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.