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. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Toads on the roads...

The mental game is hard. A lot of the time my mind is the thing that holds me back. I can't tell you how often my mind holds me back from lifting a weight when physically I am perfectly capable of lifting it. There have been so many times that seeing no change on the scale, even though I know there have been major changes in my body composition, would change my mental state for days.

One of the biggest mental battles has been my reflection in the mirror. Until recently, the mirror still reflected the person I was. No matter the progress I have made I still felt like I was as big as I ever was. I grew confident in many areas at the gym but I still struggle with feeling like nothing had changed when I looked in the mirror.

Over the past few weeks that has been changing. I FINALLY feel like I am seeing the changes that others have seen. I am FINALLY seeing the changes that have been verified by the number of sizes I have lost.

I look in the mirror and, although I am not where I will be in the future, I know that I am making progress. There are muscles that I can not only feel but am seeing. I see a happy face looking back at me when I catch a glimpse in a mirror.

I'm not saying that I will not struggle with this again but I do feel like I have made a major step in winning at the mental game.There is a new confidence in my life because of this. I feel good about this. I am happy about this. I am ready to face the next phase of my life. I am loving this new found confidence.

Today I finally watched this video that as been going around social media.

I love the whole mirror sequences. I love that these women could see how others in their life saw them. May we all live our lives like we are enough....because we are.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pink dolphin floating through the air

So, a few weeks ago, my husband and I were driving along and, as we merged onto a major road in the area, we noticed a pink dolphin shaped pool toy floating through air above the stoplight. It was a surreal sight.

Yesterday was a bit surreal for me as well. I met a huge challenge I had for myself this year. I climbed a mountain. A real mountain. A fourteener. In Colorado, we have the most fourteeners in the contiguous U.S. It is a challenge that I NEVER thought I would accomplish. Last year I had tried to climb one but the talus (rock) field scared me and I turned back at 13,600 in elevation. Hiking on a sprained ankle, it was probably the best decisions.

This year I made it a goal to attempt another one. This time I made it to the summit.

The trip report
The mountain I chose was Handies Peak. It was a five hour drive from home but I had a friend near the mountain who had suggested it and said that if it worked out, I would have a place to stay with her and her husband. I then asked a friend if she was interested in climbing with me. I chose this particular friend because I knew that I wouldn't overly stress if I slowed her down. I also knew that the event itself would be challenging enough that I didn't need the extra stress of moving faster than I should and Stephanie would understand that. Plus I like her and we would be spending a lot of time on the trail so that was kind of important too. Stephanie said yes and we set a date that worked with my friend in Lake City.

We prepared for the hike, gathering all the things that we would need to be prepared for a 14er. I am by no stretch of the imagination a mountain person but I know that certain things are necessary when attempting something like this.

We met up Thursday afternoon and drove to Lake City. We met up with Linda and she showed us her lovely little town. We talked with her and Bob for a some time and made a plan to leave their home at 5:00 in the morning to get up to the trailhead. We would drive my car to the two-wheel trailhead and they would take us on to the four-wheel drive trailhead. This meant that we would be doing a loop. The ascent would be approximately 2.75 miles and the descent would be 4 miles. But the descent would also be on the class 2 trail, while the ascent would be on the class 1 trail. That kind of scared me but I trusted Linda and Bob.

Here was the first lesson I learned. I had researched the trail quite a bit on line. The write-ups on various websites indicated that we could get a two-wheel drive vehicle to about a mile from the four-wheel drive trailhead and then walk up the road that mile and do the up and down in the same route. Linda and Bob both indicated that the road really was not appropriate for a two-wheel drive so we adjusted our plans. The lesson is to do your research but be flexible and talk to people who now the trails and roads.

So, we woke up early. It was dark...very we drove out to the trail. It was also cold. In fact, there was frost and ice on the the puddles as we drove. Part of the drive was an unguarded shelf road with lots and lots of pot holes. I was so glad when the parking area we were leaving my car came into sight. Bob was so gracious to drive us onto the next trailhead. As we drove the remaining road, we could see how right they were about revising our trip plan to ascend on one trail and descend on the other. We finally got to the trailhead and the sky was brightening as the sun was rising.

Stephanie and I got ready and started down the path. My anxiety level was high and as normal, I started out too fast and had to slow down. Both of us were climbing with poles for the first time. I am still not sure what I think about them. We climbed up and out of the American Basin before we could see Handies Peak in the distance. There was one creek crossing, which was not mentioned in any of the trip reports we had read but it was not bad. Everything was frosty and cold. We had missed the height of wildflower season but it was still pretty.

We continued to climb, reading our trip information as we climbed. We were glad to have photos of the trail as we could easily follow where we were going. The sun continued to rise but most of the ascent was done in the shade. The climb wasn't difficult yet and we even took a few steps out of our way to go see Sloan's Lake.

We then got to the talus field. I was a little nervous because this is what had turned my back last year. This talus field was nothing like the one on Bierstadt (the mountain I had attempted last year). We worked our way through it, with a only few places that were a bit precarious and slippery due to the frost.

After the talus field, it was bit more of a climb up to the summit. It wasn't easy but it was totally doable. The views were amazing. The whole idea that I may actually complete a fourteener was a bit overwhelming. 

Just before the steepest part of the ascent, my cell phone actually got service and I received a text from husband. He texted me the following Dr. Seuss quote:

"Onward up many a frightening creek, 
though your arms may get sore 
and your sneakers may leak. 
Oh! The places you'll go!"

I started to tear up and realize just what an amazing accomplishment this was. To think that a few years ago, I was afraid that I might not even wake up when I went to sleep because I was in such pitiful shape. And it was not that long ago that I would not have had the courage to try such a thing but thanks to so many people in my life, I found the confidence to try things and to push myself outside of my comfort zone. Before I knew it, we were at the summit. We had made it. We stopped for a bit to refuel, take pictures, and celebrate with others that also had reached the summit.

 We then started down the other trail. At first, it did not seem that bad but then we hit a very steep area with a significant drop off and lots of loose rock. It was almost enough to send us back to the summit and back the other side but we worked it out. It was about half mile of butt sliding through the field of rock. It took a full hour to get through it. It was a bit terrifying but we were smart about it and hugged the side of the cliff and sat on our butts most of the time. It was cold and muddy. We were so relieved when we were done with this portion of the descent.

After that, the next part of the descent was not bad at all. In fact, it felt flat but when we looked back on it, we could see that it was a bit of a decline. The descent continued and continued. We were slow as there was many areas of slippery rocks. The poles did come in handy then. 

We had to cross a creek several times. If I remember correctly, it was about seven times. The write-up indicated that it would be two to three times. Again, you have to do your research but be flexible.

We finally hit the tree line but the hike never seemed to end. I was exhausted and just wanted to get back to the car but the declines just keep going on and on. In so many ways, the down was so much harder than the up. I know that I was slightly dehydrated and I need to be more careful about the hydrating and fueling the next time.

We finally got to the parking lot, drank some coconut water, ate a little bit and then drove down to the town. The ride down, which I thought would terrify me, wasn't so bad...after all, I had just climbed a fourteener. I had accomplished something that I never thought I would.

Post trip report
Today I have been reflecting on what I did yesterday. It is a bit surreal...kind of like a pink dolphin floating through the air. My body is sore but I actually worked out today. I have been doing a lot of mobilization work. At the gym, I shared my triumph with many who have seen the changes in me over the past couple of year. Even though most did not know me at my worst, they have seen significant changes in my confidence and sense of self-worth. 

I have gone from someone who was a complete and utter mess, a broken soul, a lazy morbidly obese woman who did not care for herself to someone who takes on challenges, who is healthy and getting fit, someone who is happy, who is okay with being pushed outside of her comfort zone, who is learning that sometimes you do not succeed at things but the times you do are AMAZING. 

One big thing I realized over the days is that I have a lot of cheerleaders, a lot of supporters. I often think that I am alone in my struggles and that people don't really notice the accomplishments but know it's not true. My husband is my biggest supporter and I love him for that. I also have so many other supporters in my group of friends, co-workers, gym people. I am learning to appreciate their support and accept their kudos. After all, compared to where I was, where I am today is ASTONISHING.

I am so proud of myself and can't wait to take on more challenges in the future....and do more fourteeners. 

I am defining my limitations and then defying them.

Some additional comments on September 1st -- There was a moment or two or three that I just wanted to sit down and cry...this was only on the way down. The way up was exhilarating. I know next time it won't be so bad. 

We ran into a lot of people as we were going down that were going up the Class 2 trail. They did not appear to be prepared at all. There was even a woman in a lace skirt and tights. Really? I doubt she made it up the talus cliff but maybe she did...if she did, she was lucky. 

Someone commented below that this probably changed my life more than I realize and I think it is true. I NEVER would have imagined that I would have the courage or confidence to do this. Of course, I never thought I had the ability to do the incline and I have done it several times now. I am excited about where my life goes next.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Magpies on the fence....

I just got back from an eight mile walk around the neighborhood. It was a quiet pedestrian paced walk and gave me a lot of time to think. I thought about something that a friend said while we were climbing to the top of the incline. Every time I apologized for being so slow, she would say "Wherever I am, that is where I'm supposed to be."  Yeah, she is kind of zen like that. Me -- not so much but it can't hurt to learn from this and try to apply it to various parts of my life.

This led me to think a lot about the fact that yet again I am losing my trainer at the gym. This will be the fourth trainer that I have been with in the past few years. I started to think about what I have learned from each of them.

The first was Shelby. I liked Shelby and she definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone; however, my comfort zone was pretty small at the time. I don't think she ever realized just how small it was. I used to get so upset after stepping on the scale with her. Nothing we did together seemed to help the scale move. I logged my food, I did cardio every day, I did body pump classes and zumba, and I worked out with Shelby twice a week. I wanted to lift real weights but instead we did a lot of work on the bosu ball and with dumbbells. I kept at it as there is one thing about me - I do not give up easily.

After Shelby left that club, I spoke with the manager at the gym about getting paired up with another trainer. The manager made me feel like a total failure by telling me that after all the months of working with Shelby, I basically had failed by not having more progress on the scale. I didn't realize at the time that progress had been made in so many other areas but this conversation set me in a tail spin about my fitness journey. I never renewed my membership when it was up a few months later.

After that because of a fortuitous purchase of a Groupon, I discovered kettlebells. At my first official class (after the required "how to" class), I met Kristin. What can I say about Kristin? I quickly grew to like her. After a few months, we started training one on one once a week. We did a lot of kettlebell work in addition to the classes I was also doing. Kristin was with me when I started to run and do events. Because of Kristin, I did my first stair climb. She was with me at so many 5Ks and the 10K where I ran every step. We did several other stair climbs together. She was at the start and finish line when I did the Boulder half marathon. I cried when she hugged me at the finish line. I met so many great people with her. Kristin became and still is a very dear friend. I love Kristin even though she abandoned me (ok...she met a guy, got married, moved away and had a baby...all good things). Through Kristin, I learned how courageous I could be, how I could do anything I decided to do....except side planks....I hated those and would get so frustrated about them. 

Eventually, I joined the gym I am at today. I have loved the facilities since day one and a few months after joining, I started a team class. This class introduced me to circuit training and the idea that I could be physically strong. I liked it a lot but did become a bit bored with the same weight machines over and over again. I also got it in my head that I wanted to deadlift, that I wanted to work with free weights. Because of this, I decided to start working with a trainer again. This is when I met Travis.

As you know, I am an introvert. I don't take a liking to people very quickly. Travis, however, I immediately liked. Even in the first day training with him, I told him things that I never thought I would. Travis introduced me to a lot of things on the free weights and other machines around the gym. We also did a lot of kettlebell things, which I loved. I still had my moments of fear though...I remember him telling me to do Russian twists and I refused, basically in tears. I have no idea why, other than I had attempted them before and had failed. I rarely refused to do anything that he asked me to do so I am sure that it surprised him.

I worked with Travis twice a week for a few months. I remember that I had a session the morning after I was called to make my way home if I wanted to see my sister before she passed. I will always be grateful for his kindheartedness during this time. I doubt he will ever know how much it meant to me.

Then a bit over a month and half later, he told me he was leaving. It was, as dramatic as it sounds, devastating to me. I had finally felt like I was making some substantial progress at this gym and now the guy that had helped me realize so much of it was leaving. I really did not think that anyone could help me as much as he had. Before he left, he arranged for me to work with another trainer, Adam.

I hated Adam the first few times I worked out with him. He put me through workouts that just did not feel challenging. I was doing things like planks and glute bridges with him. What I really wanted to do was lift weights...heavy weights. I really thought that he did not think I was capable of much, that he was another in a line of people that thought all I was just a fat person that really didn't belong in the gym.

After quite a few sessions, things finally started to click with him. He started showing me the beauty and power of true weight lifting. I learned so much about the mechanics of the various lifts. Because of him, I was able to meet my goal of a deadlift in excess of 200 pounds. He coaches me through the various movements. He has helped me understand that it is not all about the number on the scale. Working with Adam, I don't feel like an old fat woman but rather someone who is definitely uncovering true strength.

He definitely has pushed me out of my comfort zone (which has grown quite a bit larger). I won't lie. He has made me cry on several occasions (the thought of jumping (broad jump, box jumps, etc) sends chills down my spine). BUT he has made me feel so accomplished as well. His continual encouragement and insights on things like bad days have helped so much. I feel strong and powerful. I am a weight lifter.

Yesterday, he told me he was only going to be with the club for two more weeks. I'm sad about this, but I am not devastated. I know that because of how much I have learned from him, I can lift on my own. If I do work with another trainer, I know what I want to learn from them and will be able to communicate it. I still have a lot to learn but am confident I can continue to make progress.

I do Russian twists on my own now. I can hold a side plank for at least 30 seconds. I have even progressed to jumping on a step raised up on four risers. Maybe in the next two weeks I can actually do a box jump. I am learning a lot about three things I need for success (Rest, eat well and enough,....and oh rest). In so many ways, I am grateful to all the trainers I have worked with throughout the years. Each of them have touched my life in very different ways. 

So, goodbye, Adam. I will miss you. I hope we keep in touch so that some day you will be able to see how far I have come on my fitness journey. Know that I appreciate everything you have taught me and will always be grateful that you believed in me. You have definitely shown me that it is not too late to be what I might have been. Thank you.

Side note -- What does the title "Magpies on the fence" have to do with any of this? Nothing. It was just one of the many things I saw on my walk this morning and I liked it. I'm a little crazy like that. 


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

From critical mass to alpha training...

I haven't posted in some time. Truth be told I was struggling. I had lost my confidence. I struggled at the gym. I was not sure about lifting. I felt old. I thought it was ridiculous that I was trying to be a weight lifter. I had no confidence.

Instead of wallowing in my self pity, I knew I had to do something to regain the confidence I once had. This was a very different reaction for me. It would typically take me days and days to recover as I would just wait to "get over it." This time I was taking steps to resolve the issue.

The first step I took was to take the day off and go to the Manitou Incline. I knew that getting to the top would be a great accomplishment. It is a tough hike but it is so worth it. That day I started later than I wanted to and it was hot. I went slow but I made it to the top. I had to keep reminding myself why I was doing it and reminding myself that I could do it. I wanted to cry when I made it to the top that I was now able to do this type of activity. There was a day that I knew I was at a point that I wasn't sure if I was going to be live much longer if I didn't make changes. Now I was climbing mountains.

The next step I took was to participate in an Alpha challenge at the gym. Well, actually I was already participating in a national Alpha challenge at the gym but this time I was doing a live challenge with others at the gym. It was a tough challenge with 3 events. The first was 1,000 meter row followed by burpees in six minutes. Your score was the number of burpees you did. I will admit it was hard. My hips were tight from the incline the previous day but I did it. I managed to finish the rowing second in my heat of four people but only got in 10 burpees. I placed 10 out of 12 in this event. Not great but I was doing it.

The second event was another six minute timed round of 5 barbell thrusters followed by 10 kettlebell swings. Your score was how many reps you completed in the time limit. I managed to get through six rounds, or 90 reps. I did more than anyone else in my heat...and as a matter of fact, finished first for the female in this event.

The next event was pullups, pushups and box jumps or step ups. Well, there was an alternative to do TRX rows instead of pullups and I took that alternative. You had to do four rounds of the three exercises. Your score was the time it took. There was a penalty for doing the simpler TRX rows but I still finished first in my heat and 6th in the event.

Overall, I finish 6 of 12 for females in the challenge but more importantly I had a LOT of fun and pushed myself. I was out of my comfort zone the whole time but I didn't let it bother me. I just did what I could and pushed through it. It was an amazing boost of confidence.

By the way, I was likely the oldest in the challenge by several years. Realizing this made me even feel more empowered. Also, the national challenge finish this past week as well. I was pleased to find out that I finished 71 out of 248 that finished the challenge in the "Masters division."

It is so crazy to realize just how far I have come. Not only physically but also in my ability to step outside of my comfort zone and push through things that would have seemed impossible a few years ago.

I am in a better place now. I am having fun lifting again. I still am working on form and can't always get things as quickly as I like when I am training with my trainer but that's okay. I keep working on it. I am researching things, reading a lot, watching videos.

Looking for the next time to be able to step outside of my comfort zone...and in the meantime I will be working on my pullup!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Rethinking my list of 50 things....

First, here is my latest item that is achieved, the periwinkle tattoo. I sat for it Saturday. It was not the most pleasant experience but it wasn't horrible either. The worst part was that I did a lot of squats and lunges that morning. Sitting for two hours was not easy.

I am reworking my list. It may not seem right to some of you but I stated it earlier that I would change what I need to change as the year went on. Some items will be moved to a "bucket list" for future consideration.

Reasons for the rework -- I'm not running. I am done with it for now. I need to replace those items on my list. The other reasons involved time/money...mostly time. I am not sure I will be able to get the travel in that I was planning on this year. I am taking some days off to do some other activities around here so I will not have a lot of vacation days to allot to the travel aspects of things. As I have discovered how much I love Olympic lifting and how much I enjoy working with my trainer. I want to continue to do this and not stress about the financial aspects of it. So, I am making the decision to forgo some of the travel.

So, I will be reworking it over the next few days and posting an update soon.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

When you and your dog can fit into your clothes, is it time to purge?

I know it's silly but I have a hard time letting go of some in particular. Part of it is because I hate shopping to replace the clothing. Part of it is because it is a bit of a safety net. Most of it is because some of the pieces represent a comfort zone that is hard for me to leave. This is particularly true of my jean jacket. I remember being so relieved when this jacket finally fit me.

When I first started wearing it, the sleeves were tight and it barely buttoned....but that was okay. It was a jean jacket, something that I made me feel good when I wore it. Since I hate shopping and fashion so much and of course because of my size, I didn't really have anything that made me feel good.

Over the past few years, I continued to wear the jacket, even though it was looser and looser every time I wore it. Lately I have started to purge items from my closet. I have realized that part of the issues with my feelings of lack of progress is that I am still wearing clothes that are falling off of me. Some of these clothes I stuffed myself into when I weighed my highest weight. I am not really sure how. I blogged about jeans that I had to get rid of here. During Lent, I donated forty pieces of clothing.

Now that both me and one of my dogs can fit into this jacket, it is time for it to go. It is hard to get rid of it. I liked this jacket but it is time to let go. The jeans I have on in the photo below are also close to hitting the donation pile. This all means that I have to go shopping....UGH....but wearing clothes that actually fit me and are a much smaller size is a boost to my ego! It is silly as it is, it is a big step out of that comfort zone.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Starting to believe...

People keep telling me that they see changes in my physique. People keep coming to me and saying that it's obvious I lost weight. People keep telling me to ignore the scale. People keep telling me to just relax about it.

Well, I'm finally starting to believe...and am definitely seeing changes. Just this week, I am piling up even more clothes that I just can't wear any more. I have gone shopping twice and ended up with pants that are several sizes smaller than the ones I am donating. I need more clothes but just hate shopping.

I am lifting heavier weights. I am working out hard but also taking my rest days. I am healthier. I have great blood work results. I am calmer. I am more confident. I am happier. I am loving life.

Yep, I may have been down...but I get back up.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Just a new mantra....

Not sure I need to say much more other than it's time for me to start living like I believe this!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Random thoughts on a snowy Sunday in May

Only you can take charge of your health.....but support does help

I listened to an online seminar on thyroid health last weekend. One thing that struck me was a line by Chris Kresser. He said that "no one is more invested in my health than me." While you can listen to others about what you should do to make your health better, ultimately it is your responsibility to be invested in your want to make the necessary learn as much as you can to make good seek out trusted advisers....and to be invested in your health.

That being said, it is good to have strong support too. One Saturday I got sucked into a Discovery Health show, something like "My 600 pound life." It was the story of people who were around 600 pounds and opting for gastric bypass. While I have my own opinions on the surgery option, that is not the point here. What realized after watching this show that I am very lucky to have a husband that is fully supportive of the changes I am making in my life.

This particular show I watched the woman was tortured by her husband who didn't want her to get thin. He married her because of her weight. She needed to come to grip with the fact that she was doing this for herself and not for him. As far as he went, she couldn't do anything to change his attitude. She could only be invested in herself. I certainly hope that she was able to work out things for herself.

My husband is amazing and only wants me to be happy. He is proud of me and let me know how he feels constantly. I can't express how much his support means to me. I loved him before my transformation started but now that I have started to love myself, I love him even more, with my whole heart. It's amazing what changes occur when you view yourself as worthy.


I hate shopping but yesterday my husband told me that I just couldn't wear the jeans I had on any more. So, off I went to look for new jeans. Even though the scale isn't moving, I certainly am losing inches. That is a good thing. BUT I hate shopping more than anything and it was made worse by the fact that I seem to be between sizes...or just have a weird body shape. Waist way too big in the size that fits in the legs. Legs too tight when the waist fits. I did finally find one pair of capris and a pair of jeans (which are three sizes smaller than the ones I am getting rid of).

The gym

I participated in a 90-day challenge this spring at the gym. It was a weight loss competition. Honestly, I didn't really lose any weight. I did lost body fat but the scale pretty stayed where it was at the beginning of the challenge. I however am not disappointed about it. I managed to stick with my attitude that it is more than about the number on the scale.

I am loving my lifting. I am learning a lot about good form and practicing. People have commented on my form for both my deadlift and my squat. It feels good that, if people have to notice things, they are noticing something that I am working on.


I recently took a food allergy test. It has led to some changes in what I am eating. Most notably dairy is out for now. This has meant a change from my whey protein to a vegan version. I have not been happy about it but I am surviving. It is odd but even though I do pay attention to food labels, with this new list of things to avoid, it has become even more difficult. I am dealing with it and in general feel pretty good about it all.

Susan G. Komen  training

I am going to officially start training for the Susan G. Komen this coming week. They send you a 24 week training programming that I am loosely going to follow. For the most part, I am going to do the weekend walks and some walking during the week. I already am focused on getting my 13,000 plus steps in each day. I have gone for some long walks this spring. Now it's time to get the back to back walks on the weekend. I am close on the fund raising with a just few more hundred to go to make the minimum of $2300.


It's May and snowing. Such is springtime in the Rockies. 

I need to work on my 50 things to do this year. I am not running so I have some things to revise. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

I'm not a runner....and I'm okay with that...

In the past, I always thought of running as the ultimate in fitness. I have thought that to prove my fitness, I need to run more and more. I needed to build endurance and run longer and longer events. To me, if I couldn't run more each week, I was failing at building my fitness. Everyone seemed to be a runner. I subscribed to running blogs and read over and over about all the great things people were doing, thinking that I need to do them too. I knew I would never be fast but at least I would have endurance. I felt that the only way to prove my increased fitness was to continue running.

Recently, I am finally becoming convinced that I can't do everything and that I am probably at danger of over training again. I need to get a handle on things. I can't run, lift weights, and do all the other things I like. AND most importantly, I just really do not like running. I still have issues with my foot/ankle from last summer. Running aggravates it. So, I have decided that I am not longer going to attempt to be a runner.

There were a few reasons I chose to run. First, my friends were running. I will still be there to support my friends. I will be seen in the crowd holding signs. Second, I like to be outside running but I can be outside walking, hiking and doing other things. Third, I like events. I will still be doing my stair climbing events and walking events but I will likely not be doing another running event for some time. I can always volunteer at events as well.

While I still may incorporate some sprinting (well, running intervals) from time to time, training for running events will not be a part of my life. I will not say that I will never train again but right now I am accepting the fact I can't do everything. I am going to concentrate more on my strength training because I want to be stronger. I want to lift heavier weights. I want to do what I enjoy, which involves lifting. With strength training, I have gained an immense amount of confidence. I want to continue to work on that. I love kettlebell workouts and I want to work with them more once again. I want to work on my cleans, my kettlebell snatch, and some day perfect the Turkish getup. I also want to learn additional lifting movements. I want to learn more about how to improve the lifts I already know.

This does not mean that I won't be doing cardio. I will but it will not be the focus of my training regiment. I will train with my heart rate zone intervals but it may not be with running. I will be doing body weight workouts. I will be working on mobility and flexibility.

Today was my last "running" event for some time. I really did not run much but I felt good about it. I enjoyed my time with friends on the course. It was okay that we walked a lot. I no longer feel like I need to prove anything. I am not a runner...and I'm okay with that.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Brussels Sprouts and Massages

These two items may not seem to have a lot in common but to me, they are both signs of how much my life has changed. Somehow I have become a person that likes Brussels sprouts....and massages.

While there have always been some vegetables that I have liked, things like Brussels sprouts, asparagus, zucchini, snap peas, kale, chard, and several other things are relatively new to my lifestyle. It is still a bit strange when I actually crave things like Brussels sprouts or some other vegetable or when I actually prefer to have "zoodles" for dinner. I have totally overhauled my diet and, although I still struggle with a few things, I feel so much better eating whole and real food. There is very little processed foods in my diet.

Having gone through a few elimination diets, I have found a few things to which my body reacts negatively. Not satisfied that I had enough information, I just followed up with a food sensitivity test. I found out a few more things that could potentially be causing inflammation. I am now working on eliminating these things for a few months in order to see how I feel when I reintroduce the foods. One of the biggest items is all dairy products. I have kind of known that I should give up dairy but have not been able to do so. Now I am committed to doing this, even though I have not found a protein powder yet to replace my whey protein.

As far as massages, well, in case you didn't know, I am an introvert. I am not someone that feels at ease with strangers. I especially do not like being touched by people I don't know. I am not a huggy feely kind of person. A few years ago, I started to step out of that comfort zone. During a visit to a spa in Utah (a week where I stepped out of my comfort zone over and over again), I decided to get a massage. To me, a massage was something I never considered. I was not looking forward to it at all. In fact, I contemplated cancelling the appointment several times. Speaking with some other women at the spa (another step out of my comfort zone in that I was actually interacting with other guest of the spa, sitting at the community table at dinner, going on hikes), they convinced me to follow through with it. I did....and I loved it.

Since then, I have gotten a handful of massages. Last night I had my latest with a masseuse that I have been to twice before. I like her. She is learning a lot about my muscles and what pressure to use on my back. We talk about my training and how things are going with my workouts. I fill her in on the most recent pains and such. It's a new experience for me but, even though I hesitate and consider cancelling each appointment, I am following through and my body is happy about it. I find it much more relaxing than I ever thought I would. Of course, the financial aspect of massages does not allow for this to be any more than an occasional indulgence.

So, I am stepping outside of that comfort zone over and over again. My trainer continues to push me out of it. I have friends that push me out of it over and over. I find that I am putting myself out of that comfort area more often as the months pass. With each step outside it, I discover more about myself and realize that I am much stronger than I think I am.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

FINALLY! Deadlift goal met...

So, last year I participated in a TEAM fitness class at my gym. I joined because it was quite a bit of strength training and I knew that I was not doing enough strength training on my own, especially since my kettlebell classes had ended a few months earlier.

I liked the classes but it was a little frustrating for me because I felt like they were always talking about goals and what we imagined looking like or what our goal weight was. Personally, I had long given up having a weight goal or a "perfect" body type. I just knew I wanted to be healthy and strong.

Ben, the trainer who led the class, told me that I really needed to have goals and would ask me what they were. I finally blurted out, without really thinking about it, that I wanted to be able to deadlift over 200 pounds. Since the beginning of the classes, the deadlift was my favorite lift, even though it was done with the cable machine. Why 200 pounds? I really have no idea but at the time, it seemed like a attainable but challenging point.

As the class went on, I realized how much I like the strength workouts but I really wanted to take it the next level. At some point, the cable machines were just not cutting it any more. I spoke with Ben about it and he arranged for me to meet with a personal trainer. It did not take long to realize that I wanted to learn more about free weights and Olympic weight training. I knew that this was the next step in my fitness journey.

I told Travis, my first trainer at the gym, that one of my goals was to deadlift over 200 pounds. We worked on deadlifts along with other lifts. While with kettlebells, I was able to deadlift two 88 pound kettlebells (176 pounds), lifting with a bar is a lot different. Even though I would get frustrated from time to time, I did love lifting heavy things. I did like working with Travis until he left the gym. Now I am an introvert and I do not deal well with change. Before Travis left, he set me up to continue working with another trainer, Adam. Adam would also help me with my lifting. It took me quite a few sessions to settle into working with the new trainer. 

Working with Adam, I have been working on a lot of things and trying a lot of new lifts. I did have a few difficult times. I hate failing and there were times I would fail to complete a lift. It would drive me crazy.

About a month or so ago, I was able to deadlift 175 pounds but just once. I know I wrote about it before here. My response was not the best. I vowed to get rid of negative hasn't been perfect since then. In fact, two or three weeks ago I really thought I was going to give up personal trainer. I was worried that the rest days I was taking based on his advice were really going to sabotage my fitness efforts. BUT the same day that I was frustrated by all of this, he start to teach me another lift....and I loved it. I knew that I had to stick with the weight lifting and I needed to improve my attitude. I am working on that. I am not doing things that cause me to question what I am doing. I am staying off the scale because it just plays games with my ego. I am sticking with the rest days and the stretching, at least for a month to see what happens.

So, since my 175 pound deadlift, I did a 180 on my own. Another PR. Then with Adam, I did multiple reps at 175 pounds. I have been doing speed work with the deadlift and rack deadlifts. Earlier this week, I asked him if it was okay if I tried to lift heavy on my own today and he was fine with it.

I went to the gym today to see what I could do with my deadlift. After my warm up, I set up the deadlift in the back corner of the gym. I did some warm up lifts and then tried 185 pounds I was able to do a 3x3 with this new weight. So, I thought maybe just maybe I could lift 200 pounds, my goal since last summer.

I put the appropriate weight on the bar and started to visualize lifting the weight. I just couldn't do it. I tried and tried and tried but even though I could get it off the ground, I couldn't make the last move to stand up. Fortunately, Adam and another trainer were there, talking to each other. They started to encourage me. Honestly, I was quite happy that I had done the 3x3 at 185 pounds but I really wanted to get this weight lifted.

Adam had me try some things to activate my glutes. He had me lift from a slightly elevated state. I did it. I then was ready to try the 205 pounds from the ground, one last time. AND I DID IT. 

GOAL MET and crossed off my 50 during the year I turn 50 list. Now on to more goals! 

My husband, who is my biggest fan, presented me with this charm today. I love it so much and I love even more that he believes in me.

It is such a good thing to set a goal and reach it. I am still feeling good about it.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

And They All Cheered for Me....

Today I participated in a Polar Plunge. A friend that was to do it with me had to go out of town at the last minute so I went solo. This particular polar plunge was very team based. I did not know that when I signed up to participate. It did benefit the Special Olympics and was sponsored by law enforcement around the area. There were all types of teams....and then there was me. My husband came as moral support...and my own personal photographer but he was not plunging.

I got into the queue for the plunge. When I had checked in, they had said that I could ask the teams around me if I could plunge with them so I wouldn't have to be alone. Honestly, I thought about it but I did not want to get into the middle of their moment and I did not realize that EVERYONE was part of a team.

So, team after team was announced and they plunged away. People in costumes, law enforcement teams, family members of Special Olympians all went. It was fun to watch people (although mostly I was just anxiously awaiting my turn). I decided that I had to do it on my own. When I got to the front of the line, I told them it was just me on the team. The announcer embraced it and got the crowd cheering me on. So I plunged. It was COLD COLD COLD but I did it.

The water was not deep so you had to make an effort to get under the water. When I did, the freezing temperature of the water (38 Fahrenheit) took my breath away and it kind of scared me. But I got up, high fived one of the firemen, and left the water. I completed my first ever polar plunge....and everyone cheered for me. It was an extreme step out of my comfort zone...but isn't that what my lifestyle changes have been about over the past few years.

I can't wait to do my next one!

Monday, March 3, 2014

So many comments at the gym....

I am having an issue again....wanting to be more anonymous at the gym. This past week it seemed like EVERY day I was at the gym, someone approached me to say something. They were all nice comments and I was good about saying thank you and continuing my work. I don't know why it is so hard to accept people saying good things to be okay with people noticing my progress.

Some days I would just like to be in a corner at the gym with no one noticing me. I do tend to work on things in the corner and at hours that there are few people at the gym. I choose the treadmills in the odd areas of the gym.

BUT I will not let it get to me. I will be proud that people are noticing changes. I will be proud that people wish they could dead lift like I do. Enough of the putting myself in the corner and getting my hackles raised when people invade my personal space.

On another note, this weekend is a polar plunge that I am going to participate in. I have NEVER done anything like this. It could be interesting.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A new PR

So, the American Lung Association stair climb at the Republic Plaza was today. 1,098 steps, 56 floors. I did it in 2012 but missed last year because we had a snow storm that day. Here is the link to the climb post from 2012.

When I did it in 2012, my time was 29:04. Towards the end, I was resting every two flights. It took everything in me to finish. I was just happy to finish. I do note that this was my first event in a long string of events in 2012. It was a HUGE step out of my comfort zone and I so appreciate the women that pulled me outside of that zone. They continue to support me and they never make me feel like less of a person just because I can't keep up with them as well as I would like.

What a difference two years makes! Today my time was 18:26. I did stop to rest two or three times in the first 15 floors, but after that I just kept walking. I think I passed more people than the number that passed me. My time was not remarkable or anything as the winning times are less than 10 minutes (I think this year it was just over 6 minutes)....but for me, I am very happy with this improvement. It also is good because in 2012 we were practicing downtown in a 22 floor building and this year I didn't even get to Red Rocks to climb.

So, now I have a mark to beat next year. I plan on continuing this climb as long as I can.

Oh, and I continue to do burpees. I am up to 1,287. I hope to be at 1,500 by the end of the month. I really do love burpees.

Tomorrow is a rest day. I am trying the whole rest thing. I do try to be as active as I can be on these days...lots of walking and standing but my heart rate remains below zone 1.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What I learned by doing 1,000 burpees....

At the end of January, a challenge was posted on Facebook. The challenge was to do 1,000 burpees before the end of February.Two friends and I have been challenging each other to do certain body weight exercises the past few weeks. Part of this has been 50 burpees a week. Although I was sort of joking when I invited them to do the challenge, part of me was considering it. In case you need a graphic on how to do a burpee, here is a sample:

Well, one of my friends started working on the challenge on the 27th. I caved to peer pressure and joined her on the 28th. Yep, lesson number 1 is that I still cave to peer pressure. In this case, not a bad thing. 

We started doing burpees, 30 to 50 a day. Then on Superbowl Sunday, I had the bright idea of doing a challenge, one burpee for each point the Broncos scored and two burpees for each point the Seahawks scored. Yes, I was one of those that really thought the Broncos would win and that the Seahawks would not have much of an offense. Who would have guessed that we would be in for NINETY-FOUR burpees by the end of the game! We both threw in an extra six to have an even hundred for the day. It was an exhausting time but we got through it. Second lesson -- if you have an event that you want to avoid overindulging in food and drink, plan a burpee challenge. You may be so busy doing burpees that you never get around to eating or drinking. AND I was busy doing burpees. I even did an extra thirty during half time to get ahead of the game. Well, if you watched the game, you would know that the idea did not help as after kickoff for the second half, fourteen of those burpees were used up in a matter of seconds. Still, it was a strange sort of way.

My next lesson was just how competitive I am. I hated behind my friend in our quest to get the burpees done. I did everything I could to be ahead. I would do 30 to 50 burpees in the morning, only to have my friend catch up or pass me in the evening. She was not "competing" with me but I so wanted to "win." Finally, I took advantage of the fact that she hurt her back falling on the ice. Not that I was happy she was in pain but I kept doing burpees even though she couldn't. She has been out of town the past few days and I did a shitload of burpees over those days, finishing up today with 150 burpees at the gym. Yeah, I am a little too competitive at times.

Some other things I learned:
  • I like burpees...maybe even love them. I can do burpees. They used to intimidate me so much. I even remember the first time I did a "true" burpee. It was an AHA moment for me.
  • I can be proud of accomplishing something. I am not usually a person that likes to share a lot but I told a lot of people at the gym about the challenge and about my progress. It felt good to be proud of an accomplishment. It felt good doing something that others thought was "crazy."
  • One of my favorite ways to get a number of burpees in was to "superset" them. I would run a quarter mile and then do a number of burpees (between ten and twenty). I would repeat this as many times as I could. In fact, today this is how I got in the 150 burpees I needed to finish up. It was a sweaty sweaty workout but it felt good to finish it. I am still going to do burpees along with my friend when she is able. I hope to be at 1500 by the end of the month. We will see.
  • I'm not quite as uncomfortable doing things like this in the gym. Believe me, burpees are not a pretty movement but I did them. Most of the time I would do them in a corner, out of view of most of the gym but other times I would be on the training floor.
  • Sometimes it is good to have support. There was one day that I had wanted to do a certain number of burpees but I just couldn't do any more. I needed ten more to meet my goal. Seeing my trainer as I was going to stretch, he asked if I had made my goal. After telling him I was ten short, he "encouraged" me to do the final ten and he did them with me. It definitely helped to have him do them with me that day.
During my work to complete this challenge, I have had to take some rest days. I hate rest days. It is sort of a sticky point with me and trainers (current and past). In many ways, I am obsessed with working out. Who am I kidding? In EVERY way, I am obsessed with working out. I set myself up to be cranky and upset by rest days. HOW RIDICULOUS IS THIS? 

Like the worst thing in my life is that I have to take a day off from the gym? Really? I know that I am still stuck in the "calorie in versus calorie out" mentality. Even though I know it is true, I so feel like I need to work out more, work out harder, work out as much as I can to see scale victories. In fact, it is hard for me not to think the scale frustration I had today wasn't caused by the rest day yesterday....but I am told constantly about the need for recovery and such.

This week I actually took TWO rest days. Believe me this did throw me for a bit of a loop but honestly I survived. I probably even was able to work out more intensely because of the rest days. After Sunday's rest, I ran three miles (the longest since I started to run again) Monday morning. After yesterday's rest, I ran a couple of miles, did 150 burpees, completed 110 Russian twists, and completed a team cardio workout...a total of two hours at the gym. Not that I wouldn't have done these same things without the rest days, but I am kind of seeing that I wouldn't do it and felt as well as I did. The jury is still out on rest days but I am trying it.