fitness and nutrition

My Dumbbell Museum

A few days ago I shared about some “vintage” Easter treasures that have found new life in our home during the coronavirus pandemic.

There’s another area in our home that has found some new life as we have become more and more isolated.  All the members of my family have lost access to our gym and fitness facilities / practices, so our makeshift basement gym space has become a hub of activity on and off from 6:30 am (my exercise time) on throughout the day.

As with many things in this new “normal” we are making do with what we have. Stuff is coming out of corners, emerging from piles, being excavated after years of gathering dust.  Most of our gym stuff is old, inherited, or has other stories.  Here’s a glimpse of my fitness lives through my gallery of dumbbells.  And these are only the ones that I use(d)…those above 25 just aren’t on my radar at the moment.

Starting with the smallest:

Empower handweights: 2.5 lbs

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I used these when I was trying to walk my weight off.  Before running, before CrossFit, before any of it.  I would pump my arms up and down as I walked. Not sure how to use them in my current routines but anything is possible!

Reebok coated baby dumbbells: 5 lbs

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These are from my “aerobics in front of the TV while the kids are napping” phase.  Seems like not that long ago, but it really was.  I showed these to my son this week and he remembered watching me do my little routines with them from the stairs. Now they are paint-splattered and worn.  But, I remember holding the weights over my head and lowering them behind my head to feel my triceps burn. They work for T-raises and other isolated accessory movements.

Super Star Orbatrons: 11 lbs (yes, 11 pounds which makes them extra awesome!)

These babies, with their sand-filled copper sheen, date back to my childhood. They’re almost as big as my head! And I use them almost every day. I know, you’re jealous.  They’re fabulous. My dad would sit and do curls with these at the dinner table while he was reading the paper.  He was always fighting to retain any bit of strength he could on his ultra-arthritic arms. So these have sentimental value.  They are big and clunky. They are round, which adds a challenge when I am trying to balance on one in pushup position while picking up the other.  But they make me smile in all their 1980’s style glory.

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(Pause to note: I am reallllyyyyy missing 15-pounders right here. I often used those in weighted situps and some of the slower accessory movements.  I keep scanning the internet for used ones almost daily!)

Metal Hex Dumbbells (on bench): 20 lbs.

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These came from my in-laws. They at least have flat sides so they don’t roll around like the 10s do. These are my go-tos for overhead presses and many other movements.   Not much to say about them but they are durable and well used.

Rubber Hex Dumbbell: 25 lbs.

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Finally, the only “new” dumbbell in the bunch.  I bought this when I was at my first CrossFit gym.  That gym had nothing between 20 and 35 pounds, and that span was too big of a jump for me.  So, I bought myself *one* 25-pound dumbbell. I hid it in the ladies dressing area when I wasn’t using it.  It was not too long ago that picking this up was a feat!  I remember doing my first 25-pound single-arm snatch with it only a couple of years ago.  Now, I mainly use it for snatches.  Using it still gets me winded.

I don’t have 30-pounders which stinks.  We have 35s but they are metal.  I’m not especially confident (and I am truly clumsy) so I tend to leave everything over 25 alone, especially since I don’t have a coach watching these days.  But that’s ok.

I move every day, I lift weights, and I’m making do with what I have.  I guess that’s a motto for me at this point fitness-wise.  Making the best with what I have, and hoping for the best as time goes on. It’s not glossy or shiny or perfect or new, kinda like me. As with these dumbbells, there are many ages and pages to my fitness story.  This chapter will be a memorable one.

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fitness and nutrition, friendship

Just Show Up and Jump In

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“Our third teammate unexpectedly dropped out at the last minute with a sick kid.  Can anyone make it?”

A post to our gym community in the wee hours of a December Saturday morning.  I thought about it, but plans were already in motion for a day of chasing my daughter and her friends as they volunteered to help with a younger girls’ lacrosse team.  I sent my good wishes…hope someone can step in!

Then the text came in, just to me:  “Can you do the comp today and then come get the girls?”

A pause.  A stomach clench. My only job was transporting my kid and her friends and and now a friend was offering to take all that over so I could help on the team.  So how could I say no?  More stomach clench, I texted back.

“Ummmmm ok.  If that’s the best solution.”

(Inner voice of doubt saying:  “There must be a better solution!”)

From that moment, the whole day took a turn.  What are the workouts?  Do I need a shirt? I was already on the way to the gym…thank goodness I wore black shorts.

I turned the car around to head toward the competition site. The doubting voice crept in again…I haven’t eaten well!  How many burpees?? One rep max complex?!? I haven’t showered and shaved! I can’t do those weights!  I haven’t practiced!

WHAT. HAVE. I. DONE?!?!?!

Well, I was helping friends. I could do at least something and I would give my best. Just show up and jump in, I told myself.  Just show up and jump in. Every time I wanted to turn the car around, I’d tell the doubting voice to pipe down. Just show up and jump in.

And so, I got there about 15 minutes before the first workout.  Quick chat. Waited in the bathroom line, switched shirts, did a few stretches and bam, jumped in and competed.  Looking back now, it is awesome to be fit enough to just get there and give it a go.  Granted, I couldn’t lift as heavily as I would have liked to, but I jumped in and did what I could.  My two Ginger Thruster teammates did the heavy lifting, and lift they did! It was awesome to watch and be a part of.

By the time our first workout was over, some people were just seeing the early morning SOS post.  My friend Milagros asked if I needed anything – extra coffee and water, really.  She showed up with all that, plus some snacks and some needed encouragement.  Another part of the network coming together to solve a need.

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We pushed ourselves. We laughed a lot.  We fought for all the reps, strained for every pound.  I’ve never done so many jumping pull-ups in my life. It was a great day.

One great thing about this competition is they have a box member who is an amazing photographer, Davison Wheeler.  He generously shared nearly a thousand photos of the day, including the ones in this post.  It’s equal parts amazing and humbling to look at the people competing – their stamina, their strength, their skill.  When scroll through to find I the pictures of me, what I noticed is that I am often cheering for my teammates.  I may not be able to lift a huge number of pounds, but I try to lift spirits when I can.

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And a lot of that comes from just showing up and jumping in.

 

 

 

 

fitness and nutrition

I Like to Lift

I like to lift weights. There is something about a power snatch that gets my blood pumping.

That same power snatch makes me feel like nothing else stressful in my life matters at that moment. It’s just me and the bar. Of course I have to pay attention to only the bar so I don’t drop the weight on my head! (Photo: Davison Wheeler Photography)

Dumbbells are not my favorite but they serve a purpose. They help me move weight in a different manner than I would if I had just the bar. It lets me focus on defining my muscles in a different way. Although they are not my favorite they are a big part of my weightlifting regimen.  (Photo: Davison Wheeler Photography)

Cleans and jerks. I can definitely say I despise cleaning and don’t have room in my life for jerks but I do work on clean and jerks in the gym weekly. Getting my elbows up and transitioning the heavy weight above my head takes a lot of physical and mental energy. Some days are good while others just suck. Most depends on how well I stretch my wrist and if I can fully commit my mind the way I need to. Self-talk can make or break you on this movement.

This picture is just a random placeholder for me in action. First, I love my shirt. Second, the flair on my arms were for a costume day we had. And finally, I was wearing my taco shorts and who doesn’t love tacos? Which leads me to a shameless plug for Feed Me Fight Me. They have the most comfortable booty shorts for weight lifting girls like me with thick thighs.

Ah the deadlift. A simple but powerful movement that does require the right technique and weight to not throw out your back. It’s a delicate balance but a challenge I like. This picture is a throw back to a 2019 competition I did and thoroughly enjoyed the deadlift ladder.

I also like to bench press. Many girls don’t but I don’t mind it. For some reason I couldn’t find the right photo to post so let’s just go with the fact I like to bench press and chasing the guys weight load. It gives me motivation not hair on my chest.

There are many other lifts I like and many that I just do to keep my fitness up. That being said I have thick thighs and broad shoulders from the lifting portion of my life. I love the strength my body has and for that I embrace thick thighs and strong shoulders.

It always amazes me when a stranger asks me what sport I do. I could be on a plane or at a business meeting. The scenery may change but the question is the same. Now my answer is always I lift weights or do CrossFit.

Some don’t know what CrossFit is so they can relate to weightlifting. Whatever the case I either get a male comment of “how much weight can you squat?” or a woman may say “oh,” as in that’s not feminine. These reactions crack me up.

Many women at my gym are strong and powerful. Some are thick and some are thin. It doesn’t matter. I am far from the strongest but I enjoy striving for better. My counterparts are strong mentally and physically and they can challenge those who are not committed to fitness or healthy living.

Lifting weights has benefits. My friend Sarah started at the gym to increase her strength to fight off her body weakening due to a health condition. Lifting weights can help people regain control of their body after an accident or injury. So many more benefits but hopefully you get the point.

Like I said above, I like to lift. That’s my story for today. Hope you enjoyed the pics and a glimpse of my lifting preferences.

Enjoy today.

fitness and nutrition

What Does Recovery Look Like for Me?

I’m recovering from the Festivus Games and thought I would diary my aches and pains.

Immediately after: I had no time to think about aches and pains. Had to hop in the shower after a long day to attend a preplanned event. Of course the event called for cowgirl boots so had to put those sore legs to work some more!

The next day: I was surprised that I could move when I awoke. I survived 4 WODs and I can move. That seems like something to celebrate.

I didn’t let the aches set in. I got up for my morning training session. It’s normally a run but I just walked about 3 miles to get the legs going but at a recovery pace. It was just what I needed.

I kept moving most of the day. Around 5pm, about 24 hours after the adrenaline pump concluded, I hit a wall. Started to get tired and cranky. Just fatigued. I guess it worked out for me so I could look at the 1 million pictures the group had from the event. It’s so much fun to reminisce on the triumphs and setbacks of the day.

I listened to my body and slowed my roll. Rested per se and went to bed early. Monday morning came and I didn’t want to get up but I did. I have accountability partners at my box so I got moving despite my desire to not move and pull the covers over my face permanently.

I scaled the workout for sure that morning. Used baby weights for the wod, rode the bike and scaled some movements but I moved and my Apple Watch said I fared okay.

Forearms, wrists and hands felt the aches mainly from all the grip work. Tight traps were present but not unbearable. Lots of good stretching today.

By Tuesday I was good and even put in some extra work conditioning on the bike erg. By Weds am my legs were a little tight from the bike ride but they loosened up as soon as I completed my WOD for the day.

Good to go now for this chick. 72 hours, back to normal, give or take. So many memories to make the recovery worth it all.

Recovery is just as important to me as the preparation. I preach this to my kids as they compete in sports and to whomever will listen. I hope that my tidbits here help those who read along with my fit journey posts.

I am not a trained professional. I am a mom getting her fitness on who competes to hold herself accountable.

Wishing you all the best in your fitness and recovery adventures.