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!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Big Bad

It's been a long time, just about three months in fact. I wasn't at all sure that I would ever come back to this blog. I couldn't imagine I would ever want to write again, or that I would have anything I felt I could write about.

I've learned that life moves forward. No matter how improbable it seems life doesn't stop, it continues to move forward even when you're positive your life is over.

I'm not getting into what's gone on since the last time I posted. It is over, it is done. There is nothing to do, but continue to move forward. I have learned so much, almost none of it pleasant. There have been positives: I learned whom I can truly trust and count on in my life. I'm not angry about those that decided they couldn't be a part of my journey any longer. They fulfilled their purpose in my life and it was time for them to move on with the rest of their journey. I wish them all the best and thank them for the lessons they taught me and the time they spent with me.

I find myself at the moment with a job, but without a career. I thought that would hurt, that it would bother me. The truth is that it is a relief. There was a time the career I chose was my passion and I believed I was making a difference. Perhaps I did, but in more recent years I was going through the motions, doing what I had to do and collecting a pay check. I am not that person, not when the job I was doing for the pay check was so important.

To those that have stood by me: thank you. I can never repay your kindness or support. I will try to do so, but I know anything I can do is nothing compared to what you've done. For the outings, the hugs, the messages and emails: thank you so much. I am forever indebted to you

Enough about that. As I said earlier I am not getting into it. Nothing good would come from it. A friend suggested that someday I should write about it. I think not. Some things don't need to be written about. nor should they be. This would be one of them.

My passion is fitness, specifically powerlifting. My job is just that: a job. Don't get me wrong, I do my best and I give all I have for the time I am there, but when I walk away it is over and I don't think about it until I walk back in for my next shift. Call me crazy and turn up your nose, but I find more satisfaction in this job than I did in the last three years of my career. So sad to think of the time wasted, but life moves on and I'm not dwelling on the past. I've learned the lessons and I have to keep moving forward. Even when I'd rather dig a deep hole, crawl in and pull a nice boulder over me.

Since I last wrote my workouts have come to mean even more. I can finally give all of my energy to them. I'm not sure I'm lighting the world on fire as a powerlifter, but Coach D usually gives me fist bumps when I'm done training with him, so I must be doing something right. Okay, so I ask for most of those fist bumps, but he gives me one and most times tells me "good work". I have to believe that means I've done well.

I competed in my first meet with USAPL on April 29. It was a learning experience from start to finish. I was competing without my coach being there. I had plenty of support, but for the first time, no Coach D to handle me. My dear, sweet, amazing friend Hailey stood in as my coach that day. She did a wonderful job, but I know I didn't make it easy. I was nervous and on edge. As a result I made 3 of my 9 lifts. The worst for me was failing all of my deadlifts.

As you know, the deadlift is my favorite lift. Usually my best lift too. Not this meet. When the meet was over, Hailey and I asked a judge about why my first two attempts got two "red lights" (meaning I failed them).  I knew full well why I failed my last deadlift, my grip gave and I dropped the bar (UGH!!) Anyhow, the judge told us that I was obviously strong, that it was a pleasure to watch me lift, but my knees stayed "soft".  I relayed that to Coach D and since that moment I've been researching and practicing. I've watched countless videos of other deadlifts and I think I understand. My pulls were good, I got to lockout, but I wasn't pressing down through my heels. You can bet that every time I pull now I am practicing that.

Good thing too. Normally I compete and have 6 months or so to train for the next one. This time about two weeks after my meet I got an email: there was a USAPL meet coming up in Vermont on June 17. A meet? In Vermont? Hells to the yeah.

Then I ran it by Coach D: he wouldn't be able to attend. At that moment I decided I wouldn't do it. Besides it was 6 weeks away...I didn't think there was any way I could be ready again.

Then I remembered what Nikki told me. Basically she told me on April 29 after I said I would never compete without a coach present again that I should never let my decisions about what to do hinge on who could or could not be there. I thought about those words, then I talked with Coach D more. I asked if I could be ready and if he thought it was wise. He said if I wanted to do it we could make sure I was ready and that we would talk more about it when we trained next.

The conversation was simple and pretty brief. He asked me what I was thinking, I said I was scared. He smiled and said "Then you know what you need to do". There are times I really love my coach, that wasn't necessarily one of them. Even though he was spot on. I hate things that scare me and I feel duty bound to face my fears. I need to get over that!

So here I am, one week out and prepping physically and mentally for the USAPL Vermont State Championships. I will go, I will have plenty of support and I will do the best I can do. I have hopes for the outcome, but in the end as long as I have done my best I will strive to be proud of what I did.

I'll write after the meet.

Thanks for reading!

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.
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Thanks for reading!