Monthly Archives: July 2014

Post-competition plans

100kg squat face

I didn’t think that anyone had got a decent shot of my 100kg squat, then this one appeared on Facebook courtesy of David McWilliams. Hurray! There I am squatting 100kg, with an appropriate squat face.

Also this photo is proof that the term “two plate squat” means bugger all in competition terms. (Personally, I dislike the one/two/three plate terminology. Yeah, I know, I’m a miserable sod.)

I’m back at work today and had intended to start the week by eating more protein! Then I managed to come to work with protein powder but no shaker again, bloody hell I really am a genius. I guess I’ll start over tomorrow.

The British Classic is on September 20th, so I have just under 2 months to cut just over 3kg of weight. I’d like to be comfortably under 72kg on competition day because I suspect I may have an afternoon weigh-in. There’s no way I can go a whole morning without eating/drinking before an afternoon weigh-in so I need to be light enough to have breakfast on competition day.

I plan to do this by…. well, I dunno. For starters all the sugar/pasta/bread I’ve been eating for the last couple of months needs to be cut down. That won’t be a huge ask because, frankly, I’ve really gone to town on sweets & desserts recently (cheesecake 3 times in the last week? why the hell not). I also really want to get back to doing conditioning more regularly because I feel so damn good when I do that class. Last week, when I didn’t do any holistic or conditioning classes, I really felt slow & sluggish.

So, the plan is to go to Pilates & conditioning this week, and head back to BGWLC on Thursday & Saturday (I’m having tonight off!).

As for the grip issue – god, I really have to address it. Yesterday I ordered a Hand X Band from Pullum Sports, and I need to dig my gripper out of the box it’s been buried in since I moved house. And I will renew my vow to do static bar holds/dumbbell holds at the gym when I can, even if it makes me late home. Godammit, I don’t want to keep failing my deadlifts before of my stupid right hand!!


GBPF London Clubs Championships

I’m trying to think of an interesting start to this blog post & failing, other than “So yesterday I competed in the GBPF London Clubs 2014…” So! yesterday I competed in the GBPF London Clubs! This is a different competition to the GBPF Greater London Championships which happens in November – the purpose of this competition was originally to establish the best powerlifting club in London, but it’s now grown to be something much bigger. Yesterday’s event has 75 entered lifters, and by the time I left (at around 5.30pm) the 93kg men + above had only just started lifting. I have no idea what time it all went on until, but hopefully not too late!

As I mentioned in my last post, this has been the oddest competition prep ever. Since I didn’t have to make weight, and because I’d been off work & out of my usual routine during the preceding week, my eating had been all over the place & I hadn’t been to Yoga or Pilates. Instead, I spent the week doing DIY in sweltering heat and eating 2 meals a day (mostly sugar, crisps and pies). My aim to eat more protein in July has really gone out of the window.

Still, I got my bathroom floor tiled, which was the week’s goal:

My freshly-tiled bathroom floor

My freshly-tiled bathroom floor

By the time Friday evening rolled around I felt shit. Tired, unhappy guts, craving vegetables (me! craving vegetables!), sore and achy.

My traditional pre-competition meal is a Nando’s, but since I didn’t go into town at all last week we had a faux Nando’s cooked at home. It definitely hit the spot – we have this sort of meal pretty often at home and it’s always a favourite.

Faux Nando's

Faux Nando’s

On Saturday morning I work up feeling pretty rubbish. I had a bad night’s sleep and on the walk from Bethnal Green tube to the gym my legs felt as weak as shit. Not a good sign. I wasn’t even convinced I’d get my 90kg squat opener.

I weighed in at 74.4kg, putting me at the low end of the 84kg class; there were two other ladies also lifting in the 84kg, and four ladies in my usual 72kg class along with 8 other lifters. We had 5 Bethnal Green women lifting altogether, which is a great turnout! Powerlifting has got so much more popular than when I started – I used to be one of maybe 2 or 3 ladies in total, at most.

The gym was roastingly hot, and luckily someone had thought to install some fans, otherwise I would have completely melted. Still even with the fans, it was hotter inside the gym than out, and my singlet felt like a sweatsuit.

I warmed up to an 80kg squat, then opened with 90kg on the platform, which in the end felt completely fine. 95kg was next, again no problems; then the magic 100kg! Which went up like an absolute dream – in fact I reckon I could have had a decent bash at 102.5kg. I will save that for the British Classic in September!

After a 1-hour break while two groups of boys did their squats, we warmed up for bench. I opened at 50kg, which was fine as usual. Then 52.5kg, which was tough but I got it. I then really had to put down 55kg, knowing I didn’t have a chance in hell. And yep, 55kg went down and then didn’t even move off my chest – much to the amusement of the refs. Ah well, you’ve got to give those guys a little comic relief, eh?

After another hour break, it was deadlift time. I really do not feel good about my deadlifts any more. I had told the refs that I wanted to open at 112.5kg, but I wasn’t sure I’d even get that. I warmed up to 110kg, though, and it felt alright enough that I decided to go for it. 112.5kg on the platform went up fine, so I asked for 117.5kg for my next lift. And…yeah, fail. I failed on grip on my right hand, again.

For my third attempt I went for the same weight, and decided (controversially!) not to chalk my hands, as it felt like I’d chalked my hands too much on the second attempt and that had contributed to the bar slipping. Again, I gave it a really good go, but as soon as I was fully upright the bar slipped from my right hand before the down signal was given.

I’m quite cross with myself, really. My left hand is fine, my legs & back are strong (honestly, the 117.5kg went up without my legs even really straining) but my right hand lets me down. And I know this, I’ve known it for months and months but I’ve been too lazy to work on my grip (because it adds another 15-20 minutes to my workouts and I want to go home, blah blah excuses).

Anyway, my total was 265kg, which is 15kg more than my previous totals at <72kg. Not bad work for a 2.5kg bodyweight increase. Unfortunately I was 5kg short of the British qualifying total for the 84kg class, so I won't have a choice & will have to compete at 72kg in the British classic.

The biggest surprise of the day, though, was that the organisers decided to do placings for each weight group for the women. Normally, they only do placings by weight group for men, and overall placings for women as there aren't very many women. Ergo, I usually come last!

But this time there were enough women to justify weight group placings and… I got second place in the 84kg class! Trust me, no-one was more surprised than me. No #TeamLast for once!

Say cheese! Me with 52kg champion Rachel

Say cheese! Me with 52kg champion Rachel

I got a pretty awesome trophy to add to the pile, and a reminder from the refs to work on that grip.

Overall, I’m thrilled that I got my 100kg squat, my 52.5kg bench and a new big total; but I’m disappointed I didn’t get a deadlift pb and that I didn’t get a qualifying total. But that’s me being hard on myself, as usual. In squat terms alone, I’ve come a long way. Just gotta work on that grip (or start doing deadlifts one-handed?)

Next competition is the British Classic on September 20th, which I have to cut weight for. More on that later.

Well this has definitely been the strangest competition prep I’ve ever done. As I’m not trying to make weight, it doesn’t feel like I’m training for a competition at all (I sit here as I write with a 200g bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk). I’m used to the last couple of weeks pre-competition being a blur of obsessive weigh-ins and fretting about food.

My last two training sessions have been okay. On Sunday I went to BGWLC for a super-secret training session (competition preppers only) and worked up to a 50kg bench & 2 sets of 2 deadlifts @ 105kg. I tried repeating my 52.5kg bench but it wasn’t going to move – I blame spending all of Saturday getting drunk at a cider festival, heh heh heh 😉

On Tuesday I set my squat & bench openers – 90kg for the squat and 50kg bench. I’m on holiday at the moment and had spent all of Tuesday doing DIY in my house in searing heat (summer appears to have returned to London after being absent for a couple of weeks) so wasn’t looking forward to that squat, but I got it and it felt OK.

I have a little concern regarding my SBD knee sleeves, though. My coach told me that at the IPF Worlds they were considering banning talc, and I simply cannot get my stupid knee sleeves on in hot weather without talc. It took me 20 minutes to get them on on Tuesday when the talc proved futile! I’m a bit worried that on Saturday I won’t be allowed to use talc to get my knee sleeves on and I don’t like squatting without them!! NIGHTMARE.

However, I can’t find anything online about the IPF/GBPF banning talc so… Fingers crossed they won’t care at a little divisional competition, which this is. The weather is meant to be hot again on Saturday (no aircon in the gym, obviously) so talc will be a MUST!

Today I’ve spent all day at home doing DIY once more, and it’s been exhausting. I’m hoping to get all my DIY chores done by Thursday so I can spend all of Friday relaxing – if I feel on Friday like I do today then I’m in trouble!!

Triple-digit Thursday

The title is a bit of a spoiler. Can you guess which triple-digits I’m referring to here? I’ll give you a hint – it was squat day yesterday. Oh yes. That’s right. After 5 years & 3 months of lifting I finally squatted 100kg last night!!! You fucking bet. PERSISTENCE IS KEY.

I knew I was going to make an attempt at it, but TBH I wasn’t all that confident. I felt a bit “off” yesterday after work, and the warm-up was hard. 90kg x 2 felt OK, but 95kg was utterly terrible, I fell into a “squat morning” and came very close to puking. In contrast the 100kg felt hard but not awful – I mostly kept my shape, I pulled a great face (yay for squat racks in front of mirrors) and I think I was deep enough. Oh em gee. I squatted 100kg (or 220lbs, or 15st 10lbs in old money).

Now all I have to do is repeat it in competition on the 26th, to make it a REAL pb. Fingers crossed!

Two-workout Thursday

Lunchtime: Yoga Normally I’d have Pilates, but the teacher is on holiday so we had a Yoga instructor instead. There were only 3 of us in the class so she asked what we wanted to do – the verdict was restorative Yoga, and I loved it! I’d never done anything like that before & felt great afterwards.

Evening: squats at BGWLC

  • Squats: warmed up to 90kg x 2; 95kg x 1; 100kg x 1; 90kg x 1
  • Good mornings: 40kg, 3 sets of 7
  • Glute & ham raises: 3 sets of 10
  • Decline sit-ups: 3 sets of 10

What I ate Wednesday

OK, I admit, I’m wary of posting this. Two reasons: I don’t really like reading other peoples’ What I Ate posts, as they often make me feel bad about my own food choices (although that’s my problem & I should Own It) and secondly, I don’t want people to think this is a “typical” day, because frankly no day with my food is typical!

I am really struggling with the protein thing right now, as my appetite seems to be massively diminished so I just can’t face having a top-up protein shake if I think I need – as opposed to want – one. It also doesn’t help that I don’t track my macros regularly (or, at all) and on the days I do track, I do it after I’ve eaten the food, so it’s not as if I’m planning my macros in advance, IYSWIM. I usually just get towards the end of the day and think, fuck, I need to neck a protein shake/glass of milk/whatever.

I know I’d be a far, far better lifter if I only sorted out my diet, but you know. It’s one of those things I just don’t want to get strict about, not least because it’d have a big impact on my home life.

Anyhow! On to the food!

Greek yogurt with protein powder, raspberries & a banana

Greek yogurt with protein powder, raspberries & a banana

Breakfast! This is my new favourite breakfast (at least until the tub of Greek yogurt runs out). Full-fat Greek yogurt (I normally have low-fat but they didn’t have any at the supermarket), 1 scoop of MyProtein natural vanilla whey (use code BGREEN at the checkout for 5% off), raspberries (does anyone weigh/measure things like this? Please say no) and one banana.

So good I had the same again today, minus the banana because I’m out. What can I say, I don’t really plan when I shop 😉

Not pictured: coffee. I drink instant coffee with milk at home, then when I get to work I have a white Americano with 2tsp collagen hydrolysate (for my joints, and also because it gives me about 6-7g of protein).

Approx. 30g/1oz of cashews

Approx. 30g/1oz of cashews

Morning snack: cashews. I once measured out 1oz/30g of cashews and I’ve never measured it again, I just eyeball it. Life is too short to measure cashews (or almonds, or fruit).

Prawn, potato, pea & spinach salad

Prawn, potato, pea & spinach salad

I had a “learning lunch” at work, so no Yoga-lates class for me. Instead I had an hour hearing all about the XML London conference from one of my colleagues. I love XML and the presentation was really good but….I’d rather be at Yoga-lates. Sorry, work.

When I got back to my desk I had this – a salad from our work canteen of prawns, new potatoes, peas, spinach & mayonnaise. Most of my lunches come from the canteen or Pret a Manger, so I can’t really know what goes into them (although Pret are pretty good about putting estimations on their website now). Still, this doesn’t look too bad, eh? It left me so full that I couldn’t quite finish all the potatoes. I’m definitely losing my touch.

A hard-boiled egg

A hard-boiled egg

Afternoon snack: a hard-boiled egg. Yeah, that egg was pretty old and a bit funky – I keep buying eggs and not eating them. Still, I haven’t died so I guess it was OK.

My colleagues must love me – prawns & eggs at my desk in quick succession. Pongy.

A pie & green beans

A pie & green beans

Dinner: a chicken & ham pie with sautéed green beans. I was convinced this wasn’t going to be enough dinner, and that I’d need pudding afterwards. Wrong! This looks tiny but left me really full.

Since my boyfriend is away I’ve been making an effort to eat what’s in the freezer instead if cooking, and this pie was something he picked up from the reduced aisle a few weeks ago. We often joke about the fact that he buys loads of reduced food & puts it in the freezer for me to eat, then comes home & orders himself a pizza. He doesn’t make me eat out of the Bargain Bin all the time, honest 😉

I was really grateful the pie was there, TBH, as I didn’t feel like preparing a meal once I got home. Incidentally, green beans sautéed in butter is my #1 favourite way to eat vegetables right now.

Calorie- and macro-wise, I have no idea. 2200-2500kcals, maybe? I mean, that’s a pie up there. Protein-wise, I had intended to also have a protein shake in the afternoon but I was so full I didn’t fancy it. Greek yogurt, whey, collagen hydrolysate, prawns, eggs, cashews and the pie filling are all pretty protein-y, though. See, I’m a nutrition expert.

Grumpy Tuesday

Bloody hell have I woken up on the wrong side of bed again today. I was hoping for a good night’s sleep after my sicky-feeling weekend and my grumpathon yesterday, but no dice. Another crap night’s sleep where my brain was chattering excitedly to me until 1am or so. My boyfriend left for the airport at 6am so I was awake with him, then somehow managed to be late leaving the house and I forgot to get myself any dinner out of the freezer. See, he’s not even been gone a few hours and I’ve already failed in feeding myself!

I’ve set a reminder on my phone for the rest of the week to prod me into getting dinner out of the freezer before I leave for work. I guess tonight I’ll have to find something that’s cookable from frozen. I’m sure I was never this disorganised when I lived alone (which was for 6.5 years, not merely a few months) – I’ve got so sloppy.

Still, despite feeling crap I managed a gym pb last night on bench, which was nice. Only I’ve been dragging myself down about it, as it’s only a gym pb (they don’t really count) and of course I’m next competing in a heavier weight class, so my 72kg personal bests won’t be topped – I’ll just come out of it with (hopefully) a new set of 84kg benchmarks.

Still! At least now I know I can bench 52.5kg with a stop on a good day (and yesterday was a pretty good gym day, if not a good life one) and I know what it’ll feel like on the 26th July.

I still have mixed feelings about going up a weight class. I feel stronger, sure, but I also dislike how I look (which I may have mentioned!). Not enough to stop me from going out & about in miniskirts and short-shorts, but enough to glance in dismay at the return of my hanging back fat, and feel jealous when others talk about quad definition (which I’ve never had, even when for-me-skinny) and enviable thighs. I almost can’t wait to get back to 72kg… except I fucking hate cutting weight. Contrary? You bet.

Bench at BGWLC

  • Bench press: worked up to singles with stops at 42.5kg, 45kg, 47.5kg, 50kg, 52.5kg. Attempted 55kg but nope.
  • Dumbbell floor press: 15kg, 5 reps x 2; 17.5kg, 5 reps
  • Seated barbell shoulder press: 20kg x 7; 25kg, 7 reps x 2; 25kg, 8 reps (extra rep as punishment for wasting time by admiring my bum in the mirror, sigh)
  • Light single-arm dumbbell rows: 15kg, 5 reps x 3
  • Dumbbell side bends: 22.5kg, 5 reps x 3

TMI Monday

Well, I feel like shite warmed over today. And since it’s less than two weeks until competition, this week is 100% week. What a great combo.

I spent a lot of the weekend with random, mysterious stomach pains, which stopped me falling asleep last night. I lay in bed wondering what was wrong with me – have I suddenly developed a spontaneous gluten allergy?! This is what reading fucking paleo blogs will do to you, folks. No, I haven’t developed digestive issues – turns out I’m having what passes for a period when you had an endometrial ablation 18 months previously. So I’m having the pain and the sicky feeling without any of the, you know, Niagara Falls imitation.

When I think about it, I do think it’s pretty impressive that I lifted for as long as I did (over 3.5 years) when I was essentially drugged up the eyeballs and in massive pain for (at least) 1 week out of every 4. For those not up to speed, I have endometriosis (diagnosed at 14) and used to take 3 x mefenamic acid + 8 x tranexamic acid every day. My periods were so heavy that the gynaecologist who diagnosed me said I was “one of the worst cases he’d ever seen” (which is GREAT to hear when you’re 14, yay!). I had a bunch of laparoscopies before finally having an ablation in November 2012, and I haven’t had a period since. But endometriosis is not (emphatically NOT) just heavy periods and I still have some of the other symptoms – crippling mittelschmerz, sicky feelings, random abdominal pain etc. But not having periods on top of all that is a blessing, as it’s one less thing to worry about.

I used to desperately want to read accounts of sportspeople with endometriosis to know I wasn’t alone, but I never found any. Instead all I found was blogs about women going au naturel, giving up hormones/painkillers and “listening to their bodies”. Lucky ladies. (Not jealous at all, honest!)

Of course, an ablation doesn’t last forever and my periods will come back; in fact I’ve been suspicious that they’re on their way back for a couple of months. But I stopped tracking my cycle a long time ago (I used to take note of my mittelschmerz to have an idea of where I was) so I didn’t realise on before today that my bilious feeling at the weekend was a period. I live in hope that I’ll hit peri-menopause before they have a chance to come back properly!

Anyhow, this has all gone very TMI & overshare-y, but hey, periods are a fact of life and endometriosis is one of those diseases that people don’t talk about enough. Thank god for the NHS; although I’m still slightly peeved that it took me until I was 35 to get an ablation. My quality of life would have been much improved if I’d had it a lot earlier.

In the meantime, I have to feel better STAT because tonight is 100% bench; Thursday is 100% squats and Sunday is 100% deadlifts. Vomit. Next Tuesday (22nd July) I’ll be setting my openers and that’s it until competition day. Thank goodness I’m not making weight this time around – one less thing to worry about.