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Back a few years ago I wrote a post entitled Gym is MY therapist . It talked about my journey of finding the beauty of the barbell.  This is a continuation of where I have been since then. Lets sum up the past year: Quit the gym. Bought a squat rack. Heart stopped working quite right. Surgery in June. Recovery for 2 months. Afraid to start lifting again. Stress, stress and stress. Hubby got me a online personal trainer for a Christmas present. Cousins at Christmas insisted I go lift with them! (Thank you Nick and Derrek, you guys are the best!) And now we are in May of 2016 and I have been lifting again for 4 months or so.

Let me introduce myself: I am a mom. I homeschool. I teach at the local co-op (i.e. classes for homeschool children). I am a youth minister. My girls play the violin and harp. And we all fence (swordfighting sort of)! I love to crochet, quilt and garden. And I love to cook. To say the least, I have a full schedule most weeks. And I also volunteer where I can.

I have a squat rack with 310 lbs of weights, a barbell and a bench. It lives in my living room. Nothing fancy at all. I got a super great deal on it due to a store going out of business. I found some boards in the garage that I rubber banded together so that I can board press and I invested in some bands. I use what I have to get the work done. And for now 310 lbs will do me nicely.

So how do I fit lifting into this wild world I live in?

Well, here it is: I lift after I get my kids to bed! I don’t like lifting before Dave goes to work, because I don’t want to lift on an empty stomach. I am not a morning person. And I am grouchy if that wasn’t implied before I get my cup of coffee. Once my day starts, I really don’t have time to carve an hour out to lift. So I end my day with lifting. I can all hear the moaning: but I am so tired at the end of the day. Well so am I, but this is important to me and my well-being. And I know that sweet spot of pure bliss is about to come!

We started with a four day a week lift schedule.
Monday – Bench
Tuesday -> fencing and then coming home to Squat
Wednesday -> REST
Thursday -> fencing and then coming home to OHP
Friday — Deadlift
Saturday -> Fencing
Sunday -> REST ….

After a few months, we figured out that wasn’t going to work. I was getting overwhelmed with trying to get everything done. So we have modified it down to a 3 day lift schedule. Monday -> Bench
Tuesday -> Fence
Wednesday -> Squat
Thursday -> Fence
Friday -> OHP/Deadlifts
Saturday-> Fence
Sunday -> Rest

So the kids are normally in bed by 8:30. Then, I get dressed into workout clothing. I don’t have too, but it makes me feel better and besides I sweat ALOT! No reason to ruin my every day clothing! So I am at my “gym” by 9pm. It usually takes me an hour to finish my programming. And like last night, it got interrupted by a little girl who couldn’t sleep. Their are days when I am overwhelmed with preparing lesson plans, church ministry, sick children, myself getting sick, whatever lift decides to through at me: All I can get accomplished is my main lift. And I leave without any guilt and I go to bed.

But to be honest, it was easier to lift when I went to the gym. It was on my calendar. I was meeting someone at the gym (physical trainer). He was there to make me do one more set or to say that is enough stop. Everyone, well most everyone, was also lifting. The kids went to the gym day care. There was no distractions.

Now, I don’t have to drive to the gym. I just walk to the living room. I don’t have anyone that makes me go. I have to pass all the things that need my attention. I step over Shopkins that my daughter left out. Or a puzzle we have been working on. Move my other daughter’s paintings from the bench because it was the perfect place to allow them to dry. Its a living room. We live there. And I lift there. Sometimes, when the girls stay up late I lift while listening to Jesse play in the background, or whatever kids show they are watching at the time.

Is it all worth it? Definitely. Even when my schedule is over-filled. And lifting is just one more thing I have to get done. Lifting helps me be a better Wife, a better Mom, a better person. Lifting is my therapist. My stress relief. It is hard to explain. But when I place the bar on my back. It settles onto that sweet spot. Everything feels tight. I look up. Everything fades away. I don’t see the weights on the bar. I don’t see the messy room. I don’t hear all the nagging crap going on in my head. It all goes away. I see the lift. I believe the lift. I do the lift! Those few moments are pure bliss for me.

How do I make it work?. I have a huge support system. 1) From my husband! I cannot say he understands my need to lift. He doesn’t understand how it clears my head. But he sees the results of my lifting. 2) My coach: He understands that life, not being healthy (several issues going on.. heart is only the tip of that iceberg), sucks at times. And there is only so much you can do. And truly listening to your body is important. There is a time for everything. A time to push hard and a time to rest hard. However, when it is time to work, we work! 3) My children: They understand that I want to be strong. They understand I want to be healthy. They encourage me to be better! Lifting is a priority in my life because of what it does for me. So at 8:45, when I am tired and I have a list of things a mile long, I am usually getting ready to go find that moment of bliss where that list doesn’t live.

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But it didn’t start that way.  The gym was a means to an end.   I just was going to lose enough weight to get the doctor’s off my back.   Got tired of hearing:  Your overweight.  You need to lose weight.  Your FAT!    Never solutions other than eat less, exercise more. Oh yeah and drugs.  Here are some magic pills that will make everything better.  (For the record, I refused them.)   I also had no problem with my weight.  I carried it well.   I kept up with the kids.   Yeah I was tired, but ask any mother and they will tell you that.   I kept asking myself, if I am okay with my weight, why can’t they be okay with my weight.    Well, I will never get the answer to that question.

So to the gym I went.  But I knew that if I was going to be successful at this endeavor, I was going to have to have a personal trainer.   I had to have that “appointment” scheduled in my daily planner.   I had to be held accountable.    Plus, I had never really ever been in a gym.   I was 34 years old and walking into a gym was like my worst nightmare.   I didn’t play sports in highschool.   Never even knew we had a weight room at my highschool until last year.  HA!      So I hired a personal trainer.   She and I got along just fine.    And we did alot of isolation training.   And boy did I find muscles that I never even knew existed.   There were alot of days I could barely walk I was so sore.    But she helped me manage that as well.   I really didn’t like going to the gym.  But it was an appt in my planner, so I went.  Plus I was trying to drop under 200 lbs.

Well one thing led to another and I had to take 2 weeks off to go help my Grandmother who was trying to fight cancer.   I got a phone call on the way home, that my trainer had left and she had transferred me over to another trainer at the gym.   Well,  that is when my gym time got flipped upside down.   Andrew introduced me to the barbell.   And I fell in love with it.   No more machines for me!  I want to feel that steel on my hands, over my head, on my back!   We started out with the little sissy bar.   I still use it for my clean and snatches, but boy, I despise that bar.   Everyone I saw was using the 45 lb bar and here I was using the “LADIES” bar.  I even hate its name.   Any how, at some point, I moved up bars, and rarely does that bar come out.

I mean today, I was doing clean and jerks.   And I totally nailed 95 lbs with no issues.  (It is totally mental.. I know this… and it normally eats my lunch.)   But not today!    100 lbs now that took some effort.  I tried and tried and tried… And I just couldn’t get the timing right with the lift.    (I still have some form issues I need to work on as well…  But all in good time).   Finally on the 4th attempt, I nailed the clean.  It was ugly, but it was done.. and I promptly set the bar down…  I totally forgot the jerk portion of the lift.  I was so freaking excited that I got the clean!  I was ready to celebrate.  Ha!   It was a good laugh.  Time to focus and make the next lift.    It was still 100 lbs but this time I was going to clean and jerk!    And I pulled it up, snapped under it, caught the weight in a squat and forced my elbows forward and stood up.   It felt so much prettier than the first 100 lb clean!   Let the weight settle on my shoulders and deep breathe and the weight flies up over my head!   YEAH!!!   Did you hear that?!   All the cheering.. Probably not because it is all in my head!    But that rush that you get when you have been struggling and finally it all just goes right and you complete that lift.   It is the BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD.

I know that every day I go to the gym, I am probably not going to have that feeling.   And there are days, that I just want to scream and get mad and angry and nothing went well.   I feel like crap.   But I know that is just part of the journey.  That the mountain in front of me, WILL be conquered and I will move on to another mountain.    But it is days like today that you feel spectacularly wonderful because you have moved a bit closer to removing that mountain in front of you.

I am so thankful that I was introduced to the barbell.   I am thankful for the people I have met because of it.   And trust me, there are some really awesome people that I have met (maybe not in person, but still) because of my weekly date with the barbell.  I have some great friends that listen to me on the bad days, and celebrate with me on the good days!   I am thankful I have a date with a barbell!

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I have alot that I keep thinking about in my head.  So it is best to just jot it down and dump it tonight.    This week has been a tough week in the gym!   But I have been asking for it.   I kept throwing around the E word… That nasty E word!  ha!   And truthfully, I was working hard at the gym, but it seemed a bit too easy.   Easy isn’t the right word.  It wasn’t challenging.  It was status quo.   I probably could have done another set or two.   Well…. that all changed this week.   I worked hard this week.  Harder than I have in a long time.  I got frustrated.  I struggled.   It was like that stupid bar was messing with my head.   I mean… I can front squat 120 lbs….   There was only 75 lbs on the bar…   yet, i couldn’t clean it easily.  I struggled.   Mentally alot because I knew I could squat it if I could only clean it.   It took me 3-4 times to clean it.   God that messed with my mind.   Today, I couldn’t keep up with my training partner.   She was a monster today.   And truthfully, I didn’t know that I WANTED to go to the gym.   But 40 minutes before my scheduled time, my trainer texts me:  Can you be here in 10 minutes…..   So I went.   But that bothers me.  I actually contemplated not going.   I was so afraid of not being able to do what I was going to be asked.   Yeah I know!  I need to have more FAITH and CONFIDENCE.   I lack it.  I know.     And oh what fun was to be had.    A Deck of cards… a barbell and a dumbbell…   about 15-10 cards left, I wanted to quit.   I was sore.  I was sweaty.  I was beyond done.    But I kept going.   I finished.    Not exactly sure.  I remember telling someone that I couldn’t even feel my legs anymore while doing squats.   But I kept going.

This week sucked.   BUT lets look at the upside.  Because that is where the lesson is:  I did more than I didn’t think I could do!  I finished when I wanted to give up.   I have a great support system that I need to learn to trust, have faith, and believe in.   I will get stronger!  I will overcome pushups.   I will overcome burpees.   I will clean 75 lbs!   I will move forward!

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Sorry for not posting lately. I got the flu, a kidney infection, and pneumonia.   I stayed out of the hospital and only missed 2 training sessions.   Yippee!   I still have been going to the gym.  I think I was training 3x a week before I stopped posting, but I have had a shift in my work schedule that allows me to go the gym at the minimum of 5x a week and up to 7 days a week.   Last week I made it all 7 days!  Go me!   I am still living too.      So before we get to the post that has been stuck in my head for freaking days, lets get to the positive news!   Saturday, I front squatted 100 lbs!!!!   ROCK ON!  is all I have to say.   We started with just the 45 lb bar.  I did 10 reps… Did other misc things, came back to the bar, and added 5 lbs to it.   So it was 50 lbs.   Did 3 reps and moved on.   At some point we started moving up by 10 lbs.   Don’t ask me when, as I don’t count weight when I am training… That is Andrew’s job!  =)     At some point, we stopped doing all the other misc stuff, and went to only squatting.   I only did one rep and then sat down.  increased weight and did another rep!   I got to 100 lbs!   Anyway, no one else might think it is awesome, but I do!

So, Andrew and Erin have both been encouraging me to run.  I hate running.  One reason, I am horrible at it and I feel horrible after I run.   Did I mention I hate running?   Anyway, I was doing intervals on the treadmill trying to increase speed and was listening to the words to some music.   Well I am a person that if I don’t know that I can do something successfully, then I normally don’t do it.   I like staying in my little bubble.   Fear is a powerful thing.  It can keep you from doing stupid things.   And then it can paralyze you.    And that is where I have been.  Fearful I won’t be able to complete a mud run.   I have never been athletic.   Even with the aforementioned squat PR, I don’t consider myself athletic.   Yes, I go to the gym.  Yes, I complete what ever Andrew asks of me.     But doing these runs, just has had me paralyzed that I was unable to complete them.  If I cannot complete it, then there is no reason to try.

But you know, there is a reason to try.  Who cares if I cannot complete the run.   I at least attempted it.  There has to be something about that.  And what am I teaching my kids.   Stay in your comfort zone.   It is nice and easy there.    So the words that were in the music that made me change my mind was:   “And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance; I hope you dance!”

So I have told Andrew I would do a Mud Run.   We will start small and go from there!   Apparently there is a 5k at the end of March.   So we shall see what happens.

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Well I am now officially training 3x a week at the gym!   Yeah!  My trainer drew up the paperwork today!   He totally rocks.   Then off to the weights we went!  It wasn’t a particularly noteworthy day.   It was just another day.

We used the 15kg bar (or 33 lbs) no weights.

15 Thrusters with the 15 kg bar

row machine for 200 meters:  Just Legs.

15 dips (I HATE these)

row machine for 200 meters:  Just arms

We did 3 or 4 sets.  I was trying to focus on form… So I lose count on how many sets we did.     However, I was mistaken today.  I thought there was 6k yards in a mile… there are 5200+ feet in a mile.   Or approx. 1200 or so yards/meters to a mile.  Give or take!   That makes my sore arms feel better!

The row machine just wears my rump out.   I don’t know why.   I always struggle after 100 meters.

Thrusters:  These were much easier than with the dumb bells we used the other day.  Squats were okay.   I got tired toward the end and I don’t think form was spot on.   But I finished.

Dips:  Hate them.   they hate me too.   All I have to say about them.  I need to stay as close to the bench as possible.   Yuck.

For Cardio:  I did 2 miles on the bike with a 2 minute break in between.   It was on 11 resistance.

I still need to find my heart monitor.  I am sure it is around somewhere.

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Well my trainer said I made it look easy and my form (for the most part) was good.   But if felt far from easy.   And I wanted to just stop and give up.  I was so tired today.   I have been under immense stress lately.  I am sure that isn’t helping anything.     I struggled through most of the exercises today.    I even asked my trainer at one point if training ever seems to get easier.   I am sure you can guess what he said, “Nope.   You are paying me to push you.   So if training was easy, I have not done my job.”

So here is what we did.

I think I did 3 sets… maybe 4… I lost count.

10 Dumb Bell Dead Lifts with curls. (20 lb weights)

10 squat thrusters (I think is what they were called) (15 lb weights)

20 jumps (I jumped with both feet up onto a step being very careful to get my heals up on the step. )

With the Dumb Bell Dead Lift, form felt funny until the last set, and then it all seemed to feel better.   Yeah for better form!    Thrusters… my squats were off today… I didn’t hurt anywhere but when I was coming up out of a squat I was doing something funky with my hips.   It took a lot of concentration to fix what ever I was doing.   and then the thruster part was about to kill my arms.    The jumps on to the step just took alot of concentration and focus so that I didn’t miss the step.   We were trying to work on coordination and lord knows I need it.    Clumsy is my middle name at times.

I need to find my heart monitor so we can keep an idea on how high my heart rate is going.   I haven’t seen it for month. =/

Afterwards, I met my friend at a hiking trail and her friend was there as well.    We walked/ran one loop.   Then we started running on the 2nd loop and I couldn’t keep up.   Told them to go on.   I walked mostly the rest of the next 2 loops.   And then needed some water.    so I went to go get water out of my car.     Then we did another loop around the pond there.

Just as a note:   1 yogurt with some pecans isn’t enough to do all that.   =/

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For full disclosure, I didn’t come up with this name today; my trainer did!   AND it wasn’t quite as bad as Friday’s session.   But it wasn’t easy.   But then again if it was easy I wouldn’t need a trainer.   So I guess all in all it was a good day!  =)

I really try not to complain while training.   I really do try.  Today, I failed miserably.   Horribly.   But he takes it all in stride and always is cheerful and very much encouraging especially after he just told you about the 20 burpees.   Why I didn’t see that coming I have no idea!

So the basic idea today was 1 set of each exercise with 20 reps per set.   =)

1) Push ups

2) Throwups (other wise known as Wall Balls… throw the ball up on the wall catch it as you squat and throw as you are standing back up.. rinse and repeat!)

3) Butterfly situps (I like these!)

4) Plain squats

5) Dips

6) Over head Press (I think is the right name.. anyway, we used the JV bar today!   the sissy bar was broken… Not sure if it will be fixed anytime soon.. haahaa)

7) Sumo Squat thingies (Yeah again, don’t remember the name… squat and pull the bar up as you come out of the squat.  )

8) Burpees (yeah, i started grumbling here, just a wee bit….    )  Pretty sure this took me the longest of all of them to do.

9) Cleans (JV Bar which is 40 lbs if memory serves correctly)

10) Dumbell … doh I forgot what he called these (Like most things…)   You started in a squat with the dumb bell between your knees and as you come out of the squat you pull the dumbbell over your head and then rinse and repeat).   I sorta felt like a squatting lumberjack!

11) dumbell squat thruster… thingies (Yeah again, at this point I was really tired…   squat and thrust the 2 dumbbells up over your head as you come out of the squat and rinse and repeat).

I think that was all we did.    No pull up’s today… Apparently that is going to be Friday’s blessing!    I cannot wait…

At one point my knee popped.   It didn’t hurt or anything, but it was really loud.   We shall see what happens there.

I did 15 minutes on the bike at 10 resistance.   Almost made it to 3 miles.   2.8 to be exact.   Tried to do 15, but my knee started bothering me and thought I better not aggravate it too much.

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