Tag Archives: perseverance

69 Weeks Out

A fellow high school math teacher friend and I loosely keep track of the number of times the magical number “69” appears as answers to example questions, test questions, publicized statistical information, etc.   While I am happy with my decision to wait a year to compete, life is a little ‘challenging’ right now, so to motivate myself, I felt compelled to calculate the number of weeks until the first weekend when I might compete –  yeah, it’s 69 weeks from tomorrow.  Go figure.

My life has changed a bit in the last few weeks.  I miss blogging.  It’s unlikely that I will be able to stick to a writing schedule, but I am going to attempt to keep a weekly journal here.  It may be boring, but if I can do it, I will have  documentation of my program as I work on improving before I compete again.

My current workout split is a four day lift plan – upper heavy, lower heavy, upper hypertrophy, and lower hypertrophy.   The switch from five days lifting to four was made to free up my schedule a little bit because of life things.  I can tell after a few weeks of this that I am recovering better with three rest days a week instead of two.

While I have a “lower heavy” day, my right hip really can’t handle heavy loads.  I am learning how to use blood flow restriction training with goblet squats and hex bar deadlifts.  The first week, I didn’t have the straps tight enough.  The second week felt better.  I like the knee straps around my hips – they help me spring up.  There isn’t a lot of pain.  It does become uncomfortable at the end of the 15 rep set.  Because the weight used is supposed to be light, I don’t feel like I’ve worked much.  I think the straps were tight enough the second week, so I have to increase the weight I’m using or increase the number of reps.  I did notice that the pump in my quads lasted about a day, so maybe I am doing it right?

I haven’t done barbell bench presses in a long time, so I’m happy to be doing those again.  (I’ve been using dumbbells and Hammer Smith machines.)  My strength is pretty good for bench considering I haven’t done them in a while.  I think the most I’ve ever done is 115 for 1.  I’m currently at 100 for 5 after a couple of weeks.

Everything upper body has been going well.  The upper body days are my favorite now.  I do miss the 5th day of lifting that was dedicated to shoulders and arms.  However, with the added stress, the extra rest day is a good idea.

I am supposed to be hitting macros, but to be honest, I’ve been “loosely” following macros and eating for energy.   I’m attempting to maintain my body weight around 150 pounds right now.  I have been able to do that on more food.   From November until January, I was doing a very, very, very slow cut.  By February, I was starting to feel it in my energy levels.  I felt “off” – felt like I was slowing down.   Added in more food.  I’m maintaining my weight with extra food – mostly carbs.  Most days, I’m over 200 grams.   Protein is around 150 g and fat is around 85 g.

I haven’t done much cardio.  It tends to trigger a stress hormone response for me and I feel more anxious.  Because I have an extra rest day, I added a stairmaster HIIT one morning this week.  That would bring the number of cardio sessions I’ve done since November to… wait for it… 3.  But I do want to try and do one HIIT a week now. I think it will help with recovery.  Thinking about doing kettlebell swings for it, though.  Easier to do those at home in the dark hours of the early morning.

The biggest thing impacting my program right now is life.  The classes I’m teaching are challenging – precalculus, AP calculus AB, and calculus BC.  I’m barely able to keep up with lesson planning and my grading is a couple weeks behind now.   My husband and I have always been a two-car couple and we are now learning how to manage with a single vehicle while keeping all the extra appointments a guy with a recovering kneecap needs to keep.   Still working my way through a bunch of insurance paperwork while waiting to find out what the medical insurance will cover.  I’m sure we’ll be able to work this out.  I’m not worried.  I can’t be.  Stress won’t help me.

I get up early on weekends to work.  Peanut “helps” me.


Peanut helping write calculus lessons last weekend.

I am going to keep my manicure appointments.  I love the hour I have to sit there and just visit with Janette.  Sure, I like the nails, too, but sitting still for an hour is awesome.


School colors – green and white


Filed under Competing, Life, My Lifting Log

An Update

So the first week of my 52nd year was a little bumpy.  During this second week, the dust is settling.

Hubby is home and recuperating.  His healing will take time, but I’m grateful he is home to do that healing.

My coach reviewed all the data and he liked my progress pictures.  He reminded me that the DXA info doesn’t tell the whole story.  I’ve tightened up a bit in the last three months.  I am not competing again until summer 2015, so I have a lot of time to improve.  I got a great pep talk and a new training protocol that reduced my workouts from five to four a week.  That is a good thing right now.  There is more to do since I’m trying to pick up a little of what my husband normally does – and that’s really impossible since he does a ton of stuff every day.

Sleep is still a goal, but it’s probably not a reasonable one every day right now.  No worries about that are allowed.  If I’m tired, I don’t mind.  It’s going to be OK.  What I’m focused on at the moment is living in the moment – take each day as it comes.  I will not worry.  When I put my mind to it, I can compartmentalize things pretty well.  Every so often, I let all the things pile up in my head (insurance, medical bills, lesson plans, grading, etc.) and then stress over the pile of poo, but when I’m in crisis mode, I just handle the next thing and not think too far ahead.


Filed under Life

Pep Talks

One of the things I really enjoy about teaching is giving pep-talks.  I never used to give as many I as do now.  I’ve learned a lot about how the mental game can help you progress or hold you back.  For me it is in the gym, but that’s not the first hard thing I’ve done.  It’s easy to connect that to their lives in school.  And many of my students who play sports identify with what I’m doing as a bodybuilder.  I try to make the connection that doing “hard stuff” in any part of our lives is a challenge, but once you learn how to succeed, it translates to other things.  It’s not just about math (they are learning some hard stuff – trigonometry, precalculus and calculus), but how learning to overcome an obstacle now will help them in life later.

Students tell me that they like the pep talks.  I suspect they really like the time not taking notes or doing problems.  That’s cool.  It works for me.  They still hear it.  I try not to abuse it.  But there are key times when a good pep talk is needed…

  • before a hard quiz
  • after a hard quiz
  • when grades come out
  • when no one wants to work because it’s a Monday, a Friday, or a Wednesday.  For some reason, Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to be good days to learn math.
  • it’s a senior class in second semester – sometimes they need a pep talk every day

I am grateful to have the opportunity to think about how to motivate kids.  I suspect that’s because I need pep talks, too.  Lately, I feel like I need a bunch.

I can’t lie – competing is fun, but I’m not motivated by it right now since it’s not happening again until summer 2015.  I LOVE training.  I want to be a good lifter.  I want to improve technique and I want to build more muscle.  Changes at this point are not dramatic.  Growth comes in grams,  not pounds.  I am very slowly and methodically working on my body composition so that when I start the next prep, it will be easier.  (Although, the last two weren’t really that bad.  Doc is happy with my blood work and thyroid looks good.  I want to keep it that way.)   I have to be consistent and patient.  I also need to keep working on sleep, recovery, and stress management.

What really keeps me going is the process.  I love the science of self-discovery.  I love looking for connections between training, nutrition, sleep, stress, and what my body does under certain conditions.  It’s all so miraculous to this former fat-chick who used to think two plates of nachos with a couple rum and cokes was the best supper ever.  I love that the more I learn, the more questions I have.  I love that every body is different and what works fabulously for one doesn’t work at all for another.  This is just really fun.  I know that lifting isn’t for everyone.  Some like to run, some like to dance – I like to lift.  But I do believe that for us to be happy, we must move.  The body is a biomiracle that functions optimally when the day involves movement.

Rambling!  Sorry.  Hazard of my ‘stream of consciousness’ blogging style.

Back on topic…

This is what I share with my students – that if something is important to you, find a way to do it.  I tell them that I know “math” isn’t everyone’s favorite subject, but getting a good grade in a hard class is possible even if it’s not your favorite subject.  Focus on your process more than short term results because improvement will come if the process is solid.  Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, right?  

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Filed under Competing, Life, Motivation, Teaching

I Quit?!?

true strength

For the first time in recent memory, I quit a workout before it was finished and went home.

I didn’t get enough sleep. My head was not in the right place for the heavy strong woman workout I was supposed to do today. I got a late start. I ran errands first. I was procrastinating. I did a really long warm up and stretching session. My mind of full of fear today and I could not shake it.

I’ve written before that my main goals for this strong woman training are…

  1. gain mass
  2. lose fear of pressing over my head, and let’s add…
  3. don’t get hurt

Notice that “win a strong woman competition” is NOT a goal? Because it’s not. This is NOT my passion. I like some of the exercises, but in general, I don’t look forward to these workouts. They are really hard and scary. Which is exactly why I wanted to do them.

But today, I was miserable.

Something that I’m learning about myself, that I suppose my hubby and my coach both know – I don’t respond well to positive thinking. I’m just too… something. Pragmatic? I cannot logically accept that I can lift a weight that I know is too heavy, no matter how I feel about it. So when very wonderful people try to encourage me, it backfires. When I don’t believe it, it’s just wishful thinking and it never works. And you know what? I really don’t give a sh#t what I’m expected to lift on Sept 21.  I had at least three people tell me to “go for it” today and I was not ready.  Some days, I’m in “beast mode” coming out of the gate locker room. But not usually. Most of the time, I start at a weight I can easily handle and increase it gradually. It’s more about building my confidence than building my strength. The inner dialogue is always the same…

This is a warm up set… This is heavier, but still a warm up set… OK. Let’s try last week’s max… OK. Let’s add 5 pounds – you won’t even notice 5 pounds… OK., now let’s add 10 pounds.

At some point, I fail. If I fail too soon, I’m pissed. However, I do pretty well attempting and failing one week, then nailing it the next. This is a normal cycle.

Last week, I failed to complete a set of log presses at 70 pounds. So today, I didn’t try. I did two three rep sets to warm up and then I did 4 one-rep sets. I was able to handle 75 pounds – not easily, but I did it. Two attempts at 80 pounds could not be pressed higher than my eyeballs.

But that was all the ‘heavy’ I had in me today. TMI ALERT! I pushed so hard on those last two attempts I wet myself. I had no change of clothes with me. And honestly – that was the last straw. I was tired, angry, hot, and unfocused. Game over.

G A M E.   O V E R.

Sent this text to Coach as I was walking to the car. (Please excuse my language.)


I cried in the car all the way home. So frustrated! I am serious about rethinking this decision, however, I believe a good night’s sleep will reset my brain and calm my fears. I’ve refused to try some exercises before and I’ve refused to do some ever again – like hand-stand pushups. All of this goes back to protecting my weak shoulder. It’s gotten a LOT stronger in the last year, but I still feel those little pings.

My mental game is lame.

Coach continued to text me today…


I got home and showered and ate.  I spent the afternoon in my beautiful ‘new’ home office writing blog posts and listening to Vivaldi.  My brain is calmer now.

I don’t recall being this fearful about my program since I was a newb. Maybe that’s because I’m a newb again.  At risk of sounding a little self-obsessed (wink, wink, Martha), I catch people watching me do these exercises and that just makes me feel more insure.  I think my form is OK, but I have to be honest – I don’t know for sure I’m doing them right and it feels like I’m in a fish bowl.  That could be my insecure imagination or it could be legit because I’m doing something so different than what I used to do.

Tomorrow morning, I will decide to either finish the workout I started today or go back to a bodybuilding routine. I suspect I will continue, but I also expect that I will need to make that same decision every week before the “heavy” workout. Constant cycle of recommitting.

I have collected a ton of pictures over the years. For days like today.

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Filed under Life, Strong Woman Training

Where was I a year ago?

Just for fun, I looked up the blog post I made a year ago today, December 27, 2011.  Interesting.  I was coming out of a very difficult period.  From August 2011 until December 2011 everything in my program was in disarray.  I was dumped by my trainer who I trusted, turned down for coaching by another local trainer – just confused and lost.  I suspected these people looked at me and saw a mid-life crisis who ran out of money for personal training.  I was no longer a revenue source.

Turns out that as soon as I was in a new place, I was surrounded by people who wanted nothing from me.  They just wanted to help.  I was welcomed and tutored.  I reconnected with an experienced trainer who over the next few months became my friend and current coach.

Things turned out pretty good, huh?  I hit my target dead on.  It was really important to me that I competed on August 25, 2011.  I would not let the drama postpone my dream.  I did not have to compromise anything.

Just in case you feel a little lost sometimes, check this old blog post.  It was good for me to reread it.  You’ll read it knowing how the story ends.   Well, not exactly the end.  There are bigger, scarier goals in front of me.

Where’s my ambition? I know I put down here somewhere.



Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Life, Motivation, Old Posts

In God’s Time

  • Week 153 on program.
  • 13 weeks out from show.
  • 3 weeks to weight goal of 128 pounds.
  • Current weight = 146.8 pounds.  (Uh oh.)

I am not making progress fast enough with the weight loss.  To hit that goal, I need to lose 6 pounds a week for the next three weeks.  Oh, that’s not going to happen.  Even when I was 200 pounds, 44 % body fat, I couldn’t lose 6 pounds a week.  And I wouldn’t want to.  That’s not a healthy weight loss.

The Bodybugg system is wonderful for logging and tracking calories.  I know it’s not 100% accurate, but it’s close.  I’ve been using it for almost 3 years, so it’s calibrated to me.

Over the last 70 days of my prep, I’ve burned 33,460 calories more than I’ve eaten.  The best case scenario is that my body used fat to make up that deficit, so I would have lost 9.56 pounds of fat.  Whether fat or muscle, the weight loss should have been closer to 9 pounds.  My real weight loss has only been 4.2 pounds.  The difference is 5 pounds and change.

Don’t get excited about “muscle gain” vs. “fat loss” here.  No mater what you might hear in supplement advertisements or what some trainers tell their clients to keep them motivated, women cannot gain more than a pound of muscle in a month naturally (ie without steroids) when they are TRYING to gain muscle by lifting heavy and eating more calories than they burn, which is certainly not what I’ve been doing.  (If you don’t believe me, do your own research. It’s all out there to be discovered.)  It is fantasy to think I’ve gained 5 pounds of muscle in two months.  (I don’t even think I could gain 5 pounds of muscle in two months on steroids!)  It took me a YEAR to gain 10 pounds of muscle – and that’s when I was eating over my burn and was fairly new to the game.  Newbies always have big gains in the beginning, but still not much more than a pound a month.

My deficit average has been about 500 calories a day.  To do what I was supposed to do to hit my goal weight by the end of June, I should have had a 1000 calorie deficit each day.  I chose not to go that high because I can’t afford to lose muscle this far out.  (I’ve had a couple of 900 deficit days because of the day being busy and food not handy.  For me, those big deficit days triggered muscle-eating-acid-like cortisol.)  On paper, my food plan should have gotten me about 9 pounds down by now, which would have been off track for the goal, but probably still OK to make the show with a stricter diet later.  Instead, I’ve only lost four pounds.  Basically, that’s maintenance.  So it would seem that I’ve been dieting and doing cardio twice a day for 70 days to maintain.  Awesome.

This week, I dropped the carbs a little (80-120 grams per day) and had no weight change.  I had a head cold.  I was moody and crying for the last two days.  I think I’m going to keep them around 120 grams this week and see what happens. (Most of the 4 pounds of loss happened when carbs were around 120-130 grams.)

I really don’t know what’s happening.  If someone else told me these results, I’d assume they were cheating with the food logs.  You don’t have to believe me, but I don’t cheat.  If you want a reference, talk to my Bodybugg Coach Kim.  She knows.  I’m too anal to cheat.  I like the numbers too much.  I got addicted to seeing the results and how the results correlated to the calorie deficits.

I have made an appointment to have a hydrostatic body fat analysis done up at the university in a couple of weeks. That test is supposed to be the most accurate body composition measurement tool short of an autopsy.

This is what that test looks like…

If the results of the test tell me what I think they are going to tell me, a big decision will need to be made.  Do I continue to lose body fat gradually and postpone competing until I’m within a certain range where a 7-8 week prep that won’t screw up my metabolism will get me to where I need to be for the stage?     Or do I diet hard for 11 weeks just to lean out, crank up the cortisol, probably lose a lot of muscle,screw up my metabolism, but make the Aug 25th date?  Is there a third option?  I don’t know.

This is really, really, really hard for me.  I’m an reforming introvert, afraid of new situations, and I’ve dealt with that for the last twenty-two years by identifying fears that make me feel insecure, set a BIG goal around it, and then get ‘er done (use your Larry the Cable Guy voice). I’m reflecting all the time about whether I’m smart enough to do this alone, whether this is really how my body is working, or am I in denial about how my fear of competing could be subconsciously sabotaging my progress.  (Maybe not subconscious if I’m self-checking on that, huh?)  And all of that mental processing creates stress, which is not good, so I try to put a lid on it as soon as I catch myself doing it.

During cardio yesterday, this phrase popped into my head…

“In God’s time.”

I thought of our garden.  I love, love, LOVE garden cucumbers.  I planted those seeds weeks ago and have watched the ground ever since.  We’ve watered the garden.  We’ve made sure it was covered when frost was possible and uncovered when the sun was up.  Weeds need to be pulled.  No matter how I tended that garden, the seedlings came up in their own time.  Nature’s time.  In God’s time.

That’s how I want to approach this phase of my transformation.  I will “tend the garden”.  I will do what I’m supposed to do.  I will eat what I’m supposed to eat.  I will have good days and bad days, but I will be consistent.  It will happen.  But apparently, it’s not going to happen according to a clock or a calendar date that I set.  I don’t need motivation, determination, or will power.  I need to be patient.  It will happen.  I’ve been taught this lesson so often – when I try to control things, they fall apart.  When I relax, follow the path, and let Him handle the details, it works.  It will happen in God’s time, not my time.


Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Faith, Nutrition, Videos

Arthur is On My Mind

If you haven’t seen this video yet, you will enjoy this.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I saw it last week.

There are no limitations – NONE – to a spirit that fully commits to change.

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Filed under Motivation, Videos