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.

Don’t Cry Out Loud…

Yesterday I set out the top and socks that I would wear for training this morning, and I had selected a Wonder Woman tank and my FIGHTER socks. As I was getting dressed this morning, I changed my mind and grabbed a different tank top, one that says, “If at first you don’t succeed, fix your ponytail and try again!” There was no rhyme or reason for the change. I just felt like it. Little did I realize just how appropriate the shirt slogan would be…or how frustrating my training session would be.

Most of the time the gym is my happy place, and even a difficult session can still be a rewarding and positive experience. While there were glimpses of smiles this morning, they were rare and weak and merely attempts to keep tears at bay. I suppose, in that regard, the smiles were effective. I did not shed a single tear at the gym today! At least I can claim that as a victory. My coach could tell that I was frustrated, although I’m sure it was rather obvious. He reminded me that one bad workout isn’t the end of the world…but it has been more than one. Over the past two months, there have been more bad training sessions than good ones in terms of being able to do what I need to do without pain or physical limitation and discomfort, and I am extremely frustrated by that. Frustrated doesn’t even accurately describe how I am currently feeling.

When it comes to personal pain and situations, it is easy to be myopic. For all my frustration and angst over this ongoing back issue, I do know that my struggle is actually quite small. There are so many people who struggle with issues and pain much greater than what I am dealing with, and the fact that I can’t train the way I want cannot compare to the true limitations many people experience on a daily basis just living life. I understand that. I really do. My husband is scheduled for hip replacement surgery at the end of April and has been in pain daily for years. I can complain about not being allowed to back squat for several weeks, but my husband literally cannot squat. I can complain about how uncomfortable it is to sit long enough to put my shoes on, but there are days when my husband cannot even put his own sock on. In the grand scheme of things, my current struggle is minor. I know it, but it is still frustrating and disappointing to feel as if you are stuck and going nowhere. The ‘one step forward, two or three steps back’ thing gets really old, really quick.

The back felt pretty good yesterday. Not 100% normal but really good. Then I woke up this morning. It seems that the back is stiff and achy almost every morning when I get up. Then add a little bit of necessary sitting, like using the toilet and driving to the gym, and the back just gets crankier. And then training doesn’t go as planned either.

1a. deadlifts-conventional

95 lbs x 8

After this warm-up set, Michael asked me how it was or if I just like to make faces on warm-ups. The weight itself was fine, but the back wasn’t exactly thrilled with deadlifting. The discomfort was just that…uncomfortable but not unbearable.

135 x 8

Same as above.

165 x 1 + 1 + 2

There was stronger pain on the first rep, which is why the reps were disjointed. Now I could get into position just fine, but the back started to hurt as soon as I created tension prior to initiating the lift and then as soon as I initiated lowering the bar.

with belt and straps: 165 x 0

I think it was about this point that Michael asked me what my body was telling me, and this was when frustration reared it’s ugly head. Michael pointed out that my response to his question was my mind talking and not my body. <grumble> So, then we tried a bunch of variations to see if one would feel better. Deficit deadlifts were a no-go. Block pulls were a no-go. Sumo block pulls were a no-go. Even kettlebell swings were a no-go. By that point, the fighter in me wanted to fix my ponytail and try again, but that inner fighter was also mentally sitting in a corner, sobbing her eyes out.

1b. military press

43 lbs x 7, 53 x 6, 63 x 5, 63 x 5, 63 x 5, 63 x 5

The last two sets were a bit tougher and likely sloppier, but the previous sets were decent and the bar moved well. The military press has long been a trouble lift for me, but I feel as if I am finally feeling more comfortable with it and struggling less. It used to be that my shoulders would burn with fatigue just holding the bar in the rack position between reps, but I didn’t feel any of that today. And that is one thing I have going for me…that no matter how frustrated, upset or defeated I feel, I can still manage to find a positive somewhere!

2a. reverse hypers

x 20, with 10 lbs x 20, 10 lbs x 20

I’m capable of doing these with more weight than this, but I’m also used to doing reverse hypers without discomfort in my lower back! It didn’t take many reps for me to appreciate the fact that my coach was keeping the weight light.

2b. back extensions

x 25, with 10kg x 25

3. single leg deadlifts

2-10kg kettlebells x 12 each leg

2-12kg kettlebells x 10 each

The first set was pure ugliness. My balance was horrid. The second set was a bit better with slightly less balance issues, especially with the right leg planted.

 

 

Lack of Sleep Leg Day

While I have no issues with ‘falling back’, ‘springing forward’ is a struggle. I haven’t slept well for the past two nights, but I don’t think I can wholly blame Daylight Savings Time for that. Yesterday morning was the first time in many years that I actually slept through my alarm! My daughter actually turned on my bedroom light and might have even given me a shake before I actually woke up…all while my alarm had been ringing for at least 10-15 minutes. I went to bed around 11PM last night, fell asleep quite quickly, started to dream, then woke up 15-20ish minutes later. I did not fall back asleep until at least 2AM, if not even later. A morning training session meant I had to get up, even though I desperately wanted to stay in bed. Thankfully, I could try to have a nap this afternoon. Maybe. Or not. I can sleep in a little bit later tomorrow. Also, I have coffee!

1a. split squats

warm-up: 8kg kettlebell x 8 each leg

with barbell: 45 lbs x 10 each, 75 lbs x 10 each, 100 x 10 each, 110 x 10 each

It was nice to have a barbell on my back; it’s been a while! Low bar position. These were relatively easy, although I was gasping for air and had to take a knee after the final set. I might have been content to stay at 100 pounds for the final set, but Michael made a comment and I added some more weight to the bar. The lower back felt perfectly fine.

1b. dumbbell presses while laying on a foam roller

25 lbs x 12, 34 lbs x 10, 34 x 10, 39 x 8

2a. front squats

110 x 4

Quite honestly, this set felt heavy from the moment I moved to unrack the bar. As I was stepping back and preparing for my reps, I could not recall how much weight was on the bar, but I assumed that it was more than what it actually was. It felt heavy. So heavy and uncomfortable. I still have tender spots on the fronts of both my shoulders from last Friday’s front squats. Michael only wanted me to do 3 or 4 reps for this set. I felt like stopping after the third but toughed it out for a fourth rep. Each one felt slow and tentative.

130 x 5

After the first set, Michael said to try a slightly different grip…as in essentially not holding onto the bar at all. I did one rep that way before racking the bar and resetting myself for normal front squats to finish the set. Not holding the bar felt heavier and unbalanced and I didn’t like it. The rest of the set was slightly better but still slow and heavy feeling.

130 x 6 with belt

I don’t know if it was a result of the belt or not, but this final set was the best of the bunch. My reps were faster, smoother, and they felt easier.

2b. bench press-touch and go

93 lbs x 8 competition grip

93 lbs x 10 slightly wider grip, roughly a centimeter in from the outer knurling

This set actually felt and looked pretty good despite the wider grip. It wasn’t a major change to my hand positioning, only a centimeter or so, but shoulder health is always the primary concern when making grip adjustments. The shoulders felt fine this set, but the right shoulder felt ever so slightly sore a few minutes later, which meant that Michael had me go back to my regular grip for the final set.

105 lbs x 8 competition grip

3a. some kind of seated pulldown, around a 45 degree back angle

100 lbs x 12, 100 x 8

3b. flyes

10 lbs x 20, 15 lbs x 15

3c. incline dumbbell curls

10 lbs x 15, 10 lbs x 6 + 15 lbs x 4 + 15 lbs x 11 standing

I just now realized that I was able to set up for my bench press with an arch without obvious discomfort to the lower back! Even though I had been given the okay to arch while pressing, getting into that position hasn’t been achieved without facial contortions from lower back discomfort. I don’t think I felt any of that today. Aside from sitting in the car this morning, my lower back has felt fairly decent over the weekend, which is an improvement over most of last week. I have an appointment with my chiropractor tomorrow, and I am desperately hoping that he will give me the green light to resume back squats and deadlifts. It is time to start prepping for Provincials, and I kind of need to put a barbell on my back. Although I can ultimately do whatever I want to do, I really do want to be smart with my body and health. However, I am fully prepared to beg, bribe, whine or cry tomorrow if my chiropractor isn’t as agreeable as I would like.

Too Tired for a Title

I didn’t expect to have the greatest sleep last night, and I wasn’t disappointed. No, that’s not right. I was disappointed by the quality of my sleep, because I know the value of a good sleep. My low expectations, however, were entirely accurate. I knew I had to get up early this morning. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get 8 hours of sleep, because I wouldn’t be ready to go to bed as soon as I got home from work. I knew that I’d start out on my back, because keeping the shoulders happy is more important than sleeping on my side right now. I knew that I would likely wake up at least once or twice in the night. I knew I would eventually toss and turn, desperate to be on my side but uncomfortable once there. All these things came to pass, which made the alarm at 5:50 most annoying. But I got up. I don’t always train at 8:00 in the morning, but it is kind of nice to get the work done first thing.

I haven’t done any deadlifts for the past two weeks, not since the SI joint problem reared its’ ugly head. As much as I don’t like it when the main lifts are temporarily taken out of my training, I honestly didn’t mind in this case. When the low back pain started, bending over hurt. Simple tasks like putting on my pants, tying my shoes, bending over to pick something up, getting into seated/reclining position on the floor, putting on boots, lifting a 45 lb plate from its place on the rack to the bar…all of those tasks were difficult and painful. With how much discomfort there was with the simple act of bending and lifting, I knew that attempting deadlifts was not going to be a smart idea. Along with the reduction in general pain, I have slowly been noticing an increased ease of movement, especially over the past week. Those simple tasks that hurt last week do not hurt quite as much, if at all, this week. I can put that 45 lb plate on the bar without feeling pain. I move faster and more smoothly getting down on the floor or up from it. I can bend over to put on my shoes or pants without pain. Still, last night I was thinking about today’s training session and resigned myself to the fact that deadlifts would not be on the agenda again. In thinking about training today, somehow I knew that Michael would ask if my chiropractor had vetoed deadlifts along with the squats. My chiropractor did not mention deadlifts, so I told Michael that must mean they are okay. As long as the back feels okay. Happy was I to be allowed to do some form of deadlift today!

1a. sumo block pulls

45 lbs x 8, 135 x 9

with belt:

135 x 2

155 x 7

175 x 0 + 8

175 x 0

The sumo block pulls started off feeling okay, but I soon ran into some uncomfortable feeling in my lower back. At first the discomfort was when I initiated the pull and as I would begin to lower the bar. Making sure my body was completely tight and that I took the slack out of the bar helped reduce the bother on the back, at least up until 175 pounds. The false start on the first set at 175 was due to feeling a fair bit of pressure in the low back as soon as I got myself into position and tight. Michael was ready to drop the weight, but I resisted and got the set done. On the final set, I set myself up twice and experienced the same uncomfortable low back pressure and decided that enough was enough. Pushing through a bit of discomfort is fine, but there is no need to push too far.

1b. braced single arm kettlebell row

12kg x 15, x 15, x 15

16kg x 12, x 12

All of these saw the kettlebell row closer towards my hip. The first three sets were kept under fairly constant tension.

1c. floor presses, keeping back flat

43 lbs x 10, 63 x 10, 83 x 8, 100 x 8, 110 x 6

For the most part, these were good and solid. I probably could have done another couple of reps on the final set. There was the odd rep with poor elbow positioning. Doing floor or bench presses without arching and leg drive is a bit more challenging, but it also makes me feel strong when the weight moves well despite the lack of advantages. It’s hard to keep that back flat, but it is even more difficult to get my shoulders into the best position without arching. I will be so glad when I can return to normal pressing again. Of course, that also depends on the low back. In the meantime and all the time, I need to be working my shoulder mobility.

Believe You Can

The lower back is still improving and still not quite where I want it to be. My chiropractor still wants me to avoid real squats and do single leg stuff instead. <sigh> Longevity is the ultimate goal, so I guess I can do that. The right shoulder has been a bit cranky for the past couple of days. My shoulders enjoy taking turns being cranky. It was the left one on Monday! Unfortunately, cranky shoulders and SI joints make finding a comfortable sleep position difficult. Sleeping on my sides bothers the shoulders. Sleeping on my back can make the lower back achy if my body isn’t perfectly positioned, and I just do not like sleeping on my back. It’s not the end of the world, but sleep is important.

1. single arm bottoms up kettlebell presses

8kg x 8 each, 10kg x 6 each

Both arms felt fairly equal using the 8 kilogram bell, but the left struggled more with 10 kilos.

2a. military press

45 lbs x 6, 55 x 6, 60 x 2 + 5, 60 x 3?

These were a struggle from the very first set. Part of that was the fact that my right shoulder was already burning and feeling fatigued, because it is cranky today. And yet, the biggest problem is inside my head. Well, I still struggle with technique and bar positioning, too. I don’t even want to admit just how defeated I felt in the midst of these sets. I was quite thankful to be facing the wall as I waited, as I set myself into position at the bar, and as I racked the bar after another demoralizing set. I understand that there is value in pressing overhead, but in the grand scheme of things there is no reason for me to freak out over my inability to master it. My goals don’t revolve around being the best military presser, but it is frustrating to continuously struggle with the same thing.

Michael had me switch to a Swiss bar. The neutral grip probably made it easier to keep my elbows where they needed to be, plus it left me no choice but to lean back enough to keep the bar from hitting my face. Despite feeling that I do lean back while doing the military press, there are times when the bar scrapes my chin and I am likely wary of the bar in this situation. I think the two sets with the Swiss bar were better.

33 lbs x 6?, 43 x 8

2b. chin ups, neutral grip

with purple + red band x 8, x 8, x 8

with purple band x 8

It’s a rare day when I say that chin ups felt great. Today is one of those days.

3a. bent over rows, underhand grip

45 lbs x 10, 65 x 12

chest-supported row 35 lbs x 25

The bent over rows were actually not too shabby, but I could feel the low back a bit in that position. It didn’t make the back feel worse, but Michael had me do a chest-supported row instead, still with an underhand grip.

3b. incline dumbbell presses, neutral grip

25 lbs x 8, x 10, x 10

In a way, I am disappointed that I didn’t feel confident increasing the weight for these. After all, I can comfortably use heavier dumbbells for flat presses. The right shoulder wasn’t feeling so great or strong.

4a. lying triceps extensions with two kettlebells, no legs

8kg x 10, 8kg x 4 left + 5 right

The left arm just would not, could not finish that fifth rep. I even took a few seconds rest before trying to get a couple more reps, but the left arm was not going to have any of it.

4b. double kettlebell curls, wrists back

8kg x 8, x 7

This was a mixed bag of a training session. It wasn’t necessarily easy or comfortable, but it wasn’t necessarily all frustration and struggle. In fact, I just realized that I did better on the bottoms up kettlebell presses. Last week, the most I could do with 10kg was 4 per side, and today I did 6! Sometimes there is a good reason for why something feels more challenging! Sometimes you’re doing more than you used to!

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.

Cranky PJ Pants

My week is done, and so am I. Although I did sleep better the last two nights, I still feel wiped out. I had an open shift this morning, which means I started work at 5:30AM. I survived without coffee until I was finished work, but I am most deliriously glad to have arrived at my weekend. After work, I savoured my Americano, then soaked in the tub before putting on my pyjamas. I was ready for bed before 3:30 in the afternoon!

My daughter had wanted me to go to a gym with her this afternoon. Mid-morning I sent her a text telling her that I didn’t want to go today. I am always happy and willing to go to my gym, but this is something different. My daughter just recently got herself a little membership at a local gym, along with some of her friends, and she is completely clueless as to what to do there. She isn’t keen on taking advantage of the opportunity to have a staff member show them the ropes, so she wants me to do it. As if I know my way around a commercial gym! Sure, I have been to this particular gym before, many years ago when I avoided the weight room and stuck to the cardio. I have a feeling that my daughter will want to stick to the machines, and I don’t know anything about the machines! My gym doesn’t have machines. Even if I can convince her to use free weights, what do I tell her to do? And in all honesty, I doubt that I will feel much more eager to go tomorrow afternoon. Sometimes I can feel very selfish about my free time. But I will go. She is calling it bonding time again. Maybe I should be glad that this bonding time doesn’t involve shopping!

I am also feeling rather snarky tonight. I was verbally sharing something of importance to me a bit earlier. I stopped mid-sentence when I realized that the person I was talking to wasn’t listening or paying any attention to what I was saying. I’m really very snarky about that. Isn’t that funny. As an introvert, I am all kinds of used to being ignored, overlooked, forgotten. Depending on the situation, my skin can be thick, but not here at home. Not when I’m trying to share something personal and emotional. I’m also tired, so perhaps my attitude is compromised. Maybe, but it really does feel like a slap to be ignored when you’re trying to share something important.

Listening seems to be a skill that few people actually possess.