Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why I Coach

The coaches at United Barbell were asked why we coach, and each Friday a response is posted as the blog for the day. Here is an excerpt from mine: 

"First, I love helping people reach their goals. I love that moment when a cue is given and suddenly eyes widen as a movement just locks into place. I started teaching ballet and choreographing for others while in college, and nothing beats the look in someone’s eye when I’d give someone a new way to think about a particular skill and suddenly everything clicks into place for them."

Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Double Post Day! Ultra Low Carb Pumpkin Stuff!

I want to spread the good information of

Ultra-Low-Carb Pumpkin Pies:

Ultra-Low-Carb Pumpkin Spiced Lattes:

Adidas Review

There is only one brand I've really been a brand-whore for: Adidas.

They make fantastic single and double weave judo gis:

They make great stuff for weightlifting:

And I have a track suit I bought for Halloween and still wear anyway:
Yes, I have a pink track suit. And a blond wig.
So when I joined the fitness instructor's Adidas discount program, I was elated. This was last winter and I immediately bought some Adidas pull overs and hooded jackets. And I have to say, I LOVE them! Their mediums fit me perfectly. It's like an athletic company actually cut shoulders and waists into their clothing to accomodate athletes. I mean, who does that? Adidas does. 

Favorite Adidas Jacket

This winter, though, I knew I'd be coaching outside a lot, so I bought some long compression tights, and some thick cold weather tech tights. They look awesome:

(Never mind, I can't find a picture of them and I'm too lazy to photograph them. They're purple and slime green.)

What I found disappointing is that with these tights, I'm constantly having to pull them up. They just don't want to sit stable on my hips. I'll pull the pant leg up so they don't quite reach my ankles, and they still slide down. I don't know if this is a case of waist to butt ratio, general rise of the pant, or what. But it makes me sad. 

I then got this sports tank:

Kinda like this, only with crossover in back. 

The fit is great, I love the colors, red and orange, and how bright it is. I have to say, though, I'm a bit spoiled by Lululemon and Lucy who put these thin cutlets in their support sport tanks. I tend to nip when I workout, so, ahhh, those are really nice to conceal such reactions. 

So overall for Adidas: they make solid sports specific gear, and I like their tops for women that TRAIN. Their bottoms, however, are pretty meh. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tracking Your Workouts

Of course you should. You want to know what your PRs are. You want to hold yourself accountable. There have been times when it was tempting to only do two sets rather than three sets of a particularly heinous exercise (think reverse hyper, or weighted GHD sit-ups), but then I'd see the the two set numbers looking at me, mocking me for being a sissy. FINE! I'll do my third set! GEEZ!

If you do your own programming, you'll want a record of what you did last week so you know if you need to bump up another 2 kilos this week, or change one movement in for another.

They are also helpful for tracking notes on new techniques, or how a workout generally felt to you and how your body feels day to day. Tracking these along side your numbers can help you elucidate performance problems outside the hours you spend in the gym.

What are the best ways to track?

I'm a big fan of the simple paper and pen method. I'll get a fun journal, a bunch of colored pens, and just write down everything I do. Take notes on if something felt off. Note new technical cues that made a difference. I'll usually pick either the inside cover of the front or back to track 1 rep max for lifts, crossing out and adding with each new PR. It gets messy, but it works. I usually also write each day in a difference color, so I can easily put several days on one double page spread and see where one day ends and the next starts.

Some people would rather have electronic tracking versions.

Most of the tracking things I found are for the iPhone, of which I do not possess. But here is a good post about then anyway:

11 iPhone apps for tracking your workouts

Then there are a lot of templates on Google Drive to use if you like something you can access on your phone, tablet, or computer:

Search list of Google Drive Templates

For a while, when I was also tracking my food (which I should do again), I used FitDay to track my exercises and moods as well. Mostly, I turned it into this perverse game of "can I eat enough calories to make the program think I'm going to get fat, and still maintain or lose weight"?

The moral of the story is, there are a lot of ways to keep track of your progress, but keeping track is the main point!

Friday, November 16, 2012

1.5 Year Anniversary of...

Leaving my desk job!!

I still dealt with residual stress attacks. You know how even years after graduating college, you still have those dreams where you find yourself at a course's final but you didn't go to any of the classes all semester? I got those years after graduating from graduate school about undergrad classes. And I still had issues after leaving my last job.

I wasn't sleeping well. For the last couple of months, I would wake up in the middle of the night in panic mode about some project or deadline. Then I'd wake up again to my morning alarm with the same panic feeling. I'd have that chest crushing, heart racing feeling all day. It didn't matter that I worked super fast, that I didn't take breaks, ate lunch at my desk, never checked my personal email or facebook. I was at my desk 9-10 hours a day, felt guilty for leaving before others to go train. It felt like it was almost a competition of who could best martyr themselves for the work. People were answering emails at 3am, staying at the office overnight. First thing I'd do when I wake up was check emails, then fret during my drive into work that I couldn't address anything because I WAS IN A FREAKING CAR GOING TO WORK.

It was dumb.

It was unhealthy.

It was affecting my relationships.

What was it for?

I was working in market research for the pharmaceutical industry. That's right. All the stress and dispair that I felt was purely for the ultimate goal of helping Big Pharma make more money. If I kept working this way, I was going to make myself a customer of the stupid ass drugs they were trying to push. And Lipitor was one of our big contracts...

This wasn't work that meant anything to me. I didn't feel like I was making a difference in people's lives or working towards some greater good. Honestly, it felt quite the opposite. The more I was in that job, the more I despised pharmaceutical companies. The more I learned about how pharma and insurance collude to get more money for their products, or protect their patents, the angrier I got and the less I gave a shit about my final product. And the act of fighting my not-give-a-shit attitude and trying to churn out give-a-shit quality work was grinding me down.

Marketing is relentless. It's competitive and it's full of people who thrive on the self martyrdom of over working against the competition. All for a whole lot of nothing, in my book.

The day that I gave my two week notice, with shaking hands and voice, was the the night that I slept completely through to morning for the first time in nearly 6-8 months.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Phenomenon: PR, Fall Apart...

How often do you hit a much coveted PR and it feels light and easy. Then you add on another kilo or a few pounds, then it all comes crashing down around you like you've never learned how to lift in your life?

Have you ever gotten stuck at a weight, usually one that was this grand goal for you for some time. And no matter the volumn, intensity, or deload technique, you can't seem to get past it?

Sometimes this is the dark side to goal setting. And not that you shouldn't set goals, but when they go beyond being concrete steps in your journey, and start being these ultimate monoliths, you're setting yourself up to get stalled or mind-f*&(#ed about anything beyond. 

Sometimes, a person can just chill out about the number and get right through it. For many people, it takes a little more trickery. Maybe you need your coach to load the bar for you, and make a point of not adding up what is on the bar. Maybe taking a break from even trying to break your PR on that particular lift for a week or so would help. It can make a person itchy to lift weights before they just burn out.

The main thing here is not to freak out. Take a break, either from that move, or even from training for a while. Make the PR in the first place can be taxing, and if you keep beating yourself up about it, you WILL burn out.

What are some other way to get over a mind block?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Triple Rainbow Stars to this book!

What I loved about it is that (1) much of what the authors go over is rooted in scientific study and (2) this book really gives you insight into how different aspects of life affect willpower and decision making. And all the areas that willpower really affects, aside of the obvious ones of "I won't do this thing I want to do" or "I'm going to force myself to do this thing that I would rather not."

Willpower encompasses so much more than that, and like a muscle, it needs to be fed, strengthened, and sometimes cut some slack. Reading this book will give you new perspective on why somethings seem so incredible hard, some things come easy, and why one person might make something you struggle with look like a cake walk.

Kindle version only $10.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

More Reebok Clothing Review

I've made it pretty clear that I'm enamoured with the Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0 shoes. I barely wear my Nike Free shoes anymore. So when Reebok gave the coaches at San Francisco CrossFit a nice discount, I decided to buy a few things and see if they stood up as well.

1) Stretch Pant
You know, sometimes I just don't feel like wearing tight pants. I prefer to workout in them, but if it's not a training day, or just a long day, sometimes something like this is nice. Based on how the women's board shorts fit, I got size large and they are a little big. The material is nice, good stretch, but the cut could be more flattering, then again, it might because I should have a medium. I'm not a big fan of material that is this thin being wide leg, it feels floppy. And I will have to wear tights underneath if I'm coaching outside. 
Pro: nice material, wide waist band, zippered side pockets
Con: floppy feeling, too thin for warmth, not true to size (large)

2) Performance Tank
The material, again, is really nice. Based on the women's shirt I got, I bought a medium and this time I feel like it is true to size. I like the unique neck line, the seaming is flat, arm openings are good. However, they cost $48, and I feel like for $48 you should get a built in sports bra of sorts. I have to wear a sports bra under it, and with the unique neck line, it shows. I like the layered look, but that's not what I expected here. Lucy and Lululemon both sell really nice built in support tanks in the $45-60 range. The material is so nice on this that it's not horrible thing, but it would become my favorite tank if it had build in support. 
Pros: material, seams, silhouette, length, true to size
Cons: No support

3) Track Jacket
This one must be popular, because they didn't have any mediums left. I went with a large (oh, internet shopping) and it was pretty huge when I got it. Sent it back for a small, as I prefer tight over looking sloppy. Yes, the small is a little snug, but it's plenty stretchy, and the sleeves are long enough that my movement never feels restricted. 
     I really like this jacket! The sleeves are long, it has a layered look effect with the black trim, I love that it is a hoodie with a mock turtle next, as most hoodies get drafty around the neck. Not only that, but the hood is large enough for me to wear a pony tail and it still comes over my forehead! Zippered pockets are great so my phone doesn't fall out while demo-ing movements when coaching class. I'm a sucker for thumb holes, too. 
Pro: long sleeves, thumb holes, mock turtle neck, zippered pockets, huge hood
Cons: not terribly warm

So that sums it up for post number two on the Reebok apparel. Again, the clothing is hit and miss, with the hits being pretty great to me and the misses just being "meh". As they come out with new things that I'm inspired to try, I'll keep you all updated. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Powerlifting Meet Recap

Let me tell you, I was bummed.

I cried. I felt sick. I wanted to scream and rage.

Had I written this post too soon after the meet, it might have been this horrible, dripping with sarcasm, pity-fest of self hatred. (I actually already started and deleted that post.)

I want to thank my good friend, Andrea, for metaphorically smacking my across my emo face and helping me come to terms with what happened.

I put a high standard on myself, and I let outside influences get the best of me and what I "should" be doing at meets. As a trainer, and strength & conditioning coach I feel like my performance has to be even more solid since I'm espousing this information. How many people do I think are expecting some awesome performance from me? Clients? Athletes? Coaches? Co-workers? Bosses? Is it real or am I imagining it?

But I had a bad day.

Was it about the training leading in? Maybe.
Was it about the nutrition leading in? Maybe.
Was it about nutrition that day? Maybe.
Was it about my psycho head-space? Maybe.

Probably a dash of the first three, and a huge serving of the last, which also tends to affect the first three.

Squat: Sorry for the video quality, it was taken with an iPhone. Next time, I'll insist ManFriend use my "real" camera. This is my successful third attempt at 130kg. My squat has been suffering lately, and here it felt like I had more gas in the tank. 

Bench: Only made my opener at 67.5kg. I don't know what happened here other than my shoulders were screaming during the next two attempts, and I tend to let my elbows collapse in when my shoulders reach a certain level of pain-rage. There is no power in the pterodactyl elbow position.

Deadlift: ManFriend didn't get my opener, again, the only deadlift attempt I made at 160kg. Again, this confused me a lot because I've regularly done lifts, both conventional and sumo, at 380lbs, and to miss a 167.5kg (368.5 lbs) deadlift is NOT what I do.

There aren't powerlifting meets in the area that often. I honestly think that something that matters to my headspace is feeling a weight, and feeling it *relatively* often. With the Westside method I've been following, most of my heavy attempts are more like my opener weights plus chains or bands or boards (or some combo thereof). I think that being the newbie that I am, it's more important on max effort days to feel the "real" weight and leave the bands and chains for my dynamic days.

My coach would probably call bullshit on that, but I know what my headspace was going in.

Sidenote: I assume most of my pageviews come from my Facebook feed. It seems that the RSS feed app I used hasn't pulled my last couple of posts, and I can't figure out why.

Hamstring Injury Prevention

This was a fantastic article I read on the NSCA website. While most hamstring injury references in the article talk about soccer, well, soccer has the most injuries in professional or recreational play period.

Of injuries in general, you see a good portion of hamstring injuries in weightlifting and powerlifting. You see some in CrossFit, but really, you see a lot more knee issues due to lack of hamstring development in typical CrossFit programming and technical focus.

And once you've injured your hamstring, the likelihood of re-injury is particularly high. This article outlines some very easy protocols to follow to help buttress your hamstring toughness to prevent initial injury or re-injury.

Eccentrics and Prevention of Hamstring Injuries in Sport

Some of the descriptions they use for body position aren't defined well, but just keep in mind as you try to interpret, all of these movements are meant to be eccentric: extending the hamstring with the added stress of resistance or body weight. 

Happy Hamstrings = Happy Knees, Happy Hips, Happy Squats, Happy Life. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Posting Calories Isn't Enough, But Still Do It!

Listening to a talk radio show early one morning, I was aghast when all three radio hosts were in agreement that food services, from restaurants to vending machines, shouldn't have to post each item's calorie content. The reasoning one host gave was "if I'm having a hotdog at the ball game with a milkshake, I don't want to be made to feel guilty for that 2,000 calorie splurge."

Okay, first, to get all psycho-babbly on you, you can't be MADE by an external entity to feel any emotion. Your emotional reactions to anything are indicative to internal filters, issues, and prejudices that you carry around. Therefore, your guilt has more to do with your broken relationship with food than the calorie count number.

Second, that calorie count doesn't even really mean that much.

Yes, I do think that calories matter, in that too many can put weight on us, and too few and keep us from functioning properly. But I think that the window for a healthy calorie intake is larger than people know, and the first thing that matters is what KIND of calories are you taking in.

2,000 calories of ice cream is going to be a problem.

2,000 calories of steak is going to make me a happy athlete.

In a conversation with one of my clients who tries to eat low carb the other day, he mentioned "We don't eat out much, because we found that Indian and Thai food have far more hidden sugars in them that aren't listed in the ingredients."

That, on top of my musings about posted calorie counts, got me thinking that calorie counts on menues STILL won't tell me or many people I interact with what is so-called "safe" to eat and what isn't. I don't think these calorie count rules go far enough.

I want menues to post protein, fat, and most of all, CARB counts on their menus. I don't care if it's grams of each, or calores from each, either way it gives me insight to the macronutrient breakdown.

That will never happen.

Regardless, ignorance is unacceptable. We're dealing with an epidemic. And if calorie counts can get a person to think twice and make a better food decision a few times a week, we'll be getting somewhere.