Sunday, October 15, 2017

Where Have You Been??

Two weeks with no new post...why not?

I could tell you I was busy. I could tell you I didn't have anything to say.

Or I could just be honest and tell you I was too damn lazy to make an attempt to organize the craziness inside my head into some semblance of order.

Yeah, let's just go with honesty, it's easier that way.

It seems Fall has finally arrived. I love Fall for the most part, the leaves change colors, the weather is cooler. Also for the sake of being honest the increasing number of gray cloudy days are perfect for napping. I love naps...I can't believe I hated them so much as a little kid. The only thing I don't really like about Fall is knowing winter is coming. Yes I live in northern Vermont by choice, but truly cold weather does not excite me. 20 is okay, I don't even whine too much about 10, but when we start creeping into the single digits and below zero I am tempted to hibernate.

I didn't always feel this way. At my heaviest the cold didn't bother me. I was well insulated. Let's be honest, at about 188 I am still pretty well insulated, but I sure notice the cold more now than I used to.

I love Christmas, so until the holiday season is over I'm usually good with winter. After the new year I'm done with it.

All right, I'm done whining about the seasons, nothing I can change there. So let's move on to the purpose of this blog: my fitness journey.

I don't think it's just me, maybe it is, but ever since the USAPL Northeast Regional Championships it feels like everything is an uphill climb. I'd ask Coach D, but since he is always honest with me and I'm not sure I want to know the truth I'll just live happily in denial. Who am I kidding? I won't ask because I know it's been rough and I don't need someone else telling me that.

I'm struggling mentally and physically. I try not to complain, I don't want my friends getting sick of me. I paste on the smile, pull up my big girl pants, square my shoulders and get it done as best I can. "Fake it 'til you make it" is kind of my new motto at the moment.

I know why it's hard right now. Coach D knows too, because (LUCKY HIM), I told him. He claims when he signed on to train me he knew what he was signing on for. I'm not sure he knew the full story before I spilled my guts, but now he does. He hasn't told me he's passing my training back to Coach T, so I'm hoping he still thinks I'm worth the effort he's putting in.

Physically I think I'm just tired. From April to August I competed in 3 powerlifting meets. Prior to that I had done one in November 2015, one in April 2016 and one in November 2016. Plenty of time in between to rest, recover, plan and train. Between my three meets in 2017 there was time to train and rest, but probably not as much time as my 47 year old body wanted. Plus add in that Coach D and I have been hammering nutrition and I'm down many pounds since the start of 2017. I am having to build my strength back up right now and that feels odd. A little scary too since I'm being honest.

I am strong, that's part of who I am. When a 405 pound deadlift feels hard anxiety and fear start crawling up my spine. Coach D told me it would happen, but I was hoping maybe I could be an exception to the rule. At least now I can say I see the strength building again and the anxiety is backing off just a little.

My training schedule has changed a little too. Due to my work schedule Monday morning Pride Fit classes weren't fitting in any longer. Fortunately Coach D added in a Monday Muscle Hour class in the early evening so I go to that. Tuesdays I added in a 5:30 am spinning class, because I need cardio in my life and when I tried spinning I didn't hate it (I actually kind of liked it, but shhh...we'll keep that our secret). Another thing missing from my training and something I sorely missed was more training with Coach T. I do have Yoga Corr with him, but I wanted another class too. Wednesday evenings he does a mobility/stability/core class: I asked Coach D if I could add that and got the okay. So now I have two classes per week with Coach T (insert HUGE smiley face). Last week I also joined in the Wednesday Muscle Hour again. It was good to be back.

So what is my fitness schedule looking like now? Let's be honest: the gym is my second home and I have been pretty fierce about protecting my time there from any and all interference (just ask my managers: I'm flexible in a lot of ways, but not about my availability).

Monday: Muscle Hour ~Coach D
Tuesday: Spinning ~Tara
               Personal Training ~Coach D
               Yoga Corr ~Coach T
Wednesday:  Mobility ~Coach T
                     Muscle Hour ~Coach D
Thursday: Buddy Training ~Coach D
Friday: Flex Friday ~Coach D

Yeah, I'm looking at that and thinking Coach D spends a WHOLE lot of time with me in a week. Poor guy, at least I try to be a good client and I provide the occasional bribe. The part of the schedule that makes me smile: two classes with Coach T. Sometimes he joins us for Flex Friday and Muscle Hour classes too: working out with him is as much fun as training with him. Heck, let's just gush and say I love everyone I get to train with. NO, I am not asking them how they feel about training me: that whole honesty thing and all.

I know the struggle I am feeling currently will end. There will eventually be another meet to train for and I will get the mental stuff squared away again (or at least stuffed back in the dark corner of my mind where I can ignore it).

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Who Are You Talking About?

Magnificent? Inspiring? Strong? Athlete?

Nice words, I like them. I use them in reference to other people. Sometimes they get used to describe me. There's where my confusion comes in. I can own strong, I like to think of myself as strong. Even when I'm working on overhead presses with kettlebells and wonder if dropping one on my head will stop that form of torture I recognize I'm strong.

You already know I don't see how I'm inspiring. I just don't and I'm not asking anyone to try to explain it to me again. I am pretty sure that I'll never see how I inspire others and that's really okay. I'm just trying to do me and working on figuring out just who "me" is.

If I have difficulty with inspiring you can imagine how "magnificent" makes me feel. Just in case you wondered it makes me feel uncomfortable, very, very uncomfortable. I know I don't see myself as other people do. I see the faults, every one of them, in glaring detail. For the sake of honesty I probably manufacture some faults and see true faults as much bigger than they really are. I'm my own worst critic that's never going to change. There are times I am proud of myself, but underlying that pride is thinking about how I could have been better. There's nothing wrong with striving to be better and working to be better, but even I know that sometimes it is okay to just feel proud.

Athlete, there's the word I struggle with the most. I've even looked up the definition and here's how Merriam-Webster defines athlete: a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina. Okay, so that seems to fit me: powerlifting is definitely a sport, I consider my fellow powerlifters to be athletes. I still have a hard time referring to myself as an athlete.

I don't see myself as an athlete because for so many years I was not much more than an accomplished couch potato. I was a fat kid who grew into a fat adult. I could and would devour huge quantities of junk food without thought and without tasting most of it. I regarded exercise as a form of punishment.

I was almost 42 years old when I discovered fitness. I'm 5 years older, possibly a little wiser and I can't imagine my life anymore without the gym. I consider the Pride Fitness Performance Center my second home, though in reality I may spend more hours there than I do in my own home. My coach commented recently that he sees me more in a week than he sees Coach T. He's not wrong, I know I see him more than I see my mother. I'm not complaining and I don't think he was either, it's just the way it is. I asked to go to the next level and Coach D thought I had the potential so he signed on. He claims he knew he was signing on for the big ball of crazy that I am, but I'm not so sure. Poor guy he's tough, strong and exceedingly patient with me. I am still amazed at times that a man 20 years younger than me can be so much wiser.

Last night I went to dinner with a group of friends. Hailey, the extraordinary organizer, said it was to celebrate my last meet. That made me uncomfortable, so I thought of it as celebrating the wonderful people who give their time to sit around for hours waiting to watch me lift heavy stuff. I've talked with Nikki about it and she said she truly enjoys it. I think everyone who comes feels the same and I am beyond thankful. There is nothing more comforting than stepping onto that platform knowing my friends are close by, hearing their comments and then going inward to find that place the beast rests and spur her to action. I'm not always successful, but I always try and I know I try harder because I want them to be proud, I want them to feel like their time is well-spent.

I've come to another realization recently: I don't just powerlift for me. That wouldn't be enough to keep me training and perfecting my technique and form. I'd like to tell you that I would push through those times when nothing goes right and it feels like I've forgotten how to do everything, but I might as well be honest. If I were doing this just for myself then I wouldn't do it. As much as I love my coach and my friends I don't just do it for them either.

So who do I do this for? I do it for other couch potatoes. I do it for those who don't think they have any worth. I do it for people who feel so battered and scarred by life that it they think it would be better to just quit. I do it for everyone who is self-conscious about their body and themselves in general. I may not see how or why I am inspiring, but I figure if some people see me that way I should capitalize on that. I should use what I have to make the world a better place if I can. I fail spectacularly at that at times, but it doesn't mean I'm not trying. I'm not perfect, I'm never going to be perfect, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to try.

Of course I recognize that powerlifting may not be at the forefront of everyone's life the way it is in mine. I have always heard that you should use what gifts you've been given and I was given this body that seems suited to squatting, deadlifting and bench pressing so I'm going to use it. Maybe I won't reach anyone, maybe no one really cares. That's okay too. I'm not doing it for attention or applause: those things are nice, I'm not complaining, but they are uncomfortable. If just one person sees that despite feeling all lumpy and awkward in my singlet I'm still doing what I love and it makes them feel better about themselves that's a wonderful thing.

Before I go a picture of most of the fabulous people who support me and encourage me to be better.

Bottom l-to-r: Carole, Jamie, Keri, Nikki. Top l-to-r: Gregg, Barry, me, Hailey, Lyndsay, Lindsay. Not in the picture and missed: Jen, Sylvie, Eric, Pat and Dane



Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ummm....

I am so naive. At my heaviest I weighed 309 pounds, as of this morning at 3:15 am (yes, I was up at this completely obscene time of the day, not entirely by choice, but I was up) I weigh 192. Still too heavy, still fat if you want to just be blunt about it, but there is undeniably less of me then there used to be.

I really, truly believed losing the weight would make me happier, that all my problems and lack of confidence would be gone. What I'm discovering day by day, to my great disgust, is that the only thing I've lost is 117 pounds. I'm the same person inside, even if I take up less space. The insecurities, the need to please those around me and my inability to believe I am enough are still there. I was really kind of hoping that when I entered "onederland" I would be changed. The only thing that changed was the number on the scale. I still step on the scale, see that number and have to check a couple more times to really believe it. I even weigh myself at my happy place on the scale I was sure was out to get me, sometimes it tells me I weigh less than my scale at home does, sometimes it tells me I'm a couple of tenths of a pound more, but for the most part it confirms what the scale at home tells me.

I shouldn't be surprised. I've read enough articles to know losing weight doesn't change anything about your personality or quirks. I'm the same ball of insecurities I have always been.

Take today as an example. I was at work, doing what I do and someone told me it was nice to see new people gaining confidence and that I was doing really well. Nice compliment and all, but I didn't buy a word of it. I see the mistakes and today there were plenty of them. I see the times I fall short of a target. I see the looks on the faces of some of the higher ups at times. I could be reading way more into those things than I should, but I can't help it.

Then there was training with Coach D. More conditioning work today. I asked for this...I really did. I told Coach D I wanted a new body in 2017. I need to think my comments through more carefully. Today there was a 3000 meter row. The distance sounded bad enough, then he told me the rest of it: 500 meters at a fast pace, 500 meters at a slower pace until I got to 3000. I whined, I dragged my feet, I got out my headphones, got on the rower and got to work. As any of you who have been reading my blog for awhile know, the rower is also dubbed "the gold star machine" by the Pride coaches. With 3000 meters ahead of me I truly wondered when, not if, I would vomit. I am proud to report it didn't happen. No gold stars today.

After my row, we went into The Asylum and I got to work on overhead presses for 10 reps and at the end of my tenth rep I had to hold the barbell overhead for 30 seconds. The first round was hard, rounds 2 and 3 were harder. Then there were rounds 4 and 5: I dropped the bar. When I did it in Round 4 I also felt the tears well. The nasty voice started taunting instantly that's right...make the failure worse by crying. Coach D will love that. The beast responded to the taunt by urging me to pick the bar back up, get it over my head and finish the round. I did it, it hurt, the back of my right arm was on fire, but I got the 65 pound barbell back over my head and I finished my 30 seconds. Round 5 looked a lot the same, though I wasn't sure I'd be able to get the bar over my head and it was my left hand tingling. I was never happier than when Coach D told me time was up.

The finisher for training tonight was five rounds of 10 calories on the bike followed by pushing the prowler down the turf and back. I was hoping it would be the prowler on valslides, the one that moves so much easier. Nope, should have known better, Coach D wanted me pushing the other one. The one I asked if he'd put velcro on the bottom of last week. The one that made me cry in frustration last week. Tonight wasn't much easier, but I did it. In case you wondered my best time for getting to 10 calories on the bike was 56 seconds, my worst was 1:13.

I finished my workout before Pride closed for the evening. I got a fist bump and a "good work tonight" from my coach and what did I focus on? I focused on dropping the barbell and each successive round of my finisher taking longer to get to 10 calories on the bike. You know the nasty little voice had to get her two cents in. I replayed my last 3 meets, my first three with USAPL and how I screwed up my squats, bench presses and deadlifts. I screwed up deadlifts,my favorite lift, the one I thought I was best at. By the time I got home I was feeling anxious and underwhelmed with my performance.

I know I need to work on the mental stuff. I need to erase the negative loop and evict the nasty voice taking up space in my head. I'm betting if I can get the mental under control my performance on the platform will improve too. Instead of wondering how and when I will screw up I will be able to focus on nailing my lift. I will take compliments at work. I will take correction without assuming it means I am just plain awful.  I will enjoy my training and take my fist bumps and "good work" at face value. I won't always be waiting for the other shoe to drop with my shoulders hunched up around my ears.

Nope, losing weight hasn't changed me inside. That work is going to be much harder.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Experts?

Being quiet and shy has definite advantages. You can overhear the most interesting conversations (insert eye roll).

Take today for instance. I was able to hear start to finish a conversation that nearly made me laugh out loud. It was between two co-workers. Not sure how exactly they got on the topic of strength, but they did. First one of them talked about bodybuilding, a subject I would wager he knows very little about. That might not be fair, I am sure he knows plenty about bodybuilding, at least from what he's read, but I feel confident saying he knows nothing about bodybuilding from a training standpoint. It might be a  mean thing to say, but I never claimed to be nice.

Then powerlifting came up. the other person in the conversation said he'd heard ALL powerlifters used steroids and other drugs to enhance their performance. Cue the beast to start snarling inside my head. There was a part of me that badly wanted to jump into the conversation with both feet and set these two "experts" straight. I chose silence, see I AM getting wiser.

I am so glad I decided to be quiet, I learned that powerlifting is really easy anyone can do it. The beast was snarling pretty loudly at that point and the sarcastic voice in my head decided to lay off me for a bit and focus on the "experts" I was listening to. I admit the thought of either of those gentlemen facing a barbell loaded with 135 pounds made me want to laugh.

Let's be clear: I LOVE powerlifting. It is my passion. Something I am working very hard to get better at. Powerlifting is many things, I don't think easy is one of them. The majority of my training revolves around the three lifts with the remaining training working on conditioning, mobility, and flexibility. I enjoy training or I wouldn't do it, but I wouldn't say I find it easy. There is nothing easy or particularly fun about 2500 meters on the rower for a warm up or 8 laps of sled pushes at the end of a workout. In fact, there are moments in the midst of those things that I wonder exactly what the hell is wrong with me that I pay for this kind of abuse. Oh right, I said I wanted to go to the next level with my powerlifting. Not only am I not too bright, I might have masochistic tendencies.

Back to the conversation I eavesdropped on. I could have spoken up and said I was a competitive powerlifter with a 991.1 pound total and I have never take steroids. I chose not to. Life is too short to try to educate people who are already convinced that they are right. Besides, they weren't really hurting anyone. I'm not naive, I know there are drugs in the sport I love, that some people think it's fine. I don't judge and that is not the path I have chosen. It's empowering to discover how strong my body is, how much stamina it has when I am pushed and dig deep.

I know the truth. I love powerlifting, it has opened my eyes to a whole new world and shown me just how strong I really am. I love it and I will pursue it to see how far I can go, but nothing about it is easy. It is hard work and there are times during training when the only thing dragging one more rep out of me is that I will NOT let my coach down. I want a fist bump from him at the end and I want him to tell me good work. Yep, I still need the extrinsic praise to get the work done sometimes. No shame in that as far as I am concerned.

This guy can get me to front squat with minimal whining.



Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Confidence and Cool Kids

Just once, just one time I would like to see what other people see when they look at me. When they watch me pick heavy stuff up and put it down I'd like to know what they are seeing. I can guess what judges are seeing: someone who doesn't lock out fully in her deadlifts. I'm more curious about what my coach sees and what my friends, the cool kids as I think of them, see.

I could just ask, but that smacks of sounding super needy and I try so hard not to be needy I just can't ask. I watch the videos and I see a chunky fat woman trying hard. It might really be easier on my self esteem and my self-confidence if I would bite the bullet and ask. Pretty sure my coach would be willing to sit down with me to watch the videos and tell me what he sees that is good and what needs work. I also think my friends would be willing to do the same.

But I don't ask. I put on the mask, the one that makes me look somewhat competent and comfortable. No surprise to anyone I am sure I wear that mask a lot. Even in the place I feel the most comfortable, Pride Fitness Performance, I wear the mask more often than not.

You would think after 5 years, losing 100+ pounds, completing three Tough Mudders, entering three Pride Games, and competing in six powerlifting meets I would have developed some confidence in myself and my abilities. I still feel like a fraud. A complete fraud. There are times I walk into the gym and wait with my shoulders hunched up around my ears for one of the coaches to ask me what I am doing there and why I don't just stay home and stop wasting their time. In class when I make a mistake on a move I find myself looking around, praying the coach isn't seeing what I'm doing.

Let me assure you there is NO reason for me to feel so insecure and worried neither coach has ever been anything but gentle and kind when correcting me. For anyone at Pride who has ever felt intimidated by me: DON'T. If you could see what's going on inside my head you'd probably laugh and shake your head. I'm a hot mess 99.9% of the time. Even when I do what I love best, especially when I deadlift, I feel outclassed and unqualified.

My friends seem genuinely happy to see me so I should feel confident with them, right? Yeah, not so much. I see them as the cool kids, the group I have always wanted to be a part of. When I announce the next meet I am entering I am still surprised when my friends get excited and start making plans. If one of them can't come and expresses sadness about that I feel bewildered.  Huh? You wish you could change your plans to come watch me pick heavy stuff up and put it down? Really? Why?

I love my friends. When I don't believe I can do something I lean on them and trust them. My friend Nikki has been at every single one of my meets and she gets so excited and pumped up for me. All my friends do that, but since Nikki and I live in the same town we often make the first leg of the trip to meets together. Her excitement is infectious and I owe her a huge thanks and an even bigger hug for always doing her best to pump me up. All my friends do that. They know I am nervous and worried and they do their best to pump me up and keep me from getting stuck inside my head. It's a tough job and they all deserve medals for their herculean efforts.

A little while ago I saw a post from someone I know and admire who insists that working on beliefs, self love and confidence are even more important than working on the outside. Thank you for those thoughtful words Lynn Tanguay. My shell might look better, but inside is still a mess.

I think I must  bewilder one of my coaches with my complete lack of confidence and faith in myself. I am constantly asking him if I really have what it takes to go further in the sport I love. He's patient with me and assures me he wouldn't tell me to do it if he didn't think I could. I'm not sure I understand how I can feel proud of myself for something I accomplish and still not think I'm capable. Somehow I forget the four months of training, the hours of squatting, pressing and pulling. The thumb I smashed in the squat rack, the bruises on my shins and thighs from pulling that bar as close to my body as I can. I seem to believe it is nothing but a miracle I accomplish what I do, it's not hard work and grinding away when everything feels hard.

There is evidence I am capable and yet the doubts persist. Maybe the first work I need to do inside is to clean out the muck in my head. The mean voice that cuts me down, the garbage from the past: none of it is helping me become the person I want to be. I read a quote recently, in fact I seem to encounter it about once a week: Stop looking back, you aren't going that way. Hmmm, do you suppose there might be a lesson in there somewhere?? Maybe...

Not everything in my head needs to go: the beast is there too and she needs room to stretch out and roar. If I can clear out the other garbage the beast can get bigger and stronger. If I let the beast loose I can focus on my goals.

Do you know my goals? The first and second I've shared before. The final one I've kept to myself, it just seems so far outside the realm of possibility.
1. I want to compete and place in a national USAPL meet.
2. I want to do well enough at a USAPL meet to be invited to compete in the Arnold Sports Festival in the raw powerlifting meet.
3. I also want to do well enough to be invited to be part of a USAPL national team and compete internationally.

I don't think I can accomplish any of those things if I don't clear out my head. I will need every ounce of persistence, dedication, commitment, hard work and confidence to work to that level. The third goal scares me the most, as it should. At this moment the nasty voice in my head is reminding me I am 47 and I don't have unlimited time to achieve these goals. True enough, but in reality none of us has unlimited time and I won't let that stop me. At the meet on Saturday there was a wonderful woman in her sixties who was competing: she was so kind and sweet and so enthusiastic about powerlifting: I want that when I am in my sixties.

I'm coming to the end of my recovery time and I am ready to get back to it. I have a bench press technique to perfect, a deadlift lockout to nail and a 1000 pound total to achieve. I want to hear "simple", "easy" "Good work" "YEAH!" and every other phrase my coaches use to express their approval. I want to earn fist bumps and hugs and not wonder if I really truly deserve them. I want to get ready for time with my friends and not feel like the geeky outsider hanging with the cool kids. I want to feel like one of the cool kids. I want the beast to have room to roar more often. I want to walk into Pride knowing from the moment I step in the door I am where I belong.

Time to find the confidence and focus to make my dreams come true. My coaches and my friends can want it for me, they can even give me tools to reach my goals. The work, commitment, dedication and drive to get there have to come from me. No one can do it for me.


Me with the "cool kids" and my amazing coach.


Thanks for reading!



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Three

Once upon a time there was a little girl. She felt her purpose in life was to make other people happy. She also felt like she was pretty much a failure at that. Why was she so sure she was a failure? Because the one man in the world she should have been able to make happy just wasn't. She was a smart girl and she knew deep down the man's unhappiness was not her fault, but he was her father and she wanted to make him proud and happy. There were times, brief moments, when she earned the right grades or did the "right" things, but mostly she felt like a disappointment.

Fast forward about 40 years and the girl is no longer so little. She's encountered some obstacles and bumps on her path, some inflicted by others, but a fair number self made. From the obstacles she encountered she decided there were very few people she could trust. She still desired to make other people happy, but she didn't want many of them too close. Especially men.

All right, enough story time for today. No sense talking about myself in the third person. You all know I'm talking about me...let's cut to the chase.

Amazing what one trip far outside your comfort zone can make you think about. I could be tearing apart my lifts from the meet. I could be endlessly reviewing the videos, watching to see the flaws, planning how to fix them. Don't worry, there's plenty of that going on too, but mostly I've been thinking about other things. I've been thinking about being proud of myself and how odd it feels. I know it is okay to feel proud of what I accomplished, but I'd be a liar if I said that was enough for me. I want to know I didn't let down other people in my life.

I am sure there's another post coming soon about another close group in my life, but this post is about three very specific people. One my age, though he loves to remind me that I hit 47 before him and two others much younger than me, but so much wiser. They're all men.

There was a time not so long ago that I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of men I trusted and still have a lot of fingers left to count with. I can't keep track of the number of men I trust using my hands anymore, but the three on my mind are the top. They are the ones I will choose to talk to nine times out of ten when I have an issue I want advice on or I need a shoulder or even when I just need something simple like an "atta girl" or a hug.

I've thanked them before in other posts, but they're in for it again. And they should be warned: I'm feeling sappy, so I might embarrass them. I don't intend to do so, but I believe quite strongly that when someone does something for you that you appreciate that you tell them.

So here goes...sorry guys, but you've earned it.


Eric Hastings:

I've known you since elementary school. We lost touch for awhile, but thanks to your super amazing wife we reconnected. You are my rock. When I need a shoulder I can count on you to offer yours. You are one of my biggest cheerleaders. Case in point: you spent last weekend with a complete nervous wreck (big surprise: it's me) watching me pick heavy things up and put them down. You even did the driving. You are protective of me and you make me feel like I'm someone special.

You are one of my very best friends and one of the people I go to for advice when I am unsure about something.

You can come off as pretty gruff, but you've never been anything but considerate and kind to me. You encourage me to be myself and be the best I can be. You support me when it would probably be easier to walk away.

Mr. Invincible, you are one of the greatest men I know. I am beyond blessed to have you to share the good and bad times with. Love you.

One of the best men I know.



Dane Martin:

What can I say about you coach? You nudged me into powerlifting and ever since I agreed to give it a try you've been there. Whether in person or through text I've felt like I've had your undivided attention at each of my six meets. If I sat down and figured out the amount of time I spend with you in a week it would be more than I spend with anyone else. That's fine with me though: I feel like we make an amazing team. I can't wait to see where we can go.

I will say that even though it took me several minutes to process that I was seeing you on Saturday at the meet when I finally made the connection I felt calm. For the first time since I entered the meet I knew it was going to be okay. Whatever the outcome it would be okay.

I asked you when I was finished if I made you proud, that wasn't just because I wanted praise. It was because it honestly and truly mattered to me. You have given so much of your time to work with me I wanted you to feel you got a good return on that investment. You gave up a lot of your Saturday to come to the meet to coach me and watch me. I'm sure you've got a list of things we will be working on before I step onto the platform again, but on Saturday you made me feel like I was enough, like I was worthy of the time you spent and you were truly proud of what I accomplished.

There really aren't enough words coach. Thank you will have to suffice.



Thanks for being there.




Tyler Tinker:

Last, but by no means least. Simply put you are amazing. Those aren't just words either: you made me promise to be honest with you, so I will be honest. You are one of my heroes. You are one of the first people I contact after a meet to share my results. Sometimes, as you well know, I contact you before for a little reassurance, or a pep talk...even if I don't come out and ask for those things. You have never brushed me off or made me feel like I'm wasting your time. If you notice I'm upset you might not say anything in that moment, but you do check in with me later on.

You let me keep my hardware at Pride. When I ask you give up some of your precious free time to work with me on mobility so I can be at my best. You give hugs, fist bumps and praise when it is warranted. You also correct me when it is needed and call me on it if I am half-assing something.You asked me for honesty and promised me you would be honest with me in return. You made a change I didn't think I wanted feel much less intimidating. Turns out that change was the best thing that could have happened. With your coaching, support and encouragement I have made more progress than I would have thought possible.

I may not come right out and ask you if I make you proud, but trust me, I certainly hope I have. My life is far better for having you in it. Thank you.


One of my heroes.


These men are my top three. The ones I consistently turn to for advice, help and support. They are not the only ones, but for whatever reason these three have been on my mind the most. Hopefully now that I poured the crazies out onto this page I won't be spending so much time staring at the ceiling tonight.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 21, 2017

I LOVE This Sport


On Saturday I competed in my sixth powerlifting meet. The USA Powerlifting Northeast Regional Championships in Marlborough, MA. What a weekend.

The weekend started with a road trip with two good friends. Eric and Nikki joined me as support/cheerleaders/voices of reason. I opted to ride in the back seat of Eric's truck so he would have someone to talk to while I dozed. They chatted and the times I surfaced from sleep it sounded like they were having a good time. I admire Nikki's ability to talk to people. She makes it seem so effortless and easy. I can talk to people, I do talk to people, but I am much better at writing. If I can put the words down on paper or in a word processing document I can edit out the typos and delete the things that sound ridiculous. Ah well, we all have our strengths and conversation is not one of mine.

We made a stop at Dick's Sporting Goods in Concord, NH so I could buy knee sleeves. I got some Rehband Blue Line sleeves. I LOVE them, they were easy to get on and offered good support. Not as much as my STrong knee sleeves, but those weren't on the IPF approved list so I wasn't going to be able to wear them at the meet. Just in case you decide you would like a set of rehband knee sleeves they are sold singly, so you will need to buy two. A fact I discovered, luckily before we pulled out of the parking lot.

The hotel was nice and the meet was right in the hotel. At first I thought that would make the nerves worse, but given my ability to work myself up over nothing it didn't really matter.

I dozed Friday night, spent some time staring at the ceiling and thanks to my water consumption spent a good deal of time navigating a dark room to the bathroom and back to the bed, hoping I wasn't waking Eric or Nikki.

Weigh in was nice: I met a friend there. She was a judge at my first meets with Vermont Powerlifting and I was so glad to see her again. We warmed up together at the meet in St. Albans and having someone I knew there, someone else who thought I belonged right where I was helped settle my nerves. I stepped on the scale, gave my opening attempts as well as my rack heights for squat and bench and changed into my singlet.

Ah, the singlet...my very least favorite apparel ever. I read once that the powers that be in powerlifting must have sat around discussing what outfit they could choose that would be the least flattering for the maximum number of people. The singlet does that job nicely. I'm not sure how a piece of clothing can ride up and slip down all at the same time, but that's the magic of singlets. Then there is its ability to show every lump, bump, bulge and roll. I love powerlifting, so I've forced myself to adjust, but I still want to pull on my Pride sweatshirt and hide in that every chance I get.

The warm up room was its usual chaos when I went in, but I found a rack and warmed up for the squats. I would like to add that I warmed up WAY too early. Dane had warned me about that, but did I listen. Apparently no I did not. I was warmed up and raring to go about 45 minutes before I had anything to do. Live and learn. So I wandered around and almost walked right past Dane and Jen who were standing right outside the warm up room. Yeah, I'm still the super observant one. Anxious as can be and still almost walked right past my coach. Nice, huh? Neither he nor Jen seemed offended at least and I got more hugs.

On to the meet...or I'll ramble on for days.

Squats were first. The beast was already awake and she was eager to play. She was a little too eager as it turns out: I didn't quite get to full lockout on my first squat. At least I got the proper depth...the lockout problem will be much easier to fix. My second squat was a good lift: YES. Squat 3 was kind of a mess from the start.

I am usually a stickler for being sure the bar is centered (or as close as I can get it) in the rack. I didn't even check that this time and I should have...the bar was in no way centered. I backed out of the rack with it wobbling and got it stable enough to squat, but I shuffled my feet. As soon as I did I knew I'd blown it. I completed the squat and other than that shuffle it was a good squat, but it still didn't count. I am still proud of my squats: 297 pounds is awesome.

On to bench press. I got my first two presses: 165 and 181 felt good. Coach D suggested trying for a new bench PR: 214 pounds. I tried, but still didn't get it. That's okay though: I will have 214 pounds sooner rather than later.

Then it was time for the lift I love most: deadlift. My favorite lift and also the one I have had the most trouble with lately. I am getting better at a complete lockout, but still not perfect. As was in full evidence on Saturday. I got my first deadlift: 369 pounds. Two and three came off the floor very smoothly, but the lockout got me. I'm strong enough to do it, but I need to perfect the lockout.

I didn't set any PRs this weekend. I am proud of what I did though. Not satisfied, but proud. This meet was the biggest one I have ever been a part of. There were two platforms, and many more competitors than I've competed with. I didn't fall apart. I got sick after I ate, but that just seems to be a part of the experience at this point.

I brought home hardware. When I entered the meet I entered the Open division (all ages) and the Masters 1 division (ages 40-49). I took second place in Masters for my weight class and third place in the Open division for my weight class. My total was 848, as I said before no PR's but a total that makes me proud.

It was a wonderful weekend. I missed Hailey, Sylvie, Carole,  Lyndsay, Barry, Pat, Jamie and Gregg, but Eric and Nikki kept me grounded, smiling and laughing. Jackie and Eileen were there as well making me laugh and feel like I belonged. Coach D was his usual calm self and Jen did her best to pump me up. I love these people: I can't thank them enough for giving up their time and their weekend to support my crazy passion. And to Hannah: thank you for talking with me, it made the morning seem so much more normal. You rocked it at this meet and you are so inspiring to me. Also Marianne, who let me borrow her belt: thank you, thank you, thank you.

I've read many times that powerlifting is for the most part a friendly sport and people go out of their way to help each other: I was certainly on the receiving end of that friendliness and helpfulness this weekend and I will endeavor to pay it forward at my next meet and every other chance I get.

Yes, there will definitely be a next meet, and one after that. I love powerlifting. I have found my niche and my purpose. First though there will be a break. Not sure how long a break, but I assure you one that is longer than six weeks. I am tired. I left everything I had to give on the platform Saturday. I don't for one second regret that, but I am actually resting without complaint. I've earned it and I know I need it. Maybe you truly can teach an old dog new tricks. I am sure by Thursday or Friday there will be an itch to get back to Pride, but for the moment I am content to spend time relaxing.





My hardware. Someone pinch me, this doesn't seem real.




Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Fat

"You're beefy, like a weightlifter."

This is a recent comment I received. I believe it was meant as a compliment, the person who said it is a genuinely kind person. It is an odd compliment though. Really odd, like when it was first voiced I had a moment where I felt hurt welling up.

I swallowed it, smiled and explained that I was a powerlifter. Which led into having to explain exactly what a powerlifter was. Which led to talking about my personal records. Then that look, the long slow look up and down that makes me uncomfortably aware that no matter how far I've come on my journey not everyone knows who I used to be. I know at my current weight, I've come a long way...but I'm not done yet. I've heard enough odd compliments to know in most people's eyes I am still fat. Hell, in my own eyes I am still fat.

There's nothing wrong with that, of course. I don't expect everyone to know that I started this journey at 309 pounds. I wouldn't even expect them to care if they did know. I have to do this for myself, if I'm doing it for my amazing circle of friends, my family or anyone else it just won't work. They can't do it for me: they can celebrate the good times and support me through the difficult times, but they can't make it go any faster.

 How I wish sometimes there was a magic pill or a magic wand I could wave to make all the extra weight and loose skin go away. Then I could wake up in the morning, step on my scale and text my coach that I made the weight class we were hoping for. Sadly, no pills or magic wands are available to shorten this journey. Even if they were I'm not sure I'd want one. I don't know where I'm heading and I don't really want to miss a moment of getting there. I've found so many wonderful people along the path I wouldn't want to shorten the journey and maybe miss meeting other awesome people.

You know what at 203 pounds I still have plenty of extra fat to get rid of, but I have come a long way. I don't have any recent pictures of myself, but I have a video taken by my coach last week so I can study my squats. I also have a picture of before...one that makes me cringe each time I see it, but I keep posting it. Someday maybe I'll even be able to report that I don't see that before woman in the mirror any longer.

When I first saw the video I knew it was me, but you can't really see my face. Without seeing my face I could look at the body. Honestly I didn't think I was looking at myself.

Before: 309#



I might not be society's "flavor of the month", but I've come a long way and become someone I am kind of proud of. I have plenty of fat left to lose, but I've no doubt with my coaches and my drive to be better I'll do just that.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, July 31, 2017

A Milestone


When this journey started in January 2012 I thought I'd lose 100 pounds quickly and then everything would be perfect. I was pretty delusional, wasn't I?

It's been five years. Five years of hard work, trying to figure out how to eat and what my niche in the world of fitness was. I figured out my niche in 2016 and I finally hit the 100 pounds lost milestone last week.

There was no fanfare. The morning I found out I had hit one hundred pounds lost I was running late for work so I didn't even email my coach to tell him I'd finally done it. In fact it wasn't until I went on my lunch break and saw a message from him that I even remembered that I had something to tell him. Something he would be excited about, not my usual million questions. He was more excited than me as it turns out. I got an all caps response from him when I told him.

I know it is a huge achievement, something to be super proud of. I am proud, but not "scream it from the rooftops" proud. I've told my family and friends, both my coaches know. I am proud, I've worked hard for this, harder than I ever thought I'd have to work.

So what gives? Why am I not screaming this for everyone to hear?

I spend a great deal of time worrying about other people and their happiness. I seem to have decided that as long as I am taking care of others or doing my best to make them happy I'm focusing on what's important. I've explored this theme before so I won't go over it all again.

I do have one new thing to say: I'm about done with playing nice.  If you are feeling bad about yourself and looking to pick a fight look elsewhere. I can't fix you. I wish I could. Scratch that last sentence, I am not interested in fixing anyone. The only person I can even make an attempt at fixing is myself and that's pretty much a full time job. I can listen to you, I can try to help. I will do those two things, but I can't fix you. Just to be clear: I am NOT a punching bag, nor am I a doormat.

 If you want someone you can mold into the person you want them to be, please keep looking. I am my OWN person. I have my own thoughts, feelings, needs and wants. This. Is. My. Life. I am not trying to tell anyone how they should live their life and I expect the same courtesy. If you think you will be able to dictate to me what I will do, when I will do it, and with whom you need to think again. There are times I am focused on what is going on inside my head and how I am feeling. If you choose to take that as a personal insult that is your right, but don't think I am going to offer you an apology for feeling what I feel.

It. Won't. Happen. Period. End of story.

I have as much right to feel what I feel as you do. Let's just be kind and cut each other some slack.

You should know I'm becoming more cautious about who I allow into my life. As they say with age comes wisdom and I am finally learning that not everyone who smiles at me and/or says kind things is a friend. Many are, but not everyone. This should not be taken to mean that I think I am better than everyone else. I actually don't think I'm better than anyone. I think quite the opposite really. I think everyone is better than me. Right now, as a friend suggested, I am trying to do me. I'm trying to be a somewhat decent person and move forward. If you believe that means I think I am better than everyone else then that would be your right. I wish you well and I will send you on your way. Truly, hate is a waste of time and I'm not wasting any more time.

In powerlifting news, because what else do I talk about? I FINALLY have my head in the game. About time too with only 19 days left until I face the platform again.

For several weeks after Coach D and I decided I was doing another meet I was not an enthusiastic client. I did the work, but there was no joy in it. It showed...my deadlifts were garbage. I don't know how Coach D was feeling, I didn't dare ask, but I was wondering if I really had what it took. After a particularly awful training session I took some time to really think it through.

I decided I love lifting. I absolutely love moving heavy weight and it does not matter one bit how many people are watching me: the moment I step on the platform it is me versus the barbell. Coach D and Coach T can't be there beside me helping me pull, squat or press it. They can want it for me, they can (and definitely do) cheer me on, but they can't do it for me.

Coach T can offer to give up time off to lead me through a mobility workout to help me get ready for my meet. Coach D can spend a HUGE amount of his time training me in my three lifts and helping me with nutrition. He can also be at the meet handling me, helping me warm up and pick my attempts. My friends can come to meets and support me, take video, provide snacks and encourage me at every step. The fact is that at the meet no one can do it for me: it is between the barbell and me.

I am so so excited to have lost 100 pounds. The most exciting thing is that my current deadlift PR of 440# is more than 2 times my body weight. Don't worry, I plan to train for a triple body weight deadlift next. I don't believe I should rest on what I've done in the past. I want to push further and see what I can do to be better. I can always be better.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Three Choices

Right now I am in the midst of training for the biggest meet of my fledgling powerlifting career. The USA Powerlifting Northeast Regional Meet on August 19-20 in Marlborough, MA. Yes, I remember saying after the Vermont Championships there would be a rest. My coach and I both said it.

Then the invitation came, then Coach D decided it would be good for me to have another meet under my belt before a national competition. So here I am about 4 weeks out wondering what the hell I was thinking. On August 20 I will have competed in 6 meets total...half of them between April and August 2017.

I honestly don't care if I get an invitation for a meet someone else will pay for me to enter: I'm taking a break after this. If you are reading this Coach D: I need a break...no more meets for awhile. Let's focus on nutrition. Yes, I know I am going to deeply regret saying that, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there. Right now I just want assurances after I step off the platform following my third deadlift on August 19 I will be looking at some serious rest time. Not sure about a week off from the gym...there may be some negotiation about that (negotiation=whining on my part), but no meets on the horizon would be great.

I am a bundle of nerves right now. I cry at the drop of a hat...and I snap just as easily. Add to that Coach D and I are trying to get my weight down, not so I can enter a lower weight class (185 pounds isn't happening in 4 weeks), but so I can improve my Wilks Score.  The Wilks Score is calculated using the Wilks Formula (or if you're me by going to a website where I can just plug in my weight and 3-lift total and get the score).

If you care at all, this is what Google has to say about the Wilks Formula:
The Wilks Coefficient or Wilks Formula is a coefficient that can be used to measure the strength of a powerlifter against other powerlifters despite the different weights of the lifters. Robert Wilks, CEO of Powerlifting Australia, is the author of the formula. Now you know...I am sure your life has been improved immensely. Yeah sure...

Why do I care about my Wilks Score? I'm not really sure I do...except that if my Wilks Score is good enough I could be invited to apply to compete in The Arnold USAPL Raw Challenge. The score criteria right now is 405 for women. Of course I would also need a 2017 national meet under my belt too. We'll see...It's a dream.  For someone who knew nothing about powerlifting until September 2015 this has all been a whirlwind.

A friend recently told me I should keep my heart open to everything that's going on. She's probably right, she's a pretty wise person, but at the moment I find being open a little too scary for comfort. Yes, yes, I'm the one who goes on about comfort zones and how I won't grow if I don't leave mine, but sometimes I just need to learn to shut up!

So I've come across three choices I like for people in my life.
1. Motivate me.
2. Support me.
3. Get out of my way. (There are more colorful versions of option 3 online...but this one gets the point across just as well)

No harm, no foul if you choose option 3. If you choose one or two that's great. I will try to be supportive and do my best to motivate others, but it's probably more realistic for me to strive not to burst into tears and snap someone's head off right now. Not that I'm a complete raving basket case, but check back as August 19 approaches. It could be entertaining if you keep your distance.

I actually think I might adopt those three choices at all times in my life. If you want a place in my circle that's fine, but you don't get to tell me how to live MY life. Nor will I accept spewing venom and insecurities all over me. If I am uncomfortable in a situation and quieter than you like I am so sorry, but I am ALLOWED to feel the way I feel. If that is unacceptable to you don't waste your time.

The only person I can be is ME. I know I won't be enough for everyone. I know not everyone will like me. That is okay. I can accept that.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Strength and Pride

I have addressed both topics in the title in previous blog posts. I wasn't planning on writing this post, I already posted once this week, but this one keeps weighing on me, popping into my mind when I should be focused on other things and pushing its way into every conversation I've had to the point where I have wondered several times when it was going to pop out of my mouth.

As I mentioned before I am no longer a teacher. I don't regret the loss of that career, in fact if I am honest, it is a complete relief. The reason I am no longer a teacher horrifies me. That is not the person I am, nor the person I want to be.

The fact is though: I AM HUMAN. I MAKE MISTAKES. I MADE A HORRIBLE MISTAKE I CAN NEVER TAKE BACK.

I made a mistake, I am doing what is required to move forward with my life.

There are people who have stood by me, supporting me, continuing to care about me and include me in their lives. I love and appreciate those people more than I can express. They know I screwed up, they don't condone what I did, but they recognize that people make horrible mistakes. I did. These people are the best people I have ever met, far better than I deserve. I am fiercely loyal and I will stand by any of them at any time. I am there for them as they have been there for me.

There are also people who offered their support and then for whatever reason decided they could not be supportive. I'm not going to sugarcoat it: that hurt. It hurt quite a lot. I understood, I don't support myself so why would anyone else support me? I am not angry, I don't hate those people, but let me be crystal clear: those people will never have a place in my life again. I wish them well, but they will never be welcome to be a part of my life.  I want to be a kind person, but being kind is not the same as being a doormat. Be well if you chose to walk away, but don't think the doors that were closed will ever be opened again. Those people fulfilled their part in my journey and they've moved on now. I hope the road in front of them is smooth.

I also made the decision for some people by stepping away from them. Whether I was right or wrong there were some people I decided it would be better and easier if I stepped away from. Not that I thought they wouldn't be supportive. I have no idea if they would have been or not. With some people it just seemed like it would be better for them if I wasn't a factor. As I said I might have been wrong and if I was I apologize. Remember, I'm human and mistakes are a part of life.

Why call this post "Strength and Pride"?

My first, smart ass answer is "Why Not?" My more thoughtful answer is that I have learned in the past few months just how much strength I have and that despite being human and capable of awful mistakes there are things I can still be proud of.

My happy place, Pride Fitness Performance, has been my lifeline. On days I couldn't figure out why I should drag myself one more step my happy place was there. My coaches and friends were there encouraging me, reminding me to keep going. I owe them. I owe them everything.

I can't say my training in the last few months has been stellar. There have been wonderful days when I've had my head in the game and performed well. Then there have been the other days when I can barely get out of my own way and the barbell is not a familiar comfort, but a horrible enemy. I'm not going to make excuses or whine about what happened, the important part is I had coaches who reminded me to hold on, to keep working and when all else failed they reminded me to breathe because I could control that.

My strength is not just about squats, bench presses and deadlifts. It is not my 991.1 pound three lift total. It is not the three trophies and the gold medal on a shelf at Pride. It's not a gold star with my name on the floor or pictures on a wall. My strength is just as much about those days when getting out of bed or eating were struggles. It is about doing my best and giving my best to everything I do. It is being honest and open when it would be easy to sit back and be silent. It is not hating the people who said horrible things or walked away.  It is believing, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, that this too shall pass and everything happens for a reason.

Strength isn't just physical. I know I've said that many times before. Strength is mental and emotional as well. There are even times that strength is being real enough to cry when you achieve a goal you didn't think you could. Strength is also letting people know when they've done something that has touched your heart, even if they might accuse you of  "going soft" on them.

I am not in any way proud of what I did. I am horrified, sick and disgusted by it.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I am proud that I took responsibility. I am proud that I have moved on and am doing what I need to do. I am proud that I haven't given up on my training or my life, crawled into a hole and closed it after me. As I said, maybe I'm wrong, but I am proud.

Not much fitness related in this post, not physical fitness at least. Plenty of mental fitness though.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

My Happy Place

The Pride Training Zone: I love this logo. Seeing it reminds me I am home.

My favorite place of the Pride Fitness Performance Center: The Asylum. So many squats, deadlifts and bench presses have happened in this space. 


The two pictures above are from the place I go five out of seven days per week. This is the place I go to work on becoming stronger and more well-rounded. The place where, most of the time, I feel competent and accomplished. The place where even when I don't feel accomplished and competent it is okay. As long as I learn something I have not failed, as a very wise man told me recently. He's also told me, more times than I can count, that I will miss 100% of the shots I don't take.

Pride Fitness Performance is my happy place. Just about every check in I write includes the hashtag #lovemyhappyplace. Recently in Yoga Corr Coach Tyler told us to picture our happy place during meditation and joked that some of us might already be in our happy place. I can't speak for anyone else but I know I was.

It's hard to believe that Pride only came into being about three years ago. Even harder to believe that it's only been about three and a half years that I have known Pride's owner. Coach Tyler is simply amazing. As an athlete he is one of my heroes and as a person there is no one I would rather have in my corner. When the going is tough he is calm, steady and supportive. When things go well he is just as excited as I am. I don't have the opportunity to train with him as often as I used to. I certainly treasure the times I train with him or the times I get to work out with him. I don't trust easily, but I can say without reservation that I trust Coach T one hundred percent.

There was a moment when I wondered if my trust in Coach T was a misjudgment on my part. That was when he introduced us to Dane Martin, Coach D. Coach D is a lot like me: quiet. He's there to get the work done. Don't get me wrong, he can chat, he is friendly, but those traits aren't obvious when you first meet him. My first impression of him was "I don't like him". Even though one of the first things I heard him say about me was to tell Coach T I had good form on my TRX rows. I didn't want him in my space.

It wasn't until the second Pride games that I began to think I had probably misjudged him and whether or not I wanted him to have a place in my training. He encouraged me during the Tractor Tire Deadlift event and helped me PR. Then he asked me if I'd ever considered powerlifting. I had no idea what it was at that time and just smiled and didn't think any more about it. You all know how that turned out.

I know Coach T recognized my strengths and skills and looking back I can't thank him enough for bringing Coach D to Pride. It was slow and gradual, but I started working with Coach D more and more. I have learned to trust him completely as well. He has earned my trust and respect in spades. He has stood with me at three powerlifting meets: coaching me and handling my nerves with calmness and the perfect words at the right time "Lift the shit out of that bar" is one of my favorite phrases. He tells me he is proud to be my coach, even when I don't do as well as we both know I could. For the two meets I have been in that he was unable to attend he was a text away and he answered me no matter how crazed I was.

Pride Fitness Performance is my happy place. More than that it is a safe place. The place I can walk in as I am and know if I put in the effort I am going to walk out better. I will not be perfect, that is never the expectation. The expectation from both coaches is that we do our best.  Coach T created and with the help of Coach D maintains this safe place.

I have cried at Pride and I have been angry. I have also been strong and though I still don't see it I have heard I have been inspirational. There are times I have walked in there afraid, defeated, unsure and positive things will never be okay again, but during the hour I am in the building I am able to put everything else aside. I may not be a rock star in every workout, but I get something out of every workout. I have learned that if I trust the coaches I will find I do have something to give no matter what we are working on.

Coach Dane words can't express how thankful I am for you. You push me, encourage me and support me. When you tell me you are in my corner I know you mean it. You're as committed to my crazy dream as I am (I should be thanking Jen too: she's been at as many meets as you have). You don't hesitate to tell me you are proud of me. You are one of the greatest men I know and one of my heroes. I don't want to get too soft on you, so I'll stop gushing now.

Thank you Coach Tyler for believing in me and making me promise you I would always be honest with you. Thank you for your support and enthusiasm as I pursue my passion and chase dreams. Your kindness, expertise and time are so appreciated. I could never list all you've taught me in the time we've known each other. You are one of my heroes and definitely one of the greatest men I know.

As the third anniversary of Pride gets closer I just had to gush and get sappy about this amazing facility. Wish I had remembered to get a picture of the Lion's Den while I was snapping the pics of the Pride Training Zone and The Asylum. Next time. Better yet, if you're reading this and you don't attend Pride, come check it out.

I'll leave you with a picture taken on Tuesday by my absolute favorite guy with my heroes. Thanks Eric Hastings.

Coach D, Coach T and me in the middle. Awesome coaches and my heroes.

Thank you for reading!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

991.1

Yesterday I stepped out of my comfort zone again and competed in another powerlifting meet. The USAPL VT State Championship was my fifth meet overall and my second meet with USAPL. I must be a pro at this now right? HA! Nope, I was as nervous as I was my very first time. I ate breakfast and within an hour and half wished I hadn't.

I love lifting. I truly do. I would be happier doing it without a crowd, but deep down I enjoy the crowd too. The energy from the crowd and the adrenaline rush push me to dig deep and be better than I believe possible.

After my meet on April 29, my goal for this meet was to nail my squats. I wanted 3 perfect squats, or at least as close to perfect as I could make them. I wanted to get below parallel, not rush the lift and see three white lights when I was done. I also wanted to set a new PR, but I was prepared to be very conservative if I needed to be in order to go 3/3 on my squats. My first squat I got under the bar, reminded myself not to rush it and stood. That first instant when the weight settles on me I always have a split second of panic. I've gotten good at squashing it quickly. There is nothing to be gained from thinking "This is so heavy. I'm going to get stuck." There were 3 spotters, they were going to do their job and be sure I didn't get in trouble. So I ignored that panicky little voice and stepped out of the rack. The judge in front of me reminded me to lock my knees, waited a second and gave the start command. My first squat (292.2 lbs) was a success. I got low, I came out of the hole well and I waited for the rack command. Three white lights, one lift down, two more to go.

My second squat was 319 pounds, approaching my 335 PR, but still conservative. I got under the bar in the rack and there was that moment of panic as I lifted it and let it settle on me. I stepped out, settled myself and waited. When I went down I reminded myself to wait a second or 2 so the judges had time to see that I was below parallel. I do realize they probably know as soon as I get to the bottom of my squat, but I tend to rush, so I am better off giving it a second or 2 just to be positive. Then I came up. My friends say I never stopped, I watched the video and I don't stop, but I swear it seemed like that bar stopped dead as I was coming out of the hole. I waited for the rack command and racked it, but I felt rattled. I got three white lights on that squat too: Yay!

I think part of the way I was feeling was knowing I was going to attempt a PR for my third squat. PRs always make me feel anxious. Coach D has told me more than one time that if I'm not anxious before a PR, I should go heavier. At the table I decided on 341 pounds. I considered trying for the next step up, 347 pounds, but decided a 6 pound PR was enough. Then I waited, watching the other women squat their third attempts. As I sat my heart rate ramped up. I finally took off my fitbit, because feeling my heart picking up its pace was enough: I didn't need to see how much it was creeping up as I waited for my turn. I was beyond anxious by the time it was my turn, I was flat out scared.

My third squat looks good on video, I'd have to agree with my friends who said it looked easy. It felt anything but. In fact as soon as I was done I started crying. I cried on Hailey, I cried on Eric, I cried on Jackie. Seriously...I was a mess there for a few minutes. I did what I wanted and needed to do: I went 3/3 on my squats.

Next was the bench press. I'm learning to like this lift, but it is by far my weakest lift. I need to work on strengthening my shoulders so I can widen my grip on the bar when I bench. I was the woman with the closest grip and everyone I spoke with yesterday told me it was easier to bench with a wider grip I wouldn't have to press as far. I need to work on that! My first attempt was 176 pounds and I had a good lift. My stand-in coach Gregg urged me to go for it with attempts 2 and 3. 176 felt good so I decided to try 203.9 pounds for my second attempt, and, as it turns out, my third attempt. My third attempt I was at least able to press 203.9.  I got it up, but it was NOT pretty...it was a mess and it was a no lift. My right shoulder was complaining loudly about the treatment I'd given it on my second attempt and even with a slightly wider grip for attempt three it was one achy, sore joint.

Usually when my lifts don't go as I want I resort to sniping at myself and being as nasty as possible. Conversations with Nikki and Hailey had a huge impact on my feelings about what happened with my Bench Press. They both reminded me that when you start anything your gains come easier and faster. The point I am at now I will make gains, but they aren't likely to be as fast as before. Now I will have to work on technique, on knowing my body and figuring out how to use what I know about how my body works best and the USAPL rules to be as successful as possible. Good thing Coach D will be around to guide me and train me. Left to my own devices it might not be a good outcome.

So even though I went 1/3 on my bench press I was proud. I did my best, there is nothing more I could have done.

On to the deadlift, my favorite lift and the one that was the hardest for me on April 29. I made my first deadlift of 385 pounds. Attempts 2 and 3 were 440 pounds. If I had it to do again I would have reined myself in on attempt 2 to add more pounds to my total with a number I know for sure I could have pulled. 420 or 425 would have been fine, but I got it in my head I wanted 440.9. Turns out it was too much of a jump and my second attempt was not pretty, in fact it was downright ugly. Attempt 3 was a little better, but still a "no lift"

Making 1/3 deadlifts wasn't my favorite part of the day, but I gave everything I had to give. I've never really understood what people mean when they say they "left it all on the platform". After yesterday I get it. I had nothing left when I was done. It was all I could do to string words together in a somewhat coherent fashion. Mostly I sat, I watched the men deadlift, cheered, clapped and thought over my day. I didn't get to a 1000 pound three lift total yesterday. I thought that would bother me, it truly didn't.

I've thought a lot about that. I think part of it is I know there was nothing more I could have done. I gave my all on that platform.

I brought home hardware too. A gold medal for my weight class (84kg+ if you care about that). That medal will likely be going to join my other hardware at my happy place, Pride Fitness Performance. I enjoy the hardware, but it's not my primary motivation. I love to lift, I would do it for the sheer pleasure of moving the barbell. I'm happy with a fist bump and the words "good work" when I'm done. When I get a shoulder squeeze or a hug I am over the moon. My medal is cool, it was hard-won, but the kind words from friends and fellow competitors meant even more.

After awards it was time for food and the celebratory tequila shot. Eric, Hailey and Sylvie joined me in a tequila shot and Nikki joined us with a Fireball shot. Have I mentioned that I LOVE these people??

My friends are the best. They travel with me, don't get too flustered or upset when I get moody and snap before a meet. They encourage me and give plenty of hugs and atta girls throughout the meet to keep me going and focused.

So what is my new PR total? And my meet total for that matter?

Thanks to my amazing friend Nikki I have a nifty spreadsheet with my lift attempts, my meet total and my PR total. She was also in charge of snacks and she is BEYOND phenomenal. I didn't eat much, a handful of grapes and a couple of  M 'n M's and some peanut butter crackers, but there was a ton of food had I been so inclined.

Back from the tangent now.

My current PR total is 991.1 pounds (8.9 pounds to get to 1000 pounds. I will get there.)
My meet total was 903.9 pounds

There will be another meet sometime in 2017. Not anytime soon, I had seven weeks between the NH State Championship and the VT State Championship. Coach D did an amazing job getting me ready, but it's time to rest now. The work won't stop, I know Coach D too well to think it will, but I suspect the intensity might lessen a bit to give my body time to recover. Then it will be back to the drawing board, preparing me physically and mentally for the next challenge.

I am proud of what I accomplished yesterday. I was able to be successful without my coaches there. I know I want them there for the comfort factor, but I can do it without them. I am not their only client and there are times I feel I demand the lion's share of their attention. As long as my friends are there I will be fine. I am still not comfortable with the idea of "Team Kim", or even "Team Pride" for that matter, but I accept it.

I love these people. Thank you Sylvie, Hailey, Nikki, Eric, Kaitlyn, Carole, Jamie and Gregg for the support. Missing are Norm, Jackie, Eileen and Dan, but they deserve just as many thanks. I am blessed.
Thanks for reading!