Tuesday, September 28, 2010

...aRe yOu tHe tOrToiSe oR tHe hArE???...

My kids really liked classic stories and fairy tales when they were little. We would read two different stories every night before they went to sleep. There were all the stories one might expect...The Gingerbread Man...Chicken Little...Snow White...Rumpelstilskin...and of course, The Tortoise and The Hare. Each story has it's own lesson to be learned.

Many days, I workout alone. This is not my preference. I like to be with other people. Before I trained/was at a Crossfit facility...I had a personal trainer. Wes and I became the best of friends and even though he lives away now and has for years, I still hold him in my heart as one of my dearest friends. After almost a year of training with him, he use to joke that he almost felt bad taking my money. He is an amazing coach...truly talented...and had done what every good coach does...he taught me so well that I didn't NEED to pay him to train me anymore. I could've easily gone off on my own. I continued to pay him because I loved having someone there to push me through workouts. I loved NOT being alone.

Somedays I go to the gym when I'm not working there and workout with the group that is there. There's a sense of happiness and comfort when I am suffering alongside my friends. There's also a feeling of competition. I always run a little faster, push myself a little harder, do a little more when there's someone next to me and the stopwatch is running. So when I'm alone, it's easy to have days where I don't go quite as hard. It's easy to "forget" to start the stopwatch and just get through it at a "quick pace". I could quit or take breaks and no one would know. No one...but me.

I distinctly remember having an experience a while back where I learned an important lesson. I was struggling with being lonely in the gym. It seemed I was always working out alone and I felt bored and unmotivated. I remember getting to the gym and writing down what I planned to do on the whiteboard. I went outside to run a mile as my "warmup". I love to run and I've been running for years. One stinkin mile at an easy pace is nothin, but that day it felt like every step took a concerted effort. I finished up...feeling really tired and run down. I thought to myself... "Maybe I need to rest...Maybe I need to remember that slow and steady wins the race...just like the tortoise did."

I decided that instead of pushing myself to continue, I would clean up the gym because it was a real mess in there. I sprayed Lysol and wiped EVERYTHING down with antibacterial wipes. Then, I vacuumed and mopped. It took me almost an hour and my back was killin me. I decided to just go eat some lunch and then maybe take a walk...do some "active recovery".

I went and ate and was pulling in to the park to walk on the trail there when I had an "AHA" moment. I made a circle and pulled back out...heading back towards the gym just down the street. I went in...erased what I had originally planned...and started dragging dumbbells and the rowing machine and a medicine ball and a tire and a sledgehammer outside to the parking lot and entryway. I did a fun, but fairly tough workout...tough enough that I was LAID OUT on the ground when I was through. I timed myself with a stopwatch and went as if I were racing another person. I had no more energy or strength than I had earlier, but I did it for the reasons I am about to explain...

Yeah..."slow and steady wins the race" but ONLY if the other racers are distracted and lazy. We always think we should be like the tortoise...slowly and methodically going towards the goal and in some cases, that is true...but here's a slightly different view that I came up with that day. I do get tired. I do work hard and I could use a little rest. I can come up with a million excuses that would've gotten me out of working out that day and no one would think less of me. I could've been a tortoise and taken a slow, steady walk, but would I have felt the same sense of accomplishment?...and would I get as much out of it?!? The hare lost, but what if the hare had pushed himself to keep going when he was hungry and tired...if he had...HE would've beaten the slow, steady tortoise. So I asked myself that day...outloud..."Are you a tortoise...or are you the hare?"

If ALL the other "racers" don't try their hardest...if they are distracted by pain or hunger or things that are more "fun" to do...then certainly slow and steady will win the race. I'm not willing to take that chance. I want to set the pace. I know that in the end, it doesn't matter what other people are doing. I decide how I will take on each day in the gym and what my success or failure there will be. I decided that day to become the new, improved, focused hare and save the tortoise mentality for "rest days". So my question to you is the same one I asked myself..."Are you gonna be the tortoise? Or the hare?" It's up to you!


Friday, September 24, 2010

...wHiCh wOuLd yOu rAtHeR hAvE?...

I am not going to be mistaken for a professional athlete or a bodybuilder anytime in the near future. Muscles are not the first thing people notice when they see me...BUT when I slip into a bikini, I don't look scrawny or skinny. I think I look healthy and fit.

A few months ago, I posted some pics on my Facebook of some new bikinis I bought to show my friends. They were pics of them on models...thin models. Then when I got home from vacation, I was looking through pics on the beach and realized that while I am not abounding in muscles, I look so much healthier and stronger than those models wearing the same suits. Was it a HUGE difference? No...but it was enough to make me glad that I do what I do in the gym.

So I ask you...#1 Would you rather look skinny? Or #2 Would you rather look strong and healthy? Different people like different things...and I must say that I know my body is not perfect. There are people in better shape...people stronger...that look better, but the point I'm trying to make is that what we see in magazines...what we are taught to think is "good"...skinny...isn't as good as being healthy and fit!

If you chose answer #2, then get in the gym and lift weight! Push yourself! Don't worry about being bulky. I am a perfect example of someone that lifts weight and I am far from bulky!


Here's an amazing article from Elite FTS that really helped me realize how important the way I train is. CLICK HERE to read!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

...dOn'T bE A sHaLLoW HaL...

Some days I wonder...where does the time go? I wake up every morning with the intention of working out early...and so many times, I let life...or the computer...or phone calls and texts get in the way. Then, it seems I have to do less than I want or I miss a workout altogether and I then torture myself all day over it and I start to see myself differently in the mirror.

Anyone that knows the real, private me well, knows how very hard I am on myself. I pick myself apart like no body's business. It's not okay. It's bad. At times, I'm such a basket case over my body that I wonder if I need to switch to yoga or silent meditation with monks. I'm like Shallow Hal, only instead of seeing everyone as beautiful...I see MYSELF in reverse. I see beauty as ugliness and I see fit as fat. Not good! I SO need to chill...I know that..and see/treat myself the way I see and treat others.

A while back, I was really down on myself and a friend told me that I needed to adapt a new mantra that didn't start with "I suck" or "I'm fat"...and so I did. As narcissistic as I seem and can be at times...it really WAS hard for me to write the words...but I did...and for a while I read them to myself every morning when I was all alone...in my closet. I've kinda been slipping and stopped doing that for some time now. I have decided today that I need to get re focused and start seeing the good again. So I got out my old "mantra" and read it aloud. Here it is...
"I am beautiful. My a** looks hot in my tight jeans and spandex workout pants. When I wear a shirt with words and people stare at my chest...they are not always reading...and they are smiling. When I wear heels...my legs look long and sexy. When I walk by, people stop and stare...not because I look ugly...because I look good. I am beautiful.

I am strong. When I compete in the gym, I do well...sometimes...I even "beat the boys". When I demonstrate movements in the gym, I can make them look easy...even when they are not. When I do a difficult movement or lift a heavy weight, others are impressed. I have a body that most women would want and I should be proud. I am strong."
So, there you have it. I'm a little embarrassed to post this...but I promised to be honest with you...no matter what...even if people judge...and while I'll admit that it is a bit superficial...this is where I struggle. I know WHO I AM on the inside. It's the outside I have a hard time with, and so I'm gonna start reading this mantra again every day.

You may wonder how on earth I can struggle this way while trying to inspire women to take care of their bodies and embrace strength rather than struggling to be skinny. I'll tell you how I can do it...I can do it, because I've lived it and still do in some form on some days. I've felt the pressure to be skinny...and lemme tell you...I'm NOT "naturally skinny". I struggle to buy jeans that fit both my small waist as well as the quads my back squats have built. I took diet pills and ate lettuce as a teenager. I've also been overweight and struggle with the fear of returning there. I've seen this from every direction and that is why I am so passionate about this. I want the women that wear my tanktops and shirts to believe the words written on the chest..."Strong is the new skinny". I want you to look in the mirror and see what I see...a beautiful strong woman that is making progress each day in the gym.

I have decided that EVERYONE should have a mantra...so if you don't...take a minute today and write one. It doesn't have to be the same as mine. It can be anything you want as long as it builds you up. You can share it with the rest of us like I did...or you can keep it private...but read it...outloud to yourself...and don't stop reading it until you believe it in the depths of your soul. Don't be Shallow Hal...see things...see yourself as you really are...beautiful and strong.


Monday, September 20, 2010

...wOrKoUt tOurEttEs...

I love to workout alongside the guys at my gym. I love it, because they push me without saying a word. I run faster…I go harder and longer…I do one more rep without stopping…all because I want to beat them. This is funny...because the few guys I am usually trying to beat...are pretty strong guys…all younger than me (except one)…all men…many are ex-military...or in law enforcement. I can’t beat them usually…but still…I try and I’ll NEVER stop trying.

Sometimes…almost EVERY time…I am in serious pain during a workout as I race against the boys and the stopwatch. Consequently, I have to fight my way through most workouts. The funny part…the annoying part…is how uncontrollably loud I am. I GRUNT…and I MOAN…and I YELL. I’ve often referred to myself as “the Monica Seles of Crossfit”. I even shout out profanities every now and then. I make all sorts of crazy noise! I always wonder if I'm alone in this...Lots of times, no one says anything. Sometimes they tease me and say the sounds I make sound like the "mating call of a wild moose". Consequently, that's my nickname on especially hard/loud days in the gym..."Moose". The weird part is that it all JUST happens. These profanities and noises just fly out of my mouth without any thought…like I can’t control it. Even today in the gym...working out...ALL alone...I STILL grunted and yelled. It’s almost like I have Tourettes Syndrome…except it’s ONLY when I workout and it’s ONLY verbal…no tics…yet. It’s like I have “Workout Tourettes” and I wonder if I’ll ever be “cured”. Maybe one day I will learn to control it…but until then…I guess my friends at the gym will have to put up with me and my ridiculous noises in the gym. Still, I wonder...are other people as noisy as me???

~I'm so glad that I workout at a Crossfit gym where I can drop weights, and yell, and do whatever it takes to push myself further! I found this video and thought it was hilarious! Good thing I don't go to Planet Fitness! I might be kicked out!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

..aM i sTrOnG eNoUgH?...

Most people associate strength with muscles. If a guy has big muscles...he must be strong...right? So people go to the gym and they target certain muscles...biceps for example. Most guys in the gym want big biceps so they look "strong"...they hang out by the dumbbells and never think to learn complicated Barbell movements or Olympic lifts.. Who needs em?...right? The answer to that question is...everyone needs them. Young or old...fat or thin...people wanting to excel in sports as well as the everyday person that wants to be "fit"...no matter who you are...you can greatly benefit from working to improve your overall strength with a barbell and some plates.

True strength is
not about how
many inches around your bicep is or how sculpted your abs are. Don't get me wrong...those things are not bad...but they are aesthetic.
It's okay to want to look good. I do...but it's also important to be well rounded and strong.

I've thought a lot about what it means to be strong over the past week. When the whole "Strong is the new Skinny" thing came about on Facebook, I was just going about my life...being the best "me" that I could be. Since then, I have days when I wonder..."Am I strong enough?". I don't have the biggest muscles...there are lots of women that can probably lift a lot more than me. I wonder if I'm worthy to even be giving any advice or putting myself out there. So many questions run through my little blond head.

I've thought long and hard and here are the answers I've come up with... Yes, there are women with bigger muscles. Yes, there are women can lift or move more weight. But I am still worthy of giving advice...of telling my story...because no one knows me and where I've come from better than me. I AM the best at being me, and if I can inspire people with my story...my antecdotes, and my way of doing things then I don't need to worry about everyone else and how I compare. Am I lifting crazy amounts of weight??? No...but I am improving upon what I have been able to do in the past...and that makes me really happy.

Strength is relative in my opinion.
What is strong for me, is not strong for Ronnie Coleman...and what's strong for Ronnie Coleman, is not strong for Mark Twight. Neither of those guys could ever be the best at doing what the other does. They are best at what they, themselves, do.

Don't compare yourself to other people. Don't try to be the best at being someone else. Do what it takes to turn yourself into the best possible version of YOU. Strong looks different for different people. I think that's what makes "Strong is the new skinny" different. There's not one way to look or one way to get there. It's about NOT feeling like you have to look like everyone else. It's about loving yourself and working towards a better stronger you each day.

"Am I strong enough?" Yes, I am...and so are you!


Monday, September 13, 2010

...dOn'T hAtE mOnDaYs...

Have you ever seen a poster that says "I hate Fridays!"? Of course not. Fridays are looked forward to because we are tired and ready for fun...ready to be done with everyday stresses...excited to go have fun and spend time with friends and family. Mondays on the other hand...Mondays get a bad rap. Everyone hates Monday.

Monday is the day everyone drags around complaining about their job. It's like it's okay to be negative or unhappy on Mondays. It's almost expected. I use to feel this way. My house is always a wreck Monday morning. I feel regretful for all the bad, crappy food I ate over the weekend. My kids don't want to go to school. I'm thinking about everything I have to accomplish during the week and it can get really depressing and overwhelming if I let it. I'm not sure when it happened, but a while back that changed for me. I look at Mondays differently now. Instead of dreading Mondays, I try to look forward to them and frankly I have little patience for the incessant Monday b****ing. Here's what I say to anyone that feels the need to complain about Mondays...

If there's something you don't like about your life...CHANGE IT! If you hate your job, do something different. If you are unhappy with your reflection in the mirror...get up...NOW...and DO SOMETHING about it! LIVE the life you want and do it with commitment and passion. Stop doing what you think everyone else wants you to do and start really living.I know there are people saying, "But I can't just quit my job." or "I'll start my diet next week." I'm saying ,"Yes you can!" Maybe you can't walk in today and tell your boss to "Take this job and shove it!" because you have a family to support...bills to pay. What you can do is make a plan...with a deadline. Make a choice and stop being scared. Hold yourself accountable.

My all time workout hero is Mark Twight. He is really rough around the edges...offensive to some...but this is what he preaches. He says,
"Burn the bridge. Nuke the foundation. Back yourself up against a wall. Have an opinion one way or the other, get off the fence and rip it up. Cut yourself off so there is no going back. Once you're committed the truth will come out. You ask about security? What you need is uncertainty. What you need is confusion; something that forces you to reinvent yourself, a whip to drive you harder. "
Sounds harsh? Maybe it is, but have you ever met a successful football coach that babys his players and makes practice comfortable? Uhhh...NO. If you want to be strong, you have to do things that are scary sometimes. If you want to be strong, you have to do things that are uncomfortable...things that are hard. If you want to be strong, you cannot hide behind excuses or give up the first time you fail.

Get out a piece of paper right now. Hell, right on your hand if you have to. Write down something you are going to do differently...something that you want to improve upon...and DO IT! Don't tuck it away and continue to groan about the fact that it's Monday. Show it to someone and be accountable. Make the changes that you need to make to become better...stronger...and start doing them now. Trade your powdered donuts and pop tarts for eggs and bacon. Get in the gym and push yourself harder than you ever have. Surround yourself with people that make you want to do more, not those that seek to drag you down.

Don't hate Monday. USE Monday. Appreciate it for what it is...a fresh start...a chance to have a completely different week than you had the week before...an opportunity to become a whole new you...an excuse to cut things out of your life that no longer add to the quality of it. Do something different and CHOOSE the life you want...today!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

...wHo iS tHe giRL bEhiNd tHe tAnK?...

Who am I? I've sat at my mac pondering this question for a while. If people are like puzzles, I'm one that not everyone would attempt to put together. I'm a 1000 piece puzzle with lots of intricate pieces. The funny part is that when people first meet me, they think I'm one of those really simple 100 piece puzzles. You know the kind you can dump out of the box and put together in an hour.
Even though at times, it can be frustrating...I kind of like it. I'm aware that what I portray on first glance is a certain image. It's not fake. It is part of who I am, but there is a lot more to me under the surface. People see me with my toned body, blond hair, glossy lips, matching jewelry, tight jeans, high heels, and boobs...and they think they have me figured out. I met a guy, a friend of a friend, several weeks ago that on first meeting him in a parking lot was only around him for about two minutes. Later when we ran into him again at my friend's apartment, he said he had me sized up the minute he saw me. I said, "Oh really? And who is it that you think I am?" He said, "You like to workout. Your husband makes a lot of money. You are bossy and you like to have things the way you like them." You'd think I'd be offended by that. I wasn't. Sounds terrible, right? No, it's not really. He was right about all those things. Unfortunately for him, he only scratched the surface.

It's like taking a lick of the whipped cream on top of a chocolate pie. It's pretty good, but nothing compared to a whole bite of pie with all the different pieces together. There's so many things about me that are different. For example, when I was a little girl, I did not take ballet or tap class. I took Spanish dancing. Yes, little ol blond me took flamenco dancing. I learned how to dance and play the castanets from a lady named Lolita. Really. And I would go to festivals and dance in my dress...with a big flower...in my blond hair. I stood out. There was never anyone that looked like me performing and I loved it. That is just one example out of many I could give.

I'm sure when people first saw the picture that started it all...the one of me wearing my "Strong is the new skinny" tank, there were many assumptions made. There has been talk about using "sex appeal" and lots of talk about my now, somewhat famous boobs and that's okay. No one really knows the heart behind the boobs. Everyone sees a 100 piece puzzle. I am going to share my story, my thoughts, my tips, my feelings, my workouts with anyone that reads this. I am going to give you one more piece of the puzzle with each post until it's complete. Some pieces are very intricate and deep, intensely personal. Some pieces are small and simple. Some pieces are exciting and others are not, but it takes all those pieces together to make it complete.

Why do I want to do this? Why do I want to sit in front of a computer screen for hours writing? Why do I want to open myself up to lots of people that could potentially disagree or judge me? I'll tell you why. If I can inspire one person to make the changes that I have made, it is worth it. I went through times as a teenager where I starved myself trying to be "skinny". I have sisters that have struggled with anorexia. I've been fat and felt hopeless. When it comes to body issues, I've seen and felt it all. I am real. Some days I eat things I shouldn't. Some days I don't do as well as I would like to in the gym. Sometimes I pick myself apart and only see my flaws. I won't pretend to be perfect. I'm a regular person with the same struggles everyone else has.

I don't need to weigh 115 lbs to be beautiful. I don't need to be super model skinny to look good. I have found what works for me...what has helped me become the strong, healthy, fit person that I am today. I feel more confident and beautiful at almost 41 than I ever felt at 25 and I want to share the things I've learned with other people. For me, becoming strong on the outside has made me stronger on the inside. And that is why for me, strong is the new skinny.

And so the roller coaster ride begins. As Bette Davis said, "Buckle up! It's going to be a bumpy ride!"