Saturday, December 20, 2014

Am I Enough?

I've been turning that question over in my mind a lot this week. So, yes, in plain and simple English: I've been worrying. Nothing new about that. If you've read this blog even once you know that about me. I am a champion worrier.

Why so much thought put into whether or not I am enough? This time it's not about being good enough, smart enough, strong enough or even pretty enough. This time the question is just am I enough. Yes, I've asked enough what, but nothing comes. Just that same question. Am I enough?

I kind of understand the question. I want to be 100% again. I want to sprint, jump, dead lift, squat, lunge, flip tires and do burpees. Yes, I just said I want to do burpees and I meant it. I am making modifications, I am trying my best not to feel like I'm cheating or not working as hard as other people. It's my workout, it's not about anyone else.

That sounds so selfish and awful to me to say that, but it's true. My workout is my own. I need to focus on what I can do and focus on doing it well. I shouldn't be looking across the gym at other people doing sprints or burpees and wish that was me. For one thing it screws up my timing with almost dead bugs and my arms and legs don't do what they're supposed to. In all seriousness though, it makes me feel bad, like I'm letting the instructor down, or wasting his time and mine. I don't believe for a second he looks at it that way, I've never asked, I don't intend to ask. Other people's opinion of me is absolutely none of my business.

This week I feel as if I'm moving along on the road to recovery. My knee has been sore and I can find the exact spot where the worst of the pain is centered and rubbing it seems to help. That's probably just because it feels so much better when I stop. Maybe I should go after it with a lacrosse ball...that would really feel better when it was over. If you've never pressed a lacrosse ball into a sore spot and rolled it around you should try it. It's especially effective if you need help with your cursing. You will come up with some creative combinations when that hard little ball digs in your sore spots. Or maybe that's just me...let me know if you give it a try.

I'm sure you know where I'm going with my last paragraph. I'm starting to feel better so all my brain cells have dribbled right out of my head. Well, you're almost right. I did overdo it today. Sure I modified the sprints and agility ladder to almost dead bugs and fighter crunches, but I got stubborn with the slam ball burpees for round 1 and the tiger cleans for all four rounds. The first few burpees didn't hurt, then they did. It was disappointing, but one round of burpees is progress from none. And I got to slam the 50 pound ball. Yep, it's heavy and I LOVE it. By the last round just lifting it up was a feat, but I lifted it and I took great pleasure in slamming it down. Such a satisfying thud.

I did modify the tiger cleans so really they were just squats, but sadly I'd forget not to go too low at least once per round and I'd feel it.

The final exercise in each of my rounds was "witches cauldron" which is a plank using a stability ball under your arms then you're supposed to move the ball in small circles using your core to hold a good plank. By the final round my witches cauldron was a low plank with no stability ball holding my left leg up because my knee was complaining about planks by that point. My partner thought I was impressive doing a plank with one leg up, really it was because it hurt doing a regular one.

Then the finisher, a T2 challenge. 5 speed burpees in 12 seconds and 12 seconds of jogging in place for 10 rounds. As much as I wanted to try and get a T2 challenge I had the one lone functioning brain cell to know it was a BAD idea. I decided on low planks and high planks, alternating for 10 rounds. My goal for myself, my own little challenge, to take some of the sting out of not being able to compete in the T2 challenge was not to drop to my knees more than 3 times and if I dropped to get back up before I got to 3 in my head. I might not have gotten a T2 challenge today, but I met my own challenge. That was something.

I'd tell you I was proud of myself, that I felt accomplished and good about what I did do, but you'd all know I was lying. I don't feel like I failed, I completed the workout and what I did I did well or at least to the best of my ability. By all standards of reason I should feel proud, but I'm not wired that way. My inner critic was in fine voice today and she is mean. There were tears, I was super quiet while I changed to leave. I wasn't asking for pats on the back or special treatment or assurance that I did great: I needed time and quiet to process.

I've processed the workout now. I did what I could do: that is something to be proud of. I could have stayed home drinking coffee and snuggling Abbey, but I got up, got dressed and went. I got a good workout in and I came up with my own modifications. Not that the instructor wouldn't have given me modifications, but I like to show I'm listening and thinking. Did I complete the workout exactly as written: no, but I completed the workout. That's what counts: I didn't just show up and pretend: I showed up and gave everything I had to give. THAT is absolutely something to be proud of.

I might not be anyone's idea of successful, but I am my own version of successful and I will never apologize for that.

2015 is coming and I have goals for myself already. I'll share some of them with you wonderful people who read these ramblings. I'll probably reflect on my 2014 goals too to see where I wound up.

Am I enough? I absolutely am.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Recharge or Retreat?

I have decided I don't like being injured. No one likes being injured. I don't think I'm so special that I should whine nonstop about what amounts to a minor injury that is an inconvenience.

I would so dearly love to be able to tell you this journey is always easy. I'd like to be inspirational and upbeat and make you smile and laugh. Maybe I should only write when everything is sunshine and roses. That is not the reality though. I would not trade a step of this journey, the highs or the lows, but I would be a liar if I said it was always wonderful.

A bruised meniscus is minor, but I'll be the first to say it is NOT feeling so minor tonight. There was a part of me earlier this week that wished I'd stayed quiet and just continued on with my workouts like nothing was sore. This morning I was glad I'd said something. Despite the fact I am being careful and modifying when I need to my minor injury felt anything but minor this morning. I hurt pure and simple, but I was not going to skip my Saturday morning class.

Oh, I could have skipped class, might have even been wiser to do so, but I don't want to workout just when it's convenient for me. It's not going to hurt me one bit to focus more on upper body and core strength while I work with my instructor to rehab my knee and make it less likely this will happen again. I have a lot of upper body strength, if I might brag for a just moment, but I can always develop more. When the knee is better I'd like to think I could make it back on the deadlift board. My PR for a deadlift is 315 pounds. I'd like to go for 325 pounds. Not because any aspect of my life requires that I be able to be able to lift that much. The truth is I really love lifting heavy. There's also that 525 pound tire. I flipped it twice at the end of July. I want to flip it many more times and then go find a heavier tire to play with.

My attitude this morning during the workout was "grit your teeth and DO IT". I don't think I shined in any way shape or form, but there were no random gravity checks and for that I am grateful. The drive home I did what I normally do and replayed the workout, figuring out what I did well and what I could have improved on. If nothing else, by the time I am off the disabled list I hope I'll have my arm and leg movement coordinated for "almost dead bugs". Maybe I'll even have mastered hang tucks that are more tuck than hang. Possibly I'll have completed a rope climb. I can always dream.

When I started writing I was afraid I'd do nothing but whine, at which point I'd keep this post private. I am honest in my blog, but I don't want to whine. There's nothing for me to whine about. I made the choice to start on this journey, no one forced me. Many people have offered their time and provided the tools I would need to succeed if I chose to accept the challenge, but there was no one holding a gun to my head saying "do this or else".

I accepted the challenge to make my life my own. No one said it would be easy and when the bumps and obstacles come it is up to me to pull myself up and move forward. Of course I have support and I do lean on people when I need to, but to go along with my stubborn streak I have an independent streak. It's not that I don't appreciate the support, I absolutely do. I just don't want people to get tired of me, so I often stand on my own when a wiser person would ask for help.

My fitness highlight this week was in Buddy Training. I did single arm rows on the functional trainer with the entire weight stack. There was also my favorite song during the core finisher. Just what I needed at the moment to keep me trying to hold that TRX plank. Thanks Tyler, really. "Stronger" is my own personal anthem and hearing it re-energizes me.

I'll end with a photo taken several weeks ago by Tyler Tinker during a training session at Pride Fitness Performance. When I first saw it I looked for all the faults at first, oh for the day when focusing on the faults won't be my first reaction. Now when I look at it it makes me smile: that is one strong woman in the photo. Someone I am proud to be. There isn't any retreat in her face. Recharge maybe, but no retreat.



Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Reflecting

The end of 2014 is approaching fast. With the Christmas decorating done I'm sitting back with an ice pack on my knee and some hot chai tea to enjoy the Christmas tree and think about the year that is winding down.

I'm an introvert, no big surprise to anyone who knows me. It's not that I don't like people, it's not that I'm a snob and it's certainly not that I have nothing to say. I do prefer to listen, I figure if you actually seek me out to talk to me I should at least be a good listener to make up for my lack of sparkling conversational skills. If I'm quiet don't assume I'm bored or thinking my own thoughts, I'm really listening and if I have something to say I will say it.

So why start reflecting now? I am a procrastinator after all, so shouldn't I be doing this on December 31 while I decide if I want to stay up to welcome 2015 in?

In truth I'm in a reflective mood anyway and might as well take advantage of it. Plus there is a brindle boxer draped over my legs and if anyone thinks I'm waking that sleeping dog they obviously don't know me well. There is a strong possibility that my dog is completely spoiled. Plus, my mother always taught me to let sleeping dogs lie. There's definitely a sleeping dog snoring across my legs so I'll write until she rolls over and falls off at which time I'll be laughing too hard to write anything.

2014 was amazing. I learned that change doesn't mean the end, it means the beginning of a new adventure. I learned that just because a person's role in my life might change, doesn't mean I am losing them as an important support person. I learned that the amount of ridiculousness I can bear up under is considerable.

Most importantly, I learned that just because I've thoroughly planned something doesn't mean it will go as I think it should: I'm strong and I'm stubborn, but even my will isn't that strong. Life happens people, face it. You can obsessively plan every last detail in your life and fall apart when your plans get changed without warning, or you can plan, prepare and embrace the uncertainty. I'm not saying I love uncertainty or that I'm anything approaching spontaneous in my life, but there are occasions when I can go with the flow without whining, kicking and screaming.

So in the spirit of reflecting I would like to list the things that I accomplished in 2014. Some of these accomplishments make me proud. Some make me glad they are over.

1. I completed my second Tough Mudder at Mount Snow. Seriously, I NEED therapy. Instead of signing up for one that isn't on a ski mountain I'm signed up for my third go-round at Mount Snow. Bring on 2015.

2. I attempted a Spartan Sprint. Yes, attempted is the proper verb. It was not a stellar experience, but it WAS a learning experience. I learned a great many things that day...

3. I discovered box jumps. Sadly with the bruised meniscus I am temporarily sidelined from box jumps, but I can't wait to get back to them. I know I'll be trying them the next time they show up in a workout and if they don't hurt I'll be a jumping fool...or is that just "a fool"?

4. Rope climbs. Okay, so as of the moment I am writing this I have not actually completed a rope climb. I have climbed a ladder to the sixth rung, hung onto the rope like a monkey and then tried to go down with something resembling control and a minimum of cursing. The climb part is coming...I can feel it and I welcome it.

5. I opened up to change. Okay, so that was mostly brought about by necessity, but I could have stuck steadfastly to my comfort zone and routine, albeit in a new location. I gave the change a chance and I am happy. I was happy before, please don't misunderstand, but change doesn't always have to be negative. If you are open to something new change can be just what is needed.

6. I discovered I do what I do because I truly love it. I thought for awhile that I exercised only out of habit, that I didn't really enjoy it. Then there was a time that it was only habit that led me to complete my workouts and I missed the feeling of accomplishment when I finished. I truly love what I do. It has made me a stronger, better person overall. I don't take for granted one second of time that the fitness professionals I know have invested in me.

I have plans to make 2015 even more amazing than 2014. Some of them  involve events I will participate in. One is a plan to pay it forward in what I hope will be a meaningful way. Another means I will continue to learn, grow and evolve into the person I want to be. I will become more athletic, stronger, fitter and above all a kinder, more humble person. I will become the person I am meant to be.

I do hope you will join me. I am sure it will be a journey to remember.

As always, thanks for reading!  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Committed

I am sure that at some point in every journey there comes a time you have to decide whether continuing is what you want. Actually I know that's true for me. Whenever I make a decision to do something important I reach a point when I am not sure I want to go on.

When I returned to college at 25 and put myself through Lyndon State to earn my teaching degree in Special Education. Then again in 2010 when I decided I wanted a Master's degree and chose The Vermont Mathematics Initiative. During each of those experiences I reached a crossroads and had to decide if I wanted to continue. I have been teaching for 15 years and I earned my Master's Degree in 2013. I am not a quitter, I never have been. I might go down, but I won't stay down.

I reached the place this year in my journey where I faced the crossroad. I was on a steep downward spiral and I honestly didn't care if I stopped or hit rock bottom. I got kicked down repeatedly during the spring, summer and fall. I'd get up after a blow and another would come. At times it truly seemed like I was supposed to just stay down so I did. I crawled into a hole, pulled a rock on top of me and closed out the world. I decided I wasn't taking any more chances, no more letting people in and I was done trying anything new. I kept working out, but there was no joy in it at all. I didn't care if I did well, I didn't care if I failed: I did it because it was a habit and it was what was expected of me. If nothing else I do what is expected.

It wasn't just one thing that turned the downward spiral around. There were many things, not the least of which was a conversation during buddy training one evening. It was a quarterly check-in to see how I was doing and what I liked and didn't about my program. I heard myself during that talk and I hated what I heard. I heard a whiner. I'm not a whiner, but you'd never know it from what I said that night.

I left buddy training disgusted and angry and determined to change things. If the only reason I was showing up at the studio was because it was a habit then I was doing myself and everyone there a disservice. My instructor deserved better than that. He puts his heart and soul into everything he does: if I was there only because it was habit then I decided I wasn't going back.

As you might have guessed I found my motivation. I am wiser, a little sadder, much more guarded and closed and more determined than ever. This isn't just a side trip: this is MY LIFE. I've said it before, so I won't harp on it.

At the moment I am nursing a bruised meniscus in my left knee. I had noticed my knee was a bit sore, but didn't think much of it. During my semi-annual physical on Friday I mentioned it to my doctor. She did some poking and prodding and I tried to slide off the table a couple of times. She asked if the knee locked up or gave out on me. Nope. She said her best diagnosis was I had bruised my meniscus and I needed to give running and jumping a rest for awhile.

So I am mostly following doctor's orders. I did do three broad jumps during the warm-up this morning, but that was all. I don't want to be dumb and wind up sidelined. I'd rather take it easy on my knee for the moment.

I was worried for about half a second my workouts wouldn't be as intense if I didn't run or jump. Let me assure you: I am getting excellent workouts that leave me winded and ready to crawl back into bed. Okay, so there have only been two workouts this week, but I'm still feeling those lateral lunges from Monday and the Barbell Kneeling Landmines from this morning.

Allow me one small tangent to report that I have FINALLY figured out how to do a lateral lunge properly. My first attempts were amusing and there was a lot of coaching involved to get me to a point where I could do one the first time I tried.

My high point so far this week was prowler pushes this morning. I love them anyway, but when Tyler stands on the prowler and says "Take me for a ride" I want to run. One of these days I will surprise him and run. Mostly because that means he'll up the weight for the next round. So far the most weight I have pushed with the prowler is 732 pounds. I'm going to smash that record at some point.

It's only Wednesday and I have buddy training and Saturday Morning Sweat still to come, so I'll be ending this now. I'm sure I will have more to say before the week is over.

I am committed to my health, committed to this journey and excited to see where the path leads next. Bring it on! I'm not perfect, I am for sure not graceful: but I'm strong. Much stronger than some people give me credit for. I might not accomplish things some consider worthwhile, but if I've learned one thing on my journey it's that I am NOT the center of the universe and thinking I am will only make me and everyone around me miserable.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pride

I don't often brag about anything I've done. More often I'll be the one pointing out my faults, but last night and this morning I did things I am REALLY proud of, so forgive me while I gush a little.

1. Rope Climbs
I am working hard on rope climbs. I should have known something was up when Tyler asked me how I felt about heights about 10 minutes into personal training. Other than one weird moment during OCR class at the Lyndon Town School playground when I got to the top of the child sized climbing wall and couldn't get myself to go over and come down I've never had a problem with heights. Heights with muddy water pits at the bottom are another story and I'm not going there. One fear at a time...

Excuse the tangent, I'm back now. I finished some lat pull downs with the functional trainer and noticed Tyler had the ladder out and it was set up near the climbing rope. Oh, so that's what he meant about heights. I was the only one there...no way was I going to be able sneak out unnoticed. So I pulled up my big girl pants and discovered I'd be working on my rappelling (Yippee??). Tyler demonstrated and then it was my turn. The first time I climbed 3 rungs, grabbed the rope, stepped off the ladder and did a rope hang for a few seconds before I rappelled down. Then he let me play with the prowler and I was hooked. Give me a circuit involving heavy pushing, pulling or lifting and you've guaranteed I'll do whatever else you ask me without complaint.

My next rotation at the rope I climbed to the 4th rung and did a rope hang for about 10 seconds before rappelling down. Third round was a 15 second rope hang from the fifth rung and down I went. Next I went up 6 rungs and I was higher up than I had ever been. Tyler told me to open my eyes, look around and get used to the view from up there. I hung there swinging around with my eyes closed for a few seconds before I followed directions and looked around. The last round was from the 6th rung again and Tyler wanted me to try to go up the rope after I'd been hanging for about 15 seconds. The will was there, but my mind refused. That's okay: I know I will do, I know I can do it.

2. Box Jumps
In August I wrote a post about facing my fear of box jumps. This morning, during the Survivor Series workout I had the opportunity to prove to myself that I've conquered that fear. I completed 50 box jumps. Yes, it was the tiny box, but I did 50 after completing 50 burpees, 50 goblet squats, 50 TRX rows, 50 push ups, 50 kettle bell swings and 50 banded reverse lunges. Then I tackled my box jumps. My form was good and my landings were pretty soft. I considered trying the next box up, but decided it was more important to me to do 50 good jumps than to push how high I was jumping, I got my 50 box jumps in and I was thrilled. No fear  or doubt, just determination and the knowledge I could do it.

So there you have it...I gushed about my accomplishments. I am often proud of myself, but I prefer to keep that to myself. I don't feel the need to draw attention to myself very often. I do what I do, I don't see it as exceptional or all that amazing. I don't want or need to make everything all about me.

To be honest, I can't imagine anything in life more boring than me talking about me. Yes, I do keep this blog, I do write about me, but in my life and my interactions with people I prefer to be the listener: I want people to feel comfortable talking to me. I don't need to hear my own voice, I know what it sounds like and for many hours of the day Monday through Friday I hear it. If I have something to say I'll make sure I say it, but by and large I prefer to let others do the talking. I'll do the listening.

Maybe I don't feel the need to talk because I believe strongly that actions speak louder than words. I could talk about making a difference or I could put my head down, focus and actually make a difference. I'm trying to do that now. I'm not wasting one second of the rest of my life buying stuff in an attempt to feel better. I'd rather put that money to better use. That's the path I've chosen on my journey, I'm not saying everyone has to do it. I'm not looking for pats on the back or anything. I am doing what feels right for me.

Thanks for reading...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dreams

I am nearing the end of year 3 of this journey and there was a time in the early Fall I was sure the journey was over. We could get into why I felt that way, but digging up the past doesn't do any good. I'll leave it at I learned a lesson and I'm stronger for it. Onward and upward.

In preparation for looking at the goals I set for 2014 to see which ones I met and which still need work I've been thinking of my dreams old and new. Some I have been clinging to because they are what I wanted at one time, even if they don't quite fit anymore.

I remember thinking about my wedding while I was growing up, trying to imagine the kind of man I would marry and all the rest of the fairy tale I was convinced I wanted. I'm not knocking marriage at all. I have a great deal of respect for marriage and for people who make it work. I don't think I'm one of the people who could make a marriage work and I'm discovering that's okay and I am okay with it.

I found a quote the other day that I really liked. I posted it on my facebook page and I will post it here too. "Being with no one is better than being with the wrong one. Sometimes, those who fly solo have the strongest wings." If I am supposed to be single then that is how it should be and no amount of fussing or fixing on my part will change it.

So what does talking about being single have to do with my fitness journey? It's all about acceptance. My journey is just that: MY JOURNEY. No one else can take it for me. No one else can be in charge of it. No one else is going to have exactly the same journey. Even if a friend and I start in exactly the same place at the same time we are not going to necessarily reach the end at the same time. We might not even have the same "end" in mind.

Do I want my journey to speed up? Oh hells to the yes! I want to be thin, even though if I were I'm not sure I would see myself that way. I want to be fit so I can compete in any event I wish and know at the start I can finish it and be proud of what I did. I want to be a "cool kid", not the socially awkward observer. I want to perform each work out so well that I earn a fist bump.

I'm a contradiction though. For all the recognition I want, I want anonymity just as much. I want to do something that makes people ask me if I'm crazy or look at me with that disbelieving smile that says clearer than words that they really don't understand me and think I might truly be crazy.

I have had more recognition than I am remotely comfortable with and the one thing I still want to do and have every intention of doing is not for the recognition. I don't want a pat on the back or anything at all. With the extraordinary opportunities I have been given I want to pay it forward. I can't solve the world's problems, but I can make a difference in my own way.

There's enough meanness in the world, maybe one of my jobs here is to combat some of that with kindness. I might be socially awkward and quiet, but don't underestimate me. There is more inside than can be seen on the surface.

I should probably include a public service announcement with this. Something like: I am nice, I am kind, but if you choose to treat me as your doormat or your personal punching bag I will take notice. I am not weak, I am not here to be treated shabbily. Be that way if you feel you must, but know that I will not tolerate it. I will walk away even if it hurts me. I'd rather hurt for a little while than suffer endlessly. I'm not heartless, but I am learning my own worth.

So...the downward spiral is over and I'm crawling my way back up the hill. I'm trying to kill every workout. I'm practicing moves that are tough for me on my own, I'm doing my stretches and foam rolling, I'm walking into every work out with a positive outlook. I'm giving what I have to give and trying to remember my performance can't be compared to anyone else's nor should it be. It's not always easy to remember, but I'm working on it.

Thanks for reading my ramblings!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Detours

Have you ever noticed that life doesn't move in a straight line? I can't be the only one who maps out a course and then discovers their map would be more useful folded up as a fan. I've been off on a detour for the past few months, but I finally think I turned a corner, or crawled out of the muck or just got tired of whining, pulled up my big girl pants and soldiered on. I'm pretty sure it's that last one, but I digress.

So here I am, back on the path I wanted to be on in the first place. It's good to be back. As a friend said recently: I came to kick ass and chew bubble gum and I'm all out of bubble gum. Thank you for that belly laugh Eric, you are awesome.

Life is so much easier when you stop hunching your shoulders up around your ears and waiting for the next awful thing to happen. I did know that before, but I am still human. I fall down and wallow in the muck.

It occurred to me on Monday after a meeting that renewed my faith in some people in positions of power, that acting like a whipped puppy just isn't who I am. Feeling down is a part of life, it happens. Choosing to act as if nothing would ever be all right again takes too much time and energy. Yes I do know that my brain chemistry predisposes me to depression. I also know that "wiring" is not my fault and nothing I am or should be ashamed of.

What I forgot in the midst of all that I know is that the best way for me to fight back and stay on an even keel is to move my body. Be it group fit, yoga corr, all star workout or long walks with Abbey moving keeps me sane and happy. The problem with wallowing in the muck is that I forgot that. I decided it didn't matter and I could skip whatever I wanted and it wouldn't matter.

Fortunately I got my head out of my butt before any permanent damage could be done. Workouts are much easier when you just throw yourself in heart and soul. Okay, maybe Black Crow isn't any easier, but other things are easier. Except for Figure 8 Bear Crawls, Hang Tucks...I should probably quit while I'm ahead.

For the first time in months I went to Group Fit this morning feeling like a warrior. I was ready to excel where I could and give it my all where I couldn't excel. Darn good thing there was no pole holding those cones down during the figure 8 bear crawls, I would have impaled myself a dozen times. The highlight of  "Lung Blower"? Bar none when Tyler stepped on the prowler. Oh yeah!!

It wasn't that none of my workouts have been good since I started hanging out in the muck. I have had my moments: box jumps on Saturday, October 25 were a high point and reawakened the part of me that doesn't back down from a fight. I got a fist bump for those. Best part was when I was told to step up to the stack of mats and there was no fear. Curiosity and wondering if I could do it with good form, but not a bit of fear.

So now I'm back...I have some lost ground to regain since I took my detour, but that's not a problem. I'm in this for the long haul: I'll fight back to where I was. I've been a "mooser", I've been a badass (I think I still am...I feel like one anyway) and now I'm a part of the PRIDE. Most of all: I am ME.

It's good to be back. Maybe my next post can be entertaining. You could always hope!

Thanks for reading.