Fitness: Running victories and woes

So I have not been posting on this blog at all – I’ve been busy with some pretty big news! I’m relocating to NYC from DC for a new job and I start on Monday! After not working for oh, 5.5 months, I’m feeling a little panicky about starting that routine again, and the long commute from my parents’ house into the city. I’m also trying not to face reality b/c my dear boyfriend who shares my cozy DC apartment with me will not be moving up with me until later (hence staying with my parents) and I will miss him SO MUCH.

Anyway. I’ve been finally finally training for this 10 mile race I have in two weeks, and going on some great long runs with friends and solo.

Exhibit A: Long run on the national mall with a friend (who has a Garmin!! I finally knew how fast or slow I was running!)

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary 1:14:33.0 8.08 9:14
1 9:28.8 1.00 9:29
2 9:23.8 1.00 9:24
3 8:46.4 1.00 8:46
4 9:41.4 1.00 9:41
5 9:09.3 1.00 9:09
6 9:03.2 1.00 9:03
7 8:58.8 1.00 8:59
8 9:16.1 1.00 9:16
9 :45.1 0.08 9:24

Exhibit B: Solo run using my RunKeeper app (I hate carrying my phone but I was hooked on the data after seeing my friend’s Garmin!)

mi Pace (min/mi) Elevation (ft)
1 9:26 -7
2 9:31 -30
3 9:33 26
4 9:26 -1
5 9:32 -26
6 8:36 22
7 7:57 16

Exhibit C: Solo long rung on a very very very windy and cold day using my RunKeeper app again

mi Pace (min/mi) Elevation (ft)
1 9:33 -40
2 9:36 10
3 9:13 -26
4 9:14 -5
5 9:10 -1
6 9:42 -6
7 9:25 20
8 8:59 7
9 8:51 -49

 

So that’s all fine and dandy, but the new-ish shoes I bought not 4 months ago and ran only a few dozen times in HURT MY FEET. I can manage only a couple miles before the pain in the arch and inner ankle area sets in. At first, I thought it was my ankle being weak and unused to running so many miles, so I did a lot of PT exercises like using a stability board and kettlebell exercises to strengthen the ankles and calves, to no progress. I improved my stride and was very conscious of landing my foot straight, as the pain felt like I was running on a slant (you know how that feels), so I thought I was the problem.

 

Finally, I went to a running store and bought new shoes – I will try them out for the first time tomorrow, but I really wish I went to a running store the first time around! I bought my Brooks Pure Connect shoes after my cheap Reebox Realflex shoes had been worn for over a year both to run in, workout in, travel in – the soles had holes in them and cracks on the inside, that’s how bad it was. I went to a generic sports store where I tried them on and felt okay in them. They had no return policy which enabled me to test them out for a longer run – and for my short 4-5 mile runs, they felt comfortable enough.

Recently, I began reading reviews of the Pure Connects, and the running store I went to said Brooks stopped making that specific type of shoe, which is like, wow, you had to pick the worst possible shoe ever and waste that money??? The reviews of the Pure Connects all complained about the pain in the same area as where I feel the most pain – the arch and surrounding inner foot. Apparently, the arch insert is pretty high and as someone with flatter feet, I definitely felt it, but had no idea how that would affect my run. Since I’m new to running longer distances and used to buy all my sneakers from like TJ Maxx, I honestly had no idea what to look for in a running only shoe. Another thing I noticed was that the foam and plastic support and sole were very narrow and did not cover the portion where the arch was, giving literally zero support for when you plant your foot down and your arch collapses. Even my NB Minimus (another failed running shoe purchase I now use to lift weights in), had better physical arch support with the sole, if that makes sense.

 

My local running store did a great job of taping me running on a treadmill in a few different shoes to compare, and I ended up shelling out for a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 9s. It was pointed out to me that my right foot over pronates – which is the foot that bothers me the most on runs. I wanted to be on the minimal running shoe train, and I am so glad, even though I had to buy new running shoes AGAIN (fingers crossed they don’t hurt), that I did not let this carry on and become an injury or anything worse!

 

I always feel so great on these long runs cardiovascularly, my legs are not sore afterwards, and even my knees do not hurt, but just the pain in the arch and inner foot would literally bring me to tears as I ran. Stopping and stretching only made it worse so I’d just push through 3-4 miles of running with the pain. If these Mizunos work out for me, I’ll keep the Brooks for sprint workouts on the treadmill or shorter runs, and be so happy to not be a martyr and try to push through pain. I’m excited to see if my times improve!

Fitness: Strength Standards Pt. II

A while ago I posted a set of strength standards for women with my bodyweight, and commented on where I stood and where I’d like to be. I came across this alternative table of strength standards for women which uses percentage of bodyweight to determine your “level” instead of set numbers. Obviously I was very curious as to where I fell – and determined that I really really really need to work on my squats and deadlifts!

I’m actually kind of surprised that while my upper body just looks average – petite because I’m not that big, but also not very much muscle mass going on. My legs and butt on the other hand, I feel like they are strong, muscular, and you can absolutely see definition. However, measuring on any strength standards chart, my lower body lifts barely even hit the novice/good level.

I don’t know what’s wrong here.

Table of strength standards for women

Good Very Good Excellent
Deadlift (1 rep max) 150 % 175-200 % 225 %+
Squat (1 rep max) 125 % 150 % 175 %+
Bench (1 rep max) 50 % 75 % 100 %+
Press (1 rep max) 33% 50% 75 %+
Pushups (full) 15 30 50+
Dips (full) 5 10 15+
Pullups (dead hang) 1 5 10+


So apparently my deadlift and squat are so poor that they are not even in the good category! My squat is a little more than 90% of my bodyweight, and my deadlift is only 108% (these are for 5 reps, never tested 1 rep max). However, I can bench 70%, press 52%, do 20 full pushups (at least!), and 4 dead hang pullups.

My squat has taken forever to even get up to where it is now and I had to deload so many times, often back to just the bar, trying to get my form down. Deadlifts I couldn’t even figure out until like 3-4 months ago. This sounds like I’m making excuses, but they are my ‘weakest’ lifts even though obviously I can use the most weight while doing them.

I’m not sure I’m ready to do a dedicated program like 5/3/1 to increase those lifts yet – I think I just need to push myself more on my current full body program and increase the weight more frequently.

It’s hard sometimes to squat as I’ve started running again out of necessity for my 10 miler in a month. I can’t NOT finish the race, and as I’ve taken a long hiatus from running, this is much needed training. I’ve been eating a TON to make up for the extra cardio so my leg work hasn’t been as shaky but there’s really no way of avoiding back to back running lifting workouts with only 7 days in the week!

Also, I realize that my cardiovascular endurance can handle 10 miles, but I’m not sure my ankles can D: My last two 6 mile runs have been great considering I’m jumping into running after nearly zero cardio for two months, but my ankles are a bit achy in the last bits of the run. I’m scared of increasing the distance but do need to get at least an 8/9 miler in before the race to be more confident.

Finally, trying to be better about mobility and yoga, though I find it tediously boring to do on my own, I am enjoying the classes I’ve been going to about once a week. Do yogis just walk around with super loose hips all the time? Mine are extremely tight. I’m flexible everywhere else but pigeon pose makes me want to cry.

 

LASTLY!! I just read this on tumblr and kind of love it.

Why Women Need Iron

Women need iron. Not the vitamin. The barbell.

We are trained by the world around us to have fucked up ideas about our bodies; iron unfucks them.

We are supposed to be as thin as possible, as small as possible, perhaps until we disappear; iron teaches us to take up space.

We are taught that the only good direction for the scale to go is down, and to agonize ritualistically when it goes up. Iron teaches us the power of gaining weight for strength and gives us another weight to care about – the weight we are lifting.

We are taught to eat small amounts daintily and treat food as sin and pleasure. Iron teaches us to eat heartily, to see food as fuel for life, and to seek out nutritious food rather than avoiding sinful food.

We are taught to think of our bodies as decorative, an object to be looked at; iron teaches us to think of our bodies as functional, our own active selves, not passive objects for another’s regard.

Whole industries exist to profit by removing from us our confidence and selling it back as external objects. Iron gives us confidence from within through progressive training and measurable achievements.

We are taught to be gentle and hide our strength or even to cultivate charming physical weakness until we start to believe our bodies are weak. Iron teaches us how strong we can be.

source

FAIL: Treadmill incident

So I realized I needed to start training for this 10 miler early April, and that sitting on my butt all day on non-lifting days was not helping. I am a complete baby when it comes to running in this weather though – I’m okay with just low temps (that’s why I invested in winter running gear), but the wind! Today is supposed to be mid-30s but with gusts reaching 25mph, it feels like low to mid-20s. NO THANKS.

I decide to ease my way into running as I’m unsure if I can even run my usual 4.5 mile or 6 mile loops (PS does anyone know why it takes months to build up running endurance but what seems to be mere days to lose it all?? Ridic). There are treadmills in my building and I figure doing some sprints is better than nothing. Warm up and first 7 sprints go perfectly uneventful (besides being dreadfully boring). As I’m looking forward to finishing the speed springs and move onto a few hill sprints, OH GUESS WHAT?? I fall off the goddamn treadmill. Well, I was easing my way off to sides to take my minute of wheezing and catching my breath when I miss the ledge with my right foot. I’m clinging onto the rails and my legs are destroyed by the treadmill strip ripping them up at 11mph. OK TAKE THAT SKIN I DIDN’T NEED IT TREADMILL.

I feel like if I was not holding onto the railing I would have just been thrown off the machine and a little bruised via the fall, but holding on meant I was stuck there as the treadmill tape ripped up my legs over and over again until I could pull myself up and off.

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HELLO DISGUSTINGLY PAINFUL RUG BURN

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SO DIRTY

Those are after cleaning with hydrogen peroxide and putting neosporin on them – and yes, cleaning them was a necessity as treadmills are cesspools of gross things, and double yes, that hurt like a bitch. Now they are pussing and I don’t know if I should be worried or if that’s a side reaction to cleaning them???

Well I officially hate the treadmill now for 1) being boring and 2) evil and pain inducing. Needless to say, it was a shitty workout and I’m just hoping it won’t affect my other workouts. I’m okay with being scarred and bruised – my legs are a veiny, scar-filled disaster anyway.

BOO, I’m so mad.

Fitness First: Hot Yoga

Ever since my dear friend and freshman year roommate became a yoga instructor as one of her many side hustles, I’ve kept a scrappy and mildly inconsistent yoga practice up. As much of my fitness, I am somewhere in between a beginner and an intermediate. I can’t say that I have 1-2 years of consistent practice, nor can I do arm balances and full inversions (the latter mainly out of fear of breaking my neck), and have struggled to find a good studio (RE: affordable) to go to. While my buddy was around, she taught free community yoga classes about 2 blocks from my apartment, and while there are other instructors who continue the practice after she went to traipse across SE Asia for three months, I honestly did not like them as much.

Not knowing too much about local yoga studios, and just wanting to find a place to go once a week for cheap, I bought a Livingsocial deal for 12 classes for $12 at a studio about a 25 min walk away (or two metro stops if I’m lazy). At first, I enjoyed it – decent location, crowd, and instructors, but lately, it has been a little frustrating. The studio has these Groupon/Amazonlocal/Livingsocial deals fairly frequently and thus barely any classes are open. I try to register online weeks in advance for a class I want to attend, and they are all booked. I keep checking everyday to see if there are any last minute cancellations, but if there are, they are swooped up by someone else. I can’t even book the classes I want! I usually go to an all levels vinyasa flow since I know beyond what a beginner’s yoga class would cover (and I get annoyed if my workout isn’t what I expected), but I’m not quite ready for intermediate classes yet (no arm balances and full inversions for this one, though the latter is due to the fear of snapping my neck if I fell). Though I did sign up for two intermediate level classes for next week at awful times in the evening as they were the only ones open! Now I can’t walk to/from the studio since it will be dark and the neighborhoods are not safe.

I managed to snag a hot yoga class last week. As it was my first time, I googled what I needed to wear – consensus on the internet was to wear tight fitting yoga tank and booty shorts, and bring a towel. I immediately felt self conscious walking into the class, as most people had pants and long sleeves on!! Do they not sweat???

Anyway, I really wanted to like this class, and I enjoyed the actual time we spent practicing yoga, but there was a couple things that bothered me.

1) 5-7 minutes at the beginning of an hour class spent lecturing on hippie yogi stuff. I enjoy a line or two about intention and joy here and there, but save the frou frou and just start the practice!

2) Way too long of a savasana! Like I said, it is an hour class, so it’s pretty short already – I feel cheated if savasana is 15 minutes, and plus the indoctrination at the beginning, there was only around 40 minutes of actual practice. A couple participants were even snoring – I felt like I was in kindergarden nap time again and everyone was asleep while I was fidgeting and wondering what I was doing there.

3) Very hands off instructor. It’s fine if the instructor doesn’t demo most of the poses, or physically help people into them, but I expect to be corrected when I’m doing something wrong. The girl next to me was pushing herself too hard, to the point of contorting her back in a very unnatural way trying to reach her hand to the ground in side angle, instead of using a block. Instructor said nothing, despite us being in the front row.

4) I didn’t even sweat as much as a regular vinyasa class I took at the same studio.

I’d honestly rather save the metro fare (which is more than the pack of classes ha) and do a free Fiji McAlpine class in my living room. I go because I want to be corrected and I believe yoga isn’t something you can “teach yourself” in your living room without that guidance and community. I hope that I’ll find both the challenge and the growth I am looking for in the more intermediate level classes next week.

Fitness: Goals & Things I’m Slacking On

I think I’ve spent a lot of the past months eating and complaining about things I see other people do at the gym and not really focus on discussing my goals and what I’ve been doing right or wrong. Oops. It’s been a rough quarter year.

Let’s start with positive goals and encouragement and chat about my goals and where I am in terms of reaching them.

  1. Pull-ups: Last year I wanted desperately nothing more than to be able to do pull-ups. On a good day I can crank out like 4 of those bad boys in a row, and maybe do another set of 2-3. I want to train pull-ups more consistently and be able to do up to 10 in a row (no matter how long it takes!). I did go from zero pull-ups and only a few chin-ups up until a few months ago when I changed up my strength training. Old goal: one pull-up. New goal: 10 in a row.
  2. Hit big boy plates in squat & deadlift (aka squat and deadlift over 135lbs for reps). My deadlift is getting there, and I just included them in my routine about 2 months ago? I can do 120-125 for reps so I’m sure I can do 135 at least once. My squat has been utterly sucking and I’m not being dramatic. It is puny and I always struggle with inflamed hip flexors trying to squat low enough. Not running as much (OR AT ALL) has helped a ton and I’ve managed to get it up to 105lbs but still not even bodyweight. It’s been frustrating, but I keep at it. Old goal: Squat & deadlift over 135lbs for reps. Ongoing.
  3. Bench 100lbs. Okay, so I know that’s not super balanced, like benching nearly 75% of what you can squat/deadlift, but shockingly my bench has been the lift I have progressed the fastest these past few months. Either I had really not been pushing myself before, or my chest has just been doing that much better than my legs – regardless I’ve gotten up to 80lbs for reps. Not amazing, but closer than my damn squat is. Old goal: Bench 100lbs. Ongoing.
  4. I never had an overhead press goal probably b/c my shoulders were so pathetically wimpy that I could barely press 5lb dumbbells. I can push press (on a super good day) ~60lbs so I feel like a good goal that’s actually attainable would be like 75lbs, partially b/c it takes forever to go up by 5lbs. Dumbbells are even worse b/c they’re only in increments of 5. Old goal: Not be wimpy. New goal: OHP or push press 75lbs+.

Okay, putting all the numbers in writing makes it really egregious how weak my lower body lifts are. (And PS it’s kind of intimidating to share how weak you are with the whole internet.) I’ve put together a little table for lifting standards for women my bodyweight (well this is for 114lbs) and highlighted where my lifts are (approximately). Note: I don’t do power snatches, but I have power cleaned before.

Lift  Untrained  Novice  Intermediate  Advanced  Elite
Bench Press 60 75 85 110 135
Press 35 50 60 75 100
Squat 55 100 115 150 190
Deadlift 65 120 140 200 255
Power Clean 40 70 80 110 135
Power Snatch 35 55 65 85 110

I guess currently I’m mostly at the Novice level, trying to move into the Intermediate, and my goals are more Intermediate/Advanced. A long way to go!

I also have non-weightlifting goals.

  1. Do crow pose. I practice nearly everyday and feel like I’ve almost figured out the most comfortable placement of bony limbs, and almost feel comfortable leaning as forward as the position requires. I can hold an ugly crow for a few seconds. 
  2. Do head/handstand. Need to stop being too scared to go from a tripod into headstand – the fear of breaking my neck is holding me back.
  3. Run my upcoming 10-miler in under 1:30, which is a nice 9min/mile pace. Should be easy but I haven’t run in about 3 weeks. I had great runs, but the weather became actual winter weather in DC and the last time I tried running my stomach was killing me. I literally cannot eat anything beforehand, but it’s hard to run when starving and freezing in the mornings. Wah wah.

Now for the sad, woe-is-me, boo-hoo list of things I’ve been slacking on.

  1. Running. This is the big one. Get moving girl. I’ve been walking on an incline reading The Lord of the Rings to get some mileage in (so I’m not 100% sedentary), but that’s not going to help me run this 10miler.
  2. Yoga. I bought a Groupon for 12 classes and have been to 2. Not that I don’t enjoy it – just not always on my mind to go sign up for a class…oops.

What is everyone else working on these days?

 

 

Fitness: Mistakes

Disclaimer: I am not a professional, merely a girl who loves researching fitness and is always at the gym. This is mostly from personal experience and shit people do at the gym. Obviously people who blog or attempt to blog (in my case) about fitness are more knowledgeable than your average doing-curls-in-the-squat-rack bro.

Onto the list!

Mistake #1:

No clear goals. Your routine for training for a powerlifting competition should look very different from training for a marathon or a plan dedicated to weight loss. People operate better when they have a goal to actively train or work towards, whether that is run X miles in Y time, or squat 1.5x bodyweight – you need something to push yourself towards. Otherwise you end up not challenging yourself to increase the mileage or the weights.

I’ve been sucked into fuckaroundtitus and seen zero gains in either strength or endurance or speed for years! I’d head to the gym and force myself through 30 min on a cardio machine and a few sit-ups and wonder why I was still skinny-fat. No measurable goals = no push = no progress.

Mistake #2:

Neglecting body parts during strength training or strength training all together. It doesn’t matter if you are a marathon runner or an elite stairclimber or champ of your rec ping-pong league – strength training can benefit your sport of choice, improve your posture, and create that illusive “tone” everyone is looking for. So let’s say you do decide to start a weights regime – do not neglect any muscle groups. If you feel like that’s daunting hitting every tiny muscle, remember that compound lifts work best and you do not need to isolate everything.

 

Look how sad he is

Mistake #3:

Doing too much or something too complicated. Don’t try to be the best at everything – strength gains and distance running are not counterproductive per se, but distance running and excessive cardio does hinder and impede strength and muscle gains. Don’t try to do hours of cardio, and weights, and yoga, and zumba, and be surprised when you’re injured, worn out, or your body is still stagnant!

I was struggling with increasing weights on my squat – my legs always felt like lead and even struggled through 5×5 with a lighter weight. Then on Sunday, I effortlessly added 15lbs to my squat – how? I didn’t run the day before. See usually I lift WFSu, run/HIIT TThSa, and rest or yoga on M. Phew, that is exhausting!! I had been doing intense cardio too, like hill sprints, or distance runs (6mi for me is a lot!), and my legs would be sore everyday. Though I enjoy running and am running a 10mile in 3 months, my main goals are strength related. In order to be happy with my strength goals, I have to give up a little bit of running that I enjoy.

Exercises that are too complicated fall under this mistake too.

DON’T BE THIS GUY

Unnecessary, while impressive. Not to mention unsafe!

I don’t even…

Stick with the basics – they work for a reason! The experts and pros do squats, deadlifts, bench, OHP, pullups, pushups, etc. Just because your entire body burns while you do the exercise, and it uses 5 pieces of equipment doesn’t mean it’s more efficient. If you want that extra umph or burn, try supersetting complimentary exercises with no rest in between.

Mistake #4:

Forgetting about form. It’s great to push yourself and increase the weights frequently, but you can’t sacrifice form. ‘Nuff said.

Terrible for two reasons – form, and ugh, smith machine.

Mistake #5:

Being obsessed with finding the BEST exercises and the HEALTHIEST foods to the point where it is harmful. At a certain point, stressing over what you are eating and falling into crazy health fads (even if some of them do have merit) becomes worse than keeping it simple. Same with working out – worrying over if intervals of 20s on/10s off, or 30s on/1min off, etc are more beneficial than the other; if despite all evidence pointing to no magic workouts or shortcuts to get [insert perfect body part here] you still scour the internet for advice and fitness magazines for tips; if in the search for the perfect diet you cut out 80% of all food groups and subsist on vegetable juice (fruit has way too much sugar guys) and dried veggie pulp mixed with raw seeds.

You might have a problem.

Mistake #6:

Comparing yourself to others (and letting that get you down). Everyone is different! Some people build muscle, lose fat, gain strength, etc, faster than others. Genetics play a huge role – comparing yourself to others will just make you lose your focus and momentum on making yourself awesome.

Like I said, I’m not a professional. I’m not perfect. But I do know that if you keep it simple – eat whole foods when you’re hungry, keep moving, engage your muscles – you can lead a healthy life and actually experience the stress reducing benefits from eating healthier and working out.

Food: Delicious things I’ve cooked recently

As the stay-at-home-girlfriend for the time being, grocery shopping and meal planning is 90% my domain. We’re on a budget for the first time, and though it is very generous because we love food and eat a lot, we are trying to cook more frequently than we used to. Weekends and maybe once a weeknight we’ll eat out – since we love trying new restaurants and new foods and there are limitations to our culinary skills ha! We do have a rotation of favorite meals and quick things to whip up on exhausted days, but I love reading recipes and coming up with healthy dinner ideas for the two of us. I do not like eating the same thing every night! I want my food to be nutritious and delicious – and not super expensive. While I will pay for quality, and I am far from a couponing goddess, I do like getting deals at my local overpriced-because-it’s-downtown grocery store.

On to the eats!

Leek and bacon quiche – this was so easy and delicious that we made a smoked salmon and asparagus quiche the following day!

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Store bought crust though😦

Spaghetti squash with homemade pesto and handmade meatballs – first time using spaghetti squash – verdict? Would use again.

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Thank you boyfriend who makes amazing Italian food for the pesto and meatballs!

Linguine vongole – fresh clams from the seafood market and healthy weird whole grain high protein omega 3 spaghetti.

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Steaming open the clams

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So simple – white wine + garlic, so delicious. Also you can see the pasta to clam ratio is highly skewed towards the clams. This is why I hate Italian restaurants that skimp out on the non-pasta part of the meal. /End rant

Braised oxtail stew with tomatoes and potatoes – I tried to mimic my mother’s recipe but didn’t get the texture right – flavors were spot on though!

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The boy did not enjoy this…

Shepard’s pie with ground lamb and mashed butternut squash (instead of mashed potato topping) – gravy on the side cancels out the health factor I guess haha.

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The lamb gravy was SO good. I could’ve just eaten the gravy like a stew.

We’re also trying to be mindful of portion sizes – I’m the main culprit as I usually will have seconds…we do cook a lot of food at a time and it should in theory last us more meals than it actually does! Oops. What can I say, we’re two young, 20-something, and highly active foodies. Who don’t own a proper camera and don’t know anything about food photography/presentation.

Stay hungry!

Fitness: Overdoing it

Today was not a good day for fitness. As per a recent post stated, I feel like anxiety in other parts of my life and the sense of 1) not having control over anything else and 2) not being “successful” anywhere else makes me go bonkers over my workouts.

This is no bueno.

For a few months now, I’ve been seeking success and happiness solely through pushing myself at the gym and on the pavement, seeing how much stronger and faster I can get. And I did get stronger, maybe not faster, but I can run longer than I used to be able to. This behavior turned from “yay healthy” to “boo obsessive” real fast. On days like today, when I’m sore from a tough weights session yesterday, and have take only one active rest day (if power yoga counts as rest), I felt like doing nothing. Nada. Complete rest day.

But my mind could not let that happen. I hemmed and hawed and debated endlessly with myself, saying shit like “well it’s a nice day out YOU SHOULD GO RUN”, despite willing myself to run less this week to prevent injury. I settled on going to the gym and doing intervals on the stairclimber, but the thought of that much lower body work on my poor sore legs was torture. I even dragged my darling boyfriend into it, texting him incessantly with panicked “WHAT SHOULD I DO” and “OMG I’M EATING TOO MUCH”. This is not healthy.

I finally after probably a whole morning doing this, decided to do yoga to try to relax and still get a little sweat on. Picked a video with a guy I’d never followed before and hated it. My shoulder felt strained after one vinyasa and I was not on the same wavelength as the instructor. So I stopped. Surprisingly I did not panic, and I did not freak out.

I just want some aspect of my life to go the way I want it to. Being jobless and searching on a daily basis is hard – the treacherous waiting period of hearing back from people who shockingly do not have YOU as their first priority is heart attack inducing. Sitting at home most days in workout clothes (at best) or PJs (usually) with no makeup on and unkempt watching beautiful people on TV destroys self esteems. Working out makes me feel strong and beautiful. But I cannot rely on it as my sole source of happiness or validation.

 

The boy told me not to overdo it. I’m good at overdoing it. I’m good at pushing myself to the brink of exhaustion or too much pain and then giving up. I need to find inner confidence and not attach my self worth to something tenuous.

 

I am strong, I am beautiful, and capable, and smart, and fuck you if you don’t think so. Perhaps a bit aggressive. Tone it down.

So here’s to better tomorrows and happier futures. And hopefully love and healing will come.

Thanks tumblr for cheesy sentiments that sometimes work

First: 2013 Post – Things I wish I could see more of

First off, Happy New Year’s! I hope 2013 brings hope, happiness, success, and everything in between.

I started my year off with a gym session with my boyfriend (who had the day off) yesterday. With our schedules, we only work out together on Sundays – and by work out together I mean literally go to the gym together but we have different routines. I have only been at my gym for a measly year, having just moved to this apartment last February, and as I go fairly consistently at 3-4x a week, I like to think I’ve become a regular. Yesterday we went at a leisurely 11am, which is a time I sometimes go now too, and have never found to be super crowded. It must have been due to New Year’s resolutions, but the gym was packed.

Our gym is fine for what it is (and quite expensive since it’s in the middle of DC), but it’s not fancy and I feel there’s a lack of certain pieces of equipment, especially in the free weights area. When that area is crowded I often have to change up my workout on the spot because people will hog certain pieces of equipment (the lone squat rack for example) for what seems like forever. I’m fine with seeing new faces at the gym because I love working out and seeing other people pick up the habit overall is not a bad thing.

I do have a few things I’d love to see change though at my gym this year, though it probably is highly unlikely.

1) More girls in the weights room!

Honestly I can count on one hand the number of girls I ever see in the free weights area (not the machines). There’s the two girls I’ve seen with their boyfriends, sitting on a box next to the squat rack on their phones as their boyfriends squat. There’s the woman in the baseball cap who wears tight tank tops and has a great upper body, but baggy pants as if to hide her legs. I saw her in shorts once – her legs are fine, but all she ever does is a variation of bench press and assisted pull-ups; I want to tell her to work out her legs if she’s insecure about them. There’s the other Asian girl with short hair (holla) who I’ve seen a handful of times who actually lifts and uses more than one piece of equipment at a time – but I haven’t seen her in months. Then there are the girls who rush into the weights area, grab 5lb dumbbells and proceed to do their entire workout using those in the stretching area. I was so excited to see a girl grab a bench yesterday, only to see her use 2.5lb dumbbells to bench and deadlift. Mind-boggling.

I mean, I know it’s a fairly new thing where women are proclaiming that “weights do not make them bulky!” and thus have started to incorporate weight training. It irks me because it always has to be prefaced with the fact that they did not turn into a she-hulk or bodybuilder because of it. What about all the other advantages of weight training? Better bone density, better posture, being stronger? It pisses me off when women lament about wanting to be “toned” but then do hundreds of reps with 5lb weights and complain about seeing no difference. I have yet to see a woman do with correct form deadlifts or squats – I have yet to see a woman rock out pull-ups either (I mean I can do 2-3 but that doesn’t count), and it makes me sad. I train because I want to be stronger – I’m happy if one of the side effects is more “tone” (a word I hate being used).

It gives permission for men to treat me poorly in the weights area – too bad I’m feisty and I don’t give in. Men who would not dare be assholes to other men and interrupt them mid-set to ask if they were done yet; guys who set up obnoxiously close to you to the point where they are in danger of hurting you even when the gym is empty; older men who literally say to me that I don’t belong there. This would not happen if more women showed up at the weights ready to kick some ass. I digress.

2) Fewer people with horrible form

Another one of my pet peeves is people who show up, load up three plates on each side of the bar and proceed to bend their knees an inch and call that a squat. You don’t need a personal trainer to show you how to do lifts correctly – there are hundreds of both videos and written guides on the internet. Don’t be an asshole and hurt yourself because you can’t look something up. I’ll stare at guys who have horrible form or do lifts incorrectly and wish that I could say something to them, but as mentioned before, they treat girls like shit so why the hell would I help them (if they’d even listen).

3) Fewer trainers being assholes

There’s one trainer who makes me cringe whenever I see him. He has bad gym etiquette to begin with – never reracking his weights – but he also doesn’t know what he is doing with his clients. I often see him with women and incorporating weights into their PT session, which is great, but he never corrects their form, often times loads up more weight than the women can handle (instead of letting them start with an empty bar for example), and misuses some pieces of equipment. Not every trainer is like him, but he has enough clients that I think he is doing more harm than good.

 

I know I know, none of this actually effects me at the gym so it shouldn’t bother me.

FIghting with myself

I haven’t posted in a while.

Holidays are hard for me.

The copious time spent with family, away from routine; the food, all the deliciousness I want to ingest; the cheer that is required of me, that I simply cannot muster at times.

Due to my uncertain situation right now, with the lack of employment and the thoughts of failure destroying my confidence at times, it really has impacted how I view my body and my health. I caught a cold for the first time in a long time over the holidays (actually the very day I was in NY celebrating with my boyfriend’s family for the first time – great timing), and being sick and bloated and stressed and pimply just plummets my self-esteem into the ground.

I’m always so confident in my abilities, in my appearance, in my future. Now the trepidation that consumes my everyday life over my career (or lack thereof) is seeping into every corner of my confidence. I know I am talented. I believe in myself. Why does no one else want to give me a chance?

It doesn’t help me either reading other fitness or healthy living blogs spewing posts about eating in moderation over the holidays, losing weight this time of year, etc. I love food – I am home so infrequently and I miss my mother’s cooking. I eat delicious food on a daily basis, don’t mind me, but I neither have the skills nor the equipment to cook some of the traditional Chinese dishes she and my grandmother can (and which I grew up eating). I’m not going to skimp out on her famous spare ribs because I want to maintain my figure.

So I was angry that I felt like I needed to deprive myself – and for the first few feasts of the season, I ate in moderation, halving my portions, skipping out on seconds. Even then I was so wrought with guilt over no gym routine and eating way more than usual that I felt myself having those creeping terrible thoughts about myself again. My boyfriend told me to indulge and be happy – and indulge I did. We had friends over for a belated Christmas party and I ate plate after plate of delectable smoked duck, chap jae, spare ribs, fried sardines, and on and on, culminating in fruit salad, chocolates, and tiramisu for dessert. It was glorious. I woke up feeling disgusting and dragged my leaden legs on a run.

So what? I went on a run. But my usual path was flooded so I had to make do jogging around my neighborhood at a snail’s pace. I didn’t know how long or how many miles I ran, and felt a nagging panicky feeling. It was a shitty run and I was in tears as I walked home.

Who cares??????

I can’t let myself fall into the trap of hating my body and myself again. I’ve put off blogging because I felt like it would only trigger more feelings of inadequacy – look at all those bloggers who stayed low-fat low-carb vegan with 100g of protein per day over the holidays and worked out their normal amount! And then there’s me – I ran three times this week and did one HIIT dumbbell workout, and plan on doing yoga with my mother tomorrow. A perfectly normal amount of working out. I ate probably a normal lunch (no breakfast), and large dinners for the past four days – I’m not going to be morbidly obese because of it.

I can rationalize that out in my head, but then I see myself in the mirror and just want to hide away in yoga pants and sweatshirts. Where is my confidence? I feel my tummy creeping out over the waistband of my pants, my thighs scraping against each other, my chin literally bursting into my neck – I know part of it is my imagination and me simply being crazy, but some of it has to be real.

Thank goodness the part of me which believes that I am gorgeous and strong and deserve to be loved and happy still fights back and I’m capable of thinking through my crazy thoughts and rationalizing it and admitting that I need to rein it in. Otherwise I’d be back to horrible eating habits and self loathing in no time.

And a little something from tumblr: