Monday, July 27, 2015

What I really learned at my first powerlifting competition and why I may never do one again....

So, yesterday I made a blog post about my first powerlifting competition. In that posting, I spoke about in some detail about effing up my first lift and a PR in my deadlift. While both of those things are true, I realized that I learned so much more than the actual lifting would indicate. So this is what I really learned from my first powerlifting competition and why I may never do one again.

First and foremost, my biggest lesson was there ain’t no one that looks good in a singlet. It really is not a fashion statement. Not a good look for any one, unless you are a cute little eight or nine year girl or boy, then it might be kinda adorable, especially when you are hitting weights bigger than some of the adults I see at the gym. Yeah, for them, it might be a good look.

Second and most importantly, I realized again how I have a great support system. I just can’t thank the people that came out to support me enough as well as those that were cheering for me from afar. I love you guys. It is funny how support comes from places you never would have thought. In my case, I do have family that loves me and I know this. My husband, of course, is unrelenting in his support but with my family beyond that, we have not always been able to show love to each other. We come from a heritage of very stoic people. But the morning of the competition, two of my brothers messaged me that morning to wish me luck. I love that. One of my brothers said one of the most important things to me in the past month or so. That failure is measurement of the mind and success is measured in the heart. I need this to always stick with me because it is important to know that YOU and YOU alone get to measure your success. I long have thought, unless I measured up to the world’s idea of what a success story is, I could not declare that I was one. No more. I am a success story…I’m just not done writing it.

I also have neighbors and co-workers that have seen me in the worst shape of my life and cheered me on as I made the decision to change. I have walked many miles with some of them. I have traveled and camped with some of them. There have been many encouraging emails sent between us. With them, I now feel totally comfortable being me. Although many of them could not be at the competition, I still felt their presence. They are like family to me and I love them.

Then there was the simple act of buying living social deals that brought into my life some of the people that support me no matter what. Who knew that a five session kettlebell deal would turn into friendships that have transformed me in ways I never expected. At the time, I don’t even know what possessed me to sign up for the deal except I knew I need more challenge in my life. I didn’t even have an idea what a kettlebell was other than the 8 pound one I used at the gym with my first trainer. The women that I met via this class (which by the way I continued well beyond the living social deal) have been with me as I have pursued many goals. They have seen me climb to the top of buildings, around stadiums, and to the top of mountains. We have had fun times around a camp fire and the dining room table, in front of a canvas or craft table, and just being with each other. They have seen so many changes in my life. I can confidently say that without them I would NOT have been at the powerlifting competition. I would not have done any of the events I have done to date without the encouragement to do the first one. They saw in me the strong woman I did not know I could be. I love them more than they will ever comprehend.

And of course, there is my gym family. Many at the gym that I am at now do not know how far I have come but I am always surprised by how many do. This is another group that knew how strong I could be before I even realized it myself. I will always be thankful that they have not given up on me. If it weren’t for a 90 day challenge at the gym and surprisingly a spin class demo, I would never have discovered just how much I love lifting. We had just had the team fitness class demo the week before. I loved it but was not willing to spring for the extra fee for the class. Then the next week it was the spin class demo. They were going around showing people how to adjust their bikes. No one came to help me and I had no clue what I was doing. I was walking out, when Ben (the team fitness trainer) stopped me and asked where I was going. I was frustrated by the bike. He took me back in and showed me how to adjust the bike and I made it through the class. I sensed right away that he was someone who wouldn’t let people give up. I knew I needed someone like that helping me figure out the next steps in my fitness journey. I signed up for team fitness and never looked back. Ben also introduced me to my first personal trainer at this gym, who really helped me come out of my shell and actually start enjoying my time at the gym. The trainers at the gym helped me see the beauty of lifting heavy weights, to understand how to do lift without injury or too much stress on my body, and to push towards goals. I am so grateful for each and every one of them but in particular for the ones that I have worked with over the past two years.

The third lesson I learned by doing the powerlifting competition and why I may never do one again is that I love to lift. I want to lift because I love it. I want to perform a good squat because it’s a good squat and not because there is a rule in a competition to get to certain depth. I want to deadlift without being told I have to wear long socks (I hate long socks). I want to lift heavy but I want to do so in a way that I don’t hurt myself and not just to be better than someone else. I want to break PRs but when I do so, I don’t need to be in front of a bunch of people that don’t know me. I want to train because I want to be strong. I want to push myself to new limits because it is only in doing so that I can grow. Mostly I just want to lift because I love to lift. I love to see my body get stronger. I love to push myself to new heights and new goals.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Well, I'll call a journey if I so choose...and I do

I know that lots and lots of people hate the word "journey" to describe the work they are doing on changes to their lifestyle whatever they may be -- getting fit, losing weight, improving health, managing stress, any two or more of the previous items, etc. But to me, if you like the word, use it. It is, after all, YOUR work and YOUR effort. You can describe it with every words you choose. So, I am going to use journey because the past years have been a journey for me.

The truth is we are all different. What I need to do to keep moving towards my goals is very different than what you need to do. Of course, my goals are likely very different than yours too. In fact, my goals today are very different than my goals were a few years, even a few months, ago. The key is to figure out what YOU need to do to reach your goals. This doesn't mean that others and what they are doing might not help you figure out what you need to do but it does mean that we shouldn't get discouraged if what someone else is doing doesn't work for you...that it doesn't get you closer to your goals. Don't listen to the naysayers as they try to tell you that you are doing it wrong. If it is working for you and helping you find the life you want, then who are they to tell you to do something different?

It's so easy to be swayed by other stories of success. It is easy to jump from plan to plan without giving the first enough time to see if it is going to help you be successful. I've done that...I still do it but I'm learning to stick to a plan. I learning to see success in small things and not always be looking for the big signs of success. I am learning to R E L A X about perceived plateaus in some areas no matter how long they may be as long as I am seeing progress in other areas. Ok. I haven't lost as much weight as I would have liked in 2014...but the inches I lost and the strength I gained cannot be ignored.

Regarding stalls in the journey, all you can do is to learn and move onward. The real success is hitting these roadblocks and NOT retreating...not going backwards. Fortunately, even though my weight loss progress is not as quick as others, there hasn't been any retreating...any laying down of the sword and giving up. That's not to say that I haven't gained a few pounds back from to time. It is to say that I kept fighting. It's not to say that I haven't been frustrated but I've never been close to just throwing in the towel.

Part of the reasons that I have not given up is that I really LOVE working out. I really LOVE being and getting stronger. I LOVE how I feel these days. I LOVE being more confident about who I am. I LOVE having the new circle of friends I have and LOVE that they keep accountable. I LOVE the group of experts that I know and provide advice and encouragement. I LOVE being an athlete...a lifter of heavy things. I LOVE that most of the time I do the best I may not be better than what others can do....but it is better than I did yesterday. I LOVE that when I don't do as well as I can, I am learning to just hike up my big girl pants and move on.

The other thing I have learned is to be flexible about goals. When I first started my journey, it was all about the numbers on the scale and losing weight. I was a point in my life that I knew I couldn't go on if I didn't. Before too long, it become more about becoming healthier and getting better numbers with my blood work so that I would not have to be maintenance drugs (and partially to prove a previous doctor that she was wrong). When I finally started working out, it was about being able to do cardio and move with some sort of endurance. Then it became about being stronger. I discovered so many things at the gym that I loved...kettlebell workouts, boxing, and weight lifting. I found that I could be strong. Now, it is more about living a life that I want to do things I want to enjoy time with family and get to the top of enjoy the do more than simply exist.

I recently read this blog. My favorite quote in the blog is "All this to say, and I've said it before, success is about consistency, embracing imperfection, and being proud of your best, where your best is the healthiest life that you can enjoy living, not the healthiest life that you can tolerate."

This speaks volumes to me. I am still learning to embrace imperfections, to live a life that is the healthiest for where I am but the key is I am still learning and moving forward on my journey. I am learning to learn from what goes right and what goes wrong. I am learning to stick with something to see if it going to move me forward on my journey. Things may not always be perfect but I'm on this journey and committed for a lifetime.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Workout log...getting sweaty

I am going to try logging some of my workouts. I'm not sure I will do it daily but I am going to try. So, today Saturday January 10th was a metabolic conditioning workout. Today I did a workout that was a really sweaty one. I did ten rounds of the following, trying to stop as little as possible and never during my deadlifts:
  • 15 deadlifts with115 pounds
  • 1 minute plank
  • 10 pushups with touching my chest to the ground.
It was a very sweaty workout. I will admit that I had to reset during the last two planks for about 2 seconds after the first 45 or so seconds both times. I did stop a bit between some sets but for the most part I kept moving.

At the end, I was SWEATY. My headband was soaked. My abs were sore. My body was shaky. I loved it. It was a great workout.

Also, I recently set another PR with my deadlift. My one rep max is now 250 pounds. It was a confidence boost for the new year. I love getting stronger. During that same workout, I even did five reps at 235, my old one rep max. 

So, I hope to include more quick workout updates throughout the year. Let's see how well I do on that.

By the way, tomorrow is a rest day so there won't be a workout post.

More later.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

It's Time to JUST DO

It is 2015. Time to refocus. In fact, my word for the year is "focus". There are many things that I need to focus on in my husband, my career, my gym life, my lifestyle....oh so much.

This post is specifically about the gym. Recently, I have been taken to task about what I am doing at the gym. Whether comments made by my trainer were meant to do it or not, I realized that I do more living in how far I have come than making progress on where I want to go. In many ways, the past few days I have felt like a fraud at the gym. I have way too many people commenting on how well I am doing when if the truth was known, I should be doing better. Sure, I am light years from where I was but who really cares about the past? It is about the now and preparing for the future.

As was pointed out to me, I think too much when lifting at the gym. It is going to stop. I am going to just start doing. Honestly, I got caught up in perfecting my form and would get in my head every time something went wrong. This has impeded my progress. So, this coming year is all about focusing on progress. I feel ready to make this step.
 It's not going to be easy because I am an over thinker. I analyze everything and I know it. It is going to take a lot of effort to clear my mind. But it is time to stop thinking too much and JUST DO.

It is also time to stop talking about what I am going to do and JUST DO. I am going to take all the insight I had over the past few days (which I will not go into but, as far as the gym goes, the past few days almost had me giving up...but I can't do that) and apply it to my lifting.

Tomorrow Tim and I are going to take photos to have them for progress comparisons during the year. Photos and measurements are definitely the best way to measure progress. It's time to JUST DO.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 was not what I expected

So, I had a list of 50 things that I wanted to do this year. It was to be my "epic" year. How did I do? Well, I did not accomplish those 50 things that I set out to do. But, you know what? I still had an epic year!

What did I do this year? Here is my year in review (items not in chronological order):

1. I completed the Susan G. Komen -- 60 miles in 3 days.
2. I climbed a 14er, which honestly was the most fulfilling things I did this year.
3. I took lots and lots of photos.
4. I participated in the Commitment run on New Year's Day.
5. I climbed the Republic Plaza and cut my previous time by one-third.
6. I tried raw oysters (and liked them).
7. I went tent camping in Durango.
8. I tried paddle boarding (didn't quite make it to my feet but I tried).
9. I did the incline.
10. I did the incline again.
11. I made sauerkraut.
12. I crocheted a doll blanket for a friend's daughter.
13. I crocheted a baby blanket for a friend.
14. I crocheted baby booties that looked like converse shoes.
15. I crocheted baby booties and hat.
16. I created a crocheted kettlebell.
17. I participated in the winter 90 day challenge at the gym.
18. I deadlifted 205 pounds.
19. I deadlifted 235 pounds, multiple reps.
20. I participated in a single day alpha challenge at the gym (and came in 6th out of like 16 women).
21. I participated in the fall 90 day challenge at the gym.
22. I participated in the national alpha challenge at the gym.
23. I completed the Cherry Creek sneak.
24. I walked in the Furry Scurry.
25. I camped at Woodland Park.
26. I attempted the never ending hike at the Rampart Reservior.
27. I completed the never ending hike at the Rampart Reservior.
28. I climbed at Sports Authority field.
29. I threw a football on the field at Sports Authority field (where the Denver Broncos play).
30. I climbed at Red Rocks for the 9-11 memorial stair climb.
31. I volunteered at the Alzheimer's walk.
32. I got a tattoo for my sister.
33. I did the Relay for Life with my niece.
34. I took an archery class.
35. I spent a weekend in New York City, without plans, just walking around.
36. I lived through my first encounter with a rattlesnake out on a hike. :)
37. I walked Waldo Canyon.
38. I plunged into the Aurora Reservoir as part of a Polar Plunge.
39. I bought a stranger his Starbucks.
40. I tried many new recipes.
41. I walked well over 5 million steps (mostly thanks to the training for the 3 Day walk).
42. I ate bear.
43. I hiked Castlewood Canyon.
44. I read Moby Dick.
45. I did 1500 burpees in the month of February.
46. I saw the sunrise at the ocean.
47. I saw the sunset at the ocean.
48. I am definitely wearing smaller jeans than I was at the beginning of the year.
49. I learned a lot about lifting and am learning that I need to push myself more.
50. I shared a cheap bottle of champagne.

So, there are definitely 50 things I did during the year that were, for the most part, things I would not have considered doing in the past. I know there were more things but this list is pretty good.

I am keeping my list of the 50 things and will update it as I complete things. I still think it is a good "bucket list". Some of my issues this year were that I did not account for how much time the training for the 3 Day walk would take. It consumed most of my weekends. In addition, I have decided that lifting is more important than running so that removed a lot of things from the list for the past year. Nonetheless, I loved my year.

2014 was a good year and I am looking forward to 2015.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Some times you have to dig deep....

November 21st through the 23rd, I completed the Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk in San Diego. Let me say that it was an event like no other. It was an exhilarating and it was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. It was a time of crowds of people and a time of solitude. It was a time of being way out of my comfort zone and a time of personal discovery. It was time of memories of the past and a time of looking forward to the future. It was a time of laughter and a time of tears. It was a time of conversation and a time of few words.

Let me see if I can recap it.  The event started with the opening ceremony early on Friday morning...a rainy morning. Once we finally got on the road, we were thrilled to see a rainbow arching across the sky.

During the first few miles, we had our first view of the ocean. Walking along the ocean over much of the first day, I realized just how much I miss it from living in San Juan and the east coast. But I also realized that I'm happy where I am now too. I am truly enjoying discovering who I am through the adventures in Colorado.

There were pit stops on the way. I carried most of my own snacks as the foods that were available from the event just do not fit into my lifestyle. I also had plenty of ultima replenisher, an electrolyte replacement with better than most ingredients.

I will say that the number of supporters and "walker stalkers" along the route simply amazed me. I had no idea that there would be so much support from spectators like this. They had so many things available to walkers -- water, coffee, various food items, sunscreen, etc. The best part to me was the people that brought their dogs to event. I took every opportunity to stop and pet the dogs along the way.

Each day there was a hill. I am very grateful that I live in Colorado and did some hill training and hiking this summer. Although not a breeze by any means, the hills were very doable.

Honestly, the downhill that we hit right before lunch was definitely more difficult than this hill was. BUT the reward was lunch on the beach. It was a good break. I changed sock and felt refreshed. After a short talk with my friend, I hit the road again. Most of the first day, I walked alone by choice. I needed the time to think.

After twenty plus miles (over 63,000 steps), I reached camp. Again I was astounded by the helpful volunteers, helping put up tents, etc. After a snack, a much needed shower, and dinner, I found that several friends had sent me cards and letters to the camp. It was quite a boost to read them. I must say that I have the BEST support system. I often do not feel worthy of the immense support I get from them. After reading my letters, stretching, rolling out my hamstrings and talking to my husband, I collapsed in my sleeping bag.

The next day we would leave camp and walk about another 20 miles. We would however return to same campsite that night. This day was interesting for me. It actually took me out of my comfort zone in a couple of ways. First, there were the bridges...lots and lots of bridges. I am no a fan at heights like this but I managed over each one of them. It was also in the first few miles that my shoes were bothering me. I had replaced the shoe laces and just couldn't get them tied appropriately. I stopped many times to relace them and try various ways of tying them.

Then, I was walking behind a woman and noticed her stride looked strange. I asked her if she was okay. It turned out that she was hurting. Her knee was really bothering her. I promised her that I would stay with her until we could get to a medical tent, where they could wrap her knee. We walked to the next stop, but it turned out to be one without medical help. After that stop, was the hill for the day. I asked her if she wanted to get the sweep van but she really wanted to finish the day. I so could understand that so we started up the hill. As we walked along the hill, she had to stop several times. I found myself encouraging her, giving her milestones to reach. She did well, even though she was in a lot of pain. We finally reached a medical tent and I bid her well.

I then walked alone again. It was during the downhill that I realized just how bad my right foot, in particular, was doing. Reaching the lunch break, I decided to go to self care for blisters. I spoke to the people there about the hot spot. Taking off my foot, I was dismayed to discover a huge blister on my right outer heel. In addition to that, I had an annoying hot spot just below my big toe on the sole of my right foot. They helped me with nu skin and moleskin. I set off.

This is where I almost gave in. The moleskin was making my hot spot worse. The walk took us along the board walk, where it was loud and filled with people that were drunk, supportive but drunk. I considered taking the sweep van....but if you know anything about me, I just couldn't do it. I had to finish the full walk. Finally I reached the next pit stop and talked to the medical crew. Here, we decided to remove the moleskin and see if it was any better. I would stop at the next pit stop if I needed help....and I was in tears by the time I reached the last stop. It was only a bit more than two miles to the finish of day 2. I just had to finish. The medical crew helped me by putting a new moleskin on in a slightly different position.

I then struggled through the last two plus miles, fortunately it was along the beach so I was a bit distracted. I finally made it. My friend was waiting for me at the finish as was one of the medical guys. I was so very happy to have made it. Again, a snack, shower, and dinner, followed by a walk around the camp and lots of stretching, I was in my sleeping bag by 7:30. Yep, I was sleeping as the camp partied. I am getting old.

The third day started with a beautiful sunrise and a visit to the medical tent, where they drained the big blister and put more moleskin on the hot spot. It felt okay and I knew the day was going to be somewhat shorter than the other days so I felt good about it.
So, we started off. At the first pit stop, I had to stop and have them check out my foot. Here they tried to drain the spot on the sole of my foot. Man, that hurt but honestly it felt somewhat better and I walked on. I was again boosted by all the dogs along the route and of course the palm trees and views of the water. I had to stop again and have the large blister drained again and now my little toe on my right foot was cramping up. I know part of it was because my stride was slightly off due to the blister  and hot spot (which now seemed to be a blood blister). The medical crew fixed me up and I walked on.

A word about the safety crews and the San Diego bike, the support and encouragement from them all was amazing. One guy would not let you go by him without a smile. It was his way of making sure you were doing okay. It was good thing. And of course the walker stalkers continued to be there. Amazing support from people.

After the hill for the day, which was not much of a hill compared to the ones from the prior days, we stopped for lunch. My foot was holding out but I was worried if it was going to be downhill I could be in trouble. I was assured that it was pretty much flat from there to the finish and the next and last medical stop was about three miles away. I decided that I would go on without a check in on my foot and stop at the next one if I needed to do so.

This part of the walk was not the most scenic part of the walk as we were in the city. It was a struggle but I carried on. I was limping horribly by the time I got to the final pit stop. I begged the medical crew to do whatever they had to do to get me to finish the final three or so miles. The hot spot was rewrapped. The blister was touched up. There was no way I was not going to finish when I was so close. I got myself together and hit the road.

After what seemed to be much more than three miles, I was finally just blocks from the finish. I couldn't help but tear up...okay, cry. At one point, we walked through a group of the bike patrol. They were high fiving walkers as they passed. I guess my tears made them think I needed hugs, because I got hug after hug. Others along the way were just as emotional. So many of us were reflecting on who and/or why we were doing the walk. What we went through on a 60 mile walk around San Diego paled in comparison to the fight for life that so many went through or are currently dealing with.

At the finish, I joined the group of people that were cheering others as they entered the stadium. At one point, I saw a woman just crying as she went through the crowd. I didn't know her but I felt compelled to hug her. I did and she clunged to me. I saw the medical guy that helped me on that second day. Then I saw my friend and the group she was with. I joined them as they celebrated the finish.

The closing ceremony was emotional and one of hope. I am very happy that I did this event. My recap cannot even began to describe what I learned about myself during this time. It cannot describe the emotional journey I went through on the walk. It cannot describe how deep I had to dig to finish with the foot pain. It cannot describe how much I thought about my sister and how much I missed her as I walk along the routes. She would have loved the beaches and the palm trees. She would have laughed at the dogs as the lined the route. I think she would be proud of me for taking on the challenge. She would have been happy that I found that I have a lot of "SISU" in me.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Screaming prairie dogs...

Today was my last long training walk for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day. Am I ready? I believe I am. I have walked 100's of miles. I have walked through the cold of January, the heat of summer, the rain in August. I have hiked several trails. I climbed a 14er. I walked alone. I walked with friends. 

I am amazed that people have done multiple 3 day walks. Some of these people even do more than one in a single year. The time commitment to train for an event is daunting. I'm not sure that I will do it again as it seems like every spare moment I have had was spent walking. It has kept me from doing a lot of other things, including blogging.

That's not to say that it wasn't worth it or that I regret that I am doing it. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am glad that I am doing it. I am proud that I made it through the training. I will be even prouder when I can honor my sister's memory by walking with others for three days. I look forward to celebrating life with survivors. I look forward to supporting others that have lost important people in their lives. 

I don't quite know what to expect but I'm ready. I leave Friday to go to New York City for a few days. I will be back for one day before I leave to go to San Diego. It will be a bit stressful. Sleeping in a tent city in San Diego worries me a bit but I know it will be okay. I look forward to sharing this experience with lots of people when I return.

And by the way, I also have new a deadlift PR...235 pounds. I can't wait until I can concentrate more on the lifting and less on the walking.