Monthly Archives: August 2014

3 weeks to go

So as of yesterday the British is in THREE WEEKS oh my fricking god. The entry list isn’t out yet but I presume that since I sent my entry off in time, I’m entered.

I remember this time last year when I was basically freaking out, and I had three sessions with a sports psychologist just to reassure myself that I had the right to be there. This year I feel a bit more relaxed about it; I guess it helps that it’s being held at my “home” club, plus of course I’ve done it before and I know the British isn’t the big scary thing I’d built up in my head.

Yesterday at BGWLC we had a really busy session – at least 3 weightlifters I didn’t recognise & one new powerlifter. This makes me happy, as the more bodies we get through the door, the more likely it is that the gym will survive.

Today I’ve done nothing movement-wise except my usual couple of miles of walking, namely to go to Canary Wharf. My boyfriend went climbing again this morning (I declined to go this time!) so I met him & our mutual friend for lunch afterwards in Wahaca. Lovely lovely tacos!

Saturday: deadlifts at BGWLC

More lightened deadlifts with reverse bands (blue bands). I’m enjoying these because I really feel they help my grip. At the top of the lift I don’t think I’m getting quite 100% of the bar weight, but it can’t be too far off.

  • Good mornings with an empty bar to warm up
  • Lightened deadlifts: worked up to 2 @ 130kg, 1 @ 135kg, 2 x 2 @ 135kg, 2 @ 130kg, finally 100kg for 14 reps (*vomit*)
  • Dimel deadlifts: 40kg, 20 reps x 2
  • Single-arm dumbbell row: 15kg 2 sets of 7; 20kg 1 set of 7
  • Glute & ham raises with 5kg plate: 10 reps x 5
  • Cable crunch: 30kg, 10 reps x 5

As for my weight? Ah, I knew I couldn’t get away without mentioning it πŸ˜‰ Well I was 73.1kg when I first stepped on the scale. Then I went for a strategic wee & was 72.9kg. Awww yisssss.

Today I’m sure I weigh more – I celebrated last night with a bottle of dry cider and 10 squares of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk πŸ™‚

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In which I whine & whinge about making weight

Content note for weight loss, food tracking etc.

So it’s almost the end of August and one of my goals was to get down to 73kg by the end of the month (FOR COMPETITION WEIGHT CLASSES, not for mythical permanent weight loss). I’m going to do my weigh-in on Saturday because I’ll be at the gym, and those scales will be used for weigh-ins at the British Classic.

I don’t think I will be 73kg. I will definitely be 73.XXkg, but not 73.00. And I will no doubt be gutted (although I still have 3 weeks to make weight!) because fucking hell this week has been tough, food-wise. Also training-wise; but hard training is that much harder when you’re hungry ALL THE DAMN TIME.

I have a love/hate relationship with talking about making weight. On the one hand, I find ranting about it to be cathartic – who doesn’t love a good whinge? On the other hand, it brings out well-meaning people offering advice (which I don’t always take well because I’m a snippy sort of person) & it throws up all sorts of FEELS I have about body positivity & fat acceptance.

There’s also a third thing it throws up, which is that while I totally understand the movement to get women to stop dieting, eat more food and get strong, that movement has its own prejudices & parameters (i.e. it’s developed a whole new set of unattainable body ideals). So when someone uses my struggles with dieting as some sort of “example” about why women should just stop dieting and “embrace strong”, I’m afraid I want to punch them in the face. “Strong is the new skinny” isn’t relevant to me, I don’t belong to that movement (because I’m fat and “strong is the new skinny” definitely doesn’t accept fat!) so don’t try to involve me in it, thanks.

(On a tangent, on a powerlifting group recently I described myself as fat and another woman said “Not fat, you’re a thick chick!”. Argh, do not put words into my mouth, thank you! Fat is a descriptor, and one I choose to use for myself.)

It goes without saying that I feel similarly about “It’s not about weight, it’s about health!”. Because you can totally tell how healthy someone is by looking at them, mm-hmm. Plus healthy fat people would still be shunned be people spouting that abominable phrase, so STFU.

What I've been aiming for on a non-workout day, when I can be bothered to track

What I’ve been aiming for on a non-workout day, when I can be bothered to track

ANYWAY… Wednesday was a pretty poo day altogether. I’ve been trying to limit the amount of carbs I eat on non-training days, and on Wednesday evening after my dinner of 2 lamb loin steaks and a massive pile of vegetables I watched Great British Bake-Off pretty much ready to gnaw my own arm off. It didn’t help that during the day I’d sat in an afternoon of Puppet & Vagrant training surrounded by doughnuts, Haribo and chocolate that I couldn’t eat. I’m not sure how much I really learned about Puppet & Vagrant*, because all I could think about was doughnutsdoughnutsdoughnuts.

(Incidentally, avoiding those treats made me feel like one of those people who avoids work treats because of oh noes gluten and oh noes sugar; and hell to the no do I ever want to be one of those people. I need a sign to wear around my neck saying “I love gluten but I’m trying to make weight”)

A training day. Probably still not enough carbs though.

A training day. Probably still not enough carbs though.

On training days I’ve been eating more carbs, but avoiding pasta/bread/potatoes etc. As a result I ate the same chicken, broccoli & brown rice salad from my work canteen for lunch three times this week; luckily it’s delicious and I didn’t mind. Yes I eat from the work canteen – apparently this is another no-no from the food prep crowd; but seriously I can’t see how they’d sneak “bad stuff” into these salads. Our work caterer is one of those health-conscious ones, I guess because the company reckons we’ll be more productive if we’re not dead.

I feel like I need to end this post with a bit more positivity, which is that THIS TOO SHALL PASS and eventually September 20th will come and making weight will end. Hopefully I won’t wind up as weak as a fucking kitten (I love kittens) and am able to lift well at the British. If I only get the same as my previous, 84kg-weight-class, total I will be a happy lady.

Also, I won’t deny it but even though I’ve only lost 1kg so far I think I’m looking more hench (as opposed to smaller). Arms in particular. Funny how such a small scale difference can make a larger visual one. I still want to go up to the 84kg class, though, for my own mental health!!!

This isn't the previously-mentioned salad, I just can't see how this would be a "bad" food choice. Sorry tupperwarers.

This isn’t the previously-mentioned salad, but I just can’t see how this would be a “bad” food choice. Sorry tupperwarers.

Two-workout Thursday

At lunchtime I went to Pilates as usual and was the only person there, so I got a 1-to-1 Pilates session for nowt! Love it!

Bench & squats at BGWLC

We’re approaching peak in my training now and I won’t lie, it’s becoming awful. Squatting heavy twice a week is not fun at the best of times, let alone when you’re HUNGRY.

  • Bench press lockouts: worked up to 4 sets of 2 @ 60kg; one set of 2 @ 62.5kg
  • Squats: worked up to 5 sets of 3 @ 80kg
  • Seated good mornings: 50kg, 3 sets of 10
  • Glute & ham raises

Friday: conditioning

This was a 100% cardio session. I came veeeeery close to puking, I won’t lie.

* Note that Puppet & Vagrant is not a 1970s Eastern European children’s TV show, although it probably should be.

The No-PR Zone

I read this article last week on entering the no-PR (or, few & far-between PR) zone and oh man can I relate (although obvs I call them PBs, not PRs; love those linguistic quirks).

I commented elsewhere recently that it’s been a year since I got a pb deadlift, but it didn’t seem right in my head… and I realised it’s been nearly 2 years, not one. I first pulled 115kg in November 2012, it’s now late August 2014 and no deadlift pb. Oh my god.

Oh Reaction Gifs, you get me

I know exactly why I haven’t set a new deadlift pb – it’s attached to the end of my right arm and over the years I probably haven’t trained it enough. Or maybe it can’t be trained any more? Who knows. What I do know is that my legs have long since overtaken my grip and it suuuuuuuucks.

One of the few things I do feel smug & confident about in lifting, though, is my sticking power. In the article above, Aimee says:

I believe a lot of people quit our sport because they think that regular PRing is going to continue forever, and when it stops, so does their motivation. They look around to their teammates and see them fighting for every kilo, meanwhile they are PRing every training session. They may think to themselves, I won’t be like that! Look at how much more I can lift everyday!

It has definitely been my experience in lifting for 5+ years at BGWLC that more people come & go at the club than stick around & put the years in. Maybe they don’t drift away because they stop making pbs, but I do feel proud that despite my progress being seriously g-l-a-c-i-a-l I keep on trucking.

Still. Silver linings & all that… While musing on the two year (sob) gap since my deadlift pb, I remembered that at the competition where I pulled 115kg, I also squatted 85kg for a new pb. Last week I squatted 80kg for 3 sets of five, twice; and yesterday I got 2 x 2 at 90kg on an evening when my legs felt pretty bloody shattered (I had been bouldering the previous day), and I was hungry (on a diet 😦 ).

OK, so your less-than-a-year lifter might think that adding 15kg to my squat in a year (because my pb was still 85kg in October 2013) isn’t much; but to that person I say – wait until you’re 37 & have been lifting 5 years, grasshopper.

Monday – squats at BGWLC

  • Squats: worked up to 3 @ 80kg, 2 @ 85kg, 2 x 2 @ 90kg
  • Good mornings: 3 x 3 @ 50kg
  • Bench: worked up to 6 singles @ 47.5kg, then 10 reps @ 37.5kg
  • Seated barbell shoulder press: 25kg, 3 sets of 7
  • Skull crusher: 15kg bar, 3 sets of 7
  • Side bends, pullthroughs etc

All the squats, and a video

Oof this week’s training has been hard, and it’s not over yet! I’m off bouldering for the first time tomorrow in an indoor climbing centre, which should be….interesting? If nothing else, it’ll help with my grip!

This week I have squatted 80kg for 3 sets of 5, twice – first on Tuesday & then again today. Owwww my poor legs! I wasn’t even sure if I’d manage it, given that I went to conditioning yesterday, plus the fact that I’m not eating as much as I usually do (*cry*). But I did it…. it didn’t feel as easy as Tuesday, and the last one in each set was a grinder, but still!

I also did some lightened deadlifts, with the bar suspended from blue bands on the top of a power cage. The intention being that the bar would be easier to pull off the floor, but be full weight at the top of the lift. I managed to work up to 130kg for 3 singles, holding each at the top for several seconds. Go go gadget grip!!

Today Big Dave from BGWLC posted this amazing video on Facebook of the BGWLC lifters at the London Championships on July 26th. I’m featured at 1:40 with my 95kg squat (second attempt), but you should watch the whole thing because it’s seriously awesome. Dave has skillz!

Well yesterday turned into a bit of a crap mental health day. I should know better by now to worry about my weight on social media, as it brings out a lot of well-meaning people who I react snippily to, which in turn makes me feel guilty, which in turn makes me feel more & more conflicted about being fat & fit etc etc.

(I doubt I’ll learn my lesson, though – I never do!)

I’ve just returned from Pilates at Urban Kings so I’m feeling a little more Zen now. Karmen kicks my butt every time and it feels awesome! I have bench tonight, which I’m looking forward to (can I get 45kg narrow-grip bench for multiple reps? I guess I will wait & see).

Since I’m all Zen now, the rants I had brewing in my head about food, weight & fitness have all mostly dissipated. I have thoughts, though, on the following:

– “Why be skinny when you can be strong?” and similar catchphrases really do mean bugger-all when you’ve never been skinny or wanted to be skinny.

– I’m getting increasingly annoyed at health & fitness bloggers who scoff at peoples’ “unhealthy” lifestyles without acknowledging their own privilege.

For example – think that healthcare assistant/junior nurse shouldn’t be fat/”unhealthy” to your eyes? Have you thought about how HCAs, junior nurses, porters and other frontline healthcare staff don’t make a living wage (at least in London, probably elsewhere)? Why not, instead of suggesting they shop at the farmer’s market or do endless food prep, think about how you can support campaigns for better wages & conditions for these people?

Oh well, maybe I will do an ~extended rant~ on these another time.

I tell you what else has made me feel better today: excellent blog posts by G at Running While Fat on the old “calories in/calories out” fallacy (and other things) and Bethany at Arched Eyebrow on not letting being fat hold you back in life. Go read them!!

I’m also super-grateful for having an amazing boyfriend who had a “solidarity dinner” with me last night. He has no reason at all to forego things like potatoes or bread or pasta etc (he’s already perfect) but he skipped his favourite mini roast potatoes last night to have EXTRA VEG with dinner like I was. Luckily for him, the meal filled him up (I went to bed kinda hungry).

Weighty mixed feelings

I’m feeling very conflicted at the moment about my weight (again!), and it’s not fun.

For starters, I’ve been feeling very connected to being a Fit Fattie recently, no doubt helped by receiving my Flying Rhinos t-shirt from Ragen Chastain and wearing it with pride to the gym last night.

I squatted 80kg (80%) for 3 sets of 5 and it felt fiiiiine. Then I tried to deadlift 100kg standing on 2 mats for 4 sets of 2, and only managed 3 measly singles which felt awful. Still, I guess you can’t have everything.

As usual, the more I read about getting lean/losing weight/getting “healthy” on fitness blogs, the more I want to say FUCK THAT SHIT and stay heavy and gloriously fatty and “unhealthy”.

BUT ON THE OTHER HAND… if I don’t get under 72kg by 12pm on September 20th, then I can’t compete in the British championships. And that, frankly, would suck.

I mean, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, life would still go on. But it’d be embarrassing, I’d no doubt cry, part of me would think all the training I’m doing would go to waste (although the other part of me knows that’s BS).

(Can we talk about how so many fitness blogs advocate “throwing away the scale”? Like, I didn’t start caring about my weight until I started lifting. Isn’t the opposite of what’s meant to happen? I miss the days where I didn’t give a fuck.)

So for the last 10 days or so I’ve been avoiding added sugar (with the exception of a piece of cake on Friday afternoon – we have free cake at work and hello free cake) and bread/pasta. I’ve been trying to eat low-ish carbs – e.g. swapping my usual oven frites with my steak last night for green beans (I tried to convince myself they were “green frites”). I’ve also stopped eating yogurt with protein powder for breakfast, in favour of two eggs fried in coconut oil.

And I have lost… precisely nothing. I know it’s only been 10 days, but come on, seriously? Nothing?! I worked out six times last week! I ate more eggs in that week than I ate in the previous month! My jeans are less tight! Even my coach said I was leaner-looking in the face!

Life, frankly, is not fair. Maybe now that I’m squarely in my late 30s (*sob*) I have to accept that I can’t just stop eating bread for a week or so and magically lose 1kg. Maybe I need to get that effing 270kg total so I can move up to the 84kg class, godammit.

I had planned to go up to the 84s after I turn 40, but maybe it needs to happen sooner, if only for my sanity. In the meantime, I will keep eating eggs, and no more than one portion of fruit a day, and green veg instead of frites (sigh) and pray & pray & pray I’m 72.0kg on September 20th.

And if I’m not, I will have a cry and hate myself for a bit, then aim to compete in the 84kg class in 2015, instead of 2017. Maybe the award for the UK’s shortest 84kg lifter is one I can actually win!

Mega round-up

I ended up working out SIX TIMES last week, and flippin’ heck I can feel it today. I had an epic busy week, though, and while I’m suffering for it now (after a night of not-much sleep) it was good fun.

My personal record-breaking six workouts were 3 lifting, 2 Pilates & one conditioning. I realise many people might regard Pilates as not actually working out/”active recovery”, but the Pilates class I go to is tough (I guess it’s Pilates as programmed for an MMA gym…)

It looks like the last workouts I wrote up were Monday & Tuesday, so…

Two-workout Thursday – Pilates, then bench at BGWLC

  • Narrow-grip bench press: worked up to 5 sets of 4 @ 42.5kg
  • Dumbbell floor press: 3 sets of 10 @ 15kg
  • Seated barbell shoulder press: 2 sets of 8 @ 25kg
  • Machine rows: 20kg each hand, 4 sets of 7
  • Situps, kickbacks, plate pinches

Friday: conditioning

Saturday: ALL the legs & back at BGWLC

  • Rack pull (2 pins from the floor): worked up to 105kg x 2; 110kg, 3 sets of 2; 120kg, 2 sets of 3 with straps; 100kg, 7 rep drop set

So… as I mentioned before, I’ve been doing all sorts of things to improve my grip. For starters, on these rack pulls (the ones without straps, anyhow) I switched my grip around – normally I go left hand over, right hand under; I switched to right hand over, left hand under. It felt…. OK. Not as secure as before, but that’s to be expected at first, I guess. The advantage of doing this, I hope, is that I can put my right hand into a hook grip. Whether or not I can deadlift >100kg from the floor without dislocating my right thumb is another matter.

As for the straps: we decided to see how much I could pull if I took my grip out of the equation. I’ve never used straps before and they were horrible. It felt like all the weight was hanging off my wrists (which I guess it was) and the fatness of the bar + strap meant I couldn’t grab very well. Still, getting >1 rep at 120kg was nice.

  • Squats: worked up to 3 sets of 5 @ 70kg
  • Dimel deadlifts: 40kg, 10 reps, then 2 sets of 20 reps
  • Hypers, band curls, stretching etc

Sunday – the All-England Championships at Moulton College!

I finished my weekend off y getting up at 6.15am on Sunday to drive 3 guys from BGWLC to the All-England at Moulton College. I wanted to go because Moulton College is a really nice venue, plus I haven’t got bored of driving yet (having only got my first car back in December) and fancied the drive up there. I drove two competing lifters, plus one guy who also wanted to spectate.

4 powerlifters in a Fiat Panda

Ever seen 4 powerlifters (390kg total) in a Fiat Panda? Well you have now. For our American readers, a Fiat Panda is a small car by UK standards. By American standards, it’s probably a mini-micro-nano-oh-my-god-is-that-a-real-car?! car πŸ˜‰

The competition was great (super-efficient as always from The Farm powerlifting club) and BGWLC’s lifters took 2nd place in each of their categories. One of them, Reece, was originally placed third but was upgraded to 2nd after it turned out the second-placed lifter was lifting as a guest.

Victorious lifters!

I got home at about 6.30pm last night & was thoroughly wired after an awesome day, hence I haven’t slept much and feel like crap today. I feel sore all over from Saturday’s lifting & Sunday’s driving. Good thing I have heavy squats tonight, eh?! 😦