The Real Face of Depression

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I am a coach. I am a motivator. I am also depressed.

I know you’re probably wondering how someone can be a coach and motivator, yet be depressed. Yes, it seems like an oxymoron, but I’ve been this person for quite some time. I have wanted to write about my secret for a while, but was unsure as to how it would be perceived or if it would affect my job as a coach or my relationships with others. However, those that have known me for a while know that I’m not one to do things the “normal” way, so this is why I’m finally writing about it.

I’ve always held the philosophy of “be true to yourself” and to do things my own way, and to trust in myself that I will get what I need and where I need to go if I follow my own path. It doesn’t always work out, but most of the time it does. As a result of my philosophy, I won many state titles in gymnastics, I won a national piano competition at the age of 14, and I also earned many achievement awards at all of the schools I’ve attended. I’ve also had some pretty cool jobs, which I got without a college degree. Whenever I listen to my gut instinct, I succeed. When I allow others to dictate the process or influence me too much, I tend to fail – this is part of the reason how I got to where I am today.

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(I’m working on this.)

What I write in this post is not of the norm, especially for fitness coaches, because fitness coaches are supposed to be happy, uplifting people that know how to make others’ lives better. They’re supposed to have their shit together. Most people would and will freak out because of how open and personal I am and can be. But that is who I am, down to my very core. I am honest, raw, and sincere. I don’t sugar coat, and when I have to, I feel like a fraud.

I refuse to be mediocre; I strive for excellence. Unfortunately, this has been a bit difficult with this depressive cloud following me as of late. I’ve had to put on my “happy face” for so long that it’s worn me out. I’m exhausted, but I have to keep going.

 Physically I smile

A few months ago, a friend of mine talked about wanting to start a campaign called “The Real Face of Depression” to bring awareness to the world that depressed people aren’t just those in the corner crying and pulling their hair out like you see in most depictions, although sometimes we may feel that way. Depressed people are everyday people – they are your co-worker, they are your friend, your neighbor, and in my case, a fitness coach. We look happy on the outside, we have big smiles in our pictures that come up on Facebook, we are the new moms smiling and playing with precious little babies, we are top CrossFit athletes at The Games.

The majority of my depression stems from my experience with the gymnastics coach that I had between the ages of 10-16, the most important formative years of my life. He is a terrible person; he is a pedophile. He went to jail for the things he did, but he is now out. Before you jump to conclusions as to why my teammates and I didn’t leave, it wasn’t that easy. The charm he had and the ability to manipulate was impressive; no one was safe.

Throughout my life, I have gone through phases where I am able to deal with the trauma of the past (that of my gymnastics career, but also from the recent past), but there are also times where I am heavily affected by it. I am currently in one of those phases.

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I feel heavy, I feel lost. I feel scared, I feel anxious. I am so fucking angry.

My body literally hurts because my soul is hurting.

There are days where I’m coaching and I have to fight so hard to hold the tears in, and all I want to do is to go home, hide under the covers, and cry.

There are days where I want to drop everything and leave without saying goodbye to anyone.

This shit sucks, but I have to keep going.

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What keeps me going are the people I coach, and the little girl that I mentor. For the short time that I’m with these people, I have a glimmer of hope and happiness. Yes, it is and can be difficult, but for those moments I don’t feel as heavy or lost or scared or anxious. I cannot and will not let my depression affect the lives of others.

This is my own battle. I have to keep going.

I am in a dark place, but I know I will get out. I know that I am mentally strong; I just lost it momentarily. I am receiving the help I need to find my way back, but it’s going to take some time. I am so beyond grateful to my friends and family and the support system they have created for me. Writing this and sharing my thoughts and feelings with others helps.

There are going to be those that judge me for expressing my feelings, and that is fine. There will always be naysayers and those that think they know how you should live your life. This is who I am and I am not ashamed of it.

This is my story. This is the real face of depression.

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Everyday I’m Hustlin’?

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-Sylvia Plath

Hustlin’. This has been weighing on my mind lately because I often feel like I’m never doing enough or I’m never enough. I suppose it’s because of the American standard that you’re never doing enough unless you’re always busy. I’m tired of this mentality and am working towards changing it.

It’s been about 2 months or so since I really got Silent Strength Fitness off the ground. I left my cushy job at UCSB the day before Thanksgiving 2014 and from that time until the end of the year, my time was spent planning, strategizing, organizing, and most importantly relaxing, recuperating and taking care of myself.

My last year at UCSB was a crazy one, but definitely a great one. During this time, my superiors allowed me to run with my skills and abilities, and it was such a nice feeling to see how much respect and trust they had in me. I was part of a team of two that planned four retirement parties that were all happening in one month, I covered my supervisor’s program while she went on maternity leave for four months, which included planning a week-long annual review conference for 30 people, I covered my student assistant’s job after she left abruptly after the devastating massacre that happened in Isla Vista, and trained a co-worker on all things procurement for our department. A lot of this all at the same time, all while doing my own job. I’m not looking for sympathy, just providing an example. Oh, did I mention that I was coaching CrossFit for two hours after work four days a week? Again, I am not bragging.

I envied my friends that worked their cushy 9-5 jobs and were able to go home, cook dinner, and watch TV before getting into bed at 8:30 or 9pm. I don’t know what that is like. Ever since I was a child I’ve been on the go, either to gymnastics practice or piano lessons, or when I worked in the music industry, working 8-10 hours in the office then taking clients to dinner and drinks and then to a show getting home around 2am. I’ve always been busy and I hate it. I’ve been trying to break this cycle for as long as I can remember.

This is why I left my cushy and wonderful job. I’ve always felt that a happy life entails doing something you love, doing something that is fulfilling to your soul. Yes, my job at UCSB was wonderful, but it was not fulfilling to my soul. I know many people would disagree with me about what a job should be like, and to those, I will agree to disagree. My husband is an attorney and he says that hates it (although, I think he secretly loves it), but he is great at it.

As a child, I had a dream of becoming a teacher and was on the path to college to become an elementary school teacher. However, as I became an adult I saw myself less and less standing in front of a classroom. That thought didn’t feel quite right. I wanted to do more. I wanted to work with more people, not just children.

After finding CrossFit, I realized that it was not in a classroom that I wanted to teach, but in a gym. Through fitness, I am able to teach a variety of people the world has to offer, and it excites me so. The best part is that these people want to learn, and they are eager to learn. They aren’t forced to come to my classes or sessions (well, maybe sometimes their SO forces them, haha). They come to my classes to be better people, to better themselves. That is why I want to teach.

This brings me back to the topic at hand.

I often hear that so-and-so is a hustler (and good for them) or that you have to hustle to get where you want to be. I get it. I did it. Been there, done that. But, you know what? IT KILLED ME. I was so unhealthy both physically and mentally. I have learned over time what works for me, and what does not work for me. No one else can decide that. Constantly stressing myself out trying to get EVERYTHING done all by myself to prove that “I’m doing it” is not worth it to me. There are other ways to get things done without all that nonsensical stress.

I have been fully immersed into my business for just over two months. TWO MONTHS. In these two months, I have created a solid roster of personal training clients and a successful boot camp. The most important part to me about this is the wonderful and kind words that my clients have said to me. I am helping them change and improve their lives. That is why I do what I do. And in turn, it is changing and improving my life.

I guess the purpose of the post is this: Everyone has their own way of hustling. I may not be moving as fast or seem as busy as others, but I know what I want, and I know what needs to be done to get there. I make shit happen, and do it in my own way. I am not going to sacrifice my health and well being (again) by doing it the “American Way” (read: constantly stressed, unhealthy, always busy) because that is what is standard in our culture. No, thank you. I’m done with that.

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My new career is allowing me to spend more time with my senior puppy (she is currently sitting on my feet as I type this). It is allowing me to spend time with my husband during lunchtime. It is allowing me to have more time to myself, and allowing me to breathe. It is allowing me to reconnect with myself. I am still healing.

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We need to appreciate the work we’ve done and what we’re doing. It is smart to look and plan into the future, but we also need to appreciate where we are in the moment. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong if you truly believe it is right (that is, unless you’re doing something illegal. Ha!). Our internal voice knows what’s best for us, and that is what and to whom we need to listen.

I’ve already done a lot in two months, and I am excited to see where I’ll be in the next six.

I observe before I attack. I am not going into this blindly. I am doing this the right way. My way.

Be well, my friends.

My Whole Life Challenge Experience

I’ve been debating whether or not I wanted to write something about my experience with the Whole Life Challenge, and whether or not I wanted to share my “before & after” pictures. However, I came to the conclusion that, as a coach, detailing my experience may help inspire others to make changes to improve their health and well being. Although coaches can be described as “health professionals” and can often be viewed as “having it together,” we have our own issues as well. I may or may not be slightly obsessed with Cheez-It. Just sayin’…

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I would like to say that I understand that some of you may look at me and feel that I don’t have any weight to lose, or may think “What is she thinking? She’s not fat,” or that I can eat whatever I want because I’m already “skinny”. I know that I’m not fat, but I do have some weight to lose and when I gain 5-7 pounds, I definitely feel it and it shows because of my small frame. Also, at my age, I can no longer eat whatever (e.g., junk food) because my metabolism doesn’t work the way it used to like in my teens and 20s.

A couple years ago, my husband and I tried to follow the paleo diet. If you’re not familiar, with the paleo diet, you basically cut out all grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, white potatoes and other “nightshades,” artificial sweeteners, and anything processed. You’re probably thinking, “well, what the heck do you eat then?” Meat, poultry, seafood, veggies, berries, nuts, and healthy fats and oils, such as avocados and coconut oil. There’s plenty left to eat! However, at the time I wasn’t quite ready to make the switch. I was addicted to crap food and towards the end of getting my college degree. Without Diet Coke, Cheez-It and chips, I don’t think I would have made it through those days where I was writing papers into the wee hours of the morning. I think I made it one or two weeks before I was so “hangry” (hungry + angry) that I, nor my husband, could take it any longer. Food is very emotional for a lot of us, and I was not emotionally ready for the change.

This past year has been quite stressful for me as work got super busy with four people in my department retiring and my supervisor going on maternity leave early and then being out for four months. My health deteriorated because I ate whatever was within my reach (i.e., lots of sandwiches and cookies) and working through lunch, which caused me to not sleep very much. I was also coaching in the evenings after work, and getting home around 8:30-9:00pm. I also reinjured my knee, and I just let myself go. My hormones were out of whack and I felt terrible all the time. Once things at work slowed down, I decided that it was finally time to get my shit together.

Enter the Whole Life Challenge (WLC). The WLC is an eight-week lifestyle challenge where you focus on clean eating, exercising and stretching regularly, taking a daily supplement, drinking 1/3 of your body weight in ounces of water daily, and participating in weekly lifestyle challenges (e.g., getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night or not using technology during meals). I have a few friends that have done the challenge in the past and have heard and seen the benefits from it. I felt I was mentally in a better place to take on the challenge, so I committed to it. I was a bit nervous because eight weeks seemed like a long time. Was I really ready for it?

There are three nutrition levels to choose from: Performance (strict paleo), Lifestyle (allowed to have some grains, starches, and corn), and Beginner (can pretty much eat anything but bread and sugar). I chose the Lifestyle level because I wanted to work on maintaining a reasonable diet and not drastically changing it, as I felt that I would be setting myself up for failure and disappointment had I gone the Performance route. I’m glad I chose this level because I was able to do just that – I found a way to maintain a reasonable diet.

The first week was difficult because my body went through withdrawals. I did get hangry, but not like before. But after that week, I started feeling and seeing the benefits and it felt so good. I found that in the first 2.5 weeks, I lost 1.5 inches around my waist, and my workouts felt easier! I also found that I wasn’t craving the bad food and not eating my feelings. It was pretty exciting.

I was on a roll and doing so well until October 10. It was that day that I found out that a friend had passed away earlier that morning. He was a very close friend of my brother’s, and he was also like a brother to me. I was shocked and upset. My husband asked me what he could do for me and I told him that I wanted Cheez-It and a glass of wine. He was so sweet and went to the store to buy both. Although I was eating and drinking my feelings, it felt different. I’m not sure how to describe it. I guess it wasn’t so much the addiction driving me to eat and drink; it was more of a conscious decision to do so. I felt in control of that decision. The next week was difficult as I was emotionally spent and I didn’t have the energy to focus on the challenge very much. I ate crappy food and drank a lot of wine and cider. Additionally, the following weekend was a close friend’s wedding and the weekend after that my birthday! So from October 10-26, I ate crappy and drank a lot of alcohol. Thankfully, I was able to get back on track for the final few weeks of the challenge. It was difficult, but I overcame the minor setback.

My goal for the challenge was to learn how to manage my diet better and to learn how to take better care of my body through nutrition. I refuse to be a slave to medication! Through this challenge, I now understand how my body reacts to certain foods, such as dairy, grains, and starches, which has led me to not crave them as much as before. Score! And since I don’t eat much of those types of food anymore, when I do eat them, they don’t taste as good as I remember them to be.

To give a bit of history, the verbal abuse and harassment that I received from my gymnastics coach from the ages of 10-16 still affect me to this day, which is why I have had such a bad relationship with food. His negative words also still affect my self-esteem. He often called me and my teammates “fat whores” and other names that I will not repeat. Mind you, we were still in elementary school/pre-teens when he said these nasty things. That shit does not go away. Because of this, I have not worn my bathing suit in public in the past two years. One, because I have a crazy tan line due to our gym being outside, and two, because of my self-esteem issues. However, after this challenge, I am feeling a little better about myself, which is why I now feel somewhat comfortable showing my before and after pictures (enjoy my tan line!)…

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My results from the challenge are as follows:

Weight:
Pre-challenge: 131.4lbs
Post-challenge: 126.8lbs

Body fat %:
Pre-challenge: 20.1%
Post-challenge: 18.4%

Challenge workout:
11min time cap:
800m run
75 air squats
50 sit-ups
25 push-ups
For the remainder of the time, do as many burpees as possible.
Your score is the total number of squats, sit-ups, push-ups, and burpees.

Score:
Pre-challenge: 173 (23 burpees)
Post-challenge: 183 (33 burpees)
I was able to bust out 10 more burpees!

I am pleased with my results, as my goal was to get around 126lbs, 18% body fat, and get a higher score during the workout. Woot!

Now, you’re probably wondering what my meals consisted of. Well, here ya go!

Breakfast: usually 3 eggs (scrambled-sometimes with spinach, or hard boiled) and 3-4 pieces of bacon or sausage, and coffee with stevia.

Lunch: spinach & kale mix salad with chicken and avocado or leftovers from dinner, and sometimes a vegan soup I bought from the café on campus.

Dinner: pork or beef cooked in the slow cooker with sweet potatoes and onions, tacos made with leftover pork, or steak with broccoli and/or sweet potatoes.

Snacks: Cashew cookie Larabar, apples, bananas, brown rice cakes with cashew butter, carrots, strawberries, cantaloupe

I’m glad the challenge is over because having to log points and do the weekly lifestyle challenges were a bit cumbersome, but I am happy that I am learning better nutrition and eating habits. I’m looking forward to being released into the wild and doing it on my own.

Here’s to cleaner eating and better health!

Stress and Depression Are Dumb. So Are Injuries.

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(My limited ROM in my knee doesn’t allow it to bend like I want it to causing me to squat incorrectly. Oh, and that whole only having 4 lumbar vertebrae – as opposed to 5 – also doesn’t help the situation.)

[TL;DR since I didn’t expect to write this much: overwhelming stress from work and my knee injury caused me to get chubby and depressed creating a vicious cycle.  Didn’t realize how chubby I got until I saw a picture of myself taken yesterday.  Knee surgery on Friday, June 20 to fix torn meniscus.]

So, tomorrow is the big day – surgery day!  This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time, but wasn’t sure if it was something that I should do.  I’ve had pain in my right knee since my ACL reconstructive surgery back in 1998, but I just learned to deal with the pain.  I would say about 5 years ago, prior to my starting CrossFit the pain started getting worse, which is why I decided to start exercising again.  I figured my being inactive for about 10 years was causing all of my knee and back pain.

I started CrossFit in January of 2010, and at first I couldn’t run.  It hurt and my endurance sucked balls.  After a few months of CrossFit and getting my body moving again, my knee pain slowly went away and I actually didn’t mind running.  I’ve had a couple of injuries (strained right Achilles, Bankart tear in my left shoulder) during my time with CrossFit, but they were caused by me doing stupid things while playing adult co-ed softball (I have since retired in case you were wondering).  As with any injury or life-changing situation, I felt a bit depressed due to the immediate change in what I was and wasn’t able to do.  The depression slowly went away as I found ways to workout around my injuries – I got really good at pull-ups during my Achilles injury and my legs got really strong during my shoulder injury.  So, you’d think that this current injury would be no prob.  Nope, completely the opposite.

Rewind to late 2013/early 2014 – I was finally starting to feel good again, normal even, and not feeling any pain.  I also felt like I was finally getting my eating habits under control.  As such, I started to increase my training and pushing myself that much harder.  No excuses.  My first full week of training after my shoulder injury was the first week of the 2013 CrossFit Open, so when the 2014 Open came around, I wanted to be ready and injury free. I started deadlifting more, my front and back squat weights were increasing.  I was stoked.  I did well in the Open – I ended up in the top 27% in the world and 29% in the region – and was proud of what I accomplished (I also placed 36th in the SoCal region for 36 year old women! Haha, if only CrossFit were categorized by age…).

Unfortunately, due to the increase in my training and my limited abilities and range of motion in my right knee due to my previous ACL injury and surgery, my knee started acting up again.  I hit a point with my squats where I couldn’t increase the weight anymore.  I was cautious with my training and slowed down when it hurt and forged on when it felt good.  As a precaution, I decided to get an MRI to make sure that I didn’t re-injure my ACL.

My friend Black Widow (BW) and I are pretty similar in abilities and height, and well, when I had long hair people would get us confused, so, we’re a pretty good match for partner competitions.  We signed up for the Dynamic Duel partner competition this past April 26, the weekend after my MRI.  That was my last full-on workout. Sad face.

The Dynamic Duel consisted of lots of heavy squats and my knee did not enjoy them.  I had practiced the 95lb squat cleans the Monday prior to the competition and felt pretty good about them, and felt ready for the comp.  Unfortunately, the overwhelming stress at work didn’t do my body good.

My supervisor went on maternity leave a couple weeks early leaving me with the added stress to figure out some of the tasks that I was to take over while she was out.  The week prior to the competition was her program’s HUGE annual review week-long meeting that I had to take over with the planning and organizing on top of my regular job.  I didn’t sleep much, my meal schedule was off, and I was working tons of overtime.  I was T.I.R.E.D.  Regardless, I was looking forward to competing with BW.

The first WOD of the competition was difficult but we managed to get through most of it.  My body was tired, but nothing felt off.  The last WOD of the day was squat heavy and it messed me up.

The WOD was:
Every minute on the minute for 10 min:
1st partner starts with 7 goblet squats with a 35lb kettlebell, then does 5 kettlebell swings.
2nd partner then does 95lb squat cleans for the remaining time in the minute.
At the top of the minute, the partners switch.

10169191_10152330702245700_648059738262056476_n(This was me waiting for my turn at squat cleans looking at BW while she was doing her goblet squats like, “I don’t want to do this anymore”.)

photo (4)(At home after the comp. I felt super old and broken.)

After the end of that WOD, my knee did not feel right.  I could barely walk and it hurt so bad.  I took a week off from working out to give my body a rest.  After two weeks, I still felt off.  This is when I received the results of the MRI.  Verdict: a small medial, posterior horn meniscal tear.  So this is the pain that I’ve been feeling for YEARS!  After receiving the results, I decided to give my body a break.  I’ve been definitely feeling physically older, and I attribute a lot of that to the stress that I’ve been feeling at work.  I had planned on doing upper body workouts and still exercising regularly.  Nope, that didn’t happen.  Stress got the best of me.

I stopped working out.  I started eating horribly.  I still wasn’t sleeping well.  I started to become depressed, which led to not wanting to workout, eating crap, and no sleep.  It’s such an effing vicious cycle.  Oh, and guess what?  Work got even MORE stressful.  So not only was I doing two positions, my student assistant quit and I, therefore, had to take on her work.  Oh, I was also voluntold to assist with planning four retirement parties all in the month of June.  Sure, I’ll do three positions and plan huge parties at the university on top of my coaching and operations duties at the gym.  Sure, no problem at all.  So you can imagine how vicious the above-mentioned cycle got recently.  I need to learn to not be so nice and to say no.

Yesterday, I had BW take pictures of me doing various squats from all different angles, so I could compare the differences in my body mechanics before and after surgery.  I knew I was getting a bit soft in the middle but I was not expecting to see what I saw in my squat pictures – my big ol’ gut chillin’ right in front of the camera (see below – enjoy!).  It’s gross and embarrassing and I’m upset that I’ve let myself get to this point.  This is what stress and depression has done to me.  Ugh.

photo (3)(Chubby little Ninja with giant spider bite on her leg that you can see bulging out!)

I am very much looking forward to having surgery and getting back in the gym and using my entire body.  My doctor said that I will pretty much be ready to start working out again after two weeks.  I sure hope so!  I also recently (as of yesterday!) hired a new student assistant to work for me over the summer and can start June 30, and I also found out that my supervisor will be coming back part-time July 1.  So, things are looking up!  As much as stress and depression are dumb, I do learn a lot from what I experience during those rough times.  Although there were days where I wanted to crawl into the fetal position and cry for days, or stab a beeotch in the ear, I forced myself to keep my head up no matter how difficult it was.

No matter how exhausted or pissed off I was from work, I found solace at the gym and from my members.  It’s amazing how much better I felt once I got there and saw my CrossFit family even after working 8-10 hours and being at the gym for another 3, and getting home around 9pm. So big THANKS and giant internet hug to my CFSB family. Y’all are pretty neat, and I look forward to working out with you again soon!  I’ll get through this, I always do.

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CrossFit Open WOD 14.1: Do More. Suck Less.

Do More. Suck Less

The 2014 CrossFit Open began last Thursday. This is a huge time in the CrossFit world. It is a time where we get to see what we’re made of, and to compete with CrossFitters from all over the World. If you have no idea what The Open is, click HERE.

I had planned on doing each of the WODs only one time, no re-dos. I like to treat the Open WODs as a regular competition where you only get one chance to give it your all. Wellllll, my performance last night is an exception. The odds were not in my favor – I was tired all day, most likely because I didn’t eat much and decided to lay down and woke up only 20 minutes before I was to perform the WOD, aaaaand my monthly friend was being a bitch. Whah whah. I was also doing the WOD at another gym in town, and while I was not in my element, I think the big factor there was that I didn’t have my CFSB family there for support. They’re pretty awesome. I’m not making excuses, just giving a glimpse into the state of mind I was in. I tried to shake it off and do work. Unfortunately, my body had other plans.

14.1 is as follows:
AMRAP (as many reps as possible): 10 minutes
30 Double unders
15 Power snatches @ 55lbs

Both of these skills are fairly easy for me. However, there are days where I just can’t seem to do double unders, and you guessed it, last night was one of those nights. I kept tripping on my rope and couldn’t get a consistent rhythm with my jumping. I think my nerves got me rushing and I just lost control. It got so bad to the point where I stopped a few times to laugh because it was so ridiculous and embarrassing. I was also so close to quitting since I knew that I was going to do it again. However, I couldn’t quit. I couldn’t show my athletes that I was a quitter. I managed to finish the WOD with 4 rounds + 27 reps. I was hoping to get close to 6 rounds (270). I was so disappointed, that I had to do it again.

I dreamt about double unders all night. I woke up with sore trapezius muscles, or what we at CFSB like to call “shrug pieces,” because of all the shrugging in the snatches from my first attempt. I also wore my “Do More Suck Less” shirt as motivation.

14.1 Pace Chart

Tall Guy mapped out pace times for every outcome of rounds. He’s such a nerd; I love it! It’s all about strategery! It definitely helped to give us an idea of where we were in the middle of the WOD. I was doing pretty well and was on a good pace to complete 6 rounds. However, around the 3rd or 4th round it got tough and I lost time, but I hung on. I was able to do all of my double unders unbroken for 3 of the 5 rounds because I forced myself to slow down and find a consistent rhythm. My snatches weren’t too bad, but I could’ve used my legs and hips more. The last set of double unders were pretty funny. I felt like I was on the verge of complete body failure. My arms didn’t want to move, I felt like vomiting, I felt my head spinning, and the cramps. Holy cramps! Why do I do CrossFit again?! Well, I survived, and I am pleased to say that I got 5 rounds + 17 reps for a total of 242 reps.

Now, many of my new athletes have asked why they should sign up for The Open. There are so many reasons why people should do it, but I will list my top 3 reasons, which all feed off one another.

1. Accountability. In my opinion, on average we all don’t push ourselves as hard as we should during regular workout days. It’s either after work or school, we’re tired and hungry, and we just want to get the workout in and go home and go to bed. There are also days where we just don’t want to go and instead go straight home. I know what my athletes (and myself) are capable of, and I’m not always seeing max effort. Signing up for The Open holds us accountable in that we are required to submit a score by Monday at 5pm. We have 4 days to complete the WOD after it is announced and therefore have to put the effort in and make time to do it.

2. Focus. Participation in The Open really challenges our focus. Last night my focus was shit, and therefore I had to force myself to really focus during my second attempt. For those 10 minutes of hell, you cannot let any self-doubt, any negativity enter your mind or it will take you over. Case in point, my performance last night. Calmness, focus, and drive are all that can be there. However, when we allow ourselves to really zone in, it is amazing what we can accomplish. I have two athletes who were planning on not doing 14.1 because they had never done double unders. After much coercion and pep talking, they did it. Athlete 1 ended up doing 2 full rounds (for a total of 60 double unders!) and Athlete 2 practiced them this afternoon and got 20. I’m so excited to see what athlete 2 will do tomorrow when she attempts 14.1.

3. Mental fortitude. Anyone that does CrossFit has to have some level of mental fortitude. It is not possible to do these workouts without it. However, The Open presents another level to which you can see what you are made of. I think my absolute favorite part of The Open is seeing how far people push themselves regardless of how much blood, sweat, and tears are pouring out of their bodies. The Open is a test of fitness – not only fitness of your body, but fitness of your mind. How far can and will you go?

I am very excited to see what my athletes are going to accomplish over these next 5 weeks. It brings me so much joy to see them overcome their self-doubt and kick ass. I coach some of the greatest people I have ever met, and as such, they make me want to work harder and be better. CFSB rules!

Being Content with Mediocrity in a Community of Overachievers

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Team Ninja & the Goon

One thing I find interesting about CrossFit and the Olympics is that you are constantly reminded of your age. The majority of the commentators I’ve heard while watching the Olympics have mentioned that one’s athletic career is pretty much over once the athlete has reached their 30s. Hell, if you’re an Olympic-level gymnast, you’re done by 18 (21, if you’re lucky). With regards to CrossFit, you are constantly reminded of your age when your body just doesn’t want to move like it used to – you feel your knees and back ache often and that’s just during the warm-up! Actually, I’m pretty sure the constant reminder is when you see these damn youngins walking around with their perfect bodies not realizing (or caring) what’s coming for them in about 5-10 years. Ha! Yeah, go ahead and continue to think you can eat like that… just you wait! (Insert evil laugh here.)

When I mention “age” I am also referring to what got you to where you are at a particular age. At ages 14-16 years, I was in my prime in gymnastics – flexible, nimble, beautiful six-pack abs; at age 18, I was still pretty good and still had some of my six-pack abs; at age 19 I moved to California and basically didn’t work out until I started CrossFit at the age of 32. I also had a terrible diet. Imagine what sort of shape I would be in had I had CrossFit as soon as I finished my gymnastics career. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

Well, here I am at the ripe old age of 36, and after 4 years of CrossFit, mixed in with two major injuries (from softball), I am feeling the strongest I’ve ever been, all the while feeling my body getting older.

This past weekend, Tall Guy and I competed in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre down in Ventura hosted by West Coast Strength and Conditioning. It was a co-ed partner competition with RXd, Modified, and Masters divisions. We still have a few years before we are considered masters competitors; however, we are at the upper end of the regular divisions, which is one thing that I love and hate about CrossFit. I love that I get to compete against people much much younger than me (and it feels pretty good to beat them, too), yet at the same time it’s no wonder when they do beat me (and at times I feel like they should beat me). Some of these “kids” are just out of college having competed at D1 schools, other competitors took part in past Regionals competitions, and many are also contenders to make it to Regionals this year.

What I also love and hate about CrossFit is that there are no weight divisions. So little 130-pound me often competes with women that have easily 20+ pounds on me. Me having to push jerk 95lbs 40 times is not the same as someone that is 155lbs. I think it’s pretty cool that I can lift as much weight as women that are bigger than me, but at the same time it sucks because they have a distinct advantage.

Many of the competitors this past Saturday looked like they were in their early to mid-20s with some that looked around my age. Many of the women in my division had beautifully muscular and toned bodies to the point where I would find myself staring at them. They sure are fascinating specimens of the female body! Dayam.

During the competition, while I was out of breath, trying not to vomit, and my body hurting, I looked around and saw these young competitors just plowing through the WODs and all I could think was, “This isn’t fair, I got like 10 years on these bitches! This isn’t fair, I’m lifting half of my body weight here and they’re not!” Yeah, I know I need to work on my mental game; however, this perceived “unfairness” pushed me to work harder, to not give up, and to also appreciate my effort and placing in the competition. Not only was I one of the smallest competitors in my division, I had the tallest partner – one I had to carry twice for the distance of 60 feet each time in the middle of a WOD. So, yes, I’m gonna say that I had to work a little bit harder than others. I’m not writing this to complain, but to merely breakdown how interesting, shitty, fair and unfair CrossFit is and that’s why I love it.

Tall Guy and I had 3 goals going into this competition: 1) Don’t get injured; 2) Don’t get divorced; 3) Don’t get last place. I am pleased to say that we succeeded in all 3 goals. We ended up placing 31st out of 46 teams, he didn’t crush me during the partner carries, and we are still married. Not bad for some old farts.

The competition WODs for the RXd division were:

WOD #1
10 min time cap:
21-15-9
Deadlift (245#/155#)
Box jump (30”/24”)

Our time: 9:16 (20th place)

WOD#2
22 min cap (partners split the reps)
200 Double unders
Partner Carry 60 ft (girl carry guy)
120 Sandbag Shouldered Squats (80#/60#)
Partner Carry 60 ft (guy carry girl)
80 Shoulder to overhead (135#/95#)
Partner Carry 60 ft (girl carry guy)
40 DB Snatches alternating hands (55#/30#)
Partner Carry 60 ft. (guy carry girl)
200 Double unders

Our time: 21:51 (34th place)

Floater:
For calories: 3 min Airdyne + 3 min rower (switch during 1min transition)

Our score: 198 (32nd place)

What’s Your Motivation?

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My day started with me feeling gross and exhausted. I had a fight with myself whilst laying in bed – one part of me saying, “get your ass up! You’re running late!” the other part of me saying, “it’s okay. You work hard, you need the rest.” Who am I kidding? That is me EVERY morning when the darn “ripples” alarm goes off on my iPhone.

Because I was feeling crappy, I defaulted to my food-based comfort and was adamant about going to Starbucks (even though I was late) and getting a sugar-free vanilla latte and a tomato and cheese croissant. They didn’t have the tomato and cheese (gasp!), so I opted for the spinach and cheese (meh). I also forgot my lunch (again), so I purchased a turkey and havarti sandwich along with my healthy breakfast. As I was walking back to my car, I felt bad about myself because this is not what I had in mind with cleaner and healthier eating. To add to my crappy state of mind, I threw in some Cheez-It at lunch.

So what does this have to do with motivation, you say? A lot. I’m not saying this is healthy, but I have a habit of making myself feel like shit before I step it up and take control. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel as crappy as I thought I would after eating all the bread items. However, it was enough to do the job.

I was debating going to CrossFit because I was so exhausted and felt gross, but I forced myself to go. After I parked, I wasn’t quite ready to get out because I needed to mentally get in the zone before stepping into the gym to see my friends and to do work. I decided to check Facebook (which I don’t usually do before the gym, surprisingly) and saw that my friend Alexis (aka Fancy Pants!) shared a new blog post entitled “The Root of Suffering is Attachment” with the post starting off with “…attachment to things, feelings, people, ideas, expectations…” Oh, the expectations. This really resonated with me. The expectations I set for myself are often too high, which in all honesty is why I am currently exhausted. I reminded myself to “simmer down” and that I am doing okay. I am not perfect. I am doing the best I can. I walked into the gym, and did quite well with my workout. I left starving for protein and veggies and in a good mood.

So what’s my motivation? My motivation is the people I care for. Even though I may be their coach and am the one who is supposed to do all of the motivating, all of the athletes that I coach inspire me; however, my friends Alexis, Susan, Maira (aka Bon Bon), Janyce (aka Black Widow), and Allison in particular are my motivation. They all have their own strengths that push me to be a better person, athlete and coach. Being around them make me happy. My friends that pursue their dreams also motivate me. They may fail, but they keep on pursuing because they believe in their talent and abilities. People like Lakeisha Shurn motivate me. I may not know her personally, but her story and the determination and effort she put into losing weight inspires me. People that actually do the work rather than doing a lot of talking motivate me. We can all “talk the talk,” but not everyone can actually walk.

On a superficial level, my other motivation is this purple sports bra:

xfitsportsbra

I saw this sports bra a while ago, but didn’t purchase it for some reason. I haven’t been able to find it in my size since then. Janyce knew that I’ve been wanting it and bought it for me when she saw it in my size a couple weeks ago (she’s so rad!). My goal is to comfortably wear this without a shirt over it. Sometimes during a workout I get super hot and want to rip my shirt off, but I am not comfortable enough with my midsection to do so. I know I’m not fat, but I’m squishy and it’s uncomfortable and funny looking. I love my shoulders, arms, legs and booty, but my stomach? Not so much. It may not look squishy to you, but it’s because I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding it. I wore my bathing suit once last year, and never took my tank top off because I was too ashamed of my squishy midsection. Silly, I know.

So there you have it, whether you wanted it or not. Haha! I commend you for making it through all of my rambling about my mundane day. So my question to you is, what motivates you? What keeps you going?