Balance And (Dis)Comfort Zones

It has been such a long time since I have written here. I took a break from many things and as I started engaging again, this space has been on my mind. My delay returning to this space was extended because of fear: Do I even know how to write anymore? Do I still have a voice and if I do, is it interesting to anyone?

I backed away from this place when my anxiety was reaching unknown heights, certainly higher than I have ever experienced, and abandoned it altogether when my depression returned. At the same time some of the best things were happening: I moved into my studio space and my clients love it – I love it but I am constantly surprised that they do! My strength athletes are getting stronger and they are more engaged with their programs, they must love that; my weight loss clients continue to lose weight and gain strength and self-confidence. What’s not love? The corner of the room where snow blows in, the beams we strategically box jump between, the leaves that blow in when the overhead door is open, the occasional spider we have to carry out to the grass.

Having my dream equipment in MY studio I believed would magically breathe new life into my own, boring program and for a bit it did. In November I was a guest on the podcast Systemic Take A Big Breath and Jump . Listen if you want but I haven’t. I strongly believe it is important for me to leave my comfort zone and this was so far out of it. Being interviewed is something I would never do so obviously I had to do it. The day after we recorded I got sick, and I was physically ill for two weeks. The stress of it, which I have been told no one can hear in my voice (I don’t know, I haven’t listened), ravaged my body. I then spent weeks beating myself up for being such a weak person. As it is, winter is always hard for my emotional health, so the self-loathing over that interview helped the depression set in hard. This is a fantastic confession from someone who is supposed to be a role model for young women, someone who provides a space for strength and peace for all women. It took all I had to provide that space and I had nothing left to devote to my program. I putzed around with my dream rack, my beautiful barbell, my rower. I putzed and went nowhere.

But time passed and birds returned. The overhead door opened and just outside green growth emerged from the garden. I wrote myself a strength program, I added one day for Crossfit workouts, I added 2 days for running, I had a good talk with Jason (who was in the past known only as New Coach) whom I have only seen socially the past 5 months and will now be returning to for lifting check-ins. I realized that after 20 years of weighing 80 lbs, then 3 years at a healthy weight, I find myself in unknown territory – I need to lose 10 lbs. (legit, not my ED talking). Knowing my ED is still a strong inner voice, I sat down and wrote a menu, checked and double checked the calories, set strict parameters on my running (an activity I love but also my favorite ED companion). I do well with rules, which are all in place, and I do well with warmth and sunshine which have gloriously returned.

I don’t have a mission though. I do extremely well with missions, something to fight for. That makes wonder if my return to myself will be successful. I may compete again but at the moment I don’t have a burning desire to. I’ve been wondering if my mission is balance – but can balance, a place of peace, be “a mission”? I have a 14 yo athlete who is so driven to play her sport in college that she is playing or practicing or doing something 3-6 hours a day. Her mom and I have been trying to get her to slow down and we finally had an “intervention” which concluded with us pulling everything. 2 weeks, do nothing. Learn to be a kid, explore and find something fun outside of her sport, don’t lose that drive we all admire so much. When she returned she said “I don’t want to miss 2 weeks again. Can you help me find balance?” Sure, and in the process maybe I will find it myself.

Depression and all, The Husband and I have had a great few months. Since I haven’t had a competition to prep for and I have extra time now that my studio is 50 ft from the house, we have had dinners together, gone to movies, played all the board games in our collection (100 or so) and we’ve met some of the nicest people, some who have become good friends (I strongly believe when I cut out the negative people I was surrounded by, room opened up for the positive people to enter). This is what I want to maintain in that balance I find.

I want to continue being a great coach, I want to start writing again, I may want to compete again and I must continue to stay connected in my marriage and with the people who bring me peace and joy.

And maybe, just maybe, I want to try something extraordinarily out of my comfort zone.

The Big Dance

My ladies are headed to the NCAA D3 tournament.  When I accepted the position of S&C coach I promised myself to enjoy every single moment. And then they won conference and a a bid to the tournament. This was an exceptionally great weekend!

My contract doesn’t include this week so when one of the ladies texted “so you’re coming Monday, right?” I wasnt sure. If Coach wants me, I’m there. Sometimes contracts should be damned. The ladies deserve it and I have earned my place to share this moment with them. 

I showed up early to watch some of practice. The grind of the season has been showing the last couple weeks but today none of it showed. I sat outside the gyms glass wall and when they saw me, even with balls flying towards them, they smiled, hopped and waved. And I enjoyed the moment. 

After conditioning 2 of the seniors stayed behind and gave me the play by play of the conference game – it went 5 sets, there was lots to tell. Senior year. Next year the world will try to eat them up but tonight they were little girls getting ready for the big dance. I loved it.

I have had 2 clients in the new studio and start full-time there tomorrow. My architect client has an idea that will give us extra head room (box jumps for 5 foot me are fine but most of my girls are 6 foot!). Yes there are challenges but 90% is great. I keep reminding myself the percentages were not nearly this favorable where I was and I now have the control to improve things. I do have to keep reminding myself “this isn’t the end set-up, this is only step 2” but for someone who struggles with the thought that things are not perfect, I AM struggling to with this moment in the process. I hope to get over that soon as this is a project that will be years in the making. 

Coach’s wife and I had a Christmas party Saturday: pjs, christmas movies and waffles. I remember when I had a coach that would yell at me for eating an apple and now I have one that sits down with us and eats waffles with strawberries, real whipped cream and glasses of 2% milk. It made me think: the interesting thing about moments is that they don’t last. Oh, sometimes they go on for years, but they never last. I so happy to be enjoying the present ones!

For The Dreamers

Friday is my last day and my first day. I have my last athlete in someone else’s place at 1 pm and my first athlete in MY SPACE at 3:30 pm. Monday the 7th was the plan but, true to my nature, I am jumping ahead of schedule.

Everything is complete…enough. I have been working out in the space for the past 3 days and I love it. It is not the end vision but it is the end of step 2 towards creating the vision and that is pretty awesome. I am in awe of this whole process. Six weeks ago I came up with this crazy idea and since then: The Husband jumped on board without question (an unusual response to one of my ideas), The Coach offered some equipment without solicitation, dozens of friends I didn’t even know I had showed up to demo/build/drop off food/paint/anything and everything that needed done ASAP. When I asked someone “why? why all this help for something they have no stake in?” the response was “because most people don’t even have a dream. The one’s that do are too afraid to chase it. So when we meet someone who has a dream and is just crazy enough to say ‘Fuck it, I am going to make it happen’ we want to be a part of that. Oh, and all of these people – they believe in you”. I know the best people!

My St. Norbert College team is headed to their championship tournament seeded #2. I am a coach for a #2 seed NCAA team. Who saw this as my life? I want to be in Iowa so badly to watch them but I will be working. I will also miss two of my athletes playing for opposite teams in the high school state title championship game. When I go to a regular season game that involves my athletes going head to head I have to cover my eyes through most of it and The Husband delivers play-by-plays to me. I can’t imagine the horror I would feel at this game. I am glad I have to work! I am so proud of my ladies.

I had taken the summer off of squatting. My hip has been in constant pain since the labral tear years ago. When The Husband and I were planning our vacation the pain level was low but I wanted fun, healthy, quality time with The Husband and I knew that the low level would turn debilitating by the 3rd day of vacation if I didn’t take care of it. It was the best decision I had made. I made it through vacation and the 30,000 steps we put in each day. The morning we were to come home, I woke up and could not walk. I couldn’t even hobble. This past weekend I was looking at competition schedules, planning my program, and thinking about our summer – our hikes, runs, camping, the vacation we plan on repeating August 2017. I am no longer willing to sacrafice us in exchange for competing. I can still do push-pull events but I will not be squatting again. The moment I made that decision I felt an enormous sense of relief.

The last six weeks of getting the training space ready has meant a neglect of my own training. Having returned to my schedule this week, the neglect is obvious. I am sore everywhere from movement and weights that my body shouldn’t even register. It is good to be back, it is even better to make this return in my own place.

This time I’m doing it for the dreamers who are doers.

College Coach and Studio Owner

It has been so long since I have been here. Where to begin? I guess with this moment as the past will be represented by where I am now. Especially since I finally know what I want to be when I grow up – exactly what I am.

I landed the job of my dreams without even knowing there was an opening or pursuing any position like it. I am the volleyball conditioning coach at St. Norbert College. The head coach also is the head of our areas high school club league (and 90% of my clients are club players). In this world I find myself in, he is a VIP and I avoid VIPs like the plague (keep your head down and do your work is my motto). So the day that name showed up on my phone was a strange and exciting day. Apparently by keeping my head down and doing my work, his club athletes have improved and parents speak highly of me. The college team needs someone to show up, show interest and show enthusiasm when training. Check, check, and check – with the bonus that I write great programs. The ladies are lovely. They show up, they show interest and they show enthusiasm – with the bonus that they work their butts off.

College team training is extremely different than 1:1 high school training and there was a moment I thought I would compare. There is no comparison. Marrying the two is truly enhancing both. I have two dream jobs and, if you know me you know how uncharacteristic the following is, I am damn good at them.

I am also opening my own strength and conditioning studio. What to describe it as has been a struggle (studio sounds so cardio) but as it will solely be for 1:1 training I think studio was the term to us. The Husband, The Coach, and I all sat down to talk and it was decided that the time was right. I had been looking for places for 2 years and we all agreed that if I wait for the dream to be perfectly revealed, I would wait forever. But if I start living my dream, I will be able to create my vision over time. Dozens of friends donated time on renovations, Coach is loaning me some equipment, and the Rogue rack/Ohio bar/bumpers are en route. I worry what the girls and parents will think of the space (it isn’t beautiful or shiny) but, after telling them, most girls squealed, one girl cried in excitement and gave me hug, and all the parents have said “this is just another reason we chose you to be our daughters’ role model”. I’m not really sure if their daughters’ took such gambles they would be this thrilled.

And yes, the gap of time has filled my shelves with medals and trophies from powerlifting. I still do my thing. But that isn’t my life anymore. These young women that I am so blessed to have in my life and I get to watch and guide as they turn into college women and medical students and strong professionals…well, that is where my life is.

Where To Begin…Again

My last post was 5 months ago. It is hard to believe as I used to be here daily, sometimes twice a day, that 5 months has passed. In the early months of changing coaches I tried but it seemed a blinking cursor and blank page would make me think of whom I had lost and I wanted and needed to be able to look at this blank page without tears.

I have competed a few times since then. The husband surprised me with dedicating a section amongst our baseball collectibles to display my trophies and medals. In case you don’t know, he’s one hell of a good guy.

I like my new coach. 15 months later and I still call him my new coach but 3 years from now I will still be calling him that. And I do like him even if I just did unfriend him on FB but I unfriended his wife and it didn’t seem right to do one but leave the other. I don’t know, The Husband doesn’t have social media so I don’t know the protocol.

In December I wanted a new program, I wanted a fun day, and he agreed but then I took it back – my hip has been near perfect (with proper care) and my squat was almost to pre-injury numbers so I turned down the fun in order to squat. Worst. Idea. Ever. I became a little over-stressed: the holidays, the need to be back in top form, I stopped eating.

I took January off from Coach to figure it out. I didn’t figure it out.

I went back to Coach in February and he said “so, about that fun day. Just try one and maybe everything will fall back into place”. It took 2 weeks, a couple of lectures, one cry, countless F-words, The Husband translating, but things are back in place.

On Thursday’s if (and only if) I complete all my workouts I get to learn Strongman events. I will never compete in that simply because I don’t want to but I have been dying to learn them since 2013 when my CrossFit career ended. It is insanely fun. It’s about as difficult as anything I have ever done, which of course means I love it. I haven’t felt like this since CrossFit. I get to clean and press again (and since everything is neutral grip my shoulder is pain free), I get to deadlift for speed, I get to walk around with heavy stuff. I get to think “you want me to what???!!!” a lot, and then I actually do it. I get to work my ass off (I’m still a worker) and accomplish things; on Friday’s I can’t move without a considerable amount of soreness and effort. This is who I am. This is what I don’t get in powerlifting. This is fun.

Last week Coach said I had to find a lifting partner. It was not an option. I don’t put myself out there. I avoid it at all costs. But I also do what I’m supposed to do so I asked 3 people. And, while I feel like it just confirmed I am the most unlikeable and awkward person in the world, I am told the fact that they said no is a testament of my love and dedication to my sport. When Coach asked how it went I said “The one thing Joel didn’t lie about was he’s the only person who’d put up with me” to which Coach responded “you are like me and I think people don’t respond to your attitude” thus ended his trip out the door to go home and my F-word laden rant began. In my defense, I have never had a bad attitude and even when I struggle, I have never given less than 100%. In his defense, that’s not what he meant (The Husband explained more later but apparently attitudes are not just divided into good or bad). Coach said that he and I are unique and people don’t want to be our partners because we do take it seriously and we work hard. People who aren’t 100%s -most people – don’t want to train with people like us.

Excuse me for a second just to note, everyone wanted me to be their partner in high school chemistry or on their team for group projects. I don’t know why this is different.

I guess his explanation made me feel a little better and later that night Coach sent a long email explaining people to me. I wrote a program which is kicking my tush. The Husband said if I could change my schedule, he’d be my partner one day a week, so I did. I added another day with coach and my other 2 days are at a gym where he said I would at least find a supportive group of lifters who would spot me if needed and the culture is better.

I did all my work this week so I get to have fun tomorrow! I have no idea how I will clean and press a log as I can barely stand up, bend down or raise my arms! But how many times did I say that in CrossFit? I always find a way. I’m a worker. It’s what I do.
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Updates and a Most Special Day

I have been away for ages, without enough time to even read up on all my friends here. Oh, I can’t wait until Friday morning when I will curl up with coffee and catch up on what Patricia at Imperfect Reason has been up to. I miss my internet friend as much as an “in-person” friend I haven’t seen in ages.

I have been booked (over-booked to tell the truth) with athletes between 13 to 22. Apparently I am hit with the young lady athletes and I love every minute of it. Between training, attending their games, and managing parents, I am gloriously busy from 8am to 10pm and hold group sessions on Sundays; my poor husband. Sunday’s are done at our house and he didn’t sign up for a house full of girls.

I have 2 competitions before the end of the year. The first is “just for more experience”. Training has been great but in August I was already saying I was ready for a new program. After the first meet we are changing my program, even though the second meet means something. But I have many meets ahead of me that mean something and I am ready for a change now.

It is official: my hip is a labral tear. I will need surgery. But I don’t need it now and I want to achieve certain goals before I have to take a year off.

Coach made 3 grand announcements today.

The first: at the end of my max bench and he said “I haven’t told you but I will be at your next competition. I know you’ve said you don’t want a coach with you again but I’m going. I will let you figure out your weights and only advise if you are unsure about the 3rd lifts. I will point out any major flaws, I will yell “up” on the squat and deadlift and “push” on bench. I will direct your warm-ups. Otherwise I will stay out of your way. I want you to talk to the other lifters, especially the women, and learn from them.” I have to admit, I almost broke out into a cold sweat. When we started together there was an agreement, he would never go to a meet. I have, however, become close friends with his wife over the last 10 months and lift with many of his athletes who will all be there. “You’re there to learn. I’m there to help. Monday morning we get back to work”. I mutter “I’ve heard that before” and he replied “not from me you haven’t”. Well, ok then. “I think it will work”.

The second: at first I thought it was harsh but it is actually a great relief. I asked if he had ever witnessed someone drop weight as drastically as I have on the bench. “I mean, a year ago I got 215!” His announcement “I didn’t see it, it was called by a coach I would question, so as far as I am concerned it didn’t happen. Your max in my book is 140 and that’s all that counts. You’ve talked to The Wife about her bench and that’s why you’re incorporating some of her programming.” On one hand, I DID get 215. I don’t question old coach’s call but what a relief! I have a clean slate. How often does that happen in one’s life?!

The third: “The Wife and I have a business meeting at 4, can you come along?” Ooookaaay. I shifted a couple of appointments, rode over with the wife, rode back with Coach. At some point I thought my role would be made clear, and maybe it was, but my head is a little swirly. I can’t wait until I receive the all clear for that blog post.

On a personal note, September 30th is our 15th wedding anniversary. We are having the time of our lives! This past weekend we had a party and most of my favorite people were there (including some of my girls and their families). I am truly blessed in this life!

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My Miss NCAA Makes The News

I have so many drafts building up and no posts. But as I lay down for a nap I have to share a story about one of my girls (known here as NCAA). Here is a link to the newspaper article she was featured in (real name Sarah Johnshoy; she’s pictured in the center in blue). I was surprised to read my name in the bio. I’ve told her many times “I’m not that good, I just don’t quit. I’m always the underdog and that works for me” but the darn kid doesn’t listen, as you will read.
http://www.postcrescent.com/story/sports/high-school/volleyball/2015/09/03/top-athletes-showcased-sensational/71626330/?post_id=1166241516723966_1166241503390634#_=_