A Dainty Diary of Lifting

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PNLE Week 20: Powerlifting Provincial Championships

I didn’t update my blog last week. I tried to get myself to write something down all weekend to sort out of what I was feeling, but it was like I had tunnel vision and all I could see was my next meet, looming imminently on the horizon. I was really scared for a whole bunch of reasons: I didn’t lift up to my own expectations in my last meet, and it didn’t leave me feeling very good about myself. With only 6 weeks and a shaky training cycle between myself and that meet, I kind of felt like I might never have a good meet again. Add in a lot of insanely strong girls and I felt like I needed at least another year to prepare. Oh, and last Sunday I was still weighing in at 73.1 kg in the morning and yet, I couldn’t find it in me to go low carb for the week or even waterload in an attempt to make weight.

So in the end, I just focused on myself and trying to obtain some realistic goals: I wanted to make weight in the 72kg class, which I’d failed to do in North Bay. I wanted to deadlift 380lbs, which I’d failed to do in North Bay. And I wanted to get my wilks over 350 points, which I’d failed to do in North Bay.

Basically, I gave myself a do-over of my meet six weeks ago, except this time I actually managed to pull off the meet I wanted and in fact, I exceeded my own expectations. I am so incredibly happy coming off this meet. I’m not even sure I can put this feeling into words, but I dare say that I am proud of myself.

To kick things off: I weighed in at 69.7, so that was a great start to the day. This is a huge milestone for me. In July when I was somewhere North of 90kg and feeling crappy, I forked over a ton of cash for nutrition coaching, with the explicit goal of getting back into the 72kg weight class without having to starve myself or feel deprived. And now I can say I’ve arrived at that destination. I saw pictures of myself from this weekerd. I don’t even look fat, which is kind of a weird feeling. But at least now  I can continue with my PNLE habits, without obsessing over seeing the scale move down every goddamn week. I would like to lift at 63kg, but I’m at a point where that feels like an option and not a necessity, which is a nice place to be. Bonus: I weighed in only 0.1 kg higher than my competition weight at provincials two years ago. For comparison’s sake, that was a great weigh in.

As for the actual lifting, things went pretty well. I wasn’t sure what to expect on the squat. My squat has been feeling very inconsistent in the gym over the past 6 weeks: I feel like weight loss has really affected my squat strength for a whole bunch of reasons. One obvious problem is that my thighs are shrinking and my Rehband knee sleeves no longer fit. So I bought SBD knee sleeves on Friday, which I decided to wear for the meet, having never actually lifted in them. This was a huge source of stress for me, on top of the usual pre-meet jitters. Add in squat-related PTSD from my last meet, and I ended up taking fairly conservative squat attempts. I took attempts at 120 / 130 / 135, which was 2.5kg lighter than my previous meet. After getting white lights across the board, I walked off the platform saying “That felt easy. I really should have gone for more.” But that feeling is still 1000x better than missing my “easy” second attempt, so this was actually a good start to the meet.

On bench, I took the same attempts as I’d done in North Bay: 57.5 / 62.5 / 65. I had missed 65 in North Bay, but yesterday I hit it and qualified bench only for the first time ever. I had some cramping in my lower back during warm-ups, but in general I actually feel like my bench is improving in spite of my weight loss and my bench was definitely a huge improvement over the last time I competed at this weight.

But then it was time to deadlift, and I was absolutely determined to pull 380lbs, which I’d missed in North Bay, and which is a weight I feel I’ve been fighting with for almost 2 years. I was also excited to deadlift because after years of squatting with hip pain, I finally went to see a chiropractor for active release therapy a couple of weeks ago. I actually went to him because my elbow tendonitis from squatting had reached a tipping point, but he fixed that up in 15 minutes and then spent an hour dealing with my deadlift lockout and telling me how strong I’d feel once I regained some ROM. Obviously I was eager to prove him right.

I made my first attempt at 150kg easily and then I went for 165kg on my second attempt – I felt confident in pulling that weight for a single, and it would at least improve my total over my last meet. And then I went for 172.5kg and despite the fact that I started puking mid-lift and tried unsuccessfully to suppress it, I still managed to lock that fucker out and obey the commands. It was simultaneously unbelievably disgusting and just plain amazing. There is a video of this incredible lift somewhere, and I am going to share it with everyone I know just as soon as I obtain a copy – though I can’t say I will forget the experience anytime soon, with or without the video.

Nevermind that I have now earned the nickname “Squirt”, I pulled the heaviest deadlift in my weight class and earned a silver medal. I’m kind of in disbelief. This meet is a lot like the last one I did: the medal is not the important part. I got a 372 point wilks and achieved the three goals I had set for myself. And I added 24 points to my wilks score in 6 weeks, which I would find objectively impressive for any intermediate lifter. But more importantly, I lifted with a lot of insanely strong women. I said on Friday that there was no way I would medal in a weight class of 8 girls – and I was entirely okay with that. There are some women who I’ve followed since I started lifting, and I know they’re insanely strong. And then I came in second, and it really gave me pause. This is one of those moments where I have to accept that my reality does not quite line up with how poorly I see myself.

Anyway, it’s safe to say that my thoughts of never doing another meet are banished. Not only did I lift well, I saw a lot of other men and women lift well and I got to see some people who always make me smile. This meet was incredibly well run, and I cannot give enough props to the organizers and meet crew. I would do another one of their meets in a heart beat. Even if I had to weigh-in at 6:30 in the morning, I appreciate a meet that runs efficiently and according to schedule. Plus they got Kimberly Walford as a spot and gave out women’s cut shirts. It’s the little things that matter, and contribute to a great meet overall.

I am not entirely sure what’s up next. I want to go to Nationals in Newfoundland in April, so I guess that gives me about 16 weeks of training to make progress. I think I am going to stick to high frequency training. I need to get better at judging my daily maxes and not going to failure, but I did find that shorter workouts in the morning were more productive and fit into my life better than going for a few long stretches after work every week. I took the day off work tomorrow, so I can sit down and think through what that will look like a bit more conscientiously.

I’m also going to use my day off as a stand-in for my typical Sunday ritual & meal prep tomorrow. I have eaten a lot of carbs this weekend – cookies and chocolate and froyo and pasta and pizza and burritos – and I am just dying for some veggies & lean protein. I actually think this was a final take-away from the meet for me: I ate junk food at the meet, and I really enjoyed it. It felt like a treat and I didn’t have a perpetual feeling of guilt swimming around in the back of my brain all weekend. But now I just want to get back to my PNLE habits, and I take that as a sign that I am making progress towards healing my relationship with food. And that’s a more meaningful goal for me than any number I could put on the bar.

Overall, I would say it was a hugely successful weekend and I couldn’t ask for anything more.


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PNLE Week 18: Dairy, Death and Deadlifts

It’s funny: when everything is well ordered and progressing well in my life, I have no problem putting down all of my thoughts. But when I really need to blog, it’s because my life is in disorder and all of my thoughts are a jumbled mess that I have trouble committing to any sort of written word. And that’s where I’m at this week.

Today I had a meal that consisted solely of a cookie dough quest bar and a giant hunk of dark chocolate. On the continuum of healthy food, I would say that falls somewhere outside of the “responsible adult” category. Since I am trying to be gentle on myself, I’ve somehow rationalized that this was “not the worst indulgence”. I really enjoyed that quest bar, especially. There is a part of me that is sick of eating pumpkin and lentils and kale and protein powder out of Tupperware everyday. I just want to eat ice cream sandwiches until I feel kind of sick. And I can’t really justify that thought process. Except to say that I haven’t eaten any junk food lately, and I feel like I will never be able to eat junk food again and I just want to be fucking normal. Like, if I go out for beers with a friend, I want to be able to order a beer and enjoy it, instead of feeling like I need to skip the beer and order fucking Perrier all night, because I’m barely making progress towards my weight loss goals despite eating protein and veg for every goddamn meal. Except when I eat a protein bar and a piece of dark chocolate and call it a meal.

You know else I miss? Cheese. I gave up dairy three weeks ago and I have very little to show for it. I had the most amazing visits to the washroom in the morning for the first two weeks, but the plumbing stopped working at the very suggestion of PMS and now I am so full of shit that my abdomen is tender and distended. Conclusion: I am going back to eating dairy.

On a slightly more positive note: despite feeling shitty (hehehe), I finally finally finally managed to lock out a 380lb deadlift this morning, a lift which has been almost two years in the making. I have failed that lift so many times that I honestly felt like I would never get past it. it’s like my body became so good at missing 380lbs that it didn’t know how to succeed, and I felt very relieved to break through that mental barrier. And persevering through a mental barrier was especially important this week, because I am conscious of the fact that my head is just not in a good place in general.

Yesterday was a rough day. On my way to the gym at 6 am, I found out that the husband of one of my best friends had died suddenly in a house fire. This is a friend of mine from work, who has been having a hard go of things since turning 30 earlier this year. And for the past two days, my thoughts can’t seem to get away from her and her three kids. She is someone who is always so supportive and helpful, and I just wish I knew how to help her or bring some happiness into her life. Instead, I can’t even begin to imagine how hopeless and lost she is feeling. All I know is that I physically ache for her, and I keep having random crying fits when I think about how she must be feeling. I went to yoga last night after work, which I don’t normally do on Friday nights, but I just needed to do something to ground and support myself, and that pissed me off. Because this isn’t about me at all.

Even without a funeral on the horizon, I have been having really negative thoughts in general. I upped my carb intake because I knew that my serotonin was about to plummet, but it didn’t seem to help. I really just want to give up on Precision Nutrition right now. I am having a very hard time relating to my team, and I am struggling to see progress. Even when I do feel like I’ve lost some weight, I still feel like I have so far to go that my goals feels overwhelming and unobtainable. Like, I lost a lot of weight initially, but now the weight doesn’t seem to be coming off quite as fast and I still feel so fat. And it’s not just in my head: a coworker asked me if I was pregnant this week.

And more generally, I just want to withdraw from my life and hibernate.I am not finding the fulfillment I need in my diet, in my physique, in my job, at yoga or in any of my other hobbies and I feel about lost about where to even begin looking for satisfaction. I think I’m sick. A rational part of my brain can see that I have no real problems. My life is not difficult, but it feels difficult to me. I’m like a character in a Don Delilo novel. Except that this is my life.

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PNLE Week 17: I am the sky

“You are the sky; everything else is just the weather.” This has been my mantra at yoga all week and I needed it. I feel like I’ve been slammed by a hurricane at work and a chest cold has surrounded me in a dense fog.

I read an article that crossed by my Facebook feed, about how the fitness industry doesn’t care about my search for inner peace. I bristled a bit. I’ve been doing a lot of yoga, and putting a lot of work into accepting that I am the sky. A part of me still feels a lot of disdain for yoga culture: the majority of hot yoga practitioners seem to be affluent white women who wear a lot of lululemon and extoll the virtues of drinking raw, vegan, green juice. But, they are just as deserving of self-care and compassion as anyone, including myself.

To be honest, I don’t think I’m looking for inner peace. The cast of characters in my head are far too chatty to ever be silenced. But I do need to work on my resilience. I am storm proofing for when the forecast of my life calls for rainy weather, beause there are weeks like this past week, where I need put in the extra effort to be present in my life: in my job, at the gym, in my diet and in all of my relationships, even when I feel overwhelmed and lonely and I just want to give up.

Despite the fact that my Instagram feed has tried very hard to convince me that I will only reach my goals if I think like a machine, and ignore all of my emotions, I am not a kettle. I am a human being. And I think that instead of ignoring the flood of my emotions, I will be much more successful in the longterm if I can notice and name my feelings, without feeling obligated to act (that’s another lesson from yoga).

Actually, I have been taking a lot out of my yoga practice to carry around with me. One of the most surprising things is how a regular practice has changed my perception of my body. I was shocked the first few times I visited the studio: the change rooms were just an assault of full-blown nudity. Everyone is so open about their nakedness and even the girls who looked tiny and toned when fully clothed have weird, lumpy bodies. And there are women of all shapes and sizes who seem to be comfortable performing down dog in nothing more than a sport bra and booty shorts, though I am still not quite one of them. But maybe my body is not as hopelessly unattractive as I’ve always believed.

A part of me is still feeling bummed out: my weight seems to be inching towards 72.0 kg and I’m stressed out about the fact that I probably won’t make weight for provincials at the rate I’m going. Meanwhile, my strength seems to have plummeted. And if I consider only those two pieces of evidence, then the current forecast of my meet prep would include thundershowers. But after 17 weeks of PNLE, I do think that my body is looking better. Maybe not quite the best it ever has, and there is still a lot of room for improvement, but I do feel like I’ve made some progress. A part of me remains firmly convinced that I’m only looking leaner these days because of improved posture, but even if that’s the case, then at least I’m walking around with better posture.

And after the huge fluctuation in my weight over the past year, I finally understand why people go through cutting and bulking cycles. It’s certainly not something I want to repeat. Mentally and physically I did not feel well, but now that I’m getting back down to what I consider my walking around weight, I’ve noticed that my waist is looking much smaller, in part because I’ve added size and proportionality to my upper body. And apparently other people agree, because I had an awkward conversation in the washroom at work this week where someone observed that I seem to have shrunk by half and then asked me if I was bulimic. I’m not sure there’s a weather analogy suitable to describe my reaction.

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PNLE week 16

This was my first week in my dairy-free experiment and I am happy to report that I am still alive. And I’m a bit surprised because I haven’t seen any dramatic changes. My weight loss is still crawling along and I’m beginning to freak out that I won’t make 72kg in time for provincials. Although, my PNLE coach is on vacation for the next few weeks and I promised her that I would save a full-out weight-related meltdown until after her return, so I am trying my best to just stay level headed and consistent for now.

I chose to do my dairy experiment this week and next because I am supposed to be keeping a food journal for PNLE. I cut out dairy because I rely so heavily on greek yogurt and cottage cheese to meet my protein intake. And I suspected that dairy was contributing to my stalled weight loss and bloating. The only problem is that I think I’ve replaced the dairy with foods that are even more notorious for causing bloating, most notably lentils. I fucking love green lentils. But I ate enough this week to feel like my abdomen was distended. I’m beginning to understand why so many former-vegetarians are Paleo converts. They don’t have a “bean intolerance”, they just react like a normal human being eating legumes.Ugh.

Anyway, I am planning on another week of dairy-free meals and if I don’t notice any difference in my weight loss, then I’m going to back to eating cottage cheese daily. Because it is delicious.

I’m actually supposed to be logging my meals to see where I can make improvements. This week was a pretty good week, and I don’t have a gaming marathon scheduled for Saturday night this weekend, so I won’t accidentally inhale a ton of pizza, Halloween candy and cookies. That might’ve happened last Saturday. But even if I’m making pretty good choices throughout the week, I’ve noticed that my vegetable intake could definitely be higher. I am supposed to be aiming for 5 servings each day, and I often find myself at the end of the day with only 4 under my belt. Oops.

Training wise: it’s a mixed bag. On days when I go in and front squat and incline bench I feel great because those are progressing. It doesn’t even matter what the numbers are, seeing the number increase is all I really need to see to feel good. Unfortunately, neither of those are competition lifts and my big 3 aren’t progressing quite as smoothly. I failed a 295 squat earlier this week – and that was before I fell down the stairs, fucking up my hip and tailbone. (I was sober.) On the other hand, I hit a rep PR of 340×3 on deadlifts today and I feel pretty good about that.  I know my priority is weight loss right now and as much as I’d like to see PRs on the platform at Provincial championships, I don’t feel like I can expect them after such a disappointing meet in North Bay. So it is what it is.

I will say that I had a bit of a lightbulb moment this week. I was listening to a “nutrition seminar” recording and someone in the audience asked about how to detect disordered eating patterns in clients trying to lose weight. The presenter responded by basically saying, (paraphrasing) “It’s hard. Some people have disordered eating and some people are just psychotic about their sports and competitive. And I find with women it’s especially hard because we live in a culture where some women just want to be small. What’s better than the records in the 148 class? The records at 132! And fuck those tiny bitches at 114! We often have clients who come to us and want to get down a weight class and as soon as they succeed, they turn around and say, ‘What’s next? Do you think I should cut down another class?'”

A part of me found this insight hilarious. But I also see myself as one of those clients. Here I am, and I am working so hard just to get under that 72kg cutoff, and I don’t even think I can be happy in the long-term as a 72kg lifter because I am just short and fat at 72kg. But here’s the truth: I’ve weighed 145lbs and I’ve weighed 250lbs and I felt equally fat regardless of the number of the scale. So maybe I should stop putting so much of my effort into worrying about what I weighed this morning and what I’ll weigh a year from now. But I still haven’t quite figured out how to breakout of this mentality, and I feel like I could spend my whole life trying to get there.

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PNLE week 15

Today was my measurement day for Precision Nutrition, and I had to take my 3-month progress photos. I don’t know what it is about the progress photos, but they always leave me feeling bummed out for the rest of the day.

I feel like my weight has yo-yo’d up and down so many times in my life that the number doesn’t even phase me. My weight is just an objective measurement, giving me feedback about whether I’m making progress towards my goal of one-day being not fat.

But then I take progress photos and I think, “Is there a difference? Or is that just the result of different posture, different lighting, different underwear, etc.?” And even if I think I see a difference, there are so many things left to fix. I feel like I am developing a huge disconnect between my mind and my body, and my progress photos are the reality check. I have been consistent enough in my diet and lifting over the past few months that I am starting to have this mental identity of looking and feeling fit and then and I see pictures of myself in my underwear and I just look really fat. And now I am starting to develop that beef-jerky stomach look that formerly fat people have. Ugh. Sad.

I am a little bit bummed out because I only lost 4lbs this month and my progress photos reflected that reality. I am bummed out because I still need to get my weight down another 9lbs before my meet in 5 weeks. I feel like I am already doing so many of the right things, and I don’t want to resort to a crazy diet or waterloading because I know it will end in a rebound. It always does. And Christmas is 2 months from today and I just want to go home and not be the fat sister in all of our family photos for once.

I am trying not to get too down on myself. I did treat myself after my meet last week – I ate an incredible Rouladen and a glass of Riesling for dinner on Saturday. I made chocolate chip protein pancakes on Monday. I ate a lot of dark chocolate. I mean, a lot. And on Wednesday I ate some milk chocolate, too. That is the only choice I somewhat regret this week, but I work for the federal government in Ottawa, so Wednesday was quite an exceptional day and a few squares of milk chocolate aren’t worth dwelling on.

I was also making the effort to eat vegetarian this week and I noticed that I was consuming a lot of beans, a lot of soy and more sodium than I normally do. Add in some hormonal chaos and I’ve felt painfully bloated and kind of foggy all week.

There is a part of me that really wants to move towards being vegan. Like, on my continuum of health, I see Twinkies on one end and raw paleo vegan at the other extreme. Maybe I will never reach that pinnacle of health but I would like to move closer towards it. Unfortunately, I really noticed that I was not feeling my best on a vegetarian diet. I am pretty sure that when I eat vegetarian, my macronutrients get all out of whack. I was doing okay on the protein front, but I just felt weighed down by all of the additional carbs.

My other issue with eating vegetarian is that I tend to rely heavily on dairy to meet my protein needs, and I know that I have issues with dairy. I feel like my weight loss is stalled and cutting out all of the cottage cheese and greek yogurt and whey that are staples in my diet seems like a logical way to move forward. I just need to go a couple of weeks without dairy and see if some of my digestive issues don’t resolve themselves. My new PNLE habit as of Monday is to document my meals, so this is a great time to monitor my dairy intake and see if anything else is sneaking into my diet.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on the meal planning habit. This is one of the easier or more natural habits for me because it’s already integrated into my life. I live alone so I don’t need to consider other people’s tastes or schedules. I’ve been doing a lot more cooking and a lot less eating out since starting the PNLE program and at this point the planning is second nature. Actually, I think the fact that there was no drop in my weight with this habit shows that it wasn’t a big departure from my normal routine.

Speaking of routines: let’s talk about lifting because apparently I am 5 weeks out from another meet. The good news is that the more distance I put between myself and my meet last week, the better I feel about the meet. When we went to World Pride in Toronto in June, I weighed over 200lbs. I weighed in somewhere in the ballpark of 165lbs. If weight loss is my priority at the moment, then I have no reason to feel disappointed in my body for not PRing and I can maybe even feel good about the level of strength that I have retained. But I’m still terrified that I won’t make weight in time for Provincials in November.

My goals November are simply to compete at 72kg and improve my wilks. So this week I was back in the gym because there is no time to lose. I am switching to Bulgarian style training for the next 5 weeks. I need something lower volume because any amount of volume was killing me while trying to lose weight. I want to focus on my big 3 lifts and not worry about a ton of finicky accessory work. And I need to practice squatting without a mirror in front of me, because that was a problem I had on the platform. Unfortunately there is literally no conceivable way to squat at my current gym without looking in the mirror.

And then on December 1st I am switching to some sort of Crossfit or bikini girl routine, because I am so sick of prepping for powerlifting meets and I just want to be lean. But first things first: I just need to take this one day at a time until the meet is over.


Post-meet write up: Gratitude edition

I did my meet. Here’s the summary: I didn’t make weight, which wasn’t a suprise. I went 6/9 and set no PRs. In fact, I missed weights I’ve hit more than once in the gym. As my last lift of the day, I missed a 380lb deadlift and then I had to go sit in the car and cry for a few minutes alone. And as much as I know that a big deadlift can leave me with a feeling of exploding happiness, missing that lift on Saturday left me with an extreme emotion at the opposite end of the spectrum. I was supposed to walk out of this meet, feeling prepared to tackle provincial championships in 6 weeks and instead, I walked out feeling so let down that I might never do a meet again.

There is a part of me that feels like a spoiled brat: the friend who lifted with me kept saying, “But you won GOLD in your weight class. You were at the bottom of your weight class and dominated. You even dominated the weight class above.” But I don’t even think that medal registered on my radar. Winning wasn’t my goal. My goal was to step off the platform, knowing that I put up the best numbers I am capable of, and I don’t feel like I came anywhere close to accomplishing that. I am way overdue for a deadlift PR. I haven’t set a deadlift PR since February 2013. February 2013. I was 23 the last time I set a deadlift PR, for crying out loud!

But before I went to the meet, I resolved to do my post meet analysis with an attitude of gratitude. This is actually an outlook of Thanksliving that I am trying to cultivate in general, after one of my yoga instructors said something that really resonated with me: People who practice gratitude are happier; they understand how to fill up their lives with what they have, instead of seeking to fill the holes with something external that might not even exist.

This outlook was like a revelation for me.There are all of these holes in my life that constantly leave me feeling inadequate: I am never strong enough or skinny enough or smart enough or confident enough or sociable enough or brave enough or rich enough or fashionable enough. And I’ve spent so much time feeling lost and unsatisfied and trying to find something that will make me stronger, skinnier, smarter, more confident, more brave, richer and more fashionable. And yet, a solution remains elusive: I am still me.

Lifting is definitely one of the areas where I struggle to feel satisfied: I can never enjoy how strong I am without wanting to be stronger and skinnier.So what if I made a deliberate attempt to accept that even if I’ve had better lifting days in the gym, today’s meet was good enough, just as it happened? And I do have lots of reasons to be grateful:

  • The powerlifting community is incredibly supportive. It’s a miracle that I made it on to the platform at all, given that I didn’t even own a proper-fitting singlet a week before the meet. After learning of my singlet debacle, my friend Tannis sent me two of her own singlets via XpressPost. I am incredibly grateful to her for being so helpful, as I would not have been allowed to lift without the appropriate attire – and she even let me keep the singlet that fits me the best, so I will have something to wear in the future.
  • I did a meet. I haven’t done a meet in two years, despite the fact that I’ve signed up and paid in full on at least 3 separate occasions. I have this MO of signing up and then withdrawing six weeks out because I don’t feel strong enough or consistent enough in my training. So by stepping on that platform, I was accepting that whatever I had done up to that point was good enough for now, perfect or imperfect as it may have been.
  • Accepting that I didn’t have to make weight was such a relief. I thought I would be really bummed out by having to compete at 84kg, when historically I’ve competed at 72kg. In reality, not having to worry about waterloading removed so much stress from my life and I actually felt pretty good about my weigh-in. I know that when I was a young, 23-year-old powerlifter who knew it all and felt indestructible, I thought the waterload was no big deal.Well, I was mistaken. The energy I could have invested in worrying about my salt, carb and water intake for a week was much better invested in making healthy choices consistently in the 12 weeks leading up to my meet.
  • I didn’t binge eat my way into a Powerlifting Meet Day pile of sickness. Historically, I have adopted what seems to be a prevailing attitude at powerlifting meets: 9 near-max lifts somehow justify eating loads and loads of processed crap and refined sugar. I really hate this mentality. I don’t feel good about it day-to-day and the day of a meet is not an exception. That’s just not the type of relationship I want to have with my diet, especially since that meet day is sometimes only the first step in a prolonged junk food bender that leaves every part of my body feeling abused. Instead, I was able to break the chain in this pattern of behaviour by skipping the waterload and focusing on a consistent diet leading up to the meet. I even planned meet-day food that didn’t leave me feeling gross or guilty afterwards.
  • I improved my total and my wilks score. Even if I know that I’ve had better days in the gym, my meet numbers have improved despite all of the bullshit and distraction and life that has happened in the past few years. I opened my deadlift with my third attempt from my last meet. I opened both my squat and bench higher than my third attempts from that same meet. While the cynical and ungrateful part of me feels like this accomplishment is undermined by the fact that I’ve gained a few pounds, my wilks score improved by 16 points. Even if I didn’t have a 380lb deadlift in me today, I am undeniably getting stronger.
  • I squatted through one of the longest, grindiest lifts of my life. I was a bit freaked out after I missed my second squat attempt. 303lbs just felt unbearably heavy and despite having hit 305lbs several times with confidence in the gym, I really felt like I was going to settle for a 275lb squat. Instead, I got under the bar again and pushed through. This puts a 300lb squat on the books, and even if it wasn’t a weight PR for me, this was definitely an endurance event in itself. I felt amazing after this lift, having spent such an unbelievable amount of time under tension. Moral of the story: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again and stick with it.
  • I had a less-than perfect meet. They do happen but until now, they hadn’t happened to me. I’ve only done a couple of meets, after which someone commented that it was good that I had gotten some successful meets under my belt. I didn’t fully understand his words at the time, but now I do. If I had gone into my first-ever meet and put up this performance, I don’t think I would be interested in competing again. But, I know that I can have a meet where I go 9/9 and PR every lift because I’ve done it before, And just like it’s good to have the experience of a successful meet, I’m hoping that it’s good to have a less than stellar meet and learn that it’s not worth dwelling on.

My plan was to come out of this meet and start preparing for provincials in six weeks. As much as dinner after the meet felt like a gaping pit of despair where I would never do another competition again, a glass of wine has helped me to put things into perspective and be more grateful. The plan is still to stick with consistent eating and lifting, with provincials in view. Moral of the story: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again and stick with it.

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PNLE week 13

I am officially one week out from my first meet in nearly two years. I can’t believe that at this time next week, it’ll be done.

I really hope that I am done, I feel some sort of relief. Because right now, I just feel like doing a meet is this constant pressure bearing down on me.

This week has been a bit insane. It’s like my body just fast-tracked right to PMS-land this week. I have been bloated and constipated and ravenous. I did that thing I do when I’m depressed, where I just randomly start weeping at my desk for no reason. I’ve found myself wide awake at 4 am on more than one occasion this week. And my weight loss has been flat out stalled for the past three weeks.

Thankfully, it’s a long weekend in Canadia. We are celebrating the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America. Actually, I’m not. I don’t have any family that live in town, so I will be foregoing the traditional turkey dinner. I did buy myself a homemade turkey dinner from the gourmet caterer down the street. It’s supposedly turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and veggies with cranberry and gravy for two, but I’m quite certain it would feed a family of four despite any claims made on the label. Anyway, I am saving that in my freezer until next week when my meet is done and I don’t need to worry about my weight.

This morning I weighed 76.7 kg so there is absolutely no chance I am going to weigh-in under 72kg. I can’t be bothered to waterload at this point. So right now my plan is to get a Class II total at 84kg on Saturday. Then I can continue trying to make weight for provincials at the end of November, but if I don’t make it, it’ll be fine.

Seriously, I am really annoyed with my body. I feel like I am making such good food choices and not overreating. I did have my first binge eating episode in months last weekend, but it was a cake made out of squash and coconut flour and blueberries. Which is basically 1 million pounds of fiber and the health binge eating I’ve ever done. How did this happen? I tried to “experiment” with a lower carb day on my rest day. Then I baked a spiced squash loaf. It was fucking incredible after 24 hours of low carb. I love carbs.

So apart from the squash loaf incident, I am eating well rounded meals – protein and veggies and a cupped handful of “smart carbs”. I have eaten so much spinach this week! I keep telling myself that if I eat like this for another 9 months, it would be physically impossible to stay fat – but I feel like my body is determined to prove me wrong on that count. Actually, I reached out to my coach this week because I felt frustrated. She told me I was not allowed to be annoyed because I’ve lost ~26lb since the start of the program. Then she asked me “On a scale of 1-10, how much do you believe that you can and will make the changes you desire?”

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this.

Belief that I can diet my way down to a weight that I consider “not fat”: 6/10

Belief that I can achieve that weight and feel comfortable in my own skin, more sociable and confident: 4/10

Belief that I can achieve that weight and maintain it for longer than 2 weeks: 2/10

I actually haven’t responded to my coach because those answers are depressing and I don’t really know how to deal with fixing my personality. Like, my brain just kind of shuts down when I try to think past of those things. At this point, even if I am not dropping weight, trying to eat healthy and hit the gym regularly seems way more manageable.

So, hitting the gym and eating healthy seems like a good way to spend my long weekend. I finished up my actual training for the meet. Yesterday I squatted up to 305 for two singles. The second rep felt really solid and I am leaning towards trying 313 for my third attempt. Today I did my last heavy bench and deadlift sets. I managed to pull 335×4 which was a huge and pleasant surprise. I had failed to pull 335×3 at least twice before, so this was a great way to end off my training and I am going to crush 380. I will go in tomorrow and work up to my openers on squat and bench, and then do a few reps of squat and bench at 50% on Wednesday, just so that I don’t forget how to lift.

I also tried on my singlet this morning. The singlet I own was bordering on being too small two years ago when I weighed 10lbs less. Despite the fact that I am in denial, it did not fit. It gave me great cleavage! But it was painfully tight in the butt and thighs and shoulders. So… Monday is a holiday and I travel on Friday. I ordered a new singlet via express shipping and then I sent out a Facebook SOS. Thank god for my powerlifting friends of similar shape and size who helped me come up with a back up plan so that I do not need to lift in my birthday suit.

After lifting and sorting out my singlet situation, I tackled some meal prep today. I am primarily grateful for Thanksgiving weekend because it means that I have three days to batch cook and freeze some meals. This afternoon I made a hippie stew  of lentils, quinoa and kale, and a harissa carrot soup. Tomorrow I am planning on making zucchini oatmeal and a cottage pie. I also need to figure out what I’m packing as PNLE-friendly meels for my meet next weekend.

Holy crap. I still can’t believe I’ll be doing a meet next week.