Monday, June 30, 2014

Leather Bound Progress and Making Room on a Forced Rest Day

Round about my birthday this year (a little over under six months ago) I wrote up a few BIG goals for this year. As a refresher, they were better time management, better writing schedule, getting at least 1 certification toward becoming a personal trainer,  and changing careers. Usually, I write a blog post on my 1/2 birthday to see where I am with those goals. It's a helpful self-check every year. I guess you could call them my own Personal-New-Years Resolutions. And like most people, they tend to fade into the background as my birthday passes and life happens.

But not this year.

So far, 2014 is pretty much on target.

Nearly all of those goals have locked into place - some even better than I planned for. Sure, I'm on the cusp of July and I still have the desk job, but I've been able to cut back my hours to make time for building my education, 'street cred',  and the training business.

Yeah - I actually have a business now. While I wouldn't call it 100% officially up and running full steam just yet, it's far from a pipe dream now.

I may still be a bit green to all of this, but early success with coaching friends (see last post) reminds me that those weren't just "lucky".  I've just got room to grow. Thing is, I probably always will.
On a personal note, I wish my dad was here to see (and advise) on getting all of this off the ground, I know that he's probably smirking at me from somewhere in the great beyond...he was always the entreprenuer in the family. Mom was always the fitness and nurtition guru. Somehow, I guess I've picked up a little of both worlds.

While that would seem to be the perfect seguae into a "nature vs nurture" argument, that's really not where this blog is going.

Today, I actually didn't work out officially at all. My foot is still a bit purple from yesterday's fall, and it's the end of the month, so I gave my desk job my day, though I made time to run some errands with My Sailor and squeeze a bath and some down-time in before bed. While that lead a bit of pent up frustration, a hot bath after work improved the foot as well as my mood.  I have a small mountain of reading and paperwork to dig into and I'm really looking forward to getting into the work more. I never thought there would be a time I'd be excited to work my arse off, but it's arrived. Soon I'll be scheduling shadowing work and running my own small group a few times a week. Rome wasn't built in a day and I'll likely be continuing to work crazy hours to balance it all out for a while. It's a lot of crazy adaptation, but it'll pass, I'm sure I'll figure it out.
   The big victories for the day came in the form of a package from LegalZoom including all of my official business documents (and a pretty cool stamp that I doubt I'll ever use, but you never know...), buying a 1 piece swimsuit in a single digit number (and having it fit for the first time in about 15 years - though it's just a simple suit to get me through pool time at the Y, which insists on 2 inch straps on swimsuits), and, well, finishing up work.
  The fact that all 3 dogs haven't killed each other is always nice - though having a pack around certainly makes me wish I'd put in the work and made the time to finish the fence. (Doh! Yes... almost a year later, it's still a work in progress...) They actually get along about 99% of the time. But I'll have to find temporary homes for Clydas and Odin again because I made good on a promise to My Sailor and we've booked a big vacation for his leave period.
  The calendar is going to be pretty full for July, but we'll build some memories, explore a new place together, and take our active lifestyle on the road a bit. We've made some compromises to the budget which will likely put off some of the renovations a bit longer, but ya know what? The house will be here. We will be here. We're in no hurry to move on just yet - but our time together? We only get 1 go at how we spend that.

So with my foot on the mend, work cut out for me, and the blissful world of my pillow awaiting me, I look forward to another busy week to, well, earn it.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Somewhere In Between... And Loving It

Somewhere between the beginning of a new work week and complete, utter, delicious exhaustion is my favorite day of the week - Sunday.

This was My Sailor's first Sunday that (almost) my usual Sunday Schedule since he deployed.  We added a new dog to our pack this week, but just for the week. She got us up at 5am, barking for food and to be let out. (I usually get up about 5:30am on Sundays to make it to my Olympic Lifting class in Gig Harbor.) This time, we got to take care of her and then go back to bed for a while.

This time, it was in time to meet up and lead a group of my own. Everyone was challenged and had a great time in a scalable workout. Luckily, the teams were even without me playing, so I got to introduce the game and cheer them on.  While they will most surely be sore tomorrow, everyone left with a smile. Good signs all around.  Though the breakfast at Shari's that followed isn't likely to be repeated, I'm hoping that we can get back together and play again soon... with one more person (okay, I missed playing a long a bit).

After breakfast, it was time to head to the gym for my own routine - some light handstand and Snatch work with My Sailor and a WOD. I ran into a couple other friendly faces in the gym. My Sailor got to chatting with one of them, talking about Power Lifting vs Olympic Lifting - and the familiar gym face said, "Well, she's the one to teach you!" (Which quickly prompted the joke of "I know; I'm married to her." from My Sailor. ;) ) It's fun being able to lift with My Sailor - and we can't wait to break in his Oly shoes when they come in the mail! I'm expecting they'll make a significant difference. Can't wait to be there to watch the magic.

While no records were broken, a lot was learned and it was fun to catch a WOD afterwards. I did catch my toe on a challenging box jump, resulting in a nice bruise on my foot. It didn't keep me from the soccer field about an hour later! I got to sub out for a few minutes, but all in all my foot handled it well, if a bit sore for the sport.  We're talking about creating our own indoor soccer team in the fall. Earn Awesome Training Soccer anyone?
We didn't win, but got in a great game!
 Monday is my Rest Day this week - I have some jacuzzi time in my future for sure and likely won't be running tomorrow to give the foot a break, but it's already on the mend.  And, since it's the last day of the month, I'll be strapped to my desk job for the entire day, no doubt.  But that's okay.

Following the crazy day, we stopped off at my usual haunt and got a drink and some dinner before relaxing at home. I'm still absorbing the lessons from the week and forming a game plan going forward. Hopefully we'll know if we get an upcoming vacation in together in the next few days or not. Fingers and toes crossed from some time off together.

As for tonight, somewhere between well-earned awesome and delicious exhaustion is the perfect recipe for the rest of the evening - an Epsom salt bath and some down time with my main squeeze. It's all smiles tonight when I reflect on the awesome morning and amazing day.

Sunday - easily my favorite day of the week.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Obscene Flexibility Comes in Handy Yet Again - Not Your Everyday Trainer Girl

It's been a while since I've updated, but life has been far from uneventful. My Sailor came back from deployment and we've been getting re-acclimated to life around each other. No matter how much you love someone, time and distances changes people and dynamics, so we are finding our new stride, laying some demons to rest, and forging onward and upward. That new stride involves being an active family.

Vacation Pig Tails... best thinking handles ever

By most definitions, we're very active. While most submariners have been playing it close to home, resting, and catching up on movies, we have a different way of reconnecting. It's called "jumping in with both feet." He's been home one week today and it has included camping, hiking, white water rafting through category 5 rapids, near daily walks, and, yes, a little lifting. No hours of endless tv watching or fast food trips for us. He's basically on my eating style now (yeah!), and is a fantastic cook which makes dinner time more interesting.  My Sailor even let me teach him to Split Jerk the other day. He's a quick study and will no doubt have it perfected into a full clean and jerk in a couple weeks (if not on days).

So that done, I also got my 2nd interview with the local YMCA out of the way.
 It wasn't the slam dunk I was expecting, but it wasn't a slammed door either. All in all, it was an experience that helped me solidify the focus that I already have as a trainer and coach - and further solidified that I definitely have something unique to offer the YMCA arena. So now that I've tossed and turned over it for an entire evening, the summary is this: It's still a work in progress.  My interviewer got a few new movements she enjoyed. I got some constructive critiques that have been really useful in helping me solidify my style.

No doors are closed as this point. I've agreed to some further shadowing - there is something to learn from everyone, even those that don't subscribe to the strength and HIIT training world that has worked miracles for those in my life (myself included) - and another trial I'd like to schedule for mid-late July, depending on what happens going forward with My Sailor's leave schedule.  Never one to turn down education, I'll absorb what I can, incorporate what is appropriate, and move forward. After all, I can lift over 100 pounds over my head; what's a little hoop jumping, right?

Afterwards, I took some time to run and knocking out a few snatches and overhead squats to help process the unexpected result. I was a bit too nervous at the warm up which got in my way, but there were enough magical moments that I left reminded why I love being part of this coaching world. Even an interviewer who turned me down left the encounter with some added mobility and tools she can use - and I got to be a part of a few of magical moments she had as I got to see that "ah ha" moment when she was able to deepen her squat, enhance her mobility, and discover better balance and control. As I strapped myself back to my desk job when I got home (though disappointed and frustrated that it may last a bit longer than I had hoped), I get to be a part of making people's lives better, one day at a time, whether it's at the Y or elsewhere. The truth is...

I have a lot of stretches, work outs, and addictive moves that range from gymnastics to Power and Olympic Weight Lifting in my arsenal. There is a lot that I can help with, but I'll be more effective with some people than others. That's the intangibles of the business that keep me pushing forward. I can completely accept that. I'll continue to work to appeal to a wide pallet, but staying true to who I am is part of the package here. It's part of training with me. You get me - as a coach, partner, and team mate on the journey to your goals. You get a coach that will strive to attend those competitions, remind you of how far you've come, and remind you that you're probably stronger than you give yourself credit for. Most people are - especially those that struggle with being overweight. (It takes a lot of strength, emotionally, mentally, and physically to carry around that kind of weight - probably more than you realize! I remember it very well - feet and ankles that hurt even laying down, stiffness all the time, exhaustion, feeling as though the whole world was staring at me... I will never forget how bad all of that hurt - and the courage it took to change it, so I have a good idea where many people are coming from, and what courage it takes to come to someone else for help. I have the up most respect for it.)

If you want to grow stronger, challenge yourself, move better and more freely, feel better, and have a good time getting there, I might just be your Trainer Girl. 
  But that flavor of J not be right for everyone - that's okay. Heck, I go to at least 2-3 coaches/trainers a month myself! Each one is different. There is no "one size fits all". 

Should I be discouraged by not being an immediate "Yes"? Probably.

I have a background in theater and I've been an athlete. Rejection or falling short is nothing new to me. I'd never get anywhere if I give up at the first sign of resistance - especially in this case, when all other signs are positive.

Am I changing my path? Not entirely.  Just altering the timeline to get there a bit.

My Yodas continue to support me, and I legally now have my company, so this is a reality. The question is just where the home base will be - and if the Y wants ends up being part of that equation or not.

What keeps me encouraged is that this is a job I'm already doing and the proof I already have in my life that it's the right, positive move for me -

My Bride Jena - I didn't know her face to face until we met in Disneyworld just before Everest this May. By the time I met her, she'd already conquered the Boston Marathon and a number of other races. When it came to running, she was a veteran. But she wasn't seeing the changes she wanted. She'd been following me on a Disney Brides Facebook group and was fed up with counting calories, points, shakes, and other such programs. What she knew of my journey was that I run, jump, hand stand, lift weights, flip tires, and have seen strong results - and that I love coaching others. So I met her at her resort to go for a brief run and work out. Now, it takes a lot of guts to meet a complete stranger at 8am on vacation away from home, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. Since then we've been doing some distance training from time to time - and she's taken it into her world full force. I couldn't be more proud of this girl, her journey, and her mind set. It's not about fitting into 'the dress' for her. (Trust me; I know. I asked her.) She wants to be fit forever. (Her words and music to my ears!) And she's doing it. Day by day. Decision by decision, without weighing, measuring, and stressing about every portion of her life. Talk about someone inspiring.
Me, The Nurse, and My Bride
When asked what 2-3 things she learned from training with me, she responded with:
1.You give me the inspiration that there is more to fitness than the scale.
2. You help me strive to get out of my comfort zone every day.
3.Treat myself with respect.

 I really couldn't have asked to impart more on someone I've met face to face once, for about an hour...

The Nurse - After living and working out with me for a week prior to Everest, she has decided to incorporate my nutritional stance into her living routine. She didn't officially 'train' with me, but she got to see me in action - taking it on the road, and did a couple workouts that I lead while we were there. She and her husband are enjoying things like Chai seed pudding and grain-free living. But before she did all that, she signed up for a local 5k! Having been a personal trainer herself at one point (complete with Kinesology degree) she was a delight to work out with. Turkish Get Ups are now part of her arsenal, as are handstands, kettle bell swings, and a few other moves she gained while we 'vacationed' in Florida before the race. She took it all back to California with her and passed it on to her family. Who could ask for more than that?! I love getting random "Check out my awesome Paleo-friendly dinner!" texts.

Strong Girl  -

Me and Strong Girl - Broke our 1st place tie w/ a 400lb tire flip 60 yrds for time
My rival-turned-friend-turned-athlete-turned-rival-again (we'll be competing against each other in the Strongman competition this year)...When a local power lifting competition came up on her radar, she asked if I'd compete with her. Since I'm heavily focused on my own Oly training right now, I opted out of competing, but offered to coach her through some strength training. There was very little time before the competition so we opted to focus on 1 lift for improvement. She wanted to improve her deadlift, so off we went. We lifted 3-4 days a week, and it was a complete triumph. She went from a 250 lb deadlift, to a 301 lb deadlift in the span of about 2 1/2 weeks! It was a direct result of all the hard work she put in, and it renewed my faith in the Deadlift as a whole body muscle builder. You see, since the deadlift works the same muscles as the back squat, her back squat also increased 15 lbs! She stuck to the program and it paid off. When she hit that 301 lb deadlift, she jumped for joy and I'm not too proud to admit that I cried a little.
When asked what she took away from the experience:
1) Joining the 300 club
2) Improved form
3) The Value of having an extra set of eyes

When she started, she used a weight belt all the time. We trained largely without one (by her choice, once we discussed the pros and cons of it). Come competition day, she didn't have one, so it paid off and she hit a new Personal Record without a weight belt.  Weight belts have their uses, but it's always inspiring to see someone discover their body is capable of so much more than the mind gives it credit for. I'm so honored that I got to be a part of that day for her- and we had a great time during training (most of the time - hey, it's never all wine and roses when you're talking yourself into 'one more set').

Emily for 301 lbs on Competition Day
And those are just a few of the recent examples proving that I'm not in the wrong place at all.  In fact, when the weekend class gets canceled, several folks in the work out group look to me like "What now?" and that's taking on a life all its own.

While I'm hopeful the Y will be a home base for me, it is far from the end of the road, no matter how it pans out-
Sometimes you just have to climb a little higher 
and meet fate half way.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Love Affair with Lifting, a few Adaptations, and Blogging from the Bathtub

It's only Wednesday and I've already resorted to my bathtub.


I'm adapting to a new strength training routine that is no-joke (and completely amazing so far). By the time I hit the last set, I feel like a million bucks! Granted, it's a million dollars in crumbled up sweaty singles scattered all over the floor, but a million bucks none the less! Today was day 2 of the program and I'm actually not nearly as sore as I expected to be. I'm attributing that to a great warm up, great stretching, conditioning on my 'off days' and some spending some quality time with some Epsom salts and hot water... and bubbles. (Seriously, what's a bath without bubbles?!)

This week, something came up on social media in a couple of the groups that has seriously made me laugh. It's the statement of:
"I don't want to be Jay Humenay strong..."

Check it out! I have my own designation! "J. Humenay Strong!"
In case you assume that such a designation would inflate my ego, let me reassure you, a quick glance at my Facebook newsfeed keeps it well under wraps. Everywhere I look lately there are videos of teenagers at the Pan Am's throwing up weights that I still aspire to. It's at once humbling and motivating. After all, if a kid can do it... why can't I? Right?
I had the great experience today of meeting 2 new people in the gym who approached me on to the last set of my Death By Strength Training session (DBST for short). One of them was a woman who'd seen my progress from when I first signed on with Trainer Guy and was impressed. We got to chatting and the usual questions came up:
"Are you competing?" Yes, In November.
"Was that the goal when you came in?" No, it was to lose weight.
"How much have you lost?" Oh, only about 20lbs tops in a year.
"Oh, but you know your body composition has changed. Muscle is more dense and weighs more than fat." Oh! I know. I'm not complaining. Best goal I never hit, as far as I'm concerned. I still might hit it, but I'm done letting the scale rule my life.
"Good!" Yeah, I've already done every diet known to man just about. This is sticking with me - and it's working.
"Are you looking at going into the training?" (God, I LOVE this question.) Yes, yes I am. Testing for my Crossfit level 1 cert in 2 weeks, and I have my Olympic weight lifting coach cert. Still going to compete too.
(Insert guy standing nearby)
"You have your Oly Cert?" Yup. It's still handy to have Trainer Guy around though. You know, doctors need doctors. Dentists need dentists. Coaches benefit from the eye of other coaches, and we all see different things.
 "Cool! Yeah, Snatches, Cleans, deadlifts... those are hard, but yours look pretty good." Thanks. Got 1 more set to do....

So, yeah. It was a great experience. Like I've said before, it's hard not to get noticed in a gym doing Olympic Lifts. The explosive moment attracts attention. (And to think, I wasn't even wearing a silly shirt today!)

All that said, every one has their own goals. For example, Strong Girl LOVES power lifting. That's its own beastie. Other folks love running or agility or just want to get up a flight of stairs without pain. All of them are just as valid as the others - and just as valid as mine.

Adapting to being able to coach for different goals is an enjoyable challenge that I can't wait to take on full time.

In the mean time, we're taking on some adaptation challenges here as well...
  While I love having My Sailor 'home' (well, sort of... so far we've been able to spend less than 24 hours together since Saturday due to his schedule at work - and most of that has been sleeping hours), there's a slow process of adapting to regular life and to each other again. It's a slow process that we're both being patient with. Our initial home study was just approved for the adoption, so we'll have that in our hands soon. Then it's a matter of settling things down on the home front a bit and deciding when to move forward with adding to the family - but it's a BIG step in the right direction (though it will still need to be updated, added to a new agency, etc).

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bikini Babe Meets My Sailor

Left to Right - My Sailor, Dad, Me, My Brother, Mom (2012)
This Sunday was Father's Day.

Father's day is hard around this house for a number of reasons. To quickly get you up to speed - my dad passed away in April of 2013 from Pancreatic cancer. Being an adopted kid, I have a special place in my heart for my parents - the people who made family out of strangers.

The second reason why it's challenging is because, well, we're not parents. Try as we might to get this adoption thing rolling, it's been an uphill battle from day 1. I'm sure it'll all pan out the way it's supposed to some day, but in the mean time, it's a lot of paperwork, waiting, and being told "no". Learning to advocate for a family you don't have and are starting to doubt will ever happen is exhausting to say the least. Doing it all while your other half is deployed... well... 'exhausting' doesn't begin to describe it.

All that said, this Father's Day I got the ultimate distraction.  Not only did the day start off with an awesome Olympic Weight Lifting Class and a team-style workout for Get Up Get Dirty (I LOVE team/partner work outs), but I also got to finally see My Sailor after 141 days of little to no contact.

That means, to him, my progress went something like this:

On my way to see My Sailor
What the photos and blog can't show you are tactile differences that he alone notices.  A once-soft back now has obvious muscle that moves with purpose. While still keeping many of my curves, all of my shirts are 2 sizes smaller than when he left.

So one of the biggest questions I've been asked since his return is, "How did he react to the new body? Was he impressed?

Like I've said before, I'm a lucky girl. He's always seen the best in me, even when I felt pretty darn unattractive. So when I went to go pick him up, I didn't get all dressed up. I came from breakfast with the Get Up Get Dirty crowd, freshened up a bit and changed out of my workout clothes into a tank top, jeans and sandals, and dashed off to pick him up. I didn't worry about a lot of the details - just tossed on some mascara and lip gloss I had in the car and moved on with life. (I'm only good at the 'girlie girl' thing when I need to be. This doesn't qualify as one of those times.) We hadn't seen each other in nearly 1/2 a year.  (Remember - no skype, facetime, Facebook, etc on a submarine...) He's always loved and supported me for who I am, and he'd been getting some emails and a few scattered photographs here and there - and the highlight reel - so he wasn't taken completely by surprise. In fact, it would have been more out of character for me dress up. He was coming off a submarine in a camo uniform that smelled like, well, 141 days in a submarine with 120+ other stinky shipmates.

Unlike many military homecomings, submarine homecomings lack fan fare, since the whole point of a submarine is silent operations. So usually isn't a big press event like many military towns see when, for example, an aircraft carrier pulls in. Those boats are so big you can't miss 'em anyway, so there is no point in attempting to keep those under wraps. That said, there were no cameras when I pulled into the parking lot, got out of the car on that rainy Washington Sunday, and met My Sailor as he came towards me. With 2 seabags slung over his shoulders, we met about half way through the parking lot, embraced, and went in for a long overdue greeting.

Now, I'll spare you those details, but that hug felt amazing.  I often forget that, when he's away, my physical contact with people is pretty much restricted to collisions during soccer games, high fives at the gym, and the occasional hug from a friend.  In fact, I can (and often do) go entire days without physically touching another human being, even on accident.  It's not until he's startling real that I realize what I've been missing.

So, all that said, what does he think of the new body?

Like I said, I'm lucky and he is awesome. He's proud of the hard work I've put in, and is very supportive. He's been home less than 24 hours and he's already started showing me some of the moves he learned while under way so I can add them to my training arsenal - both for clients and myself.  He's very supportive, and not just because of the physical changes. Neither of us could have anticipated the way my body would decide to put on muscle - nor where/how it would decide to pull body fat from. So what's ended up happening are these semi-epic shoulders and back that I love, but a much less Jessica-Rabbit worthy front, but he's far from complaining. In fact, he's offended that I thought he might complain about something that makes me better.

In short, he's always thought I was beautiful. My fitness journey doesn't make me any more or less his wife.

Just like most couples, physically we've change a lot in the 15 years we've known each other.

It's nice to know that some things never do change.

Friday, June 13, 2014

When Oly Girl Gets Awkward (FAQs Part 3 - Final Portion)

Question: "What is the most awkward thing (in the gym or out of it) about being a woman who lifts?"
American Standard - My Role? Moena - The Toilet

This was probably my favorite question of the FAQ round that happened on Facebook the other night.

Now, just to give you some perspective, I started my theatrical appearances doing more comedies than anything else. I've appeared in British farces like Caught in the Net and Blithe Spirit, and even my musical theater experience proves to be less 'leading lady' and more 'character role'.

I mean, I played a singing dancing toilet for about three years to largely sold out houses.

There was a time where I could traffic in the absurd and live in the awkward - despite being a fairly straight laced girl. For some reason, people thought I was funny.

The experience of being involved in theater taught me a lot, but not the smallest of these lessons was not to take myself too seriously. (And believe me, it's hard to take life seriously when a director is yelling at you while you belt out, "I want my Charmin back! With him I'm so flushed with pride. Bring me my Charmin back, my squeezably soft double ply...")

That said, I'm very used to explaining myself and having people not take me seriously. It's just par of the course. That really isn't much different when it comes to weight lifting.

So let's get to the funny awkward moments first, shall we?

* The first time hitting my rack instead of the 'rack' in the gym.  This one was pretty much already covered about 2/3rd of the way through this blog, so click here if you feel the need to relive that moment of awkwardness.

* Clocking myself in the chin with the bar for the first time in the gym.  There is a running joke that I haven't had a good work out unless I smacked, hit, or bruised some part of my body unintentionally. It's usually the chin, neck, knees, shins, or the aforementioned 'rack'.

* Clothes shopping. Yes, there are worse problems to have for sure, but nothing fits quite like I think it should - and jean shopping is the worst. I save clothes shopping until I can go alone and until I'm in a good mood - good enough to ignore the number on the tag.

*But By FAR the most awkward situations occur when I run into
'that guy'.
This isn't a specific person, but there always seems to be one of them floating around. Here are examples of what I mean:

      'That Guy' in the gym.
Even at the YMCA, there is almost always one in attendance. (It's one of the reasons having a six foot plus male trainer hovering over you is a positive thing.) One night, I was flying solo and rocking out a last minute Metabolic Conditioner before the gym closed. It was something like a few rounds of Thruster repetitions, a lap or two around the track, and some sit ups. The weight room was pretty much empty except for one guy who was wandering around more than actually lifting. I threw on my headphones and went after my own work out. About two thirds of the way through my workout, he approaches the mirror, raises his shirt, and checks out his abs. Really dude? I wanted to answer, "Yes, your abs are still there. We all have abs. They don't disappear when your shirt is down."  Now, I'm completely okay with people showing off their hard earned hard bodies... but that was an inappropriate time obviously attempted for 'my' benefit... If I were a man, I bet you that would not have happened. 

If you actually approach me, say hello, or make eye contact, you're probably not "That Guy"
I actually enjoy people (male or female) stopping by to say "hi" during a lifting session about 80% of the time.
One day, an older lady was watching Trainer Guy and I work on some overhead lifts. She asked, "What's the goal of all this?"
With a smile, I answered her, "To get stronger."
It started a short conversation and I make sure to say hello when I see her in the gym.

On another occasion, I was working on a PR for my Split Jerk. One guy was watching me in the mirror as Trainer Guy coached me through climbing up and up and up in weight. Finally, he stood up and turned, and began openly watching and encouraging me for the last few (ugly, but done) reps. The guy was doing 100lb bicep curls. I didn't mind the encouragement and he was supportive and respectful. 

But 'That Guy' makes an issue of it.
I've been asked everything from if I'm lesbian (no, I'm not) which I found to be truly odd (because only women attracted to other women lift?! I don't even understand the correlation...) to "Is your husband afraid of you? I bet he is." (, he's not. He's actually my biggest supporter.) I've also been told on more than on occasion that I'm engaging in "false advertising" because I don't wear my wedding ring when I lift. (In fact, I occasionally go entire days without it, because my fingers sometimes puff up for a few hours afterwards, and by then I'm usually at home, so it's a non-issue.) My Sailor actually encourages  me to leave it at home so I don't lose/break it during these types of work outs.  But 'That Guy' (who, for the record, is occasionally female) decides to make an issue out of EVERYTHING.

A favorite tank top - Dip, Drive, Drop, Repeat
How do I deal with it?

That's pretty much where the fun work-out gear was born. Let's face it - a girl lifting heavy, especially explosive Olympic style lifts, is going to attract attention in a gym were most folks are doing isolation style training. Even a man would attract attention doing them. It's not gender specific. They are a particular skill set that isn't seen too often in most gyms. But a woman attracts even more attention. I figured I might as well have a little fun with it while I'm at it.

Come to think of it, I have a handful of fun tanks on the way... can't wait to break them in.

The other awkward moments come from family and friends.  My family never intentionally tried undermine me. They were afraid I'd get hurt. Now that I've spent about a year injury free, they are on board.

Friendships only get awkward when they ask me to help their (insert-absurdly-distantly-removed-relative-here) to help move... I actually appreciate my friendships that are formed outside of the gym as well. There is nothing quite like their attempts at a straight face when I mention my 90lb Snatch.

If I think about to for too long, I realize that I'm actually constantly proving myself over and over and over...
But when, in any occupation, aren't we doing that? We're always proving ourselves to an employer, a client, a parent, a teacher, and perhaps most of all to ourselves.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Finding Yoda and Calling in Reinforcements (Part 2 of FAQ)

Disclaimer - This question is AWESOME. These are the types of conversations that keep us normal, human, and humble.

Yesterday, I had a question that begs a blog all its own to answer, and it's something I'd been wanting to talk about for a while now. So here goes nothing!

Question: "I don't feel like the "fat girl" that I see in those photos or reflection. I feel so much better than that. Somehow it mentally does a number on me. Do you have any advice about how to handle this?"

So here is my advice: Find Yoda!

Wait... that's not Yoda... That's Stitch...
Seriously though -

*Choose what you believe about yourself and surround yourself with people who believe the same things. Call in reinforcements.*

If you don't feel like the "fat girl" in the mirror or in those photos -than you're not! It's totally acceptable (even encouraged) to marvel in that for a while and find people who understand and celebrate the same thing. Self-acceptance is probably one of the single most beautiful gifts we can give ourselves - and yet one of the hardest. I am my own worst critic. I think most of us work that way. I expect more from myself. That level of impossible expectation made it easy for me to get discouraged. (If you asked My Sailor about my first 3 months of training, you'd hear some great stories about a woman who enjoyed it, felt like a bikini badass afterwards, but would be in near-tears  because the hard work in the gym didn't 'seem' to be showing to the rest of the world as much as she felt it should have. Yup... that was me...)

Luckily, along the way in life, we are confronted by people who see the world through unusual lenses.

Be on the look out for these people.  It's been my experience that they gravitate to the roles of teachers, coaches, or mentors in many professions.  They tend to see the world from a different angle. They'd rather problem solve than complain. You bring them a problem and they'll hear you out with a sympathetic ear and immediately help you find a solution to it. They won't do it for you. That's enabling dependency. But they'll be there every step of the way. That is the skill set called empowerment. They are usually fairly private people, but warm and caring once they crack that easy, genuine smile.
Andigirl - One of my personal 'yoda's.
 Effortlessly, they see the world a different way. They choose to believe that you are strong and capable of anything - even if you don't think you are. For these people, it's not just lip service. In fact, they may never use those words with you. Instead, they will do things in their own lives that prove they live this.  That scary f-word (failure) is their teacher. They believe there is something to learn from everyone. These people are usually neck deep in some form of self-enrichment and rarely satisfied with the 'status quo'. 
Yodas are hiding everywhere, in every age bracket
Listen to these people. They will not lie to you. Believe them. We all have a finite amount of time and emotional energy in this life. These people understand that - and they are choosing to spend some of that irreplaceable commodity on the real you. The 'you' that may not show up immediately on the surface. They see the sweat covered you that is making a funny face as you heave your way through a new feat of endurance. They are rooting you on. They understand you're a work in progress, and always will be. They are rewarded by the smile along the way and knowing they were there to witness your greatness. They see the slow growth and change when you have trouble seeing it. When you're doubting your progress, choose to believe these people. They would not waste their time and energy on a 'lost cause'. They are near you because they are confident you will get there. Believe them.
So many Yodas in this photo, it might as well have been taken in Degoba!
 It will take time and repetition to see yourself through their eyes, but don't be afraid to borrow their glasses from time to time. Strong people empower others.

And most of all - do it because you love it, and how it makes you feel. Everything else (fat loss, muscle gain, appearance changes, various feats of daring do, etc) is all bonus.
Once you believe them, you might find you have your own track to replay in your mind. If someone says something that resonates with me, I hang on to it and lock it away. When I find doubt creeping in, I pull that nugget out and put it on replay in my mind. Doubt soon becomes very quiet.
My Sailor and awesome reinforcement
My journey started with "Why isn't my body showing changes?" and has turned into "Wow! These weren't the changes I was expecting... where the heck did my boobs go?!" I felt I should be 'smaller', but truth be told, that's not my build. I was never made to be 'small'. I was made to be strong. The struggle has the same basis, but I rest assured that I'm doing what I need to do, and I have reinforcements I can call if I need a boost.  I'm discovering that my expectations were unrealistic when I started seriously training. I mean, I love Andigirl -she has an amazing bikini body and a strong spirit to boot! But I'm not built like her. I'm built like me. Does the outward 'me' reflect the inward 'me'? That's hard to say, but I accept that it's all one package.

As for those unrealistic expectations? I'm grateful for them. They got the ball rolling. The final destination? Well, there is likely always going to be some goal on the horizon. But that's the way the body (and life) changes - one step, squat, lunge, lift, and press at a time.

It's like learning to dance to a song you've never heard before each time you're challenged to embrace changes like these.

Next time you look in the mirror, or at a picture and feel, "That's not me. Is all this even worth it?" Answer yourself - outloud if you need to hear it. Or call, text, or message a trusty reinforcement. Believe what they have to say. They wouldn't waste their time on just anyone.

Keep at it, and eventually, you'll believe it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Facebook FAQs - Open Floor

It's always fun to open the floor on my Facebook page to friends, family and various group members and see what they'd like to see answered.

I gotta admit, they didn't disappoint! They came up with some amazing ones that really made me think.  It's probably a good indicator of why we're friends right there.

So -  here goes!

What would you have liked to have known before you started lifting?  

There are 4 things that stand out.

1 - There are more to weights than bicep curls and machines. MUCH MORE. One of the best things I've learned is that you get more 'value' for your workout time by using WHOLE BODY movements, rather than the more familiar, isolation work outs. Isolation has it's place, but I wasn't even really aware the stuff I love (and coach) now even really existed. There are some lifts that are more challenging for different body types - which makes them all the more badass when pulled off correctly.

2 - Lifting gloves, even the 'expensive' ones, are a complete waste of money when you're serious about the sport. I thought the "go raw or go home" was a muscle-headed-male mentality. Truth be told, there is a good reason behind it. For me, cushioned gloves actually made my grip WORSE. The padding caused my fingers and forearms to work harder than necessary to achieve less that satisfactory results. Grip still slipped. Hands just ached a little less. So I ditched the gloves quickly and now, a year later, my hands rarely hurt. My calluses are my best friend. The only time I found gloves helpful were for the Strongman Competition. It was held outdoors in the summer, so it had more to do with the fact that the equipment was HOT than anything else. Generally, a waste of money - at least for me.

3 -  Coconut water is a secret weapon. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is my saving grace from soreness that, at times, seems nearly crippling. Drink about 16 oz or more after working out (the straight stuff, not flavored, and not from concentrate). Sure, the taste takes some growing on you (young coconut juice is similar and sweeter...). Seriously... Round about Strongman 2013 time, I'd been weight training fairly heavily 2-3 times per week for months. As a result of intensive training and regularly popping ibuprofen, I had bruises that took FOREVER to heal. Things that thin your blood make bruises take longer to heal. Now I just tough it out, drink coconut water and eat some similarly helpful, nutrient rich foods (bananas, avocados, other coconut products...) and I've gone from a slow healer to a quick healer.
4- It's not what you think. Okay, so I wouldn't have believed you if you told me before I got involved in this culture. I was one of 'those people' who thought the weight room junkies were all steroid raging knuckleheads looking for dates. Honestly - those aren't the norm. Most are actually REALLY NICE people who started somewhere too - and are more than willing and happy to help spot, share knowledge, or encourage you through 'one more rep'.   

What do you always carry with you in your gym bag?
Weight Lifting Shoes (Innov8 Fast Lifts) or Gym Shoes (Innov8 F-Lite 182's) (whichever I'm not wearing)
My Book of Badassery (aka my workout record)
A chalk sock
Knee and elbow sleeves
My new weight lifting belt
A pair of wrist wraps
A spare set of headphones/ear buds
For those considering it, trying to steal my bag is a very bad idea... since it's usually attached to My Weapon of Choice - my women's Olympic Lifting bar (which would be in my bag if it would fit)....Hard to get around unnoticed with her on your back.

 When you go to Starbucks what do you usually get to drink since being Paleo?
Black coffee (blond or dark roast). Unsweetened teas (hot or iced) are also viable options, but I can make those at home for less...which means (insert drum roll here) I can get out of Starbucks for less than $5 (if I don't add dried fruit... nuts... or the delicious pineapple coconut water to the mix).

What is the most awkward thing (in the gym or out of it) about being a woman who lifts?
Oh, this is getting its own post... There is NO way I could narrow this down to 1 single thing.  But this one is always a winner... when it comes to things that have happened in the gym. I've actually managed to blow a lift because I was bringing the bar up from the floor and didn't get my shoulders back fast enough.. which means I literally bounced the bar back to the platform due to a 'biomechanical issue'... called boobs.

Outside of the weight room - there are 2 big issues that I plan to tackle in an upcoming blog. Stay tuned.

Along with the most missed food question, how do you keep yourself from falling to cravings?Usually, keeping my body well fueled has curbed most of the cravings. If I'm eating well and balanced, I don't really have that problem too much. That said, I am very active. So I'm hungry almost all the time.  Days like Sunday (where I have an Olympic Lifting Class, Get Up Get Dirty cross training, and indoor soccer) I have a regular haunt where I get some added, well earned calories in (namely, sweet potato fries, cider or a black velvet, and a cobb salad).  I do eat chocolate just about every day (over 70% dark chocolate) and coconut milk ice cream is pretty darn fantastic, so there are no shortage of sweet treats when I need one. I don't really feel 'deprived' so the 'cravings' aren't really a problem.  As long as I'm eating my regular breakfast (bacon, eggs, and fruit), making sure I pack in the veggies during other meals, and work in a recovery (and occasionally a
pre-workout) drink, I'm solid.

What is your most missed food having to change your diet to Paleo?

Great question! (I honestly don't think about this stuff anymore.)  Occasionally I miss pancakes and cinnamon rolls. There are Paleo friendly versions of those foods, but they are time and labor intensive (and, let's face it, I deserve to be lazy in some aspects... the kitchen is kinda one of them).
What do you think is the most startling thing you've learned about yourself thus far in your journey?

Honestly - I've learned that I have a streak of vanity that I never anticipated seeing. I've never really had it regarding the 'usual' female attractions (clothes, make up, hand bags, shoes, etc). My vanity applies to my athletic pursuits.
 I only want to do the lifts that look startlingly badass to me. I suspect that's why I'm so attracted to Olympic Lifting (as a personally choice) over Power Lifting, or other styles of lifting.  I have no interest in bicep curling myself into oblivion. I'd rather hit a 100lb Snatch any day of the week and twice on Sunday. (Can you imagine?! TWICE on ANY day?! How freakin' amazing would that be?!)
Outside of the weight room, I'm not content to just hang from a bar (for example) unless I'm luxuriously purposefully stretching. Now, I see hanging from a bar as the opportunity for strong leg raises, pull up work, or toes-to-bar attempts.  Now that I can do handstands, I want complete to-depth handstand push ups and handstand walks. Kettle bell swings? Can I swing a 50+ pounder instead of a 35 pounder?

Why? Well, I could give you some stable-minded argument on how they are fun, measure of progress, self motivation, and great displays of strength, but let's be honest.

They look BADASS

That's why I want to do them.

See? Vanity. ;)

End of sentence.

Considering the changes in your life in the past year, what are your goals for the next year?

I ADORE this question because I've been ITCHING to announce some good stuff! I've been accused of a fair share of inaccurate traits in my time, but lacking ambition and motivation have never been two of them. So here's what the calendar is shaping up to look like,

A few of my educational goals include obtaining 2 other certifications before the year is out.  I'm looking at getting my Crossfit Coaching Certification, and the StrongFirst Kettle Bell Certification. One is available in July, but I'm waiting to see how My Sailor feels about it since it'll take me away for a weekend and certain things (like big purchases and career changes) should be discussed in person whenever possible. (My Sailor has been COMPLETELY SUPPORTIVE of all of this from the beginning, so I plan to include him as much as possible in any business decisions. Hey - he works on Nuclear Missiles... he's a pretty smart guy!) The StrongFirst certification isn't offered on the West Coast until October, and would require travel to San Diego. While it's not as well recognized in the states, it's a world wide certification and Kettle Bells are a hot item that most people can afford and use to build a real quality home-gym workout, even if they are tight on space. (It's not like buying a treadmill.)

That's a bit too far out to plan right now, but it's on the menu as a possibility.

I plan to continue writing for the Tabata Times, and to continue coach and train others as a full time career move within the next year. I'm also considering coordinating a fundraiser group of WODs, but I need to get some more details together before I can announce anything along those lines 'officially'.

 My personal smaller goals are numerous and much 'smaller' scope (not scale).  A few are on the photo above.The lifting goals should (knock on wood) be done by the end of summer, but we'll see. I'm 15-20 lbs away from the 300lb deadlift, 10lbs away from the 100lb Snatch, and 15lbs away from the 150lb Clean and Split Jerk (listed as C&J). This is still my year to continue to compete and earn my 'street cred' as well, so I have a 5k on the books for August and my first Olympic Lifting competition coming up in November.  It wouldn't surprise me if I sneak another local crossfit event in there either, but I'm trying to leave some space in my schedule (knowing that working full time plus will be happening during all of this too). My Sailor has been gone for a LONG time and it doesn't seem fair to schedule myself to the gills without his input. Those 2 events are solid. (If we can swing a trip to Florida, I'm interested in trying out Disney Fit Challenge, but it's expensive and involves significant travel, so that's on the back burner for the moment.)

If all goes according to plan and aspiration, hopefully I'll qualify for the American Olympic Weight Lifting Open in 2015. In order to do so, I need to lift a minimum total of 166 Kilos (365.2) between the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk.  If I hit my summer goals, I should be on track, as that will put me at 250lbs and the better part of a year to add the rest. To take it a step further and into the National Championships, I'll need to lift 170 Kilos (374 lbs), so we'll see if I make it to the Open in 2015 before we set up the next goal.  This would be huge street cred, as far as I'm concerned, since strength training is really where my passion lies.

I'm still biding my time to see where training with the YMCA goes as I await my 2nd interview.  While I have no new announcements on that front, I'm optimistic that it will, at the very least, be a great learning experience. And if that's not exactly where I'm supposed to start, that's okay too. I have other avenues to get into coaching and I'm more than excited to follow any of them. Having a (few) gyms to work out of would be preferable, just for safety purposes and peace of mind for My Sailor. (Not to mention, if we ever get this adoption thing rolling, it would be great to have the YMCA as a resource where I can be close if needed, but any plans to foster/adopt is still at least a year away at BEST.)

I've recently filed some paperwork, taking another step into the future.
No back tracking - just keeping the momentum rolling.

Though I've said it before, it could use repeating - I've never been more excited to work my arse off.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bikini Babe meets Oly Girl - Progress Photos

Difference between April and June? 3 pounds. That's it. #dethronethescale
When I sat down to write this blog, I had about 1000 words on how my goals have changed, but I realized that's really a topic in and of itself.

Since this one is full of progress photos, let's stick with translation.

When I started, I weighed 218lbs and I was looking to "lose weight". 

After a month or two, I had GAINED 10lbs.... but I was encouraged to stick with the process. Luckily, I'd taken progress photos when I started, so I could see the changes from an angle I don't normally see myself. (Honestly, when is the last time you took a good hard look at your back?!)

It took about a year for the scale to show changes below my starting number. Even now, the scale is the LAST one on board with my body's changes. I've gone down to nearly 192, and I'm currently 197 as of this morning. I'm not worried about the 'gain' one bit. But that's because I realized, though I haven't lost the magical 30 pounds I was looking to lose when I started training, I have achieved what I was looking for in so many ways.

See - for me, what I was really saying when I said, "I want to lose weight" was "I need to be free." Free from what?
Free from having a great time on vacation, only to get home and crop all the photos like crazy because my hips were wider than my shoulders...
Free from writing down every single bite that I threw into my mouth, restricted to Lean Cuisines and 64 ounces of water a day...
Free from that tiny seed of self loathing when I looked in the mirror and felt unattractive.
Free from being the slowest, worst soccer player on the indoor soccer team I'd joined with My Sailor.
Free from having to go to a select store or two because no one else sold clothing in my size that had any resemblance of 'style'.
Free from dreading a flight on an airplane because my hips would ooze out under the arm rests...
Free from a desk job that I'd been wrestling with for years but had been unable to find something I loved and could get paid for.

There is no doubt I'm working harder than ever to earn every bit of that desired freedom... but here's the thing... it's paid off entirely. I care far less about the scale. Granted, I still generally need to have an idea of my weight for lifting and competing purposes, but I no longer look at a menu and jump onto an app on my phone to find the "point" or "calorie" value of the meal. I eat what fuels my body appropriately. I actually look forward to airplane flights. Sure, I still have long legs, so those tiny seats will never have enough leg room, but I fit in a seat now. The prospect of a trip gets me started thinking up an Airport WOD to blast out during my lay over. The looks I get from people in the airport are PRICELESS, and it keeps my on track while I travel.  I don't really worry about clothes shopping much. I don't avoid mirrors. I don't crop the heck out of photos I'm in anymore. I'm far from the worst player on the soccer team anymore. In fact, I'm an asset now.

And as for the desk job?
It's a night job that's helping me solidify the reality of making the rest of this very real.

There are no accidents. Sometimes the journey we start out to take is just the momentum we need to get moving - and then the road takes us exactly where we're meant to be. I can't imagine living without the lessons I've learned along the way, and I'm excited to see what's right around the corner.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Mastering the F*ed Snatch" or "F* Until You Can't Anymore"

There is one, 4 letter F word that nearly all successful people understand, and all those struggling with success, well, don't.

No, not THAT F WORD. (Got your attention though, didn't I?) By the end of this blog (heck, by the end of the next 3 paragraphs), you'll know what that word is.
Saturday - Snatch/Clean and Jerk.
If you follow me on Facebook, you'll probably see me throwing a couple big PR (or 'personal record' to all of you non-lifting folks) parties this week. This week I've PR'd in the Front Squat (155lbs), the Turkish Get Up (50lbs), the Clean and Split Jerk (135lbs), and (most notably) the Snatch (90lbs).  I've also gotten much better at pull ups and my overhead squat is improving. Obviously, the word I'm referring to isn't 'success'. (I'd like to think I can lleps spell better than that.)

While I have no shortage of reasons to celebrate my hard-won successes, there is one very important factor I should point out that deserves more than two lines on a Facebook status.


In fact, I'm kind of an expert of the failed Snatch by now.
I remember the first time I bailed out of a failed lift. I was at the YMCA working on (no surprise) the Snatch with Trainer Guy. I knew the lift wasn't going to work without risking serious injury to my shoulder(s), and I bailed out, dropping the weight on the floor behind me, and heading forward. This is NOT encouraged at most YMCAs, but it certainly beats getting injured.  I was annoyed with failing, but Trainer Guy's face lit up.  His piece of yoda-like wisdom?

"It's good to know you can do that. I'm impressed."

If I hadn't known better, I would have thought he was being a smart ass, but it rang true with sincerity.
I'm great at recognizing that it's not in that 'sweet spot' and I've bailed without injury 99.9% of the time. The .1% just results in an unintended bruise and more damage to my confidence than to my body.

Oh, but that agonizing .1%! One of that .1% happened recently. While it didn't leave more than a bruise and a sore seat for a while, my psyche was scarred. Instinctively, the body WANTS to protect itself, right? Weight lifting is something to be scared of, right? After all, big things could fall and hurt you!But the truth is, if we opted to avoid everything that could hurt us, shouldn't we avoid things like gravity (good luck with that one), food (choking hazard), water (drowning hazard), fire (burn hazard), and just about anything else that makes life worth living (passion, love, faith, trust, family, friends, etc).  Instead, we power on through many more of our 'fears' than we realize. Just because we 'could' hurt ourselves (or 'fail'), doesn't mean we'll ALWAYS end up that way... but I digress...

Determined to figure out a way past this invisible 'bruise', I went back to the gym the next day to lift.
I proved to myself that it wasn't really an injury. It was just a bruise. That day, I set a new personal record for my Front Squat and my Turkish Get Up.

The next day, I saw Trainer Guy. He'd bore witnessed my .1% the weekend before and it spooked him a little at the time. Since I was still sore, I suspect we took it a little bit easier that day, but we did some Clean and Jerks - which are two of my favorite lifts. They went pretty well.

The next day, we started working on the Snatch again.

That's when the bruise on my psyche became painfully obvious. Suddenly, I couldn't get anywhere near the same amount of weight that I'd had the accident with. Every single time I got close, I'd fail... consecutively.

Now, let me be clear. This was not due to lack of strength, ability, or coordination. It was completely in my head.

Isn't it crazy how the NEGATIVE sticks with us more than the positives?!

Over the weekend, I tried it again at a different gym, with different coaching. (See photo of white board above.)

Guess what? I still failed... I got up to the weight I'd had the accident with, and then I'd fail again and again and again...even if I added just 1 pound to it.

It felt like I'd hit the wall. I began to wonder if I'd ever get past 85lbs... which would be a problem since one of my goals right now is to see if I've got what it takes to see Trainer Guy to the next level of his Olympic Weight Lifting Certification - which involves evolving into a Championship Level athlete. It happens to also feed my goal of 'earning my street cred' by competing more - so it's a win-win in that respect.  While I still have a long way to go before I get there, the steady progress has been encouraging. To be 'stuck' now?! This early on?! That would go a long way to derailing those goals.

Giving up isn't my style.

Instead, one of my lifting buddies reminded me that I'd promised to take her along to Coach C's lifting class the next morning. I had planned on it being my rest day, but I felt her growth was important and figured I could go 'light' if I needed to that day. Coach C would understand. So with about 5 hours of sleep under my belt, I showed up at the box, my Bella bar in hand, ready (albeit with a tiny bit of angst and reluctance) to rock n' roll.

Just my luck - Coach C had decided that it was Snatch day.  
Some distant part in the back of my mind muttered something decidedly unpleasant about it, but an equally, perhaps overwhelming part was actually interested and relieved to work on my weakness even more. I was willing to give myself the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I'd learn some trick to overcome my limit. Even if I didn't, I'd get to absorb some good coaching and I'd get some work in. Getting stronger is never a bad thing in my book and I really do love learning and exchanging ideas with other coaches, especially ones as on target as Trainer Guy and Coach C.

So we went to work...

And, guess what?  

I FAILED! I failed several times....UNTIL FINALLY, I DIDN'T! 85 pounds went over my head...and it looked easy!Ecstatic yet living in disbelief, I wanted to do more. I needed to do more.

I needed to go over that stupid freaking magical mother-failing 85 pounds to prove to myself, without a doubt, that I was truly PAST the fear.

So we rounded it up to 90lbs...

And then this happened....

Yeah... that's right... I failed. In fact, if you really slow down that 2nd lift, you'll see a grimace cross my face as something tweaked out in my left arm (yeah, the one with the bandaged hand already...). Frustrated and annoyed, Coach C encouraged me to take a breather and let my lifting buddy have a go at her sets before I gave it just one more try.
 So that's exactly what happened. She worked her set, and I revealed in her success (and my failures) for about 2 minutes and then went back to approach the platform for what-would-be my last attempt for the day.

Coach C shot me some encouragement. His yoda-like-wisdom?
"This is the part where you come up here and smoke this weight."
I replied with a jovial, "Of course," though I'm not entirely sure I got the same 'script' for the moment that he apparently had already read. I wasn't exactly convinced. I remember running through the moment in my mind and thinking, "This is really only 5 pounds more. It's practically the same weight I JUST lifted! What's the big deal? Don't overthink it. The body knows what to do. Trust the work, if you can't trust yourself, and just do what you've been trained to do, Coach J."Apparently even a coach needs some of her own yoda-like wisdom sometimes... because this is how that went down.

Moral of the story?
Failure isn't something to fear, but something to embrace. Like many things that have helped me grow along the way, I don't have to love it. I just have to trust the process.
That doesn't mean it's a good idea to train until you reach failure everyday.  There is a smart way to push through your limits, and a dumb way. I didn't just step out of bed and do this - it took time. The fact that it ONLY took about a week to power through this wall feels extra-ordinary, but I take training and coaching very seriously.
But I can say this much -  

The high fives at the end wouldn't be as sweet if I didn't have the low F's at the start.

No doubt I'll fail many more times before I succeed.

As long as I am alive, I will be learning. As long as I'm learning, I'll be discovering new, astounding, and magical ways to fail.

Along the way, I will find other walls.

I'm as certain of that as I am of this:

Inch by Inch
Step by Step
And Kilo by Kilo
No matter how long it takes
I will scale that Mother-F*er.

*Special thanks to Narrows Crossfit for the Friday work and Crossfit Seven Cities for the Saturday morning awesomeness. *