Saturday, February 27, 2016

“I’d rather be the guy doing and failing than the guy doing nothing more than telling others they’ve failed.” -Greg Everett

The Open: 16.1  

(Codename: ALLTHELUNGES+Burpees.)

So, on the urging of my coaches and general curiosity, I decided to participate in the CrossFit Open this year. The CFW community was representing strong, so I thought - what the hell, right? There's a scaled division, which should be "doable".  Plus, I heard a couple people's thoughts on it that it was less a competitive thing, but more just a snapshot in time. This is feedback on your fitness as it is right now, and feedback to show you where your weaknesses are.  Knowing that I was not going to be qualifying for The Games anytime soon, I thought this seemed like a reasonable way to think of things. Kind of like taking a midterm test in school - to give you a barometer of how you're doing.

16.1 (Workout 1, 2016) was announced on Thursday evening. I admit, in true CrossFit groupie fashion, I watched the announcement live online, in a combination of excitement and fear.

16.1 was announced as:

25' Overhead Lunge (95#/65#)
8 bar-facing burpees
25' OH Lunge
8 Chest to bar pull ups

Scaled Version (what I did):
25' front rack Lunge (45#/35#)
8 bar-facing burpees
25' front rack Lunge
8 Jumping (chin over bar) pull ups
... for TWENTY minutes...

As I took a minute to let this sink in, I initially didn't think this would be so bad, as the lunges were super light, they weren't over head (in the scaled version), and jumping pull ups would  be no issue. There were a bunch of burpees, which would certainly add up.... but they were only 8 at a time. Maybe I could do this? Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.... Twenty minutes did seem like a long time, on initial impression, though...

I watched the rest of the live announcement, where they have to pro CF athletes go head to head and demo the workout. This year, they also had to "regular" people doing it as well. There was a girl doing the scaled version on TV that seemed to hate burpees ALMOST as much as I do... so, I was feeling a little more optimistic. The girl on TV did 6 rounds and change, so I decided my goal would be to complete 6 full rounds - that seemed reasonable.

On to yesterday (Friday), which was going to be workout day. I admit, the latter half of the day was less productive than usual, as my mind was going back and forth on strategy, goals, what it was going to be like, etc. I'm not really great at waiting, or sitting with anticipation... and I'd gotten to stew on this topic since the night before.

Finally, I turned up to CFW to do this thing! equipment was moved out of the way, lanes set up and markings laid out - luckily our little gym JUST accommodated the 25' regulation length for lunges.

The atmosphere in the gym seemed to mirror my own, as our trainers walked us through the standards and expectations - everyone was trying to psyche themselves up, or calm themselves down, to be ready to get to work. We'd be doing this WOD in heats of 4 people, so waiting one's turn became an exercise in managing your crazy self-talk during that time.

Thankfully, I got tapped in to help judge the first heat, so there was no standing around thinking. My judgee was awesome - she wasn't sure if she wanted to go scaled or not, but elected to try for RX to push herself. Her and the other 3 athletes competing at the time really started us off strong, showing some amazing grit and determination - as their shoulders burned, knees hurt and lunges exploded - getting through that 20 min loooooong WOD.

Finally, it was my turn. I set up my boxes for height on my jumping pull ups. I rolled my bar into it's starting position, and I stood behind my line, waiting for the countdown.
I felt pretty good. Calm and steady... and ready to just keep working for 20 minutes. Ultimately, that was my goal - just keep moving, as I knew this was going to be a long one. Didn't have to be fast... just KEEP MOVING.

3,2,1.. GO.

Racked my 35# bar and lunged away down the stretch. Legs felt strong, lunges were solid, all was well with the world. Maybe this wouldn't be SO bad, I thought optimistically.
I dropped down into my first burpee, got up, hopped the bar and down into my second. I moved pretty efficiently through that first set of 8, as I was fresh out of the gate. Back to lunges, still feeling good, breathing more heavily now and beginning to sweat....
Another solid set of lunges, and onto jumping pull ups.
Blogland, arm stuff is my nemesis, but thankfully, jumping pull ups allow you to use your legs more.... however, at that moment it occurred to me - you know what you're not going to have as much of, after doing lots of lunges? Legs....
That said, the first set came out pretty well, and I settled into a rhythm of 3, 3, 2 for most of my subsequent rounds.

However, on finishing that first round, I looked down the metaphorical barrel at my enemy for the day - it was going to be my rising heart rate and inability to breathe. In strategizing this, I thought the lunge breaks would give me time to catch my breath.... but 25' isn't as long as you might think - it's only maybe 7-12 lunge steps. You aren't really catching your breath there. Then you burpee... and for me, burpees jack up my heart rate so much (in all fairness, I'm moving a lot of mass...), that using 10 lunges as "recovery" wasn't really happening.

My lunges were EXPLODING.

I kept moving. I lunged, I burpeed, I lunged some more, I jumped up to my chin over bars... I just kept going forward.

..... And, somewhere in the middle of the endless time vacuum that was this long-ass WOD, I got a side cramp.

Not only did I get a side cramp, but I got a side cramp that didn't want to be relieved by some big slow breaths, or stretching an arm out overhead. Awesome.

As I rose from a burpee, sucking major air, and grinding my fist into my side to try and get that cramp to break up, I assessed my options..... quit, or suck it up.
Quitting wasn't going to be an option, so Suck it Up seemed to be the way to go.
Side-cramp be damned, I pushed through more burpees and on to more lunges.

... and on and on it went. Seriously, it was a really effing long 20 minutes.

Thankfully, as the minutes ticked down, and the energy of all the athletes on the floor was reduced to a determined tired march, the CFW community really rallied around.  My judge, who also happens to be my regular coach, gave me encouraging countdowns, and pertinent directions (Pick up that bar!) that my tired brain could just follow. People who'd already done the WOD, or were waiting their turn, gathered around our burpee stations to cheer us through each piece of it. We were all in this together - no matter how slow you were going.  This WOD was definitely not the kind you wanted to do in a quiet room by yourself... the energy from the crowd really propelled you forward when you gas tank was more than empty.

I heard the call for 5 min left - it had felt like an eternity to this point, but with only 5 minutes left, I could push through. I tried to pick up my pace a bit... more lunges, more jumps, more burpees...
Somewhere in the haze, someone called 90 seconds left.
SECONDS. I can do this for 90 seconds, I told my body.
I lunged toward my last set of burpees. I am happy to report that the last set of lunges was as solid as the first (Yay, LEGS!).
The burpees were another story... I sucked a few big breaths of air as I put my bar down, and tried to rally to get in as many burpees as I could in my expiring clock. There was no time for breaks, or to feel my lunges explode, or to indulge myself in "breathing"... Down, up, jump the bar, down, up...
I rushed to sprint through that last burpee and landed the jump just as the buzzer signaled the end of our work.

Blogland, I have never been SO HAPPY to get to stop. While this maybe wasn't the single most physically grueling WOD I've ever done, it was certainly highly difficult. As I paced around trying to catch my breath, I felt my quads begin to remind me what they had just done.... something like 100+ lunges. I looked down at my knees and my right knee was definitely showing a bloody spot in the knee of my pants.

My lungs had not exploded, I had kept moving, and I'd put in the work.

But... as it turns out, I didn't quite make my goal. I'd had a goal of 6 full rounds going into it... and finished just short of that - finishing 5 full rounds, a length of lunges and 3 more burpees. (Honestly, I think I'm most proud of those last 3 burpees... I could've dogged the lunges and not had to do any burpees, but I squeezed them in, even though I didn't want to!).

I was a bit disappointed. Somehow, I felt I was moving faster, or the time was longer, or... I dunno. 5 full rounds and change just didn't seem like very much, for the way my body felt.

As I drove home, my quad quivered in protest every time I had to press down the clutch (driving a stick isn't awesome after leg wods!). It was clear I'd worked hard.... but I wasn't satisfied with it. Thoughts of re-doing the WOD for a better score started rattling around my brain.

I seriously considered repeating 16.1 on Monday to see if I could get 6 full rounds. I think I could. However, the thought of doing that 20 miserable minutes again, was decidedly not appealing. Particularly as my quads began to stiffen over the course of the evening, despite my best efforts of foam rolling.

I looked at the leaderboard online, on Friday night - which didn't have a lot of scores yet, as it was really the first full day people could do the WOD - but I was solidly in the last page or two for people that'd done the scaled WOD.  Bottom percentile, for sure.

My inner competitor didn't  - and doesn't - like that. However, I had a long talk with myself, after reading a good article online. The article suggested that there was no benefit to re-doing one of these WODs for a slightly better score, unless you were on the cusp of placing in a competitive situation. If you had a major mishap during the WOD, sure, redo it... but people in my case - where you gave it a solid go and you're just not happy with what you got.... let it stand. You're not going to learn anything from obsessing over getting a few more reps.

After looking at the situation with a critical eye, my competitive side wanted another go at things, to hit my 6 round goal. However, the reality of the situation was that this was a LONG, endurance wod, with a lot of burpees (relatively) that was not a strong point of mine, and wasn't going to suddenly become a strong point of mine in a couple extra days. I'm a heavy person, still struggling with cardio, that gets thrashed by burpees, no matter the quantity. Yes, I could redo it and get a few more reps and probably cross my personal goal of 6 rounds, but really, what would I benefit from that?

Instead, I took a deep breath and submitted my score - 138 reps - online today.

AND... I'm okay. I have warned myself that I'm going to be in the bottom of the leader board after this wod - and THAT is okay too. I'm not doing this to compete with the world, but to compete with myself and have the experience of participating in the Open, pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, understanding where my weaknesses are and moving forward.

That said.... Dear Dave Castro (the guy that masterminds the Open Wods), if we could move on to some heavy barbells now, that'd be great...... k thx.

With that, I'll leave you BlogLand with a quote sent to me by my GT.  YOU can - whatever it is, compete in the Open next year, kill that long run, sign up for that race, whatever it may be. You Can. You just need to choose to let yourself:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver."

SO... since we talked last, BlogLand, it's been all about the Squats.

I've been doing this 12 week "Hatch" Squat program, with CFW Owner Robyn (accountability buddies are great!!).  You're doing both front and back squats, 2x a week for twelve weeks. That program was a little intimidating to jump into - simply because I've never done a squat program like this and didn't really know what to expect. However, squatting was always something I didn't mind so much, so I figured, why not?

First word of advice, though.... do NOT look ahead. At some point you must just put your trust in the program (#HatchSaysICan) and just do the work. On Day 1, if you look ahead to week 10, you're going to give yourself a tiny panic attack. Yes, you will lift that much. Yes, it will all work out. Just follow the program, one day at a time.

Robyn and I have been cranking away at it for 11 weeks now - that's probably the longest I've ever stuck with any routine in my life! (Routines are not typically my jam...). I started with a back squat one rep max of 248#... and recently (before even the end of the program), I crushed 263# in our gym comp - and I'm pretty sure that's not my max. #Gainz !
Front Squats were "fine" coming into this... my biggest win here is just proficiency. You do something for many reps, and log that kind of time, you just are bound to get more comfortable at it. Where front squats used to be an exercise that I thought about, they've become almost as second nature as back squats, for me. Another win!

Outside of the expected squat lift gains - because of the glute/ham/quad development, a lot of things have become easier. Core stabilization, for many exercises (I'm looking at you, wall balls!) is easier. AND - my legs are way more toned and defined (YAY! A quad bump!), and my booty is rounder! (LOL) Who wouldn't want to squat more, with a list of benefits like that?!

That said, not every day is sunshine and roses. Sometimes you are literally just showing up and getting through. Sunday was definitely one of those days for me. For whatever reason, I was tired, and all the weights just felt heavy - even though it was a "light" day in Squatland. Must've been something going around in the air that day, as everyone in the gym seemed to be in agreement... everything was just feeling heavy.
Nonetheless, I loaded up the bar and put my #TrustInHatch and followed my prescribed rep set. Not shockingly, I was more than capable of doing it, even though it was a tired sort of day. (Not every day will be a PR!).

Today - Day 1 of my LAST week of Hatch (one more day to go!) - was a lot better. I got enough sleep last night, ate better yesterday, and there was some good music on at the gym (amazing, I know, things go better when you're taking care of yourself...). Even though it was a really light sort of "tapering" set of squats, I felt stable, strong and was focused on good form. It is always nice when the pieces just sort of come together.

One more day of Hatch to go, then we're taking a little break for a few weeks to focus on the CrossFit Open (my body can only go through one kind of hell at a time...). Then, I think we'll get back on another 12 week Squat cycle. What's not to love?
Seriously, though - even if you're not training for "strength" the carryover benefits of squats are amazing. My knees feel way better (even though they're carrying WAY too much weight) and more stable doing other exercises, my core is better - which means I'm helping protect my lower back from injury and I've actually gained a lot of mobility in my squats, which had been inhibited by my hops, ankles, etc.

So... Squat Rant over.... I did my Squats this week!.... but in the great words of the internet,
Do you even Squat, bro? 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” - Michael Jordan

As I rolled out of bed this morning, I had this odd sense of satisfaction, dread and progress, all at the same time. Upon thinking about rolling over, a bunch of my core muscles screamed and reminded me they existed... no big deal, I thought... until I put my feet on the floor and went to stand up. THAT is the point at which my entire posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, lower back) alerted me - loudly - to the fact that we had done some things yesterday that we haven't done a lot of. As such, my hamstrings have decided they will make EVERY movement today difficult, while working with my abs and some back muscles I apparently slighted a bit yesterday, to really make sure I'm aware of what I did to them.  As a result, I had a serious debate with myself on whether I *really* needed to put socks on this morning so my feet didn't freeze, or if I could just deal with it...

But let's rewind. Yesterday was my once a week personal training session with Robyn! Yay! We've been at this like 10 months now (!?!) so have fallen into a pretty good groove. She's well aware of my capabilities and makes sure that she's always pushing me to take another step forward. She also knows when to yell at me to keep moving - something I find incredibly helpful in a trainer!

Since I sucked up my fear and signed up to do this year's CrossFit Open, I guess today was going to be a little bit of prep and a little bit of a trial run to show me how this will work. We did some warm up time - rowing, some sit ups, etc. - to get my body moving, and then on to the real work. Today's skill work was working on my power clean, as later in the workout, we'd be looking for a 6 min, one rep max on the clean and jerk.

Blogland, let me tell you, my brain has not entirely gotten on board with complex lifts like this yet. I 100% get all the individual parts. I know how to generate the power to move the bar. But, maybe it's the speed part (dropping under the bar), maybe it's linking it all together, maybe it's just a lot of muscle memory I don't have yet, but I have to think harder about accomplishing these things than I do about balancing my checkbook! Nonetheless, I do enjoy lifting and gave it a full effort to get to a practice weight of around 123# for a solid clean and jerk. I was sweating like I'd just been chased by rabid lions, but felt okay, heading into the main portion of our WOD for today.

To prep a bit for trying The Open this year, Robyn had me do the scaled version of 15.1 (the first workout from last year). It looks like this:
9 min AMRAP
15 knees to elbows
10 deadlifts (55#)
5 snatches (55#)
THEN, right into 15.1a:
6 min limit to find
1 RM Clean & Jerk

Before we started, I looked at this and thought, "This won't be so bad...", thinking I'd hit maybe 6-7 rounds in 9 min.
.... and then it began.
Since the dawn of time, my weakest area has always been my upper body - particularly my grip strength. There was a while where I was rock climbing a lot that dramatically improved my grip strength, but as it stands today, it's not so great. I remembered that fact immediately upon jumping up to grab the bar to begin my first set of knees to elbows. It was not the core that struggled, it was keeping my hands on that damn bar! Ultimately, I had to do this in sets of 5, because my hands just fatigued too quickly (to be fair, I guess they're trying to hold up a significant amount of body weight at the moment).
After slogging through that first set, it was on to the deadlifts - YAY! This is definitely my wheelhouse, particularly with such a light weight like 55#. Busted through 10 like a boss. That first set of 55# snatches went up pretty easily, so back to the bar it was, for more knees to elbows.
I snuck a glance at the clock and that's where the evilness of this WOD hit me... it'd only been like a minute or so. I had a lot of grueling minutes left to go, and it looked like several rounds, and my hands were already ALL DONE with this idea.
Ohhhhhh boy.
That's where it becomes a mind of matter workout. Did I want to do sets of 5 knees to elbows, no. I really only wanted to do 1 or 2 at a time.... but, I just told my brain, "we're doing sets of five."
Plus, this is where it helps to have a coach motivating you. Somewhere, about halfway through, I was seriously sucking wind. My lungs were imploding, I'm sure of it. I finished another round of K2E and Robyn was telling me to "get right back on the (lifting) bar". She apparently was confident that I was not going to die from lung-splosion. :-)

I finished that 9 minutes with 5 rounds, 4 reps and was on to the 6 minute to build up to a 1RM clean and jerk.  Turns out, 133# was what I had in me, after the previous wod. I'm pretty happy with that, as C&J still feels like an awkward movement to me. The jerk is not the problem (oddly?), just getting under that rising bar to clean some bigger weight! It is a work in progress.

After all that, I definitely earned a couple of minutes starfishing on the gym floor, remembering how to breathe.

When I got home, I couldn't resist comparing my scores to people that did the scaled division last year. Mostly, I wanted some perspective on how far towards the bottom I would be this year, and how much I had to talk myself into it being just a good activity marker for right now.

As it turns out - it was much better than I thought! Of people that did the scaled 15.1 wod last year, I was smack in the middle for rounds/reps (50th-60th percentile).  For the clean and jerk, I was (amazingly!) in the 75th percentile! So, maybe I have something to bring to this after all (at least in the scaled division!).

Honestly, I admit, that was a big confidence boost for me. I was really anticipating starting the Open (next week?) and bringing up the bottom of the pack every week. I guess it's the same fear that makes you think you're going to come in last in your race, etc. While I might be the slowest one in my gym, or the least reps, or whatever it is, Nationally - I'm not last. Contrary to the fact that my mind likes to remind me of how fat, slow and out of shape I am... I've been working hard, and I have something to show for it. It may not be a muscle up, or a clean set up pushups, or a 5K run with no walking.... but I've been working, and dammit if I've not COMPETING in the Open this year.

Now, with that, I'm off to cry on my foam roller a bit, because my hamstrings are cranky bitches.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

“The resistance that you fight physically in the gym and the resistance that you fight in life can only build a strong character.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Happy Wednesday, Blogland!

I am proud to say that I did it: My powerlifting competition entry went in the mail on Monday night, so it would be postmarked before the deadline. I'm in it for squat and deadlift, and am feeling pretty okay about that. Although, note to self, I need to kick up my bench press game, as it's WAY cheaper to register for a full boat - squat, bench and deadlift - than to register for separates. I even bought myself a few pairs of tall socks to celebrate..... here's hoping they fit over my tree-trunk calves!

Now, I have begun the agonizing search for ... a singlet. I'm really trying to make my peace with this stupid piece of spandex, as I know it shouldn't be this big of a deal. Sadly, I'm not super psyched about my body right now, so the concept of squeezing it into an unflattering tube of spandex is not high on my list..... But, then again, this is power lifting, not CrossFit.... it seems that (from looking at pictures), the power lifting bodies are less about perfectly chiseled abs and more about sheer power and strength - there's definitely a beer gut or two that a singlet is stretched over, while pulling some massive deadlift.
So, I have turned to the almighty amazon for some singlet options. It is disheartening to find that they don't make "women's" singlets in size Aja.... but they do seem to make unisex ones that will work, so I've ordered a bunch and we shall see. I'm prepping myself, and trying to front load all this information before hand, so when they come and I try them on, it's not instant meltdown. Everyone looks horrible in a singlet, right?

Anyway, although the weather derailed my squatting plans for yesterday, I managed to squeeze in my squats AND bootcamp today, back to back. I am decidedly starving now, but I feel pretty accomplished.

Today was week 11, day 1 of our Hatch Squat program. This means, it was 103% of your one rep max day - something the program has been working you up to for the last 11 weeks. Initially, I was a little nervous about this, as this was going to be something like 8 pounds over the max I started with.... but, thanks to following this squat program so regularly, I crushed that weight in the competition last week... so today was really just a test to make sure I could do it without all the adrenaline running through my legs! I am actually really exciting to finish up this program next week, with my coach Robyn, and retest our max lifts. This program seems to have really helped make some big gains... so it's going to be really exciting to see how far that went!

After lifting, I switched gears (and shoes!) and got my brain in cardio mode.... which for me just means a mantra to the effect of "You're not dying, it only feels like it." (repeat).
A warm up of jump ropes, rowing and goblet squats reminded me of how incredibly much I suck at jump rope, once my legs have done ANYthing else that day. If I'm fresh out of the gate, I can string them together (slowly)... but after squats, my legs were cranky masses doing their best impression of concrete blocks, while I tried to will them to jump in a coordinated manner. Jump rope, you win today... but I will be back to fight again.
Lucky for me, bootcamp was a two-small-WOD day. I really find that these smaller chunks of time help my brain get through workouts. If I know I only have to do something for 7 minutes, it seems a lot more manageable, because I can usually get to minute 3 before my lungs begin the "we're dying!" cries.
Today's opener was 12 wall balls and then 8 knees to elbows, as many rounds as you could, for like 7 minutes. Let me just make this clear.... wall balls are not super fun to do on a good day, because of the cardio-killer aspect of them... but they were waaaay less super fun today, after doing heavy squats. Go Go Gadget Leg Reserves!
After having two minutes to "recover" after that, it was on to part two - 10 kettle bell swings, and 10 step ups, as many rounds as you could for 7 minutes. Kettlebell swings are my jam, generally, but pairing them with box jumps/step ups (high on my list of gym-unpleasantness, right behind burpees) was definitely some work. I was most definitely digging deep for this one, trying to remind myself that if the other ladies in the room could keep moving, then I certainly could too.  I would not die from step ups. That was not in fact the feeling of my lungs exploding, simply my brain getting in my way.
Amazingly, I did not die, but instead was a tired, sweaty mess after the whole thing. That's the goal right? Goal Achieved!

One more step in the right direction (man, it's a long road sometimes).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

"It doesn't have anything to do with how the world perceives you. What matters is what you see." - Gabourey Sidibe

Blogland, I've had a challenging week.

It all started last weekend, when I competed in my CrossFit box's in-house partner comp. I was decidedly nervous going in - having never competed in something like that before - but I had a stellar partner and felt like there were at least a few sections of it that I could excel at.

The day opened with a WOD that consisted of 5 minutes (each) to hit your 1 rep max in two lifts. For me it was back squats and dead lifts. I felt good going into this, and was really charged up by the community and friendly-competitive atmosphere and pulled some new personal records for myself - not to mention just some straight up respectable lifts: 263# back squat and a 340# dead lift (and, I'm happy to say I think I could've gone a little further with both of those, in a situation without the time constraint). I was beyond thrilled with both of those, as that was like a 15# gain on my last back squat PR and a 10# PR on my dead lift, that I hadn't really been working on. It was a GREAT way to start the day.

Although I was a little self conscious - being literally the heaviest person there that day - I felt like I had demonstrated some value with the lifts. Over the course of the day (and 3 more WODs), my partner and I worked really well together and complemented each other's strengths and weaknesses. Before the last WOD of the day, we sat in a solid 6th place out of 22 (fit people!) teams. Our last WOD was one that I knew I would struggle with... it was a long "chipper" that you just had to work through a little at a time with your partner. However, it had a large amount (for me) of burpees, which are my Achilles heel. I can keep moving all day, carrying heavy weight, but burpees immediately cut me off at the knees, so to speak. BUT... I kept working, I got through them (it wasn't pretty..), and I felt like I left everything out on the table by the end of it. It was literally all I had left.
That said, as ugly as it was, it was enough to finish us in 11th place (out of 22 teams) for the day.

For a fat chick, who's struggling with fitness, I called that a DAMN good victory.

Following the comp, I found myself looking forward to checking out the pictures... I was hoping beyond hope that there would be ONE picture of me doing something that looked strong or powerful. I was under no illusion that I'd look thin, or fit, or they'd catch my good side, but I was really hoping to be able to counter it by saying - eh, well, there's a shit ton of weight on that bar!

Then.... the pictures came out. They were beautiful (their photographer had a great eye for faces and moments). However, there was not a single picture of me in action. There were many pictures of me sitting with my partner, standing around waiting for our heat, etc.  I saw myself in these pictures and was HORRIFIED. I think we've probably all been there, right Blogland? I feel heavy, I know that I am heavy (and frustrated about it), but sometimes seeing that one picture feels like a concrete block to the face.

I won't lie. I didn't have a graceful reaction. I didn't think of what a good day it was, I didn't try and focus on just seeing my strong legs, I didn't feel happiness for having gotten out and done it.... I hardcore cried my eyeballs out, for a solid 15 minutes.

It was working so hard, following "the plan", working with a nutritionist, doing all the "right things"... and then seeing those pictures that confirmed all the things I was feeling - huge, uncomfortable, and no where near fit. I suppose it didn't help that all the people in the pictures around me are fit competitive crossfit types, either. The tears poured out of my face for a while I reflected on how frustrated I was on the lack of noticeable progress I've made in the last 2 years, because my body just isn't on board.

I've made progress - I lift a lot more, my cardio is much better, and my doctors gave me a "surprisingly healthy!" (not kidding) decree... which is all good. But it doesn't help what I'm seeing in the mirror. It doesn't help when I have to go clothes shopping and buy the biggest sizes I've ever bought.

Fast forward to yesterday.

I headed up to B-town to go shopping with my friend, Holly. The Man and I have a semi-fancy dinner date tonight for Valentine's day, so I was hoping to find something a little nicer to wear (when you work from home, somehow your waterbed morphs into a lot of yoga pants...).
I tried on a bunch of things, and then sat in the dressing room and worked through some quiet sniffling. The biggest size I've ever tried on didn't fit right, all the tops I put on seem to put giant glowing neon arrows at my ginormous spare tire, and none of it made me happy. There was a time that I really enjoyed shopping.... and let me tell you, this was not it.

Since then, I've been trying to reflect on all this and find a way to make peace and move forward. To add insult to injury, there's a Powerlifting comp I've been pondering entering in April. However, applications are due in tomorrow. I'm not afraid of the lifting, or the competition.... but I'm terrified at the concept of having to wear a weightlifting singlet. Literally, I kid you not BlogLand, the singlet is the ONLY thing holding me back from entering, and considering not entering.

BUT.... I don't want to be that person. I don't want to be the heavy person that stops doing things, and lets their weight prevent them from enjoying life and the things they want to do. However, I am not sure I can fully express to you how incredibly unimpressed with my body I am right now.

I will admit, I am proud of it that it has gotten so strong (340# Deadlift - you go, legs!). I feel accomplished there.
... but I don't like to look in the mirror. It seems to somehow diminish all the "gainz" I'm making at the gym, by emphasizing all the gains I've made on the scale. Ugh.

I'm in a place of frustration right now, Blogland. Angry at my body for not getting on board with the weight-loss plan. Sad that I can't do a lot of the things I could do a few years ago. Angry that stupid, superficial things (spandex singlet...) are holding me back.

Now, I know this is temporary. I'll figure a way through this. And hell, everything feels a little bit less significant once the sun starts coming out again, and the day time highs are once again above zero. Right now, though... I'm in a self-image hole. I feel shitty.

I have gone to all my workouts this week, got my squats in today, and I'm still putting one foot in front of the other.... But I don't know how to get my brain out of stupid, self deprecating mode, when I look in the mirror, or put on clothes.

Further more... How do I get over my fear of the singlet, so I can get my ass into this powerlifting comp and get myself a cool trophy?
(Because we all know it's about the bling, right?)

UGH. So, tell me, Blogland..... how do you get through your bad self-image spots? How do you learn to appreciate the things about yourself that are not where you want them to be?
What's your advice?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential." ~ Winston Churchill

Here I am again, Blog.

It seems like every year around this time, I dedicate some time to you, in hopes of getting back in the habit of writing about my life. Why do I keep coming back to write? Because, I think, in some way, spewing out the struggles, the day to day, the wins, the questions, helps me process through it and get to some sort of mental peace about it. Working on yourself - physically or mentally - isn't easy, but for me, writing it out makes it just a little bit easier.

There's been a lot that's happened in the last year... I've bought my first house (!!!! #ADULTING!!!)
The view of my new backyard... 
which has over 2 acres of lovely land, mountain views, a tiny pool (not kidding), and something like 60 high bush blueberry plants. Yep - I have a field of blueberries. I've been learning the "joys" of home-ownership, while also trying to enjoy home ownership. After all, I no longer have to care what the inevitable downstairs neighbor thinks of my music, or whether we're going to have a fight over parking.

However, with the excitement of moving just before the holidays, the holidays, learning all this house stuff, and Life in General, I found that perhaps I wasn't doing a very good job taking care of me. I started having random, intermittent panic attacks (for anyone that knows me, you'll understand how incredibly out of character this was!), was having trouble focusing on various tasks, just never felt motivated, and was struggling with seasonal depression (Damn. You. Winter.) more than ever. Upon really coming to realize this... after an amazing anxiety attack that involved throwing around a lot of wrapping paper (go ahead... laugh.).... I determined it was time to really make some effort on getting things back on the right track. AND SO.... here we are.

I've been doing a lot of training over at my gym - once a week for a personal training session, a couple days a week of bootcamp (think: ALL CARDIO), and 2x a week of a squat program. I've made some pretty significant progress, even though it - frustratingly - doesn't show. I can say I've definitely improved my cardio capacity, as much as my current weight will allow, and I've made massive gains in my strength.
I'm happy to report that at last weekend's in-house comp at the gym, I pulled a 340# Deadlift and a 263# Backsquat, which I think is pretty good for a fat kid!

I'm still actively working on the nutrition piece of things, working with a stellar nutritionist, who understands the demands of my lifting and crossfitting workouts, who doesn't believe in filling me full of shakes and powders, but instead, adjusting slowly for success. I will admit (deep breath) that I'm at an all-time high for my weight. It's depressing, I'm not at peace with that and I don't "love my body" at this point. I appreciate my body's strength, and I understand the potential it has, but I can't say that I'm "okay" with my current status. My current weight is uncomfortable, in the way, and not healthy.... so, on the quest I go to get rid of it.
(Sidenote: I'm logging obsessively on MyFitnessPal to track my macros and such, so if any of you are particularly militant about it and want to help keep each other on track - friend me!)

So, I guess that's the State of the Aja for the moment. Not great, but working to get better.

Victories for today (Let's keep it positive, shall we?):
- Went to the gym and got my squat session in!
- Tracked all my food for today, and am pretty close in my macros
- Wrote this blog. :-)

With that, I'm off for today, BlogLand - I've got an amazing Roast Chicken in the oven, flavored with honey from my Dad's bees and calamondin oranges that I grew myself. NOM NOM NOM!

... But I'll be back. Stay Tuned. I have a really good feeling about this year!