All In a Good Day

What makes a day a good one?

The answer to that question would vary drastically depending on the person providing the answer, and perhaps even those responses would vary depending on the day or situation. Personally, I know that my definition of a good day can be extremely broad and diverse. As best as I can call to mind in this moment, here is a partial list of things that can help make my day a good one:

  • sunshine
  • rain
  • a hot air balloon
  • crisp, fallen leaves beneath my feet
  • a productive day around the house
  • meaningful connections with customers
  • a delightfully delicious meal
  • time spent with good friends
  • hanging out with my kids
  • a good training session
  • a good playlist
  • escaping into Star Wars or Wonder Woman or Doctor Who
  • a good cup of coffee
  • a good glass of wine
  • time to myself
  • quiet & solitude
  • worship music
  • freshly painted toenails
  • hot baths
  • holding my husband’s hand
  • freshly cut & coloured hair
  • PRs in the gym or on the platform
  • watching my kids do their things
  • colouring
  • writing
  • journalling
  • making lists and checking things off
  • salted caramel anything
  • chocolate with hazelnut
  • Abby’s artwork
  • board/card games
  • working with amazing people
  • my weird, odd, crazy, random dreams
  • maple trees
  • lions, tigers, jaguars, and cheetahs
  • underdog stories
  • rainbows
  • thunderstorms
  • roses
  • flowers, in general
  • heartfelt cards and notes and gestures
  • Willow Tree figurines
  • books by beloved authors
  • highlighters and coloured pens
  • notebooks, journals, and paper
  • funky socks for a bare food loving girl
  • trips down memory lane
  • daydreams
  • walks (used to be running)
  • finding a perfect gift or card for someone
  • words of unexpected praise
  • a solid night’s sleep
  • flip flops
  • risotto
  • turkey dinner
  • comfort foods like cabbage rolls or scalloped potatoes
  • warm, cozy throw blankets
  • the scents of lavender, lilac, rosemary
  • walking past the treadmills to head to the free weights
  • quotes
  • Winston Churchill
  • silver
  • garnet
  • dangly earrings
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4 weeks and a day

The week isn’t quite over yet. I have one more work day to go before my weekend, but this week has felt rather long. At least a dozen threads of thought are floating inside my head wanting to be tugged and put to words. And yet, if I try to focus my attention inward, I find my eyes glazing over and my focus sucked into a black hole of nothingness. Maybe a solitary tall Americano simply wasn’t enough caffeine for the day. Maybe I didn’t sleep as well as I thought I did last night, but I am on the wrong side of the bed. The work day was steady but good, except for spilling several litres of frapp roast all over the fridge, the floor, and myself. My training session was decent, I think. I have eaten fairly well today. Had plenty of water. Regardless of the cause, I am fading fast.

1a. squats-low bar, with sleeves

45 lbs x 8, 95 x 5

with belt: 135 x 1 + 5, 165 x 3, 185 x 3, 190 x 3, 190 x 3

My coach was training alongside of me today, so we were sharing the squat rack. I was squatting, while he was doing Anderson squats. That meant the safeties needed to be changed every set. For my set at 135, I lifted the bar and walked it out, braced and squatted. Clang! We had forgotten to change the safeties after Michael’s set. Made the change. Reset. Finished the set. Ironically, a couple of sets later, we forgot to change them again, but this time after my set which meant that Michael was squatting deeper than anticipated.

The rest of my sets were okay. A couple of reps had a slight forward pitch. These past several months have taken my squat and turned it into something else. It’s still a squat, but it isn’t exactly how I used to squat or how I should. After Provincials are over, we’re going to deconstruct my squat and start at the beginning, but that’s something to think about in 4 weeks plus a day or two.

1b. bench press-competition grip

with feet on bench, small arch:

43 lbs x 10, 63 x 5, 83 x 3, 103 x 1

with feet on floor and arch:

115 lbs x 1, 125 x 1, 125 x 1

115 x 3 paused each rep

2. TRX rows x 20

Now almost time for bed.

One Step Closer

Yesterday I learned that my road to Nationals 2018 in Calgary was shorter than I had thought it would be. Since I’ve never competed at that high of a level before, I have more steps to take in order to qualify for Nationals: compete at Provincials and qualify for Westerns, compete at Westerns and achieve a National qualifying total. As I was preparing for Provincials and Westerns last year, I was under the impression that I would need to do both again this year in order to qualify for Nationals next year. Clear as mud? Basically, I thought I’d have to do Westerns in the months immediately prior to Nationals, and since I am not competing at Nationals this year, I thought that would erase my attendance at Westerns last August. But not so! My Westerns qualifying total holds for 24 months, which means that the only step I need to complete is Provincials this year, and I am super stoked about that. I love competing, and I’d love to do Westerns again. However, there is something freeing about knowing that I have more options available to me. At this point, I don’t even know where or when Westerns will be…could be in Saskatchewan! Not needing to travel so far opens things up for me closer to home without sacrificing my long term goals.

With having meals planned for the week, hitting my fruit/vegetable goals every day, and knowing that I can go to Nationals next year, I feel energized and excited and re-focused. Now I just need the SI joints to hurry up and stop being a bother, so I can get back to the big lifts.

1a. rope face pulls

20 lbs x 12, 30 x 12, 30 x 12, 30 x 12, 30 x 12

1b. military press

45 lbs x 8, 55 x 6, 65 x 5, 65 x 5, 65 x 5

With the exception of an odd rep here and there, these were actually pretty good…for me! The very first set was, according to Michael, the best he’s ever seen me do.

1c. TRX supine rows with legs straight and elevated + a few more reps with knees bent

x 8, x 8 + 3, x 8 + 3, x 5 + 6, x 5 + 6

2a. flat dumbbell presses with a pause at the bottom

25 lbs x 12, 34 x 12, 34 x 12 without legs

2b. single arm kettlebell rows, controlled motion

10kg x 12 each, 12kg x 12 each, 16kg x 12 each

2c. ab wheel

2 sets of 12

I was pleased to notice that I could roll out a bit further today than the last time I did these. The SI joints are not always playing nicely with my training, so I do tend to notice when a previously painful or uncomfortable task feels easier or without the discomfort. Sitting in the car on the way to the gym this morning was brutal. Sitting at the gym to put on my shoes, to try a stretch, to take off my shoes was all brutal. Getting up after the TRX rows was a slow process, and I was hesitant to roll myself up off the bench following my dumbbell presses. The back is getting better, but anything remotely resembling sitting is extremely uncomfortable lately.

I’m Not Loving It

I finished work around 6 last night and, knowing the chances of a family member making dinner were slim, I went through the McDonald’s drive-thru on my way home. Although my work day had been good, I was suddenly feeling grumpy. The attitude was likely due to a couple of factors. I was tired. I knew that my ability to relax and decompress would be delayed as I had already agreed to drive my daughter downtown for an engagement. I had been given a warning that my husband was cranky. My frustration with food was rearing it’s ugly head. I didn’t want to make dinner when I finally got home close to 7 PM. I am frustrated by a lack of help and support from the family when it comes to making dinner. They have valid reasons, as well as mere excuses, but I had given basic instructions for what could be made for dinner on Wednesday (when I worked a close shift). Nobody made it. So I gave similar instruction again for yesterday, because I had pork tenderloins in the fridge that were now desperately needing to be used. Despite one person home all day, nothing was prepped, nothing was made. And with all that knowledge, I made the decision to eat crap food and not concern myself with whether or not anyone else in the family had dinner. Because I was grumpy, I ate most of the fries as I drove home. I ate 6 chicken nuggets and a quarter-pounder with cheese while sitting in my car in my driveway. Not a single bite was enjoyable.

There is a lot that could be said about last night’s experience, but I’m not entirely certain that I know where to begin or where to take it. I can be better than this. I have the knowledge and the tools to be better than this. While I’m okay with an occasional treat, my eating habits of late have been more about the treats and crap than about eating for optimal health and nutrition, and I am not happy with myself for it. The good news is, I guess, that it is never too late to start over fresh. Each day presents a new opportunity to make better choices, and I do have the knowledge and tools to make those choices. Okay, so today wasn’t filled with fantastic choices and tomorrow probably won’t be either, but I am determined to turn the corner during my weekend.

This afternoon’s training session did not include deadlifts (or squats for that matter), but then again, I wasn’t honestly expecting either. The SI joints are still an issue, although I feel there is improvement. Since improvement is what I am looking for, I’m willing to accept that my training program is going to be modified in order to allow my back to recover. Still, I’m missing my big lifts.

1a. step-ups (a 4″ block and a box…not sure exact height but a step put my knee well above my hip)

bodyweight x 10

54 lb weight vest x 16, x 16, x 14

Now that felt like cardio…a lot of cardio!

1b. floor presses, with back arch (because I’m allowed to do that!)

43 lbs x 8, 73 x 8, 93 x 8, 110 x 8 PR120 x 5 PR

Despite having an arch, I wasn’t really making much use of leg drive for most of the sets and reps, at least not until towards the end sets. At the time I didn’t realize that 8 reps at 110 pounds was a personal record. When Michael said we could do a heavier set and asked what I thought I could do for 5 reps, I wasn’t too sure. He settled on 120 pounds. I kept my mouth shut, even though I knew that I had just set a PR of 120 pounds for 5 reps on Monday for a regular bench press, which meant that I felt a sliver of uncertainty about equaling that task on the floor press. But I did it! 🙂

1c. a TRX ab wheel-like move

on knees x 10, on feet x 10, on feet but slightly harder x 10, x 12 and possibly even slightly more difficult

2a. glute-ham raises

bodyweight x 16

x 5 + x 8 with 8kg kettlebell

8kg kettlebell x 12

2b. swiss ball plank rotations

x 10, x 12, x 13

The Perfect Storm

With the exception of momentary glimpses of sunshine, I have been grumpy for days. Most people probably wouldn’t even know it without me saying so, because I am pretty good at putting on the happy face mask in public and I don’t remove that mask for very many people. Even if I do comment on my grumpiness, the true depth of it is simply not on display. In public. Unfortunately, my family sees much more of my grumpiness than anyone else. I feel bad about that fact, at least when my family isn’t directly the cause of my black mood. Unfortunately for them, they often are! I still love them. I do get over it eventually, but it doesn’t slide off as quickly or easily as my annoyance with say a bad driver or an inconsiderate shopper blocking the aisle. Mostly I just bottle it up.

I like to think that I am generally a fairly steady and easy-going person who is able to bounce back quickly, so for me to linger in a grumpy state usually requires a combination of ingredients to create that perfect storm.

Inadequate sleep. Pain. Frustration. Poor eating habits. Being disrespected. Being ignored. Being taken for granted. Feeling disconnected. Being treated like a child. Talked to like a child. Lack of help around the house. Complaints about lack of food or what has been prepared. The “I can’t help with ____, because I’m studying” excuses. Lack of sunshine. There are dozen things that can collide and send my mood spiraling out of control. It seems to be cyclical yet without a constant rhythm.

When I ask my grown children to help me out by considering meals that they could prepare and I ask for feedback on days that would work best for them to help…I am saying that I want some help. I know you work and/or go to school and have a social life. Guess what? I do, too! I’m not asking for you to do all the work; I’m asking for a little more help and a little less complaining.

When I make comments about the lack of help with housework, I am being completely honest. My husband does wash the dishes. Mostly and most of them. Most of my kids are capable of doing laundry and will do a load now and then. My daughter will take care of the litter box, after she’s been reminded and nagged about a dozen times. One son will sweep the bathroom floor if I am doing laundry and have shaken out the bathmat before putting it in the wash and he is taking a shower before I get back to the bathroom. Judging by his vehemence in claiming that he cleans the bathroom, I’d say that sweeping that teeny bit of floor constitutes cleaning the entire bathroom. Just like cleaning the kitchen is as simple as piling all the dirty dishes in one spot on the counter and maybe putting a few things back into the cupboards. Can you hear my dripping sarcasm through the screen?

I don’t expect to have a perfect looking home, but I am so weary of every room, every space being treated like a dumping ground for everyone’s junk. I don’t have the energy or motivation to do basic housework, like vacuuming or dusting, because I’d first have to pick up and remove everyone’s stuff. My desire to purge clutter sputters and dies, because where do I begin when the clutter is everywhere! How can I scrape up any enthusiasm for meal planning and preparation when 2 or 3 will turn up their noses and complain? Or when I do put in the effort to plan and make a meal only to have no one home to eat it or to have it go mostly uneaten and wasted? I hate, like really hate, having my time and energy wasted.

I stopped in at Chapters this morning in search of a cookbook to help me in my current food struggles. I didn’t have any book specifically in mind, but I wanted something that would have simple, healthy meals that could be prepared quickly and by anyone. While I did find several that met my requirements, I flipped through the pages and felt only a growing sense of impending failure. Every single book went back on the shelf, and I walked out without a purchase. I have lots of cookbooks at home. A new cookbook isn’t going to help me succeed in meal planning, because there isn’t a cookbook anywhere that addresses my actual challenges. Picky eaters. Variable schedules. Lack of willing helpers. I have tons of recipes. Big deal. Lots of recipes mean nothing if the food goes uneaten. I don’t need another cookbook. Somehow that truth only makes me feel more defeated.

A Lesson in Sushi

sushi

I took this picture yesterday while on my break at work. I took the picture, because I was feeling proud of myself for stepping beyond my comfort zone. The photo was supposed to be a memento of shaking off the silly fear that has kept me from having sushi again more than 7 months after first trying it. For the record, I did like the sushi I had 7 months ago! While I wasn’t sure I would be able to eat all of the sushi, I did expect that I could eat a good portion of it.

My expectations were not my reality. I ate the first piece and found myself chewing just a tad longer than normal. I started on the second piece and felt a threatening tear sting the corner of my eye. My throat constricted, rebelled, and I fought against the urge to gag. I managed to finish the piece I was struggling with, but I ended up throwing the rest in the trash, feeling defeated and hungry.

Maybe I wasn’t fond of the crab, I thought. Sure, I’ve had crab before, even in the sushi that I had months ago, both real and imitation. The rice and cucumber seemed tasty enough, so perhaps I just wasn’t keen on the crab. Although it had been seven months, I do recall enjoying smoked salmon, yam, and veggie sushi over the crab.

What possessed me to pick up some sushi for my lunch yesterday anyway?

At the gym yesterday morning, my coach and I were talking about my nutrition and eating habits. This is something we talk about with some regularity. He is my coach and personal trainer, so it only makes sense that we talk about it. I’m in a food rut right now, which is also something that happens with regularity. I am uninspired & unmotivated to cook. My schedule demands that I be mentally prepared by planning ahead, and yet, as much as I am the sort of person who thrives on planning ahead, I am struggling to do so with meals. Michael made some suggestions, including sushi, to which I commented on the fact that I haven’t had sushi for many months and that I’ve been afraid to try it again.

I don’t even know why I have been afraid. The last time I had sushi was a positive experience. The days leading up to that sushi day were amazing, and I felt like I was on top of the world. Precious friends had given me a wonderful gift. I had just competed at my first Provincials, where I had broken a couple BCPA records. I was on an emotional high and feeling great. I spent an evening with my friend learning how to make sushi, and it was good. 

Since that night I have been reluctant to try sushi again. I have told myself that I lack experience with sushi, that I cannot simply walk into a restaurant and order sushi for lack of knowledge and experience. I figured that since my kids would never even give sushi a try, there was no point in trying to incorporate sushi consumption into my life. Mostly I was afraid that I wouldn’t like sushi the next time I tried it. What if that first and last experience was a fluke?

My lack of planning and current displeasure with food inspired me to give sushi a try yesterday. In all honesty, I have thought about having sushi several times over the past couple of months, but that slight twist of fear has always prevented me from doing so. I work next door to a sushi place. Sometimes they will bring over some sushi for us, and I’ve always left it for my co-workers to enjoy, never trying any myself. After the brief discussion with my coach yesterday, I realized just how strong this fear has been and that irritated me. It seemed silly to be afraid to try sushi again, especially when my previous experience was a good one. My character is stronger than that! Or I think it is. Should be. And so, I got sushi. Sushi that I couldn’t eat.

While I would still like to say that the crab was the culprit, the truth is likely a combination of factors which include the crab and also the events that took place the morning after that sushi making night. I don’t need to share the details here now, but I have never before been in such an emotionally upsetting and devastating situation. The tragedy was not personally mine, but I was there. I was emotionally affected, and that weighed on me far more than I have ever acknowledged or admitted. Would it honestly be that much of a stretch to think that there is a connection between my fear of having sushi again and the trauma that took place that morning?

I remember a moment during my first pregnancy, when I was sipping on a sparkling flavoured water. Clearly Canadian Wild Cherry. My favourite! Although I didn’t have morning sickness very much at all, on that day, as I sipped my beverage, my stomach rolled and I heaved it all into the toilet. I could never drink Clearly Canadian again.

Maybe this sushi thing is like that? Perhaps. Yet, I don’t know. Aside from the Clearly Canadian, I’ve never had a similar reaction to any food. Okay, so I’ve never had an experience quite like this either, but I still think that I ultimately do like sushi. There will be another time for me to try sushi…just maybe not crab.

 

Deadlifts & Dialogue

Forgive me if this post rambles or seems to get lost in translation. It’s been a long day. My training session was a little more than 11 hours ago. I might be a night owl by nature, but I’ve been a morning bird for so long now that too many late nights take a toll on me. Or more likely it’s just the less than stellar sleep the past two nights and the fact that I’ve been working so many closing shifts lately. It’s also a busy time of year, and the busyness combined with my closing shifts has resulted in less than ideal eating habits. I cannot even begin to describe how excited I will be to sign out after work tomorrow night, knowing that I will have four days off to celebrate Christmas. I plan on drinking plenty of coffee, eating lots of turkey, drinking some wine, and just enjoying the time away from work…once I finish shopping!

1a. deadlifts, snatch grip

95 lbs x 8, 135 x 6, 165 x 8, 195 x 6, 215 x 3

Experience has taught me that when it comes to multiple reps of deadlifts, there is an extremely thin line between pausing enough to take a breath to reset and pausing too long. That’s what happened with the set at 215 pounds. Michael wanted me to make sure I was breathing enough (because for some reason he thinks I usually don’t), so I was taking a moment to breathe at the bottom. There comes a point though where the pause has the potential to knock me off my groove and makes it difficult to maintain/regain tightness in my upper back. After the third rep at 215, I could sense that the brief pause was going to be the end, and I muttered to myself not to lose it. But I did. The upper back seems to be my weak spot. <sigh> So Michael had me try a set at the same weight but conventional, touch and go. He also left the number of reps up to me.

conventional: 215 x 8 PR

I have to say that this conventional set felt rather good. It isn’t very often that I do high rep sets of deadlifts, and I’m not sure that I’ve ever had a set of deadlifts that looked as good as this one felt. The bar was close to my legs, and I pulled my hips to the bar. Although I cut the set at 8 reps, I probably could have managed to grind out at least one or two more reps if pushed. And I’m pretty sure that was a personal record…because I don’t often do heavy, high rep sets!

1b. standing double kettlebell presses

8kg x 6, 10kg x 6, 12kg x 8, 12kg x 8, 12kg x 7, 12kg x 8

The set of 7 reps at 12kg was a bit tougher, because Michael changed my arm positioning midway through the set. He thought it would be a stronger position for me, and he was probably correct since I was able to get the full 8 reps on the final set; however, changing position partway through the set wasn’t so easy.

2a. Romanian deadlifts, with straps

135 lbs x 8, 155 x 10, 155 x 10

The final set was the best. The bar was nice and close to my legs, and I was pulling my hips towards the bar. With RDLs, I sometimes struggle to keep the bar close to my shins at the lowest position, but the final set was rather good. All the practice seems to be paying off.

2b. single arm cable pulldowns

40 lbs x 7 each, 30 lbs x 15 each

2c. laterals

8 lb dumbbells x 20, 10 lb dumbbells x 7 + 8 with the thumbs pointed upwards

I’m so not a fan of laterals, but the first set wasn’t too bad. The second set was a bit tougher with the slight weight increase, but the change in position made them even harder. So not fun.

3. TRX for the rear delts x 8 + rows x 12ish?

I have one more training session left in the year, since my coach is taking next week off. As much as I don’t like missing my training times, I’m kind of looking forward to the short break. We talked a bit today about recovery and food. I know that my eating habits are not ideal right now, especially with all the closing shifts that I’ve been doing; however, I think I’ve still been able to recover well between training sessions. Michael also mentioned that he’ll let me do some low bar squats very soon! And he is expecting me to break my PRs in February. I’m okay with that. The prospect of lifting more than I’ve lifted before is a bit daunting, but it’s also exciting and I am ready for the challenge.