Rise

No matter how old we get, the world is still divided into the mean people and the kids that get their asses kicked. My biggest human failing is that I am naive enough to think people, at their core, are decent and kind. I like having hope. I like to think the world can be a better place. Therefore I will always be a kid that gets their ass kicked.

It wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that I have never toughened up. I am sensitive and my heart is easily broken. And when the person who plays 3 of the most important roles in my life chooses to play the wrong two roles, who should be beating up the bullies that have pushed me down and kicked me, it makes the beating a little harder. I don’t understand why, when he had the power to stop it, he chose not to. I still adore him, he kept me together the best he could while still trying to cover his ass, and I love him for not abandoning me all together. But for the first time since he entered my life, the pure and innocent love is tainted. A corner, dark part of my heart hopes for his world to burn down around him for this betrayal. I hate myself for those thoughts.

But still I rise. I stand on my own. Lessons are learned and on dark days the Universe sends us our most precious gifts. I suppose I could try harder to toughen up. I suppose I could give up hope for the human condition. But it’s not who I am. I learned very young, when these beatings were literal, my heart and hope will carry me through.

My business blog was a little personal this time. It follows:

Facing Challenges

My favorite athlete and role model, Elisabeth Akinwale, is in the midst of prepping for The CrossFit Games in July. It will be her fourth appearance.

The first time I saw her compete in person I was amazed at her composure. When she finished an event miles ahead of the competitors, she remained calm and composed. When she finished middle of the pack, she remained calm and composed. My hero portrayed herself as impenetrable regardless of outcome. I later read her blogs about the weekend and was amazed that underneath what I witnessed, she was not as calm as I thought. I have so much to learn from her as an athlete and woman.

This year she was a shoe-in to win Regionals. I witnessed her start her weekend with a PR snatch. I couldn’t wait to see her in the rest of the events. I knew I was in for a spectacular weekend watching, in my opinion, the greatest athlete I have ever seen achieve something remarkable. Event after event she struggled. Interspersed among first place finishes were placements of 3, 11, 12. The shoe-in to win finished in 2nd place overall. In her post-Regional blog :

…I’m really grateful for how things turned out. Second place feels like a gift from the Universe. Something I need, but certainly didn’t ask for or want

It has been a long, hard week for me. Life handed me a few first place finishes but more 11 and 12’s than I imagined possible. And, good or bad, I don’t have the superhero composure of Akinwale. I doubt most of us do. I knew there was a lesson to be learned if I could only see it, that the Universe was sending me a gift if I could just be still enough to let things unfold and reveal itself.

Last night I was ordering an Akinwale T-shirt for one of my athletes that reads “Still I Rise”, the title of a Maya Angelou poem. It reminded me that even heroes have challenges. Truly what makes them heroes are their ability to overcome those challenges. I looked up that poem and it did indeed put the entire week into perspective for me. Reading it brought me the calm and peace I needed to remember who I am, why I do what I do, the importance of remaining true to my values and loyal to the people I love.

If you find yourself facing a particularly difficult time, perhaps it will help you as well. If you are not struggling, I highly suggest keeping a copy of this with you for your time of need. And remember, the world falls apart sometimes. When it does, rise.

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Update & A Client PRs

I promised not to go AWOL and while I am unable to write much now the update is this. Things are on hold. No more new clients. No more competition.

In wonderful news: one of my newer girls got a PR on her deadlift today. 135#. It was a great and proud moment for me.
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My clients are always thanking me for keeping them motivated and keeping things fun. I doubt they realize how they inspire me and offer a constant source of joy.

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Schedules and Bounce Backs

The deal was struck and Thursday my hip felt good. I had to start on time because I wanted to get an ice bath in before my annual doctor appointment. Noon came and at that exact moment a newbie wanted to sign up for the gym. Business first. We didn’t start on time.

We didn’t start on time, my daily schedule has changed, I have other concerns on my mind, and, even though the hip doesn’t hurt, I don’t want to re-injure myself. Oh, you can see where this is headed can’t you? My warm-up deadlifts were beautiful. My working sets were failed attempt after failed attempt. I walked away. I pulled myself together. I came back and had a great set. Coach said “A year ago you would not have done that. You would have imploded”. “And you would have sent me home.” High fives were exchanged…

And then I failed every attempt after that. My hip was in pain. I asked what was next and he said “Rest and ice. Your hip can’t take anymore today. Finish it on the weekend”. I made an involuntary face to which he said “What was the deal?” I would listen to my hip and I would do what Coach said without argument or attitude. I smiled and said “Next time I won’t negotiate. I’ll stick to your plan and your adjustments. Thanks for letting me try though”.

My ice bath was a short 6 minutes and then to the doctor. When she asked about my hip, I explained I can’t go off the approved discussion list because I don’t have insurance. I can’t afford a double visit charge. I still don’t understand why an annual check-up isn’t specific to the person. I don’t get mammograms, paps are every 5 years, I don’t even need blood work. Shouldn’t a check-up be a general “how are you?” But I have an amazing doctor and she went through the list and picked out what is and isn’t necessary. Then she said “As a friend, not a medical professional so no charge, how’s the hip?” And I told her, explained we figured out the problem with glute activation, how Coach is solving the problem, how we pinpointed the areas to correct. When I am done, her response was “this is fascinating, the way you two are putting pieces together. I could refer you to specialists but you & Coach are doing more for it than they will.”

It is Friday and we are back on schedule. Bench and tricep work. Today was further evidence of my growth. The first set was messy. The following sets were some of my best bench presses to date. I still am surprised that when form is off, weight seems impossible to move but when form is good, that same weight is like moving air. Amazing. My tricep work (narrow grip bench, skullcrushers, pushdowns) felt great. Today was a good day. Today I felt like I made progress towards competing.

I took an ice bath today and have a few planned for the weekend. I need my hips and glutes next Tuesday, when my schedule returns to normal.

The Post Where I Prove I’ve Learned Some Things

I have a week of 15 hour days (except for Thursday) because I am in charge while the owner is away. It sounds more awesome than it is. When Coach walked in I said “this would be my dream if it were your facility I was caring for”. But it’s not. It is a place that meets our needs for now and gives us lots of room to dream. We dream of what our platforms would be like (an area to be named after me!), we dream of a reverse hyper, we dream of bands and chains. Today he came into my temporary office and said “your office in my facility is going to be so much cooler and I’m getting you a metal desk”. To reflect my hard, cold personality? “Exactly”.

If you don’t know my schedule yet it doesn’t matter, it got mixed up. I wore heels to the wedding, even the total non-girly-girl that I am couldn’t say no to these. They didn’t even hurt my feet. At one point I took them off but my hip felt funny so I put them back on. My hip felt better. A good, solid 12 hours in those puppies, many compliments on my whole ensemble, a beautiful wedding for a wonderful couple, it was a great Saturday. I had fun playing dress-up.

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And Sunday I couldn’t walk. I spent the day crawling from ice bath to couch to ice bath. I cursed those shoes, the sales girl who told me to wear heels, Coach and The Professor for not realizing heels would shift my hip, myself for blaming others for my idiotic mistakes and for pretending to be something I am not: pretty, feminine, a girly girl. I had just had my first day back to the bar for deadlifts in a year, one week into our attempt to have it ready for the competition, and I destroy my hip 4 in one evening. Sunday was a day of self-loathing and hating the world. Through rehab I followed all the rules, did everything Coach said to do to care for it, I rehabbed slowly to make sure I brought it back right and better than ever and I still get screwed. Sunday was my pity party. Monday I was hobbling, barely able to walk, completely unable to demonstrate.

Monday I lift shoulders. All lifts that might jar the hip were removed. It made for a short day. Coach and I were out of synch. No niceties, no chit chat, no fun. In between his bench sets he says “you obviously did something wrong!” and I was torn between tears or hitting him. “I didn’t break any rules. You knew I was wearing heels, why didn’t you say no?” “It never occurred to me” he said quietly. We didn’t talk again, continued to spot for each other. We got through our workout the best we could.

Monday I discovered I have finally learned that sometimes things just happen. I’m not at fault. Coach isn’t at fault. Things just happen.

Tuesdays are leg day. Coach said “you’ll be on special lifts” meaning light weight, 100s of reps (or 20) each set, hitting the muscle groups but avoiding the hip. “Or how about this Coach: it only feels a little sandpaper-y. I could do back today and rest it 2 more days. If it is still sandpaper-y, I can do special lifts on Thursday and if it feels better I can run my program.” “I have assigned the program days for a reason.” The same reason I set my lifters up on their days. But we are 5-1/2 months out and switching one day this one week won’t make or break the competition. Let’s just see what 2 days does. “You’ve made an argument I can live with”.

For this week only: back day is Tuesday. We are still out of synch. We are both tired and sick and in pain. We are both awesome when in sessions with clients. We shut down when we are together. My lifts went well and several weights increased. Rows and lat work, light good mornings. Near the end I said to him “Sometimes I think I prefer fighting with you than just being out of synch. It is less concerning.” “Eh, we always come back together. I would pick a fight with you to make you feel better but neither one of us has the energy for it”. He is right. And we are always ok. Honestly, I don’t prefer fighting.

Tuesday I discovered that I have finally learned that Coach and I, my little family, have enough faith in us to simply be us; that I believe someone has my back and I don’t need to worry about the “off” days.

Wednesday is a day of rest. My hip feels close to 100%. Instead of hating myself I am taking pride in the fact that I am taking care of it for once. If it doesn’t feel great tomorrow I won’t push it. I am smarter than I used to be – that is truly the amazing thing!

Wednesday I discovered that I have learned to listen to my body, be patient with the process, that a few days off at this point could prevent months of rehab.

My Athlete worked with Coach today. It was her first day on snatches. I love these sessions. I love seeing her advance. I love learning how to coach from Coach. I love being on a team, working together. Today we are connected…synch in progress.

Back to learning more lessons. Back to working towards big goals. Back to dreaming big dreams.

New Cycle, New Looks

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I am ready to fight for my place again.

Tuesdays are leg days.

Coach sent the program for the next three weeks. My drive in was an inner battle “I hate this write-up, I am going to kill him…trust your coach”. I trust my coach.

I am tired of rep schemes of 8 and 5. I fell in love with seeing progress week-to-week under Wendler, I want to run Westside. Westside is the best. We both know this yet everyone (except for me, the one competitor) is getting a version of it but me. Why?

I talked to him instead of killing him. I’ve been looking at the program thinking “I suck. He’s giving me an average program because he doesn’t think I will be better than average”. He explains that he’s writing the program to develop my deadlift. “Your bench will be there. I’m not worried. I want to see if we can get your hip ready in time to compete in the deadlift too”.

While I have been thinking how much I suck, what an embarrassment I will be to both of us, he’s been thinking of ways to make me more awesome. Go figure. Trust Coach.

Getting the hip ready this cycle means sumo deadlifts, wide stance squats, leg presses, glute extensions.

I’ve been using a hex bar for deads since my return. This is the first time I have been at a regular bar for them in a year. My bad right hip wanted to carry the team – just like the good ol’ days – but I’m working in it. It’s good to be back at the bar.

We rigged the glute extensions. Isolating the left hip made It painfully evident that my left glute isn’t kicking in on any of my lifts. While working it, the right cramped because it wanted to take over but was forcefully unable to participate; The Professor entered, saw me rolling on the floor and was concerned. Coach called out “she’s fine” but then came over and said “cramp not pain, right?” I am unaccustomed to such concern, he didn’t even ask what was wrong when I went down with my injury.

When I ended the workout, kneeling on the floor, I felt a fight return that has been missing for over a year. I said “when I was started no one thought I would last and I proved you all wrong. I will prove them all wrong again” and Coach held out his hand and pulled me off the floor. I have a team this time. It won’t be so hard. Trust Coach.

Wednesday was a rest day (meaning only cardio work) and I soon discovered my left glute did participate. Holy soreness!

Today, Thursday, was back day. The weights all seemed too light. I don’t know how much playing he wants me to do with the plan so I only upped the single arm lat work.

The real work today happened out of session. My beautiful, long, wavy hair that I loved to see flying during WODs is no longer. I got it chopped boy short. In six weeks she is going to put 5 different colors in but did not share what exactly they would be. I am all for exciting and new at this point but I am trusting that they won’t be hues of pink and purple. I am not that exciting.

And then I had my least favorite mission: dress shopping. I am not a shopper. I don’t wear dresses. We have several weddings to attend this summer so I have to get something. I thought Macy’s would be my best bet here in The Middle of Nowhere but after an hour of wondering and 10 minutes in a dressing room thinking I look like a boy version of my grandmother in these clothes, I had to suck it up and enter the mall. I went into the third store past the entrance and tried on several things. I texted a girlfriend who is a girly girl and she offered to come help. But I knew by the time she arrived I would run out of patience. She replied “ask the girl who is working”. The girl had a skirt and top picked out in under 30 seconds. I had my doubts. I called from behind the door “it’s too small” and she ordered me out of the room. I emerged and she said “Your ass is amazing!” I again said it was too small and she said “it’s supposed to fit like that. The problem is people who wear those skirts don’t have your ass.” SOLD! As I am checking out, she asks for one of my cards making me think I just may wear this skirt on a regular basis…free advertising! I think to myself “this is the most confident I have been about my body since I broke 100#”.

Until she calls out to me “don’t forget – that skirt needs some serious heels to go with it”. That never ends well…

Shoulder Day & Baby Arrives

Monday’s are shoulder days. I love lifting shoulders (usually) but it has been brutal lately. I have a wonky shoulder, always have, and I am used to it sublexing on a regular basis. It usually takes close to a week for it to get back in place. I am used to this being in my left arm.

Back around Christmas, I had a jerk go wrong and my right shoulder popped out of place. I haven’t had a pain free shoulder day since then. Coach has been programming lifts that, if I kept perfect form, my shoulder should ache but not be painful…if I kept perfect form.

Today began phase 2 of competition prep. I have come to associate Monday with pain and when I looked at my workout I knew today would not end well for me. It began with military presses (yay!), upright rows (ugh!), shoulder presses, rear delt work, and ended with core work.

I am overjoyed to have mil presses back, upright rows were the best I have ever had, shoulder presses pinched in the joint a little and I could have had a little more ‘pop’ on the push, we made a slight adjustment to the rear delts and I loved them. And, after taking some time off of core specific work, I was pleased with how quickly my core strength came back (I credit the return of heavy lifting in general for keeping my core in tact).

I ended the day and said to Coach “my shoulder doesn’t hurt!” We were both pleased. Apparently he noticed it moving oddly when I was with a client and was concerned it would be a rough day.

But 2 hours post-lifting the pain started and then began to radiate down my arm…what the hell?!

Mom-to-Be client is now Mom to a one week old precious baby girl. Mom, dad and baby are healthy and happy. I had the great honor to meet her last week and she is, in fact, the most beautiful baby I ever saw! As I sat there holding this dear gift to the world, I couldn’t help but think how amazing it was that her parents trusted me to care for mom and baby throughout the pregnancy. I am truly blessed! And I plan to spoil The Little Lifter like crazy 🙂

AWOL: Warrior Girl

I just ended week 3 of competition prep. It takes place in December and I am working on staying focussed on today. It is a challenge but one I am succeeding at…shocking, I know! But one day at a time has been busy and suddenly 3 weeks are gone.

Yes, I have been AWOL for three weeks. When Coach goes AWOL you can bet he gets the wrath of Warrior Girl the likes of which nobody has ever seen. That hasn’t happened in months. We came up with a system. He said at the time “I’m not used to someone caring about me. It won’t happen again”.

I get it. My life has entered a strange, new, chaotic stage. My only sleep is in the form of 20-30 min naps on days I have breaks between clients. When I get a chunk of time and think “I must blog” there is always something else that MUST get done. And I’m not used to having someone care enough to check in on me. It won’t happen again.

So, onto the details:

1) Building a business is a slow process. The hubs does not like the slowness and has put unrealistic time limits on when I must give up and return to corporate America. I understand his very real concerns about bills, mortgage…life requires money. But Warrior Girl does not give up and I know I have found my place in this world. Like a small miracle, I gained 4 clients in one week, surpassing his requirement by 1. But getting new programs set up takes time and, as those first weeks are terrifying for anyone, I am “on-call” more than usual. Several of my other clients are going on vacation and all want special workouts written for each day. As I view the fact that they want to keep up while on vacation as a huge compliment, I can’t say no. It is a challenge but one I love.

2) I am studying Westside programming. It is so different from the programming I am used to that one question leads to another and I quickly wind up spending hours on researching something I thought would take five minutes. As soon as my competition is over we will be switching me over to a Westside system. I am beyond excited…but one lift at a time. Coach is already implementing some of what we have learned into his program and has put The Professor on a modified version (she was looking for a change so she is the “test subject”).

3) I don’t know what to blog about anymore. I love strength training and competition prep but do you all want to hear every Tuesday deadlifts, every Friday bench? Do you love it as much as I do? The weights haven’t changed in 3 weeks, the reps and sets are the same for 3 weeks. Quite honestly, it’s a little boring. Coach’s program is fun and exciting but as he often reminds me: the blog isn’t about him, it’s about me. I’m just not sure my story is worth much anymore.

4) My Athlete continues to do amazing work. She has started to be a teenage girl at home and mom has been sending her in more often, supposedly I am a good role model. But she has also stopped eating – so much for “be better than your trainer”. Coach solves this problem with me by having me lift heavy, it kicks in my hunger mechanism. I posed my problem to Coach who said “anyone else, no eating/no lifting”. My Athlete will hate me. And I have to wonder: did she get this from me? Am I at fault? I don’t want to do body comps on her but she’s been lying to me about her food and it may be my only way to track.

5) And in the last week I have suffered another blow to the spirit…my cat is dying. He has been by my side through suicide attempts, stood guard when I was so stick thin I would pass out from malnutrition (he still nudges me if he thinks I’ve been standing too long), and laid by my side all last summer when my hip betrayed me and I thought my life was over. I don’t have a lot of people, I am reserved for a reason, and having lost my dearest friend just over a year ago, and facing this, I realize I will soon be left with just Coach on my side. It’s a scary time. I have had many pets in my life but never a kindred spirit. Sampson is truly that. When I first saw him we were connected: two abandoned and abused souls ready to attack anyone threatening our space, letting each other in. And now I have to let him go. His personality has changed but he is not yet in pain. I spend all night offering him droppers of milk, spoon feeding him fresh salmon. I am on high alert to determine if he has crossed from comfortable to uncomfortable as I will do the right thing by him. Whenever he is ready, even though I will not be, I will let him go.

In the meantime, thanks for asking how I was and I will blog more often…even just to say “it’s Friday. Time to bench”. I won’t go AWOL again.