A Dainty Diary of Lifting

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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.