Sunday, December 15, 2013

More Thoughts on Eating Theory

I get on a roll for writing, then I stop. Mostly because I had a competition in SOMETHING nearly every other weekend. Anyway, this is something I wrote up a while ago:


If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) is the latest "trend" to hit my Facebook wall. Honestly, I don't know much about it, but the name sounds pretty self explanatory. I'm probably wrong here, but I'm assuming that each person has a macronutrient ratio they are trying to hit, and whatever they eat is fine so long as it fits in their macros. It sounds to me a lot like the voodoo of Barry Sears ZONE diet. It sounds smarter than the ZONE, each person getting their own breakdown, but magical nonetheless.

Then we have:

Intermittent Fasting
Carb Nite/ Carb Backloading
Paleo/ Primal
Low Carb/ Ketogenic Diet
Weight Watchers (and other pure calorie counters)
Anabolic/ Cyclic Ketogenic Diet
Renegade Diet
"Eat The Food"
Eat to Perform
... and countless others...

When it comes down to true nutrition education and understand, each of these is a good jumping off point to start the learning process and experiment with what works for you. But none of them will show you the whole picture.

And let's be honest. Most people don't have the time, energy, or passion to really figure this shit out. I have an ulterior motive, several actually. One, I want to fuel myself for the best performance possible. Two, I want to be able to recommend the best paradigm for each of my clients based on their personalities and proclivities.

So I read. I discuss. I experiment.

Despite my dalliances in various eating patterns, I keep coming back to the same conclusion:

Calories AND Macronutrients Matter

Anyone who says differently is selling something.

It's not just calories in versus calories out. Our metabolic processes are more complicated than that and it completely disregards the hormonal and thermogenic effect that some macros and macro combinations have on us. A 3 oz steak and a snickers each have about 250 calories. One is going to have a better effect on your body.

And as onerous as it is to count calories, it's not just about macros and "clean eating" (whatever that means to you). Food is energy, and if you take in too much, or far too little, you're body is going to respond by storing energy or catabolizing your muscle.

So here is the paradigm that I've come to work in, and unfortunately it's not simple enough to be truly marketable:

I) Start with your activity level
     A) There are a ton of calculators out there to figure out daily caloric expenditure.
     B) If you want a deficit, don't go more than 500 calories of deficit. Don't listen to the "1200 calories a day for women" myth out there, do what your activity level dictates.
         - My favorite site for tracking food intake is, they have a VERY easy interface and very extensive food library.

II) Match your activity level to your carbohydrate intake.
     A) If you're minimally active (work, home, done!), you will probably do fine with 50 g or less. Spread it out to avoid an energy crash.
     B) If you're more active, you'll have to experiment based on how active and what kind of activity. You'll probably want to vary your carb intake based on training variations.

III) Manage your protein
     A) If you're not active, 0.8 gram to 1 gram per pound lean body mass (body weight minus fat) will suit you.
     B) If you're active, to avoid catabolizing muscle, work up to 1 gram per pound total body weight.

IV) Fill in the details
     A) Add your carb needs with your protein needs and fill the rest in with fat.
     B) Vary your sources of everything. Carbs can be rice, fruit, tubers, etc. Fat can be butter, dairy, animal flesh cuts, nuts etc.
     C) Leafy greens and cruciferous veggies. Lot's of them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Mental Athlete Evolution

I've competed in an array of activities since high school. The competition bug bit me when I was a sophomore in high school on the dance team.

I competed in a solo performances, self choreographed, and loved both the physical and mental prep leading up to the performance, the rush of being IN THE MOMENT, and the post performance review. I would get my judging sheets and pour over how to implement the critiques and get a better score the next time around.

Through this, the competitor was born in me.

I'm the one in white, thankyouverymuch.
When I started competing in judo it was a very different ball game. When you step on a stage, you know exactly what you are going to do. When you step out on a judo mat, you know what your strengths are and the strategies you want to implement, but you have to be ready for almost anything.

I knew a needed to approach this with a different mentality. And the most pervasive one is "Go Out There, Be Aggressive, And Tear Her Head Off!" I actually had someone say that to me. So I tried it. Over. And over. And over. And all it resulted in was tunnel brain, where I'd basically black out and suddenly it would be over. Usually with less than optimal results on my end.

It took me far too long to figure out why I would have such a good time and good outcomes in training and then totally freak out in competition. Luckily, when I moved to Houston after undergrad, I had a training partner who worked with me a lot outside of regular sessions. What helped me the most is his insistence that "Hey! This is supposed to be fun! Why do you stop breathing? You get too tight and project your movements before you do anything."

It finally clicked. The "rip her fucking head off" mentality isn't why I'm in martial arts. I do this because I enjoy it, I love the feeling of a technique falling into place, and again, that feeling of being IN THE MOMENT. So it began, while everyone I competed again would try to mean mug me, I would take a slow deep breath, and smile.

Then it was weightlifting and the whole journey started all over again. I was initially taught that you had to go after that weight like a pit bull. There is a shirt out there by Donny Shankle that says "Pull the bar like you're pulling the head off a goddamn lion." Pair that with a very competitive coach and my own competitive personality, and you have a mental state that falls apart quickly if things don't go just right.

You've have think I'd learn my lesson faster this time. Instead, it took a dramatic turn towards burnout, a couple shoulder surgeries (not really related), and a come back for me to really internalize that I do this for FUN.

So this time around I've
 - stopped looking at the starting attempts of other people I'm lifting with.
 - stopped sticking around for the final results after my session.
 - only focus on putting myself in a position to meet or beat my own previous performance.
 - keep wearing the attitude I want to lift with during warm ups. (It's easy to get sucked into the intense vibe others bring.)

And my competition performances are much more consistent now than ever before. Not being wound up about what the audience is thinking or going to think about me, I can channel any nervous energy into lifting stronger. It feel more like my days on stage, when the nerves lead to more impressive height on my leaps.

So I guess the moral of the story is to not let anyone else decide how you should approach a goal. Smiling during snatches is unconventional, but it works.

Friday, November 15, 2013

No Athlete Gets There Alone: Importance of Good Coaches

Media loves great athletes. You hear all about the life stories and hard work of people like Serena Williams, Kobe Bryant, Usain Bolt, and Michael Phelps. But no athlete ever gets there alone. It's smart and caring coaches that build the platform for these athletes to really take off from.

I've been lucky through my short 6 years as a strength athlete to be able to train under the eyes of some incredible coaches. My current post-surgery success is completely due to the knowledge I've been able to absorb from them. So without further ado....

Max Aita and wife Joann Aita
Max Aita

Max was my second Olympic lifting coach, and probably had the hardest time with me. He inherited a very strong but physically and mentally worn out and down athlete. When I showed up at his house (practically a lost dog looking for a home) I came burdened with technical and physical issues galore. My knees, hips, back and shoulders were in constant pain. 

His technical guidance allowed me to ditch the ibuprofen and the knee wraps. I stopped needed copious amounts of tiger balm and red hot to get through a practice. And despite my mental game being in the ditch and struggling to make myself train at all, he was able to coach me to medals at both the American Open and Senior Nationals.

Influences of Max's training style can be seen in the way I plan my progressions in both the Olympic lifts and how I progress my linear progressions for the squat post shoulder surgery. 

Kelly Starrett
 Kelly Starrett

While Kelly was never exactly a direct weightlifting coach, he certainly has done a lot to change the way I move, make me more aware of how position affects function and how to take care of my shit. When Max "inherited" me, and I was a physical hot mess, at one point he said "You need to see Kelly. I have an appointment with him next week, you take it."

Kelly taught me how creating movement in healthy ways and creating tension for that movement will help support my system through the years of abuse I gave it and plan to give it. And although my shoulder issues ultimately led me to a surgeon, Kelly was able to give me the tools and the help so that I could continue to train and compete at a national level until that point.

Jesse Burdick

Jesse Burdick
Powerlifting coach extraordinaire. I met Jesse through, yup, Max. Max took up powerlifting when his wrist exploded and of course was only going to seek out the best. I then took the CrossFit Powerlifting certification course from him and Mark Bell and got the gumption to drive out the CrossFit CSA twice a week to soak up all the knowledge that I could, in hope of getting stronger in the process. 

Unfortunately, I was deep in denial of being burned out, so the training didn't do as much as it should. But the principals of Westside Barbell style training I've taken back to the powerlifting class I created at San Francisco CrossFit and use with some personal training clients that love the heavy lifting. I've also learned more from Jesse than anyone else how there is a time and place for every style of training, you just need to have an open mind and be willing to look at all sides of an issue. 

Jesse's program influences can be seen in how I order my day to day training, trying to blend Olympic lifting with powerlifting and some CFFB and vanity work.

Diane Fu
Diane Fu

I met this lady in the weigh-in lines at the Redwood Empire Weightlifting Meet. My second meet, her first. The weightlifting community is small, so we ran into each other a lot and I'm glad to say we got along really well.

I don't know anyone who noodles on weightlifting nearly as much as Diane does. When she turns to me and says "I've been thinking...." or "What do you think of..." I know that my training session is going to have a 10-20 minute gap as she hashes out a perspective on technique or training that has been sitting on her mind.

After surgery, she helped me work my snatch technique around my somewhat limited mobility and easily pissed off scar tissue. Also, through conversations with her on lifting and listening to her coach seminars, I'd say my own coaching eye for the lifts has progressed much faster than it would have on my own. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Women's SPF Pro/Am Meet Recap and Prep Analysis

This meet went very well for me. Complete night and day comparison when I think back to the Women's Pro/Am meet from last year. I've learned a lot about my body's reaction to training styles and, just as important, my brain's reaction to various training and prep styles.

My goal was to just reach the SPF Elite total. I was able to do that and more.

My squat at 145 kg, bench press at 77.5 kg and deadlift at 192.5 kg gave me a total of 415 kg or 915 lbs. The SPF raw classifications for 165 lbs lifters put Elite at 853 lbs and at 181 lbs at 895 lbs. So next March I'll weigh in at the next class up and get that classification as well.

Future goals, besides SPF elite at 181 lbs...

To get international elite standing, I would need a 445 kg total at the 75 kg bodyweight class. So another 30 kg or 66 lbs. My goal for this time next year is to go for that. It might be the only time in the future I try to weight in at 75 kg again.

Prep Analysis

For the most part, I think what I did worked very well for me. It wasn't "typical" of what most powerlifters and powerlifting coaches have their athletes do as they taper for a meet. Typically, a week before you're doing your last attempts at openers, one each day. Then the week of, each day your doing the warm ups for one of the lifts. Monday is squat, Tuesday is bench, Wednesday is deadlift.

I've been training myself on much more volume than that. Volume the way I've been doing it makes me feel good mentally and physically. So I did my openers all in one day. Reasoning for myself is, I'm going to have to do all lifts in one day at the meet, best know how I'm going to feel deadlifting after some heavy squats.

Like I said, it's not typical, but it works for my brain more than anything.

Then on Monday I did the final warm ups for all lifts. Tuesday was some Olympic lifting. Wednesday was off. Thursday was partial warm ups for all lifts. Friday was speed work at 50%. Saturday was trapeze.

Trapeze? The day before the meet? You see, trapeze make me VERY VERY happy. And I did trapeze class the day before I pulled some Olympic lift PRs out of my ass at the Max's Gym Open. I'm pretty sure that trapeze class is my lucky rabbit's foot.

All in all, what I did here helped me feel physically prepared and mentally calm.

Changes I Would Make

Very few.

I missed my third squat attempt. I think in the future, a month or so out of the competition, I will force myself to take 8 minutes, more or less, between max attempts. At these meets, you have to wait for the whole flight to run through back to you, and all that sitting around, brooding about the squat, I think really did me in. Also, finding ways to not brood while waiting would be helpful.

Other than that, I feel like I did right by me. Would I prep someone else for a meet the way I prep myself? Probably not. I would go a more conventional route. Lots of rest and the like. It's a standard approach for a reason.

Now as I wait for March to roll around, I can focus on being the best GD Olympic lifter I can be and NOT on making weight for anything!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Women's Pro/Am Powerlifting Meet this Weekend

I'll be competing in the Women's Pro/Am Meet this Sunday. I go up on Saturday to weigh in at 5pm. Fingers crossed I finally make 75kg FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE SINCE SURGERY!

If it all works out, you'll be hearing from me.

Then I attempt to hoist enough to earn the SPF Elite Lifter title. The only lift I'm worried about is the deadlift. Making weight affects my deadlift, as does the fact that it's the last lift of the day, after everything else and two endorphin spikes and crashes.

Wish me luck!

If you care to see any of the action, the web streaming information is in the picture above. No, you do NOT want to come watch in person, I promise. Just have the hoisting up on your computer in the background and listen for my name. :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Taking Up Space: A Weightlifting Feminist Rant

" a fugitive stealing calories to which she does not feel entitled..."

How many women out there feel like they have to earn the food they eat?

How many of you feel this unseen pressure to be smaller? Not just have a healthy body, but to be diminutive?

If you actively reject that, have you experienced comments on it?

This video spoke to me, particularly the part about stealing calories in the night. I know too many women who eat with shame when they have nothing to be ashamed about. And the more you equate food with morality, the harder it is to see it as fuel and health. As I've spoken about before, even I fall into that mindfuck when trying to diet down for competition.

I'm lucky to be as head strong as I am. Despite a beginning in ballet, I was able to shake off the notion of "be thin"to "be awesome" and awesome for me is to be as strong, fast, and athletically muscled as possible.

Do a Google search for "take up space feminism" to see how women are pressured to be small and to NOT take up too much space. Many perspectives written much more eloquently than I ever could.

Finding your version of healthy and fit is a feminist issue. You will find people in every corner trying to make that decision for you.

I want to leave you with this last thought:

Gender norms are for people who are neither smart enough nor creative enough to create their own normal.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Recap of the Max's Gym Open

I'm still giddy about it all. This meet played out in ways that I day dream about. Making risky attempts to give yourself a shot at a specific goal for a specific reason.

The first goal of the day was to make weight. I had been hovering around 170 lbs for months. My body really likes it there and it wasn't until two days before the meet that I was able to break that barrier and get down to.... 168.9 lbs. I needed to weigh in at or under 165 lbs. I even tapped out my hot water heater three times the day of in attempts to create a steam room to no avail.

I weighed in at 75.3 kg right under the time wire. I was going to have to be a super for this meet.

The next big goal was to make it to the A session at the American Open. If I was 75 kg, I needed a 172 kg total. As a super (75+kg), I'd have to total 175 kg. Three kilos is a lot when you already knew you'd have to pull some PRs out of your ass anyway. Why the A session? The AO is in Dallas, and if I lift on Sunday my family can come up and watch me lift for the first time. If I'm in the B session, I'll lift on Friday and they're at work.

I told Diane what I'd need to total. We threw some possible weight combinations around (my best so far were 66 and 99, and not in the same meet) and had a good laugh. But both of our brains were churning out strategies to work my way up there.

The snatches were where I was most nervous but ended up turning out the best. At Diane's behest, I was working a new snatch technique for a couple of weeks. And while it felt so much better on my shoulder, I didn't feel like I was yet able to get much power out of it.

Diane would have me take an attempt back stage, then go out and bump up my opener. That happened a couple of times, putting me to open at 69 kg. So my opener became my "new technique" PR. That alone was risky. But I was feeling good and made my next two lifts at 71 kg and 73 kg, both being overall post-surgery PRs. It was like something clicked, and I was able to get some pop out of the new technique, even while thinking about every movement.

The clean and jerk ended up being more dramatic. I missed 94 kg back stage. Which was weird, my jerks have been so ON lately. I got word from Jasha that I was gripping the bar to death. Without time to correct it in the back, I went out at 97 kg and did just fine. Stupid nervous grippy hands. I got two whites and a red on the 97 lift, so we only jumped to 99 kg. That one flew up. We needed 102 kg to make the A session, so hell, let's put it on the bar. I haven't even tried a 102 kg jerk since surgery, but what the hell. And I'll be damned, it felt better than the 99 kg lift.

Hello, A session!

I've found that since surgery my competition mindset has changed a lot in two significant ways.

1) Nerves used to get in my way. I used to hate how nervous I got. And the more annoyed I got with being so nervous, the tenser I got and the less well I performed. Now I look forward to the nerves and use that energy to hone my lifts. These days, weights in competition feel so much lighter than they do in training.

2) My goals and drive are now intrinsic.  When I started weightlifting, I was conditioned to regard my progress in terms of how I did in comparison to others. It was all about if I won the local meet or not (not winning was unacceptable to my first coach) and how high I could place at national level meets. Now it's about progressing in some way from one meet to the next. I won the Kono, that's cool, but it was a surprise. I don't know where I placed at Lincoln High, but I was excited to get that 99kg C&J. I took third at Max's Open, but was ELATED because I made a blind leap in lifting faith to reach a specific, personal goal.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Olympics Boycotts and Human Rights

Olympics = fitness. So into my blog it goes.

There are many LBGTQ and Allies that are saying we should boycott the winter Olympics this year because of Russia's intolerant and violent opposition to people being people. While I think it's important that we stand for our brethren and against those who sacrifice human rights, an Olympic boycott will hurt more people than it will help.

In an ideal situation, I would like to see the Olympics moved out of Sochi all together.

However, when we boycotted the 1980 Olympics, athletes who had worked THEIR ENTIRE LIVES, sacrificing so much in pursuit of their goals, really had the rug pulled out from under them. In an effort to make a statement, a statement that fell flat, we punished the hardworking citizens of our own country.

The only effect was that at the next Olympics, 1984 in LA, those who were boycotted against boycotted back. Not exactly progress:

Wikipedia Page on the 1980 Olympic Boycott

Athletes still annoyed, 25 years later

Yet look back to the powerful imagery that we have from the 1968 Olympics, when Black athletes made their presence known and displayed to the world that our athletes are human and stand for more than speed and agility. We stand for human rights.

Wikipedia Page on the 1968 Olympic Black Power Salute

Smithsonian Article looking back on the effects

I say, we stand by our athletes. We protect them, we let them do their thing. Let them make their statements if they so chose. Don't force them to be pawns in a political game that will only punish them.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Evolution of my Eating Experimentation

How I currently eat relies heavily on tracking done on two websites:


Energy Expenditure Calculator

After surgery I let myself get up to 182 lbs. I wasn't freaked out by this, I specifically told myself I was going to use surgery as an excuse to get a little fluffy and not give a shit. And 182 lbs on my frame isn't even that fluffy, just put a little icing over my muscles is all.

But I know I wouldn't be able to stay there, the last limited weight class in my sport tops out at 165 lbs. Why that is stupid is a rant for another time, but regardless, I know I won't be competitive in the unlimited category.
I weighed in at 172 lbs this day. I'm big, but I like to think it's in the right way.

What I've been doing to get down to size is (1) giving myself a small calorie deficit (200-400 calories), (2) making sure I get plenty of protein (~170 g/day), (3) cycling carbs and overall calories.

On days that I'm particularly active, lots of coaching, over an hour of strength training, and/or some CrossFit Football work, I make up the calorie difference by drinking extra protein shakes during the day and eating a bowl of white rice with kimchee and seaweed right before bed.

On days I'm less active, I might have less rice at night, and mess with the caloric deficit through how much Paleo pulled pork I eat midday.

If I have a no-training day I'll forgo the rice and adjust protein shake and pulled pork volumes for an appropriate deficit.

Then I have the "flex day" on Sunday. I'll eat ALL THE FOODS! Usually I don't want that much junk because it just makes me feel gross, but it's nice to allow an beignet or crepe for breakfast or dessert for no reason at all. I think that it's given on Sunday my caloric load is over the expenditure level.

The Journey to Here

Let's start back when I was a martial artist

<cue fade in and music>

For the first time in my life, I was really starting to get the combined importance of calories and macronutrients. When I was a dancer, it was all "eat healthy, eat less, be thin" but as an athlete who wanted to be awesome instead of thin, I had to get more of the story.

Taking an athlete's approach to nutrition also make me look better in a leotard. 

I learned that protein was key to building muscle. Okay, at least one gram per pound body weight, I can do that. Then I learned how carbs can fuel your work and help you recover, but also how too much at once creates a hormonal cascade that can lead to fat retention and energy crashes. Cool, let's go for 150-200 grams of carbs spread through out the day. Calories are energy, and as a female athlete I probably need somewhere in the 2200 to 2600 range. Calculate up the protein and carbs, fill out the rest with fat. Done.

This worked really well for me. I was able to maintain 150 lbs to 155 lbs of bodyweight while competing in the 70kg class for judo. Plus, I had four pack abs. It took a lot of dedication and tracking, but I felt awesome.


When I became a weightlifter, I initially thought I would compete as a 69kg lifter. After all, it's only one kilo less than my judo weight class.

What I didn't anticipate was how my body was going to want to put on mass when I changed from a highly conditioning oriented training regime to a predominantly strength and anaerobic focused one. To try to keep my body weight down, I cut down sugars to only the occasional fruit in my salad, and my calories went way down. After all, I worked in an office. How much did I need? I only calculated out my food to get total protein, the low calories was just too depressing.

When I decided to move up a weight class, and start putting a FULL chicken breast in to my lunchtime salad, not only did my body mass swell (in a good way), my numbers sky rocketed. It took two weeks of eating more to put 5 kilos on my clean and jerk, after being stalled for months.

You'd think I'd get that calories matter.

Things Change as You Get Older

It's hard to tease out pre-surgery how much of my body composition was defined by my diet, by my lackadaisical training routine, and by my general mentality of being SO BURNED OUT OF IT ALL. I tried a lot of things; Paleo, Primal, Carb Back Loading, Carb Nite; and half assed every single one.

Post Surgery

I've talked before about how surgery not only fixed my shoulders, but fixed my mentality. Once it was time to start thinking about competing again, I knew that I had to get back on track. First was Carb Nite, which worked really well at the outset, bringing my body weight down from 182 lbs to 170 lbs in about 5 weeks. I was looking lean, I was feeling strong. But then things just stalled out.

Time to try Carb Back Loading. I read and hear how people feel so much more recovered the next day, they put on muscle faster, can train harder. Talk out there made CBL sound like steroids. So I tried to have mango and sticky rice immediately after my training sessions. I didn't feel any better. I wasn't feeling more recovered. I felt a little bloated and it was kind of a pain in the ass to make sure I ended my training with enough time to gorge on the rice before I had my next client session. I tried for two weeks and gave up.

I spend the next few weeks on Carb Nite until a conversation withe a friend led me to the Calorie Expenditure Calculator above. Turns out that on some days I was around a 1000 calorie deficit! No wonder I felt like my body composition was slipping and my weight wasn't budging!

The rest is history.

What Will I Try Now?

Going forward I plan on doing what I currently do with one added exception. When I'm not focused on making weight for anything, I'll make sure that in addition to my "Sunday Flex-day" I'll have one day during the week where I go over my caloric needs in a typically "clean eating" way. Most likely a Wednesday since it'll be easier to do. I figure that varying my calories during a maintenance phase shouldn't just be about varying the amount of my deficit, but also if there is even a deficit.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Come On, Kids. Gear =/= Cheating.

I feel like I've had this conversation quite a bit in the past month. Something along the lines of:

Them: "I don't use a belt because I want my core to be stronger."
Me: "Your core is actually able to more fully engage when it has the belt to brace against."
Them: "But it's external support, and (enter something about being a machine, not using machines nonsense)."

Them: "My wrists hurt every time I do front squats/ over head squats/ cleans/ snatches."
Me: "I've been competing in the Olympic lifts for over 5 years now, and I use wrist wraps every time I do X movement."
Them: "I think I just need to mobilize more/ train harder so I can do it right and not need them."
Me: "It's not about doing it right or wrong, in these positions you're sacrificing comfortable/ stable angles in the wrist to be more efficient with the overall movement. It's just part of the movement at heavy weights."
Them: blank stare

Them: "What's with the tight knee wraps?"
Me: "I have a powerlifting meet coming up and I need to get used to them. They're tight so they can help me lift more weight in the squat."
Them: "So it's cheating."
Me: "No.... it's part of the game. My competitors will be using them, so I might as well work on having the same advantage."

At the risk of sounding judgmental, most of the people that come at me with these types of conversations are CrossFitters. There is a culture of BE FUNCTIONAL and RELY ON YOUR OWN BODY in a way that eventually becomes detrimental.

Take workout gloves as an example. You will rarely see them in a CF gym. Athletes have told me they've brought them to a gym and were given a harangue about how they are cheating and you need to toughen up. Well, tearing is stupid, and not everyone cares to have hooves for hands. I wear my natural grown leather mitts with pride, but I have to compete this way. Most people don't and if a callous tear is going to keep you out of the gym for a week, wear the damn gloves.

Where would I draw the line? Wearing those wrist wraps that have hooks built into them.

So before you fully succumb to the "I don't use machines, I AM the machine" mentality to the point of constant suffering, consider these points:

- Do you plan to compete? What equipment is allowed/ banned in that sport?

- Is pain due to inherent position (wrists in the overhead squat) or your movement paterns (valgus knees)?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why do you eat the way you eat?

Why do you eat the way you eat?

Did your trainer tell you that's the best way?

Did you read the latest blog post by some internet guru and they seem to know their shit?

Did your friends convince you through their impassioned arguments?

Did your doctor hand you a pamphlet and display concern for your health numbers?

Usually the diet we choose fits into one or more of the categories above. We follow the advice of some influence in our life, do it for a little while, fail and give up. I've been through that cycle a lot. Hell, I've been through the "try a diet, succeed, burn out, give up" cycle a million times, too.

What I often see are people who try the same diet over and over and over again. They'll note that "it worked for me last time" as they resolve to just resolve harder.

But if it really worked for you last time, why was there a last time and why are you having to do it all over again?

There isn't a one size fits all for everybody, especially when you get down to the nitty gritty details that so many diets push on people. Things like "eat 300g of carbs before bed" and "don't have more than 40g of protein in a sitting" or "if you eat breakfast before 10am you thighs will explode." That may or may not be true for you.

Not only that, but you need to be real about what your mentality and your lifestyle will allow. If your diet is saying you need to eat 6 times a day, but you have a work schedule that has you running around to meetings and clients all day, it's not going to stick. If you have a diet that says you can only eat X at a set time, but you're in a relationship that makes it hard to do, it's not going to stick.

There are a few rules that I think everyone can and should follow: eat real food, scale your carbs to your activity level, and make it fit into your non-food oriented lifestyle.

From there, you'll have to experiment with what works for you. If that's eating right upon waking because otherwise you're going to be grumpy with your kids, so be it. Don't beat yourself up. Figure out what foods in the morning won't lead to cravings later and cause a food meltdown.

Next post I'll talk about my experiments and how I chose to eat in each phase of my athletic career to this point.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Doing a Deload: Diet Style

This is gonna be short.

Most people who train regularly, especially those who compete, understand the importance of a deload week. You push push push, then you back off and are able to come back stronger. Most people who train hard also eat for performance, and I'm going to argue that sometimes you need a diet deload, too.

When most people "fall off the wagon" they really go off and their dinner plate looks like this:

Dessert coming up next... 

And thats often because because you waited too long to "deload" from a strict eating regiment. It's akin to getting burned out from training, and then not stepping foot in a gym for a month.

So just as a training deload doesn't mean that you stop going to the gym for a week, a diet deload doesn't mean you go nuts on the empty calories. It just means that you allow yourself a mindful selection of food, and maybe dessert, that
 you often avoid.

For me, that often means eating something with rice or noodles, because I love things like pad thai and bim bim bap. If some dessert looks really delectable, maybe I'll share it with ManFriend Matt but keep my main course inline with normal "performance eating".

Why would someone do this? Isn't this "cheating" and just a sign of being weak??

No. We push hard. Even steel bent enough times is going to break. And just as your body occassionally needs some extra time to recover, your mentality towards food could use the same thing. And it's super beneficial to occasionally experience the "normal" eating that you probably see everyone around you do.

I like to take a full week of mindful off-diet eating. I usually find that I do that every 2 months or so and I generally do it after a competition where I've been pushing really hard in both training and strict in diet to make weight and recover my best.

Then, as with training, it's back to the grind stone with a little better mindset.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Power Athlete Team Series RECAP

This has been a long time coming, I realize that. Thing is, ManFriend Matt and I have moved to Oakland, and most free time is spent moving the last dredges of our lives over to the new place and then trying to find our clothes in the many many boxes.

Last weekend was the Power Athlete Team Series run by the creators of CrossFit Football. What is CrossFit Football? Have I not talked enough about it? CFFB takes CF principals and applies them in a way that would be beneficial for power athletes, such as football players, rugby players, strongmen, etc. The WODs are shorter, the weights are heavier, you're not going to see high rep of almost anything except perhaps kettlebell swings.

After the power lifting portion, we were in 4th place. Here are the links to my team's lift videos:

James - Power cleans

Colleen - Squats

Trent - Bench press

Me - Deadlifts

So we knew we not only had to be consistent but also pull ourselves up a place if we wanted a shot at the prowler. In a way, we did just that. Looking at only the scores of the metcon, we can in third. However, if you add the combined Wilke's scores of the lifts and the scores we got from the metcon, we were in fourth.

So our team, Buns n' Guns, did great. Unfortunately, our doing great only put us in fourth place after the metcon portion of the day. By 0.32 points in a scoring system that had us in the mid-800's.

When that was announced, how close it was, our immediate reaction was... buy a beer and scowl a lot.

But really, we had a great time and can't wait to do it again next year. It was a totally different kind of competition experience for me, and I plan on continuing the conditioning in my program. Next year we'll only be stronger and faster, and we'll perhaps take it a little more seriously, from training to weigh-ins to lift attempts.

This week, I've totally given my body a break. I haven't lifted a single weight nor given a single fuck about it. Next week, it's back to the grind stone, as I have four more competitions of some sort before the end of the year.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Current Program: Two Week Cycle

I've been doing pretty well on my current program. I've had severalpeople ask me who is programming for me. I am.

I don't necessarily recommend many people go about it that way. But I've been training for something in some capacity since judo in college. So... over 10 years. I've been doing weightlifting for over 5 years now. I have a lot of data on how my body responds to different protocols. Places where I make progress and where I don't, and what works also for my mindset.

One thing I've learned is I can't take a lot of both intensity AND volume. I break down too fast and burn out. I'm also interested in pursuing goals other than simply clean and jerking and snatching the most I can. I want to compete in powerlifting. I'm signed up for a CrossFit Football competition. I want a general baseline of conditioning, more than "5 reps is cardio" too.

So here is the two week cycle I'm doing:

*CFFB = CrossFit Football WOD
*Cardio Abs = a WOD-like exercise focusing on trunk stability
*AMAP = As Many As Possible
*Trapeze = Damn straight I do my freaking double-classes of static trapeze class EVERY WEEK! Circus freaks! What's up!

Friday, August 30, 2013

In Defense of Lululemon

I've been reading a lot of bad press about Lululemon. Articles saying they shun larger sizes and are therefore sexist. They are a cult. They were run by a weirdo and there for those associated with the brand must be weird.

Internet bashing and psuedo-intellectual/ egalitarian outrage is so hot right now. So on trend.

Size snobbery

I am a competitive powerlifter and weightlifter. My idea of cardiovascular conditioning is pushing a 200-plus pound sled along a street for sprint intervals. As such, I'm not built like your average lady. As such, most stores do not carry clothes that cater to my shape. In all my attempts at finding jeans, I have found one cut from one brand that works most of the time. Not all of the time, just most.

I could cry and moan about how the fashion-industrial complex is kowtowing to patriarchal standards of how women should look and be shaped. How, through clothing, society is trying to tell me that being strong, and athlete shaped is wrong. Blah blah blah. I realize I'm part of a population minority. And I don't expect most places to cater to me. I'll never be able to buy pants or jackets at H&M or any locally fashioned clothing store.

But guess what? Lululemon fits me better than Adidas. Better than Nike. Better than Reebok. Athleta fits well, but Lululemon still fits better.

Instead of bitching about my physique being discriminated against, I just spend my money at places that do fit.


This I honestly don't know about. My boyfriend loves the shirts he finds there. The CEO at his company only wears Lulu shirts at work. Many of the guys I work with wear the board shorts. Doesn't seem like they're getting turned away.

Cult Employees

This claim comes from news that Lululemon encourages and pays for their employess to take the Landmark courses. Landmark is considered to be culty. I have some understanding of this because I took some similar "culty" classes myself a year ago, and have friends and acquaintances who have done Landmark.

Landmark is a form of Large Group Awareness Training. What they set out to do is through group activities, one on one interactions, and follow up discussions, help you understand how your reactions to events and interactions shape the way you move through your life and within relationships.

The reason it seems culty to most is that (1) the members are encouraged to enroll their friends and family into the courses. When friends and family come to the "graduation" they are given a sort of hard sell about it. This puts off a LOT of people.

That plus (2) they can't really let you in on the specifics of the training and what goes on. The exercises and interactions are all meant to be fresh to the participants. You will behave differently with no prior warning than if you have time to contemplate the "correct" way to approach a situation. Key discoveries lie in the newness of the experience. However, from the outside, the secrecy seems weird.

Many people have some real big realizations in how they react to these exercises is how they react to situations in life. It gives them the awareness to make better decisions, or at least have more options, in how they approach people, relationships, and situations.

They are run by weird Chip Wilson

He's actually not at the helm anymore. Either he stepped out or was forcibly replaced by Christine McCormick Day.

From what I've read, his "weirdness" is all about his obsession with Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged". So much so that they apparently had some "Who is John Galt?" stuff on their shopping bags and website. When the world of yoga tends to lean liberal, you have to imagine that blatant libertarianism or conservatism is going to have a backlash.

But for me, I just can't get politically worked up by yoga clothes that actually fit me, and don't make me stink to high holy hell. Speaking of....

Ridiculously Expensive

Yes, a pair of Wunderunder tights could run $90. It helps that I get a discount for being a trainer/ coach. But here is the thing, these days I almost only wear Lululemon, Reebok, and Athleta. Why? They treat their fabric with anti-microbial silver ions. And it fucking works.

I'm in these clothes all day. And it's not just during my workout that I get sweaty, I'm working as I teach and run around and whatnot. Also, I tend to split my own training sessions into parts throughout the day, and I don't want to carry three outfits with me. When I was all "I'm not paying over $70 for tights" and just wore Nike, Adidas, and Champion, I always smelled like a dumpster diver by the end of the day. I bit the bullet, switched to these more expensive pieces, and wow, no smell! Also, better fit.

So I get that some people are gonna get riled up about a few or all of the above topics. But I'll still be voting for Lulu with my dollars.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Training Log Stardate 201308024: Week Post Competition

The previous Saturday was the Tommy Kono VIII. This past week I realized I misremembered what the super heavyweight qualifying total was. Turns out I did 3 kg more than I needed to. Those 3kg put me in first though. From a first meet, only goal was to qualify perspective, that was pretty stupid. It was risky, especially with that 95kg clean miss. But luckily, it all turned out in the end.

By the way, here is a compilation of my lifts from the Kono, compliments of Hannah Kang, lifter and fellow FuBarbell Panda:

Back to the grind!


Luckily my normal programming has me just doing upper body things off the bat. Nice to give the legs a break post-competition. Snatch grip push presses for fives at 143lbs and normal push presses for threes at 148lbs. Followed up with a CrossFit Football workout of
6 rounds:
Three 153lb hang power cleans
20 m short shuttle sprint (5-10-5)
= 4:46


Front squats. Feeling strong, seeing as I TOTALLY GORGED myself on things like brownies, pancackes, ice cream, horchada, wine, and chocolate on Sunday after the meet. Four sets of three and one final set of five at 255lbs. Important number, equals 116kg. Saying goes, if you can front squat it for three, you can clean it. I've cleaned 116kg in my "hey day", some day I'll test my clean and see how close I get these days.


Testing my overhead squat. It felt great a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't have time, nor the inclination, to really push it. This time I took it up to 93lbs. Yeah, baby weight, I know. It's less than 30% of my back squat. I would walk out of the rack and my back and legs would feel like, "hey, light weights!" then I pop it overhead and my shoulders were all, "HEAVY! WTF?!?!"

Clean-front squat-jerk combo after. Worked up to 98kg and stopped. That's one kilo over what I did at the Kono, plus the 4:30 class was starting at UB, so it was time to call it quits for the day. I then took the squishy foam roller and fell asleep behind the desk for about 30 mins.


Back squat max effort day! Worked up to 305 for 4, tried 315 but only got 2. Oh well, 315 was a weight that was perpetually out of my grasp only a year ago. Drop set at 245lbs and speed sets at 155lbs.

Cardio abs day! We missed out on Tuesday due to car issues on my end. 25-20-15-10-5 reps in rounds of kettlebell swings at 1.5 poods and PVC pipe sit ups. I got to introduce DFu to those. I'm pretty sure she loved them. I finished up with my volume bench presses, four sets of 3 and one set of 5 at 130lbs.

I hate how quickly my legs get strong, and yet I have to fight tooth and nail for arm strength. Even at 10 lbs lighter than I was about a month ago, pull ups are stuck at four. Ugh.


Deadlifts! I changed around what I normal do this week since I missed deadlifts due to the Kono last week. It takes me a couple of days to recover from heavy deads, so I won't do them the week of a competition. I worked up to a triple at 375lbs (though my third was shy from lockout by an inch), drop set at 290lbs, and speed sets at 225lbs.

Unfortunately, it didn't turn into a PROWLER FRIDAY! James was using the prowler for his OPT training, and Trent had a client when it was free. I did a CFFB workout on my own instead.
4 rounds:
- Row 250
- 5 DB snatches Rt, 50#
- 5 DB snatches Lt, 50#
- 5 burpee pull ups
= 12:50

I'm pretty sure I don't push as hard when I do things on my own as compared to when I join class or get in on the bro sessions. I probably could have not spent as much time on the burpee pull ups as I did (I missed my first one in dramatic fashion) and I could have upped the dampener on the rower for more leg drive. OH WELL!!


Helene, our trapeze instructor, is out of town. So after I taught the powerlifting class I stayed behind and tested out my snatches.


I mean. Last time I tried honest-to-god snatches, I stopped at 38kg (~84lbs) because they hurt in a sketchy sort of way. NO SKETCHY SENSATIONS AT ALL!!! The only "hurt" that I felt was from muscle strain since my shoulders are so much weaker than they used to be, and my ego from missing lifts at less than what I currently power (curtsy) snatch.

Seeing as this is the first time I've actually fully snatched since the 2012 American Open 8 months ago, things are a little rusty. A few that are super obvious:

- My hips shoot up faster than my shoulders. My hamstrings and back were feeling the previous day's deadlifts, but still. I need to keep my chest up better.

- I don't always finish my second pull with as much aggression as I need. If I strike the bar with my shoulders up rather than behind the bar, it's going to loop further out and I lose it forward. You can see that happen a couple times at 58 kg.

- My footwork is whack. If you notice on my Kono lifts video, I don't move my feet for the power snatches. It's so high I don't have to, there is no risk of my having to squat it down. It's been 8 months of no footwork and my feet are slow to move and don't always hit the mark of where they should be.

- I don't get under the bar quick. Dropping under the bar and footwork are two things that I never had to think about previously. As long as I finished my hip extension, everything else would fall into place. Now I find myself catching high and riding down and I'm sure this has a lot to do with fearing and expecting the sketchy pain to rear it's ugly head.

I was so psyched to not feel shoulder pain that I went to Lululemon and treated myself to some sales rack stuff. The sales rack prices are better than my R&D trainer discount. Bright pink tights and neon orange sports bra FTW!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Trying Something New: Swim Class

I'm not that comfortable in water. In fact, I'm more comfortable with heights than I am in water. I sink. I'm slow. I always get water in my mouth, nose, and ears. I don't mind splashing around in a river where I can touch the ground, or I'll go rafting and kayaking. But I'm just not going to find SWIMMING to be a fun endeavor.

So when the owners of San Francisco CrossFit arranged a swimming lesson for the coaches, I knew I had to do it. Maybe it will decrease my weirdness a little.

I was definitely anxious going into it. I'm athletic, but my anxiety around water will certainly keep me from seeming that way.

We started out by just talking about body positioning while underwater versus on top of the water, what to do with the legs, and the feel we should have during movement. Here is something that no one ever told me before: when on the surface of the water, you swim "on your side." You are actually supposed to roll from side to side.

This is how I always looked, head down, shoulders squared, but with more flailing and bubbles. 
Why did no one ever teach me this? Because I don't "do" water. I guess that's why. When would I have ever learned? Their explanation was, when you're under water, you want to stay long and square with the ground to be aerodynamic. But when you're at the surface, you want to minimize your interaction with surface tension. You do that by being on your side for most of the time.

Up on her side, reaching arm out of the water. 
You know, if someone had taught me that ONE thing before my SCUBA certification swim test, I would have gotten through it in probably 2/3 the time it took me with my freestyle flailing.

Water is an asshole.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tommy Kono VIII: Meet Recap

Friday night, Christine, Zach, Diane, Matt and myself all drove into Sacramento. Despite being in separate cars, we all arrive at the hotel at the same time. Sacramento is cheap. Two beds and a pull out sofa bed for $100 a night. On a Saturday. Awesome!

I woke up Saturday morning, stepped on the scale and weighed 170.6 lbs. Reminder: I was supposed to weigh in at or below 165 lbs by 2pm. I decided I wasn't even going to try that. Five and a half pounds is just too much for a local meet.

So as a 75+kg lifter, I would have to lift 166kg to qualify for the American Open. I was prepared to do 156kg as a 75kg lifter. Di and I decided we'd go for it anyway.

Sacramento is freaking hot. And a high school is a friggin' sauna when there is no air conditioner turned on.

At weigh ins I put down 60kg and 90 kg for my openers. Those were the numbers we'd use if I was going for the 156 total. As I warmed up the snatch, my "curtsy snatch", I decided to open at 63kg, which was my planned second attempt.

63kg went fine. I asked for 66kg. Diane made double sure since I hadn't gone over 65kg in practice since my shoulder hurt at that weight. I said that if it hurt, I'd forfeit my third snatch, banking on adrenaline to help me pop the weight higher than I normally do. Sure enough, weight flew up and no pain.

I'm sure it helped that I was sweating balls from the heat and there was no chance of my shoulder cooling down.

I called for 69kg next, deciding that it all felt so good and I was already in "uncharted territory" so I might as well give myself as much breathing room as I can in the clean and jerk to qualify. 69kg went up without a hitch as well.

Pardon the quality, the video was taken on a phone and then texted to me. I can only do so much magic. 

Next up, clean and jerks.

A snatch of 69kg means I needed a clean and jerk of 97kg. I've done that, so I'd just need to keep my wits about me (it was getting really late in the day) and be smart with my warm ups. We decided to shoot for 92kg, 95 kg, 97kg.

During warm ups, my jerks felt great, but the weights felt heavy in my hands. That's the problem with large heats, your adrenaline spikes for the snatches, then your energy drops off. Now you have to warm up your clean and jerks while struggling from an adrenaline crash. I had to just keep reminding myself that it doesn't matter how my arms feel, this is all about my legs.

92kg went up just fine. 95kg, however, well, let's just say that I haven't competed in a while. In competition, there is a 30 sec warning buzzer to let the athlete know how much time is left to start the lift. If you stop the timer during the 30 second buzzer, it makes a double buzzer sound that is similar to the missed lift buzzer. Basically, I start my 95kg clean on the buzzer, the guy stops the timer at the buzzer, and I catch the clean thinking I've been called on a technical foul and just let it go. Oops.

I should know better. But it's been a long time. My thoughts were in a million different directions when that sound went through my head.

I still needed to make 97 kg and I had a two minute clock. We decided to go for it, so Di went to make the incremental jumps to give a little extra time to rest. 97kg went up easily, with some bobbles during the jerk recovery. That's it! I qualified!

I was the last clean and jerk of the evening, around 9:15pm. I hadn't cared to followed what anyone else had lifted. I knew a girl opened in the snatch bigger than I had finished, so I assumed I was in second in the end. Turns out, my 97kg clean and jerk put me in first! Cherry on top, I must say!

It all turned out far better and more dramatic than I expected the day to be. I'll be riding this high probably through at least Monday. Then, back to the grind.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Making Weight Mind Fucks

Making sound dietary decisions when faced with an emotionally taxing hobby can be really tough.

After surgery I let myself "get fat" on Milano cookies and lethargy. At the time, coming from a place where I was so mentally burned out from competitive training, it was a hugely therapeutic thing for me.

In trying to get down to my 75kg weight class (165lbs) I've made a few mistakes that is going to make the weight cut particularly close. All the while I have to remember that if I'm going to stay strong I have to get enough calories, and just make sure I don't slip into one of a few mentalities.

Too Far Temptations

One is the "I'm looking lean and good, how far can I take this and maybe eating less will get me there faster" headspace. It can be really hard, particularly as a lady, to dissociate what I'm trying to do with my weight loss from aesthetics. My job has me in front of people every day, and of course I want to look the part of a fitness coach. But everyday I'm reminding myself I'm a athlete, and my weight loss has to not affect my strength, and that means getting calories. Lots of calories.

Earning Your Food

Another headspace is the "I haven't done enough today to earn this protein shake/ bag of nuts/ piece of cheese/ sausage/ etc." This is the mantra that often gets unintentionally solicited through the adherence to calories in versus calories out. While this cal-in/cal-out might work for your average office worker, when you're training for a sport, your body is in a constant state of recovery. You're burning calories while you sleep. You're burning calories as soon as you're out of bed. A lot of calories. You don't need to continuously "earn" the next food thing.

Bad Dog! Eat Less!

Occasionally I screw up. Or I don't account for a corner I feel backed into. For instance, I went out to lunch with the boyfriend and his parents. They only care to eat Chinese food. So I pick something I assume to be the least sugary on the menu, a spicy meat and veggies dish. The next day, my weight is up 2-3 lbs. It's really tempting when faced with a set back like this is backslide into the calories in vs calories out mentality that is pushed. Really, I'm looking at water weight, and my brain gets that. But there is a knee jerk reaction I have to be prepared for.

Bad Dog! Do More Work!

The other side of the frustrated misstep coin is needlessly making yourself do more to account for the screw up. Like mentioned before, your body is already constantly recovering. If you put more work on it, that's even more recovery that you'll need. It's better to take a deep breath and stick to your original program.

Tuning Out the Kind but Misguided Compliments

I'm no longer the kind of girl that looks for aesthetic acceptance. I left that behind when I moved from ballet to judo as my main hobby/ sport. When I look at my body, I critique it like any normal human does, but I do it through the lens of visible musculature and what I'm able to accomplish with it. If I'm feeling strong, and maybe I see a little softness, it doesn't bother me. If I feel weak, and see more definition or a smaller waist, I chide myself for letting my nutrition get whack.

As such, when I'm cutting weight for a meet, I'll often feel weaker than I did before I started cutting. And sadly, that's when I hear compliments like "you're looking so lean!" and "you're getting skinny!" I know they mean to compliment me and genuinely think they are being nice. But in my head I think "you're just speaking from a societal influencesd perspective that says women are meant to be thin, and strength plays no role in beauty." On the outside, I smile. They ARE trying to be nice.

Moving on... 

I'm starting my hyper-hydration protocol this week, and I stop the water intake at 2pm today. I'm about 7 lbs above my weight class at this point, and that's okay. I'll end up where I end up, learn from these experiences, and do it all again for the next meet. Then I'll avoid these mistakes and make all new ones.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Training Log Stardate 081213: Last Heavy Week into Competition

Getting down to competition weight has been a rollercoaster for me in a way that it hasn't before. I'll be writing up an entire post on that topic, it's a sort of convoluted one.

Regardless of how my weight cutting efforts end up, this past week was my last full heavy week before my first meet back. Plan is to simply qualify for the American Open at this meet, no concerns about winning or placing or being flashy.

In fact, I've gotten tired of people asking me if I plan to win or try to win. Come on guys. SURGERY! It's been less than a year, it's just a local meet, I'm thrilled to be healthy enough to compete again and good enough to probably qualify for the national level. I'm still not 100% and I'm not going to push myself at though I'm 100%.


Jerk day, doubles out of the rack. I was able to get up to 208 lbs (94.5kg) for a double, but 213 lbs (97kg) wasn't having it. I got a single and missed the second. Put the bar back on the rack and missed the first one. So I dropped down to 193 lbs and worked my way back up in singles to 220 lbs (100kg). I was THRILLED to get that off the rack. Stopped there.

I tweaked my neck on one of the bad makes in the 200 lbs area, so I took it easy the rest of the day.


I didn't do anything. My neck was still bothering me and it was a 6am to 8pm sort of day. I had just enough stuff throughout the day that I couldn't even go home and rest, as I like to do when I have to wake up at 5am.


Lot's of work got done this time. I "made up" the missed front squats from Tuesday: four sets of 3 and one last set of 5 at 250 lbs. This series actually felt far, far easier than the same scheme at 245 lbs. Despite the weight loss, I'm still doing something right, whatever it is. :)

I then did a clean complex: power clean, clean high pull, clean. Worked my way up to 88 kg easily, then when I tried 91 kg, the "power clean" one pushed me all the way into the bottom. That's okay, after all, doing this after some heavy front squats, I can't complain.

I joined the United Barbell class that day since I was supposed to snatch in my programming and that was part of the WOD. First overhead squats. For the first time since surgery, I was able to do them without pain. NO pain. None! I worked up to 75 lbs, then it was time out and move on. Snatches. I warmed up with the 25 lbs technique bar. Whoa, so far so good. Catching it in the bottom and feeling great! 15 kg women's bar, same thing! 53 lbs, feels good. 35 kg, okay, here if I catch it a little off there is some ouchy. 38 kg, only if I catch it perfectly does it not hurt. And it's hard to catch it perfectly when I'm trying to fully control every part of the lift. Stop there.


My left shoulder is a little upset with me from the snatching. Nothing sketchy, just a little inflammed. I should have listened to that and done lower body stuff, but it was bench day by my programming to give the lower body a break. Lots of pre-bench mobility and warm up. Four sets of three and one final set of five in at 125 lbs. Cardio abs with DFu. Done!

Grinder Friday

Last heavy single day before the meet. I wanted Di to be able to watch some of my heavier attempts to get an idea of how I move, jumps I make, and how things change as I get heavier. After all, I usually lift on my own and if we want or need certain jumps, it's good for her to know where my strengths and weaknesses are. Got up to 99kg in the clean and jerk, 65kg in the power snatch. Plenty of buffer for qualifications.
Pulls should leave your hips as open as possible, not merely standing up straight. 

So now I've definitely push my shoulder too far. I had a client while the boys did their WOD, consisting of DB snatches and sprinting. I don't think I could have done the snatches anyway, my shoulder feeling the way it was.

I joined in for the partner prowler relay. It was three rounds of a 200m partner push, where each partner taps in and out as their legs start to give out. I worked with Wong, his legs last longer than mine, but mine seem to recover faster. So he's able to push for longer, I'll have to tap out sooner, but I'm able to tap back in again pretty quick which is good because when I tap out he's not quite recovered yet.

Then three rounds of 15 cal airdyne sprints. Ugh. Just ugh. I close my eyes through this one, try to find my happy place and let the boys count down as I get close to the end.

Something was really bugging my back by the end of the day. It wasn't there earlier, but it prevented me from squatting 225 lbs. Which sucks. Back squats are my thing. Oh well. I"ve done plenty of work that day.



I'm pretty sure some of the problems I have with trapeze skills is that I'm so bottom heavy. Most aerial performers have lots of upper body strength, and skinny legs. I'm the opposite.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Training Log Stardate 20130729: Gearing up for Competitions

I have a relatively full competition schedule coming up:

August 17: Tommy Kono VIII Olympic weightlifting competition, I hope to qualify for the American Open here.

September 7th: Power Athlete Team Series, United Barbell is sending two teams to compete in this CrossFit Football hosted event. Hence all my recent prowler work.

November 3rd: Women's Pro/Am Powerlifting Meet, I hope to attain my SPF Elite lifter classification here. If my training goes the way it has been, it shouldn't be too hard.

December 6-8: American Open Weightlifting Championships, I don't have any specific plans for this meet, as I can't predict how my shoulder will feel about full snatches by December. But it's in Texas, so perhaps some family will see me compete for the first time.

This will probably become even more full as I enter more weightlifting competitions in preparation for the American Open. I'm competition rusty and need all the experience I can get.

As such, with these dates looming ahead of me and my training progression going pretty well, it's easy for me to get caught up in making big lifts and watching post-surgery PRs tick up and up. And the problem is, I don't program myself to do that. I'm much smarter sitting on the couch with my weekly programming in front of me than I am when I'm standing over the barbell full of piss and bravado.


Back squat day. Did my four sets of three and this time made all five reps on my fifth set at 300 lbs. Next volume day I "get" to do 305. I followed it up with a 10 min AMRAP of KBS, rowing, and toes to bar. I don't push myself nearly as hard when I do conditioning on my own.


Here's mistake day number one. I was just supposed to test my power clean for the upcoming Power Athlete competition. Instead, I start with power clean and jerk, and continue going up with my normal clean and jerk. I make a PR in both, but this still starts me down the path of being beat up.

Finish with a CFFB workout of KBS, KB rack squats, and rack walks. I need as much back jackedness as I can get. Or I should say, I WANT as much back jackedness and I can get.


Front squat max effort day, I get up to 255 lbs for a triple, fail on the third at 260. Those are the same numbers from my triple test day a couple weeks ago. Hit my AMAP at 205, making 8 reps. Did some snatch grip push presses up to 60 kg for a set of five to finish off. Off day for conditioning.


Another day where I let me ego get the best of me. I was supposed to just do snatch high pull, power snatch, snatch high pull. But I know that I need a power snatch of at least 63 kg for qualifying, and the whole complex starting wearing me down around 60 kg. So I just start power snatching, no high pulls, and get up to 65 kg. I stop there, my shoulder started getting tight. Why do I do this to myself?

After teaching power lifting, I get in a quick bench press 1 rep max test. 155 lbs felt a little shaky on my shoulders so I stopped there. Get in some cardio abs with The Fu and be done with it.


Test my deadlift, this WAS part of my original plan. I was already feeling pretty beat down from the week, but eeked out a recent PR of 400 lbs. I haven't done 400 lbs since probably 2010. I'm doing something right I guess.

Did some conditioning work with the boys; ring hold, dips, handstand holds, handstand push ups. After slamming the shoulders, it's three rounds of prowler sprints with sandbag cleans. Always feels like hell and leaves me feeling good.


Matt and I were both feeling pretty beat up so we only did one trapeze class on Saturday. It was just the two of us with Helene, meaning we were on the trapeze a lot learning new things and practicing old tricks. Many new bruises behind my knees.

Sunday is mostly about me bribing Matt to smash out my quads and calves. They are gnarly mess of gnarly these days.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Playing with Your Attempts at an Olympic Lifting Meet

In my last post on competition attempts, I mostly gave outlines on how to choose your attempts. With weightlifting, you can make it a lot more complicated. Since the weight on the bar continues to go up, and you have three "declarations" per attempt, there are way to work things to your advantage and against others.

Declarations and attempts

With all of the following techniques, realize that you have three "declarations" per lift. For your opening lifts, your first declaration was given at weigh ins for both the clean and jerk and snatch. So now you have two chances to up the weight, two "declarations" of changes.

For your second and third attempts, there is an automatic one kilo increase assumed (if the lift was successful). This does not count as a declaration. So you and your coach have three chances to up the weight from there.

When your name is called, and the one minute (or two minute if you're following yourself) timer has started, you must make all declarations before the 30 seconds remaining buzzer sounds. Once that buzzer sounds, the weight on the bar, and the lifter who is supposed to take it, is locked in.

These are the basics, now the chess game can be played.

Finding more time to warm up

Giving a conservative opening weight during weigh ins isn't just about seeing how your body feels and being coy about your abilities. It also gives you some wiggle room to manipulate how much warm up time you get.

If you find that you need more time than you previously thought (damn bladder), your coach can use the increases to buy you a couple of minutes. Not only will you be jumping over some people, but your coach declares a weight no one else is taking, the time of loading the bar, plus the 30 seconds before the buzzer, can be time well spent.

Finding more time to recover between attempts

Typically, once you take your first attempt on the platform, you're not doing anymore warm-up backstage. You can manipulate your next declarations to expand the recovery time you have. If you don't like much, you'll probably want to go ahead and declare your next attempt. But if you want to eek out a couple of minutes, making jumps that aren't already on the cards will give you the time it takes to load the bar and call your name, plus the seconds before the buzzer.

Know that if they call your name, and you bump up to a weight that no one else is going to take, they simply pause the clock to change the weight. These seconds can certainly make you feel more recovered, but don't jump over someone's next attempt in hopes of getting more time.

Decreasing someone else's recovery time

This one only works if you and another person are taking consecutive attempts. When someone follows themself, they get a two minute clock. When you follow someone else, you get a one minute clock. If someone takes a lift, you're up next, followed by their next or last attempt, as soon as you have the clock started on you, your coach jumps your attempt over the other person. This means that officially, they only get a one minute clock to take their next attempt.

FYI: this is kind of a dick move, don't do it at a local meet. But if you're at Nationals and it's coming down to kilos and body weight to get on the podium, these moves are fair game. Which leads me to...

Winning by kilos vs Winning by body weight

Generally you win by lifting the most weight. But if there is a tie, the person with the lighter body weight wins. So when it comes down to final clean and jerk attempts, you need to know if you can win with one less kilo on the bar or not based on how you weigh respective to your opponent. At local meets, the body weights are written on cards and usually are displayed. At national meets, there is usually a large display with name, attempts made and missed along side body weight.

Forcing someone else's hand

Things can also turn into something of a poker game as it come down to the last 2-3 lifters in a session. Again, this is more of a national meet move, part of the "don't be a dick at the local meet"that I'd like to encourage.

Usually the top lifters have top lifts around the same place. So you bluff. Each person has three declarations to up their final clean and jerk in hopes of taking home first place. When it's down to the one kilo wire, you'll often see person A declare something high, person B higher, person A higher yet. This can go until all declarations are used or one lifter decides to call the bluff and take their own lift. You also see this a lot when one person could win by body weight.

Play this game with a little more caution, it's just as likely to come back and bite your ass as it is to bite them.

But I want to win my local meet, waaahhhhh!! 

Look, I'm not saying you CAN'T use these techniques at a local meet, but I am saying you shouldn't. Local meets are for practice, learning your strengths and weaknesses, putting it on the line, making yourself a better athlete, and perhaps accumulating medals to increase confidence. They are not a place to make enemies.

If or when you make it to a national meet, you're going to want as many friendly people around you as you can have, they are nerve wracking experiences. Don't burn bridges at home and expect people to cheer on "their local buddy" at the national meets.

In fact, and you certainly see this at meets in my local chapter, some of the above techniques are used to help out fellow lifters who are trying to qualify for various things. "Hey so-and-so, do you need more time before your next attempt? Cool, I'll do a couple jumps to give you some recovery space."

Main thing, of course, is to have fun and do your personal best. Ideally, make some friends along the way, the weightlifting world is full of interesting people.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Choosing Your Competition Attempts (Olympic Lifting Edition)

I wrote last week about considerations to account for when deciding attempts at a powerlifting meet. I started there because, despite the length of the article, it's actually pretty straight forward. Especially when you start comparing it to choosing attempts for an Olympic lifting meet.

I'll try to delineate, though I may just be opening up a complicated can of worms.

The complexity is due to the differences in how the meets are run. In a powerlifting meet, you rung through all the first attempts, reset the bar, then go through the second attempts, reset the bar, third attempts. Everyone gets approximately the same time to recover from each lift, and making weight changes barely impacts the lifters around you.

In Olympic lifting meets, the bar starts at the lowest first attempt out of everyone. Then weight is added to the bar and you take you 1st, 2nd, or 3rd attempts as your desired weight is reached. The bar is only reset back to baseline after all the snatches are complete and it's time for clean and jerks. That means choosing and declaring attempts becomes more of a chess game to gain you more recovery time, and if you're feeling aggressive, mess with the recovery times of other lifters.

Counting Attempts/ Timing Warm-ups

Since the weight on the bar for each lift continuously increases, you have to be prepared to take your starting and subsequent attempts based on everyone else's attempts. That means you'll need your coach to assist more than you would at a powerlifting meet, or else you're wasting time and energy walking from the warm-up area to the competition desk where the cards are organized. 

First, come to the meet with your warm up attempts written out. Everything. I'll have something like this for my snatches, the x# refers to sets at that weight, weight in kilos:

Bar x2
66 on platform

So all together that's 9 warm up sets I would take. (This will probably be my actual set for the Kono coming up, first meet back post surgery! I digress...) I typically allow for 2-3 on platform attempts per warm-up set, with the idea that it takes 30-60 seconds for an attempt to start and finish. That means I want to start my first empty bar warm up at 27 attempts out. 

The coach will go to the cards and count out the attempts. This is something that should really be demonstrated in person, and the people who run local meets are usually more than kind enough to help you or your coach figure that out. 

Assuming an easy meet, you can estimate that you'll take each subsequent warm ups after every 3 crashes you hear on the platform. Things that can make it tricky include:
     - When someone misses a lift, they get two minutes to take it again, lengthening your warm ups. 
     - People declare conservative numbers and bump them up as they get close to their attempts, meaning you could lose time as you get close to your starting weights. 
     - Your bladder decides IT REALLY NEEDS TO PEE as you get closer to your starting attempt. 

Experience will give you a feel for how to handle those situations, but mostly it's about being mentally prepared. 

First Attempt

If you've competed before, you don't want to start with something you've never done in competition before. If you've never competed, pick something you can easily do for a double. The name of the game here is to be confident, conservative, and set the tone for the rest of the meet. Don't open with a recent PR.

Second Attempt

Since your first lift is the snatch, your best bet is to take something in the range of 2 to 5 kg greater than your first attempt, assuming you made that one. This isn't the time to go for a PR, but a time to bolster your total.

For the clean and jerk, you already know the rankings after the snatch, and you generally have an idea of where you are falling after the first successful attempt since you'll be lifting around other who want to same weights. So now it's time to take jumps that will push you up the rankings. Unless you are trying to qualify for something and want two attempts at a NEEDED weight, this isn't the time for heroics.

An experienced coach will be able to take a look at the cards, where the order of lifters and their stated next attempts are listed, and get an idea of where you might end up with two good lifts. With the assumption that each lifter has stated something conservative and will bump up their weight by 1-5kg, you can make informed decision on how long you have to rest for your next lift if you want to go for something big.

Third Attempt

Snatch what you can. If you're feeling good, go for that 1kg PR, but since you still have one more lift to go, best do something perhaps you've done in training and would be a competition PR.

The clean and jerk is where you want to go for it. Being the power move that it is, you can really allow your adrenaline to work for you. It's not uncommon for someone to dig in and make a big PR so they can jump themselves up a placing or two. Know that you have to be happy with where you end up if you don't make the risky lift, though.

In conclusion:

You want to stay pretty conservative in the snatch. Never open with something you haven't done in competition on either lift. Leave your bravado for your last clean and jerk.

I'll write another post on how to play the numbers game, make the most of your jumps for rest or to play games with your opponents.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Training Log, Stardate 20130722

Another great week of training. I'm getting stronger and closer to where I was before surgery, and hell, I think I have a chance of getting to where I was before burnout took hold.


Overhead complex day! Push press, push press, jerk. Worked up to 74kg of the blocks at SFCF, where I made one push press, missed the second, and made the jerk. Jerk was easy, my next complex should probably have multiple jerks, since that tends to be my weak point.

Then was my CFFB WOD, which I misread in a couple of ways:

8 rounds, 30 sec rest between rounds:
5 DB Thrusters (I read push press for some reason, did that), 35#
10 Russian twists, 25# (Each side was supposed to be one rep, but I did two twists as one rep)
15 KBS, 1.5 pood

Oops on multiple accounts. PP takes less time than thrusters, but I doubled up on the Russian twists, so I dunno.


Volume front squat day. 245 lbs for 4 sets of 3, then one set of 5. The fifth rep of the last set was excruciating, it was sliding off my shoulders and power purely by will and some loud noises. Next volume set gets to be at 250 lbs. Joy of joys.

DFu and I did our cardio abs, walking front rack lunges while the other does sit up wall slams, and then I finished up with 200 bandy good mornings. Pretty chill day for me.


Playing with power snatches. Seems that my shoulder is fine with supporting weight over my back, but the slight behind the head position that a full squat requires still PISSES OFF my left shoulder. I don't know if it's tightness or weakness, smashing and stretching don't do much, and it seems to be getting slowly slowly slowly better.

So power snatches it was. I got up to 63 kg for a double and stopped there. I've C&J'ed 93kg, so 93+63= American Open. No reason to push it too far too fast.

After a brief rest I did clean, two front squats, and jerk. Was successful at 85 kg, which is 5 kg more than my clean, one FS, jerk combo a couple weeks ago, but missed the jerk on 90 kg twice, once behind, once in front. Poop, no time for a third attempt.


Max effort back squat day. Got up to 320 lbs for a set of 2, then dropped to 255 lbs and got 11 in. I stepped under the bar thinking I should get 10, and am glad I could squeeze out one more than I planned. Then I did a push press/ pull up circuit. Three PP, then max pull ups. I forget the weight I used for the PP, and only got 4-5 pull ups each round. But hey, that's better than the max of 2 I had two weeks ago.

Cardio abs consisted of a 4 min front rack test: you hold two kettle bells in the front rack for 4 mins, squatting every 15 seconds. I had to put mine down three times I think. Then we did 30 second weighted planks, three rounds. No other conditioning, the week is catching up to me and I need energy for Prowler Friday.


Bro Sesh Time. I was benching for a 5 rep max while the guys did their 80% 5x5. I worked with The Wong, got up to 137 lbs for 5, I made three reps at 140 and Wong assisted me through the sticking point on the last two reps. Drop set to 110 lbs and got 9 reps. Feeling pretty good about that. Shoulder din't give me pain, but it is definitely weak.

We all did the CFFB WOD together, I did push ups instead of the thrusters since I feel I need more work there. This time, with normal Russian twists and push ups, and a 1.75 pood bell, I finished at 11:06. Push ups are hard for me but not cardiovascularly taxing, hence the faster time. Swings are kinda my thing, given my back side.

Prowler time. Today was a grinder, more weight, shorter distance, and vary the hand positions. Four rounds of about 20 yds out, 20 yard back with a different grip, then gym length sled pull. Good stuff. Followed that up with some bicep curls, dumbbell pull overs, lat pull downs, and shrugs.


Beginner and intermediate trapeze classes back to back. Despite some worn out lats, I high tail it over to SFCF to proctor open gym and lift with the Fu Barbell kids. I lift with teammate Andrea, just following what weights she takes. Being that my shoulders and back are already tired, I didn't want to push it too hard. In the future, I'll probably do my heavy singles after teaching powerlifting. I won't have anyone to lift with, but at least it will give my body a chance to rest and feed.


I didn't do shit. Damn straight.