becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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change and things.

life is crazy. busy and stressful and insane and wonderful.

the semester has started; i’m teaching two sophomore classes. the faculty member i’m working under for one of them is a lot of fun and super laid-back. my adviser is on sabbatical this term so while i miss her intensely, she has gifted me her office as an office/study space in her absence. and it’s a beautiful thing.

my seizures have been out. of. control. these exams need to be over so they’ll hopefully settle down.

i moved. i’m sharing a house with three other people. i’m a 5-minute walk from my office and a 3-minute walk from a coffee shop, a fro-yo place, and a liquor store. aka i have moved to heaven.

 

10394511_10101746354408565_8498642638783457684_ni bought a bike. she’s fun.

i squat 275 with wraps last week. and then two days later i pulled 285 for six triples. i’m competing in two weeks, just for shits and giggles, and then our big meet is in december. if i can cut to a 56kg and not lose any strength i can put a serious scare in the national deadlift record.

i’m seeing someone. and it’s fucking spectacular. we’ve known one another for a few years, peripherally, and we started hanging out this summer. she’s somethin’. it’s a new relationship but i’ve got a good feeling about it. it’s relaxed. i laugh more with her than with anybody, outside of maybe my college best friend. we take things one day at a time. and today, things are awesome. hopefully tomorrow they will be, too.

my first qualifying exam is in 19 days. it’s my non-area exam but it has been eating up all of my study time lately. i think i’ll be fine. i have tons of outlines, i just need to commit them to something of a working narrative in my memory. then once that’s over i have exactly one month until my 8 hours of area exams.

this is a hurdle, a rite of passage. i’ll do well, but not without some tears and fits and  lot of caffeine, i’m sure.

this blog…i don’t know what i want to do with it. i have a new phone and i make training videos a lot now. i want to make a training-specific blog, especially now that i’m getting my technique de-bugged and starting to get more confident in my lifts.

we’ll see. it’s a process. everything is a process. change is inevitable. sometimes it sucks but damn sometimes it’s awesome.

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thoughts on my first keto carb-up.

a lot of people carb cycle with keto. my coach and i decided that, after i had been solidly in ketosis for a few weeks, i should probably do so as well.

i also decided that, after 3 weeks of livin’ the keto life, my first carb-up was going to be lenient in terms of “cleanliness”. because sometimes, a girl just needs some damn golden grahams.

here’s what i have to say about keto, participating in a weight-controlled sport, carb cycling, and everything in between: they test your commitment to recovery, 157%. if i wasn’t soundly and solidly sure of my place in recovery, i would have gone off the rails a long time ago. but that doesn’t mean that i don’t see the dangers inherent to this life.

and as i was cruising through the aisles at kroger on thursday – center aisles i hadn’t pushed a cart through in three weeks, since eating keto pretty much means you live on the outer edges of the grocery store – i suddenly remembered all of those times in college that i would go to the “grocery store” on campus and buy 40$ worth of junk food – food i never “allowed” myself to eat otherwise – and cart it back to my dorm, curl up in my desk chair, and inhale it all in under an hour, pausing only to slip to the bathroom to purge, make room, eat more, throw up again and again until my eyes were so swollen i could barely see and my low back would seize up and spasm continuously for the rest of the night.

this sent panicked warning bells off in my head. and it did make me pause, somewhere in the cereal aisle as i had second thoughts about the golden grahams in light of lucky charms, and think:

a big step in accepting this ketogenic diet as a diet, not a “diet,” has been reconciling the notion that it is not the same as disordered eating. and i know there are people out there who knew me when and are giving me side-eye through the computer screen, and that’s just fine; you just keep on side-eyeing. and i’ll just keep not having seizures.

the important part is that i would not be able to do this if my relationship with food was still fucked up. when i was sick, as soon as i mentally made a food “off-limits” that food would instantly rise to the top of my “to binge on and throw up” list. and rest assured, that was a LONG ASS LIST.

so how is this any different?

as i shuttled my cart around kroger, i didn’t feel any rising panic or intense anxiety. i knew what i wanted, and i knew that, for that 24-hour window, my muscles were going to have a damn field day filling up on glycogen they hadn’t seen in almost a month. i was looking forward to it, sure, but it was serving a purpose.

what it wasn’t was a tornado of frenzied bulimic shopping where i would quite literally grab anything i could get my hands on and throw money at the cashier, not even waiting for change, just so i could get the hell away from people so i could start eating right fucking now in the car on the walk back to my dorm in the bathroom stall at the mall.

and before i go i will say one last thing about my glorious carb-up that helped me squat 5×5 @ 155# on friday: when your body hasn’t had more than trace carbohydrates for three weeks…that initial carb bomb is gonna be a doozy. although coach was unimpressed by my 3.3kg gain, i thought it was pretty laudable. eat all the carbs; retain all the water!

this has been a long-ass post.

 


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week 1 on project: going keto

today – the last day of my first week of P:GK – i realized that, if it weren’t for the prospect of no more seizures, my first week of keto would have been my last. why? i. want. carbs. while i was driving home from the mechanic i was actually daydreaming about oreos and pizza and drinking a huge-ass cappuccino.

so the next person that asks me if i’m “trying to lean out” or “getting ripped,” i truly am going to have a good laugh. to me, these kind of cravings are 100% not worth it if the end goal isn’t something spec-fucking-tacular.

and let’s face it, no more seizures is definitely that.

today was also the first time since beginning keto that i’ve actually been continuously hungry. i woke up hungry, ate, taught, was hungry again, ate, and was still hungry when i got home, so i ate another snack…and then just said “to hell with it” and ate dessert because what does it matter if i have it now in five hours.

…and then i remembered that i deadlifted yesterday. deadlifts kick the shit out of me and also keep my metabolism revved for a good 24 hours afterward. hence my insatiable hunger today.

the good news is that once i make it through the first couple of weeks, i’m adding a carb-up day and it will be today. that made me feel a little better. (a little.)

so maybe today is a poor day for me to do my “first week” review, even though it is indeed the proper day to do it. but i’ll try and stifle my momentary oreo cravings and get right down to it:

  • in actuality, it’s really not that bad. it’s a low-volume way of eating, since things are so calorically dense, but as i said, today was the first time i actually felt hungry. there were a few times during the week when i had to force myself to eat because it was time but i still felt sated.
  • it’s a miracle i haven’t contracted salmonella yet from my first two attempts at making sausage. really though, should it be that difficult to cook them all the way through without burning the outsides? am i missing something??
  • although for me keto isn’t an aesthetic thing, i have noticed that my body is leaner and i’ve dropped about 1.5 kilos of weight this week. i’m sure it’s largely water weight, but there’s still a noticeable difference.
  • i am growing quite fond of my butter-coffee-cream concoctions. i will, however, miss being able to go to speedway or starbucks or wherever at any time during the day and get whatever coffee i please and have it be “okay.” i have a really intense french vanilla cappuccino/coffee mixture addiction during the academic year, courtesy of the speedway down the street from my office. it’ll be sad to be reduced to just once a week now!
  • the fact that they’re so sporadic makes this only marginally exciting, but i haven’t had any seizures or auras since beginning P:GK, so…definite plus!

and since i mentioned dessert, i figured i would share what i have found to be my go-to. i like this for two reasons: (1) it’s sweet and chocolatey!, and (2) it packs a nice protein punch.

pour about 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream into a bowl. add about half a scoop of protein powder of your choice (i use optimum nutrition gold standard whey in extreme milk chocolate). start to whisk the powder into the cream. continue adding protein powder until you have a complete scoop/serving. devour with a spoon.

welp, there ya have it! week one of Project: Going Keto is complete and i haven’t killed anybody for a brownie. i had some awesome lifts, and i get to squat heavy with coach tomorrow, so it’s all good and we’re moving forward – on to Week Two!

edit: the thought of eating any more meat or cheese made me want to cry and i still wanted something sweet, so i drove, in my PJs, to the store to get some diet root beer. i predict i will survive until the morrow.


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hi, new friends!

quite a few new folks have begun following me in the past few days, so i just wanted to give a nice big hello to all of you!! if you don’t feel like scrolling back into the bowels of my blog, the most pertinent (and ultimately useless) information is here, and i just made a brand new page here!

miraculously, i wasn’t rendered completely bed-ridden by yesterday’s return to squats. definitely sore, but manageable! i went in and did some overhead pressing and back work today. worked up to push press doubles at 85#. my seated DB shoulder presses were super-lame – 8, 6, and 6 reps with 30# DBs. most definitely lost some strength there, but my shoulders always build pretty quickly so i’m not too worried or discouraged! throw in some face pulls, kroc rows, and pull-ups and it was a good lift.

this morning i got my first taste (ha, ha) of keto carb cravings. i had just finished breakfast and was (a) still hungry and (b) craving something sweet. a large (LARGE) proportion of keto-friendly foods are savory (think eggs, cheese, meat). and i wanted something sweet, darn it! luckily (or not, as it happens) i had a low-carb yogurt left over from when i was cutting weight in october. the fact that it has been in my fridge for three months should tell you something. namely, they are not good.

but i was desperate and…well, it wasn’t good. blech.

but of course, this too shall pass, and the prospect of NO MORE SEIZURES continues to make this an enticing lifestyle change.

today’s P:GK moment: after much research and reading, i decided to try what i know will sound to you god-awful: butter in my coffee. you see, when you can’t eat things like pizza and pop-tarts (oh how i miss pop-tarts!!), it’s actually kind of difficult to get enough fat in to satisfy the keto macronutrient breakdown. i had read several articles and posts about adding butter to your coffee as a way to sneak in some extra fat. so here’s what i did:

i set my coffee pot up the way i normally would (i have a one-cup drip pot that i got for about 20$ last year – nothing fancy), and then threw a 1-tb. cube of butter in the bottom of my mug. brewed as usual. at this point, the butter is only partially melted and you have a literal oil slick on top of your coffee. i poured my oil slick-y coffee into my magic bullet, added heavy cream (stop gagging), and blended away for about 5 seconds.

what resulted was a frothy, creamy coffee-butter-cream concoction!

i will add that i NEED something sweet in my coffee, and i don’t routinely have sweetener around. so i added a tablespoon of coffeemate crème brûlée creamer that i had in the fridge from pre-holiday break, and it gave it just the right amount of sweetness (and there is room in my macros for some carbs, so i can make it work until i can get my paws on some stevia).

so there ya have it, folks. i’m fully aware how disgusting it sounds. but it’s keto-friendly and quite delicious!

another interesting P:GK thought: i was dreading (especially after the carb cravings hit) training today, and figured i would feel like shit. but on the contrary, i felt great, had high energy levels, and didn’t actually start to get hungry until i was on my way home, post-shower! i’ll admit i was relieved – nothing is worse than training hungry or being sluggish when you’re trying to move weight around!

on a completely different note, i just finished up an application for funding for a conference in march. one of my papers was accepted to the texas society for music theory’s annual conference (third time’s a charm – they rejected me in ’11 AND ’12!) so i’ll be flying to san antonio in just two months! i’ll be going funding or not, but it would be awesome if i got a little help. fingers crossed!!

now go try some buttered coffee!  : )


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why my new diet isn’t a “diet.”

i’ve been debating posting about this for a while because i didn’t know how to approach it.

to begin, i hate the idea of “diets.” whatever you eat regularly is by definition your diet, but “diets” – in air bunnies (0:51) – are a completely different beast. to me, “diets” are imbued with the stigma of being temporary, often drastic, and steeped in self-dissatisfaction. as a rule, then, i don’t “diet.” and even my general diet is rather flexible, albeit a bit plain, since i can only successfully cook a handful of items anyway.

i know a lot of athletes who ascribe to specific ways of eating, most of them with fancy names – Paleo, IF, CBL, IIFYM, and the list goes on and on. with the exception of cutting weight for my meet a few months ago, i don’t eat in any particular way outside of being a creature of habit.

i start meet prep this coming week. i’m not worried about making weight in april, since now that i’ve been down that road once i know what to expect. but i’m about to make a pretty drastic change to my diet regardless, and it has nothing to do with weight.

ketogenic diets have been shown (i.e., here) to be quite successful in helping children who have epilepsy that doesn’t respond to medication or other traditional treatments. and although it is rarely prescribed for adults, it has also been successful for many who have tried.

my seizures began a little over 13 years ago. it took nearly two years to get them under control with the right mix of medications. but they kept coming back, most notable when i was 26 and had been seizure-free and unmedicated for several years. i responded well to a new medication, but then six months later when my mom died, i had nearly a dozen seizures in just over a week.

we have never been able to pinpoint a biological cause. they’re unpredictable, sporadic, and brief – nearly impossible to catch while i happen to be hooked up to an EEG, although lord knows we’ve tried. and every time they come back after a long hiatus, they’re just a bit worse than the time before.

towards the end of the semester i started having auras that never manifested themselves into full-blown seizures. usually when that happens it means i’m on the brink of another cluster, but so far **knock on wood!** so good. it’s been almost two years since my last cluster of seizures, and i’d like to keep that streak intact.

which is why i’ve decided to embark on the very fat-y and protein-y journey of Project: Going Keto. i’ve been reading a lot about it the past few months – ever since my first aura – and i figure, it can’t hurt. if i start to really feel like crap from the lack of carbs, there are plenty of athletes who successfully incorporate carb-cycling into an otherwise ketogenic diet. because while trying to get a grip on my seizures is of utmost importance, my training and my sport and my ability to function daily with a high energy level are also crucial.

so i’m going to give it a whirl. i’ll keep an eye on my blood panels and how my body and mind feel, and i’m really hoping this will be a good move. but if it’s not – if i feel terrible or i start seizing anyway – i’ll go back to eating my normal way and call it a well-intended experiment.

but until then, i’m saying some prayers to the P:GK gods that the auras will stop, the seizures will stay away, and i’ll learn to love ground beef and eggs as much as i love cookies.


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disoriented.

i woke up this morning having no clue about…anything. really. i didn’t know what day it was (not terribly atypical), what month or year it was, where i was (i have been living in this house since july…get it together, jenn), or even what in the hell i was doing/what i was waking up for. i looked around for a good thirty seconds to find the door and shuffled my way there, hoping i would know which way to turn when i got outside of it.

the only thing i kept muttering to myself was “my name is jenn. my mom’s dead.”

flashback twelve years: i started having “gap” seizures my junior year of high school. i would phase out, be completely disoriented while i was seizing (i use that term lightly – there were never any tremors involved, just cognitive blackout), and then when it was over and i phased back in, i would have to re-figure where i was, what had happened, who i was with, etc.

my friends and family learned that, since i was still physically completely functional and “normal”-looking when i seized, a big warning sign that i was under was me turning to them, sometimes in the middle of a sentence, and saying, ‘what day is it?’

as i phased back in, to ground myself i would always work from the background forward. i would start with the year: ‘it’s 2001..’ then the month, the day, where i was…eventually my fog would clear and i would be just as i had been before the seizure, only just having lost a few minutes of my day.

that was exactly how i felt this morning. only as i tried to ground myself, figure out where i was and how i got there, i grabbed on to the two things most salient in my life: my name, and the fact that my mom is gone. it took an unusually long time to fully understand where i was, what day it was, what i had planned to do this morning, etc…i think it’s just the stress of the semester causing brain fritzs. but it’s interesting – when in a pinch, the things we grab on to to “define” ourselves.

“my name is jenn. my mom’s dead.” where do i go from there?


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i wish i had something profound to say.

i had an EEG this morning (thank god i cut my hair. i hate the crap they use to stick the electrodes to your skin, and it’s a disaster when you have long hair), and an MRI right after. the MRI was with and without contrast – the contrast ink made me totally spaz out and insist my body was floating forwards and backwards, when in reality i was stuck in the little MRI tube.

way to be calm and collected, jenn.

i found out yesterday that the damage to my knee is at the point where it will only get worse…so i’m having surgery next thursday. missing my final exam for counterpoint, missing giving my second class their final/seeing them for the last time, and missing my own graduation. not that the latter is really too important because i had nobody coming, but still. c’mon, 2012, cut me a goddamn break.

so i’m going to go shower off tonight’s spinning class and wallow in the fact that this year has sucked way beyond my lowest expectations.

i’ll post something decent tomorrow. i have some good ideas swirling around in my brain (with the damn contrast ink).