Tallahassee Gyms

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.

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.

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.

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.

Superstrongnana Turns the Big 5-0

My AARP card arrived in the mail today. I guess it’s official, I am now a senior citizen.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks, including my first ever trip abroad. In case you are wondering, I reached my goal of flipping the tire 50 times. I did it twice, once with my 17 year old son. It’s hard to conceive that in February, I was not sure I could do it. I remember the first few weeks of training and the whole time I had that little voice inside of my head telling me that it can’t be done. I remember days feeling utterly defeated by that tire. I remember the massive bruising and swelling.

I’ve learned that with proper training and progression, I can do way more than I thought possible. I’ve also learned how incredible the human body is at adapting. The last few weeks of my tire flipping training, I never bruised. Not only did my muscles and bones and cardiovascular system adapt to the stress, but so did my tissue.

I’ve been back from vacation for just over a week now and I am slowly getting back into the workout groove and adjusting to our soul sucking heat.

Having reached a goal that I worked so hard for has left me feeling a bit empty and lost. For months I had something to work for and focus on and now that I’ve checked it off my list I’m trying to figure out what’s next for me.

I have so much that I want to do. Accomplishing such an incredible goal is empowering and now I want to set MY bar higher. I find my biggest problem is workout ADD. I want to do it all. I want to train for and be good at everything.

So this week I sat down and sorted through my goals. My goal for this year is to train for and compete in a strongman competition. I’ve been researching and there just aren’t that many women competing. The events change depending on the competition so I know that I have to train for different strength events. The other thing I have my sites set on is passing the new standards to recertify for my RKC level 2.

The new requirements involve doing Windmills, Turkish Get Ups, double presses, push presses and jerks with a Kettlebell that is 1/3 higher than snatch weight. At my current weight, my snatch size bell is the 16 kilo (35 pounds). So that means training to be able to pass all the requirements with a 20-22 kilo bell (45-50 pounds).

Here’s the catch; now that I am 50 years old, I can perform all the required skills with lighter weights, but I don’t want to. How can I inspire my clients and my followers by using my age as a barrier? I started this blog to inspire grandparents and older people everywhere to break through the barriers, stereotypes and limits they or society puts on them due to age.

With two majors goals for the year, I have to get focused. As Dan John says, “I have to make the goal, the goal”. For the next 40 days I will be doing Dan John’s Easy Strength program. It’s simple but not easy. I pick several skills that I want to improve and that is what I do…for 40 days. For the people like me with workout ADD, the hardest part is sticking to the program. The lifts I picked are Deadlift, Presses and Pull ups. To this I add Snatches or some other conditioning work. The workouts are designed to always leave some “gas in the tank”. The sets and reps change but the exercises stay the same…for 40 days.

I love going to my gym and having a plan and I love the idea of focusing on the lifts and get stronger without the stress of doing max weights and going to failure. I find that too many people workout way beyond the point of no return. I love the idea of leaving some gas in the tank.

Yes, I have big, crazy goals for this year, but I will begin by going back to basics. Getting stronger in the major lifts will give me a good base for everything else I want to accomplish in the next year.

I still plan on doing my trail running/walking with friends and I will spend one day a week learning and working on the odd object lifting required for strongman competitions but the meat of my program will be spent on the basics. Simple but not easy.

A Strong Week

It’s not even Friday and I must say, I’ve had a pretty good week of working out.

A couple of milestones for me this week was getting out and doing things on my own. I do love having a workout partner especially for the tough workouts but this week, Jerritt, my workout partner for the most hideous of workouts, was busy with his job. At least that’s what he told me.

Easter Sunday, I got out for a trail run with Peyton, my wonderful, beautiful, sweet pup. We walked and ran for just over 3 miles. It was a beautiful day. Instead of beating myself up for walking more than I wanted to, I decided to absorb the moment and enjoy the day. I even went without my music and instead, really tuned into the beauty around me.

Monday, Jane and I went to my gym for a 30 min circuit training with Ropes, Kettlebells and TRX.

Tuesday, Jane and I went to Piney Z for a run. I love this trail! There is nothing quite like running while dodging snakes, seeing alligators and relocating turtles. This doesn’t happen on every run, but just the thought of the adventures we might come across make the run more exciting.

I like to use my Nike + GPS app on my iphone for my runs. It tracks distance, times, pace (which is depressing) AND it connects to Facebook so that when my friends, “like” my “I just started a Run with Nike +” post, I hear cheering through my headphones. Not sure how that works, but it’s pretty motivating and fun.

On the Nike app, you can choose from several options, one of which is time. You choose the time and it will tell you your half way point. That is when we turn around. The most we have done is 45 mins with a turn around time of half that.

I had my phone strapped to my arm so I asked Jane to push the 45 min option. Since Jane is also pushing 50 and can’t see anymore, she ended up pressing the 60 minute option. I didn’t find that out until we got done with our run.

Since we didn’t get a 22 minute notice to turn around, we kept running further and further up the trail. We ended up going into unchartered (for us) territory. It was wonderful. I kept wondering how anyone could possibly spend their running time pounding away the miles on the streets or sidewalks, inhaling fumes, listening to and dodging traffic when we have such incredible trails available.

We ended up turning around because we weren’t sure how much further the trail would take us. We ended up running 57 minutes. We didn’t walk much and I actually ran longer without stopping than I have in a very long time. It was a huge confidence booster.

Wednesday was my Joe day. We went to the stadium for ramps and swings. I love workouts like this. Doak Campbell has a 5 level ramp system that leads to the top of the stadium. Here is what we did.

Run up and back first ramp level
Do 100 Kettlebell Swings
Run up and back 2 levels
80 Swings
Run up and back 3 levels
60 Swings
Run up and back 4 levels
40 Swings
Run up and back all 5 levels
20 Swings.
Repeat the 5th and work you way back down the ladder.

You can do this workout on a hill or even a straight road. Just add laps each time.

Thursday is my tire day. I actually started sweating about this workout on Wednesday night. I had nightmares about it.
I dreaded it because I knew I had to do it alone. I had to depend on myself to push me through a workout that is just plain horrendous. I thought of every reason to put it off but finally decided to suck it up and do it.

My goal was to do 5 sets of 5 flips for a total of 25. I wasn’t worried about time because I know I’m going to slow down half way through the work out.

I really worked on my form so that I could get by with as few bruises as possible. I consulted with my “tire coach”,
Bud Jeffries about the bruising and he assured me as my form and strength improve it will get better. He also said that I will adapt. I haven’t posted pictures because I know my mom will freak out a little and begin questioning my sanity. Come to think of it, it won’t be the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last, so here is the picture. Sorry mom!!

My first few flips I was able to avoid setting the tire on my thigh for the transition, as I get tired, it became hard to avoid.

I managed 4 sets of 5 flips and then 1 set of 3. It took just over 25 minutes. I had to rest longer between sets and reps towards the end. I was exhausted but it felt great to get through half of my goal with 9 weeks left for my 50 flips for my 50th birthday goal.

This is the first exercise that I have found that works every muscle, head to toe. I know it’s not for everyone; actually, I know it’s not for most people but there is something about flipping tires that appeals to me. I think it must because it’s something I can do that requires everything I have mentally and physically. To set a goal of doing 50 for my 50th birthday is part insane and part awesome.

I have to admit, I am researching World Records and unorthodox feats of strength done by women. There isn’t much info out there. Maybe, just maybe, I will trail blaze this area of strength.

But Officer, I swear, it’s Only 1 Rep

Tonight’s workout was a good one especially if you like to go heavy. I watched my Kettlebell clients try some new lifts and set personal records. I had to lift vicariously through them since I am still on my self imposed workout restriction. I think I have one more week left, although I will do whatever my Dr. recommends during my follow up appointment next week.

I named this workout for one of my clients, Jerritt who is a police officer.

“Officer I Swear, it’s Only 1 Rep”

We started with unweighted Windmills and Turkish Get Ups for our movement prep and then performed 1 heavy repetition of a

Windmill
Turkish Get Up
Barbell or Kettlebell Deadlift
Double Front Squat
Double Military Press
Renegade Row or rows with 1 hand on bench
Single Leg Deadlift
Pull Up (with weight if you can)

Repeat for 8-10 sets.

If you don’t have a Kettlebell or know how to use Kettlebells don’t worry, you can use dumbbells. Whatever you choose as your weapon, make sure it’s heavy enough to challenge yourself. Our class is 30 minutes. You can do less sets if you don’t have time or even break it up into 2 sessions during the day.