becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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full circle.

probably the most-read post i have ever written was about my first experience with cutting weight for a meet. at the time, i had been lifting with my coach for 3 1/2 months and had yet to reach my pre-op weight after almost a year and a half of rehab. 56kg is the low end of normal for me, but since 24-hour weigh-ins allow you to manipulate your “true” weight, it wasn’t a big deal to pee myself into my weight class.

then came my off-season. i ramped up both my eating and my training as we worked on technique, form, and building mass. and build mass i did, in the for of both lean muscle and body fat. this:

august 2013

turned into this:

may 2014

in less than nine months. i’m now squatting what my summer 2013 max deadlift was. and in the process i have, almost necessarily i would think, put on weight.

the struggle for the past few months has been deciding on a weight class. at the georgetown classic i weighed in at 57.0kg – a kilo over for the 56kg class, and that was after a nasty, gnarly cut that i never want to relive. it was frustrating, especially knowing that i still had some body fat i could have pulled, and potentially could have made weight.

i have nationally competitive numbers as a 56kg lifter. as a 60kg lifter – which also happens to be a much more common weight class, for whatever reason – i am a bebe fish in a very large and strong pond. so of course the competitive and stubborn side of me wants to remain in the 56kg class.

my coach and i have spent a lot of time talking about this. STV has caused me to build a startling amount of lean mass in just over a month’s time. and i’m also dropping body fat. yet my weight remains around 62-63kg.

so yesterday i did something i had assumed i would never need to do again in my adult life: i went to a nutritionist.

nutritionist appointments were a part of my regular treatment team/schedule for years. there were times in my treatment history i actually had a better relationship with my nutritionist than my therapist. i have sat in those offices and screamed, argued, cried, cursed, and flat-out refused to do things like eat full-fat cheese or not break my bagel into meticulous, tiny pieces before eating it.

i have also sat in those offices and said things like, “i no longer need 12 cups of coffee to get through my day,” or “i don’t get dizzy every time i stand up any more.” those offices, the arguments and meltdowns and revelations, played a huge role in me healing my relationship with food and my body.

and i never thought i would find myself in one again, after all these years! but yet yesterday, there i was. i had been put into contact with a sports nutrition professor who specializes in part with athletes who compete in weight-classed sports.

it was strange to be in one of those offices and not boiling over with anxiety. it was strange to have no stipulations beyond “i’ll eat anything but olives.” it was strange to be in that position as a healthy person with a comfortable relationship to food and their body.

maybe we can never escape our pasts, but we can look back at them and, when a situation presents itself that shows us how much we have changed, how much we have grown, we can appreciate them and how they molded us.

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sit in the suck.

as some of you may or may not know, i am a wannabe crossfitter. i almost joined a box last january, as a “something else” to add to my half marathon training. but then i got a ticket in florida that cost 3 months’ worth of crossfit, so i abandoned the idea. and then 6 months later i connected with my coach and the rest is powerlifting history.

i was watching the crossfit regionals this weekend and event 6 is a monster: 50-calorie row, 50 box jump-overs, 50 deadlifts, 50 wall balls, 50 ring dips…and then back down again. 21-minute time cap.

i turned on the live feed at the tail end of one of the men’s heats. only 2 men in the north central region actually completed the damn thing, to give you an indication of how brutal it was. no women in north central finished; stacie tovar was the only one to even make it back on the rower. but anyhoo, while watching one of the men complete the workout, as he was on the rower just tearing away, the absolute pain reading all over his face, one of the announcers said, “he is in the pain cave right now. and with a minute left…all you can do is sit in the suck.”

the hardest skill – and yes, it was a skill! – for me to wrap my head around in DBT was radical acceptance. the idea that sometimes…shit’s gonna happen. and there’s nothing you can do to change it, so you just…sit in the suck.

i think about the weight gain that came with recovery. i fought it for years – “well i can still be this weight and recovered…ish…” – because i couldn’t accept that my mental ‘ideal’ weight wasn’t one that was healthy for my physical self. and when i did finally come to terms with that…well there were still days where i would quite literally not leave my dorm room because i couldn’t stand the thought of putting my physical self out in front of people.

see also: it sucked.

when my mom died i tried so hard to be brave, to be strong, to be graceful. and i think i did an admirable job of being, in some capacity, all of these things. but sometimes, some days…you’re just walking down the street drinking a diet coke and you get slammed by a wall of sadness and all you can do is plop yourself down on the curb and cry.

and it sucks.

i try, really i do as it’s against my cynical nature, to look for the good in things. but the fact is, sometimes things just plain suck. and you you know what, sometimes it feels good to fight it – sometimes i just need to raise hell and be angry, and maybe i am banging my head against a wall but you can’t be graceful in the face of adversity all the time, right?

there are parts of recovery that just plain suck. most parts are great; some parts suck.

losing my mom…well, saying it sucked doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

and sometimes, you have to just embrace it. embrace it and sit in the suck.

 


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we are here.

we are here to drink beer
laugh at the odds
and live our lives so well that
death will tremble to take us.

-charles bukowski

 

the past few weeks i have really, truly felt as if i am living well. i just finished up my last semester of doctoral coursework. i have two good, strong plans for what to do once i pass my quals in the fall. my transition from post-meet to a new, high-volume training cycle has made me feel awesome, physically and mentally.

i laugh a lot.

i go out for burgers and pizza with friends.

i do a little dance before i make a big lift because this sport is fun, darn it!

sometimes i look around and i’m amazed. all those years buried by an eating disorder, and all of the years of restrictive “healthy” eating and vigilant “healthy” exercise veiled as recovery…i can’t believe i was missing out on all of this. last saturday my friend stopped me after i got done training and said, “hey wanna go grab a burger?” and we went and sat at the bar and had burgers and fries and i laughed so hard that i lost my voice.

six years ago my greatest concern was maintaining my thigh gap and burning a minimum of 750 calories on the cardio machines every morning before class. now every day i wake up just wanting to be a better version of myself than i was the day before. i still work hard at the gym, but it’s a different focus, a different energy. i’m an athlete; i love that and i own it.

i’m turning 30 in two weeks and i finally feel like i am living life well, living it fully and the way it ought to be lived. i’m healthy and strong and i’ll always be a work in progress but dammit i am living.


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breaking up with keto.

i had a really easy transition into ketosis. like…weirdly easy. few to no cravings. no fatigue. no debilitating DOMS.

after two months, then, it would stand to reason that i should have been far, far out of the woods.

i had mentioned to my doctor that the past few weeks i hadn’t felt quite right. not necessarily in a physical sense; just really on edge, snappy, unfocused, tired all the time even though i’ve been really good about getting my usual amount of rest…nothing life-threatening but everything annoying.

she took one look at me on thursday and said simply, “cut it. it’s not worth it.”

now to be clear, the caveat with me going keto as a means of seizure control was that if it made me feel like shit, i was done. my seizures are not (as of right now) life threatening, or even really lifestyle threatening. they are just a pain in the ass, and one that won’t go away.

but a strange thing happened once i went on keto. the longer i was on it, the more anxious it made me. i didn’t like feeling like i “couldn’t” eat or drink certain things. i didn’t like feeling backed into a corner. and i fucking missed being able to eat bananas, dammit.

but in all seriousness – it was starting to wear me out, mentally and emotionally. i’m long into recovery from my eating disorder, but that doesn’t mean that certain things still don’t reek of the “old” jenn. and keto was one of them. not that i think it’s a bad lifestyle choice for anyone else; but for me, it wasn’t going to work. because, as i’m coming to learn through trial and error, any sort of restrictive diet is just not acceptable for me any more. as soon as i feel like i “can’t” or “shouldn’t” eat something, the old crevice of my brain gets revved up.

keto forced me to start tracking macros again, watching little columns add up and turn green or red depending on if i was over or under my predicted intake. it was starting to drive me crazy.

my body is not a calculator, it is not a skin and muscle and bone abacus of nutrients. on any given day i am going to want or need or require different things, and i don’t feel comfortable in a lifestyle that tells me that, no, i can’t have some of those things.

so after eight weeks, keto and i have officially broken up. i feel the same physically, but the mental and emotional weight that has been lifted is astronomical. i feel much more at ease now. we’ll deal with the seizures if and as they come. i made a valiant attempt; it just wasn’t for me.

but after i ate some carbs yesterday i went ahead and squat 215# for three singles – so all has not been lost. : )


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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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happy monday! let’s get conditioned.

happy monday everyone! we start classes on wednseday of this week, so meetings and bypass exams and such things are beginning to creak to life today and tomorrow.

i had to give some exams at 8:00 this morning, so i figured that would still leave me plenty of time to bang through my conditioning this morning – as long as i dragged myself out of bed on time and got to the gym right at six. ’twas a miracle, but it did indeed happen!

i spent about 10 minutes foam rolling and doing some dynamic warm-ups before i got going. today’s chosen path was:

5 rounds, not dropping the bar until completion of each round, of
10 deadlifts
10 hang high pulls
10 front squats
10 overhead presses
10 back squats

for me obviously the limiting factor was going to be the overheads – there are very few weights i can put over my head for 10 consecutive reps, especially when those reps come after my delts just got destroyed during high pulls.

i did this entire thing with just the bar and i swear i thought my shoulders were going to explode, and my legs were actually shaking. i took about 2min rest between each round. using just the 45# bar sounds kind of lame, but when you get right down to it, it’s a 250-rep metcon.

it was so so hard but so worth it. my heart rate was through the roof and i was sweating up a storm. (plus i had a sick shoulder pump going on, with some vein action, but that just sounds douchey so i saved it for last.) i did some hanging leg raises and then foam rolled some more, and was in the shower at 7:05.

not too shabby for an hour’s work! and i made it to the office to give my exams with enough time to eat my bacon and eggs before anybody showed up! : )

i’m actually home now for a few hours – i teach a yoga class later tonight. i have a few odds and ends to do, but i’m mostly just relaxing and tidying.

on the P:GK front, i’ve found myself getting hungry more frequently lately – more so than i was when i initially began keto. i think part of that is due to the fact that i got the plague/a head cold those first few days of my transition, which in effect killed my appetite. now that i’m healthy again, and back on a 5-day training schedule, my appetite has ramped up. once i add in classes and teaching, it’s only going to get stronger. which means i may need to re-address my macros. not a huge deal; it’ll be a lot of trial and error, i’m sure.

since i have no interest in being in caloric deficit (i’m okay riding around 60kg until march; then we need to start whittling me down towards 58kg or so and i can waterload out the last 2kg the week of the meet) i still think it’s interesting that my body has definitely changed a bit since starting keto all of 10 days ago. i did drop about 1.5kgs (of water i’m sure), and my muscle definition has begun to pop a teeny bit. (remember, i’m still a noodle.) but i can definitely tell in my quads and triceps that there are some baby lines peeking out.

not the goal of keto for me, but definitely a nice fringe benefit!

it’s crazy windy outside and i have a very drafty apartment, so i do believe that’s my sign to throw some coffee on. i hope everyone has an outstanding start to their week!


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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.