Ow ow ow ow ow: a primer on pain


For many years, I lifted weights without seeing much progress. There were several things that were unwittingly holding me back. One of them was my relationship with pain.

If you’re going to lift weights to grow, you’re going to have to develop a relationship with pain. You’ll have to learn the difference between good pain and bad pain. You’ll need to learn to pursue the good pain, dwell in it as long as you can endure. But “no pain no gain” is a misleading slogan, because you’ll also need to watch out for bad pain, and be wise enough to never push yourself through it when it shows up.

Derek Bolt, Contest Ready


So, last weekend I hopped down to Washington D.C. to help my good friend Derek with his first ever bodybuilding competition. The night before the show, I interviewed him, and then I interviewed him again the day after.

You can watch the first interview here! Part Two will be coming soon – then you can find out how he did, and what he thought about the whole experience.

You can consider this a kind of semi-sequel to my previous video, “A Scary Admission,” about how I want to step out onto a bodybuilding stage some day. I definitely learned a lot!

Mikeystrong S2 E01: A Scary Admission


Someday – in the not too distant future – I want to enter a bodybuilding competition.

That’s scary!

In this first episode of season two, I explain just why that’s a frightening thing to contemplate. The things bodybuilders have to do to make their bodies ready for the stage – it’s pretty extreme, and not all that healthy. And yet – I want to do it. Why? Well, watch and find out.


Well, that’s a wrap!

Season One of Mikeystrong comes to a close. Thank you, everyone, for your support! As of writing, the channel has 111 subscribers. We should be able to claim our nice custom URL (they let you do that once you have 100 subscribers), but the feature has been down for more than a week now.

I had thought about starting this channel for months before we actually went ahead and did it. What did I expect it to be, and what is it shaping up to be? I guess I expected it to be a bit more conventional, and it’s shaping up to be a lot weirder – but I’m really happy about that. I feel like the channel is doing more like… outreach, I suppose. Making the world of bodybuilding legible to smart, open-minded friends who perhaps have never thought about it much, but also reaching out to people who are like I was – intensely interested, but without the material or psychological toolkit needed to pursue that interest.

So, next season, which we’ll begin to film in late January I think, will probably be more of that kind of thing. Perhaps there will be some practical videos – I wasn’t joking about a “how to deadlift” video – but I should probably get my PT certification before I embark very far down that road (and that is something else that’s in the works – in the near future, I intend mikeystrong.com to also be home to a little in-person and online coaching / training business).

Is there anything you’d like to see my channel take on? I’d love to hear. I want to keep this project going for a while. There’s a lot to say, a lot to do, a lot to think about. Onwards!

11 Unhelpful Things People Say About Bodybuilders


For years, I hid my interest in bodybuilding and muscles. I was afraid of what people would think if they discovered that I was fascinated by this whole practice — and worse, what would they think if they knew I wanted to be a bodybuilder myself?

Nowadays, most of that shame is gone (maybe it will never disappear totally). And sometimes friends are surprised when they learn how I used to feel. “Why would you be embarrassed about that?”

Well, this video explores ‘why,’ with a series of negative comments about bodybuilders and bodybuilding that I’ve grown up constantly hearing or seeing. Some of them are verbatim from memory, others are more like precis, or generalized approximations. All of them are crappy things to say, for different reasons.

In any case, the only way to not let shame rule your life and steal your joy is to do your best to keep its hands off the steering wheel (am I ashamed of this mixed metaphor? NO). It took me a long time to find the courage to just go for it – hopefully, for others, it won’t take quite as long!


How Do I Eat


How do you eat in a way that furthers you toward your goal? Basically, I’m of the opinion that charting your own course is the only way. Please join me on this exciting voyage of kitchen discovery, with guests appearances by Johnny Hypothetical, about ten eggs, and a very bad Julia Child impersonator.



I thought to myself, last week – “if the unthinkable happens in the American election, I’ll do a video about the gym as sanctuary” – but it was an idle thought, really. I didn’t plan anything. I scripted and prepared to do a video about food.

But then the unthinkable happened, and it has been scarier and more traumatic than my brief idle speculation allowed me to realize it would be.

I’m a Canadian, so there’s a tissue-thin level of distance between me and what’s happening, what’s going to happen. But I’m not so ignorant of history to think it couldn’t happen here, or that the violence targeted against minorities won’t spill over the border some. People I care about are American. One half of the team that makes these videos is American. America still has its hands on the rudder of the Western world. Life just became a lot more difficult and a lot scarier for millions of people.

I wrote this on Wednesday night and we filmed it on Thursday morning. I almost broke a few times when recording it. The years ahead won’t be easy. I will miss the illusory comfort of the last decade or so. It will be exhausting work, trying to hold the line, to hold on to as much progress as we can.

That’s why it’s important to keep a sanctuary of some kind (without retreating into it wholly).

* * *

Some links:

ACLU: https://action.aclu.org/donate-aclu
CAIR: https://www.cair.com/donations/general-donation/campaign/#/
Lambda Legal: https://www.lambdalegal.org/donate
Planned Parenthood: https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/
SPLC: https://donate.splcenter.org/

There are many other deserving places to give money, and many other ways to organize and be strong for each other.

Bodybuilding what is it


This week’s video might set a record for most needlessly elaborate explanation that only really partially answers the question in the first place.

It all comes from when a friend was having lunch with Chris (my husband and the co-creator of these videos) and she expressed a little confusion as to what my channel was about. It’s something I’ve heard before—to many people, the differences between bodybuilding and powerlifting (and their relationship to weightlifting) aren’t always clear, and the relationship of that whole conceptual cluster to health and fitness is also a point of confusion.

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