Wednesday, March 30, 2011

...tHe RaCe...

"Life ain't a track meet. It's a marathon." That's a line from one of my favorite rap songs to run to. I agree with that to some extent, but sometimes I think life is more easily compared to a war with lots of battles leading up to the end. To win the war, we have to go through smaller battles...some we win and some we lose. To get to the end of a marathon or even a race for that matter, we have to make it through one mile at a time or one lap around the track at a time. It's easy to confuse small victories or losses as being the end, but I know that winning one battle does not win a war and running one mile faster than anyone else does not win a marathon. On the flip side, losing one battle or tripping and falling during a race does not mean it's over either.

I could write a long flowery post with great comparisons and metaphors, but today...I think less is more. I will let this video speak for itself and close with just this...

When you fall...get up. When you want to give up...don't. It is up to YOU to decide how your race will end. Will you lie there on the track and give up? Or will you get up and keep running?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

...dOn'T bE a CiRcUs eLePhAnt...

I loved taking my kids to the circus when they were very little. It was so much fun to watch their faces light up as they watched all the amazing stunts and shows and see them laugh at the clowns. We've been to a big circus and we've also been to a small traveling circus, so the acts and animals varied, but I've never been to a circus that didn't have an elephant. About a year ago, I learned how circus elephants are trained. When I heard the process by which they are made me kinda sad for the elephants...but it also helps me put some things in my life and in the lives of people that I train into perspective. I was reminded of this as I talked to a new client last night...disappointed that she isn't losing massive amounts of weight after two sessions in the gym. I could feel a sense of helplessness arising in her and as I reassured her, it made me think about the phenomenon of "learned helplessness".Obviously, elephants are very powerful animals...and much stronger than humans. They have the power to escape from the's just that they don't know it. The elephants are caught when they are very young and they are chained to strong stakes that are driven deep in the ground. They struggle and fight to free themselves but the chain is too strong. Eventually, the elephant realizes that it can't break free and it quits trying. From that day on, the elephant believes that it cannot free itself as soon as it feels any resistance at all. In fact, a circus elephant can be tied to a small flimsy stake with a thin piece if rope and it will not try to escape because it has been conditioned to believe that it is powerless. This is called "learned helplessness".Elephants are not the only creatures that can be conditioned this way. Humans can as well. If a person is told how worthless they are...over and over and over again...soon they will believe that they are. If people tell you that "you can't"...or shouldn't...enough times...eventually you won't even try. I wonder to myself, "Can those elephants ever be untrained?". I wonder if it's possible for them to realize their strength and their ability to go where they want to go. My guess would be that it isn't possible after a certain amount of time.I grew up feeling like I couldn' I would fail. There were things that I went through that hurt me...times when like that baby elephant...tied to a strong stake...I truly was helpless. So I became conditioned...trained if you will...and many times...even after I was grown and able to make my own choices and have power...I behaved like a circus elephant. I have the power to tear free and do whatever I want to do, but I rarely tried because I worried that I would fail. As soon as I faced resistance...I felt helpless. I worry that I have been conditioned to give up...but I will say sad as that may sound and as hard as that cycle is to break...I have become so much better than I use to be...than I thought I could ever be. When I began training with my friend, he brought things out in me that surprised me...glimpses of strength...moments of feeling like a winner. It was a priceless gift...a gift that I would like to pay forward to other people that I train.
I think that just like the circus elephant...I will always have some small form of "learned helplessness" that can hold me back at times. I can't change what has happened to me, but I CAN try hard to build other people in a sense free them from the heavy chains before they learn to feel helpless. I want my children, the people that I train, and anyone that reads this to know that many times, the things holding us back...making us feel helpless are actually very small or even imagined. Just as the grown elephant can easily break free from the small stake, we have the power within us to make changes. I want to teach others and MYSELF never to give up or feel helpless because we each have the strength to fight against ANY resistance that comes our way.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

...tiMe tO wAkE uP...

Mark Twight fascinates me. I read his book "Kiss Or Kill: Confessions Of A Serial Climber" and enjoy reading articles off his site GYM JONES online. I came across a quote that I have by him that says, "Some of us wake up. Others roll over." This quote came to mind this morning as I thought about my life. I was thinking about what my life opposed to what it COULD have been. I think we all fall into the trap of the old "grass is greener on the other side" thoughts from time to time. It's easy to fantasize about being happy..or another life...but sometimes, it takes work to be happy with what you have right in front of you.I like Mark Twight's philosophies and collect his quotes, because they do not just apply to sports or physical training. They are philosophies that I can also apply to the way I live my life everyday...the way I see the attitude in general. I wonder how many days or even years that I've wasted "rolling over"...sleep walking through my life...dreaming it away...when instead I could be "waking up"...opening my eyes and seeing the possibilities that lie in front of me each day...doing the best I can with what I a life I can be proud of; one I can love.I may not climb mountains like Mark Twight, and I've never written a book. I'm not an expert and I certainly have no followers or "disciples" as he calls them...but I CAN be great. I can "wake up" and be the greatest version of me. I can "wake up" and choose to truly see the possibilities of a new day. I can be aware. I can be grateful. I can be strong.

Monday, March 14, 2011

...pOwERfuL bEyOnD mEaSuRe...

"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
 but that we are powerful beyond measure.
 It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
 We ask ourselves, '
Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?' 
Actually, who are you not to be? 
You are a child of God.
 Your playing small does not serve the world.
 There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
 so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
 We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. 
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
 And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people
 permission to do the same. 
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others."

Marianne Wiliamson

I sat on my bed with a sandwich one Saturday afternoon. I turned on the TV and surfed for something to watch while I ate. I couldn't find anything so I settled in and left the channel on a movie that I really had no interest in..."Akeelah And The Bee". As I watched...surprised that it was better than I expected...I heard a part of this quote. I put down my sandwich and immediately searched online for the quote in it's entirety. It was like a switch flipped in my head. I pride myself on the fact that I tend to see the world a bit differently than most other people...but this was something truly changing...thought provoking.

"Am I really inadequate or do I pretend to be? Do I pretend because I am afraid? Am I afraid of my own greatness? "

I'm not sure that I know the answers to these questions. I do know that I have lived my life worrying about what others think...worrying that I won't measure up. What I didn't realize until I heard those words, was that I have not only lived in fear of not measuring up...but I have lived in fear of achieving too much. I'm afraid I won't be good enough and people won't like me...and I'm afraid I'll be too good and people will hate me for it. I'm not sure how to change the way I to harness the power that I have within...but I guess recognizing that it is the first step towards truly becoming "powerful beyond measure".

Be proud of who you are. Don't be afraid or downplay your abilities. Find your power and be strong.

Friday, March 11, 2011

...iT's tiMe tO dRoP tHe aNcHoR...

I'm not a person with alot of collections in my house. I don't collect figurines or snow globes or anything like's never been "my thing". The only thing I really collect is quotes. Whether they are poems...or movie lines...or quotes from famous people...whenever I come across a quote that is inspirational to me...I write it down and add it to my "list". I've even been known to pull out my cell phone in a movie to type in a quote or a line that I that is worthy of my collection. Yeah, it's weird, but it's what I do.

In the movie "The Guardian", there was a line that really had an impact on me the first time I heard it. Kevin Costner's character, Ben Randall, is teaching the young men that are in the Coast Guard about how to be good "rescue swimmers" and this is one of the things he tells them: "There will come a time when you might have to decide who lives and dies out there. It's a terrible responsibility but it's one you will have to make as a rescue swimmer. The bigger reality is, its also something you are going to have to live with as a human being. There will come a time when you will have to say no. The most important person to keep alive is yourself."

I've been thinking about letting go...letting go of the things in my life that are drowning me...the things that will kill me in a sense if I continue to hold on to them. "The most important person to keep alive is yourself." I heard that line in my mind as I thought about some of the people and things that are like an anchor around me. Sometimes it's easy to let go...and sometimes it takes the feeling of struggling to tread water before I realize that I have a decision to make.I don't let go or give up easily...especially when it comes to the people that I care about...but there's only so long that a person...even a strong person...can tread water before they drown. I can't control other people. I've learned that the hard way. The only thing I can control is myself. I have to make my own decisions. I have to know when to walk away from people and things that keep me from reaching my goals and weaken me. I have to know when it's time to save MYSELF...because the fact is that these so called anchors in my life that are dragging me down are not chained to me...I am holding onto them...I have to let go...I have to drop the anchor or I will drown. It's hard to break bad habits. It's hard to give things up that give you temporary comfort. It's hard to walk away before you're ready and it hurts to mourn someone that is still alive. But sometimes, we have to choose ourselves over others in order to be strong ourselves and truly live.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Loud, angry music is blaring. Between songs there is a melody of grunts and groans...heavy breathing...and intermittent cursing. I'm holding a stopwatch...counting down...saying "Hold on! You can do it! Only 30 more seconds! You can do ANYTHING for 30 seconds!!!" I get a few desperate and angry looks and then all of the's over. The seconds have passed and the stopwatch is stopped. The hard work and pain are over. The struggle and the yells are replaced with sighs of relief and smiles. This is a common occurrence in the gym I work at. I see it almost everyday. Almost everything we do is about time...about seeing who can go further faster...or who can reach the destination first. Every minute...every second counts.
Sometimes it's painful.
I know this because I'm not always on that side of the stopwatch. Many times, I am the one suffering...struggling to finish right alongside everyone else. Somedays are more difficult than others. Some days the physical pain is enticing...addictive...almost pleasurable. I enjoy the fight and I feel as though I have "won". Other days it feels like mind becomes consumed with the fear of not being first...feelings of frustration distract me. The pain can overwhelm me if I allow it to...but no matter what...I don't stop. Giving up is not an option for me in the gym. I tell myself what I tell everyone else..."I can do this. It's only 30 more seconds. Hold on."There are 86,400 seconds in a day...and everyday...those seconds are filled with many different emotions. Some are filled with laughter. Some are filled with peace. Some are filled with anger...some with disappointment and regret. Some are filled with anticipation and others with happiness. And some...are filled with pain...the worst kind of pain there is...the pain of the heart. This pain is both physical and emotional. It clouds my mind and makes me forget that I am strong. It leaves me gasping for air...breathless...with a lump in my throat. It makes me want to clutch my chest because the stabbing pain in my heart feels so tangible.I have suffered physical pain in the gym that I never thought I could withstand and I have learned to deal with live in it so to use it to push myself further...but when it comes to emotional pain...sometimes I am weak. And when I have days...where the seconds of pain seem to outnumber the seconds of peace and happiness...I don't want to "live in it". I don't want to push myself to be better...stronger. I want to quit...stop the watch...stick my middle finger in the air and run away. The hard part is that I can't run away from myself...or my thoughts...or memories.So as bad as I want to...I will never give up...I will never stop. I will do what I tell the brave people that I work with everyday to do. I will hold on...30 seconds at a time...again and again...until finally the pain subsides...and I find myself breathing a sigh of relief...smiling...and enjoying seconds filled with something more pleasant than pain.

*The pics above are from the "aftermath" of "Fran" one day at the gym.
21-15-9 for time
Thrusters (95M/65W)
Pull Ups

Saturday, March 5, 2011

...i hEaRt CrOssFiT...

Yesterday, I wore this tank. It's one of my favorites. I wasn't feeling well but I was scheduled to work. When I am scheduled to cover classes at our Crossfit gym, I HAVE to be there because it means my friend Jared that owns the gym is on duty at the fire station. There's no one else...and that's okay...because I love my job and the people I work with.

After I made it through the day and got home from the last class, I went in my closet to change and take off my workout clothes and put on some jeans so we could go eat some dinner. As I slipped off this tank and threw it in my laundry hamper, I thought about just how true that little phrase is to me and why.People wear "I heart" shirts all the time. One of the most well known would have to be "I heart NY". Some people may wear those shirts and really mean it, but for most, it's just a fashion statement or a cute saying. I would venture to say that most everybody that wears an "I heart CF" shirt...means it. I know I do, and I'll tell you why.For me, it's not just about the organization itself. It's so much more that I love. I love that I can train like an athlete and that I can coach and train everyday people like athletes. I love that the workouts have pushed me past my self imposed limitations...time and time and time again. I love that it never gets easier. It does not matter how long I have done Crossfit or how good of shape I'm in...if I give everything I is always hard and there's always room for improvement. I love having people sweating and suffering alongside me during workouts, and laid out on the floor next to me when we are done. I love how strong and fit I FORTY ONE! I love that I have had the opportunity to learn from and train with great coaches at certification classes including Dave Castro, Dutch Lowy, Adrian Bozman, Brian MacKenzie, Mark Rippetoe, Shane Hamman, Mike Burgener, and many others. I love the friends I have made at certifications and on Facebook and through the Crossfit community in my area, but the thing I love the most is my Crossfit family.I get to associate and train and work with a small group of people that are more than clients or even friends to me. They are like family. I know that in a pinch, I could rely on any one of the people at my gym. They push me and encourage me and I do the same for them. I hear them cheer each other on during workouts and have even seen people that are sweaty and exhausted...finished with their own workout...go out and do lunges or run beside another person that may be struggling to finish. They tease me all the time and we joke around, but at the end of the day I KNOW they have my back. THESE are the reasons that I truly "heart" Crossfit.

I think this is an amazing video by Crossfit by Overload! To learn more about Crossfit, visit the mainsite by clicking HERE!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

...BiRd'S eYe ViEw...

"It is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is much better at the top." ~ Arnold Bennett

They say "it's lonely at the top". At times I think that's true. I certainly do not consider myself to be THE BEST at anything or feel as though I'm better than anyone else, but at times I feel alone; separated. I don't feel as though I separate myself though. I feel like people push me away or put me up on a pedestal or place me in a different category.

I first noticed it when I lost weight and was in the PTA. A lot of the women avoided me...and I had to hear from my neighbor how they were all talking about me. I saw the looks on their faces when I would say I couldn't work the Book Fair at 9AM because that's when I worked out with my trainer. I felt an alien...and lots of times I was lonely. Sometimes people wanna question and judge me. I've been told in the past that I have a problem...that I workout too hard...too much...that it is wrong for me to take that time out to focus solely on me.When I complained about this to my friend David several months ago, he said, "Well,'s lonely at the top." For a split second, I wondered if I have made a mistake. Maybe I shouldn't treat my workouts like a job. Maybe I shouldn't try to constantly be better. Maybe it would be easier to be a little more like everyone else. As I said, that lasted a SPLIT SECOND!

I don't regret a thing. Actually, I take it back. I do regret one thing. I regret not doing it sooner. I know I'm not alone in this. I know there are many women that do Crossfit that feel the same way at times. People that are unhappy with themselves tend to look at the accomplishments of others as their own loss rather than someone else's gain. It probably doesn't help that I take away the excuses. People can't say "But, I'm over 40." because I am too. People can't say, "I'm busy." or "I eat out a lot." because I'm busy and I eat out almost every day. People can't say "I have had kids." or "I have bad genes." because I have 3 kids and come from a long line of people that struggle with their weight.

What I wanna say here is twofold. First, if you wanna change...CHANGE. If I can do it, ANYONE can do it. Don't look for excuses or feel like you are not good enough. Get up and start doing things different. If you want to be in shape, BEHAVE like a person that is in shape and soon you will become that. Second, if you have made changes and feel isolated or like people don't understand, don't let it slow you down or make you feel bad. You keep doing what you are doing to be fit and healthy. Don't become bitter and angry. Educate people. Make them like you. Sometimes for me, it has just been an issue of sticking around and giving people the chance to know me beyond what's on the outside.It may be lonely at the top and the climb may be difficult, but there is no where else I'd rather be than sitting on top of the mountain with a bird's eye view of the world at my feet!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

..."eAt LiKe a cAvEmAn"...

Here's a great little spot on the Paleo diet. I don't personally follow it, but I have MANY friends and know people at my gym that do and have had great results...both in performance and with weight loss. I was excited to see a story that included Robb Wolf and featured Crossfit gyms, but on a selfish note...I was mostly excited to see a woman wearing a pink "Strong is the new skinny" tank!!! (4:43) Give it a watch and if you are interested in this diet or getting the tank, I will put links below where you can find more info!

Practical Paleolithic (great resource from my friend Adam Farrah)
Robb Wolf (author of "The Paleo Solution")
"Strong is the new skinny" (get the tank here)