Happy New Year. I hope you all had a wonderful festive season?
So this entry started as a Facebook update, but I soon realised I had more to say than a status update will allow, as usual, so here is a quick blog.
I had a great session in the gym last night. After all the trouble with my IT band irritation and all the recovery I’ve done for that, then hyper extending my hamstring before Christmas, I was very worried that I would have lost a lot more strength than I have. As a few of you may have read, when I developed IT band irritation and it persisted, I was told to rest by my physio and to cease with heavy lifting in favour of body weight exercises in what is known as active recovery. Knowing very well that all I would be able to do is maintain cardio fitness by swimming and easing back into running, I took his advice and knew that it would be better to return with a lower weight and rebuild my strength back up as I would have lost quite a bit of strength over the 9 weeks of recovery that I eventually took.
So, walking into the gym last night night, I approached the Smith Machine with the intention of working out my 1 rep max for all my free weight exercises (for those of you who are unsure what that it, it is the maximum amount of weight you can lift in one repetition, with good form, but know that you can’t lift that same weight for a second time without sacrificing form). I would have preferred a free bar that you can add plates too, but my gym doesn’t have one, only pre weighted barbells that stop at 40kg which are brilliant for when I do my sets. Working out my 1RM is important. It helps me gage where I am in my strength but also allows me to set my weight correctly for the style of resistance system that I use on a given day (there are many styles in setting your sets believe it or not). Imagine my delight that, even though I have dropped all my heavy lifting down to almost half of where it was when I took time off to recover, I was still able to dead lift more than my own body weight. I thought I was dead lifting my actual body weight, when I tweeted my delight last night, but actually looking at my weight chart this morning (I’m doing a body analysis thing which I’ll explain in my next blog), I am dead lifting over my body weight and weight less than I though (cue huge grin). I am also back to almost my heaviest in the back squat. To say I’m thrilled is an understatement. I admit I high fived the OH and then did a very girly jump and dance about the gym, much to the amusement of everyone else.
For you numbers people: I weigh 74.8kg and I lifted 77.5kg in plates on the bar (not including the bar weight as it’s not marked so I have no idea how much that weighs, so I’ll just go solely on plates until I move to a gym with a 10 or 15kg free bar). I am beyond delighted. I honestly thought I would have lost far more strength than I have. It also means that I can now increase my weight correctly for the sets I want to do, and ensure I’m not cheating myself in going too light. I love lifting heavy, it gives me a real sense of accomplishment and makes me very aware of how my body functions through the movements and how strong the human body is. Now I am fully armed, once again, with all the details to make my workouts as effective as possible.
It’s reminded me that no matter what life throws at us we are always much stronger than we realise, body and mind, and that sometimes we need to just go all out to remind ourselves exactly how strong, focused and determined we can be. Little achievements and successes should always be celebrated, they make everything else shine and put all the nonsense we subject ourselves and are subjected to, each day, into perspective. In the weight loss world we call a success like that an NSV (non scale victory) and I think these are the more important victories. The scale is a guide and should only be looked on as a guide, it is a number, it is not lord and master. Or clothes are also a guide, and give us a better understanding of where we are than a number. And our achievements in any movement should be cause for a celebration of sorts. For Example: can you reach your hands further to your toes? Can you finally touch your toes, where as you couldn’t 6 months ago? That’s success, and a guide of improvement of some kind. And they should be celebrated because when you have that day when that voice says something negative, or self defeating, you can say ‘maybe but I can touch my toes and I couldn’t do that last year.’ It’s a positive for your attitude arsenal. Use it, own it, celebrate it and throw it back in that voices’ mug when it rears its ugly head.
These little things change your perspective from one of self defeat to one of self acknowledgement in how far you’ve come. There are times we need to look behind to move forward. But don’t look at them with negativity, those past things, look at them with a sense of achievement and celebrate that achievement no matter how small. My celebration last night was to jump around the gym like an idiot with a great big grin on my face. Yes the boys in the lifting area looked at me daft, so what?
So celebrate all your little achievements, no matter how small. They are the very things that make you remember why you are doing it in the first place. And if you’re in the gym ask one of the trainers about working out your 1RM, ask them about lifting and techniques and they will be more than happy to chat to you about it, they may even offer you a free taster session if you are lucky.
As always, be kind to yourself