Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

Gaining Strength: One Year Later

January 4, 2015

Exactly one year ago I signed up for my first ever Olympic weightlifting meet, having NEVER done anything beyond traditional lifts. I learned the basics in three weeks and at the meet, successfully completed both the snatch and the clean & jerk. I lifted the lightest weights at the meet, but I was hooked. I documented that whole process last year in a four part series, starting here: The Strength to be Strong.

Since then, I’ve continued training both Olympic lifts and in general strength and conditioning. I’ve now competed in two unsanctioned Oly meets, and one sanctioned one, where I proudly sported our team singlet. Let me tell you, I would have NEVER expected that to happen in my life– owning a singlet OR posting pictures of me wearing one online OR lifting weights in front of a crowd while wearing one.


A new C&J PR set in competition: 48kg!


If it isn’t obvious by now, I love weightlifting. I seriously appreciated it before this year, but it has now become such a mainstay in my life (4 days a week on average), which meant a lot during a fairly crazy year. A busy new work schedule (including one 33-days-of-work-in-a-row stint, and domestic and international work trips) would have normally deterred me from maintaining a regimen, but it honestly kept me sane. Focusing on physical work allowed me to take a mental break from everything else more times than I can count this year, and I am so, so thankful for that. Also? I swear that lifting weights in the hotel gym after flying to China erased my jet lag. That and I super impressed the Chinese businessmen by being the only female in there, and the only one throwing around any significant amount of weight.

Not only did I gain sanity and mental peace through weightlifting, but the community that I’ve joined at Industrial Strength Gym has made working out a social appointment I am more than happy to keep. The support, the camaraderie, the friendly competition, and just a giant room full of smiling faces make it one of my favorite places in the world right now. I see these people more than any of my other friends or any of our families, so liking them makes an hour in the gym a breeze.

Vickie (my "bartner") and I are currently racing to be the first to deadlift 300lbs.

Vickie (my “bartner”) and I are currently racing to be the first to deadlift 300lbs. Bitch, you’re going down!

As a result of this love and commitment, I am the strongest and most confident and comfortable with my body and myself than I have ever been. The large thighs I used to loathe are something I am proud to sport now. Nothing but slimming black yoga pants? Fuck that, give me a crazy ass pattern and let’s get wild. My ass is actually gaining a good curve, rather than just being a wide and flat white girl’s ass. And I have guns! With shadows of triceps! Some shirts don’t fit them anymore! What?! And I’m so okay with this!

No longer am I concerned with getting smaller. I just want to get stronger. As women we’ve had the messages of “take up less space,” “be smaller,” “shrink yourself,” and “don’t be an inconvenience” drilled into our brains from an early age. To shirk that and gladly acknowledge my strength and appear muscular is one of the most refreshing and liberating things I’ve experienced as an adult. Plus that feeling of denying someone’s help when they’re concerned your bag of groceries or that box you’re moving is too heavy, and showing them you’re more than capable of doing it yourself is, admittedly, amazing. I blew my grandparents’ minds when I moved a massive old TV for them on my own.

So, on the year anniversary of signing up for my first Olympic weightlifting meet, I signed up for my first powerlifting competition. Squat, deadlift, and overhead push press are the three lifts I’m competing in. Again, I know I’m not the strongest person out there. Not by a long shot. But having that goal to work toward is incredibly inspiring and I am more than stoked. Plus I’ve learned that it’s not about who lifts the most out of everyone, but just out of the people that had the guts to sign up that day. I could place last in my division, I could place first, I could place somewhere in the middle. I’m totally cool with any of those outcomes. To me, it’s all about the journey and seeing how far I come by the end of that day.

My husband and I are beginning our annual Whole30 on Monday the 5th (after some seriously fun food and drink indulgences over the holidays), and I plan on extending that until the powerlifting meet near the end of February. Not only that, I recently took a GEMS test to determine what foods work best with me on a lifelong genetic level (learn more about that here). Beyond the normal Whole30 guidelines I’ll be cutting out bacon, sausage, fermented foods, shellfish, dried fruit, and a few others. I’ve heard from people who’ve taken the test and eliminated their respectively appropriate foods that their health, well being, and even gym performance have improved significantly, so now it the perfect time to test that out. I signed up for a weight class that is right around where I usually hover, so this will be the first time I’ll have to monitor my weight, which should be interesting. The big takeaway from that though is not associating that number with an emotion, which I’ve gotten much better about during 2014. After all, it’s just a damn number.

I received a lot of great feedback from people regarding last year’s Strength series posts, as I’ve previously mentioned. I don’t plan on fully continuing that again this time around, but keep an eye out for updates on my training process and how the competition turns out. I’m so excited for it. 🙂



January 2, 2012

I’ve long been against cliche New Year’s resolutions. One, because I’m soooo anti-establishment. Two, because I’m lazy. Three, because goal-setting seemed too new age, self-help for my liking. My goals were usually school related, or as something as broad as “don’t suck.” It worked for the most part, and I never finished the year disappointed at my lack of follow through.

As I’ve gotten older though, it’s starting to make a little more sense. Now that I’ve graduated school (um, almost 7 years ago now) and have had time to establish myself as an actual, real adult, there’s a broad span of decades before me left to chart out. I’ve got a great job, a career path in mind, a rad life partner to whom I’m almost 8 months away from swearing my life, a health and fitness regime that’s working well, and a pretty ideal life in the city, chickens, cats and all. So what’s left? Where do I fine tune the details? I guess this is where my resolutions take shape.

    • Keep track of what I cook.
      Not for the sake of monitoring carbs/calories/nutrients/whatever, but because I often forget the delicious meals I’ve made in the past and end up making them only once. Interesting food combinations, meals we say would be great to serve our parents or at a dinner party, ones I want to fine tune later when a different ingredient is in season… I think some kind of journaling is required here.


    • January challenge: no cheats on eating paleo.
      No sugar in anything (nor any sweetener type products like agave syrup), no booze (first time I’ve made a point to not drink for an entire month), no dairy, no “just a bite” cheats, no dark chocolate squares, nothin’. I’m making penance for my holiday-induced sins and gluttony and want to start fresh.


    • Take time to read more.
      I listen to audiobooks every day on my 2-hour commute, so it’s not like I’m not consuming  literature. In fact I’m just about to finish the fifth mega book in the Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire series. But I have a decent stack of books on our coffee table that I’ve only partially read, and I’m pretty sure they give me the evil side-eye every time I walk past to go work out or veg with a Hulu show or movie on Netflix.


    • Carve out time each week for wedding planning.
      It’s less than 8 months away and I have some big things to accomplish, the most pressing of which is beginning AND completing the search for the all-important dress. Then there’s  caterers, a florist, rentals, Sean’s suit, the wedding party’s gear… it’s a lot of stuff that I’ve been vague about thus far because the wedding seemed so far away. Time to git crackin’.


    • Continue having Active Sundays with Sean.
      Almost every week for the past couple months we’ve made a point to do something active together on Sundays. Oftentimes they’re different than our usual workouts. Hikes, trying new fitness classes, exploring a neighborhood, random circuits in the nearby park… It’s a fun way to not be complete slugs on an appealingly lazy day, and doing so together.


    • Be better about doing the dishes.
      I love to cook, but I hate doing dishes. Compounded by our lack of dishwasher in this house (something we didn’t realize until the day we moved in), our busy schedules, and our small kitchen, and it’s easy for the room and us to be overwhelmed with the work to be done. We’ve been on top of it lately and it’s felt great. I’d love to continue that.


    • Foster better relationships with people and strive to have more intimate events.
      Our groups of friends often end up only getting together in large groups via massive event invitations on Facebook. We say hi, comment on the costume we’re usually wearing (we’re a group that enjoys a good costume party), have a few moments to chat, and then we’re all drunk and the photos posted online contain more memories than what I can actually recall. Lately I’ve been trying to have smaller gatherings with more meaningful conversation or activities (even some without booze), and they have been great.


    • Maintain a creative outlet.
      Namely with graphic design, as my job doesn’t require too much out of the ordinary and I need to keep myself sharp and sane.


    • Maintain freelancing gigs.
      Right now I have a steady social media freelancing job, and I want to continue that as well as create new opportunities. Plus that extra money is going directly into wedding savings.


    • Plan our honeymoon.
      We’re looking at heading to Rome for a couple days before flying to the Italian island of Sardinia for a week or so for our honeymoon. I’ve done a lot of initial research (and I’ve been to Rome before), but final arrangements need to be made. In light of that, also…


    • Take a refresher course in Italian.
      At one point in my life I was near fluent, but that was 8 years ago and only the basic sentences remain. I need to go back through my books and utilize Rosetta Stone.


On Healthy Eating and Living, Paleo Style

November 7, 2011

On Saturday Sean and I were at Winco together, standing in line as the cashier rang up our groceries. (Yes, this is the second post in a row that involves buying groceries. That’s where my head has been lately) I’ve always been judgmental when peeking at other people’s shopping choices (c’mon, like you haven’t), and the guy behind us was one of those that caused some serious eyebrow raising from me.

A couple liters of soda. Boxes of popsicles. Two containers of frosting-loaded cupcakes. Chips. And to top it all off, a couple boxes of microwavable Healthy Choice meals. Even if it was for a kid’s birthday party… OH HELL NAW.

I’ve been eating and living 90% paleo for almost 3 months now. I’ve lost something around 17lbs, and have actually been working out LESS. Less! I have more energy. I don’t have that 3pm drag like I used to. I don’t have crazy food cravings. I sleep like a rock. Overall I simply feel fantastic.

(Click to see larger image)

I’ve cut all grains (minus the occasional beer because, hey, I work for a craft brewery and get it for free), sugars, legumes and most dairy. Hardly any processed food touches my plate. I eat lots of good meats, eggs, vegetables, healthy fats (god I love avocados), a small amount of fruit and the occasional chunk of cheese. Also, a big word: BACON. Pro tip: New Seasons’ bacon is outstanding.

Sean isn’t full paleo but of course he eats whatever I cook, and he’s even felt the affects of a change in diet. Stronger, more noticeable muscle definition, and overall feeling better. He was hesitant toward the change, mainly in regard to our monthly grocery costs, but thus far it seems like we might actually be spending less. I’m planning recipes ahead of time and making bigger meals that offer more leftovers for lunches and that keep us fuller, longer.

I’ve never really eaten “poorly” to begin with. I’ve never been a soda drinker, always cooked relatively low fat meals, ate a lot of fresh produce, watched my calories, ate whole grains and black beans, avoided high fructose corn syrup, and even bragged on occasion that I hadn’t eaten meat (other than our backyard fresh eggs) for days. In terms of the Standard American Diet (ahem, SAD), I was pretty much on track. But even when I was working out 4x+ a week, I’d see some results that never really stuck around. A lot of yo-yo-ing going on.

On Halloween we had a group over and I indulged in Goldfish crackers, hummus and a couple cookies. It was the first time I had consumed more than bite or two of grains and sugars in two months. I immediately felt like shit, and felt even worse the next day. I felt like I was getting the flu and I actually felt depressed. And I’ve never been a depressed person! The affect of that seemingly small (and “normal”) binge really put things into perspective.

But this feels solid. Sustainable. I don’t feel like I’m being denied anything. I don’t have crazy cravings. My body is working so much more efficiently than it ever has before because it’s functioning as it evolved to function. And I’m more excited about it than anything else I’ve ever done. If prompted I will go off on a paleo tangent, and have talked people’s ears off on the subject (sorry Sean, dad, mom, etc…). I read multiple paleo-related blogs on a daily basis. I now own four paleo/primal based books. I know way more about how my body absorbs and processes nutrients than ever before. I’m much more mindful as to how my body feels and how I treat it in return.  It’s just that good.

Plus? All the information you really need is free online. It’s not some fad diet where a few people who invented it are making money off of copyrights and meal plans and workout regimes. There are no pyramid schemes (except for that handy dandy food pyramid up there). And it’s not so much a fad diet as it is based upon how we ate for tens of thousands of years before agriculture. If you put the entire history of homo sapiens on a football field, 99 yards would be pre-agricultural revolution, and that last yard would be the last 10,000 years since. That last yard saw us moving less, eating more grains, and starting to consume sugars. The last inch or less is our more recent, much more sedentary lifestyle stuffed with an ever increasing amount of processed foods and carbohydrates. Then people wonder why are so many people obese. But here I go on tangents again…

If you’re intrigued and want to learn more, here are a few helpful links.
Nerd Fitness and its very approachable Beginners’ Guide to the Paleo Diet
Definitive Guide to the Primal Blueprint, from the ever-so-wise Mark Sisson
Also from Mark Sisson, the Primal Eating Plan
Robb Wolf’s FAQ on Paleo