5 Tips on how to beat getting down about weight training.

As an optimistic person, I live to find the relative best in situations. Being a part-realist means I’m also highly conscious some things are going to suck. Big time. It’s this suckage element that inspires me to share my downsides on weight training with you. Weight training isn’t all about going to the gym and praying a great, functional and aesthetically pleasing body is going to result. It’s part grit, determination, sacrifice and pain.

But…

The end results are totally, totally achievable. And you can do it. I’ve taken the five downsides and stepped them out into flipsides – how they are beneficial for you. We can swim around like Nemo being naively optimistic and hoping for good outcomes or, we can be conscious of pitfalls and create pathways to reduce us falling into them.

I saw Michelle Bridges speak at a Business Chicks event this week, on Valentine’s Day. What a great way to start the day. Loving yourself and your body first and foremost. She spoke about putting your desires into action plans. Otherwise it is just an idea right? An image in your head of how you may look… one day. The part that resonated with me the most was JFDI (Just freaking do it! Although I far prefer the uncensored version Just f**king do it!)

Quotes

JFDI

Michelle doesn’t bounce out of bed at 5am to go for a 10km run or train. Her entry into the world is more sedate and grumpy. At 5am she is a robot, crawls out of bed, puts clothes on (laid out the night before) and just… goes. JFDI. If you are clear on your end result, and want it bad – you do the steps to get there. Yes, there is suckage and if celebrities like Michelle aren’t enthused about it either (the getting up and doing it bit), that’s kinda good to know. It’s a common problem.

Michelle Bridges

Michelle Bridges source credit http://www.glamour.com

So, let’s JFDI. In my last post, I promised I would break down these five areas:

  1. Macronutrients. Counting them. All of them damn things.

  2. Logging your work outs (more admin really?).

  3. Keeping up to date with all the online group posts. Argh! It’s hard enough with social media.

  4. DOMS. Pain. Why am I doing this again?

  5. Intermittent Fasting.

Macronutrients. Counting them. All of them damn things.

When I found out I HAD to count them, I was so overwhelmed. ADMIN. I am not wired to love ADMIN. Numbers. Weighing food. It seemed like the biggest hassle in the world. I sat back and started researching. This is my default when I don’t want to do something. I find out how other people are doing it, what the great ‘shortcuts’ are (tools and resources) and how I can do the same thing.

For those wondering what the hell Macronutrients are, it is the breakdown of protein, carbohydrates and fat in a food. For example according to My Fitness Pal, 100g of raw coconut meat has 15g of carbs, 34g of fat and 3g of protein. As my program has a nutritional guide, I need to ensure I am hitting the right ratios each day to complement my strength training, ensure adequate protein consumption and main good nutrition.

This article by one of my trainers Mike Vacanti helps debunk the dystopian world of calorie counting. I started getting it and more importantly seeing the value in it. Signing up to My Fitness Pal was the next step. Since then, I’ve been advised there are some other great tools:

Fitocracy Macros

My Net Diary

My Fitness Pal

You log in each day (or every few days if you have a good memory) and record what you eat. It then converts the information into calories and macronutrients. On my weight training days I have 2140 calories (of protein, fat and carbs), on non-training days 1444 calories. Before this program I  was eating well, but with no idea of volumes. I had a predisposition for carbs and was not eating nearly enough protein. Now, I have clear exposure to how to fuel my body and the amounts I need to eat.

By no means do you HAVE to do this, it would be a good experiment even for one month – just to see if you are conscious of your caloric intake. For example I love peanut butter and a good tablespoon of that has 10g of fat in it! I could probably eat half a jar. Now I know the ratios, enjoying it in measured amounts is better.

Logging your work outs (more admin really?)

Fitocracy is a great gamified platform to record your training sessions. It’s free (you can pay to have extra features) and similar to logging your macros, you go in each time or, when you can and note down all the reps\sets\exercises you do. Your workout is awarded points and it is SUPER motivating (if you like getting recognition, I do!). As it is a global community, other people will give you ‘props’ and can comment or encourage you.

As your points accumulate you move up to different levels and receive ‘awards’. It’s simple to use and the bonus is it houses all your workout information and you can track your progress. This is crucial to having clear exposure on your strength outcomes. All the hard work has been done for you with this program. There is an extensive database of exercises you can search and, once you’ve created programs you can duplicate them and just change the numbers. ADMIN made fun. My kinda thang.

Dog

Not more admin

Keeping up to date with all the online group posts. Argh! It’s hard enough with social media.

At last count I am part of 20 closed Facebook groups and two Google+ closed groups. Not to mention other website communities I am involved in. WHEW. Social media is all pervasive. Now, I don’t spend a lot of time on the socials. Through extensive trial and errors (including deleting the socials off my mobile) I now dive into the groups at particular times, on my laptop. My point is, online communities are incredibly valuable – but pick your community and your purpose. What benefit are you deriving, what you are contributing and how much time do you want to spend there?

With Roman Fitness Systems, I am part of a group of around 65 community members (around the world) and it is super helpful. At times when I have lacked motivation to go to the gym, was in pain, had food questions, or just confused about how the hell to do a Pallof Press, I jumped into the group and hey presto – question answered. I typically dive in around 2-3 times a week and do get notifications on my mobile. This is the only group I get notifications for as my most important priority right now is my HEALTH. 

I don’t answer or comment on everything (I used to have this weird habit where I HAD to – anyone else had that?), now I just scan what is happening. When Q&A sessions are coming up I check what pertinent info I need to know and if others struggling with the same problems I have. The socials can be a massive TIME SUCK otherwise. Allocate a set time period and then back out. It’s like pokie machines. Don’t get caught staying put – cash out!

DOMS. Pain. Why am I doing this again?

This is a stark reality of any strength training program. Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness. In my post I touched on a good article that clarifies what this means. You start to become one with PAIN. It’s not always fun, but there is a big difference between pain and strain. Pain is muscle soreness from microtears to your muscle fibres and the resulting growth and repair from that. Strain can be from poor technique, not warming up or cooling down and or any aggravated injuries.

It’s not about lifting heavy, technique is the critical factor. Form will always surpass amount. 

Good ways to alleviate DOMS include:

Icebaths – or if you can stand in water. I head to the beach 2-3 times a week and the cool, salt water is fantastic.

Magnesium – will help you sleep and also help with muscle recovery.

Foam rollers – a friend of mine calls this “the poor man’s massage.” A good roll out can really help iron out tension. It does hurt at times! Breathe through it, take your time and do some stretching as well.

Stretching – I am a big fan of this and will stretch out after every session. Yoga stretches are also ideal.

Intermittent Fasting

I’m going to do a blog series on my experience with IF (Intermittent Fasting) as it is a world onto itself.

As opposed to full fasting, IF can range from 12-16 hours. For example, I fast for around 14-16 hours everyday. On my program we eat within an eight hour period (mine is typically midday – 10pm, it fluctuates between those hours) and then fast from 10pm to midday onwards the next day. Now, it can look like I am just ‘skipping breakfast’ – but the actuality is, consumption of all my calories is in a set period.

Why would I want to do that? This article by John Romaniello is a good overview and the benefits of this practice. IF is a common method followed by people in the strength training world. It can be hard though (at first). I started around nine months ago after watching a documentary by Dr Michael Moseley, so I had some experience before I started this program. For me, the benefits have outweighed the initial resistance, hunger and struggle I had with it. And… I am a breakfast person! I freaking LOVE breakfast. It has all my favourite foods and meals. But, I persevered and it is doable. For the first month of this program though, I relied a bit on black coffee to to help stave off hunger.

Brunch

For any questions you may have, John has outlined a great FAQ – it’s lighthearted, informative and even has videos.

One of the main benefits of IF has to do with blood sugar, which Dr Moseley talks extensively about. How IF from a fat-burning perspective works to regulate insulin as you are not in a ‘fed state’, when your body producing insulin constantly to shuttle glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream over to muscles, liver or fat cells for storage.

Now I will put a disclaimer on this last one, as I am not a medical professional and am very hesitant to dispense advice (which is why I am not diving in too deep). I’m more than happy to talk anecdotally about my experiences, but would strongly recommend you read the suggested articles and also speak to your own health professionals pending your own fitness and health status.

Next week we get onto the fun stuff – recipes. One of my absolute favourite pastimes – cooking. I will be sharing my fallback secrets with you.

Till then, train well, eat well and JFDI!

The 5 Pro’s and the 5 Cons of weight training

Yo, yo folks.

How’s the quest for fitness going? Swimming in an eternal sea of egg whites and soy-protein-isolate-hold-the-sugar protein powders? In my last post on getting started with this whole weight training caper I touched on what this post would be about. The benefits and downsides of weight training. Namely in direct correlation with this style of training I am doing: online group coaching.

In the interest of being economical with my words, this one will be somewhat short and sweet. Like a good hit of stevia. This is designed to give you a good solid overview [from my first-hand experience]. I’ll outline the reality and journey of taking on board a program like this. Why? To help provide you with key insights into:

a) Planning weight training and meals [including macronutrients]

b) The importance of tracking your work outs and logging your nutritional intake

c) Mindset. How we can be our own worst enemy or best friend.

Gold's Gym. One day.

So like a good hypertrophy set we want to smash out, let’s hit it:

Pro’s

  1. Feel good: Like the new Pharrell song ‘Happy‘ (my friend sent me one of the one hour versions – this is the 4.08 min one), you will feel good. Afterwards. I can not stress that enough. It’s almost like you need to bottle the ‘feeling’ after a good weights workout and measure it out in doses before you go. Why?  Y’know how your mind starts saying things like  “there’s a good show on tv”, “I don’t feel like it, I have so much to do…”, remembering the ‘feel good’ feeling and choosing to have more of it, has immense knock-on effects in your life. Namely: confidence, you start sleeping better, you become stronger (mentally, physically and emotionally) and the big one: you are putting yourself first. That is huge. You’re saying, I’m worth it. I deserve to be happy and this is how I can make that happen.

  2. Money, you can save it: Holler! Did someone say “save money?” Yup, this is true. Although, you need to be clever about this. It costs me $77USD a month for this 16 week challenge. With today’s exchange that’s $88AUD for my Aussie readers. That gets me a full nutritional and training program – specifically designed for my needs (muscle gain), access to John’s brain and his colleague Mike Vacanti on pretty much any question under the sun I have (24/7) and the one worth it’s weight in dumbbells, the online group itself. There are 70 people in my group that I have forged friendships with. Four weeks ago, I knew known of these people. Now, they are a community of fellow lifters who share their ups and downs, recipes, tips and training wins. I totally love it. The program breaks down to three sessions per week, split into four monthly phases. The next step would be to find a good gym based on what your income\needs allow you to spend.
  3. Gymtastic: Speaking of which, you may either have your own gym (that you go to or set up at home), be in the market to join one or I’m not sure what another or would be…maybe where you live there is one in the complex. At the moment I am b) in the market to join one. I have a base that I use on a casual basis (I buy passes), but currently I am trying out gyms. Most gyms will provide you with free one – seven day passes and this is a super way to use the equipment, find out if it works for you either location or purpose wise and if the prices are within your range. Now, why is the gym a pro? (Let’s just include home set ups in this too). Well, firstly it’s you time. It’s a devoted allocation of your resources to achieve an outcome in a set environment (sheesh that sounded very organisational psychology book-ish). Put in other words, this is the place that is going to get you where you need to go. It can be socially interactive, a great chance to check-out and check-in to your health, and meet like minded crew to share the journey.
  4. Planning queen: Man, last year I was one of the most impulsive people around. I had so many things crammed into my week, that my health and fitness was playing quietly in a corner. On someone’s else’s calendar. Now that the word ‘Strong’ is one of my core desired feelings (massive, massive kudos to Danielle La Porte’s ‘The Desire Map’ for this), I create my schedule around this. Big, big shift from last year. I tried every product under the sun to get organised, create schedules and plan – but I find Google calendar works best for me. Simple. I set appointments to go to the gym, make them recurring and even type the work out into the calendar as well. That way I have it on me always (on my phone). I’ve synced my calendars (home and work) so that I know exactly when I need to go or can prepare in advance. This saves you double booking yourself, as the aim is to make it non-negotiable. This does take time. As the ‘feel good’ feeling rises, so does the planning. I completely understand if this seems daunting, hard or ‘another thing’ you have to do. That was my feeling exactly. The reward (you feeling good) is really worth it though, once you set this up – it’s done!
  5. Positive mindset: It feels like a good segue into this. Trust me when I say, your mind will totally be your own worst enemy or best friend. 85% of the time, I am talking myself out of it. Really. I think of every reason not to go. Then, I sit quietly and work out why. Often it’s because I feel like I need to do SO many other things. But then I think about the ‘feel good’ thing and realise – the SO many other things will be done in a better way, because I honoured my health and I’m also strengthening my mental discipline. On the occasions (there have been two since my last post) I couldn’t go – this was genuinely due to travel and meeting commitments, I made the sessions up on another day (this weekend actually!) The interesting thing with this, was that I could’ve gone. If I woke up early and hit the gym. But I didn’t. And…I didn’t beat myself  up for it. I am not an overly morning person, I chose to schedule them in another time. Positive mindset works in a few parts. You’ll start becoming accountable to yourself (and others if you have an accountability buddy or training partner), you’ll also be kind to yourself, understanding your weaker moments and finding ways to improve them. When that dialogue kicks in (as in my case) – it’s pretty empowering to be able to just get up and go. Not feeding the negativity is key. Staying calm and focused is.

For six months of last year – I practised yoga and meditation through an awesome company called Yogaglo. It really helped me to find that inner resolve through all the debris of internal chatter, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and need to be ‘on’. As a sidenote for Yogaglo, they are California based company that provide online yoga and meditation classes for $18USD ($20AUD) per month. It’s unlimited and you can choose from 5 min meditations to 45 minute yoga classes and everything in between. There’s a 15-day free trial on at the moment if you’d like to check it out.

Well, in my quest to stay ‘economical’ with my words, I feel it’s best to leave the post at this point. It’s good to digest all these positive pro’s and work out what your next action steps may be. I’ll put together the 5 Cons in my next one. There I will divulge the a) and b) statements I made at the beginning and how they drove me bonkers at the start, but now I actually enjoy it (weird). They will be:

2013-11-07 09.32.41

  1. Macronutrients. Counting them. All of them damn things.
  2. Logging your work outs (more admin really?).
  3. Keeping up to date with all the online group posts. Argh! It’s hard enough with social media.
  4. DOMS. Pain. Why am I doing this again?
  5. Intermittent Fasting.
Quote

Do or do not. There is no try. Thanks Yoda.

Till then, stay strong and love to hear how you stay positive in your weight training journey.

Announcing… The next social experiment challenge! Here’s the overview.

16 Weeks ‘til Sexiness. No doubt that title caught your eye as much as it did mine. When my foray into the social experiment I did last year Changing Habits, Changing Lives  ended, I was left with a leaner body, a pantry devoid of more-ish junk food and a good feeling. I managed to *stick* with something and produce an end result. For an incredibly impulsive, [former] emotional eater and ‘where’s the fun at?’ person, this was a significant milestone.

wine, leona devaz, party

Anytime is the wine time.

What does one do with all this new found liberation? Why, undo it all of course. In December I tripped the light alcoholtastic and revelled in this new *ahem* healthy me. Red wine, white wine, blue wine, any wine seemed to pervade most meals and as with most things I do, that had to come to a screaming halt [insert high pitched screeeeeeeechhhhhhh noise. Right. About. Here]

So I ask this question. Why? Why do we do that to ourselves? Achieve a challenging health goal and then bask in drunken glory like we are at a soccer match and our team just won. [minus the shirt over your head and running around on the field. How do they not bump into anyone? Sheer talent]

soccer, drunk, perth glory

YEHHHHHH!

This question was still doing an intoxicated dance in my mind one night pre-Christmas, when a Fitocracy email  landed in my inbox. Fitocracy is a website designed to provide an interactive experience by allowing you to track your workout sessions in a gamified fashion [great for ex-sales people like me who get giddy at the thought of being rewarded].

Fitocracy

Fitocracy: image sourced from http://www.pcmag.com

The email was ‘promoting’ different online group coaching programs that started in the New Year. At first, I thought “what the freak?” [well, I actually wasn’t as eloquent as that], “how the freak do you train in an online group? I mean, what.. you have to go to the gym by yourself? And then what?” So many questions, I was kind’ve in my own quiz show.

I looked at the programs and when I saw John Romaniello  the weight training side of me was reignited. Well, it was more than that really. I jolted up like someone had branded me with a pinging hot cattle prod in my butt. Yeouch! This was my train of thought:

WOW. He’s hot!

OMG. He’s based in NY. I’d love to go to NY.

He’s a writer. I’m a writer!

He’s a prolific writer for major publications and a NY best-selling author. Amazing. I’m in the writing industry too, this could be great research.

It’s only $77 USD a month. What? That is freaking cheap! I can do that.

You get a program, nutrition guide and be part of a group. Cool! I love making new friends.

John Romaniello

John Romaniello: image sourced from http://www.criticalbench.com

And so on, I’m sure you’re getting the gist of my excitement. The program 16 Weeks ’til Sexiness sounded like a pretty sweet deal. Access to an incredibly well-known celebrity trainer for a hugely reduced price. I’m sold.

Then, I got derailed. By these guys. Ryan and Eric – The Sons of Strength and their program Constructing the Champion. You can see why I got sidelined and put back on the bench. The thing that ruled me last year and for many years of my life [and most people I hear] came creeping up and roundhoused me. FOMO [y’know the one: Fear of Missing Out]. So, then my brain tried to be logical and weigh it up:

WOW. Not one, but two hot guys! Double the deal – sheesh that is a bigger incentive.

They are in NY too.

OMG they train actresses. I used to do theatre arts, maybe I’ll become a fit actress?

Oh, you get access to a group as well? Imagine all the cool people in that group.

Their program creates champions. I’d like to be a champion. Not sure what at though, but it sounds good.

$99 USD. So slightly more than the other one, but still super affordable.

etc…

Eric and Ryan Johnson, Fitocracy

Eric and Ryan Johnson: imaged sourced from http://www.fitocracy.com

And then in a very-unlike me fashion. I did nothing.

I figured, I’d let it incubate and decide later.

One week later, I registered. Which one do you think I went for?

Part of me wants to leave it hanging to the next post, but I’m not one for surprises.

Announcing the winner… Roman Fitness Systems! Why? Because he’s a writer. Yes, really. I was completely impressed with the quality of information he produces and his devotion to all things health and fitness [and of course, he gets results]. PLUS, he loves Arnie . Anyone who loves The Governor is good in my book. Also, he is incredibly funny and I think you need that kind of trainer when you are about to embark on a solo [but part of an interweb group – weird concept] training adventure.

Arnie, Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Inimitable Arnie: image sourced from http://www.twitter.com\banana_arnie

If you are on a weight-training, improve your fitness or just start moving more journey, I would love to hear about it. It’s bloody challenging that’s for sure. I mean you have to be motivated, get up [early], lift the weights [urgh, heavy] and coordinate gym outfits. Whoops, maybe that is just me.

As a former PT and dance instructor, I totally freaking get it. I really do. So, this is my current social experiment: weight training. And all that surrounds it. Next week, I’ll chat about getting started [it was not smooth sailing for me] and how if you are a beginner, coming back to resistance training or just wanna fling some iron around, how to get going.

And, as any ‘research fixated freelance writer’ like me knows, it pays to uncover as much as you can. Check out John’s wife. That’s motivation right there. I read on her Instagram page a guy challenged her to a pull-up comp. At a Irish pub. Using a door frame.

Girl can lift.

Day #40 of The Amazing Weight

2 days left to go. 48 hours. Countdown begins. To what exactly? Will there be a momentous gorging of sweet treats and unbridled passion for all things sugary, starchy and stodgy? I think not. When I embarked on this ‘bet’ I was purely thinking of making a quick $600. I’ll admit it. It was going to be a long wait for said money, but I was confident I would not be conceding defeat. So I surreptitiously went to the Adicentre and spent a luxurious sum of $591. My savings. Because I thought I’ve got this in the bag. And I sure did. A heap of exercise gear to wear. Where? To the gym in my dreams?

My brain might be fried, but my eggs are scrambled.

My brain might be fried, but my eggs are scrambled. Thanks to my local cafe ‘Spoonful’ for this great brunch. Scrambled eggs with dukkah. Must remember to order sans bread next time.

From an exercise perspective, I’ve definitely stuck to the quota of 6 sessions a week. I’ve been loving the Cardio Tennis classes I do and walking has now become a favourite pastime. I used to be averse to walking and would much rather jump in the car and go down the street (really). Now with Autumn in full spring(!), it’s a real luxury to walk through explosions of colour. From stacking my diary with a stupendous amount of activities, I’ve stripped it back to doing something every day that I enjoy. It’s a far kinder way to move I find. As a freelance writer, I’ve been immersing myself into the local community to really understand what the demographic is like (of the area I live in). I’ve found a penchant for walking to the local cafes now and then to have a spot of brunch and think. And people watch. Because we all love doing that right?

no burger burger

no burger burger

I mentioned a few posts ago, I also wander north of the river to a great organic store. It’s become my new drop-in for great organic food. Here I’ve discovered great chocolate sans sugar, a plethora of organic cheeses, the most colourful fruit and veg and my new mushroom burgers. I made the burger last week and it was a hit. Jammed with fresh shredded beetroot, carrot, cucumber, cherry black tomatoes, fried egg, onion and japanese mayo – it didn’t disappoint. My days of dropping into McDonalds to grab a burger, chips and nuggets have diminished. As Jamie Oliver advocates in his 15 minute meals – it really doesn’t take long to knock something up.

Quinoa pancakes. A nice little indulgence on a cold night. Go a warm almond milk with pure cacao to top it off.

Quinoa pancakes. A nice little indulgence on a cold night. Go a warm almond milk with pure cacao to top it off.

Experimenting with food has become a real pleasure and almost like putting on a show. There’s no dress rehearsal. It’s improvisation class all the way. I find that has yielded the best results. It’s cooking like my mum. Having a staple repertoire in your mind and expanding, trying and inventing all whilst using beautiful produce. It’s a real treat.

My wrap up comes in a few days. I’m super keen to sit and reflect on the Top 10 things I have learned and really grateful for the comments, support, advice and laughter along the way. My new ‘social experiment’ will be to try the I Quit Sugar e-book by Sarah Wilson I mentioned in a previous post. I’m keen to do a once weekly review and see how that tracks as a conclusion to this.

People’s online media habits are of great fascination to me. Your habits are of great value to me and would love your insights in this super quick 6 question survey on what you love reading (blog wise\social media wise):

http://freeonlinesurveys.com/app/rendersurvey.asp?sid=d2pndyjou3ppgb8260116&refer=www%2Efacebook%2Ecom

Much gratitude! x