Friday, January 31, 2014

Trainaversary Blog Special Edition (Part 2.5) - "It's All In Your Head"

Tomorrow is My First Crossfit Throwdown.  I snagged a registration for this 2 days ago and I was pretty freakin' terrorified...I was okay with the first event. It's a series of lifts that require strategy and form. Form I have. Strategy I'm learning, so it's a good way for me to stretch myself. I've been so focused on lifting heavy that I'm finding the balance of lifting heavy but without rest. That means lifting lighter and faster will give me a better chance at solid score rather than lifting heavy but taking lots of rest.

But then I read the rest of the challenges and, well, I started to believe that "Throwdown" was just a nice way of saying "Throw up".

You've read about my work out audio commentaries before. I once broke up with my fat, outload... on the treadmill... It went something like, "Hi Hips. You know.. this isn't easy for me. You've been with me for a long time. You've seen me through a lot. Good times and bad. But it's time for you to go. Let's face it, we've been going different directions for a while now..." I've also broken up with my belly and my thighs publically.

Sounds crazy but I was having some great inner dialouge as I read what will be required of me tomorrow.

Here's just a small sample:
"The Gauntlet" - "ooo... Valkerie needs food badly!" (Bonus points for those that understand the classic video game reference)
750m Row - Okay, that's not so bad. Pace myself nice and easy for the torture to come...
60 Lunges - Icky. Ouch. Doable, but... ouch
45 Kettlebell swings (53#/35#) - 35lbs isn't so bad, but... 45?!
30 Burpee box jumps (20"/16") - Holy Fashisznit!!! 16 inches?! Ugh. Well, I can do them, but AFTER 60 lunges AND burpees?! Oh vey... don't fall on your face...
Bumper plate run (45#/25#)  - Got this one down.
"Foundational Medley"
5 min AMRAP (As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible)
10 Sumo deadlift high pulls (65#/45#) Hm... I've never done these, but 45lbs of anything isn't too bad.
10 Push press (65#/45#) Ow... but 45lbs isn't too bad.
10 Front squats (65#/45#) Can do... but wait... that's AFTER the 60 lunges?!?!
immediately followed by
2 min AMRAP Double unders I've accomplished a grand total of 5 of these last year... this is gonna be a 2 minute flogging...

Is this a "Throwdown" or a "Throw up?!"
I was freaking out about this for about 24 hours, and then it clicked...

Instead of focusing on the competitive peice of these 2 brutal sets, I'm going to use the same strategy I did in the Strongman in August. I'm going to finish. I'm going to do the best I can and treat it like a REALLY HARD  day in the gym with Trainer Guy.

Suddenly, it didn't seem so scary. Not because of some Scottish Yoda wisdom or magic of Trainer Guy. While he did encourage me to sign up, he, in fact, will not be attending. But I've come to realize that 95% of this is health game is mental. In fact, it may even be 98%. Attitude can get in your way, or take you places. (Except maybe for double unders... those are at LEAST 10% in the wrists... but I digress.)
The crazy thing, it's COMPLETELY within my control which path I let me brain go down.

So , I've shifted my focus from "OMG That's scary!" and into "Okay, I can do this. Just get through each movement and do your best. It's not about placing. It's just like a long session with Trainer Guy. No PPQ. It's my goal in the gym and it's my goal now."

(For those not familiar with PPQ, it means Do Not Puke, Pass Out, or Quit. I'm fairly sure it's our family crest.)

When they say, "It's all in your head," they are right.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Trainaversary Blog! 1/3 - How it all Began

January 26th, 2014 marked exactly 1 year since I started on this adventure of working with a personal trainer. It's when I first stumbled upon the mad skills of Trainer Guy. (Click here for the aftermath of that first blog).

In case you don't want to bother with the link click down memory lane, here is a quick summer of my first impressions of Trainer Guy.

  • The resume alone is frightening to a newbie. This is straight from his web page. 
Represented Scotland in rowing
Head Coach of the Tacoma Nomads Rugby Club
Competitive cyclist and multiple State Championships medal winner
Experience and training with British Special Forces
Competitive runner and triathlete

I read that and very clearly remember thinking, "There is no way I'm training with THAT guy!" Well, I'm not sure how it got all mixed up, but I ended up with Trainer Guy. I was sold on that very first 1/2 a session. Turned out he couldn't have been a better fit.

Me, the Lady in Grey, Trainer Guy, and Sunshine at the Strongman in August, 2013.

He's not the type of trainer you see on The Biggest Loser. There isn't any screaming. There are not hours feeling like a gerbil on a treadmill. There is just an hour of awesome 3 times a week that I wouldn't miss for the world.

Here's the funny thing…. I planned on only doing 1 month. (Which I find wildly entertaining as I figure out how to pay for the next month's worth of sessions.) I planned on doing what a lot of people who sign up for personal training do - suck all the knowledge out of the trainer's brain, and somehow continue to do it all on my own. I wanted to lose about 18-30lbs. 'Weight loss' was my goal. My obstacles? Hormonal imbalances (PCOS and severe Endometriosis), flat feet, weak ankles, and (honestly) lack of confidence in my ability to figure it out on my own. After all, I'd crash dieted (Medifast, Slimfast, Weight Watchers,, etc.) my way into this situation to begin with. Now, my poor metabolism had NO idea what it was doing (or supposed to be doing). Eating 800 calories a day? I can do that. Not lose weight while eating only 800 calories a day? I can do that too. Crazy, eh? For me, 'starvation mode' really does exist, and I am VERY good at it.

When I started, the bar was 'heavy' at 45lbs for most lifts.

I couldn't do a lunge that touched my knee to the floor.

I couldn't sit back on my heels without intense pain.

I couldn't run a mile in under 10 minutes.

I couldn't do a lot of things, but I was more focused on my looks. I couldn't fit into the sizes I wanted to fit into.

Within 2 sessions, my idea of pretty changed dramatically.  (Click here for the Pretty blog.)

The first step is admitting that you need help.

Not that you've lost the battle -  but that you need some direction and a helping hand. Most of us are pretty good at negative self talk. Changing the way we treat ourselves comes from the inside out.

It's laughable to think I thought I could get the knowledge and skills I'd need in a month. This whole experience has taught me that there is still a lot I have to learn. An infinite amount actually.  The constant influx of science, theories, and the fact that I'd love to pass on how I feel to someone who's felt how I felt when I started, has really resonated with me. I know I need to get more training and some more 'street cred' (competitions) under my belt. But I now know where to find a lot of the resources and support I was missing.

Since starting with Trainer Guy, there is now a lot I can (and do) implement for myself.  I have a new respect for all that my body is capable of - and I'm still learning (and pushing) my limits.

So let's go back just a little bit more to one of the biggest lesson that has been reinforced in me this past year...


The only thing that happens overnight is making the decision not to give up. Once that commitment is made, everything else works itself out.  The obstacles are just things that you figure out a way around.  I won't say it's easy. There are A LOT of days when I didn't feel like going. And I had A LOT of legitimate reasons  to quit. My dad died of cancer. My Sailor deployed. I work full time. Adoption paperwork has taken on a life of its own. My friends are staring down losing the lives of their children. Let's not go into being tired, or traveling. None of that leaves me unaffected.

But I've rarely had to cancel an appointment in the year we've been at this.  Sometimes it's all about not giving up.

As we went through puke-worthy work outs (which were pretty much all of them that 3-6 months), I realized that, though Trainer Guy's goal may have been for me to complete a certain amount of rounds, reps, or minutes, my goal was simply not to "PPQ" as my mom says. That stands for no Puking, Passing out, or Quitting. I've yet to do any of those (though the only reason 1 has been avoided was because I didn't open my mouth… I'll let you use your imagination which one that refers to).

I've had some of the best support in this journey even before I ended up with Trainer Guy. AndiGirl has been incredibly helpful just by sharing her journey with me, as have several others I'll be talking about in my upcoming post.

Beware, it's going to be a very honest review of the year in relationships…. and how they've changed with my newfound passion and progress.

Next installment - Sling It With Support coming later today! 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

34 - Part 2 - Reflections and New Horizons

Downtown Disney, Disneyland, January 2014
So… I looked back at my birthday blogs from last year and they were generally disappointing as far as goal setting went. Here are the links to Part 1, 2, 3, and the summary.

So here's what I realized in all that…

It wasn't that I was aimless. It's just that, if I'm being completely, soul-searchingly honest, I was just trying to survive with my sanity intact. I mean, sure, I wanted to get healthier and budget better and all that, but I was also dealing with 3 big things:

My Sailor was deployed. Yes, we signed up for this. Yes, he's been-there-done-that before and so have I. But no, it's never ever 'easy'. If it ever gets 'easy' to not hear from someone you love, there is something very wrong. My Sailor and I generally like each other and appreciate each other's company. Deployment is a strange beast. I can't say it's like any other traveling job on the planet - because they each have their own challenges. Pilots have the risks inherent with air travel. Drivers have the risks inherent with traffic and long hours on the road. Submariners? Well, they have all the challenges of being in a boat designed to sink, plus warfare concerns. So, yeah, it's a lot. It takes a certain breed of person to handle all of it. My Sailor does a pretty good job with it, and I'd like to think I'm not too shabby at flying solo myself. Sometimes I actually enjoy it, but that doesn't mean it's ever easy.

My Dad was fighting Pancreatic Cancer - the 3rd deadliest form of the disease.  While it's natural for all people to lose our parents at some point in our lives, cancer is an awful, ugly painful thing that does awful, ugly painful things to families. At the time, I couldn't have dealt with any of it any differently than I did. I called. I prayed. I stayed positive. But that didn't mean it didn't suck. Knowing pancreatic cancer from its reputation in the medical community and from its terrible success in claiming the life (and causing the fame) of Randy Pausch, it was really a long period of time holding our breath for things to get better or to very quickly get worse. A little less than 4 months from this time last year, I was flying down to California to help see my family through my dad's last few weeks.

Adoption… still.Yup, the crazy adoption journey was stuck at a stand still then. We were finally able to make a big push in the fall of this 2013, but I was sort of hoping my dad would be able to meet his grandkids. That didn't happen - at least not in the flesh. But I know he lives on in me. And ya know, I turned out okay, and my grandfatherly influence was minimal as a child.

That said, it was very easy to fall into the same trap this year. (Though 'trap' may not be fair. Some years, we just need to lick our wounds and get by; I trust that I did what I needed to do. This year isn't a year for that.) I have nearly as many reasons to do the same thing, but something has happened recently.

The happier I am with my fitness in specific, the less patience I have for parts of my life that aren't satisfying me. I'm awfully tired of just 'skating by'. I need to make some changes, set some specific goals again, and reach for them!

So here are the things I'd like to see accomplished this year.

#1 - IMPROVE TIME MANAGEMENT.  In 2013, I suddenly got good at showing up to things on time. At first, I thought it was just My Sailor rubbing off on me. As a 'creative type', I'm notoriously late for most things. But I found myself on time more often then not (if not early) to the gym for my appointments with Trainer Guy. I was pretty much running on time to meet friends, and I'm usually a day ahead in all of my writing deadlines. I've been great about setting deadlines for myself with the adoption paperwork/training and completing it within those time frames. BUT I'm awful about using my time wisely on things I don't particularly care for (like my day job). Which brings me to my next point.

#2 - WRITE EVERY DAY. Even if this means I stay up late or do it over coffee. Even if it's a sentence. Even if it's NEVER something that gets published, WRITE. Setting aside time to give myself a creative outlet will make me happier, which will make things around me more relaxed.
  2a - Seek out professional help to change careers.  Are you tired of hearing me complain about my job? 'Cause I'm really tired of complaining about it and saying, "I'm going to be a writer!" and then not getting there. I mean, I AM  a published writer several times over, but not a PAID writer yet, and I want to start getting paid for what I love (and do anyway). Start up magazines are great, but usually pro bono I don't mind getting involved in projects I believe in, but I need to start finding things I believe in that can help out momentarily as well. They are out there! I have a friend who has been-there-done-that successfully so I'm going to pick her brain to see where I need to adjust my strategy. Maybe I need a day job that takes less mental energy so I have the space to be creative? Maybe something else needs to change? But I'm certainly not afraid to ask for help. I think right now my ideal combo would be to write and do some personal training on the side.  Sunshine and Trainer Guy are willing to let me pick their brains to figure out what I need to do to get my foot in the door.
  2b- Build a Writing Calendar. I do well with deadlines. Why not capitalize on that and give myself some deadlines I can write to?

#3 - KEEP GOING on the Fitness Front!  I've already taken steps toward this one. It's pretty clear that I've made significant headway this year in my training, body type, confidence, and shape. In fact, I can hardly believe I didn't crop my hips out of a single photo from our recent vacation. That's pretty much completely new for me.
I used to think that this sweater made me look bulky. Now I realize it wasn't the sweater...
So I am committed to continuing in the fitness routines I've been in. I have an indoor rowing competition a week from Sunday (YIKES!), the Expedition Everest Challenge in May, My First cross fit Throwdown in February, and probably a powerlifting competition in March, so it's going to be a fit year with no time to slow down on that front - which is exciting.
  3a- Hike a different trail every month, rain or shine. I think this can be a great one. Company or not. Rain or shine. 12 months. 12 trails. There is so much natural beauty in Washington, it's a crime that I spend so much time indoors.
  3b- Get certified in at least 1 area of specialty to work towards becoming a Trainer.  Sunshine mentioned something today that might just stick with me. I have some background medical knowledge. What if I used that to help people who have some unique needs in training? It would require lots of study and a wide variety of work outs. I have a feeling I'd be able to learn a LOT now the job, shadowing, or volunteering. However it happens, this might be a great way to do something I feel like I'm not right now. See, with my day job, I basically keep doctors out of jail or make rich people richer… I'd like to give back to society in a...different way. Something that feels a little more rewarding than just keeping a professional in the black and out of orange.

I think those are some pretty ambitious goals for my own personal new year. It would be great to work in a show, but it has to be the right show, at the right time. Time is a valuable commodity right now. One I'm not willing to sacrifice on a part I'm not really excited about or on a show I feel is less than awesome. If that means I end up more on the patron/critic side of theater, I'm okay with that. (I'd be even more okay with it if someone wanted to pay me to go to shows!)

And with that, the birthday shenanigans come to a close.

I have 2 words for you 2014…


Thursday, January 16, 2014

34 - Part 1, The Healthy Part

So it's my own personal new year today! I'm 34 years old. It's time for the annual birthday blog!

Birthdays always make me a little nostalgic, so I went through some photos looking for photos of past birthday parties.

All I could easily find were parties for other people's birthdays. See, those of us born in January kind of get the shaft when it comes to birthday parties. Most people are DONE with partying. They just stumbled through the holidays and the idea of setting aside time to doll up and hang out is just too much. People are just too exhausted - or down right broke - and they need a break.

Which I get.

Last year, I took myself out to lunch at a local mall. I know it doesn't sound specatular, but it was fun to browse around and enjoy some peaceful time. A few friends called to help pass the time. My Sailor was deployed, so that kept things nice and simple.

This year, we're (hopefully, if he gets off work at a decent hour) heading to that same mall to, once again browse (they have a Disney store-which is unreasonably exciting), have some hot pot dinner, and cap off the evening with drinks at the Cheesecake Factory before heading home.

Birthdays are weird for me. I guess they are for most adoptees, though as an adult, they lack the bitter sweet sting they had as a child. I still love birthdays, don't get me wrong. I feel like they SHOULD be celebrated in a big way. I mean, the world celebrates New Years, and what is more literal than a birthday to mark a personal 'new year', right?

In being a a bit nostalgic right now, and missing some friends to party with, I decided to go through a few old photos this morning... and there is already no doubt that I'm starting 2014 out on an healthier note than ever before.
In this photo, I was getting ready to compete in my last traithlon. I'm 611 - the girl on the far left.

Now, I could give the preamble of "I had a tumor the size of a golfball at the time" - which is true. But it's also true that I ran an hour on the treadmill 5 days/week.
It's also true that I lived off Lean Cuisines more than home cooked meals.
It's true that this was taken a few years ago (I was 30), which should mean I'm 'fitter', right?
It's also true that I weighed the same in that photo as I do in this one -

Now, I know 'results may vary' and not everyone is built the same, but I'm certainly not built like that anymore.
Now, I eat. Breakfast was Plain full fat Goat Greek Yogurt, honey, berries, a banana, coconut water, and hot tea. Lunch will most likely be a breakfast reboot (scrambled eggs, bacon, veggies).
Now, I also don't have that tumor, but I have other health challenges (severe Endometriosis has been added to the list) which make the belly bloat still a battle.
Now, more of it is earned than 'bought'.
Certainly off to a great start!  It bodes well for the rest of my 34th year!

New goals posting pending! Stay tuned for Part 2.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Starting off Strong" or "Update: Standby"

I know you're all eagerly awaiting blogs summing up 2013. I'm sure I'll have on by my personal New Years (next Thursday), but between working, the holidays, company, prepping for adoption, and things like that, it's all I can do to stay on top of life in general, much less throw in 'extras' like blogging.  To sum up the begining of the year, we took a trip, came home, built furniture, did paperwork, worked out, and slept. Yeah - that pretty much covers it.
The dogs are pretty happy to be out of the kennel and back on their own turf.

Clydas snoozing like a champ in my office - yeah - I'm a little jealous.

Anyway, recently we got to go on a last hurrah before kids - well, maybe. There have been other delays coming up in the adoption process. They are relatively minor, but they are impeeding our ability to get My Sailor finger printed. I can do a lot of things for him while he's gone, but I can't be his thumbs. So it's a race against the clock to see if we can get this done with his work schedule and before his next deployment.  We've turned in all that we can. Now we just have to wait for a few more peices of paper.
Like I said before, "So far no morning sickness, but the papercuts are terrible." While we were in Disneyland, I really wanted to do a "Waiting" photo shoot, but we couldn't nail down a photographer. Instead, we spent $8 at Micheals and bought a small black board with erasable crayons.

I hauled that board and around, and we jotted down a note to our future kids whenever we had the inclination. A few of them turned out great. I'm working on a slide show about it, all, but here's just a sneak preview...
Dislcaimer: Disney does NOT encourage the use of signs in their park. They were kind enough to allow us to use them once we explained our mission. In fact, Mickey GRABBED the sign from us to hold it himself! Best character interaction ever.