: It’s Fall Break!!!

I haven’t had time to write.  Our school district is on fall break now, so I have time to catch my breath, catch up on sleep, and document what’s been going on.  To be honest, I haven’t wanted to write, either.  I haven’t felt like sharing.  Most people are encouraging and supportive, and I’m grateful for that.  I could use it right now.  But sometimes, thoughtless and rude things are said.  I’m getting up at 3 am to get the lifts in, I don’t have weekend afternoons to do food prep anymore, and laundry is barely getting done.  So I just don’t have the time to even think about social media drama when undies get bunched about my life as a bodybuilder.

In my last post, “A Snapshot of My Day“, I described what a typical day looks like.  Hubby is worried – he knows what happens when I have too much stress for too long.  So I promised to make some changes and I did.  My days are still long, but I’ve done a pretty good job of not working past 3 pm during the week so I can be headed towards bed by 7 pm.   About two nights a week, I’m waking up too soon (between 1:30 -2 am) and not falling back to sleep.  That makes for a rough day, but I usually sleep very soundly the next night.  I spend one weekend day doing chores, working out, and food shopping.  The other day also has a lift, but then it’s all grading and lesson planning.    Cooking is happening every day, or every other day now, instead of on Sunday afternoons.  I’m trying to not worry about how this stress and sleep pattern is mucking up my hormones because worrying about it doesn’t help me control it at all.

Lifting has been going according to plan most of the time.   I skipped dead lifts one morning just because I didn’t have enough sleep, low back was already sore, and it seemed like a stupid idea to do deads that morning.  I intended to do them the next day, but something came up.  Hubby and I are sharing a car, so every day things need to be choreographed.  It’s working pretty well.  Getting the lifts done super early helps.

For Thursday’s dead lifts, I used a sumo stance again.  I haven’t used that stance for about six months because it felt very wobbly.  I felt stronger, but also noticed I wasn’t pulling evenly.  Looked at the video in slow motion and found the problem – I’m straightening my right leg sooner than my left.  Went back and looked at old video of my conventional dead lifts and saw it then, too.  I spent a few minutes researching it online and never saw anything referring to that form issue.  So I guess this is my next problem to fix.  Glad I found it.  Might explain the pain I get in my right low back and it might be a muscle imbalance from the pulled hip flexor a few years ago.  It could also be caused by the scoliosis – one leg is longer than the other.  A friend suggested I try a lift on the short leg.

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Tried the sumo stance again yesterday.  You’ll see the near disaster as it occurred in this video:

I’ve been on a very slow cut for the last month.  Sleep determines how well that works.  It looked like progressed stalled, but I knew that wasn’t the case – I just needed sleep.  The last two nights I’ve gotten a decent amount of sleep (7.5 and 8 hours), so the scale responded.  I’ve lost about 2 pounds in a month with a small calorie deficit and about one additional cardio a week.  No, that’s not fast enough.  But considering the amount of stress I’ve been working under the last month, I’m grateful for it.

Did I mention that work has been unbelievably stressful?   The amount of energy on my part to teach 8th graders is crazy high.  I’m on my feet all day.  I have great kids, but there are thirty 13-year-olds in a room at a time, some with typical behaviors. (I’m completely fascinated boys and with their sociology regarding pencils.  They either don’t have one, someone took theirs and they are arguing about it, or they broke it.  So much pencil drama.  It’s fascinating.)  Lesson plans have to be tight.  There is no winging-it.  I teach 5 periods a day, but 4 different levels of math.  Trying to prepare 20 engaging, activity-based lessons a week for new classes in a new school, well, it’s been a challenge. (Most of my colleagues only have to prep 5, but not more than 10 lessons a week.  Not sure why anyone thought the new teacher would be able to handle this schedule.)  Every minute of my day has been about prepping the next class.  Then, toss in grading… lots of stress related to finding time to get this all done.

I’m not working too late, but if my lessons aren’t ready for the next day, I don’t sleep well.  I’ve been told that a change to my schedule will be made after break to reduce the number of different classes I teach from 4 to 3, but we’ll see.  This same change was proposed to me the first week of school, but it didn’t happen.  Principal said it’s a go.  I’ll wait and see.

Well, that’s where I’m at.  Pushing through.  I’m really looking forward to this week off when I can get some rest, time at home, some time in nature, and some lifting in daylight.

 

 

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Cortisol, Life, My Lifting Log, Teaching, Videos

45 Weeks Out – 3 Day Weekend! And “When Do I Start My Cut, Coach?”

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.

 

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Cortisol, Life, My Lifting Log, Teaching, Videos