Last night I finally got back to Krav Maga. I was cleared in November to slowly transition back into normal activity after many months of not being allowed to do anything that put weight on my feet. I had expected to get Krav Maga back in the mix of things much sooner, but, shockingly things have not gone how I expected since November!

Not only in terms of taking so long to get back to Krav Maga but in terms of fitness in general I have been relatively inactive. I was dealing with depression before the election and it has just been a lot worse since then.

In addition to the depression there is also a sense of these things not mattering anymore, things in my personal life. It feels sometimes like I need to be focused constantly and fighting back against the hatred and fear pushed by Trump and his administration, and fighting against the harm they are doing. (Only a week an already so much harm!)

I’m working on this mentality though. Working to remind myself that taking care of myself is an act of resistance itself and that to fight back I have to take care of myself.

Saturday I was able to go to the Women’s March in Washington DC. This especially brought it home for me how important it is to take care of myself. I couldn’t believe how sore and tired I was from the walking and standing. We were standing basically all day, and I walked around 9 miles I think. Still, I did not expect 9 miles to hurt so much and to be so hard. I know part of this is that I was already tired at the start of it from a long bus ride to DC with no sleep that was not very comfortable. But I’m sure another part of it was that I hadn’t been very active for a few weeks before the march and was not doing a great job at taking care of myself.

So I’m working on changing that. I’m working on getting myself back into better shape, so I have the strength and endurance for this fight.

grwulub

Photo of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa that says “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance”

 

 

 

 

Update on Me

Posted: January 16, 2017 in About Me, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I have not been posting on here in awhile, and I’m doubtful that will change, but I just wanted to check in and let anyone reading know that I’m still around and not giving up on the blog, it’s just been hard to keep up with lately.

Part of that is that I work full time and I’m technically full time in school (though in the dissertation process so that’s flexible.)

Mainly though I’ve been really struggling with depression. I was struggling a bit prior to the election, but after the election it has gotten a lot worse. It makes it hard for me to find motivation to do anything, and that certainly includes blogging.

I was thankfully able to get back into therapy, though I sort of slipped past a “no new patients” rule by someone who didn’t realize that I’m considered a new patient since it’d been over a year since I saw this therapist.

Going to see if the no new patients rule will prevent me from seeing someone who can prescribe medications for depression in addition to therapy.

If that does happen, maybe things will start looking up for me and I might get back to blogging. But I can’t say how long until that is.

So that is the update one me!

 

I’m working back to normal workouts now with my broken foot healed.

One things I’ve gotten to discover first hand is the real benefit of compound movements. I know, this is something you hear a lot about in the lifting world on why free weights are better than machines, and it’s something I was aware of on a theoretical basis before but I understand it in terms of experience now.

While my foot was still healing and I needed to stay off it I discovered that while the gym I go to closest to me didn’t have any seated leg machines, one (in the same chain) a bit further away did. So I would sometimes go further away to that gym so I could do a seated hamstring curl and leg extension. Even staying off my foot I could work my legs some.

And surely this would help make it easier to transition back to lifts using my legs, like squats, after my foot was healed, right?

NOPE!

I still can barely manage squatting, even a few weeks back at it now. Trying to squat after so long without, my body completely forgot how to do that movement. Sure, the leg extension and hamstring curl helped build back some muscle on my legs, but muscle from those isolation movements did not translate well over to the functional movement of squatting- my muscles (all of them in conjunction) were not used to this movement.

 

Last night at the gym I for the first time since my break from lifting threw in a metabolic complex and it kicked my ass! I hate these. My comfort zone for workouts are heavy lifts with long rests between. The kind of stuff that builds muscle and leaves me sweating, but doesn’t really get my heart rate up for any sustained period of time. I also like swimming and HIIT cardio style workouts (sprints and such). But cardio HIIT workouts do not kick my ass as much as a barbell complex. I absolutely hate these when doing them, they feel miserable. And I realize I need to make more of an effort to do them more often. Because if I only stick with the stuff I find easiest or most enjoyable, I will be missing out. Sure, even if I only do a low intensity swimming several times a week I would have health benefits from that. But lifting and adding in some stuff that is a struggle and gets my heart rate going a lot more provides other forms of health benefits that are missed by sticking with just one style of workout. Aside from health benefits, it provides a different type of training benefit that other stuff doesn’t, and I’m missing out on performance if i skip it.

It helps though that I love how I feel AFTER it’s over though. And it doesn’t last very long. Not sure something like running a marathon is ever in my future. Much as I hate steady state cardio, not sure I could put up with it for such a long period of time.

Still trying to get into a groove of workouts though. It feels like a lot to fit into a schedule.

My goal is 3-4 days of lifting per week (each session taking 30-60 minutes usually), Krav Maga at least 1 day per week (fitting class times into my schedule is difficult or I’d aim for more often. Classes are 1 hr long if I remember correctly.), 1-2 complexes per week (so that adds 15-30 minutes, usually do these at the end of a lifting workout), and swimming 5 times a week, usually short distances at the end of my other workouts, but trying once a week to work in a mile swim (about 70 minutes). That all plus stretching and maybe working in some yoga classes. …. Kind of adds up to a lot of time. Everytime I go to the gym time seems to just melt away and it’s several hours later by the time I leave. Though it’s one benefit of going to the gym during my lunch break at work is it forces me to keep my workout time down, but that’s why I never try doing lifting workouts during lunch.

I think this is a really interesting topic, my comment on this post:

“I wonder too about the cause and effect for home fitness program users- I know one reason in the past (and sometimes present) I’ve been attracted to it is not just the ability to do it at home, anytime, but also the privacy and fear of looking stupid in front of other people at a gym or fitness class.

It’s interesting, I have a whole home gym set up in my basement for lifting and yet, since joining a commercial gym (initially only for the pool while recovering from foot injuries), I find it in some ways easier to get to the gym and workout than workout at home as counter intuitive as that is. Part of it is that I get to swim after lifting at the gym so that incentivizes me. There are also all the gym features that try to make it feel luxurious, which do make the experience feel like one of pampering over duty sometimes (I’m in love with getting to end workouts with a soak in a hot tub and/or some time in the steam room). And there is the factor of just being away from the stress of home that is relaxing, compared to working out in my basement where workouts are often in between doing laundry, with reading for school during my rests between sets. So working out has the “flexibility” of being able to do laundry and school work between sets and exercises, but it has the downside of not being the same quality me-time, time just for taking care of myself, that going out to a gym is.”

It’s interesting is that in many ways I think the very benefits of home workouts can be the downsides of home workouts

+ pivacy

– you don’t get out of your comfort zone and learn to be ok working out in front of others, and seeing that everyone else isn’t as perfect at it as you imagine

+you can do it anytime

-it’s easier to put off, “I’ll do it later” until later never comes because you ran out of time, because you aren’t on a schedule

+you can do it right at home, don’t need childcare, et cetera!

– you don’t take time just to take care of yourself, workouts are interspersed with the regular needs and stresses of home life such as taking care of kids, doing chores, et cetera.

Which isn’t to say the pluses aren’t really positives, because I thinkt they are and totally have a benefit and a place.

Yesterday Samantha posted about the real life secrets of aging athletes. And truer words were never spoken– as we get older, we have to pay closer attention to all the things that can limit the felicitous functioning of our bodies. When I was in my 20s, I could ignore the needs of sleep, nutritious food, […]

via The deceptive allure of home exercise programs — Fit Is a Feminist Issue

I love swimming, and I’m realizing one of many reasons that I really enjoy this form of exercise is due to migraines. Since exercise is both a trigger for migraines and makes them a lot worse, they clearly make exercise difficult.

Cold on the other hand is such a godsend for migraines. So swimming in cold water kind of balances it out. Because of having my head immersed in cold water, I don’t get the pain I would with other types of exercise.

As I’ve been doing strength training several days a week before swimming, a lot of the time I am dragging, having trouble doing the strength training because of a migraine. But getting in the pool to swim, I feel better and it doesn’t hold impact my ability to work like it otherwise would.

Of course when I googled I discovered a few people who said that chlorine triggers their  migraines, so it wouldn’t quite work for those folks. Also wouldn’t have the same impact if the water isn’t cold.

But for me, this is another reason to enjoy swimming 🙂

I’m always trying to push myself, little by little, to get out of my comfort zone and do things that make me freak out. Eventually with this process, I get to try new things, and become comfortable in more environments.

Joining the gym in the first place was out of my comfort zone.

Swimming at the gym was out of my comfort zone, even at night with few people around.

Swimming during the day with lots of people around but an empty lane was another step out of my comfort zone after I got comfortable with swimming at night.

Yesterday I went to the gym after work before the debate expecting to be too drunk after the presidential debate to go to the gym. I forgot how crowded they get during the day. The mall sized parking lot for the gym was packed. I almost turned around then, but the upside of driving 40 minutes to the gym is it makes me less inclined to turn around and head home without getting my workout in.

When I went in, the pool was packed. 4 out of 5 lanes were reserved for the next hour and half for “programs”. Leaving only 1 lane for anyone, like myself, who was just there to swim. When I got there, there were two men sharing that lane already. I was nervous about trying to be a third in the lane, it didn’t look like it would work well, especially with one dude swimming the butterfly stroke. I waited a bit and one of them left so I decided to go ahead and ask the remaining guy if I could share the lane. He said no problem. Shortly after another person joined, so we did end up with 3 people sharing the lane.

Super out of my comfort zone there, but I sucked it up and did it. And in the end, as always, it was not at all as scary as I make it out to be in my head.

I did end up changing my workout plan based on sharing the lane but I did 10 laps of front crawl and called it a day.

Ever since I’ve started making an effort to push myself out of my comfort zone, I’ve been doing more and having lots more fun. I definitely plan to keep with it and keep trying new things. It’s uncomfortable and even scary at first, but so far has been very worth it!

Swimming is Hard

Posted: September 26, 2016 in My workouts, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I had no idea until I started swimming. I hear about open water swims that are 1-2 miles and I always thought “oh, short swim”. 1 mile is short walking or running. I had no idea how long a 1 mile swim is.

I was shocked to discover when I started swimming that to swim 1 mile I had to swim 33 laps at my gym pool. 33. Wow. I now have swam 1 mile in one go 3 times now. A mile has never seemed so far in my life until trying to swim it. And I swim in a pool, where I can kick off the wall ever 25 meters, and I do half of it backstroke which is far easier (and slower) than front crawl (freestyle). I can only do a few laps freestyle before I need a rest. Whole new respect for people who do long open water swims!

Of course breathing when swimming is the biggest struggle for me. Walking or running, it’s easy- you gasp desperately for air. The hardest part is if I start coughing from my asthma. But swimming? My body wants to pant for air but much of the time (freestyle swimming) my face is in the water and that would result in me drowning. This is the biggest reason I do half the swimming backstroke- it keeps my face out of the water and I can breathe easily.

Luckily my gym has a lifeguard if I ever should fail at the “don’t breathe in the water” step of swimming. Though less comforting when the lifeguard spends long periods talking to someone facing away from the pool I’m in or hours with their nose in their phone, so hopefully I don’t ever need saving.

On the topic of swimming, I’ve been reading The First 20 Minutes by Gretchen Reynolds and she mentions a study where they made rats swim in barrels for 3 hours. THREE HOURS! Those poor rats is all I can think 😦 If we want to understand the impact of swimming on bodies, can’t we use willing human volunteers?

My last mile swim was 1hr 20min 30sec with rests. And those poor rats had to swim 3 hours with no rests. I love swimming but ouch. Poor rats.

Fuck Flattering

Posted: September 22, 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,
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A drawing of my Uncle Joe

My Uncle Joe passed away last Friday night and his funeral was this week. I will miss him a lot. I use art often to help me deal with emotions, especially when I am upset. So I started a sketch of my uncle based on a photo of him. The sketch is above, it’s based on a photo of him from my younger cousin’s birthday party when he had a lei around his head.

My aunt who took the photo commented about it and how he told her not to delete it even though it wasn’t the most flattering photo of him.

I chose this photo as one to draw from though because I felt like it really captured who he was. His smile, it showed him looking very happy enjoying himself, and it shows his humor and how he could be very silly and playful (especially with kids).

This got me thinking about “unflattering” photos. We all worry about those, right? I know I have complained many, many, many times about photos I think I look bad in.

Bad usually defined as looking further from social standards of beauty than I might at other times or other angles.

I don’t think I’ve ever complained about a “bad” photo where I meant that I looked bad in the sense that it made me look like a mean, thoughtless, uncaring person. No, bad means I look very large, I have a double chin, my eyes are too small looking, my cheeks too big and puffy, I have too much acne, or my face looks too red, and so on.

But at the end of the day, what does any of that matter?

At the end of our lives no one is going to look back on photos and judge how closely we aligned with social standards of beauty. No, they will look at them to remember the times we spent together, the way we made them feel, and remember all the amazing characteristics about who we are as people that they loved about us. And likely none of that will be related to what we looked like.

This doesn’t just apply after death either, for the most part, friends and family don’t care how “flattering” photos of us are, they want photos of us to capture the memories, emotions, and aspects of who we are that they love.

So I am writing this as a reminder to myself and hopefully inspiration to others as well to let go of caring about if photos are “flattering” or not. Doesn’t matter if that photo with family captured you from a bad angle that highlights some flaw you dislike in your appearance, that really isn’t important. Let the photo capture the moment, the memory, and your personality. But stop worrying about “flattering”

Broken Foot

Posted: September 12, 2016 in About Me, Uncategorized
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So followed up with my doctor about heel pain today and was told there was no need for me to avoid exercise due to it any longer.

 

YES!

 

Oh, but also I broke my foot on Sept 2nd and so I do need to stay off it until that heals.

 

Dammit.

 

-_-

 

Lesson learned, next time just let the skunk spray you instead of trying to run away and falling over and spraining both ankles and breaking your foot. *sigh*

So I was reading something online that mentioned a book Beat the Gym by Tom Holland. I bought this book but was very unimpressed with it myself, though I can see how some of it might be useful to people who are brand new to fitness and gyms.

 

He begins early in the book talking about how gyms make their money primarily on people who sign up and pay but do not use, or rarely use, the gym. He gives some tips to be the kind of person who uses the gym all the time instead. I disagree with some of his points though and in writing a review of the book I thought I would write my own, very non-professional, list of ways to get the most out of your gym membership.

 

  1. Know Yourself, know what you want, know what you will do

One piece of advice he gives that doesn’t hold true to me is that you don’t need to love your gym just like it well enough and the most important factor is distance. Well, this really is not true for me. I joined the gym I did because it has a pool with very flexible hours (only closed 2hrs/day for cleaning). He actually writes off pools as rather unimportant features of gyms that get too much attention. Well… that depends on if you will use it or not. If you know you aren’t going to swim or go in the pool much, who cares if your gym has a pool? But if that’s important to you, then obviously it is an important feature! Swimming is what keeps me coming back to the gym. I joined for swimming and from going in for swimming almost every day I’ve started utilizing other things the gym offers, like weights and stationary bikes. I would not have joined just for those though.

 

  1. Do something and go somewhere you ENJOY

If I took his advice to go based on location only, I would have joined the planet fitness right by my house. And I probably wouldn’t ever go to it. Instead I drive past the planet fitness and 20 minutes out of my way, and 20 minutes back, to go to the gym I do. But it doesn’t feel like too much of a hassle because I enjoy my time there so much. Despite being further away I go almost daily, because going to the gym is something I look forward to. The same could be said of the place I go for Krav Maga.

 

I’m not telling you to join my gym, to take up swimming, or take up Krav Maga. But doing something you ENJOY, I think, is going to make a bigger difference in your consistency than convenience. If it’s close and convenient to get to, but the workout itself still feels like a chore, it’s going to be harder to be consistent than if it’s something you enjoy and want to fit into your schedule. Though certainly knowing your schedule (see #1 for knowing yourself) and if it works is also important. Despite loving Krav Maga even before I was on my medical restriction from it I was not doing it very often simply because very often my work and school schedule prevented me from making the class times. It doesn’t matter how much I enjoy it, work and school are requirements that I can’t forgo in favor of taking a krav maga class.

 

  1. Don’t Worry About Other People

I think the best advice he gives in the book is that most people are focused on themselves at the gym and not to worry about people paying attention to or judging you. Though he bugged me when he then goes on to give fashion advice including saying spandex is a “privilege not a right” and then cautioning against outlandish 80’s workout clothes. I say fuck his fashion advice. If spandex is comfortable or makes you feel good working out, rock your spandex. If you feel good in your 80’s fitness fashions, rock those. If you want to wear garishly bright Lisa Frank leggings (and really, who wouldn’t want to?) then do it! And don’t worry about what other people might think of what you are wearing. You’re there for you, let them worry about their own fashions.

 

  1. Pamper Yourself/Do Things That Make You Feel Good

This is similar to #2 except whereas 2 was about doing exercise you enjoy, this is about other factors. This is something I’ve been thinking about mentioning, which is how much I’m enjoying amenities I didn’t care about when I signed up. Not only do I enjoy swimming, but after swimming I relax in the hot tub, and I also have been making use of the steam room at the gym I go to. Does sitting in a hot tub or steam room do much for my fitness? Not really (though I do stretch in the hot tub). But I find it relaxing and I look forward to it. And it’s certainly good for my health because it helps me destress.

 

I’ve actually started a bit of a pampering ritual for myself after workouts. So far I end every workout with swimming (either I just swim, or I do some strength training and then swim). After swimming I stretch and then relax in the hot tub. After a bit of that I go back to the locker room and grab my little baggie with my shampoo and so on in it, which also has a charcoal face mask/scrub in it. I take a quick shower to cool down and use the face mask/scrub. Then I go relax or meditate in the steam room. After that I take a full shower, get dressed, and head home.

 

In addition the gym I go to has a spa in it, which I didn’t care about when I joined but I am definitely making use of it now, planning to get massages as regularly as I can afford to. The spa services cost money, not included in the gym membership, but still it’s something in the gym that isn’t a workout but still has benefits for me and I enjoy. Make going to the gym something you enjoy- both the exercise and anything else about it. You deserve it!

 

  1. Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin and Don’t Shame Others For Being Comfortable in Theirs

I’ve been thinking in my head how I know I’m getting old now because it doesn’t bother me to strip down naked in the locker room. When I was younger I never understood how adults could be comfortable changing in such a public place. Even when I joined the gym last month I wasn’t very comfortable with it. Part of my comfort comes not just from age but also because working out makes me feel more comfortable in my own skin.

And so here is another point where I disagree with Tom Holland. He complains about too much nudity in the locker rooms.

Me- I think feeling comfortable enough in your own skin to be naked is a wonderful thing! The more you feel that the better. And when other people are comfortable with their bodies be happy for them being comfortable in them. If you don’t want to see someone naked, then just don’t look. Even if you do want to see someone naked, you still should keep your eyes to yourself and not be creepy.

But most importantly, don’t shame other folks for daring to be naked in a place designed for nakedness. Focus on yourself.

 

This isn’t all necessary of course, just my own little anecdotes turned advice about enjoying going to the gym.