Monthly Archives: March 2015

Confession time

I have a confession to make: I have been wibbling about my weight. I’m not saying this to get sympathy, I’m saying it because I’m human and even those who preach self-acceptance can have wibbly times.

I had this idea that I would have liked to be 71kg-ish by the time I went to Las Vegas. 71ish because I was 70-71kg at my last two competitions and I thought I looked great. I wanted to look that great when I went to Vegas.

Of course, this was completely glossing over the fact that when I looked great at under 71kg, I FELT TERRIBLE. Mentally, I was fretful about food and as moody as hell. Physically, I had bad stomach issues from going low-carb, and (TMI time) basically couldn’t poop. Yay.

Guess what? I go to Vegas in 4 days and I weigh about 73.5kg. And I feel… conflicted.

On the one hand, bloody hell I’ve upped my cardio, done volume work with weights, walked 9000-10000 steps every day, and for the last 10 days (since my boyfriend went away on business) I have eaten “right”. What gives?

On the other hand, I have never previously done volume weights, or this much cardio (at least not when I was also lifting) so I couldn’t have predicted that I’d end up heavy. I simply didn’t know what my body would do. And I’ve done some pretty good stuff in the last week: on Friday I nailed sets of 10 clean & jerks with a 20kg sandbag; and last night I did those 5 sets of 8 squats @ 70kg [bicep emoji]

So I should feel proud, really. The only little doubt I have is that I’m worried I won’t make weight (<72kg) for my next competition but I will have to cross that bridge when I come to it. I definitely won’t be doing volume weights or so much cardio during competition prep, at least.

And the good news is that my clothes still fit…mostly. The size 14 dress I aspirationally bought to wear in Vegas may have to stay behind. Or I could just buy some suck-you-in underpants, amirite?!

I absolutely cannot wait to go to Vegas. The last two weeks at work have been very, very stressful and I’ve been struggling a bit with my mental health (especially with my boyfriend being away and not always being available to rant at thanks to time zones!) Hopefully a break will do me good, and when I come back I’ll have 6 weeks to prep for my next competition (May 16th!)

I’ve intended to update here so many times in the last week and never got round to it. Not that I have anything interesting & erudite to say (that seems to come in bursts!)

My training was a bit of a mish-mash last week. I went lifting on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday; completely ballsed-up going to spin on Wednesday, crushed conditioning on Friday; and had something called “conscious movement” on Thursday in lieu of Pilates (the Pilates tutor was off).

Tuesday’s volume squats were brutal – 4 sets of 8 @ 70kg. I had serious jelly legs for the rest of the week – even as late as Saturday morning. I’m supposed to be doing 5 sets tomorrow and I won’t deny I’m scared. Still, I’m v impressed I managed them – that is a lot of reps at a significant percentage of my max (70%! How am I going to work out percentages when I increase my squat?!)

On Wednesday I went to my non-lifting gym for spin, and was busy getting changed when I realised I’d forgotten my trainers. That gym is no-shoes-allowed, except for spin; so I’d just gone there on autopilot with no shoes (all my other classes are no shoes). I was so cross with myself. But since I was already changed I decided to do a little arm & shoulder workout and some foam rolling.

To be honest, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t go to spin, as my legs were wrecked enough as it was.

Thursday’s bench was a bit of a wipeout – I’m still doing sets of 8 @ 42.5kg, as per my last cycle; and they still feel really heavy although I’m trying to be better about not bouncing the bar off my chest.

After Friday’s conditioning session at my non-lifting gym I got told by the tutor that he was “really impressed” by my 30kg thrusters. I never lift at that gym, so while I tell everyone I’m a powerlifter, I kind of imagine they don’t believe me, you know? So while it’s nice he was impressed with my thrusters, I want to tell him that if he thought they were good, he should see me squat 😉

Then on Saturday I had intended to do some heavy (80kg+) paused squats for reps; but I got to the gym & it just wasn’t happening. So I did 5 singles at 80kg. They were hard – honestly, I can rep 70kg for 8 but a single at 80kg is hard? I’ve done 80kg for fives in the past. Funny how training can be so variable.

This week I’m going to have to miss spin (again) – I won’t go on Tuesday, in favour of saving my legs for squats; and on Wednesday I have a work meeting at the same time. With any luck I’ll still get 5 workouts in, though.

Planet Fitness, and exercise snobbery

In the news this week was a story about Planet Fitness, and how they have banned a member who complained about a trans woman using the women’s locker room.

I have a few misgivings about Planet Fitness (as with most things, there’s usually a problematic angle), but on this I have to applaud them. They did the right thing – not just “IMHO” but straight up. And it feels apt to be writing this on International Women’s Day, a day when we should all remember that trans women are women, and moreover face more discrimination & danger than cis women in many aspects of their lives.

This story got me thinking about PF, and how I used to basically think it was the most rubbish gym company ever. These days, my main misgiving about Planet Fitness is that they sponsor The Biggest Loser, and I’m not going to go into why that’s problematic (if you’re not already aware, a quick Google will tell you why TBL is terrible). But in the past I thought PF were pathetic because they ban deadlifts and grunting, and have “Lunk Alarms” to alert staff when someone is being a, well, lunk.

Obviously I used to think this was crap (in fact, I probably used to think it was “lame”, before I addressed my use of that word). I love deadlifts, who wouldn’t love deadlifts? I also grunt in the gym, a LOT – I grunt loads in my powerlifting gym, and in the commercial gym where I do my conditioning (I think I’m often the only woman there to do so) No deadlifts and no grunting? What sort of exercise place is this?

Image from planetfitness.com

Image from planetfitness.com

Then I grew the fuck up and stopped being such a judgemental arse.

PF prides itself on being a “judgement-free zone” and nowadays I see everything that’s right about that. OK, so you can’t deadlift there, so what? You can deadlift in hundreds of thousands of gyms worldwide. You do not HAVE to go to PF to deadlift. But if people want to go to a gym where people aren’t grunting or acting like judgemental meatheads, then PF is the only place to go.

Think of it like women-only spaces (trans-inclusive of course): men can go where the hell they want otherwise, why is it so painful for some men to be excluded from these spaces? If you want to grunt up a storm, just go to any other gym. It’s that simple.

Personally I wouldn’t go to PF because I’m so used to grunting and dropping weights (never squats or deadlifts though, ofc!) that I wouldn’t fit in there. But that doesn’t mean I have to be a jerk and protest or laugh at PF’s existence. I can go somewhere else! NBD!

Image from lgbtplusbristol.org.uk

Image from lgbtplusbristol.org.uk

Don’t mock people who don’t exercise the way you do. Don’t mock people who enjoy exercise you don’t. And definitely don’t mock people who don’t exercise. Remember the Underpants Rule. And MYOB in the changing room.

I won’t deny that I’m not perfect – I’m still a work in progress and I still catch myself sometimes dealing with unhandled internalised misogyny, fatphobia & ableism (how many times did I have to stop myself typing “lame” in this entry?!). But I think that’s true of most of us, and we can all work a bit harder.

I still like *this* picture though

I still like *this* picture though

Well after the mope-fest of my previous entry my week definitely got worse, although with any luck it will get better. My boyfriend is off on business on Saturday for 5 weeks, though, so I’m already feeling a bit sad about that; however I’m joining him in Las Vegas in just over 2 weeks, so I can’t complain!

The “nudge” of my iPhone tracking my steps, which I mentioned a few entries ago, is definitely taking effect. Normally I catch the bus home from the tube or train station in an evening, but this week I’ve walked home every time; I’m now averaging 8000 steps a day (at least when I’m carrying my phone). I generally do 9-11000 on a weekday, then none at all on a Sunday (as it should be!). The walk home used to seem like a chore, but that nudge from wanting to see my step goal reached means it doesn’t any more. At least when it’s not raining.

(I reserve the right to stop walking home at any time, though.)

This week has been a 5-workout week. I’m visiting my parents at the weekend, so lifting is out, but I did 2 lifting sessions, one spin, one Pilates & one conditioning.

Volume-wise, on Monday I did 3 sets of 8 squats @ 70kg. I honestly thought my progression would be from 60kg -> 65kg, but I decided to just go for 70kg and I could do it! I mean, I know I can squat 70kg, just not 3 sets of 8, you know? Although to be fair, my 5-rep max is 80kg (or, that’s my 5-rep max when I’m in shape) so I probably shouldn’t be too surprised.

On Thursday I had intended to go up from the 42.5kg I’ve been doing on bench, but I had one of those days where it just wasn’t happening. So I did 3 sets of 8 @ 42.5kg (again) followed by 3 sets of 3 @ 40kg, all with long pauses. I think I should do more paused bench work, especially exaggerated pauses – I’ve seen other lady powerlifters say this technique has really upped their bench. Mine definitely needs help!

Conditioning this week felt hard again. I’ve been pretty disappointed with my performance in conditioning for weeks, and I’m not sure if it’s because of the toll doing volume work is having on my body. Or if I’m not recovering properly? Who knows. It’s still fun, but I can’t (for example) clean & jerk the 20kg sandbag any more (or at least not 10 times), and today I couldn’t even jerk a pair of 12kg kettlebells without wanting to barf.

Oh well, at the end of the day, cleaning & jerking sandbags or kettlebells, or sprinting or skipping or burpees are NOT my sport, and I won’t dwell on it. The referees on the platform couldn’t give a toss if I can’t do those things as well as I used to, and frankly they are all I really care about.

So for the next 2 weeks I’m home alone, and will be trying to eat more vegetables & generally store up “healthiness” (ahem) before Vegas, where I will eat ALL THE BUFFETS and not train for over a week. When I get back in April it’ll be time to start training for the London Clubs in June!