2012 in Review: Alright, I’ll Do This Too

The WordPress.com stats center generated this. Pretty cool; I’ll take it. Expect big things in 2013; namely, more of me opining about stuff that no one really wants me to opine about and in support of that mission–VLOGS.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 9 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


100 Ways I Can Improve My Training: Mobility Changes, Strength Changes, Evaluation is Constant

I wrote this list yesterday around a training session and a cheat meal extravaganza. Here’s a picture I took from said meal–for once, the lighting was actually good in a restaurant in which I was attempting to take a picture. Yesssss. I weigh five million pounds now! Next post will discuss my intentions of actually cutting weight in order to compete in the 105 weight class. No, seriously, I’m serious. That’s what my next post will be about. Written while I weigh five million pounds.

This was a fraction of the epic cheat meal (uh, meals) from yesterday.
This was a fraction of the epic cheat meal (uh, meals) from yesterday.

Now that we’ve had that fun, let’s get serious about things here. 100-item-list-about-how-I-can-do-things-better serious. No one’s going to read this post, and if you do I’m going to be impressed.

1. learn more. I’ve recently struggled with that sense of “the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” I am overwhelmed right now. I am formulating a plan of attack and will figure out how to start “studying” what I don’t know this year.

2. Continue to tweak and perfect my diet. This involves abovementioned learning.

3. Be more proactive about prehabbing. This will include more dedication to mobility work prior to lifting sessions.

4. Investigate supplementing to a greater degree.

5. Re-evaluate macronutrient breakdown in diet to really be honest with myself about what kind of holes exist within it(and therefore changes that need to be made).

6. Stop coming down so horrendously hard on myself for, basically, everything. Generating this list is actually somewhat difficult for me because my mind is one of these lists 24/7. I cannot stop focusing on what I’m not doing, what I’m not doing right, what I’m not doing enough, and just getting down on myself for it. That’s much easier to do right now with an injury, I’ve realized.

7. Work on my mindset in training. Continue to improve on things that will often result in my emotions getting in the way of my lifting.

8. Continue to improve how much I let what is happening around me in the gym distract me.

9. Develop strategies for improved focus in training and out of training.

10. Continue my education regarding programming, which is in its absolute infancy right now.

11. Improve my strange relationship with my own ego, which hinders me when it tells me I should be doing more weight on something and also hinders me when it fails to activate when it would it be reasonable and healthy for it to do so.

12. Take pride in lifting-based accomplishments, from small PRs to large ones. My automatic response to accomplishments tends to be one of apathy. They are never “good enough,” I often think of them as steps in an unending progression of mediocrity. That’s probably not good or helpful.

13. Blog more. Blog more about abovementioned accomplishments because it will benefit me to do so even if I do end up looking like a narcissistic asshole. It’s my blog, I can do what I want, damnit.

14. Research more about the role of mental strategy in strength training.


16. figure out a way to reach out to more lifters and continue to develop the way in which I am engaged in the community, whatever that means.

17. Encourage more women to join our powerlifting team. Use fellow team member Ashley to do so. Sorry, Ashley, you are now a pawn in my scheme.

18. Continue the process of beating down whatever voices linger in my mind that tell me my body is sub-par for whatever reason, particularly aesthetic. F*ck that, Jesus Christ.

19. Be able to cut successfully to 105 for competition. Success means that I will still be able to lift like a boss even after going through the carb/sodium/water retention depletion process.

20. Strengthen adductors.

21. Massive glute training (can be interpreted in both ways of interpreting this phrase).

22. If injury occurs again this year, which it probably will, survive better.

23. Learn how to coach others and articulate topics discussed in coaching better.

24. Strengthen/gain mass in quads.

25. Focus harder on core strength when my rib will let me again.

26. Raise GPP by being more diligent with accessory work timing in training sessions.

27. Attempt to separate when decisions I’m making in my training are being made from fear and when they are being made from reason and/or love. That’s right, I said love.

28. Watch my posture during times in which I am not training.

29. Be diligent about getting 7-8 hours of sleep on the nights before I teach.

30. Complain less.

31. Congratulate more.

32. Stop being ashamed of my lifting. No one really cares in either direction about my lifting, ultimately, so being ashamed of it is kind of ridiculous.

33. Learn how to fry sweet potatoes for carb back-loading. F*ck yes. Okay, this is not probably going to develop my training. But it’s a goal.

34. Start seeing a chiro semi-regularly to maintain a better idea of what’s going on with my body as I ask it to do extreme things.

35. Eat salmon more often.

36. Give more to others in training sessions. Get out of my own head in order to do so.

37. Improve scapulae retraction inequality.

38. Learn how to overhead press. I’m terrible at engaging my lats/lifting my chest into this.

39. IMPROVE MY CRAPPY BOX SQUAT oh my lord is it embarrassingly bad.

40. Focus on glute activation to develop speed.

41. Find other strategies to develop overall lifting speed.

42. Purchase minibands so I don’t have to keep asking Kyle to use his.

43. Purchase chalk because Kyle beat me to it on this round.

44. Attempt to maintain a more neutral spine during certain lifts–my head has a way of snapping back during pulling and heavy rowing that’s probably not fantastic for my neck.

45. Do VW’s more diligently.

46. Walk to the gym more in the winter even if it’s cold. I don’t really do any cardio, so this is pretty much my only option for it these days and I should probably really try to do it more often.

47. Work on embracing adversity in training more. If I’m sick, train harder. Learn from the process.

48. Auto-regulate honestly. Especially if I’m teetering on the edge of an injury/think I might be causing one. I admit that this should have been more involved in how I approached my rib, and I failed at it badly.

49. Watch how I phrase things. There’s no need for me to verbally brutalize myself through the description of my acts and/or psyche if it’s unwarranted.

50. Watch more Youtube–and by that, I mean “smart” Youtube a la Mark Bell, Dave Tate, etc.

51. Continue to keep my mouth shut and take Kyle’s advice in training. Continue to be aware how my actions and mental state might have an effect on him as he works with me.

52. Be more diligent about logging. EVEN if I’m injured, which I have a hard time doing.

53. Clarify where my motivations come from in relation to my training goals. What drives me, how can I focus on it and purify it?

54. Expand my collection of workout garb. It’s frivolous and superficial but it makes me happy and probably in some small way helps me self-identify as a lifter. I mean, damnit, my glutes sure don’t.

55. Purchase and read at least one strength-training related book. I basically no longer read these days, so this is actually more of a feat for me than it sounds. Ugh, I used to love reading, what happened?

56. Comment more on both Youtube lifting videos and training logs.

57. Network more within the lifting blogging community.

58. Determine whether or not I want to start squat work with knee wraps. Decisions, decisions.

59. Improve wide-grip press and work towards using it in competition.

60. Better myself as secretary of our powerlifting team. Pretend I’m freaking Joan from Mad Men (sans glute development) if that’s what it takes to do so. The better I am about efficiency and contributing to the team, the more prepared I am to take on a helpful role in the lifting community at a later point in my career.

61. Work on my tolerance of brospeak/people speaking about my lifting as bodybuilding when I’m discussing it with non-lifters.

62. Work on my tolerance of Crossfit. It’s here to stay, it’s going to become more and more prevalent as more and more powerlifters embrace it/incorporate it into their gyms.

63. Be a better ambassador for powerlifting. This includes fully embracing my status as a lightweight lifter. It also includes not being allowed to call myself a “novelty,” even in a facetious manner. I’m no one’s novelty act.

64. Go to a meet outside of Iowa. This might be more like in the next two years, but I REALLY want to compete in a different setting with different people around me. It would be a good challenge and I’d only get to meet more powerlifters that way.

65. Work to generate more visibility for our team within the city in which it is located. Athletically, we have some really talented team members and our club is probably one of the more accomplished athletic clubs at the University of Iowa.

66. Figure out more ways to keep my hips from doing wonky things during a pull–both breaking off the floor and at lockout.

67. Make sure I replace my mouth guard a few times per year. I’m sure that thing is going to get nasty eventually.

68. Be more diligent about SMR work, particularly through the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Possibly calves if I want to torture myself.

69. Learn to spot better. Particularly at squat. I am pretty inexperienced there.

70. Continue to think about lifting and lifters less and less in terms of gender. I wish everyone would adopt this one.

71. Do more submaximal bench work and check my pride when I do. Submaximal is about firming up motor patterns and technique.

72. Reconcile the seeming discrepancy between my sense of pride/foolhardiness when lifting and my self-loathing. It’s a weird combination of character traits to have in relation to training, and one that is one of my greatest weaknesses.

73. Improve wrist mobility, because there are some issues there right now. Particularly with the right one, which might be a scapula rotation issue, see #37. Dangit.

74. Possibly run a trial with following the carb backloading diet more correctly.

75. Help out new lifters in their first meet in April. I’ve watched a few people on our team improve quickly, and it has been exciting. I want to see their efforts pay off in a good first meet in the spring.

76. Do more prehab and hypertrophy work outside of regular training hours. I’m horribly lazy outside of the gym (I save all effort and energy for teaching and being in the gym) so this one will be a challenge for me. Small changes will get me there.

77. Drink more water.

78. Drink more green tea, something I’ve been better about lately, actually.

79. Fix the issue I’ve been having with my hips doing something wonky when I squat sometimes. The wonkiness is apparently most easily seen from the back, so I’ll have to film myself from behind while squatting and you know that’s going to be attractive.

80. No more disparaging remarks regarding my posterior plane(s). I’m sort of kidding, sort of not on this one. It is in keeping with prior items on this list, i.e. disparaging remarks towards myself just aren’t that helpful in relation to self-confidence-building. Also, honestly, my glutes are not that bad. They’re just not.

81. Laugh more around training sessions (probably not during). This seems to help my psyche.

82. Stop being as automatically belligerent when someone at the gym gets in my space.

83. (Be able to) help someone with their programming–and have enough knowledge to do so–if my help is requested.

84. Find more lyric-less music for lifting that I really like. I don’t really listen to music during many work sets right now, but enjoy it a lot when doing accessory work. I think it helps with motivation and probably has aided in pushing out a few extra reps here and there.

85. Start taping more of my bench sessions. My bench sucks, therefore I conclude that no one is going to want to watch my bench work, therefore I don’t film it and/or don’t make videos of it. This is erroneous logic if I follow the logic of #32 (premise: no one actually cares that much about what I’m lifting) and making video would only help me in being able to spot errors in form, improvement (or lackthereof) in speed, and/or make fun of crap people are doing in the gym around me as I work.

86. I’m so close to being done with this list, awesome. I bet you haven’t read this far in it. Oh, you have? Okay, number eighty-six: maintain calluses so I don’t tear one off during the course of 2013. I believe this is possible.

87. Force myself to do this “bat-hang” Donnie Thompson mobility move Kyle had me do once. It was awesome, but I’m still kind of afraid of it.

88. Remain mostly mute in response to the misplaced enthusiasm of students/acquaintances who, upon finding out I lift, launch into a detailed description of how good they are at leg press, the pec deck, or similar. I’m actually serious about this one. Telling someone why the leg press isn’t a test of their maximal strength levels is just not productive use of my time.

89. Spend less internet time doing frivolous crap and more of it researching lifting. I’m ashamed that I need to even write this one up, but I know it would help my lifting if I made a concerted effort to do so. Better yet, as referenced in #55, pick up one of my hypothetical strength training books that I WILL read this year and spend time with that instead of reddit/pinterest/pajiba.

90. Rebuild my pull-up and chin-up numbers. Improve on them.

91. Do more flat press work; I’m terrible at it and a lot of my mobility inequalities come out when I do it.

92. Max test floor press because I THINK I can probably do 135 sometime this year and that would be pretty cool. Hell, if I did 120 x 3, I should be able to do 135, or I’m close to it.

93. Use a lacrosse ball for SMR on my traps/upper back because I know the area tends to get extremely tight.

94. Try some epsom salt baths for recovery.

95. Learn more about how maximal strength training carries over into training for specific sports–and I mean literally on a physiological level how the carryover works.

96. Continue to re-evaluate aspects of my squat: grip width on the bar, stance, hip use throughout the year. Mobility changes, strength changes, opportunity for evaluation is constant. Hmm, I like that, I’m going to use that. It’s going to be the TITLE of this hulking tome!

97. Firm up my pausing work on bench. I currently pause my reps, but sometimes I juke them. Not okay.

98. Develop more meet-specific mental strategy. This means more visualization work in the week before the meet along with meet-day visualization.

99. Work on anxiety issues in the week leading up to a meet.

100. As the next few months (now through April) set in, keep a balanced mindset regarding training and the demands that will be placed on me by the end of my academic career. Turn to others for support during this time (I’m getting better at this). Train hard, do well, learn lots even when things feel overwhelming.

Injury Files: My Rib and Me, Avoiding an Abusive Relationship

Me after the heaviest set of my return-to-squatting session. Look how HAPPY I look! Perfectionist scowl in place right here.
Me after the heaviest set of my return-to-squatting session yesterday. Look how HAPPY I look! Perfectionist scowl in place right here.

Working through this rib injury has been an opportunity for learning. I resent that. Whenever you hear the phrase “opportunity for learning,” you know it’s coming out of the mouth of someone’s sixth grade science teacher trying to coax him or her through the completion of his or her totally bungled potato-battery. Or it’s my mother during almost every phase of my adolescence when I came home from a crappy riding lesson with a sore set of glutes and a downtrodden face. I tend to sulk when the need for the phrase “opportunity for learning” arises. I do not like things that get in the way of my goals. In fact, I can’t think of anything that destabilizes the barely-functional bridges I’ve built over the pits of a self-loathing I’ve been attempting to navigate for most of my life. If I can’t be killing myself trying to achieve something, I have a hard time enjoying the process of living. If my father, or a smattering of other people, is reading this, he’s thinking “that is an extreme way of thinking about things.” You know what, Dad? You’re right. I’m extreme. You’re reading a blog about a girl who’s attempting to climb the national rankings in powerlifting, a maximal, extreme strength sport. If you don’t want extreme, please take a moment to browse such Internet entities as Pinterest, your local news station’s website, or maybe just close out all your browsers and stare at your desktop for a while.

The thing is, I can’t sit here and say being extreme isn’t sometimes misplaced, misinterpreted, and misguided. When injury has me on the brink of emotional meltdown–and it did this time, and it has before–the brand of extreme that’s causing that reaction has to be examined. I’ve been running from the act of this examination for several years now. When injury happens (that sounds like a 20/20 special waiting to be produced), I have done an excellent job at becoming completely unglued in the past. When I “busted my sternum,” I fell into a depression that left me 20 lb lighter and emotionally fragile. The Busted-Sternum Period was, of course, accompanied by a few other extremely unpleasant issues in my personal life, but the injury was basically what brought everything down. If I hadn’t had some fantastic support and if I hadn’t worked to try to see around some of the delusions I still hold about what is and is not truly important in life, this interruption in my training would have hit me harder than it did.

That said, I did end up suffering some hard hits over this. I finally went to a chiropractor for the first time in my life (after seeing both a general practitioner and a sports medicine guy) who, after telling me I pretty much had a dislocated rib, semi-literally jammed the thing back into place. Jason Bradley of Washington Street Wellness, you rock. I’m going to plug Dr Bradley here and say that should you or someone you know in the Iowa City area manage to knock some aspect of your skeletal system out of alignment, go see him. Not only is he damned good at what he does, he’s fun to talk with, particularly when you’re nervous about seeing a chiropractor because you’ve always been afraid of them.

So, that’s where I am with things right now. I’ve been doing some training and mostly keeping my strength up, although I had to basically take a full week off and have had to modify most of what I’ve been able to do for several weeks now because of this injury. I’m finally back to squatting and the rib is finally on its way to healing. There’s a lot of tissue inflammation in the area surrounding the formerly displaced rib, and that’s what’s hindering me now. It’s going to take my body a while to realize it’s back in order and for small tears to heal themselves up. This HAS been a learning experience, I’ll admit it. I’m not yet 27, so I guess I can allow learning experiences to take place now and then for the next few years. The point at which I will know everything, from what I have heard, is 30. I’m getting close.