Nationals Deadline

Registration for Nationals closes in just a few hours. My name will not be on the list of competitors, but that isn’t exactly surprising. I’ve known that I wouldn’t be competing for almost as long as I have been suffering from this herniated disc. Way back to my second physiotherapy appointment, I had asked about the likelihood of competing at Nationals in February, and the physiotherapist hadn’t completely ruled it out but had said it was unlikely. That had been disappointing news to swallow, but I had to accept it as the right decision. As I’ve seen the Facebook posts about the event and impending deadline, I have felt both resignation and frustration. This was not how I had planned things, but it is my reality.

Nationals begins in 6 weeks. Instead of competing, I hope to be back at work. My current medical leave ends the week prior. I feel hopeful about that date, because I am incredibly bored and restless. However, on a day like today, I wonder and doubt. I slept horribly last night, despite this additional drug which is supposed to help allow me to sleep. My back hurt. My legs hurt. I’ve been in a good deal of pain all day long. As I was out on errands with my husband, I couldn’t even bend forward in my seat to reach my coffee in the cup holder low between the seats.

I feel stuck in a season of frustration and limitation, and I don’t particularly enjoy it. I’m trying to embrace the suck, to make lemonade with all of these lemons, but it isn’t always easy to do. The medications make me feel tired and fill my brain with haze, yet make no noticeable difference to the level of pain I feel every day. Some days are better than others, but some days are not so good at all. Today was one of those not so good days. Still, I managed to go through my drawers of clothing and pull out a garbage bag’s worth of rarely worn clothing to donate. I also picked through a bookshelf and purged dusty, long since read books. This is what I am doing with some of my time these days…purging. It needs to be done in short bursts of motivation, and I need to remind myself not to overdo things. As much as I know that I should be able to pick up that heavy box of books, I also know that I shouldn’t and so I won’t. But I will make a dozen trips from the living room to my bedroom, bringing a few books at a time from the bookshelf to the box in my room. I putter and purge in small bursts of energy, and then I find I need to lay down, give my back a break and hope the reclined position will alleviate some of the numbness in my foot. Purging, cleaning, and organizing are things that I am tackling in bits and pieces. At least it allows me to feel like I am doing something with my time.

I’m skipping one of my drugs tonight. I take three different medications now. I take Naproxen when I wake up and again after dinner. I take Gabapentin three times a day, and my doctor just recently instructed me to double up my dosage. My doctor also recently added Dilaudid which I am to take before bed. The theory is that the Dilaudid will allow me to sleep, but my experience with it thus far has proven that theory to be false. While I slept very well the first night I took the opiate, the next few nights have not been so restful. Since alcohol doesn’t mix well with at least two of these drugs, I haven’t had any wine for a while. I have had some wine while on the Gabapentin before, but I am not willing to indulge while taking Dilaudid as well. So, I have opted to not take my Dilaudid tonight, so that I can have a glass or two of wine. The wine will be about as effective at reducing my pain as my prescriptions, but at least I can enjoy it more.

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So This is Christmas

I slept well enough last night, but it was also uncomfortable thanks to the multiple pillows necessary for maintaining a back happy sleeping posture. Unfortunately, the pillow positioning changes depending on which side I am sleeping on, and I’m not always awake enough to remember to change the pillows when I roll over. As such, I was awake around 6:00 this morning and coffee has since replaced the blood in my body.

Gifts have been given and opened. For those who know me, there is no surprise at the nature of the gifts that I received. Star Wars. Wonder Woman. Wine. Coffee. Journals. Fun socks. A puzzle. I am so easy to buy for, so easy to please and excite. And as difficult as my boys are to buy for, I think I can safely say that we managed to find gifts that they actually enjoy and will use!

Food is always part of Christmas. After we open our gifts, we have brunch. My husband makes most of it, while I contribute by making some mini frittatas. Normally I am adequately planned and prepared, but my life is not currently normal in many senses of the word. It wasn’t until we were ready to make breakfast that I realized I couldn’t find my old recipe, so I winged it. For the first time in all the years I’ve been making these, this was the first time that the frittatas didn’t stick horribly to the muffin pans! Go figure.

After brunch, the only other meal of the day will be a big dinner with turkey, ham, and all the fixings. The space between meals is left for grazing on nuts, chocolate, and whatever other goodies are laying around.

Games are always a big hit at Christmas, and we added several to our collection today. I think three new games have been cracked open and played already. Having young adult aged children means that time all together becomes increasingly more difficult to find, but it warms my heart to see our little family having fun together.

For the past several years, my husband has had the tradition of giving the kids new Nerf guns at Christmas, and there would always be a massive Nerf gun battle after dinner. This year my husband decided not to get any new guns. One child nearly freaked out upon learning that there wouldn’t be new Nerf guns under the tree. It might be safer for the bystanders tonight!

Christmas Day always means the Doctor Who Christmas special, and I’m looking forward to today’s episode as well.

On the subject of entertainment and Christmas, there is some disagreement in the family as to whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. My husband and I say it is, while the kids disagree. What do they know anyway!

It’s cold and grey outside, but we’re warm and cozy inside. I wish we had a fireplace, but we don’t. That’s okay though. I have my heating pad that I can enjoy as I recline between periods of standing and activity. The legs are buzzing with electric currents…nothing new there!

So that’s a snapshot into our Christmas. It’s low-key compared to some people’s and likely extravagant compared to others. We are far from rich, but we are richly blessed. I am thankful for all of our blessings, and I am learning to be thankful for those things that are not easily seen as blessings. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I hope that this is a season of love and joy for you!

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.