Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Little Q&A

This week I've been thinking, okay, okay, OVER thinking a lot.

What is it this time you might, or might not, be wondering. Well this time I have been thinking about the many questions I have heard since I decided it was time to take control of the life I had and stop wishing it was different.

Some of the questions I have answered and some I have smiled and walked away from because I didn't want to answer them or I decided the language I might use to answer them was not appropriate for my location at the time. Most questions seemed genuine and like the person asking truly wanted an answer. A few made me wish Coach T and his size 10 wrestling boots were right there so he could answer in my stead.

Let's see if I can answer some of these questions here. I'll start with more recent questions and work my way to the one I have heard the most.

Why do you like to lift heavy?
Let me correct you here: I don't just like lifting heavy: I LOVE it. It makes me feel strong and competent. More than that it lets me know I can take care of myself. I enjoy knowing when something heavy needs to be moved I can do it. It feels good to know I have skills.

More than that lifting is simple: the loaded barbell is there to be pushed, pulled or squatted. There are no political games, no double speak, no second guessing. I have only one job: move that bar.

Do you ever get tired of the training?
Let's be honest: yes, yes I do. Some days the last thing I want to do is get dressed and go to Pride. I love it there, I truly do, but there are still days it seems like too much effort to go. I make myself change, because I know when I step through the door I can forget everything but the cues and directions from my coach. There are times I am sure Coach D is asking for more than I could possibly do, but I find the grit to get it done. When he tells me I am going to start doing 10 single arm rows on each arm with the 60 pounds DBs and work up to the 100 pound DBs I confess I have my doubts, but he's the boss and I'll give it my best effort. Those last 10 reps at 100 pounds are rough and probably look like hell, but I get them done.

I might get tired of the training, but I am smart enough to know if I want to be my best it is necessary.

Are you ever afraid?
Of so many things it boggles the mind. I'm assuming though that the question which I have heard most often in the gym is whether or not I am afraid of the weight I am asked to move. The answer is simple: yes.

435 pounds, 315 pounds, 209.44 pounds: that is a lot of weight. This week on Tuesday during my personal training session I was bench pressing. On my first set at 185 pounds I did my normal countdown before Coach D helped me lift off only this time he waited and I was trying to unrack it myself. He didn't wait long, but told me he wanted me to struggle. Then we started again. 185 isn't even my 1 rep max and I could not even move it, much less unrack it on my own. It gave me a new appreciation for what I am attempting to do.

Do you know you are beautiful/strong/an inspiration?
I've answered this one before, in other posts. I appreciate people telling me I am beautiful, I believe them, but I don't see it. Thank you for continuing to say it, I will do my best to always be gracious. Forgive me if I don't see it.

I do know I am strong, but I also know I can be stronger. Maybe I'll never know when I've reached my peak, but I truly don't feel that I have stretched the beast to her limits yet. There is more inside and if I keep training, continue to follow the plan and stay the course I will be able to pull it out.

As for being an inspiration: sure if you say so, but honestly I am just me. I stumble, fall, doubt, whine and get completely discouraged. Some days I don't even want to get out of bed and facing myself in the mirror seems like way too much effort. My depression isn't as bad as it once was, but it is always there. If I am not vigilant about pushing my comfort zones and staying positive it will settle back around me. I wasted too many years under a shroud of depression: never again.

You've been doing this for five years, shouldn't you be thinner?
I don't think so. I'm not working to be thin: I'm working to be strong. Do I wish I was thinner/smaller/more feminine? Yes, I do.

I'd like to be petite and pretty. I'm not. I'm never going to be.

I am strong, I am solid, I am built to squat and deadlift...and I'm working on the bench press. I am built to be a powerlifter and I am a powerlifter. I am not, nor will I ever be society's ideal of beauty. I don't aspire to that. I have to be the person I was meant to be, whoever she might be.

Why do you do this?
I've answered this one the most frequently since the start of my journey. I don't mind it, even those times when I know it is being asked by someone who just thinks I am crazy. I do it because I can. I do it for the people who can't. I do it because the men I have met and trained with have restored my faith and never abused the trust I have placed in them. I do it so should I ever need to prove it I will leave no doubt that I am not weak. I do it because I have found a group of friends who encourage me to be my best and support me when I reach for the stars.

Simply put: I do it because I. Am. Worth. It.

Another reason. My father died in August and from what I could see he never did anything to make himself happy. Everything he did was because he felt he had to or it was his duty to do so. I want my life to be mine.

If you have other questions for me ask away. I may not be the most out going person, but I will certainly answer any question put to me.

March 2011                               March 2017

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Being Visible

It's become clear to me that being invisible, flying under the radar and slipping through my life without making waves are no longer options. My coach, who is not prone to exaggeration, told me recently that other people in the gym look to me. I was tempted to be a complete smart ass and ask him what they were looking to me for, proof that gravity was still functioning the way it should. Notice I said I was tempted to ask, not that I had asked. I might be getting just a little wiser as I age.

I don't mind being visible for the most part. I don't think I mind people looking to me, it feels a little weird in the gym since I don't know all that much and there are about three things I do and do well in the gym. Want to watch me deadlift, back squat or bench press: have at it, be my guest. Just please promise me you won't watch me attempt cleans. Okay, I should amend that, If your initials are TT or DM you absolutely should be watching me clean, cueing me and correcting me...I'd like to think some day my cleans wouldn't be as grim as they are now. Perhaps wishful thinking, but I do hold out hope.

I find myself actively doing what I can to insure I can't be invisible. I approach people, mostly friends and mentors, I haven't quite progressed to the point that I go up to complete strangers and say "Wanna see my latest deadlift". Sometimes as I'm approaching the person I'm intent to show my video to I have reservations, the "what kind of egomaniac are you" variety, but that has yet to stop me. Let's be honest: I have worked HARD, really really hard to get where I am and if I can't celebrate and acknowledge that with people I respect and care about then I need a new group of people.

I am working on shaking off labels and expectations that just don't fit me. I am accommodating and flexible, but don't think for a second I am a doormat. People have made that assumption before and in their defense I have allowed them to use me for their own ends. I'm usually nice, but when the need arises I am ruthless. People have found themselves completely cut out of my life. I'm not proud of having to shut people out, it means I made a mistake about whom I could trust to truly care about me. It doesn't feel good to walk away without a backward glance, but I've done it. I don't hate the people I've walked away from, I wish them well in wherever their journey leads them but our paths are no longer the same.

Being visible isn't comfortable, not in any way. I may be able to block out everyone else in the room when I stand on a platform, but the moment that lift is over it all comes rushing back in and I feel nauseous.

I went to a different Muscle Hour class on Wednesday night this week. Usually I am at the 6 pm class, but I decided to change it up and went to the 7 pm class. I honestly don't think anyone else there was really watching me,  except Coach D, but he has a vested interest in making sure I'm squatting to the proper depth. I felt like I was under a microscope though. No one made me feel awkward or weird, but I did get questions about how much I was squatting. In the 6 pm class I don't stand out in any way, I'm just one of the "guys". I'm not saying anyone made me feel uncomfortable, that's not the case at all, I just think I was new to the class. The 6 pm group is used to me.

When I first started this blog I was all about posting my numbers whenever I got measured. I've gotten away from that, but no time like the present to reinstate that habit. I'm on the last 4 weeks of a challenge to lose weight, inches and body fat. I think I've done well so far and I intend to keep it up until the end. There's another photo shoot at the end of the challenge and even though I have yet to see a picture of me that doesn't make me cringe and shudder at first I keep putting myself out there in the hopes that I'll get over that one of these days.

So here are my numbers as of last night when Coach D measured me. I'll let you know how much I've lost and if you want to do the math you can see where I started. In addition to being visible, I'm working on not dwelling on the past, just keeping my eyes forward.

Weight: 235.4 pounds (-15 pounds)
Body Fat Percentage: 42.5% (-1.2%)
Waist: 45.5" (-2")
Hips: 49" (-3")
Arm: 15.5" (stayed the same. I am more than okay with this!)

As a side note, I had my measurements done before Flex Friday yesterday and after the class I asked Coach D to measure my arm again. My arm was 18" after the workout. Up 2.5" from where I started. I want muscular arms so I can comfortably wear tank tops, but I don't want small arms.

I am happy with those numbers. Yes, they are still big numbers, but if you want to judge me on the numbers alone and not on who I am as a person and in the gym I invite you to join me at Pride Fitness Performance and see just what this body can do. I am so much more than those numbers can tell you. All those numbers can tell you if how much space I take up, nothing about the person I am. My coaches seem to be proud of me, my friends love me as I am. I don't need numbers to prove I am worthy. I don't even need a 1000 pound three lift total, though I intend to have that.

I am worthy just the way I am. I work on me to make myself happy, I don't do it because I must weigh a certain amount. I am worthy and I don't want to be invisible anymore.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Why 1000 Pounds?

I love vacation weeks. I remember as a child loving the vacations, now as a teacher I have a whole new appreciation for vacations. I can unwind, destress, regroup and especially important to me right now: I can train.
Not that I trained every second of every day. Pretty sure if I'd tried to pull that one I would have found out if Coach D really meant it when he told me if I showed up when I wasn't scheduled to he would say go and point at the door. Even if I wasn't there every second that Pride was open I was there seven times. It truly might be easier if I moved in there, worked there or both.
Train I did though. April 29 is creeping ever closer and I want to be ready. I worked on my bench press, my squat and my deadlift. My big three. There was a lot of accessory work to make sure I am as strong and balanced as I can be. There was Yoga Corr to be sure I maintain and develop my mobility and flexibility. Being flexible and mobile is as important as being strong. I also got a massage to keep me functioning.
Now on to the title of this post. Why is it that I want to hit 1000 pounds? It's a big number first of all. 1000 of anything just sounds impressive, to me anyway. 1000 pounds is an even number too and I am one of those people who likes even numbers very much. Numbers that end in 5 are okay too, but odd numbers in general make me squirm. My current Bench Press PR (personal record, if you didn't know) is 209.44. ARGHHH!!!! In my defense, I set it at my last meet in November 2016 when I had to give my attempt in kg and in pounds it worked out to 209.44. I hope to rectify that before my next meet, and then screw it up again when I lift on April 29.
1000 pounds wasn't initially a number I thought of. When I was nudged into powerlifting I didn't even think of totals. Truly the only thing on my mind was that my coaches thought I could do it and I wanted to prove them right. Hi, I'm Kim and I'm a people pleaser.
At my first meet I achieved a total of 733.04 pounds. I confess that I didn't push myself as much as I could have for each lift, but I was new and I wanted to succeed more than anything. At the time it was new, I was terrified and all I had been able to choke down before I lifted was a couple of scrambled eggs. I don't recommend that by the way. I know for a fact neither of my coaches recommends that either. The fact that I went 9 for 9 is probably a miracle.
Meet number two my total was 793.66 pounds. I added 60.62 pounds to my previous total and I pushed myself a little more. I stepped a bit outside my comfort zone. I failed my second squat attempt because I didn't get to parallel. When I get nervous I tend to rush and when I rush the only thing on my mind is getting it done. I almost failed my first deadlift attempt too. It was a weight I'd pulled many time in the comfort of Pride, as Coach T reminded me before I went to lift, and I rushed. I didn't set my grip before I started to pull and I almost lost the lift. I didn't through sheer luck and when it was done both coaches reminded me one minute is a long time and I needed to take time to set my grip before I started to pull.
Leading up to meet number three 1000 pounds started to be a number that was really on my radar. Mostly because Coach D suggested that when I hit a 1000 pound total it would probably be time to look for another powerlifting federation. At the time I think I smiled, said sure and hoped like hell that day would never come. I was almost comfortable with Vermont Powerlifting, I didn't want a new federation. But Coach D knows his stuff and if he said I needed a new federation he was right...probably.
When I walked into my third meet I was as nervous as I'd been the first time. I remember thinking I wasn't going to need to worry about anything because I'd be lucky if I could pull 700 pounds this time. I was wrong, as I frequently am about myself and my abilities. I excel at underestimating myself. My three lift total on November 6, 2016 was 925.93 pounds. That was an increase of 192.89 pounds from my first meet in November 2015 and an increase of 132.27 pounds from my meet in April 2016.
I didn't hit 1000 pounds at that meet, but Coach D told me after the new year we would be finding a new federation. I guess he saw something at that meet that made him decide 1000 pounds or not I was ready for something new. Coach T referred to me as "the beast of the northeast" at one point. Seriously? Me? I wanted to ask him if he remembered all the times I tripped on the turf or nearly knocked someone else over trying to do split squats.
Sure I can lift heavy things, but my athletic skills are lacking in most other areas. I considered asking that question for a very short time. Coach T and I have had that conversation before. He has told me several times he doesn't expect me to be good at everything, he expects me to try and do my best. So I bit my tongue and when he compliments me I try hard to smile and thank him. I don't think he's lying to me, or stroking my ego: he promised me he would always be honest with me and he has never given me reason to think he isn't. I do admit there are times I really wish I could see myself the way he does.
Since that meet in November I have joined USAPL with the goal of competing in a national meet in 2017. The part of me that has always tried for invisibility and flying under the radar is quaking at the thought of so many eyes on me should I make it to a national platform. The good thing is I can usually manage to block out everything but the barbell when I'm on the platform. We'll see how well I manage that in April and go from there.
My current total is 959.44 pounds. It was 949.44 pounds until yesterday morning. Normally on Friday I get to choose whether I want to attend Pride Fit group training or Flex Friday later in the day. Sometimes I want to go to both classes, like I used to. Yesterday was one of those days. I did check with Coach D, he didn't seem thrilled that that was what I wanted, but he knew Pride Fit class would be finding our 1 rep max for deadlifts and how much I wanted to see if I could pull 425 pounds in the morning. He gave his permission. He's lucky I didn't hug the stuffing out of him when he said yes.
So yesterday morning I got up, feeling sore, tired and like there was no way I was going to pull 300, much less 425. Coach T asked me after the warm up if I was going to go for my last PR. I told him that was the plan and I got to work.

My first pull was 225, 1x6 and it felt pretty light. My body was waking up, it was warmed up and the beast was stirring, intrigued by the idea of lifting heavy. I decided to go for it and loaded the bar to 315#, and pulled for 5 reps. Usually I don't make jumps that are so big, but I had a limited amount of time and 435# was calling me. I jumped to 405# next: that felt wonderful. Then I went for 425# figuring if nothing else I could prove it wasn't a fluke that I pulled it before. After 425# I was thinking about stopping, but decided I might as well see if I could pull 430#. I can lift heavy early in the morning, but apparently I can't add. I intended to add 5 pounds to the bar, 2.5 pounds to each side. Well...I added 10 pounds to the bar and pulled.
I got to lock out, but it was the roughest deadlift I've done in a long time. When I was done Coach T gave me a fist bump and asked how much I'd pulled. I said 430 and he looked at the bar, then at me and said "that was 435". Sure enough...when you add 5 pounds to each side of a 425 pound bar you get 435. 425+5+5=435. I can add, just not before 7 am. 
I have less than 50 pounds to go to get to 1000 pounds. I've been powerlifting seriously for about a year and a half now and I am closing in on a total that seemed completely out of reach when I first heard it. From my first meet I have increased my three lift total by 226.40 pounds. Equally as exciting for me is that I am closing in on being able to deadlift 2 times my bodyweight. At present my deadlift is about 1.8 times my bodyweight. I'll let you do the math if you wish. 
I have found my niche. I am beyond grateful to every person who has helped me get this far. My coaches who encourage me, support me, answer endless emails, messages and texts and know just when a fist bump or a "lift the shit out of that bar" is going to give me the nudge I need. My friends who take over the planning and logistics of getting to meets so I can focus on my job, travel for hours and cheer themselves hoarse, offer to document each of my attempts so the geek in me can revel in numbers and in general support and love me just the way I am: THANK YOU! 1000 pounds will be as much your accomplishment as mine.
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Who Are You?

When you get up at 4:30 in the morning you have time to ponder all sorts of things. Like "Is that a clump of cat hair or a really big spider?" "With the amount of cat hair on the floor how are my cats not totally bald?" "Why is my dog shedding-again?"

Then there are the fitness related questions "Do I really have less arm jiggle or am I imagining that?" "Did I almost get a chin up last night, or was that only wishful thinking?"

Then there are the deep personal questions. "Who are you?" was the big one this morning. I really need to learn to get up, let the dog out, feed her, feed the cats and go back to bed. I get way too damn introspective before 5 am.

It's an easy question on the surface. I'm a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, special education teacher and as weird as it still feels to say it I am a powerlifter. Some would describe me as an athlete, but the people I consider athletes are multi-talented. I am a one-trick pony. I am not minimizing what I can do. I am a really proud, hard-working one-trick pony, but I am not multi-talented. That's okay: I am proud of the skills I have since I wasn't so sure I had any at all when I started this journey.

You may have noticed I am not much for looking at things on the surface. If there's a way to complicate anything I am going to find it and RUN with it. Besides, it was 4:45 am, the caffeine hadn't kicked in yet and I over think EVERYTHING...I do mean everything people: run now.

So who am I below what you see on the surface?

I don't think I'm all that mysterious to be honest. What I am feeling tends to show on my face or much to my embarrassment, leak out of my eyes. There are things I keep pretty deeply buried and most of those things don't ever need to see the light of day. I am not going to improve any one's life dwelling on the past. My life to this point has prepared me to be where I am at this moment. Where I am right now is exactly where I am supposed to be. Nothing that led me here has been a mistake or a catastrophe, no matter how it felt at the time.

I believe in expressing my appreciation and doing nice things for people I care about. Some have teased me about being a suck up. I certainly can't deny that I want people to like me, but I don't give people things to make them like me. I figured out a long time ago that that never works and too many people will take advantage of you if you give them things. I do nice things because I have learned to express my appreciation when the opportunity arises. It is true that we never know when we won't see someone again. I don't want any more instances in my life when I thought I had more time to say something and it turns out time is up.

I am fierce and fiercely focused. Now that I have discovered my niche and my passion I'm pretty hard to deter. When I decide I want something I go all in. As Coach T would say I give it a 100% run. There are times this fierceness comes out as anger or impatience. I have heard my face when I am working on my lifts is scary. My "business face" comes in handy sometimes. I guess it lets people know I'm serious about what I'm doing anyway.

I am a perfectionist and a bit obsessive. If you have ever seen me with a bar where the plates aren't the same color you know exactly what I am talking about. Can I lift a bar with a black 45# plate and a blue one? Yes I can, I did the last time I PR'd my deadlift, but I wasn't comfortable. I like things to match and I like order. I have been know to rerack plates or organize the kettlebells at Pride just so things are "right". There is a good chance I've even taken all the collars down from where they are hanging to be sure the same colors are together...I probably need to be stopped. Who knows, maybe I'm entertaining the coaches so they just let me go.

The most surprising thing I've discovered about me in the last year is my voice. I used to be quiet in the gym, my face might show the effort I was expending, but I was silent. In November at my meet I did something I'd never done before. When I pulled my third deadlift to lockout I screamed. It felt amazing to do that. I don't know why I didn't do it sooner, but now I can't seem to stop myself. When something is hard or I am about to PR I scream. It really does give me the extra boost to get things done. It didn't quite work on that 215# bench, but it will. Who knew I had a voice? Who knew that scream would unleash every bit of the beast within? I used to wonder why people  yelled or grunted or shouted during workouts: now I understand completely. I wish I'd tried this out sooner. I suppose I wasn't ready before though. The shy, quiet, invisible part of me kept a leash on the beast and wouldn't let go for fear of drawing attention.

So who am I? I am me...the quiet, shy, introverted, sensitive, intelligent, fierce beast. I am a fighter, survivor, badass, queen powerlifter. I am a wanna-be coaches' pet who lives for fist bumps, high fives and hugs. I am the friend who wants everyone to be happy and needs reminders that it is okay for me to be happy too. I am impatient, grouchy, pushy and a general pain in the ass at times.

I guess we can sum it all up as I am a hot mess. That's okay though, the people who matter most to me like me just as I am. That's all I need.

Now  I need to work on not sitting up at 4:30 am pondering my life, my journey and the future.

Nine weeks until my next meet. Nine weeks to train and soak in all the knowledge Coach D and Coach T have to offer. Nine weeks to get better and stronger. I almost said nine weeks to become worthy, but the truth is I am already worthy, I always have been. It just took time for me to realize it. I. Won.
Working on being better. Thanks for the photo Dane Martin.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Another Week

Another week of training down and now I am 10 weeks out from my next powerlifting meet. I have set new PRs in my deadlift and squat. I was hoping to report a new PR in my bench press, but that didn't happen.

Tuesday was Valentine's Day and my coach had plans that didn't include training me that night so my personal training session was changed to Friday morning at 11 am. Normally a no-go since I'd be at work, but last Friday I had a yearly physical with my doctor and I'd taken a discretionary day so 11 am training sounded pretty good.

I had plans to PR. I could picture pressing that bar loaded to 215 pounds to lockout. When it came time to execute though I couldn't lockout. I wasn't happy about that, in fact to be blunt I was completely pissed. I said as much and Coach Dane patiently reminded me that not every day was going to be a PR. He didn't seem disgusted with me, or even very concerned. I should probably consider it a point of pride that I was able to press that bar as far as I did and didn't drop it on my chest. Not that that would have happened either: Coach D wasn't going to let me hurt myself, he was right there spotting me, telling me to press the entire time.

Even I have to admit I am proud of me. The bench press is my weakest lift and the one I like the least. Not that I don't give it my all: I do, but it is clearly the weakest of my lifts. It is also the lift where that nasty voice in the dark corners of my mind has the most success rattling me. That voice loves to tell me I can't do it, that I don't have what it takes to make it happen.
Had I written this post a year ago I'd be telling you that I feel like a fraud every time I walk into the gym and my failure at that bench press was proof of that. I'm not that woman anymore.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that I have exactly what it takes to make that 215 bench press happen. I know I have it in me.

So has my ego suddenly inflated? Did I find my confidence? Is my opinion of myself and my abilities that high? Or am I just too damn stubborn for my own good?

It's probably a combination of all of the above, maybe more stubbornness than anything else. There's more to it than that though: I trust my coaches. There, I said it: I. Trust. My. Coaches. Completely.

If I finally figured out my niche in 2016, 2017 seems to be the year I am going to come into my own. It has finally occurred to me that if my coaches seem genuinely happy to see me and seem to genuinely enjoy working with me I can trust that. If Coach T says it was good to see me and work with me in a Pride Fit or Yoga Corr class he isn't just saying that. He means it. When Coach D tells me it is a pleasure to train me he's not stroking my ego so I'll do what he wants me to do (I think he figured out early on, even if I whine I'm going to do what he asks). Neither one of them is going to say something they don't mean.

Yeah, they both get that I'm a people pleaser. They know I'll give everything I have for a fist bump. A perfectly timed fist bump last Wednesday at Muscle Hour kept me determined to finish 5 Ground to Overhead Presses and 5 Sumo Deadlift High Pulls every minute for 15 minutes. A fist bump after I pulled 425 made me hungry for more because the smile on Coach T's face and his laugh when I screamed was the best. Maybe I surprise them sometimes, but I suspect that they both know I had it in me.

So I will press 215. It won't make me a better person. It won't make me more worthy. I will press 215 because I want to. I aim to have a three lift total of at least 1000 pounds and while I know I could probably get that by only focusing on improving my squat and deadlift I want a better bench press too. I have found my niche, I will be the best I can be not because I have anything to prove to anyone. I will be the best I can be because it matters to me. No one will ever be able to say I didn't work to get where I am.

Before I sign off, I'd like to share a picture with you. One taken by Coach Dane. I see my thick thighs, the jiggly arms, but I also see someone who is working her hardest to make her goals reality. We'll see come April 29 how that turns out, but in the meantime I may not be the best in The Asylum, but I will be the hardest worker.

Bent Over Rows with the Hex Bar
Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 10, 2017


Today was an inservice day. Inservice days are designed to provide teachers with professional development. Sometimes these days are more useful and relevant than others. Today was relevant on several different levels. I'm going to attempt to talk about my feelings on one of those moments now.

We opened the day in the high school auditorium watching a video about growth mindset. The title of the video was The Power of Belief: Mindset and Success.  The speaker was Eduardo Brinceno.  

Of course you know exactly where my mind went. I could have thought about my job, but I didn't. My job is important, I will never deny that, but I do not choose to be defined by my job. I even enjoy my job, but it is NOT who I am.

So back from the latest tangent. Where was I?

Oh right...I was going to tell you how I interpreted this video.

People have started calling me an athlete and telling me how inspirational I am. I find it flattering, but also uncomfortable. I am not awesome: I am the woman who trips on flat surfaces. I am also the woman who fails over and over and does not give up. Perhaps that's why people find me inspirational: I don't pretend to understand it. I try to be gracious about the compliments, but they truly make me uncomfortable. I do what I do. I'm not special or unique. Stubborn, absolutely yes. Special? Not so much.

The speaker said that if someone thinks their abilities are innate, that they are a "natural" their mindset is fixed and they tend to avoid challenges and give up when things get tough. By comparison someone with a growth mindset knows that their abilities can be developed, that with practice and hard work things that are difficult can become easier. One of the messages that really resonated with me today was that when you think about abilities as something you can learn and develop it is easier to adopt the desire to practice and persevere.

I probably don't need to tell you that my mindset has been fixed most of my life. I was the fat girl. The uncoordinated, untalented fat girl. My natural abilities seemed to be eating and being a couch potato. I excelled at those two things anyway.

I am working on my growth mindset. Take Muscle Hour. I would be perfectly happy if we always worked on deadlifts, back squats or bench pressing. We can't though. Sometimes we need to work on front squats, cleans or jerks. I don't relish those times. There was a long period of time when I whined about it and complained to Coach D every chance I got. Then when it was time to practice I'd repeat "I'm a powerlifter. I don't need these skills" to make myself feel better when I was doing poorly.

One night I heard myself, really heard how I sounded and I cringed. The people pleaser in me shuddered and warned me I was wearing on Coach D's patience and I'd be better served shutting my mouth and getting my head in the game.

I have worked hard to make my cleans and front squats less grim. I don't front squat with the preferred grip, but I do front squat and I bite my tongue to silence most of the whining. I am even working on not telling myself how horrible I am after every rep. I still don't speak nicely to myself very often. I have finally realized if I cut myself some slack it might make my life a whole lot easier. I'm not perfect: I am not likely to become perfect any time in the future, but I have good qualities. Those qualities might be a little clearer if I learn to be kind to the woman in the mirror.

I want to learn all I can and be good at as many things as I can be.

I'm not trying to say I don't move a lot of weight. I know I do. The thing is that doesn't make me special. I didn't start out deadlifting 425 pounds or squatting 315 pounds. Anyone can increase their total if they put in the work and practice. That's all I am doing. I am working on the lifts. I am working on accessory work to make me stronger. I work on my mobility and I work on my overall fitness. I push through the times everything I do is difficult and I relish those times it seems easy, like I am doing what I was made to do.

When the time comes to step on the platform the next time I want to perform to the absolute best of my ability and be proud of what I accomplish. Then when that moment is over I don't intend on resting on what I accomplished. I will study the videos, I will note flaws and I will get back to work to fix them.

My goal is to be better every time I step into the gym and every time I step onto the platform.

I truly appreciate the kind words and comments from every one of you who takes the time to read my posts and slog through my blog. If I ever come across as ungrateful, please know I am not. Please know I am deeply and completely humbled by the fact that you take the time to say what you do to me. I never take kind words for granted.

I'm growing, I'm changing and I'm getting better. With that said I won't rest on what I can do, because I know with hard work, practice and determination I can go even further. Come along for the ride if you like: I think it will be a lot of fun.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Don't Rush It

The older I get the more I am noticing I need more patience. I want what I want and I want it now. Usually this isn't a problem because I have learned to rein myself in. The one place I still have trouble with rushing is the last place I would have expected.

In my professional life I have learned to squelch my natural desire to rush. It isn't always easy, but things go so much more smoothly when I breathe deep, bite my tongue and wait.

Then there's me in the gym. I know I need to be patient, I know taking my time and thinking through what I'm about to do is important. Then there's that first rep when the weight is heavy and everything I know I need to do goes right out the window.

You know me...I've been thinking about why that might be. Why do I rush when I know all it's going to get me is Coach Dane saying "Don't rush it" or Coach Tyler saying "Breathe"? I know rushing doesn't get me anywhere. I know it and yet I continue to rush.

WHY?? Am I that dumb? Am I that impatient? Or is it something else?

At Muscle Hour we were deadlifting. My first round at 355 pounds I was rushing. My stance was too wide and I didn't take the time to set my grip. I got my 3 reps, but they weren't my best. As I stalked off to the bathroom to get it together Coach D. called out that my stance was too wide and I commented "I know". I had a chat with the woman in the mirror, reminding her that 355 is NOT that heavy, that it was well within her capability and she needed to get it together or stop wasting Coach D's time. The beast stirred to life during the chat and I knew things would improve from that point. I completed my next rounds with no problem. Not that the bar felt light, that sure as hell wasn't the case, but it was eminently doable and I did it.

Thursday in Buddy Training was work on back squats. I was late, I was pissed off and I just wanted to squat. No problem when I was squatting the lighter weights to warm up. Then the bar was loaded to 275 pounds.

Let me trot off on a little tangent and tell you a story. It was about a year ago when I first attempted to squat 275. It was almost a disaster, well okay, it was a disaster. When I settled under the bar and took it off the rack it felt heavy and I didn't think I could do it. My eyes dropped for a split second as I started to squat and then I tried to save the lift. So stupid, so very, very stupid. There was no saving it and I spent a very scary minute or so with that bar on the back of my neck and Coach D telling me to let it go. When it was over I squatted 265. I am assuming that was so I wouldn't be afraid to squat, kind of like getting back up on the horse when you fall off. I didn't ask, I was just glad I was leaving Pride with no worse than a sore neck and a reminder from Coach D and Coach T that you never try to save a lift.

Okay, we're back. I love squatting again, but when the bar is at 275 pounds that nasty, little bitch at the back of my mind reminds me not to blow it. So I rush to prove I can do it and that rep is rough and feels rotten. I might get to parallel (mostly I don't) and I wonder if I really have the potential Coach D tells me I do.

Coach D has worked with me long enough to know just how to handle me. For my next rep he calmly reminded me not to rush. Then as I was squatting he reminded me to sit back and the next rep felt so much did my next rounds. I must have done it well because I got a "good work" and "smooth" when I was finished.

I know what I need to do, especially when I squat. I need to get under the bar, get settled, get it out of the rack and back out. Yes I back out 3 steps. Yes, I know I don't need to back out as far as I do. I know all I need to do is step back about 1 time and I'm out of the rack and I can squat. The thing is I have a habit of backing up 3 steps. It is something I have always done and it works for me. It gives me time to feel the weight, time to let my mind settle. It gives the beast inside time to get ready. The beast loves heavy weight, but she takes her own sweet time to stir. It's okay: I know I she's going to show up. Someday I will figure out how to get the beast to show up sooner.

Don't rush it is good advice for every area of my life. I am watching my friends settle into relationships and I want that too. I want it now, but I am not ready now. It wasn't all that long ago I didn't think I wanted to live one more minute. I believed I was a fat, broken mess and no matter what I did nothing would change. I was worthless and a waste of space on this planet. I am not in that place anymore, but I'm not that far from it either.

Right now I need to work on loving myself, on being kind to the person I am. When I can give myself the kindness and love I am happy to lavish on my friends then I will be ready for someone else. I don't believe there is someone out there for me, but I do hope that when I am ready there will be a person who will be ready for me. In the meantime I will observe my couple friends and enjoy their company and the fact that they want me around.

I would like to rush my fitness journey too. I want to be shredded and I want to be shredded right. now. I want to be stronger, leaner and better immediately. Not that I mind putting in the work...I am getting two days of bench pressing, one day of deadlifts and one day of squatting most weeks. I love the work, but I still want to be better right now. I can hear my coaches now: "Don't rush it", "Stay the course", "Trust the process"

I am doing my best not to rush it, to enjoy the moments when I succeed or PR and grit my teeth and grind on those times when I need to put in the hard work to be better. I would love to say I have it all figured out and I know exactly what to do, but I'll let you in on a secret: the 2016 Queen of the Pride is only human and she doesn't have many answers. She might not even know all the questions. She's trying, learning and growing. Even if you see me working on my big 3 lifts: I. am. not. perfect. There is still much I have to learn and I am soaking in everything Coach T and Coach D have to give me.

Let me leave you with a picture I got from Coach Dane earlier this week. It is from my personal training session on Tuesday. I was working on Bent Over Rows with an underhand grip. When I first got it I didn't really notice the face and for a split second I wanted to ask who was in the picture. Then I realized it was me. That was certainly not the person I see in the mirror. It was a pleasant shock. Nope, still not a super model, but I'm not an ugly, fat blob either.

Bent over Rows with an underhand grip. These made 95# feel really heavy.

Thanks for reading!