AvasNana

New Adventures in Training

Recently I met with Strongman competitor, Dave Covan of Tallahassee Strongman. He was looking for a new gym to bring his crew for training. The typical gym does not think kindly of heavy deadlifts, chalk, Atlas Stones, kegs etc.

One of my goals for last year was to compete in a strongman competition. As I invited his crew to use my gym, I realize, I no longer had an excuse. At my disposal was a competent, experienced trainer, strongman equipment and a group of guys training with the same goal in mind.

I joined them on Sunday for my first strongman/woman workout. I invited my friend, Madeline who like me, enjoys doing weird, challenging workouts.

I already do online training with Brett Jones of Applied Strength, he gave me permission to add a “fun” day of Strongman training. So during the week, I work on my movement skills and do specific training to reach my other goal of doing the RKC Iron Maiden in 2013.

I love turning my training over to experienced coaches and trainers. Left to my own devices, I would probably never reach my goals and worse, I would probably end up hurting myself.

So on Sunday, I had my first taste of strongman skill training and I loved it. While the guys were doing massive farmer’s walks, Madeline and I loaded up other bars with enough weight to equal 85 pounds per hand for our carries. It was tough, but we did it. I am thankful that my nail bending and grip ball pullups have made my grip strong.

We also did our first yoke walks. This was seriously intimidating. We did our first set with no weight. The yoke weighed 135 pounds. After getting comfortable with walking with a huge contraption on our back, we added weight equalling 175 pounds. It was tough but still doable. I stopped myself from going any heavier. If I learned one thing over the last year, it’s that my injuries always occur from going too heavy too fast. I have learned to train smarter, not harder.

So, here is a quick glimpse of my first day of training.

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Never Stop Learning

One of the things I pride myself in is that I am always a student. I would never think that I know everything and that I have no room to grow.

I think the problem with a lot of trainers out there is that they get their certifications and that is the end of their learning process.

I can’t begin to tell you how much time and money I have spent attending workshops, reading, studying and applying the things I’ve learned with myself and my clients.

This past weekend, I had the honor and privilege to attend the San Jose RKC as a Team Leader. With this new position, I was responsible for teaching, training and leading a team of 12 candidates through their Russian Kettlebell Certification. I think I was just as nervous as they were. Hopefully, it didn’t show that much.

We spent about 10 hours a day learning and perfecting just seven of the basic exercises. It was Deadlifts, Swings, Turkish Get Ups, Cleans, Presses, Squats and Snatches. Each exercise was broken down, dissected and practiced. Drills were taught to help our clients and ourselves with any problem that may show up in their form.

Each segment began with a lecture and demonstration by the master and senior instructors. Even though I was there as Team Leader, I took a ton of notes. Every instructor brought something new to the table. I learned some different cues, drills and other things to take home with me. I learned that not every cue or drill will work with everyone. Use the right cue for the right client.

I also opened myself up to learning from my team of RKC candidates. Most of them have already been experienced as trainers and they brought along with them some knowledge, cues and drills that I had not used nor have heard of. I made notes of those also.

So although I went as a teacher, I allowed myself to be a student. Being a perpetual student makes me a better instructor.

The weekend was stressful, long and exhausting, but it was also fun. I met some wonderful people.

One of the most fun things was meeting my roommate in person. I “met” Carol a while back on Facebook. She ended up being one of my team’s assistants so we decided to save some money and share a room. Since I didn’t know her personally, I stalked her Facebook page to get more information. She currently lives in Seattle, WA but to my utter surprise, I found out that not only is she from Florida, but she also graduated from the University of Florida. I live in Tallahassee and am a diehard Florida State Seminole, which makes us automatic enemies.

Hoping that she had a sense of humor, I went out and bought a ton of FSU stuff. I spent quite a bit of money on flags, banners, signs, streamers and cups. I also made sure our morning alarm played the FSU War Chant.

I let her have the shower first and while she was in there, I decorated her side of the room with FSU memorabilia. I replace all of the cups with FSU cups and then sat on the bed waiting for her reaction.

Let’s just say it was worth the money spent and having to pack an extra big suitcase.

Yes, she was a good sport and that began what I hope to be a long lasting friendship.

The RKC is not just about learning, working out and training for me. I have built friendships and bonds that will never be broken. Even though many of my Kettlebell friends have gone with Pavel and Strong First, they are like family.

I value those relationships and I value the knowledge that I have received from them.

I will forever be a student.

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Some Wednesday Inspiration

Sunday morning I had the pleasure of volunteering for the Tallahassee Marathon. I joined some of my fellow boot campers in handing out water, Gatorade, Gu and other race essentials at what I believe to be the best water station at the marathon. Yes, mile 2/25 was rocking!
I didn’t pay much attention to the first wave of runners. Most of them were elite and were gone in a flash. The biggest pack of runners came through a little while after that. I was so happy to cheer on some of our boot camp clients, several who were running their very first half marathon.
The last group of the more than 1,000 runners were the ones who got my attention, my water, my gatorade and my loudest cheers. This group was made up of people that you would never think would be able to participate in a marathon. These are the people who showed me the true spirit of the marathon.
One runner in particular inspired me the most and has inspired me and many others throughout the years that I have known her and that was runner, 1021, Susan Sloan.
Five years ago I received a phone from Susan inquiring about our program. When she told me what kind of shape she was in and how much she weighed, I was worried. As a trainer, I know how to work with people of all shapes and sizes, but she was asking about coming to boot camp and that scared me. I encouraged her to take a month and walk and then get back in touch with me.I didn’t think I would hear from her again. She surprised me.
Susan started boot camp with some very strict modifications to ensure her safety. There wasn’t a whole lot she could do but she did everything we asked of her. One of the things we did as a group was to run around the block. The driveway leading to the road was about 30 yards. Susan struggled just to get up the driveway. Again, I figured that after she completed that first month of boot camp, we would never hear from her. Again, she surprised me.
It’s been just over five years. Susan is still involved in our program. She has lost over 10 dress sizes and over 100 pounds. She has maintained that weight loss for several years. Physically, she is in such great shape that she can run circles around some of the young men that attend our classes.
Sunday, she completed her goal of running her first half marathon. I joined Susan for some of her shorter training runs and I have to admit that I had a hard time keeping the pace with her. Watching Susan accomplish such a huge goal was one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had as a trainer and a friend.
This is not the end for her. Tomorrow she begins training for her next goal of becoming a certified Russian Kettlebell instructor. This is one of the most rigorous and physically demanding certifications out there. Participants train for months to prepare for the 9-10 hour days required for this certification. There is a 20-30% failure rate with many people failing because they are not able to handle the physical demands of the weekend.
I have no doubt that Susan will accomplish this goal and many more. I look forward to cheering her on for years to come.
Oh, and did I mention she is 52 years old!?

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Super Strong Nana does the Whole30

I’ve been on the Whole30 website on and off for the past year. I’ve looked at how strict it is and knew that there was no way I could change my eating that much. I rationalized that maybe I could do it but still eat dairy and put milk in my coffee, eat my nightly treat of popcorn because after all, my meals are pretty healthy. I told myself that I do better with a diet high in carbohydrates and a lower fat intake. LIES, LIES, LIES!

I hit rock bottom with my eating during Christmas week. In October of this year, I was at my lowest weight in years. I even went out and bought several pairs of skinny jeans. I was feeling confident and on top of the world.

As usual, I was was close to my weight goal, a number that I haven’t been at in 10 years. I have no idea why I picked that number or why I continue to chase that number after 10 years of coming close and then failing. Even though I know better than to use the scale as a way to measure my success, I am addicted. The number on the scale effects whether or not I am a good person or not. It effects whether I feel like a loser or a winner. It is a mechanical square that I have allowed to dictate my happiness.

At the end of October, starting right before Halloween, I starting allowing myself to eat candy. It only took a few bites and I was as out of control as a crack addict. I couldn’t get enough. I was hiding my eating, hiding my wrappers and going out and buying more.

One night turned into a daily stops at the 7-11 for candy. Feeling ashamed, I would buy other things so the cashier wouldn’t think I was such a loser.

The holidays were just another excuse to binge. I resorted to my favorite Oreos. Once I go down that road, there is no turning back. I felt sick, lethargic, bloated and overall unhealthy. I didn’t have energy to workout and it took everything I had to do simple things such as going to work. Emotionally, I felt hopeless and worthless.

I went back to the Whole30 website. As bad as I felt, I still wasn’t willing to follow the rules they laid out to help me reset my eating and to get healthy again. I ordered their book, It Starts With Food. It only took a few chapters to realize they were talking about me! I related to everything. They even used Oreos as an example of the vicious cycle of sugar cravings.

It was then that I decided to get healthy. As foreign as it was, I decided to focus on health rather than my weight. Focusing on my health allowed me to be willing to do anything to get better.

I went back to the Whole30 website and printed out everything. I printed out shopping lists, recipes and a success guide. For once in my life, I was willing to go to any lengths to get my eating under control.

On December 26th, I quit eating sugar. As the days wore on, I cut out other foods that made me feel unhealthy. I officially started Whole30 on January 9th.

I would love to tell you it’s been easy, but it hasn’t. There are days when everything in my being wants to eat sugar and other junk food. The more days I get behind me, the easier it is. I’ve had sugar dreams and have woken in a panic thinking that I blew it.

I get stronger and stronger in my conviction as I experience more energy, more strength in the gym, better sleep and a clearer head. Mentally I am feeling strong and confident. Each time I pass up the pizza, bread, desserts and pasta that my family eats, is a notch in my success belt.

The best part is that I am trying foods and cooking things I would never have tried in the past. The food I make is so good! Even my family loves it. Things taste so good and I am experiencing the taste of sweetness in natural foods. I never would have thought that carrots could be so sweet. My taste buds were used to the extreme sweetness of highly processed foods loaded with artificial sugars and ingredients.

Although I think everyone would benefit from a super strict reset, I realize that most people either don’t think they have the strength to do it or don’t care enough about themselves or their health to try. Like I did for the past year, the thought of making such drastic sacrifices despite the health benefits prove to be too much. Even making small changes such as detoxing off of sugar can make a difference.

Making changes based on getting healthy and maybe even saving your life instead of appearance or a number on a scale may just be the to finally succeed.

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Super Strong Nana

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to blog more often. As you can see it’s already two week’s into 2013 and I’m just now writing my first blog of the year. Ok, so it hasn’t exactly been a priority lately. I’m responsible for another blog for The Tallahassee Democrat and that one has deadlines. Hmmm, maybe I need to make deadlines for myself.

As a person who procrastinates and is easily distracted, deadlines are important. One of the things that I do as a fitness instructor is to encourage my clients to set deadlines. Whether your goal is performance based, fat loss based, work based or any other important thing you want to accomplish, you must set a deadline if you want to succeed.

Setting a goal without a deadline is certainly a setup for failure especially if you are a procrastinator like me.

I am a very creative person. I am always coming up with really cool ideas for my business. I start the process of making things happen and then I set it aside convincing myself that I will get back to it. I never do. I then lie to myself to justify my procrastination. I convince myself that it was a dumb idea, nothing will ever come of it and that completing the goal is not worth the work that must be put into it. I do that with fitness and performance goals as well as personal and work goals.

So now that I know what the problem is, how do I change it? Deadlines.

If you aren’t already using a calendar or a planner, then it’s time to get one. Just a little FYI, I have also perfected procrastinating on this. I search and shop for the perfect planner and pen. Writing goals and deadlines on a plain pad of paper or a boring planner…Never!

Now it’s time to make things happen. Set a realistic deadline. Put it in your planner. I like to count days or weeks back and jot them down so I know that I have so much time before D-day (deadline day). It creates a sense of urgency.

You nor I are going to magically have our goals accomplished on D-day. We must have a plan of action. My performance goals require that I work out several times a week and that my workouts are specific to my goal. Those get scheduled in my planner…Ok, there are not in there right now but they will be as soon as I’m done with this blog.

I set deadlines for the small goals I want to accomplish to reach the bigger goal. One of performance goals for 2013 (and it will probably be the end of 2013) is to complete the RKC’s Iron Maiden Challenge of pressing, doing a pull up and a pistol squat with a 53 pound Kettlebell. In order to accomplish this, I have to set goals along the way. Right now I have an 8 week goal of a weighted pull up with a 10 pound bell and an easy consistant press with the 40 pound Kettlebell and a solid pistol squat.

My business and personal goal is to write a book. It’s been a goal since early last year. It’s been months since I did any work on it. So now I will set a deadline of December 31st 2013. That book is not going to write itself and of course I can’t start on December 30th. So I set aside a couple hours once a week to write and it goes in my planner..again, it’s not in there yet, but will be when I finish this blog. I told you that I am a big procrastinator.

I would love to hear about your goals and especially the steps you are taking to reach them. Post them in the comments section.

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Superstrong Nana Gets a Little Lazy

It’s not what you think. My laziness has to do with keeping up this blog. I am responsible for 3 different blogs, one of which is due once a week for our local paper, The Tallahassee Democrat.

I wrote what I think is a good blog and I decided to repost it here.

It’s Sunday. Thanksgiving was four days ago. It’s time to put down the fork, toss the leftovers and get back to sensible, healthy eating. I write this blog for you, but also for myself.
I would love to tell you that I am one of those trainers whose Thanksgiving dinner consisted of roasted turkey, vegetables and sugar free, fat free pies, but I’m not. I’m normal and yes, I went way, way overboard these past few days. Due to a snafu in my plans of ordering my entire meal online and happily spending my day visiting with family instead of being in the kitchen all day, we ended up with nothing but one Turducken and two pies. That’s what happens when you send your husband out to the grocery store to pick up the meal.
Thank goodness I had the foresight to make stuffing. I threw together some mashed potatoes out of a bag leftover from a week before. That left us with meat, starch and pie. The vegetables I ordered were left deserted at the grocery store as well as the rest of our side dishes.
The only vegetables at our table were the Gerber First Bites green beans that my grand daughter happily gobbled up from the tray of her high chair. Even if I glued the tiny pieces together with maple syrup, it would have given us one green bean a piece.
With a belly full of starch and sugar, I spent the rest of the day on the couch. My carbohydrate coma and lethargy dashed all of my hopes of getting in a good workout. Eating too much of the wrong foods have that effect on me. I know that what I eat and what I put into my body have a direct effect on my energy and my mood. I also know that starches and sugar set me off on a binge much like a drug addict searching for that next high.
My October issue of the IDEA Fitness Journal had an article on food addiction and the effects of sugar on our brain chemistry. Without going into all the science behind these studies, the gist of the article states that hyperpalatables such as sugary, starchy, fatty and salty foods have a direct effect on dopamine; the neurotransmitter that signals when rewards are present, motivates us to seek rewards, promotes exploring and learning about rewards and maintains awareness about reward related cues. It goes on to say that Cocaine and Heroin target and hijack this reward system and so do appetite controlling hormones.
Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institue on Drug Abuse used PET scans and radioactive chemicals that bind to dopamine receptors in 2001 and their research revealed that obese people had fewer dopamine receptors in the brain’s striatum (reward center) and therefore had to eat more to experience the same rewards or “high” as people of average weight.
Studies with rats showed that when they were given free access to typical hyperpalatble foods, their brain structure changes the same as if Cocaine were ingested. Functional MRI studies proved that both obese and lean women who demonstrate addictive behavior around food show the same pattern of neural activity as a chronic drug user: high levels of anticipation and low levels of satisfaction after consumption.
There is hope. The book; The Hunger Fix: The Three Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction by Pam Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP goes into detail about how reducing stress, regular exercise and a diet rich in Omega-3s can have a positive effect on our brain chemistry. For more detailed information, I recommend you get the book.
One thing we must do however is to detox. Pick a day and make a decision to stop eating those “foods” that keep you in the cycle of addictive eating. Be prepared with lots of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean sources of protein. If you aren’t already; start exercising. Even getting out for walks will have a positive influence on your stress levels and mood. Surround yourself with people who will support you in this endeavor and avoid those who sabotage your efforts.

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Super Strong Nana is Getting Stronger

Working out alone is getting easier, obviously the blogging is not. It’s not that I don’t have stuff to write, it’s just that I get lazy when it comes to writing. It’s really a lack of discipline. I’m finally getting more disciplined with my workouts but now I have to carry that over to my home and work life.

A lot has happened since my last blog. I have continued working with Brett Jones. We Facetime every couple of weeks and he sends me workouts based on my goals.

As I have mentioned before, my goals include completing the RKC Iron Maiden Challenge in the next year. That includes a pull up, press and pistol squat with a 24 kilo (53 pound) Kettlebell as well as a double body weight deadlift.

So far I have been doing weight ladders for Turkish Get Ups and pressing. It’s been 4-5 sets of 1 rep using different weights. I’ve also been doing single DL, Squats, pull ups and single leg DLs.

When I received my first workout, I was shocked to see a single get up with a 24 kilo bell. I was directed to just do it as far as I can. I was certain I couldn’t do it, so I chose a lighter weight the first time. The second time, I decided to use the 24k but just do the roll to press and see how that went. I felt pretty solid and I ended up doing a full TGU on both sides!

http://youtu.be/SzNZKej249c

One thing I had to learn about PRs (personal records) is that they are elusive. I just assumed that now I would always be able to do my Get Ups with a 24 kilo and my presses with a 20 kilo. Wrong!!

Some days I can’t even come close and once in a while I can do it with ease.

The next few weeks have me backing off on weight and focusing on reps. One important thing is that you should never train your max all the time. I used to do that and ended up getting hurt. I’m pretty confident that when I go back to the heavy singles, I will be much stronger and my PRs will become my normal.

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Superstrong Nana says, Suck it 50

Just thought I would start a Facebook album with pictures of me defying my age. I hope this inspires you and shows you that age is just a number.

At 50 years young, I am in better shape and much stronger than I have ever been. I am making time for movement prep and proper warm ups so that I can workout for the long haul.

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Superstrong Nana has a new PR

Super excited today. I’ll keep this short but I just have to share.

As you might know from reading previous posts; I have a very hard time working out by myself. I have tried to set my self up for success by having a workout partner or meeting friends for workouts.

My workout partner, Jerritt moved to the other side of town. He used to live a couple miles from the gym so it was easy for us to meet in the afternoons. Not anymore.

We tried meeting after his midnight shift as a police officer but we were both exhausted and our workouts suffered. So I had to dig deep and start flying solo.

It’s tough but so far so good. I guess having a solid goal is what is driving me to workout alone. I am finding although I still get distracted, I am able to do this.

Yesterday was a huge PR for me. After a long, long time trying to get one good dead hang Pull up, I actually got 3 good ones in a row. I never expect to get the third one (see previous post on confidence) but yesterday I surprised myself…and I did it for 3 sets!!

After I finished my workout, it was time to goof off and I thought I would try a two finger hanging leg raise with feet to my head. Just goes to show (me) that you never know what you are capable of until you try.

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Super Strong Nana is Bending Steel and Taking Names

This has been a super strong week for me, full of PRs (personal records) and surprise feats of strength. I also learned an important lesson about negative thinking and confidence. Both more important than PRs.

I have a lot of strong, super-fit friends that I follow on Facebook. At least once a day, I see pictures, videos or status updates on their workouts, incredible feats of strength, weight loss or another amazing accomplishment. My first thoughts are how awesome they are, my second thoughts however become self defeating.

I begin to tell myself that I can’t do that, I’m not strong enough, not good enough and just not enough. I’ve spent my entire life comparing myself to others instead of being the very best me I can be. What I am learning; slowly but surely is that my attitude about myself pretty much dictates whether I fail at a given task or not. It dictates whether I attempt something or not and it keeps me from following through on my dreams and ideas.

Last week I had the honor of having super strongman, Bud Jeffries stay with me and my family while he was passing through town. The biggest perk was spending two days at my gym training with him. Bud obviously sees something in me that I don’t see in myself and he encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone. We spent a couple hours on Deadlifting. He dialed in my form and then started loading on the weight. With each increase, I kept telling him I can’t do that. He just smiled and told me to try. To my surprise, I lifted some weight that I thought would take months of training to lift. I also did partial Deadlifts with just over 300 pounds!

The next day was nail bending. Again, we worked on my form. He pointed out that I need to work on my wrist strength (which I knew). I bent a few 3/16 nails which are pretty easy for me. Then he brought in some 1/4 inch nails and a couple of 3/8th inch pieces of steel. Again, I thought he obviously had me confused with someone else.

I worked and worked on bending the 1/4 inch nail but my weak wrists prevented me from getting it. Bud put a very small bend in it and once it was started, I was able to bend it. Let me just add that nail bending is a hell of a cardiovascular and full body strength workout. I was sweating buckets and my heart rate was flying. So since I couldn’t bend the 1/4 inch without a start, I was wondering why the 3/8th. I thought maybe he was going to do something with it.

He did. He gave it to me and showed me how to use my entire body to bend it. You start by getting it started over your thigh, once you have a bend, you start placing it and using other body parts. So bending this piece, involved some crazy isometric full body moves. I bent it!!

Keep reading because that isn’t even the good part.

After some recovery, I was telling Bud that all of my friends were posting videos of themselves doing 2 finger pull ups. I told him that I felt a bit jealous and how I wished I could do that. He then asked me if I had ever tried. The answer was no. I just assumed I could never do anything like that. I had given up before I had ever started. Something I realize that I do a lot….a whole lot.

He told me to try it. We walked over to the rings. I put my first 2 fingers on the rings and all the while was thinking how I’m going to be embarrassed because I can’t do it.

Then, I just pulled myself up. Not only did I pull up, but I held myself up there for quite a while. Holy Crapola!! I couldn’t believe it. I did it again and again.

I did it for several days after to make sure it wasn’t a fluke..it wasn’t.

It was then I knew I had to do something about my negative thinking. I would never in a million years tell anyone that they can’t do something. With others I am encouraging and positive so why the heck am I so hold on myself? Finding the answer to that really doesn’t matter. Knowing why doesn’t elicit change. Changing elicits change. So where to start?

One of the things I will do first is to make friends with myself. I will treat myself as I treat others and how I would like to be treated by others. Secondly, I will act as if I am already a confident, positive person. The old, “Fake it Till You Make it”.

I have a list of affirmations next to my computer and I am redirecting negative thoughts into positive ones. Yesterday, I took things to a whole new level. Instead of putting my goal on paper, I did this.

The Iron Maiden is a major feat of strength with Kettlebells. A lady will perform a Pistol Squat, Press and Pull Up with a 24 kilo bell (53 pounds). I have a great training program and my goal is to complete this in the summer of 2013.

Me and this bell are going to become very close in the coming year.

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