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Some days the words don’t come. Some days I stumble to speak in coherent sentences while other days my brain is just so full of thoughts I can’t get them out fast enough. The thoughts fire like a machine gun that has a magazine that never empties.
Today I have no words. Lots of thoughts but none of them string together effortlessly. None of my words want to play nice. None of them want to hang out on the page together. They seem to be running away from each other like the positive ends of two magnets. No matter how hard you try to push them together they just won’t come together. How very frustrating on the 1st day of my 30 day journey to write every day I have nothing. Maybe tomorrow will bring a flow and ease.
It’s probably close to 70 degrees today. It feels absolutely amazing and a perfect day to sit on the deck and read a book. It’s also a perfect day to rake all those leaves under the bushes in front of the house. It’s a particularly perfect day because it’s supposed to rain tomorrow and all of those leaves will be wet and heavy and I will have no desire or drive to rake. So, instead of getting into a story about “girl meets boy” I pulled out the rake and leaf blower.
I really don’t mind raking. It’s peaceful and gives me plenty of time with my thoughts. Thoughts about what I want to say. What I have to say and if any of it is relevent. Today’s thoughts revolved around the anniversary email I received from West End CrossFit. It’s been two years since I started this journey. I actually started my On Ramp program sometime in February but didn’t start group classes until March. I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve changed and how much more change I’m seeking in this upcoming year.
There are times when I look in the mirror and I think about how slow this process is and how I wish I would just wake up a brand new person. Then there are days I look in the mirror and see a brand new person. It depends on the day, maybe the weather, I really can’t figure out how it works. I do know that the things that have changed bear more weight than the things that haven’t.
I want to lose more weight. I look at the number on the scale and know that it has to change. I have to regain control of my relationship with food. It sounds funny, “my relationship with food” like we might break up, hardly. But some days I think it’s whole purpose in my life is to make me crazy. Then I come back down to reality and realize that I’m living in a Sesame Street skit where the food talks. Totally sane, I know. And then there’s the constant battle with performing the perfect snatch and figuring out why I can’t clean the same amount I can jerk, grrrrr. Oh and toes-to-bar and burpees and wallballs. What sadistic person thought those would be fun things to do? Oh, and did I mention being able to do consecutive double unders without having to wear my grandmothers Depends?? But seriously, besides losing all the weight I think I should, all of those other things I mentioned have gotten better. That’s the beauty of this process.
I feel so incredibly lucky. Not only have I found something that I truly enjoy to do, even wallballs, well maybe not wallballs, but I get the honor to be included in the lives of so many others that are on their own journeys. It means so much to me that I have people trust me and ask me for help. I don’t take that lightly. It’s taken me some time and positive encouragement from other coaches but I have realized that I have a decent eye for movement. I have a long way to go and look forward to learning all the time but being confident in my abilities has allowed me to experience successes in others that I may have missed.
Some of the best things that have happened to me this year have nothing to do with me personally. I’ve seen an athlete have that “light bulb” moment after a cue. There have been tears of joy seeing someone accomplish a goal they have worked hard for. By far, the best moments are seeing people push themselves harder and farther than they ever thought they could. To be a part of that is priceless and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
So here’s to another wonderful year filled with “light bulb” moments, tears of joy, pushing past what we think we are capable of and wallballs. Lots and lots of wallballs.
Some of you don’t understand the connection/obsession with the barbell but that’s ok. Keep reading, it will all come together.
I’ve had a few conversations lately about my love of lifting. All of these conversations have been with other ladies. They just asked, “Do you REALLY love lifting?” I was quick to respond with a resounding “yes”. No hesitation noted, no need to think it through. Yes, all day long and twice on squat days, yes! I have always felt this way. When I think back to my first introduction to a gym I remember wanting to be there all the time. I was only 14 at the time so I never admitted it. I was too scared.
My mother always told me, “you’re so strong.” Not, “you’re so pretty” or “you’re so beautiful”. No, I got “you’re so strong”. Today, in 2013, it is encouraged to tell your daughter that but back in the mid 1980′s that was the last thing I wanted to hear. I didn’t want to be strong. I wanted to be Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles. I wanted to be a cheerleader and date the football star. I didn’t want to have strong shoulders, I wanted to be thin and wear tight Guess jeans. But I wasn’t; I was “strong”. And so, the love/hate relationship with my body began.
I was constantly at battle with myself. I loved the way I felt when I was in the gym but hated the way I looked. I HATED myself so much that I never let people take pictures of me. I’m still incredibly uncomfortable with having my picture taken. If I’m in a picture then I’m always in the back, hiding behind someone else so they can cover up all the imperfections I see. But that is changing. Slowly, with hard work, I’m allowing me to like me.
This is where the bar comes in. It’s a piece of steel. 45 pounds of polished steel with ball bearings and knurl marks. It hurts my hands and leaves me battered and bruised. But I go back because the bar is where I like myself. It’s where I accept my wide shoulders and ever-increasing in size lats that pull and shrug and move more weight over my head than I ever thought I could. The bar is where I accept and love my legs. The legs that squat and lunge and step and drag heavier loads than I thought possible. The bar is where I adore my arms when they are pressing or pulling or swinging or pushing. The bar has given me the confidence to accept myself where I never could before.
Some of you don’t have a bar, you have a paint brush or a pair of running shoes. Maybe it’s a bike or a camera or lump of clay. It’s whatever makes you feel good about yourself and gives you confidence. Whatever it is, go to it and do it often. Make sure it’s part of your daily routine. With all the negatives that are thrown at us we need to fight back by being good to ourselves. Learning to love our imperfections while we are on our journey to improve isn’t easy but necessary. My goal to be better has not changed. I have a long way to go to get there but starting to like the person I’m on the journey with makes all the difference. If my constant battle is with myself then I can’t expect to make any head way towards my goals.
I hope you have found your bar or bike or lump of clay. Life is too short to spend all your time working. Find something that brings you passion and confidence. You’ll know what it is when you can’t stop thinking or talking about it and how good it makes you feel. Your life isn’t a John Hughes movie where the script plays out like a fairy tale. We have to make our own happy endings and it starts with you accepting yourself, squat booty and all.
I go to the box to do work.
Sometimes it’s not the work I want to do. Sometimes, more times, I know that my body is gonna fight the work. My body is gonna hurt. Not in the “ouch, I have a bone sticking out of my leg” hurt, but in a “my lungs are on fire and I can’t squat anymore” hurt.
I work because for so long I didn’t do the work. I told myself lies so that I could sit on the couch instead of doing the work. I made up excuses so I didn’t have to do the work. I was lazy. It was no one elses fault but my own. I can’t point fingers and say someone else made me eat all that processed shit I shoveled in my mouth. No one stood over top of me and force-fed me pasta and junk food. No, I did those things. Now I have to do the work.
I go to the box to work. It doesn’t matter what’s written on the board, I’m going to try and do it. I may not be successful but you won’t hear me bitch and moan about it. I don’t have the luxury of being able to move my body weight effortlessly. I have to struggle for each push up, pull-up and air squat. But I do them.
I get so frustrated to hear people complain about what’s written on the board. You are there to do the work and it’s not supposed to be easy. Remember, we do the stuff that the majority of others won’t do. We chose to walk in and give it our all. We asked for this.
So the next time you walk into the box and check out the board remember you wanted this. You walked in to do the work. Stop complaining, put your big girl panties on, load your fucking bar and say “Give me whatcha got, Coach”.
This past weekend I took the plunge and attended my first certification class. It was the USAW Olympic lifting training certification.
I LOVE the Oly lifts. They are so technical and take an immense about of focus to perform accurately. The lifts aren’t just about physical strength either. They take the most neurological adaptation that we have. They are fast movements and really take a lifetime to learn.
I was introduced to the lifts during my on ramp program through CrossFit last February. I remember thinking that “these are really cool lifts” but didn’t start focusing on my form until a few months ago. I started watching videos of people lifting. I knew the big names like Pendlay, Burgener, Greg Everett, Kendrick Farris and Dmitry Klokov. And as CrossFitters we’ve all seen the Chad Vaughan slow-mo videos. I think it was actually a combination of those videos and watching a video of Lindsey Valenzuela lift at the OC Throwdown that really made me think about how I move.
I’ve been told that I move well but for whatever reason I never truly believe people. It is a combination of thinking people are pacifying me and thinking that I know I’m not perfect and can always work harder. I’m not as strong as I think I should be and somehow relate my strength to good movement. I know, I sound ridiculous but I’m working on it. It all comes back to body image, but that’s for another day. So, anyway, I figured what better way to learn about the movements than to go to a certification on how to teach the movements.
The weekend was a great experience. I was more than a little intimidated because of the male:female ratio and as always, I was the biggest lady in the room. All the self-doubt crept in and took hold, until we got to the platforms. That’s where I feel comfortable and it only took a few minutes for me to relax. I quickly realized how grateful I was to Tim and Jenn at West End Crossfit for having me shadow so many classes before helping people. If you are seriously interested in helping to make yourself and others better, then you have to educate yourself. I take every opportunity I get to just watch people move. Everyone is different and you can learn something new from everyone. So when I got to the platform for the first time on Saturday I felt at home. I was there to watch and learn and correct. Easy.
As the day went on I continued to feel so much appreciation for my foundation. I learned a lot of new information but some seemed repetitive because we get taught well everyday. I want to be the best and give the best and it is great to know that I’m already surrounded by the same types of people.
I can’t say enough about our instructors John Filippini, President of Maryland & Potomac Valley LWC, USAW and Jami Brown Cat II USAW National Coach. They were open and very knowledgable. They clearly enjoy what they do. And thanks go out to Doug Esposito at Vanguard Gym in Manassas, VA for hosting the event; they have a great facility, check them out if you are in the area. The instruction was clear and well-organized. We had a lot of practical time and lots of feedback. If you are interested in increasing your knowledge base on the Olympic lifts I highly recommend attending a weekend. You can find one in your area here.
I received some really good feedback and have decided to put a little more focus on my lifting for the next little while. I have been hesitant to do so because I have been afraid of what others may think. I started this journey to make myself better and at first I thought that meant getting skinny. Then it evolved into becoming healthy and strong and there are so many ways to get to that goal I wasn’t sure which one to pick. I have known for a while how much I love lifting but have been too afraid to pick that road because I thought people would think I’m taking the easy way out. The perception I have of what others think is that I’m already relatively strong so lifting weights wouldn’t be that much of a challenge. First of all, I need to stop caring about what others think and secondly, those lifts are hard and require a lot more than brut strength. I have read multiple blogs about how following a training program isn’t flashy or necessarily exciting. One of the most difficult parts of Olympic lifting is battling through the mental games you will play with yourself. I read this post and this post by Greg Pendlay and they have stuck with me. Just today I asked Jenn, “I’m supposed to just trust the process, right”? I didn’t feel strong and had to push myself to finish all my sets. But I did because I know the only way I’m going to get better is to follow the path. It may not be shiny and paved with rainbows and glitter everyday but I know if I put forth the effort I will reap the benefits.
So my question for you today is “Do you know what you want and are you willing to work hard even when you don’t want to, to get it?” I hope so because you will be so much better if you do.
Here’s the thing, being overweight really sucks. If you are working on fixing it then it consumes your life and most of your thoughts.
I have been running a lot more recently. There is a goal of a half-marathon at the end but the process is more emotional than I anticipated. I want to be successful at this. I want to prove to myself that this overweight body can do what I tell it to do. I don’t want to be limited by what the scale says and in my mind I am.
Today I went out for my long run. I have been planning it for the past few days because last week I didn’t plan well and didn’t have the best outcome. I knew that this was going to be a stretch and possibly even physically uncomfortable. But it’s part of the training so it had to be done.
It started off just like I expected. I made some planned walk breaks (2min after every 2miles) and even tried out some fuel along the way(eating and running is a strange concept). As I started into that last mile my mind started to wander. I wasn’t paying attention to my breathing like I should have. I started focusing on how hot I was and how heavy my feet felt. I could feel the tears well up and told myself I was done. I just knew I was going to fail at this. There was no one around to tell me to keep on going and no one around to witness me give up.
But then you hear it. I’m not sure what happens or where it comes from but somewhere deep inside the voice that starts bargaining with you appears.
It says “See that shadowy area? Just run to that. You’ll feel better once you hit the shade”.
And so you do. Then once you’re there it says “See up ahead? The road disappears. You know what that means right? You get to go downhill. Just make it there and you’ll feel better”.
I remember looking at my watch and thinking “3 more minutes until this mile is complete. You can do three more minutes”.
And before I knew it I was back at my car. I sat down behind the wheel and cried. It was so hard to push myself and I was so mad that even after all the work I’ve done over the last year and a half that I’m still not strong enough. That I’m still so overweight and slow just wears me down.
Days like today make me question my path. I want to be a coach and help people on their journey but how do you do that when your own journey is plagued with self doubt? It is difficult to move past the fact that I don’t look the part and think that no one will take me seriously because I don’t fit the mold. But hopefully that bargaining voice will show up in my dreams and help scare away the voice that holds me down.
You know the one. It says “tomorrow’s another day. You get to start fresh. That’s where you draw your line in the sand. Don’t worry about what others think. They aren’t on your journey and you’re doing just fine.”
Yeah, I like that voice better too.