||[Dec. 27th, 2005|05:31 pm]
Whole lotta labia.
|[||how ya feelin'?
The quick and dirty: gym attendance continues, spotty but continued. food is ok but not good. weight is constant. returning to basics, this time a bit more... introspective.
And it's that last bit I want to get non-quick-and-dirty about.
Having had a lovely long Saturday to work out a few weeks back I went in and rather than running for an hour and then doing weights I did cardio in 20 or 30 minute bursts and weights in between. Since then I've been doing slightly shorter cardio on my morning workouts (which is to say, 45 minutes total in two bursts instead of an hour solid) and making sure I get weights in. And what's happening in my head? I'm remembering why I started this in the first place.
Right now if I flex my upper back muscles I can actually feel them move. I love that. I didn't start this to get skinny, I started this to be able to do the things I love better. I couldn't mount a horse and I couldn't keep up with Greg on floorwork and I was so tired of being tired all the time. Little things made a difference, little changes, and the things I loved got easier. These days I love different things. I love dancing and running. I love hiking and writing. Little changes, working out, make those easier too. I know which muscles to use to create dance movements, I'm making mu butt stronger to improve the hiking, and the cardio is making my running performance improve just as the strength training is keeping my muscles aligned so that I can go further and not hurt myself. Even the writing improves as my food gets more responsible and my mind gets more alert.
I find if I focus too much on the cardio it all falls apart. Food stops being fuel and starts being an object to be adored and loathed by unhealthy turns. Workouts become trips from one end to the other of a short treadmill track with breaks for wasted weights on tired muscles. I become obsessed with the scale, how it looks and what it says. Not just my usual "Weight up from yesterday" or "Lost two pounds this week, woot!" but more like "Ok, now, if I pee first and wipe the sweat off my neck I bet I can get the scale down," and "I weigh X now at 10pm, I wonder how much it'll go down overnight." When I focus on cardio I weigh myself multiple times in a day. I am not healthy. I'm not talking about just training for a race or such, I mean that to the exclusion of all else. I was still training for the race when I started incorporating the weights again. The training runs didn't get shorter, but if I did weights on the off days I found that my runs were more satisfying.
I am very, very lucky. I work out in a gym where weights are easily half of the available space and women are not just welcomed warmly, they're considered a given. Of course there are girls in the freeweights. Duh. There are a wide variety of machines and freeweights, cages and platforms and chin-up bars as well as the standard machines and circuit exercises. And when I'm there in the morning there are at least three other women who are serious about their lifting. Which is not to say that they're powerlifters (though one is, and man, she's impressive), just that they clearly have a routine and they're focusing on their form and being deliberate. I am neither singled out nor shunned for my hack squats or my lat pulldowns. I am part of the scenery.
This morning I did my high-row pulldowns one arm at a time and realized (duh) that my right side is weaker than my left (I'm left-handed, did you guys know that?). By like five pounds of lift potential. Which explains why the double rows have been feeling so awkward lately. And as I pulled in to my chest I could feel the muscle flex and spread. When I did the lat pulldowns I could feel the lats spreading out like wings across my ribcage. And when I got to the bench press I realized that it's time for me to add more weight. People, I nearly cried. I have been lifting for a few weeks but oh how I'd forgotten how good this feels. I'd forgotten how good it feels to have your machine working. To feel it flex and pull and settle again.
I remember now how lifting makes me view food as a welcome thing in my day because it helps repair muscles, it lets me run faster, do more, be more. It keeps my mind sharp and my form strong. Lifting means that no matter what size my clothes are I feel that the body beneath them is functioning as well as it can in its current state and is improving, not weakening.
Last Summer I was lucky enough to take a dance class from Aruna who (aside from her discussion of sacred geometry, which, to be honest, lost me a bit) was an inspiration. She's so incredibly powerful. She's been a bodybuilder for years and a dancer just as long and when she moves you can see the muscles under the skin dancing with her. I thought about her arm workout this morning while I was lifting and kept in mind what her muscles looked like, trying to make mine feel like hers looked. I read the intro to her book A Woman's Book of Strength and remembered how in addition to looking fantastic, she had the most peaceful smile.
When I'm on a cardio machine I read. I know, I know, it's not good for you. I keep my head up, my form straight, and I don't thrust my hips out and stress my low back. The only thing about the reading that might do me harm is that every once in a while I still come across articles that instruct women not to lift too heavy or to be careful not to bulk up. And then I get angry and I almost fall off the machine.
I have said this before, I'm going to say it again, and this time I want everyone to listen. Only one in 100,000 women has the testosterone in her body necessary to create bulky muscle. You? Are not that girl. If you were, you'd know by now. Lifting weights, even heavy weights, will not bulk you up. I leg press almost two hundred pounds, but my thunder thighs don't come from that. They come from Twinkies (but that's another entry).
Some things lifting WILL do:
- Strengthen bone by increasing bone density thereby helping you fight osteoporosis.
- Increase positive body image.
- Improve your sleep habits and your mental agility (of course, that's probably because I'm sleeping better, but lets not go there).
- Increase your basal metabolic rate by 50 calories per day for every pound of lean muscle added.
- Decrease depression (or so the studies say).
You do not need a fancy gym membership to lift weights. You do not even need weights. Charles Atlas used only the weight of his own body and the force of his muscles pressing against each other. If you're feeling like lifting something, remeber that water weighs 8.2 pounds per gallon. Grab a jug. If you've graduated beyond, try Krista's home gym ideas and while you're there check out the rest of her site, she amazes me. These things can be done in your home, with your body, and without a membership or a significant time investment. Hell, check out Shovelglove for what you can do in 14 minutes with a sledgehammer. Dude, I do not make this stuff up.
As a woman you have the right to be powerful, fierce, and proud. You have the right to have a machine that functions as well as it possibly can so that you can do anything you feel you might like to. You have the right to put yourself first just for a few minutes a day. You are so amazing, the things your body can do will astonish you. And the way you feel when you lift your arm and feel that oh-so-gentle twinge that comes from a well-worked (and WELL-STRETCHED!) muscle? That might surprise you too.
I did 45 minutes of cardio too, in case you were curious. 30 on the ellipticla trainer and 15 on the belt-style stair climber.