Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Thing About Stepping Back Is...

Today's WOD. This one is coming on the road for sure.
Today, my planned morning class got canceled, which was a blessing in SO many ways. I got to 'sleep in' (well, if 3am -9:45am can be considered 'sleeping in'). The rest was much needed, but I immediately made plans to make up the missed workout with The Lady in Grey.  Left to my own devices, I can usually come up with some doozies, but knowing that I had soccer, and that I'd been going pretty hard at it all week, a bit of a 'lighter' day before soccer probably wouldn't be a bad thing. So I got there early enough to work on my kick up handstands a bit (so far, a 30 second hold isn't too much of a challenge...) before we got together. So once she showed up, we warmed up with some running, kettle bell swings and kettle bell squats before heading into the WOD - that's 'Work Out Of The Day' for those of you non-Crossfit speakers.  It was nice to face this WOD with someone other than My Sailor, and it's given me some great ideas to take this on the road and see if we can beat the time.
  My bench press is coming along pretty well, to say I can comfortably bench 95lbs without much supervision. It wasn't entirely easy, but I was in no danger of dropping it on myself. My last recorded 1 rep max was 115lbs, so to be doing multiple reps of something so close to 100 lbs is just amazing. Most of my cleans are around 80lbs. A year ago, I wouldn't have dreamed of that kind of progress.

I went directly from the gym to soccer. Lucky for me, we had ONE female sub... which means I got off the field for about 8-12 minutes of a 48 minute game. But that's not the 'graduation' I'm referring to.  I've played entire games without subbing out.

I've always played in the back field. Even in outdoor soccer.  It's no secret that, even as I lean out, I'm still not a small woman. Other players tend to bounce off me. Big girls cut off angles. We're hard to go around. So I made a great defender. Quick reflexes and a fearless attitude made me a damn good goalie too. But that left me in the back field playing defense anyway you sliced it. Ball control? Eh... it's okay. But I had a big foot behind the rest of me that's big and was able to clear it without too much of an issue. I was a force to be reckoned with on defense, so often stuck back there.

The thing about playing back field is that I got to watch the game a lot. I learned. I started to call out direction. One forward thinking coach made me put my money where my mouth was and moved me to half-back - the position (in outdoor soccer) that does the most running, hands down.  Since I started playing Indoor soccer last year, that was My Sailor's position. When he went out to Find Nemo, I slowly slipped into his position. Instead of calling out instructions, I just did what I thought needed to be done. It clicked pretty well.

Last week, the team captain and I were talking about things the team was lacking on after the game. One of them was people who would stay forward. (As a team that loses A LOT, you get really good at defense.) So this game, I started to do that. Me! Yes, ME! This 200 lbs girl playing striker?!  How in the world did that happen?! From goalie to TAKING SHOTS on goal and making assists?!

Well, it was exhausting, but amazing. I hurt MUCH more than I expected to after a day like today, but it was a great game. I made mistakes, but I'm still proud of the way I played and am stepping up.

Boy... will My Sailor ever be surprised when he gets back! His goal tender wife can now adequately play EVERY position on the field! On top of all the other gains in the gym, it's going to be a whole new me in lots of ways when he gets back. Like I've said before, I won't say I've "transformed" - that's not fair. I'm still the girl with the "I Love Nerds" Disney wallet and backpack. Far from 'cool', I'm happy to be the theater loving, sci-fi nerd I've always been.  As much as there are things that are different, some things will never change...
like my dire need for a bubble bath after my double-up-workout days.

The thing about playing the back field for a while is that it gives you a view of the bigger picture. Sometimes, spending some time stepping back is the best thing we can do to devise a successful plan to move forward with confidence.

I've played the back field in my life long enough, and moving forward with my training and career path seems to be timed just right.  I'm interested to see what else the future has in store.

(Yes, the Blooper Reel/Fail blog is still in the works! Stay tuned next week!)

Action, Reactions, and A Bit of Brutal Honesty

Instruments of Awesome
While I'm working on my blooper reel for the epic failure blog (don't worry - it's coming soon), I can't wait to announce the next step in this journey.

This has been a big week in the training world for me. It started with meeting a goal I've had since September in Turkish Get Ups, hit a mid-week high of getting 100lbs over my head only to be surpassed by today's 105lb overhead lift on Saturday morning.

Today, I registered for Olympic Lifting Coach Certification. I'd been thinking about it for about a week now, and the stars aligned today, so it happened.

I had no idea how others would react to this information. Much to my surprise, nearly everyone thinks it's really cool, as well as a natural progression. It's boggled my mind! I actually expected having to justify it other people more. But I haven't had to. They are all pretty excited for me, and I couldn't be more grateful for all the support.

You see (brutal honesty time), one of my fears in making decisions that move forward is that I won't have My Sailor's support. When he's out 200,000 Leagues Under the Sea, it's very easy let ridiculous little worries get the best of me. "What if he doesn't support this?" "What if he feels that I don't need him anymore because I'm not only independent now, but I'm physically strong too?" "What if he isn't attracted to this body when he gets home? Major changes have happened since he's been gone..."

Crazy, right? I mean, this guy has known me in different shapes and sizes over a decade of my life. Why would I believe anything that whisper of insecurity has to say?!

I mean - seriously - the guy made a t-shirt with my face on to support me during the Strongman!  When I was having trouble writing, he bought me a lap top to be sure I had the tools I needed. When I mentioned that I wasn't sure if I should continue training as often as I do, this is the guy that said, "Do it. Don't stop. We'll work the rest out."  The guy waited over a decade for me...Why on earth would I believe that ANY of these changes would be met with anything but celebration?! So instead of worrying about it, I'm just going to assume he's rooting for me until I have evidence of anything different. This guy has always  had my back. Even now - while he's out there making sure I'm safe to do what I need to do in here.

Besides, I'm not racing in clients or anything like that. I'm still earning my body.
I may be on that journey for a long time, but I'm planning on signing up for my membership to the USA Weight Lifting Association next January. It's cheaper and more useful after I turn 35. Not a bad birthday present as far as I'm concerned.

The funny thing is, I never dreamed this would be the path of life I'd be on, but I also see how my background in performance art is helpful as well. I seem to do better when people are watching. It pushes me to a different level. I know the value of 'rehearsal as performance', and I'm a bit more mentally prepared than some folks for the journey. 

Interestingly enough, I realized one of my goals I set on my birthday was to get at least 1 certification towards becoming a trainer or a coach, as well as earning some 'street cred.'  Both of those things started to happen this week alone!

I'm not sure if it's hard work paying off, networking, good stinking luck, or what, but I plan to harness this momentum and keep building on it.  I've yet to find a ceiling.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Pop and the Fizzle

Today has been a pretty good day, all things considered. But that said, let's get the bad news out of the way.

Yesterday was 30 days from when the state said it would take at least 30 days for My Sailor's background check to be completed. I followed up and got a very kind reply from our agency worker that they'd check on it for me. I didn't hear back from them yesterday, so around noon today I sent our agency worker AND the state worker an email asking again for a status update on his clearances.

Here's why this is ridiculously frustrating...
  I've probably spent more time painting my nails in the past 3 years than My Sailor spent in each of the 4 states that the Navy sent him to early in his career for training. I mean, he spent 8 weeks in Illinois - and all of it was spent in Boot Camp, yet we need a background clearance from that state proving he wasn't a danger to children during that time.  That's just one example. In each of these states he lived in highly supervised situations, monitored by the government, and all of them for less than 8 months individually. If I sit and think about it too long, I'm overcome by the idoicy of the system that allows children to languish in foster care because we need to take MONTHS to check off boxes... I mean, I get that it's important to do everything possible to make sure traumatized kids aren't further traumatized, but, in this case, it just seems utterly ridiculous. Instead, I'm opting not to sit around and think about it too much and just plow ahead in the things I can control. I'll continue to follow up, but I'm under no illusions that My Sailor will be able to open his special "Yeah! We're Licensed Foster Parents!" package during this deployment anyway...

But not all things I can't control are bad.

Trainer Guy mentioned this cool website to me a couple times before I started to check it out more intently. It's called Tabata Times.  If you're not familiar with what a Tabata is, it's (strictly speaking) a 4 minute work out involving 40 seconds of INTENSE exercise followed by 20 seconds of rest. Repeat until the 4 minutes is up. Trust me, it sounds a lot easier than it feels. That said, I'm glad to be one of the newest blog contributors there. I have 2 posts up so far. If you read this blog, they might sound a bit familiar. You can check them out by clicking on their titles below:

3 Common Myths About Personal Training
Progress Photos and Journey Books - True Story: One Girl's Ammo Against Body Dysmorphia

Recently, the whole fitness thing has just been clicking and booming. I don't know if it's because summer is sneaking up on us and everyone wants to be swimsuit ready or what, but I'm really encouraged by all the inspiration people seem to be taking from my journey. Trust me, it helps ME to know that somewhere out there ya'll are getting your fit on because something I did inspired you. Someone once said, "First they'll ask you why you do it. Then they'll ask you how you did it." That's been very true for me. Aside from My Sailor and Trainer Guy, I met a fair amount of resistance from others when they heard I was lifting weights. I can't tell you the number of times I've reassured people that, yes, it's heavy, but yes, I'm careful.  That's why I have Trainer Guy on my team. To make sure I'm pushing myself enough, and being careful enough not to injure myself.

But it really got me thinking, "What makes my journey different? If I can pass on a few tips, what would they be?" So as crazy as it sounds, here are a few things new readers to my blog may not realize.

I work out when I travel.  This INCLUDES vacations. I've selected hotels based on their fitness rooms (the Disneyland Hotel is awesome for that, by the way). I've done body weight workouts every day in my hotel room. I've requested a room on an upper floor and forced myself to take the stairs every single time (just ask My Sailor - this was NOT a popular idea come day 4 of a Disney World trip last year, where we logged about 10-12 miles/day on our feet just stomping around the parks). I bring my jump rope, my running shoes, and a workout plan with me.

I work out alone when no one wants to join me.  While I have a great support network - no one will look out for my health like I will.  My Sailor and my family love me. Trainer Guy and my fitness friends are great support mechanisms, but no one else lives in my skin. No one else lives with the results (or lack of).  No one lives with regret of skipping out on something that could have enriched me. That's on me.

This includes when I travel.  While My Sailor was on the phone catching up with a friend while we were on vacation, I popped out some sit ups, lunges, and chair push ups. When he was sleeping in one morning on vacation, I was taking a jog around the hotel grounds. My jump rope comes with me everywhere. It was an instant workout partner in Catalina Island, when taking a 'girls' trip' with my mom last year. She would go rest, and I would find the fitness room of the hotel and see what kind of magic I could make. When my family had gone to bed and we'd all spent the day caring for my ailing father, I stayed up and did Turkish Get Ups during commercials for my favorite shows on Hulu (that's 2 minute commercial breaks), or sit ups, or Deck of Cards. Or I snuck out for an early morning or afternoon run... The truth is, if it's truly a healthy, balanced lifestyle, you don't need a 'vacation' from it.

I don't believe in 'cheating'.  That said, it doesn't mean I don't eat well! I stick to Paleo style dining as much as I can. My incentive? Well, eating grain or large amounts of refined sugar generally makes me feel like someone poured sand in my joints 6-8 hours later. It's rarely worth feeling like crap - especially when I usually have some sort of activity planned for the next day.  I know I can handle having 1 beer - but I know I can have 1 hard cider and I won't hurt the next day. So given the options, I go for cider more than 1/2 the time now.  This applies to traveling as well. Like you've seen, I'm prepping for Disney World by bringing some food I know I can snack on with me. Sure, I'll probably have a bite of a Carrot Cake Cookie, but it'll just be one or two bites. I generally treat my food restrictions like an allergy - I break out in a rash of fat, and it just ain't worth it.

Patience...Everyone Started Somewhere. NONE of my gains in the gym came overnight. Hiring Trainer Guy was magical for me, but writing a check didn't make it happen. Putting in the work made it happen. Making the most of my investment made it happen.

Check Your Fear Of Failure At The Door.  You might not realize this, but I've flat out fallen on my arse in both of the Olympic Lifting classes I've done this month. For every video I post of a successful lift or two, there are at least the same amount of unsuccessful ones.  I've rarely had to bail out of a lift in training session, but it has happened. Truth is, we only learn so much from success. We learn a lot more from failure. Sure, there are times when it gets aggravating - and the aggravation gets in the way of process, but if you can prolong that moment, you'll learn a lot more. If you can manage to find something fun about it - it'll just fly by. And remember - there are few things modern medicine CAN'T fix. Conquer all the negative "what ifs" with "what if I CAN do it?"

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Progress Photos and a Few Words on Body Dysmorphia

For a good 90% of my life, I felt like the 'elephant in the room'. While I have a MUCH healthier body image now, I still feel like I'm 'rounder' than I really am.

Nothing reminds me of this more than Progress Photo day.

It seems like just yesterday I was finishing up my Train-a-versary blogs.  Usually, I take photos every 2 months, but since I took some in Feb, I wasn't expecting much visible change.

And then I realized how incredibly nit picky I can be, and decided to use it for good. Instead of seeing all the areas I'm already aware of to work on - I opted to see any changes, keeping in mind that I'm reaching new milestones in my fitness all the time - despite what the scale or the photos may say.

Okay - so here are the observations:

March 2013Weight: 220lbs

Yes, I was still fighting an obsession with the scale back then - enough that I put my weight on the photo... oy vey.

February 2014
Weight: 210lbs

March 2014
Weight: 205lbs

What a difference 5 lbs make!
It's been a pretty cool adventure to see that, when you're getting healthy, the whole "weight" thing just comes along for the ride. 
I still feel "rounder" than I am though, so these progress pictures are very helpful in putting it all into perspective. While I may "feel" rounded or bloated, it's obvious that I'm leaning out...

And more importantly, the things I can do now are worlds beyond what I can do then.

So instead of comparing my body to someone else's (which I still do from time to time), I tend to find more commonalities. Yes, I'm one of the 'bigger' girls at the Olympic Lifting class I go to on Saturday mornings. But that's okay. These ladies are strong and there is something I can learn from them, and from the coach. Adding more fun things to do are a huge help too. The more I connect with people on a face to face basis, the less I sit behind a magazine or a television screen and play the mind game that today's photoshopped images seems to require all of us ladies to do.

I'm going to be traveling soon, and I'm already prepping for that. When my mom said, "I don't know what to feed you when you come visit anymore," I got excited and started looking forward to doing some cooking for her while I'm visiting. I'm researching crossfit gyms in her area that might let me drop in for a lifting or other class. Sure, there are things I can do without a gym. I'm good at those. But why not drop in and say hi to the crossfit community in my hometown?

The last month or so has been awesome.

Oh - and as a side note, I just landed a gig writing for a (get this) FITNESS BLOG! While I'm not sure if it's a paying gig yet, I can't wait to do something to help get the word out that you DON'T have to spend hours on a treadmill or an uncomfortable elliptical to "lose weight". Just build muscle and eat foods that are closer to the earth and further from the factories, and it will happen. Yes, your results may vary, but, ya know, I gotta admit, my world is a better place for HIIT training....

Thursday, March 20, 2014

They Wrote An Article About Me! Or A Run That Fixes Your Whole Day.

Okay, so it's about Crossfitters, but it describes me pretty well. Click here to check it out.  (Except for the Stinky part - but then again, the beasties never seem to mind too much).

While overall the article takes a lighthearted view of the unique personality types attracted to this kind of fitness (here's the contrasting argument), #2 has always always always been true for me. If you followed my blog (or my life) for any length of time, you've figured out that I hate feeling stagnant. Too much routine just sucks. I mean, it has it's value, and I'm not overlooking that - and, I'll admit, sometimes I could use more structure in my life, but as a general rule, I'm not good at sitting still.

So it's no surprise that, knowing today was 'rest' day this week, I was pretty restless. Who would have thought that my 'dinner break' during a 12 hour work day, on a 'rest day', would look like -

...a 10minute/1 mile, 1.4 mile  'jog'.  I recovered from the run pretty quickly, and feel far from exhausted. It was just enough to take the edge off. A year ago, I was FIGHTING for 12 minute mile times. I would rarely go running because I 'enjoyed' it. (I'm still not ready to admit I 'enjoy' running. It's a love/hate relationship. Whenever I'm frustrated, it's a good, quick, go-to that helps the body channel and work through stress hormones. Let's face it. If something stresses me out enough to make me want to run - than it makes the effort of running look like small potatoes.) Today was pretty stressful between work, finding out that Clydas will need his meds upped again soon to get his thyroid level back on track, there is a LONG list of housework piling up, and, ya know, I'm not good at sitting still anyway.

What started off as a crumby day riddled with tech issues holding up my work, work issues holding up my productivity, and vet news, turned into a beautiful one by the time I was done. I came back to my house and grabbed the mail. My new phone case (shaped like Stitch) finally came in! Odin didn't have an accident in the house while I was gone, the dishes and laundry were done with their cycles, and the dogs were happy to see me.

See? Not such a bad day afterall - even though I'll be pulling a 10pmer. It's not a midnighter! My endo also wasn't screaming at me this time like it has been lately, which put that little worry in the back of my mind to rest - for the moment. (Since the surgery that 'might' correct it requires significant recovery time, and 'might' not help anyway - I'm reluctant to dive in head first. Except when it hurts. Then I just want someone to rip it out. But I rarely let it stop me. It's more fuel for the fire.)

A short run fixed a lot - my mood being the main thing.

I'm still looking forward to my late night bubble bath, spinach salad, buffalo sausage, and wine.

Of all the directions I thought my life would take, being a workout junkie wasn't really one of them. But it's a remarkable journey.

I've been asked twice this week what my goals are. It's really made me take a moment to reflect. My "goal" the first time around was to 'lose weight'. From this time last year, I've done that. Last year I was around 220lbs. My weight shot up quickly when I was putting on muscle, but that was really only 2 lbs from where I started training. I'm now hauling around a very different 204lbs now. I still wear the same size causal clothing as a general rule, but it all hangs differently on me now.

A big challenge for me will be sticking to my grain-free, corn free diet while in California and Disney World next month.  Thankfully, there are a few blogs, like this, giving me lots of good ideas so my poor gal pal doesn't get too deprived during her first Disney World Experience. With a race coming up, I have easy motivation to stay on track. I don't want to feel like crud while I'm running or vacationing, so it's easy enough to want to keep the progress going, but traveling is always a bit challenging. My jump rope and gym shoes will be making it into my bags again, that's for sure. The way Disney travel works, I'll be able to look at menus and tell the places we're eating ahead of time. Last time I did that, Disney surprised me and really stepped up to the plate, so I'm hoping for another stellar pre-race experience.

When I think of 'rest' days and vacations, I never thought they would include researching gyms and food choices and storing up the workout juju so that I can perform well (and feel good) while I'm out and about with friends and family.

It's easy to fall into the trap of "I'm not as skinny/fit/fast/fill-in-the-blank a That Girl over there", but when I look back at my journey - sure I may not be where That Girl is - but I couldn't be happier about where I am, where I'm going, and where I've been.

Won't My Sailor be surprised when he gets back from Finding Nemo... A lot has changed - for the better. (Though I can easily see him wondering, "Where's my wife? Oh yeah. At the gym.")

Monday, March 17, 2014

Trainaversary Blog - Part 2/3 Slinging It With Supporters!

One thing 'they' don't tell you about choosing a different path in you life.

Once you discover what passion and satisfaction feels like, you have less patience for those things in your life that don't offer either or encourage either of those things. So when I passionately moved into this arena I need to be candid about this - my relationships changed. I found varied reactions when I started to publicize my journey. Some were excited, inspired, and encouraged. Others felt I was bragging. A few even turned up their noses (literally) and stopped inviting me out for coffee. After all, I'm going to talk about what I'm passionate about, and lifting wasn't really where they were at.  

So I've started building friendships in a different crowd.

But before I (re)introduce those folks, I have to introduce my top supporter -  My Sailor.
Strongman Bremerton, August 2013.
Yes there were times when my faith in the process was a bit lacking. Especially when I actually GAINED weight for a while. For so long, I'd let the scale dictate my progress, but My Sailor was quick to remind me to stick with it - always reminding me that this was (and still is) worth it. He even made a t-shirt with my face on it to be my cheering squad at the Strongman Competition. You can hear him cheering me on in the background as he acted as my camera man. Click here to check out the full blog post with videos. He's come to more than a few work outs with me and it's been great having him push me and help me along. Even if he weren't part of the military, he'd still be my hero.

Through the Trainer Guy, I've met more than a few powerful women who continue to inspire me and prove that 'impossible' is all in your mind.

Through the magic of Facebook, I continue to connect with folks all over.  

The funny thing is - when I started this, I'd motivate myself by doing it for someone else. 

Now, my lifts are for me…

And, oh, how wonderful are those lifts! It took me about 9 months to reach critical mass (where the scale starts to slowly go down as the weight comes up and the muscle increases). It's a constant, slow, downward trend, as the weights get heavier and heavier.

I remember panting my way through a the Metabolic Conditioning part of the work out early in my time with Trainer Guy, and saying, "I just can't wait until this becomes easy." He said something like, "It never gets easy. It'll get heavier and harder." But it didn't burst my bubble. It actually kind of intrigued me. I've RARELY done ANYTHING in life the 'easy' way anyway. Why start now? 

So, let's talk about slinging some weights around! 

Or maybe just check out these clips  -

Good Day and Prep Work

My Workout Notebook
Today, I put a few new entries into my work out note book. At risk of repeating myself, the gym was pretty much the best part of my day -yet again. Not only for getting 100lbs over my head over once, but for the audience I unexpectedly attracted.

When I'm there with Trainer Guy, I'm usually too focused to notice too many people in the weight room (unless they are exceptionally loud or something). This time, I attracted a few friendly people of the silver variety who rooted me on and had some great questions about personal training, weight lifting, etc. It gave me a little extra pep in my step. It was fun and flattering. One asked me what my goals were.

I hadn't given it a ton of thought, but "To get stronger," was the only thing that came out of my mouth.

I mean, we all know how my relationship with lifting and HIIT started (and if you don't, take a quick peak at Trainaversary 1, 2, 2.5, and 3 by clicking on the numbers for a crash course). My initial goal was "to lose weight". And I've lost weight. I put on 10 lbs immediately though so "weight" is all relative.

But my gut instinct and instant answer to the question is true. Sometimes there is a specific event I'm training for, but in the mean time, it's a lifestyle thing. As cliche as that sounds, it's true. And I know that, if I keep it up, when those events roll around, I won't be scrambling. I mean, I did a Crossfit competition with 3 days notice... THREE DAYS! That wouldn't have been possible if I had thrown in the towel when I thought I wasn't going to be able to register.

I got some more information on Tuesday soccer night, which makes me feel a bit more confident, and I was able to bounce the idea off Trainer Guy, who's advice was pretty much along the lines of 'strike while the iron is hot'. It looks like there are women's pick up games of all skill levels held through on Tuesdays. Pick up games cost the same amount and it'll get me out of the house and connecting with a different group of people than the Sunday soccer crowd, and it might give me a chance to hone my skills in one or two games. Sounds like a good way to pass Tuesday night, and I won't have to commit to a team and pay for games I can't attend, since I'll be traveling a bit in April and May. So I'll see what tomorrow brings!

Sometimes all you can do is prep, and see how things go.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Treacherous Balancing Act

I'm laying in bed (with the lap top - bad idea, I know...) and I'm laying out my schedule for next week... and seriously considering joining a local indoor women's mid-level soccer league that plays on Tuesday nights...

Then I realized that one day last week, I slept for 12 hours straight, ruining my entire day's plans and throwing off this weekend's schedule as well.

So that got me thinking, "What about balance, J?"

It's probably the hardest thing to achieve in life in general.

When it falls into place, life rolls along at a seemingly effortless pace. Even the heaviest of obstacles seem to fall into place right where they are supposed to.


 But when that balance doesn't work, you can spend all day trying to stand on your head to make things work - and feeling like you've just been chasing your tail.

So when our soccer team lost (again) tonight, I was frustrated and picked up a schedule to look for another league to play in. I found a woman's intermediate level soccer team that plays on Tuesday nights. It's $60 for the session, so that would mean I'd spent $120 between the 2 leagues for 12 games of Soccer total.
Add that to my other health related activities (YMCA membership, training fees, and the occasional drop in classes) and that's basically eating up about 90% of my 'play money'.

The crazy thing is, that 'should' probably upset me.

The even crazier thing is - it doesn't.

In fact, the only reason I'm not going for it and signing up for the soccer team is that I don't want to overdue it and end up injuring myself... and I may show up for Olympic Lifting Saturday mornings for a while... Get Up Get Dirty Sunday mornings....

The new League would be on Tuesday nights. My options for "Rest" days are currently Tuesdays and Thursdays - of which I usually only end up sticking to one a week. As they say, "Muscles are ripped in the gym, fueled in the kitchen, and built in bed." Rest is an important part of any fitness equation.

That said, the highlight of this weekend has to be discovering this little beauty on Facebook today. I was no where near finishing in 8 minutes, but I was a solid contender for 2nd! That's much better than I expected when I saw 40 Wall Ball Shots with 14lbs on the list of things to do. At least it was all downhill from there. That's Trainer Guy right above me rocking out the LOWEST time on the board. (At least I know I'm being trained by the right person!)

Dropping in on games is the same price as dropping in on these classes, so maybe I'll treat it on a 'week by week' basis.

I did meet my friend The Wall this week...when I overslept, pretty much ruining 1/2 a day right there. 12 hours in 1 day and I still felt like I could sleep longer.

Now, before ya'll start jumping to 'depression', my spirits are pretty good. I won't say "stellar" because, well, we all know a lot of life hasn't panned out the way I was expecting/hoping it would recently. But I'd say I'm far from the black pit of despair. I'm taking care of myself, my dogs, and meeting my responsibilities. I'm finding time for things that enrich me as a person and am exposing myself to spaces where I think I might just find some inspiration. (For example, watching a few heats of the Crossfit Open was amazing on Friday night and DID inspire me to stay the course when I was starting to wonder if I was burning out a bit.) I'm still writing, adding a weekly blog entry to the mix over at Celebrations Press (starting tomorrow! Yeah!) and I'm actually getting more focused and productive at work. My overactive imagination may have taken a bit of a break at the moment, as writing comes hard right now, but it's still in there, kicking around and keeping me company.

I think finding a balance is something natural we all struggle with. The added 'struggle' for military folks is that, just when you find your stride, something happens (deployment, schedule changes, etc) to throw it for a loop completely. Never knowing where My Sailor is or what he's up to makes it easy for me to get jealous of those in surface fleet life, but it's a short lived jealousy. They are dealing with a whole different set of complications than those of dealing with Sub life have. They may have Skype and phone calls, but they also have MUCH longer separations.  Each journey is unique and deserves its own kind of respect.

Anyway, I just made my first book to keep track of work outs, lifts, and things of that nature this year. It's pretty awesome and I'm looking forward to showing it off in the gym tomorrow.

Hopefully Thursday I will have some news about the possible additions to the house as well. Fingers and toes crossed!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tigress Stripes And Crossfit New Zealand

I have been really busy and haven't been blogging much, but I had a few thoughts today that were worthy of more than an Instagram photo or Facebook status update.

Sunday was Soccer day, as usual. My team lost (as usual) but played well in general. We keep getting better and betterm and yours truly has gone from defence to playing midfeild - a position that requires a LOT of running, sprinting, and a fearlessness I already learned on defence. I'm not a confident offensive player just yet, but I'm certainly getting there.

All that said, I was feeling like CRUD on Sunday. A bit hung over from girls' night (not literally - just the cheesecake and late night got to me - I'm sure the wine was not the issue), my body was aching baddly post soccer. So bad that I almost considered canceling my Monday session. I decided to wait and see how I felt Monday morning.
Well, after a pain relieving mineral bath and some sleep, my legs were once again my friend, aside from a small mild twinge in my knee. You know, the one that looked like this last summer?
While it's recovered, it still swells up and does some weird things from time to time, so while I'm aware of it, it hasn't gotten to the point were it stops me at all.

Today was no exception. I headed into the gym. But not before taking a good long look in the mirror. I don't always note the 'flaws' now. I tend to see the picture as a whole. Today, I was reminded that I still have my stripes. You may not notice these in the bikini-clad progress photos, but I've got stretch marks to rival (dare I say) any woman who's given birth.  Seriously. In fact, about 10 years ago, I was asked by a new doctor, "So, how many kids do you have?" the very first time she saw me naked. (Don't worry - I tried to sugar coat her foot in it's way into her mouth. That moment aside, she was a great doc.)
Now, they've mostly faded to large stripes which will continue to grow for the rest of my life (thanks to my awesome keloid scarring disorder - yeah genetics!).

See those pretty white veins on my hips?
So today, Trainer Guy and I worked on my Snatches. (Before ya'll go all X-rated on me, click here to see some women competing using the Snatch lift.) It's taken probably the better part of a few months to really understand this lift and get it all together. It has a lot going on, from core strength, to shoulder and wrist strength, to mobility, to speed, and, yeah, the knees have to be happy enough to get that squat nice and deep and move onward.

It's easy for me to take for granted how far I've come. Unlike Sunshine, I don't have photos of over 100+lbs of weight loss. (I didn't have 100+ lbs to lose.) I do have photos of me in my early-mid 20's vs now, so I see how far I've come, but it's a different kind of progress. Last year, I started the swimsuit progress photos. Those have REALLY helped with this. I can see my body leaning out a lot, and, as predicted, that critical mass (muscle vs body fat) is paying off dividends. The weight on the scale is dropping again, bringing my grand total to about 14 lbs in about 15 months. One of the concerns is that weight loss means 'strength loss' but this is turning out not to be the case. It seems to have resulted in more speed.

So I got a bit of perspective today when I stumbled across this video:

These people are awesome. They probably went on to do other things that day as well! (And this also gives you a good idea of what a "bail out" looks like. It's never worth getting hurt over a lift.You've only got ONE body. There will be other lifts.)

Just to summarize, here's the bit that stuck out the most to me.
Why did this stick out to me so much?

I've only been at this thing a little over a year, and I'm not that far away from some of these ladies.

My max squat? 210lbs. That's 55lbs away from the 4th place lady.
My max press? 100lbs. That's 15lbs away from the 4th place lady.
My max deadlift? 285lbs. That's 30lbs away from 4th place...

Granted I still have a LONG  way to go before I'm considered 'competition' for any of those ladies, but it's not nearly as far away as I expected it to be.

So, while I console myself with some mint coconut milk ice cream tonight before bed, I guess I've realized that, well, I'm getting there.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Looking Ahead - Spare Rooms and Spare Tires

I'm almost there.

I can sense it.

Somewhere between the disappointment and frustration, I'm coming out of the fog. It feels nice to breath again.

I feel less and less 'poked' by those folks who have simply had better luck with the lottery of family building world than I have had. I know I'm not letting My Sailor down. It is what it is and I can't change it. What can I say? Acceptance is a beautiful thing.

'The kids room' has naturally changed into 'the spare room'.  It's too sad to have an empty room waiting for kids. Other than twin bunk beds, there isn't anything particularly anything "kid" about it.

So let's spin this differently. It's more likely to provide beds for houseguests than it is for anyone joining our family - at least not until next year most likely. While that makes me a little sad, but the self pity bug chirps a lot more quietly when it's just a spare room.

Change what you can, and let the rest go, right?

So let's look ahead, shall we?

Clydas-"This is your wake up call."
I've booked two trips! The first one will be to head back to California. No Disney trip this time. No funerals either. This time, it's I get to be with my mom and my brother as they celebrate their birthdays (both in April). It's bound to be a little bit bitter sweet. The anniversary of Dad's passing is 2 weeks before all that. It's strange to think he's been gone for a year. We all still feel that burden. I will admit that it's perhaps a little extra heavy with My Sailor at sea and our adoption plans delayed, but I've decided I'm just going to deal with it when it comes, as it comes. One day at a time. I have great friends to help me get through the hump, and great family still in the wake of that tragedy.

On a completely different note, I can't wait for my friends and family in California to see me again. My body shape has changed dramatically since my last visit, and I get a secret smile thinking about making my entrance again.

It'll be great to see them all again, but some time with my family will be nice - even though I'll be working and continuing to train while I'm in California. Zumba? Crossfit? Running? Body Weight Tabatas? Who knows. They haven't seen me since December, but it's always fun to grab my shoes and my jump rope and take my act on the road.  Traveling is so much more fun without the vacation-eating-remorse that comes later. No doubt we'll be making a traditional stop into Stone Brewery. They are right in my family's back yard basically. Only at their brewery have I found my favorite beer on tap. And if you haven't visited Stone Brewery, it's beautiful. Even if you only drink water, it's worth a walk around their garden, complete with koi ponds...

But nowhere else is there a gargoyal overseeing operations and brews called Arrogant Bastard Ale or (my personal favorite) Sublimely Self-Righteous on tap. Yes, I'm a pretty fit girl, and I still drink beer. Just not all the time, or in large quantities. I feel no reason to deprive myself a little Self-Righteousness from time to time.

So all that said, that should be a fun few days, despite it being a 'working holiday' for me. In other words, I'll spend waking hours with my family, and evening hours hammering out my day job. Oy. If I time it right, I can work at least 1 or 2 12 hour days in advance, so I won't have to work full 8 hour days when I'm visiting home, but we'll see how all of that rolls out.  ('Rest' is a 4 letter word after all! Then again, so is 'work'. Damn.)

I've also booked the trip to do the Expedition Everest Challenge in Florida! I'm really relieved that I won't be flying solo to this one either. The Nurse and I have gone to Disneyland every year for the past few years together. These trips are usually around the holidays and very impromtu. This time, we're planning ahead, and taking it across the country. She decided she'd like to come to Disney World with me! I haven't had a girl's trip to Disney World since 2009 when Sista' Girl and I did our Inagural RBT, so I'm looking forward to this Ladies Only Outting.  I'm a little nervous to see how my new lifestyle (you know, corn and grain free) will play out there, so I'm coming prepared...
The Nurse and I- Disneyland 2012
I plan on coming prepared with lots of Paleo friendly bars and snacks packed so that I won't be suffering much come race day and having them delivered to the hotel in advance. Things like Caveman bars, pressed fruit, some raw nuts and other essentials that don't require a kitchen.  I'll still be splurging here or there. (What kind of a Disney fan would I be if I didn't have a Dole whip or at least consider a heavenly Carrot Cake Cookie?!) But I'm to the point now where I don't enjoy the after effects of some of those splurges. They range from a general feeling of sluggishness to gastric upset to swollen, arthritic joints. That's no good for a 5k + Scavenger Hunt, so I'm going to be very careful up until race day (we arrive 3 days prior), and then loosen the strings a bit afterwards. Thankfully, The Nurse is on board with supporting me. I'm either very lucky that the right people have stuck by me, or very smart in choosing my support mechanism... In truth, it's probably a little bit of both.

I'm also looking forward to staying in Shades of Green again. I didn't really get to use their fitness room last time, and it looked awesome. Can't wait to break that puppy in this time around.

Although My Sailor will miss all the fun, I'm sure he's relieved to know I have a support team. There is even talk of a Magazine Meet Up with some of my fellow contributors to Celebrations Press! It's always fun to meet fellow fans, even if it's just for Hugs and Hi's.

So there is lots of good stuff coming down the pike before summer strikes.
Stay tuned!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hack Life and Howie Mandel

Mark and Angel Hack Life
I've been a follower of Mark and Angel Hack Life's blog for years. While, like any blog, we can all get a little preachy from time to time, they have some marvelous reminders of what it takes dig deep and, well, hack life.

So when I saw this quote on their Facebook page, I had to smile. It has everything to do with handling stressful situations in a healthy fashion. Too often I hear that depression is a symptom of someone trying to be too 'strong' for too long. It took me a long time to understand that there is strength in being vulnerable. That it's certainly okay (and more human) to shed a few tears (under the right circumstances) than NOT to. It's what we do after it's time to mop them up, that proves our character.

This weekend has been a great insight into that.

I actually took an entire weekend off work. This is pretty rare. My schedule is usually 6 days a week.  But lately I've realized that I need time to do other things, so that I can be more focused and productive in my day job, as well as my home and social life.

And lately, I've been needing to be a bit of a hermit. I've licked my wounds, and now we move on.

Saturday, Sunshine and I palled around the mall, where we picked up a few goodies, a few necessities (new soccer socks, curtains for the bedroom) did a little wine tasting, and spent a good while enjoying some good company. Sunday was jam packed. It started at 6:30 am when I rolled out of bed to meet up with the Lady in Grey for a group fitness class with Trainer Guy, Sunshine, and a few other people. Breakfast followed. Then I went home, cleaned up, did a few chores around the house, and showed up in time for soccer. There were only 3 players and a goalie on the other time, and my team was short players as well. So instead of forfeiting, we talked the ref into letting us play 3 on 3! It was exhausting, but SO much fun, AND I SCORED A GOAL and assisted at least 1 other. It's not likely to happen again but it was a lot of fun - as exhausted as I am.
After the game, I went home, cleaned up (again) and headed over to a friend's house to pick her up, head out to dinner, and check out Howie Mandel doing his stand up comedy act. It was really much funnier than I thought it would be, even though the crowd heckled him a bit. He's obviously a professional and took it like a champ.

So all in all, a pretty awesome day.

One problem... I'm EXHAUSTED. I only got 2 meals in today, and I'm still downing water to make up for the dehydration of the day. It's after midnight now, and I can't wait to close my eyes.

My shoulders and quads feel like someone beat them with a cane....

Here's to hoping I have some energy back for a session with Trainer Guy tomorrow! I am starting to wonder if I need a Monday to recover from my Sunday!