I probably could've separated this into three different entries, because I have so much to say on each topic, but I'll do my best to keep it concise (and entertaining, of course). ;D
These little bastards just keep tearing up the East Coast. I mean, wow. In the past ~20 days we've been hit with FOUR different storms, and a total of about 6 feet of snow. What does this have to do with training? Well, when legitimate snow storms come a'knockin' it basically means the city shuts down. Better safe than sorry! Which I certainly agree with, but DAMN it makes me lazy. When you're stuck inside your house for 24+ hours, literally snowed in, and you get multiple days off of work due to weather, it tends to turn a person into a world class couch potato. (Or maybe that's just me? It's probably just me.) But, in any case, I've been a slug. For, like, weeks now. I haven't actually missed any training sessions, but there's so much more to fitness than just making it to scheduled workouts. There are 24 hours in a day, only 1-2 of those are spent in the gym, and that leaves about 22 hours left to work with. Which leads me to my next topic...
It's been abysmal to say the least. I mean, I don't even know if abysmal does it justice. With the time I have outside of work and my own training I have basically been doing nothing. Unless sleep is something? Which it can be. In fact, sleep is very important. But do you know who doesn't need 10+ hours a night? Me. I don't. (Just to clarify here, I'm still a functioning person. I clean my house, take care of my chores, and provide for all the little critters in my possession. What I mean by "nothing" is that I haven't taken on any tasks whatsoever outside of the "chores" and "maintaining sanitation and wellbeing" realm.) It can be, well, depressing, honestly, to spend all my time either (1) working, (2) training, (3) cleaning, (4) caretaking, or (5) sleeping. Luckily my job has a pretty heavily creative side, because I do all of my own programming, but there is still a huge chunk of creativity missing from my personal life. I could paint, or craft, or build, or write, or draw... if I wasn't so damn lazy.
I would really like to blame this streak of profound sluggishness on all the snow storms and the general bad weather, but even if it's a contributing factor, I know it can't be blamed more than my own self. This is a battle I always find myself fighting, and hopefully I'll eventually figure out how to win for good. For now, though? Day by day.
And here comes the culmination of all my recent complaints...
A Powerlifter's Diet
This is a silly thing. For some, a healthy diet of whole foods (meats, fruits, veggies, and grains) comes easily. For others, not so much. One of the most freeing aspects of weight lifting for me was that it helped me transition from eating to lose weight to eating to gain strength. The two are very different. The day I realized that starving my body was actually counterproductive to my goals was a huge turning point in my fitness career. I began to eat with the goal of getting ENOUGH nutrients each day rather than strictly limiting them. But then, the struggle became a new one of trying to eat better quality foods in order to reach my nutrient needs each day. A bag of cheetos is certainly less nutrient dense than a chicken breast, though each offer a similar calorie count. My struggle now is aiming to eat the chicken instead of the damn cheetos every time.
...And then came powerlifting. Now, what I'm about to say does NOT apply to every single powerlifter out there, but it is very pervasive among the community. We basically live by IIFYM; If It Fits Your Macros. Aka: eat whatever you want as long as you hit your macronutrients (calories, carbs, fat, and protein) each day. This, plus the added fact that powerlifters generally earn a higher caloric intake thanks to our choice of activity, equals a lot of non-whole-food eating. Donuts, and pizza, and ice cream, and nachos, and burgers, and mmmmmmmmmm. Now, like I said, this doesn't apply to all powerlifters. It doesn't even always apply to myself. But, for the most part, I fill up my allowed calories with foods I'm craving, and I'm almost NEVER craving chicken breast and broccoli. (I mean, really, though? Who craves that stuff? Who's like, "you know what would be good? A plain ass chicken breast and some raw ass broccoli on the side.")
I have no problem at all with the IIFYM style of dieting, because I don't believe in "good" or "bad" foods. I don't like the word "clean" to describe foods, because it implies that there are foods that are "unclean." Instead, I think that any food (or beverage) is okay in moderation. I think it's better psychologically to allow yourself to eat what some people may consider to be "bad" or "unclean" foods if they make you happy, but to do so in moderation. That's always the key here.
But, because I'm human and because I love to eat, moderation isn't always the first thing on my mind. Usually it's more like, "HOW MANY OF THESE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS CAN I FIT IN MY MOUTH AT ONCE?! DOES PIZZA GO WITH MUFFINS? WHO CARES. GIVE ME THAT BEER." And, almost always, these bouts of unmoderated eating coincide perfectly with my string of highly unproductive days. Laziness for me breeds a garbage diet of vast proportions. And, lately, those lazy days have been perfectly timed to the snow storms we keep getting. It might even be fair, right now, to say that snow storms breed laziness and that laziness breeds beastly eating for me. OM NOM NOM.
But you know what's funny?
All that eating I've been doing during the recent weekends is actually helping me towards my powerlifting goals. I told you, a powerlifter's diet is a silly thing. When I focus on eating whole foods and more nutrient dense foods I tend to eat less. (Again, the chicken breast vs. cheetos sentiment.) So, when I eat what I crave, and especially when I do so without abandon, I eat a lot more than normal. In the world of weight lifting, we call this "bulking," which is actually a specific type of eating used to gain strength. It's not always done in the IIFYM style; some people are able to eat insane amounts of lean meats and vegetables for days on end, but not I. I've been bulking on accident, but it's functioning for me just the same. All the calories I've been stuffing in my body have made me much stronger when I hit the platform. I may have some trouble maintaining my weight class for the meet, though luckily I've been floating around ~2 pounds above and below the cut off, but I WILL be as strong as possible for it. #silverlinings