Category Archives: fitness

Diary of a Strong Mom: Days 4 & 5

On Friday (day 4) I finally lifted. For weight training, I’m going back to the basics, which means the Starting Strength program. This is a quick, simple program that is as basic as you can get with a natural progression built in. Basically, you switch between two workouts with three lifts each and just do three sets of five for each lift. With a warm up, it never takes me more than 30min to complete.

This week I did:
3×5 squats @ 100#
3×5 strict press @ 60#
and 3×3 power cleans @ 70#

The picture above (aka my evidence) is mid-clean.

The squats felt pretty heavy, especially by the last set. The presses were very hard. But the cleans were easy – I probably should have started heavier. Technically, this is not my first workout of the program. I’ve been off and on trying to get started with this since February. If it were, my squats and press would be substantially lighter. Since the goal with this program is to add weight every single workout, you’re supposed to start out super light. And I did – my first squats were at 65# and my press were 45# (aka empty bar). So it’s okay that they’re heavier now.

I talked already about my goals for running, but I haven’t touched on my goals for lifting. I could just say I want to get strong, but what does that mean? Well, first I would like to get back to my old strength. For me that means being comfortable with 5×5 135# squats and being able to squat 165# x3. This also means getting back to 175# x5 and 200# x3 deadlifts. I was cleaning 115# x3 before I got pregnant, so that’s a good number to aim for.

After I hit those numbers and feel like I’m back to my old strength, I’ll reassess and set new goals. But I think it’s simpler to focus on just getting my strength back first.

And then this morning I went for another run. Almost 3 miles! What! It felt great and I got to watch some folks paddling around the nearby lake in funny, viking-esque boats while I ran.

Looks like I’ll be able to hit 5k much sooner than I thought. Not on the next run – I want to run with baby next, and so that’ll be a shorter run by necessity – but the one after that I will see if I can hit 3.1 miles.

My, what a difference sleep makes, huh?

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Diary of a Strong Mom: Days 2 & 3

It’s been a rough week. I initially ran a second time over a week ago (looks like Tuesday). I wanted to plot while I ran, so I only listened to music and used the Runkeeper app to track my run. Somehow I ran for almost 30min – huh! Didn’t feel like it. That’s always lovely.

And then I got sick. ūüė¶ And Lady Jr got sick. So neither of us slept well and my lunch breaks became nap breaks instead. I lifted once with Dr Lady on Wednesday but didn’t get any further than that.

We did go for a walk on Saturday, which was lovely with all the leafs and green, but less lovely with all the mosquitoes. Seriously – wth Michigan?? It’s freezing for 6 months straight and as soon as it warms up past 50, there’s mosquitoes??? Ayyye.

Tips for keeping the nasty buggers off of baby would be appreciated. ūüė¶

Last night Night before last I got 7-8 hours of sleep (interrupted, but I’ll take it). I took Lady Jr to baby school a little earlier than usual because she’d woken up earlier than usual and was left with almost an hour before work. Knowing that I might need to nap again on my lunch break (eff this cold), but feeling pretty good at that moment, I decided to go for a run.

screenshot_2017-05-18-08-51-31

This time, I ran with my trusted (and favorite) Zombies, Run! It was fun and exhilarating and of course after every Zombies, Run! episode I desperately want to listen to the next one, which is added motivation to run again. Seriously, if you have a smart phone and you want to get into running, you should check out that app. It’s so good.

And there we have it. I actually wrote this Thursday (yesterday), but never finished it up. Last night Lady Jr only woke up once (!!), so I have high hopes for a day 4 update soon.

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Diary of a Strong Mom

Before I got pregnant, I was working on getting stronger. Pregnancy kicked my butt when it came to strength and having a newborn was its own WOD*. Also, don’t get me started on sleep deprivation and exercise.

But now things are getting better. Sleep is improving. Diet is (almost) back on track. My deadlines are all under control. I’m feeling more and more like me. So of course, instead of accepting and celebrating that, I want to turn my sights – and my very limited amount of free time – on regaining my strength and becoming the Badass Mom Who Can Lift a Car Off Her Kid (TM) that I’ve always wanted to be.

I have the equipment, I’m working on building the program, I have the time three days a week at least (I just have to jealously protect it), now I just need the accountability. It’s been much too easy to push starting off on tomorrow (tomorrow, always tomorrow**), but my reasons are becoming excuses. The problem is that I have started a number of times already, only to get derailed for one reason or another (see: exhaustion).

I’ve been thinking of posting once or twice a week here re: fitness and what I’m doing, thoughts, goals, etc. I’m on the fence because I know some people are not in a place where they can exercise and seeing stuff like that might not be helpful. I know seeing fitness stuff just stressed me the fuck out until a month or two ago. And/or it might just not be interesting to y’all. I have the speckruns.tumblr, after all, and could post there.

But, at the same time, maybe some of you are in the same place. I would love to have/find some buddies and work towards our various goals together. Plus, this blog has never really had a singular focus aside from what I’m focused on at the time. It all started as a book review blog, then became a Whole30/Crossfit blog, which turned into an account of my time doing the Autoimmune Protocol, then morphed into a TTC blog, and is now all things Lady Jr and gay momhood. Adding in a layer of strong!mom seems like a natural evolution.

Anyway, that’s all to say: if y’all have a strong opinion about whether or not you see strength training posts showing up on your dash, now is the time to chime in. ‚̧

* Workout of the Day, a Crossfit term. WODs are short, intense, and you spend every second dreading the next and wishing it was over.

**Morgen, morgen, nur nicht heute, sagen all die faule Leute

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March is the new… February??

Despite everything awful that was February, my goal to make up for January by restarting the year in February instead actually worked out relatively okay. It could have been worse – far worse – and the fact that I managed to keep myself going on more than just one goal and actually make progress when all I wanted to do sometimes, all I could do, was function enough to not lose my job, was pretty impressive. Or at least, I’m trying to believe that.

My main goal was to ease back into things after the sucker punch that was January. I made small goals like hitting the weights, biking to work, and going on runs at least twice a week (each). Small walks every day. Take time to breathe and think. And a larger goal of finishing the first draft of my WIP by mid-February and sticking to the Whole30 for 28 days.

I did all of those. Well. To an extent. I only ran once last week, but I did everything else and even returned to Crossfit. I finished my first draft just a little past mid-February and now I’m doing the read-through and marking up all the bits, big and small, that need to be fixed before the final draft goes to betas.

I did falter and mostly stop the Whole28 at day 22, though, and I’m okay with that. Subsequent Whole30’s are always the most difficult because you don’t see the biggest changes anymore. I wanted to do a reset, to remind myself that eating lots of bready stuff and alcohol and treats doesn’t feel good, and strictly as a reset it was a success. Even though I fell off the wagon early, I have still mostly stuck to the Whole30 rules for the rest of the month and I intend to at least continue avoiding all the treats and sweets at work.

My goal for March is simple: to continue and expand upon what I was able to do in February. My fitness goals are going to shift a little, because there’s no way I can lift/bike/run 2x a week while adding Crossfit right on top of that. Something will have to go, and it will probably be running. But not completely, because I have a ton of Zombies, Run! workouts to do and I loves them, yes I do.

As much as I want to believe I can finish my read-through and edits by mid-March, that’s just not going to happen. So I’m shifting my deadline to have this done for betas to April 1st instead and they can all decide for themselves whether the 300page behemoth I drop into their inboxes that day is a joke or not.

Other things I started in February: trying to find a therapist. You know, I had kinda hoped deciding to get help would instantly result in help getting had, but apparently not. So while I am more emotionally sound, I will put my efforts into this and hopefully it will pay off before I feel like I’m going crazy again.

Also, French. If anyone has any tips or tricks to fitting French learning into each day, I would appreciate it. I do Duolingo, but if I don’t get it in first thing it often doesn’t happen. This may just be a priorities thing, but any little bit helps.

‚̧

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Hellooooo Crossfit

I stopped going to Crossfit almost a year and a half ago because a) we needed to save money for gayby, and b) I wanted to focus on strength training. We were originally only going to be out of it for six months, but that stretched into so many more months due to Newton’s first law of motion. Then I was concerned about starting up something so intensive again while TTC. Then it was just too hard to coordinate around work, when work¬†decided to be suddenly very strict about time.

I’d been flirting with going back for at least the last six months. I proved to myself that I could strength train on my own, but every attempt at metcons fell flat on its face. I need a bunch of other people, a clock on the wall, and a yelling coach for me to actually dig in and do them.

Then I was thinking back over the past few years, about my depression, anxiety, and how they’ve both diminished and grown again, and what else has changed in that time. My diet has largely stayed the same, minus a few things here and there, but it’s still predominantly vegetable-based with lots of extra fats and animal protein. TTC has taken over, and I’m sure the stress from that hasn’t been helpful. The only other major change was first introducing crossfit, then quitting it more recently.

I thought: I still work out. I lift. I bike. I run.

But that’s not quite the same, is it? My workouts lack intensity. Especially consistent intensity. And you can’t discount that badass feeling you get when you RX a WOD (that is to say: do a workout exactly as it’s written, no lighter weights or fewer reps).

And I kind of had this mini revelation. Maybe it had really been too long without all that. Maybe it wasn’t just the change in diet that had been so beneficial for my depression and anxiety. Maybe it was also the intense exercise program and the community that came with it.

Within minutes of that revelation I was googling boxes (i.e. Crossfit gyms) and looking up class times and doing the necessary budget calculations to see if I could go back. And then an hour or so later, I went to a nearby box on my lunch break and did the WOD (Workout of the Day). It was awful. And painful. But I did it (RX!!) and I survived.

And I felt something I hadn’t felt in over a year. Out of breath, yeah. But also pride in my body.

I don’t know if going back to Crossfit now is going to affect my cycle or TTC. Frankly, right now, I don’t care. Whatever I was doing before clearly wasn’t working, so this can’t hurt. And besides, we’re going to break soon, so I’ll even have a few months for my body to get used to the new.

I am tired and depressed and I need to take care of myself. I have already sacrificed so much for the TTC process. It’s time to take a little bit of that back.

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How Much I Hate Losing Weight: Let Me Count the Weighs

I made the mistake of weighing myself last week. I’d been so good about the scale ever since January, even going so far as to put it away in the closet. Then it slipped back out again due to my curiosity (and subsequent consternation) sometime in May and now it’s back in the bathroom, waiting for our morning feet.

I kind of knew what to expect because my skirts have been sitting higher and my stomach has been looking a wee bit too paunchy. But seeing the number kind of hit me right where it hurts. 170. Ouch. I haven’t been that heavy since… actually I can’t even remember. I’ve hovered between 150-165 all of my adult life (let’s just not talk about middle school, okay?)¬†and it was when I hit 165 right out of college that I knew I needed to do something about it.

(For context, I’m 5’9″)

The weird thing is that I don’t feel that heavy. When I was 165 back in the day, I actually felt chubby. I had a big ol’ paunch and flabby arms and hated everything about my body. Now I’m mostly cool with it. Granted, I’ve spent a lot of the intervening time just learning to love my body as it is, but also some of that time was focused on weightlifting, which has definitely left it’s mark.

That said, as much as I want to attribute the weight gain to pure muscular gain¬† (yeah!!) – because the scale can and does lie – the skirts do not lie. When your skirts start feeling too tight – especially a-line’s – then it’s probably time to take a sober look at your lifestyle and reevaluate. And, alas, I know exactly where this has all come from. I was very hesitant to restrict calories while we were TTC, so I might have gone off the other end. Add to that depression and slowly, but thoroughly, ditching cardio in favor of short lifting sessions… well.

All that needs to change. My wife has also gained a wee bit of weight and got a firm kick in the ass at her last physical. So at least I won’t be alone in this endeavor. I floated the possibility of a return to Crossfit to get our asses back in gear, since that worked very well in keeping us fit and at a reasonable weight for two years. It’s actually been a full year since we stopped going, and I still miss the sweat and pain. God, crossfit sucks is wonderful.

But I digress.

The mere threat of returning to Crossfit seems to have been enough for her to start changing things up. So I set a date: we both need to lose 5 pounds by October, or else we will have to go back. While I actually like Crossfit, I am reticent to drop the big wads of cash we don’t have to go back. So I would actually prefer not to return. But to do that, I need to get my ass in shape.

Thankfully, I know of several tried & true ways to lose a few pounds and start feeling better. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they’re easy. Number one, of course, is diet. I need to shore up my diet. It’s already about 90%, but¬†I need to get that extra 10% to lose fat. Right now I’m cleaning up the edges, taking less snacks to work, keeping carbs low, and keeping dinner light. After my birthday I’m going to cut out alcohol. All that might be enough. If it’s not, I will turn to the Wahl’s Protocol Plus, a ketogenic fasting diet, because a) I’ve been curious about that diet for a while now and b) fasting diets have performed very well at just ditching fat in clinical trials.

Number two: exercise. While I thought I had been doing enough with weight lifting, biking to work, and long walks, a closer look simply proves that it wasn’t enough. All of those things are all well and good for health and maintenance, but what I was lacking – and what Crossfit had in abundance – was anything high intensity. I wasn’t getting sweaty or out of breath or making my heart pound. I was going to the gym 2-3 times a week, lifting heavy, and then leaving. Again, perfect for strength. But not enough.

To fix that, I’m biting the bullet and adding in Crossfit-style workouts after I lift. Three times a week I will work really really hard for 10min. I will not be afraid to sweat (and subsequently stink a bit at work). I will not be afraid to push myself and breathe hard.

I’ve done two already this week and damn am I out of practice. I can already tell that I desperately needed this. And without TTC for a few months, I don’t have to worry about pushing myself too hard.

(What do these workouts look like? Well, whatever¬†I can manage to adapt to the big-box gym. Tuesday was 5 rounds of 10 x squats, push-press, & bent row. Today was 15-12-9-6-3 of deadlift, hanging leg raises, and push-ups. I don’t know what the third one will be yet, but I’m leaning towards including¬†double unders.)

We each took measurements earlier this week so we would have a better guide than just the scale (scales lie!). Waist, hips, and thighs. Ideally, waist will go down the most, hips a little, and thighs probably won’t budge. All I want is for my skirts to fit properly again, so I’ll be looking out for that, too.

¬†Also: I know we’re both healthy. I know that weight and fat and all that doesn’t actually mean anything if you’re active and eat right. My wife’s actual numbers (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc) were fucking phenomenal. Our society and culture has a terrible fixation with being abnormally thin. I don’t want to be thin. I want to be strong and muscular. But I also don’t want to buy new clothes. So this is purely a monetary endeavor.

The TL;DR version? I need to lose 5 pounds in the next month or else. Cheer me on!

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Switching from Starting Strength to 5/3/1 Program

When last I mentioned weightlifting, we were in the middle of a second 10-week session of the Starting Strength 3×5 program. The Starting Strength book is the foundational text that (almost) every power and Olympic lifter swears by. It took me nigh six months to finish reading, because it was just that dense and technical. Needless to say, the author knows what he’s talking about, and so it follows that his program would be an excellent place to start programming for yourself.

The program is super basic and straight forward. You warm up, then start doing sets of 5 until you start to slow down. This ridiculously low number is your starting weight. You then do three sets of five (3×5) at that weight. The following week, you add five pounds¬†(or ten, if you’re a guy) and repeat. Ideally you will work up to your max 5 rep weight over the course of several weeks and be able to push beyond, but plateaus do happen, in which case you try to either increase your reps or decrease your time resting between them. You do this for a 10 week cycle before resetting.

I initially picked this program because it was simple and steady gains were built into it. The ten weeks gave a long enough time to start seeing some progress before restarting. I also liked that the lifts were basically: squat & press & pull-up, squat & press & deadlift, and squat & bench & clean. Since my initial goal was to strengthen my squat, doing lots of squats seemed like the ticket.

But after two cycles, I’m ready to switch things up. Squatting every single workout was getting old and the ten weeks was a little too long for me to see real progress. I was plateauing too much and didn’t have a good way to push forward or allow myself to reset in the middle. And weirdly, while my bench and deadlift were seeing appreciable gains, my squat and press felt stalled.

I’d read about the 5/3/1 program before, and even tried it for a cycle or two. I liked it at the time, but it was hard to stick to because we were doing Crossfit simultaneously, so I didn’t see any results. I’m going to try it again because a) it’s a four week cycle, b) it’s more varied, and c) it allows for a whole lot more wiggle room beyond the main lifts, which will let me work on problem areas when I have time. So one week I might add some back extensions to squat day and the next I might just get my squats in because that’s all I have the time and energy for. Both are cool. Also, squats are only once per week – hooray!

The program, basically, is:

Find your 1RM, then multiply that by 90%. This will be your starting weight. For example, I just tested my deadlift and have a 1RM of 220#. 90% of 220 is 198 – or 200, since our weights only go up by 5# increments. You then use that number – 200 – for the rest of your calculations.

Week one: 5 reps at 75%, 5 reps at 80%, 5 reps at 85%

Week two: 3 reps at 80%, 3 reps at 85%, 3 reps at 90%

Week three: 5+ reps at 85%, 3+ reps at 90%, 1+ reps at 95%

(+ means do at least the number prescribed, then go beyond if possible)

Week four: 5 reps at 40%, 5 reps at 50%, 5 reps at 60% (aka, deload)

You can technically do this program with any lift, but the prescribed version is squat, press, deadlift & bench, each on separate days. But – you are encouraged to do any variation on those lifts, as long as you are consistent within each four week cycle. That means you can back squat one cycle, then switch to front squat the next. Or you can sumo deadlift one cycle and Jefferson deadlift the next. Military press one, push press the next.¬†Is all good, and the variation lends a little color to a sometimes¬†dull regime. Just as long as you don’t confuse your numbers when you switch.

Needless to say, it’s good to be excited about a lifting program again. I’m starting vanilla¬†– i.e., the basics of each lift – but I kind of can’t wait to play around with it and throw in some sumo deadlifts or even goblet squats. I don’t know when we’re going to go back to Crossfit – that’s the problem with stopping, hard to start again – but in the meantime I need some variation in my life.

Do you lift? What program do you follow?

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