Friday, June 29, 2012


I've been thinking a little about goals.  Mostly, that I don't have any.

Richard Wiseman has written about goals, and what works and what doesn't work in terms of setting and achieving them.  One apparently does need to have a fairly concrete goal in mind and have it broken down into milestones.  This is what I'm lacking more than anything else.

It's been pointed out to me before when I was looking for a little climbing coaching that my goal of "climbing better" is too esoteric, because how can I know what to focus on if I can't define what climbing better actually means.  Revising it to "climbing harder stuff" wasn't that much use either, or even "climbing harder stuff successfully".   Shame, that.  Maybe this is why I am still not a very good climber.   One could also argue that my career is going nowhere for the same basic reasons.

Not surprisingly, I also have no concrete goals in terms of lifting; "get stronger" probably doesn't help Tara devise a program for me (sorry Tara!).

I started lifting for a number of reasons including dissatisfaction with myself and how weak and fat I felt after climbing-related setbacks, some very friendly encouragement (thanks Tara!), and just straight out admiration for one individual I know personally (that's you, Leenie, if you ever read this) and via the blogosphere.  Lifting, I felt, was a way to kick my own ass back into shape, and simultaneously  (and ideally) getting stronger and thinner, while not hating my life as much as if I had attempted to start running again.  Another secret reason (one that I've not verbally expressed before now), is that I'm getting older and I've a couple of fingers with the signs and symptoms of overuse injuries and I don't get to choose where I live for awhile... all of which means that I may not be able to climb to a level of my satisfaction indefinitely.  I need something else to be there, when the climbing goes.

Lifting, thankfully, is becoming a thing for me in its own right.  It will theoretically remain a secondary thing as long as I can keep climbing, but I'm starting to realise that I might want to set some goals to this some day.  I have no idea what those goals should be.  I'm leery about setting looks-related goals, as they may lead me to hate my body and fear mirrors more than I do.  I'm not sure I could set lift goals, because what's reasonable, and what will require lifting to become the thing, over climbing (which is not what I want just yet).

So what are reasonable goals?

This weekend I'm off to Rumney to climb.  There, I'm going to be thinking about setting some climbing-specific goals... concrete ones this time.  Things I can aim for.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I'm completely abraded at the moment.  I feel like it's been weeks of work stress and medical appointments and trying to cram too much into too few hours.  That's annoying, but it's not beyond what I cold normally manage.  I am sleep-deprived but again, it should be within the confines of my version of "normal" or at least "manageable".

What's alarming to me is that I'm keep making stupid little mistakes.  Like neglecting to do something important at work, even though doing it is rote, or leaving my wallet somewhere (I'm hoping at home), or completely forgetting to do something I told someone I would.  It's driving me nuts.  I'm not the more scheduled and organised person in the world, and I'm fine with that.  My desk is a mess, but I can usually find what I'm looking for very quickly.  I may not be able to tell you until a half hour in advance when I'll be at the gym, but I'll be mentally juggling a number of experiments and protocols, some of which take days.

I'm hoping that this is all temporary.  That it's just that I need a vacation, not a massive life overhaul.  That it's part of normal cycling, rather than a new normal.

That's it.  Nothing more to say.  Just needed a few moments of whining.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Satisfy Curiosity

Today is day 5 of 7 days with a new little toy:

That pod stuck to my back is called a Dexcom.  It is sampling the glucose in my interstitial fluid every 5 minutes and is sending the readings to a receiver which is about the size of a cell phone that I've been toting around on me.  Every 12 hours I do a fingerprick blood glucose test and enter it into the receiver for calibration purposes.

Why am I doing this? Well, in blood tests for a routine physical awhile ago, my fasting blood glucose was almost as high as a diabetic's.  Given my family history and current shape, it's virtually inconceivable that I could actually be prediabetic.  My dietician said something I really liked.  She said, "You know what would be cool..." and thus a couple of weeks later I was back in the office with a nurse implanting the sensor and teaching me how to use the blood glucose meter.  What fun!

Of course I am fascinated and running the batteries down on the receiver by looking at what my blood glucose is doing.  I've learned that fruit, potatoes, and white rice make my blood sugar shoot up (big surprise there), and that doing physical activity like climbing, lifting, or even just warming up for those things causes my blood sugar to plummet back down (again, no eureka).  I'm also finding that after 5 days of having this thing attached to me as I climb, lift, sweat, shower, swim, and lol about bed is taking it's toll and I really need to buy some tape or something so it doesn't prematurely detach.  Finally, I've learned that I eat a shit-tonne of carbs.  Not so much on the bread; my craving has passed and I've only eaten it a few times the last week as a convenient vector for almond butter after climbing.  But rice!  Oh, rice...  80% carbs bastard that you are.  During my lean grad school days I lived on a very Indian diet of lots of legumes, vegetables, and mounds of rice.  While I'm marginally less destitute now, it's still so firmly ensconced in my diet that I have no idea how I'll manage to disentangle myself.  How does one ever feel sated after dinner if there is no rice?!  Obviously I've got a major hurdle on the belly issue.  I don't even know where to begin.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


A few words about the physique of Hamishzadeh (previously Hamishopoulos, but it seems he’s Iranian, so I felt it appropriate to adjust the nickname):  he is not tall (although he thinks he is), but he is very large.  As I said, he’s got the physique of a caber-tosser, which is to say he’s extremely muscular, but not particularly cut.  There’s mass, but little definition.  If you put him in a suit, he’d probably just look pudgy. 

Just last night I was hanging out with him in a social setting, and at one point he leaned back and put his hands behind his head.  Suddenly, I had a moment of recognition, particularly, recognition of self.  Looking at the shape his big upper arms took; I caught a glimpse of the shape of my own arms:  the way that when I raise them, they look meaty, instead of just fat.

It was kind of a quietly startling moment.  I tend to judge myself harshly.  I have little patience for my own fuck-ups, and I won’t forgive things in myself that I’ll readily have patience for in others.  When I look at my arms, I think one thing, but there I was looking at comparable arms on someone else and I saw something familiar, but my interpretation was a new one. 

It reminded me of the lack of capacity that many of us have to view ourselves objectively.  If I can’t haul a certain weight one day, I don’t think that I’m having just a bad day, or remind myself of all the other lifts I just did targeting the same muscle group.  I think I’m weak and not trying hard enough.  I look at my own belly and get angry at my lack of will power, but I see another woman with more generous curves and I’ll think she’s sexy.  I’m trying to learn how to divorce myself emotionally from self-reflection, to treat myself with a little more patience and compassion, but I’m at a loss of how to do this.  Is there any easy way to take a step back from oneself?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Thus Far

I mentioned I was starting a new lifting program.  It's been a week and thus far...  hmm...  I'm not sure how I feel about it.  It's a lot, but it's good because I need it.  But it's a lot of reps and a lot of sets for some lifts and that's frustrating for me because in my ignorant state it doesn't feel like I'm doing myself as much good if I've got the weight down low enough that I can finish a total of 51 squats in 5 sets.  That said, I have absolute trust that Tara knows what she's doing.  I have a lot to learn about how lifting works, and I'm willing at this time to just have faith that there's a master plan in the works.

On Friday after my session I felt weak and pathetic and woefully clumsy and lamented that I was always going to be flabby.

On Saturday after my session I had a tiny bit of a high, and wasn't really worried that I was flopping around like a goldfish on the carpet while trying to do v-ups.

I don't think anything really changed from one day to the next.  I think, like in climbing, you have strong days and weak days and sometimes you feel good and sometimes bad, and often these things have little to do with one-another.

Perhaps not exciting, but it's only been a week.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mental Deterioration

I'm mad about yesterday.  It was one of those days wherein I was constantly tempted to just give up and go back to bed.  It started with a world of smugness in which, despite sleeping through my first 2 alarms, I still managed to pack food for the day and make it to my optometrist appointment early.  That's when I locked my keys in the car.  It just stayed on that shitty track for the rest of the day, and I just wanted to smack myself in the face when I had to skip my workout because I was apparently too stupid to pack my gym shoes into my bag.  I'm hoping today is an improvement.  I'm moving my shoulders and abs to Saturday, and will do my back and biceps mayhem today.  I packed my shoes. I'm pretty sure...  YES!  Yes.  cool.

Has anyone else embarking on a new life of fitness found that their eating has changed?  I don't just mean the guzzling of whey powder or getting into weighing their chicken.   I mean, the internal aspects of eating.  What you crave?  How you feel hunger and when and satiety?

I've not started a serious diet yet (although I'm pondering it for August), but I'm trying at least thinking I should be eating more protein and have seriously cut down on my fruit intake.  I find in the last couple of months I've developed a mad craving for bread.  I used to rarely eat bread, and have only adopted it to some degree in the last few months because it's easy packaging for avocados and tomatoes.  Now I want it all the time.  I'm getting giddy just thinking about the bagels the boss bought us.  Also the other day I was pondering that I should eat my sandwich soon because of when I was going to the gym, and then I thought, "I'm not really hungry, though, maybe I should just save it for tomorrow."  Then 15 minutes later I was suddenly ravenous and crammed that sandwich into me like I was trying to win a bet.  Bizarre.  And hungry in the morning?  When did that change over for just eating breakfast because it kept me from fading out midday?

Of course all this food-related craziness just makes me worry that I'm going to get fatter, which makes me worry even more about it.  Do all people with allegedly healthy eating habits fret this way?

Monday, June 11, 2012


Nothing?  No comments on my waistline pudge at all?  I am so disappointed.  I had hoped my readership might have wanted to say something whether it be "you go, girl" or "hahaha, you so fat"  Then again, given that my regular readership is maybe two people on a good day,  I suppose I shouldn't be so needy for external validation.

So today I'm starting a new lifting program, written up just for me by the wonderful Tara.  I'll not go into details just yet, although be prepared that I might start writing up potentially dull and mildly embarrassing updates as to what I'm lifting on this blog.  I showed the program to Hamishopoulos (who seems to have integrated himself as my occasional gym partner) and the first thing he said was, "5 sets?! How are you supposed to get big on this?!"  He's a little bulk-oriented at the moment and needs to be reminded that we don't all share the same goals.  Meanwhile I added up the number of squats and lunges I'm doing and thought, "She is trying to make me cry."  Then noted the berserker-rage version of  back and biceps day and the abdominal brutalisation and added the thought, "She is trying to turn me into a beast."

Overall, I'm nervous that I won't be able to get through a workout, or that it'll take me twice as long as it's supposed to, but I'm steeled to dive in and do my best.

Has anyone else ever had the experience of standing on the precipice of a new workout or other challenge and greeted it with eagerness and anxiety?  Any words of advice or stories to share?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Buddha Belly

Awhile ago I had a routine physical.  This of course included a fasting blood draw and all the usual screening of said blood.  Poking through the results Dr. Rosemary raved about my excellent cholesterol levels, but said that my fasting blood glucose put me well into the "pre diabetic" range.  I can go into detail as to why this is odd, but without a full medical history, just accept that I'm probably not diabetic or pre diabetic.  Anyway, the dietician gets a referral for me, and again avoiding exhaustive detail about our telephone tag and the full dialogue of my conversation, she agrees I'm eating and living well yadda yadda, we're still waiting on an appointment with an endocrinologist.

I bring all this up to mention one of the things the dietician mentions to me:  a recent increase in belly fat can lead to high fasting glucose levels and pre diabetes, "Did you gain a lot of belly fat recently?"

Thus, here is my belly:

Yep.  My belly in all it's embarrassing glory.  Definitely fat going on there, but I don't think it's all that recent, sadly.

I know there are a lot of people out there with a lot more belly fat than me.  I know there are a lot of people with a lot less.  Sorry, folks, this is my blog and so it's all about me and my fat belly, not you and yours.

So there is my fat belly.  Rub it for good luck.  I hate that fucking thing.  That belly is part of the reason why I don't sleep with people, go to a beach, or look in full length mirrors.  That belly is laughing at me every time I put on a snug t-shirt, fail to sit up straight, shower, get dressed, climb, or attempt running.  I want the fat belly gone and dead.

You are welcome to consider this a before photo (because in the now 6 weeks of lifting I've been doing that damn thing hasn't changed in the slightest).  I really hope one day I can post up a progress photo that is something more like the bellies of those gorgeous women I linked to some time ago.  Also know that a part of me is burning with shame, throwing this out on a public forum, but another part is burning with intensity and the desire to change this thing.

This is what my lardy 24.4% fat body looks like.  Within the medically "recommended" range which can kiss my fat ass (I have one of those, too) because this is not fighting weight, and I'm not ready to make truce with age and gravity just yet.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy Dance

I skipped the gym yesterday.... work and laziness and climbing plans conspired against me, and I just didn't get a chance.  Then I went to the climbing gym in the evening, and I swear, sometimes it feels like I'm making negative progress.

But this is not what this is about!  See the title?  It says "Happy Dance", not "Self-Pitying Shuffle"

This post is about the fact that I did do my workout today, and I did chest and triceps (which I was supposed to do yesterday).  Given my bench press devirginisation last week, I was determined that I was going to add them into this week, but instead of doing them after all my other chest lift, I was going to pack them in there, almost at the very start.  So just before the last set of my push ups, I saw Hamishopoulos (yes, he's getting called that because none of you slackers gave me any better suggestions) and he said he'd spot me for the presses if I wanted.  Groovy.

I got settled under the bar, and did a couple of presses, adjusted a little according to Ham's directions, did another...  I was thinking that it didn't feel too bad at that point, but that last time I seemed to be going strong before absolute meltdown.  I did more... I did a total of 10!  10 bench presses!  Ham asked how many it was.  "It was 10!"  I told him, "And honestly, it felt like I might've been able to do more."

So we put two teeny little weights on the bar (I think a startling 5 lbs total... oooooh).  And then I banged off another 10.  And final set of another 10!

Yes, the weight is small, but given it's all still fresh to me, I feel like a superstar.