How To Suck At Life

Wow, it sure has been a long time since I posted any content here.

No, I didn’t die. Obviously. Because here I am writing to you.

But, lots of other stuff happened.

My favorite aunt, who was like a second mother to me, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, struggled with it for three years, and passed away.

My mom was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. She had major surgery, chemo, and radiation, and, thank God, is cancer free today.

And there’s still the fallout from my Dad’s sudden death way back in 2005. That upended my life and I never really found a solid foothold with that until very recently.

I emotionally ate through all that crap, and gained back all the weight I had lost in the previous years. I’m now heavier than I have ever been in my whole life, and I’m pretty pissed off about it.

But, on the bright side, I lifted fairly consistently and heavily throughout all of that, so I also retained quite a bit of strength. I worked with a few great trainers, and a few bad ones. I learned a lot about what type of training is best for my body, and I’m hoping to apply that knowledge in my long road back to health.

Good.

Onward.

One of the things I learned is: I feel great working out and lifting every day IF it’s the right kind of lifting.

Kettlebells every day? No. Injuries galore.

CrossFit every day? No. See above.

Martial arts every day? No. See above, again.

Bodybuilding/Powerlifting every day? Yes. I feel like a million bucks.

I will admit, I bought fully into the CrossFit “bodybuilding sucks” propaganda. I snickered at the dummies doing curls and using the cable machine. Meanwhile, I couldn’t bend over because my back hurt from doing deadlifts for time, or do a simple push-up because my shoulders were jacked up from doing 100’s of burpees and overhead kettlebell swings.

With all that in mind, today I started a cycle of Dan John’s “Even Easier Strength.” I recently read Matt Perryman’s Squat Everyday book, and having had the epiphany that I can actually lift every day and feel great, I decided to run a cycle of one of the greatest lift every day programs there is: Easy Strength.

My first workout today was:

Stretch – 5-10 minutes

Deadlift 2×5

Overhead Press – 2×5

Seated Cable Row – 3×5

Barbell Hip Thrust – 2×5

Farmer’s Walk

Short, brisk walk outside with the dogs.

And that’s it for today. I started with really, really light weights and will work up to heavier as I go along. The idea with lifting every day (unless I’m doing a bodybuilding split) is to never, ever struggle with a weight. All lifts are easy, or relatively easy, anyway. No grinding out 99% 1RM deadlifts. Naughty, naughty.

I would also like to point out, before the kettlebell and CrossFit and Beach Body haters come around, that I’m not saying those types of workouts are wrong or stupid. They just don’t work for me without making me a creaky, grumpy, exhausted, binge eating excuse for a human being. I think every one has a different type of program that works for them. So if you think CrossFit is the bee’s knees, and you can honestly say you thrive on it, then good for you, go for it!

I’ll just be over here, doing my lateral raises and lat pulldowns, cheering you on.

Advertisements

Win!

I had two wins today.

1.) I had computer work to do today and I can only sit at the desk for so long before I start to get antsy. To relieve my misery, I would stop periodically and do box jumps or kettlebell presses. I was using the 25# bell, and it felt pretty easy. I decided to try for five reps, which I’ve never been able to do on the left side before. Booyah – success! My mental happy dance ensued.

2.) I made Mel’s Mashed Cauliflower for supper. I’ve made other people’s mashed cauliflower before, and it was a big “meh” for me. I pretty much had to drown it in ghee to get it down. I had two heads of cauliflower approaching the point of no return in the fridge, so I whipped a batch of Mel’s up tonight. Holy [insert expletive here]! It was unbelievably good – so good that I licked my plate. Seriously, right there at the dinner table. Picked it right up and licked it. If that isn’t a ringing endorsement of deliciousness, I don’t know what is.

If you haven’t acquired Mel’s cookbook yet, what the heck are you waiting for? It is, hands down, my favorite cookbook of all time – paleo or non-paleo. And that’s no lie.

BCAA

I’m not much for supplements. I used a fairly high dose of fish oil for about a year, ZMA off and on, Natural Calm, and vitamin D3. Other than not getting sick while on D3 (which is possibly coincidental anyway), I can’t say that I noticed a difference in any part of my workouts or daily well being using the other supplements.

However, there is one thing that I’ve been experimenting with recently that has made me a believer. BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids.) Just use some google-fu and you will find all sorts of info on BCAA use. Here is an article from Charles Poliquin that is very informative, though keep in mind that he sells BCAA’s so it’s in his best interest to say they are awesome.

But in my experience, they are awesome. I’m not the least bit sciencey, so my testimonial is purely anecdotal. I am currently using the powdered BCAA’s from GNC, and I mix up two scoops in 16 oz. of water. I drink half before my workout and half after. I don’t know how to describe the effects other than without them I feel like I have sugar in my gas tank, and with them I feel like I have race car fuel in my gas tank. While using them during workouts I’m able to work harder and longer, and I recover much quicker between sets.

I stopped using them this week just to see if I was imagining things or not, and I can definitively say I was not imagining it. I feel significantly better during my workouts while using them.

One other effect that I’ve noticed is a complete lack of sugar and carb cravings post BCAA use. I’ve heard that is a side-effect of glutamine (which I’ve never used), but for me BCAA’s knock those cravings right down.

That’s a win-win in my book.

Oh Great, Just One More Thing For Me To Be Afraid Of

“Oh great, one more thing for me to be afraid of.”

That’s what my 10 year old city slicker cousin said to me after I took him fishing and he discovered that fish, moss, water and mud all terrified him. Then a grasshopper flew though the open pickup window and landed on him and he had one more thing to add to his list.

But, that phrase is what often comes to mind these days when I compulsively peruse my list of food, exercise and health related websites. Supermarket chicken has arsenic in it, bread (as if the gluten isn’t bad enough) has an ingredient derived from human hair harvested in China, and now olive oil may not really be olive oil.

Oh great, just one more thing for me to be afraid of.

I care about my health, I really do. I’m an independent kind of girl, so taking care of myself so I won’t be dependent on anyone else as I age is important to me. But how much can I possibly worry about? I know there’s a whole book out there about the olive oil issue, but I’ve been purposefully not reading it. Frankly, I don’t know if I want to know.

I think you can disappear down the rabbit hole of perfection on these kinds of issues. I was talking to some friends recently and they were all going on and on about their new stainless steel skillets, because Teflon was deadly. (What is it with the Teflon all of a sudden, did Dr. Oz do a show on it or something?) Then they looked at me like “Did you know this shocking thing?”

Oh, dear friends, you have just scratched the surface. You do not want to know what I know. Tell me something – anything – you put in your body and I can tell you how it’s going to kill you.

Use Teflon skillets – you’re going to die.
Use plastic food storage containers – you’re going to die.
Eat soybean oil in salad dressing – you’re going to die.
Use fabric softener – you’re going to die.
Consume pesticide-ridden kale – you’re going to die.
Eat Oreos – you are definitely going to die.

To quote Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson from The Closer “I don’t want to think about it. I DO NOT WANT TO THINK ABOUT IT!”

I’m not saying you shouldn’t worry about those things. If you have the time, money and ability to eat a perfect diet, then I say good for you and go for it. As for me, I’m going to happily consume the two giant jars of olive oil of exactly the same kind of brand that have been proven to be less than extra virgin, and I’m not going to think about it. I’m going to do the best I can. I’m going to use glass instead of plastic when I’m able, I’m going to eat supermarket chicken, and I’m going to eat non-organic kale.

Because you know what? It’s the best I can do and it’s a whole lot better for me than pizza, ice cream and Zingers, which is what I would be eating instead.

That stuff will kill you, yo.

Give Me (Clean) Broth or Give Me Death!

I would say, far and away, one of the most frustrating things about doing a Whole30 is finding clean chicken broth. By “clean” of course, I mean crap-free. If I ever want to get myself truly worked up, I head to the soup aisle of my local WalMart or grocery store and start reading the ingredient lists on the broth. Oh, it starts out fine and dandy, but by the time I get to the yeast extract I start to boil. Then I pick up a different brand and start over. I think “Maybe this one will be different,” and for just an instant I let myself hope. No! There it is again, yeast extract (or some other similar crap-tastic ingredient.) By the time I get through all the brands of broth and base I’m downright apoplectic.

Of course, this usually occurs in WalMart, so no one notices because everyone in WalMart is either apoplectic already or one of the people that is making everyone else apoplectic.

Notice I said this “usually” occurs in WalMart. Yes, I do this every time I hunt and forage for clean foods at WalMart. Call me crazy, but I always hold a kernel of faith that someday the big broth companies will decide they don’t need to put yeast and gluten into a product that is basically FREAKING MEAT AND WATER. Until then you may see me in the soup aisle, holding a can of Swanson’s and screaming “Whyyyyyyyy?”

But wait, dear readers, there may be a glimmer of light at the end of the soup-can tunnel. I found a fantastic looking recipe for Perpetual Bone Broth on the internet.

Like everything else in life, if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. So as soon as my homemade jerky is finished curing today, I might just break out the slow cooker and give this a try.

Until then, I say to Swansons: take that yeast extract and stick it where the sun don’t shine.