I love Lifting!

Sometimes people say they wish they could be motivated to weight train like me, or they wish they could compete. I usually follow this by asking why? Usually it’s something like I want to lose weight, or the magazines look so good etc. Almost always I give them the same piece of advice; “Do what you like.” Not in a snarky, do whatever you want, I don’t care kind of way. But literally, find something you like and do it.

Gains are made when you are loving the gym 🙂

Not everyone likes weight training, even though it is a great way to get in shape. There are other ways! (blasphemy) Some people prefer running or swimming and like to just do cardio. Other people like team based sports. And still others like the competitive workouts of crossfit or martial arts. These are all legitimate ways to get in shape and I bet every person could find something fitness related that they LIKE to do.

I don’t just like lifting weights. I LOVE it. Very few things make me as happy as picking up heavy things and putting them down. I guess I’m pretty simple that way. 😉  haha

But sometimes I get it in my head to do workout “programs” or “methods”.  And I do. I experiment with these things all the time. But then I find myself skipping the gym a little too often. And when that happens I often go back to what I normally do… and I have an epiphany.

I have an epiphany that I have about once a year. A Re-piphany if you will.

And that is that I really like doing my own thing in the gym. My love of weights is contingent on it not being overly structured or programmed.

I’ve even blogged about it before! So why do I forget?

Well I’ll tell you why, but first let me tell you what I mean by “my own thing”

I like following frameworks, and not schedules. Principles and guidelines instead of a strict timeline and regimen. It keeps me engaged with the process and gives me the flexibility to adapt to my schedule outside of fitness or even how I am feeling that day.

If I follow a strict program that someone else designed I don’t feel like I’m really working towards MY goals… I’m working towards THEIR goals (or the ones they imagined for their user). And that’s great for the most part. But I inevitably can’t follow it to the letter because of such and such a reason and I end up modifying it, and then I am basically doing what I normally do anyways. EXCEPT now I feel guilty because I’m supposed to be following this program.

So now I have this ridiculous, self-imposed guilt that I’m carrying around, and my workouts start to suffer. I’m  not giving it my all, or if I am, I’m just not “feeling it”.

Stop that!

Let’s stop with the theoretical now. Yesterday I went to the gym and decided that I was getting really bored of the tempo I was imposing on myself from the program I’ve been following. It has a 1-0-3 tempo (1 seconds contraction, 0 second pause, and 3 second decentric movement) So that’s a slooooow down phase. It forces you to focus on form, and also means you probably have to drop the weight.

But I like lifting HEAVY. It’s motivating for me. So yesterday I decided to shed the tempo counts and just lift like a beast. It was back day and I really wasn’t feeling that into it at the start. There were no treadmills so I decided to warm up on the row machine. I managed to bang out over 1000 meters in 4 minutes! (1 min intervals) So that put me in a good mood.

Then the lat pull down machine was being used, which is normally where I start my  back day… ok well second in line is one arm rows, so I decided to start with that instead. With the slow tempo I had been using 40-45 pounds and struggling. But without the tempo restriction I decided to give 50’s a shot. After banging out 12 it felt pretty light. So I decided to try 60’s – My previous PR is 55 for the record. I did 10 clean reps with the 60’s and did a second set! It still felt pretty easy. So I upped it to 65 pounds and still managed a last set of 10 clean reps!!! I couldn’t stop smiling and definitely got a couple of weird looks.

After that I thought I would be completely toast for the rest of the workout. But I wasn’t I upped my weight on every single exercise. Partially because I was using a much faster tempo with gives you some momentum, but I think a lot of it had to do with me ENJOYING my workout.

OK, so here is my point.

I often want to try new programs because I see them around all the time. So and so it one this diet, that persons doing these workouts etc. So I give them a try, but in the process I lose sight of what I love about my workouts and they become a chore. It’s such a small change too! I’m not forcing myself to try to become a runner, I’m just using a different structure to my weight training sessions.

So listen up… if you feel like you can’t get in shape, or weight lifting just isn’t for you… that is OK. You are a unique person with individual likes and dislikes. But I promise you there is some form of fitness out there that you will fall in love with. You just have to find it! So experiment, try new sports, methods, times of day even! Just keep trying until you find what you love. And once you do, keep doing it! 🙂

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Meme pet peeve

So there are lots of workout memes out there that I absolutely adore and think are super motivating, but there are a couple out there that straight up piss me off. They over simplify things to a fault and may even go so far as to make people feel bad about themselves.

This is my most hated one.

Ugh, really?! A workout is 4% of my day? Ok ya I guess technically if you divide 1 hour by 24 hours you get 4%, point taken. But that makes it sound like you can just slot that workout into any hour of the day! Most people I know don’t have 24 hours of free time. Also, if you have to drive to a gym, get changed, shower etc. the total time investment for the gym is usually closer to 2 hours… especially if you are competing, but lets stick with the super efficient 1 hour workout, which is probably doable for most people just trying to get in shape.

So let’s break down most people’s 24 hour day:

  • Sleep – 8 hours – yes you can totally take an hour out of your sleep schedule to workout, but do that consistently and you will probably GAIN weight and you won’t recover from your workouts properly, not to mention be super grumpy.
  • Work + travel – 9 hours – maybe you can squeeze in a workout on your lunch break and eat at your desk instead? But that probably only works if you have a gym nearby, no gym close and you are out of luck
  • Getting ready in the morning – 1 hour – pretty much non-negotiable  as you need to get up, get ready and get out the door for work, you could prep this the night before and cut it down to 30 mins, but then you’re really just moving the time around
  • Making dinner and eating – 1 hour – assuming you eat with other people or have a family that likes a sit down meal this is not something you probably want to skip, but it’s probably the most “optional” thing on the list

There are of course other commitments, but let’s assume that this person doesn’t have anything scheduled… how many hours are left?

5 hours of “free” time.

So in my mind that means the  1 hour workout really takes up 20% of my day that is available for me to use as I like.  Now having said that that is still a pretty small portion if you really want to get in shape. And let’s be honest with ourselves… how many of us spend 2+ hours a night watching TV or surfing the net?

I really believe that MOST people can make time for working out, but making people feel bad by saying it’s such a small portion of their day makes it sound a lot simpler than it is. How about instead we tell people the truth? Making working out a priority is tough, it’s going to take discipline and you may have to give up one of your nightly TV shows, but if you really want it, it will be worth it.

Which is a nice segue into my favourite and probably most truthful meme of all time:

 No one ever said it would be easy, but it will always be worth it.

And at the end of the day, it is. It’s worth it, so accept that it’s hard, accept that you have to MAKE time for it, accept that you will have to push outside your comfort zone and I PROMISE you will love what happens because:

Step out of your comfort zone.....

Fun Fact – Personal motivation

I now have a whole slew of personal motivation pics in the form of previous competition prep and competition photos. While I still love to look at magazines and fellow fitness enthusiasts, their bodies will never be exactly like my body and vice versa. I can work on building, trimming or defining certain areas based on what I might see and like on someone else, but at the end of the day I know that when I lean down and train right I look like this. Image

And right now I don’t, so my biggest motivation is to get back to looking like ME at my best, and then going one step further.

Valentine’s Day and Motivation

Anthropomorphic Valentine, circa 1950–1960

Anthropomorphic Valentine, circa 1950–1960 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How was your Valentine ’s Day?

Mine was kind of meh. At the moment my wonderful boyfriend is living in Ottawa during the week so sadly I was alone yesterday. I’m not big on the whole Valentine’s day idea. To me it’s kind of arbitrary especially if your relationship is strong… you probably don’t need an excuse to show how much you love the other person.

Regardless, my Valentine’s Day was spent ignoring the cupcakes at my client (they were store-bought, over-processed monstrosities anyways, bleh) and treating myself to a few squares of 85% dark chocolate followed by a date with myself at the gym.

Allow me to segue here: last week my back and bicep workout was BRUTAL. I mean I slogged through it with no energy and every rep seemed like it demanded twice the effort it normally did. So this week I was, for the first time in a looooong time, slightly dreading back day… which is normally my favourite!

Yesterday, however, I kicked butt! My back is back! HA!

Anyhoooo, so not the point. What struck me was how busy the gym was yesterday. I mean, it was packed! I had expected it to be relatively empty what with it being V-day and all, but it was even busier than normal. So that got me thinking… what are people’s motivations? Why would it be busier?

Well, my motivations were easy:

  • I’m celebrating this weekend, not on the day so why should it interrupt my regular schedule?
  • I am probably indulging a little this weekend so some pre-emptive cardio won’t hurt.
  • I didn’t go the day before because I was exhausted to the extreme.

But what about everyone else?

I think that for a lot of people, V-day kind of emphasizes that you are single. I think a lot of people think that if they were fitter/skinner/more attractive they would have better luck in love, so off to the gym we go. While I’m all for anything that get’s people active, I really don’t think that is sustainable change.

Motivation for change has to be intrinsic – that is, it has to come from inside you. You can’t be motivated by something outside of yourself… like catching someone’s eye. What happens when you are in a relationship? Are you just going to give up?

I really believe that health and fitness has to be motivated by a desire to be healthy and fit, and that is the way to make it last. It has to be its own goal, otherwise it is a short term solution.

What are your thoughts?

How to lose 5 pounds in one day

First, gain 10 pounds in one week.

Second, freak the hell out because you are now well past you’re “comfort zone” and verging on “OMG how did I get fat?” territory.

Aside: Ha, I know! You were all “OMG what is this miracle that she has come across that is going to revolutionize my life?!” Well no, this is not some post about a miracle diet, I apologize for suckering you in with that headline. Moving on.

Third, decide that some of that has got to be water weight from a combo of 1) the grotesque amounts of sugar you have ingested in the past week and 2) you are having a visit from aunt flo (TMI? Sorry).

Fourth, use your knowledge of manipulating your body to decide that going low carb will at least shed the excess water weight and make you feel less horrible.

Fifth, eat low carb and low cal on January first just to be stereotypical. Also decide not to weigh yourself until next Monday.

Sixth, wake up the next morning and weigh yourself… proceed to be absolutely dumbfounded by the fact that you have lost 4.4 lbs in less than 24 hours… and discover you have no will power when it comes to the scale.

I mean I knew I was retaining water, and water weight is super easy to get rid of, especially going low carb, but still… that’s a lot of weight! I now consider this morning’s weight to be my true-ish start weight, pending tomorrow’s weight because if it fluctuates wildly again either way I’ll have to wait for next week when it’s more stable.

This is not how I normally operate. In fact, I was telling my boyfriend’s Mom about this over the break. Normally I diet for a week BEFORE I weigh myself. The reasons for this are:

  1. I know that if I have been eating gluten, sugar or lots of dairy like an idiot that I will retain water like a mo fo and my weight will be unstable.
  2. I like seeing a steady, stable progression and not get all crazy because my weight jumps around day to day.
  3. Seeing how much I’ve actually gained before a week of dieting is just depressing and I try to avoid that.

But an unexpected benefit of the initial horror that was my stepping on the scale on January 1 only to discover I have gained 21 pounds in the 2 months since my competition, is that I am now almost ¼ of the way back to that weight… that’s right… I play mind games with myself. Fractions and absolute numbers and all sorts on fun to be had in order to trick my brain into not beating itself up too much.

Am I crazy? Probably.

Does this work? YES.

Think about it. If I had weighed myself today instead of yesterday I would have thought I had gained 16-17 pounds. This is horrifying; it’s almost as horrifying as 21 pounds. By Instead I got the shock of 21 pounds.

Then 24 hours after that horrifying moment I got to experience the joy of having already lost 4.4 lbs and being closer to my goal weight.

I make no sense sometimes, but meh. This was really just an excuse to confess to you all that I have gained an inordinate amount of weight over the last 2 months. Yes some is muscle, but let’s get real, most of it is fat. 😦

But, you may ask, what exactly did I do to get rid of nearly 5 pounds in one day?

Well I’m pretty sure a lot of it had to do with drinking like 6 litres of water and taking all my vitamins (that are usually diuretic in nature), but also I was pretty careful with my food.

It broke down like this (I use Sparkpeople.com to track my food if you are curious):

1400 calories… that’s about 300 less than my normal “diet” calorie level for reference. I.e. pretty low calorie for me but not going into starvation mode unless I keep doing that… which I won’t 🙂

45 grams of carbs – not quite Atkins, but still extremely low.

140 grams of protein – aw yeah, getting 1 gram per pound of lean body mass!

70 grams of fat – these were good fats mostly, like nut butters and such.

My meals were:

Breakfast – 1 egg, 3 egg white omelette with 2 slices of peameal bacon on the side

Snack – 1 oz pecans

Lunch – Bowl of lean beef chilli

Dinner – Chicken breast with sautéed baby bok choy and onions

“Dessert” – Protein sludge (1 scoop protein powder plus 1 tbsp of macadamia butter and a bit of water, then freeze)

I would have gone to the gym too, but apparently my gym doesn’t acknowledge the whole resolutions thingy, so I’m going extra hard tonight 🙂

Happy New Year!