My Recomp.

I have experimented with all types of exercise and I have had all kinds of eating habits, both good and bad. I started with doing group classes like zumba, kickboxing, and yoga, then I started adding in some weights but mostly doing isolation workouts with lighter loads. I really enjoyed the group classes and it was a great way for me to be introduced to world of fitness. The deal I got on the classes came to an end and it ultimately was not a sustainable routine for me. It was too expensive and the class schedule eventually didn’t match my life’s schedule. I tried running. I hated it. But I thought that was what was needed to be fit, and what I “should” be doing. Again, not sustainable solely because I hated it yet…and yes, I stuck with it for many weeks, even months, because people told me I would learn to like it. Wrong.

Then I found heavy weightlifting, which evolved into powerlifting. The Artist and I do it together, so it is fun, supportive, and something we are able to share together. I couldn’t even lift the bar alone let alone add any weights to it. Now I am strong and have developed muscles that have explosive strength. We are able to do this at a “regular” gym that is very affordable, but we hope to join a powerlifting gym one day. During my experimenting days, missing a workout or spending the weekend visiting family stressed me out big time. I was so afraid of gaining weight or losing stamina or something. But now, I can be busy, sick, etc. and miss a whole week, and nothing changes. I change my routine as my goals change. Finally, I have found what I truly like, that fits my life, and that is sustainable for the long term.

I am currently trying to “recomp”. I want to change my body composition by losing fat and building muscle mass. I know many argue that you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat and a surplus to build muscle, so this goal of mine will not be possible without bulking and cutting cycles. But I beg to differ. I am not trying to enter a competition or anything of that nature, at least not at this point in my life. I just want to go to about life and add working out into the mix. I want to be able to treat myself, and have a semi-relaxed diet and workout regimen. I knew progress would be slow, but that’s ok. I am in it for the long haul. I am gluten-intolerant, which has led to me minimizing my overall grain intake, which I seem to respond well to. I focus on eating a diet that is high in protein, healthy fats, fibre, fruits, and vegetables, eating a bit more carbs on heavy lifting days and a bit less on the other days. I don’t count calories, I don’t weigh my food, it is all just best guess. I treat myself once in awhile. I workout as often as possible while commuting for full time grad school, working, completing a student placement, and having a life. Right now, I aim to lift heavy doing the main powerlifting lifts twice per week, and hopefully be able work in 2 days of medium-heavy accessory work. But again, I keep it semi-relaxed to allow for a good balance of a fun, life, school, work, and working out.

Here is my recomp progress after 1 year and 11 months. I really wanted to improve my upper body strength, and seeing these photos makes me so proud! My back rolls and love handles are shrinking, the cellulite on my legs (photo of me standing to the side) is smoothing out, and I am growing traps!

And I know I am making good recomp progress because my weight is the same throughout- floating around 180lbs ūüėÄ

  

 

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The 27 year old undergrad.

It has been a busy, stressful summer. ¬†I started classes the day after moving into our new apartment and we still aren’t completely unpacked and set up. ¬†We have been frequently thrift shops looking for furniture, but haven’t had any luck. ¬†Things are slowly coming together back up in the great white north!

My summer semester was definitely hard, it is such a shock going from the working world back into school full time. ¬†But I made it, and with decent grades. ¬†The biggest shock of all, however, was the fact that I am at a completely different life stage them most of my classmates. ¬†Being a 27 year old in undergrad classes, I am 8 years older then some of my peers. ¬†Although that really isn’t much when you consider one’s lifespan, it is quite a difference in what “phase” of life is happening.

I am 27, will be celebrating my 6th wedding anniversary with the Artist at the end of this month, I have lived on my own and with the Artist for many years and in turn have many bills to pay, and my favourite pass times include reading, watching films, listening to CBC radio, cooking (well, I am the assistant- the Artist is the actual cook!), relaxing while listening to our record collection, getting crafty, and powerlifting. ¬†Through conversation with other students around campus, it seems, as it should when you are 19, that going to bars and hanging out with friends are what the kids are doing these days. ¬†I wish I was saying that I was declining invitations to go out to the bar because I just wanted to go home and relax, but it must be obvious that I am an old lady. ¬†Either that, or I come across as an unapproachable person. ¬†Its probably both. ¬†Chandler from Friends articulates it perfectly…

Chandler Bing

I also feel like I am one of the last people to be fit the “starving student” archetype. ¬†I feel like I am surrounded by people who can afford all kinds of travelling and vacations, Mac laptops to bring to class for note taking, take-out food whenever they want, and no problems paying tuition or rent. ¬†Meanwhile, I am doing my laundry in my bathtub, using the campus food bank, sharing a laptop with the Artist (we need a computer equally for our own livelihoods) as well as a cell phone, and taking notes in class with a notebook that my parents bought for me and a pen I took from their ¬†house. ¬†I filled that notebook completely, so lets hope they buy me a new one for the upcoming term, LOL. ¬†I also have no idea how I will be paying my tuition that is due at then end of this month, not to mention bills, and I continuously sew together the same few clothing items that keep gaining new holes or tears.

It is all very weird, being in undergrad classes at 27.  When I was 19, I thought for sure that at 27 I would have the best job that ever existed and been done school with a prestigious degree(s) and have my dream home and life all figured out.  Well, I have come to the conclusion that you never really figure life out.  It is an ongoing journey with changing goals and aspirations along the way- so you might as well enjoy things, one day at a time.

Today I enjoyed bacon, egg and veggie scramble, and hash browns for lunch.  I enjoyed grocery shopping and still having about $10 left over for any other food needs that might arise this week.  I am going to workout later with the Artist, and despite my current sciatic pain, I will enjoy that too.  I will enjoy watching the Olympics tonight snuggled up with my love, and I will enjoy how beautifully gloomy and rainy it is this afternoon.

To see more photos of me enjoying the simple things in life, check me out on instagram @capitaineflash

As much as I would LOVE to travel and take a vacation, not have to worry about how I will pay tuition, or go shopping for new clothes and shoes whenever I feel like, I am sharing my life with someone who makes me smile and laugh every day, who shows me unconditional love, supports me, and inspires me….and that is more important than anything.

Suddenly, the mangled and torn insoles of my shoes seem so insignificant ‚̧

What if I don’t want razor abs or a “thigh gap”?

As a woman, I feel like we are expected to strive for flat stomachs, thigh gaps, and a sleek physique. ¬†I have always hated my love handles and “muffin top”, something that I have struggled with my entire life.¬† I have always felt like I jiggled a little too much in too many places, and yearned for that flat stomach.¬† I thought that eating less food, and taking up jogging/running was the answer.¬† But my problem was, I thought that was the only answer. ¬†And I thought that this was the only body that was “acceptable” and that this is what I should be striving for. ¬†So when I would try running, and hated it, I felt doomed to ever feel good about myself, because no matter what routine, style, etc. that I tried, I hated it.¬† I didn’t realize that there are many types of people and many types of bodies.¬† I also have Hashimoto’s Disease.¬† I have been living with it for over a decade, and although it presents challenges, I don’t want to use it as a crutch.

I have been feeling displeased with my body, and one day, out of the blue, thought “well, what if I don’t want a six pack?!”.¬† And I got to thinking…….What if I don’t want a perfectly sculpted body?¬† What if I don’t mind if my thighs touch, or my stomach jiggles a little?¬† What if I don’t want to be a runner?! ¬†Now, I am not suggesting unhealthy lifestyles, but rather, the expectations I had been carrying around for myself were unrealistic, and not very well thought out. ¬†I didn’t ever truly think about what I ACTUALLY wanted for myself, I just thought about what I felt I SHOULD be wanting. ¬†I just assumed that is what I should look like,¬†and being a runner with razor abs is what I should be striving for.¬† It was like a switch flipped in my brain.¬† After some reflecting and long conversations with the Artist, my goals and aspirations became more clear….

I want to…

  • exercise regularly doing a variety of activities, and lift even heavier weights then I already do
  • improve my yoga practice
  • get a minimum of 8 hours of quality sleep every night, 9 is actually my preferred amount for me to feel well rested
  • eat a clean, whole foods diet

I DO NOT want to…

  • rely on meal replacements or other “diet” products
  • be a runner/jogger, because that is not me or where my interests are, nor do I not enjoy it…kudos to all you runners out there!¬† Doing what you love is the most important thing!
  • wake up at 4am every morning to work out
  • want to work out in my living room (I know this works well for others, and that is awesome, but this is not for me.¬† My living room is my special relaxing space, where I read, listen to music and spend time with my Artist, and I do not want it associated with working out.)

I want to aim to incorporate exercise and fitness into my life, and NOT the reverse- trying to fit some “life” into my exercise schedule. ¬†But mainly, I want to feel healthy, energetic, and most importantly: STRONG.¬† As I said above, there are different types of people and different types of bodies- we are all different! ¬†And if we are all different we should have a variety of goals, and I should not be comparing myself or my goals to others. ¬†I consider myself as “thick” and “dense”, and for the first time, I am perfectly ok with that.

The Artist and I are 2 months into our new workout routine. ¬†To simplify, our routine goes as follows: lift often (3 times a week for us), and left heavy. ¬†That is all (with the occasional walk or bike ride thrown in there). ¬†When I started dabbling in weight lifting about 3 years ago, I didn’t really know what I doing, and I was more experimenting to find what kinds of exercise I enjoyed. ¬†I wasn’t really lifting anything heavy, I wast just trying to figure myself out. ¬†I thought it would be pretty cool, if one day, I could put 25lb plates on the squat bar (95lbs total) and do all of my sets that way. ¬†This was my “dream goal” that I 100% thought I might never actually achieve.

Here I am, 2 months into our “lift often, and lift heavy” regimen, squatting 25lb and 10lb weights on the bar, for a total of 115lbs, above and beyond what I thought I might never be able to do!

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And I also wanted to share a video of me doing deadlifts. ¬†My “dream goal” on this was 45lb plates on the bar (135lbs total), and again, I 100% thought I would NEVER be able to do this. ¬†I could barely do a 40lb barbell 2 months ago, so I am really proud of myself on this one ūüôā

When watching these videos and viewing these photos of myself, I was kind of disappointed at first. ¬†I don’t look nearly as strong or good as I feel, but then I realized that is the most important thing right?- how I FEEL! ¬†So although I am still working on changes and improvements, and as I feel discouraged when things aren’t happening “fast enough”, I just remember that me going to the gym, or taking that bike ride, or going on that walk, is better then me sitting on the couch. ¬†Everyone knows that famous quote, that every journey starts with a single step, and it is very true. ¬†I am just trying to make healthy choices for myself, one day at a time.

Women in the Working World

Lately, as an adult women who aspires for both a thriving career as well as motherhood, it seems as though having both is a puzzle I can’t figure out. ¬†I am turning 25 in a few weeks, and the Artist and I hope to be fortunate enough to have children together in the future, and we both have big dreams for our careers as well, however, more and more it seems difficult to have both. ¬†Things are different for women, we have “biological clocks”, and as we approach 30, or so I personally feel, our clocks start to remind us that time is ticking and the pressure of aging (as well as even more immense pressure from society) can be abundantly felt. ¬†So here is what started my thoughts on all of this….

As my 25th birthday approaches, I have decided that I would like to further my educational career with a master’s degree and have been accepted to Washington University in St. Louis. ¬†It is a 2 year MSW program and quite pricey, and I got a partial scholarship. ¬†I am in desperate need of funding to even begin to be able to afford this, and have a deep gut feeling that I will not be attending classes this fall because I can’t afford it. ¬†To read more about my situation on this:¬†https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/bittersweet/

So that is another year before I can apply to other MSW programs, and another year delaying the beginning of a career, would then put me age 28 before my careers even begins after graduation, and then building a secure lifestyle that allows me to try and get pregnant and be financially stable enough to take time off, and be able to afford it, to care for a child….pushing me past that ripe age of 30 that I mentioned above. ¬†I know plenty of women have children well into their thirties, and I might be one of them, but wouldn’t it be nice to not feel pressured to have a child by the big bully called age?

Which is what sparked these thoughts for me in the first place. ¬†It is like having to choose between having children in your mid-late twenties, or going to grad school during this time instead, and delaying having children until afterwards. ¬†I know plenty of people have children while in grad school, but I don’t think that that choice is for me. ¬†Or at least, it is my current thought. ¬†So as of right now, ¬†I plan to go to grad school at some point, we both want to get our careers up and running (which is really testing our patience, at almost 25 and 29, we just want to have established careers already!), and at that point, we will consider children. ¬†I don’t want to have this feeling that I have to choose one or the other, so I just simply will not. ¬†I am striving towards 2 careers; as a social worker with an MSW, and if I am fortunate enough to be able to bear a child, as a mother. ¬†But you never know what life will throw at you, and the next day is never a guarantee, so although we have big plans for our futures, we try and live in the moment and enjoy each day as it comes. ¬†Such as seeing a Shakespeare’s Henry V in Forest Park together, enjoying a picnic while we wait for the show, and having some quality time together, cracking open a fresh coconut, cooking a nice meal, celebrating birthdays, admiring the Artist’s thesis painting, chocolate chip pancakes and the best bacon I have ever had. ¬†Because you never know what tomorrow will bring!

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park

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Sweet and a little spicy, orange chicken with cashews.

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Best, yet healthiest, bacon ever!

Best, yet healthiest, bacon ever!

So I encourage everyone of both genders to embrace the women in your lives as they balance life ūüôā ¬†I applaud all the women out there who are rocking it in their careers and as awesome moms, I look up to you all. ‚̧