Day 35: conceding defeat

Stage 1/B8

How is everyone? Hope you all had a great weekend! We didn’t end up going showshoeing as the mountain was crazy busy on the weekend, so we’re considering going this week instead. Nevertheless, weekends (and Sunday sleepins/rest days) are the best!

Today was my last regular workout ‘B’! I would be lying if I said it was a good, or easy workout though.

I felt strong during my deadlifts. I’m fairly sure I can lift more on them, if my grip will allow. (To be continued.) However, I struggled a bit with my db presses. I just can’t seem to increase my weight/strength on this one very much. The boy said he also tends to move up very slowly with shoulder exercises, which made me feel a bit better. I suppose they are relatively small muscles compared with the other ones I’m working in this program.

My worst exercise, however, was by far my lunges. I *really* struggled with them this week. There was a girl working out next to me and [noticing her watching me out of the corner of her eye] I suddenly became very aware of my form. And it was sad. I realized that about half way through each set, my form goes to sh*t. These weights are *really* heavy for me. Coming up out of the lunges I was dragging my front foot on the ground. My back leg was wobbly. I wanted to drop the weights. Not good – for my knees, or for anything else.

I suppose this is a learning experience, right?

Notes to self (to avoid injury, humiliation, and wonky muscle growth):
A. Be conscious of form, at all times. I usually am, but I must admit I’ve been slacking on making sure my lunges are done correctly. 
B. Focus on perfecting form before increasing the weight. This sounds obvious but in the interest of increasing my weights, I think I’ve been a bit lax in ensuring my form was 100% for 100% of my sets. According to everything I’ve read, it should be that way.
C. Don’t feel pressure to increase weight every time. As many of these exercises are new to me, I should consider the fact that the learning curve is steep, and muscle growth can be slow.
D.  Don’t be embarrassed to concede defeat; end a set early or move down in weight if form sucks. It’s not worth the risk of injury to push it when form is not good.

Here’s what I did:

Straight Sets
Deadlift – 3 sets of 8 @ 100 lbs

Alternating Sets
Standing Shoulder Dumbbell Press – 1 set of 8 @ 22.5 lbs, 2 sets of 7 @ 22.5 lbs
Wide Grip Lat Pulldown –  3 sets of 8 @ 70 lbs

Lunges – 3 sets of 8 @ 27.5 lbs (each hand)
Swiss Ball Crunches – 3 sets of 15 @ 20 lbs

Added in: Hip Thrusts – 3 sets of 12 @ 35 lbs


On another note, I’m just about finished reading The Great Fitness Experiment. Review to come in the next couple days. As for my goals, I’ve decided to take my mid-stage “break” next week to think about it, so I’ll be writing on them then.

Have a great day!



Day 32: goals?

Stage 1/A7

I can’t believe I’m already 32 days into the program…

Okay, so I can. This has been hard work. But at the same time, it has gone by relatively quickly. I’ve got just two workouts left in this stage, plus the two “special” workouts, and then it’s on to Stage 2. I’m curious to assess my progress and reassess where I’m at with my goals…

Speaking of which, I’m not sure that I have any, aside from getting into rockin’ shape and having abs I can be proud of, haha. Chatting with the boy this morning, and thinking about what Joob wrote on goals last week has got me thinking that it might be good to work on some more ‘concrete’ and SMART objectives…so stay tuned for a post on that. If any of you have suggestions on goal-setting, and what some achievable and workable goals might be, please share! 🙂

That being said, I think my first goal was just to stick with a program, since I’ve been a ‘scatterbrained’ lifter in the past, just doing what I felt like. I committed to sticking to NROLFW for at least the first stage, and then to re-assess. I guess I’m doing OK in that department.

Anyway…The boy came with me to the gym again today and I had him check my form on the squats again (as it was might highest weight to date). Apparently I’m good – moving strong, and going deep.

The workout:

Straight Sets
Squats – 3 sets of 8 @ 110 lbs

Alternating Sets
Push Ups – 3 sets of 10 (instead of 8)
Seated Row – 3 sets of 8 @ 70 lbs

Step-Ups – 3 sets of 8 @ 27.5 lbs (each hand)
Prone Jackknife – 3 sets of 15 (this was the first time I felt like this was HARD!)


TGIF. Hope you guys have something fun planned for the weekend! We’re thinking about going snowshoeing…

side bar: girl muscles

I was browsing through some fitness magazines today in the gym (think: Self, Shape, etc.) and noticed how ridiculously thin and meagre so many of the fitness models are. Take this image from Self magazine’s “Get slim without the gym” fitness feature:

[image source]

I can’t remember where I saw it, but I read somewhere (actually I think it was in another magazine) something to the effect of: “The models that appear in these magazines are not slim because they’ve done the workouts; they’re actors who are slim because they were born that way.” Basically saying that many of the models that appear in healthy living/women’s magazines are not the products of the workouts that they represent. This is pretty standard knowledge among our media-savvy population, but easy to forget when you’re bombarded with images like this all the time.

I used to look at models like these and wish I could somehow attain that physique. Lifting has shown me that not only is it probably impossible, it’s not even really desirable. I’d rather have legs that can support me when I move [fast or slow, up or down], a lower body and core that allows me to lift things [like my zillion library books], and an upper body that will [eventually] allow me to carry a baby with ease.

Besides, how many push ups do you think this chick can even do? I’d give her 8 – at best. 😉

Day 29: into the final stretch

Stage 1/B7

Hope you all had a valentine’s day full of chocolate and treats! I made full-calorie, full fat chocolate molten lava cakes …sadly there was a chocolate molten lava eruption. They were still eaten 🙂

As far as lifting goes, I’m into the final stretch of Stage 1! In this stage most of my sets go down to 8 reps (gradual decline from 15->12->10) which means I get to try my hand at more weight!

Today was a mix of triumphs and challenges:

Straight Sets
Deadlift – 3 sets of 8 @ 95 lbs

Alternating Sets
Dumbbell shoulder press – 1 set of 8 @ 22.5 lbs, 7 @ 22.5 lbs, 6 @ 22.5 lbs
Wide Grip Lat Pulldown – 1 set of 8 @ 70 lbs, 7 @ 70 lbs, 6 @ 70 lbs

Lunge – 3 sets of 8 @ 27.5 lbs
Swiss Ball Crunch – 3 sets of 15 @ 15 lbs

Added in:
Hip Thrusts – 3 sets of 12 @ 30lbs

That’s all for now. This is mostly just a journaling post, so feel free not to comment 🙂


Day 27: the power of sleep

Stage 1/A6

I have had the most glorious two nights of sleep over the past few days. My spring “break” started on Friday (although as a PhD/grad student you never get real breaks), so the homework stress has disappeared, and the boy hopped a flight out east for his mom’s 60th birthday this weekend. Obviously I’ve missed him 😉 but it’s been nice having a whole bed to myself. I never really realized it but I think I am woken up a lot during the night just sleeping next to him. His own tossing and turning wakes me, and he tends to grind his teeth during his sleep which is surprisingly LOUD (even with earplugs).

This all in tow, I think what was causing my insomnia/restless sleep was probably stress (ding ding, Anna), because last night (without changing any of my normal routine) I slept straight through the night. Amazing feeling.

Workout of the day:

Straight Sets
Squats – 3 sets of 10 @ 105 lbs

Alternating Sets
Push Up – 3 sets of 10
Seated Row – 3 sets of 10 @ 65 lbs

Step-up – 3 sets of 10 @ 25 lbs (6-up)
Prone Jackknife – 3 sets of 12

Now I’m reeeeeelaaaaaaxing on the couch watching some cheesy movie (Under the Tuscan Sun) and reading about stuff on

OH! And I have a progress picture to share – some muscle growth has been happening. Don’t have a before picture, but trust me, I was much smaller. My biceps always felt measly and thin to me. They are thickening out now and looking much stronger.

That’s all for now…hope you all had a great weekend!