Please be patient as I make some changes and additions to my blog. So far I have added a few extra pages and will be adding more soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ready, Willing, and Able

I attend a CrossFit class three days a week and the first part of every workout is a fairly standard set of warm up movements. Every day we can expect a few rounds of jumping jacks and other movements to get our heart rate up. Then we have at least two rounds of squats and push ups to get our muscles warmed up. After that we will do some combination of more active movements like punter kicks, broad jumps, and lateral lunges then take off on a 400 meter run.

Some days I show up to workout with a passion and I take on the warm up as if it were some grand challenge and spend my time trying to get deeper in my squats, stronger in my push ups, and faster in my run. Other days I show up in some sort of funk and use the warm up as some kind of recovery exercise and thus begins the ever changing list of bargaining and justifications rolling in my head.

"No one can see how far my knee goes down on this lunge."
          "I've had a long day. I deserve a break on these push ups."
                    "I ran yesterday. I don't need to push it in the run today."
                              "I'm squatting deeper than I used to so who cares."

It turns out my creativity with excuses knows no bounds. I have even used my cat as an excuse not to push myself on a bear crawl. I only wish I was kidding.

So there I was last Thursday, after a busy day of meetings, rolling through my list of excuses why these lunge rotations didn't need to be the best lunge rotations I could possibly do when an image popped into my head. I had the most vivid memory of one of my first weeks at CrossFit a little over eight months ago. There I was, completely out of shape and wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into, trying my best to do as much as possible and still struggling with modifications. My lunges were barely a bent back knee and I still had to use my hand on my front leg to help myself out of it. I didn't even attempt the rotation because I could barely hold myself steady in the lunge. As that image went away I made sure my knee touched the ground during the rest of the warm up, because now it could.

Part of our workout that day was a set of ten burpees. As I started my first round of burpees another set of memories came back of my first few months when I had to step back instead of jumping because I couldn't jump my feet back up to my hands. Then I remembered how amazing I felt in the living room of my apartment when I finally did my first set of three burpees without stepping back. The next week involved some very triumphant burpees at the gym and I felt like a rockstar. Fast forward back to last Thursday and there I was doing ten burpees in a row without even thinking about it. I took off on my 200 meter run and actively created a new train of thought.

I have absolutely no excuse for a messy burpee, a weak lunge step, a shallow squat, or any other half ass attempt at a movement. In the past eight months I have gone from squatting to a 20" box to squatting at full depth with ever-increasing weight. On day one, I was unable to do what was asked of me and that was perfectly acceptable as long as I did my very best. Today, there is never any reason excuse why I should be unwilling to do what is asked of me.

So now, in honor of the girl who
...spent weeks doing sets of squats every morning and evening until she could hold her own without a box or med ball safety blanket
...ended up with carpet burn after some sad attempts at burpees but wouldn't stop until she could do them correctly
...refused to stop running and finally ran that full 400 meter warm up, then finished an 800 meter run, then ran in two running events
I will not half ass a single rep.

To the voice in my head that tells me it's ok this one time, you're on notice. No more. I'm done. A break isn't something you deserve. It's not a treat. If I want to reward myself, I can go get a pedicure, go see a movie, or get myself a delicious ribeye. A break is something you use when it's necessary to stay healthy.

I deserve to push myself.
I deserve to get stronger.
I deserve a body I love and treat well.
I deserve confidence. No, I deserve swagger!
I deserve to be outrageously happy.

A break? That's just a tool to use to help me get there.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Will Brake For Doubts

The past few months have been full of activity and have resulted in a plethora of learning experiences for me. It's an exciting time in my life and I'm so grateful for all of the support I've had from my amazing friends. As I go about making some major changes in my life, I've noticed a pattern and, as I am wont to do, I have spent some time pondering this pattern. I realized that the majority of the times I have made changes, in the direction I really want my life to go, that I was actually met with relatively little resistance. More often than not, one change would open doors that I didn't even know were there and it led to a pretty amazing snowball effect. It's the best kind of slippery slope to be on, let me tell you! What I noticed, though, was that as things gained momentum, in the very direction I truly wanted to go, I would start to slow things down. I would press on the brakes and look around wondering how to pause or whether I should turn back. How strange! As I kept pushing myself forward and tried best to stay out of my own way, I really wondered what was going on in my crazy little head.

Last week, I scheduled a personal training session with my amazing coach, Jess. We went over my fitness and health goals for the year and started laying out a plan to get there. One of the goals I set was to be able to finish a 400m sprint in less than 1:30. As luck would have it, the fabulous Ben Palmer, one of the CrossFit Endurance coaches, happened to be at the gym and available to chat. He watched a warmup run to give me his critique on form and to be able to give me a few drills to do on my own to improve. He said something that has been stuck in my head since. When you get your legs pulling correctly and you start to run, you have to lean into the run to pick up speed. I had spent a fair amount of time repeating drills to move my legs and arms properly and I was starting to add up more and more miles completed each week. After all that, I was still leaning backwards when I would get going. If I wanted to pick up speed and move forward, I had to lean forward not backward.

How simple is that?

As I went about my day, I started to see myself delaying meetings that would propel me forward in my career goals. I noticed myself putting off decisions that would move my closer to my financial goals. And I was avoiding contacting even my close friends for fear I might have to let them in on everything I'd spent time dreaming up! Then it hit me. Another frying pan moment. I had the right shoes, the right form, my legs were moving, my arms were moving, all I had to do was lean into it. All the work I had done to prepare myself was useless if I didn't lean forward and get going.

So here's my challenge to myself and the only way I will reach my 1:30 run time and all the other goals I've set:
Lean into life.

Now that I've updated my old bumper sticker,
"Will Brake For Doubts Real Problems Only"
I'm ready to hit the road and conquer all these dreams!
"There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Cheers to a year of forward motion.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Month of Thanks

At the beginning of this month, a friend tweeted a statement of gratitude and challenged herself to post a new statement of thanks for the entire month of November. I thought it was a great idea and decided to follow along. As I wrap up November and prepare for a month more geared towards celebration than reflection, here is a recap of my #monthofthanks.

Grateful for...

...modern conveniences that allow me the luxury of pursuing dreams instead of necessities.
...girlfriends who support and challenge you while refusing to let you be less than your best. #community
...coaches that simultaneously empathize and understand your fears and pain while pushing you beyond them. #grateful @LIFTfitnessATX @SicStyleBaller @NykiNyk @melisaloo @Careykep career opportunities that expand my skill set and bring me another day closer to living my dream. 
...a best friend that refuses to let anything, including our divorce and long distance, ruin our friendship. #loved
...a program that encourages women to dream big, set goals, and conquer the world. #signatureseries
...road trips full of quiet time to reflect on life, the past, the future, and anything that comes to mind.
...little presents from friends that remind me I am thought of and loved. #lovelanguageofgiving
...the process of packing and moving as it reminds me how rich and full my life really is. #livinthegoodlife
...never having been truly hungry and living with an overabundance of food. Taking some to @cafbtx today. 
...modern technology allowing for greater flow of information and better organization. #nerd
...a clear diagnosis of a simple and easily remedied illness after hours of tests and pain. #healthyfamily amazing new house that already feels like home. #home
...a beautiful walk in wonderful weather with no noise. #simplepleasures
...having met @HullCove and getting started on a grand adventure. #bigdreams
...mountain rain dryer sheets that make my clothes smell awesome. #sofreshandsocleanclean entire month without a scale and refusing to define myself by a number. #freedom opportunities to conquer my dreams and the amazing support from my friends and community. #completelyinawe
...a cat who, while bitchy, was there through all the bad times. #petpeople
...the healing properties of Irish coffee. #goodforthesoul
...another day full of opportunities. 
...footie pajamas and weather cold enough to justify them. #nevertoooldforfootiepajamas
...a roomie with the patience to handle my crazy days. #partnersincrime
...a referral from a friend that opens doors for new job possibilities. #bigdreams
...delicious Thanksgiving food that will not wreck my body. #paleofeast #bacon
...a best friend who will go shopping with you at midnight on Black Friday and try on silly clothes.  #TMNT #crazy
...a night on the couch with some bubbly, dark chocolate, great friend, and good movies. #RandR
...the holiday season and my ability to choose to skip the cynicism and enjoy it all. #holidayspirit
...@nextleveldr and @nextleveldave in helping me get stronger, stay mobile, and prevent injury. #hurtssogood entire month's worth of thanks coming nowhere close to a complete list. #toomanytocount

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." - William Arthur Ward

Eternally grateful

Monday, November 28, 2011

Priority Check

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post. So many amazing things are happening in my life and I am so busy going and doing that I've had little time to reflect. In the past month I have moved into a lovely little house with a good friend, found a wonderful partner to start a business, and started a kick ass internship at my gym. Meanwhile, I am still working full time at my day job, going to CrossFit at least 3x a week, and trying to sleep enough to stay sane. My life is so very full of amazing people and opportunities right now. If you could describe happiness in dollars, Warren Buffett has nothing on me.

With all the excitment and activity, I'm reminded of a lesson I've learned over and over again. You cannot maintain 100% involvement with 100% perfection and keep 100% energy AND do everything you want to do. I'm a big believer in having it all and I work towards that every day. But happiness comes from assessing your life, prioritizing, focusing on your priorities, and letting go of control and worry for everything else. That seems like such an easy concept, but while it is simple, it is incredibly difficult. Every day you make choices on how to spend your time and money. The choices you make and the method you use to make those choices reflect a lot about what is truly important to you. I seek to live a life of active choices that are focused on specific goals.

For instance, I know that I want to get out of the cubicle cycle and start earning money from my passions. I know that being in substantial personal debt will make that difficult. So every time I am invited out to dinner, or pass an amazing outfit that I would love to wear, or am offered an "easy button" that comes with a hefty price tag, I try to take a step back and put whatever it is that is right in front of me into perspective with my dream of financial freedom. I also know that I want to get stronger and faster and train to a level where I am competitive in weightlifting. That may seem like a goal that stays at the gym, but that goal is in my mind every time I decide what to eat, how much to sleep at night, and whether or not I add an extra workout or watch TV. It also comes back up when deciding how to spend my money. Will I buy new boots or a month of personal training? How much real value will I get out of eating <insert food that will wreck my body>? Is it worth it to go to X event when I know I could use that time to rest and recover at home and get some much needed alone time?

"First rule of Economics 101: our desires are insatiable. Second rule: we can stomach only three Big Macs at a time." - Douglas Horton

My inner economist is always judging my decisions on the opportunity cost. There are days, especially recently, where I wish I could quiet that voice and make a truly spontaneous choice. Then I think about all of the amazing opportunities I have right now that would be completely out of reach if I did not have that little voice reminding me of my bigger dreams. In the end, for all the stress it causes, I am thankful for my ability to analyze and process information. I am also thankful for the amount of support I've had over the past few weeks. Now that I am through the more hectic phase of this transition, it is time to revisit my goals, refocus my energy, and double check my priorities. Then it's back to work.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Maintenance Motivation

Somedays when I send emails to my coaches I feel like Usher is behind me singing Confessions. Over the past few weeks I've managed to work my way into a funk. Our workouts have involved a lot of inversions and gymnastics that are a frustrating combination of physically difficult and mentally terrifying. After feeling defeated time and again at the gym, I've come home frustrated and ended up blowing off the things I really cared about to grab a drink as if it would help. After sliding down this slippery slope, I'm now tired, still frustrated, and wondering what I did with my last week. This little pity party will not do. Not at all. So here I am, up late again, but choosing to set myself up for a better tomorrow. Knowing that the better angels of my nature aren't at full strength, I have decided to help them out a bit. I've set up a to do list for tomorrow, set out my gym clothes to prevent any excuses for missing my makeup workout tomorrow morning, and I've cleaned out the fridge and thrown out what I haven't been resisting. Now I'm working on my head.

When I first started this entire transition out of a life lived between the time clock and the bar and into a life that I actively participate in on a daily basis, I found a lot of information, inspiration, and encouragement in blogs and especially in stories of other people who had made the same changes and seen amazing success. I became a Success Story junkie. Between CrossFit Central, Mark's Daily Apple, and various other sources I was overwhelmed with optimism and it really fueled me day in and day out. That was carried further by participation in competitions, PRs at the gym, results at each body comp, and a few big steps in my career. All of those things are great, but life isn't always about the big changes. Sometimes life is just about waking up ten minutes early to get some reading time in and setting your day up for success, or turning off the TV and getting that extra hour of sleep. So how do you stay motivated in those small moments? Nobody writes a success story about how they cooked lunch at home instead of going out and saved money and they feel great. They may tweet about it or post it on Facebook, but it can get lost in all the funny cat videos and baby pictures.

Due to my current mood, I decided to dig around inside my head and figure out what motivates me. Nothing I found was new, but reminders are rarely a bad thing. I love music and usually have two or three songs that I identify with and consider my theme songs* for certain periods of time. I'm a fan of quotes, the cheesier the better. I also keep emails and notes from friends and look back over them as a little pick-me-up. Since these things rarely pop up when you need them the most, I've decided to start a new page here on my blog. I have named it the Great Wall of Motivation. I will use it to collect anything that inspires me and check back into it when I get beat down.

How do you conquer frustration and funk?

One step at a time.

*Current theme songs:
OneRepublic - Good Life
Bad Meets Evil - Lighters
LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It