Proof

I began my last blog with “So this happened” and it was supposed to be followed by a photo. They have finally arrived.

So, honestly, this really did happen.

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If only I could get a recording of her telling the hubs how awesome I am. >

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Better Than Expected

So this happened.

And here is where the pictures of me with Jillian Michaels are supposed to be inserted. I haven’t received them yet.

And I, the socially awkward mouse when not in a workout environment, found a way to stay longer than I was supposed to and say “I am a 20 year anorexic and on my final descent I found weightlifting”. She said “no way” and held me away from her and I smiled and said “I’m a power lifter now and I train some amazing people and teenagers”. She said I was amazing and I thought “I KNOW” but the rest of the night/early morning I kept thinking Jillian said I was amazing! She gave me 5 hugs before I walked away and then she whispered something to the hubs.

What? What did she say? The hubs said “she said it to me so just never you mind”. What? What did she say? “She said ‘your wife is awesome. She has an amazing story to tell.’ Don’t let it go to your head.” His lips twitched though and I think it was a smile.

And then we spent 45 minutes in the middle of the night out in the freezing Just Outside The Middle of Nowhere looking for our car.

Below is the copy of the post I will be putting up on my business site (I haven’t figured out how to link or reblog without people finding their way here and “here” is my space):

24 hours after seeing Jillian Michael’s I am thinking about the most important thing I took away from the evening. This is the first time since beginning my own long journey back to health that I have gone to a speaker event. I would go when I was unwell, searching for … an answer? a kick in the ass? my purpose? Obviously I think attending these things, reading self-help books, watching the Ted Talks are important because even on the other side I continue to do them. But the answers were never found there. Mantras and mottos are great to get one thinking about “the big questions” and for temporary motivation but they don’t change your life. Only you can choose to change your life. At some point your passion must become your motivation.

I don’t know why I spent most of my life searching and looking and going to these things hoping to find an answer even when I just wanted to give up. The only reason I have ever been able to give people (and myself) is this: I am not a quitter, I simply never learned how. And eventually, after many, many years I found my passion and the courage to fight for it.

I took a little break from reading the books, the Ted Talks, the speakers because the basics to all of them consist of: What is the life you want to create? What is holding you back? What is your action plan to create your future? Once I had those answers I was too busy creating my future.

Now I am building the life I have dreamed of and an important part of my life is helping others find and create their future. I return to the books, the talks, the speakers to learn how to be a better motivator. It was pretty self-affirming when she would list the steps to create your future and how to “f*&%^)$ figure it out” and I would say to myself “I have”. But I would quickly return to studying how to be a more effective leader and motivator for my clients.

Which brings me back to my biggest take-away of the evening. I took a lot of notes (for those that don’t know, I am a total geek and note-taker) but one thing stood out above the rest. I don’t need my notes to remember this:

The result of doing nothing is NOT nothing. If you don’t nurture your passion it will rot…Living the life you should instead of the life you want is numbing.

Numb never could work for me and I knew I had a passion that would rot if I didn’t find it. In my long journey I have dared to jump off many cliffs (one time I was pushed) in an effort to find that passion. Are you afraid if you jump you won’t figure it out before you hit bottom? I am a pretty fearful person and I have crashed pretty hard several times. After the shock of hard landings, I would look around, see I landed on another cliff and jump again. Each leap, especially the failed ones though unknown at the time, landed me one ledge closer to the life I wanted.

Are you afraid people will think you are irresponsible? Why do you care what they think? I held numerous jobs in numerous fields (with high praise from my supervisors), went back to school several times (with excellent grades), started how many hobbies (I have the supplies to prove it). The “rule followers” in my life think I am a complete irresponsible flake. It isn’t true. I was never late, all assignments were completed, I kept my commitments to others, I hope I have never hurt anyone…I do admit to an unfinished knitted shawl. I was (mostly – damn that shawl) responsible. So why would I care that they think I was irresponsible simply because I didn’t settle for a life that I should be living according to rules that don’t work for me? I would be so bold as to suggest that trying to fit into those rules of responsibility as established by others is one of many things that almost killed me.

And how does all of this apply to a blog about personal training and why it is an important element in your journey to find your passion? It applies in so many ways I don’t know where to begin but here are two:

1) It’s hard. It is hard to ask for help. It is hard to workout, lift weights, follow a meal plan. It’s hard to come to an appointment and have a trainer ask you why you didn’t do your workout the day before, why you ate 2 bowls of ice cream. It’s hard to think you can lift 50 lbs and be given 30 lbs instead. It’s hard to discover how hard that 30 lbs is to lift when you thought you could do more. It’s hard to work your ass off and plateau. But if you are strong enough emotionally to keep fighting this hard, you are strong enough to go back to school for the degree you always wanted, you are strong enough to say no to yet another obligation you are too frazzled to take on, you are strong enough to own your mistakes and make them right, you are strong enough to walk away and choose another path, you are strong enough to be who you are meant to be.

2) Change is terrifying. That is why, even though everyone has the choice to change their life, so many people choose not to. Get someone on your side because if you choose to break the rules and change your life, you will feel a little unsure and alone. You will need someone to help you. When you stall and want to give up, you will need someone to get you back to moving forward and to remind you that, while quitting is always an option, it is no longer who you are. When you discover that you are stronger than you ever imagined you could be, when you go through the process of accepting you can’t run 400 meters the first time you try and then a few weeks later you run 600 meters, when you learn what you thought you could never do you are actually surpassing, you realize change is not terrifying – it simply is possible.

Post 200: A New Beginning

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Blogging: Another thing I didn’t quit. As I sit down to type number 200, the question remains: what epic topic to I discuss to mark this monumental moment? Do I make it a retrospective? Stay true to the spirit of the blog and write about my workout? Is there any way to skip to 201 and remove the pressure? What’s so important about a number anyway? Why do we think everything we do must be superior – if everything is superior then doesn’t that make everything average?

Blog number 200 will be a bit of everything. It is dedicated to 3 VIP’s:

1) Mom-To-Be who convinced me to start this. I don’t know what she was expecting it to turn into but I am pretty sure it wasn’t this. Until people read my stuff, I am pretty sure I was just seen as someone who does really cool things…for a girl. I don’t know what she was expecting but she convinced me to do it and through it I have been connected to a world of other CrossFitters. Until this, I was pretty alone in The Middle of Nowhere where female lifters are rare and the people who knew me preferred me ill, frail, and pretty. I needed a network for encouragement, grounding and a place to share my passion. Thanks MTB.

2) Coach, who saw me through my darkest hours and believed I would find my way out. Who stood by me until I got back to the business of becoming.

3) Warrior Girl. I just never learned how to give up. I sometimes pause and say “Oh shit, what now?” but I always find a way to keep fighting. And that’s what makes me special. And no one has ever dedicated anything to me so here goes…I’ll just do it myself!

And the topic? Not a retrospective. There are 199 posts you can read for that. But my dreams or, as a blogger friend of mine is often correcting, my goals for the future and my plan to reach them. A preview of the next 200.

I can no longer CrossFit. But I am strong and becoming strong saved my life. Lifting is my love and I am dedicating myself to what I love. I am lifting. By mid-December I will compete in my first power lifting competition. I have it narrowed down to 2 and will make the final decision by the end of May. I am so excited I can hardly contain myself but contain myself I will. Unlike my previous life, I will not over train. I will not ignore my injuries. I will effectively communicate with Coach.

I still have some rebuilding to do on my lifts but they are solid and coming back quicker than I thought. My back squat needs the most rebuild. I will continue to build my squat strength through front squatting and continue light weight back squats until I am no longer gun shy. It’s all in my head but I am making progress.

I am, for the first time in my life, making myself and my goals my priority. People who want to be successful surround themselves with successful people. It is time I go out and find them. It is time to stop investing 100% in other people and start investing in me – I am the surest bet anyway.

Competing won’t be cheap, I have grand plans for my business, and I found a little house I want in Somewhere USA. I will set aside the something I already saved for someone else’s dream but going forward, I am saving for mine. I deserve to give myself a chance. And, just maybe, I’m beginning to believe in myself more than I believe in him. My world seems a little turned upside down with that. I hope someday this changes. And I hope he knows how much I love him, that I will always be there for him, I will always help him if he asks. If he ever gets back to his own becoming, I may go back to saving. It’s just time I do something for myself.

My business: I love my job. I love it so much I would do it for free if I could. It is a gift/blessing/joy to be a part of another beings journey, to witness their own becoming, to be a guide, motivator, listener, and smack-upside-the-head (metaphorically of course). But I never wanted to be a sole proprietor of a business. Well, I am…look at that! Instead of lamenting a business deal gone wrong and while I am successful 2 years faster than I was told I would be, it is time to work harder, to make this a true lasting success. It is time I get the f*ck over it and create something I would be proud of.

The labels I had when I first began blogging no longer apply. I am no longer an anorexic. I am no longer a CrossFitter. I am no longer falling apart. So what am I?

I think I am simply a Warrior.

What Might Have Been & What Lies Ahead

With the final announcement made, I looked at the hubs and said “these workouts were made for me this year. It would have been my year to make regionals” and he patted my hand. “Don’t feel sorry for me! Don’t you understand? I never believed I could do anything! The only thing I still needed before my hip went was the muscle up and I totally would have mastered those by this open. I would have made it. I believe in myself”.

And even though I can’t CrossFit anymore (or more accurately I can only do a WOD or 2 a month), CrossFit is still making me a better person. Through the years it taught me patience, persistence, self-awareness, independence, strength, to trust my coach, forgiveness, self-awareness, confidence, love, consistency. I discovered I am not the quitter I always thought I was. And now, even when this love affair is a bitter-sweet memory, it has taught me to believe in myself and my dreams.

14.5 is another workout written just for me – thrusters and burpees. I would be tempted to do it…I am tempted to do it. But I have picked a lifting competition to get ready for and we have a lot of work to do in order for me to be ready. I can’t risk blowing out the hip. That said, My Girl is good but she is recovering from strep and with the other work I have programmed, this one is too many reps for joints I need to keep healthy. The solution: 14.5 will be a team event. My Girl will be starting with the rounds of 21, I will take 18, she will take 15 and so on. I received a text from her “Guess its time for me to start loving burpees”.

Coach and I were sorting things out, trying to sift through our multi-layered relationship in order to come up with a bill. He suggested we just try to communicate and respect each other, trust that we both only want what is best for each other. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this but we both have trust issues. At the end of the month we will figure out what the bill is together. I don’t like this. I sat there looking at him, my family, and thinking “forgive but don’t forget. Always watch your back.” Many things were said between silences. One of the most notable was me saying how I would like him to be at the lifting competition I want to enter and he replied “Nothing would keep me away”. And the thing about family, the thing I always wanted in a family, is the faith that no matter how bad it gets, you always have each others back. You can always work it out. Loving and respecting each other is the most important thing, even when you fight. And I said “but we blow up. And we aren’t really family. How do I know we will always come back together?” He simply said “because we always have.” And so I agreed.

Shoulder presses were going fine. Then, on my last set, the voices returned. I couldn’t move that bar off my shoulders. I spotted Coach on his heavy round of bench then returned to the bar. Best presses in 10 months. They were fast, head came through, wrists were straight. Even Coach complemented them.

Military presses, upright rows, shrugs. Somewhere in these I sat down and started laughing and crying. “I would die for you, move heaven and earth to make sure you succeed. I truly believe if I ever sent out a 9-1-1 you would be there for me without reservation or hesitation. And I don’t trust you with this? What is wrong with me?” Coach hugged me and said “the same thing that is wrong with me. We are the most dysfunctional human beings on the planet. This is why we understand each other, why we work.”

And we managed to find each other in a world containing billions of people? Life is full of miracles.

Lifting, Learning and Happiness

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I dropped out of #100happydays around day 25 or 26. I have to admit I made it much further than I thought I would. The primary reason I dropped out: I would find several things a day that made for a happy moment but I wouldn’t have my camera ready to photograph the moment. The day would end and I would be grasping for something, anything, to photograph. And so, things like my evening tea would be posted because I couldn’t photograph a phone call from a friend in the UK. I couldn’t photograph a hug from Coach. I couldn’t photograph a client giving a fashion show after dropping several sizes.

What I learned from this experience is this: I need to pay more attention to the moment. At the end of the day I need to remember the moments of joy instead of the stress of tomorrow. That Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind “Firefly” (one of the best shows ever made), was correct…very occasionally, if you really pay attention, life doesn’t suck.

One of my clients delivered a new challenge today: do something new everyday for the next 100 days. What? Can there possibly be that many things in The Middle of Nowhere that I haven’t done? Her reply was “take a different road to work, try a new coffee, go to a different gas station…it really isn’t that hard”. And she’s right. I did a Zercher squat for the first time today. Day 1: check.

Zercher squats are awesome to keep form but I bruised the hell out of my biceps and forearms. They will be a staple in my program because, as Coach told me, carrying things like this is a staple in Strongman. My lifting day consisted of heavy front squats, numerous Zercher squats, reverse glute hypers…I missed my ice bath and my hip is on fire tonight. Tomorrow will be murder for my hip. My hamstring work was hitting everything BUT the hamstrings. I looked at Coach and said “it’s just not happening today. Our time apart allowed me time to figure out the difference between when I need to keep working on something and when I need to just walk away and accept it just isn’t the day for it. I am walking away.” No fighting, no frustration.

We are still working out the details, the layers of who “we” are, what is billable coaching time, training partner time, co-worker time, personal time (I would say “friend” or “I am a decent human being and therefore care about your pain” time but I don’t know if either of those actually apply to us). In the midst of this I stated “As long as you are my coach at competition time, I am fine with you sending me elsewhere for training. I know you have no respect for the powerlifting”. To which he replied “That is what I love to do. What are you talking about?” And I stated some of the many snide comments he made through the years. And his response? “It wasn’t your goal. I had to get you out of the mindset of a lifter and into one of a crossfitter.” He didn’t know, in our early days, that I remember everything, take everything to heart.

So here is to new adventures, new lifts, new outlooks, new “us”s and new dragons. And my ability to say what I haven’t said on the blog in several months:

LEVEL UP WARRIOR GIRL

To Lift or Not To Lift

I wasn’t going to lift today. The decision was made sometime last evening and I was still in full support of it when the sun came up. If the temperatures were where they should be (upper 40s) instead of where they shouldn’t (hovering near zero when I woke up) I would have gone running, hip be damned – I can’t take the indoors anymore.

As all my clients are mid-afternoon and late evening, I sat in my pj’s drinking copious amounts of coffee and researching things I am still capable of competing in – pretty much this means power lifting. My Girl texted with the sad news she has strep and with the happy news that her mom is taking her to regionals. Somewhere in the midst of this I decided that researching only goes so far if one doesn’t actually do the work…the work Warrior Girl reluctantly and only after a long battle with herself, she asked for Coach to give her. And I remembered that I am a role model to a young female athlete. One, who when it was proposed to her this weekend that she transition to a coach with more experience, she replied “Elizabeth is my coach. If we need another eye that is fine but you are my coach”. I have said these exact words many times about Coach, I understand the feeling and passion and loyalty that they are born from. I suddenly carry a great responsibility to be the athlete, leader and coach she is inspired by. I will do my work.

I considered going to the place where I know no one but there are actual, real-life lifters so that I could get a spot. It is bench day and the weight is set where a spotter must be present. Coach gave me a variation on my grip and told me to go lighter but if I was going to do this today, I was going to either follow the plan or go heavy DB chest presses. I went to my normal place and a girl who did power lifting in high school was there. She agreed to spot me. Where the hell do people learn how to spot? I am pretty clear on what I need – I am too short to lift off without losing my tension – just lift off and let it go. That didn’t happen.

So where do people find good training partners? I am in the market. I am going to have to suck it up and hang out more at the other gym. There are more power lifters there anyway and, knowing Coach has no love for the sport and since I know no one else doing it, it is probably good to get in there.

It was a good day. I did my bench and the rest as written. I added DB chest presses – it was a rough weekend and I still had energy to clear out. I think those were a new high for me: 60# each arm for 5 reps. If it wasn’t a new high, I have to say it wasn’t too shabby for a girl who weighed 80#s 2 years ago.

I think I am going to be ok. I think I am taking care of myself. Friday’s I get a special indulgence from Coach and it usually helps me get through the next three days until I can kill myself on the weights again. This weekend, due to life, it lasted me until Saturday. I filled in with big hopes and dreams and thoughts of attending regionals. I thought today would be survival mode but…it is half way over and I am accomplishing things and I am still ok.

Failing An Athlete, Failing As A Coach

It’s been a year and a week since The Great Fran Incident. I like to think if Coach had known how that day would turn out, how it changed us forever, he would go back in time and change it. God knows, had I been able to see the future, I would have looked at the program that day and turned around and walked out, quit CrossFit long before my hip forced me out. Quit not because of Fran but because ‘we’ haven’t been ‘us’ since that day. As with all things, some of the changes are good but some have altered me for the worse.

And what, as a coach myself now, did I learn from this? I have spent days programming My Girl’s next six week cycle to ensure I wasn’t over programming her hip – or any other body part – while still meeting her skill, lift, and strength needs. I remembered Coach’s part in my injury, I didn’t remember his part in my psychology. I gave her a WOD to do solo (not Fran) that I knew would push her close to that edge of quitting before time was called. I anticipated her pride in doing more than she imagined AND without her coach by her side on every rep. What I forgot was that people’s edges are not static. Some days, even for the best and most dedicated among us, our edges are moved in dangerously close and saying “fuck this” and walking out can be the sanest decision. Her spirit is certainly among the best of us. I have never seen her crack.

I was training other clients when she began and, as per usual, I was beaming with pride when I would glance over and see good form, a decent pace, that look of ‘this is hard’ but with a smile. And then, maybe 6 or 7 minutes in, I looked over and my heart sank. From across the room I could see her eyes brimming with tears – though not one fell – and I saw a sick look on her face as she looked up at the pull-up bar. I wanted to puke. I hated myself in that moment (and a little still). Of all the things I considered in her program, I didn’t think about Coach leaving me to do Fran for my first time, all by myself with not even another athlete in the place, him thinking it would push me but I would push back harder. I didn’t give her a strategy. I didn’t leave a plan. I didn’t consider that some days our spirits just aren’t up for a fight. Of all the things I learned from Coach’s coaching, I promised myself I would never put someone through an incident like I had with Fran. How did I forget my first Fran?

And knowing she was not 1/2 way through a 15 minute AMRAP, I was not going to leave her alone or let her quit on herself because I messed up her program. I could be the coach I needed a year ago. I set up my client for their next skill and said I have to check-in with My Girl. As I was getting close, another lifter got to her before me. He stopped her from starting the next round and he talked while she breathed. And then I saw her take a good, deep breath and smile…another deep breath and she began round 3. I quietly turned and went back to my client.

When both of our days were done, I put on my Coach’s face (he’s so good at showing no emotion in moments like this) and asked her how it was. She gave a little snort of disgust and said “it was tough. It didn’t look that tough on paper.” Her coach should have known though. A good coach would have known. And then she said “but that guy started talking to me and he asked me what my motivation was. And then he said when it gets really hard and I want to quit, I need to hold onto that to get me through. I’m surprised at how much that really helped. I really didn’t think I was going to finish”.

Oh, to be 15 and have so many people – even strangers – care and support you. I never want any of my girls or Coach’s girls to wind up like me and none of them will. Not with us as their coaches or the people we have surrounded them with. I really messed up giving her this one. A programming fail. But she experienced what I used to have at our old gym, what I miss so much, what I never had before lifting and especially before Coach…the commradarie, support, encouragement of other athletes. People that see you falling apart and help you pull it together. The strength you didn’t know you had until they unveil it for you. The ability, after they walk away, to find even more.

Today she did 14.3 with me and she was amazing. She made it well into the round of 25 deadlifts and still had good form. Her coach did something right by her, form above rep count is a hard thing to learn. I hope that makes up for almost killing her spirit.