Monday, October 24, 2016

Harvest Festival Fun on a Hammered Immune System

The Impossible Girl enjoying a run around.
Last weekend, we took our Family Day outting to a local Harvest Festival. Traveling with a toddler is a LOT of work, but it was fun and we made some good memories. The Impossible Girl is a freedom loving 1 year old now, who gets around pretty well on her own, so it was a fun way to wear her (and, let's be honest, us) out.
Rowing out on the lake... Maybe during a year when we don't have a toddler rocking the boat...
Free events included rowing canoes (we passed on that, for reasons obvious to anyone who's had a can't-stand/sit-still-kid), s'mores (cooked over some pretty ingenious log burners that we plan to try at home one of these days - when our logs dry out again... which will realistically be sometime next year at this rate...), face painting, an archery range, a small petting farm, hay rides, and a hay maze.
We met up with some friends on the spur of the moment and it was a good day generally. And I'm glad I was able to go with very little issue.

The doctor's say the 'working diagnosis' is an ulcer. Since I had pretty intense heartburn for the better part of a year while carrying The Impossible Girl (and there has been no shortage of stress in adapting to the role of working mother/wife/athlete), it's not even a stretch to say I probably have developed an ulcer (which has been showing up as referred shoulder pain). At first, we tried the generic version of Prilosec for a short time to try to decrease the acid in my stomach to give the ulcer a chance to heal.  Well, I am one of those folks who gets just about every side effect of medication possible - so that stuff resulted in 'cold like symptoms' (sore throat, runny nose, without actually feeling like I had a virus...) and an overall decreased immune system due to malabsorbtion (when your gut isn't breaking things down correctly, you don't absorb all the goodies you need to stay healthy). Couple all that with 3 days in a row of a teething, nursing toddler who is up most of the night, (and, admittedly, suboptimal hydration) and you've got a welcome mat for infections. Knowing my body pretty well, I knew a kidney infection when I felt it, so I spent 24 hours in agony before admitting I can't ride this out myself and grabbed antibiotics at my local Urgent Care. They confirmed that I was right, and suggested I re-think the Prilosec. I did. Within 24 hours of antibiotics on board (and Prilosec remaining on the shelf), I'm about 85% pain free. Which is awesome.

  It's a good reality check for me to get sick once in a while. I remember how much it sucks and it gives me an insight into what some of my athletes/clients might be suffering through due to something as common as stress, lack of adequate rest, and poor hydration. Feeling stuck in a cycle of pills is terribly discouraging.  (Since ditching the prilosec, I have been enjoying life with dietary changes. Nothing too extreme at all. I'm just more aware of my probiotic intake, adequate rest, adequate hydration and fueling. All things that are relatively easy to lose track of when you're not a working-2-sometimes-3-jobs-mom-and-wife.) It's a great oppurtunity to really hone in and practice what I preach.

I'm changing somethings up and ramping up a monthly challenge for my clients at work. It should be fun, and I'm hopeful all goes well, but there will be more about that later on. It's been incredibly gratifying this year to see the mobility, strength, and speed gains everyone is making. 2017 is going to be an exciting year in the gym...

As for my own gym goals, though I complain about the heavy training days I actually love it. Maybe I'm just on a hot streak right now, but I've rarely missed a lift in training, despite the heavy loads (for example, today was 85% Snatch to start and 95.2% for Clean and Jerk to start). In fact, I THINK I had a Jerk revelation today... and that's exciting, since I'm staring down the goals of a comfortable 50 kilo Snatch and a 69 Kilo Clean and Jerk hopefully around my next birthday in January... we'll see. Either way, it's exciting to realize that those lifts have a very real chance of being a Meet reality for me in 2017. It's still a long way from the new Nationals qualifying total needed for the 75+ Kilo weight class, but once they institute the new women's weight class (which hopefully will happen in 2017 or 2018), I might just have a good chance at Nationals again then. Until then, I'm pretty happy that I would have qualified for the Pan American games for 2016 as well as World Masters for 2017, if this had been a qualifying meet for me. (Bad timing.)

Getting the workouts in regularly helps with the stress which helps with the ulcer, so things are looking up, even if the future is not so certain, depending on, well, if My Sailor decides to continue to be a Sailor or not... which may depend on a lot of factors (though this election will likely be one of them).

So much to think about... but how about some sleep now, eh?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lessons in Expectation Momagement

The Impossible Girl Goes to the Zoo
It's just after 10 pm. The house is asleep and I've stolen a few minutes with my laptop, Netflix, and some Almond Milk Ice Cream for myself.  Today got me seriously thinking about the ridiculous amount of expectations I have for myself. In fact, when asked, it's the one thing My Sailor wishes he could change about me.

As a Trainer and Coach, part of the job description is working with clients on developing realistic expectations.  My clients and I do a lot of hard things  in the gym. We do a lot of hard work - with the expectation that they will get stronger.  If only everything in life had such an easily identifiable cause and effect relationship.
My Sailor and The Impossible Girl
As I try to balance the Mom/Wife/Coach/Athlete, it's easy to feel like I'm failing at all of them.  This time of night, when I curl up under the blankets, listening to the fish tank over the monitor, it's easy for the thoughts that needle my brain of the chore that didn't get done, or the workout that slipped by, or the moonlighting job that didn't get accomplished (I took on a small part time job doing Transcription to help weave a more secure safety net for our family). 

Combating those thoughts isn't easy, but it comes in moments...
Moments like having a good Meet with great people and accidently surpassing the qualifing total for the Masters Pan American games reminds me that I'm keeping up as an Athlete, though I don't have the same schedule or resources that I wish I had.
Moments like when The Impossible Girl is finally asleep, safe and sound and snug remind me that she's healthy and thriving. So I'm doing my job on the Mom front.
Moments like when My Sailor and I are able to steal a few moments alone and laugh that remind me I'm doing my job on the Wife front.
Moments like when my clients reach a new level of strength or mobility, or when they come into a work out having had a bad day and leave feeling empowered - I've done that job too.

Sure, I 'expected' parenthood to involve older kids, school schedules, date nights, family vacations... Instead, it's a world of small victories, second jobs, first steps, early mornings and late nights. But in the end, I still have the beginings of the 'family' photo. I know there is so much more family out there waiting for us. All in good time. Once we get this baby-parent thing nailed down.

All of it has been a great reminder that life may be short, but it's the big picture that counts. Sometimes the laundry doesn't get folded. And that's okay.

Expectations are good, healthy things.

But sometimes, we have to leave a little room in the plan for detours. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Beanie Turns 1 and 'That One Time I Thought About Quitting'

At her Birthday Party, Point Defiance park, Tacoma, WA
Our little girl turned 1 last month. Not 1 week. Not 1 month. But 1 whole year. In a flurry of family visits, we managed to throw a small picnic celebration that was a nice easy day for everyone. Since then, we've taken more than a few hikes and gotten into toddler mischief, as she learns to walk. Hikes now take much longer, since she will only tolerate being carried for so long, no matter who awesome the carrier set up. And stressful situations are a bit more stressful as she appears to have some scary looking (but ultimately harmless) breath holding spells. But it's nice to have a happy, healthy kid on our hands.

Playing at the Mall
 It's been fun, but young kids are a LOT of work. We keep things together, but we're always working on improving our process, tweaking our (well, my) schedule, and working on finding longer periods of sleep along the way.

October 1st I have my first Weightlifting Meet since I was a bit over 6 months pregnant with The Impossible Girl herself.

And today - I thought about quitting that meet.

Here I am, almost 2 weeks away from it, and not where I'd like to be. I'm lifting about 3 days a week (as opposed to my preferred 5-6) and I'm just getting the meat of those workouts in. Forget the accessory work. Most days I barely have time for the classic lifts, due to the tuck and dive moves My Sailor and I do daily in the Parent Swap. Child Watch has been awesome, but invariably, she needs something for me right around that last set - or even before I get started... and by the time I can start, it's too late. I'm needed elsewhere.

My changes of setting any new records on the platform are non-existant, in reality.

Luckily, I'm hard pressed to just blow $70 of entry fees. (Since we're past the refundable deadline, that's exactly what I'd be doing. ) Sheer thriftiness alone makes me need to go and lift for the t-shirt regardless of standings or personal records... But, today, I seriously considered quitting.

Today was just one of those days where I got less than 2 hours of sleep in a stretch the previous 2 nights before, and hadn't seen a proper weightlifting workout since Friday, as Saturdays I'm not supposed to be working (we're still hammering out just what I am supposed to be doing) and Sundays are 'Family Days' (aka - My Sailor goes through pains to make sure I can sleep in a bit, we do breakfast together, and then I spend the rest of the day trying to find a hike to drag us out to so we get out of the damn house).  I haven't been able to see any proper coaching in a couple of months and, while my lifts are proficient, they are fairly stagnant at the moment.

Instead of quitting, My Sailor helped me out by taking The Impossible Girl for a little extra time when I mentioned something like, "What's the point of competing?! It's not like I've gotten better lately. I don't have time to train myself anymore!" Thanks to the exhausted man going from work to dad mode immediately, I could get a proper Weightlifting workout in between clients. And then one client canceled, which allowed me not to try to rush to the end of the workout to relieve My Sailor.

And that was all I needed - just 1 day - just 1 completed, successful  meaty workout -  to get back on track.

If parenting has taught us both one thing, it's 'Have Adjustable Expectations'. My initial expectation was to make the same Kilo total at this meet that I did at the last one (while pregnant, yet lifting 5 times a week).  Instead, my goal is now 'Reclaim the Competition Platform - Make My Lifts'.

Realistically, I'm still lifting at about the same capacity as I was last time I competed, which is a little disappointing, but it's all a step in the right direction. Progress, rather than perfection.

And besides, on my death bed, I think I'll regret the time not spent with my family. Not the weight on the bar that year when I was recovering from the baby bump.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Patience over Power

Today was a good day in the gym. I had a few clients. I worked with the Strongman team, and I hit a post pregnancy PR in my Jerk.

And I came away with it with a little revelation too.

Now, if there is one thing I've learned along the way here, is that there are as many styles of parenting as there are people. For example, for every expert that swears by 'Cry It Out' (which in the baby wielding world is abbreviated as CIO - which is simplified by basically letting the kid cry until they figure out how to calm down) there are half a dozen that believe it's cruel and will give your kid issues into adulthood. Yet experts who backs CIO, feel that anything else will make kids into weak adults who are unable to soothe themselves. There are some shades of grey in between, of course, but that's just one example of contradictory methodology.

Me? I believe there are no actual manuals when it comes to relationships. There are lots of books and folks with great suggestions, but that's all they are. Wisdom gleaned from trial and error and other experiences.  Each metholody has its own value, but we all have our own hearts to follow, in the end.

Each relationship (Trainer/Athlete, Husband/Wife, Progeny/Parent, etc.) is as unique as a finger print. I prefer to think of each as a tiny piece of a yet-unexamined life.

That leads me to today's revelation.

The Impossible Girl is becoming a toddler. A very strong, 18 lb toddler. It's hard to believe she just turned 11 months on Monday.

When she does not want to be strapped into a seat, there is no form of distraction that will get her in there. Her will is iron clad, and her body is so flexible that she can become stiff as a board and remain that way for extended periods of time.

And that's exactly what happened on my way home from picking up lunch for My Sailor (who happened to be sick). She was NOT getting back in the car seat. I tried EVERYTHING. Diaper change, food, distraction... I pulled out every stop in the parent arsenal and she was not getting into that seat. Physically forcing her was probably well within my ability, but she was so adamant, I'm pretty sure it would have risked serious injury to continue to attempt to dominate her will.

So instead, I stopped trying.

I took a deep breath. Sure, people were looking. I'd been wrestling with a screaming toddler for the better part of 15-20 minutes in the middle of a parking lot. In the midst of my frustration, I realized that she needed something from me. And it wasn't more force.

"Maybe this isn't what you need right now. Let's go for a walk, shall we?"

As we strolled slowly up and down the aisles of a near by craft store, and explored the colors and textures of all the fake flowers and crafting fabrics, I realized something.

If I were to describe myself, one word I'd use would be powerful. Not just as a lifter, but when it comes to force of will, I'm nearly as stubborn as they come.

But day, she didn't need my power.

She didn't need me to 'out stubborn' her.

She needed my other super power.

She needed my patience.

I had a 2 hour gap between clients. Surprising My Sailor with lunch before dropping off The Impossible Girl with him and heading back to work was a sound idea.

This struggle had cut into my lunch plans significantly.

So much so, that I had about 30 minutes left when I got home and got to said lunch.

But when we got back to the car, there was very little struggle getting into the seat. Some minor distraction did the trick, and we were off.

Sure, my lunch break was cut short, but I it felt good to realize that, sure, some days, she will need that powerful female figure to help her out.

But more often than not, she's just going to need my patience.

And she can have it.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Competitions and Killer Whales

It's safe to say that parenting has slowed me down a bit. Not necessarily in a bad way. (If you've been following my blog from the start - oh ye brave, ye few - you've seen that, throughout the years I've needed different things to slow me down.) It's not a negative thing by far, but it isn't something that comes easily to my girl-on-the-go personality. I tend to thrive off of momentum. It's a controlled sort of chaos creative folks know all too well. Being a parent of a near-toddler is simultaneously amazing, challenging, and completely exhausting.  My daughter doesn't make it challenging specifically. Overall, she's a pretty chill kid. It's just that life with an infant/toddler is far from a cake walk.  From sleep deprivation to the every-other-week illnesses to the delighted look that crosses her face when she discovers she can do something she couldn't do yesterday, it's truly an adventure into unexplored territory for me.

Today I was carrying her to the car as My Sailor pushed our cart through the Target parking lot. She was fast asleep on me. She'd been fussy in the store, insisting on being in constant motion, and then being hand carried (not riding in the cart or in her carrier but specifically HAND CARRIED and  specifically by me) until she couldn't fight the tiredness any more. Walking slowly through the aisles and a calm voice  eventually put her to sleep.  As I walked out to the car, I mused that I never considered that my arms would be tired from carrying a toddler. Until now, I'd been able to give them back to their parents when they got fussy. Now, I'm the parent.

And it's kinda cool.

Snatching in Tacoma...
With that said, I just signed up for my next competition.  It's not until the Fall (October 1st to be exact), and I'll probably compete in the local Strongman between now and then, but my approach to this competition is very different than the others. Even when I was pregnant, I had a couple hours a day, 6 days a week in the gym to myself to lift. I get a little over 2 hours a day. The Child Watch staff is (usually) more than willing to help me out and watch her when I have clients and have to go over my 2 hours a day/10 hours a week, but when it comes to getting my own workouts in, that's on me to figure out (since I save my Child Watch time for my business hours, rather than pay for child care.)

Now, I don't have that kind of time - or the extra funds for regular coaching. (Though I plan to change that soon, it'll likely take about a month before that turns around.) Now, I grab the time and the coaching slots when I can.

For general health and fitness, none of that is really an issue. I've diversified my training to include a SLEW of Mom-and-Beanie workouts. Beanie Girl and I go for hikes once a week with a local Hike-It-Baby group-with her in a baby-wearing carrier (though we're on the look out for a mesh one for summer time). A friend showed me how to do push ups with Beanie Girl in a back carry, and we do planks, and tire flips, just to name a few things. She was approaching 18 pounds at her last weigh in. Add in her carrier and it's probably about the equivalent to a 20 lb weight vest. But I'm only going to get stronger as she grows, so it's kind of a nice trade. 

And who knows? She may come to enjoy Mom's special brand of crazy... or she may hate it. It's up to her.
Me and Beanie Girl - Candid
But one thing I can't do with her into a weight room at the Y.  She's tagged along on a few Olympic Lifting classes/sessions at Dungeon Fitness, but that's more out of necessity. It's a huge distraction for me. That means I've had to slow down my training and really pare it down to the most vital parts, making the most of the little solo weight room time I have.  Lifting alone is hard. In fact, it quite honestly brings out the 'suck' in the sport, but I know this phase isn't forever. I miss my lifting friends at the gym, but I know it'll pass eventually. Eventually I'll make my Sunday morning plans regularly again. Someday she may be coloring across the room from the weights or in summer camp or school. But for now, it's climbing up hill. But ya know - I'm kind of okay with that. It reminds me just how important it is for parents to take time away for their own sanity and betterment. MAKING time to do something just for me - really isn't 'just for me'. It helps me bring a more fulfilled, stronger, more confident, better person into all of my relationships - wife, friend, coach, mother... etc.

Honestly, while it's not easy, it's not that bad either. When she's feeling well, Beanie Girl sleeps like a champ - which means everyone sleeps like a champ. (She tends to get sick about every other week - you know - when she's been in Child Watch... which she can't go to when she's 'visibly ill' - so basically, she comes out sick just about every time she's in there for an extended period of time. That's not a reflection on the staff. It just is what it is. Little kids = germ factories.) When that happens, the whole house gets in a happy, productive mode. When it doesn't happen - and I'm getting sleep in broken 2-3 hour chunks, putting heavy weight over my head just seems like a bad idea...

So I don't. I find some other way to work out.

With a competition coming up, I'll need to make rest a bit more of a priority. It may be good timing, as she's going to be nearly 11 months old, and we're seeing some regularities creep into everyday life that make things a bit easier on me.

Motherhood has been a great test of my training philosophies. I say things like - 'Do SOMETHING every day. Even if it's something small.' And now, I live that.

Carrying Beanie Girl around all day is a great way to get strong - and get exhausted, so that happens regardless of what I plan usually. (Even though she's crawling and working on standing on her own - sometimes Mom is the best mode of transportation and comfort. Growing up is HARD!) So adding in a hike, walk, push ups, planks, leg raises, swings, flips or whatever is all bonus sometimes. But ya know what? It's working. I haven't dropped a ton of weight, despite having a dialed in diet, but I've shrunk and maintained my strength - slowly, over time. Which is exactly how I got into the best job ever - taking my time. Learning the ropes. Slowly. Gradually. I'm still learning and growing as a coach, as an athlete, as a wife, as a mom.... and I hope to forever.

My hopes for this meet? Let's see if I can meet the totals I hit while I was pregnant. I'm fairly confident that's a doable goal. Remember that last meet? Click here if you don't. I look back at that technique and I'm confident it's still getting a little better, even if it's a bit of a battle some days.

That said, we've been making sure Beanie Girl stays connected to her family - on both sides. Granted, that is MUCH easier done on My Sailor's side. It seems like we see someone from his side of the family every month or so. Most of them live in Seattle, which is little less than a day trip away. We all got to cross whale watching off our bucket list though when Papa Bear Humenay came for a visit and treated us all! It was a really long day for Beanie Girl (and she could probably have cared less about the whales and the water), but I'm glad we were all able to take the adventure together. My Sailor caught some fun photos of us on the boat. And - oh yeah - we saw whales.
Taking a break in the Galley

Candid fun. Tired Beanie Girl.

 The ship required that we either be in the Galley, seated, or that Beanie Girl be worn for the entire 3 hour 6 hour tour. Add that to the 4 hour round trip journey to get to and from the port, and lunch strapped into a high chair, and poor Beanie Girl had been strapped to a device nearly the entire time. We came home all exhausted, but glad for the adventure. We're looking forward to doing an overnight at Deception Pass at some point and further exploring Edmonds.

Even though I'm a Californian Native, I can't help but love all the natural beauty up here. It's still breath taking.

It was a neat day. I remember going whale watching (though we were going for humpbacks mostly) with my family as a kid and Papa Bear's visit was bitter sweet - we really enjoyed it, but it's an ever present reminder of cancer's toll on my family. I'm grateful that Papa Bear gave us this experience that I'm sure my dad would have more than approved of.

Well, my week is planned - including a good bit of marketing since Strongman 2016 is right around the corner, and I'm hopeful we'll tackle some projects here on the homefront as well tomorrow, so I better enjoy some sleep while Beanie Girl is out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Another Shark Week in Paradise

It's 11pm and the house is quiet, aside from the white noise of fans and the exaggerated snoring of my beloved Clydas. Just a few minutes ago, I was finally able to brush my teeth and trade the sweat-smelling banana-mash-smeared work clothes for flannel pj shorts and an oversized Eleiko shirt I got for free at a Weightlifting meet a few years ago.

We canceled an upcoming trip to California, opting to post pone it until the early winter, but it's still great to have something to look forward to. Someone recently commented to me that tag team parenting is great for saving on child care costs, but tough on a marriage. They aren't necessarily wrong. We haven't had anything I can call a date since February, but we're soaking up time with the Beanie Girl while she's still, well, Beanie. With her one yeat birthday right around the corner (how did THAT happen?!?) She's in a stage where she's changing leaps and bounds, so it's nice to experience all those firsts.

It was a fantastic treat to join my weightlifting buddies on Sunday on a workout that left me (literally) dizzy for a good while. I got to be me for a few hours, with no demands that the mom version of me do anything  (other than hurry home when I was done). Interestingly enough, I was hopeful that pregnancy would be the cure to the PCOS and Endometriosis, but the workout reminded me that the hug of barbed wire still can randomly strike at any time. But I got through it, none the less.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


It is HARD not to compete right now. I won't lie. It's very tough to have my personal goals be more obscure - especially when I have so many hardworking folks in my roster that I get to help reach their very specific goals. Right now, I'm working out 3 days a week, and 1 of them (at least) is a babywearing Metabolic Conditioner - which is fine for keeping me strong, but isn't helping me get through a structured program and getting me closer to getting back in fighting shape. Last time I competed (even pregnant), I was lifting 5-6 days a week. Not 2-3.  So it's been a bit of a challenge to find a new, maintainable goal. It may be (gulp) running, as soon as we get the jogging stroller hand-me-down cleaned up and functional, and when we get a more breathable baby wearing carrier for the summer time.

But, as the Lady in Grey reminded me, this is 'only a season'. Beanie Girl will only be, well, Beanie for a short time, so having limited child care is kind of a blessing. It ensures we get time together (while not spending half of my income on babysitting) and helps us build memories. She may not remember her first time at the beach...

Island Lake Park - First Day at the beach

but My Sailor and I will.

She may not remember going to the zoo 
and she probably thinks that the people are more of an attraction than the animals,

but we got to see her wonder at aquariums.

She may not remember playing in the park mid-day on a week day, but we'll remember. I'll remember working 6 days a week (7 if you count paperwork) in a job I love, while sneaking in quality time with my family every chance I got.

I'll remember it all 10 years from now.

What I won't remember is that I was only able to lift when I had the available child care hours (no babies on the weight floor allowed at the Y).

I won't remember that I took over a year off of competing. I won't remember that I was more than occasionally thwarted in my plans by my growing obligations on the home front.

There will be lots of competitions in my future, I'm sure. As tough as it is to watch them float by as I fulfill other roles life has had for me beyond athlete and beyond coach, I know it's something I won't regret.

Life isn't anything like I expected it to be, as 40 becomes closer than my 30's -

 But that's what happens when the Impossible becomes Possible.