Category Archives: YMCA

Acting vs Weightlifting

Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made. — George Burns

Weightlifting humbles me. You can’t fake weightlifting. Either you’re strong enough to lift the weight on the bar or you aren’t. You get honest with yourself in about 4.5 seconds, otherwise you can do real and irreversible damage.

Less than a year ago I was lifting just under 150 lbs in a Sumo deadlift for multiple reps. Not bad for a girl with no spine mobility and metal rods. Last night… I couldn’t even do a proper front squat. Everything was tight. I had to go back to first principles. Listen to your body.

At the end of the night, I did manage a few shaky Power Cleans and Jerks and three atrocious deadlifts at 55 lbs. In the Olympic weightlifting I managed more weight than I had in April and almost as much weight as last year but not as many reps. It was nice to know that I had some sort of technique that would allow me to lift more weight than I thought I could. It kicked me up a bit. Cardio recovery was weak… Longer rest periods. But that’s okay too. Sometimes those are necessary.

Weightlifting keeps me honest about my limitations. Physical and mental… And honestly, it’s all mental. Your brain shuts your body off to perceived pain.

In acting, you have to release the tension in the body to yield the maximum results of your craft.

In weightlifting, the only thing that saves you is tension.

Both give you strength.

Physical honesty and coming to the edges of my mental ego, in my case and opinion, are much more transparent.


First time through…

…the new plan!  We setup a new 3 day cycle, working in my Olympic Weightlifting routine.  So far, it’s been good.   It feels like more work and less work all at the same time.  We took out pushups and some other elements for now, since I wanted to concentrate on more weightlifting.  We also put that work near the beginning of the night.  It’s changing up energy levels for me over the course of the nights/days.  I was doing more, more slowly.  Now I get right into the thick of things and expend alot of energy right off the top.  It means I’m doing a little less of the work I was doing more of, but that’s okay as long as I get everything in.

I’m also recreating my meal plan.  Going to see about shedding a few pounds for my 4 year anniversary (for my weight loss journey).  I know that’s not the best excuse ever, but it’s mine…  I’ll let you know how that goes.

Toronto Screenwriting Conference & WGC Awards…

I’m heading there this weekend to TSC 2011.  Then, Monday night, I’m going to the Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Awards.  Lots going on here, lots left to do.  I feel behind.  Will I ever get caught up?  Taking my work on the road with me.  Going to Kingston tomorrow night to visit with a friend then heading to Toronto on Friday.  Looking forward to the train ride.  Been a long time since I’ve done that.

Got some good workouts in this week too.  Getting stronger and faster.  My trainer set out a new routine for me for the month of April.  I bought a scale (something I thought I would never do) since I only check in once a month now.  It will keep me accountable.  Also going to work on a meal plan too.

As I said, lots going on here.

65Kg Sumo PR tonight…and the art of perseverance

So, it appears that a week off was AOK in my books 🙂

I hit a new PR of lifting very heavy weight off the ground (for me) – 65kgs in the Sumo deadlift.  Surprising how quiet your mind has to be before you attempt something new.  Like the fog has to clear and then it just happens.  I did 3 reps at each weight – 20, 30, 40 – and I was going to do 45kgs and I put on 50kgs instead, knowing I could always go back down to 45 if I had to.  I wanted to do 1, just 1, and I did it.

If you’ve followed the progression of my sumo deadlifts, you will know that I was barely lifting 65lbs back in 2010, and it was a struggle at that.  Tonight, I lifted 144lbs.  I can’t even believe it to be honest.

Becoming friends with Isabelle and writing for her blog got me thinking about how much I did not participate in sports when I was a kid.  I wasn’t all that co-ordinated (although I did step-dancing for a number of years too), and I was always slow to pickup on “rules of the game”.  Everything seemed to complicated…Therefore, I was always picked last.  I hated having things come flying at my head too (thank you volleyball).  I was great at Dodgeball (go figure).

Discovering my own rythm, my own sense of timing……like how I struggled for so long with the sumo deadlift at a mere 65lbs.  Week after week, I would go back to that weight.  At one point I was inching up by a pound a week when I was doing the conventional deadlifts.  My trick is to stick with something until I can overcome the obstacles in my way.  Like chipping away at a stone.  I’m beginning to realize, and maybe I knew all along….when it comes to physical activity, I don’t move at the same pace as other people….but damn, I keep trying til I get to where I want to go.  And, when other people have usually moved on, I’m only picking up speed.  I try to spread this over to other areas of my life too.

I really wish I had taken up strength training and weight lifting sooner.  I think it would have been one thing, when I was a kid, that I could have excelled at during gym class.  I’m sure glad I found it when I did.

All is not lost….

After a slightly less than stellar week….I hit two new personal records tonight at the gym.  I did 5 (one set of 3 & one of 2) Sumo deadlifts at 133lbs.  The last time I was able to hit that was before Christmas for one set of 1.  That’s an increase of 500%  🙂  I just set my mind to it.  My legs felt good, my back felt good.  Then up, up and away!

I was also able to do 10 double-unders (with a little hop in between, mind you), a skip jump where the rope rotates twice for every jump you do.  I’ll have to work on eliminating that jump as I didn’t even realize I did it.

All in all…..a good night.  Back to Olympic Lifting tomorrow morning.  I over did it a bit this week, so my arms are pooped.

On another front, my friend Isabelle Després is training for the London 2012 Olympics.  She’s going to be starting a conversation about sport.  I put my name in the hat to be a guest blogger….stay tuned – should be out by the end of next week.





The art of being humble….

Out trainer said today that Olympic Lifting, really training for this sport and putting in all the technical “work” to make your lifts better, can be humbling…..I looked up the word humble to get a good idea of what it meant before I tore into this blog entry….it can be used as an adjective or a verb.

I’m not fond of this definition: Thinking lowly of one’s self (adjective); or this one: To make humble or lowly in mind; to abase the pride or arrogance of; to reduce the self-sufficiency of; to make meek and submissive (noun).  Neither definition is how I take the word in the general sense.

Despite the definitions, I understand where he was coming from.  Knowing your weaknesses, or your limitations, makes you a stronger person.  To me, being humble means that you assume nothing.  The world owes you nothing, people owe you nothing, the weights owe you nothing….you have to show up and do the work, treat people with civility, and lift the weights with the best of your ability, without wanting any reward.  If a reward comes, then so be it.  To me, this is strength.  You don’t need the reassurance of the world, or people, or of material things to make you a whole person.  You are a whole person because you know your edges, and that’s where life happens.

Lifting weights for this class these past six weeks or so has been a tough challenge for me.  I approach everything to do with strength training with a sense of humbleness….i.e. this could be really good for me, or this could be where the train let’s me off.  I never know which one it’s going to be, I just keep hoping that it’s not my stop yet.  I progress very slowly because I know my limitations acutely – I am humbled by them.  I’ve been living with them longer than I haven’t and my funny little back is like a friend and an enemy all at the same time.  I want to be stronger, and to be able to do things more quickly, but my back forces me to slow down.  So, where I might be able to think and write faster than my fingers can keep up, when I’m in the gym, my back requires that I take things slowly.  That’s a gift.

I never expected to be able to do any of this – what I’m doing now.  I knew I could get stronger, but I have to always be careful of my back.  We did lots of work today, and tonight my back is tight and sore.  Not in a bad way, but it’s noticeable more than usual.  A good night’s sleep should cure it.  My arms are also very tired, since I started lifting heavier weights and pulling up weights in a different range of motion that I’m also not accustomed to.

I’m likely never going to be an “athlete” in this sport – I know that.  Doesn’t mean that I can’t get better at it, and even push it a little bit, to add it to my repertoire of exercises.  Not everyone who signs up is going to be good at it, or will even continue on….but my will is pretty strong, and I’m stubborn, so keeping up with it, and pushing my edges, will happen until I find something else I like more.  It happened with Lean&Fit, and it will likely happen somewhere down the road for this too.

When you’re through changing, you’re through.

Be humbled by your limitations and in knowing the fact that there will only ever be one of you; that you have been given the cards in your hand for a reason bigger than you will likely ever know; and, life happens at your edges, because if it didn’t, none of us would ever change or grow beyond where we are today.

Retraining the hands and the brain…

Since I started the Sumo-deadlift, I’ve been using the 45lbs (20kgs) bar to load up.  My hands have paid the price with callouses, but that’s okay.  Tonight, I switched over to the women’s Olympic lifting bar.  It’s only 15kgs, has a much smoother knurling, and a smaller diameter.  So, I had to retrain my grip and the weight loaded on the bar to make up for the 5kgs of difference.  I made up a nifty conversion chart for the 45lbs bar and had to redo it tonight… one point I thought I had lifted a heavier weight than I had…next week, next week.