How Do You Know If You’re Actually Strong?

hiking_failI workout fairly regularly and would consider myself strong-ish. I mean, I’m no bodybuilder, but I’ve moved past the sissy dumbbells. However, I have recently become aware that being strong at the gym and being strong in real life are two very different things. It’s similar to being book smart and street smart. You might think you’re strong because you can lift objects with cushy handles, but using your strength in real life is a different story!

Are you strong or do you just workout?

Splitting Logs

For those of you city-dwellers who have never been faced with this survivalist task, it’s much harder than it looks. Sure, it’s easy swinging an axe and getting it stuck in the log. It’s another thing entirely to have enough strength to power right through the log.

Going for a Hike

Once you find your rhythm, walking, or even running on a treadmill is fairly simple. Going on a hike in the great outdoors is yet again, very different! You will be thrown by the uneven terrain and the fact that you’re actually travelling beyond a stationary spot like in your gym. Embrace the added benefit of fresh air.

Moving Quickly for a Long Period of Time (aka Endurance)

Activities may include rowing (an actual boat) or paddle boating. Basically, anything that requires cardiovascular activity. It’s one thing to have the strength to do something for a short stint. It’s another to have the endurance to paddle around a whole (small) island.

Pulling Yourself Up

I may have discovered the difficulty of this task at the gym, but it definitely applies to real life (survival) situations. Sure, it’s easy when you have your legs moving you from one point to another. It’s much more difficult when all you have is your arms. My arms may look strong, but when put to the test, they don’t do so great. I’m regretting not playing on the monkey bars more as a child.

 

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I Hurt Myself at the Gym So You Don’t Have To

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You’re at the gym. You’re in the zone. The last thing you want to do is ruin your workout by falling off of a machine. Yeah, it can happen. Fortunately for you, although unfortunately for me, I’ve already experienced a number of gym-related injuries. I’m here to share my misfortunes in the hopes that you can avoid an embarrassing gym moment or a nasty bonk to the head.

My Top 8 Gym Safety Tips

1. Watch where you’re going.

You may not think that this one belongs on the list. It does. Sometimes you’re in the zone and you’ve just finished an extremely difficult exercise and are moving onto the next. Before you know it, you bend down to pick up a weight and forget that the squat bar jets out further out than you remember. Bonk. Right in the face.

2. Don’t touch gym equipment and then touch your eye.

I don’t care how itchy your eye is. I don’t care if you think you’ve rubbed your finger clean on your shirt. Don’t do it. Your eye will get so much worse.

3. Don’t be dramatic when putting your weights away.

No matter how tired you are, place your weights down carefully. Remember, your fingers are very close by. It might look cool, but you know what doesn’t look cool? Blue finger nails…

4. Don’t kick gym equipment.

No matter how light a piece of equipment looks, don’t try to kick it out of your way. It’s gym equipment. You will hurt yourself.

5. Ensure the locker doors around you are closed before you tie your shoe.

You cannot imagine the pain that ensues when you stand up from tying your shoes and bonk yourself on an open locker door. Yes, it’s unpleasant.

6. The Internet is not the same as a personal trainer.

Exercise caution when trying a new exercise you learned on the internet. I don’t want to tell you that everything on the internet is bad. However, if you see a video and think, “Huh, that’s a creative use of that machine,” don’t do it! There’s a reason why that machine was not intended for that type of use.

7. Take Notes.

When working out with your trainer (assuming you read my previous post and got one), take accurate notes. If not, you could put the machine at an extremely low weight and fall off. I wish this didn’t happen to me. I also wish that I didn’t end up with a giant bruise on my leg from the fall.

8. Don’t challenge your trainer.

Yes, you want your trainer to push you to your limit, but exercise caution. He will rise to that challenge and you’ll be unable to walk for two days.

My Personal Trainer is Trying to Kill Me (and Yours Should Too)

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Apparently it’s considered a win when you have trouble walking back to your car after a session with your personal trainer.

Personal trainers are clever. They push you to the point where you start wishing physical harm upon them. Yet, they’ve also rendered you immobile and unable to carry out any of your sinister plans.

Then you think to yourself, “Today’s rough, but tomorrow will be better.” Wrong. Apparently things will  get worse before they  get better. And you decided to wear heels to work. That was a mistake. Once you start getting that carefree feeling back in your legs, BAM! It’s leg day again… What’s the point of having nice legs if you can’t even use them? I’m currently working on a way to sit down without using my leg muscles. It’s not going well…

I Got a Personal Trainer (Cue Panic)

pain-gain-arnoldI decided to try this new thing where I start my Saturday off with the feeling of impending doom. No, I’m not running away from a murderer (although sometimes it feels like I am).

As I venture further down the road to better health and wellness, I decided it was time I sign up for a personal trainer. I was convinced (yes, by said personal trainer) that in order to improve my workout and step up my game, I needed to take drastic measures. Personal trainer it is.

Now, along with the physical journey, there’s also a mental component. I’ve discovered there are 10 stages to mentally coming to grips with the fact that I now have a personal trainer (and might die). Allow me to share this roller coaster of emotions.

The 10 Stages of Having a Personal Trainer

1. Regret

After you sign up for your first personal training session, you may second guess your decision. You may start thinking you made a huge mistake and you’ll start making excuses. For example, the expense is more than your budget can handle, your schedule is full enough as it is, etc.

2. Pride

Next comes pride. You may think to yourself, “I don’t need a personal trainer. I’m fine. There’s no need for anyone else to push me. I’ve been doing a basically fine job for years. Yes, I look the same, but still…”

3. Justification

With pride comes justification. I mean, the internet is basically like a personal trainer and it’s free. The people on the internet never tell me I’m doing anything wrong. I realize they can’t see what I’m doing (or if I’m even exercising at all). However, they’re very encouraging. We’ve never met, but I’m sure we’d be best friends.

4. Panic

Once you come to grips with the fact that you indeed have a personal trainer, the panic starts to set in. You realize that impending doom is approaching. There’s no escape. Crap.

5. Increased Heart Rate / Sweat (Not the Exercise Kind)

After you’ve moved past the panic and stress, you want to dive right in. You don’t have to sit around and stress about the what-ifs anymore. Let’s rip this bandaid off already!

6. Impatience

Why hasn’t my personal trainer gotten back to me with a scheduled session?! Doesn’t he realize I’m trying to fix myself?!

7. Relief

You make it through day one and totally nail it. You can totally handle this. Piece of cake!

8. Anxiety

Wait…that was just the assessment?! More anxiety…

9. Pain

Everything hurts. You’ll drop a pencil and take a significant amount of time contemplating whether bending over to pick it up is worth the inevitable pain which will ensue. I think my personal trainer is trying to kill me. This better be worth it. Can’t there be gain without the pain??

10. Acceptance

This is the stage where you fully come to terms with the fact that you’re one of those people who has a personal trainer. I mean, celebrities have them and you wouldn’t say that they’re not smart enough to work out by themselves. Now, I haven’t actually reached this stage myself, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get there…eventually.

I Got Me A Sports Injury

dodgeball_2I’m no stranger to sports. I mean, I usually watch more on TV than I actually participate in, but I’m still no stranger. I’ve dabbled in sports. I’m in a fantasy football league. I do go to the gym regularly. Although, that’s not really a team sport. When a friend suggested we play dodgeball, I thought sure, what’s the harm? Dodgeball is no big deal. Kids play it in gym class. I was wrong.

Let me paint a picture for you. You’re in an arena playing one of the most intense games of dodgeball. Dodgeballs are flying in the air at rapid speeds. Oh right, and you’re on a trampoline, actually, many trampolines all attached to make a sort of super trampoline. I know what you’re thinking. How could playing dodgeball on a trampoline be anything but safe?

You’re finally getting the hang of it and BAM!!!! A dodgeball comes out of nowhere and smacks you so hard in the eye that you go down. Someone has to help you off the trampolines because you can’t see out of you’re right eye anymore. Actually, you’re not sure, but you can’t open it, which is basically the same thing. You’re eye’s all red and the right side of your face is starting to swell. Luckily, the employees are quite used to this and fetch you a bag of ice.

You then spend the rest of the evening with a bag of ice on your face and people stopping as they walk past you to offer their, “Ah! What happened?!”

But don’t worry, there’s free pizza. So it all works out in the end.

And five days later, you can finally open and close your right eye again, virtually pain-free.

Staying Skinny Beyond Swimsuit Season

Everyone talks about gearing up for swimsuit season. As summer approaches, it feels like everywhere you look, you see another ad or another article about “achieving that bikini bod”. So what do you do if, by some miracle, you do achieve that coveted bikini bod? What do you do when swimsuit season is over? As you pull out your box of chunky sweaters, you start to wonder if anyone would notice if your flat abs went away. Maybe no one would notice, except you.

Once the leaves start to change colour and sweater season is in full swing, it becomes harder and harder not to forget everything you worked so hard for and dive head first into a big ‘ole pumpkin scone. You start telling yourself that carbs are worth it. You start to think that eating whatever you want will make you happy. Don’t do it! Sure, you look fabulous in tights and a chunky knit. Don’t you want to look good in everything? Don’t you want to hold onto those jealous glances?

Think about everything you sacrificed to look as good as you do. Do you really want to go through that again next year? More importantly, do you really want to put your family through that again? I think they’ve suffered enough of your, ‘I need sugar! Where’s all the sugar?!’ rampages (see previous post).

Now, put down that brownie and hit the gym!

Sugar: Resistance is Futile

donut_1After eating healthy for the past few months, I can now say with confidence that it doesn’t get easier. Eating healthy is not for the faint of heart. No matter how many cups of water and unsweetened green tea you drink, the sugar cravings don’t go away. Although, the frequent trips to the restroom somewhat help to keep your mind somewhere else. I find the only thing that really works to keep your mind off food is to stay busy. The minute you sit down for a breather, you’re thinking about how long until your next cheat meal. Word to the wise, plan your cheat meal carefully. I’ve too often wasted a sweet treat on a cookie that really wasn’t worth it.  Continue reading