Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

By

On the seventh day of donating…

The majority of the non-profits I’ve donated to so far have been local. Today, I’m going for a non-profit that provides services around the world: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Our medical teams act fast to save people’s lives in conflict zones, natural disasters and epidemics. We go where we are needed most.

https://www.doctorswithoutborders.ca/content/about-us

Founded in 1971, MSF provides medical care as an independent, impartial organization. Some of their recent work includes providing services for:

  • the Ebola epidemic in West Africa
  • conflicts in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Ukraine
  • migrants attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea

Goodness knows there’s more than enough conflicts, disasters, and epidemics happening – and they will continue to happen. An organization like MSF provides valuable services to people in dire need.

By

My First Powerlifting Competition

So that powerlifting competition that I’ve been talking about? That happened today.

For the competition, you get three attempts. You have to tell the organizers how much you plan to lift for your first attempt and after you do your first attempt, you decide what you want to do for the next one. If you don’t make the first lift, you try that weight again. If you make it, you decide how much weight you want to add for the next try. You can only go up in increments of 2.5 kg and you can’t go down in weight, even if you don’t make the lift.

My previous personal record (PR) was 87.5 kg, which I’d previously lifted for 2 reps, so I decided to start with that because it was a weight that I knew I could get. Then I figured I’d go up to 90 kg, unless 87.5 kg felt really light, and in which case I might try 92.5 kg. And then my stretch goal for the final lift would be 95 kg.

So after what seemed like an eternity of waiting, when I finally got to the platform for the first lift, I lifted 87.kg and it felt light. So I decided to go for 92.5 kg on my second lift. And that felt great too, so many trainer said “That looked easy. How do you feel about going way up? Like 100 kg?” And you only have a minute to submit your number so I was like “OK” – didn’t have time to psych myself out of it. I figured I had 92.5 kg as a new PR, so even if I failed on 100 kg, I still have a new PR, so I’d be happy. But then I did it. I lifted 100 kg (i.e. 220 lbs).

Lifting in front of a crowd like that was a really interesting experience. I started to get nervous for this about a week ago when I learned that a real powerlifting judge was coming. I had just assumed that one of the trainers from the gym would judge, so finding out that it was going to be someone who judges real powerlifting competitions made it seem that much more real. So my nervousness started then and last night I dreamt that I was running a half marathon in Stanley Park that I hadn’t trained for and then I looked at my watch and saw it was 2:00 and I was like “Oh no! I’m supposed to be at my powerlifting competition!!” So the morning started full of nerves, but I had a shower and then I had some coffee and something to eat and then I got dressed and I thought “I want to look good.” I had a friend in undergrad who always showed up for exams with her hair done, make up on, and dressed really nice. And she said something to the effect of “If I’m going to feel terrible, I want to look nice because then I feel better”. And I thought, “If I’m going to feel this nervous, I may as well look nice!” (The angle in that video did me no favours, so I hope you just looked at the weight I was lifting and not my face!).

I was hoping that I’d be able to channel the nervous energy into lifting energy. I learned to channel nerves into performance when I did my drama classes in undergrad and it’s served me well whenever I’ve had to give a presentation or teach a class, so I figured it would work in this situation too.

When they call your name, you have one minute to get to the bar and start your lift, so you have no time to overthink it. I just walked up the bar, took my position, tensed up all the muscles I needed to activate, and lifted. I felt like the world shrunk from these dozens and dozens of people around me to just me, and the bar, and the judge’s hand. The judge is holding his hand in the air and once you do your deadlift, you lock out your knees and your hips and you have to make sure your shoulders are back and once the judge sees you have done of that, they lower their hand to tell you that you can lower the bar. So I heard nothing and I felt like my vision was tunneled to just the judge’s hand, until he held up the white card to indicate my lift was good, and the world came rushing back in and I heard all the cheers from my friends and trainers and gym mates and totally strangers and my heart leapt with joy: “I did it!” I really never could have guessed that I would lift 110 kg today! I was such a thrill!

To top it off, it turns out that I came in second place among the women!

Second place in my first deadlift competition!

The woman who won was absolutely amazing. I hadn’t met her before, as she doesn’t work out at my gym but does work for the non-profit we were raising money for, Purpose Service Society. Her name is Elizabeth (I didn’t catch her last name) and she is so amazingly strong. If memory serves, her final lift was 150 kg. Just so phenomenally strong and she made it look easy! It was a thrill just to get to watch her.

After the competition, there was a party, with delicious food and beer and vendors to shop at. My prize for second place was some cool stuff from Strike Mvmnt, a local company active wear company. I got a new shirt, hat, bag, and water bottle. And then I may have also bought a pair of shoes that feel so freaking good to squat in!

Now, I’ve spent the evening relaxing (with a bit of stretching so I don’t get too stiff) and experiencing my adrenaline crash (headache, dry mouth, and sleepiness) and I’m reflecting on the event. It was such a joy to watch every competitor today. There were 12 women and 12 men and even though not everyone made every lift, honestly it was a major accomplishment for everyone who competed to just to walk up on that platform and try. I’m so honoured to have shared the platform with everyone who competed today. You are all amazing!

Special thanks to the Strong Side New West team for putting this competition together – they work so hard for the gym members and the community they have built is amazing. Today was a special day where the place was packed with people who came to cheer on the athletes, but every day at that gym is a wonderful community of supportive, funny, wonderful people who celebrate in each other’s wins, cheer each other on through the hard days, and who I’m enjoying getting to know more and more as we pick things up and put them back down, week after week.

And special props to all the people who volunteered to make this event happen – the people loading the weights onto the bar for all the lifts really should have won a prize – they had to lift all the weights for 2 hours! And the event couldn’t have happened without scorekeepers and the judge and the people checking in the athletes when they arrived. Every one of them is amazing and I thank you for making this special day happen.

And finally, don’t forget to donate to Purpose Service Society. They do really important work in our community and the money raised at today’s event is just the beginning. Strong Side New West is fundraising for Purpose throughout December and however many dollars we donate, the trainers have to lift that amount of kilograms! So give early, give often!

By

Powerlifting!

Weights

Remember that time I joined Strong Side, the best gym ever and became obsessed with lifting heavy weights and then putting them back down? Well, in addition to all the other things I love about this gym (like the super knowledgeable trainers that help me get super strong in a safe way and the wonderfully supportive and fun nature of my fellow Strong Siders), I love that the gym embraces the community and finds ways to give back. They sponsor local community events, they do fundraisers in partnership with other local small business, and they even provide some classes for people in need with a local non-profit.

For the past few years, they’ve done a fundraiser for Purpose Service Society where the trainers have to lift 1 kg for every dollar that Strong Siders donate. Well, this year they decided to take their fundraiser up a notch by hosting their first ever powerlifting competition to raise funds for Purpose! Those who want to compete pay an entry fee and those who want to spectate pay for a ticket, with the proceeds going to Purpose. There will probably also be some donation opportunities on the day of. And I’m sure that my astute readers have figured out where I’m going with this….

Weights

So I’m competing in a powerlifting competition in November. For quite some time I’ve been intrigued by the idea of this type of competition, but I’ve not been in a place where I feel I can dedicate the time to entering a “real” competition. Some of the people at my gym do these – two people just competed at provincials – and I see the amount of time and dedication they put into it, and I know that I am just not in the position to do that right now. But when I heard about this fundraiser competition, I immediately wanted to take part. To me, it’s a low barrier way to try out a competition to see what it’s like. I can do my usual 3 days-a-week at the gym, learn about how competitions work, and compete in the supportive environment of my own gym surrounded by cheering friends! I’m super stoked about the whole thing.

My trainer, Dee, wrote me my first powerlifting training plan. And while the competition will just involve deadlifting, I am going to train all three of the big lifts that are usually done in competition (deadlift, back squat, and bench press) just for fun. My first week of the program involved finding my current 3 rep max (i.e., what’s the most I can lift three times in a row). My 3 rep maxes turned out to be:

  • deadlift: 80 kg (176 lbs)
  • bench press: 45.5 kg (100 lbs)
  • squats: 75 kg (165 lbs)

And now I work through my program for 4 weeks where I lift a given percentage of my max for a bunch of reps, lifting progressively heavier weights for fewer reps each week to make some sweet, sweet gains and see just have far I can get. Or, as my new t-shirt says:

My new tshirt

Given that I’d just starting getting back into the heavy lifts after rehabbing my knee injury, the competition is coming at a perfect time for me. Plus, two of my 2019 goals are to deadlift and squat 90 kg, so this competition will be the perfect opportunity to work towards those goals!

Anyway, long story short, if you see me between now and Nov 30, I’ll probably bore you to tears with talk of powerlifting. And I may also hit you up for a donation, once I figure out what the donation system is going to be (maybe donate $1 for every kg I lift? I’m open to suggestions!)

Bicep

By

Thankful for Our Health

Today is Thanksgiving and I am thankful to be able to report that both Watson & Crick got through their dental vet visits last week. Watson needed a premolar extracted and Crick needed a crown amputation on one of her premolars, but they came through their procedures just fine.

Both cats have to take meds, but Crick’s med is once every 24 hours to be put on her food and Watson’s med is every 12 hours to be rubbed into his ear, alternating ears for each administration. So I figured that that was a lot of things to remember and decided to write down a schedule so I’d remember what I needed to given when and when I looked at it I realized that I’d created a cat MAR. I’ve been working in healthcare for too long!

Cat MAR

In other health related news, I came down with zombie eyeball disease again. It started Tuesday night with my left eye feeling sore and itchy – I thought maybe I’d just gotten something in it, but when I woke up on Wednesday morning my eye was glued shut with eyeball secretion! Once I washed out the goop, I could see that my eyeball looked like this:

Zombie eyeball disease 2.0

I also had a wee bit of sore throat but nowhere near as bad as it did last time (that was excruciating!), so my self-diagnosis is that I have regular pink eye rather than excruciating zombie eyeball level pink eye. Or perhaps my eye was just getting dressed up for Halloween early? At any rate, both my eye and my throat are feeling much better and the kitties are being troopers. They are mostly just upset that they aren’t getting their crunchy treats, as they have to eat only soft foods until their one week post-surgery checkup, to give their mouths times to heal. I’ve been giving them these treats that my sister introduced me to last Christmas, which we affectionately refer to as “meat tubes”:

meat tube cat treat

They love the meat tubes, but seem to believe that they should get those in addition to, and not in place of, their beloved crunchy treats. #FirstWorldCatProblems

Crick & Watson know that the treats are in the cupboard right above them
The cats know that the crunchy treats are in the cupboard right above them and are not happy about not getting to have them.

By

Half Way Goals Check-In

So, the year is half over. I know that every year I, like most people, marvel at how fast the year is going by, this year it’s way worse than previous years. Like, the year is half over and I haven’t really done anything… and I haven’t even planned stuff.

Anyhoo, I thought that maybe I’d do a check in on how my goals for 2019 are going since the year is half freaking over, but honestly doing this just made me feel like I really have done nothing with the first half of the year! Correction: this has motivated me to get going on my goals!

Anyhoo again, of my 19 goals, I’ve completed a grand total of 1. So yeah, I’m a wee bit behind. But the one that I did complete was monumental:

I TRAPBAR DEADLIFTED 100 KG!

The goal was actually just to deadlift 90 kg, and I did for 2 reps of a 90 kg trapbar deadlift on Jan 13, and then again for 2 reps on Jan 20, and then I did a single rep of 100 kg. For those of you who prefer to think of weight in pounds, that’s 220.5 lbs. Trapbar deadlift is easier than regular deadlift, but it’s still technically a deadlift!

I came close to one of my other weightlifting goals: I back squatted 85 kg on Jan 24, just 5 kg shy of my goal of 90 kg (i.e., 198 lbs).

I have made some progress on a few other goals. For the goal of making 19 new foods and/or beverages that I’ve never made before, I’ve made 5:

So I’m 26% done that goal – behind schedule, but I can definitely catch up.

For the goal of read 20 books, I’ve read 7 (5 of which I’ve already blogged about), and I’m in the process of reading 5 other books right now. So I feel like I’m on my way with this goal, although I wonder if I should focus my reading to get some of these books done, rather than sporadically reading from all 5 of them, just to make myself feel like I’m accomplishing something! I should also try to pick a few shorter books – most of the books I’m currently reading are quite long, which doesn’t help in the feeling-like-I’ve-accomplished-something department.

A number of my things on my list are home improvement-y/organization-y, so I probably should just make a plan to get some of those done, as some are the type of thing I can get done in a weekend here or there.

I haven’t sewn anything and I have a goal to sew 5 things, so I really should decide what I want to sew and get cracking on it. I have a goal of sleeping an average of 7 hours per night and though my Fitbit tracks my sleep for me, I can figure out how to find out what my average since Jan 1 has been. Looking at the graphs by month, I can see that I haven’t hit the 7 hour mark for any single month, so I know I’m not meeting the goal, but I guess I’ll have to download the data to calculate the yearly average myself. I have a goal to write in my journal once a week and I have written 23 entries, so I’m 44% done that goal. And I have a goal to have people over for dinner 5 times, and I’ve only hosted one dinner, so I should do some planning for that (anyone interested in coming over for dinner? Hit me up!)

As for my blogging goal, which was a *very* modest 78 blog postings, as soon as I hit “publish” on this one, I’ll have published 23 for the year (or 29.5%). Perhaps another thing I can spend a bit of time on!

 

By

It’s Not Fun to Have a Sprained M-C-L. It’s Not Fun to Have a Sprained M-C-L.

Yes, the title of this blog posting should be sung to the tune of YMCA.

An image of the ligaments of the knee. There are many ligaments that attach the various bones of the upper and lower leg together.On Wednesday night at hockey, I twisted my knee. I’d like to say that it was in some heroic act, like scoring the game winning goal in overtime, but alas it was by running into my own defencewomen in a playoff game that we would ultimately go on to lose, thus being eliminated from the playoffs. I went flying one way and my knee went flying the other way and now I’m pretty sure I have a grade 1 sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL). 

As far as knee injuries go, this is one of the better ones to have. If you twist your knee and hear a popping sound and if your knee can’t bear weight after that, you’ve likely damaged your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and that can require surgery. A torn meniscus, or an actual tear in the MCL or its partner from the other side of the knee, the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), or a tear in the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), or a fractured patella (a.k.a., knee cap) are all other ways one could injure their knee in worse ways than this.

I happened to already have a massage appointment booked yesterday, and I also talked to one of the trainers at my gym, and both agreed with my self-diagnosis that a grade 1 sprain of the MCL is likely what I have. It’s a A diagram showing muscles in the hip and thigh, including a number of adductor muscles in the inner thigh.stiff knee and some pain on the medial (inside) of the knee, most bothersome when going down stairs (as you load the weight onto the knee in such a way that that ligament bears a lot of your weight). The recommendation for a sprained MCL is to keep the knee moving, but take it easy1. And it should get better in a week or two2. The massage therapist also worked on the muscles around that knee that are working overtime to compensate for the MCL, especially this one muscle in the back of the knee (the popliteus) and my adductor muscles that were insanely tight. So once the knee feels better, adductor stretches are going to be added into my workout warm ups and cool downs for sure!

Image credits:

  1. And to be careful to avoid limping. And since I’m well aware of the dangers of limping around on an injury I am being very deliberate in planting my foot with every step and walking as normally as I can. []
  2. So the silver lining to both of my teams getting knocked out of the playoffs on Wednesday night is that I know have a few weeks off from hockey so that my knee can heal before the start of summer season. []

By

On the tenth day of donating…

Today’s charity is another blast from my past: Cystic Fibrosis Canada. Remember that time I played hockey for 10 days straight to raise money for them? Can you believe that it was seven years ago! Seven! So it seems like it’s a good time to remind you about all the good work that CF Canada does.

Source: https://www.cysticfibrosis.ca/

Among other things, CF Canada funds researchers who are working towards finding a cure. Did you know that the gene for CF was discovered by researchers who were funded by CF Canada, in collaboration with the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, in 19891. They also advocate for better care for people living with CF, including advocating for newborn CF screening (which is now provided in all provinces except Quebec) and advocating for public coverage of medications for people living with CF2.

CF Canada is working towards a world without cystic fibrosis.

  1. Source: https://www.cysticfibrosis.ca/uploads/An%20Impact%20Story%20ENG.pdf []
  2. Source: https://www.cysticfibrosis.ca/uploads/An%20Impact%20Story%20ENG.pdf []

By

On the eight and ninth day of donating…

Apologies for the missed posting yesterday! When I went to post last night, I found out that I couldn’t get into my blog! I texted the Overseer of Deb0rking and Tsar of the Nerdery, who figured out that it was one of the plugins that was b0rking my blog, so he deactivated a bunch and now I’m able to get back in! Thanks, Kalev!

I’ll  have to do some testing to see if I can figure out which plugin is causing the problem, but that will be another day’s problem. Today, I’m going to post about two more charities that I’ve donated to.

Eighth Day

First up is a blast from the past: Options for Sexual Health. Remember that time that I did a 24-hour blogathon and raised money for Options for Sexual Health ((OMG, when I just looked that up on my blog to make that link, I saw that it was nearly TEN years ago! TEN!))? 

To champion and celebrate the sexual health of all people in BC by supporting, providing, and promoting inclusive and accessible health care and education.

Options for Sexual Health Mission

Opt provides clinical services to 30,000 people every year and they are the “only organization training and certifying sexual health educators in Canada”! They also “supports the unrestricted right of all women to choose when and if to have children [… and] the right of young people to receive the sexual health education and services they seek, based on their informed consent.” I believe that work is important and that’s why I’ve donated to this organization. 

Ninth Day

Another organization that I think does really important work is the Centre for Inquiry Canada. In these times of misinformation and “alternative facts”, I’m glad there is an organization that promotes critical thinking skills and good science and basing policy on evidence.

Centre for Inquiry Canada fosters a
secular society based on reason, science,
freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

CFIC’s MIssion

By

On the seventh day of donating…

The fifth and final organization that my students worked with this semester was The Equestrian Association for the Disabled (T.E.A.D.)

T.E.A.D. Equestrian Association for the Disabled

T.E.A.D. provides therapeutic horse riding lessons for people with physical and cognitive/communication disabilities. 

It operates on a 92 acre farm in Port Hope, Ontario, with a very small staff, an active board of directors, and more than 250 volunteers! More than 300 riders per year take lessons with T.E.A.D., but they have growing waiting list.

Riding has many benefits including:

  • development of mobility, balance, and coordination
  • improvement of muscle tone and strength
  • development of confidence and motivation
  • increased concentration and improved learning skills
  • a fun and challenging form of recreation
  • independence

When someone who can’t walk, rides a horse for the first time, it’s like a miracle.

T.E.A.D. Parent

By

Gymiversary

Another thing I’m behind on blogging about is my gymiversary! March 3 was my one year anniversary of having joined Strong Side. I’ve blogged a few times about my gym experience and it’s mostly for lack of time to blog that you haven’t been subjected to me talking about how much I love my gym.1 I remember thinking when I signed up “am I really going to be able to do this gym thing on the regular for six whole months??” (I signed up for the 6 month commitment to start because it gets you a better monthly rate than if you just sign up for a three month commitment). And now here is it more than a year later and not only have I regularly gone to the gym three times a week for an entire year, but I actually really love it.

As I’ve mentioned before, part of what I love about it, in addition to the more obvious I-am-getting-stronger reason, is that it’s an easy way for me to be mindful. It really helps me disconnect from my work and all the other things that one has to deal with in life as I focus intently on my form and my breathing. In fact, Friday evenings are one of my favourite times to work out – I find it really helps me to separate from my busy workweek and get ready for my weekend! I love to hit the weights on Friday after work and just work out all the stress of the politics, emails, and deadlines.

Another part of what I like is the social nature of the gym. I’ve gotten to know a fair number of people there – and there are people that I knew before I started going that I’ve discovered go there too (or have joined since I joined) – and everyone is really down-to-earth and supportive of each other. You’ll regularly hear people catching up and joking around and cheering each other on when someone is doing something really tough. It’s a nice feeling to walk in and see friendly faces and people who know your name.

The other day I was there and a person I didn’t recognize came up to me and said, “I don’t want to sound creepy, but I just wanted to tell you that you look really strong! I saw you lifting and I thought “I want to look like that!” Honestly, it was so out-of-the-blue and such a lovely compliment! We chatted for a bit – she’s relatively new to the gym and I told her that I’d been coming there for a year and that it really does work! If you’d told me when I started that I’d be able to lift what I can now, I’d have said you were crazy. But it’s amazing what you can do with consistent work and a program tailored by people who know what they are doing!

When I started going to the gym, I was just getting past my year of injuries and I’d put on some weight from not having been able to run (which was how I’d been keeping somewhat in shape for the past decade) and I wasn’t feeling too great about that. But now, despite the fact that I weigh more than I’ve ever weighed in my life, I’m actually a lot happier with how I look and feel, because the weight gain has been muscle. I’m slowly coming to grips with the fact that I have to get rid of some of the clothes that I haven’t been able to fit into for quite some time but had been hanging on to because I was sure I’d someday get back down to my pre-MBA weight, because even I manage to bring down my body fat % a bit, my quads won’t let me get into those pants and my shoulders and back mean those shirts won’t comfortably fit – and I don’t have any intention of losing these muscles, so I’m OK with that.

As you may recall, one of my goals for this year was to deadlift my own body weight, and I actually managed to do that on January 30. I decided on wanted to capture it on video and since in my current program I’m doing deadlifts where I do 6 reps, then up the weight and do 5 reps, and so on until I’m down to just 1 rep. So I got this on video the other day where I deadlifted 68.5 kg (or 151 lbs), which is more than my body weight for 2 reps2

Deadlifting 68.5 kg. That’s more than my own body weight!

A post shared by Beth Snow (@drbethsnow) on


For good measure, I’ve also managed to back squat more than my weight. Here’s me back squatting 70kg (or 154 lbs).

Squatting 70 kg – more than my own body weight!

A post shared by Beth Snow (@drbethsnow) on


My other goal for this year is to do a full pull up or chin up without the assistance of any resistance bands (basically, you hang a resistance band off the bar you are hanging from and step into it and the band takes off some of your weight so you do the pull up or chin up motion, but without having to lift your entire body weight). When I first started going to the gym, I needed three different bands to do pull ups, but I’m slowly but surely working my way towards fewer bands. Like with the deadlifts, my current program has me doing 6 pull ups with a couple of bands, then 5 with fewer/smaller bands, and so on until I reach 1 rep. I tried to do my last rep with the second smallest resistance band, but couldn’t quite manage it, so had to do it with a slightly bigger band, but I was still pretty happy to be able to do that. Definitely made progress, but still have a ways to go. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have done one on my own!

  1. If you’ve had the misfortune of seeing me in person in the past 12 months, you’ve likely been subjected to me waxing poetic about this at length. My apologies. []
  2. I decided not to video my 1 rep, because I wanted to see how heavy I could go and I knew there was a good chance I’d fail. I tried to do 70 kg, but I couldn’t, so I was glad I didn’t try to video that one. I backed it off to 69 kg and did that for 1 rep. Maybe I’ll be able to do 70 kg this week! []