Helene joined us in May of 2015. She came to us looking to get stronger and establish a better strength training routine. Her progress has been remarkable. More importantly, as a nurse, moving patients was often difficult at times, and her number one concern was not getting injured on the job. What better way to get stronger than Starting Strength? Here is her story.
I think I have tried almost every gym fad that’s been around since I was in college. I gained 20-25lbs when I was in college so I tried taking the group classes at the student fitness center. I tried Step classes, Body Pump and Spin classes. I hated spin and still refuse to go to spin classes with friends to this day. (Emily’s note: I think if she took my class, she would love it! Just saying…). I will never understand the appeal of those. ;-( Step was fun because it originally presented a challenge for me, but once I figured out all of the combinations, I got bored. I wasn’t seeing any results so I started spending hours on elliptical machines. By my final year of college, I was over the gym so I tried Bikram yoga. The people I saw in the classes looked toned and fit, so I thought I could be too. The Bikram series was challenging and I stuck with it even after college for about two years. I never lost any weight and I only got better at yoga. I didn’t feel like I was in better shape or stronger.
Having no success with maintaining a healthy weight, I decided to see a personal trainer after joining a new gym when I was about 24. I was living at home so I could afford to see him twice a week for thirty minutes. I started dieting at the same time and cut out red meat and chicken. I lost a lot of weight and felt great about how I looked, but the diet and the training was not sustainable. I love meat, so that only lasted about a year. My trainer was great and we did work with medicine balls, light weights, sprint intervals, and body weight exercises. I had a great time with it, but I couldn’t keep paying the price to work with a personal trainer when I was getting ready to go to nursing school in 2013.
I tried to replicate what my trainer and I did at the University of Maryland-Baltimore gym, and at home, I tried the INSANITY workouts. Neither of those worked to maintain the look I was going for and I didn’t feel in shape. After my first semester of nursing school, I decided to join a crossfit gym. The workout incorporated what I missed from my training sessions at a more manageable cost. The workouts were everything I wanted at first. They were varied enough so I didn’t get bored and challenging enough to have goals to work toward. I stuck with it for a year and a half and for the most part I really loved it. It was a great community to be a part of….I even met my current boyfriend there! With all that being said, about a year and a half into it, I started getting frustrated and felt like I was hitting a dead-end with my progress. The programming became too random to promote the progress I was looking for. I started talking to another member who started doing her own strength training with the Sheiko method. Since I was more interested in becoming stronger, not a better cross-fitter, I decided to go down that route. I used the Sheiko spreadsheets and lifted three days a week. I liked that I was doing more strength work, but I was not able to add very much weight to my lifts, and it wouldn’t have been safe to do so since I was usually lifting alone in the crossfit box. I was doing the Sheiko workouts while I was studying for the NCLEX (nursing boards) and had a very flexible schedule. Once I started my current job, it was hard to find time to fit in the lifting while avoiding the crossfit classes. The same woman who told me about Sheiko mentioned Fivex3, so I looked it up and decided to check it out.
With the Starting Strength method, I have seen a significant difference in my progress. There is an deliberate plan to increase the weights I can lift for all of the exercises. After I had been introduced through crossfit, I decided that I wanted to begin strength training. I liked that the power lifts were incorporated into the crossfit workouts. And while I enjoyed doing the classes, after a while my progress plateaued, and I was looking to get stronger. I feel more capable in many aspects of my life, and I feel more confident. I’ve noticed that I have started to care less about how I look to other people, and I focus more on what I’m doing to stay healthy and fit rather than working toward a specific body type. I definitely get more quality sleep now, and I pay very close attention to how I lift equipment and most importantly, people, while I am at work.
And I have definitely become more efficient now with my fitness. Two years ago, I was going to the gym 4-5 times a week to do crossfit, but I wasn’t getting stronger. Now, with my current job as a nurse, I am lucky if I get to the gym three times a week….but every time I go, I leave feeling more accomplished than the time before. I continue to make progress each and every week. Sometimes, I don’t always feel like going in, but when I do, I always feel better when I leave. 😉 My squat is in the low 200’s. My bench and press are higher than they have ever been, and I am very pleased with my power clean. I am STRONGER.
Most importantly, as a nurse, it is essential for me to stay in shape and be strong. Every day, nurses are confronted with patients who need help getting out of bed, turning, and re-positioning. Often times, I have patients who cannot move at all. Nurses have a very high rate of back injuries and other injuries that keep them from returning to work. I feel that I am helping my odds by continually working on my strength.