Few things have as consistently made me ask myself if I’m truly okay like a bad workout. I can be eating great, sleeping well enough, and feel alright in my daily life. But life stress never stays a secret when I lift. The higher intensity band reveals all.
The ways stress affects gym time is complicated biologically—cortisol but not in the right amounts, other hormones spiking or cratering. But it’s also just a particular feeling. My heart rate shoots up much more easily. I feel not just fatigued, but actively bad between sets.
It’s like when you squeeze the trigger of a water gun and the nozzle only wheezes forcefully. This has happened most often when I’m traveling, like I am now. I’m often otherwise having a good time except for the fresh set of relatively inconsequential problems, like the room key doesn’t work or we missed a turn on Google Maps, or a few consequential ones that ultimately resolve without incident (staying vigilant about the state of the roof bag to make sure it doesn’t fly off; a sudden potential tornado; the cat, once released from his carrier in the night’s hotel room, going under the bed and emerging with an electrical cord non-lethally but tightly wrapped around his neck). Then I decide to do a quick workout, and it’s not only bad, but it’s so bad that it’s as if I’ve never lifted before in my life.
The achiever in me who doesn’t quit responds to this with a desperate need to push through and prove something, which just makes it worse. In the past I would have thought this was simply a normal way to handle the situation. But now I know, like, medically, that the right thing to do is to keep it to a soft RPE 7 and try to just enjoy the workout on my terms.
So I thought I’d share the workout I do in these times. It qualifies as still having moved around, mitigating the stiff feeling of only lying/sitting around; it’s short like a good strength workout should be; it’s adaptable to whatever difficulty level “easy” is for me right now. Will anyone in the world make progress doing this and this alone? No. But it’s what I want to do when I want to not do nothing.
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The 3x10 Workout
A gentle, easy, no-stakes dumbbell strength workout for when life has you gasping for air
3x10 split squats, superset with
3x10 RDL, superset with
I will vary this a little if I feel like it. This most recent time, I subbed overhead press for bench, because I’m still on a delt-building mission if it kills me.
It’s operative that I don’t stress about picking the exactly right dumbbell weight; I start easy on the first set, and go up on the next set if it felt easy. If it still feels easy by the third set, that’s okay; my Olympic career is not at stake.
What subscribers will be receiving this week: “A very sweet girl I know from university, who I wouldn’t necessarily consider my close friend, is nonetheless my “close friend” on Instagram. The other day she posted something about “taking control of her body”, doing a Chloe Ting ~summer shred~, and a desire to lose body fat. I jumped in her DMs to let her know about strength training. Today, however, I wake up and check my Instagram story, and I’m almost positive she is trying to eat 855 Cals a day. You don’t need me to tell you that number is ill-advised at best, downright dangerous at worst. A part of me wants to call in a wellness check, because I feel like such a low number is getting into danger territory. How do I talk to her about it? Should I talk to her about it?”
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Watch the Best Documentary (short subject) Oscar winner on the first woman to be drafted by the NBA (!!) and to score a basket in the Olympics.
If you’ve ever felt embarrassed of your camel toe, meditate upon this alternate timeline in the multiverse.
Please read the Guide to Whole Foods.
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The big lifting news of the week was dudes losing their minds at Hunter Henderson, a much-decorated powerlifter AND bodybuilder, peeing on the floor during her deadlifts (I mean, to be fair, I’ve seen a little pee here and there, but it really is a waterfall in the video in question). She was a remarkably good sport about it, but many may be asking: What… is going on?
To be clear, stress urinary incontinence (SUI) affects mostly women and, in what I’m sure is a remarkable coincidence, is barely understood at all: whether it’s a fixable problem, whether it’s simply normal if inconvenient for some people, whether it’s indicative of larger concerning issues, etc, etc. It’s one of those things we would assume to have a simple solution (“muscles involved not active enough, therefore, do Kegels”), but is actually quite complicated.
One of the best pieces of content I ever consumed about SUI was this Megsquats video back from when I would watch every single one of her videos. Meg interviews her gym friend Allie, who describes her own experience with SUI and how she worked with a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor. Allie was actually able to solve her issue: The root of it was not underactive muscles, but OVERactive ones.1 It’s a great watch on the entire subject, and explains why some people may do a hissing slow release of air on the eccentric of their lifts (I think some people do this just as an imitative, aesthetic affectation, but in Allie’s case, it has a point).
SUI is a already a thorny issue because it’s so poorly understood. But then the reactions to it are, uh, extremely diverse and don’t make it any clearer how to feel about it. There’s the “that’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen” camp; the “everyone who ISN’T peeing isn’t trying hard enough” camp; the mildly disturbing “Actually I find the peeing alluring” camp; the “this is a fixable issue and therefore it must be brought to heel” camp; and the “it just happens to some women, normalize the pee” camp. We could surely narrow down these camps with some amount of research that I bet will get funding once soft dicks have been eliminated like polio before them.2 If I had to make a future bet, I would say there are probably lots of ways to address SUI and, while doctors like Carrie Pagliano have made tons of headway, that info has barely circulated to the extent that it has helped all the people who want it.
Americans are sales-taxed on tampons and it sucks, but Germans are apparently taxed nineTEEN percent on their tampons. However, German taxes are significantly reduced on... *strokes mustache* books. It’s the German engineering difference.
End Instagram reels? As someone who has made a few reels in her day, I can exclusively confirm that they are so much fucking work, so much more work than any photo or regular video. I have vented to my content-making friends about this, and everyone feels this way. I’m sorry that I do no posts ever, but I’m not breaking my back for the Instagram creator fund, or to be slapped around by the algorithm that gives me seven likes on any photo but a thousand on every reel.
Why the sudden urge to reconsider famous women? I’ve watched a lot of these series with interest because their events took place when I was just barely too young to understand what was going on, and my parents weren’t interested enough in each other’s thoughts to ever discuss them at home. While the shows have definitely caught me up on the history, the cultural analysis and reckoning has definitely been lacking; at best, it amounts to a “sigh if we only had had feminism at the time.” I feel like any woman could articulate what’s going wrong here if anyone bothered to ask.
I’m a sucker for what I would describe as “elliptical rhetorical and verbal stylings,” and this feature, The Cabin on the Mountain, is extremely that.
Despite that my generation is definitely going to be relieved of the concept of retirement as a whole, I enjoyed reading about these old folks at Margaritaville.
That’s all for this week! I love you for reading, thank you, let’s go—
Allie is also potentially a rare case because she had never been pregnant at the time she was experiencing SUI; SUI primarily affects women who have been pregnant, though it can affect anyone, including men. I checked with Allie prior to publication, and she told me the solutions she describes in the video still hold (haha pun intended, got em), though much of that solution is essentially a set of form cues designed for her by her PT. That means if she neglects them, she might still pee, and anyone who tried to just imitate them might also still pee. Still, not all hope is lost! If this is you, a pelvic floor specialist like Pagliano is the right direction to look. ↩
I can’t prove this, but if women had soft dicks, the totality of the “solution” would be extracting the semen from them in an outpatient procedure, and fuck to everything else one might do with the reproductive organs.