Tenacious Ang

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is mere tenacity.” ~Amelia Earhart

Here I am at 4 weeks out from Provincials. I still have barely deadlifted since January. I have barely had more than 200 pounds on my back since August. I am roughly 6 pounds over my weight class. My husband can’t drive for something like 6-9 weeks, and I’ve never driven to the Lower Mainland, let alone driven in a big city. Of those four statements, the one that causes me the most anxiety is the very real likelihood that I will need to drive myself to Provincials. The weight loss shouldn’t be an issue at all, and I am determined to accept the realities of any lingering limitations I may have when I step on the platform. There is just something terrifying about driving in unfamiliar territory when the population far exceeds my own environment, but I can be brave if I need to be. White knuckles and all!

I am not planning anything drastic to cut weight for this competition. My current weight is easily within reach of the target, so I will clean up my diet over the next couple of weeks and see what happens. So, I’m cutting out breads, fried, and processed foods. Wine will be eliminated, although I reserve the right to have a glass if in the company of friends. Since I don’t go out very often, my wine consumption will be practically nil. No potato chips. No poutine. No pastries. No pasta. No bread. No ice cream. I even turned down the temptation of the freshly baked apple-peach-blueberry pie that was on display at the produce store this afternoon.

Even though I have known for months that I would need to drop a few pounds, the ultimate decision to begin the process of cleaning up my diet wasn’t easy to make. I knew I’d have to do it, but I also was reluctant to give up my treats, even temporarily. I told myself I’d start last week. Then I told myself I’d start when my husband went in for surgery. Then I told my husband I’d start on Wednesday. Yesterday I told my coach that I started that day, and that was mostly true. There was enough wine left in the fridge for one final glass. Who else would drink it but me? I couldn’t just waste it! Aside from that final glass of wine, I did clean up my diet yesterday, and I’ve stuck to it today. Decision made. Now I need that tenacity to kick in.

I know that I can do it. Been there, done it several times, and always made my weight class!

Wine, Wonder Woman & the Weekend

It is my Friday. Working an open shift this morning means that I have officially been on days off since 2:00 this afternoon. My first plan upon getting home was to have a bubble bath. This morning I had thought about having a glass of prosseco as I bathed, but by the end of my work day I realized that I hadn’t had any coffee yet. An Americano while bathing was what actually happened. I find it kind of funny how drained I feel in this moment despite having a 4-day work week. As I do feel wiped out, I put my Wonder Woman onesie on after my bath and had planned on enjoying a quiet night at home. Then my phone beeped a text notification…

A friend wanted to know if I had any plans for the evening. I paused. Thinking. Mentally weighing my options. I could say that I had no plans but just wanted to stay home and do nothing, or I could open the figurative door to hanging out with my friend. I chose to open the door. A quiet, relaxing visit with a friend over some wine would be rather nice. As much as I truly love my friends and enjoy being with them, we are all busy people and simply don’t get together very frequently. But I wonder if I should give my friend the head’s up that I am planning on coming over in my onesie…because it is warm and comfy and I really don’t want to get dressed in real clothes again tonight.

 

Training, Wine & Work

Instead of training this afternoon, I trained early yesterday morning, as in early enough that I would be finished in time to head out for some wine touring with some girlfriends for the day. Since I was out all day, not back home until past my ‘night before work’ bedtime and had to work at 5:00 this morning, I simply did not blog yesterday. So here I am today to talk about yesterday’s training session…hoping I can remember the details beyond the numbers in my notebook.

With this week being my first week of non-competition prep training, I had no idea what was in store for me. Being the end of my training week, I kind of expected some sort of deadlift variation, and I had basically been warned that arms would figure into every day. Really, I just knew that I was going to be worked hard and would feel the effects for days. My expectations were definitely met.

1a. skater squats

I’ve said this frequently this week, but it has been a long time since I’ve done this exercise! I guess that’s what happens when you have 3 consecutive competitions and can basically only focus on the main lifts and a tiny bit of accessory work. Skater squats can be challenging, but I think I actually don’t mind them. Balance always seems to be my biggest challenge though. We used a tri-fold mat for me to squat down to and started with the mat completely folded (or at its maximum thickness).

x 8 each leg with 3 layers of mat

x 10 with 2 layers of mat

x 8 with 1 layer

Leg strength wasn’t an issue! Balance was definitely shakier on the first set, better on the second, and, for the final set, the right leg seemed shakier. The balance also seems to become an issue near the top of the squat and not at the bottom. I was quite impressed with how decent the final set felt. In fact, as I was in the midst of that final set, I had the thought that I was going to add ‘doing a pistol squat’ to my little book of goals. Isn’t it funny how the taste of success in one thing can make you feel hopeful or confident about being successful with something else.

1b. incline dumbbell presses

20 lbs x 10, 25 lbs x 10, 34 lbs x 8

2a. snatch grip deadlifts with a slower eccentric, with straps after the first set

95 lbs x 8, 135 x 8, 155 x 8, 165 x 8, 165 x 8

Obviously I haven’t done snatch grip deadlifts very much lately either! I do like them, but they are most definitely taxing on the upper back, especially with the higher reps.

2b. hammer curls

20 lbs x 10 x 2 sets

Gotta admit that the dumbbells felt heavy when I first picked them up, but then most of the muscles in my upper body are so stiff and sore…

3a. Hmmm…not sure what to call this? dip bar leg raise hold?

Michael wanted me to do leg raises using the dip bar; I think I sort of managed two before jumping down. My arms and shoulders were so shaky and unstable. Have I mentioned how sore my arms are this week? So, he took pity on me and had me use the dip bar for a hold with my knees brought up as high as I could get them. I have no idea how long the holds were. I stayed up there, shaking like a leaf in a storm until Michael told me to stop, but I doubt that it was actually more than 30 seconds, even if it felt like forever. I did 2 holds.

3b. flat bench lying leg raises…sort of

x 8 with a foam roller held under my knees

That variation was actually rather easy. The hardest part was keeping the foam roller in place.

x 3 the same as the first set until Michael realized just how easy it was for me

x 3 without the foam roller, knees bent as I rolled up and legs extended on the eccentric…sooooo much harder, hence why I only managed 3 reps before quitting!

Yesterday was also the final day of my little competition vacation. It wasn’t intentionally planned, but spending the day wine-touring with friends was a wonderful way to wind up my vacation. It also wasn’t planned that I would work 2 days, have a day off, work 2 more days and then have another week off, and yet that is what my schedule looks like. Of course, these 4 days of work are my last days at my current job, and that week off will be my gap before starting my new job on September 6. Today was my last Friday shift. Tomorrow is my last Saturday shift, and I can say the same thing about my shifts on Monday and Tuesday next week! Each of those days/shifts is unique in the people I work with, the feel & flow of the shift, and my responsibilities & roles, which means that each of my remaining days of work is laced with landmines of emotion that threaten me with every step. Tomorrow is going to be a tough one, I think, because my Saturday shifts are my favourite. Unless I am mistaken, tomorrow will be my first final shift with several co-workers and just thinking about that is making me tear up. Monday will be my last bake shift. Tuesday will be the absolute final shift…how can I not get emotional that day?! I am extremely excited about my new job, but saying good-bye to my Tim Hortons family is going to be hard. Three days left…

 

 

Sushi Sampled

I am 44 years old and, until this week, I had never, ever had sushi. I know what you’re thinking. How is it possible to have never had sushi?! Well, when you grew up in small town Saskatchewan and the only ethnic food was Americanized Chinese take-out, your exposure to a wide variety of flavours and textures is quite limited. Although I certainly now live in an area with more options to choose from, I’ve mostly stuck to what I know, which is why I had never had sushi until now.

I had a ‘walk & wine’ date with a girlfriend earlier this week; however, when I arrived at her house, she was in the midst of making sushi with her family. The walk was scrapped, and I was introduced to sushi instead. Little hands helped me make my very own sushi roll. I sampled two pieces and some homemade pickled ginger; I survived. In fact, it was not bad. My biggest worry was the seaweed, but it wasn’t too bad. No raw fish involved in this sushi which suits me just fine. I’d have sushi again.

 

The Morning After

At yesterday’s appointment, my chiropractor gave me the green light to put the safety bar away and return to a real barbell for back squats once again, so long as I stuck with a low bar position. His life was spared, although I really don’t think he took my threat seriously. I’m not sure why he wouldn’t, but I am looking forward to doing some proper squats on Friday.

This morning’s training session was actually better than I thought it would be. I didn’t sleep very well last night. I was up very late for a Tuesday night. Although Tuesdays are essentially my Fridays, I am typically in bed around 9:00, because the early work days take their toll. Last night I didn’t get to bed until after 11, not even sure what time exactly. By 3:00, I was constantly waking up, like every half hour until I finally dragged myself out of bed at 6:30. I also had a little too much wine last night, so I’ve got a bit of a headache and some funky head spin.

1a. front squats

with flat shoes (because I wasn’t thinking): 43 x 6, 73 x 6, 103 x 5

with squat shoes: 125 x 5 x 3 sets

Despite how I was feeling, the front squats felt pretty good. The last set was probably the best and the fastest. I did have a little bit of back of the right knee pain coming out of the hole, but it was minor and not much of an issue.

1b. close grip bench press

43 x 8, 63 x 6, 83 x 6, 100 x 5, 110 x 4

with slingshot: 125 x 3, 125 x 5, 130 x 3, misgrooved the 4th rep and needed assistance, thought I could still get a 5th rep but couldn’t

130 x 5 much better set!

2a. rope face pulls + rows

30 lbs x 12 + 8-10?, 30 x 15 + 12, 30 x 12 + 10

I jumped up to 30 pounds for the face pulls the last time I did them, so I was all ready to go with it again today. As soon as I began to pull the first rep and found myself struggling to pull and to keep myself from being pulled forward, I wondered how I got so weak. Was it the wine? Was last time a fluke? Then Michael realized that it was actually set at 40 pounds! Ha! It’s amazing the difference that 10 pounds can make on tiny muscles.

2b. chin ups, neutral grip with small green band

2 sets of 7

I survived! In all honesty, it wasn’t too bad. My skipping warm-up was actually decent. My cardio levels felt rather challenged, and the head was definitely spinning a few times; however, the body still felt decent.

 

Ready, Waiting

“My strength lies solely in my tenacity.” ~Louis Pasteur

Two days until competition and I am already significantly bored with the waiting. My lists of things to get done are mostly all crossed out now, except for a few things that can only be done at the last moment. My gym bag has been emptied and re-packed. The camera battery has been charged. Wine is chilling in the fridge for after the competition. My fingernails and toenails have been painted a hypnotic purple. I have my openers, my signed waiver, and I’ve given the rulebook another quick read-through. My ipod has been charged, and my playlist created. There is a pizza in the fridge, so that I can bring a couple of slices with me to eat right after I weigh-in tomorrow night…and a box of cookies. A box of Fruit Loops is hidden away, so the kids don’t eat it all before I’ve had my traditional 2-3 bowls pre-competition. I’ve looked up the directions to the gym where the competition is being held, so I know where I’m going. The water-loading is going well. My coach says I am on track with my weight, but I’ll admit that I will likely feel some degree of stress tomorrow until weigh-in is complete and successful.

Mostly I am feeling rather good, physically and mentally. Despite drinking 4 litres of water on Monday, 5 litres on Tuesday, and 6 litres yesterday, I have actually slept quite well so far this week and have only been up 1-2 times in the night to use the bathroom. Hey, that’s better than some nights without the water-load!

The Brain Drain

Today three different people asked me how long it is until my competition. By this time five weeks from now, I will either be celebrating or dealing with disappointment. I am planning on the celebration. How will I celebrate? I don’t know, but I sure hope that it involves food and wine.

I’ve had a long day. Work was good, but it was a little crazy for the first few hours this morning and I, being who I am, was here, there and everywhere, doing everything all at the same time. It’s a bit chaotic and crazy, but it tends to be just the sort of situation that brings out the best of me. The down side to that kind of a morning is that I am wiped out by mid-afternoon. So, as I type it is nearly 8:00 PM and I am sprawled on the living room floor, eyes burning and droopy. I am waiting for the tension to leave my body, but I know that won’t happen until I finally sink into my bed…soon.

Because I am tired and drained, I am a little moody. I am missing food tonight. Or perhaps I should say that I am missing food that is delicious, even if it isn’t necessarily the most nutritious. I am on the verge of ‘gagging on my oatmeal’, which basically means that I am weary of the repetition in my diet, the boringness of it, the extreme lack of treats and sweets and guilty pleasures. I miss poutine and movie popcorn (one reason why I haven’t yet seen the new Batman vs. Superman movie!) I miss the occasional iced or hot latte. I miss birthday cake timbits, Nutella pastry pockets, donuts, cookies, gelato, chocolate. I miss potato chips and pizza. I really miss a good sandwich. I’d give almost anything for a juicy burger…even a hot dog. Although I don’t eat pasta very often anyway, now that I can’t have pasta I miss it all the more. I miss wine.

I miss all of those things. A lot. However, the degree to which I miss them is not indicative of how frequently I ate those things prior to cutting them out of my diet in preparation for this competition. While I would enjoy some of those things on occasion, I did eat fairly well most of the time.

It is just moments like this, when I am completely exhausted inside and out, that I find my confidence is most shaken. Shaken may be too strong of a word, because I am in no danger of succumbing to temptation or going off the deep end. As I was walking this afternoon, I had the momentary thought…what if I can’t lose the weight? The thought lasted only a moment before I pushed it away, knowing that I am doing all the right things, will continue to do all the right things, and will do what needs to be done in order to get where I need to be. It’s the mental drain of days like today that has the most potential to inflict harm; however, just as I rise to the challenge of the day, I am learning that I can also rise above the tests placed on my mental strength.