First year of Squat, Bench, Deadlift

Feels like wanting to reflect back on powerlifting in the past full year. I started Base Strong class around October last year. This post is probably going to be boring and irrelevant for those who don’t do powerlifting. But it’s been such a big thing for me in the past year, and I’m pretty much writing (rambling?) this for myself, so that I can look back on my first year.

Squat

Started last year = 35 kgs.

July 2019, 1 rep max = 85 kgs.

So…that’s around 140% growth? Wow, this has changed so much. I felt like I didn’t “get” squat for many months. Used to have this fear of squatting more than my bodyweight. Just started feeling slightly more confident in the past few months, really.

The key really is about staying super TIGHT throughout the whole movement. I was wobbly for sooooo long. Just started to understand the importance of taking BIG, deep breath, holding it in, going down SUPER TIGHT just a couple months ago.

My problems to fix are probably staying in control the entire movement and don’t bounce at the bottom of the squat. Also I’ve been told my bar is uneven between left and right shoulder. Hmm…

Overall, started to love squat more now. Feel like my squat progress has been quite steady which is pretty amazing.

Let’s aim for 90 kg squat next. A 100 kg Squat was the goal I thought definitely unattainable, but started to see more possibilities!? Not anytime soon, though.

Bench

Started with just a bar, 20 kgs

July 2019 – 1 rep max = 35 kgs

Oh…my biggest enemy, upper body strength! I am SUPER weak for this! For the longest time I hated bench and felt like there was no way my bench could ever go up. Been playing around 22.5 to 25 kgs, to at some point 27.5 kgs for so many months.

Just feel like everything about bench is SO awkward. The entire set up felt very uncomfortable for me. Won’t get into details here because there are SO many. Before I came to Base I’ve never done bench press before, because my PT never said I should do it (Because I’m a girl!?). Who said a girl shouldn’t bench press, by the way? These days I started to see more of its benefits. It could help reduce your bra bulges! Less fat hanging around that area as it turned to muscles instead. Pretty cool if you ask me. And nope, it’s almost impossible for women to get “bulky” Just forget about this.

My tiny goal used to be bench with a 5 kg big plate per side. Now I’m repping 30 kg bench press. As of today I could do FIVE sets (of 4). Never, ever thought I could do this. Sounds like a super small goal for many, but for me bench is so hard.

Overall, feel less awkward. More used to it. Of course more room to improve on techniques, as with other main lifts. I would be SO happy if I could touch 40 kg bench at some point, hopefully sooner than later.

Deadlift

Started last year with 50 kgs

July 2019 – 1 rep max = 102.5 kgs

Ah, the most dramatic one of all. The one that makes me doubt myself BIG TIME. The one that makes me feel such a failure. Wrote about all of it here.

I really don’t feel like I’ve made much progress with deadlift at all. In the beginning it was my most favorite lift. But as we progressed, somehow I felt like I was kind of stuck. Back when we tested in July, it could have been at least 110 kgs. Or the very, very worst would have been 105 kgs. But couldn’t lift it up AT ALL. This killed my confidence so much.

Still feel that way but try hard to focus more on small wins now. Watched and read a lot on deadlift tutorials trying to figure out what went wrong. Got lots of tips along the way and I suppose I had my answer that lack of back strength is probably the issue here. So now I really try to focus on technique and slowly work my way up from there.

Good news is, my working set around 80-90 kgs feels pretty smooth. 100 kgs could be a hit or a miss depends on the day though. And my upper back is still rounded. Better than before though. Gotta stay patient and work on it I suppose.

Overall, meh. Not satisfied. But I learned a lot from this as I was down earlier about my failed deadlift. Then tried to relax and get back to it and so on. Good lesson in the end.

Overall / What I’ve learned

Ah, mindset is everything, isn’t it? Good technique is one important part, but though this first year of powerlifting I’ve learned so much more about the mind – how to keep pushing myself, how to stay consistent with training, how to work on your goal and try to get there (your numbers never lied!), how to not give up, how to NOT be too hard on yourself (It’s ok to fail!), how to stop doubting yourself, how you CAN achieve the “unachievable,” how to keep trying again…and again…and again, how to not let one bad day of training get you down, how to believe in yourself.

And so much more. I could keep talking about it for hours, not joking. Feel like this changed my life.

Apart from the mind, I keep repeating it feels amazing to be strong…and get stronger. Love the changes in my body. Feel like this is the best me I’ve ever been.

Definitely going to be more challenging next year as we are no longer beginners anymore. It’s impossible to hit PRs every week or month! Everyone keeps telling me how sleep and eating are SO important to improve your performance. Stress is also another important factor. And I always have issues with insufficient protein intake. Training is fun, what is SO much harder is eating! Hmm…

Let’s see what 2nd year of training will bring!

Let’s talk about babies

“This is why people have babies,” I said, “because it’s exhausting not to know what you’re supposed to do next. A baby is basically a non-negotiable map for the next two decades.”

Quoting that from “No one tells you this” a memoir of a 40 year old single woman living in New York City as a writer. The tagline of her book caught my attention “If it doesn’t end with a marriage or a child, what then?”

I’ve read about 40% of the book and we arrived on the chapter of “babies” Suddenly I had this urge to stop reading and start writing about this right away. Which is exactly what I did.


I never wanted a baby.

I could never imagine myself as a mother.

People told me that, once women hit 30, there will be this natural urge of wanting to have a kid, even though you never felt it before in your 20s.

Okay, I was literally waiting for it to hit me. But no urge yet. So far. Zero.

In fact, I remembered myself writing in my old blog when I was in my early 20s that nah, this baby thing isn’t for me. I just don’t have that maternal instinct.

It’s been 10 years. Still rings true. My opinion hasn’t changed at all.

In this memoir, I get the sense that the author DOES contemplating about having babies, as she is afraid she will regret it later. Having a baby seems like an easy choice, doesn’t it? Women at a certain age are expected to have kids (BUT if you told me this, I would get VERY pissed off. Because….excuse me? Whose expectation? Who are you to tell me how I should live my life?). She wrote that on a basic level having a baby gives you a sense of purpose on what to do every day, for someone, for 20 years. No need to wonder whether what you do is worthwhile, if you have a baby.

Ugh, sounds like you use babies to cure your existential crisis, if you ask me. Or you have a baby because you can’t stand being alone or something.

But I kind of get it, it’s tough being by yourself and figuring all the things like your next goal or where you are heading in life. I constantly have this from time to time, but the thing is, I LOVE having this freedom to move around whenever I want, do whatever I want, without being tied down to a baby. It can be mind boggling, but at the same time very liberating too. Just can’t imagine giving this up.

Wanna know my honest opinion? To me, having a baby = negative ROI. Think about all the money you waste on them, OH MY GOD. One baby equals…what? 10 million THB? 20 millions? I just simply CANNOT. I keep telling my parents that your investment on me probably still yields negative and I don’t know if I can ever repay this. You guys are amazing, don’t know how you managed it. High respect to any parents in the world.

At one point I even googled why people want children when raising them is SO exhausting (I just don’t get it, honestly!). One article explained that yes, the process is exhausting, but you have this high sense of rewards and deep joy. Okay, I guess that makes sense!? My mother also said, if you never had children, you would never understand the true meaning of sacrifice and giving.

But what if I don’t want to know the true meaning of sacrifice? Why do I need to know it? So what, right?

(Not to mention that getting pregnant and giving birth to me sound scary as hell. How do people do IT? Walking around like a penguin when they are 9 month pregnant? That would be a real torture. Just watching them makes me feel uncomfortable enough. In fact, if the guy was the one getting pregnant, maybe there could be more chance I am more ok with the baby thing).

You can say I am selfish. But I really cannot imagine giving “me time” up. On weekends I just want to relax or do whatever I enjoy, and most of the time I sleep in or get a little lazy. I don’t know any parents with babies can do THAT. How do people do it? I mean, it’s exhausting enough at work, then on weekends you have to take care of young kids!? Just wow. And I have this fear that babies would mean an obstacle for career growth. Obviously you have to take care of them and put them as priority. How do you do that while growing in your career? So difficult. And SO unfair that mothers have to almost always be the ones doing more when it comes to taking care of babies when fathers are more or less off the hook. For me I just can’t imagine sacrificing the career part. Like, NOT at all. I would rather spend time thinking about making more streams of income (Having only one stream of income feels risky for me, yet I’m too passive or lazy to change this, big sigh), than making a baby and losing money, seriously. Not to mention stupid yet important things like I CANNOT sacrifice sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep, I get sick immediately. And I don’t know any moms with young babies who get to sleep. Again, I don’t know how mothers out there do it. You have my UTMOST respect.

The reason I’m writing this because I am curious if my view would change in the next 5 years, or when I turned 40? Maybe I would, who knows? Would I regret not having children later in life? Maybe I would, who knows? But how could you regret if you never wanted them from the start? I don’t even know how to interact around kids and they are not really my cup of tea. I simply just don’t know HOW to be around them! These tiny creatures…always make me feel awkward as hell.

As of now, in your 30s, when you go on dates, people sometimes mention about kids stuff way faster than before. When a guy told me no, he doesn’t want children, inside I felt this…instant relief, like I would have NO pressure on me. Suddenly I would give that guy a bonus point. On the other hand, if I know the guy wanted kids, I would feel a little pressured like I don’t know what to do. Paying attention to what I feel, I believe this is enough indicator of my current feeling on the babies topic.

Told my mother quite a few times already that I probably won’t have children. She doesn’t care much and said it’s my life. Zero expectation from both of my parents made me feel lucky and relieved. So glad we are not like many other Thai Chinese families that start putting pressure on their daughters to find someone and have babies at a certain age. We all should stop expecting women to do something or be something at ANY age. It’s 21st century, this silly societal norm has to STOP, let her live her life the way she wants. What the hell are those expectations anyway? We all seem to have too good of an idea of how others should live their lives, but none when it comes to our own.

Innovation and Team Building

Not so innovative at the moment as I’m currently bedridden while feeling a little sick. Slept 11 hours straight AND even took an hour nap. And still feel exhausted.

Had a busy week, with full 3 days of training and team building. It was really cool! We had 2 full days of training with topic of Innovation and Design Thinking approach with all managers in the group. Some flew in from other countries in Asia, and we even got one flown in from Netherlands.

It was packed of activities divided into groups. I’ve definitely read about Design Thinking, watched Ted Talk on how Design Thinking could help design your life (great one), and did a workshop on it before. My best friend uses design thinking approach to teach her students in her company. So it wasn’t an entirely new thing for me since this approach has been such a hot topic for a couple years now.

But it was definitely a great chance getting us to work together as a team; brainstorming, presenting lots of ideas, and speaking up to the group. We had to redesign movie and restaurant experience by trying to figure out customer pain points and using techniques (and lots of post its!) trying to get lots of ideas. It’s SO hard NOT to jump to solutions! This is what we all have learned. As a manager, you are forced to find solutions on a daily basis, and you have to find it quickly for people in your team. It goes against my nature to NOT find solutions, only generate ideas first. My boss also said, you need to give people in your team a chance to find their own solutions so they can grow too, while you support them. So true.

What I really love the most was not about the knowledge we got, but the opportunity for me to get closer to the team. Had a great chat with managers in Cambodia and Philippines when previously we only got to talk via conference call and emails. Nothing beats face to face meeting, I can tell you. Being with them and having actual conversation together made me feel like it’s going to be easier working together with them now, hopefully with better understanding too.

Then another day was a full day of training and team building activity in our company. I had to give a presentation along with other heads of departments. And I decided to go for topic Digital Marketing 101 knowledge sharing session. I was quite nervous before speaking as usual, but did prepare myself for this and come on! hyped myself up that this IS MY topic and I know this shit. So in the end I totally ran out of time while presenting as I got way too much to share with everyone. Got very, very positive feedback as quite a few managers rushed to grab me after presentation and say that wow, they have NO clue about digital before, it’s so new for them, please send my slides to them so they can share with team. One director even came talk to me that wow I didn’t know you are so good at presenting. Totally unexpected by that.

Never thought I’m good at presenting by the way, and I was quite stressed while preparing this presentation that I would not do it well enough. In fact, this whole 3 days made me look up to big bosses who are SO good at public speaking and inspiring team when they speak. I want to be able to do that! Even think if there’s anywhere that teaches public speaking for management or in professional setting. It’s an important quality if you aspire to be a leader, isn’t it? And I’m still far away from that.

Had fun with walk rally activity and even Halloween party that evening! Thought it would be totally stupid team building, but it was more interesting than I thought. We even had a mission to go for foot massage near our office which was absolutely favorite for me (obviously!).

Love seeing all of us come together like this and we talked to big boss that hey, next year we should do this kind of conference in other countries or even on resort. Let’s get out of Bangkok! It’s also cool getting closer to big bosses these past 3 days too as everyone was more or less relaxed. Loved that they joined all activities with us. I sat next to my boss and even got brief feedback on my performance so far. All good, and he’s aware I have a lot more on my plates now. I gladly take it though, always see it as a challenge to get through.

Having said that, it drained so much of my energy having to be full ON the whole 3 days, being around new people, talking so so much, presenting so many things non stop. I love it, I love us, and I think we are a cool team, but as an introvert, at the end of it I just really needed to hide under my desk or lock myself in my room alone for 3 days straight. If you are an introvert, you know what I mean! And how having Me time and your own space are a priority to help you recharge.

Definitely having a quiet, peaceful weekend (no more people, please!) and hoping that I won’t get sick 😦 Really taking it easy and even skipping the gym. Another busy week ahead. Need to get energy back soon, hopefully!

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