The Shoes Make The Lady

While I’m a typical girl who definitely appreciates a fine pair of shoes, I’ve never been one to spend the big buck$ on them. No Manolos. No Jimmy Choos. Not even a pair of Louboutins.

Do I wish I owned even one pair of those? Hell. Yes. But the reality is I’ve never had a need for nor been able to justify more than double digit cost for a pair of shoes in my life. In fact, I think the most expensive single pair of shoes I’ve ever owned were my custom English field boots back when I competed on horseback as a teen, and those broke the bank at $350. I still remember the sticker shock – that was almost a month’s feed & board for my horse! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ There’s no way I could justify that kind of cash on shoes I *might* wear twice a year. I’m just not in a career that requires heels (I practically wear pajamas to work… Nursing rocks! ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿ’‰๐Ÿ’Š), and my friends and I went to dance clubs more than bars when we were young and single (even met my hubby at a dance club). I’d have broken my neck along with my ankle! ๐Ÿ˜‚

I’ve realized now that the only shoes worth spending a little extra on (for me anyway) are the functional ones; not the pretty ones. These beauties (and another colorful pair I wear daily for work) are not only funky and/or colorful – prerequisites for anything I put on my feet these days – but they all serve very specific functions for my favorite physical activities. From top clockwise:

1) My newest pair of Altra Runningย Torin 2.0s for #running . My first pair were so comfy I wear them daily for work, so I needed some dedicated running shoes again. Yay for clearance on my fave color! $88 @altrarunning in IG

2) My sweet new Inov-8ย #fastlift335 weightlifting shoes, recommended to me by fellow #girlswhopowerlift – thanks for the tip, ladies! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป $95 (different colors and sizes cost different amounts on Amazon FYI) @inov8eliteperformance on IG

3) My custom Converseย All-Star low tops I had made a few years ago to match with the hubby, and we both wear ours for the #deadlift. $75 @converse on IG

It’s really no wonder my previous attempts at running and regular fitness failed before 2014 – I never bothered to buy quality shoes. I remember doing my one and only mud run 5K in 2010 with my hubby and was ready to amputate my feet by the time it was done – my blisters had blisters!! We were encouraged to donate our shoes after the run, and I threw them into the pile like I was throwing a plague doll away! lol Years later whenย I started getting serious about fitness, though, my Camp Gladiatorย instructor at the time suggested Luke’s Lockerย to me for a custom fitting. That’s how I ended up with my first pair of proper running shoes: some sweet New Balance ones (that’s them on the top left corner of the header pic) that carried me from couch-to-half-marathon in six months!! I was so spoiled by that experience I went straight back to Luke’s after my orthopedist cleared me to start running again 12/2015. I had them refit me because I knew my right foot was still wonky from the break, and that’s how I found the #altrarunning shoes. Better? My ortho doc even recommends them! While Luke’s is strictly a Texas thing, I cannot stress enough how beneficial I found having my gait analyzed and multiple shoes tested before buying. Get fitted somewhere local if you can!!

On that note, however, I was sooooo nervous about buying the #inov8fastlift335 shoes online without trying them on. Once again, though, some of the awesome #ladieswholift helped me more accurately guesstimate the sizing before I committed. My feet have always been funky (short, wide, low arches), so I wear everything from a 7.5 up to a 9 depending on the shoe. Now I wear 8.5s in the Altras, 9s in the FastLifts, and a men’s 6 in the Converse. Like I said… funky!

I’m so thrilled to have the right gear for the right job, and I’m counting down the hot, humid days until the weather in TX cools enough for me to start running again. For now, though, I’m loving #powerlifting and all the trial, error, and growth that comes with it. I noticed an immediate difference in my stability when I changed from squats in my Altras to my Converse and now to my FastLifts, and I’m looking forward to continued steady progression now that my shoes all fit their respective duties. Will I eventually upgrade from the Converse to proper powerlifting shoes/boots? Probably one day, but since I see truly elite powerlifters of both genders and all weight classes deadlifting in their Chucks at competitions, I figure I can’t be in too poor of company. ๐Ÿ˜œ

And just because I had fun taking photos of my shoes the other day (and before I realized I should throw in my Converse since those are part of my fitness repertoire) here’s another artsy fartsy image that shows my size 9 Altra Torin 2.0s, the ones that helped me rehab my busted foot and are now my daily shoes. So. Comfortable. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

BOOMshakalaka…

Bye-bye 155lbs! After three days of rest (we added an extra due to our conflicting work schedules limiting our time together otherwise), I took out all three 5-reps sets of 155lb squats Like. A. Boss! Yay me!

The weight was light and the reps were fast, but I did make a concession on my grip to accommodate my right shoulder acting up from the frequent switch between rain and dry over the preceding few days. As such, the left lean the bar takes (only the bar, not me physically) was amplified, and I think I’ve confirmed my suspicions about my right shoulder mobility (or lack thereof) being the culprit.

I normally only have the hubby film my sets from behind so I can watch my depth, knees, and heels especially, but for the 3rd set I had him walk around in front of me instead. Part of it was because I wanted to see if my squat face was as ridiculous as my deadlift face (it isn’t… /le sigh), but I was also curious how I look in general from the front when I squat. The combination of the different angle combined with the better lighting having the camera itself our from under our covered porch highlighted my arms and their different positions while I’m gripping the bar.

Here’s the 3rd set video. Pay close attention to how my elbows look in comparison to each other and in relation to my body:

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See the difference? The right elbow sticks out and back from my body with a wider angle, whereas the left one tucks in tighter and more forward by comparison. Now, you can plainly see the difference in the video, especially the effect it has on the bar, but >>I<< don’t feel any difference either in the way my arms feel or the effects of the bar leaning to the left so dramatically. Again, my grip was intentionally widened for these sets, and I definitely think the narrower grip I’ve used lately (still too wide, but constantly improving) has reduced the leftward lean a bit as well. It looks far more exaggerated here, but I swear to you I do NOT feel in anyway unbalanced because of it.

At least not yet. I suspect that difference will eventually catch up to me the heavier the bar gets, so I’m going to start trying to make a conscious effort to adjust my right arm as much as I can (well, both arms actually) to correct the imbalance. I’ve tried mostly unsuccessfully simply pulling down on the bar with my right hand a bit more to see if that fixes the bar’s level, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference. Since I had already committed this entire week to 155lb squats more than half expecting it to take more than just the one session to overcome them (amazing what 3 full days of rest and proper nutrition can do!!), I think I’ll stick with that weight and attempt to find a more lasting solution to the bar positioning problem. I’m also going to research some shoulder exercises like those used for folks post-op from rotator cuff repairs to see if that helps increase the mobility on my right side over time as well.

Anyway, the hubby is home now, so it’s time to rev up for today’s session!

>>(:::) Meg (:::)<<

P.S. I didn’t listen to my gut, and look what I did…

160lb 2×5 squats!!

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If at first you don’t succeed…

…drop the weight 20lbs and do the last 10 reps anyway! >_<

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Yup, I had my first squat failure today (right side of video above), but it wasn’t a total loss. I got 5 reps at 155lbs (video to follow) in and could tell right away this might be that magic number that makes me have to repeat it a few times before I can move up. After a break for the hubby to do his set, I tried to really pump myself up for the 2nd set with a couple quick slaps on my cheeks. Coming back up from the hole had me leaning quite left, however, and I re-racked the bar rather than finish that set (left side of video above). Could I have gone on and finished the other 4 reps right then? I think so, but I also know I’ve tweaked my back to the point of needing days of steroids on little things such as installing cedar shingles on the porch wall of our tiny house (if you’d seen the install, you’d understand how that happened) and when picking up a 3lb lobster from the floor incorrectly. Yes, you read that right.

A 3lb lobster sent me to the emergency room when I was 20 years old having (stupidly) swept my right leg back (aka poor body mechanics) to pick it up off the floor after I’d let him and his pals out of their shipping box at the restaurant where I worked in the back office. I felt a burning twinge in my back immediately, had trouble getting back up, spent the rest of the day scooting myself around the office in a rolling chair, and decided I could just take some ibuprofen and a hot bath when I got home later that day and I’d be fine. Instead, I had to hobble up a sloped parking garage to street level and cross another parking lot to my car using an umbrella as a cane, and I’m pretty sure I screamed louder than the DART train that was passing by as I forced myself into my Corolla’s low-to-the-ground seat. I’m also sure the ER nurses thought I was totally FOS (honestly, as an ER nurse myself now, I’d probably raise an eyebrow at my story, too lol), but that was my second encounter with the NSAID wonder drug Toradol, and in 20 minutes all was right with the world again. I spent a couple days on steroids just to be safe, and it was like it never happened.

That was 16 years and about 40lbs of body weight ago, however. Yes, I’m much stronger now than I was back then (i.e. I can lift way more weight), but I’m still 16 years older and way less bendy. My last back spasm that resulted in a visit to my own ER where I work (namely because I tried to work my shift anyway and nearly got stuck trying to stand up from a chair) was only about a year ago, and seeing as how I’m the primary money maker in our household… yeah, I can’t afford to be laid up. I actually didn’t feel bad during the lifts beyond them feeling heavy, but when I got to the bottom of that second rep of the 2nd set my brain just said, “NOPE!” Thankfully our custom squat rack has “oh shit” bars that are pretty high, so I just set the bar down and scooted out from under it. It was bound to happen eventually, and I’m much happier having had it happen at a relatively low weight than when I’m squatting more than my body weight. I wasn’t going to quit right there, however, so I did two full sets of 5 reps at 135lbs just to get back on the horse, as they say. Even then I could tell my right sciatic nerve was pissed off and not wanting to let me get below parallel in the bottom of the squat, so I didn’t push it beyond that. I got the reps, and that’s what counts for me.

Here’s the full set of 155lb squats. See the 4th one where I didn’t drop below parallel with my butt? That’s how I knew something was off:

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Now, the post-fail analysis says there could be many factors that played a part in this event. My list of suspects includes in no particular order:

  1. The fact I usually lift after working all night instead of waking up and lifting first thing in the morning, meaning I’m well warmed up already usually
  2. Drinking a heavy protein shake before the workout instead of after, which I only did because I didn’t want to lift on an empty stomach after sleeping all night
  3. Doing one of my HIIT routines the night before that had me moving in some odd angles, potentially straining or irritating muscles and nerves
  4. Particularly hot and humid weather affecting my joints and breathing
  5. Deficient protein intake (or fat, or carbs, etc)
  6. Not taking real 100% rest days between lifting days
  7. Poor sleep quality/amount over the last few days
  8. The psychological factor of squatting over 150lbs for the first time ever (??)

I’d say that there is no one specific reason I couldn’t finish the full 3 x 5 today, and I’m also willing to bet some or all of the aforementioned possibilities could have played their part. Oddly, my bench press and dead lifts progressed on target (increased the bench by 5lbs and the dead by 10lbs as planned), but then again the squat just uses more muscle groups than the latter lifts. In fact, the hubby and I had that very conversation – about why the squat comes first in the meet of the three lifts – while we were warming up, and we both agreed it takes the most out of you than the others. Perhaps my subconscious took that to heart when my right sciatic nerve starting poking me in the rear, leaving my right butt cheek and hip to feel heavy, for lack of a better way of describing the sensation, compared to the left side. I really had to work through that first set, which I’m actually happy about, but I also know enough to quit while I’m ahead. I could have tried to grind out the remaining reps at the 155lbs, but I also knew not to run the risk of a real failure – one while coming up from the hole with no truly safe way to bail – at what was otherwise a new personal record lift. Even the two complete sets at 135lbs were tough, with my right hip feeling too tight to consistently squat below parallel with each rep as I usually do.

Nope, today was just not my day for squats, and I can definitely take the hint my body was trying to drop. As such, I’m taking a full two days off from any kind of workout (though I may walk some laps around the nurse’s station at work the next 3 nights just to keep from getting stiff), and Monday morning after work I’ll try to hit the 155lb squat again. I might even change up the reps to triples as I’d planned to today after that wobbly 6th rep had me rethinking my usual plan. Even if it takes me two+ sessions to conquer the weight, I will complete the full 15 reps in one session of 155lbs by the end of next week. Maybe that means ditching my #FortyDayFablete Challenge completely in favor of true rest days between lifting; I don’t yet know. Either way, though, I’m smart enough to listen to my body and let it dictate when I need to back off and when maybe I can just push through to complete a new goal. All I know is I’m not getting any younger, and I’ve got to take good care of myself to keep taking good care of my family.

And on that note, have a great weekend!

>>(:::) Meg (:::)<<

P.S. Here’s my two redemption sets at 135lbs. Even here I had to work hard, and again I’m not dipping below parallel in every rep. Glad I stopped when I did!

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