Strong, Independent, White Woman

“Admitting a weakness is a sign of strength.” ~Andy Stanley

I am woman, and I do not like any insinuation that being a woman makes me somehow less in any way, shape or form. I do not ever want to be thought of as weak or incapable or fragile. I am one who likes to be prepared and capable. I don’t like to ask for help, especially when I think I am more than able to do the task. I think I’ve always been this way.

My current state with this disc issue has left me feeling incredibly frustrated with feelings of weakness and the inability to do the most basic of tasks without significant pain. I’ve had a disc issue before, but this time is different. Before I had no pain in my back; this time I do. Last time, the disc didn’t impact my normal daily activities; this time it does. The previous disc issue is why I stopped running. Right now, I am in some degree of pain all day, every day. I cannot put on socks or shoes without pain. A cough has the ability to bring me to my knees. Lifting something out of the oven. Putting on my pants. Sitting. Picking up boxes, garbage bags, or pretty much anything. Anything involving bending forward. Squatting or kneeling down. Lying on the floor or in bed and shifting ever so slightly. Getting out of the car. The list of things that causes pain seems unending…and discouraging. And yet, I am still reluctant to admit that I am in need of help.

During my closing shift on Thursday, I asked my barista to bring in the patio furniture for me. He was quite agreeable, but I really expected no less. The night before my closing barista offered to bring in the furniture without me even asking. Knowing that I would have a big order to put away at work this morning, I was prepared to ask for help putting it all away, but my manager beat me to the punch by saying she would do it for me. I work with some rather amazing people!

It’s not easy to admit that I cannot easily do the simplest of tasks, especially when I know that I am capable of more. I can pick 308 pounds up off the floor, but picking up a box weighing less than 5 pounds sends waves of pain through my back. My mind struggles to accept this reality, and I hate it. My current limitations chafe against my will until all that is left is a raw, bloody mess inside.

I know that this disc issue will get better…I just don’t know when exactly. I don’t know when I will stop feeling intense pain. I don’t know, and I don’t like not knowing. I’m also a practical kind of girl who likes to know such things. But, right now, I need to be the kind of girl who can admit the need for help when necessary. There is no doubt that I am strong and self-sufficient, but there is also no doubt that I am currently in a season where I am not myself. This season of pain is not an indication of personal weakness, no matter what it feels like inside. It is a season, to be sure, but still only a season and not a life sentence. In the words of my coach, “Ang will prevail.”

Eventually, I will.

Talking It Out

Oh dear. It is almost 8:00pm, and I’m only now finally home for the first time since 7:30 this morning. I need to prep some food for tomorrow’s work day. I need to blog, and I fear that a multitude of thoughts are swirling inside of my head, disjointed but unrelenting. With tomorrow being an open shift, I’d ideally like to be in bed no later than 9pm, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. C’est la vie!

After work, I went to the gym. After the gym, I stopped at the grocery store for some necessary items. After the store, I went out for dinner with my husband, to Red Robin, where I enjoyed a greasy burger wrapped in lettuce and some fries, even though I really should have chosen salad for my side. After we were finished eating, the waitress brought me an ice cream sundae, because I had made some comment that gave her the impression that I’d had a crappy day. How could I pass up free ice cream?! I ate it, even as I fought to hold back tears. My day wasn’t all that bad, but the past two months of back issues have been tough both physically and emotionally. Although I am more honest in my blog, my general tendency is to keep the majority of my thoughts and feelings locked up inside, being highly selective about what I share and who I share it with. For good or bad, that’s my nature. So, I ate the ice cream, choking back tears, but I definitely didn’t feel any better for eating it. I actually felt rather gross.

As I lay in bed last night trying to fall asleep, I thought about asking my coach for his honest thoughts about my back, training and competing. I knew I wanted to ask for his thoughts, but I wasn’t sure how to put the question into words. I’d barely finished my warm up at the gym, when Michael began asking me questions about what I was feeling and thinking! I swear that man can read my mind sometimes! We talked. I tried to explain what I’m feeling in my back, but that isn’t always an easy thing to do…it varies and sometimes significantly. I do still want to compete. I plan on competing. I am still hopeful that the back will heal up soon. I would love to break my records at Provincials; however, I also have to acknowledge the fact that I don’t want to do more harm to my body and might need to lower my hopes and expectations when it comes to Provincials. It’s hard to say what that might look like, because I can’t predict what will be going on with my back two months from now. Maybe I can challenge my squat and bench records. Maybe the back will feel great and I can push the deadlift a little. Or perhaps I might need to do a token deadlift at an easy weight just to put up a total. While I don’t like the idea of not giving my best effort, I do understand that it might be necessary. And although I have been entertaining those thoughts for at least a few weeks now, today was the first time I’ve given them voice to anyone. As much as I want to be okay with this (and I basically think I am okay with it), I also can’t help but feel somewhat frustrated, disappointed, and mopey.

1a. trap bar deadlifts

75 lbs x 8 with low handles + 8 with high handles

125 lbs x 6 low handles, 145 x 3 low + 7 high

We thought we’d try trap bar deadlifts, that they might not bother my back as much as regular deadlifts. And they were mostly okay but not okay enough. No more of those. Switch to front squats.

front squats-flat shoes

95 lbs x 6, 125 x 5, 135 x 5

1b. flat dumbbell presses-feet on bench

25 lbs x 19, 34 x 8, 44 x 8PR, 44 x 7

1c. chin ups-small green band, neutral grip

4 sets of 6

2a. Bulgarian split squats-54 lb vest x 10 each leg

2b. seated cable rows

90 lbs x 10?, 90 x 6? + 70 x 6?

Sitting is usually a painful thing for me right now, so I had to position my body angle in such a way as to minimize the discomfort on my back.

And now I remembered that I still have to do my foam rolling. It’s almost 9pm now…sigh.


The Foam Roller

I’ve had a foam roller for a few years now, and I actually do use it with a degree of regularity. Mostly I use it when doing my chiropractic homework or have a body part needing attention, even though I’ve often heard the benefits of foam rolling daily. I’ve got plenty of excuses for not making this a daily habit. I can be lazy. I don’t think I need it. I feel like I don’t have the time. I’ll do it later (and then forget). It will be too uncomfortable on my sore muscles, usually the quads or hamstrings. Just excuses.

Last Wednesday when I saw my chiropractor in the midst of my melt down over my painful and uncooperative SI joints, he told me to begin rolling my entire body from head to toe. As much as I can be stubborn, rebellious, and lazy, I also want my body to be healthy and well functioning, which means that I have faithfully followed my chiropractor’s orders since that day. From the bottom of my feet to the top of my head and it feels amazing! I use a lacrosse ball on my feet and head, because it is simply easier. I think my favourite part is the head actually.

Foam rolling isn’t always a comfortable process, but here are a few tips based on my own experiences:

  • If you have long hair, wear a hoodie and put the hood up when rolling your upper back and head. You don’t want to pull your own hair!
  • If your ears are pierced, either remove your earrings first or be careful when rolling your head that you don’t stab the earring back into your skull!
  • It doesn’t need to take a long time. While I haven’t timed myself, I’d estimate that it takes me between 10-20 minutes to roll my entire body.
  • If you feel some body parts need more attention, spend a little more time there but don’t overdo it.
  • It’s generally easy enough to make adjustments to the amount of pressure based on how much bodyweight you rest on the roller. If you have sore quads, for example, you might find it rather uncomfortable and downright painful to use all of your weight when rolling your quads.
  • Make sure you have a bit of floor space to sprawl out. The foam roller seems to wonder as you roll.
  • There are different styles of foam rollers. Some are pure foam, while others are much harder, like a wee bit of foam surrounding hard plastic. If you’re really hard-core, you could even use something like a barbell or rolling pin to manually roll your quads. Trust me…the barbell isn’t fun when the quads are sore!
  • When rolling your glutes make sure you don’t have pockets with buttons or zippers on the back of your clothing. Actually, buttons, snaps and zippers aren’t fun to roll over anywhere!
  • If you like to watch television in the evening, then why not do some foam rolling while you watch…
  • Seriously, rolling a lacrosse ball around your head feels amazing, like a massage, and it is incredibly relaxing.
  • Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing. Sometimes I wear my jeans, but my jeans are stretchy enough that I could squat in them if necessary.
  • Ignore the strange looks and comments your family might make as you groan or whimper. I do!


Call the Midwife

Once upon a time I watched a fair bit of television, but that hasn’t been my norm for several years now. Several years of starting work between 5 and 6 in the morning meant that I was in bed early on work nights and missed out on many of my favourite shows. Despite the technology to digitally record television shows, I would seldom have the time or mental clarity to catch myself up on all that I missed. Then there was the simple fact that I rarely actually got to touch the remote control…and still don’t.

Now there is very little of interest on the television, and I still don’t really have the time to watch all that may interest me. Doctor Who and Sherlock are pretty much the only shows for which I make a point of watching religiously, and, of course, both shows tend to have short seasons with long gaps between. My husband watches a fair bit of television and Netflix. There is a great deal on Netflix that interests me, but I’m faced with my usual lack of time and lack of control over the remote control.

Tonight is an exception, at least until my husband gets home from the gym. Although I did start work early this morning, tomorrow is a day off work and the house is currently quiet. With nothing worth watching on TV, I opted to spend some time on Netflix watching Call the Midwife, a show that I’ve been interested in for a while. I am only on the second episode, but I love it. It tugs at my heart strings, brings tears to my eyes, and makes me think of my precious friend who is in the process of becoming a midwife. Although I never had a midwife (never even knew such a thing existed), I think a midwife is an incredibly special person. I know my friend will be an excellent midwife, and I think that only makes me cry more as I watch the show, thinking about all the situations and families that my friend will have the privilege of caring for and how blessed they will be for having her.

Loud & Fearless

“Be whoever you are extremely loud. And be completely fearless when you do it.” ~Gerard Way

This is me:

  • I am a lover of lists. I love checking off or crossing out tasks as they’ve been completed. I make lists for pretty much everything: groceries, packing for a competition or a trip, big holiday family dinners, housework and projects, and so on.
  • I love paper in various forms. Books! Journals! Greeting cards and stationery! Wrapping paper and gift bags! Scrapbooking cardstock and paper! Even loose leaf paper!
  • Star Wars. Wonder Woman. Doctor Who. I will freak out like the fan-girl I am when it comes to these three subjects. Just ask my family.
  • I hate wearing socks and would prefer to be barefoot. I only wear socks when necessary, like at work, when wearing running shoes, or when the weather demands it; however, I can put up with a lot of bad weather while wearing flip-flops.
  • There is one exception to my dislike for socks. Fun and funky socks! My absolute favourites are from Sox Box. I seldom make online purchases, but I make an exception for my Sox Box. These are the socks I wear in the gym and at competitions, and I love them!
  • I am highly competitive and hate to lose, but I am a gracious loser. I will always want to win, whether competing in a sport or playing a board game. And yet, I am a strong believer in fair play and good sportsmanship.
  • I could not stand the taste of coffee up until a couple of years ago. It’s my coach’s fault that I love coffee now.
  • My everyday appearance doesn’t reveal how much I love long fingernails and nail polish, because I can’t wear nail polish to work and long fingernails really aren’t the most practical in the gym. But my toenails are almost always painted.
  • I seldom wear high heels anymore, but I seriously love shoes! My self-control is fierce when it comes to indulging in shoes, but I love to drool over Jimmy Choo or Manolo Blahnik shoes.
  • I take great joy in encouraging and blessing others in big ways and small.
  • My movie tastes are broad, although I don’t particularly care for horror/slasher type movies. Star Wars to Lord of the Rings to Schindler’s List to Pride & Prejudice to Indiana Jones to Superman to The Saint…and I have no trouble whatsoever watching my favourite movies over and over and over again!
  • I’m not much of a Tom Cruise or Cameron Diaz fan, but there is something about the movie Knight & Day that I just love. It’s a movie that I never get tired of watching, despite the cheese factor and casting choices.
  • The only way to eat steak is rare. The rest of my family are barbarians who eat their steak in leather form. I could never be a vegetarian.
  • Perhaps one of my biggest weaknesses is salted caramel. Salted caramel combined with chocolate is straight up Kryptonite!
  • I’m rather fond of pens, especially pens with coloured ink, but I am also fussy about my pens. They have to feel right in my hand, and the ink must flow smoothly without splotches. When I find a good pen, I’m reluctant to let anyone borrow it for fear I will never get it back.
  • Cinderella has always been my favourite Disney princess. Belle would probably be the runner-up.
  • I have a collection of colouring books, and I love to colour.
  • My favourite crayon colour is Burnt Sienna. I don’t know why. It’s a rather boring colour actually, but I love it.

Now I’m Loving It

There is a great deal of irony in the fact that I like to make lists and be organized and prepared, yet I am forever struggling to meal plan. I know the value in meal planning…time and money saved being at the top of the list. Knowledge doesn’t automatically translate into action though, and I’ve been struggling with food for months. Changing my job six months ago came with many wonderful benefits but also the disruption to my schedule and routine. Overall, I am okay with the disruption. I think I am fine with change and being flexible, but meal planning has been one area in my life that I just haven’t been able to get a firm grasp on again. The lack of meal planning in combination with my new variable schedule has left my eating habits in shambles, and I think I finally hit rock bottom the other night as I ate McDonalds in my driveway.

In the aftermath of that night, I had determined that I would make time today to do a real grocery shop and to plan for the week ahead. And I did. I decided that any fancier or elaborate meal would be best planned for my days off. This Wednesday, on a night I work a close shift, I’ve planned a stew in the crockpot. The night I work until 6PM will be a relatively quick and simple meal of perogies, farmers sausage, salad and raw vegetables. One night will be spaghetti…something that will appeal to even my pickiest eater and can also be prepared by anyone, if necessary. I have the entire week planned, including vegetables for each day, with the lone exception of Saturday, another closing shift. The family can fend for themselves or use the frozen lasagna I picked up today. Hopefully there will be leftovers that I can take to work with me.

It feels good to have the week planned out and the fridge stocked. Even if no one is able or willing to help with prep during the week, I feel that my plan will be manageable. Everyone won’t be happy with every meal choice, but there is something for everyone at some point throughout the week. For the first time in much too long, I feel excited about food, about eating well, about reclaiming organization.

A Sob Story

I was going to blog about something else entirely, but I find myself caught up in watching the 1985 version of Anne of Green Gables with my daughter and husband. I am old enough to have first watched this version when it first aired. In fact, I would have been 13 years old at the time, and I have loved it ever since. My daughter has never seen any version of Anne, with the exception of about half an hour of a version that came out last year. We started watching the new one about a month ago, but I found it supremely disappointing and wanted Abby to see the one that I fell in love with many years ago. We watched the first half of the original last night, and we’re watching the last half as I type.

It is quite apparent that I am a hopeless romantic and that am deeply impacted and moved by emotional moments, regardless of whether or not they are real life or fiction. My eyes have been leaking and frequently. I love this version! While I am a lover of books, sometimes there are movie or television adaptations of books that surpass the words on pages…at least for me.

“You’ve never failed at anything, Anne Shirley!”

And a mighty sob worked it’s way up my throat and escaped most unbecomingly from my lips. My husband and daughter snicker in amusement as I swipe at tears with a Kleenex kept by my side. We haven’t even got to the truly heart-breaking scenes yet, but my eyes know what is yet to come. But, I’m okay with my emotional side…most of the time anyway. I think it might mean that I am perfectly human after all.