Sunday, October 19, 2014

High Fives and Fist Bumps

This post will hopefully be somewhat more uplifting than the last one...but I make no promises. I have the basic idea of what I want to write, but often I find that the idea takes on a life of its own once I start to write. Quite often I get to the end of the post and am as surprised at the direction it took as some of you readers probably are. I'll at least try for entertaining if I can't be uplifting.

I suppose being honest is important too. I don't want anyone thinking this journey is easy. There are times, sometimes months when I wonder what I've done. Yep, having some of those months now. Bear with me, or run screaming for the hills. I wouldn't blame you for taking the second option. I'd run away from me too, but unfortunately you can't ever run away from yourself. It's a silly rule really...I should be able to pick up and leave myself behind any time I want. That's another post...or maybe a sign some therapy would be in order. Hmm...I'll ponder that later.

My title is a nod to the two fitness professionals I've worked most with on this journey. Ben was/is a believer in high fives and I LIVED for them. The end of personal training would come and some times I could barely haul myself up off the mats, but I'd find the energy to get that high five. It meant the world. Tyler prefers the fist bump and I love those just as much as the high fives, except recently. Recently I find myself not wanting any recognition at all. Even a "good form" makes me cringe and want to hide.

I seem to have misplaced my mojo...or it wandered off and got lost. It's not that big, I hope it isn't cold and lonely out there in the world. I'd put up missing posters and offer a reward, but since I don't really know how to take a picture of something that isn't real I'll have to keep looking.

Recently it is all I can do to drag myself out of bed and go work out. Yes, 5:30 am is early and it's often dark and cold, but it is also the time I've been working out for almost 3 years now. So I force myself out of bed, I dress and I drive to the studio and I walk in feeling like one giant open wound. I just want it to be over so I can go home. I don't feel like myself and if I am completely honest: I am not myself. I give it my best effort, but it doesn't feel the same. Everything feels harder, so much harder that I often find myself blinking back tears. There have been tears when the workouts are done, times I sit in the car, wonder why I bothered and why Tyler keeps letting me come. So when buddy training is over I don't feel like I've earned a fist bump or an "atta girl" I just want to slide out unnoticed.

I don't like feeling this way, in fact I hate it. I want to find my mojo, or my spark, or whatever the heck it was that made me keep going.

Friday morning I compounded my issues by stepping on the scale. I really should just chuck the darn thing out the window,after I open it and remove the screen of course. These are nice new windows and they were expensive. I'm pretty sure my mother would throttle me if one got broken.

So here I am Friday morning at 4:30 am already feeling low and I decide to step on the scale? Does anyone else want to know if I have any common sense whatsoever??

Well, the news wasn't good. According to the scale I have gained ten pounds since the last time I weighed myself. TEN POUNDS!?! I am proud of myself for not having a complete meltdown, but I was not a happy camper to put it mildly. I couldn't let that number go through the "Sinister 6" workout or at any other point on Friday.

I would like to note that none of my clothing seems tighter than it was and no one has said "Wow, looks like you're packing on some pounds". Of course, I would hope no one would be rude enough to say that to me, but the possibility does exist it could be said. So I will breathe a small sigh of relief and vow not to get near the scale again for a long time.

I know the scale gives me a number that in no way measures my worth as a person or tells you anything else about me, but OMG. That was NOT what I needed.

I went shopping with two amazing friends yesterday and had time for quiet reflection on the drive home. As much as I don't want to be acknowledged right now, there is a part of me that needs to know what I'm doing right and craves the high five or fist bump. I'm not too proud to admit that even if I don't think I deserve it an "atta girl" makes me feel better about my performance. I'll get back to being intrinsically motivated soon, but for now I need a little more encouragement.

Good thing there is no deadline on this journey, because I seem to have taken some steps backward. I recognize that and I'm not quitting. I'll square my shoulders, gather my will and my wits and trudge forward again. I'm not giving up and I won't go back to where I started.

Fist bumps and high fives all around: we've got this.

Thanks for reading!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Decisions, decisions...

Hi, it's me...back from the hole I closed over myself after I crawled under my rock. It's been a time, let's try to keep things positive and mostly drama-free and leave it at that.

Oh, who am I kidding?!? The concept of drama-free does not belong in any sentence where my name comes up. I strive for a mostly rational existence with the occasional wild ride that defies logic and explanation. Since most of these wild rides also involve a choice on my part there is probably a serious lack of common sense at play too.

You might remember that my last post was written before I was to tackle a Spartan Sprint. Well, tackling took place, sadly I was the one being tackled. A wise mentor assured me that we all have events like that and moving on and trusting my heart was the best option. I'd love so much to tell you I took his advice. I'd really love to, but that would make me a liar.

Before the race started I had clues this was not going to be a stellar performance for me. I was nauseated by the idea of what I was about to do, my back was sore from a long car ride and most importantly in my heart of hearts I didn't feel prepared. Not that I didn't have the training, I had the training, what was lacking was the self-confidence. No surprise there, I lack confidence in myself in many situations. I do my best, I give my all and I worry it is nowhere close to enough.

So I went over the start wall and the back spasms started. Not drop me to my knees debilitating, but painful. I took deep breaths, tried to quell the nausea and focused on the emcee. He was motivating, but there wasn't a lot of me to motivate. I was scared, outclassed and hurting. The race started and so did I with the best team I could have ever hoped for. Carole, Cheryl and Gretchen checked in on me, stopped to wait for me and told me I could do it.

By the time we were a quarter of the way up the mountain I knew I couldn't do it, the pain wouldn't quit, I was feeling panicky and because of that I was having a hard time getting a full breath. Why the panic? I was going to fail and I don't like to rattles the cage of the perfectionist taking up space in my head.

It was not a stellar performance, in fact, to be blunt and rude: it stunk. I wound up lost on the Beast course, sobbing like a two-year old at a water station and getting a medal I didn't earn and can't stand to see.

It's taken me until now to have any desire to write this post. I took the experience harder than I should have and I know that. I went as far as emailing Spartan HQ asking for an address so I could mail back the medal. The response was not what I hoped for. The customer service rep who responded did not give me the address I wanted. Here's an excerpt from the email:

"We encourage you to use the medal as motivation to compete in another race, so that when you race again and finish, this medal will symbolize your drive and determination to earn a medal on your terms."

My first reaction when I read that was "Is she NUTS? Another Spartan?! I'm not a Spartan: I'm a Mudder: No more Spartan races, EVER." Now I've had time to think, process and act like an adult and I know there is a good chance I will be competing in another Spartan race. The next one will be on my terms for myself. Quite selfish I know, but I can't ask other people to do it with me when I'm not sure I will do any better the next time.

You see, I came to another decision after the Spartan. Things need to change. I am pushing my body hard, not paying attention to signs that could signal a need to slow down, because I don't want to screw this up and be the person I was before. I have talked to my fitness professional and he assures me we can build my mobility and strengthen my core. He also assured me my strength won't suffer for this work and improving my mobility can only help. I say: bring it on! So dead lifts, tire flips, rope climbs, box jumps and the prowler might be missing from my personal training for the time being. I will get back to them though and I will miss them.

I'd like to tell you I learned my lesson from the Spartan, I know how to fix it and I've moved on. I've moved past the point where I look at the medal and want to throw it into the trash, but unlike the Mudder headbands it hangs near it doesn't make me smile. It makes me a little sad honestly: I didn't accomplish what I thought I would. Not that I did nothing, I did huge things: I trusted two people I didn't know to help me straight down the mountain. I trusted the Spartan staff member who told me how I was going to finish the race. I did not punch the volunteer who followed me from the finish line and kept telling me to take my finisher medal, she wasn't going to take no for an answer so I finally took it and stuffed it in my bag. I cheered for other people as they finished and cheered for the amazing team I started off with and the other friends who finished. I felt like a loser, but I put on my best mask, smiled as much as I could, pulled up my big girl panties and did my best to make other people feel good.

Now I'm going to take some time to make myself feel good. I've made a lot of decisions over the course of the last seven months: believing promises that might not make sense on the surface. Having faith to trust that things will turn out just as they are supposed to in my journey. Having the faith to keep moving forward when it would be easier to give up and give in. Believing there is a plan and a purpose when it's dark and I have lost the map.

I'm not superwoman, I never was. I'm all too human and if I look strong on the surface, it's because I'm stubborn. Physically I am strong, it's time to work on the emotional/mental side of the equation.

As always, thanks for reading!

Friday, September 19, 2014


On Sunday I will be facing down another fear. I will be competing in the Spartan Sprint race. According to the Spartan site it is "4+ miles and 15+ obstacles". Did I also mention it is at another ski mountain? Killington to be exact. I keep telling myself it would be nice to complete one of these obstacle course races on a flat course. I keep saying it and I continue to sign up for races at ski mountains. Somehow I am NOT getting the message to the proper synapses. I'd like to note that I am also signing up for Tough Mudder New England 2015 at Mount Snow. I should probably just give up and embrace my love/hate relationship with mountains. Besides, it gives me something to whine about.

My goal for the Spartan Sprint is to finish the race and be an asset to my team. I am not too proud to admit I am terrified. Every time I think about what Sunday could hold I feel sick to my stomach. A wiser person than me might decide that the nausea is a sign that the Spartan Sprint is not for them at this point in time. I feel the nausea and decide I'm all in. I won't be the first to finish, but I will finish. It really is true that wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone. At 44 I have accepted that age is coming, but wisdom gave up a long time ago and left. It's okay...I have more than enough stubbornness to make up for the lack of wisdom.

So why continue to do things that scare me? No, it isn't because being nauseous is an excellent way to control my weight, though it is. It also isn't just that I am a glutton for punishment, though that's true as well. The real reason I am committed to do things that are outside my comfort zone is that this is my life, my ONLY life and I am determined to live it to the fullest. I spent too many years trying to creep through life being safe. No more, I really wasn't called to be a wallflower. Yes I run the risk of looking foolish, but I would rather look foolish than live a life that is bland, blah and boring.

I have been blessed with a mile-wide stubborn streak. Just ask my mother how stubborn I am. She had to raise me after all and I'm sure there were moments she wanted to trade me in. I'm not outgoing or loud, but when I set my mind to something I dig in my heels and I don't budge until I am good and ready. I am not a quitter, even when quitting might be the wisest course of action.

I'd like to think I have a good heart to go along with that stubborn streak. I want to make things easier for people around me if it is within my capability. I can also fall into the trap of people pleasing which isn't helpful for anyone.

I titled this blog post "Blessings" and I have yet to really get to the point. Thank you if you have plowed through to this point. I'm getting to the point, slowly, but I'm getting there.

What are my blessings?

1. My family: My mom and sister believe in me. They might not understand me, but they believe I can and will do whatever I set my mind to.

2. My friends: I have had the best adventures with my friends...I am looking forward to many, many more (and Eric I am holding you to the promise to let me do my Tough Mudder 2015 Warrior Carry with you. Oh and Ben...I will push you on the prowler someday: I will make a special trip for that to happen).

3. My job: Yes, you read right. My job is a blessing. Not every second of every day, but I LOVE what I do. It is never dull, never boring and never the same from one day to the next.

4. My fitness professionals: I consider them my friends as well, but they really do deserve their own mention. They all helped me see that deep inside the part of me that wanted to slink through life keeping to the shadows and being safe, there was a fighter who wanted out. They gave me the tools to make my fitness dreams come true.

5. Abbey: How could a dog who thinks you are the best part of her world not be a blessing? No matter how I feel Abbey is always happy to see me. She encourages me to walk one more mile or play one more game of tag and sometimes she even enjoys snuggling in bed at 5 am.

6. Eeyore and Gizmo: My cats. My furry, naughty boys. Eeyore's 2 am visits because he can't go one more second with being petted and Gizmo's habit of curling himself against my hip as I drift off to sleep make me melt. Okay, sometimes Eeyore's 2 am visits make me crazy, but I love my furry boys.

I am blessed beyond measure and I could spend much longer listing everything I am grateful for. Three of my blessings would like my attention though and all of them are more than capable of pushing my laptop to the floor to get my attention if they must.

I hope you ponder your own blessings.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Have you ever had a moment when you know if you don't get away from a situation immediately you are going to act like an over-tired toddler? I don’t have those moments often, but when I do I’ve learned it is far better to just leave than to try and bottle up the feelings. Tantrums are difficult enough to handle with toddlers in a forty-four year old they are just completely ridiculous.

So what exactly sparked my descent to toddlerhood today?

It could be the fact that this year will be my year to be evaluated at work. After the events of last year the LAST thing I want is to be under the microscope again. It’s probably too late to just take up hiding under my desk and I deeply regret that. Live and learn. Next year I start the year under my desk and get to work on an invisibility cloak. Maybe I’m not supposed to be invisible any longer, but I really want to be. I’m not outstanding, I’m just me. I’m not favored or gifted, nor do I want to be: I want to do the best job I can and feel satisfied with that.

The tantrum could also have something to do with three core heavy workouts and a side plank finisher this morning. On a good day when my core isn’t aching side planks are difficult. When my core is aching and side plank crunches are on the docket too it’s a wonder all I did during round two was pound the mat.

Today I faced the challenge and found myself sorely lacking. That’s not the end of the world, but this morning at 8:30 it felt like it. The hurdle jumps were hard, but I only knocked one hurdle over. The stability ball plank made my abs feel like they were on fire and it was a struggle just to keep my balance, never mind trying to move the ball. Figure 8 Bear Crawls were tough, but then the timer went off and I had to try to do them backwards. I’m sure I looked like a drunk bear, because I couldn’t get my body to understand what I needed it to do. Then the finisher… I was certainly finished. I have never skipped stretching, today I could not get out of the studio fast enough.

I left frustrated, angry and defeated. That small, quiet voice that reminds me when I’m acting like a child was silent for a time. I licked my emotional wounds, did my own stretching, showered and went to spend the day with a friend visiting and shopping. On the drive home that small, quiet voice reminded me that I HAVE made progress even if it didn’t seem so today. I managed a side plank, even a few side plank crunches. I only knocked one hurdle over one time. I was even able to hold the stability ball plank.

I am not complaining about my workouts, please don’t misunderstand. I love the work and normally I don’t mind being challenged with moves I am not as comfortable with or as good at. It can’t all be deadlifts and tire flips after all. I understand in order to grow and continue to improve I have to face those movements that don’t come as easily.

So I am pulling up my big girl panties, remembering that I am in good hands and attempting to trust that at least in my workouts there is a purpose and a plan and I will be better for it. There may be many burpees in my future at the Spartan Sprint next Sunday, but I will finish. I am easily frustrated and impatient at times, but I am not a quitter.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How do you know when you're tough?

Bear with me while I work through some thoughts that have been swirling around in my head for five months now. I'm tired of these thoughts taking up space and maybe if I write it out I can evict them for good. So I'll write my post and hope it helps. If not or if you have some words of wisdom for me I am ALL ears!

Of all the lessons I have learned in the last three years the most important one has been to ask for help when I need it.Yes I get mired in the darkness and it feels like it will never be light again, but I hang on. When and if the time comes that my grip is slipping and I don't want to hang on I have people I can contact. That time is not now.

I'm human. Life isn't fair. People you think would NEVER betray you do so and then move on as if everything is normal. All lessons I've learned many times over. Lessons I sincerely wish would stop coming up. I got the message loud and clear, can I move on to a new lesson?

I've been thinking a lot about toughness, resilience and persistence since I read that Robin Williams committed suicide. This blog isn't about celebrities and I don't want to speculate on something I know nothing about. Suffice it to say it made me think.

What does it mean to be tough?

Am I tough if I plaster a smile on my face, slap on a mask and pretend to the world that nothing is wrong when my world has been rocked to the core?

Am I tough if I admit when I'm lost and afraid and ask for help?

Is toughness admitting the foundations of my world were shaken and I haven't quite gotten past that yet?

Am I tough if I confront the person who betrayed me and let him or her know I don't appreciate being thrown under the bus and I will never forget it?

Would I be tougher if I forgave the betrayal, took the lesson to heart and moved on with life?

How about toughness being purely physical? If I can deadlift 315 pounds, flip a 525 pound tire and complete two Tough Mudders does that make me tough?

Or is toughness some secret combination of all of the above?

Yeah, living in my head is a joy ride. I can obsess with the best of them. I don't want to obsess, I want to be "normal". Sadly, normal is a setting on my washer, not a state of being. I think I mentioned I'm human, so I'm also flawed. Some days way more flawed than others.

You know what I really want toughness to be? The ability to be invisible. An administrator once told me I had a knack for being invisible. He just never thought of me as one of his staff because I went out of my way not to stand out. At the time I found the words rude and insensitive (which they absolutely were), but the man had a point. I did go out of my way not to rock the boat, to be as average as I possibly could be and never question anything I was told to do.

Something happened to that invisibility about three years ago. I lost interest in being average. I don't know that I would call myself outstanding in any way, shape or form, but I've heard the term used in reference to my ability to do my job. I disagree with that statement, but that's a whole other rant...maybe next time. I am doing my job to the best of my ability, really there is nothing outstanding in that.

So I guess I'm not destined to be invisible anymore. If I can't be invisible I want to be tough. I want to be able to get knocked down and climb back to my feet and keep going. I don't want to get to a place in my life that I can't fathom the idea of one more day. I don't want to wallow in the darkness so long it sucks the joy out of life. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt as the saying goes.

How am I going to define toughness for myself? I suppose to me being tough means I take the lesson, forgive the pain and move forward. I can't change the past no matter how long I obsess on it: it's done, it's over. I can only change my attitude and perspective and realize that there is so much more to me and my life than that pain.

I say this now...I intend to live it, but come 3 am tomorrow morning I bet I'm right back to obsessing.

There...rant ended. Maybe in my next post I'll have more to report on box jumps. I did discover last Saturday morning that I might be able to think about a box jump, but put a tire in front of me and I'm right back at square one. In my defense, there was a big hole in the middle of that tire and there were 2 other people trying to do push ups on it. Given my uneasy truce with gravity I saw great potential for disaster and injuries to innocent people if I tried a tire jump. Besides: tractor tires are for flipping, not jumping on.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Box Jumps...or Facing Fears part 1,000,000

I've written about my fears before. In fact, in almost every post if you stick with me long enough I'll dig up a fear and obsess on it for a paragraph or two. This time I decided not to even pretend that I'm writing about anything else: I am absolutely writing about a fear this time. My biggest fear since I entered the gym almost three years ago. Box jumps.

On the surface box jumps don't seem like they should be scary. The box has a sturdy base. It's wide enough to jump up on.  Most of us can jump. So what the heck was my major mental block?

Have I mentioned I'm somewhat clumsy? Okay, using the word "somewhat" is being entirely too generous. I trip on FLAT surfaces. I have a t-shirt that says "I don't trip, I do random gravity checks". I am aware of my challenges with gravity and I do my best to avoid situations where I will be forced to challenge gravity. Usually...

Did I also mention at some point (or many points) that I like to be in control? In my mind being afraid of something is not being in control and not being in control of as many situations as possible is unacceptable to me. I'm a control freak, pure and simple.

On Friday, August 15 Tyler had a fun workout for us "American Ninja Warrior". One of the stations was box jumps with a burpee for fun. I felt my stomach clench when I saw that. Tyler makes it look easy, I swear he just hops and floats to the top of the box. You don't even hear him land.

I tried box jumps. I jumped on mats and I HATED every second of it. I was afraid and that was NOT okay with me. So when I got home and thought about it I used Facebook to publicly ask Tyler for help overcoming my box jump phobia. Why not just email him privately? Well... if I asked and my friends read it I knew I wouldn't back out. I want people to be proud of I would work on my box jumps.

Fast forward to Thursday at 5 pm: Buddy training. A time of the week I LOVE. For me buddy training is the chance to work on my strength with barbell cleans, front squats, bent over rows and presses as well as work on my endurance with the Prowler and tire flips. Give me something heavy to lift, pull or push and you have made me a happy camper. Last night I was nervous, because I knew Tyler was going to honor my request and work with me on box jumps.

I am happy to report I'm getting there. I can jump on a stack of mats with no knots in my stomach and even jump on the lowest box without fear. There is a picture on my Facebook page of me jumping onto a stack of mats. I'll share it with you if you aren't on Facebook. I was darn proud of those jumps. Mostly because in the past even with a fitness professional telling me I could do a box jump I would refuse. This time I pulled up my big girl panties, faked being brave and got it done. I was by no means as light on my feet as Tyler. You don't hear him land, I'm pretty sure they heard me land in Morgan. But hey, I landed on the box and didn't tip it over or break anything or anyone. A victory for sure.

Do I love box jumps now? No, but they don't scare me. I need to remember to focus, use my hips and stick my landing. Am I going to scrape my shin? Undoubtedly and I won't like that one bit. The truth is though I have a pretty high tolerance for pain and scraping a little skin off my shin is not going to hurt me. Heck, I have been known to haul my butt up and down mountains through mud and water just to get an orange head band, a t-shirt and a free beer while my back is spasming because I am too stubborn to quit. I don't think a woman who will do that should be scared of a box jump. She might need some serious therapy, but no way should a little box scare her.

Next fear on my list...Rope Climbs. The Spartan Sprint is coming up in September and I do NOT want to have to do 30 burpees because I can't climb up the rope. Last night Tyler had me start with rope hangs. The first round for 5 seconds (I got this). The second round was 8 seconds (Umm, this isn't easy). The third round 10 seconds (Maybe 30 burpees aren't so bad). The final round was 12 seconds (Oh heck no: I am not going down until that time is up: I don't like burpees). Holding your body up on a rope by your arms and feet is tough.

I might not be the best at everything I attempt, but I will be persistent.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 25, 2014


So two posts ago I rambled on for a long time about a coming change and my ambivalence about it. As with everything else time has passed, the change took place and though I am honest enough to admit I am still ambivalent I am adjusting.

So what was the change? Fortitude Fitness Systems is now only in Lyndonville. The Derby studio has a new owner and a new name. Pride Fitness Performance is in the same location. If you are interested in joining me to check it out just let me know. Friends are welcome.

My ambivalence stemmed from the worry that I would lose people I consider very important parts of my life. What I have realized since the initial announcement on Monday, June 16 is that the people I was so worried I would lose aren't going anywhere. That particular realization took time. In fact, Tuesday, July 22 was when I finally realized I am extraordinarily lucky. I have three amazing instructors I can ask for help and advice any time I need it. Thank you Ben, Mary and Tyler.

What prompted that realization? Obstacle Course Race Conditioning Class (OCR). The class was held at the Lyndon Town School playground so we could all get some experience and practice with equipment that would be similar to what we would encounter at the Spartan Sprint. I was trying and failing miserably at the balance beam. I was frustrated with myself, upset and wondering why in the hell I drove the distance I did to feel like a failure: I could stay home and get that feeling. Ben had just returned from a hill run and watched me for a little bit. Then he started coaching me, offering advice and tips in the same way he always has. It hit me then: he wasn't dropping me, he would still be there to coach, encourage and kick my butt when necessary. I wasn't just money or a nuisance: I was actually a client he cared about and wanted to see succeed.

So now that I have finally processed through the change and its implications I can move forward to see where the road is leading now. I do know I need to sit down soon and think through my workout plan. I love every workout I do, but I think it's possible I need to build in some rest too. My body is amazing and so much stronger than I ever dreamed, but I need to treat it well. Pushing to complete 10 workouts in a week is possible, but some rest might be needed too.

Yes, I work out to release stress, but I also do it because I want to see changes in my body. Of course it's inspiring to realize that I can now hold a side plank for 30 seconds when not so long ago 10 seconds was a stretch. It is motivating to see changes in my strength, but let's be real. I am a visual person. I want to SEE the changes in my body. I want my arm fat to go away, I'd like to see if there are actually muscles under the jiggle on my belly and thighs. I don't want to catch my reflection in the mirror and wince.

I've discussed this with other people and heard that even if I reach those physical goals I may not see them. Sometimes we just don't see the truth in our own bodies. The changes are there, but for whatever reason we don't see them.

My favorite song of the moment is "Try" by Pink. I know it's about persevering through life's ups and downs, but for me it's also a reminder to figure out what's right for me and to allow the people who offer me help inside the walls so they can actually help. There is only so much anyone can teach me when I keep them at arm's length.

So my goal for the next week? Trying to let people in so when I ask for help they can actually provide that help. What a concept, right??

Thanks for reading...