A Dainty Diary of Lifting

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Training Log: April 30th

I am struggling: with motivation, with my diet, with my lifts. In a nutshell: I’m struggling with life.

Where to begin?

I was supposed to start Sheiko 30 yesterday evening. I had been feeling a bit intimidated because I had added 12.5lbs to my squat and deadlift maxes, and 6.25lbs to my bench – which I’d already entered at 10% higher than it actually is. but I was coming off a small high because I finally PRed my OHP at 100lbs. I hadn’t been able to hit anything above 90 since last November. So it’s about freakin’ time!

But then I had lower back pain and stiffness all afternoon. By the time I got off the bus after work, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to walk the three blocks to my apartment. I just sat down and waited until I thought I could make it. Then I basically crawled on to my couch and curled up in the foetal position. I’ve decided that since I didn’t have a PMS induced mental-breakdown this month, my body has decided to express its fury elsewhere, namely my lower back.

I slept it off and managed to get in this morning. I still feel kind of icky, but I know I needed to get into the rack. Unfortunately, I am not a morning person. Usually my mornings consist of scrambling around like a madwoman, trying to find any clothes that match and are acceptable for my office. Then I drink a cup of coffee on the bus and another one when I arrive at my desk. Somewhere after the third cup of coffee, reading my e-mails and the news, I start to resemble a functional human being.

Today, I wanted to get in and out of the gym before the lunch rush. So I only drank a single cup of coffee beforehand, and then I spent the first half of my workout trying to remember what lifting feels like because every part of my body felt like it was still asleep.

Sheiko 30 w1d1

Here’s proof that Sheiko is a miraculous program: I feel good about benching. Who am I? For reference, 121 was a new max for me at my last meet. I did 120x3x5 today despite feeling generally blah. Seeing progress like that is a huge a relief. I do need to work on making sure my heels are fully down, though. It looks like they’re up a bit in the video. I feel like I’m driving through my heels, so hopefully that’s just a mobility issue.

Unfortunately, this workout was basically the equivalent of two full days of Starting Strength, so I also had to squat and those were a disaster. My hip is sore and I just couldn’t seem to figure out a stance that would alleviate the pain. I was coming down so unevenly – I don’t think my right side was doing any of the work and it was just depressing.

I skipped the good mornings today, out of consideration for my back. What I really need is some mobility work. Hopefully it’s nice out tomorrow and I can go to Yoga on the Hill at lunch. Today I think I’m going to hit up Mucho Burrito and tackle some laundry. I also want to find a backpack that I can use to run to work. Because I have a job!!

That’s the best news I’ve had in a while and it means I can continue paying for my lifting habit, whether I’m feeling motivated or not. So I’m going to try and use the time to do laundry, relax and drink some more coffee.


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Training Log: April 26

Last day of Sheiko today! And also the last day of my final semester of undergrad!

I’m drinking wine. And watching Project Runway and crying because Michelle won. I think I’m mentally unstable. Not because of Project Runway. And not because of the wine. But because I almost didn’t make it into the gym today. Instead, I was contemplating giving up powerlifting entirely and taking up Crossfit or yoga or knitting.

You see, I seem to be suffering from an identity crisis. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in full-out exam mode, and at large part of my “studying” has been filled with daydreams about how I would soon be an adult and I would have time to sit out on my balcony and drink wine! And meet people! And travel to exotic places! And workout on Sundays!

Then, at 11:23 this morning, I submitted my final assignment. And I didn’t feel relieved. I just felt empty.

I feel like I’ve lost a major part of my identity, because I’m a no longer a student. So… what am I? Well, I’m not entirely sure. But I seem to keep coming back to two things: I’m a lifter and I’m lonely. Both of those things are kind of sad, and that’s not the wine talking. At least I can recognize that being lonely is a temporary condition. And even though I suck at social interaction, there is hope for change. But lifting isn’t even who I am, it’s just something I do three times a week at the gym – and I’m not even sure why I do it, because I can’t honestly say it makes me happy.

Sure, when I pick up a big weight, I feel pretty psyched. That’s a good feeling. But it’s fleeting. And 98% of the time I’m in the gym, not setting PRs and feeling shitty about the fact that I’m not stronger, and lamenting the fact that other people are stronger than me. Plus, what hobbies do I have when I spend so much time in the rack? Can I carry a conversation on anything other than lifting? Maybe this is why I’m lonely.

So, I was considering skipping my workout today, in order to get celebratory drunk or just drunk, I’m not sure. If it had been anything other than the final workout of my current Sheiko routine, I probably would have bailed. But it seemed appropriate to go in and say goodbye at least, since I seem to be entering a period of transition everywhere else in my life.

Sheiko 29 w4d5

I skipped the dips. I needed to hurry up and get out of the gym before it closed, and I spent a very large chunk of my workout talking to Gary. Part of me is cheered up: we are going to go see Pain & Gain on Wednesday, because whether I want to admit it or not, I am a bro deep down inside. But I also feel really sad because he told me I’d been mentioned a few times in conversations with people at the gym. Apparently I am known as “The Powerlifting Chick”. I said it was funny that everyone knows who I am, and they can talk about me when I’m not around but he is the only person in the gym who I actually talk to. He told me it’s because I’m intimidating.

Fuck. I don’t know what to think, because that only seems to make the issue of being lonely and dissatisfied with my lifts  seem even worse.

I’m really a nice person, I swear. I just think it’s ridiculous that the trainers at my gym are showing the 200lb hockey players how to squat a 20lb dumbbell on a bosu ball because “it’s great for ankle strength”. Or maybe I believe that most healthy women should be able to quarter squat more than 65lbs. And maybe some times I look disapproving when I witness these things. But it’s more a matter of, “Why are you wasting your time with that” than any sort of personal judgement.

Lifting-wise, there are videos of my bench but Gary snuck into the background and then requested they not be posted on the internet. I can respect that, especially since I’m really fat today. Like, I couldn’t even buckle up my lever belt, which is already set to what I consider to be my fat setting. Oof. The funny thing is, I almost don’t care because I’ve walked by the mirror a couple of times this week and thought “Damn. My butt is looking great.” And even if my BMI is obese, I wear a size 8… so I don’t care.

But I should probably reign in my eating, just to avoid bouncing back up to 252lbs. That should be possible. I’ll be settling into a more stable routine and hopefully that will improve my diet, my lifting and my general happiness. Or I’ll take up Crossfit. The future is a mystery.

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Training Log: April 24th

Ugh. I am still really struggling with my diet and I feel like I’m stuck between a metaphorical rock and hard place. I’m eating eating a la orthorexia or drowning in a tub of ice cream. And I tell myself that my weight is not a measure of my self-worth but I don’t exactly want to be fact again, and I feel like a giant failure for not having more self-control. I’m hoping that once exams are officially over and I’m working on a regular schedule my eating habits might stabilize but I don’t want to think about it.

Sheiko 29 w4d3

At least eating some extra calories made lifting insanely easy today. There was a world of difference between 125×2 on bench this week and last week and I managed 2×3, even after a couple of grinders last week.

And I deadlifted and it was hard but I got through it. I bought straps from my coach over the weekend and he gave me a big lecture about making sure I still train my grip, so I didn’t even end up using them today. I also did a couple of warm-ups as sumo deadlifts. I think I’m going to start making the transition because my sumo ROM is like 2″ – so in the long run I think I can get more out of it.

Only one more Sheiko #29 workout left!

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Training Log: April 21

The past few days in lifting:

Saturday:  I went and trained with my Hostyle team. It had been a while and they had moved into a new location. I got to try doing tire flips which were totally badass. They were incredibly addictive and exhausting. I sometimes wish I could tell my gym that they need to buy a landmine, a prowler, a deadlift jack, etc. We can add a tire to the list. Or I’ll look into doing some strongman stuff and going to a real gym once CPU Nationals are done. I also got to try reverse band benching, which I’d never done before. Stocker used a lot of tension because I was able to get 255×2 on my last set, and he was pretty impressed with that. His comment was, “Just wait until we get you in a shirt” so I guess at some point I am going to dabble in geared lifting, too. And even though the bands were helping, it was still incredibly satisfying to lift a bar with all those plates loaded on.

Sunday: I had promised to teach Gary how to front squat. One of his friends told him he should be front squatting. Never mind that I told him the same thing months ago, he is now interested in doing them. I looked ahead saw that I would be doing “heavy” front squats as part of Sheiko today, but I still felt like I needed to get into the gym since all I’ve been doing is sitting around on my butt and studying. I ended up front squatting with Gary and worked up to a new 3RM of 190lbs. I’m really pleased with how much front squat has progressed over the past couple of months! Less pleased about the fact that laughing and sneezing are both painful experiences today because of overwhelming ab DOMS.

I threw in some front plate raises (because I feel like my delts are underdeveloped) and some RDLs after front squats. The RDLs were fairly light, but I focused on stopping just off the floor and hanging out to maintain hamstring tension. Totally caught two “trainers in training” gawking at my sick deadlift and called them out for talking about me. The bar for women is set awfully low if 135lbs is considered strong.

Today: I started my final week of Sheiko #29! I feel like I just started this cycle and now it’s almost over:

Sheiko #29 w4d1

Squats felt really good today. I did everything unbelted except fora rep out at the end. I got 235×8, mostly because engaging my abs against the belt with DOMS was annoying. I probably had 2 more left in the tank, but I figured I should save those for front squats, which didn’t even up being all that bad. What killed me were the dips! Doing dips after benching 4x last week, benching earlier in my lifting session, front squatting heavy two days in a row, naturally weak triceps… there were a lot of reasons they sucked, ha! I got through them, though.

By the time my good morning rolled around, I was just hungry and anxious to get home so I could eat. Because I was a bit distracted by how hungry I felt, I went a bit lighter on the good mornings at the end. Got them done as fast as I could, but focused on getting as much stretch as possible in my hamstrings. Now I’m sitting on my couch and eating a protein bar and I feel a lot better.

Food Diary

My roommate moved out this weekend. Somewhat suddenly, but not really. In a lot of ways it was a huge relief because we haven’t been on speaking terms for a few months. But she was also the owner of our microwave. My cereal consumption levels are at an all-time high. Which is good, because it’s Earth Day and the environmentalist in me really struggles to justify eating so much meat, even in the name of gains. I’m also not feeling guilty about the fact that I’ve been to 3 different Starbucks locations for free coffee today. Weight was 70.4 kg this morning and I’m just at a point where I don’t care what I eat as long as I make weigh-in for my meet. I should find out on Wednesday whether I have a job for the summer, and then my number 1 priority will be to buy a microwave. And some protein.


Training Log: April 19th

Today was one of those days where getting to the gym was as much an act of mental strength as physical strength. On top of my everyday stress levels, the final list of lifters for my meet in July was posted earlier this week and I had a bit of a downward spiral into lifting despair. There are some freakishly strong girls on the list, and I feel like I’m not on track to meet any of the goals I set for myself. I shouldn’t have looked these girls up on facebook like a total creep because it just made me feel inadequate and I don’t want to feel that way on the platform. I just want to be so strong it leaves everyone speechless!! And I want to impress everyone! And I was so successful at my first couple of meets because no one else showed up and I was making insane n00b gains and it was impressive and I just want to continue.

At the same time, I kind of feel really, really guilty for wanting to win. I keep having to remind myself that entering a contest just to win is the sign of a poor sport. I sound like my mother, but that’s exactly what I told my friends who were uncertain about signing up themselves. Those same friends are the reason I should be excited to lift because I hate being the only unaffiliated woman in the warm-up room of a meet. And I’m excited to see the person who introduced me to lifting in her first meet. So if I start stressing out like I’m some sort of elite-level lifter when really I’m just a chick who squats at the YMCA a few times a week, then I’m losing some of the fun of lifting. And I recognize that would be a huge waste of time and effort and I should just stop worrying.

Therefore, instead of being delusional, my new plan is to focus on convincing my friends that the best way to celebrate after the meet is with pizza and Fro Yo. That way I have something to really look forward to when the meet is over. And I have to get my butt into the gym so I don’t feel unprepared.

So into the squat rack I go… despite the fact that I’ve pulled all nighters studying for exams the past two days and I have no inclination to eat because my stomach is so upset from stress. I think I’ve consumed 1800 cals and 51g of protein in the past few days and dropped 6 or 7lbs. That puts me a heck of a lot closer to 63kg, but unfortunately it also means that I’m quite literally wasting away. Good thing there’s nothing a few thousand mg of caffeine can’t fix.

Sheiko #29 w3d3

On paper this workout didn’t look so bad, but then I started squatting:

These are ugly for three reasons: 1) I am sweating like a pig because my gym was hotter than a sauna this evening. Yuppie Scum even made a point of telling me to drink water because he was drenched in sweat and obviously dying. So was I. 2) I think it’s time to accept that these pants are too big and throw them out because they made my crotch look absolutely awful. 3) My right side is about as useless as the rest of me feels. My hip and glute are so tight this week that I just couldn’t get them engaged, which was about on par with what I expected. I really struggled to get out of the whole evenly this evening.

So imagine my surprise when I decided to do a rep-out on bench and I got 115×9. TIMES NINE! N-I-N-E!!!!I’m pissed I didn’t get this on video because I can’t believe it. I was aiming for 6. They were all touch ‘n go but my ass was down. I tried to grind out a tenth rep with my ass up but I just couldn’t get it locked out. Whatever. I ain’t even mad. That is some solid progress on my bench and it was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits.

I think I might go lift with my benching crew tomorrow to cheer myself up and try to focus on the fun parts of lifting. I sent a text to Stocker this morning and he told me that the boss wouldn’t be around so I could do whatever I wanted for accessory work. I’ve failed at recovery every other day this week so might as well go 7/7 and I’m pretty sure some tire flips are exactly what I need. If I can get get out of bed.

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Training Log: April 16th

Yesterday was supposed to be my Coan/Phillipi deadlift day. Except that when I started this whole hybrid program, I said it could be a really bad idea and today just so happened to be the day that it all caught up with me.

Part of the problem is not my programming. It’s just that I got impatient and just tried to rip 405 off the floor. I have no other excuses, really. And unfortunately this was not one of those risks that pays off: I got the weight about an inch off the floor, gave myself incredible DOMS all over and spent the rest of my afternoon pouting. Until I realized I actually feel kind of relieved to have screwed up this C/P progression.

I think I’m going to jump ship and just do the Sheiko programming for deadlifts. I know that I am the most schizophrenic lifter and dieter on the planet, but in the long run I think it’s for the best. It’s what I should have been doing since the start, and , I guess hindsight is just 20/20. I will probably get impatient again before my meet and want to set some PRs, but at least Sheiko is running me into the ground enough that I can feel okay with what I’m doing each time I hit the gym. At least there are tangible signs of improvement if not actual PRs.

I’m looking at doing #29 -> #37 -> #31 -> #32 in preparation for this meet, and I was planning to increase my squat and bench 12.5/6.5 each round. So even if I were to finish this cycle of C/P in three weeks, I’d have to figure out what to do with my deadlift and then I’d switch to Sheiko deadlifts at that point in time, anyway.

Part of my initial hesitation to do the Sheiko deadlifting was simply because I didn’t want to waste my time doing a bunch of rack pulls. I’ve since been informed that Ben Rice does Sheiko with full ROM and that sounds exhausting and awful and awesome. So might as well start with that. Which is what I did tonight.

Sheiko w3d3

Now, even after the shitshow that was yesterday, the deadlifting wasn’t stressing me out. I ended up pulling a few singles from the floor at 345, but considering I did manage to go pretty heavy yesterday and was feeling pretty taxed. Plus, I know that I haven’t built up my work capacity on these quite yet – I suspect it will come with time. And TMI: it’s Day 14, so it would have been a weak day no matter what.

Besides, I was a whole lot more freaked out to see 125x2x2 on bench after deficit deadlifts. This is the weight I couldn’t even get off my chest when I was prepping for my December meet.

Not the prettiest reps, and I realize my ass was up. But overall I’m happy, considering I went in expecting the roll of shame. And there is always an immense satisfaction to locking out a grinder like that – no matter how ugly.

One thing I noticed in watching the videos is that my feet could be tucked further back when I set-up. Right now I know it’s a mobility issue. I’m hoping that once I graduate I can find the time to do a bit more yoga or mobility work or something. If I get a job where I am now, I might take a yoga class at lunch time. There is also a mobility class at Hostyle on Tuesday nights that I’d like to check out. But first I need to graduate and I should spend some time studying, since I’ve spent most of this evening procrastinating at the gym. Sheiko’s good for a lot of things but not my homework, unfortunately.

Food Diary

Where do I begin? I’ve been eating a lot of lazy people food. Which started out as Steve’s Original Paleo Krunch, which was okay because it’s grain free and at least has some nutritional value. But now I’ve moved on to just plain ol’ cereal. Made from corn. If I eat a bowful of crappy cereal with kefir, does that make it any healthier? You know what? It doesn’t matter. I am a college student, I am broke and I am writing exams. Fuck cooking and fuck protein. At this point, I think we’ve pretty clearly established that I do what I want, whether I necessarily should or should not.


And after reading rave reviews of LoveBean Fudge over at PaleoOMG, I was curious to try the stuff. Well, guess what I happened notice sitting on a shelf at the local health food store yesterday? LoveBean Fudge Cream. And it turns out that you absolutely can eat  this stuff by the spoonful, right out of the jar.

Beyond delicious.

You know how Paleo people sometimes catch flack because they claim their diet is so healthy and then they find ways bend the rules and make “healthier” versions of junk food, which really leaves them no better off? Ya. This stuff would be the perfect example of Paleo junk food aka crack-cocaine for hippies. The good news is that I won’t accidentally find myself diving face-first into the jar of almond butter any time soon! The bad news is that I’m worried my jar of fudge will disappear faster than you can say “Organic Raw Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.” My only saving grace lies in the fact that this stuff is basically liquid gold. I had to scrounge up all the loose coins Had floating around my couch and pockets and took it to the bank so that I could pretend I have money. Then I used it to buy 8 fl. oz of this stuff. I have no regrets.

Even though I’ve been eating junk food all week, I’ve been having decent-ish weigh-ins. But then I read the Precision Nutrition series on Food Labelling which was very pretty interesting and only served to remind me of all the whole foods that I am not currently eating. Luckily, it was Good Food Box delivery day and I got apples! And romaine! So I came home and ate shrimp and cauliflower for dinner, like an adult. It wasn’t fudge, but it was still pretty good.

Stir-fried shrimp and veg with coconut aminos

April Good Food Box: 5 Bananas, 5 apples, 3 oranges, 2 kiwi, 2 heads of garlic, bell pepper, tomato, zucchini, 1lb of onions, 1 head of cauliflower, 1 head of romaine lettuce and 2lbs of carrots

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Training Log: April 15th

As I passed through the locker room to get changed this evening, there was a woman who easily weighed 300lbs walking on the treadmill while watching footage of the Boston Marathon tragedy. I couldn’t help but think there is a certain commentary on society in that whole scenario. It’s like Don Delilo’s White Noise but it takes place in the gym and it’s real life. Which would be depressing if I could bring myself to think about it, but my brain is fried from starting my third week of Sheiko and that’s probably for the better.

Inline image 1

Squats. I was scared going into this workout because I’ve felt like my squat has been regressing. But I know for fact that there were some beautiful reps on my sets of 250 – tight, deep, fast and solid. I’ve got my phone fixed so there should be training footage beginning again tomorrow. I just couldn’t set up my camera without looking like a creep tonight.

Anyway, I felt great coming off that first round of squats. But then the squats after the squats killed me. I know a few of the 235 reps turned into good mornings, which is unfortunate because I’d been so happy about being able to get my hips under the bar on my earlier sets. Ah, well. At least I got through and it wasn’t even the worse part of my workout like I thought’d be.

Bench. I was worried about these, too. Simply because there were so many sets. But my bench felt great this evening and I’m beginning to notice some improvements as a result of benching 3x week. Everything was paused and I still got through fairly easily, even without wrist wraps on the majority of my sets. I feel like I could open with 115 at a competition right now and not even break a sweat. I know I didn’t feel that way before Christmas.

Push-ups. Dude. These are hard. I struggle with push-ups. I managed to get 5×10 but now my arms feel like jelly and I’m trembling enough that typing is difficult. I keep telling myself that it’s worth it because for the first time ever, I’m starting to notice that my triceps are growing, which is basically a miracle. MY TRICEPS ARE GROWING.

Good mornings. I’ve been doing a lot of good mornings and some lunges with this current programming and I’m starting to notice that they’re making my butt look better. I’ve always felt like squats have failed to deliver the bubble butt that I was promised, but I feel like these are finally giving me some lift. The only problem is that I feel totally self-conscious sticking my butt up into the air and I’ve got a few guys sneaking glances.

Weight-wise… I don’t want to talk about it. I ate a lot of Indian food this weekend and ice cream. My skin is all broken out from the dairy and I feel gross. I converted my scale to kilos this morning, since I’m technically aiming to compete at 63kg and not 138lbs. I’m hoping that’s the wake-up call I need. I feel shitty for struggling with my weight so much these past few months, but I still can’t seem to get it together.