Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Many of us have seen the famous scene from "Kung Fu" where Master Kan tells the young boy, "Quickly as you can, snatch the pebble from my hand." When the boy tries and fails, Master Kan then says, "When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave." I've often said that I believe to be a great coach, you must try to help people become better than you are. When the people I help train make improvements and become better than I am at something or thingS (plural)...I feel a sense of pride.

I have learned some things since becoming a trainer that I did not know before. Trainers and their clients are many times more alike than people think. A lot of us once struggled...or in some cases, continue to struggle...with many of the same issues. I can't tell you how many trainers I know that were once overweight or struggled with some sort of body issue. Because of these similarities, sometimes the people I train teach ME while I am teaching them. I had this happen to me today.

This morning, after the 6AM class was over, I was chillin and talking to 2 of the members of our gyms. The conversation had nothing at all to do with Crossfit or barbells. It was purely personal. We are like a family and so I think we feel more comfortable sharing things with each other that we may not even want to share with our "regular" friends. As we neared the end of our conversation, I was complaining about some things in my life that are making me unhappy at times. I talked about how somedays, I feel like I have a hundred pounds that I'm carrying on my shoulders. Brad said, "Then SQUAT it!" We laughed. A few minutes later, I talked about my adventures with the garbage truck yesterday...about how I heard the truck, jumped up, got dressed, and started literally running to drag a big overflowing garbage can and almost 15 bags, boxes, and LARGE loose items including a Disney Princess skateboard that rode down to the curb. I talked about how my husband always did that and it sucked doing it myself. I continued for a moment down that whiny path and he said, "Yeah, well you're strong so it's okay." The little lightbulb went off above my head and I stopped and thought, "Yep...he's sucks but I am strong." He took his "pebble" and left.Later I came back to teach the 9AM class. Conversation was flowing. I was talking about my t shirts and some exciting things happening and we started discussing what some cool t shirts could be for our gym. Sayings went back and forth and then David said, "I told Jared we should have a shirt that says WWMD?" I looked at him like, "Huh???" He said, "You know...What Would Marsha Do?" I laughed and said, "Oh I bet he LOOOOOOVED that idea!" and we all laughed. As I stood in front of the bar to do some deadlifts, the lightbulb appeared again and I started to think about what David had said and what I have been doing. I realized that people really ARE watching me and I should behave accordingly. I thought about how I would want people to answer the question "WWMD?" Do I want to answer to be cry, or whine, or give up because I am being forced to do things that I'm not good at and that I don't know much about these days?

The answer is no...actually, it's not's HELL NO! I want to answers to be more like this (please forgive the creepy third person writing):

WHAT WOULD MARSHA DO? Marsha would be strong. Marsha would hold back the tears and allow herself to flounder a bit as she learns. And if she cried, it would only be for a short time until she could pick herself up, dry her tears, and do something about what it is that is making her cry. WHAT WOULD MARSHA DO? Marsha would not whine or complain so much. Marsha would find solutions instead of excuses. She would remain positive in the midst of a negative situation. Marsha would DO instead of say. WHAT WOULD MARSHA DO? Marsha would keep putting one foot in front of the other. Marsha would use this time to become more educated and better at things she knows nothing about. She would stop being afraid of failure and get excited by the possibility of becoming so much more.David didn't know it, but he snatched a pebble from my hand today as well. I feel like I was the student today and the people I train were my teachers. What they taught me not only helped me, but it can help you as well. When things seem tough, don't complain about the fact that you are grateful that you are strong enough to do it. When life gets you down or people disappoint you or you are standing in front of a barbell that you are not sure you can lift...ask yourself how you want people to answer the question WWMD, but take out MY name and insert your own. Realize that people are watching and noting you do goes unnoticed. You can make a difference without even knowing it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

...tHrOw yOuR eXcUsEs oUt tHe wiNdOw!!!...

Excuses...everybody's got em...some are legit...some are lies..some are weak...and some are strong. Regardless, an excuse is just excuse. It serves no purpose other than to make us feel better about something that we either did poorly or didn't get done at all.

I've heard a lot of excuses over the years since I started training people. I really do understand. Going to the gym, eating right, and getting in shape are hard things to do! And it's not just hard physically, it's hard many times for people to work in to their schedule. Everyone is busy with school or kids or work and so it becomes easy to grab fast food and skip working out. I know, because I'm guilty of this myself at times!

The other day I saw something that inspired me and made me feel a lil guilty. It was totally against "gym etiquette" but I even took my cell phone and took a picture, because I was so moved by what I saw. I had done some work sets of Back Squats, Presses, and Power Cleans earlier that morning in the gym then ran some errands and ate lunch. I decided that I wanted to do some running interval training later so I headed to the huge, local, "fancy" gym (Lifetime) and got set up on a treadmill. I started to walk and warm up when I noticed a man taking the chair off it's rails at the hand bike. It caught my attention so I began to watch and what happened next surprised me.This man had someone in a wheel chair waiting next to him. After he set the chair aside, he took the foot rests off the wheelchair, and had the man drive himself up to the hand bike (his wheelchair was now where the original chair had once been). After that, he took the arm rests off and very gently helped his friend grab the handle. Then he took an Ace bandage and wrapped it around the man's hand and the handle to keep his hands attached. This whole process was not easy or quick. When he was done, he stepped back, got on an elliptical behind him, and his friend began to slowly work the hand bike.

I'm not being an exaggerative drama queen when I say that watching this man took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes...both for the man in the wheelchair AND the man helping him. I felt guilty about every time I have skipped the gym because I was tired or too busy. I felt lame for the times I complained about how I was going to get my workout in with everything else I had to do! When he was done...about 15 minutes later...these two went through the same complicated steps to undo what they had done to set him up. When the man in the wheelchair turned to drive away, he had the biggest smile on his face which in turn made me smile.

He sped away...not to the elevator to leave, but to the weight area. I wanted to meet him and talk to him, so when I was done, I walked around and tried to find him, I never did. There was a part of me that regretted not getting off the treadmill to speak to him when I had the chance, but really that didn't matter. Watching those 2 men the other day, FOREVER changed the way I see the gym and took away ALL my excuses!I will NEVER take for granted the ability I have to walk into a gym with my own two legs without help. I will NEVER take for granted the ability to do anything I choose in the gym with no limitations. I will NEVER think of working my body as an obligation again. It is a privilege and a blessing. There's not ONE person that will read this that has a valid excuse for not working out. If you don't have money for a gym, go to the park, or get equipment and workout in your garage. If you are lucky enough to have a gym membership, get off your butt and GO. Make the time. Schedule your workouts just like you would any other appointment and do not cancel. From now on...whenever you start to make an excuse...think of this man. Take all your tired old excuses and throw them out the window..and do it today!

Monday, July 18, 2011

...sUpeR yOu...

Wouldn't you like to be faster than a speeding bullet? Or more powerful than a locomotive? Or be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Sounds pretty good to me, but unfortunately I can't do any of these things because I am human...just a mortal. I walk on the ground. I can get hurt, and someday I will die. I don't posses any of the super human qualities that makes a super hero special. Some might think that makes me regular...nothin special...nothing super.

When I think about super heroes, the 3 that immediately come to my mind are: Superman, Spiderman, and Batman. Superman and Spiderman had special powers that made them super heroes and gave them the ability to do the amazing things they did, but Batman was different than the other super heroes. He couldn't fly or stop a bullet. Batman fought crime and saved people just like the other guys, but he did not use special, super human powers. He made use of what he had. He used his wealth and his intelligence...his love of technology, his detective skills, and his physical abilities to accomplish many of the same things his fellow super heroes did.

This brings me to the thought that we don't need to be able to fly or cling to walls or become invisible to be super. Not everyone has the same skill or talent as the next guy, so people...just like super heroes...are super in different ways. I would love to have natural athleticism and I envy people with great agility, but those are not gifts I was given. My gift is the ability to keep going and not give up. Sure, I think about it...and sometimes I may pause...but in the end...I get it done...and that has lead me to the successes that I have had.Everyone that WANTS to be...can be SUPER in their own way. The trick is embracing the talents and gifts that are individual to you and not wasting your time trying to be like someone else. Batman would not have been a successful superhero had he spent his time trying to fly like Superman. Be proud of who you are and your strengths. Find what it is that you are good at and embrace it. This doesn't mean you avoid the things you are not good at, but you should perfect the talents that are specific to you while improving upon things that do not come as easy.

Don't be afraid to be super because of what other people may think. Take a moment today to figure out what is super about you. I'd even love it, if you shared it with the rest of us in your comments. Then, be proud of the hard work that you do. Make a commitment to make the most out of what you have. Be strong and know that YOU can be super!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

...i gEt bY wiTh a LittLe heLp fRoM mY fRiEnDs...

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, "It is a sublime thing to suffer and be stronger." I get to see people suffer and fight to finish something that they don't HAVE to finish all the time at work. No one is holding them there against their will. It isn't their job and they certainly don't get paid to do such hard work. In fact, it's quite the opposite. THEY pay money for the opportunity to struggle and suffer and become stronger than they were the day before. It's always so interesting to both watch and participate in WODs (Workout Of the Day) at Crossfit gyms. There is a sense of individual competitiveness that is intermingled with teamwork and a desire to see everyone do their best. When one person succeeds in our gym, I think we all feel like we've won. It doesn't matter whether you are first or last, there is a respect that is earned when you've worked that hard to finish.This morning I watched as people that were already finished with a grueling workout, encouraged and coached their friends that were still working. I heard Dale counting out 10 seconds of rest for Seth and then cheering him on through the next few reps until he needed more rest. I watched Rick standing outside on the curb, drenched in sweat, exhausted himself...yelling for Lorie as she ran across the "finish line" and telling her what a good job she did. As I stood there waiting for the last person to finish, Brad came out of the gym and said to Rick, "I'm thinking about running out to meet Seth and help him finish this last run." I said, "He would do that for you." And Brad said, "I know.", turned to Rick, and said, "You wanna go?". Rick nodded and said "Yeah!" without hesitation, and off they went. Not one person drove away from that parking lot until EVERYONE was finished and they all praised and congratulated each other as they walked out the door.It is amazing how much faster you can much more you can lift...and how much longer you can last when you have people there to remind you that you can do more than you think you can. Having this kind of support is like having a "safety net" under you. It gives you the confidence to do more, because you know there are people...friends...that care about you and are there to help you. I am reminded on days like today, that it doesn't matter how little money I make or how bad I hate waking up at 4:30 AM for work sometimes. What matters, is that I get to be surrounded by people like this every day...people that I truly consider my friends.

Monday, July 4, 2011

...iNdEpEnDeNcE dAy...

Most people call today simply "The 4th of July" or "The 4th", but some people call today "Independence Day". Although I've heard this term many many times throughout my almost 42 yrs, I've never given it a second thought...until yesterday afternoon. The 4th of July has always been just that to me...the 4th of July...a time for barbeque/brisket, family, fireworks, and parades. Every year, this is what we did growing up. We got up early, got all decked out in red, white, and blue, drove downtown and parked, walked what seemed like a million miles to find a good "spot" in the shade, watched for the people handing out free hand held paper fans, ate lots of snacks, sweated profusely in the miserably hot TX summer temps, laughed, and enjoyed the parade. After we would go back to my parents' house for brisket, cole slaw, potatoes salad, and baked beans. Later we would go see fireworks. It was always a relaxed holiday with family.

I do try to take a moment and appreciate what this holiday is all about. I also think of all my friends that either have or are currently serving in the military. I'm so grateful for the sacrifices so many people have made...not just for themselves, but for all of us. We are so blessed to live in a free country where we can choose how we will live and worship. The independence that the founding fathers and the men and women that serve in the military have provided us with is something we should be aware of and thankful for every day, not just today.So having said all may be wondering if I am just writing a post because it's the 4th of July and it would be the thing to do...or does this have anything to do with strength? As I said earlier, it struck a chord with me when I heard the term "Independence Day" yesterday. I was here at home alone...unhappy. I have had some problem with my eyelids where they are extremely itchy and I woke up to swollen, red eyelids that I wanted to tear off my face. I was uncomfortable and I looked like a weirdo. I hurt my back in the gym a month ago and even though I'm feeling better, it has really set my training back. I've had to lift much less and take A LOT of time off in order to heal. As a result, I feel weaker and slower when I do try to workout. To top it all off, some spammer got my Facebook info on Friday and linked me to a bogus event which resulted in ME getting kicked off Facebook! I tried pleading my case and forwarding the emails that I had received from Facebook saying SOMEONE ELSE had put me on this event, but it didn't matter. I was told that the decision was final. Basically, I was feeling defeated and cut off from the world. I felt like no matter how hard I try...I can't get ahead.

This past week, I had made a concerted effort to do some things that I have needed to do personally and business wise. I'm not what you would call organized or focused so this was hard for me and I was feeling proud of myself...but at that moment as I was lying on my bed with the tears streaming down my face, I wanted to give up. That's what I know. That's what I always use to do. If things got too hard or people hurt me too much, I ran away and took myself out of the game. I felt like for every step I was taking forward, I was getting shoved two steps backward.I got up and looked at a frame that I have on my desk. When I made it, I made two. One for me and one for my friend Wes. It has quotes from Steve Prefontaine and pictures from the 5K we ran together in 2007 before he moved away. I looked to the right and I saw a picture of me and my son, alongside a picture of me as a baby and resting up next to the frame was a laminated piece of paper that simple read "Stay Strong." The TV was on in the background and a commercial came on for an "Independence Day Sale". I heard the word independence and suddenly it meant something more to me.I thought back to how I used to be before I became strong and took control of my body and my life. I didn't feel free or independent back then. I distinctly remember feeling trapped. I felt like a prisoner in a body that wasn't mine. I had limited choices as to what I could wear and do. I wasn't treated equally. All that changed when I made a decision to change. With each change I made and with every 10 lbs I lost and with every bit of muscle that I made...I became more and more free until finally I was able to walk away as a whole new, but better...stronger...and more independent.
I gained something more than just looking good in a bikini though. The year that I worked with my friend was when I truly started to figure out who I was and what I was capable of. He and I still laugh about how unathletic and awkward I was at times. I had to learn that it was okay to fail. I had to learn to laugh at myself and not take everything so seriously, but one thing that I think was the hardest for me to learn, was that when I was uncomfortable, or scared, or frustrated, or mad, or feeling like I couldn't do something...I couldn't run away. For one hour, I was stuck. I was there in the gym or in the parking lot or on a trail or in a warehouse and I HAD to do what I was told to do. THAT...was the life changer for me.I was allowing myself to slip back into those old patterns of thinking and feeling like I had no right to choose. I turned my frame over and looked at the 5 pictures hidden on the of my sister's wedding in Cozumel...when I weighed 200 lbs...when I was a prisoner to this very way of thinking. I made a decision. I got up...went to the gym...and began the first day towards working my way back to where I was. I haven't been able to do back squats in over a month because I refused to go down in weight and my back couldn't handle the pressure of what I normally use. After I was done doing work sets of squats, I did work sets of presses...again, much lighter than normal...but it felt good. Even though I wished I could do more, I finally felt in control again. I decided that instead of being off Facebook and feeling disconnected and missing the "Strong is the new skinny" page, I'd start a new page with a new/old name and move forward. Yes, there are connections that I can't get that I've lost...and it will take a lot of time to rebuild my page and friends, but at least I'm back moving forward.
On this "Independence Day", I want everyone to take a moment and be thankful for the freedom that we have and then I want you to find something in your life that is holding you back. Find it and get rid of it. It may be a person, or extra weight, or anger, or a fear, or an attitude. Whatever it is, find it and change it. Give yourself the opportunity to truly be free. Start today. Make today a day that every year holds special meaning for you. Make today your own personal "Independence Day".

P.S. YES...that REALLY is ME in the blue dress on the beach in Cozumel at my lil sister's wedding...and YES...I know it's a horrible dress. ;)

Friday, July 1, 2011

...jUsT sAy "NO!" tO YOUR kRyPtoNiTe...

Even the strongest men (and women) have weaknesses. It can be a person or a tangible object or even a feeling. For Sampson, it was Delila and for Superman it was kryptonite. We've all seen it or experienced it. We can be going along...strong and steady...and then we are thrown off course by something that we can't seem to resist or conquer.

I have a few of these...probably one in each category. I had a friend that was so much fun to be with. I loved her and laughed more with her than I probably ever have. I never had many girlfriends so she made me feel accepted and "normal". There was just one thing. She wasn't good for me. I felt myself sliding backwards...becoming more childlike...and veering off the path from my goals. It became more important to hang by the pool and go out and have fun than it was to workout or be as responsible as I knew I should be. We are no longer friends. There's a part of me that still loves and misses her, but a part of me that has felt relieved since the day she abandoned our friendship because I no longer have to listen to the angel on one shoulder fight with the devil on the other. The demise of our friendship eliminated the inner struggle.I faced yet another this morning and I'm proud to say that for this moment...I've won the battle. I love sugar. Sugar tastes so good to me. Sugar makes me happy. If it's sweet, chances are I'll like it! I woke up this morning CRAVING donuts. I hopped up excited to wake my kids up and take them for a treat because we don't eat donuts very often. I convinced myself that it was going to be for THEM...but I know deep was for ME. I wanted that quick fix...that good feeling. The problem is that then I would feel guilty all day and ask myself WHY endlessly. Sugar is probably my biggest kryptonite when it comes to my fitness. Sugar cookies arrive and I go from being strong to being weak...a person that makes excuses and comforts myself with rationalizations. I don't always conquer this, but'm eating eggs and bacon instead and the feeling of power is so much better than the few moments of enjoyment as I eat a donut.Most of the time, I can treat the kryptonite in my life like a drug. I can avoid it. I don't keep ice cream in my house because I will eat it and I can avoid the people that bring me down. Unfortunately, there is one thing that I can't avoid or leave at the I can try and run from myself and my fears, but the moment I turn around, the doubt and insecurity is still right there. So if I can't out run it, what can I do?I'm no where near perfect. I don't always make the best choice. I eat sugar more than I should, and sometimes I allow myself to become consumed with self doubt and fear...BUT I wake up every day and I try to do better than the day before. Everyone has their own personal weaknesses and their own way of dealing with them. I'm no expert, but here are the things I do to try and be better today than I was yesterday.I try to be proactive. Rather than avoid people that bring me down, I'm learning to surround myself with people that love me and inspire me and make me want to be better. When I have more people like this in my life, I have less room for the people that weaken me and it's also more glaringly obvious that they are not good for me.

I try to think ahead and have an alternative when it comes to food. If I have healthy snacks and fruit available at my house, it makes it a little easier to not go outside of my house to buy and eat a candy bar. I try to make it so that if I want sweets, I have to make a concerted effort to leave and get them. Today, I had eggs and bacon here at home, but I would've had to drive to get donuts. THAT is what saved me.As for the way I think and's 3 fold. When I avoid bad influences (1) and resist bad food (2), I feel a sense of power and pride. The last part (3) is through positive words and pictures. I have a huge collection of quotes and inspirational pictures that I look at everyday. I have pictures all over my room of happy of me with people I that remind me of good things. I also have a whole section of my mirror in my bathroom that I have covered in quotes that I see and read EVERY day. I swear I would have post it notes covering everything in my room if I could.What works for me may not work for you, but the concept is the same. Instead of giving up or accepting less than you know you should...instead of focusing on the negativity of it...DO SOMETHING. Everyone that reads this has their own personal weaknesses and each of us has to learn how to deal with that in the way that is most effective for ourselves. I'll never be able to completely eliminate the people and things that are my kryptonite. I can't control how others see me or treat me or try and influence me. I can't eliminate sugar from the planet, and I'll never be free of doubt. It will never be easy, but attempting to be great never is. I have to make a choice every day...every hour...sometimes every few say "NO!" to the things that keep me from being great. Because the one thing I can me...and you...can control you.