Stop looking at me, Swan!

•April 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment
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Strangely enough, not the first time that I’ve quoted Billy Madison this week…

Today was another awkward day at the gym. I’m all for checking out a hot guy…or girl, for that matter. I can definitely appreciate a jacked human being. And maybe sometimes I will catch myself ogling someone shamelessly, mouth agape, drool sliding conspicuously down the right side of my face. Heck, it happened yesterday when they displayed a picture of Carey Price on the screen during our pro-d day.  Carey Price…that man makes me want to…

 

But I digress. At the end of the day, the gym is my happy place. We’re all there for the same reason, right? To pick up heavy shit and put it down again.

Enter creepy old man. Stage left.

I love me some barbell hip thrusts. My butt loves me some barbell hip thrusts. And apparently the old guy loves it when I do said hip thrusts. This is one of those exercises that is best executed facing a wall, like those abductor/adductor machines that most women spend an unnecessary amount of extra time on. And so I use the bench closest to the wall for my hip thrusts. However, this older gentleman likes to position himself in the small space between the wall and me (you know, as opposed to exercising in the vast amount of open space in the rest of the gym). And he watches me. He watches! It’s weird. It’s awkward. And I don’t know what to do other than switch directions and let the rest of the gym-goers have full view of my hoo-ha thrusting 80 lbs into a bridge position.

I feel like I should be supportive. I mean, here is this older gentleman who is obviously trying to stay active as he enters his…70s? Maybe he’s just curious as to what I’m doing. Maybe he’s contemplating doing some hip thrusts of his own. (Only now am I realizing how dirty that sounds…) Sure, we all have our reasons for looking, watching, glancing surrepticiously, staring blatantly at others at the gym. But this is one time (well, two times…) that I wished I had gone unnoticed!

Until next time, happy thrusting…

Mama says stupid is as stupid does…

•April 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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It happened. At just over 12 weeks out, I’m an idiot.

Usually as show day approaches, I’m completely brain-dead…be it stress, exhaustion, lack of carbs, too much water, too little water (on show day, I’m really stupid), or a combination of these.   Apparently my brain has decided to malfunction earlier than usual. Here’s a little snapshot from today:

This morning when I got back from the gym, I threw my socks in the toilet instead of the laundry basket. In my defense, I have to open the lid to both receptacles. And it was 5:30 a.m. Who actually functions at that hour?

Coffee. Coffee will help me function, I thought. But when I cleaned the coffee machine after my morning cup of happiness, I threw the coffee grounds into the dishwasher, filter and all. Only missed the garbage can by a few feet and the opening of a cupboard door.

Fast forward to the afternoon – round 2 at the gym – I tried to put on my shoe backwards. Not on the wrong foot, which almost makes sense, but backwards. Feet can’t even go into shoes backwards. And it wasn’t like I was just not paying attention. I was actually looking at my feet as I attempted to do this. The upside…no one was in the school hallway watching me. (A., I might have secretly been happy that it takes you longer than most girls to get dressed.)

It doesn’t end there. When I got home, it was time to prep more food. I turned on a burner, filled a pot of water, and set the pot on the cutting board. Ten minutes later, I still couldn’t here it boiling. They say a watched pot never boils. But I’m fairly certain it does…and at the same rate as an unwatched pot. Unless it’s on the cutting board. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that this is not the first time that I’ve done that…this week.

As you can see, some days I’m on top of my game. This was clearly not one of them.

But in all of this mess, I would like to note that not once did I sit on a floor and sob in a repeat performance of the great peach pie meltdown of 2013. Nor did I cry for a half an hour on the kitchen floor after dropping an entire container of salmon.

The struggle is real. The key is to take it all in and laugh about it. Here’s hoping my brain keeps laughing in the next 12 weeks!

“I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

•April 3, 2016 • Leave a Comment

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…

It has been a week since I returned from a voluntour trip to Costa Rica with a small group of Me 2 We students. I needed this past week to process. For me, this trip was not only about opening my heart and mind to a culture and people who may be used to doing so much with so little, but also for healing, letting go of everything that I have carried for too long. It’s time to move on. It’s time.

You make me happy when skies are grey…

We departed on March 14th, a year to the day that I lost my third baby. A year less a week from when I was to hear a heart beat for the first time, see him or her on a monitor, and then happily share the news with family and friends. The first time sucks. The second time hurts. The third time creates a crack in the universe so loud that you can’t hear anything but your own anger and sadness.

And so for the past year, I have been angry…at myself, at doctors, at whatever higher power is calling the shots. Angry because I don’t understand why my heart can’t just move on this time. Angry because no one would help me. Angry because no one will talk about it. Angry because no one knows how to talk about it and so I am alone. I have spent a lot of time believing that life isn’t fair. Too much time.

You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you…

Each day in Costa Rica was more beautiful than the next. To see how excited the kids were at each park or school that we visited made me want to go more, do more, be more. Our last day included a half-day at a girls’ orphanage. Seeing these girls, learning only bits and pieces of their stories, knowing that some of them have spent years in the orphanage…it all seems to put things into perspective.   We have so much love to give. I have so much love to give. Maybe these kids could have that love. Just for a short time.

Soul Healed 3

A few of the kids that made this trip SO worth it.

Please don’t take my sunshine away…

I won’t say that this trip healed me, but it has certainly helped me see a different side of things. Maybe one of these days my love will have a place, somewhere, for some child, someday.

Until then, it’s time to move on. It’s time.

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Girl Sweat: Road to Nationals 2016

•March 31, 2016 • Leave a Comment

And so begins another season…

Well, it actually began officially a couple of weeks ago, but I was in Costa Rica (more on that later). Now at just over 14 weeks out, it seems a good time to begin writing about the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of fitness, competing, and life in general.

Girl Sweat has always been about finding the funny in the sport of fitness and bodybuilding. Since I last competed at Nationals in 2013, blogging has fallen by the wayside.  Life happened, and I think somewhere along the way, I felt like I lost my funny.

With this in mind, the face of Girl Sweat has changed a little.  Yes, there will be days when I am retelling stories about the ridiculous things I do…putting milk in the cupboard and dishes in the fridge, throwing out the chicken instead of the packaging it came in, resembling an dried-out Sunkist orange, losing everything including my mind. But this time around, there will also be days when I am fully consumed by all of life’s up and downs – struggling to maintain some measure of sanity in the hangry-ness – for what is a blog about fit life if I can’t share all of it with you.

Love the journey. Love thyself. Cheers to another pre-contest season!

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Ask and You Shall Receive…

•October 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I get asked a lot of questions when I’m at the gym…most of them are about how to use equipment, how to modify exercises, and the like, but occasionally I get one that make me realize that most people have no idea how much time, energy, and discipline goes into competitive fitness and body building. Each person is gifted with different genetics so training and diet varies between individuals. Some people gain muscle quickly (that’s me!), others can shred quicky (NOT me!), and still others don’t get either one of these gifts and are frustrated by their lack of progress on some ridiculous cookie-cutter workout plan.

But that’s a whole other blog rant.

In any case, I thought I’d share some of my favourite questions that I get at the gym…

  1. How do you get muscles like that? I work out. All the time. And I eat properly. But I’m smart about it. Well, my trainer is smart. And then I just listen to her. Because she knows her shit. And because I pay her money. And since I’m cheap, it’s important to me that I’ve spent that money wisely. Did I mention she knows her shit?
  1. Do you really eat pizza? I have a workout tank that reads, “Powered by Pizza.” I like it because it’s ironic. (Does that make me a hipster? Oh my gosh, so much to think about.) But I digress. Yes. I eat pizza. It’s one of my go-to cheats. It’s delicious. I would live off of pizza if I could. However, the answer is no, I did not “get muscles like that” by eating pizza.  I wish.
  1. When is your next competition? This is a legitimate question. With planning and luck, I will be competing in BC’s 2016 next July. It’s the look of shock that I get afterwards that makes me chuckle on the inside. Sometimes I think that competing has become a little “fad-like”…some people think that competitors get up in the morning and say, “Oh, I feel like doing a show today.” They think training for a show is easy. WRONG. It’s a lot of freaking work. I get to do about 20 minutes of cardio right now. It’s delightful. It can be done during an episode of Cake Boss. (Initially the cake looks good, but after looking at cake for 20 min, I feel sick…it actually helps me stick to my diet.) Closer to stage time, that can increase to 60 min…90 min…more… It’s gross. And depressing. And exhausting. And that doesn’t even include the weight training on top of that. But at the end, it is rewarding. The hard work is definitely worth the pay-off.

These questions definitely serve as a reminder that everyone is at a different place in their fitness journey. We don’t get up knowing everything and asking questions is how we learn. I may have a good chuckle at some of them…I may look at you like you’re crazy (I apologize…my poker face is terrible)…but at the end of the day, I appreciate that people trust my opinion enough to ask and learn!

So…now what?

•September 22, 2013 • 3 Comments

It has been a little over a month since Nationals, and I’m *still* working on accepting the post-competition changes that are occurring in my life.  And it has been a rough go…not gonna lie.

Doing fitness competitions can be a very rewarding experience.  There is the challenge of creating the “perfect” body (mine is FAR from it!), exercising buckets full of discipline (to the point of insanity), and – my personal favourite – completing a physically-demanding routine while completely dehydrated, starving, and exhausted.  Not everyone can do that!  On top of all this, the immediate post-competition “high” is like the icing on the cake…both figuratively and literally!

Many figure, fitness, and bodybuilding athletes come off a competition with a renewed motivation to make positive changes to their physique for their next show.

I guess I’m different.

Post-contest has been difficult for me.  I’ve been feeling a little lost.  Scratch that.  A lot lost.  Each show I did this year – the Fall Classic in November and then BC’s in July – I would say, “This is the last one…unless I qualify for the next level…then that will be the last one.”  Three shows later, Nationals – my first ever – was (to be) my last show.  For the past year, my goal had been to build a better body than before, with the idea of going to Nationals a pleasant opportunity miles in the horizon.  And – with that done – it was like I had no goals.

When you can't say it with words, say it with LolCatz.

When you can’t say it with words, say it with LolCatz.

Like other athletes, I spent day after day micro-managing my time: what time to get up in order to fit everything into a day, when and what I’m going to eat all day, when I’m going to finish the stacks upon stacks of marking and prep for 100 students that could care less if they learned trigonometry or kinetic molecular theory, how I’m going to get through the day when five students want to go to the bathroom at the same time and the response, “No, the bell is going to go in 2 minutes” causes them to put their fingers in their ears, stomp their feet, and (on a REALLY good day) call me a C U Next Tuesday.

Every minute of every day was strictly planned out.  And the sad thing is…the routine became so comfortable that I don’t know how to function properly without it.  I have been floundering amidst all the options I have: Regular workout or today’s Natural Strength CrossFit WOD?  Go for a run or have a nap?  Chicken or (oh my goodness!) steak?  And dare I eat an “unapproved” vegetable?  The average human being would laugh at me.  Hell, my own friends laugh at me.  But for a routine-oriented control-freak (yes, I just admitted it), this is a really scary thing and perhaps not something that even my  closest friends understand.

On top of that, my body has started to return to normal, or what is normal for me.  It’s NORMAL – and HEALTHY – to gain some weight back after a show.  Some of it is water, a little of it is body fat, and some of it might even be muscle from the month of pounding heavy(-er) iron.  I have always tried not to gain excessive amounts of weight after each competition.  But even with 10 lbs or less – even with my abs still visible (uh, hell yes) – my mind has been telling my body that it’s not good enough.  I’m the furthest thing from fat, but some days, I feel just so.

The thought that keeps running through my mind is “First World Problems, Kang!”  But this is my reality.  And so I keep moving.  And I ask those around me for a little more patience and understanding, even though they’ve given more than enough over and over.   And maybe, just maybe, each day will get a little better.

Guess I'm gonna strap my helmet on and see what happens...

Guess I’m gonna strap my helmet on and see what happens…

It’s Fat Test Time!

•August 24, 2013 • 1 Comment
One of my fave pics from our shoot!

One of my fave pics from our shoot!

I’m not so sure that I will ever be as fat-less and muscle-y as I was at Nationals this year, so I had to take advantage of it!  In lieu of paying a professional photographer to immortalize my deprived body, I went for the impromptu Kits beach photo shoot with M. behind the lens my money on bigger, better things…like finding out just how fat I still was!

A few days after the show (you know…when I’m starting to jiggle a little more with the water flowing back into my ass and legs…), I went to see Peter Schwagly at BodyComp Imaging in downtown Vancouver to have a DXA (aka DEXA or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) scan to determine my body composition.  Basically I laid down in a giant x-ray machine that scanned up and down my body for 7 minutes, then pumped out my whole body percent fat; the weight of my lean, fat, and bone tissue in my body; an analysis of my fat distribution; and a whole body bone density measurement.  This type of scan is considered much more precise than a caliper or bioelectric body composition test, and on par with the precision of the “dunk tank” body comp tests.

While there are definitely arguments for and against the DXA test, it seems to be far more accurate than the uncomfortable pinch tests that I have undergone and – my personal favourite perk! – it includes your visceral fat in its measurements.  That’s right; it includes the fat that surrounds your organs in the whole body percent fat.  This means that all you damn skinny-fat people that walk around with your elegant (*cough, cough* slender and muscle-less) limbs and your tiny little waists (that I have to work SO hard to achieve) could actually show up as having a ridiculously high body fat.  I’m sorry, skinny-fat people, but I’m feeling rather triumphant right now in my thick-waisted, legs-like-tree-trunks body.

With this whole visceral fat thing in mind, I was still a little surprised by how much fat I have in my body…a whopping 19%, which – according to Peter – is 8-10% higher than if a simple caliper test would have shown.  My OVERALL body fat still categorized me in the “fit” category for women and would be considered somewhat unhealthy if maintained at this level over a long period of time.

Just one of the x-ray images from my scan

Just one of the x-ray images from my scan

The most impressive thing about the scan was actually looking at the x-ray image itself and going through what it all means with Peter.  Here are a few of the things that I learned about my body:

  • My ass and upper thighs hold the most fat.  A common trend in women.  Child-bearing hips, I tell ya.
  • The rest of my body had a ridiculously low percentage of body fat.  Seriously…it was all in my butt!
  • My right  and left sides were essentially equal as far as lean muscle and fat.  Balanced training = a balanced body!
  • My abs and waist area contained the lowest percentage of body fat.  To my old doctor, that one’s for you…remember when you told me that I was overweight according to my BMI and that my waist-to-hip ratio put me at risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  Kiss my ass!  My full-of-fat ass!

Overall, it was a really interesting experience.  Peter Schwagly is extremely knowledgeable and a true science geek at heart (he once made his sister puke from eating too many mini-doughnuts while trying to see the difference in body scans if a lot of fat was consumed in a short period of time).  Although it may seem a little pricy at $100, you get the scan, a complete explanation of “results”, some recommendations (especially if your results show that you may have health risks), a wicked chat about lifestyle and nutrition, stories about crazy stuff he has done using the machine, suggestions of websites to visit, and more.  In comparison, I have paid $25-$50 for a caliper test that only includes 6 painful pinches and piece of paper with a number on it.

If you’re interested in learning more about what Peter does, check out his website: www.bodycomp.ca or cruise around the internet for articles that compare DXA with other body composition measurement tools.