New Rules

19 Apr

You gotta love a good midweek dinner date with friends, am I right?

Last night a decent-sized group of us checked out XOCO, one of legend Rick Bayless’s dreamy restaurant creations.

With a focus on true Mexican street fare, XOCO is a cozy corner restaurant that serves up a variety of tortas (a Mexican sandwich) & caldos (“meal-in-a-bowl” soups). After waiting in line to order, tables are assigned to guests – it’s the kind of place where you might find yourself sitting at the same table as with another group.

I decided to roll with the Vegetable Caldo:


Mushrooms, zucchini, chopped onion, marinated black beans, potato dumplings & creamy amazing chunks of avocado in a zesty broth, all topped with crisped arugula. I chowed down, and afterwards felt full of cilantro-y love and goodness.

There were also crispy, buttery, sugary churros dipped in caramel sauce… not pictured because they stayed on the table for all of 30 seconds 😉

In hindsight XOCO is probably not the best spot for larger groups (we had to split up in order to be seated), but is definitely a fun spot for twosomes looking for a casual dining experience.


So yesterday I hinted that today’s post would have a bit of a fitness focus. Obviously it took me a few paragraphs to get here because let’s face it, I’d rather be eating and showing you guys that good junk. 😀

So lifting weights, let’s talk ’bout ’em.

The New Rules of Lifting for Women

About 8 weeks ago, I started Stage 1 of the New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler.

What It’s About

Put simply, this book details a weight lifting program designed for women. The longer story is that Lou challenges us ladies to re-program ourselves when it comes to our relationships with weights. He makes a few key arguments that I struggled to accept at first, and still approach with skepticism (which he very humbly encourages.)

1. Women should lift like men. Lou argues that while men and women are different genders, we are not an entirely separate species. Therefore our muscle fibers are essentially built identically. Lou banishes the notion that women must lift differently to avoid getting “bulky” – women simply do not produce enough testosterone to be hulking around like the world’s strongest man.

2. Endurance exercise is an option, not a necessity. This was challenging – as a cardio loather, he had my attention here 😉 This argument is a bit more complicated, but Lou’s foundation here traces back to our ancestors – humans were not build to run or swim for long periods of time, but were instead built to walk long distances, and run short distances when we had to. He points out that “lifting heavy things, running fast, jumping and climbing” (p. 20) were vital to our survival – running for hours at a time was not. It all comes down to fat loss, and Lou argues that this is the most effective way to make that happen.

My Two Cents

{Bear in mind – I’ve only completed Stage 1, and did not follow the nutrition plan verbatim as I’ve been doing my own healthful thang.}

Overall, I really loved this program. I’ve probably never been so excited to start a program as I was the night before my first lift – I wrote out my exercises, I practiced them in the comfort of my living room. I was definitely shoved way outside my typical workout box – I’ll never forget wandering around the weight room on my first morning, trying to look cool in front of the well-muscled pro lifter men, frantically texting John, “What does a squat rack look like??!”

It amazes me how far I’ve come since that first day. I never would have predicted I’d have an olympic bar bell balanced on my shoulders, or that I would be lunging with 25 pound dumbbells.

The Good 

Short workouts in Stage 1. Depending on where you are in those 6-8 weeks, your workouts will take anywhere from 30-45 minutes and you’re done.

Only 2-3 Workouts a Week. You cannot complete these workouts on back to back days. That means you have more time to rest, pursue other loves (like dance for me!), etc. without burning out!

Results. This most certainly has to do with the careful eating I’ve focused on (including South Beach Diet), but I’ve dropped a pant size, and have been joking that I now have a 1-pack (I can basically point out one ab in my stomach.)

Strength. Maybe the most surprising part of this whole experience — when JC & I set off on an Easter run a few weeks ago, I ran 3 miles with relative ease. First off, I had probably run once or twice since starting the program, and it wasn’t far. Secondly, I have never in my life been able to casually run 3 miles without stopping. I’ve run 5ks before, but I had to train for weeks on end for them, and even then it wasn’t easy. Here I was, not running at all and simply building strength, and suddenly I can run. Now that was unexpected.

The Not So Good

Boredom. Stage 1 is pretty long – it takes 6-8 weeks depending on how fast you take it. By the last 2 weeks, I had to beg myself to go complete the same workouts I had been doing for over a month.

– Weight Gain? So the scale has been a funny frenemy throughout this whole experience. About halfway through Stage 1, the numbers were droppin’ like they were hot. Towards the end, back up they went – but clothes were fitting much better. It’s easy to SAY “the numbers don’t matter”, but it still feels ultra frustrating.

Stage 2. Basically, I’m not sure how fervently I’m going to pursue Stage 2 – the workouts are much longer, more intense and more complicated. Sounds like a slew of excuses and maybe it is – but I like to work out in the morning, and as the weights get heavier and heavier, I get more and more freaked out about lifting 15 minutes after I wake up. Anyone have thoughts on this?

What You Need to Give it a Shot!

– The book (duh)

– A good pair of lifting gloves (obnoxious, but necessary. You WILL form calluses on your hands… either way, really.)

– Charts to keep track of your weight increases. You can find them on the New Rules website.

– A husband/boyfriend/brother/dude friend/good samaritan who will help you find the squat rack without laughing in your face. 🙂

My review turned out longer than I anticipated, but I hope it helped somebody out there as far as weights go.

Who’s got opinions?? Don’t hold out on me now.


2 Responses to “New Rules”

  1. MeganAg April 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    This was a great post Steph. Weight training is a huuuuuuge part of my workout regime and I cannot imagine life without it now. The other great bonus about adding muscle to your body is that your standing metabolism increases — this means I’m burning calories just by sitting at my desk! I think every woman should lift at least 3 times a week… It’s good for your mental health (it’s MY time), bone health and endurance. How can you argue with that?!

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