Get Motivated - Exercise as a Chore or a Passion - Weightlifting Woman - @powersofthesnow

I wrote this for many of you who find that some days, the motivation just isn’t there to get into the gym – seeing that New Years is coming up and many of you are considering making some changes or resolutions.


 

I used to think exercise was a chore.

I remember the days where I dreaded “working out” – the days when I wasn’t in shape, strong, or good at anything at all. This wasn’t too long ago…probably about 5 years ago when I was in college (and all throughout middle school and high school). Running down the block made me feel winded and ready to hurl. I somehow managed to walk for 4.5 hours on a golf course once a week when on the time but was definitely drained at the end (and still chubby and overweight).

I felt burdened by the idea of “moving for the sake of moving” to stay healthy.

But for a minute, lets talk about CHORES!

Chores…UGH! Once we feel like we *have* to do something we sort of don’t want to do it.

I hate the feeling of being obligated, or tied down to something when I don’t see the immediate benefits of doing that thing RIGHT NOW (having people over, for example).

…like, can it wait?

Laundry, dishes, cleaning the bathroom, taking out the boxes to the recycling bin, reorganizing the tupperware so it doesn’t spill out when you open the cupboard door, etc. etc. Chores seem like such a hassle because they take away from all the other cool stuff we could be doing and we hate the feeling of dealing with the mess.

BUT when you do get those things done though, you feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders –  it’s like there’s this invisible blanket of stress and anxiety that just flies away, and suddenly everything seems a bit lighter, clearer, and you can breathe.

It’s never until after we’re done with the chore that we feel the happiness and satisfaction of getting it done in the first place.

I feel exercise is the same way to a lot of people…it seems like such a “chore” to get done.

“Ugh, I feel tired, I’m sore, I could be doing other things that give me short term satisfaction, I have to work to make money.”

Exercise might seem like a chore…unless you have a different mindset about it. What if you could turn exercise into a passion, and into a part of who you are?

Back in high school when I was obsessed with sitting at a computer at home all day and loathed running, I remember one of my friends who was on the cross country team tell me “running is fun once you do it a lot and once you’re good at it.”

I never believed her until I actually followed through with it and stuck to trying to run further and further, and trained for my first race. The first couple weeks obviously sucked really bad as I felt constantly tired, incapable, and felt that my breath was hard and out of control. But when I finished that darn run (even if it was only 20 minutes), I felt so accomplished for the rest of the day.

So….how do you find motivation? How do you stop thinking about exercise as a chore then?

1. If you’re finding yourself unmotivated at the moment, stop thinking about the way you feel during the exercise, and instead, start thinking about the way you feel after the exercise is completed.

I think that’s why most of us get turned off by the idea or get unmotivated from wanting to workout in the first place…because that’s probably the first thing that comes to mind when we think about “exercise.” We feel incapable, tired, fast, full of heavy breathing, sticky and sweaty, discomforted from muscles feeling the burn, impatient waiting for a clock to slowly tick down until you’re done with the sprint. BUT of course after you’re done with any workout (whether it’s that small 10 minutes you were able to sneak in, or a long grueling 2-hour long training day) you feel SO accomplished and SO satisfied with yourself…and yay you can go to bed knowing you did your chores today!!

You’re only one workout away from a better mood.

Sometimes, I just feel bogged down and tired and “don’t want to do it” but it’s not until I just say, “you know what, let’s just go” and I get to the gym that I’m extremely glad I got off my butt and went in.

I don’t know about you, but it’s definitely rare that prior to going to the gym I’ve felt so much overwhelming amounts of energy that I’m bouncing up and down the walls dying to “workout” to get rid of that seemingly infinite energy, unless I’ve just tapered for a huge competition.

Wish I could feel that way every day…but then…

 

2. Regardless of where your current fitness level is, start to consider yourself an “athlete”

I never considered myself to be in shape at all or in love with exercise until I considered myself an “athlete.”

I, of course, wasn’t a very GOOD athlete by all means when I decided to label myself in this way (probably lugging miles along training for my first official 5k race or half marathon). But I kept telling myself that I was an athlete of some type that was looking to be better, stronger, faster, more powerful and more energetic. And you know what eventually happened? I stuck with it, set some goals, made some goals, made MORE goals, and now I can’t imagine my life without doing any of this!

Because I thought of myself as an athlete, “exercise” didn’t exist anymore. What used to be “exercise” turned into “training sessions” and “workouts” and “benchmarks” that would eventually get me to a goal. An athlete doesn’t necessarily have a goal to just “look good” (which is why I felt exercise used to be a chore, because I used it as a means to lose weight and look good).

An athlete has goals to obtain physical feats – to lift a certain amount, or run a certain speed, or win a game on a team, or finish an obstacle course race, or to advance to higher levels of athleticism or achievements in their sport. Looks don’t necessarily matter as much – what you can DO matters. Set a GOAL! Now the workouts each day becomes all the steps it takes to get there.

(along those lines…I consider “having people over” a GOAL…and boy oh boy when I schedule a day to have people over and the house is a MESS then YOU BET FOR SURE those chores will get done. Same thing for athletic goals, except you really can’t procrastinate on those 🙂

Once you stop thinking of daily activity as “exercise” and start thinking of it as part of your life – as the pathway to certain physical feats and goals at the end of the road – and part of who you want to be…then it feels less like a chore and more of a passion and a hobby.

3. Start searching for the hobby-like aspects of exercise:

  • Are there people who share the same goals and passion as you that you can team up with? (I ended up joining a running team when I started my journey to becoming an “athlete”, and currently train once a week with a weightlifting team).
  • Can your workouts become gateways or exit doors that take you away from all the other stressors of your life momentarily?
  • What if working out became that time where you could focus on yourself, and do something for yourself?

Once exercise becomes a passion, and not a chore, and you feel like you might be somewhat of an athlete…you won’t feel “chained down by it” – you don’t feel like you HAVE to do it or else the chubby, energy draining muscle atrophy gods will curse you for the rest of your life, (which is probably a shorter amount of time because you choose to not be in shape.)

You’ve got to say “Yes, I want to be that person who is strong, and capable, and fast, and powerful, and full of energy…because that’s what I do and that’s an integral part of my life.”

“I push things aside so I can train. Not exercise…train.”

If you’re struggling to feel motivated – then take the “chore” out of exercise and focus on the benefits, the end goals, and the “afterwards” results…keep your mind away from the actual doing of it and just go do it!

 

Independent & Dependent Goals - What Makes You More Satisfied in the End? Weightlifting Woman @powersofthesnow

You all,

I have another philosophical rant for you about….goals

(again, really?)

I was just reflecting on what types of goals make me the most satisfied with myself in the end – and what types of goals I set (that I don’t make) that make me feel like I can’t ever get there.

Well, it just occurred to me there there are two different kinds of goals or standards we can set for ourselves…and well I don’t know if this theory has been stated or written up elsewhere but I promise this is all from my head and I have no references:

  • INDEPENDENT GOALS (Meeting or matching a definitive measured number…a.k.a. quantitative). Examples:
    • lift a certain amount of weight on the bar (Clean & Jerk 2 Red plates, for example)
    • Run a 6-minute mile, or complete a 5k in under 25 minutes.
    • Have blood pressure measured at a certain level
    • Meet a certain number on the scale
    • Eat X number of protein grams per day, or successfully not drink any alcohol for 30 days.

Basically, Independent goals are goals that give us a definitive target regardless of who-else is out there. If you take everyone else out of the picture (other athletes, competitors, candidates, friends, family, etc), independent, quantitative goals will still be there for you to match or not.

Think of independent goals as getting a “Yay! You Participated!” Medal at the end.

  • DEPENDENT GOALS (Qualifying for or meeting a certain criteria dependent on the performance of others…a.k.a. qualitative) Examples:
    • To qualify for Crossfit Games “Regionals”
    • To finish on the podium at a sport/athletic competition, such as at Weightlifitng Nationals,
    • Qualifying for the Olympics
    • To back squat more than your best friend, or that “guy/gal” at the gym
    • To get accepted to a certain school/college/program/job

To summarize, dependent goals are goals in which your ability to meet that goal depends on the performance of everyone else around you also trying to meet that same goal. Whereas a medal won after an “independent” goal can be obtained by all those who have put in the effort, a medal earned from meeting a dependent goal was *given to you instead of others* because you accomplished something others couldn’t who were also striving for that same goal.

Now, there are some goals that do slightly fall in between the two (but I’d call them more “Semi-Dependent” goals because they are somewhat determined based off of the criteria others have set) Examples are: The current Clean & Jerk record for your weight class in the region, or even in the world; The qualifying total needed for the American Opens, or for the Boston Marathon; Fitting into a “Size 4” dress (lol! but it’s true – our standards of dress sizes change with generations, measurements and geographical location).

SO OK, what’s the point – why think of goals in this way?

Well, I guess I was trying to figure out which of these types of goals made me feel “happier” overall, or just more satisfied with my life – and which goals were just driving me down some endless cycle of constantly trying but never seeming to get there.

I don’t know about you, but I always feel more frustrated with my end performance when I set more dependent goals for myself, and don’t meet them. OR…try to train to be better than other people.

A few months ago our Gym set up a “Summer Goals” board – and I put on there that I wanted to Clean & Jerk 100kg, Snatch 75kg and finish on the Podium at Nationals.

Two independent goals and one dependent  goal.

I didn’t ever make any of them (and still haven’t to this day) – but now just wondering if my strive to meet the dependent goal (podium finish) took away from my ability to meet the independent goals (C&J + Snatch) – or the other way around?

Maybe my impatience on wanting to snatch and clean & jerk those numbers quicker (and doing multiple heavy reps when I shouldn’t be) took away from the greater progress of the podium finish goal.

So by not making my dependent “podium finish” goal – I felt like I left completely unsatisfied and wanted to make a drastic change to meet that goal…and in fact, something I’ve been teeter-tottering as well is the consideration of dropping a weight class in order to “perform better relative to others” in that weight class and perhaps finish on the podium (because my numbers I lift now would definitely get me a medal in the 48kg class) – but in the end my overall numbers would drop due to loss in muscle and I wouldn’t be close to lifting magical numbers like “100kg” anymore without putting in even more work. I’d be sacrificing an independent goal in order to meet a dependent one.


 

So with that thought in mind – is it more satisfactory to be weaker at something in general, but still better at it compared to others around you – or is it more satisfactory to drop that outer dependence of performance of others and just do it for yourself and yourself only? 

Meeting DEPENDENT Goals:

The Limitations & Downfalls of Setting & Obtaining Dependent Goals:

Uncontrollable Factors: The issue with dependent goals are factors that you cannot control – so the only way to really meet these goals is to study your competition, strategize, and train the best you can to perform the best you can in hopes that others won’t perform as well as you.

Comparative Nature: Another potential downside to setting and trying to meet dependent goals that comes is feeling that other people judge you based on your performance in relation to others. There’s usually a feeling of “I’m not as good” or “I’ll never be as good” because you’re always comparing your performance in the context of others.

Pressure: I don’t know about you, but when I feel the need to perform well in the eyes of others at that very moment well then I get a huge sense of anxiety and pressure that comes with that performance. I feel this anxiety and stress comes much less when it’s an independent personal goal that has no sense of urgency or a “must do it now’ situation.

 

The Upsides – What is there to Gain from Obtaining Dependent Goals:

Acknowledgement: Winning something, or beating a record, or doing better than the other competitors around you brings about acknowledgement and recognition from others – perhaps if you’re someone who’s been looking for this type of recognition your whole life to feel satisfied than meeting a dependent goal will certainly make you feel on top of the world.

Legacy: Getting yourself there means you got your name there written in the books to stay – and now you’ve given others a goal to try and match up to.

Pride and Boasting Rights for your Resume: Now when it comes to future competitions – being picked for a team or being the favorable choice, you now have this accomplishment written all over your resume as a way to convince people of your worth when faced with the pressure of others

Overwhelming Satisfaction: Um…you just did what a lot of others (who are trying just as hard) couldn’t do! You should be proud!

 


Limitations when it comes to meeting INDEPENDENT goals

The Limitations & Downfalls of Setting & Obtaining Independent goals:

No Context: How do you know if the quantitative goal you’re actually trying to meet is even good at all? Is it meaningful if it’s a number that’s just not as impressive compared to what others can do?

Lack of Urgency, Pressure or Motivation To Meet Inner Expectations: Independent goals are on your own timeline – and it really depends on if you have the drive to meet the inner expectations that you set for yourself. Sometimes, having an outer influence that pushes you to act faster can help you get to your goals quicker.

 

The Upsides – What is there to Gain from Obtaining Independent Goals:

You really are on a quest to better yourself just for yourself. There is no judgement, there is no comparison. You either meet the number or you don’t meet the number.

Feeling like you have complete control: Because this type of goal does not involve anyone else – it’s really all ON you, and when you do complete that goal…well it was all your effort, of course!

A sense of “wow, I can actually do this!” – Because usually (and I hope so) independent goals are goals we set for ourselves to hit that we KNOW we can accomplish because we have control. We may or may not hit those dependent goals sometimes (again, due to uncontrollable factors, etc), but we have complete control over our own independent goals and how far out we decide to set them.

Being strong and fit is a choice, just as being weak, out of shape and chubby is a choice. Just depends on which you really want more and how much work you’re willing to put in.

Overwhelming Satisfaction: Um…you just set a goal, and made it, and are now that much closer to where you want to be…congratulations you should be proud of yourself!


 

Now I end with some open ended questions:

Is it worth it at all to set some very high stakes, dependent goals for ourselves, knowing that they might lead to more dissatisfaction in ourselves if we don’t meet them? Should we just stick to only independent goals?

Is the satisfaction and happiness that we gain from a dependent goal really that much more worth it than meeting a bunch of independent goals?

Or maybe…does our strive to meet dependent goals prevent us from clearly seeing how much we’ve accomplished independently?

I’ll leave it there….but you know just something that just came to mind as I pondered why I compete at national weightlifting events or even compete at all.

 

The ABCs of Goal Setting and Reaching Point Z - Is there even a Finite "Z"? by Weightlifting Woman @powersofthesnow

I sometimes feel it gets increasingly harder to get better at something once you’re somewhat “experienced or good at it”

…and even harder to progress even further.


I decided to write on this topic today based on many conversations and encounters I’ve had with athletes at my gym – athletes who seem frustrated that they aren’t “progressing as fast” as they thought they would, or who look to others who seem to be way ahead and wonder…why can’t I also be there?

Wait for it…here it comes…my whole spiel on “goal” talk. wahphwahphwahph

One of the best ways to start getting yourself places and progressing to whatever that may be (have some muscle definition, have more energy, finish a certain distance of race, be mobile enough to do an overhead squat with the bar with full range of motion, deadlift a certain amount of weight, etc.) is to…set goals.

Hard numbered, data-backed goals that are specific, measurable, and attainable (with some effort required, of course) in an realistically indicated amount of time…by you. SMART goals…basically.

*Note that these goals that I’m going to talk about are “inner” expectations that you set for yourself, not necessarily “outer” expectations that others would expect of you, or that you *think* others expect of you. These come from the heart…from deep down. You might want to do these because in the end it’s for someone else, but not because you feel that they expect you to.

But when we reach these goals…well is that the end? Whoop-dy-doo we’ve hit the target, now we can stop and cruise, right?

Nah, I’ve never found that to be the case.

In fact, meeting goals has pushed me to further set even higher goals…ones that I wouldn’t have even considered before even setting previous goals. Or, perhaps I would have envisioned one day miraculously being able to achieve these higher goals but they were just a “dream” and not necessarily a real goal.

A dream is just a big goal at the end of a line of several smaller goals and benchmarks that set you up along the way, making the dream actually seem achievable and possible.

Comparing Goals to the Alphabet: A Personal Interpretation

Because I like using metaphors, I’m going to use the alphabet as a way to explain my way of approaching goals. We all start somewhere (letter A) and we all want to end up somewhere (letter Z). Now, we can approach this way of comparing the alphabet to goals in two different ways:

There is a finite “Z”

Z is the ULTIMATE ending where we *dream* we want to be someday (such as weightlifting in the Olympics…dang that’s a HUGE goal!) and steps B through Y will be all the little steps to eventually get us to Z. Think of “Z” as a little kid’s fantasy of one day becoming an astronaut or a firefighter. We might actually get to Z if we try hard enough and decide to drop everything we’re doing and put all our efforts towards getting us towards that one goal. Perhaps, at the end of life, we just end up getting to “P” or “Q” and being satisfied with that.

For many of you, this “Z” is the ideal – Z is a distant dream that may or may not be achievable (but it is achievable because others HAVE done it), yet you know that you’re definitely no where close to that right now.

There is NOT a finite “Z”

In fact, Z is always changing, because A is always changing.

Once you actually hit “Z”, you reset yourself, start back at A again and now are on a journey towards a new “Z”.

If you follow this interpretation of the “goal alphabet”…then you’ll make sure Z is always within close reach (still taking steps B through Y to get there). Z is perhaps just making it to the end of a 30 day nutrition challenge, or the end of a 4 week training cycle without missing any days of training. “Z” in this case might also just be making it to the end of the day without “snacking on any holiday treats” (and B through Y is every hour you have to deal with when coworkers decide to bring in glutenous cookies)

Z is always changing…and because it’s always changing, you never know where you’re going to end up.

 

Which of these theories – when it comes to approaching your goals in life – do you think is correct?

Are they both correct?

Well, regardless of whichever way of thinking you decide to fall into, we can’t argue that in order to get from A to Z that you haven’t go through steps B through Y. Now, that progression of steps may not necessarily be linear (for example, when you get to step K you realize you have to jump back to step D), nor are all the steps equally the same (Step B might be just getting in 8 hours of sleep per night, whereas Step “M” might be making all of your squat sets without failure). Regardless, you need to make it through steps B through Y in order to achieve your end point.


 

So, why did I just go through all this effort to compare goals to the alphabet? Well, it makes it much easier to analyze and make sense of why we do what we do, and why we “fail” (or actually, miss or skip a step) in our journey to reach the “Z”.

So now, let’s talk about some of the stumbling blocks – why might someone not ever make it to “Z”?

What gets in the way of us achieving the “Z”?

Reason 1: We start at “A” and see the amazing endpoint of “Z” but try to jump to Z too fast without considering or ignoring steps B-Y, or try to skip letters (from “C” to “J”) thinking it will get us there faster.

That’s where we get into problems – trying to skip over letters in the alphabet (or even worse, ignoring letters!)…trying to take the “short cuts” because we think it’ll take us to Z faster.

Examples?

  • Perhaps “Step D” is eating 5-6 handful servings of greens and vegetables per day, as well as a palm size of protein at each meal. Forget to eat your veggies and protein? Well, you might be lacking in essential nutrients and vitamins that give you the energy you need day to day, and you won’t have enough protein “building blocks” to build that muscle you’re trying to make with your workouts.
  • …Or perhaps “Step R” is doing adequate warm-ups before every workout to ensure you have best range of motion possible and that your muscles are prepped and warm to take on intense loads. Always try to skip over those pesky warm-ups? Those “10 minutes” or so of warm-up may not seem like much in the moment, but repeatedly doing them establishes a ritual and consistency for you at every workout that you can take with you to competition day, and they will overtime consistently establish (and maintain) adequate range of motion, better stability in the muscles and joints, and lesser chance of injury (we don’t wear a bike helmet just “occasionally” because we want to prevent injury – we do it ALL the time because we fear that *one time* when it will happen. Warm-ups are like bike helmets – they help to ensure – at least a little more confidently – less chance of injury.)
  • …Perhaps another example of “skipping steps” is jumping up in weight intensity too fast in the programming without considering the end effects of going too heavy too fast in the cycle. If a program is done well with a lot of thought, science, and data to back it up, then follow the damn program so you can at least stay consistent! I’ve definitely started cycles where that “70-75%” on the first week felt extremely light, but I know I have to hold myself back from wanting to go heavier knowing that the cycle will pick up quickly in the next couple weeks and I’ll regret going too heavy too quick (because I’ll have to deal with that load later when it really matters but my body’s already too fatigued trying to recover from that last load…oops!)
  • …Perhaps you’re trying to do a move that you’re not ready for (such as a complex yoga pose) because you haven’t built up the proper mobility to do it correctly and in good form without injury…or taking on a race or mileage you aren’t ready for because you haven’t build up the muscle endurance, stamina, or nutrition experience to withstand the volume. The experience of going through steps B through Y are just as viable and important as the end goal of step Z…and in fact, B through Y are “mini goals” themselves and not just steps along the way…they are benchmarks indeed.
  • Perhaps it’s trying to find some type of “miracle pill” or performance enhancing supplement that will give you artificial gains without you experiencing the true natural gains yourself or considering other factors necessary such as good sleep or nutrition (anyone rely heavily on “pre-workout” to feel like you have any energy at all? Feel like you HAVE to have a FitAid following a workout so you don’t lose those gainz?)

The other side of trying to “skip ahead” too quickly is getting frustrated and overwhelmed when you don’t meet up to the standards of the letters you’re trying to skip to.

DUH its because the other letters set you up to succeed at further letters down the line!!

 

Reason 2: We see “Z” but have no idea where “A” is

Literally, in order to start achieving goals you have to understand where you are currently at. You also have to be honest with yourself – do you have as much mobility as you *think* you do? Is your nutrition really as good (heh “80/20”) as you tell other people it is…and does your current lifestyle set you up to continue that?

Or on the other end…do you actually have more drive, more energy, and more willpower than you think you do at the moment? (are you constantly telling yourself you are too tired to do something when really you’re just trying to find excuses not to start and can’t see the immediate benefit of completing the task of B right away? Are you waiting for the days to pass by thinking B will “eventually happen” without just doing it NOW?)

Assess where you are…and be honest with the assessment. If you really have no idea where your “point A” is…well just jump in and start with something!

Starting somewhere (whether it’s the appropriate step B for you or not) is better than not even starting at all, because then at least you’ll realize whether you started in the right spot and can actually make the move to start in the correct spot if that didn’t work.

The cool thing is once you have made it to your “Z” (and if you’re picking your very first “Z” pick one that’s super easy to do) that when you “reset yourself” and make your “Z” your new “A”, you’ll never have to worry too much about what “A” is because you’ve already established that with each “Z” you achieve.

 

Reason 3: We try to adapt someone else’s “A to Z” thinking that’s the right alphabet sequence for us.

Literally one of the worst things you can do for yourself is trying to take someone else’s goals and make them your own. Ok, if you’re an Obliger-type and need to achieve something because your boss or workplace expects that of you…that’s a different story (because that’s an outer expectation that someone else expects of you, not an inner expectation that you expect of yourself).

We’re talking about inner, personal expectations.

Um…personal goals are supposed to be individually dependent and reflective of personal needs and experiences. You might have the same “Z” as someone else (first muscle up? 100kg clean and jerk?), but your “A” and your “B through Y” will undoubtedly be different because you have different genetics, a different schedule, different social expectations, different types of support, different experiences, different opportunities, and different everything.

So, there’s no “one size fits all” diet, programming, or what not. One person’s Step “Q” might be really difficult for them, but might be really easy for you and vice versa. You all probably have to take similar types of steps to get there, but the intensity and impact of each step will vary widely based on who you are.

Yet, you can’t assume that because everyone has “different steps” that they never went through the same steps that you went through, or that it was necessarily “easier” or “harder” – they probably did something similar at one point but just with a different flavor or interpretation that fit their individual needs. Your “Z” might be their “Step P” or their “Step D.”

The effort that it’s taking them to reach their next “Z” is taking just as much effort as it’s taking you to reach your “Z”

 

Reason 4: We get caught up and frustrated trying to achieve our current goals because we forget how far we’ve come.

OK, the one DOWNSIDE of going with the theory that there is no finite “Z” is that: because A and Z are always evermore changing, we forget sometimes where the previous Z’s and A’s used to be.

We forget how far we’ve actually come and how much we’ve actually achieved because we’re always constantly setting newer, higher goals.

It’s tough to be thoroughly satisfied (for the long term) once we achieve the “Z” – Perhaps momentarily once you’ve finished the race, or snatched that long anticipated weight that you feel some sense of achievement and a “yes I did this!”…but does it ever stop there?

We keep striving for more and looking for more challenges to keep us motivated because we rarely ever find satisfaction in just staying in the same spot. But with every new Z comes a whole new set of B through Y that may not take the same level of effort or experience. It’s not like you can continuously repeat the same B through Y and keep progressing at the same rate if you’re always resetting back to A for a new Z.

The new Step “B” that you are facing now is way, way, way much further down the line than the original Step “B” you first faced back when you started your journey. It’s not like A to Z resets like an infinite circle…it’s like a new step on a set of stairs that lead to infinite goals and infinite dreams at the end. You’re just a few steps higher than where you started, and higher elevation means tougher breathing, colder weather, and thus adapting to tougher conditions to get to the end (if there is an end?)..

At least with the theory of a finite Z, you can always look back and see where you were at point A, point B, etc.


 

So…when do we start the journey to “Z”?

Today.

Why wait until the “opportune” moment, or until the 1st of the month to start something? You can start picking away at steps B and C now so when you get to that “first of the month” you’re already prepped and part of the way there.

Perhaps you’re in between training cycles though and you feel like you’re in this “transition” zone…well in that case, you’re in a different A-to-Z where the Z will be the first day “back at it” and your current steps are simply putting yourself in the best position at the end of your “transition” period to hit the ground running at your new “point A” when you’re ready.

The worst you can do is send yourself backwards into a previous alphabet set so you have to take even more steps to get where you want to be…more or less just stay in the same spot.

Why is it taking so long to get to “Z”?

Well, either you set your Z so far ahead that steps B through Y are much longer to pass through, or you’ve just stalled on one of those steps in between and can’t figure out how to progress or get around it without “cheating the system.”

  • Perhaps one of those steps isn’t an obvious one that you can physically control and get results for NOW, but one that needs more information in order to solve – perhaps you need a bit more knowledge in order to pass a certain step that you don’t have at the moment, or a certain amount of muscle built up overtime (that can only happen as a result of growth over time) that you need in order to achieve a first pull-up or vice versa.
  • Not all steps can be instantaneously passed through quickly and not all steps and benchmarks can be achieved with the current knowledge, skillset, mindset or way of thinking you currently have.
  • Some steps involve some sort of risk…stepping into the unknown and into the unfamiliar, and some steps are just freakin annoying and you have to deal with it so you don’t end up stalling.

All I can really say here at the end is that…we all have our “Z’s” that we want to get to, or that we dream of getting to some day. But it’s about the experience of B through Y, and about the creation of new Z’s that come along that makes our lives exciting and what gives us constant drive to be better at something.

Don’t ever forget how far you’ve come, and how many A to Z’s you’ve been through to get to your current letter. Just know that it gets increasingly harder to create full complete sentences, paragraphs, statements, ideas, and thus “satisfaction” when you’re missing some key letters of the alphabet.

 

Pizza.

 

(gluten free slice for me, of course.)

 

American Open 2015 Recap Performance Bombing Out But Pleased

When I went to my first American Open competition a couple years ago, my goal was simply just to get my name up on the board and get a total. I ended up getting 6th place. My heaviest lifts and PRs back then are now weights that I frequently warm up with.

I’ve gotten better, but so have all the other girls in my weight class. Thus continues the relentless pursuit to just lift 1kg more than another lifter.

Results of my Lifts: So how did I do this time?

Snatch:
  • 68kg
  • 71kg (a meet PR!)
  • missed 74kg (matching a personal record).
Clean & Jerk:
  • Jerked 92kg, but given two reds for a press out
  • Cleaned 95kg with a rough drive from the squat, missed the jerk
  • Cleaned 96kg, missed the jerk

The 92kg would have given me a total of 163kg, putting me around 4-5th I think?

The 96kg jerk, had I made it, would have given me the bronze medal.

I left this American Open without a total, and therefore without a ranking or placement. But, I’m actually still very happy with how I did and I think I made the right decision in trying to go “All or Nothing” rather than just try to “make a total.”

I will say that last year at the 2014 American Open in DC that I also bombed out and didn’t make any lifts at all. But the main reason for that was I weighed in way too light because I had this bright idea that I wanted to eventually cut to a 48kg. I’m back in 53kg where I belong so that’s no longer an issue, although I still weighed in the lightest of all the girls in my session (51.94kg).

 

Quick debriefing of how The American Open is different from any other “local” competition

Locally, there’s probably 1-2 other girls who are basically my competitors in my weight class. I currently share the New England records with another 53kg lifter (I hold the clean & jerk record at 95kg, she holds the snatch & total record).

Therefore, unless she is also at the meet, I basically end up dominating my weight class and also coming close to winning “best overall female lifter” based on sinclair.

Local competitions, to me, are opportunities to land a higher total to put me in a better qualifying position for the A session at a national meet. Because of the lack of close local competition (and high sinclair in my region), I usually end up lifting all of my lifts at the very end of the session and either end up following myself (and getting 2:00 rest between lifts), or having a brief rest if someone else who is a heavier weight, or a close competitor happens to also be there to lift similar numbers as I.

With national competitions – all of a sudden everyone in my session is the same weight class as me and therefore also lifts very similar numbers. In fact, you might see up to 8-10 girls all trying to lift the same amount of weight on the bar because that’s simply where everyone’s capabilities are, but also because of how they are strategizing to lift “just one kg more” than the other girls.

Because everyone is lifting such similar weights, the waiting times between attempts can really vary – from following yourself to waiting 20 or 30 minutes just for 3 more kg on the bar depending on who misses and who makes that evening. Being able to keep track of attempts and following other lifters is enough of a stress itself, in addition to just going out there and lifting the weights!

It’s rare that you will see strong PRs at these national meets (although they do happen and are quite incredible to watch) but you will see some lifters having incredibly strong performances and some lifters…not having as strong of performances.

I happened to be in the latter group (from an outside perspective), but inside, I felt like I was in between the two groups. Yes, I didn’t make any clean and jerks, but I felt like I still had an incredibly strong performance.


 

The Positives: What Worked Well That Night.

Positive #1: Snatching:

I made my first snatch!

…and the second one!

(and I almost power snatched over 140# in the warmup area)

I love starting a competition with a lift made because it gives me confidence to make the next few lifts. I think in the end, I could have made the 74kg snatch had I took another attempt because I think nerves just got to me because I would be attempting to match a PR…or a lift that I had only done once in my life.

 

Positive #2: Dealing with the Time Change

Reno, NV is in the Pacific time zone…that’s 3 hours behind where I live. Thus, with a late lifting time of “6:30pm” I would be lifting at the equivalent of “9:30pm” Eastern Time. I don’t even workout around 6:00pm in general, but usually in the mid-afternoon (4:00ish).

We arrived in Reno two days before, so to “prep” myself for being awake during the time change, I did some mobility, stretching and yoga up through 9:30pm both Wednesday and Thursday night. I think this immensely helped to transition me over to the change in time in the short number of days I was there.

Positive #3: My Body-Weight at Weigh-In:

Usually 3-4 weeks out I start to really micromanage my diet, and was definitely hovering around 52.5kg in the weeks leading up to Reno. I know many women in the 53kg class tend to stay over 53kg as long as they can before having to cut water weight last minute to make weight. I happen to fall on the lighter end of my weight class due to my height and body type so I tend to have a little more freedom with what I can eat.

I ended up weighing in at 51.94kg, which wasn’t too light, but I could have definitely eaten a little more. When I got to Reno, I definitely didn’t feel the need to overly “restrict” myself, but I did watch my portioning and tried to keep it consistent to what I normally eat at home…because you know restaurants tend to give you waaaay more food, right?

Singlet with Donuts Weightlifting American Open 2015

Probably one of my most favorite singlets yet – here I am sporting the donut singlet with a Qalo ring and some coffee from the local Reno Hub Roasters. (because I love local coffee…sorry Starbucks! You were over crowded). Also, a case of desserts I scouted out for my “post lifting” meal…the choices!

 

Positive #4: I had donuts on my singlet:

Donuts! I make my own singlets because I hate being boring. This singlet has gotten me the most positive feedback yet. Sorry, not yet able to mass produce for sale unless you’re also a 53kg 5’0″ lifter.

(I did not end up eating donuts during my post-lifting re-feed. I choose a gluten-free brownie instead. Actually, I ate a salad first).

 

Positive #5: Overall Decisions in What Lifts I Would Take:

I think the snatch numbers that I took on were solid and on point. I don’t think that I would have make 73kg had I went 67kg, 70kg, 73kg because my 3rd attempt miss was more of a “nervousness” issue, not a “strength” issue.

During my clean & jerk warm-ups, I wasn’t feeling nearly as strong as in the snatch, so I decided to move my start to 92kg instead of a planned 93kg. I don’t know if going up to 93kg would have resulted in me not pressing out my jerk or would have mattered now looking back, but I think it would have slightly decreased my wait time between lifts.

Following that “miss”, in hindsight, I’m incredibly glad I decided to jump up to 95kg rather than take 92kg again. Why?

Because I’m a competitor, and I decided to go for it with an “all or nothing” attitude. If I made the 95kg it would take me that much closer to the podium. In fact, if I made my 3rd lift of 96kg, it would have given me the bronze spot on the podium!

What does 4th, 5th or 6th place really…REALLY mean to me in the end in this type of competition? Well, it means that I just “played it safe” and I didn’t take any risks. I KNOW what I can lift, and I have the opportunity to show that in many local competitions. I’ve already proven what I am capable of doing. So, what’s the point of a national competition then?

The end point of a national competition (such as the American Open or Nationals) is to try to finish on the podium and get to the top. It’s not just “to make another total.” I’ve already qualified and shown my potential – now I just need to show that potential where it REALLY matters. This is a different kind of pressure – it’s no longer necessarily lifting to “make a PR” (although some people do!). It’s to lift 1kg more than the others regardless of if that was a PR for me or not.

I think that’s also why so many other girls also bombed out as well (it wasn’t just me!). The pressure at this type of competition is astounding.

Though in the end, I honestly will tell you I didn’t cry a single tear (Nate can vouch for me). I shot for the toughest target and just ended up missing this time around.


Press Out 92kg Clean & Jerk - American Open 2015 by Weightlifting Woman

Here’s a photo that Lifting Life Photography captured of my 92kg clean and jerk – they caught it right at the moment where my arms “bowed” just enough to qualify it for a press out.

Looking Back – Why Didn’t I Make These Lifts?

I’ve clean & jerked 96kg in training a few times before, and cleaned it twice in two different competitions (Nationals and New England Championships). I’ve also jerked 100kg before.

So why wasn’t I able to make the jerk this time around?

First off, let me tell you how I felt during both the 95kg and 96kg lifts (which were similar): The weight was manageable off the floor, but once I had the bar racked and stood up, I felt slightly dizzy, out of focus, overheated and lacking that “bounce” of energy that I usually get with other clean & jerks.

I probably missed due to all these variables:

  • They gave me two reds on my first clean & jerk due to the slightest amount of “press out” – which was basically bowed arms before I locked out. This put a huge damper into the rest of my clean & jerks. I feared missing the jerk, or “pressing out” the jerk” – and that fear probably contributed to why I missed the jerks at the end.
  • The time change was starting to drag on me. It was about 8:00pm there, which meant about 11:00pm EST. Clearly, I’m not used to working out that late (even at 8:00pm EST) and I think my body began to shut down because well, it’s used to getting ready for bed at that time!
  • My nutrition & fuel probably wasn’t quite right. You know me…I’m a big advocate for habits and minimizing variables the day of – but of course being away on travel without a car or a grocery store nearby and having to rely on the food available at the venue, my nutrition and food wasn’t exactly the same as it always had been. I had a different kind of yogurt, meal, post-weigh-in meal bar and other things. I didn’t have my usual drink mixture with me during the session. Any of these nutritional variables could have contributed to my lack of drive and energy in the jerk.
  • I weighed a little lighter than the other girls in my class, though I feel I was still adequately eating enough for meals (I had a huge omelette and fajitas earlier that day!!). 51.94 isn’t too bad…I’ve weighed much less before, but I still could have used another 2lbs of fluids or fuel in me before weighing in. Have no idea what to expect on the real scale though, as the check scale had me in the 52’s the whole time!
  • I had too much “wait time” between my first attempt and 2nd attempt – one girl missed ALL THREE lifts at 93kg and another decided to jump in and take 94kg so it had been at least 15 minutes since I took my last clean and jerk in the warm up area – and we couldn’t anticipate whether the lifters would make or retake the lifts so I ended up waiting around for 10 minutes longer than I hoped. This probably brought my adrenaline down. It was apparent in my 95kg attempt (was super slow coming out of the squat), whereas the 96kg drove up easier because I had less wait time between lifts and the adrenaline was slightly there from the last attempt.
  • I wasted energy caring too much about the logistics. “How many attempts left until me?” “What place am I currently in?” “What weight should I increase to?” This is the reason why we have coaches – they take care of this logistical stuff so YOU CAN FOCUS ON MAKING THAT FREAKIN LIFT. But me being all Type A and always wanting to know what’s going on and being in charge of stuff got in the way of putting all my energy into the lifting itself.
  • While sitting around and waiting, my focus wasn’t clearly on myself and my own performance, but rather how the other girls were doing. I sat there right behind the platform and saw one girl miss all three lifts (who had snatched way more than me), and another miss her 2nd clean & jerk attempt. I put a lot of energy into focusing on what other people were doing, and not into just making my own lift. Wasted, energy.

So, there’s a lot of factors that came into play. I can’t say that one factor dominated the others in terms of why I didn’t make any of the lifts…but it’s all another learning experience. In the past, I would have a lot of other reasons on why I didn’t make the lifts (I was tired, I wasn’t strong enough, my technique wasn’t consistent enough) – but since then I took care of most of those factors. I think the overall trend though, for this particular American Open competition, was that I cared too much (again) about what others were lifting and how others were doing, and I need to focus and hone in on my own lifting.

With every competition always comes new (and repeating) challenges.

Minimize the variables, focus on my own lifts, let my coach do all the logistical stuff for me…the podium will be there. Next year!

Competition Strategy Preparation and Day Of by Weightlifting Woman @powersofthesnow

Competitions are a test – they are a test of your strength both mentally and physically. They are a test of how far you have developed as an athlete, but also how you deal with pressure, excitement and challenge “in the moment.”

Preparing for a competition takes a lot of work – both in the months and weeks prior to the competition, but also in those few days and hours surrounding the actual competition itself. Perhaps you’re a seasoned athlete who has been to several competitions already, or a novice looking to jump into your first competition (whether it be a crossfit competition, weightlifting competition, obstacle course race, long distance race, or some other awesome feat of fitness).

Here are my thoughts, tips and strategies that I’ve learned and adopted through almost 3-4 years of participating in various types of races, fitness competitions, crossfit competitions and weightlifting competitions (both at the local and at the national level).


 

Determining Frequency of Competition – How Far In Advance Should You Plan?

Since competitions are a “test” of your fitness – consider them equivalent to various types of school exams. There are quizzes, mid-term exams, and FINAL exams. Now, depending on the type of competition you do, your event can fall into any of those three categories.

If this is a competition that is requiring a level of fitness or strength that is currently beyond your capabilities right now (and you have to train for a few weeks to work up to that level) – you’ll probably want to treat it like a “Summative Final Exam”. Now, FINAL exams don’t happen frequently or all the time. No – in fact they probably only happen a couple times a year. This is directly related to how you should train seasonally – our human bodies can probably only peak, in terms of physical fitness performance, a couple times per year.

When I say peak, I mean heavy, strenuous levels of performance that require you to work for an extreme period of time longer than what you’re used to and at a much higher volume or intensity than what you’re used to on a daily level.

These peaks require at least several weeks, or a few months of training beforehand to allow your body to adapt to the intensity and loads it requires. Why does it take several weeks or months to reach a “peak”? Because you have to train in WAVES of intensity and volume, and because developing muscle fiber and losing/gaining mass in a healthy and safe manner takes time and patience.


 

Following a Training Cycle & Program Leading Up to Competition

Sometimes, you know what the test expects and you can adequately prepare for the test to ensure your best performance on the day of. You can’t CRAM for a physical fitness test like you might be able to for a school exam – Good performance the day of requires weeks and months of work…

…Weeks and months of:

  • Developing strong muscle memory, skill and technique in movements you are going to perform
  • Developing adequate muscle fiber and strength
  • Priming and adapting the central nervous system to loads and intensity of weights, coordination, speed and agility
  • Establishing a healthy nutritional routine to fuel your workouts and your body to build the muscle it needs (while minimizing any excessive body fat that’s just “extra dead weight”)
  • Establishing HABITS, rituals and routines that you can take with you to competition day so there is “nothing unexpected” on game day, or you can minimize the variables.

You can’t be expected to perform at the level you hope to perform on Day 1, or even Day 10 or Day 30 – but you have to start somewhere based on your currently level of fitness and work up from there so when that special day comes – you can be at your peak and best performance!

So hopefully, you have (or will find) some type of training program and/or nutritional program that you can use to prime yourself for a good performance.

 

What do you mean by a “training program”?

Well, you’ll need workouts and diet planned out that give you the intensity you need depending on your starting level of fitness, as well as the REST and recovery you need in order for your body to adapt to those fitness stresses. The program overtime should slowly allow your body to adapt to increasing loads of intensity and volume (either distance in mileage or “duration of activity” if you’re running a race, or weight on the barbell if you’re doing a weightlifting competition)

Yet, you can’t always just keep increasing and increasing week after week – your program should also give you a few days of “deloading” and tapering so you can recover and reset your body to take on even more intensity and volume later on.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” program based on your own personal body’s ability to recover, adapt to workouts, nutritional habits, schedule, stress, sleep patterns, and amount of time you have available to you – but you need to at least start by following some program consistently before you really know whether that program is or isn’t working for you.

These precious months and weeks leading up to the competition is the opportune time for you to refine your technique and learn the muscle memory to perform your movements efficiently and correctly the day-of.

We all know that feeling of “fluster”, nervousness and anxiety the day of a huge test or event, right? Well, when we get nervous or flustered, we tend to fall back on what is routine to us and whatever technique, action, or movement pattern is second nature. Well, if we can spend the several weeks repetitively and meticulously working on developing correct movement patterns, we can have a better chance of “defaulting” to that good technique because it’s engrained in our muscle memory!

(See my previous article here about Reinforcing Repeated Movements for more talk on that topic!)


 

Day Of Competition: The “prep” is only half the battle.

Basically, don’t do anything stupid in those few precious days right before your competition.

And especially don’t do anything stupid the day of the competition.

As much as you can prepare for weeks and months beforehand for a fitness-based competition – much of your performance can be highly dependent on the events happening the day of, a few hours before, and just a couple days right beforehand.

The goal here is to minimize any variables and stick to the familiar as much as possible.

Tapering right before the Competition:

Generally, most written programs leading up to a competition will have embedded in it a week or two of “tapering” or deloading – basically, a period of time immediately prior to the competition where the intensity and volume of your workouts decrease to allow your body to fully recover and the muscles to build back up so you can be at your strongest and fittest during the competition.

Do not…I repeat, do NOT ignore the taper period. You might feel antsy and really wanting to MOVE in that day or two before competition day – but don’t give into that feeling – in fact, feeling ANTSY, energetic and anxious about wanting to workout now that means your taper is WORKING and you’ll feel at your strongest the day of.

Keep up with your Sleep & Nutrition

The few days right before a competition is NOT the time to compromise on going out and staying up later than what you need to – because it WILL take away from your competition performance the day of. Be strict and be stringent.

Trust me, it’s worth it if you need to be super picky on your diet for a week or two (and pass on those free cookies at work) to make weight for your weightlifting competition, or to be persistent in getting carbs, protein and fuel right after your intense workouts so you can build your strength back up, or staying hydrated throughout the day.

Have a Nutritional Plan the Day Of

…but don’t plan it only a day before you need it.

In fact, you should have a nutritional plan planned out weeks prior to your competition, because you have “tested out” your nutritional needs during some of your intense workouts in the days and weeks during your training program.

Usually a competition takes you out of routine because it either requires you to do several workouts during the day (instead of doing one), racing for a longer-than-average length of time or distance, or “making weight” and then having to suddenly refuel and carb up right after weigh in – and then sustain energy during a few hours of competition.

You don’t want to eat too little – yet at the same time you don’t want to take in too much which will make your performance “sluggish”, sick to your stomach or just make you hover near the bathroom for half the day.

The best things you can eat are things you are very familiar with eating, and things that will be easily digestible (no tough protein, or huge amounts of fibrous carbs and vegetables) . Don’t be tempted into trying out those fancy nutrition bars that are being handed out at some booth at the competition. You have no idea how your body will actually react or respond to that new type of energy.

Minimize any variables as much as possible, especially with your nutritional intake, to maximize the potential for your best performance.

Harness that Nervous Energy

You’ve put in all the training and conditioning you need to allow you to sustain energy for the whole duration of the event – but something you may have not considered is a different type of energy you might tend to use up and consume during the actual competition.

That is called “nervous energy”  – or mental energy.

Interestingly enough, competitions are not just a test of your physical capabilities, but also the ability to harness your mental capabilities and how you can place most of your mental focus towards performing the physical task rather than towards other things such as:

  • Stressing about logistics (what time do I have to go? where’s my equipment?)
  • Worrying about other competitors’ performance
  • Worrying about your own performance (you are ready, trust me)

In cases like this, it helps to have an outside guide or coach to help manage a lot of the outside stress and logistics for you so you can just focus on what you need to physically perform (whether it be a lift, a short workout, running or cycling in a race, etc).

For example during the American Open – it is complete CHAOS in the warm-up area in the back – or so it can seem if you are trying to focus on warming up for lifts, keeping track of who is lifting what and knowing where you are in the line up so you don’t warm up too quick or too late, or end up having too much down time between lifts so all the adrenaline is lost.

I have a coach (and sometimes an extra helper) to do all of the management for me – they check what weight the bar is at, who lifted what, and take care of all the outside logistics so I can just focus on making my lifts and not on what everyone else is doing.

The more you can place all of your focus on your performance and less towards any other factors that you need to worry about, the less energy you will waste on things that aren’t contributors to your end “physical test”

If you don’t have a coach or helper out, the best thing you can do is have a plan (in terms of how your warm-ups will go, when you will be eating) and spend the minimal amount of time you need figuring out when you need to go. Do NOT get pulled down by checking out how others are doing – because using that energy that will only make you more nervous or heated up about your performance later.

Just go out there for yourself and compete for yourself.

It’s you against yourself.


I wanted to write this up as I just got done competing at the American Open – another post to come out in a couple days reflecting on my competition and how I did, so stay tune for that analysis!

(because analyzing your performance can only help you with future performances, right?)

 

 

Traveling Tips for Staying Mobile and Fit - Weightliftingwoman @powersofthesnow

Nothing seems to take you more out of your gym and eating routine than traveling away for a few days, right?

You find yourself sitting in planes and trains for hours on end, adjusting to time changes, and working around the food choices available to you either in airports (which are very pricey) or at restaurants local to where you’re visiting.

Keeping track on your fitness and nutrition regime can seem extremely tough when you’re suddenly taken…out of routine. Having traveled to several competitions across the US for a couple years now, I’ve finally figured out what strategies and tips to implement to make sure I’m staying mobile, getting in adequate nutrition, not catching colds from other travelers and lessening the “shock factor” of travel impacting my short-term health and performance.

Thus, I bring you my tips and tricks (both fitness/mobility related AND nutritional related) that you can bring with you and be mindful of to keep you in tip-top shape while on the road or on a plane.

Staying Mobile

  • Always book an aisle seat if possible. This way, you have much more liberty to stand up and stretch throughout flights rather than require people to get up out of their seats if you have a window spot.
  • Bring a lax ball or small roller with you to “roll out” while waiting for your plane at the next gate.
  • Wear clothes that are comfortable and allow you most range of motion if you can. That way, you can drop into a samson lunge stretch with ease during your layovers (see featured image above!). Bonus points if you wear a hoodie or sweatshirt that says “crossfit” or has some kettlebell icon on it, or wear some nanos or other workout shoes so people won’t think you’re crazy.
  • Does your hotel room have internet? Pull up a yoga video on youtube for some mobility! No mat needed – why need to be overly glamorous here? The key is just to get moving and stay mobile.
  • The three places I find that tend to get the most “tightened up” over long hours of travel are chest (front of shoulders), hip flexors and hamstrings. When we sit, we’re constantly shrugged and hunched forward, our hip flexors get shorted and our hamstrings don’t get as much length. Throughout the day I always do a few forward folds (sometimes clasping hands behind the back and reaching to the sky to open the chest if standing), samson & spiderman stretches, seated twists, neck stretches, and a standing triangle pose for 45-seconds to a minute. Make an effort to get these in – and don’t care what other people will think of you doing these at the airport. They don’t know who you are, and they’re not getting the mobility benefits – you are.
  • When waiting for your connection, spend more time standing than sitting. 1. It gives more spots to other people who like to sit down, and 2. you’re probably already spending a lot of time sitting during the traveling day anyways so the less time you can spend sitting, the better.

Getting in your Workouts

  • Walk around during your layovers. In airports, take the stairs and don’t use the “walking walk-way” to allow yourself a few extra steps of walking. Now’s your chance to get in as much “walking” as you can to combat the effect of just sitting for hours. Have a couple extra hours of layover? Go on a hike to Terminal A to get your Starbucks coffee (or just to use the bathroom)! Stay on your feet and browse some stores while you’re at it.
  • Do you usually bring a “rolling bag”? Consider a less lazier option that enables you to get in more nutritious movement : Pack your things in a backpack or bag that you can sling over a shoulder so you’re hauling around more weight while you walk and thus doing “weighted-walks” (and burning a few more calories too). If you’re bring a one-shoulder bag, make sure you switch shoulders throughout the day to work your loads evenly (so one shoulder doesn’t end up being tighter than the other the next day).
  • Have a list of 2-3 travel workouts to take along with you that involve body-weight movements. push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, jumping lunges, air squats, jump squats, plank holds, mountain climbers are all excellent moves you can do right in your room. In fact, I was just doing a few jump squats and plank holds late last night to keep my body awake and adjust to the time change and late lifting times.
  • Find a local crossfit box in the area (if you usually do crossfit) – they are usually very open to drop-ins (usually at $15-$20, or free if you buy a t-shirt from them) and is a great way to meet other like-minded fitness folks in a different area. Although it may not be perfectly in tune to the programming and cycle at the home gym, it’s certainly better than NOT doing anything.
  • Don’t forget to pack your your fitness shoes, socks, clothing and water bottle! I know a lot of people that forget these things, and thus their trip turns into an “oh well, I forgot them so I guess I can’t workout”.

 

Keeping your Nutrition in Check

Just yesterday on the plane we decided to get a box of snacks, and I couldn’t help but read the labels and notice all of the soybean oil, dextrose, maltodextrin-something or other, preservatives, and other ingredients I can’t remember because they were so long and lengthy. UGH! With proper planning before hand, you can stay on top of your meals and not have to rely on overpriced, processed, trans-fatty and unhealthy food options while on-the-go.

  • Always check to see if you can get a mini fridge and/or microwave in your hotel room. This way, if you need to store any leftovers or stop at a grocery store nearby to grab a salad to go, you can store it in your room.
  • TSA allows you to pack food in your carry-on luggage so long as you’re not bringing any excessive liquids or sauces (unless you can bring those liquids in a small closed container under 3oz and put them in a quart-sized ziplock along with your toiletries when you go through the security screening). Any fresh fruit or vegetables and solid foods (protein bars, pre-made sandwiches, canned fish, nuts, sauteed veggies & meat, etc) that are sealed up in a tupperware container are OK to bring on your flight. Make sure to pack utensils & napkins!
  • Suggested nutrient-dense snacks to bring along (so you aren’t reliant on some possible mysterious airplane food): jerky, mixed nuts or trail mix, fresh fruits, carrot sticks & cherry tomatoes, protein bars (I love Exo, Epic, Quest & Organic Food Bar), individual protein powder packets, hard boiled eggs, homemade sandwich wraps (I love Julian Bakery Paleo Wraps that are gluten-free and made from coconut).
  • Yelp & Urbanspoon are really great for looking up decent places to eat prior to arriving at your destination. I usually search for terms “organic”, “salad” and “gluten-free” when trying to find decent places nearby that serve quality foods that cater to my no-bread, paleo-ish eating habits, and I spend about 20 minutes while during layover at the airport to make a list of 4-5 places (looking up their menus on their websites as well) that would be adequate for eating at.
  • Always search for high-vegetable options as much as you can when eating out, and stay nutrient-dense! Avoid the starches as much as possible since portion sizes when eating out tend to be larger than usual and thus you’ll end up eating more carbs overall. To balance that out, keep away from the potatoes, rice and breads except for maybe one meal of the day (unless you’re needing carbs to fuel a heavy workout at a local crossfit box or are competing in a weightlifting competition.) Salads are almost my default option because it gets me some greens in my diet, but I also look for “side of fruit” options as opposed to toast or homefries, and always look for that one “meat & veggies” entree hidden in the menu somewhere. Don’t be afraid of asking for substitutions.
  • Stay hydrated! Traveling for some reason tends to sap all of the hydration out of you and/or makes you feel slumpy (at least it does for me) so I try to make sure I get a bottle of water once I’m past the gates and sipping about 8oz of water every 1-2 hours. It also helps to stave off a lot of hunger cravings and stops you from caving into those processed airplane snacks or making unhealthy food choices when you get to the terminals.
  • Bring your vitamins and supplements with you in a plastic bag or mini tupperware if you can. Generally when traveling we tend to get less nutrient-dense options when eating out, but also get exposed to totally different environments, air qualities, people, germs, and the like. Making sure you’re on top of your vitamins and supplements keeps you more routine and ensures your body is getting adequate nutrients to sustain its daily functioning.

I hope you’ll find a lot of these travel tips useful when staying mobile and in shape while on your journey to wherever you’re going to go! Traveling is not an excuse to just drop your routine for a few days – but if you make an effort to keep health, fitness and nutrition a priority then you’ll feel your best and adapt to jet lag (or road-trip lag) easier in the end.

Safe Travels!