Thursday, September 29, 2011

...bE aWaRe...

I have three great kids. These days I have one in high school, one in middle school, and one with just one year of elementary school left. I love my kids and although I'm a little unorthodox at desire has always been to be a good Mom and I think I am. I've visited the elementary schools many many times for awards ceremonies and holiday parties and spelling bees and lunches. Honestly, I'm glad that I am almost done with the elementary school scene. I have never really liked going up to the elementary school. I only go when I need to, because I never feel like I fit in with all the "PTA Mommies". I'm not knocking "PTA Mommies"...not at all! Some of my dear friends are the best pro PTA gals to ever have lived! Those ladies spend a ridiculous amount of time and give up chunks of their lives for ALL our kids, but I just can't seem to do it. I don't seem to be cut from the same mold. I don't think of myself as better...just different...and you know how us "girls" can be. Some are just plain mean. I never think a thing about how people are dressed...but every time I show up in workout would not believe the stares I get...and no, it's not from a few's mostly from the Moms. You would think I'm walking the halls in a thong and tube top rather than some workout pants and a tank. It sounds dramatic, but it really is unreal!

As I woke up feeling a lil lazy and unmotivated today, I thought about something that happened several years ago. I remember that I was up at the school for my daughter's 4th grade awards ceremony...sporting workout clothes since I was headed to the gym afterwards. I did indeed workout afterwards and then had just enough time to leave the gym and grab some lunch to take up to the school at noon for the picnic that the kids with "outstanding behavior" get to have with their parents on awards day every six weeks.

I checked in at the office and said
"Hello" to a woman that has a daughter that has been in my daughter's class a couple of years in a row. As we walked down the hall to find our kids, I caught her giving me the eye (up and down...up and down...up and down). And then I remember the short conversation word for word that followed as I was feeling really uncomfortable and wishing we'd hurry up and find our kids. She said, "You've been working out!' I smiled and nodded, "Uh huh.". Then she said it..."You're so lucky! I wish I had the energy to workout. You know, SOME OF US...just don't have all that EXTRA time and energy!" I stood there surprised...thinking "What the hell is she taking about?!? I'm exhausted and have been running NON STOP to be able to get a workout in in the midst of everything else I needed to do!". Before I could say anything out loud, Savanna ran up. You can only imagine my relief as we walked our separate way.

I thought it then...and I still think it now. This woman was about my same age. She was not tiny, but she wasn't overweight either. So why do people think that I somehow have different "energy"??? I don't have anything special or different that she didn't or still doesn't have. Okay well maybe I have a few things. I have desire... commitment... and will. Still, it is amazing to me that people think like they have no it's somehow easy for me. It makes me sad that people forget how much control that they have. What a waste! I wish everyone could KNOW just how much potential and greatness lies inside us all. I want to make people aware that ANYONE can change...ANYONE can be fit and strong.

Greatness is different for different people and greatness does not come from how much weight you can lift or what sports you excelled in in school. Greatness begins in your believing that you can be better, happier, stronger. I want anyone that reads this to know that. Yes, you DO have to work hard and exercise willpower and control. Yes, you DO have to experience pain and conquer the fear of doing things that are hard or different. Thinking about lifting weight will not make you strong. You have to believe in yourself and be AWARE of your potential as well. I wish I would have had the desire and time to tell that lady these things that day as I quickly walked away. I'm not special...I'm aware. Be aware.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011



Most of us that workout have talked about muscle definition at one time or another. That's what I've been wanting more of lately...more definition. One thing that many average gym goers don't understand is that while it is important to lift weights...much of the muscle "definition" that people are looking for comes from being lean. You can work the muscles but if they are covered up with will never see good muscular definition.

I started thinking that defining who we are on the inside is much the same. Just as we have to take the steps necessary to see good muscular working hard in the gym and losing fat...we need to have the courage to take the steps necessary to define who we can be on the inside as well. We have to be willing to be get rid of the extra fluff that conceals who we really are...who we want to be. If we are trying to pretend to be someone we are not...or if we are struggling to be the person we THINK everyone else wants us to be...we won't be able to see the true definition of who we are on the inside. It will cover up our true selves just like extra fat hides muscles.

Be strong enough to work for what you want in the gym...even when it hurts or it's inconvenient, and be strong enough to be yourself...even when other people may not like it. Decide. Do. Define. Decide who you are...who YOU want to be. Do what it takes. Define YOURSELF...inside and out.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

...stReNgTh cOmEs aFteR aDveRsiTy...

It seems so silly that here I Texas...not personally knowing a single person that was there that day in September...10 years ago...yet the tears stream down my cheeks as I try to write this. My heart breaks for people I do not know and if I allow it to, the anger could be overwhelming.

I'm no different than many people. I can tell you where I was that awful day. I still vividly remember everything around me. I can almost remember how the towel felt in my hands that I was I dropped it and sat on my bed and cried...8 months pregnant...scared to death...with a toddler in the other room sleeping that was completely unaware of how the world changed while she napped. I remember crying...for days.

Honestly, I don't even want to turn on the TV today...not because I don't want to pay tribute or because I don't care. It hurts. It's funny how the pain of the "heart" can be worse than any physical pain we could possibly endure...but then again...while our heart is technically an organ, it is made up of cardiac muscle.

The pain we experience after a tough workout comes from tiny tears created in the muscle. Within 12 to 24 hours, our white blood cells begin to try and repair the damage, but along with the repair comes pain and soreness. It can last a day or two and then it subsides. It isn't fun to experience that discomfort but those of us that understand what is happening can actually come to enjoy it...not because it feels good...but because we know it serves a purpose. As these tears repair themselves, our muscles become a little stronger...more resilient...a little more prepared to endure the same type of exercise even better the next time we do it. The muscle does not immediately grow and we are not immediately able to lift more weight in the following days. It takes time for the muscle fibers to build up so that we become stronger.

I guess in some ways, our hearts are no different than our biceps or quads. Things happen...tragedies occur...and tiny tears are created in our hearts. Just like workouts, the intensity varies and so does the pain afterwards. If we give up at the first sign of pain or tell ourselves that we cannot endure, then we never give ourselves the opportunity to grow stronger.

9/11 was more than a tiny tear in the "muscle" of my heart. It felt as though it had been ripped in half and although I have healed...the scar tissue remains. Just as aches and pains come from old injuries, today I feel that old ache in my heart. I think we all do. The ache...the not bad or wrong. It serves a purpose if we let it. It sounds cliche, but I do truly feel that America is stronger because of the attacks on 9/11 ten years ago. As much as I want to avoid the sadness that I know I will surely feel today, I won't. I will take the time to give thanks for all that I have...right here in front of me. I will take a moment and be grateful that there are men and women that have jobs where they willingly risk their lives to save the lives of others. I will not run from the pain. I'll take it in and embrace the opportunity to grow stronger from it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

...tOuGh hAnDs...sOfT hEaRt...sTroNg wOmAn...

"A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep." ~Vernon Howard

Today I worked out with the 6AM group. The workout was:
10 Rounds for time
200M Sprint
7 Pull-ups
10 Box Jumps (22 in)

I ended up doing 11 rounds to finish with the last all in all, I did 77 pull-ups. It was tough but a lot of fun. My hands have really toughened up over the years. When I first started doing pull-ups, I used to rip open and bleed or get big blood blisters EVERY time I did 40 or more. Now, my threshold is more like 100. I have toughened my hands up over the past 3 years and I rarely bleed. That is good on days like today. I was so excited that I didn't rip or get any blood blisters that I posted this pic up on Facebook when I got home with the caption, "Look Mom! Lotsa pull-ups...lotsa chalk...NO RIPS OR BLISTERS! Yay!" It was nice to have friends "like" it or comment and say nice things. Validation from peers always feels good.

So as I was driving home from taking kids to school and my hands...although not bleeding...were hurting as I gripped the steering wheel, I started to think how strange it different I am than I use to be. If you'd told me 10 years ago that I would first, do 77 pull-ups...and second, post a picture of my chalky hand on the internet...I would have laughed.

I worked hard...and it HURT...and I was out of breath and tired at the end...and I was happy. I drove home feeling a sense of accomplishment and feeling good about myself. It was nice to receive compliments and know that my friends thought I did a good job, but that was just the icing on the cake. The real joy I felt, came from within...because I felt strong. I didn't need anyone else to approve of me or tell me I was good enough in that moment, and neither should you.
Whether you do 77 pull-ups or get your first one or do them all matter where you are at...KNOW that you are strong. Don't be afraid of the pain or the fact that you might get hurt. Pain goes away and ripped hands heal. Push yourself to the limit so that when you walk out the door of the gym, you can feel that same inner happiness and confidence that I felt this morning. Don't make excuses. Don't say "I can't!". Do what you can do to the best of your ability and don't wait for someone else to tell you that you are strong. Believe that you are and behave accordingly.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

...bEhoLd tHe pOwEr oF sPaNdeX!...

I do try to be inspirational and real. None of this is about promoting's about changing the way people think and how they see themselves and the world too. When I was not strong, everything was a big deal. The smallest mistakes and failures would ruin me for a whole day...or two. I can still be a little dramatic at times and I'm a crazy magnet. If something strange or crazy is gonna will happen to ME...but I've learned to laugh. Sure, I still have days where I fall into old, bad habits, but I'm so much better than I used to be. I don't take myself half as seriously as everyone else does anymore.

SOOOOO...having said will be just a silly post...nothing inspirational...or tips or big "AHA!" moments...just a funny story. It's actually a re-post from something I wrote last year on my other blog "Blonde Revelations: the introspective thoughts of an imperfect perfectionist". I was reminded of this because I put up a discount code for one of my favorite workout wear sites, Otomix, on the "Strong is the New Skinny" FB page. I got a few random "thank you"s and comments, but one last comment caught my eye this AM. A man said, "As a man looking at those cloths they are only designed for one purpose and nothing else...". So I took the bait and asked "What's that Nichlas?" and he commented "To make men go crazy! Now i have to buy those cloths for my woman damnit!"

It IMMEDIATELY reminded me of this old post. The capris I'm wearing are from Otomix, which makes it even funnier. Anyways...if you only want inspirational or you don't wanna hear just a random story about a trip to my local Walmart...stop reading now. If you're it is! CLICK HERE and read.

Friday, September 2, 2011

...tHe bEsT mE...

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting." ~ E E Cummings

Going to the salon for most women is a very different experience than men. We don't just rush in, get a quick trim, and leave. Most of us spend hours least I do. And I never sit in silence. My hairdresser is like a friend. We talk about all sorts of things...our nights out...break ups. There's pretty much nothing that's off limits. The last time I was in the chair...after we each shared a few ups and downs from the past month...I told my hairdresser that I truly believe if we could really see everyone else's problems, we would probably be more than happy to keep our own. He said, "You are probably right about that!"

I received an email from a friend on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. I was shocked to hear that her beautiful, vibrant daughter had tried to kill herself. Thankfully, she was unsuccessful. ANYONE that saw pictures of this girl smiling...would never expect that. She appears to have not a problem in the world. She's strikingly beautiful and has a family that loves her. I am positive that many girls would look at her and wish they could be her, because they don't see her inner struggles.

Sometimes the girl with the crying inside. Sometimes the guy that has lots of muscles and a handsome fragile and insecure. Sometimes the people that seem to have the perfect life...have more problems than any of us can imagine. It's easy to glamorize other people's lives or bodies...and wish to be a little more like them. We create stories for people all based on what we see on the outside...never really knowing how they feel when they are all alone or what challenges they may be facing.

I think it's easy to do this because then we can feel like we have an excuse. We rationalize our own behavior by saying things like, "I can't go to the gym because I am busy and I have kids and a job and I'm tired." We look at the lady with the great body in workout clothes in the store and think, "It's easy for her. She must not have anything to do but workout." There was a moment a couple of days ago when I felt like the underdog and I wished I could be the person making me feel that way instead. I've since decided that it doesn't matter how much money or fame a person has. I do the things I do here, not for recognition or money, but to help other people. I wouldn't trade that for all the fancy lawyers or magazine photos or money in the world.

Don't fall into this way of thinking like I did. Excuses are for the weak and whining is for babies. Don't ever compare yourself to others or try to be like someone one else. Work on you. Change what you don't like. Correct the mistakes and weaknesses. But most importantly, BE your best. Instead of trying to be like others, become the one that others want to be like!