Posts Tagged ‘lifting’

Sitting in the hottub after a short swim I started thinking about how swimming just isn’t as enjoyable for me as it was. Used to be I could swim an hour and feel great about it. Now I do a few laps and I’m bored and ready for something else. It’s not physical, I’m not worse at swimming that I was or able to swim less, I just am not as excited to do it as I was.

This lead me to reconsider what my goals are in what I’m doing. I used to be focused on lifting and running and had specific weights I wanted to lift, and distances or speeds I wanted to run (especially for events I wanted to do).

But I’ve also been slacking on my lifting. So why am I doing what I’m doing?

I realized that right now, my main goals for working out are just your vague and generic I want to be able to do more physically, and I do it for the health benefits. Which doesn’t really require a specific training routine though if I’m not training for anything in particular, just trying to be as healthy as I can be.

So I’m just going to go with my boredom and mix things up in my workouts. I’ve been doing Krav Maga more often (which is only twice a week though).

It is weird realizing that at this time my goals are not easily measurable since they are not performance based but generic health related.

It also however though reminds me of the importance of keeping in mind what your own goals are and how what you are doing is or isn’t based on your goals.

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I’ve read a lot of things about letting go of your ego when lifting. I have always thought that isn’t much of an issue for me. I am not competing with anyone, I don’t care if my weights aren’t impressive sounding, and I have no trouble lowering weight to work on form…. right?

Physical therapy is teaching me that is not right though. The truth is, I definitely struggle with my ego with my physical therapy right now.

I can’t do much workout wise to begin with right now, and what I am doing for physical therapy is basically all body weight focusing on form.

What’s been really surprising to me though, is how sore I can get just from these body weight exercises.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was squatting 200lbs, now I’m doing body weight squats according to the PTs guidelines and feeling sore. And I get really sore doing the calf rises how she has me doing them, when I used to feel like I could do bw calf rises all day without feeling much anything from it.

It’s surprising how some minor tweaks in how I do an exercise is making a huge difference in how it feels. Which, of course right now these tweaks are all specifically designed to target my weak spots.

So, I have to work on letting go of my ego, and the mental view I have of myself as someone who lifts heavy weights, and accept that right now I have to rest and focus on the uber basics right now in order to rebalance my body/strength so that I can safely progress from there.

New Year’s Resolutions are a funny thing. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually met all of mine, and yet each year I make them. This year will be no exception.

But I try to make changes and keep them more reasonable.

Last year I tried to make fewer goals and keep them more reasonable than I had before.

2014 I gave myself a lot of very specific goals but never did them. So 2015 I tried to do fewer.

For 2015 my goals were:

Fitness Goals:
Squat my body weight (and hopefully more)

Did not accomplish this. My max squat of 2015 was .89 times my body weight.
Bench Press 100lbs (and hopefully more)

I did actually accomplish this one! Though it was not a very bold goal.
I WILL actually do a tough mudder this year,

Nope. 


School Goals:
Keeping my goals more reasonable this time around- obviously finish coursework and pass my quals are on the list, but my big goal is to submit something for publication. That’s it, keeping it simple right now.

Did not quite meet these. I didn’t finish all my coursework, and as such was not able to take my final qualifying exam in 2015. I did submit for publications though!


House Goals:
I will get my office set up soon, finally!

Yes! This is done. Though the last part just got finished (I got a desk chair, so I can actually use my desk! lol)


Other Stuff:
Learn something new this year.

hmm, I didn’t really accomplish this in any specific, planned way. I’ve learned things, for certain, but something that was really planned in terms of meeting this goal? No.

One big problem with my new year’s resolutions every year, is that I have a tendency to make them and forget about them until the next year- when I look at the list and go “didn’t do that!”

So this year, I am trying to make my goals specific, measurable, reasonable, and plan a way of tracking them throughout the year.

So coming up with my 2016 resolutions, I started with a list of vague goals I want to accomplish:

  • meditate more often
  • Spend more time on art
  • Lift more consistently
  • Learn krav maga
  • Declutter
  • Journal more often

 

After making this list I took each item and answered 4 questions for it:

Why is this a goal for 2016?

Make it specific/measurable:

How will I measure it?

Is it reasonable?

Meditate more often

  • Why?
    • Meditation improves mental health, helps keep me focused, relaxed, and in touch with myself.
  • Make it measurable/specific:
    • Meditate daily, even if only for a few minutes.
  • How will I measure this?
    • Use headspace to help track meditation
  • Is this a realistic goal?
    • I hesitate to make goals that have to be done EVERY day, but by making it daily but not requiring any amount of time each day I think this is realistic. Even if I only take 3 minutes to meditate, that still counts.

Spend more time on art

  • Why?
    • I enjoy it, it’s relaxing, it’s something I do just because I enjoy it. A more vague way of wording this goal could have been to spend more time doing things just because I enjoy them, but for me art/crafting is this thing.
  • Make it measurable/specific:
    • Work on art or crafting at least 1 hr each week.
  • How will I measure this?
    • Use onenote notebook to track this
  • Is this a realistic goal?
    • 1 hour per week is realistic and not expecting to much. I can do one hour one day one  a weekend, or 15 minutes 4 days out of the week, however works out.

Lift more consistently

  • Why?
    • I want to be stronger, it’s good for my health, and to be effective I need to be more consistent. Consistency is often a big struggle for me.
  • Make it measurable/specific:
    • Lift at least 3 days/week on average
  • How will I measure this?
    • Use onenote notebook/calendar to track this
  • Is this a realistic goal?
    • This one I have the most trouble trying to make it realistic. I want to say I will lift 4 days/week but I know I won’t always meet that. Even 3 days/week I might not always meet. I say average because it is realistic if I do 2 days one week, 4 days the next, as I’m able to, then my average still works out. I also want this to include any lifting, since I aim to be do it more often. I am working on trying to allow myself shorter workouts when necessary to at least be doing something even when I don’t have the time or energy for a long workout.

Learn Krav Maga

  • Why?
    • I have been wanting to for years, and this fits my general goal of learning of something new each year.
  • Make it measurable/specific
    • In January I will sign up with a membership
    • After I sign up, I will attend a class at least 3 times/month
  • How will I measure this?
    • Use onenote notebook/calendar to track this
  • Is this a realistic goal?
    • 3 times/month should be a realistic goal. The most difficult part of this goal and what kept me from meeting it in the past will be the cost, but I’ve decided to make this a financial priority.

Declutter

  • Why?
    • I need to get my house cleaned up, I have to much stuff cluttering up my space, and I know that getting rid of things and having less clutter will be better for me mentally.
  • Make it measurable/specific:
    • I will get rid of at least one box of stuff each month
  • How will I measure this?
    • Keep a box in my house labeled for the month, at the end of the month it is donated.
  • Is this a realistic goal?
    • Yes. I have enough to get rid of more than 1 box each month, this should not be difficult to meet.

Journal More Often

  • For now I’m dropping this goal. I have too many already, and I need to keep my focus limited. The more I say I will do, the less likely I am to stay focused on all of them and achieve all of them. If I do well with other goals, this may be added later.

Actually, no school goals came to mind for me this year. School took a bit of a backseat this last semester for me, and I’m actually far happier with things now. So, as I figure out how to fit school in my life without sacrificing too much of my health on it, I’m not making any specific goals for school.

Actually, overall my goals for 2016 are things related to improving my health, in particular my mental health. I think I have made  a lot of improvement on that front lately, and I plan to continue to improve there. I do think what works for me most of the time with new year’s goals is actually looking at what already works or is going well and setting goals that build on or continue those things.

For most of these goals I plan to use onenote to track them and ensure I am actually paying attention to them more than just one the first of next year. I have been using onenote to track workouts already, and it’s been very effective so I will use that method for other goals as well.

 

Also no goals related to running because I still can barely walk due to pain, so I have no idea when I will be able to return to running, or even walking more. I saw my PCP about my foot, had an x-ray which showed a heel spur and a tumor. Now I have to follow up with a podiatrist about the results and hopefully come up with something that will allow me to walk, and hopefully run, without such severe pain.

1 Mile Run

Posted: September 14, 2015 in Running Blogging
Tags: , , ,

I was planning to get in 3 runs last week but after the Wednesday running group I couldn’t walk without limping until today. Feet still hurting, but I decided to go out for a short 1 mile run (plus warm up walk and cool down walk) after my OHP workout today.

OHP’s didn’t go great. I find it very hard to make progress on them and was feeling very weak during the workout.

So then out for my run. Not used to measuring my runs in distance. Had runkeeper set to repeat .5 mile run with a warm up and cool down. So warm up walk, then I get the notification for my first .5 mile run. After the first block of running I’m thinking “how far is a mile? Am I almost done? I don’t think I can run this whole distance.” But shortly after 5 minutes ish in I was feeling better about it.

Notification for the second .5 mile run which meant time to turn around and head home. About 2 blocks in, I stop for a car- this time of night/morning the lights are blinking reds or blinking yellows and no sidewalk crossing signals, so I just wait for cars to clear. Except even after I wave for him to go, he is still stopped at the light with no traffic. Ok, I’ll cross then. As I’m in front of him I hear the person honk. I finish crossing and take out my headphones, but I don’t hear anything at first, then dude pulls slowly around a bit and next to me and says something I can’t hear, so I walk back a bit and ask what he said. He says something about working out together, and wanting to meet new people. So I respond “you want to workout with me?” He says yes, says he walks in the mornings and it would be nice to have someone to walk with. Then he says “or do you have a boyfriend?” I ask him if he’s looking for a walking buddy or a date. I don’t have a boyfriend but I also don’t typically date men. He says he just wants a walking buddy but wouldn’t want to be talking to me if I have a boyfriend.

… So you just had to check if another man owns me or not before talking to me?

So that’s new!

So I went back to my running, thinking how I won’t be able to have an accurate sense of my pace during the mile now.

Though I was a bit confused how doing .5 out and .5 back the second .5 was a full block longer than the first somehow o_0 What’s with that runkeeper?

I am now back to limping :-\

I’ve also been out of kinesiology tape for awhile. Hopefully once I get some more and go back to taping I won’t be limping between runs like this.

This is an old post I started and didn’t finish awhile back. At the time I had recentrly read a cracked article: The 5 Most Terrifying Side Effects of Exercise. I was looking forward to a humorous take on some of the scary or just unpleasant things that cane come with exercise. I was disappointed though that almost everything on the list was specific to endurance activities, not lifting and so I decided I would make my own list of the “terrifying side effects” of lifting.

This isn’t really based on any significant research, just some things I’ve either personally experienced or read about.

Also a disclaimer: a lot of comments on the cracked article complained about how it made exercise sound worse than it is, and these things don’t happen to all people, and suggesting this would make people not want to exercise. I think that’s just kind of stupid. There ARE unpleasant things that can happen with exercise. And honestly, I feel like the folks most inclined to appreciate that they exist are the people who engage in those activities. Thus why I was disappointed that most of the cracked article’s side effects weren’t related to lifting, as someone who lifts.

I love lifting, there are so many reasons to do it, and so many positive effects that come with it, and I have posted about them and I will continue to, but this post is related to the negative stuff.

Last disclaimer- I’m not a comedian or comedy writer so don’t expect this to be super funny.

1. Acne

I went with “terrible” instead of “terrifying” for my list because some of the first ones that comes to mind for me are more annoying and frustrating than terrifying.

And the very first thing that comes to mind for me is acne. I’ve had acne since puberty, but it’s gotten a lot better since then. It’s never totally gone away and been a non-issue but as an adult watching what I eat (because I know sugar can cause breakouts for me), I would get occasional break outs, but never too bad and not all the time. Until I started lifting that is. I was not expecting that! Here I am, doing something really healthy, that has all these awesome benefits for my body… and then it sends me back to having constant, more severe, breakouts? Not fair!

Took me awhile to put it together. I ended up looking up info about this and it is indeed a thing. There seem to be a few factors. First off directly lifting weights increases testosterone, which can cause acne. While an issue for both genders from my google research, it seems like it tends to be more often an issue for women. Or we just talk about it more? But it certainly makes sense that the effects of testosterone would vary a bit by sex. I’ve also noticed anecdotally that men seem to mention body acne as a side effect whereas women seem to mention breakouts on our faces. Which is consistent to my experience, my breakouts are typically restricted to my face.

There also seems to be some indirect ways that it can increase breakouts. One of those being diet. According to websites I found googling this, dairy products including whey protein can increase breakouts- and when taking up lifting I also increased these in my diet.

Of course I’ve also found that even eating the same when I didn’t lift for awhile my face cleared up a lot more, so definitely lifting seems to be having an effect in and of itself.

Of course there are also other factors as well, like wearing makeup while working out can increase clogged pores. I’m a lot more cautious now to remove any foundation and concealer before working out and washing my face immediately after a workout, not that this has completely solved the problem, but it certainly helps.

2. More Facial Hair

This one is specific to women. Remember how I mentioned above that weight lifting increases testosterone levels? Well, there are a lot of side effects that can cause, including more facial hair for women. My source this is mostly anecdotal- I’ve seen a number of women report more unwanted hair after taking up lifting due to hormonal changes. And noticed it myself. I’m told this can also be an effect of aging, though it seems  quite a coincidence that this aspect of getting older for me has coincided so specifically with when I started lifting heavy.

3. Stress Incontinence

This is another specific to women as far as I know. And to be fair, this is not at all caused by lifting so much as possible to experience during lifting- even for women who have never experienced other forms of stress incontinence. Stress incontinence is “leaking” urine during certain activities that can include sneezing, coughing, or exercise. While typically the assumed cause is weak pelvic floor muscles this isn’t necessarily the case, and a woman who never “leaks” when coughing, sneezing, running, or jumping, may still find that she does during a heavy lift. And the solution isn’t always as simple as doing kegel exercises. 

From the linked article Ann Wendel explains some of the causes for urinary incontinence when lifting heavy:

  • The muscles of the pelvic floor may be weak from being stretched during vaginal delivery or even from the weight of the baby during pregnancy. They may also be weak due to postural habits (standing with a posterior pelvic tilt) and lack of exercise.
  • The muscles may be hypertonic (overactive) and unable to relax, which decreases the strength of the contraction when they do fire. So they are overactive, but weak.
  • The pelvic floor muscles may be overactive but strong; yet, the client has stronger abdominal, back, diaphragm and glottis (voicebox) muscles. Women who leak while lifting a heavy load may be in this category — holding their breath leads to a rigid thorax, yet they can’t contain all of the pressure, so they either grunt/yell, leak urine, or sustain an abdominal hernia or herniated spinal disc. The pressure escapes the system through the weakest link. (For more on this topic, check out this post from Physio Detective on pelvic floor dysfunction.)
  • The pelvic floor may have been damaged (think episiotomy, forceps, vacuum extraction of baby, cancer/radiation) and the scar tissue affects the ability for the muscles to contract properly.

So even with strong pelvic floor muscles, a woman can still experience this during heavy lifting. Though certainly it’s better than an abdominal hernia or herniated spinal disc!

4.  Serious Injury

Ok, so the previous item references risks of abdominal hernia or a herniated spinal disc which are clearly much more serious than anything else I mentioned!

Using basic safety measures lifting heavy is actually relatively safe, but there is always a risk of accidents and injury and adding large amount of weight to the mix can increase the danger. In 2014 a crossfit athlete was paralyzed when he failed a snatch and the dropped barbell bounced back up and hit him in the back. Depending who one asks this was either a freak accident or something that could have been prevented with a safer platform. I’m unqualified to make any judgement on that.

However, risks can be reduced through proper form, not trying to lift heavier than what you can safely manage, having a spotter or a power cage or squat rack set up to catch a barbell, and knowing how to safely drop the weight. Since I workout alone at home without a spotter my power rack is incredibly important to me for lifting heavy. I do my bench press in the power rack with bars on the side that will catch the barbell if I were to drop it so it doesn’t fall on me. I’ve failed reps on bench before with no injury because I have those bars there to catch the barbell. Lifting alone at home makes it harder to get feedback on proper form vs form that puts you at risk for an injury, but with the internet it is possible to record lifts and get feedback on them from people online which is great.

My “guns” may not look impressive, but I was feeling strong regardless 🙂

I really like blogging about my runs after I do them. Strangely though, while I like lifting more, I don’t talk about it as much here. For some reason I just rarely have much to say about my lifting workouts.

So that said: bench workout today! got up to 90lbsx5. which felt good. Did some assistance stuff too. … see, normally this is all I would have to say.

The only thing I have to say about lifting today though is that I’ve been thinking about resting. I know that I should not compare myself to others and so on, but I do sometimes. On fitocracy I see other people do these crazy long lifting workouts- well, they seem crazy long to me at least. And yet, even the shortest lifting workout for me takes forever to get through. 2 squat workouts ago all I did was the basic part of my program with no assistance lifting. Which meant I did a brief warmup (I’ve been doing jumping jacks and body weight squats), then 3 sets of warm up weight barbell squats, then 3 working sets (5 resp, 3 reps, and 1 rep respectively)… well, I take that back, I actually did 4 because the 200lbsx1 felt good enough that I decided to do it twice, then just a short bit of stretching and foam rolling. Still that took me somewhere around 45 minutes. Changing plates and resting between sets adds up (and it actually depends how I’m feeling whether I decided to count the changing plate time as part of my rest time or not).

I also sometimes get antsy during rests between sets because I just want to lift. I also know I could fit in more if I supersetted stuff instead of literally just resting between sets. But that also means I would be getting less actual rest.

And the thing is, I can tell I lift better when I get enough rest between sets though. If I don’t rest long enough I will end up failing sets, which will result in less strength, which will result in not lifting as heavy over time. Which is not my goal.

I’ve been asking myself- do I just rest longer than other people? Though between sets my rests are 90 seconds to 5 minutes depending how heavy/hard the last lift was, which from what I’ve read is not unusual for heavy lifting.

Basically I find myself mentally caught between what I know helps me meet my goals, and envy over other people who manage these really long looking workouts that would probably take all day.

Of course I can never help but wonder how much my health may play a role in this. Dealing with fatigue issues as I do, it seems entirely plausible to me that rest between sets is more important for me, or that I do need to err on the higher side of rest times because of that. I can’t say for certain if that is a factor, but it seems very possible to me that it would be.

So I just have to work though to remember that whatever the reason, I know rest for me is important for lifting heavier.

After my bench workout today I also did sprints. Not immediately after. I changed clothes because my lifting clothes aren’t good running clothes, drank a protein shake, put on music and danced around my living room while my phone charged up a bit more. Then I went out to do sprints. It was raining when I went out but not heavily and I thought “I’m not going to let a little rain stop me!”

So- holy shit it has been over a month since I’ve done sprints!

I could feel it, I was obviously not used to it. I did the same intervals I’ve been doing- 5 minute warm up walk, (30 second sprint, 2 minutes walking) 6 times, 5 minutes cool down walk.

So first run interval, I went all the fuck out! And hurt my shoulder, apparently I was moving my arms too much. And remembered that I normally don’t go so all out on the first sprint so I still have energy for the others.

Rain was getting heavier and I ended up with rain water in my eye and OH GOD IT BURNED!!!!! The fuck is the rain? Normally I would have blamed it on makeup or something but I was wearing none. Maybe sweat but I get sweat dripping in my eyes during workouts all the time, my sweat does not burn my eyes.

Second sprint was slower but still trying to give it my all.

Third sprint I was exhausted.

Rain was still getting heavier.

Fourth sprint I felt dead. Just trying to walk after  was difficult. Also took off my glasses since they were no longer serving any purpose in that rain (though I hate running without them because I cannot see well and it makes me nervous because I easily would not be able to see a dip, hole, or bump in the sidewalk.)

Fifth sprint was quite slow, but I was so exhausted. By the end of that I was really struggling to keep down my protein shake.

Sixth sprint was just a touch faster than the 5th but still slow. Then I got to walk the rest of the way home.

Nothing to exciting, but yay sprints! Though I need to get around to setting up a runkeeper workout with distance based intervals instead of time, because I do prefer to measure in distance.

Oh, and my plan for tomorrow is to go to a local running group, which I am a bit nervous about. Hope it goes well! I will definitely post about how it goes (crossing my fingers something doesn’t cause me to miss it). I get really anxious about things like this. Especially combining two thing that make me feel anxious-meeting up with a group of strangers, and working out around/with other people.

My trying to smile right after the workout (before stretching and foam rolling)

So the second reboot run with Fat Girls’ Guide to Running, this time the run is meant to be just slightly longer- travel out 12 minutes and turn around and head back the same way.

I was actually planning initially to just go for a walk, of course was planning it to be Thursday but didn’t get out until after midnight, thus technically Friday. I am going to try to go for more walks in addition to my runs in order to get me more consistent in getting out the door. Technically the reboot specifies just travelling, and it can be walking. But the end goal is being more consistent in my running, so I wanted to use all the planned reboot runs as runs. So when I looked at the calendar and realized the week was nearly over with me needing 2 more reboot runs still, I decided I needed to run, not just walk.

Of course I was not feeling very up to it. Thursday morning I had meetings on campus and just walking around there felt so awful. Plantar fasciitis has been extra bad recently, so there is that. Combined with my legs not wanting to move from still being super sore from squats Tuesday (though side note, so happy to be making progress on those! Squatted 200lbs Tuesday and it actually didn’t feel bad at the time… though the DOMS later!)

After I got home from campus I was planning to workout but ended up lying around on my couch for awhile instead too tired to do anything at all. Eventually got some dinner and then took a nap. It was after midnight by the time I woke up, and was feeling much better and able to actually do some workouts.

So like last time I included warm up and cool down walk in the out and back timing. I headed out with runkeeper set for a 5 minute warm up walk, 7 minutes running which will give me notification at the end for when to turn around, and then another 7 minute run, and cool down walk.

One thing that was in the Fat Girls’ Guide to Running reboot description was an idea that is new to me- to allow that you can walk whenever you want, but only for 60 seconds at a time. So I decided that was my plan for my running. I would slow to a walk if I wanted, but for not longer than 60 seconds at a time. The first time I slowed to a walk it was for only about 10 seconds, but as soon as I went back to running I realized I needed to amend the rule for myself. My amended rule was that after walking I had to run for at least 60 seconds. Because immediately after starting into a run I want to slow down and walk again.

But my 60 second minimum rule seemed to work well for me because 1 minute seems the right length of time I need to feel like “ok, I can keep going”. I slowed for a walk again during my first half, this time for about 30 seconds, then back to running. 7 minutes up I headed back toward my house, slowed to a walk I think 3 times during the 7 minute run back, about 30 seconds each until the last one when I used my whole minute of walking. Cool down walk ended up being slightly over 5 minutes though as I was a bit slower on my way home.

Side note: I should be starting a new job soon, and so anxious to get started with it! And already making mental lists of things I need to buy once I have a steady income again. The top things on that list are all workout related.

  1. Kinesio tape- I’ve been out awhile and it does make a huge difference.
  2. New vibrams running shoes! The blisters from mine definitely make running harder.
  3. New sports bras! Not that mine even bad, but more is good. And more specifically I want some front-closure sports bras. I am so over pull on style sports bras. I do not enjoy putting that much effort into just getting dressed for a workout. Since the band part needs to be snug around my ribcage… and thus smaller than the places I needs to be pulled over. Back clasp bras are better than pull over ones, but still, I am coming to hate sports bras even though they are necessary, so I want ones that are as simple as possible to get in and out of.

Anyways, back to the workout- I actually suppose I didn’t need to cool down after my run since it was not the end of my workout. I decided to start with that, then do deadlifts (deload week), and short complex that included OHP so I’m counting that as my OHP deload (as it was basically the same weight as my deloads would be). While working on being more consistent for running (and walking), I also want to make sure it does not interfere with my lifting. So it was important to me to get the deload/complex workout in as well as the run.

Then stretching and foam rolling.

Looked on youtube for foam rolling videos for the first time ever and found one that taught me a lot of new ways to roll areas and it was really great! Especially the shin rolling. Never done that before and my shins were so tight, it felt great!

TFTR-Official-Blogger-Badge-1

A lot of people have been talking about Ronda Rousey recently, especially her response to people saying she looks too masculine. Her statement was:

I have this one term for the kind of woman my mother raised me to not be, and I call it a do nothing bitch. A DNB. The kind of chick that just tries to be pretty and be taken care of by someone else. That’s why I think it’s hilarious if my body looks masculine or something like that. Listen, just because my body was developed for a purpose other than fucking millionaires doesn’t mean it’s masculine. I think it’s femininely badass as fuck because there’s not a single muscle on my body that isn’t for a purpose, because I’m not a do nothing bitch. It’s not very eloquently said but it’s to the point and maybe that’s just what I am. I’m not that eloquent but I’m to the point.

The Not-So-Feminist Message of “Do Nothing Bitches”

Now, I’m not interested in saying what has already been said, so this post is mostly just pointing folks toward what others have said already. First a guest post to Fit is a Feminist Issue: Ronda Rousey is Not Your Feminist Hero (and that’s ok) really addresses a lot of the things I thought about Rousey’s statement when I first heard it. Mainly that on one hand I think “go her!” for defending her body from people trying to tear her down. Yet also, really bothered that she does so by attacking other women, who are just “do nothing bitches”. Even more troubled too by the way this was cast as the ultimate feminist comment- calling other women “do nothing bitches”.

As Audrey says:

Yes, she is femininely baddass as fuck, and yes, she should be proud as hell of every single muscle on her body. But also, fuck throwing other women under the bus. Fuck the category of “do nothing bitch,” because it doesn’t help any of us to put other women down.

Of course, knowing the very ignorant things that Rousey has said about Fallon Fox also had me feeling a bit uncomfortable with the idea that she is a feminist idol.

And while Rousey’s been silent about her lately, one woman who’s suffered a lot of discrimination in her MMA career is Ashley Fallon Fox, who came out publicly as a trans woman in an interview with Outsports. She was almost immediately subjected to a transphobic rant from UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione, who later apologized.Mostly. (Though I thought Fallon Fox’s public acceptance of his apology was quite the display of understanding and class.) So I’m not really as concerned about Rousey putting down some unspecified DNBs as I am about her public statements about Fallon Fox, stating that she would have an unfair advantage and that having a trans woman as a UFC champion would be a socially difficult situation.

The whole issue of unfair advantage is one that many people seem happy to weigh in on, regardless of whether they have any actual medical expertise in the area. But if you’re looking for a place to start, there are some nice summaries of some of the empirical evidence that’s out there having to do with testosterone levels, bone density, muscle mass, etc.

If you don’t feel like clicking the link for the full description of how medically inaccurate it is to say that Fallon Fox has an advantage because she is trans- to sum it up, the actual experts on this agree that after a year of estrogen or testosterone suppressing therapy, trans women would not have any benefit. In fact, trans women who have had their testicles removed will typically have lower testosterone levels, and thus a disadvantage in building muscle, than cis women with ovaries which produce testosterone.

But as Audrey says on Fit is a Feminist Issue:

The point here is that none of us should be putting Rousey on a feminist pedestal. But why should we need to? Thankfully, we are not short on badass women heroes as a society, nor are we short on feminist writing. There’s no need to try and read Rousey as delivering a perfect feminist message, and there seems to be no conflict between celebrating the positive things she brings while being critical of the ways in which her messages still fall short.

So I think Rousey is pretty badass and awesome at what she does, and I’m happy to see her fighting back (verbally) against those who feel the need to insult her body, but I’m not thrilled with the way she did so by throwing other women under the bus, and we shouldn’t overlook the way she has advocated against trans women’s inclusion in her sport, despite what the medical evidence shows.

Strong is not the New Skinny

I wanted to start with pointing to that blog entry first, to start with how it is not a feminist or empowering message to tear down other women for being do nothing bitches. Also found through Fit is a Feminist Issue, though a share on their facebook page, is this article about Ronda Rousey and the “Strong is the New Skinny” saying. I’ve written a bit before about my thoughts on the inaccuracies of the saying “Strong is the New Skinny”– in short, this message does not ever seem to include women who are strong but not also thin with low body fat.

Now I feel very similar about the Arkitect Fitness article linked above as I do about Ronda Rousey and her comments. Lots of awesome, and also lots of not. In fact, the biggest problem with the article is that it does a lot of tearing down other women, apparently in an effort to empower other women. I started with something calling out the “do nothing bitches” because one thing I dislike about the Arkitect Fitness article is the way the author apparently agrees with how awful do nothing bitches are, but then accuses many women who say they aren’t “do nothing bitches” of actually being “do nothing bitches”. Specifically, he seems to have a huge problem with photos of women with fitness hashtags who aren’t actually doing anything in the photo. First off- I think if your only goal for a photo is looking attractive, that’s fine! I’m hardly one to judge, because I’ve taken and shared photos for no other reason that I think I look good.

I also am hardly in a place to judge fitness photos that don’t have any fitness activities in them- I post these a lot! I try to get photos sometimes of me actually doing things- but it’s a hassle. I don’t have a photographer with me when I workout snapping photos for me. Instead I have to try to set up my phone on a tripod, and set a timer to hopefully catch a photo of me during a lift, which will probably turn out terrible anyways because the lighting is shit in my home gym, and the places were I can put my little tripod that can wrap around stuff is pretty limited so it’s not going to be a great angle or distance. And I usually play music on my phone, but can’t take photos or videos while playing the music, so for that set I have to give up having any music playing.

So instead, my fitness photos are usually me standing in front of my mirror in running clothes before I go for a run, or random selfies between sets or after a workout. When I have time to mess around with my phone and taking photos because I’m not doing something else. And sometimes after a good workout I just want to take a selfie of me being all sweaty but feeling good from the workout, and express that sentiment with it on instagram. And personally, I see no harm in that.

That said, I really like a lot of the things the author says there:

When you’ve been in this industry as long as I have, you can tell the difference between purpose built bodies, and bodies shaped for an aesthetic ideal. Sometimes the difference are minor but what lies underneath the surface is massively different. I’ve seen people with sub 10% body fat struggle to do a handful of pull-ups. I’ve seen “fitness pros” who can’t even put their hands over their head because they’re so immobile. It’s been said that “Strong is the new skinny,” but that’s simply not true. What’s true is that there’s been a shift from thin women being the sexual ideal, to more muscular women being the new sexual ideal, and being muscular and being strong are not the same thing, not even close.

Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel sexy. Everyone wants to be wanted. The problem is when people sacrifice their physical capability or even well being for the sake of fitting some visual standard. Many times that standard isn’t their own, but one shaped by culture. Take the irony of women’s bodybuilding where you have to be extremely lean to be successful, but since the absurdly low levels of body fat decrease chest size (breasts are mostly fat, afterall), many women get breast implants, because being “feminine” is one of the judging citeria.

(emphasis mine)

I can relate so much to the part about feeling compelled to fit a visual standard that isn’t even my own. It’s something I have to actively fight against a lot of the time. Whether it be looking feminine enough, thin enough, et cetera- I do feel a pressure that I am supposed to look a certain way that very often does not match up with what I want or what I like. And it’s still hard sometimes to let go of the social message about how I am supposed to look and just focus on what my goals are, or what I like about my body.

I am a bit disappointed though that in this article to demonstrate how different athletes have different bodies comparing two weight lifters, he used a super heavy weight male weightlifter with a 48kg weight class female lifter, rather than highlighting any super heavy weight female weightlifters. I mean, when we are talking about the negative effects of equating leanness with strength or health, which is far more prevalent for women, sparked by a woman talking about her body looking how it does because she trains for a purpose not appearance, why not use a woman as an example of someone who can be very strong without a low body fast percentage? They exist!

How about Zhou Lulu, gold medalist in the super heavy weight class at the London olympics:

Or Jang Mi-Ran who took the gold for women’s super heavy weight at Beijing

Or what about Sarah Robles, described as the strongest woman in America, yet while preparing for the 2012 Olympics she was living in poverty, due in part to the lack of sponsorship for women whose bodies are outside the conventional beauty ideal (thin, low body fat).

But back to the Arkitect article:

Strong is not the new skinny, strong is and always was, just that, strong. Your value is not determined by your body fat percentage. It’s not determined by your body weight. It’s not determined by how much you can lift either. Your value isn’t based on how far you can run, or how high you can jump. Your value as a person is defined by your compassion, and your work ethic. It’s measured by your kindness and your intelligence. It’s weighed by creativity and your ethics. 

Now that having muscle is cool, it’s even worse. Now you can’t be thin, you’re supposed to be muscular…but not TOO muscular, you know, you don’t want to look like a man. As someone who’s primary job is making people healthier, I can tell you that this sh*t ain’t healthy. How is it healthy when someone doesn’t want to train their legs because they’ll grow and be “too big”? How is it healthy when people skip meals because they are trying to cut their calories so they can see their abs? How is it healthy to idolize someone that trains full time, has unlimited access to supplements via endorsements, likely takes drugs, dieted down for a shoot, was shot by a professional photographer, was touched up by a professional editor, and then shoved in your face as if you’re supposed to look like that, and look like that all the time. THAT.IS.NOT.HEALTH.

(emphasis mine above)

Random training post because I feel the need to vent a bit about this.

I ended up taking a full week… actually more- 8 days, off from all workouts. Not planned. Seem to have picked up some virus. Nothing serious, but that’s the thing about chronic illness, catching a little virus that should normally be no big deal will completely knock me on my ass.

So the past week has been a “just getting out of bed takes all my energy” week.

As much as I try not to let it, I do get frustrated when this happens.

Starting to feel better, but not back to my normal even yet.

Still, well enough to workout today. Squats were the next up on my schedule, which was not a good fit for how I was feeling.

I’ve been doing body weights squats in my warmup before I do any with any weight at all. I do some jumping jacks to get blood flowing, then some body weight squats, more jumping jacks, then some body weight lunges, more jumping jacks, then some stretching and foam rolling before I get over to do my warm up sets with the bar.

Before I even started my first warm up set with the bar I could feel my legs shaking a bit- not a good sign. It should take far more body weight squats and lunges than that before my muscles start feeling any fatigue. But I pushed on with the workout at planned. Warm ups went well, first working set of 145×3 went well enough. Then the second working set was meant to be 170×3 but I managed only 1 rep, failing the second. I could have rested and tried again, but I knew if I tried 170 again I wouldn’t be able to lift it again. I was supposed to do 190×3 after 170 too but obviously that was not going to happen.

Instead I dropped back to a very low weight for some zercher squats to finish up with.

On one hand- I absolutely feel better to have done anything after the past week. On the other hand I’m frustrated that it was a squat workout since I feel like I’ve been making no progress at all on squats for a very long time. Which isn’t exactly true. I started really struggling with them and was scaling back my weight more and more for awhile, and just now have been able to bring it back to around where it was. I’ve been looking very forward to finally inching back forward with squats as with my other lifts (progress is slow in general for me, but inching forward is still forward), so it feels extra frustrating to me that it was squats I couldn’t get up to the weight I was supposed to.

But such is life. Hopefully my next squat workout I won’t be as fatigued and will be able to get the planned amounts of weight.

I’ve probably talked at least a little bit about this before, but I’m going to again. I was thinking the other day about how awesome it is noticing physical changes to my body from working out.

My goals are not aesthetic, my reason for lifting isn’t to change how I look, my reasons are mainly that I enjoy it, to be stronger, and to be healthier.

That said, I still will get excited and happy about the physical changes that come with those things.

Though for me I can feel changes better than I can see them reflected in the mirror. I’ve always had muscular legs but after I started lifting again I definitely could tell I had more muscle there- especially my hamstrings. Interestingly I’ve noticed more curve to my waist with lifting. I notice a bit more muscle on my arms, even if my upper body is still incredibly weak. Visibly the biggest change was with my lower back, which is a completely different shape thanks to adding muscle back there.

Most recently I can feel more muscle than ever before in the back of my arms which is really cool. Doesn’t look much different to me, but certainly feels different.

This all probably sounds pretty standard and seems silly for me to bother writing about, but the reason I am is because it frustrates me how often talking about such things is reacted to negatively.

On one hand, there is a group of people who feel that I shouldn’t be talking happily or proudly of changes to my body from fitness unless it’s weight loss- and even then there are those who will say you shouldn’t post about it until after you are not longer fat.

And yet, I’ve been shocked to find how often “body positive” people who do not believe in measuring the success of fitness endeavors in terms of weight loss react poorly to any kind of talk like this. I have been told that talking about changes to my own body from fitness in a positive way suggests that  certain bodies (presumably mine) are better or more worthy than others, or that it implies that everyone who engages in some sort of fitness endeavor should see the same changes. Which is just absurd.

I know I have said this before but it bears repeating- talking about what I like about my body is not the same as putting down people with different bodies! One type of body does not have to be raised above another. I can like things about me without thinking it’s bad if you are different.

Along the same lines, talking about my experiences, of any kind, with fitness, is not a judgement on others with different experiences. Acknowledging and even celebrating my own experiences does not invalidate other experiences or make them any less worthy of being celebrated in their own right.

Also- different fitness endeavors are… well- different. My goal is not aesthetic, but my goal is to be stronger. And being stronger means building muscle, you will not get stronger without doing that. So yeah, I love when I can see or feel more muscle because it’s another sign of my increased strength. Lifting heavy will have all sorts of different outcomes than running which will be different than cycling which is different than swimming, et cetera, et cetera. Even withing the same activity we don’t all have the same goals, the same programs, and will have individual factors that dictate our progress toward those goals. Still, all that progress is still worth celebrating and being excited about. I can be happy for someone else making progress toward their goal even if that goal is different than mine or their progress is different than mine.