A New Season

Looking through this blog, it may seem strange to you that there is such a gap between posts (mainly, the second half of 2013). There are several reasons for that, a few of which almost kept me from coming back to this blog at all.

  1. I started this blog as a distraction from the ‘boring parts of life’ – namely, my craptastic job. In that job, I used my ample down time to craft my blog and gain inspiration from others’ blogs. Highly productive! Just after this post, I quit my job and lost all that great time to blog during the day.
  2. A few weeks after I quit my job and started a new one that I actually cared about, I discovered I was pregnant. I considered blogging about the pregnancy, but I didn’t want this to be a pregnancy blog. Plus, that would have added one more thing to my ‘To Do’ list, which I was so not on top of (Pregnancy brain is real).
  3. I got tired of talking about myself. It bored me, to be honest. I’m still not sure how to keep this interesting, and it’s sometimes easier to let myself off the hook with the ‘who cares what you have to say anyway‘ mentality.

Given all of that, and other less important reasons, I stayed away. I put some thoughts on paper or in draft posts, but never got past that. So, here we are, nine months later. Not the best time for me to think I can go back to blogging, given the drastic life change I’m about to experience, but at least I can try – and it doesn’t have to be perfect.

p.s. I just went for a short run at 39 1/2 weeks pregnant – just to see if I could still do it. Major win! Looking forward to getting back in shape very soon.

Self Help Title Here

April has been a hard month for me. Early on in the month, I realized that I wasn’t living very intentionally and that it was having a negative effect on my happiness and my body. I was overly stressed about little things that were unimportant and I was not truly enjoying the things that were beneficial or fun (like working out, reading or learning new things). So, I decided that it wasn’t ok to just limp through this part of my life or to be physically ill because of my stress level. I have many blessings and I should be joyful and positive and allow myself to fully experience life!

I’m sure some (or all) of you have been through this type of thing before. It really isn’t uncommon. But for me, it was just NOT ok. I forgot that we need to take care of ourselves mentally and spiritually, as well as physically. Because if you take great care of one part of yourself, but neglect the care of another, it WILL come back to haunt you. Physical symptoms of stress can be very painful and disruptive, and I have found that they are also stubborn and take a great deal of effort to ‘cure’. No one wants to live like that – that is for damn sure!

I’ve taken several very important steps toward being intentional with how I care for myself as well as how I spend my time, including reducing my stress level, increasing sleep, acupuncture, pursuing my interests and spending meaningful time with friends (among others). It took a solid two and a half weeks for me to start to feel ‘normal’ again after beginning this new journey of intentionality. I’m sure it will take many more weeks or months for it all to settle down, but I know now that I can’t let neglect of my inner self be part of my lifestyle any more. Happiness, but more importantly joy, are essential for a healthy and balanced life. It’s not all just eating right and exercising.

The Secret to Staying Skinny is Lifting Heavy

I do not consider myself an athlete. I am a former couch potato turned power lifter via a whirlwind 2 year relationship with CrossFit. I never liked working out – even now, I struggle with motivation and commitment to lifting. That couch just seems so much more inviting when I walk in the door after a long day of sitting at my desk and stop and go traffic. But I know what those 45 minutes of lifting will do for me. They will keep me in my (new) obsession – skinny jeans. Those 45 minutes of work 4 times a week keep me in the best shape of my life. And I can still EAT! It’s almost magical. Now, for the skeptics: There is a huge stigma about female lifters in this country. I know this all too well because I bought into it.

“I don’t wanna lift, it will make me look bulky and manish!”

To which my husband replied that was a ridiculous statement because girls are made different from boys and I wouldn’t look like one even if I tried. Of course he was right, but it took me over a year to really figure it out.

Barbell Pushup Smoke

Strong is Beautiful

The Beginning: CrossFit
I was dragged to my first official WOD (that’s Workout of the Day) in the summer of 2010. I did not want to go, but I was starting to gain those mid-twenties pounds that signal the end of your beloved youth, and I was so sick of the 15-20 minute jogs that I had been forcing myself to do in vain for the previous 6 months. Going to CrossFit was a leap of faith. The person I trusted most wanted us to join a Box together, so I decided that I would try it, mostly to keep him happy, but also to see if I could do it. I honestly had very little faith in my physical abilities at the time, so it was nerve-wracking to say the least, but after that first morning of sweat, blood and tears (and almost passing out from the exertion), I began to feel like this was something I could do! Was it crazy hard? Yes. Is it the ‘Best and Only program for me’? No. It was a stepping stone. It changed my life.

The Journey: Discovering What Works
As I began to CrossFit, I learned what my body was capable of. It was amazing! In a matter of months, I went from zero push ups to 10, from barely lifting the barbell to deadlifting my body weight. I started having fun when I worked out. I was with a group of amazing people of all different fitness levels and we were in it together. Each WOD was a different challenge and I felt so encouraged by that group. I kept going, three to four times a week, and I kept discovering new abilities. I participated in group challenges like the CrossFit Games Open.  I loved it.

I also saw my body change. I didn’t get ‘bulky’, I got strong AND skinny. I kept my womanly curves, but they jiggled less. I dropped a pant size, but gained a few pounds in muscle. So THIS is what a strong woman looks like?!

After the first year or so, I began feeling like I wasn’t making as much progress anymore. I had a hard time recovering from some of the WODs and my lifts just weren’t improving. I started going to the Box less because I was tired and busy. The only WODs I wanted to go to anymore were the lifting ones, because those were what made me feel good. My husband had been talking about buying a weight set from Rogue to have in our house. This made a lot more sense because we were busy, and I liked the idea of being able to lift more. We decided to start our own lifting program at home.

Now: Lifting Heavy at Home
With our shiny new Rogue set assembled and placed in our home gym (we took over the basement), I began Lifting. Using the techniques and skill acquired from CrossFit and the programming and encouragement of my amazing hubby, I have continued to lift better, faster and heavier over the past 6 months. I lift 4 times a week, which usually involves one main lift and two additional movements (such as pull ups and dips). I try to run sprints once every ten days or so, because sprints are easy and do wonders for my metabolism. I do Pilates or Yoga when I feel like it, mostly for fun. The point is, I am doing what works for me. If I don’t like something, I change it. Keeping it interesting is important. That way I don’t give in to my inner couch potato.

To work on strength gains, we are currently using Wendler 5/3/1 for Powerlifting for our programming. It is designed to increase overall strength and improve performance on the four basic lifts: Deadlift, Squat, Bench Press and Press (we added Power Cleans too). I’m also working on several gymnastic movements like Handstands, Pull ups, Dips and Leg Levers.

All of this can be done on your own – you don’t have to seek out a personal trainer (though, for safety, it would be helpful). I bet your current, or former, gym has the equipment you need. This Catalyst Athletics Starter Program is a good guide. All it takes it a little motivation to start – and determination to see it through.