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Some days we freak out for nothing.

July 24, 2014

I had a tiny anxiety attack today while at the gym. I haven’t felt this uncomfortable since that day on the snow tubing hill that led to where I am today. I remember it like it was yesterday. The fear of humiliation, the panic. I never wanted to feel that way again. That is why I dove head and heart first into CrossFit. I needed something and that was what I was going to try.

Fast forward two years. Wait a second, it’s been two years! That just blew my mind. Ok, well back to my slight panic ridden moment. I had a slight injury last week and I don’t have the use of my left arm and it’s the perfect opportunity to give the right one a rest since it’s been temperamental. Soooo, when you aren’t doing anything overhead what’s left? That’s right, squats. Then some more squats and then even more squats. That’s right people, I’m building a bigger bootay and big ass quads.

I went to the gym in the best mood. I rarely get a chance to work out with the other coaches because our schedules are all over the place. I was really looking forward to our session today. We all do such a good job of knowing when and how much to push each other. We have all gotten comfortable with being uncomfortable so that helps. But all of that was about to stop before we even got started.

It’s time to get started and elevated weighted squats were right there at the top of the white board. I’m familiar with how to do them because I’ve assisted some other athletes in the gym that have used them during their hiatus from going overhead. I knew in my mind they were going to be on the board but the reality of it sank in, quick. They are simple really. You wrap the belt around your waist then place the chain through the handle of the kettlebell then secure the chain by fastening it to the belt. Get yourself up on the box, stabilize and squat. Sounds simple yes? Well, as long as you get past step one(wrap the belt around your waist) the rest is just work.

So here’s where the anxiety kicks in. My mind went from 0-60 in less than .5 seconds. It went something  like this: “What if the belt doesn’t fit me? There are people here and I’m going to be so embarrassed. I’m going to look like an idiot because this stupid thing isn’t going to fit. If this doesn’t fit then I haven’t worked hard enough. I’m so disappointed.” All of these idiotic statements, and then some went through my head in a matter of seconds. All the negative talk that I battle with daily took over and I almost cried. Reliving that moment still puts a pit at the bottom of my stomach and I know how the situation turns out.

Well, I think Tim knew I was getting a little anxious and just started getting stuff together without making a big deal of it. I saw out of the corner of my eye that he had picked up the weight belt. I walked towards him and assessed the circumference of the opening and decided to go arms first thinking that if I could get it past my big ass shoulders then maybe it would fit on my hips. At the time this option seemed more logical than to try and wrap something around your waist in hopes that you can get it to fit. And within seconds again I’m getting rapid fire messages like “why do you want to do this? Shouldn’t you be resting, you just had surgery? Ok, the opening looks big enough but my hips might be bigger. How big are my hips anyway? Are they bigger than my shoulders cause you know you have BIG shoulders.” And then the belt starts passing over your head and you hear “Ok, this might work. I think I can do this. Everything is going to be ok.”

And yes, the belt fits fine. I’m being over dramatic and freak out for nothing. I squat for what feels like days and am looking forward to doing it again soon. Happy ending……hold on, not so fast. This one little blip in my day made me realize how much work it takes to get yourself to a better place. Bottom line is that I don’t give myself enough credit for the work and change that has occurred. I am so obsessed with the scale and about my jiggle that I have diminished all of the amazing things I have accomplished. I am immersed in the most supportive environment but I haven’t been supportive to myself. I belittle when the weight on the bar isn’t as heavy as I’d like. I hear the negative self talk when I don’t finish as fast as I feel I should. I compare constantly. I would NEVER tolerate any of our athletes talking or thinking like this but I have somehow made myself the exception. I have not done a good job of being the student. I don’t allow myself the same compassion I have and give to others. I hold myself to a level of perfection that is close to unattainable.

I’m always fighting the expectation I assume others have for me instead of just focusing on the goal ahead. At the end of the day I’m the one that needs to be proud of my work and my journey. Allowing myself to be more aware of the victories along the way may help. You may not have the same struggles but I bet you don’t give yourself enough compassion either. Be proud of your journey, every step forward and every step back because success is built upon a mountain of failure. Love yourself for the work you are doing to make yourself better today and allow yourself to not be perfect. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and transparent instead of trying to be perfect helps others on their journey. My hope for you is that you can recognize when you’re allowing the negative thoughts to creep in and to take that exact moment to give yourself the love and compassion you deserve. Then go squat!

Ciao bella

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The Walk of a Winner

May 26, 2014

As a coach you tend to watch how people move. How they bend, squat and turn but especially how they walk. Do they pronate or supinate? Do they walk more on their toes? Do they hold their head up high or slouch over looking down at the ground? All these little things can tell you a lot about a person.

I spent my weekend volunteering at the CrossFit Games Mid Atlantic Regionals. I watched a lot of athletes, volunteers and spectators. There is one thing that really stood out to me: CrossFitters have a walk. I’m not sure if it is good posture, strength, an air of confidence or a mix of all three but there is something a little different about the way a CrossFit athlete walks. Their shoulders sit back a little more, they walk with purpose. Maybe it’s those amazing quads that make their gait just a little different but I think it’s something more.

When your mind and body are focused on a goal you have no choice but to find a way to succeed. The athletes that competed this weekend had spent countless hours honing their skills trying to find a way to win and it showed in how they carried themselves. From the top three finishers to the ones who could not finish, the way they carried themselves never changed. They all had the walk of a winner.

I saw this walk again today far from the competition floor. A group of CrossFitters gathered inside our gym. Some of you are newer than others. Some of you are older than others and some of you are just figuring out what this crazy thing is all about. And some of you weren’t sure what to expect from this Hero WOD. You doubted yourselves, your abilities. You weren’t so confident your bodies would hold up. But when you finished, when you were on the other side, you found that confidence that was hiding in that dark place deep inside. And when you walked out that door today, if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought I was right back in that coliseum watching those elite athletes again. With your shoulders held back and your heads held high you all had the walk of a winner.

Say what you will about us. Call us crazy, call us a cult, but I know the truth. This changes people and I am so lucky to see it happen right before my eyes.

Ciao Bella

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Playing the Game

April 27, 2014

I look at the clock. I had to start getting ready. I do it everyday. I have the same uniform: a CrossFit t-shirt from my gym or a competition shirt from an event I’ve participated in, yoga pants and my nanos. Nothing about the act of getting ready for my day is different except for where I’m going. Since we are out of town and missing our normal Sunday workout at our home gym I thought it would be fun to visit a local gym. What seemed exciting yesterday feels like torture today. A new location brings lots of unknowns. My stomach is in knots and I’m trying to think of any excuse I can not to go.

At the heart of this anxiety is fear. Fear of being judged. Fear of not passing muster. Fear of being a failure. I’m waiting for the day someone comes up to me and tells me I’m an imposter. I know I’m being irrational. At least I can acknowledge how dumb my thoughts sound when I say them out loud. Even though I know this truth I still have to talk myself through these thoughts. I have to remind myself of the positive things like, “you move well” “it doesn’t matter how slow you go, you’re doing it” and “you love this shit so suck it up buttercup”. So after berating myself and picking myself back up I gather all the confidence I have, get myself ready and walk through that door.

It has been two years since I started this journey. Some things have become so much easier but I am realizing how much work I still have to do. There are the tangible, measurable things like fitting into smaller sizes or increasing the weight on my lifts or getting more consecutive double unders or shaving seconds off of my 2k row. As physically demanding as this work is it doesn’t compare to how hard it is to change the muscle between our ears.

Most of us have been bombarded with images of what we should look like or what we should strive to be for a long time. These images have taken a toll on our psyche. Our positive self talk has become almost obsolete. It is no wonder so many of us are broken and begging to be fixed. We know there is something better than looking in the mirror and not liking the person who is staring back at us.

When you embrace the goal of CrossFit, little by little those imperfections you despised so much fall to the wayside making way for you to focus on the positive aspects you now see about yourself. CrossFit has helped me embrace my body for what it can do instead of only what I look like. I clearly still have issue with the process evidenced by this mornings’ game of mental ping pong. What CrossFit has given me though are the tools to win the game instead of succumbing to the negative thoughts. Though there is only one player this game is very real. My hope for you is that the next time you are playing the game of mental ping pong with yourself you will be armed with the tools to win. If you don’t think you have those tools or they aren’t sharp enough, find your local CrossFit gym. All you need to win is within you and those four walls.

And for the record, the workout was great, the people were nice and my deadlifts were on point.
Ciao Bella

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April 14, 2014

Check out my score on Dots. http://weplaydots.com/a/a219efc497da7cf045d1 via #playdots

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Word Jumble

April 1, 2014

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.

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Another year….

March 11, 2014

domore

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.

Ciao bella

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What the Bar(bell) does to(for) me.

November 15, 2013

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.

squat

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.

Ciao bella

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