One Step

Obviously, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted, although it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve started several posts – about strength and resilience, about job-hunting, about fulfillment. None of them has seemed quite finished or on target, and I’m (justifiably) self-conscious about what I put on the internet for the world to see.

But tonight, I think I have something worth saying.

My previous attempts at posting in the past few months have come from a place of frustration. I had been looking for a new job, discontent in my current one, and more than a little panicky about my future. Quarter-life crisis, you might say. But I now have a new job, albeit part-time, and my concierge team still appreciates me and wants me to stay there. I am working a lot, feeling valued, and progressing toward something more in line with my career aspirations. It’s a very gratifying feeling to know that your effort is noticed – and to know that you can impress upon others that, given an opportunity and time, you will be valuable. That’s what I told my new boss in my interview, and apparently, I convinced her.

Now I just have to prove it.

I believe in the power of self-confidence, belief, and willpower. If I truly set my mind to something, I can achieve it. My problem is not understanding that concept, it’s following through. Usually my mind changes, I lose enthusiasm, or my definition of success is ill-defined. It’s hard to reach a goal if you didn’t actually state what your goal was – and that’s my modus operandi. That’s how I’ve always operated, and I’ve done quite well, all things considered. But when I have fallen short of my own expectations, the fault generally lies at my own feet. I didn’t set out to reach something real or attainable, and I didn’t create a plan to get it.

I’m reading The Power of Habit right now – a worthwhile read, if you get the chance. The premise is that we use habits, consciously or unconsciously, to make our lives manageable. Many of our choices are turned into habits, removing the thought process from those actions so we do them automatically. They are then reinforced, over and over and over again, into a cycle very difficult to change.

Obviously, it goes into a lot more detail, but you get my point: habits are important, and once they are made, it is hard to unmake them.

So, as a challenge to myself, I am going to try to start replacing my bad habits with good ones. I believe that ever so slowly, I can form habits that make it easier for me to do what I want to do.

More to come.

Monday, Monday

Monday was actually a day off for me, so I spent it making a big ol’ pot of beanless chili and some coconut flour biscuits with chipotle spices and cheddar cheese. Yum. I am sorta-kinda trying out “primal” eating for fun, and so far I am not seeing physical differences, but I am noticing that I don’t have a drop in energy around 10am or 3pm, which is a nice bonus!

I also watched a lot of West Wing, which I can’t believe I hadn’t done before! Allllmost makes me want to get into reporting again. And and and… I did this:

Monday:

Warmup: 5 rounds

  • 3x15kg Sotts Press // Double unders

Power:

  • Split Jerk heavy single
  • Power Jerk 5x3x30kg
  • Power Snatch-Hip Snatch 5×25kg
Strength: Push Jerk from Split Squat 3x5x25
Conditioning: 3 rounds
  •  400m run
  • 50 Lunges with 12kg
Mobility: 2 minutes each overhead, chest, and ballet bar flexion
then, on Tuesday, this:
Tuesday:

Technique: 5x 10xdrop Unders // 5x Snatch Balance

Power: Clean 5x3x35kg – jerk the last one

Strength:
Clean Pull 5x4x45kg
Front Squat 5x3x45kg

Hypertrophy:
Leg Ext 3×15
Lunges 3x20x25
RP Hip Thrust  3x@45
X Walk 3x looong

Stability: 5 rounds hilariously bad at both of these
Max hand stand hold
30 second bottom position Overhead Squat

Finishing

Well, I finished my workout program. Very anticlimactically. I skipped one, did one about halfway, but made/increased my maximum numbers for each major lift in my program, and that is a success.

I also cooked some delicious things, applied for a job, took a self-defense class, and played with puppies at the local animal shelter. Success. And I got Emile to make me a new workout program, and so far, I have DONE EVERY SINGLE THING. As opposed to my not-infrequent cheating on Thursdays of the last program…. Rowing 500m + 10 pushups a bunch of times just did not work for me.

Before I post the workouts, I’ll give you some videos for movements I CAN DO. It’s pretty amazing what the human body is capable of, huh? I’ll explain some of the movements and terminology in a later post.

Clean and Jerk

Snatch

 

Sunday:

Warmup: 5x Drop Under // Double under practice
Power: Snatch from High Blocks 7x3x15kg, 3x3x25kg – 1 second pause at bottom
Strength:
Snatch Pull 5x4x40kg  – slow, focus on positions
Paused Back Squat 5x5x45
Stability:
5x Overhead X-Walk // 30-second Plank
Intervals: woodway
5x60s @ 6
3x30s @ 8
60 seconds rest between rounds

Workout Summary

 

Monday:

3x2x145 back squat

Complex 1:

  • 3x2x125lb slow back squat
  • 3x2x30 jump squat

3x8x65lbs hip thrust

 

Tuesday:

Complex 1:

  • 15,13,13×105 Lying Leg Curl
  • 12,12,13×50 Leg Extension
  • 15,15,15 Walking Lunge

Complex 2: 3 rounds

  • 1 min. Bike Sprint
  • 30 Bodyweight Squat
  • 10 Vertical Jumps

 

Wednesday:

3x10x12lb Medicine Ball Wall Slams

3x2x85lbs Push Press

Complex 1:

  • 3x2x70lbs Slow Push Press
  • 3x12x12lb Overhead Medicine Ball Throw

3x6x70lbs Bent Over Barbell Row

8,7,6x60lbs Lat Pulldown

 

Thursday:
15,13,13x10lb Lateral Dumbbell Raise
15,15,13x10lb Lying Tricep Extension
15,13,12x10lb Dumbbell Shoulder Press

13,12,12x50lbs Back Lat Pulldown
12,10,10×50 Front Lat Pulldown
13,12,10×50 Supinated Lat Pulldown

 

Friday: Streeeeeeeeeeetch

 

Saturday: Play Frisbee in the park

 

Sunday:

3x3x40kg Clean from the Hang

Complex 1: 3 rounds

  • 5×17.5lbs Lateral Dumbbell Raise
  • 10 Box Jumps
  • 10x12lbs Overhead Medicine Ball Throws
  • 10 Broad Jumps
  • 10x12lbs Medicine Ball Slams

Complex 2: 3 complete rounds

  • 1 min. bike ride
  • 250m row
  • 10 pushups

Ballet and Body Image

Body image is a pretty tough topic to actually address. We can talk the talk about loving ourselves, no matter the size, and seeking health instead of the perfect bikini body. Walking the walk becomes pretty difficult when photoshopped celebrities are on every magazine, and real-life mirrors are everywhere in our lives, showing us up-close and personal flaws we mentally exaggerate instead of retouch.

The other day I read this Open Letter to Bikini Season. A very forthcoming mom writes about her four-year old who cries because a jacket makes her look fat. This girl is four! Thank goodness for her mom, who has the vulnerability to cry and the fortitude to tell her daughter and the world that something is very wrong in that scenario.

One morning on the way to church as a kid, I pulled down the mirror above the passenger seat and looked at myself. I turned to my mom and told her I had all of her features – her nose, her eyebrows, her strong jaw – and that I hated them. To my mom’s credit, she laughed and said thank you (sarcastically) for my compliments. Now, those things are what I love about myself because they distinguish me from everyone else. My imperfections make me unique.

As I got older, the ballet gods granted a teacher who encouraged positive body images. That’s quite a task in a room where mirrors surround you; you are always looking at yourself to correct tiny minutia of technique – and always in tight, unforgiving clothing! It’s no wonder dancers are susceptible to dysmorphia.

I was lucky. I was blessed with slender limbs and high arches. But another dancer in my school was not so fortunate. Don’t get me wrong, she had an absolutely beautiful body, one that most women would envy. But in 7th grade, clothed in a black leotard and not-so-flattering pink tights with mirrors everywhere, she didn’t see it that way. Her hips were too wide; her boobs were too big. She had matured much earlier than the other girls in our class, and she was a perfectionist. Her lines were curvy, not toothpick straight, and she could not handle it.

She was my carpool buddy to ballet, and slowly she stopped ordering milkshakes. She started wearing different clothes, and her music got a little angrier. Her hip bones started showing through her leotard, but they were still wide in her eyes. She was not thin enough. She starved herself to the point of hospitalization, rehab, and the list goes on. I visited her in the hospital. She had a feeding tube and translucent skin, and the doctors said, psychologically, she wasn’t budging. She refused to acknowledge that she was killing herself.

She and I don’t talk anymore; she left our school and quit ballet. I have seen her about twice though, and she looks pretty healthy. And she’s alive. I don’t know if she is happy when she looks in the mirror now, but I know others who have struggled with anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders, and it is SO HARD to overcome. I don’t know if some of them will ever completely overcome it.

It scared me in 7th grade that someone so young would resort to such drastic measures to look different. But this is relatively common – up to 24 million people in the U.S. suffer from eating disorders.

After reading the letter from that brave mom, I took away her message about our bodies being a vessel. Our bodies can DO amazing things – run, jump, kiss, dance, play – and we can experience amazing things through the function of our bodies. We see with our eyes, touch with our fingers, run with our legs, bear children in our bellies, and the list goes on forever. Why do we focus so much on appearance instead of function? So many of us only exercise to look good naked, instead of perform well – why is that? Is this all media, all a Westernized culture influencing us to evaluate ourselves this way? What can we do to stop it?

Scars are a phenomenal example of this, at least to me. I scar incredibly easily. My legs are covered with them, from injuries big and small, memorable and completely minute. My lip has a scar from jumping – and falling off – a bed as a five-year old, and my thumb has one right on the knuckle from who knows what. A professional photographer could erase those.

But what are scars if not evidence of life?

I have survived being hit by a truck, sure, and that explains lots of them. But I have also mountain biked, and played in ponds and jumped on beds and gotten burned by exhaust fumes on a motorcycle in Rwanda. I have lived in this body, and my body is evidence of that life, with my scars, my calluses, my muscles… and my fat. I’ve indulged, and that’s living, too!

Until next time,
Estes

Savory Links

Since I posted some sweet treats I’ve been wanting to make, I thought I would add some savory ones as well… I have a huge sweet tooth (or 26 of them, rather), and once I start, I have absolutely NO self control. But, when I have a super-di-duper delicious savory meal, I don’t feel the need for a giant brownie with ice cream after. So here’s to more savory deliciousness!

  1. I am interested in this Maria Mind Body Health website (specifically in reference to my stepmom, who has had several health and digestive issues for a long time). It seems that Maria’s ketogenic diet is especially well-suited for those with digestive issues and allergies… I would be very interested to see how she would react to this diet, especially she’s she is on a very restrictive one right now. I made these meatballs last night and served them with marinara and spaghetti squash. Delicious, and filling!
  2. Spinach, Mushroom and Feta Quiche by Budget Bytes – This is a crustless quiche, automatically making things a) easier and b) not as caloric. And gluten-free for those allergic to gluten. I am not one to run away from fat, so the cheese doesn’t scare me here. But if you wanted to reduce the cheese, I’d recommend reducing the mozzarella instead of the parmesan in order to keep a lot of the strong flavor. I’d probably also add a little more seasoning, like paprika, or parsley on top or something. So easy and great – I’m thinking a brunch party…..
  3. Thyme-Roasted Carrots by Once Upon a Chef is how I usually prepare my carrots for a dinner side. IT IS LIKE CANDY. So flavorful, so sweet, and incredibly easy. This recipe is forgiving – if you have the oven on 400 degrees, it will still work. If you don’t have thyme on hand, use Herbs de Provence or rosemary. I eat like 17 servings when I make this, so go ahead and make a big batch. Note: If you want it to look pretty, use whole carrots, and scrub them clean or peel them. If you want the quick-and-dirty version, use the baby carrots that come in a bag. You don’t need foil either way because it’s dressed in oil.

Until next time,
Estes