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!

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

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Someone recently posed the question "Does winning matter? Or is it good enough to compete?" To answer, I thought back to the competitions I've been in this year. I never had any intention of winning the Iron Belle Challenge or Fight Gone Bad. I am all for positive thinking and a champion mindset, but no amount of visualizing first place was going to overcome years of a sedentary lifestyle. Still, I look back on both of those days as huge victories. When I signed up for each one, I had a vague goal in mind. As I trained and worked towards each one I set specific goals for myself. As I competed, I had my goal in mind and was ecstatic to surpass it each time. When posting about the events online, I absolutely used the #win hashtag. So did I win? I didn't take home any medals, trophies, or honors. All I took home were some photos, a t-shirt, and a mental image of me in that moment juxtaposed with me from 8 months ago.

- fast forward through hours of inner dialogue and a whole lot of nothing happening -

Here are my personal beliefs. I think you win when you reach what you set out to do. If you set out to attain a trophy, you win when you receive that trophy. If you set out to beat a certain personal record, you win when you beat that record. I realize there are many arguments to be made against the liberal interpretation of the word win and I don't disagree with all of them. I am just choosing to decide what victory means to me. After spending more time than necessary, I have come to the conclusion that my daily goal is still the same:

Today, I want to be my yesterday. And if I beat my yesterday, I win.

So yes. Winning matters and competition is good. I just choose to pit Jo 3.0 vs Jo 2.0.

Choose your competition, define your win, and conquer.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.  - Will Rogers

This year has been full of changes for me, many of which I've outlined in previous posts. I can honestly say there is very little of my life now that resembles my life 12 months ago. My mental outlook, my goals, my dreams, my hobbies, my body, pretty much everything has changed and it's been great. Over the past few months I've spent a lot of time letting all of those changes sink in and pondering their meaning in the grand scheme of my own personal universe. Some of the last bits of plans will be falling into place soon and now it's time to do two things: rest and recover emotionally from all of the chaos of the past few years and also to learn who I am now. A few years ago, I could have easily defined myself in a list of attributes, a brief history, and a few sarcastic quips. Presently, I couldn't define myself if I had all day! It is both marvelous and maddening. I am simultaneously reveling in my newfound freedom to create any person I want to be and losing my poor Type A mind due to a lack of 1 week, 1 year, 5 year, to infinity and beyond plans. You see, I have always been a compulsive planner. My friends have had no end of amusement from this particular character trait. Right now, for the very first time in my life, I truly feel like my options are limitless. I can take what I have and create whatever I'd like from it. It's amazing! (Warning: geek alert.)

Select * from OptionsForMyLife

Unfortunately, the query times out every single time and I'm left with this massive list of possibilities the analysis of which would take the rest of my life and then some.

So now what? How does one avoid the trap of analysis paralysis?

No really. I'm asking. This blog isn't about me having found a solution that works for me and sharing my brilliance with the world. This is about me, pondering plentiful possibilities, and trying to decide what to eat for breakfast.

Anybody? Any magic solution to always make the right choice?

Alrighty then. Thanks for trying.

My plan to help me plan for planning my plans:
#1 - Get out of bed.
#2 - Brush teeth.
#3 - Take risks.
#4a - Succeed boldly, publicly, and loudly.
#4b - Fail boldly, publicly, and loudly.
#5 - Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still.

One step at a time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Intersection of Pleasure and Joy

After starting this blog I have found myself in many conversations with friends about food and nutrition. Most of them start out wondering about this whole 'paleo thing' and many of them continue on to the discussion about all the things you can't have or give up or any number of terms signifying a great loss of some kind. While I can't answer many of the questions people have and I am not a shining example of the primal lifestyle, this has left me thinking quite a bit about my real motivation and why I do what I do. Over the course of this year, I have made a multitude of changes and many of them can seem downright diametric to my former lifestyle. While I cannot pinpoint the exact moment it happened, somewhere along the line I had a radical paradigm shift. I can finally recognize the relationship between pleasure and joy. They are so similar and yet can be quite contrary. Webster defines them both as such.

plea·sure \ˈple-zhər, ˈplā-\
1 : desire, inclination
2 : a state of gratification
3 a : sensual gratification
b : frivolous amusement
4 : a source of delight or joy

joy \ˈjȯi\
1 a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight
b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
2 : a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
3 : a source or cause of delight

As you can see, they are so similar that they even contain the same definition. They are both defined as a source of delight and joy is even used in the definition of pleasure. For the sake of this discussion, I am going to focus on the short term connotation of pleasure with regards to its frivolity and the long term connotation of joy implied by a state of being. What I have come to realize is that while pleasure can be a source of joy, it can also be its detriment. There are pleasures that give short lived gratification and there are others that lead to a long lasting feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction in your personal success. These are not mutually exclusive by any means. You can gain a great deal of immediate satisfaction from things that also contribute to your long term joy. And there will always be measures necessary for long term success and happiness that give no immediate gratification by any stretch of the imagination. In my mind, it kind of looks like this:
I am currently pursuing a lifestyle that is solidly in joy and limits the pleasures that don't fall in the middle. This is not to say that they are not pleasurable or satisfying in any way. But I have found that when I choose pleasures from the list that also contribute to my long term joy, my pleasure lasts longer with less of a hangover. It's like a happiness binge with no horrible blood sugar crash afterwards. I mean, who doesn't want to be happy all the time?

This is certainly not a simple quest. It is an interesting challenge to assess the value of every choice and place the result on the spectrum from pleasure to joy. But I am enjoying my life more consistently and thoroughly than I ever have before, so I will call it a win for now.

May you have all the pleasure and joy possible.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Traitorous Doubt

Part of the routine at my CrossFit gym is to record your performance after every workout. Whether the goal is a high number of reps or a speedy time, when it is all said and done there is a large whiteboard waiting for you to record the fruits of your labor. There are days where the march to the whiteboard is triumphant and others when it is merely rote. I have also noticed lately that, for me, there are days when I leave no trace of my WOD on the board. This doesn't occur when I don't use the recommended weight or fail to finish the workout. There are a great many reasons for a less than stellar performance at the gym. Sometimes I am exhausted from a lack of sleep, other days I did not stretch properly and I am very tight from previous exercise, and many of the workouts are simply beyond my current level. None of those reasons leave me with a sense of dry erase dread. That anxiety comes only when I've let myself become frustrated with a movement or challenge and let doubt creep in and leave me frozen. I waste time and energy on the mental process of overcoming those doubts and lose seconds and even minutes of possible victories. I won't say that those doubts defeat me, because defeat seems so final. They do, however, prevent me from reaching my full potential in every moment. And after waging a war in my head against my own lack of faith in myself, my desire to record my results for all to see is gone.

Upon further reflection on this whiteboard fear, I found that this isn't merely a fitness phenomenon. When I allow myself the luxury of dreams I often find enough to doubt that I prevent myself from even speaking about them, much less attempting to reach them. While my doubts can inhibit my progress during a workout, they can completely derail a dream before it even leaves my head. This can manifest itself in small ways, like skipping an opportunity for a new project at work, and large ways, such as ruining a long term dream to travel. I have always examined this emotion and packaged it as a sort of healthy fail-safe to prevent me from investing physically and emotionally in something that runs a large risk of failure. What I had not realized, or at least not accepted, is that everything runs a large risk of failure. As Aristotle said, "It is possible to fail in many ways, while to succeed is possible only in one way." While many arguments could be made about degrees of success and even redefining success, I still believe this statement to be true in many ways. The possibility of failure should not be reason enough to prevent action.

Our doubts are traitors, 
And make us lose the good we oft might win 
By fearing to attempt.
William Shakespeare

My goal for the next week is to record every result regardless of my mental state at the end of the workout. I hope this will serve both to encourage me to work through the mental roadblocks more quickly and conquer more during each workout and also to force me to celebrate my attempts, even when they are not perfect. Whatever numbers might be recorded, I was capable of trying and that is enough to earn a spot on the whiteboard. I also hope this will inspire me to skip the cynicism and really open myself up to attempting more in my day to day life.

Whatever comes, I have the luxury of dreams and that alone deserves daily celebration and gratitude.

Still livin' the good life,

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fuel-21 Wrap Up

Twenty one days ago I started a nutrition challenge at my gym called Fuel-21. For three weeks you eat a strict paleo diet (in a nutshell: meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar) with a focus on eating real food and developing good habits. Everyone participates as a group and there are weekly meetings to talk about any questions people might have as well as ideas on food.

I decided to participate in the program a few months ago and began ramping up early. Over the past five months I've been decreasing my grain and dairy intake. Dairy was not a hard transition for me because I have had a lactose sensitivity for a while now. I thought bread and pasta would be very difficult to give up, but I never really crave them anymore. The biggest challenge there was my passion for baking. Now that I have more time, I'm looking forward to creating new recipes using all of the new ingredients I've learned about over the past few months. I always spend a lot of my holiday season in the kitchen and this year will be no exception. I also decided to take a break from alcohol, including beer which is a passion of mine, a few months ago. That was an interesting challenge in and of itself. I definitely have a different perspective on social gatherings having attended quite a few now and skipped the alcohol. My thoughts on the relationship between alcohol and community will be explored in a future post.

That brings us to day one of the challenge. Each participant met with Crystal on their own to complete an initial body composition as well as receive their guide to the program. We all met each other for the first time on Tuesday, August 9th. Everyone introduced themselves and we all listened as Crystal gave us a little information on her background then walked us through each page of the guide. I was lucky to have a good friend going through the program with me. We both asked a lot of questions and decided to be each other's support. I also set the goal there to take a picture of all the food I ate over the course of the program and post it to my tumblr blog. I left there and headed to the grocery store to pick up food for the week. I was excited but also a bit anxious as I knew I had a birthday party coming up that week and I was going to spend two days baking and decorating a cake. Let's just say the thought of baking a cake without licking any spoons was a foreign concept to me.

Armed with a fridge stocked full of goodies, multiple friends to text when I was tempted, and an updated baking playlist (music is an absolute necessity in the kitchen), I began the process of cooking meals for the week and baking a cake that I had no intention of ever tasting. The first three days were an interesting mix of delicious meals and the constant smell of sugar taunting me in my own home. I was glad to complete the cake and deliver it to the party. Since then, I have really enjoyed exploring new meals. My grandmother made a big spaghetti dinner for my uncle's birthday and I told her ahead of time that I couldn't have the cheese or bread that goes into the meatballs. She and my mother were kind enough to make me a small pan of my own and I brought spaghetti squash to replace the pasta. It was delicious! As they enjoyed the apple pie she baked, I enjoyed my apple sliced and dipped in almond butter. There were a few outings where it became awkward when I chose not to drink, but each one managed only fueled my confidence that I really was choosing a better path. Over the course of the program I started to pay attention to my body and only eat when I was hungry. In the end, my routine of eating a little here and there and snacking throughout the day has been replaced by a large meal mid-morning and another large meal after working out and maybe a small snack at night if I'm hungry again before bed.

While I cannot say I was entirely diligent in photographing and documenting my food, I did take pictures of almost everything and it was a great way to prevent myself from mindlessly snacking. The extra photography aspect I added gave me an extra layer of accountability that had an amazing result. I became acutely aware of what I put into my body and knowing that a photograph had to be taken caused me to really consider every bite. It started out as a simple project but it led to an increased level of passion for food and it took everything from the selection of ingredients to the preparation and consumption of food to an almost spiritual experience. I have always considered myself a foodie, but this experience has changed my entire approach to appreciating the art of nutrition.
In the end, I have made some major changes and I am incredibly happy. I have seemingly endless energy during the day and I sleep like a rock at night. I no longer struggle to get to sleep and stay asleep. I am not hungry during the day and I no longer get cranky between meals. I used to regularly get a condition we call "The Hanger" where your hunger causes a significant amount of anger and frustration. I now go a large amount of time between my mid-morning and evening meal and I still have the energy for a solid workout. I feel like I recover faster from difficult workouts and I've been making great strides in my strength training.

I also lost body fat, pounds, and inches and while I will not say those results are irrelevant, I can say with complete honesty that the biggest gain from this experience is the way my body feels, not any change in appearance. I have more energy now than I have in years and that, combined with the amazing mental clarity, has set me on an unstoppable path to conquer my dreams and live a fearless existence.

As summer comes to an end and we start the holiday season, I am looking forward to the opportunities to feed and nourish my friends and family while continuing this exquisite exploration of all things edible.

Eat, drink, and be merry.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Iron Belle Challenge 2011

One of my favorite parts about my gym is the amazing community of women. The programs they build for women and the ladies I've met continue to blow me away. Today was the annual Iron Belle Challenge and now, after five months of CrossFit, I have completed my first competition. I haven't competed in anything since high school swim team, and that was more of a way for me to work out and less about winning. I even spent my senior year helping manage the team and never participated in a meet. Over the past month, I had the pleasure of forming a team of three with Courtney, one of the women from my 6pm class, and Kathryn, another woman who attends morning classes at the same gym. None of us really knew each other and it was a great time getting to know each other while prepping for and competing in the challenge. Since we'd all just met, we decided to call ourselves the Perfect Strangers.

Last night after the packet pick up, there was a workshop at the gym about goal setting and strategy during competitions. Courtney, Kathryn and I had a great time talking to each other about our strengths and weaknesses and coming up with a plan to finish strong and have a great time. During the workshop, we did an interesting exercise on communication. The team captains were given a short workout to get their teammates to perform and were sent back to communicate that without speaking. It was chaotic and fun and was definitely a challenge as the team captain.

The Perfect Strangers before the first event
This morning, after a series of unfortunate events, I made it to the check in and found my girls. We spent an hour talking with some of the other teams and working through some nerves. The first event was a 2 mile trail run with two workouts on the trail. At the first stop, your team had to complete 100 12kg KB swings. At the second stop, your team had to complete 100 6lb medicine ball passes and 50 burpees. Both of my teammates are strong runners, so I spent most of the run on my own. I was very happy to complete it with only a few short breaks to walk and catch my breath. In the end, we finished the event with a time of 30:33.

Kathryn owned the deadlift
The second event was a deadlift ladder. There was a row of bars set up starting at 105lbs going up by 10lbs each time and ending with a 200lb bar. If you made it to the 200lb bar, you had 30 seconds to get as many reps as possible. This was completed by one member of your team and Kathryn had the highest deadlift so she represented us in that event. Her PR before the event was 165lbs. It was amazing to cheer her on as she moved up and completed a 200lb deadlift. This event definitely inspired me to stay focused on my strength training.
Reagan rocking the squat cleans

The final event was a team WOD. As a team, we had to complete 3 rounds of 20 15lb DB push press, 20 20" box jumps, 20 55lb squat cleans, 20 pull-ups, and 3 butcher runs. Being in a crowded gym full of amazing athletes yelling and cheering while you work your way through each movement in the WOD was just incredible. We did a great job during this event and had a fun time.

The entire event was incredible, but there are a few moments that will stand out in my mind when I think back to my first competition. First was the feeling of anticipation as we all lined up to go out on the run. As we lined up, we watched the last people come in from the heat before us. Two members of one team were already at the finish line when the third member of their team came around the corner. They ran out to meet her and all ran in to finish as a team. I will definitely remember the look on Kathryn's face when she finished the 200lb deadlift. And last but not least, I will be bottling the sounds of my classmates and friends cheering me on as I finished more of the push press and squat cleans than I ever have. I'll be keeping the hugs I received when the WOD was over and every last drop of love and support and pulling it all out when I start to doubt my ability to conquer my fears.

The 6pm Ladies: Kelly, me, Reagan, Courtney, Lina, Christina, and Jessica

I got to call myself an athlete today. I had a number written on my arm. I was a part of a team. And I did things I would not have thought possible only months ago. Today was a good day.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Couch to CrossFit

I'm sure everyone has heard of Couch to 5K. There are numerous apps and programs available to take you from a sedentary lifestyle to becoming a runner. I was never necessarily interested in running, but I did want to find a form of sport or fitness that would allow me to develop my body in a way that could be applied to multiple disciplines. What I found was CrossFit.

Let's start with a little background on my health. As a kid I was fairly active up through middle school. After various family events and some personal health problems, I stopped most physical activity and ballooned to almost 300 lbs in high school. As a junior in high school, I joined the swim team as a way to get exercise (insert fat girl in pool joke here) but had no clue what do to about my diet. My family was not the healthiest on the block and Taco Bueno for dinner and some Blue Bell for dessert was not uncommon. I moved out after high school and over the next 8 years I tried this diet and that, gave a personal trainer a shot for all of three sessions, went for walks, occasionally tried to go to the gym that was taking money from my account every month, and generally put my health last. I did manage to lose over 100 lbs over the course of the 8 years through various calorie restrictions, etc.

This picture shows me near my heaviest and least happy then another shot right before I joined CrossFit, lighter and more happy, but not yet fulfilled.

After a divorce last year and time spent wallowing for a few months, I decided I was tired of watching other people run marathons, play sports, ride bikes, go rock climbing, and all the other fun things I wasn't strong or fit enough to do. The drive from my apartment to my favorite little beer bar in Austin takes me up and down Burnet Rd. In the afternoons, I would drive past and see people running, jumping, squatting, and all sorts of crazy things in the parking lot and around the gym. After staring myself down in the mirror and verbally telling myself to put up or shut up, I was driving back from the bar and saw a row of girls doing pull-ups outside the gym. When I got home I looked them up and called the next day. I went in on my lunch break and spoke with the amazing Emily Baker who told me all about the program and reassured me again and again that all the training was scalable to my level. Inside my head I was laughing and thinking surely they couldn't understand how incredibly weak I really was. Regardless of my doubts and fears, and there were many, I signed up for Elements that day and paid right then to remove the chance to chicken out. I was scared to go to my first class and called the gym and rescheduled a week out. After a week of beating myself up, I showed up to my first day of Elements. It took all the will I could muster just to get out of the car. I walked in to the gym and saw people on the floor doing who knows what with cylinders of foam and little tennis balls and barely managed to walk to the counter to check in for class. Ben coached me and two other ladies through a lot of basics and we did at least a million* squats. And when I say we did, the other two women did and Ben went to get me a 20" box to sit on and get back up from because I couldn't actually support my weight past a slight lean. The next few days I was on fire and started using the handicapped stall at work so I could get a boost getting up from the seat. That is not an exaggeration.

I survived Elements and signed up for the 6pm Womens Only class. The ladies were all so friendly and I couldn't believe there were no chuckles when our coach pulled out the 20" box for me to work on my squat. Our warmup always ends with a 400m run which at that location involved running from the gym to an AutoZone down the street and back. Let's just say I didn't make it to the AutoZone before I was huffing and puffing and dizzy. Regardless, a lot of the girls gave me a high five on the way and told me I was doing a good job. What a way to kick off my first day of CrossFit. One of the workouts my first week was Annie which involves 50 each of double unders and sit ups, then 40 each, then 30 each, then 20 each, then 10 each and your goal is to complete all of that as quickly as possible. I don't think I had used a jump rope since kindergarten and I'm pretty sure I skipped the day where we learned how to properly jump rope. After fumbling around with it for quite a while I went over to try and do the sit ups. I kept at them, occasionally pulling myself up by the legs, and after less than 50 the coach called time and the workout was done. I hadn't even finished the first set. After class, the girls were kind enough to share stories from their first weeks and consistently reminded me that showing up and working through the WOD was a victory in and of itself.

I clung to that concept as the days went by and in what seemed like no time at all I was squatting to a med ball during the warm up. Then I finished the 400m run in the warmup without taking a break. Next thing you know it I finished an 800m run. I was almost in tears walking back in to the gym and one of my friends looked up and saw me and stopped what she was doing to give me a high five and tell me how awesome I was. Day after day I was racking up personal record after personal record. I got to call time in my first WOD and finished it completely. Then I ran a mile. Then I started squatting with weight. The hits just kept coming! Then came the day when I finally felt like I could describe myself as CrossFit. I had finally earned that description. Annie came back around in the rotation and I did every jump (single, I'm still working on the double unders) and every sit up and I got to ask my amazing coach, Carey, to give me my time. I sat on the mat and thought back to that first week when I had to get help getting up from a sit up and I had to fight back tears. I walked over to the whiteboard and proudly wrote my time, which was still longer than anyone else in the class, and I practically floated out to the lobby after stretching out.

Now I look forward to every day I get the pleasure of sweating it out with the amazing ladies in my class. I keep setting and reaching short and long term goals. I even added an extra day of training to get a better understanding of the various lifts when we work with weights. I love moving heavy weight and the strength I've developed over the past five months has changed my life. I walk with my shoulders back and every step is full of purpose. I am even competing for the first time on a team for the Iron Belle Challenge on Saturday. I love my life and I am loving my body and watching it change every day is such a joy to me.

So to anyone out there that has ever considered training, go for it. I can't recommend it enough. Find a supportive environment and, as Jen Cardella would say, do work, bitches. It is awesome. It may not be as simple as downloading an app, but it is worth every drop of sweat.

Go forth and conquer.


*The actual number is probably less than 100, but to a total newbie it felt like a million.

Greetings fellow adventurers!

My name is Jo. I'm starting this blog as a way to journal about life and all the things I find amazing and awesome as well as pull together other sources that I find inspiring and interesting. I am new to this blogging thing, so bear with me as I fumble my way through it.

I am a word nerd, so I think the best way to introduce myself is to start with a list of words. They define, inspire, interest and describe me (or I just like the word, like pulchritudinous) and they are listed in no particular order of importance.

CrossFit, Paleo, Rowing, Lifting, Strength, Travel, Language, Precocious, Adventure, Laughter, Gaming, Music, Foodie, Beer, Animals, Swimming, Friendship, Nerd, Baking, Change, Reading, Shoes, Dancing, Learning, Challenge, Determined, Phoenix

I'm sure you'll learn more about me as I attempt to ponder life while avoiding the awkward internet overshare. I appreciate feedback and can't wait to get to know everyone!