I am not weak.

… despite what others may think.

I am an empath and it makes many people uncomfortable. I get it. It can be overwhelming. Try living with it every single day.

However, because I am sensitive and feel more deeply than others and express my emotions in ways that others are not used to or are incapable of, that does not mean I am weak. It does not mean I am unable to work or run a business. It means that I approach life in a way that may not work for others. It gives me a unique advantage to really see and feel what others need and want, and as such, I move forward in an unorthodox manner. This is what has made me successful in everything that I’ve ever set my mind to. The passion for life that I possess is deeper than most can handle. At times, it can be too much for me to handle.

Everything I do is for others. It’s in my nature. It is my mission, which I have known since I was a little girl. It wasn’t until I found CrossFit that I realized how to make it a reality.

This year has been one of challenges, successes, losses, and enlightenment. Some of it amazing and exhilarating, others devastating and disappointing. Such is life!

Last night, while sitting in a dimly lit room and after many cups of tea, the following stream-of-consciousness passage came out in a moment of vulnerability. It will make others uncomfortable because of its raw and personal nature. This is who I am and I will not apologize for being real. However, I have redacted a couple lines because, as a business owner, I have to somewhat censor myself so as not to cause any problems.

I feel broken,
but I’m not.
I feel depressed,
but it’s not dark.
Emotions have come about,
as the world begins to implode.
My world.
Your world.
Our world.
This year our country lost hope,
and gained fear.
This year I lost my husband,
but gained a friend.
[redacted]
[redacted]
She left me when I needed her most.
It’s funny, the only person that has my back,
is the very person I hated not too long ago.
It hurts;
I hurt.
My need for a partner in love
is overwhelmingly strong.
It hurts.
My body aches for the gentle touch of a caring hand.
My heart desires companionship
to share the joys and pain of life.
I hurt,
but I’m not broken.

I am writing and sharing all of this to show that highly emotional people are still functional. They are CEOs, they are talented artists, they are your mothers and fathers. We just function in a different way. We may hurt, we may feel deeply, but that does not make us weak. It takes a lot of courage to express raw emotions in a world filled with assholes. It won’t stop us from doing what needs to get done.

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!

Patience and Persistence Leads to Progress: Maira’s First Year in CrossFit

BeforeAfter1Left: May 2013, Right: April 2014

April 15, 2013 is the day it all began. Actually, it began a few days before she joined her first class. Taking the initiative to make the call to sign up for a basic movements course in CrossFit is a HUGE step. It’s easy for some, but nerve-wracking for most. When I first saw Maira and her friend walk into my class, they both looked scared, hesitant, and had the look of “what the hell am I doing here?” all over their face. To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, or how long they were going to last. That didn’t change my coaching them, but it was something that stirred in the back of my mind. As with the majority of the female athletes when they first start, they gave me every excuse as to why they couldn’t do this or that. (Thanks society for fucking up our self-esteem!) Working with them was a challenge as they had never done anything like this before and had never been encouraged to step out of their comfort zone in this way, and it was my job to break them of their negative thoughts and to convince them that they could indeed do all of this “crazy CrossFit stuff”.

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After a few months or so into it, Maira’s confidence began to grow, as did her willingness to push herself harder and further. Her negative mindset began to diminish as well. As such, she began to post pictures of her lifting on Instagram, and of course, the haters came out to express their ignorance. Did it stop her? Absolutely not. It only made her stronger – mentally and physically. (She took screenshots of some of the messages people sent her and sent them to me. It was pretty ridiculous.) She started eating better, she was smiling more, she had more energy. She was running! She was seeing results, which increased her drive to do more. Now that she was becoming more comfortable with the movements and with who she was (which is awesome, btw!), she no longer wanted to just look good, she wanted to get stronger. This pleased me so.

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Other than the community aspect, what I love most about CrossFit is that it changes and challenges your mindset and every negative thing you’ve ever been told. The workouts that we set before the athletes present a challenge. These challenges suck, but it gets easier. It gets easier in a sense that we approach them differently than how we did at the beginning of our CrossFit journey. It is our choice as to how we approach these workouts (aka challenges), and you soon figure out that having a shitty mindset gets you nowhere fast. This also translates into real life.

 

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Maira is a twenty-something single mama of a beautiful 6 1/2 year old girl. She also works multiple jobs and has to deal with the usual stress that comes with a “baby daddy (BD)”. Over the past year that I’ve known her, she’s dealt with a lot of drama (even the death of her best friend), but this woman is relentless. There have been days where it looked like she wanted to cry because she was worried and/or stressed about finances or the BD or whatever, but she still came to the gym and did work. In return, I think this new mindset that CrossFit presented to her allowed her to tackle life’s challenges in a positive way.

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Now, after a year, Maira is getting PRs left and right and out-lifting some of the guys at the gym. She’s even lifting with some of the big dogs, too! It brings me so much joy to see how much progress she has made over the past year and to see turning her into the beautiful and confident woman that she was meant to be. Nothing’s gonna stop her!

Maira, I am so very proud of everything you have accomplished this year, and I look forward to many more years with you! Get it, girl.

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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!