A Dainty Diary of Lifting


Training Log: March 30th

I apologize for all of the emotional mumbo jumbo and touchy feel-y nonsense, lately. If I wanted that kind of stuff in my life, I’d go to yoga. Instead, I compete in a sport where it is commonly accepted that chalk and foam rolling can fix just about anything.

But thank you to everyone who has been surprisingly supportive and not annoying. And thank you especially to the person who said, “If you’re legit depressed, an SSRI will help you. And you’re obviously having problems, so why don’t you just go to a doctor and fix it? Don’t be stupid.” which was apparently exactly what I needed to hear. So I requested an appointment with my GP, who I haven’t seen in 3 years. Om.

And  apparently the simple step of requesting an appointment made me feel like maybe I do have some control over my life, so I woke up this morning and got my diet back on track Let’s call March a write-off and we’ll see where I’m at when the end of April rolls around. I’m aiming to be back at 148 by the time I pull 405 in 6 weeks. That should be do-able. Because omg, ice cream tastes so delicious but it makes me so sick! What an existential crisis.

Since I’d like to prove that I’m not all doom and gloom, let’s review a few funny things that happened this week:

First of all, I went and deadlifted on Tuesday. After my heavy set, one of the other women came up to me and said, “I think you’re amazing. I don’t know how you do it. My son tried to take me to the gym to show me how to lift weights and he acted like everything was so heavy and he was so strong. I said, “I’m not impressed. There’s a woman at my gym who does more”.”

MFW emasculating teenage bros via their mom.

Then yesterday there was a chick “squatting” in the rack beside me. Except that she would put 135lbs on her back, turn her head 90 degrees and start good morning-ing the weight. I didn’t say anything because that ain’t my style and whatever, I can weep for her spine in silence. But then Gary showed up and was talking to her while I was standing right there, and she said to him, “Oh ya, I’m still learning and working on my form” I just instinctively responded with, “Oh, if you’re looking to improve your form, you should stop turning to the side while squatting. It’s not meant to be a rotational movement.”

I think the death glare I received may have set off the nation’s early warning system for nuclear weapons.

“I’m just trying to make sure my back is straight.”


At this point I just walked away because I could see Gary making warning gestures at me from the corner of my eye and I’m not really interested in engaging anyone. But let’s think about this for a second: you’re trying to make sure your back is straight by twisting to the side? And even though you admit you’re still learning, you’re a huge bitch to someone who tries to help you? I hope you enjoy the gay village of Snap City.

She was back again today, doing her whole workout sideways. While glaring at me from across the gym. That’s fucking talent, man.

In other news, Gary told me yesterday, “Okay, but I can leg press 16 plates and you have to admit that’s good.” I laughed. Then I called him a bro. Then I went in to the gym today and did leg presses.

Seriously, I’ve done no accessory work all week and I just needed one of those days where I go in without a plan and the intention of dicking around. I just  needed to remove all of the pressure and do whatever I feel like doing.  Today it was leg presses and dumbbell bench press and 100 ball slams. I feel amazing.

When life gets you down, do ball slams. Om.


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Training log: March 29th

I went and benched today. I attempted 140 thinking that if I could set a PR maybe I would regain my spark. Nope. Still black hole depressed. Which might explain why I passed out last night at 9:30 and still felt exhausted when I woke up this morning.

As a side note, Gary was at the gym today and he said he was having the worst week ever because he had to work over the weekend. I said, “Um, I lost my job, I still haven’t found a roommate and I started crying in the squat rack on Monday because I’m a fucking psycho. Beat that.”

His response was, “Do you need money? I’ll give you $100,” which is so weird to me because he is by far not the first person to offer to give me a leg up lately. It kind of scares me that I’ve had so many people offering to help because I’ve spent a lot of time feeling really lonely. But it also makes me feel like a bit of a charity case, and I hate that.

I’ve considered going to the doctor, but I’ve cried in my doctor’s office before and she was not particularly helpful, and as a result, I  just avoid going back to her. Plus, I have no health insurance right now, so it’s not even really an option. And if it were an option, I’d be getting new glasses in a heartbeat and probably still dragging my heals over going to the doctor.

Anyway, it’s the long weekend so I have some time to cope and I thought I was feeling better but I weighed myself this morning and I’m up to like 180 lbs, which means I probably will not make it down to 138lbs by July. I do care enough for that to bum me out apparently, and after a mediocre bench session I didn’t feel like sticking around. So now I’m going to eat ham and Easter bunnies and continue job hunting.

Really though, I should take up yoga or something. I did this stretch on Wednesday:

And felt my back pop audibly in no less than 8 places simultaneously. Am I going to die?


Training Log: March 26th

I’ve had a couple of training sessions without updating my training log: a fairly good bench session on Saturday and a squat session on Monday. I tried to hash out my thoughts, but I’m struggling to articulate whatever it is that I want to say. So I’m just going to put it all out there and hope for a semblance of sense.

I am fucking depressed. There is no way around it. And as a result, apart from the stress eating (which I am generally ignoring), I cannot say that I am physically well: my Monday workout wass cut short because I started having an anxiety attack and sobbing in the squat rack.

Trust me: I know that this is not rational or normal behaviour. I did try and reign myself in. But the more I tried to get a hold of myself, the more I started thinking about how no one actually cares if I squat 300lbs. And I as much as I’d like to be able to squat 300lbs for my own sense of self-satisfaction, I care a whole lot more about getting a job and earning an income. So maybe I should just cancel my gym membership because I can’t seem to workout without feeling guilty over the fact that I should be doing something more productive.

A part of me doesn’t want to talk about this at all. There are a lot of people who don’t understand how depression works. The rational part of my brain can see that I probably will not be homeless and unemployed for the rest of my life. But there is a much larger part of me that feels totally hopeless. And no amount of internet doctors who say “Just keep lifting and being hardcore” will silence that voice. Nor does hardcore-ness pay the bills.

On some level, I recognize that there are people with problems a lot worse than mine and I’m not trying to whine my way to a hand-out. I want to be a competent human being who is gainfully employed and can afford to buy the basic necessities with a few perks once in a while. And I recognize that other people have money problems. But when I’m not exactly living extravagantly and my emergency credit card gets declined trying to buy $12 worth of lemons and coffee and lettuce, I start to feel a little terrified about where my next meal is going to come from.

Too bad deadlifting isn’t a currency, because despite all this emotional bullshit, I did managed to set a rep PR tonight. And I know they’re ugly and hitched to the max, but at least I felt genuinely happy for a few seconds. I’d almost forgotten what that felt like.


Training Log: March 22nd

Yesterday was the Federal Budget announcement. The program I work for was not renewed, making it even more unlikely that I will have a job upon graduation.

If I manage to graduate. I might drown in a sea of homework before I receive a diploma.

Oh, and my landlord has been calling to find out when I’ll be bringing my new roommate in to sign the lease. No such person exists.

I’ve had $12 in my bank account since last Friday. Somehow I still managed  to rub all of my pennies together and procure a bottle of wine last night. And cookies. And ice cream that I stayed awake and ate until 2:30 in the morning.

I feel like I’m a dog turd that’s been attacked by a meat tenderizer and then run over by a steam roller.

Can’t say I was overly enthusiastic about trying to set a new squat 3RM today.

Nor was I terribly surprised that they appear to be high.


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Training Log: March 20th

I spent a better part of yesterday watching the women’s CPU Nationals. At first, I felt all motivated to kill my lifts and I went to the gym and pull 345×2 which was a rep PR.

Then I came home and just felt melancholy.

I thought I was okay with skipping Nationals. I think I still am. But my lifts have been progressing well and it would have been a good experience. I’ll go next year. But what if I’m still broke? What if I get injured before then? What if I go and bomb out or fail to make weight?

If worrying about myself wasn’t enough, the women’s qualifying standards were raised and that’s bumming me out. I’m still qualified and I understand on some level why the change was made. More women are getting interested in lifting and competing and as that continues, the standards will continue to rise. Good. I don’t want to ever feel comfortable with my lifts. But… on a more personal note, I was really hoping that some of my friends would qualify to go with me, and that seems a lot less obtainable for some of them now.

Lifting is very much a social activity for me, and I want the people in my life to succeed. That’s especially true when I know how much hard work goes into improving the Big Three.  And while more women are qualifying for CPU Nationals, there were still only 2.5 flights of women, compared with 5.5 flights of men. So we aren’t quite equal, yet. And with those numbers, I should probably go back to focusing on my plan to snag myself a powerlifting boyfriend.

I do think it says something that most of my friends who were looking at qualifying seem to have taken the news better than I did. I’m still bummed out. And I’m a little bit jealous because I know I’m going to stress right the fuck out trying to make weight and wanting to put up superhuman lifts. Why do I put myself through that? How do I give myself permission to take the pressure off? I mean, I had an anxiety attack on the city bus this afternoon just thinking about my rent, my job, and my bank account. I’m a mess. A sensible person would cancel their gym membership and forget about lifting until they get their life sorted out.

Well, let’s just say that 24 year olds are not known for their good sense. And this is supposed to be my training log, so I should maybe talk about lifting instead of how I’m so depressed that I want to crawl under the covers and cry and maybe never re-emerge. Good thing I decided the best way to turn off my brain is to do some heavy front squats, focusing on trying to get my elbows up this week:

I continued my 10lb progression on these and got 165x5x3 easily. Front squats have been a good addition to my programming: they’re heavy enough to be a challenge but still light enough that I can get a quick workout that doesn’t totally mess up my recovery.

But let’s talk about accessory work because on the one hand: I had a giant bro workout by doing light bench, dips, curls and flyes. On the other hand, I’m pretty satisfied. First of all, if you haven’t noticed, I wasn’t really in the mood to workout. But I clocked in, anyway. I believe pretty seriously that showing up and working out when I’d rather be elsewhere is one of the biggest factors in long term success. Arguably these days, and the consistency they bring to my training, are a lot more important than the ones where I show up in a great mood, ready to crush it.

Secondly, my attitude towards accessory work has changed in the past few months, partially as a result of my success on Coan/Phillipi and partially as a result of training with the Hostyle crew. The old me, who benched 100lbs in competition, liked to skive off on accessory work. But lately I’ve noticed that doing accessory work has increased my work capacity in general and of course my lifts are progressing. There’s also a sense of accomplishment on days like today, when I show up and do dips and manage to see tangible signs of progress.

That’s right: I got 2 sets of 5 of  body weight dips today and it’s a big freakin’ deal. The first time my coach made me do dips, I had about 80lbs of resistance in bands. I flopped around like a fish. I struggled to get 5. I wanted to kick and scream and cry and give up on lifting. But I’m progressing and hopefully that translates into a bigger bench down the line. Life’s not all bad.


Food Diary

At least I knew I was going to be scraping by this month and I had the foresight to order a Good Food Box, which I picked up today.  I know my life has hit rock bottom wen I’m excited to pick up $10 worth of produce so that I have something to eat until pay day. Actually, the artichoke & lemon chicken from Practical Paleo that I made this weekend was pretty good and I’ve been eating the leftovers slowly, so I just needed a side dish. The broccoli is already gone.

I’m glad I’ve figured out how to fuel myself properly even when I’m feeling down. That’s in stark contrast to whatever I was doing the last time I felt this depressed and weighed +230lbs. And it’s just  nice to know that at least I can come home to a decent meal at the end of the day. 

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Training log: March 19th

I feel like I’m always reading stuff online about how girls need their boyfriends to show them around the weight room. I absolutely cannot relate to that sentiment because I don’t even know what a boyfriend is. Miraculously,  I somehow managed to figure out how to lift weights on my own. Maybe that’s why when I read stuff like, “I went and squatted without my boyfriend!” I just scoff and feel superior. Or maybe it’s because I’m a huge bitch.

Actually, I see guys bring their girlfriends into my gym all the time and I just want to scream, “YOUR BOYFRIEND HAS NO IDEA WHAT HE’S DOING.” Your boyfriend is a bro and if he just wanted to show you that move where you stick your head in his crotch, why didn’t you guys just stay home and workout in bed?

Maybe I’m a bitter spinster with too many cats, but it has been my observation that women would be a lot more empowered in the weight room if we focused more on self-education and stopped relying on our guys to teach us what to do. The assumption that guys know what they’re doing in the weight room because they’re guys, and we as women will benefit when they impart their wisdom to us does not exactly speak very highly towards the abilities of women. Does that not seem backwards to anyone else?

Or do I just sound like a man hater? Let’s be clear: my disdain for society is not limited to any particular age, race or gender.

Luckily, I have Gary. Who happens to be my gay boyfriend. We bitch about all the stupid things that we see at the gym together. We complain about how fat and weak we are. We have a crush on the hottest couple ever and every time they come to the gym, we get all googly eyed and talk about how hot they are. We argue about proper bench form and the best way to gain weight. And on Tuesdays we deadlift.

And in this relationship, I just so happen to be the supportive boyfriend.  You see, Gary wants a 405lb deadlift before he moves away in August and I told him that I would help him get there. Then I told him he was going to stop exhausting himself during his warm-up and stop doing heavy sets of 10 every week. Now every time he says “I am old! Four plates is scary!” I reply with, “And I’m a 150lb woman. This is happening.”

Actually, all kidding aside, Gary and I are equals in the weightroom. We have different strengths and provide support for each other. When I told him I was coming in early today, he said “Okay. I’ll take off from work early and come deadlift with you.” After so much suckage last week and 345×2 on the agenda today, I was glad to have him there for a new 2RM.

And I’ll be even happier to have him next week when I’m supposed to pull 365×2. I don’t care if my boyfriend is there or not; I’m already terrified.

Food Diary

One of the things I made this weekend was Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes. Except that being Paleo now, my chili does not contain beans and chili without beans is really just tomato-based stew. How disappointing.


Training log: March18th

I have never felt so naked at the gym.

You see, I had a gift card for lululemon and I used it to buy a sports bra this weekend. I’d never bought anything from there before because I knew it was overpriced. But I don’t think I fully understood just how expensive it really was until I bought this bra off the clearance rack and it was still $39 + tax. That’s more than I spent on groceries this week. In fact, that’s more money than I have in my bank account right now. So maybe if I show it off a little and maybe if I use the bag as a lunch box for the next 6 months, I’ll be able to assuage the feelings of guilt that are consuming me.


Actually, looking at these pictures I realize that I am more covered up than a lot of girls at the gym. But this outfit is downright skanky compared to what I normally wear and I’m not sure whether it’s appropriate for someone of my size to wear this outfit. Plus, I’ve noticed that even though my gym is often crowded in the evenings, I am frequently the only woman in the entire building and then I start to feel uncomfortable. What if the guys don’t think I’m hot enough to pull off this look?

Perhaps it’s all a moot point because as you can see, this bra was so expensive that I couldn’t afford to buy a new shirt and so I resorted to cutting up more of my old fat clothes.

Seriously though, money is stressing me out. I am running away from my problems both figuratively and literally. I’m avoiding my landlord and I ran 5 miles yesterday – or at least I did whatever it is that powerlifters do that resembles running. As a result, I ended up skipping my lateral lunges in favour of foam rolling since my IT bands feel tighter than skinny jeans on a hipster. But I still had to squat, unfortunately.

I feel like I haven’t quite recovered from last week’s volume day so I altered my progression a bit and used more of a ramp-up style, which I think is one of the recommendations when you aren’t recovering enough on the 70s Big Texas Method. By the time I got to my 265 triples, I was worried that I wasn’t hitting depth. So I recorded myself. Depth looked okay. And there was a beautiful squat morning!

I was supposed to OHP tonight, too. But I can only seem to have a decent OHP session every other week and that happened to be last week. I ended up just push pressing, which I might start doing intentionally on alternate weeks just to avoid the feelings of anger and annoyance that I experience every time I fail my OHP. The other thing I’m considering trying is taking a page from Greyskull LP and pressing before the squats, which really do tucker me out.

After push presses, I did assisted pull-ups, DB rows and tricep pushdowns as my accessory work tonight, mostly just working with what was free. I was feeling kind of lazy, but I’m glad I stuck around. Two of the dudes working out ended up providing ample entertainment by loudly discussing how they want to look like The Rock. In 4 months. While OHPing 65lbs. And doing a 5-day arms/shoulders/chest/back/abs split. Ya, good luck with that. And I suddenly feel a lot less worried about who might be judging me at the gym.

Swirly crustless quiche

Food Diary

I did a ton of batch cooking this weekend – enough to cover all of my meals until Wednesday.

I needed something other than grainless granola and scrambled eggs, so for breakfast I decided to try yet another meal from Practical Paleo. I was a bit hesitant to try this recipe because it seemed so stupidly simple that it could not possibly taste good. And it contains carrots, which are technically on my list of “Top 3 disgusting vegetables that I will not eat”. But like all of the recipes in this book, the accompanying picture was gorgeous and I really need an easy breakfast option during the week. So I gave it a try. Luckily, a dozen eggs are no match for a couple of measly carrots! I’m pretty impressed with how delicious this tastes. My only qualm is that I’m pretty sure a “crustless quiche” is actually called a frittata.