Lifting, Martial Arts & Learning

Life is a funny thing. Once you think you have everything figured out the landscape changes. The Mentor has told me success depends on your ability to recover. The more practice I get, the better I am recovering.

About a month ago I told GTG/Coach that I was ready for a coach. We discussed how hard that is in The Middle of Nowhere…and what exactly did I want to do? With CrossFit out, olympic lifting was the obvious only choice. And as the weeks wore on I did my work – even on the 5-3-1 program focusing on the power lifts I managed to work in clean and snatch work. And we all know those struggles over the last few years. I won’t be defeated by them but let’s be honest: I don’t have fun doing them and they are not a talent. I don’t actually want to do anything with oly lifting except to reach some weight goals, work on them at my leisure, and teach my girl how to perfect them.

Yesterday I looked at GTG/Coach and said “we can never be coach-athlete again can we?” He replied “it depends. Now that you have people you understand and you approach your own training differently”. But I don’t have one like me, a pain in the ass who is driven to succeed regardless of odds. One who thinks her coach is all-knowing. “Yes you do, your girl. But before we discuss coaches, you need to figure out what you are going to do.” (And my girl is NOT a PITA. I love her enthusiasm).

I came home and started researching. I sent GTG/Coach a text “Found it: Arm wrestling. Write up a program”. Then I found what I really wanted and stayed up all night making pro-con lists on all of my options. Yes, I found what I wanted but I needed to cover all my bases. I am going to think before I jump this time.

Several pots of coffee past sunrise I sent GTG/Coach a text “Can I get an appt with you this afternoon to go over my findings and concerns? You can scratch that arm wrestling program”.

And so we met. Olympic lifting out (see above). Powerlifting out: I have my lifting goals but it is too 1-dimensional for me and while I love doing it, I will get bored if that is the purpose of my life. And so…I will be training for Strongwoman competitions. Judging from the look on his face, he knew my decision before I said it.

1. If he is to be my Coach, I am not willing to sacrifice our personal relationship for my goals again. His reply was it won’t be a problem. We will find a new coach if we can’t do both.

2. They have weight classes and I can’t weigh in regularly or worry about cut cycles, he will have to micromanage my weight and food intake. His reply: we don’t play the game. Whatever I weigh in at come competition time is the weight class I am in. Women usually only have two classes anyway and I will probably be in the pee-wee league.

3. We don’t have the proper equipment. His reply: you’re right. We’ll figure it out, he has a lot of homework to do first anyway.

4. Do I have to give up training partner status? Before I even knew his name I only ever wanted to be as good as him and I worked my ass off for training partner status. His reply: No. It will take time for him to get a program together so until then we will lift together. Even when the program is implemented I will still have lifting days.

5. I am not willing to sacrifice our relationship for my goals – this needs to be repeated.

For now I continue with my 5-3-1 program and add in an additional accessory lift. I continue with my rowing across oceans and increase my mobility work. I work my oly lifts when I want (mostly on the weekends). I keep my hands in CrossFit as I continue to prep/advance my girl.

The day ended with Martial Arts, day 2. There was a different instructor this time and he is great but I did not like it as much as day one. I am pretty sure, if it weren’t for fear of embarrassing my mom-to-be, I would have ran out in tears. It began with the instructor helping me change my kicks so as to alleviate the aggravation to my hip. Perfect. I need to keep my front kicks and side kicks lower. But my partner kept raising the mark and I, being new and not wanting to be a whiner, kept kicking higher. My hip is throbbing and in pain tonight. My partner was sweet, a great kid, but frustrated and constantly correcting me then calling the instructor over. With the instructor there I would do what I just did with my partner and be told it was right. I became so confused and holding back this student whom I believe is as diligent about his Martial Arts training as I am about my lifting. I felt so horrible for his predicament, understood his frustration so well, that I almost burst into tears. With a half hour left in class I started repeating “don’t even try to remember everything just do it and get out of here”. On a positive note: I really enjoy working on forms and I can back kick (in slow motion) pretty well.

I kept silently reminding myself “it’s only day 2, you’re not supposed to know everything”. I heard this in GTG/Coach’s voice. After 2 years I finally listened.


From Wishing To Doing

I began Martial Arts tonight.

The last three years I have deliberately chosen to finally do all those things I never thought I could for whatever reason. Through my 20’s the reasons went between work (I was making something of myself), extreme introversion, and fear of failure. In my early 30’s I began to use the age and responsibility excuses along with the above. When I hit my mid-30’s I started making lists of things I always wanted to do but missed out on (and then I felt sorry for myself because “I should have made more of my 20’s). Then I found weightlifting and someone who believed in me. I began doing things someone my age and with my physical problems shouldn’t be able to even dream of much less do. I am still afraid of failure. I still don’t like new groups. But my need to start crossing off things on my list is greater than my fears.

Every time I do something like this – walk into something new with a group of strangers for the first time – it shocks me more than anyone. People think I do amazing things, they think I am tough and border on mean, they think I am inspiring. What I am is terrified of everything, I just do it anyway.

As long as we were moving in slow motion I was pretty good and I didn’t trip over my own two feet. But anything near real time was an ugly mess. I was paired up with someone experienced to … Pary pary something? He was extremely patient and encouraging. I asked how long he had been doing this and said he did it as a kid but came back to it when he was 40. Guess I am not too old to start. Tonight my hip is burning (I assume from the kicks) and I have a very real concern about squatting tomorrow. GTG/Coach hasn’t seen my front squats in months and I wanted him to see how far I have come. Now I just hope my hip shows up.

One of the instructors? teachers? (I have so much terminology to learn!) popped in to say “Are you Elizabeth? Char’s friend?” I can only assume this is the one she also told my goal was to be a ninja. I silently nodded my head. Then the one leading class tonight said “Are you Elizabeth? Mr. ??? that showed you around today told me you were scared about starting.” Way to not stand out in a crowd.

I had stopped in to buy my gi and the nicest people helped me. I wound up in a child size 3…in the back of my head I hear a voice that says “way to kick anorexia in the ass Warrior Girl” but it isn’t my weight. That was the voice but what I FELT was I can be healthy and lift big weight, have big muscles and still be tiny. I like it.

The gentlemen then took me around the facility and I finally found a weight room outside of the one I work in that I like and have zero discomfort in. Their rowers are newer than the gym I row at. Yep, I have a new solo workout place to workout at. Good because after my lifts today, I need one.

After my tour and before returning for class, I went to my “work” gym to lift. Bench day. GTG/Coach and I discussed at what weight someone needs to lift off for me (I am just a hair too short to get the bar off without raising my body) and we settled on 120#. I hate our bench. Set 3 today I was lifting 130#. I tried it on my own anyway. I laid it on my chest, rolled the bar to my lap, and set it on the floor. There was no one there except THE Trainer, whom I still can’t bring myself to talk to, and a trainer I wouldn’t send my worst enemy too. I had decided to lower the weight to 120 and just AMRAP it when the owner walked in. I always thought he would be my absolute end of story last resort person. I was correct. I had no other option but to ask him and I wound up getting 6 reps at 130. I know he helped me on one mid way through the set so I am inclined to discard all of them but I won’t. Accessory lift is BB Rows which went exceptionally easy today, time to up the weight. Sets of pull-ups between my main work.

I only had time for one round of conditioning before clients arrived. I shoveled in tuna on the way to Martial Arts. And when I got home I said something I don’t remember saying in years “God I am hungry”.

After one class I can already tell you 5 things wrong with this stance but the picture is a symbol. What is making me happy today? I am moving something from the wish list to the doing list. I stepped out of my comfort zone, tried something new, and spent 1-1/2 hours in a room of strangers. I can do a basic punch and a basic block. Today I was the person I like best. #100happydays


More Random Moments and Happiness

I returned my header to what it should be. It hasn’t felt like my blog since I changed it a few months ago. When I did, GTG said “good, it’s your blog, it has nothing to do with me”. It is my blog, about my work and training, and I liked it the way it was. Even training on my own I make adjustments based on how he coached me and when I encounter new issues I figure it out based on what he taught me. The moments like the one pictured, when we would talk about what went right, what I need to fix, how to remain calm (I’ve gotten surprisingly good at remaining calm), are replayed 100 times as I workout on my own. He is as much a part my days as he was when he was present. I suspect that when I have a new coach, GTG’s voice will remain my primary guide and, even if it is replaced, the foundation of my lifting will always be his coaching. So, until I have a moment I can attach to more than this one, this picture will remain. Moments like this are what brought to the surface my Warrior Girl, they represent me.

It is the hubs birthday weekend. Friday night we went bowling with another couple.

20140223-225830.jpg Afterwards we commented on the fact that we have never done anything with just another couple. Is that weird? We do have just a small circle of friends and we see them every 10-12 weeks. The hubs spends Monday nights at his besties house and I very, very rarely meet a friend for coffee. I am not sure we even know many couples.

Anyway, it was fun. I don’t remember when I laughed so much.

But, as we were parting ways and they said “we should do this again and soon” my first thought was “I hope not too soon…maybe in the fall”. What is wrong with me?

Yesterday was dinner with that previously mentioned group of friends at the hubs restaurant of choice. When he made the choice I of course smiled and said “How fun, you love that place” which if any of you are perceptive enough to read between the lines means I don’t. I am pleased to announce he didn’t realize and he had a great time. Back home, he opened presents and the only child in our little group, who is 10 and has a personality larger than life, showed me videos she made with her friends. That was my #100happydays moment.


Today was The Lego Movie, just the two of us. We NEVER go to first run movies because I am the frugal (unless it has to do with working out). But this is a birthday and the must see movie of the year was playing. For the first 3/4 of the movie we were the only ones laughing in the SRO theater. To clarify: the hubs chuckled, I guffawed. He kept shushing me (apparently I was embarrassing him in front of all the 5 year olds) but I just ignored him. If I am spending that kind of money and something is funny, I am going to laugh.

Upon arriving home my phone blew up with clients asking questions about food, programming, changing schedules. Part way through I started losing track of what conversation belonged to what client. I finally stopped trying to have them all at once after a client sent me “2? what are you talking about?”. And suddenly that catchy little theme song from the movie started going. Hit play at your own risk: it will NEVER leave your head.

Then I caught up on blogs and it was among these that I found the happy moment I wanted to share. Set up: we had one day last week not just above freezing but at a whopping 40 degrees. Then the ice and snow and wind returned with a vengeance. Today, though it was good to see sun, the wind cut through everything and it was bitter cold. And every time I stepped out the door, or looked outside, all I could think was “I am so sick of this winter”. As one who doesn’t complain about the weather, regardless of what it is and a miracle considering I don’t like the northern climate, I can’t take this one more day!! Underneath piles of blankets (freshly washed) I read. Aubrey, a fellow blogger and CrossFitter, posted her engagement photos: taken outside, in the snow. Young, in love, their whole life ahead of them, and there they are, playing in the snow. Looking out my window again, seeing the snow and hearing the wind, I smiled. There is something magical about winter. She changed my whole perspective on the day, on the weather that I have no control over, and therefore she is my #100happydays.


Still Word-less

I really like my new lifting program. I like most of my conditioning work but I still don’t have a good 4th workout written up. Yesterday was deadlifts and back squats.

To get something, anything, in today I did my girl’s next WOD – 12 min AMRAP 10 thrusters, 10 OH walking lunges, 20 DUs. I did competition standard weights for the movements and she will be doing far, far less than that. We both will do single unders at a 3:1 ratio. But still, around minute 5 I thought “I’m putting someone through this? I am so evil.” And then I laughed. I know when GTG was my coach he would sometimes do my program before assigning it to me and I wonder if he had that same “I’m so mean, this is going to be fun” feeling.

I puked as I usually do when thrusters are involved. Her mom’s parting words every session are “make her puke today” but I haven’t yet and it honestly isn’t a goal of mine. It is nice to know that I won’t be fired if I do.

Martial Arts begins Monday. I don’t like joining new groups. Two days out and I am sick to my stomach over it and hoping something comes up. The first days of being a wall flower will suck but I think if I can find the courage to go the first day I will enjoy it from there.

I ordered my lifting shoes, not the ones I wanted but those were back ordered and I have been waiting forever. I have lost patience. My second choice is pretty sweet and, in the end, probably a more sensible choice. And they are black, much more my style. Until I clean GTG’s magic number I shouldn’t be in the best shoe anyway.

In case you haven’t noticed, my way with words is still alluding me. I am still stuck somewhere in my head. I have had flashes of what I want to say while driving but by the time I get pulled over to make notes, the words are gone. I wish they would come back, I feel a little trapped without them.

I updated my #100happydays on the specified page and on my instagram.

My Athlete, My Competition

Go To Guy offered to spot my bench while I re-tested my max. First I needed to spot him. He was going for as many reps as possible and I think he said he was going for 285# today. “Me too” I replied. When I am at my best, I am obnoxious.

I don’t know what the weight was but I did get to bail him out. And with a proper spotter, not a freaking out husband, I added 40 lbs to my max in 5 days. 155#. I only lost 50 lbs in 8 months, not 90#. I am so happy I didn’t melt down about it Friday and I am even happier to find out it wasn’t that bad.

Then I worked my Jerks 5-3-1 week 1, military press 3×10, and decided to do my teen girl’s WOD for conditioning work. 3 rounds of: Burpees-Box Jumps-Rows. This I timed. It was simple and I wanted to be able to plan our hour. I wouldn’t mind seeing how she compared to me truly for no other reason than it will help me program for her.

Her program began with learning single arm snatches. The strength portion included bench and rows. Then her conditioning work: burpees-box jumps-rows. Her mom took some great pictures of her box jumping. In between rounds I made her pause to take some breaths and re-set, I told her it was because she was hanging too close to my time and I wasn’t going to let her beat me. She laughed and started her last round.

As her last rep was completed, before she knew her time, she jumped up with the biggest smile I ever saw and shouted “You better step it up, you’ve got competition”. Proudest moment of my life! She was only 1:10 off my time. I haven’t told her.

Oh, I will step it up. If she’s going to hang with me she is going to have to work for it. But I have to admit: I suspect the best day of my life will be when this girl beats me. I suspect that may be sooner than she thinks!

Driving home I was thinking of the role Go-To-Guy (Coach) played in my training, my life…and I am a little old lady. It made me realize that I have an impact on this girl, on all my clients truly, but this girl is special. She has the whole world in front of her and she knows it, she wants to experience all of it. When she fails at something she just smiles and tries again. She laughed after her first snatches and said “well, I can see I have my work cut out for me” and went back to work. In contrast I did my first snatches and cried because I sucked then went back to work. Her attitude will serve her well in life. I hope I am able to nurture that. I hope, as her coach I don’t destroy what is best in her: enthusiasm and a positive attitude.

And I hope the day she beats me she’s as proud of herself as I will be of her.

Catching Up on Happy

With everything being chaotic: death and drama and (shocker) more winter storms, I was able to find plenty of happy to post for my #100happydays challenge. I honestly think looking for happy is the reason I made it through the last two weeks with my sanity. Below are the last two days:

February 19, 2014

My former trainer Alex and former Coach Joel (pictured) for helping me get my life back, guiding me in my passion, and for sticking by me through the best and worst times.

February 18, 2014

Coffee from my favorite coffee shop – where the owners know my name

I would recommend this challenge for everyone, in whatever way you want to participate – one of my clients is just keeping a notebook with a list. It is unbelievable to me, that I have ended most of these 10 days thinking “today kicked my ass” and then I look at my phone in preparation for my happy post and see 10, 20, 25 pictures of things that made my day happy. It’s a good life if you just bother to open your eyes.

Two Goals Accomplished

Two successes in one day. Success isn’t what I imagined it would be.

I am at a loss for words. I have tried to post about yesterday’s workout and events of the day (my girl started her oly work and CrossFit workouts and loves them!) but I can’t figure out how to find words.

One of the survival skills I developed in life was the ability to mentally enter a “void” until a storm would clear. It allowed me to function and succeed without falling victim to depression or anger. Sometimes it would work and often it wouldn’t. I had forgotten about it until recently, until someone mentioned the need to “let your mind go blank” in order to reset. With all of the exciting, wonderful, and terrifying changes, the death of yet another friend, and the absence of little brother, it seemed like a good time to try finding “the void”. And indeed, it was good for business and working with clients, I picked up another client which meets my goal number of 9 (and next goal is 12), I was able to cook dinner, clean the house, check in with my father and do my research. It allowed me to write myself a program I actually really love.

But “the void” is a pretty empty place (thus the name) and it leaves me without words. So I took time off of writing and we shall see what happens today:

I do 2 lifts and a conditioning workout now. Monday I posted. Yesterday was front squat 5-3-1 week 1 and good mornings 3×10. Conditioning was 2 rounds: power snatch x5, OH squats x10, 100 single unders, decline push-ups, weighted sit-ups. Everyday throughout this cycle I work sets of pull-ups. I am sore from head to toe. I dropped the OH squats from conditioning because my hip was signaling to take it easy. I am getting pretty good at catching potential problems with it early so at no time did it hurt. Today it is tired but not inflamed – progress.

Yesterday was the first time in weeks GTG and I spoke. I asked about the hunt for a new coach for me. As I suspected, he is doing his best to find a good coach nearby but, while there are good-enough-for-most coaches in The Middle of Nowhere he is having a hard time finding a good-enough-for-his-pitbull coach. He has run the numbers and, apparently, as much as I have lost on my lifts I am still at the level of the Strongwoman competitors. This is a sport I never considered. I know nothing beyond the fact Strongman/woman comps are spectacular (and intimidating). I don’t think training for that would allow me to develop my oly lifts and before I die I will clean and jerk more than that magic number GTG and I always fought about. He, himself, is looking at training with THE coach that I have mentioned before and who has won several of those comps.

I sometimes wish GTG and I could make it work, find a way to separate the personal relationship from the coach-athlete relationship. Other people find ways to do it all the time and more than anything, when I succeed in whatever I am able to compete in, I want him by my side, I want him coaching me through that moment. But we can’t do the day-to-day coaching. We have to choose which relationship we have. One time he tried to return us to simply coach-athlete but people can never go back. I wouldn’t allow it even if we could. He is my family and every damn time, I will choose this little family over sport. In this entire world, in my entire life, I have loved lifting and my nephew. And, now, in the moment of calm when he came over to hug me I simply said “not in a creepy way, I love you, you know” and he replied “not in a creepy way, I love you too.” In that moment I knew I lost the best coach there is, I can never be his athlete again, but my family is solid. We will fight, we will not talk, we will laugh and make each other cry. But we are solid.

We feed off the best and the worst in each other, there is no in-between and I accept there never will be. But we can make each other better people. He feels like he always lets me down and I feel like I am his biggest disappointment. Feelings are not facts but unfortunately they are more real, they are what we react to. And he does let me down sometimes just as I disappoint him sometimes – we are family after all. But always and biggest? We are both crazy but we wouldn’t still be together if either of those two words were true.

We will be trying the training partner thing again. He said he’s forgotten how to be a partner – I assume this refers to standing me up without communicating – because he hasn’t had one in 7 years. I said I have never had a training partner and I don’t know what is expected/how it works – I have a tendency to lift before he is ready so that I stay out of his way, I am afraid of interfering with his workout and I learned this annoys him. As I was thinking about this overnight, I had a startling revelation: Partners are equals. I need to accept I am his equal. For two years he has been the person I emulated. He became my lifting advisor/mentor, then my coach. For someone like me, who has never been good enough, I can’t wrap my head around being equal to the person I wanted to become. Shouldn’t having made it feel…I don’t know…good enough? great? easy? It actually feels uncomfortable, like wearing someone else’s skin. It’s not what I imagined.

My girl had her first weightlifting-strength-WOD session yesterday. The little athlete loved it. The WOD was a 12 minute AMRAP of 5 deadlifts-200 meter run – 6 pull-ups – 200 meter run. Her legs were all scraped up from her deadlifts, her hands are callused from the bar. I suspect before her next high school dance I will spring for her to get a manicure. She doesn’t mind the scraped up shins, the bruises on her legs. But she likes her hands to be pretty.

So business is good, lifting is good, GTG is, as always, a work in progress. I have been posting my #100happydays on instagram but I will have to get caught up here. Even in the void I could still find plenty to be happy about.