The Goals Post (long & deep)

Sorry about the pervy title. I wrote it, considered deleting it, but decided that a few mistakes should be broadcast. [For example, this weekend the boy and I were out with some friends and I sent him a secret text message across the table that said: “You’re handsome.” He (drunkenly) wrote back: “You lie. But, I want to kick your vagina.” I had to show it to the whole table.]

The time has finally come for me to share my goals with you! It’s been a bit of a process for me, with yucky cold and a super busy semester stuck somewhere in between. That being said, I think I’ve finally settled on some things that I want to achieve (slash) that are reasonably achievable.

So, here’s the story. During the first month of NROLFW, I basically decided to do everything by the book. I did all the workouts, 3x a week, and I added in a day of cardio here and there, and continued with my regular yoga practice. I tuned my diet up big time, basically eliminating refined carbs and limiting my carbs throughout the day to about 100-130 (net). I was eating at a ratio of about 35-40/30/35-40 (Pro/Carbs/Fat).

The results? It goes without saying that I noticed considerable strength increases. To show a few of my more notable increases:

  • Squats –  95 lbs –> 110 lbs
  • Seated Row – 55 lbs –> 70 lbs
  • Step ups – 17.5 lbs (each hand) –> 27.5 lbs (each hand)
  • Deadlifts – 50 lbs –> 100 lbs
  • Shoulder Press – 15 lbs –> 22.5 lbs
  • Lat Pulldown – 50 lbs –>70 lbs
  • Lunges – 20 lbs –>27.5 lbs (each hand)

In terms of my body, that is a little more difficult to assess. I certainly FEEL stronger. I certainly LOOK stronger. I can see a lot more muscle and definition than I ever have before. In terms of weight I couldn’t tell you what happened as I don’t keep track of my weight (personal decision, based on the fact that I am not pursuing weight-related goals). What I can say, however, is that during the first month, the boy said to me several times that I looked like I was losing weight. I would have to agree. My clothes felt looser and my body felt tighter.

However, after about 6 weeks, things seemed to stabilize and I went back to feeling ‘just’ normal. I was feeling frustrated that I was sticking to the “plan” but not seeing any increased results (I suppose they would call that a plateau?). In addition, I was starting to feel tired of tracking, and was really starting to experience food cravings (namely carbs, which I had greatly restricted compared to my regular way of eating), but also odd things (that I really don’t ever crave) like beer and wine. Basically, it felt like my body was saying: NO MORE! ME WANT PLEASURE FOOD! (said in the voice of the Cookie Monster – Oh wait… Sesame Street reference #FAIL)

Cookie_Monster.jpg

So, by the time I got sick I was feeling really blasé about my diet and basically just ate what my body was craving. That period of sickness was really interesting for me, because it made me realize a few things. (As did subsequent email conversations with Joob – thanks girl: ):::

Namely, that my number one priority is my personal happiness.

So then, what makes me happy? In no particular order (also, this is *obviously* not an exhaustive list, just things related to fitness/health goals) :

  • Being active.
  • Feeling comfortable in my skin/feeling that I look good.
  • Spending time with friends and family.
  • Eating good food. ….OK, I have to admit it. I am a foodie. I love cooking, I love eating, I love looking at food.
  • Enjoying drinks (like local winter ale and a nice pinot noir) and fancy desserts (like almond-pear tarts and fair trade brownies) on occasion.
  • Living my life in a way that does not revolve around food/exercise.

Basically, I realized that a few things I was doing were not in sync with the things on this list.

I’ve come to recognize that I love exercise, and yeah, I really love lifting. That doesn’t mean that I love it every day, but 90% of the time I really enjoy the time I spent at the gym. I definitely want to continue with my lifting.

I’ve come to realize that a strict eating plan is not for me… at least not right now. I’m at a healthy weight for my height (about 123 lbs at 5’5.25″ – yes, that last quarter inch counts!) so weight loss is not a concern. While I generally do eat quite healthily (my diet is primarily made up of whole foods), I do enjoy home-baked bread, lemon-flavoured mediterranean-style yogurt, real pasta, and not eating a cup of egg whites every day.

That realization came hand-in-hand with the realization (or rather, acknowledgment) that it is difficult to “bulk” (build muscle) and “cut” at the same time. I was initially interested in really “leaning out” for the summer and finally having a taut stomach, but what I now know is that most people don’t consistently stay “lean”, rather they do it in preparation for a show or event over a very controlled number of weeks (see again: Joob).

Based on those two realizations (and also remembering the fact that I am not training to compete, or any reason to lean out aside from my own vanity, actually), I decided that I will not be trying to lean out, at least not at this moment. I think the previous points pretty much explain that.

So, that all being said, here are my actual GOALS:

General goals:

  • Live in a way that is balanced: happy and healthy.
  • Eat healthy foods that support my fitness activities without feeling deprived.
  • Continue my regular workouts with NROLFW. Consistently increase strength.

Specific Goals – some are more far off than others:

  • Squat my body weight by the end of NROL.
  • Deadlift my body weight by the end of NROL.
  • Do 40 pushups without any breaks by the end of NROL.
  • Get bikini-ready (not sure what this will entail, basically just tuning up my diet and probably upping my exercise) in preparation for EUROPE in June.

Eur -what? HELL YEAH, I’m going to Europe 🙂

I’m being flown to Sweden by the European Union to participate in their Regional Development Conference and a guided tour of the Swedish countryside for a week (completely paid for….my jaw dropped). Then, I head down south to present my MA research (old news, now!) at a conference in Madrid. Following that, I plan to do a bit of sightseeing around Spain (Barcelona, etc.) and then plan to explore the south of France a little on my own (Marseilles, Monaco, wine country, etc.).

Europe abroad

And so there you have it. A post about goals that is long (sorry about that), deep (had to give you the background), and honest (maybe you didn’t need the detail about the boy wanting to “kick” my vagina, but it was too funny not to share with you all). Now I’m going to go home to eat some grass-fed steaks (from my auntie who has a small hobby farm), roasted taters, and healthified caesar salad. Oh, and I may throw a nice glass of wine in there, too 😉

PS. Zoe wrote an amazing post on “being healthy”/defining “healthy” this week. I highly suggest you check it out.

Stage 2: Workin’ it out

Ladies…(drumroll please)…

…We have a period. Or rather, had.

[side bar: I tried to find a fun picture to include with this note, but trust me, it is not a good idea to do google image searches for anything with the word “period” in it. Just…trust me.]

So, I guess my body was just going through some stuff? Who knows! The good news is that things are still clunking around in there.

On to the journalling..

I’ve done my second round of workouts for Stage 2. It’s been fun! I’m super sore…Good sore.

A2

  1. Front Squat/Push Press – 2 sets of 8 @ 45 lbs (I am having SUCH a hard time with these! They are tough!)
  2. Step-Ups – 2 sets of 10 @ 27.5 lbs (6-up)
    Dumbbell One-Point Row – 2 sets of 10 @ 17.5 lbs
  3. Static Lunge, rear foot elevated – 2 sets of 10 @ 25 lbs
    Push Ups – 2 sets of 10
  4. Plank – 2 sets @ 60 sec
    Cable Horizontal Wood Chop – 2 sets of 10 @ 35 lbs

I managed to get to the gym by my lonesome on Sunday and had a good, long workout, and I was able to fit in all of workout B.

B2

  1. Wide grip deadlift from box – 2 sets of 10 @ 100 lbs
  2. Bulgarian split squat – 2 sets of 10 @ 35 lbs
    Underhand grip lat pulldown – 1 set of 10 @ 60 lbs, 1 set of 10 @ 65 lbs
  3. Reverse lunge from box with forward reach – 2 sets of 10 @ 20 lbs (also surprisingly tough)
    Dumbbell prone cuban snatch – 2 sets of 10 @ 12.5 lb
  4. Swiss ball crunch (Straight Arm, Weighted) – 2 sets of 10 @ 10lbs
    Reverse Crunch – 2 sets of 10
    Lateral Flexion  – 2 sets of 10
  5. Prone Cobra – 2 sets @ 60 sec
  6. Interval Training – 15 min Arc Trainer intervals, Resistance Range 12-20.

Goals post this afternoon. Promise!

Stage 2: It’s business time

In case any of you caught it, yes, the title of this post is a nod to this little gem. And by ‘business time’, I mean time to write about Stage 2!

FIrst of all, a few notes.

  • I have been so freakin’ busy with school! Hence the lack of posting.
  • I WILL be doing a re-cap of Stage 1 soon.
  • I WILL be writing about reassessment of goals/progress/etc. soon.
  • No news yet on the period front. But a HUGE thank you to all of you who shared your experiences with me. It is greatly appreciated!

Now for the fun part.

Before I get into it, a little background info for those of you who are unfamiliar with the program. It is comprised of 7 stages, each of which lasts about 3-4 weeks, with the exception of Stage 1 (which I just finished) which lasts 6-8 weeks. The Stages have different focuses, from building strength in varying ways (most of the stages) to trimming up in ‘the final cut’ (the last stage).

I’ve officially done my first week of Stage 2. My thought so far is that it’s tough, it’s different, but I like it. This stage is different for a few key reasons:

  • the exercises are different
  • the sets and rest times are different
  • there are more exercises per workout
  • there is a more distinct core component
  • there is a metabolic (cardio interval training) component

Since there are more exercises and two additional components, the workouts are also LONGER. Because of this, I’ve actually decided to break Stage 2 into a 3-day split instead of a 2-day split*. The main reasons I’ve opted to do this is because (a) I usually go to the gym with the boy, and we like to keep our workouts to ~ 1 hr, and (b) I want to keep my intensity throughout all the exercises, and I feel that the 3-day split allows me to give 100% for the ab + cardio component (this thought first came as I was coming out of my illness and feeling tired, but now I actually just think it’s a good idea.)

*For those of you who are doubting, let me say that I first heard of the idea of splitting the workouts from Alwyn Cosgrove and Lou Schuler (the guys who wrote the book) themselves. [Side note: for those who are completing any NROL program, check out this recent podcast Q&A with the authors].

With all that preamble out of the way, here is my Stage 2, Week 1 recap. Workouts with two or three exercises under each numbered item are alternating sets. You can see how I split workout B into two separate days below:

A1

  1. Front Squat/Push Press – 2 sets of 7 @ 45 lbs
  2. Step-Ups – 2 sets of 10 @ 27.5 lbs
    Dumbbell One-Point Row – 2 sets of 10 @ 17.5 lbs
  3. Static Lunge, rear foot elevated – 2 sets of 10 @ 25 lbs
    Push Ups – 2 sets of 10
  4. Plank – 2 sets @ 60sec
    Cable Horizontal Wood Chop – 2 sets of 10 @ 35 lbs

B1a

  1. Wide grip deadlift from box – 2 sets of 10 @ 95 lbs
  2. Bulgarian split squat – 2 sets of 10 @ 25 lbs
    Underhand grip lat pulldown – 2 sets of 10 @ 55 lbs
  3. Reverse lunge from box with forward reach – 2 sets of 10 @ 20 lbs
    Dumbbell prone cuban snatch (hard!) – 2 sets of 10 @ 10lbs

B1b (note: I added in an extra set of most of the exercises)

  1. Swiss ball crunch (Straight Arm, Weighted) – 3 sets of 10 @ 6lb medicine ball
    Reverse Crunch – 3 sets of 10
    Lateral Flexion  – 3 sets of 10 (this one is hard to explain, but a great exercise! Am considering doing a video to show you all how this rocks your obliques/core)
  2. Prone Cobra – 2 sets @ 60 sec
  3. Interval Training – 15 min Treadmill intervals, Range ~5.5-8.7 MPH.

Doing the split this way actually made each of the workouts ~ 1hr each, which is perfect. I typically go to the gym 4-5 days a week ANYWAY, so it won’t slow my progress.

I have much more I’d like to write, but I think that’s enough for today – this is already a marathon post!

Day 45: big itemized update

Hi guys! I’m back! ….Kind of!

I have soo many things to update on, so I will try to be brief! For your reading ease, I’m going to itemize (oh yes):

Illness Sucks
First off, sorry for the super long delay in posting and my lack of comments on all of your blogs. As I mentioned in my last post (where I reviewed The Great Fitness Experiment), I’ve been sick. I figured it was just a little cold and would take only a few days to heal, but boy, was I wrong. It really, really wiped me out for over a week. I was completely exhausted, sniffling, sore mess. I missed classes and skipped out on some social events, and obviously, did not do my regular workouts. Honestly, this illness kind of came at a bad time – I had only ONE regular workout left in Stage 1! Ridiculous! Needless to say, I’ve really missed the gym 😦

Work Trip
My absence can also be partly explained by a little work trip I had to take. I went away for a couple of days for a meeting related to my research assistantship job to this place:

golf.gif

The boy has family in the town where I had my meeting, so we stayed with them in their gorgeous, ocean-view home, which was decked out as it used to be a B&B. Needless to say, it was a welcome mini-break and outside of the research work I was doing, I took a vacation from my homework as well.

Workouts
So….On the exercise front, I must admit I’m feeling a bit deflated. A few days ago I was starting to feel a bit better so the boy and I spent a night at the pool, which was nice. I was feeling a lot better yesterday, and so was quite hopeful about getting in that last regular stage 1 workout…..

IT DID NOT GO WELL. I felt OK to begin with – just a little weak – but OK. I reduced my weight a little bit on the squats because they did not feel strong, and only did 30˚ pushups, which was OK. I was starting to feel weak and shaky during the step ups and jackknife – and then I got hit with nausea and basically cut the last two exercises short. Brutal, but I honestly thought I was going to toss if I did one more move. 😦

Here’s what I did:

Straight Sets

Squats – 2 sets of 8 @ 110 lbs, 1 set of 8 @ 105 lbs

Push ups – 3 sets of 10 @ 30˚
Seated Row – 3 sets of 8 @ 70 lbs

Step Ups – 2 sets of 6 @ 25 lbs
Prone Jackknife –  2 sets of 12

Progress
So, the final regular workout of stage 1 was a bit of a flop. Unfortunate, but I’m glad to have at least finished the majority of it. For those who are not familiar with the program, there are also 2 “special” workouts at the end of Stage 1, which basically ask you to do all of the exercises with your ORIGINAL weight, for as many reps as possible. This is to show you how much you’ve progressed since the beginning. Then, you’re supposed to take a week off before starting Stage 2.

Because I took a week off during my sickness, I have decided NOT to do the special workouts, mainly because my progress has stalled and possibly declined as a result of my illness, and so my “progress” won’t truly be captured by the As-Many-Reps-As-Possible (AMRAP) format. Plus, I’m just tired of Stage 1 and am ready to move on. So I’ll be moving right along to Stage 2. I’m still not sure if I’m 100% ready to be fully back into my heavy lifting routine, so I am going to go to the gym and see how it feels.

Other (*ahem*) Issues
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m taking some time to assess my goals. I think I’ve figured a few things out and will be posting on them shortly. A lot of thinking along with my sickness has caused me to re-assess a few things, namely around my physical and mental well-being.

Aside from my cold, there’s something else going on physiologically: I missed my period this month (and/or) am almost 10 days late. Before you get super excited (or scared), NO I’m not pregnant. Or at least as far as I (and the pregnancy test I took) can tell. So something else has thrown me off.

My period was due BEFORE I got sick so it wasn’t the illness. I haven’t gone through any new or significant stress over the past month, so that can’t explain it. The only things I have narrowed it down to are (a) exercise (although I feel this is unlikely, since I did lift weights and exercised very regularly before) and (b) diet (this is what my gut is telling me, as it is what has changed most significantly this month). Or I am pregnant and the test was wrong 😉 Also, I should mention that my body fat is no where near the lower limit, so it’s not a case of low body fat. Any thoughts you might have on WHY this might be happening would be GREATLY appreciated!

Fun Link
Did you guys hear about the sweet little ten-year-old Canadian girl who caught Lady Gaga’s attention performing Born This Way? She’s performing with Lady Gaga at her concert tonight. Can’t say I’m a huuuuge fan of Gaga, but this girl is pretty darn cute (this last link may have caused me to shed a tear).

Alrighty…that’s all for now. Sorry for information overload….:/

MISS YOU ALL!

 

 

side bar: review of The Great Fitness Experiment

True story: I have not been to the gym since Monday. I am a sick little duckling. Seems I may have caught Christina’s cold through the great big interweb. Or maybe the combination of being pretty run-down myself and spending all of my time at a school of 40,000+ finally caught up to me. In any case, I’m sick. Just a regular ol’ cold, but it still sucks. I’ve been taking it easy as I don’t want to prolong whatever this icky cold is. [Bonus: cold meds make me high.]

Now seems like as good a time as ever to give you my review of Charlotte Hilton Andersen’s The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything.

TheGreatFitnessExperiment.jpg


To give you some background on the book, it’s pretty much exactly as the title says. Charlotte tries out one new fitness activity or fitness craze for every month of one year. So in total, she tries out 12 different fitness activities. From what I can tell, the book is either collections of her blog posts about it, or summarizations of her blog posts. The range of activities Charlotte tries include Functional Training, Crossfit, Jillian Michaels, Tracy Anderson’s celebrity workout, Primal Blueprint, Kettlebells (I too have a special affinity for kettlebells), Karate, and more. She recaps her experiences with ‘The Workout’, the ‘Results’ after one month, and also shares some ‘Best Moments’ and ‘Worst Moments’. The end of every chapter has a ‘Personal Essay’, most of which I really enjoyed.

What I liked: Since you’re into reading weight lifting blogs, you’re probably as avid a fitness-goer as I am, in which case you’ll love this book. I can completely relate to much of what Charlotte writes about, both in terms of her burning desire to try out just about every fitness activity under the sun, but also about her own insecurities, fears, and body issues. I found Charlotte to be totally endearing, the kind of person I’d want to hang out with in real life. She’s smart, funny, and best of all, says it like it is. She’s truthful and raw, both about her workouts and her life.

What I didn’t like: There aren’t too many critical things I can say about this book, because in my mind nothing took away from the things I liked about it. I should warn, however, that it doesn’t read like a novel – it reads like a blog, and the chapters are fairly fragmented and don’t go into too much detail. Also, Charlotte tends to go off on tangents, both little ones and big ones. Sometimes they were absolutely hilarious, but other times I basically just skimmed through them to get back to the meat of the book. I sometimes felt like she included them for comic effect, but I think the book would have done well with a few less.

Stars: ****

Would I recommend this book: Absolutely, especially if you’re a fitness blogger or read fitness blogs. I would caution anyone with eating disorders or exercise compulsion against reading it, though, as it could be triggering for some individuals.

In conclusion…this book is awesome. Charlotte is a rockstar. You should read this book.