Wednesday, April 20, 2011


This is a super weird post for me. Usually I have an experience that leads me to write. Its all based on feelings. I sit and the words come to me as if it is a conversation playing out in my head. I'm not one for boring "informational" posts, but I've been a bit obsessed with abs today because my own are extremely sore so I thought today would be a great day to write about abs and how I got mine. If I had to pick ONE question that I get asked as a trainer more than any other question, it would hands down be "How do I get great abs?"Now...having said THAT...I will say THIS:
As you can see from my pics from varying times, I am no ab expert and I too definitely have room for improvement ( Still, I can share what I have found beneficial when it comes to abs and encourage you to comment with any other tips you have as well.I think so many of us focus all our time and energy on what happens in the gym. All we can think of is doing thousands of crunches or situps, but what we forget is that what happens outside the gym is just as or maybe even MORE important. Let me just say that first and foremost, if you want a "six pack", you will NOT get it without paying attention to your diet!!! You can eat like crap and exercise a ton and not be overweight, but you will not have the definition in your abs unless you are LEAN. It doesn't matter how strong your abs are or how many situps you can do if they are hidden under a layer of fat. I wish I had a magic solution for this, but there's not one. DIET is key if you want a "six pack", which is part of the reason I only have a four pack! LOL!Range of motion is also very important. In other words...crunches DON'T work. Neither do those silly machines at gyms where you hold on and basically do machine assisted crunches. Seriously think about it. Most of the people that you see doing jillions of crunches or on those machines...don't have abs that you are jealous of. I have found that when you do things with a full range of motion, it is always more effective. So if you want to do crunches on the floor or on a ball, don't. Do a full situp. Don't crank on your neck like they taught you in elementary school or grab your legs and pull up. Use your abs and sit up. Go from shoulders completely touching the floor to chest touching you knees. There's lots of variations. You can do them with your feet "anchored" which will introduce more hips but allows you to do them faster. You can do them unanchored with your feet in the normal position or vary it and put the soles of your feet together. That's what I call "butterfly situps". You can also use an ABMAT which will give a small amount of hyperextension.

There are also other more advanced movements. The two I like are situps on the GHD (Glute Ham Developer) and KTEs (Knees To Elbows). If you click on the names of the exercises in white, it will take you to a video that describes the movements in detail. These are advanced and should not be overdone in the beginning whether you are a seasoned athlete or a beginner...especially the GHD situps! The movements are done by 1000s of Crossfitters worldwide and are safe if done correctly and you work up in reps over time. You can do damage to the muscles if these are overdone to quickly. Again, full range of motion is key.

When doing KTEs, not only are you lifting the knees, but the hips should rise as well.

The last tip...probably the one that is always the most foreign to people is the importance of MIDLINE STABILIZATION. Coach Glassman explains it much better than I can, so please watch the video. So many times, people want to focus JUST on their stomach and forget that many other movements engage those muscles and can be even more effective in building strength and getting the definition we are all seeking. It's not common to think of Olympic lifts, or Powerlifting, or Overhead Squats when we think of abs but they ALL require midline stabilization and will build a very strong core and amazing abs. When asked about abs, Coach Glassman says this,
"People ask me, 'what do I do for abs? I tell them, stabilize the mid-line like a motherf***er, that's what you do."



There's many other exercises that can be discussed, but these are the exercises that I personally find to be the most effective. The most important thing to remember, is that everyone is unique. There are no two of us alike. Your abs will not look exactly like mine and mine will not look exactly like someone else's. We all have to work with what we were given. That does not mean that you can use excuses like "I've had kids." There are many women that have had multiple children and still have great abs. So what if you have stretch can still have great abs. Up close, I have them. I don't like them, but it doesn't stop me from showing off my hard work and I'm positive that no one has ever walked away from me on the beach and said, "Ewww! Did you see her old faded stretch marks!?!?!?"
Age is not an excuse either. Stop by the "Strong is the new skinny" Facebook page and you will see SEVERAL women (myself included) over 40 that have abs a 20 yr old would want! There are lots of pics that were put up today. No two abs were alike. There were varying ages, colors, sizes, shapes etc. The only thing that was similar was that they were all worked hard for and are all beautiful.
Don't make excuses or say I can't! BE STRONG, make a goal, work hard, and YOU can have great abs too!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

...tHaNkS bUddHa...

Sometimes, it's hard to know what to write. It seems that if I can't come up with something great...something thought provoking or brilliant...I should just not write anything at all. Unfortunately, if that were the case...I'd probably never get anything written. I have nothing to rant about (ie: boobs), no stories of triumph, or inspirational videos today. I seem to be drawing a blank. So why am I hell bent on writing???

I grabbed my laptop and sat down with my eggs and bacon on my bed...thinking about what I could possibly write. My back is sore from yesterday's workout and my legs are hurting. I was just about to give up hope and wait for inspiration to come another day, when I looked around my bedroom and thought about how much I love to sit right where I am...on my bed...with my cat driving me crazy rubbing her head on my sore leg. I sat still for a minute to take it in. It occurred to me that even though things aren't exactly as I would like them to be in my life right now...I still want to be thankful. I don't want to be thankful just in concept either. I want to be consciously thankful.

There's a quote from Buddha that says,
"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn alot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us be thankful."
So, being humbled by those words, I can write this today... I am sore, but I am satisfied. I am satisfied because I know that I am working hard to be in great physical strengthen my body and mind. I am hurting, but I am hopeful...and with that hope comes happiness...happiness because I have overcome my perceived limitations and the fear that accompanies them and hope because I never want to lose the desire for more...hope that I will continue to knock down the walls that keep me from reaching my true potential...hope that there is more for me.

I need to remember to give thanks for the simplest of blessings...a strong body...a loving family...a comfortable home...a soft in my belly...and a "ball of fur" showing me love without getting anything in return. These things seem like a given, but they are not for so many. Take a moment to think about what you are thankful for. The next time you dread going to the gym, take a moment and be happy that you are able. We can always be thankful as long as we can draw breath...because as long as we are breathing...we are alive. And as long as we are alive, we can work to improve ourselves.

Thanks Buddha.

Monday, April 11, 2011

...B( . )( . )Bs...

I'm a private person. It doesn't seem like it, because I do A LOT of talking and seem like an open book...and I's just I don't share EVERY page. I'm like an onion with many layers. It takes a lot of time and determination to get to the center. It also takes the ability to withstand the "tears" that go along with peeling an onion. I haven't found many people strong enough to get to the center.

I recently posted a picture (see below) on the "Strong is the new skinny" Facebook page that was meant to be motivational. I think most people found it to be, however...some criticized it because the fitness model clearly has implants. Others criticized the fact that in THEIR opinion, she was near perfection, yet they felt it contradicted the quote. My sister...that does NOT have implants...but IS part of the SINS community...brought the comments to my attention. She was surprised at how judgmental some of the comments was I. Actually, I wasn't surprised...I was disappointed.
So here's where the whole "onion thing" comes back in to play...(drum roll)

I have implants. THERE! I SAID IT!

Although most people assume, I have never publicly admitted to that. I am blessed to come from a long line of "well endowed" women. Boobs are NOT in short supply in my family and I was no exception. I was a full C/small D when I was thin and flying out of a double D when I was heavy or breast feeding babies. Unfortunately, after I had three children, breast fed the last two, and lost 70 pounds...I was left with nothing...and when I say nothing...I'm not kidding. I didn't care that I didn't have big boobs anymore, in fact it was kind of nice to have a break from carrying those "girls" around. Unfortunately, I looked borderline disfigured so I went to see a few doctors about getting a lift and small implants.

I found a conservative doctor that I trusted and within 2 weeks, I was on the operating table. I ended up with boobs smaller than my "original pre baby/weight gain" boobs and I was satisfied with that. My recovery was difficult. I developed severe scar tissue around one implant that lifted it up high on my chest and was VERY painful. I could not even raise my arm up to shoulder height on that side. It had nothing to do with my doctor. It was MY bodies reaction to a foreign object. It was so bad that my plastic surgeon went back in and it took three hours for him to scrape the scar tissue that had built up around the implant in just a couple of months. It was a painful, scary recovery that we were not sure was going to work. The fear was that my body would make even more scar tissue following the second surgery and I would then have to have the implant removed for six months until my body could heal and we could try again. You can imagine how devastating and disfiguring that would have been.

That was one of the lowest points for me. I felt alone...wondering if I had made the right decision...feeling cheated that other women have surgery and recover with no problems. It was especially hard because NO ONE knew. I kept it a secret. Only my immediate family and a few of my closest friends that I completely trusted. I felt that I couldn't even tell my in-laws, because I knew I would be talked about incessantly and judged.

Some people may wonder why I kept it a secret. Is it because I wanted people to think I look like this "naturally"? Is it because I was ashamed of my decision? The answer to both of these questions, is "NO!". I was afraid of ridicule and judgement. I didn't want people to focus on JUST my boobs. That's why I went SO conservative with the size. I didn't want to hear the catty comments like "She only looks like that because she had surgery!" or "She's so shallow and only cares about how she looks!" or have people pay attention to or focus on what I was wearing or how my boobs looked. In my mind, it was reconstructive surgery.

So you can see why these comments made on Facebook (all direct quotes taken from the list of 42 comments) would get me fired up!
"How about posting pictures of real women with real boobs?!"

"It ruins the genuineness of being naturally fit when one has implants. I like working out and being muscular but I want to keep my curves. I have seen women who are very fit but you still need some fat or it will make you appear older than you are especially on the face."

"Not hating on...just my opinion. It's irritating to see blogs about acceptance about not being "perfect" and 99%+ of the time there is a picture to illustrate what "perfect" supposively looks like. It sends out mixed messages. I feel the same way about fake hair and fake nails."

""Do what you can with what you have." But she didn't, with her boobs. :P"

"I agree on the mixed message. Yes its an inspirational quote and yes that women is gorgeous, fit, and strong and it's not about the realness of her breasts that bothers me. Associating a photo of a woman who is damn near perfect in my vie...w while claiming "none of us are perfect" is really frustrating and counter productive. In a culture where women are beaten down by trying to achieve "perfection" and obsessed with body image, I would like to see this group champion what real, average, STRONG women look like. That lady is HOT and good on her, but that's not the reality of what us average gals looks like, even when we work our asses off."

"Okay- is this the message I'm supposed to get from this? "Do what you can, where you are with what you have.... But if you're not happy with what you HAVE, get a boob job." The message does not match the phrase AT ALL, it in fact contradicts it!!"

Obviously, there were many comments that were positive, but these few negative comments really bothered me and so I wanted to share my story and put my two cents worth in...because REALLY I could care less what people think of implants. That's not why these comments bothered me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It's not about me personally or a debate on implants in general. What it IS acceptance...or lack thereof. Here was MY initial response:

"I try not to take things personally and I've sat on my response for a day because I didn't want to make people mad, but I'm ready to speak my mind and deal with the consequences. Implants DO NOT ruin the "geniuneness of being naturally fit"... NOR does this image contradict this phrase. It disappoints me that we preach acceptance of something that is different and of all shapes and sizes but rag on implants or the appearance of "perfection". Be accepting of ALL. It's easy to say "Hey let's be nice and accept people on the journey or that are not near perfection." but it's tough to accept people that look good or do things to enhance their body. If you don't like fake boobs, don't get em...but don't judge people that do. If you wanna have an opinion, fine...but don't GENERALIZE and be hateful. It's wrong and I don't want that here on our page."

So there you have it...the truth about me and how I feel about this. It was hard for me to share something that I wanted to keep private, but I felt like I needed to do it in order to explain where I'm coming from. Do I think people have judged me or will judge me because of my boobs? Yes. Do I regret my decision to get implants...even with the complications? No. It was right...for ME. I don't expect anyone to change their opinion on fake boobs because of me. I think everyone has the right to their opinions whether I like it or not. I do not however think people have the right to judge and bash on people because they don't agree with their decision and then generalize it out to everyone else. I think it's harder sometimes to accept people that look good...maybe even better than we do...than it is to accept people that don't. It takes true confidence to not see our own failures when others succeed.
It takes true strength to be able to accept EVERYONE. It doesn't matter whether or not you are buff. It doesn't matter where you choose to workout or how you choose to workout. What matters is that everyone is trying to be their best in their own way.
Forget about the b( . )( . )bs and focus on being strong!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

...wHy DO i tRaiN?...

I was the parking lot of the gym...doing my favorite thing to do...sweating, flipping the big tire, swinging the sledge hammer, a nutshell, I was suffering through a long, grinding workout outside filled with a lot of hard work. I noticed a roofing guy that had pulled up at the building next to us, noticing me and watching what I was doing. That's normal. People are curious. Sometimes they slow down and stare as they drive by. It's understandable. It's different from what most people do.

I have always been the kind of person that does not like people to talk to me when I'm in pain or concentrating or working out really hard by myself. I do things to discourage it, like not making eye contact and wearing headphones with loud music blaring. Ever so often, someone will be oblivious to these imaginary wall if you will...and talk to me. Such was the case today.

I was struggling with the tire and saw the two guys up on the roof at the edge wanting to engage. I ignored them. Finally one started to wave his hands and yell. "Damn! What the hell dude?!?! I guess I better see what this guy wants so I can get back to my workout!" That was the thought in my head. Outwardly, I took my headphones off, looked up with a fake smile, and had a short conversation that went a little something like this:

Roof guy: Hey! I've been watching you and you look like you're workin real hard.

Me: (courtesy laugh) Yes, I am.

Roof guy: What are you training for?

Me: Uhhh...nothing in particular. I'm just working out...trying to stay strong and fit.

Roof guy: (with a completely perplexed look) Oh...okay.

He proceeded to ask me questions about the gym and then warn me that I may want to move, because they were about to power wash the roof and didn't want to spray me with all the crap up on the roof. I told him about Crossfit and what we do at our gym and then thanked him for warning me and moved my stuff to the back lawn.

When I was done with my workout, I got into my car and headed towards home. My back was tired and sore. My sweat was getting on my leather seats making it uncomfortable. I was hungry and had a slight headache. I was tired, but felt good about what I had accomplished. As I drove, I replayed the conversation in my mind. I then asked MYSELF..."What AM I training for? Why do I do what I do? Because if the only reason I do it is to look good or fit in a small pair of jeans, there are easier ways to accomplish that." It only took the 10 min drive home for me to compile a list in my head that was much more in depth than the answer I gave the roofing guy. Some reasons are fluffy and some are serious, but they are all what motivates me.

THIS is why/what I'm training for...

I'm training because it makes me strong...physically AND mentally. It makes me tough and gives me the ability to face any struggle that comes my way. Sometimes, like today, I start a workout and think "There's no way I can finish this!" but I do and it has taught me that nothing is too hard. I may not get through it as quick as I'd like...but I WILL get through it if I don't give up. I guarantee you that if you were in a flood and needed someone to stack sandbags'd want ME on your "team".
I'm training so that when people ask my age and I tell them, they continue to say "No way! You can't be 41!" It's my "fountain of youth".

I'm training to set an example for my kids. I want to teach them the importance of being strong and capable...not just with words, but through my actions as well. I want to show them that sometimes, you have to take time out for yourself so that you have something better to offer the people you love. I train to show them that it's important to love yourself and take care of your body.
I train because I'm addicted to the adrenaline and the sweat and the struggle and the accomplishment in the end. It is my drug of choice. I crave it and it always makes me feel good.
I train to prove that anyone can be strong and to show other women that they too can accomplish things they never thought they could. I'm not a former athlete. I was not blessed with natural athletic talent. I was however blessed with a spirit that can't be broken and a will to press forward. If I can do it...ANYONE can.

I train because it teaches me things about myself...both good and bad. It highlights my strengths and exposes my weaknesses. I will never be a world champion at anything, but it gives me the opportunity to improve myself become the best possible version of myself.
It's sad to me that some people haven't learned the lessons that I have by experiencing the things that I have experienced in the gym. I wish that everyone knew the feeling of power that I feel when I squat or lift or press more weight than I thought I could or than I did the week before. I wish that everyone could feel the joy and accomplishment and pride that I feel when I finish a particularly hard workout. I wish that everyone knew just how much potential we each have within us all.

I would encourage anyone that reads this to sit and think about WHAT you are training for. Share it with people around you. You never know, you may lead someone else to make discoveries about themselves they never would have. Today was not the first time I've been asked "What are you training for?", but today was the first day that I really stopped to think about it. I wish I had given better answers today, but that's okay, because next time I'm asked that question...I'll be ready.