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.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Tag Team Living - Memorial Day Lay In

Beanie Girl has learned to crawl like a champ and is now free to cause mischief and mayhem. The mischief is generally encouraged (safely, of course). It's kind of a fun process watching her grow into her own lady, even though it's exhausting on an entirely new level. (Some parents ask, "Where did the time go?" I know exactly where it went...into that great big vat of sleep deprivation, that's where.)

Illness has been ripping through our house off and on. When we're 'off' being sick, life actually falls into a nice little pace. But someone is sick pretty much every couple of weeks (Beanie Girl just got over pnuemonia, and now My Sailor is under the weather...), it's been kind of a battle to find a stride that fits. But life is all about adaptation, so adapt we do!

We got annual passes to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. It's a tiny little zoo with a nice little aquarium in Tacoma. It's just far enough away to get us out of the house, and just small enough to easily navigate with small children. Unlike the San Diego Zoo that I grew up with, it doesn't have a bunch of expensive gift shops and food, so it's a great way to enrich Beanie Girl and blow a few hours without breaking the bank. She LOVES the fish tanks.

Business has picked up, which means I'm busier than ever. I haven't figured out exactly how to balance the time I need into the day consistently yet, but it's a great thing. Allowing me to keep the lights on is a big deal, and I'm sincerely grateful to all of my friends and family who have reached out and helped. They ain't kidding - it DOES take a village.

This weekend wasn't what I'd hoped it would be. If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you'd know that My Sailor and I aren't good at holidays. We don't get much practice (family always wants the big ones and deployments got in the way for years) and this was no exception. My Sailor turned up sick, so we've been spending the last couple days being pretty low key around the house. We even went to bed at 8:30!!! #gettingold.... But with all the Tag Teaming we do (when he's at work, it's Mom/Daughter time, and then he comes home and I go to work and it becomes Daddy/Daughter time... and if we're lucky one of us got enough spare moments to cook dinner. If we're REALLY lucky we both have the same day off together.)

That said, all of the things that I've been hearing about from friends lately make me incredibly grateful for the time and good fortune My Sailor and I have. No matter how scary things got, it's always been the two of us. 'We' have never been in jeopardy and that's astounding to me. 'Quitting' simply isn't an option for us and that has a quiet sort of confidence about it that I'm grateful for every day. 

So it's been a roller coaster of a year,  but we're on the way back up, and looking forward to the adventures of the summer.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Bitter dose of Vitamin D

"Feelings of disappointment can either drown you, or shape you...Sometimes, they may just be a new beginning." -Walt Disney, "Walt Before Disney"

Now, before I get too far down the rabbit hole here, allow me to be very clear.

My life is pretty good. Pretty damn good. I've family that adore me and that I can't wait to get home to. We have a full cupboard currently (thanks largely to a fabulous local Buy Nothing group) and are  getting caught up on some vital household bills. The lights are still on; we still have a roof over our heads, and I have the Impossible Girl, who is growing up - practically crawling now. Thanks to hand me downs, we haven't had to buy much of anything for her, aside from a few toys here or there at Goodwill. I'm seeing success in the gym, Just this week, having reclaimed my triple digit Snatch this week (That's just 10 pounds off my lifetime max!) and my client roster is back on the upswing (which is surprising this time for year,  but a huge blessing none-the-less).

But let's face it - there are things that I definately miss of late... and more than my fair share of disappointment going around.

I have THE BEST friends... and it's been fun reflecting on how far they have come in their fitness journeys, but, although I miss them all something fierce, and when we hang out, there is little in common currently. It's not anyone's fault- my life is just about keeping things afloat (a business I love, a girl I love, a household I love, and a guy I love) in a time and space where almost none of it is coming easy. I went from the girl who planned Saturday nights at a local brewery and drives 90 minutes round trip to soend 2 hours in the gym on Sunday morning with her friends doing Olympic Liftingand Crossfit.

Being up every 45 minutes-2hrs with the Impossible Girl isn't conducive to early rising. It's not the drive, but the fact that the alarm has to go off an hour before I need to leave, just to feed The Impossible Girl and pack her up before leaving. Long nights aren't conducive to driving  90 minutes round trip  and putting heavy weight over one's head, much less doing anything with 'intensity'.
And then there is the cost - of gas, of the class, of the breakfast with the gang afterwards... I'm sure they've noticed at this point. First, I stopped going out to breakfast. Then I started going every other week...Then only to one class...then I stopped going all together because honestly,  some weeks it wasn't the lack of sleep- it was the extra expense in gas... If The Impossible Girl was under the weather, or my in-gym client load was low for some reason, it doesn't leave wiggle room in the budget for anything else-including travel time.

We haven't had a date night since February. It's nearly May, and there aren't any on the horizon either.

Sitters are expensive, and I'm not in a position to trade services right now.

My friends and fellow athletes are killing it in competitions all around me that I can't gather the capitol to enter... I cheer them all on virtually (and in person when I can?, but I'm the 'on the bench' member of the  team for the forseeable future...

And it sucks...not how I pictured 2016.

My non Fitness pals are taking over my Facebook feed with Disney trips and awesome travel status. While it's fun to share in their adventures, my latest adventure is going through my closet for a rummage sale because I need to renew some business stuff next month. When is our next vacation/adventure? We don't know.. 2017 maybe?

The idea of it being a Disney trip is WONDERFUL, but that's, honestly, still a pipe dream. Even a weekend away seems out of reach. Planning anything is still next to impossible. If it's not the financial aspect, it's the exhaustion factor - and if it's not me that's exhausted, it's My Sailor, who currently works 2am-12pm, and then takes over baby parenting duties as I work in the evenings chiefly.

Most of our 'quality' time is spent in front of the tv or the cell phones now a days - which equates to low quality for everyone. We try to go to the gym or walks together, but it often devolves into being too tired... As for the thought of being a foster parents? Currently, it is as far from reality as it ever was.

I think Facebook contributes a lot too the feeling of disappointment or discontent. Ignorance is bliss, and if left to a world without Facebook  (yes, I still remember one), I would be less aware of the competitions/events I'm missing, and therefore, less agitated by the situation. I mean, I see folks taking their toddlers/infants to WDW and I long to take my little there too.... but, would it haunt me so much if my phone didn't blink with it several times a day? Likely not...

Disappointment and discontent are bitter tasting vitamin Ds.

So, I realize I have a choice. I can either play the pity party game, or not.

Well, I've decided that I'm not playing anymore. Someone out thereis WISHING they were in my shoes, so what do I REALLY have to be annoyed about?!

Yes, I am grateful that I get to spend so much time with my little one, and I know it won't last forever, but I find, when I'm most fufilled personally,  I bring that recharged, fulfilled person home. And that's as valuable as money in the bank. It makes me a better coach, a better wife, and a better mom.

My Sailor deserves that. The Impossible Girl deserves that too.

So My Sailor and I are doing some talking and we're going to sort things out. We got some much needed help this week so we can breathe a bit, and we know what we're  figuring out a plan that everyone can work with.
I'm really kind of grateful for discontent...
It's a great catalyst for change.