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.

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.

Music… My First Love

262983_10150331893240700_5214814_n(My treble clef tattoo on my wedding day. Tattoos are fun.)

Music has always been a big part of my life – as a child I took piano and dance lessons, and it was an important part of my gymnastics career as well. In my 20s, I made music as my career for about 7 years – first as a musician (singer) and then on the business side. Unfortunately, working on the business side crushed my passion for a while and I had to distance myself from it for a bit. Over the past year or so, that passion is coming back and I’m loving it.

It was sad when I started to dislike music (it was almost a disdain), I think it was because of the state of the music industry at the time I was involved in it. Untalented musicians were getting radio play and making thousands and sometimes millions of dollars, while naturally talented musicians were getting passed by because they didn’t look the part and/or weren’t willing to “sell-out” in order to get ahead. It disgusted me. Also, the hipster BS music drove me bonkers. I had to get out.

First, I will say that I love Pop music. How can you not? It’s so fucking catchy and it touches on superficial feelings – happiness, sadness, revenge. That’s what it’s supposed to do. Every once in a while it will have substance, but most of the time it’s just feel good music to get you by.

Most of the time it bothers me that I am a very sensitive and deep person (only because other can’t handle it), but when it comes to music, I feel that I am blessed. It allows me to feel the emotions of the artist and the musician, the rhythm of the song, the notes of the melody. My emotions give me a deep understanding of what it takes to write and make music.

This brings me to Donny Hathaway. Sadly, he only had about 32 years on this planet before he took his own life (it is said that his schizophrenia and depression caused him to jump out of a window). Every note that came out of his mouth or that he played on the piano was full of passion. Although we may not understand the type of pain he was in, you could feel it. It was hauntingly beautiful. His music makes me feel complete. When I put on my headphones and turn it up, his music encompasses my whole body – emotionally and physically.

I wish more musicians these days wrote music like they did before computers. I wish more musicians recorded with live bands and not over computer programs. However, there is a time and place for that sort of music (e.g., dance music which I also freaking love). It is hard to get that deep passion when recording over computer programs. The feeling I would get  performing live with a band does not even compare to how I feel when recording to a track. It’s just not the same.

Mainstream music these days is so blah. There is no meaning and all they sing about is drinking, getting stuff and gettin’ some. Fuck, I sound old. But it’s the truth! Now, before everyone gets upset, this does not pertain to EVERY musician today. However, there is an overabundance of crap out there and it’s upsetting. Whether we like it or not, music has a huge effect on us, especially younger people. It makes me so unbelievably uncomfortable when my Little sings that stupid “Talk Dirty” song or says to me “Girl, your booty don’t need explaining”. Yes, it is quite funny, but what are we teaching our kids?

I grew up listening to Motown, jazz, and what is now considered classic rock, with some Pop radio sprinkled on the side. Is the music from the new millennium going to hold as strong as those from the 20th century?

Back to Donny Hathaway. Check out these two songs: “For All We Know” and “Giving Up”

These songs are beautiful, sad, and depressing, but they can still make me feel good. These songs touch on real emotion and feelings. I feel that society today is so quick to pass over our true emotions for the instant gratification of a superficial one. Why are we so afraid to feel what is truth?

Music is love. Love is music.

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!

Do-over or Move on?

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Dear Ninja, just breathe…

At the moment I can’t decide whether I would like a do-over of March or just move on to April and forget that March even happened. I really hate posting downer-type posts, but sometimes it just has to happen.

Other than a handful of good days, March has been emotionally exhausting and taxing, and I just want it to stop. I would like to keep that small handful of good days; the rest can go eff off.

A few Sundays ago is one of those days that I would not want to change had I had the opportunity to have a do-over of March. I had a spiritual awakening, an epiphany, if you will. It was one of the best days I’ve had in quite a while and everything just felt so right. It was unbelievable. I was excited because I figured out a way to conceptualize something that I’ve been thinking about since I was young. Unfortunately, with this realization came hesitance. Hesitance because I’ve only experienced this type of epiphany 2 times before in my life and after every realization something happened to where someone or something stripped that happiness away. And guess what? It happened again. Apparently I’m just not supposed to be THAT happy. Just kidding. That was sarcasm. I know my happiness should not depend on others, which leads me to another issue – who CAN you depend on?

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Literally (I use that word sparingly since it is so often misused) the next day my trust and privacy was violated. I was shocked, hurt, confused, disappointed, pissed off. What the eff just happened? Ugh. Since that day I’ve felt so confused and sad. Confused because I don’t know who to trust, sad because extremely hurtful words were said. Disappointed because I saw a side of people that I wish I hadn’t seen. I also saw a side of myself that I never wish to see again.

To clarify, what happened doesn’t involve one particular person; there is a variety of people and factors involved, which makes my life feel like a giant clusterf*ck at the moment.

I’m trying to move on because what’s done is done, and what’s been said has been said. There’s no changing that. However, this cloud of frustration is just lingering over my head and I haven’t a clue what to do. Part of me knows what to do, the other part, not so much. I know I have to trust my instinct, but I have to be sure I’m prepared for the potential outcome.

So cryptic, I know.

Everyone has their own opinions, and everyone is going to try to tell you what they think is best for you. I keep having to tell myself to trust my instincts and feelings, but it is difficult; however, I won’t give up. I keep having to tell myself to “just breathe” and that things WILL get better. They always do. Just being in the middle of the storm sucks balls, but I do know that I will come out a stronger person in the end.

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A Promise to My Mind and Body – My Whole Life Challenge

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Today marks my 2 month anniversary of being soda free. WOOT! This is a big deal as I had quite the addiction to soda; I just loved it so much. I don’t think I would have been able to survive my last two years of college without soda. Well, college is finally over and I no longer need soda in my life. I never thought I would be able to do away with this delicious beverage, but I have made a promise to myself that I would treat my body and mind better.

A few days ago, the Women of CrossFit = Strong page on Facebook posted a before and after picture of one of its followers, Claire. She has a blog called The Ascent Blog where she talks about CrossFit, food, and doing fun things in the great outdoors. The picture that inspired me can be viewed in her post Zone Progress Photos. Her before picture really hit home as this was the first time that I was actually able to relate to a “before” picture – my body looks like hers! Most of the time when I see weight loss pictures, the before picture is usually of a very heavy, overweight person. Now, before I continue, I would like to say that I am amazed at the progress that these people make. The fact that some people lose 50+ pounds is a huge and fantastic accomplishment. That takes some serious dedication and determination. However, I have always been a small person, so it is difficult for me to relate to being that size. So, when I saw Claire’s picture it really got to me. It sparked a light of determination inside of me that I have missed so much.

She commented that after one year she had been “feeling stronger and healthier, but [I too] wasn’t really SEEING any dramatic physical results.” That’s how I’ve been feeling and I’ve been doing CrossFit for 3 years! I knew exactly why I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted, but wasn’t quite mentally ready to make a commitment to my eating habits. Well, I decided in January that I would become a food-prepper and it has definitely changed how I feel and eat. It has also changed my attitude towards food. It has definitely made life easier! Although I was prepping my food every week and bringing my breakfast and lunch to work everyday, I would still sneak in a cookie (or two!), some fries or chips. I was also having a bagel every Wednesday for my office’s Bagel Day.

Well, NO MAS. At least for a month. I am going to step up my commitment and (try to) eliminate grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, and certain starches for one month. There are exceptions and I will write more about that in another post. No more sneaking in a bag of Cheetos or canister of Pringles (uggggghhhhhhh!!!) or those damn cookies that taunt me at every work event. I have to do this for myself. I have to do this for my body, for my health. I haven’t been the nicest to my body and it deserves better than what I’ve been giving it.

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In addition to improving my eating habits, I am working on improving the chatter that goes on in my head and how I view myself. I picked up a lot of crappy habits last year – negative, poopy, snarky types of attitudes and it grossed me out. It greatly upset me as I lost the positive little ninja that I was. I have been really working on finding my positive side again. A good friend of mine posted such a wonderful comment on my page the other day that showed me that I was finding my path to positivity again. She wrote: “Had a random thought about you today that made me smile: “I think if Nomers ever exploded with joy that there would be confetti, glitter and fireworks of the most amazing awesomeness ever.” Yup, you’re that girl and I love you for that! Miss you!” That comment meant A LOT to me and am so grateful to have such wonderful people in my life.

Now that I’ve been slowly getting back into the swing of things at the gym and adding more weight to the barbell, I am finding it difficult getting my mind and body at the same level it was before my injury, which has led to frustration and anger. Don’t get me wrong, I am STOKED to be lifting again and being able to hang from the bar to do pull-ups, but it is still frustrating. Prior to my injury I was feeling pretty strong and then in an instant that was all gone. So, when I start feeling frustrated during a WOD, I tell myself to snap out of it and try to think about something positive – something, anything to keep me going. I’ll say things like, “Think about where you were two months ago” or “Think about all of those people who have lost loved ones” or “Be grateful for what you have and get to work!” I am making progress and I need to remind myself of that.

I am also learning to stop comparing myself to my friends and other women at the gym. Most of them are 7-10 years younger than me and have led completely different lives and have completely different genetics. I will never look like them and need to really understand that. Easier said than done, but I’m working on it.

So, here we go. I’m on a mother freaking adventure! I can do this. I will do this. Two personal mottos are going to be a major focus of my adventure: “Lead by example” and “Commitment and focus”. I have to do this for myself and I have to do this for everyone in my life. Also, a big THANK YOU to Claire for giving me the big kick in the butt that I’ve been needing. Woot!

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