Wednesday, May 25, 2011

...bUiLdiNg bLoCkS...

When my first child was born, my husband and I had been married for almost 5 years and we were thrilled to have her. I wanted to be the perfect Mom...which now makes me laugh because "she" (the PERFECT Mom) doesn't's like wanting to be a's a cute thought but NOT gonna happen! Anyways, she was our only child for 3 years. I doted on her. Everyday, I read to her and dressed her to perfection with perfectly matching bows on her head. I would sit and play with her and do puzzles in her room. One day when my daughter was about 2, my sister gave me a big tin of wooden building blocks that one of the kids she was a nanny for had outgrown. Savy LOVED them! Her favorite thing to do was for her and I to carefully build as tall a building as we could and then she would crash it down to nothing and we would laugh.When Savy turned 3 she started attending preschool. She was amazingly above average in intelligence but a little immature socially so it was really good for her. One day, I went to pick her up and her teacher stopped me. The conversation went a little something like this:

TEACHER: (stern look on her face) Mrs. Christensen...we are having a problem during freeplay time with Savanna.

ME: (stressed but trying to look calm and use my sweet Mommy voice) You are? I'm sorry. What is going on?

TEACHER: Savanna is making the other children cry! (looking at me like I'm training her to be a ninja assassin at home for fun)

ME: (getting really worried and stressed as to what is coming next) What is she doing?!?

TEACHER: (excited to tell me) We play with wooden blocks...

ME: (interrupting) Oh! Savy LOVES blocks! We...

TEACHER: (cutting me off) Yes...I'm aware! Every time the children build something, she runs over and knocks it down, claps, and laughs!!! I have told her repeatedly that this is UNACCEPTABLE behavior and she continues to do it day after day!

I explained that I had unknowingly taught her that behavior and in turn went home and taught my daughter that it was okay to do that at home, but when we play with's better to help them build things rather than always tearing them down.You are probably wondering what on earth this lovely little story has to so with being strong. Well, I immediately thought of this story today when I innocently posted a beach pic of myself (the one at the top) with my son a couple of years ago on the "Strong is the new skinny" FB page asking what people like to do that works their body (like me digging a hole in the pic with my son) but is not a traditional exercise movement. I was about 10 lbs thinner, very tan, and very lean. I received a comment that said...(and I quote)... "You look sick, skinny, unhealthy and freaky! Take a brek."

You'd think this would anger me or hurt my feelings. It did not. Okay, well...I considered leaving a comment that simply said, " (insert person's name), BITE ME!" for a minute, but I controlled the urge. What I DID think was how sad it is that WE AS WOMEN tend to tear each other down. We want to blame men...and there are some jerks out there...for the fact that we feel the need to be beautiful and wear the right clothes and have the perfect hair and body, but it's really women that are the problem!We are all guilty at some time. We've all done it...myself included. We talk behind people's backs or pick apart what they are wearing...the skirt is too long...she shouldn't have cut her hair like that...she's gained weight...she's lost too much weight. I even see it with my children. It is such an epidemic. We as women are tearing each other down, just like Savanna tore down every building made of blocks! Sometimes, it's innocent. We say things and laugh like it's just a game, but don't stop to think about what it is that we are doing or how it may make the other person feel.One of my goals with "Strong is the new skinny" is to build an army of men and women that can inspire each other and build each other up. Just like it was inappropriate for Savy to knock the other kids' blocks down, it's wrong for us to knock other people down or judge them harshly. It's okay to have differing opinions. It's not okay to be mean.
My challenge to anyone that reads this, is this: Think before you speak or type. Change the way you look at other people. Stop being B**CHY and judgmental and look for the good. You don't have to like what everyone else wears or how they look or how they train or what they think. Be STRONG enough and confident enough in yourself to not make comparisons out of insecurity and teach your daughters to do the same. Let's all work to build each other proverbial block at a time...and make something amazing! THAT is how you make the world a better, stronger place.

Friday, May 20, 2011

...eVeRyBoDy nEEdS a fRiEnD...

I wrote this piece below 4 years ago when my great friend/trainer, Wes, was about to move away. He had encouraged me to start blogging, and I did. It was a hard time for me. I wasn't sure I'd ever stop missing him every day like I did, but as they say "Time heals all wounds". We've both grown and changed over the years since then, but one thing remains constant...our friendship. Wes and I were able to have lunch together yesterday and it was just as great as I knew it would be...a real bright spot in my week. We haven't done so good over the past year keeping in touch, but as soon as I see's as if no time has passed. As I drove away from our 3 hour lunch at our FAVE Mexican food restaurant, I remembered this old blog post that I wrote all those years ago. I wanted to repost it and share it here because Wes is responsible for teaching me what I know. Wes taught me how to be STRONG. He still gives me advice, and I will forever consider him my friend. Distance can't change that.

"Everybody needs a friend"

"My heart is pounding. My legs are tired. My foot hurts. Sweat is dripping off my forehead. I gasp for air to give my lungs what they are begging...screaming for. People are cheering...encouraging me to finish my task. The sense of joy...accomplishment...relief that I feel as I cross the finish line is all encompassing. This was not my first race. This was not my fastest race. I will not get an award or a trophy. My name will not appear on a list, but I am proud. This was the best race I've run...ever.

I've always been kind of a loner. I'm not sure that it was on purpose or really always my choice...but that's always the way it has turned out. I've always comforted myself with rationalizations and lies. I tell myself that I don't care...that I don't NEED friends...that I am my own person, but deep down I know it's not true.

I've met very few people in my life that I've felt truly comfortable with. I am a different...unique person. It seems like I see everything in a different way than everyone else. I fight it and I embrace it. I love it and I hate it. I have people that come and go...from time to time...but for the most part I do most things alone. I shop alone. I eat lunch at restaurants alone almost everyday. I've even gone to movies alone.

A year ago, I met an unlikely friend. I decided to hire a personal trainer at my gym. Maybe I was just bored, because I didn't really think I needed him. I didn't really expect to continue with him when my sessions expired. After all, I knew I could do it I always do. I was wrong.

He actually did make a huge difference in my overall level of fitness and my athletic ability...if you can call it that. However, his friendship and the difference it has made in my life has been the biggest surprise to me...a bonus...icing on the cake. I've learned something about friends in one year that I hadn't learned in the previous 37.

I do need a friend...a confidante...a sounding board. I do need a friend to laugh with and cry talk with and be quiet with. I need someone to make me want to be better; to push me, and someone that I can encourage and challenge as well. I think my friend and I leave each other better than we were each and every time we meet. He has taught me to submit to things that can make me better and to fight the things that hold me back. He has made me stronger both physically and mentally.

People all fall into roles. We come to expect certain things from certain people. We don't usually step outside of those roles because it feels sleeping on the wrong side of the bed. Our roles have always been clear. We have always been friendly, but he has always been my coach. I have always been his student. He is always in control. I do what he says. I never expected to be able to give anything back, but respect. Once again, I was wrong.

We started running together. I've run for years. It is a great release for me. I love being in control of my body...continuing when my body begs me to stop...going faster when I don't think I can take another step. My friend has always played sports or lifted weights. He did not least not very far...or for very long. For an hour everyday, our roles reversed. I became the teacher and he became my student. Through this experience, we learned to trust each other in a different way. We had easy days and hard days, but everyday we ran together was a good day. We had a goal; a 5K. We trained and we ran. He was inexperienced and I was hurt, but neither of us wanted to let the other down, because we are friends, and neither of us could bear the thought of disappointing the other.

It wasn't an easy race. He was winded and tired. My foot throbbed with pain. There was a time that it seemed like we would never see the finish line, but as we rounded the corner and could see the end...the end that we had been anticipating all these weeks...we knew what we had to do. He said, "Let's go!" and we ran as fast as we could, passing other runners to cross the finish line. We did it...together. I ran slower during the race to stay with him and he stopped short of the finish line so we could cross together. It was an amazing, life changing that will always stay with me...and I hope him too. In different ways, we learned to be more honest, both with each other and ourselves. I think we both learned that sometimes the people that seem to be the most different are the most alike. We learned that EVERYBODY needs help sometimes and that EVERYBODY needs a person; a friend that is willing to go the sacrifice their own do what it takes to cross the finish line together. EVERYBODY needs a friend...even me."

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Oscar Wilde said, "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future." I think about this quote quite often. I like to be crazy and I don't always have a "filter". I make mistakes and not everyone thinks that the things I do are appropriate all the time. But when it comes down to the depth of my soul...I'm a good person. I was raised in a home that was far from perfect with parents from less than perfect upbringings, but I was taught right from wrong. We went to church every Sunday. We blessed every meal before we ate and we were reminded daily to make good choices.I've had some major changes and upheaval going on in my life. I'm blessed to have a small support group that includes my sisters that have encouraged me and loved me unconditionally, but unfortunately, I've made some life decisions that many people in my life and even some that are merely spectators don't agree with. Some people would call these changes bad. Some people think that I have made the wrong choices for the wrong reasons. At times, it has been very hard to keep going and many areas of my life have suffered as a attitude...and my self image. There have been low, lonely moments when I have questioned who I am and what kind of soul I really have. I've wondered if what the people that don't understand me think is true. Have I gone from a saint to a sinner? And if I'm a sinner, what kind of future do I have? At times, I have hardly been able to move forward...times when the best I could do was to just hold on.Early on, when My friend Adam and I started the Facebook page "Strong is the new skinny" and I started selling the tees, our friends shortened the name and began calling it "SINS". Some people were not happy about that. I think it may have even offended a few, because we are taught to think of sins as bad and sinners as people we should not be. I think however, that "SINS" is a perfect acronym for this movement and this is why.None of us are born perfect and none of us will die perfect. We all have weaknesses and we all commit sins. We all need help staying on the right path. That's why many people go to church. Church is a place where we can seek guidance and find others, like us, that are trying to become better than they were the day before...others that are striving to become saints so to speak. It is comforting to know that you are not alone...that there are others struggling as well. One of my favorite quotes on this subject is by Abigail Van Buren, better known as "Dear Abby". She said, "A church is a hospital for sinners not a museum for saints."I say this at the risk of sounding blasphemous and in no way do I mean to, but I think this is very similar to what we do in the gym. We all have physical weaknesses...things that we struggle with in our quest to become better, stronger individuals. We go to the gym and we look to the people that surround us there for advice and comfort. We seek wisdom and look for ways to improve and correct the mistakes of the past, because we know that if we work hard and suffer when we need to...we will have a better future.Sin represents a mistake...a weakness to temptation to me. I won't get into my spiritual weaknesses here, but instead I will stick to the weaknesses I face in and out of the gym in my quest to become stronger both mentally and physically. Self doubt and the fear of failure are probably the 2 things that hold me back the most. I can't squat or press as much as I'd like and I wish I were a faster runner. It would also be really helpful if I were more flexible and coordinated, but in the end...those are not the things that keep me from where I want to go and what I want to be. It's what's in my head that does and that is what I'm struggling to change. Just like I suffer with the pain of disappointing people that love me, I suffer with the pain I feel every day in the gym. I have 2 choices. I can quit...give up...and stay where I'm at, or I can fight...face the pain and use it to make me stronger.
Just as the sinner looks to his spiritual advisor for guidance and strength...the "SIN"er looks to like minded individuals that can help inspire and guide him/her in the right direction. The sinner has tools...things like sermons, scriptures, and prayer, and the "SIN"er has "tools" as well...a barbell, a pool, a pull up bar, a bike, an open road to run down, kettle bells, a stopwatch, and people cheering him/her on to the finish line.
So I guess in the end I will say this, I'm not proud of the spiritual sins I've committed in the past...but I'm proud to be part of the "SINS" movement. I don't find that acronym to be offensive or negative in the least. I feel blessed to be part of a group of people striving to become stronger every day...people that are willing to literally shed blood, sweat, and tears to do so. I believe Oscar Wilde was right. I do believe that "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future." I don't know what my future holds, but I know it will be better if I am strong enough to withstand the journey it takes to get me there.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

...bOOtY CaLL...

Learn how to squat. It works more muscles than any other exercise. It’s harder. It’s a longer range of motion and it will make more difference in your appearance over a shorter period of time than any single thing you can do. You have to learn how to squat correctly, and correctly is below parallel.” ~Mark Rippetoe

I've said it many times before..."I want a BIG, round butt!" and I do. I want my butt to be as big as possible. It scares and shocks many people when I say this but I don't care. I'm not gettin any younger and I gotta fight to keep my booty up where it should be. I think it's funny how many guys are surprised that I'm always on a quest for a bigger butt. I guess it's because a lot of women want to be smaller...skinnier. They don't want to have to struggle to buy jeans or get off the treadmill and squat some weight. What's even funnier, is that the same guys that seem shocked always seem to "notice" my nice round backside.As it is with many things in fitness, genetics does play a role. If you were born without much "junk in the trunk"...doing squats will not miraculously give you a big butt. And if you were blessed with a lil too much "junk", you may think "Why would I want to work an area that I wish were smaller?!?!" I will say this...whether your butt is big or small...whether you want to make it bigger or just firm it up...working your glutes WILL make ANY butt look better. I was blessed to inherit my Dad's round butt. Still...if I want it to look great...I HAVE to work it. I WILL say much of an addiction as I have to buying jeans, at times it can be a challenge when you are a fit girl with a booty. If jeans do not have "stretch" in them, I cannot fit into them. I have a few brands that tend to fit me well and I stick with those.
People notice mine from time to time and ask me, "What do I do to get a great butt?" Guess what? It's not a secret or complicated answer! Sure there are a million exercises for glutes and you can buy a hundred magazines that will tell you new, improved, sometimes complicated ways to "get" a great butt...but when it comes down to's all about basic, simple movements. So when I'm asked...I always say, "Do squats and lunges! And some deadlifts and some more squats!"
I personally do A LOT of squatting and lunging in my quest for a great butt. I've been slackin a little lately and I can tell. MY butt still looks good, but it definitely seems a little smaller to me. The good news, is I know what to do to fix it and so I go to the gym and I SQUAT! Try'll be surprised with the results.

Wanna show your love for great glutes??? Click HERE and get a tank and show everyone that "STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY"!