Can You Feel It?

I was asked today if I am excited about my upcoming competition. Am I? You’d better believe it!

Heading into Provincials this past June had me feeling cautiously hopeful but tempered by the reality of dealing with my back issues since late January. Although my back was greatly improved by June, it wasn’t quite normal and my ability to properly peak for competition was hampered. Knowing that I would not have my best performance was frustrating, and I had to mentally prepare myself for the personal disappointment. The tweak of my back during Provincials was unexpected and demoralizing. These weeks and months since have crept by painfully slow at times, and now the days are passing by at the speed of light.

I am excited for this competition. Training has been going well, and I have been pushed further, harder than ever before. It’s been a good thing, I think. My back has mostly held up quite well. My anxiety about inflicting more harm on myself has settled into the realm of reasonable expectations. I have successfully moved weights that I have not used for a long time, and I’m doing it without pain. Although my current program has me doing more volume at heavy weights than I’ve ever done before, the fact that I am keeping pace with the volume inspires confidence and hope. While I do have two little goals for this competition, I honestly have no idea what numbers my coach has in mind.

I have this tendency to look at my previous best lifts and feel as if those were the best I could ever do. With almost all of this year being consumed by the back problems, it has been a very long time since I’ve achieved those best lifts! It is likely quite normal to feel that my strength has stagnated or that injury has hammered nails into the coffin containing my goals. Recent training successes have been prying those nails off, and I know that my strength is growing, although I cannot say with certainty if that growth has surpassed my pre-injury state or merely brought me back close to it. But I feel optimistic!

Yes, I am excited for this competition! I am always eager to step onto the platform to compete. There is something amazing about being part of a powerlifting competition. I am hopeful that this one will be redemptive. Even if my numbers end up being less. Even if I am not successful in my own goals. Okay, so I won’t be happy if I fail in one of my goals, because I have been stuck there for two years! But even if I should fail that one, too, I know I will be okay. I am excited just to compete again. I am hopeful that this competition will be a little springboard for Nationals in February. Am I excited? More than you could possibly know to look at me!

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Why Write?

 

“Just write,” she said.

I wrote

Set free from expectation

Pen to paper,

An empty sheet of white.

Slowly, hesitantly

Like a mouse

Nibbling cheese from a trap.

The spring has sprung!

I’m trapped, ensnared

In words and thoughts

And emotions;

Spilling from my heart

Onto the page,

Once white, no more.

Now colour-streaked

In shades of pain,

Sorrow, joy

And exploration.

~Me! May 2005~

The other day I was asked why I write.

“Why do I write?” I echoed, as my mind rapidly flashed back to a slightly similar yet decidedly different question that was thrown at me several months ago. On that occasion, the question had been more of an accusation than an inquisitive interest. Although I was never given specific examples, the insinuation was that my writing was somehow inappropriate. “Why would you write that?!” Well, this is my journey, my thoughts, my experiences. This is about me!

So much of that conversation was confusing and odd and potentially destructive. Here and now, I don’t understand what happened there any better than I did then, except that I know myself and I know what I have or have not written. I know that I am not at fault in that situation, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering, from time to time, how someone could twist my words into something else completely. But this blog post isn’t about that old conversation, even if the more recent question about my writing brought it to mind.

Why do I write?

I think I have always loved writing. While I may never have enjoyed the more technical aspects of my high school English classes, like grammar and punctuation, I always looked forward to the creative writing parts of class. For my two years of high school in Saskatchewan (before moving to British Columbia for my final year), I was part of a school club which published a collection of student writing every year. I still have my copies. Although I don’t have many of the writings I did for class, I do still have many of the poems that I wrote in my youth inside a manila folder in my bedside table.

As an introvert, my ability to open my mouth and have cohesive thoughts spill out is practically an impossibility. My reality is that I have amazing and wonderful thoughts. I open my mouth and out comes…nothing. Or jumbled up thoughts that are completely unrecognizable from the thoughts inside my head. My inability to speak increases among strangers or in high stakes situations. Like many introverts, I require time and space to think and process before speaking. Writing allows me to do that and makes me feel as if I actually do have a voice.

Writing is how I make sense of my world and myself. It is how I process my thoughts and feelings. Some things I share on my blog, while some writings are kept for myself in a journal. I write, because I must. I know my grammar is terrible and my punctuation shoddy. I know there are thousands of writers with more talent and interesting content than me. It doesn’t matter. Not to me. I don’t write for the purpose of attracting readers or followers. I don’t write for fame or fortune or even acknowledgement. I write for myself. One thing I’ve discovered over the past few years is that writing for myself in a public forum such as a blog allows my voice to resonate within others. And obviously, writing in a public manner also opens me up to being misunderstood and maligned.

So be it.

Most of all, I write for myself.

The Owner’s Manual

ownersmanual

Early this year I began writing my owner’s manual. The concept arose from a course of sorts that I was involved in through Precision Nutrition, but I took the concept and broadened it beyond nutrition and fitness. Circumstance dictated that I abandon that course a few months ago, and my manual sat untouched in a pile of my notebooks up until a few days ago. As I purged living room clutter, I dusted off my manual, flipped through the pages, and added a few more things to the pages. It is time to get back to my owner’s manual!

So what is in my owner’s manual?

There is a little bit of everything. I cannot claim to have come up with all the information on my own. Most, if not all, of the information comes from other sources. The information captured my attention in some way. It might be about healthy, balanced nutrition habits. It could be about creating and maintaining good habits. There is information on my personality types (plural because I fit equally into two types). Setting goals. Sleep habits. Values. Stress. Scripture. Mindset. Body composition numbers taken in January of this year. That sounds like a lot of information, yet there are so many pages yet to fill in my notebook.

My owner’s manual isn’t an instruction book on how to fix or operate Angela Thompson. It does not say, “If you wave salted caramel in front of her, she will do your bidding forever.” It also does not say, “If awake before 7:00 AM, do not approach. Do not attempt to engage in conversation.” This owner’s manual is not for others to use; it is for me. My owner’s manual is like a tool box in which I keep facts and reminders which help me be the best version of myself. Sometimes, like lately, I forget about my manual and those facts become less distinct, the reminders lost in the endless cycle of life. My happiness and sense of peace are not dependent on perfect adherence to my manual. I’ve been quite happy and peaceful these past few months that I’ve ignored it; however, I know from experience that living out the principles within my manual can also result in goodness all over.

This short sabbatical has been nice, but I am ready to refocus on what works best for me in terms of what keeps me healthiest mentally, spiritually, and physically. This is why I have an owner’s manual. Well, that and I really like notebooks and lists.

 

Big S, Little S

I love Doctor Seuss. For whatever unexplainable reason, I shall never forgot this:

Big S, little S, what begins with S? Silly Sammy Slick sipped six sodas and got sick, sick, sick!

I rarely get sick. Occasionally I will get mild symptoms of a cold that linger for a few days before fading silently into oblivion. The last time I was actually knocked out by a flu was at the very end of December 2010, which I only remember because I was registered to run in The Running Room’s 5K Resolution Run on January 1st and I was worried that I might not be well enough to take part. While I may not have been fully recovered by New Year’s Day, I did run and did okay. My previous bout with a flu was several years earlier. While I cannot remember the year, I do know that I missed some of my son’s hockey tournament because I was too sick to get off the couch. Before that I don’t remember being sick aside from repeated gallbladder attacks while pregnant in 1995. I might get a stuffy nose or a sore throat, maybe a slight cough, but I seldom miss a beat in terms of energy or ability to perform.

The back of my throat began to feel sore and scratchy Sunday afternoon while I was at work. It wasn’t super bad, more of an annoyance than a problem; however, the throat was the same, possibly even slightly worse the next day and the next. The nasal congestion arrived on Monday. A dry, sore throat and a stuffed up nose are not conducive for a good night’s sleep, so I haven’t been sleeping well for a few nights now. My ability to function hasn’t been hampered, although I have had to resort to the occasional throat lozenge at work to keep my throat moist enough to allow me to talk without coughing. Yesterday at the gym I squatted, pressed, glute bridged, and rowed more than 15 000 pounds, which left me feeling a little exhausted but otherwise okay. I guess I had thought that I might struggle more since I was tired and “under the weather”, but I reasoned that I don’t get truly sick.

Today and tomorrow are my days off. Since I trained yesterday, I knew that I wouldn’t be going to the gym today like usual but on Thursday instead, allowing me the luxury of foregoing an alarm and sleeping as long as my body would let me. I wasn’t expecting to sleep much past 8 at the latest, because, after years of starting work around 5:00 AM, my body has become conditioned to waking up around 4AM and staying awake around 7AM. It has taken almost a year to re-train my body to simply roll over and resume sleeping when it wakes up at 4, but the ability to sleep past 7 has been much harder to achieve. Except for today.

Last night I had 9 hours of sleep! It is quite normal for me to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. (My average is actually 8 hours and 25 minutes, which I know from my Sleep Cycle app.) Although I finally dragged myself out of bed at 8:46, the temptation to stay in bed, roll over, and go back to sleep was intense. Considering the sore throat and stuffy nose, my quality of sleep last night was actually decent…it just didn’t seem like enough. For the first time in longer than I can remember, I probably could have slept the morning away. But I didn’t. I got up, made coffee, and had a bath. I started on the laundry, including my bedding which the cat had thrown up on the night before that I didn’t discover until I was about to crawl into bed and couldn’t be bothered to deal with in the moment, except to wipe it up and throw a towel over the wet spot. Yes, I did.

Mid-morning I began to feel the stirrings of a headache, but it was low grade and nothing I thought I’d need to get worked up about. On a 1-10 scale, it was only a one. A couple of hours later, that headache went from 1 to 100 in about 10 minutes. Now I don’t like to pop pills unnecessarily and will avoid taking anything if possible, but the headache was screaming and only getting louder. I took an Ibuprofen and began to feel some relief within 20-30 minutes. Even now at the end of the night, I can still feel the headache lingering just below the surface, simmering away at a 1 again. The throat isn’t sore like it had been the previous days, but it feels swollen when I swallow. The nose is still mostly stuffy. Do I feel sick? Not really. Yes, I’ve got a couple of minor symptoms. I feel wiped out today, but I wouldn’t define myself as being sick.

I should have another 8+ hours of sleep tonight with no alarm in the morning. Hopefully my sleep quality will be decent. At some point tomorrow morning I will go to the gym for some deadlifts and bench press. Oh, and overhead pressing…which is not a favourite and I’m not excited about at all. I have grand illusions to plan dinners for the next several days, including some of my upcoming closing shifts when I won’t be home to make dinner. It’s time to get my eating habits under control again, which is both exciting and desirable but also slightly overwhelming when I look at how many nights I close each week. But that’s a blog post for another day.

Vulnerable

“Vulnerability allows people to love you for who you really are, not just for how things look on the surface.” ~?

I have mentally written numerous versions of this blog post over the past several weeks. Sometimes I’ve even begun typing, but I would eventually pause and consider and delete. Despite having many thoughts that I was wanting to express, I found myself hesitating. In conversation with my husband, I described my reluctance as “circling the wagons.” A friendship ended and the emotion and words directed to me were confusing, ugly, hateful, and completely misguided. I may never truly know what happened there, but I am at peace with myself, knowing that I did nothing wrong. My peace in this situation flows from knowing my character and who I am and my confidence in knowing that I am loved and valued. My peace and awareness of my character has protected me from the heartbreak of rejection and the anger of having my character maligned. There will always be a measure of grief for the loss, especially when memory is jostled by photographs, objects of significance, and reminders of shared experiences; however, this sense of grief has no sting or pain. I suppose there is the sense that this is not my loss. If someone chooses to paint me as something I am not, then why should I be hurt by the loss of that relationship?

That is where I am at and how I feel. It is water under the bridge, flowing swiftly far away. And yet, I still often feel this hesitation to be myself, to express myself freely on my own blog. Someone has twisted my words from innocence into ugly. Someone has put words into my mouth that I have not said or written. Even though I know the truth, I subconsciously find myself closing the curtains across my heart. Many times on my blog I have allowed myself to be vulnerable, which is not always an easy thing to be and definitely goes against my natural inclinations, but being vulnerable is an important part of being real. I am not a complicated person. My life is mostly quite ordinary. While I may not be the chattiest, most out-going person you might meet in real life and it might take some time and effort to get to know me, ultimately I don’t think I’m all that different once you crack the surface. And yet, I was harshly rejected by someone who had seen me below the surface. How is it that I can be so calm and at peace about what happened, while still being subtly afraid of being vulnerable again?

 

The Introvert Paradox

Despite looking forward to training, I have been feeling the urge to procrastinate my departure from the house to hit the gym. I’ve previously compared it to a similar phenomenon that occurred prior to going for a run back in my running days, but this gym procrastination had never occurred until I started training at a commercial gym by myself. In the short drive to the gym this morning, I gave more thought to the reasons for the shortage of “get up and go”. I still love training and lifting weights. I still want to see myself growing in strength and ability, to reach new PRs, and to compete at higher levels. So why is it suddenly harder to get out the door? Because that is where the challenge lies…getting myself out the front door.

Some might suggest that the loss of my previous coach could be a reason for my struggle to get out the door, but I think that is a very minor piece of the puzzle. I think he is a good coach, but he certainly isn’t the only good coach out there and coaching will only get you so far. After a great deal of thinking, because thinking is what I do, I believe there are three main reasons:

  • I’m training by myself. There is no one to give me feedback in the moment. No one to praise or critique or assist. I don’t have anyone from whom I can draw positive energy. I feel very alone despite the presence of many other people in the gym.
  • There are many other people in the gym! Yes, I know that is a complete turn from my previous point, but such is the mind of an introvert. I am a stranger to virtually everyone in the gym. That’s fine. However, I sometimes feel irritated or drained from the antics and energy of everyone else at the gym. This is a complicated thing to explain, so I’m not even going to try.
  • Even though I am committed to training 3x a week, my training times are no longer tied to someone else’s schedule. Before, my training was booked to work with my schedule and my coach’s, so it was important to show up and be on time. Now I have more flexibility, even though I still have a general timeline planned in my head.

This is a deload week and I am super stoked about it and excited to get to the gym, yet I still took my sweet time waking up, eating breakfast, and getting myself ready to leave the house. Despite my snail’s pace to get ready, I still managed to be at the gym by 9:05 this morning, which was really only 5 minutes later than I had wanted to be. Not too shabby for a procrastinator!

1. deadlifts (2-2×1)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 95 x 8, 135 x 4, 165 x 3

main event, with belt: 190 lbs x 2, 190 x 2, 190 x 2

Deadlifts were feeling good and easy.

2. incline bench (3-1×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 6

main event: 65 lbs x 6, 65 x 6

Incline bench continues to feel tough. Today’s rep range was 6-8, and I obviously didn’t feel strong enough to go for more than six.

3. stiff-legged deadlifts (3-1×0)

115 lbs x 8, 115 x 8

4a. side plank

x 32 seconds each side

4b. barbell row

75 lbs x 12

4c. glute bridge

60 lbs x 15

 

 

 

Express Yourself

Admittedly I haven’t been blogging a whole lot lately, at least not much more than posts about my training sessions. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to blog. There have been days when I have felt the need or desire to blog but I didn’t. There are many reasons for the lack of blog posts, ranging from the “I have nothing to say” to the “I don’t know what I can say”. In a way, I feel sort of handcuffed in what I can say on my own blog, because someone has chosen to twist my words into something drastically different than what I have ever said or intended. While I obviously cannot control how people may interpret my words, I know my heart and my intent and I am at peace with both. Despite the peace I feel in this situation, I have been feeling reluctant to blog about much of anything beyond the basics of training. I know this is a season of sorts, and I will get past it to blog more candidly once again.

I have to admit that part of my reluctance to blog flows out of the knowledge that my blog could be read by those who choose to twist my words into something I never intended. Obviously, if you find something on the internet personally offensive to you, you have complete freedom to NOT continue to read it, right?! This is my blog. It is about me and my journey. This is my journey of self-discovery, of growing comfortable in my own skin, and knowing who I am. Sometimes my journey towards becoming Angela involves other people, because we do not go through life without being touched by others and in turn touching others. This is my journey. If you don’t like it…don’t read it. Plain and simple! I don’t blog for personal glory or recognition or followers. I have no expectation that anyone reads my blog and won’t be offended if nobody does.

And still, I hesitate. I open my WordPress site with the intention of blogging and then I hesitate. I think about who might read my blog, about who might take my innocent words and twist them into something ugly. So I pause until I have no more time to blog, or I simply blog about my training, all the while feeling censored.

Despite how I feel in regards to blogging, I am feeling perfectly fine. I am sleeping well. I am happy and at peace with myself. Although I have been hurt and rejected recently, I am doing very well. My husband and I were talking about that situation the other day, and he asked me if I had forgiven the offending party. I was kind of taken by surprise by his question, because I don’t even look at that turn of events as being worth my time or attention. Was I hurt? Yes. Am I holding onto any of that hurt or resentment? Heck no! While I do not agree in any way shape or form with the other point of view in this situation, I also don’t consider this to be worth holding onto. It’s difficult to explain how I feel without going into more detail in the situation, which is something I am not going to do. Suffice it to say that I am completely comfortable with who I am to know that I am not at fault in this situation, and as such my forgiveness is essentially automatic. Would I be comfortable bumping into this person in public unexpectedly? Probably not but that’s just me and my non-confrontational nature potentially pushed into an uncontrollable scenario! Am I losing sleep or stressed out over what has happened? Absolutely not! Like I said, I know who I am. I know my own heart and my intentions. I can put my head on my pillow each night knowing that I was true to myself, to my family, and to my friends. If someone sees that differently, then that is their problem and not mine.

I suppose this post is where I draw a line in the sand and say, “No more!” This is my blog. This blog is about me and my journey and what makes me who I am. If you have a problem with that, then feel free to stop visiting! If, on the other hand, my journey interests you, then please follow along. I cannot promise that my journey will always be cool or exciting, but I will always strive to be real and honest. I am no one of consequence or importance. I am merely Angela, a 45 year old woman, a wife of 25 years and mother of 3. I am a friend, a powerlifter, a barista, someone who is thankful for everything and entitled to nothing. Although my education is limited, I am a lover of words, and writing is how I express myself best. And this is my blog.