Friday, January 29, 2016

Ropes, Cowbells, Perseverance

I'd like to tell you a story if you'll indulge me. Let's be clear: this is a story about me. It's my blog, this shouldn't be a surprise, every post is about me, but let's go back...back 37 years. I was 8 years old then.

Let's be blunt I was a fat kid. I was at the very least the biggest girl in my class in elementary school and probably I was the biggest child. Back-to-school shopping was torture. My clothes came from the "Husky" section from my earliest memory and the selection pretty much sucked. Food was a reward, a friend, my comfort and solace. It was everything but a way to fuel my body. It helped me hide from the world.

One day little Kim went to gym class and Mr. B had the climbing ropes down. We had gone up the cargo net several weeks before that and some brave little kiddos had gone to the top of the rope and over then down the back side. Not little Kim, she climbed about halfway up before it got too hard to pull her body up, even with her feet to help. One by one she watched her classmates climb that rope and some even got a helping hand from Mr. B when they couldn't go any higher.

Then it was Kim's turn. She couldn't get off the ground and then her gym teacher, the one who called her his powerhouse every time they played kickball, told her "I'm sorry Kim. I can't help you, you're too big."

I'd like to be clear here. I am not angry that he said that. I'm not looking for sympathy. I am setting the stage for why what happened on Thursday, January 28, 2016 was so HUGE for me.

There were many others after Mr. B who made me feel bad, who told me in word and deed that I was not worth their time, energy or respect. That's the past though, living there, dwelling on the hurts physical and emotional won't change a thing. The wounds have scarred over and the truth is that my past needed to be exactly what it was to lead me to where I am now. To be where I am now I would go through it all again without question.

Let's speed this up and get to last night. For well over a year I have wanted to climb the rope at Pride Fitness Performance. Once a cowbell was installed that you could ring when you climbed the rope it was an obsession for me. I HAD to get up that rope. I. Had. To.

The deal was if I couldn't get up the rope before the end of January I would be facing 2000 meters on the rower (aka The Gold Star Machine). January 28 was the last buddy training session before the end January. It was do or die time and I knew it every second of the day. I was nauseated and scared. Walking into Pride yesterday afternoon was the hardest damn thing I've ever done. I really thought about not going, for about 5 minutes before I realized that ALL my coaches want and expect from me is my very best effort. If I didn't make it, but I did my best I would face the rower, but neither of them would be disappointed in me. Disappointed for me maybe, they both know how much I wanted to climb that rope, but not upset with me.

Yes, yes, yes: it is VERY important to me that I do not disappoint my coaches. I don't expect I am EVER going to get over that. I'm still a people pleaser. Fist bumps and high fives make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I know I've done well. I am what I am.

My turn came way too soon. I chalked up and stood at the rope. Then I started. No problem getting on the first knot. Then I reached as high as I could and drew my knees up for that second knot. I sat on it for a few seconds gathering my thoughts and reminding myself that I could hang onto the rope long enough to get my feet on that second knot, I'd done it the week before after all. Without too much struggle I got to the second knot, then it was time for the third knot. Again I got my knees up on it and sat on it while I judged the distance to see if I might be able to reach the bell from there. Not quite so it was time to put my upper body strength to work.

I reached up and drew my knees up again. I didn't get my feet to the third knot, but I hung there thinking. I was pretty sure I could stretch enough to hit the cowbell. I pondered it, tried to get the third knot again, missed and rested. Then I decided. I was as high as I was getting at the moment and I could stretch enough. I reached up and whacked that bell. I'm not sure who was more surprised: my coach or me. Probably me.

I even managed to come down in a controlled manner. When I got down I got a high five from my buddy and a fist bump from my coach. He had the biggest smile and he told me he was proud of me. Damn him, I wasn't even too teary when I came down until he said that. Then it was blinking hard, biting the inside of my cheek so I didn't turn into a mess. I don't cry in front of people often, especially when there is an excellent chance I will become a blubbering mess if I let my control slip.

I climbed the rope a second time so there would be video proof that I made it. There were moments during the second climb that I was sure I wasn't ringing the cowbell again. I'm stubborn though and I wanted video proof.

I did it twice: it wasn't a fluke that I climbed the rope. I really was able to do it. The fat little girl I was might not have had the strength, or she didn't think she did, but 45 year old me who has sweated, trained, cried and bled did it.

I won't lie, it wasn't easy to get to last night. I wanted to quit, scream, punch the wall and walk away, but I didn't. When the going got tough I made a decision to see it through, to work as hard as I could. I was going to succeed. If I want to be a beast I have to work for it. I have to do what's hard and what I am not good at and I have to bring every ounce of stubbornness and determination I possess to bear every time. I need to dig deeper than ever and give my coaches what they ask of me when they ask for it, not just when I want to. I have the potential to be a beast, I believe I have the heart too.

I finished buddy training with a 1000 meter row and bent over plate rows and a hip bridge/crunch circuit for 5 rounds. Then I sat in the welcome area for a little bit. I was able to tell my other coach that I climbed the rope two times and get a high five from him. He looked pretty damn proud too. I finally went to my car and got in. I started the car and then the tears came. I was so happy, so proud of myself. I was utterly overwhelmed. I had to sit there for a few minutes and cry before I could drive. A part of me wanted to go seek comfort, but my coaches were teaching class by then and they give me enough of themselves and their time. Plus, I could not have explained what I was feeling to either of them, I didn't understand it myself. So I did what I do: I fought on my own.

I did it. I proved that hard work and perseverance do pay off. Maybe not on the time line I want, but it will happen. I've been told the knot-less rope is next. *GULP*

The video of my second rope climb is on the Pride Fitness Performance Facebook page and also on my page if you are interested in seeing it.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Randomness


It's been a good week.

I had a four-day work week this week so I was able to make it to both Yoga Corr classes. I did most of my normal classes. No Saturday Morning Sweat this week. Still working on balance and making sure my workouts don't overshadow time for recovery.

I ALMOST got up the rope during buddy training. I stood on the second knot and I'm pretty sure if I get my feet on the third knot I can reach that cowbell. I had the third knot between my knees and I could just about reach the cowbell. If I don't get it next week I'll be on the rower going for 2000 meters. The sad fact is, even if I get up the rope I'm going to be on that rower soon seeing how long it takes me to get 2000 meters.

You might remember that one of my goals for 2016 was to get 2000 meters under 9 minutes. I want to know what misfiring little brain cell made me decide that goal was a good idea. Really?? I need an editor.

I had an interesting moment with a student Friday afternoon. She was noticing the key chain on my lanyard, a tiny dumbbell with a tag that says "I Choose Strength". She asked why I had it and I told her it was a Christmas present from my sister. She nodded and said "Yeah, but why?" I told her it was because I lift weights. She looked a little surprised at that and pondered the idea for a few minutes.

Then the fateful words "But you don't LOOK like a weightlifter."

I smiled and said "Well I am."  because there wasn't time for a complete interrogation since her bus had been called.

You KNOW I didn't let those words go though, You KNOW I spent most of last night and much of today turning those words over in my mind wondering what that child meant. I bet you can even guess what my first thought was.

You got it: I don't look like a weightlifter because I am fat.

She could just has easily have meant I didn't look like I lifted weights because I wasn't a man or I wasn't all muscle, but no I jumped immediately to "I'm fat".

The fact is the reason for her comment doesn't matter. What matters is what that one comment uncovered about me and my thoughts.

Nope, I'm still not a super model. I'm never, never going to be a super model. I am going to be the best me I can be. For now that means focusing on my training and making sure I give everything I have to give every time I walk through the door. That is all I can do and that is enough.

I found my first powerlifting meet for 2016. Master's and Women's National Championship on April 2nd at Crossfit Burlington. It will be run by Vermont Powerlifting and starts at 4 pm. It will be the same venue and the same organizers as my first meet. Let's see if I can avoid looking like I'm scared out of my mind. In case you need a visual this is me just before my first squat:



Tyler and Dane look ready and downright formidable. I look like I'm looking for the exit or wondering if I can run fast enough that neither one of them will be able to catch me before I hit the parking lot. For the record if I could have evaded them (doubtful) there were all the other people there to support me who would have stopped me.

I am looking forward to see what I can do in my second meet. Whether there is hardware to bring home or not I am excited to do it all again.

I know I can squat, press and pull and I am finally at a place in my life where I want other people to see that as well. My coaches and friends know what I can do and I'm ready for everyone else to see it too.

Four years ago on this date I was chosen as one of the 4 "Biggest Mooser" contestants. I couldn't have dreamed that that moment would have led me down the path I've traveled in the last four years. I appreciate every person who has joined me on this journey: it wouldn't have been as wonderful without you. In case you wondered, I'm not done yet. There is so much more I want to accomplish, see and learn.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I get it!



I found this picture last night when I was going through my picture files making sure everything was backed up. You live through a few computers croaking on you in the middle of something and you learn to make sure files you'd like to keep are housed in more than one location. So it took me three times to learn this...sue me.

Now to get back to the point of this post. Most of you know I am super thankful to my coaches and I gush about them frequently. That isn't going to be changing, so stop hoping. Last night something struck me though. Yes I have had superb coaching and excellent training, I'll never deny that, but I decided to put what I learned to use. I decided what I was hearing and learning was important and would help me create the life I wanted. They worked hard (and continue to work hard) with me, but I put in hard work too. No amount of wanting to please my coaches is going to get me to hold a plank if I don't know doing so is going to make me better.

One of my coaches might have researched powerlifting meets to nudge me in the right direction, but he didn't fill out the application or mail it in for me. He made suggestions, told me I would do well at it, but he didn't make the final decision. My other coach told me something like powerlifting would be less scary than some of the other things I'd done because the skills required were skills that fell within my comfort zone. When it came down to it the final decision to show up and let people see who I was and what I could do was mine and mine alone. They could support, train and cheer me on, but neither of them could do it for me. They could want it for me, and I think they both did, but they couldn't make it happen: I had to do that.

The man who got me started on this journey has been telling me from the start that he provided the tools, but I chose to use them. He accepts my thanks, but brings it right back to his point: I did this work. I'm sure he wanted this for me all along, but he couldn't give it to me. I had to step up to the plate and commit with my whole heart.

The picture at the beginning of this post made me pause last night. I LOVE all the pictures from Old School Iron Wars, but this one caught my attention in a big way. The woman in the picture looks proud. She looks strong. She looks like she knows she has worth and value. She looks like she finally got to the party where her friends have been waiting for her to arrive.

I never imagined in January 2012 that I would have a moment when I felt proud of myself. When I started this blog it was because mooser contestants before me had kept blogs and I like to write. I didn't think it would last much past the end of the contest. Here we are almost 4 years later and I'm still rambling on every chance I get.

To all my friends who've been at the party waiting for me to show up: I'm here. I made it. Let's do this!

I thought that saying I was proud of myself would mean I was a diva or an egomaniac, but that won't happen unless I let it. I don't think for a second I am better than anyone else. I know I have as many weaknesses as I did before. I am learning that every one of us has strengths and weaknesses and I am no better nor any worse than anyone else who walks through the door at Pride Fitness Performance. Every one of us is important and special and I finally get it. I will always be grateful and thankful for my coaches and I will let them know it every chance I get. I teach, I know how nice it is to hear a thank you from time to time.

I am here now. I get it. I have every reason to be proud of the woman I am. I need to keep training and I will, but there is nothing wrong with knowing I am worthy, strong and that I have skills.

I. Am. Proud. Of. The. Woman. I. Am. (even when I can't get up the rope and ring the damn cowbell.)

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016

Wow, another year. I'm older, maybe a tiny bit wiser and just as impatient as ever. I want what I want and I want it right now. Sure on the surface I might look patient, but I'm guessing by the fact that I've had to promise not to punch the wall at my gym that I'm not fooling many people.

Part of my routine for a new year is writing fitness goals and reviewing my old goals to see how I did with them.

Let's get to a review of 2015.

1. Do 5 pull ups without a band. This one is a tough one. There was one morning during pride fit group training that I did 5 pull ups with no band, or maybe I just dreamed it. Since that one morning if I can get 1 pull up without a band it's a miracle. I'd have to say that I didn't meet this goal.

2. Complete a 60 second deadman hang. I met this one! It's always nice to set a goal you reach.

3. Climb the rope and ring the cowbell. Ah, the rope. An attempted rope climb resulted in me having to make the promise not to punch the wall. I've gotten to the second knot on the rope before, but lately even that is eluding me. I know I'll get it, I won't quit until I do, but the walls will be a lot safer when I finally make it up the rope, I'm sure Tyler will be relieved about that.

4. Complete Tough Mudder New England 6 hours or less.  Another goal I met! My third Tough Mudder and the one I am the most proud of.

5. Start and complete the Spartan Sprint at Killington.  Honestly I didn't even attempt this one. I'm not sure I ever will. I honestly don't know if I will ever complete a Spartan Sprint. I won't say never, I know better than that by now. Every time I say I will never do something I seem to wind up doing it.

6. Complete the Derby Elementary School Cornfield Mile run in 16 minutes.  I completed the Cornfield Mile run in 16 minutes 10 seconds. Better than last year and I'll take that. I can run, but I'm not a great runner so 1.2 miles in 16:10 is not a bad time at all.

I developed more goals for 2016 and to be honest I developed them before Christmas. I have had them reviewed by my coaches and the original copy now hangs at Pride Fitness Performance,  coincidentally right below Tyler's gold stars. I'll share those goals with you too.

1. Complete a 2 minute deadman hang by September 29, 2016.
     a. 80 second deadman hang by March 31.
     b. 100 second deadman hang by June 30.

2. Climb the rope and ring the cowbell by December 31, 2016.

3. Do 5 pull ups in a row, without a band, by December 31, 2016.

4. Compete in at least 2 powerlifting meets in 2016. Meets to be determined in consultation with coaches (This isn't on my goals posted at Pride, but maybe I can do well enough to qualify for nationals...I can always dream, and discuss it with my coaches).

Powerlifting PR goals for 2016
Squat: 300 pounds
Bench Press: 250 pounds
Deadlift: 500 pounds, raw lift (currently I am at 385 pounds)

5. Tractor Tire deadlift of at least 700 pounds (at the last Pride Games I pulled 650 pounds).

6. Run 4 times around the pond by October 27, 2016 (with no stopping or whining).
    a. 1 time around the pond by March 2016.
    b. 2 times around the pond by June 2016
    c. 3 times around the pond by August 2016.

7. Complete 2000 meters on the rower in under 9 minutes by December 31, 2016.

I notice in looking over these goals that I didn't write one for Tough Mudder. I do plan to complete my fourth mudder in 2016, but this could be my last one. I have discovered powerlifting now and I am hooked. Not that I can't do both, but I don't know that I can do both well.

There, I said it: I am NOT superwoman. I cannot do it all and do it all well. It has taken a long while to come to this realization and some of you reading this are probably breathing a sigh of relief that I FINALLY got it. I need to work on my weaknesses, hence the pull up and rope climb goals were carried over. I also have strengths I need to explore and use.

I know I mentioned before that I didn't want to be able to lift heavy because I would never attract a man. Looking around it seems I'm not going to attract a man no matter what, so why worry? I love lifting heavy and I seem to be good at deadlifts so why would I deny that part of my self?

In 2016 I am going to work on balance in all areas of my life and the fitness goals you read above. I am going to train my weaknesses and further develop my skills and strengths.

Most of all I am going to remember that the only person I am in competition with is the person in the mirror. I am proud of how far I've come and I can't wait to see where I am on January 2, 2017.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Balance

I have a wise and wonderful friend who has suggested for the last two years that instead of writing resolutions for the new year that we think about a word to focus on for the year. Of course, Eileen might have been doing this longer than two years, but this is my second year paying attention to her idea.

My word for 2016 is the title of this post: Balance. Yes, the clumsy woman said her word for 2016 is balance. All right, go ahead: laugh...I'll wait.

I actually looked up balance, because I know it doesn't just mean the ability to stay on your feet, it's one of those words I'd better understand if I am going to focus on it for twelve months. Balance can be either a noun or a verb and I chose it because I want to focus on making sure all the parts of my life are in equal proportions.

Let's be honest, my main focus, my true passion is fitness. I've put A LOT of time into becoming as fit as I am currently and I want to be more fit in 2016. I want to pull more, push more and squat with more weight. Not because I have something I need to prove to anyone, I don't. I am strong, period. End of story. The truth is I LIKE lifting and I seem to be somewhat good at it. If I am going to work on the things I am not as good at, I should be able to reward myself with the things I love.

This won't come as a surprise to my family, friends, supervisors or my coaches, but I get focused on something and I forget other aspects of my life. The tendonitis in my left knee was a BIG wake up call for me. I love my workouts, but there's a good chance I don't need six hardcore workouts in one week to show my dedication to fitness. I'm pretty sure my coaches know I'm dedicated to what I'm doing even if they don't see my face in every class.

I've spent the last few weeks thinking about my workouts, trying to objectively weigh what I want versus what I can reasonably do and allow my body the time it needs to recover. I've got the training down (maybe over training is a more accurate term, but I'm working on that) and I am figuring out the refueling. Now I need to step up my game and get the recovery piece of the puzzle in place.

While I'm thinking about balance I need to look at my job too. For the first time ever this spring I will mentor a student teacher. I met her before break and she seems so sweet. I want to give her a realistic view of what it means to be a special educator. What I don't want her to come away with is the idea that everything must always be perfect. As much as I want to be perfect and do everything perfectly for my students I don't, I can't and I absolutely don't want someone considering a career as a teacher to think being perfect is a prerequisite. We'll see how balance in my professional life goes.

Here's to balance in all aspects of my life in 2016.

Expect a recap of my fitness 2015 goals and how I did meeting them and then I'll let you in on my fitness goals for 2016.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Year in Pictures

If you are on Facebook no doubt you've seen the app that will show you pictures from 2015. I've viewed mine several times, but it doesn't really sum up what I want to remember of my year. It isn't exactly the end of 2015 yet, but I decided I'd compose this post tonight and then start looking ahead. 2015 was extraordinary year and 2016 promises to be even better. I'm glad you've been along for the ride, I hope you'll join me on the road ahead.

When I weighed 309 pounds I was rarely in pictures and reviewing my year was all about my job and what I'd accomplished or failed at. I had no life outside of teaching. The people I considered friends were within the school I was working in at the time.

How times have changed. I can't say I love being in pictures now. My first thought is automatically for any bulges or ripples I can see on my body, but I am wise enough to let my friends comment and I try to see what they do. No one mentions the bulges or ripples, most of them point out how strong I look, or how serious or the muscles I have completely missed in my critical first view. I am learning to see the woman other people see.

You all know me, you know I could keep rambling all night, but let me get on to the pictures I treasure most from 2015.


Oh how I LOVE pushing the Prowler. I may not be the most athletic or agile, but I am learning to embrace my strength even as I work on my weaknesses.

Tough Mudder 2015. My coach Tyler, on the right, doing what he does best: supporting me and giving me every opportunity to succeed. 

Tough Mudder 2015: Warrior Carry. Keeping a promise to a friend. 


The face is my attempt not to burst into tears on the spot. I never expected to be picked as a Pride Warrior. I accomplished my goal, the tears waited until I was driving home.


Thor's Hammer: 150 pounds. It felt so good to lift this.

Old School Iron Wars. My first powerlifting meet, thanks to Dane for nudging me into it by researching meets for me. I LOVE this picture. This is the face of a warrior, someone who knows what she's doing, what she's good at and is determined to do the very best job she can. 352 pounds was my PR that night.


Some members of "Team Kim". I don't know what to say to everyone who took time from their day to come to this meet. So overwhelming to know so many people care. So much for flying under the radar.

More members of  "Team Kim". I am so blessed.


Love my coaches, they look kind of proud, don't they? The sweet little girl at my side made me a card and brought flowers for me. What an overwhelming experience.

Yet another photo from my first powerlifting meet. This is such a monumental photo. The spotter is in my personal space in a BIG way and I am completely focused on my job. I also just noticed the looks of concentration on Tyler and Dane's faces.




That's it, those are some of the highlights of 2015. I am not the same person I once was. I can actually look at my life and feel satisfaction and pride. I am finding out who I am supposed to be and I am working to become that woman. I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Thanks for coming along for the ride! As always, thanks so much for reading!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Here We Go Again...

Most people come with baggage...I seem to come complete with the entire damn luggage store. Let someone suggest in any way that I am not living up to an expectation and I am crushed. I am so talented I can manufacture other people being disappointed in me when that is not the case at all.

Yeah, I'm one big bundle of crazy. Aren't you feeling lucky to know me?

I had my annual physical last Monday. I was down 10 pounds from last November, I am developing more muscle and I was told my achy knee was probably tendonitis. Nothing serious, but to heal I need rest and I'll be doing a little physical therapy. Not the end of the world right?

I can't say I was surprised. I know I've been pushing too hard, 6 workouts in a week is a lot and probably too many when I'm being honest with myself.

So I did what I do: I went to the professionals in my life for advice. I was reminded that there has to be a balance between workouts, refueling and recovery. They should all be equal, because all are equally important. The professional I talked with is honest to a fault, which I truly appreciate. When I need a reality check he's the guy to go to and he gave me one last week. I need to remember not to do it in email though, you can't hear the tone being used or see the body language. You see where this is headed don't you?

Yeah, surprisingly enough I worried I'd screwed up and disappointed the professional I was talking to. I would like to point out, now that I've drifted back into the land of sane and rational, that he NEVER said he was disappointed, just reminded me of what he's been trying to teach me for awhile now. Luckily instead of going completely off the deep end I had the sense to email back with a few fears, get assurance that we could talk during buddy training and walk away.

I would like to take this time to thank my sounding boards Hailey and Eric: I mentioned them in my last post and I owe them more thanks now. What can I say: as much as I've grown and changed sometimes I still need people to bounce my thoughts and feelings off. Both assured me if the professional was pissed at me I would have known it and there was a chance I was projecting my own feelings onto an innocent party who really wants to see me succeed and be happy.

Again...I am a HUGE bundle of crazy.

So Thursday came and it was time for buddy training. I briefly considered completely chickening out and staying home. Like that was going to work, the part of me that lives for each workout was already chomping at the bit after not going to Muscle Hour on Wednesday night. Plus, I knew deep in my heart Hailey and Eric were right: the disappointment was mine and mine alone. So I pulled up my big girl panties and I went.

I arrived first and considered hiding under the bench until my buddy showed up, or maybe locking myself in the bathroom. Yeah, not much has changed in my ability to converse with people. I get tongue tied, flustered and generally stumble over my words and I was really kind of worried there would be tears on my part. Fortunately, he is a wise man and he let me go about my routine and have my space.

Once my buddy arrived and we were on the assault bikes warming up the conversation started. I asked for his help to think about my workouts in an objective manner, because to me all were the most important. He made suggestions, asked a few questions to get me thinking and didn't seem to mind when I stumbled over my words and got quiet. We all talked about nutrition and he gave Carole and I a mini challenge to follow until our next buddy training session. Basically we eat what he told us for breakfast and lunch and then we're on our own from 1 pm on. Okay, that sounded doable. It has been doable really. I eat my breakfast, run around like a crazy woman and next thing I know it's lunch time.

So what have I learned over the course of the last week?

1. I am not invincible. Stronger, yes. Even wiser on occasion, but not invincible. My body will keep going when I push it, but eventually it will demand my attention.

2. I won't be the best at everything. This is the hardest one for me. I feel like I'm letting people down if I am not the best. Like somehow if I don't shine every second I am not a good representative of Pride Fitness Performance. Let's get real: I WON'T be the best. I CAN'T be the best. What I can be is determined to try and give every workout my very best effort.

3. I can't do it all. Actually, I owe this one to my coach. He reminded me of this on Monday morning when I stayed after class to talk to him a bit about the decisions I'd come to over the weekend. He's right though: I shouldn't expect to do it all. I found my niche, now I need to keep training my weaknesses.

4. I have the most amazing friends. When I am ready to fly off the handle and let loose every bit of crazy I possess they can reel me and remind me of the truth. They even do it without telling me how crazy I am acting. I owe them for that.

I have plans for 2016. I want to be a better friend, paying the kindness I have been shown forward. I want to see just how strong I am and compete in more powerlifting meets. I am going to get up that rope before the end of 2016...and I won't put any holes in the walls to get there. I am going to be the best teacher I can be.

I'm going to leave you with my favorite picture from my first foray into powerlifting. Maybe it's not the most attractive picture ever, but I can see the determination in my face and I love it. It makes me proud. I am strong and there is NOTHING wrong with that.



So there you have it: I am one big bundle of crazy and I AM strong. That's who I am and I celebrate the fact that despite the fear and anxiety I competed. I am proud of how far I've come in the past year.

Thanks for reading!