My man squats ME ass to grass!
He also uses me as a human barbell.
And this is why we’re together.
In other news…got my co-op share today. Here are some crappy pictures of good produce.
Let’s see what I come up with the next two weeks.
My man squats ME ass to grass!
He also uses me as a human barbell.
And this is why we’re together.
In other news…got my co-op share today. Here are some crappy pictures of good produce.
Let’s see what I come up with the next two weeks.
A few months ago I mentioned that I was changing my workout routine. It’s usually good to switch things up, and I definitely learned a few things from it.
At the time of the switch I was working out 4x a week doing an upper and lower body split. Cardio was usually Bodyrock or something similar twice a week. Before that, I had been doing 3 heavy full-body workouts a week.
When I changed my routine, I decided to do Jamie Eason’s Livefit program. It lasts for three months, with the first two months being dedicated to building mass and the last month to cutting (fat loss). Honestly, I didn’t make it to the third phase because my diet was not on point, but more on that later.
The first month was pretty easy for me to adapt to because it was an upper and lower body split, which is what I had been doing anyway. The only difference was that there were more exercises and I had to raise the reps and lower the weights. I quickly realized that I was not a fan of doing that because of some ridiculous ego issues that are tied into how much weight I can move.
The second month had me doing a body-part split, which is where you work only one or two muscle groups a day, 5 to 6 days out of the week. The goal is to put on muscle mass. This was the first time I’d ever done a body-part split, and I feel like focusing so much on hypertrophy (gaining muscle) made me lose some strength.
I know that seems counter-intuitive, but my focus before this program was doing lots of compound movements and staying within the 5-8 rep range for the most part. Now I was doing a lot of isolation work (but still doing some compound movements, just not as many) at higher reps and for a much higher volume of exercise per body part. I was also using more machines than I was used to.
Here’s an example of strength loss:
Squats. Before I was doing 4×4 of 125 lbs. I haven’t even tried to go that heavy in months because I’ve been doing higher reps. I record just about every lift that I do in my phone, so I know that a few months ago I was squatting 3 sets of 10 reps for 110 lbs. I’ve moved up to 110 lbs again and I’m almost reaching failure by the 8th rep.
One of the most challenging things for me was dealing with the dramatic increase of exercise volume per body part. When I was doing an upper and lower body split, I’d work each muscle group about twice per session, for a total of 4 exercises per week per muscle group. Although the volume was kind of low, it allowed to me lift heavier. With the Livefit program I was doing something like 6-8 exercises per body part in one day. By the third exercise I felt like my strength was zapped. But I stuck with it because I’ve been wanting to put on more muscle for a long time, and if this is how it’s done then I’m gonna do it!
Now I didn’t move into the fat loss phase of the program because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to tighten my diet. Instead I decided to take advantage of the fact that I was eating at a surplus every few days and stay in the muscle-building phase for maximum gains.
I *think* I may have put on some muscle mass. But 1) it’s difficult for women, especially someone who is experienced at lifting weights and a hard-gainer to begin with, to put on muscle in just two months. And 2) I can’t really tell how much muscle, if any, I gained unless I lose some fat. Right now my body fat percentage is a bit too high to see any real definition. Despite that, my arms and shoulders seem a little more muscular, but that just might be fat
So, I still think the Livefit program is a good one for changing your physique. However I like my workouts to be a little more well-rounded and athletic. For my own preferences, things like chin-ups, heavy squats and deadlifts, glute-ham raises, pistols and bench presses (although Livefit had plenty of those) should be the main emphasis of the workout. More free weights and more things that challenge your CNS (central nervous system) and balance…yeah, that’s my motto.
As of right now I’m still doing a body-part split, but I’m putting more emphasis on doing heavier compound exercises. One day I will probably go back to doing full-body workouts because I feel like I was the strongest and most athletic during that phase. And even though I wasn’t doing much cardio, my aerobic endurance was through the roof. But alas, I want more muscles, so for now a body-part split it is. Stay tuned to see what happens!
It seems the holidays can either bring out the best or the worst in people.
Admittedly, I’ve been quite the Grinch. Ask me about Thanksgiving, and I’d roll my eyes and say it was a tribute to gluttony and genocide. And Christmas? More like Consume-mas.
This year I’m trying to be less Grinch-y. I even cooked for the first time ever for Thanksgiving.
You see, my dad used to have this saying–Happiness is having a good day. I really took that to heart, and while I still think there’s a lot of truth in it, I’ve changed my perception about it. These days I think happiness is more of a decision.
Lately I haven’t been quite as focused on being positive, and I can feel the difference. Maybe it’s the holiday blues, but I don’t intend to succumb to that, or to marinate in my negativity the way I’ve done in years past. It’s kind of funny, you know. You’d think that since our brains are so concerned with our self preservation and well-being that it’d be easier to be positive. But, for me at least, having a good attitude and a chipper outlook on life is an effort. Happy thoughts are definitely not where my mind goes first.
But I’m still up for the challenge.
So instead of complaining about being forced to buy people presents in annoyingly crowded malls, I’m going to put more effort into coming up with creative gifts that represent more than just “I’m obligated to get you something and I had no idea what so I closed my eyes and picked the closest thing to me.” I don’t think you have to spend tons of money to give people meaningful gifts, and that’s going to be my focus this year.
I’ve never had a problem being consistent with exercise during the holidays, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
As for holiday weight gain, David and I are going to be having a little friendly competition to see if we can make it a certain amount of time without eating any added sugar. If I lose, I have to pay him $100. But aside from that, I’m not too stressed about my seasonal saddlebags.
Another thing I really want to work on is my response to people when they ask me how things are. For whatever reason, it is really hard for me to say something like, “Life is great!” I’m much more inclined to be like, “Eh. It’s okay. Nothing too exciting.” Part of it is that I feel like a fake and a cheeseball expressing any kind of enthusiasm. I guess I don’t have to go as far as sounding like my own personal cheerleader, but I’d also like to not be so apathetic.
So anyway, before this gets too long (too late), I wanted to share a couple of things I made for Thanksgiving. Please forgive my terrible photography skills. One day I’ll, uh, take better pictures.
Raw squash rice with onions, raisins and walnuts. I got it from this recipe.
Sylvia used pumpkin in her recipe, but I substituted it with butternut squash. It was quite tasty. Today I actually mixed it with some of the squash rice and that was a total win.
I also made pear gratin and sweet potato casserole. But unfortunately I didn’t get pictures of them.
I really didn’t feel like working out today, but after yesterday’s feast I convinced myself that I had plenty of fuel saved up from all those carbs, and was probably capable of doing some decent lifting.
Front raise 3×10 15 lbs
Then I did a frickin’ HIIT workout on the stairmaster for 9 minutes. NOT cute. Oh yeah, and I walked to the gym, which is a little more than a mile away from my house. Not too shabby, eh?
Let’s see if I can crank this blog post out while my pits are still warm and sticky from caffeine-induced perspiration.
Sorry, I just really felt the urge to share that.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the balancing act we all do in our lives. This isn’t meant as a complaint, but I’m juggling a lot (hence why sometimes I don’t post frequently). I know I’m not the only one, and I’m curious how everyone else manages to do it. Props to people who have kids, work full-time and go to school. I cannot even fathom what that’s like.
On my busiest of days, my schedule might look something like this:
6:30 am: wake up, take a shower, eat breakfast, drive to work
8:00 am: Arrive at work
12:30 pm: Gym for resistance training for 30-40 mins on lunch break (it takes me about 20-25 minutes total to drive there and back and to change clothes.)
5:00 pm: Leave work
6:00 pm: Self defense class
7:30 pm*: Negotiable: Cardio, cooking for the next day, blogging. Non-negotiable: Cooking dinner, packaging lunch for next day, hanging out with derpface David, downing a bottle of wine**
11:00 pm – 12:00 am: Sleepytime!
*After 7:30 pm I tend to lose a lot of motivation, so I don’t always do all those things, but I usually knock off at least three of them, sometimes more.
Looking at it written out, it actually doesn’t seem like that much. But still, I’m glad that I have so much to preoccupy myself with because I have a tendency to get bored. But the thing is, there’s so much more I want to do. Unfortunately I don’t think I have the energy in me to add meditating, more frequent walking and cardio, CLEANING, yoga, foam rolling and reading (I swear I fall asleep after 2 pages no matter how enthralling it is) to my daily schedule.
If it were up to me, an awesomely productive day would include all those things, and for a while I did try to do it all. That was nothing but a recipe for burning out. I realized that I had to pick my priorities. But seeing as how I have a lot of those, I had to take it a step further and prioritize my priorities.
I’ve taken a cue from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and I’m cutting out what’s not absolutely crucial to focus on what’s most important. And that’s how I’ve managed to (mostly) keep my sanity. Yeah, my training sessions aren’t as long as I’d like, this blog ain’t payin’ my bills, I’m certainly not a zen master, my house is messy and I don’t get to enjoy cool books, but I’ve accepted that.
The main thing I’d like to move up in my list of priorities is how often I’m blogging. I’d really like to put more effort into this and fix up my design because it’s looking a little too amateur for my preference.
Man, if only I didn’t have to sleep.
So how do you balance your crazy life?
PS. I woke up early this morning and did the 480 workouts again. I beat my previous time by 9 minutes. I rule.
PPS. Happy Thanksgiving!
This weekend was a doozy.
You see, David works at Whole Foods. And sometimes he brings home “goodies” (although I think it’d be more fitting to call them “badies.”) This week’s batch of evil temptation came in the form of cornbread. And not the dry, crumbly kind they used to sell in the school cafeteria. No, this was glorious, moist, SWEET as sin cornbread. I ended up eating enough to send me crashing into a sugar coma several times. There was also fried chicken (when will my parents stop buying this?), sugar-free energy beverages (the legal, liquid equivalent of designer drugs), a cheeseburger and cake. That’s as much as I’m willing to admit, anyway.
I also bailed on some of my workouts, making my resistance training total for the week a measly two sessions. (Although I was good about cardio…and I sprinted, too!)
By Sunday night, I was feeling pretty gross. I brooded for a bit, and then I forced myself out of it. There was no point in dwelling on the fact that I ate like total crap and didn’t exercise all weekend. It happens. I could let it depress me and send me into a vortex of gluttony because, what the hell, I already blew it.
But I don’t work like that. I know a weekend of overindulgence is not a sentence that dooms me to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Instead, it becomes a breaking point for me, an opportunity to turn something negative into something positive. And that’s what I did.
I read up on some exercise stuff (I seriously enjoy that) then set my alarm clock for a rather ambitious hour. Today I made it to the gym bright and early for a good workout. I put together all my lunches for today when I got home, and even prepped some stuff for later tonight. This past weekend’s offenses aren’t bothering me in the least right now because today has gone so swimmingly.
It’s all about perception. I didn’t let my negativity consume me. Instead, my weekend of reckless abandon reset me for the week. It motivated me to clean up my act.
We all have a few days, a few weeks, maybe even a few months where our habits are…off the chain.
*cough cough the holidays*
But instead of beating yourself up, try to shift the way you think, even if it feels like flat-out lying. For example:
Ugghhh. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing. I’m so disgusting. I feel gross. I just want to faceplant into a pint of icecreambecause what does it even matter anymore? I’m a failure.
Eh. I overate. More than usual. Whatever. I feel kind of full and bloated right now, and I don’t like feeling that way, so tomorrow I’m going to do a bunch of things that will make me feel better. Yes, I will feel awesome after a glorious day of walking, veggies and water.
Oftentimes, it’s dwelling in our own negativity and guilt that prevents us from shedding bad habits. Just remember that messing up doesn’t have to be the end all, be all of your healthy habits. Sometimes all it takes is a little gumption and positivity to get you on the right track. Be good to yourself. It pays off.
And because I’m a cheese ball who loves Gone with the Wind, I can’t help but posting this:
The other day I was doing squats at the gym. On the other side of the room a female trainer was also squatting. (Incidentally people have asked if we’re sisters because there is a slight resemblance, AND I saw her at the club I went to last night.)
I immediately start sizing her up, looking at her form, how much weight she’s moving and how many reps. I tend to do this with everyone who squats, but especially with women. Apparently I take squats very seriously.
At first it was no thang because she was only squatting 65 lbs (the bar plus two 10 lb plates). I warm up and do my first set of squats (110 lbs for 8 reps. I want to address this in the future, but my strength has gone down since starting a body part split and I’m working to get it back up.)
Then she takes the 10s off and replaces them with 25s. Now she’s squatting 95 and I’m staying at 110. Too close for comfort. I watch her intently. She does something like 15 reps and gets to about parallel with her depth.
Whatever, at least I go ass to grass, and I’m still doing 15 lbs more than her, I think to myself.
The whole time I’m anxious that she’s going to add weight to the bar and out-squat me. I realize that this is pretty ridiculous, but I am competitive. It’s strange to experience this inner rivalry and yet be completely aware of how unnecessary and petty it is.
On one hand, competition can be a good motivator to push us beyond our boundaries. On the other hand, it can very easily turn into something negative. I think there’s a fine line between friendly competition and a pissing contest.
I’m always talking about how women should be more open to lifting weights, yet when I encounter one I feel threatened. I guess that’s the only child in me coming out. This is MY area. I am the official weight lifting girl here. Who are YOU? Silly, yes, I know.
I don’t really have a point to all of this, except that I’d like to change this behavior. If I see another girl lifting, and I decide to go heavier because of it, it should be because I’m inspired, not threatened. Also, I’m wondering if anyone else reading this is as competitive as I am?
And this is kind of, sort of related in the sense that it reveals how psycho I am….
The other day I was driving to my self defense class and the parking lot was full. I circled around it once then went back in. As I came in the second time, a lady was walking into the lot to leave so I stopped and waited. Her car was actually right next to mine and I needed to reverse to let her out.
Only, a girl was behind me and she didn’t want to reverse because she wanted the parking spot. Oh hell no. I knew I was about to be that chick…the one who gets out of the car and walks up to the other person’s window and asks them to roll it down. Yeah, I did that. The conversation went like this:
Me: Would you mind backing up?
Girl: I can’t. There’s a truck there.
Me: There’s like four feet between you and the truck. I just need a little space to reverse so the lady can get out.
Girl: But I was here first.
Me: How were you here first if I’m in front of you?
Girl: You cut me off.
Me: I did NOT cut you off. (Which I didn’t…AT ALL.)
At this point some people walked up and told us that they were leaving and the space was right there. Nice way to diffuse the situation. Not that I would have done anything violent, but I did feel my bitch meter starting to rise. The thing is, I’m a considerate driver in a city of assholes. If you don’t live in Miami, ASK ANYONE who does. The people drive like dicks here. If I were in that girl’s position, I would have reversed in the first place (which she eventually did.)
Was getting out of my car a little extreme? I don’t give a shit. I think I was perfectly in the clear to ask her politely if she’d move. My cop friend told me that I was crazy because “everyone carries a gun here.” Whatever. I guess I live on the wild side then! My life is usually pretty boring. I need something to get my blood pumping, and that certainly did the trick. And I’m not sorry I did it at all.
So I don’t usually do two-fers, but a workout I did today inspired to do this vlog:
Please excuse me, I was a bit nervous!
Also, as promised, here’s the link to the workout:
The 480 Workout. (Some of the exercises are explained in the comment section, so be sure to read it.)
Yes, that’s 480 as in 480 reps. It took me 25:23 to complete it. I can always tell how intense a workout is by how sweaty and matted my neck hair is.
And before any smartasses can comment, no, there is no footage of said naked working out! I would also like to clarify that I was not completely naked, as I was wearing shoes. I get blisters if I don’t.
So, who works out naked…or does anything unusual naked?
How many times have you liked a song a lot more the second or third or tenth time hearing it?
What about movies? The first time I saw Juno I thought it was so overrated. (No 16 year old talks like that or is that cool.) Then the second time I saw it I wasn’t so judgmental and I enjoyed it a lot more.
Sometimes you have to give things a second (or third) chance to fully appreciate their awesomeness, and I think the same thing applies to food, especially if you’re a picky eater. Do you wish you could start eating more healthy but feel like you just can’t get into it because the food is so boring? Do you agonize over menus at restaurants because you can’t find anything that suits you? If your answer is yes, and you’d like to expand your epicurean horizons, then I’m talking to you.
The first thing I want to address is WHY certain foods make you feel like you’re chewing cud. There are many reasons, but here are a few:
1. Leftover dislike from childhood
Kids are picky eaters. And personally I think the more you try to force certain foods on them, the stronger their distaste grows. So let’s say as a kid your well-intentioned parents tried to get you to eat more broccoli. At a time when the only green thing you were interested in was probably Sour Apple Blow Pops, the taste of broccoli was gross, and being forced to eat it made it even more disgusting. Now as an adult just the smell of it makes you gag.
“The psychology of taste is further complicated by our natural aversion to things that are new or different from what we are expecting. Foods with unique textures such as mushrooms and okra often fall victim to this bias. In these cases the unfamiliarity and strangeness of the texture makes us slightly uncomfortable, and we interpret this feeling as a personal dislike. However, this reaction reflects the food’s uniqueness rather than its true character.”
By the way, that’s a really good article about overcoming food aversions.
3. Salt or sugar addiction
If you are used to eating processed food and/or fast food, then regular ol’ whole foods are probably going to taste bland to you. That’s because the fare you’re used to eating is filled with tons of salt or sugar. But, there are many flavors out there besides salty and sweet, you’re just not used picking them up. Once you lose your taste for processed food it becomes much easier to detect and appreciate the flavors in more natural foods.
4. Genuine dislike
Hey, sometimes you just don’t like stuff. It happens. As I’ve mentioned before, I really don’t like dill or celery. But I managed to polish off a LARGE portion of it over the last two weeks because I know how to cook it the way I like it (SOUP to the rescue). I think that if cooked or prepared properly, just about anything can be delicious. Or at least edible.
After doing a Google search, it seems that at its more extreme end, picky eating can be quite the ordeal, to the point where there are support groups for it. This post isn’t directed towards people whose picky habits have become a source of major social anxiety, but rather those who are mild to moderately fickle and open to changing those habits. If you suspect that your taste buds are temperamental for any of the reasons I listed above, here are some suggestions for expanding your palate:
-Keep an open mind. If you focus on the idea that you are not going to like something, or that it’s gross, then it probably will be. Instead, try to set aside your biases and look at the particular dish as an adventure, not a punishment. If millions of other people around the world like it, there has to be something good about it, right?
-Keep trying. Those childhood aversions can run deep, but if you’re dedicated enough, you can overcome that with a little exposure therapy. This might sound…unpleasant, and to a certain degree it can be. But realizing that a certain food isn’t just edible, but in fact pretty good is worth it. I mean, how many things have you learned to love in your life? I bet there are a few. Why exclude healthy food?
-Opt for the freshest ingredients you can find. If you don’t like apples and you eat an old, grainy one, it’s not going to help.
-Go to a high quality restaurant. Chefs know how to make everything taste good. It’s their job to make the fireworks go off in your mouth. Take advantage of that and try something you normally don’t like and see if it makes a difference.
-Learn how to cook. First of all, if you want to be healthy you should be learning how to cook anyway. Second, sometimes you just need to figure out a way to prepare something so that it’s tasty to you. The right spices and cooking method can make all the difference!
-Phase out the junk food. It’s time to expand your palate beyond sweet and salty. It’s time to stop drowning your tongue in salt and sugar.
So, are you a picky eater? Are there any foods that you just can’t stomach? Have you learned to like a particular food that you once hated?
I got home not too long ago from my mixed martial arts (MMA) self defense class. I go twice a week and we practice things like grappling (wrestling), striking, kicking, knife defense, judo (ugghhh) and ninjitsu. It’s been quite the learning experience.
Which reminds me…
11 Things I’ve Learned from MMA.
I’ve been practicing MMA for about 9 months now–fitting, considering I’m pretty much still in my infancy when it comes to this stuff. (My instructor yelled at me for something and I told him that I’m a baby learning how to crawl, and he said, “More like you act like a baby.” Psh.) I don’t want to try to sound like I really know anything; this list is based off of my own personal experiences. It could be different for anyone.
1. Leave your ego at the door.
If you have a problem with failure then this is probably not the best pursuit for you, because someone is always going to be better than you. And you WILL mess up if you are a newbie. Which brings me to my next point…
2. Embrace failure
They can’t all be winners. Every time you fail, you learn. And the more you learn, the better you get. For me, success has come as tiny victories sprinkled throughout long stretches of clumsy, hasty suckiness. The fear of failure is paralyzing, and on many occasions it has left me frozen in doubt in the middle of a drill. There is no benefit to this. Either you try something and it works, or it doesn’t. In both of those instances the experience is far more valuable than doing nothing.
3. Get clinical.
I’m not sure if other people experience this, but removing my emotions from the situation is something I’ve really had to work on. When I “fight” MMA with someone I can get mad and take things way too personally. I’ve never gone into a tussle with the intention of getting upset, but for a while whenever I would roll I would start to see red and thrash wildly. This is not good because you get sloppy, you don’t see important things and you waste a lot of energy. I can’t emphasize how important it is to keep your cool and not let your emotions get the best of you. I’m still working on this one but I think I’ve gotten better. And at the end of the day, there’s no reason to take it personally. You’re there to learn, as are other people. No one’s intentions are malicious (usually…hopefully), they are just trying to get better, the same as you are.
4. Be patient.
Some people are naturally better at things like martial arts, but for those of us (*cough cough ME cough cough*) who are challenged in all things that require finesse and coordination…shit is hard. But don’t give up. If you stick with it, and you try, you will get better.
I had a panic attack during my yellow belt test. Ever since then I’ve been putting a lot of effort into calming my breathing and not getting too worked up. Think about when you get stressed. The best thing you can do is regulate your breathing and try to relax. For many people it’s something you have to learn to do, and I really feel that MMA is helping me to improve in this area.
6. Rely on technique, not strength.
This may not apply quite so much to a larger person, but as a girl who is only 5’3″ and 115 lbs, this is important for me. Mostly because I don’t really have much strength to use against someone bigger and stronger than me. And the more strength I try to use, the more I’m going to wear myself out. And for what? It’s not like it’s going to save me from the other person. That’s why really nailing down the technique is important.
7. Get used to being bruised.
I’ve pretty much retired my skirts because my shins are perpetually covered in bruises. I don’t really mind though. It makes me feel kind of tough.
8. Grappling counts as cardio.
Dude. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself that I was going to do cardio after an MMA class, only to leave completely exhausted with my shirt drenched in sweat. Wrestling is INTENSE. In fact, today the other girls and I rolled live (rolling basically means wrestling with someone, and going live is like going almost full force) for longer than we ever have before, and I started getting the shakes. But to be honest, I find this form of cardio way more fun than the treadmill. Even if I do feel like dying afterwards.
9. Get lots of pedicures (if you’re a girl.)
My feet are JACKED UP. Normally I pride myself on having nice tootsies, but damn. The mat will do a number on them, as evidenced here. I have more pictures of scars from mat burn and groadie blisters, but I’ll spare you. Not so much because I care about grossing anyone out, but because I don’t want to be known as the girl with crusty feet.
10. Prepare to be in a lot of awkward positions.
I don’t know if you’ve ever watched an MMA match, but when two dudes get on the floor…it can look like gay sex. Naturally, it took a little bit of getting used to whenever I’d get someone between my legs (in my guard) or when someone would mount me. I’m completely desensitized to it now, but lesser experienced grapplers may break out into fits of awkward giggling. Other weird positions include a triangle choke (their head is between your legs) and the north south hold, which is basically a 69 position.
11. Prepare to get very well acquainted with other people’s smells.
I think after #10 this one is pretty self explanatory.
So there you have it. For me, MMA is equal parts physical intuition and mental fortitude. As rough as it is, MMA can be kind of therapeutic. Your pent-up issues tend to come out on the mat, and from there it’s up to you to fix them. I’d highly recommend it for anyone interested not only in self defense, but self improvement as well.
Is it better to publish informative posts less often, or personal fluff posts frequently?
I guess I’ll aim for somewhere in the middle.
I got my ass beat in my MMA self defense class today, and I was going to write about the things I’ve learned in that class during the past 8 months. But I started putzing around on Facebook and I totally lost my writing mojo. Well, at least I was really productive at work today. And I did a shoulder workout on my lunch break. I’d post the routine but after seeing Miss Sable kick some serious ass in the gym, I’m a little embarrassed of my 55 lb push press.
Anyway…here are some random photos to keep you entertained. Everyone likes photos, right? RIGHT?!
Aaaand that was way more time consuming than I anticipated. Hope you enjoyed!