GIRLS CAN LIFT

A Dainty Diary of Lifting


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Resurrection of my blog

Hi.

Long time no update.

Life… just kind of happened. And now here I am. I signed up for Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating Program. Again. 

Let me explain what happened:

I can pretty much pinpoint when I started spiralling out of control. It was not when I lost my job. It was not when I moved. It was not when I visited my family for Christmas. It was in January. I was walking to the gym and I decided that I just didn’t care about PNLE’s workouts. It was too cold to be walking to the gym, anyway. So instead I went to the drugstore and bought junk food. The next day, I didn’t go to the gym either. I stopped logging on to the PNLE lessons. I basically didn’t leave my house. I just stayed curled up in bed all day, trying to avoid reality.

Not-so-coincidentally, my unemployment insurance ended in January. I had no job, no job prospects and a dwindling bank account.Every time I made plans with friends, the conversation always opened with, “So have you found a job yet?” and inevitably led to me admitting what a lazy and useless failure of a human being I was. Going out with friends involved spending money that I didn’t have, and that just stressed me out. So all in all, avoiding my life entirely really did seem like the best course of action at the time.I was quite literally crippled by stress,

Therefore, I can’t say I was surprised when my monthly credit card payment for PNLE bounced in January… five times. I asked to drop the program. I hadn’t logged in for 4 weeks and I hadn’t gone to the gym during that time. Even if I had been following the program, I couldn’t justify the expense when I couldn’t even afford to buy groceries. I borrowed money from my parents because I had to eat, and then I spent the money on junk food because at least that seemed like a pleasure in the black hole of my existence. Rationally, I could see that I was gaining weight and felt like crap, but I still couldn’t stop. I was acting like a drug addict, except I was addicted to sugar and binge eating.

In my busy schedule of napping and eating junk food for days on end, I did find the time to send out approximately one bajillion job applications, which I considered a plus. I went to four job interviews in January, which I consider to be among my greatest achievements, given my state of mind. That was a really big deal, except I didn’t seem to be any nearer to a job.

Eventually, I got a job offer for a six month contract doing admin work. It sounded like a minimum wage job, and also like the best thing that could ever happen to me because at least I’d have some sort of income. Of course, 12 hours later I received a call asking me to come back to my old student job for a few months. Long story short, by the end of March I was back with my old team on a 5-year contract and a livable salary. . 

I really thought that at that point my gym mojo would just magically re-appear. I had income and a reason to get out of bed in the mornings! Except that going to work and dealing with people all day was a bit of a shock to my system. I had a whole bunch of new team mates all at once, and I’d gotten a promotion, which meant higher pay – but also a lot more responsibility. It was just a total system overload, and for the first couple of weeks, I would leave work in the evening, pick up fast food and then come home and go to bed. The idea of going back to the gym, where I would be weak and fat just seemed totally unappealing now that I could afford to almost anything else.

A friend of mine suggested the Pact app to get back into the routine of going to the gym. I’ve been back for 12 weeks, and I’m still using the app. It charges my credit card $10/day for every day I miss. I haven’t missed a day.The part of me that couldn’t afford to buy groceries cannot fathom spending $10 to miss a workout. Oh, and I signed up for a Powerlifting meet in October, with the same friend.

Slowly, I am getting my strength back.  It’s hard for me to compare my current numbers with my previous maxes, because I’ve gained almost 50lbs. (What can I say? I have an eating disorder and it was a long winter.)

Now that I’ve re-established my gym routine, I feel like I can finally tackle my diet, which is no longer the biggest mess in my life (The biggest mess in my life is actually my non-existant self-esteem, so dealing with my diet actually seems like a walk in the part). Of course, being who I am, I tried to do a bunch of things that I knew wouldn’t work. First, I tried to count calories but that didn’t even last a full day. Second, I tried to do an extreme keto-esque cut. That lasted about 3 days. Then I went to World Pride and ate Eggs Benedict all weekend, and came back 10lbs heavier. There has to be a better way

Oh wait, I seem to recall doing part of a program that taught me how to lose weight without going crazy. And it taught me a lot of stuff. I mean, I sort of feel like a giant failure because I didn’t lose any weight at the time, and then I dropped out of the program. But neither of those facts prevents me from applying what I learned – so that’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks. Miraculously, it seems to have be working.

But what will I do when my weight loss slows down and I don’t feel motivated to plan my meals for the week? I seriously debated whether to sign-up for PNLE again. I wanted some accountability and consistency. I wanted to prove to myself that I could finish the program. I really struggled to decide whether I should sign up again. I looked back at what went wrong last time. I hated the workouts. I was broke. I never developed a strong connection with my coach or my team. I didn’t always ask for help when I needed it. 

Except I still fully believe in the habits the program teaches, and I know exactly what I need to do to fix all of the issues that I had last time. I have a steady job for the next year: I was able to pre-pay for the whole program, which I can afford to do now , and it means I can’t drop out in February if money’s tight. I sent an e-mail to the PN team and I requested a different coach. They were accommodating (and so supportive!). I am going to be working with a coach who has powerlifting experience, so hopefully she will understand as I continue to train for my meet in October. And I can be brave enough to ask for help when I need it… though I admit that I’m still working on that one. 

The program doesn’t start for a few days, which doesn’t really matter. I went to the gym today and did my Texas Method Light Day. I am still trying to eat PNLE-friendly meals. And I am feeling pretty zen about going through this whole process. Again. 

Which brings me back to my blog. Blogging has been helpful to me in the past, and I want to get into it again. If no one ever read my blog that would be fine, because it acts as a sort of “brain dump” for me. I am a very emotional person, which I don’t always like about myself, but at least this gives me a way to sort through all of my feelings and deal with them. At the same time, I am posting this on the internet and anyone can read all of my lame excuses – which makes me incredibly conscious of things I might not recognize in my own behaviour otherwise. Like, it was cold outside so I stopped eating healthy for 6 months? Lame. I can’t believe anyone would ever admit to that. Oh wait, I just did. 


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More squats, more bench

Today’s gym session: squats and bench. Brought to you by Groundhog Day.

I worked up to 135×1 on bench. I think I’ve figured out exactly where I’m losing tightness in my set-up. First, my hand position was too wide. Second, I need to focus on pushing my heels down without allowing my feet to slide forward. It’s uncomfortable but it gets me tight. I backed off to 125 to try and focus on setting up consistently, but I was suffering from some upper arm tightness, so I moved on to squats. Came back at the end of my workout and managed 105x5x3 without any issues.

For squats, I worked up to 250×3. This felt easy, but I came too far forward on my second rep, felt like I got stuck and then that kind of messed with my head. Also, I got a phone call midway through my warmups. I have a job interview on Thursday. I am insanely nervous and spent most of my workout in a state of distraction after that point. As much as I enjoy being able to dick around endlessly at the gym every day of the week, I really, really miss working and getting a paycheque. I think may try for a single tomorrow, or at least something heavy when I am less distracted.

Assistance work: I did my PNLE routine. I’m really liking this cycle as assistance work. I did sub out push-ups for some DB bench because I feel like that’s more useful for my strength goals. This was the rack pull/lateral lunge/OHP day, and it ended with curls for AMRAP in 60 seconds. I just feel obligated to say that I do not enjoy the feeling of a bicep pump. It’s just plain uncomfortable and it doesn’t even look good because my biceps are already so disproportionate to my triceps. But I also feel like this opinion is blasphemy according the doctrine of the gym.

Diet-wise: I just want to eat all of the chocolate in sight…. and actually, that’s about what I’ve done today.

I’ve been feeling kind of emo all weekend about my body image, and I think it’s for a whole bunch of different reasons. Now that I am back hovering around the 72kg mark, I feel like trying to get down to 63 kg is an exercise in futility. That’s a long, long way to go, and if I have to suffer to get there, I probably won’t stay there for long. So I might as well just focus on hanging out where I am. And I was feeling good about my progress until someone I went to high school with posted her “28lbs lost this month!” progress photos on Facebook, and then I just felt inadequate. And sometimes I just plain miss eating with abandon. I miss the feeling of being 110% full because I ate too much ice cream. It was comforting. And I know that sounds kind of dumb, but it’s true nonetheless.

Oh, and this weekend I accidentally stumbled across one of those “This is what xx bodyfat % looks like” and I do not look like the model for 21% body fat. I look like the girl with 35% body fat, but with less boobage. Except she probably isn’t the least bit worried about how much chocolate she ate today. The internet lies. And all of this “fitspiration” is not motivating, it just makes my best effort feel like shit. Maybe some more chocolate will cast a positive light on the situation.

Food Log

8:50 – Breakfast -

  • 1 fist-sized serving of vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1 cupped handful of mixed berries
  • 1 palm-sized serving of cranberry, cashew, honey granola
  • 3 mini peppers
  • 1 tbsp fish oil
  • 1 cup of coffee

12:30 – Lunch

  • 1 1/2 c. borscht
  • 1 palm-sized serving of greek yogurt
  • Aprx. 35 grams dark chocolate

16:10 – Post-workout

  • 1 cupped handful ground beef
  • 1/5 tbsp butter
  • 1 slice of bacon
  • 1 cupped handful of celeriac puree

19:10 -

  • 1 fist-sized serving greek yogurt
  • 1 thumb PB2
  • 1 thumb of walnut pieceas
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 35 g dark chocolate


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Bench singles and squatting

Guess what I did today? The same things I do every day: squat and bench.

I got 5 heavy singles at 130lbs, but that took 7 attempts.  Here’s the thing: the attempts that I did make were relatively easy, with good speed and no sticking. But I still failed twice. I know that what I to work on my setup; I don’t always start in the right groove and when I’m doing volume work, I find it doesn’t really matter because I can still muscle it up. When I start getting closer to my 1RM, it really makes a big difference.

Then I squatted – 265×2. Wanted three and went back for an extra single. I feel like I could squat the moon if I only had to rely on my legs and not my upper back. There was a sick squat morning at one point. Whatever. This was good week because I’m now back up to where I was when I did my last meet in December 2012, which is important for my mindset. I’m not longer trying to recover the strength I’ve lost, but now I can focus on actually moving forward.

Then I played some candy crush and did seated rows. When I ran out of lives, I came home and took a nap. It’s Sunday.

I’ve felt like I’m about 2 seconds from gnawing off my own arm all weekend. I’ve been feeling very level-headed for a couple of weeks now, and eating well without feeling deprived. And it seems to be working, because I’ve dropped 9lbs since having my IUD removed and I don’t feel like I’m “on a diet”. But for some reason I’ve been thinking about ice cream and fries and chocolate all weekend. Instead of going crazy, I decided to have a piece of dark chocolate and a yogurt parfait made with granola, vanilla greek yogurt and mixed berries. I had to buy all of those things just so I could eat them, because I don’t even keep those things in the house at this point. The part of me that would have bought just bought a pint of Ben and Jerry’s is kind of shocked at how much of a treat that was.

Food Log

8:20 – Breakfast

  • 1 bison sausage
  • 1 cupped handful of baby carrots
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1 thumb of almond butter
  • 1 tbsp fish oil
  • 1 cup of black coffee

12:10 – Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1 cupped handful celeriac puree
  • 1 cupped handful of ground beef
  • 1 slice of bacon
  • 1 palm sized serving of peas and carrots
  • 1/5 tbsp butter
  • 3 thumbs of homemade ketchup

15:00 – Post-lifting

  • 1 fist-sized serving of plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cupped handful of blueberries
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1 thumb of walnut pieces

17:30 -

  • 3 strips of bison jerky

18:15 – Baked apple

  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 2 thumbs of coconut oil
  • cinnamon
  • 1 thumb of walnut pieces
  • lemon juice

21:00 – Snack -

  • 1 fist sized serving of vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1 palm of honey, cashew & cranberry granola
  • 1 cupped handful of fruit
  • Aprx. 35 grams of dark chocolate


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Bench PR and my ass joins the mile high club

Being forced to deadlift before squatting a few weeks ago really opened a whole new world of possibilities for me. Since I deadlifted heavy last night, I knew I would have to scale back my squats somewhat today. As a result, I decided to bench first, while I was still fresh, and then tackle a lighter set of squats. I am back at a stage where I feel like my bench is my weak-link, and I take that as a very good sign that I am getting back to my pre-break strength levels.

And by that, I mean I benched 140lbs today, which is the first all-time PR I’ve had in almost a year. Unpaused, but still a PR.

I tried to repeat myself on camera, but all I got this was this:

Lifts that probably would have been red lighted

“Lifts that probably would have been red lighted”

Whatever. As Dan said, “At least you got it up. I didn’t have to come rescue you from the roll of shame this week.” True.

It seems like my “Squat everyday and then do whatever you feel like” programming is working. I’m going to keep doing it. And who knows? Maybe next week I’ll feel like benching 145 with my ass down.

Food Log

8:35 – Breakfast

  • 1 fist-sized serving of cottage cheese
  • 1/2 thumb of PB2
  • 1 thumb of almond butter
  • 1 green apple
  • 2 mini cucumber
  • 1 tbsp fish oil
  • 1 cup of black coffee

11:55 – Shepherd’s pie

  • 1 cupped handful celeriac puree
  • 1 cupped handful of ground beef
  • 1 slice of bacon
  • 1 palm sized serving of peas and carrots
  • 1/5 tbsp butter
  • 3 thumbs of homemade ketchup

15:50 – Post workout

  • 1 Italian bison sausage
  • 1 cupped handful of baby carrots
  • 1 cupped handful of chocolate covered pretzels

19:15 – Dinner

  • 1 c. of borscht
  • 1 palm-sized serving of greek yogurt

23:15 – Midnight snack

  • 1 bison sausage
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 2 thumbs of almond butter


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Three good things

Good things that happened today:

  1. I finally tightened my lever belt because it had been feeling too loose all week. One notch tighter and it was the perfect fit.
  2. I deadlifted 335×2. I wanted three and there was some insane thoracic rounding (enough for Cam to ask if I was working on a special kind of deadlift) but I am still pleased with myself. The upper back issue is nothing new, I’ve never pulled a triple at this weight and this is my heaviest pull in competition.
  3. I ate more borscht.
IMG_0917

Breakfast:
Cottage cheese with beets and apples, lemon juice and toasted pine nuts

Food Log

8:50 – Breakfast

  • 1 cupped handful of chopped beets
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1 palm-sized serving of cottage cheese
  • 1 thumb of toasted pine nuts
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp fish oil
  • 1 cup of black coffee

13:00 – Shake

  • 1 scoop of whey
  • 1 thumb of PB2
  • 1 thumb of cocoa powder
  • aprx 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 mini cucumbers

16:15 – Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1 slice of bacon
  • 1 palm of celeriac puree
  • 1 palm of ground beef
  • ~1 palm of peas & carrots
  • 1/5 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 thumb of almond butter

19:20 – Post-workout

  • 1 1/2 c. borscht = broth & beef & bacon&  cabbage & beans & beats & tomatoes & potatoes & apple & mushrooms & onion & carrot & peppers & paprika & vinegar & sugar & parsley, oh my!
  • 1 palm-sized serving of 0% greek yogurt
  • 30 g 72% dark chocolate


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Skating, celeriac and borscht

Today was somewhat stressful. I finally got a call back from a temp agency, and I had to go meet one of the recruiters this afternoon. Nevermind that I’ve never interviewed well, I actually think I’ve been unemployed for so long now that I forget how to work.

This is the type of situation where I’m prone to feeling stressed and then binge eating. The thought did cross my mind, today: as I was walking to my appointment, I considered stopping in at the grocery store to stock up on Reese’s PB ice cream cups. Except that before it could happen, I just said no. Instead, I realized that I’d already been coping with stress by distracting myself with cooking all day.

This morning, I made a Shepherd’s Pie, with a celeriac mash in place of the potatoes. I always consider it an achievement when I incorporate a new vegetable into one of my meals, and this one was a huge success. Using celeriac seemed somewhat intimidating: how do you cook a vegetable that looks like brains? But I made it work and in the end, the whole dish seemed so much more grown-up. It was very sumptuous.

More importantly: I made borscht!

Even though my father is Mr. “I don’t eat vegetables”, both my sister and I somehow came to love borscht when we were younger. We are not Russian. We are just from Saskatchewan, where everyone else happens to be Ukrainian.

When I was in college, my mom used to send me a dried soup mix that I would mix with beets and water in the slow cooker. At the time, I considered this one of my more accomplished home-cooked meals, and I would subsist off a vegetarian version of split pea and beet soup (with lots and lots of sour cream on top) from December through March.

Then, earlier this week I happened across a recipe for Dad’s Uber Borscht in my blog feed. I knew right away that even though this version was a heck of a lot more labor intensive, I was going to make it. First of all, it was PNLE-friendly, because apparently Russian peasants don’t have the luxury of eating junk food. And if I’m not eating like my grandmother would, well at least I’m eating like someone‘s Baboushka. Second of all, this version of borscht (love!) included a green apple. I don’t know what it is, but for the past 6 months, I’ve become convinced that any recipes is automatically improved by the inclusion of a granny smith apple (See for example: Homemade ketchup). And so this morning I set off on a full-day culinary adventure, which included making the beef stock, rehydrating fancy mushrooms, baking and grating beets and chopping a fuck ton of vegetables.

Oh. My. God. This was totally worth it. Have I mentioned how much I love borscht? This was frickin’ delicious. There is nothing more that needs to be said, really. Except maybe that the best part was not in fact the green apple, but the crispy bacon. It will be a while before I undertake to make this recipe again, but I know what I’ll be eating until the end of March…. Otherwise, everyone is invited to my house for dinner. And if you come for dinner, then we must go skating.

Today was my active recovery day, and for the first time all week, the canal was open so it was obvious I had to get on the ice. I started off kind of shaky, but there was a little girl who she didn’t look old enough to walk, let alone skate and still her mom was chasing after her. At that point, I had to say to myself, “Look. If that little kid isn’t afraid of skating, you shouldn’t be either.” And then I managed a 35 minute skate without falling. I’m basically a professional, at this point.

I did fall my ass once I’d changed into my boots, but that totally doesn’t count. That’s just my normal state of existence.

After skating and borscht, I rounded out the day with some squatting and benching. My quads are le tired! If I plan to go skating tomorrow,  need to do it in the morning so I have the rest of the day to recuperate before hitting the gym. I am really happy that benching went well, though. I hit 125x2x3 without any pain, so Tuesday must’ve been a small glitch. Then I did some seated rows because I am trying to avoid becoming a hunchback. Overall, I kept it pretty light in anticipation of deadlifts tomorrow.

After I lifted, I opened my locker only to be overtaken by the smell of borscht. My winter coat is giving off beet fumes. I really do want to share my beet soup with the world.

Food Log

9:20 – Breakfast

  • 1 cupped handful of steel-cut oats with blueberries & walnuts
  • 1 palm-sized serving of greek yogurt
  • 1 cupped handful of baby carrots
  • 1 tbsp fish oil
  • 1 cup black coffee

12:15 – Shake

  • 1 scoop of whey
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 small banana
  • 1/2 thumb PB2
  • 1/2 thumb of cocoa powder
  • splash of vanilla

15:30 – Shepherd’s pie

  • 1 palm sized serving of ground beef with carrots
  • 1 cupped handful of celeriac puree and green peas
  • 1 slice of bacon
  • 3 thumbs of “sugar-free” homemade ketchup

19:10 – Post-skating

  • 1 1/2 cups of borscht = cabbage and beets and beef and beans and potatoes, oh my!
  • 1 palm-sized serving of greek yogurt
  • 2 green onions


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Dreaming of oysters & rack pulls

One of the things I had to do for PNLE was start keeping a journal next to my bed. Before I go to sleep, I write whatever is floating around my brain and usually plan out what I’m going to eat tomorrow. Last night I woke up at 2 am and felt restless. Apparently I was restless enough to leave myself this message to discover in the morning:

Can’t sleep. Upsetting dream. At home [my parent's house] and H [my sister] has been missing for months. Seems like she is still in high school. Mom took a picture of me in the basement and H’s ghost turned up in the background. (Looked like the girl from The Ring.) Knew this was a clue, but too scared to go into the basement anymore. While watching Lizzie McGuire, I realized that the moth balls in the basement were from an oyster. Internet research confirmed. Then we found a giant oyster in the basement closet and started trying to smash it open with a shovel. I knew that H was trapped inside.

Woke up. Not sure if H was rescued. Should be a movie.

Apparently I’m a mental case even when I’m asleep and that will be the last time that I eat cottage cheese before bed.

Anyway, as a follow up to yesterday’s post: yes, I know that I need muscle to be strong. And yes, I know that BMI is skewed for people who are muscular or athletic. But… I don’t particularly think of myself as athletic. Going to the gym regularly does not make a person an athlete. I still suck at running and swimming and team sports, and I have no visible muscle definition. So sometimes I feel like I’m just plain fat. I know it’s largely a mental problem… and sometimes I just need to write down my meandering train of thought to sort it all out. What I know rationally does not always jive with what I’ve been conditioned to believe.

Back in reality, I did not sleep well last night and I am still feeling kind of drained today. I  think my uterus is a bit messed up from having my IUD yanked out last week. My body is all like, “You should be having your period this week! But you had your period last week! And you gave birth to a Mirena, so after 4 years I’m no longer being dosed with hormones every day! I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now, so I’ll just make you feel like shit.” (I am not a qualified doctor, obviously. But I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what’s happening.)

Surprisingly, I felt alright once I started lifting. At the gym, I squatted up to 255×3 which I feel pretty good about. Then I did my PNLE routine as accessory work. After yesterday’s shoulder pain, I figured I should skip benching, especially since I knew the PNLE workout would be shoulder intensive, with push-ups, OHP and inverted rows. I got through the whole thing without incident, so that’s a good sign. And I admit that maybe I’m overly paranoid, but I’ve heard of two female lifters with ribs popped out of place over the past two days, and I don’t want that to happen to me. So live to lift another day, etc.

One of my PNLE circuits included “heavy” rack pulls. I only managed 225x4x3 because I was unbelted and didn’t bother to warm-up. By the third set, these felt too easy, so that’s a good sign. Today is not a regular deadlift day for me and I’ll be interested to see what my deadlifts feel like on Friday. I usually need a full week of recovery for heavy deadlifting. But I still intend to pull +3 plates on Friday – rack pulls, shoulder, and uterus be damned.

Food Log

10:00 – Breakfast

  • 1 cupped handful of steel cut oats with blueberries and walnuts
  • 1 palm-sized serving of greek yogurt
  • 1 fist-sized serving of baby carrots
  • 1 tbsp fish oil
  • 1 cup of black coffee

13:30 – Lunch

  • 1 fist-sized serving of cottage cheese
  • 1 thumb of PB2
  • 1 cupped handful of baby carrots
  • 1 thumb of almonds
  • 1 oz 65% dark chocolate with maca

18:10 – Dinner

  • 1 fist-sized serving of cottage cheese
  • 1/2 thumb of PB2
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1 thumb of almond butter
  • 1 cupped handful of baby carrots
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