Monday, January 9, 2012

It's a Blogiversary!

Running outdoors results in better views, especially atop towers atop mountainsides ;)

It’s a blogiversary!

What day is it? January 9, 2012 of course, and when did I start this blog? January 9, 2011. So happy one year anniversary to my intangible alter ego Figure Mommy! (Or umm something along those lines, but slightly more sane sounding ;)

It’s been quite a year. I’ve crashed my body fat to 13.1% (and ratcheted it back up to the low normal zone again – unfortunately!), competed in my first bodybuilding competition, competed in my first powerlifting competition, acknowledged my core values, and had loads of pithy randomness along the way.

I’m goal-less as the second year of this blog begins, but I have been trying new things. Today between six hours of straight sitting (aka classes) I asked my friend Hannah if she was game to go workout. She countered by asking if I’d run outside. If you follow this blog you know I don’t do any real running (just elliptical, stepmills and the like), but what the hey so I said okay. We ran up a wooded mountainside into an arboretum with a tower at the top containing half a dozen flights of stairs. So then we ran up and down the tower stairs four times for good measure and then back down the mountain looping around the south side of campus for 32 minutes all told. I was wearing my FiveFingers so I can all but guarantee my calves will feel it tomorrow. This one will be going into the “worth repeating” category of new fitness things tried.

One thing I believed before this blog began and that I still firmly believe now is that if you want to train, you can. Wherever you are, whoever you’re with, whatever equipment you do or don’t have to work with, you can make it happen if you have an honest drive to do so.

On that note, and the blogiversary theme, let’s sign off with a flashback shall we?
This was in December 2010, over winter break, when I found myself stranded far far away from any gym while visiting family in Northern California. Not being able to get in a workout was really bothering me so I decided to improvise. I hadn’t yet put in any substantive effort into getting in shape or even dreamt of bodybuilding or this blog, but a month later I did.

Disclaimer: Now don’t pick on my form, rep quantity, etc. Thirteen months ago I had little clue what the heck I was doing when it came to weight-training ;)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Funny Feet =)

I’ve pretty much abandoned my blog lately. Not intentionally really, I’ve had a handful of post ideas brainstormed or even mostly written, but my lack of fitness focus led me to disregard them. I know I need to blog; it’s a positive outlet for me. When I go too long without doing it I start to notice that I’m posting to Facebook at three times my normal rate, which is a lot less convincing an activity to sell as a positive thing ;)

I have no fitness goal right now. It’s a problem for motivation, especially diet motivation. It’s a problem for blogging – a lack of correlation. I’ve juggled around some prospective goals, but nothing inspiring. I’d like to intentionally shed leg muscle to improve my relationship with denim. I’d like to drop body fat. I’d like to be able to bench press my body weight + 10 pounds. There are a lot of things I’d like to do, but none of these things have a concise specific goal outlined and none of them are set on a strict timeline beyond my control. In short, none of them are a figure competition.

Part of me would like to do another figure competition. This blog and my wild three month ride to my first figure competition began last January. I had 16 credits winter quarter 2011 – I even pulled off a respectable GPA that quarter despite committing 15 hours a week to the gym and strictly dieting. Now winter quarter 2012 has just begun; I have 16 credits again, I have a lot more muscle, I need to drop my holiday poundage, in theory I could compete again. But last year I crashed and burned impressively in school as spring quarter began and the post competition blues crushed me. I can’t afford to repeat that. So . . . what to do?

For a while I focused my training around just being stubborn and seeking to lift the heaviest anything and everything I could. I was proud when I was able to do a 65 pound single arm bent over dumbbell row. I was pleased when I got my Olympic barbell bicep curls up to 70 pounds. I had a ton of fun when I jumped into a powerlifting competition and benched 120 pounds, squatted 190 pounds, and deadlifted 240 pounds. I was my very proudest when I got my dumbbell shoulder press up to 40 pounds. Women aren’t generally known for hoisting the iron equivalent of a sack of dog food in each hand for a shoulder press. I thought it was the best thing ever so naturally I made a movie and blogged it here.

The problem is all that heavy lifting caught up to me. I have minimal flexibility in my neck and upper shoulders. Three weeks ago I got a tension headache that lasted for just under five days despite repeated Advil and Excedrin Migraine intervention. I could feel the tension running up my neck from my left shoulder and encompassing my whole head. It, umm, sucked. Since then I can feel the beginnings of a tension headache in my upper shoulders about two thirds of the times I train upper body so I pop an immediate Advil dose to kill it. You might call this a problem (I definitely do).

A five day headache will make one far more open-minded to the notion of change than the societal expectation of setting a New Year’s resolution will. A chiropractor suggested that I do yoga 4-5 times a week to help. I found a Vini Yoga Therapy DVD designed to specifically treat upper back, neck, and shoulder pain with resoundingly positive reviews on Amazon. I plan to start fitting that into my life soon. My approach to lifting needs to change too, by how I’m not yet sure. In the meantime I’m going to be open to trying new fitness adventures and writing about the ones that turn out to be entertaining.

This brings me to my funny feet =) You may have seen Vibram FiveFingers stepping around your local gym or out and about when the weather was warmer and dryer. They’re pretty odd looking huh? When my boyfriend got a pair last summer I thought he was downright goofy for it. I may have even chuckled, teased, and rolled my eyes, but then in the next few weeks he kept talking about how great they were in the gym. He kept repeating how much better squatting was in them so I began to get intrigued. Then my beloved M&F Hers featured a pretty pink pair in the Oct/Nov issue and I was drawn in. Rich got me that pair for my birthday and after two and a half months with them I LOVE THEM. It seriously creeps me out to wear anything else in the gym – it just feels wrong once you’re used to being “barefoot.” As for the tangible benefits (beyond getting to swear off socks – yes!) there are many. Primarily, you build calf strength and ankle stability. When I squat I feel so much more solid and stable. They make walking lunges more challenging (in a good way). They make climbing a Stepmill or running on a Treadmill feel more real and more productive, at least for me =)

Logging a solid 60 minute StepMill session between classes today FiveFingers style.

If you’ve been on the fence about trying a pair head to your nearest REI and go for it. Don’t let the initial try-on thwart you. It took me (and many others I hear) a good 10 minutes to get all my toes in place the first few times, but now it’s as easy peasy as putting on a pair of gloves. If you hate them, REI has an endearingly generous return policy, or if you love them you’ll have funny pink (or violet, blue, black, red, white, yellow, or green) feet like me!