Why can’t summer last all year?

I’m really loving summer right now. I’m getting up at 6 am, going to the gym, showering, then off to work.

Following up with more gym in the evenings, then dinner – which is easy as it’s usually steak and salad, or a barbecue chicken and salad. So nothing much to prepare.

Then evenings I get to relax.

It’s warm, it’s sunny, we don’t need heaters and fireplaces going, and it’s not miserable and cold outside, and nobody is sick.

Any time I want (and I often do) I can go for a walk outside, or just enjoy the sunshine streaming in through our open windows.

These are the best kinds of days.


My bodybuilding program

Below is my current plan at the gym. I lift heavy, and most exercises are 5 sets of 6 repetitions.

Once I find I can do 5 X 6, I increase the load. I have some micro plates which are really useful for this – they fit an Olympic bar and come in .25 and .5 kg increments. Very useful for female lifters and bodybuilders.

Rest days at present are usually Saturday and Sunday. Others days I go for walks, and may occasionally add in some light cardio on the bike or rower.

DAY 1 (upper body):
• Bench
• Rope push down
• Machine seated fly’s
• Machine rear delt flys
• Shoulder press machine
• Hammer strength decline press
• Barbell curls

DAY 2 (lower body):
• Front squats
• Romanian deadlifts
• Leg press
• Seated calf raises
• Leg extensions
• Lying leg curls

DAY 3 (upper body):
• Deadlift
• Dumbbell row
• T bar row
• Lat pulldown
• Front raises
• Side raises
• Barbell row
• Dumbbell fly’s

DAY 4 (lower body):
• Squats
• Leg press
• Leg press calf raises
• Leg extensions
• Lying leg curls
• Hip abductors
• Glute ham raise
• Glute bridges

DAY 5 (upper body):
• Overhead press
• Dumbbell shoulder press
• Dumbbell press
• Dumbbell incline press
• Hammer curls
• Preacher curls
• Kettle bell shrugs

Sometimes you just need to rest

This weekend I rested and did a re-feed.

I knew I was exhausted. I’d been gymming hard, and had reached the point of becoming weak on every exercise.

So this weekend I took a break from weights. I did a re-feed yesterday, being my calories up for the day from my usual 1321 to 2000. I also did no exercise at all, apart from a little bit of gardening and housework.

Then today I’m keeping my calories slightly raised at about 1600, and kept away from the weights again. I went for a lovely walk for a couple of hours out on the peninsula, and followed it up with 15 minutes on the bike at the gym, before a nice long shower to wash all the sunblock and sweat off me.

It was perfect weather for a walk out on the peninsula today. We’ve had over two weeks of sun since Christmas – unusual for Dunedin! I don’t want summer to end!

So now I’m sitting and relaxing. I’m the only one at home, and the peace is blissful. I’m back at work tomorrow, and really wish I had more time at home to enjoy the sunshine and warmth!

Why a re-feed?

Re-feeding can be a useful tool so your body doesn’t get too used to being in calorie deficit and slow your metabolism down.

Plus, it also feels like a quick pick-me-up.

Even one day of re-feeding and already I feel more energised and able to cope with life.

By Friday last week I was feeling drained and exhausted, but now I’m feeling refreshed and positive again, with lots of energy.

The main thing to watch with re-feeding is that it doesn’t turn into craziness or binge eating. Adding 500-700 calories to your normal pattern should be plenty to wake your system up again. It certainly feels right for me.

Why rest days?

Everyone needs time away from the gym. Even gym rats like me 🙂

1-2 days a week of no lifting gives your body a chance to heal, rest and recover, ready for more gains the next time you hit the weights.

I’ve just created a new program for my lifting (I’ll post it in a second), which gives me 5 days of weights plus 2 rest days, which I can either take consecutively or whenever I need them.

As an older female lifter, I definitely need my rest days, but even young teenage guys need to rest and recover. Everyone does.

I’ve enjoyed my rest and re-feed, but I’m looking forward to hitting the weights again on Monday!

Welcome to 2023

Happy New Year and all that. Currently I’m enjoying “me time” with all my kids away on holiday, and the house empty with just my husband and me at home alone. The peace is deafening!

I’ve been going for lots of walks around Dunedin harbour, as the weather has been spectacular, in-between spending lots of time at the gym.

The weather has been perfect, so I’ve been enjoying walks around Dunedin harbour (New Zealand).

I was quite pleased with my improvement on bench press at the gym today – I managed 65 kgs, although my form wasn’t wonderful so I’m not going to count it until I get perfect form as I like doing things properly. Altogether I’m doing a lot of bench. Here’s today’s overview for that exercise:

No wonder I’m getting stronger. When you do a lot of something, you get better at it!

I’m feeling pretty tired now. I was going to go for a walk, but have decided against it, and am going to take it easy for the rest of the day. I’ll go for a good walk tomorrow.

Leg Day in the gym

Today in the gym was leg day.

Legs are really tough for me. I’m really tall and long-legged, and my legs are hard to grow. So I do legs 3x a week. They’re improving, but it’s a slow process.

I started with 5×5 leg press and calf raises in the leg press machine.

I started with the leg press machine

I’m currently doing 160 kgs (352 pounds), and increasing by 2.5 kgs every session, according to the StrongLifts program, which I’ve been following for the last couple of months.

Next was seated calf raises. I do these in sets of 10, and I do them s l o w l y, so they really burn. I don’t do them on a particularly high weight, but instead focus on getting that burn.

Seated calf raises, done slowly for the burn. Then leg extensions, which I’m actually *good* at.

Next are leg extensions. I’m quite strong at these, a leftover from my days as a rower. I also like them.

I finished up with lying leg curls, which are my suckiest leg exercise. I’m really weak at them, and I struggle to get any weight happening there at all. I don’t know if that’s typical, but it’s typical for me.

I managed to get lying leg curls up to 35 kgs (77 pounds), but only with sets of 6 repetitions, which is kind of sad and pathetic.

I absolutely hate lying leg curls, but I know I need to do them, so I do, despite the hate and patheticness.

Why no squats? I don’t do squats, as my lower back is very dodgy, and I don’t want to injure myself. Like I said above, I’m an ex-rower and, like a lot of ex-rowers I have lower back problems. Squats may feature in my future, but for now I’m avoiding them.

So that was Leg Day. My weights are all coming up nicely, and I’m starting to see the difference in my body. I’m definitely feeling the difference! I’m just over two months back in the gym, and I’m very glad I made the decision to return to it. It was the right choice 🙂

Weights going up at the gym

I’ve been back at the gym for over a month now, and the weights I’m lifting are still going up nicely.

I’ve been doing a slightly altered version of the StrongLifts program, where you start with virtually nothing then add 2.5 kgs each time you do that exercise.

Bench is now up to 57.5 kgs, and deads are up to 75 kgs. I do leg press instead of squats (due to an old back injury) but overheads are up on 30 kgs, which is not too shabby for a female.

I’m enjoying feeling stronger and healthier, and the gym is helping me shed weight – people at work are noticing I’ve lost a bit and am looking better.

I’m also noticing my general health is improving. I remember a few years ago, when I was a gym junkie, I was never sick. I’m hoping returning to the gym and eating better will help me to build a stronger immune system.

In all, it’s all going well. I’m happy with my improvement, and look forward to more improvement as time goes on.

Diet + gym = happiness

I’m loving my return to the gym.

I’m finding that I sleep much better, and just feel better overall.

Gym keeps me sane. I forgot how well it keeps me sane, and wish I’d never stopped going. But covid happened, and everything ground to a halt, and the gym was closed.

Then when I could have gone back, I didn’t.

However, I’m back now.

I’m feeling very weak in comparison to where I was – I’m back doing baby weights again.

It’ll soon improve. I’m taking things very cautiously, as I don’t want to injure myself. It’s easy to forget I’m not young any more! (I’m in my 50s now…yikes!)

But I am loving the movement. I love feeling better about myself. I love eating better too.

I’m fully aware these days that junk food, like drugs or alcohol, is addictive. And I am an addict. So I have to keep away from junk, or it sets me off, the monster inside is released from its cage, and everything goes to hell.

I’m better off just eating well. I’ve learned from experience that I can’t control myself with certain foods, so more and more I’m just ruling them out of my life. That doesn’t mean I’m fully successful at ruling them out. But I’m doing the best I can.

Today’s food is prawns (well, shrimp really), and asparagus for lunch. Dinner will be chicken and asparagus. 1 cup of chicken, and a fair bit of asparagus (I’ve learned that I don’t have to count or limit green veggies).

So that’s where I’m at. Still doing OA, still eating well (mostly), and still doing gym every weekday.

Life is – dare I say it? – good. 😁

Apps for health and fitness

I’ve found some terrific apps that I’m using to track my progress. They’re all free, and they work well.

  • My Fitness Pal. I’m tracking everything I eat – before I eat it. That’s the clincher. Tracking afterwards doesn’t work for me. I find I forgot what I ate if I track after the fact. Before works brilliantly though!
  • Fit Notes. This is a great free app for tracking progress with weights. It’s nice watching the numbers go up!
  • AA Big Book. The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous is available for free download. It’s advice, stories and prayers work equally well for Overeaters Anonymous.

I use all three regularly, and am finding the first two indispensable.

Gymming again…

I started back at the gym at the beginning of October. I’m going to Anytime Fitness and it’s working well for me.

Already – in less than a month – I can see and feel differences. My muscles are coming back (I used to go before covid) and I’m feeling fitter.

I’m also feeling in a better head space. I get a buzz from weights, and I’m feeling great when I leave the gym at the end of each session.

The next thing I’ve been doing is really starting to dial in my diet. It’s easier to stick to a meal plan when you’re going to the gym 5-6 times a week. It all fits neatly together.

So yes, with OA, diet and exercise I’m making life better 🙂