Sunday, March 11, 2018


Training continues for my next meet, The USA Powerlifting New Hampshire State Championships. I am about 7 weeks out and working on perfecting my technique and form. I'm even beginning to tackle my mental strength. I'm not expecting that to be smooth going, but it's time. I know what to do when I face a loaded barbell...time to figure out what to do when the going gets tough and all I want to do is attack myself.

My habit and, let's be completely honest here, my preference is to look to my coach for reassurance that I'm doing a good job. Then there comes that day when the coach you look to asks a hard question. Okay, in the case of a certain coach he asks many hard questions. At first I didn't know how to handle this way of coaching. I got upset, I got angry, I seriously considered walking away. Several times I let myself get so upset I cried most of my drive home. I felt like I couldn't do anything right. Obviously I didn't walk away. Mostly I was hoping if I worked hard enough, if I "tried" hard enough this coach would see something good in what I did.

I talked to many friends I rely on for their honest advice and objective assessment of situations. I might well be oversensitive and prone to over reacting, but I have the sense to talk to friends and listen to them. They suggested that perhaps this coach was not picking on me, that he was trying to make me better. It was brought to my attention that not every coach had the same style even though thus far I'd worked with coaches who had similar styles. I was urged to give this new person a chance.

I was also urged to talk to this person, tell him how I was feeling. I opted not to do that, because to counter my tendency to be over-sensitive I was able to recognize that much of the reason I was so upset had nothing to do with this person. I was being completely unfair and childish because I was dealing with change I didn't want. It's good to know that despite being childish and ridiculous a lot of the time I am able to recognize those qualities in myself and I try to keep some of the crazy under wraps.

I'd love to tell you that everything is sunshine and roses now, but that's not reality. I accept and respect the expertise this coach brings and I listen carefully. Do I still get irritated? Um, yep. I'm still me, but when I think of stepping onto the platform on April 28 I squash the irritation and do better. Not perfect, that's not going to happen, but I am working for excellence. I am working to be sure I will step on that platform ready to pick up heavy things and put them down. Ready to be the best athlete I can be on that day at that time. Ready to focus and concentrate on the task at hand no matter what is going on around me.

The question that prompted this post revolved around motivation and where does my motivation come from. Friday night, working on deadlifts during Flex Friday and I had been reminded to go faster after my first rep. I did as instructed and the second rep was better. I made a comment about wanting this person to be at class on Wednesday to watch me squat. He asked if I needed him there to motivate me. As soon as he asked me that I felt defensive. I don't even think I answered him.

The right answer is "No, I don't need you to motivate me".

The true answer is "Sometimes yeah, I want someone else to motivate me".

I thought about that exchange obsessively. I rely heavily on the people I trust. I don't think that's a problem as long as I look to them for support. When I start looking to them because I don't think I can do something on my own then it becomes a problem. Asking for support is fine and healthy. Abdicating responsibility for my decisions because I don't trust myself isn't okay at all. This is MY can I possibly live it if I'm afraid to do what I need to do to keep myself going.

This is something I'm going to need to work on, something I won't be able to fix overnight. I will make small steps forward and probably giant steps back. I will always want to look to someone for reassurance that I'm doing well. I am going to look within as often as I can to know I am doing the best I can do. My friends and coaches can support me, but they can't do any of this for me. The doing comes from me. The motivation to do what I do has to come from me.

I took a baby step on Friday night while deadlifting 370 pounds.

The plan was for us to 3 sets of 2 reps at 90% of our 1 rep max. Well, 90% of 410 pounds is about 370 pounds. The first set felt like garbage and I considered just calling it and not doing anymore. The coach approached and gave me some corrections, reminding me to bring my hips through at the top. He told me I was tired and I earned that, but not to sell myself short. Then he went back to the other room and helped with the work going on there. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he was back when I started set two. When I finished my two reps I looked to him, hoping for a thumb's up or some sign I'd done it right. I got nothing, he just went back to the other room. At first I was hurt and angry...then I realized that the silence probably meant I'd done what I needed to do to correct the problem. In this case silence was a good thing. I thought through what I needed to do for my third and final set and waited for my partner to finish his set. Then I chalked up, tightened my belt and stepped to the bar. I ran through all my cues and put my hands on the bar. I saw that the coach was back, watching, then I blocked that out and pulled the bar.

I finished my two reps and though every part of me wanted to turn and ask him if I'd done well I didn't. I felt I'd done well and there was no comment so I assumed I was correct. It is NOT that I don't value this coach's input, but he wasn't offering any and he had his reasons for that. I decided to rely on myself.

Maybe it doesn't seem like any big deal that I didn't look for affirmation after my final set, but it felt monumental. I don't consider myself an expert on powerlifting: I'm a beginner. What I do know is how I lift and I aim to do everything I can to improve every aspect of that.

Whatever it takes.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Whatever It Takes

It's been an interesting couple of months. 2018 is shaping up to be different from 2017, I'll give it that.

Training continues for the USA Powerlifting New Hampshire State Championships. It will be my fourth time on the platform with this federation. I commented recently that I didn't want to go there to fail. Someone with more experience than me said my mindset should be that I plan to win.

As I move further along in this journey I discover more about myself. I have discovered I am afraid. Not just of the unknown, but afraid of the weight I squat, push and pull. Mostly the weight I squat gives me pause at the moment. Something about having 355 pounds across my back, feeling the knurling on the bar pressing into my shoulders and my palms. That feeling when I unrack and that weight presses into me. Feeling my heart pick up its pace, finding that place where the knowledge that I can do this resides. Once I find that place the weight is still heavy, but it is not heavier than my determination to bring it back up. I have spotters, I am as safe as it is possible to be.

I am at a stage in this journey where I am no longer a rank beginner. The PRs don't come as quickly or as easily. Training now is about refining my technique, developing strength and speed so I can move more weight. It is also the time when I have to decide how committed I am to this.

I like to say I'm trying, it might be my favorite phrase in fact. A conversation with the same person who told me  I should plan to win helped me see that trying is okay, but it's finite and dependent on many other factors like my stress level, my mood, how tired, hungry, bitchy I'm feeling on any given day. I could move up that ladder a little bit and be in the "whatever, unless..." phase where I'm committed to the process and achieving my goals unless something comes up.

That just doesn't feel like me. Powerlifting is my passion. It thrills me, scares me and challenges me all at the same time. It has reshaped the way I feel about myself and my body. I don't want to be committed to this unless. I want the next level. I want to be committed no matter what it takes.

It's hard realizing that no one can do this for me. Others can provide the training and support, but it rests solely with me to do the work. I'm also discovering that I can't do this for anyone else. To achieve my goals and go as far as I can in powerlifting I have to do this for me. I have to put in the work, bring my best effort to every workout, but not because it is what my coaches want. I have to do what I do because it is what I want.

As most of you know I am a people pleaser: I love fist bumps, high fives, atta girls, and hugs. There is nothing wrong with any of those things and there is nothing wrong with me enjoying them. But moving further on this powerlifting journey means I must put in the work and effort whether the affirmation comes or not. I will always appreciate support and I will get sappy and express that appreciation, it's just who I am.

Whatever it takes means I am going to do the work no matter what. If I am alone, if I am tired, if I am stressed, no matter what I will give my best to each session. I will appreciate the coaching and the support and make the most of them.

I intend to be the best powerlifter it is possible for me to be, not because I need any hardware or I need to be at a certain place on a list, but because I have discovered something that I love to do. The platform fascinates me as much as it terrifies me. Someday I would like to be a judge, but for now I intend on facing as many loaded barbells as I can and refining my technique. I will hone the anxiety and nerves to work for me instead of against me.

This is my journey...whatever it takes.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Being Visible

Sounds like a stupid title, right? Yeah, I think it does too, but bear with me. I might actually be able to pull it off.

I know we're all visible. Much as I think I would like to be invisible I am not. Any chance I had at invisibility ended when I was voted as one of the Biggest Mooser finalists in January 2012.  Recently I've found my niche in fitness and I don't even really want to be invisible anymore. Not in the gym. At least most of the time. Like every other human I am not that simple. I want to stand out, but I want it on my terms.

Sometimes I want to be right out there letting everyone (coaches included) see what I can do. Then there are the other times. The times I feel exposed enough in every other way and I just want to be in the gym doing what I do with no attention at all.

Last week was one of those weeks for me. It's not easy to escape notice in personal training when it's you one on one with a coach. I was okay with that, even being noticed during buddy training was okay. Muscle Hour classes were different. I wanted to blend in, to escape notice and just work on what I do while everyone else worked on their own thing.

Monday was the bench press and that was okay. I got some notice, but nothing uncomfortable. I was pressing 80% of my max and it was going well. No pain from my right shoulder, my form felt good. My feet stayed planted on the floor and my butt was on the bench. At my USAPL meets when they go over the rules they always say that the bench is the most technical lift. True enough, but that's not the one that gives me fits. I am content to wait for the head judge to give the cues, though sometimes that pause at the bottom makes me want to poke them with a very sharp stick.

Wednesday night was squats. At 80% of my current max (355#). The weight I was squatting was a bit more than 80%, because there was no way to load the bar to 284#. So 285# it was. I was nervous, I usually have a spotter for anything over 275#, but it's a big class and there isn't anyone else there who squats what I do so I didn't have a partner to spot me. Coach Brandon spotted me as often as he was able, but the rest of the class needed his support and help too. Coach Brad spotted me a couple of times I think, not really sure I was focused on moving the weight. One thing I know for sure Coach Brad was watching me. Closely it seems. I swear after every rep I heard "Move faster".

I am not whining, at least not much. I am not complaining. I WANT to learn from those who know powerlifting. Hell, I want to learn from ANYONE willing to take the time to work with me. I wanted to be "coachable". I wanted to move faster. I wanted to rocket out of the bottom of that squat and get a "yeah, like that" or something. Anything.

I don't think I completely sucked, but I wasn't quite getting it. It bothered me. It makes me look like a baby, but my performance bothered me to the point that I sat in my car in the parking lot for a few minutes crying before I drove home. When I got home I snuggled the boxer and consoled myself with the idea that at least I was able to come up out of the bottom of the squat.

The next night I was looking at my stats in the USAPL lifter's database. Sometimes you need to look at what you've done to renew your faith in what you can do. I saw the Vermont State Records that I knew about, even printed a couple of the certificates out as a reminder. Then I found one I didn't know about.


I didn't enter the Northeast Regional Championships planning on setting any records at all. My goal was only to go and do my best to see how I measured up to other women powerlifters in the Northeast. I did those things and I set a National Record. That made me feel better. I had some reassurance that I have some potential.

Friday night was Flex Friday and work on deadlifts. Deadlifts are hand's down my favorite lifts, and the one I struggle with the most. Getting to lockout, not hitching, not having "soft knees" eludes me much of the time when I am on the platform. Friday night was 80% of our max again (325# for me). I was focused on pulling smoothly and I heard it "Faster Kimbo".  Oh, lord: not now. I tried going faster, I may have gone fractionally faster, but I still heard "Faster". I will work on being faster. I will get faster, but as with most things in my life: I want it NOW.  Yeah, there were tears on Friday too. Frustrated tears on the drive home.

Let's be clear here. I didn't quit. I have NO intention of quitting. I am struggling with people pleasing again. One coach says faster and I want to go faster with every fiber of my being. Another tells me not to rush my squats and I want to slow down. I do know the reminders not to rush when I squat refer only to my descent. When I get nervous or afraid of the weight I'm moving I rush the squat to get it over sooner. I am learning to master the fear on the descent and now I need to add to that exploding out of the hole with as much speed as I can. I have to believe the thick thighs I have are good for something. In my deadlift I somehow mixed up a smooth pull with a slow pull.  Steady and smooth are good, slow not so much.

I have until April 28 when I step onto my next platform to learn and hone my technique. I am going back to the same venue to show myself I have improved as an athlete from one year ago. There's a chance I'll set new records, or new PRs. I may bring home hardware, but that's not why I'm going.

I am going because I love lifting. I am going because as terrifying as I find stepping on the platform it is also addicting. Thanks to poor eyesight the audience is a blur to me, but I see that barbell clearly. For the minute I am given to start my lift the only thing I know is the iron in front of me. When it is over I look for the lights and my friends, but in that minute it is me doing what I love.

I found my passion. I found my niche. I found the reason I am willing to overcome my shyness and desire not to stand out. I have been given an amazing opportunity, one I don't intend to waste or squander. I am a powerlifter. I am an athlete. I. Am. Enough.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 29, 2018


I am a creature of routine. I am capable of being spontaneous, and I love to have fun, but for the most part I enjoy my routine. The familiar is safe and comfortable. I don't think I'm at all unique in that way.

Last week I turned my routine on its head. One of my dearest friends moved across the country in August to be with her love and other friends planned a trip to visit her for a long weekend. Long story short, through an amazingly generous gift I was able to go along. As excited as I was to be going I was equally anxious.

Anxious? What kind of crazy am I? Trust me, I ask that question all the time and countless times before the trip. I was going with 4 of the best friends anyone could be blessed with to see another of the best friends in the world. I have flown before, I know what to do. There was a fitness center on the other end of the journey so although my workouts wouldn't be exactly the same there would be workouts.

So why the anxiety? The unknown. I've never been a fan of the unknown, but even less so recently.

So the night we were to leave arrived. I was packed and ready. I said good bye to my mom, to Abbey and the cats. Then I cried most of the way to our meeting place. I was feeling super anxious and using some techniques I learned last year I analyzed it.

The anxiety stemmed from how I feel about myself to this day. I don't feel I'm a good person, I project that onto other people and assume they don't think I'm a good person either. I couldn't believe the 4 women I was traveling with or the 3 people on the other end of this trip thought I was a good person either. NONE of them have ever given me a reason to feel that way, my feelings were my own and not based in reality in any way. Unfortunately knowing that doesn't turn off the crazy.

I was asked a couple of times what was wrong and told I looked worried. I could have talked with the person who asked me about my feelings, instead I took it as a sign it was time to put on the mask and bury those feelings deeper.

I knew I was feeling afraid, out of my routine, but I didn't quite know what to do to fix that until Friday morning. Two of my friends were doing a Pilates video while I worked on lat pull downs, RDLs and goblet squats, but I was listening. The instructor in the video did some affirmations during the video and one of them was "I am safe". Some of the things the instructor said sounded silly and we all giggled about them, but "I am safe" resonated with me. I was safe because I was surrounded by people who cared about me. I am safe because I am strong: physically and mentally. It didn't turn the anxiety off, but it lessened it to a manageable level.

I had the best time, I really did. There is nothing like time with people who know you, accept you,  encourage you and love you to recharge your batteries. I had an opportunity to talk with the friend who moved about how things are going currently and how I am feeling while we were getting pedicures. Even though she has her own stuff going on, she was genuinely interested and curious about me. She was also open and honest about her own struggles. I have always learned so much from this woman: she cares deeply about others and she is honest with how she is feeling. I care about others, but I tend to clam up about myself. "I'm fine" is pretty much my standard answer no matter what the truth is. I want other people to be happy and comfortable. I don't worry about myself very often. It is good to see someone who is able to care about others and care for herself.

It's been five years since this journey started. It started as a desire to lose weight, to change the woman I see in the mirror, and yes, to find a partner to share life with. It has transformed into a desire to see just how much I can pull, press and squat. To see what I can accomplish when I put my mind and heart 100% into the process. 

I have accepted that I may never see the person other people see, but I believe that my circle is honest with me. I am learning that I am complete as I am, I am enough.  I am working on believing in myself and owning who I am good and bed. None of us is perfect. I believe that for the most part we are all doing the best we can and trying as hard as we can.

This blog started as a way to document my workouts and feelings about the work I was doing. It became a place I could put the good, the bad, and the ugly of me. A place to be honest. A place to try and put into words what swirls through my head. Maybe it inspires some, I certainly hope so. I also want those who think I am an inspiration or might feel intimidated by me to see how human I really am. I struggle. I fail. I never quit. In the end, to me, that is what matters most: I might go down, scratch that, I frequently go down, but I get back up. I may be physically strong, but a one thousand pound total doesn't matter when you are stretching on the stall bar and it is all you can do to bend yourself enough to get your hands on a bar.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 7, 2018


For the last several years in addition to setting goals for the year I have borrowed an idea from a wise friend and picked a word to guide me.

For 2018 I have settled on the word believe. If you'll indulge me for a little bit I'd like to share why believe is my word.

During Muscle Hour on Wednesday it was time to determine a squat max so each of us would have a number to work with and determine percentages of going forward. Going into class I felt nauseous and nervous. Almost the same way I feel going into a meet. I didn't understand it, everyone was assuring me I would be fine, I would do great. I wasn't feeling any of that.

I sucked it up as best I could, partnered with good friend, Norm, and got to work. I could not get out of my head for the life of me. Every time I approached the bar that negative loop tape ran loudly through my head and it was all I could do to get the job done.

Finally I got tired of it. I had a stern talk with myself (silently: I was not standing in the corner yelling at myself...though I could have). I LOVE powerlifting. It is my passion. I put in the work week after week to be better. I've cried, bled and pushed myself through workouts I wanted to walk away from to participate in this sport. I weather the nerves and nausea that accompany participating in a meet. So why, when I had the chance to show what I could do was I so hesitant, so scared? I decided maybe my PR song would help the situation so out came the phone and earbuds. I finally felt the beast stir as "Monster" flooded through my ears, shutting down the negative voices.

To make a long story a little less long I set a new PR on Wednesday night. I increased my squat by ten pounds, from 345 to 355. My reaction was less elated and proud and more a release of pent-up fear in the form of tears. I got to depth, came up just fine, racked it with help and leaned into the bar and cried. Tara had taken video for me, she came to give me my phone and a hug and I cried on her shoulder, then I cried on Norm. I pulled myself together enough to give my spotter, Coach Brad, a fist bump. He told me I had more in me and I declined. I told him I'd achieved a 1000 pound total, 1004 pounds to be exact and I was good...then I cried a bit more.

I wouldn't be me if I didn't over think EVERYTHING, so you know I over thought those tears. Why cry when I just hit a goal I've had for a long while? Why not shout it from the rooftops?

The answer is because I did NOT believe it was possible. I never believed I could hit a 1000 pounds three-lift total. my friends believed, my coaches believed, I relied on their belief in me and hoped I would prove their faith in me right.

When I realized that I also realized that from the start of this journey I've grown leaps and bounds, but never one time have I believed in myself. I think it's fine that I don't see what others see in me, but I HAVE to believe in myself. It's not fair to ask my friends and coaches to believe in me enough for all of us.

I love everyone that has supported me in pursuing my passion. I certainly want them to continue coming to my meets, but I need to step up my game. I need to believe in myself, in my strength and my abilities. I don't want to walk to the platform wondering if I can do it, hoping I won't fail. I want to walk to the platform certain that I will give my all and no matter the outcome I've won.

No doubt there will be bumps along the path. It wouldn't be life if everything was smooth sailing. As a friend told me in one of the sweetest, kindest emails I've read recently "Look for blessings in every day, even if on some days you have to look a little harder".

So my word for 2018 is believe. I will believe in myself, in my potential, in my abilities. I will believe that if I want it, if I put in the work and never quit I will make my dreams come true.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 30, 2017


Hi I'm Kim and I'm a perfectionist. Huge newsflash, right? Not if you've known me for longer than two minutes it's not.

I'm the one loading my barbell with the exact same color plates in the the same order on both sides. I'm also the one who will pull all the plates off the rack and put them back on so the colors match. There's a chance I get a little freaked out when I find a 10 pound plate on the rack with 25 pound plates.

All that aside I want perfection from myself. I want to have a perfect deadlift, squat, and bench press. I am smart enough to understand perfection isn't truly possible, but it doesn't stop me from striving for it.  And since I'm being honest, being upset with myself when I don't get perfection. When a coach corrects me there is a part of me that feels as if I've failed. That's not the case and the corrections have certainly never been presented to me that way, but I am my own worst critic.

I'm better than I used to be. There was a time, not so long ago that critique and correction made me cry. I don't cry as much any more, not usually. Occasionally depending on the day I still tear up, but I've learned to blink back the tears, listen and do my best to do what I've been told. Sometimes I don't do so well. When the critiques come one right on top of another or in the middle of my set I tend to lose my temper. Then I feel bad. I've never yelled at a coach, but I have snapped at friends. I feel awful about that, I apologize and vow to do better the next time. After all the people taking time to offer advice and let me know what they notice care about me and my performance: I should be grateful for that. I AM grateful for that. I just don't always express it very well.

My perfectionist tendencies don't stop when I leave the gym. I carry them with me to work. I must be doing okay there, no one has said any different. I still worry, especially if the time it is taking to get the food out is mentioned. Sometimes it is out of my control: I do my best, I go as fast as I can, but there are times my fastest isn't fast enough. Besides, I'm not willing to put a messy sandwich out. I don't care who that sandwich is for: it will be the best one I can make every time. I have had people tell me "This is for the owner: make it good". I've set a few of them straight: I make it good every time, not just when the owner is taking it. I would assume that's what he expects, if not I'm still not changing the way I do things.

Another downside to my particular form of perfectionism is that I don't let things go. I've read that once you've learned the lesson and taken what you can from it you're supposed to let it go. You mean I'm not supposed to carry everything around? I shouldn't be hoarding the hurts and disappointments like a squirrel sorting nuts for the winter?

My shoulders are fairly broad, I'm pretty strong, but I do get bogged down by the baggage. Some lessons may take longer to process, integrate and let go, but I need to do that. The baggage is heavy and it's hard to look forward to the new when you're bogged down in the old. I can't keep looking back, I'm not going in that direction.

It occurs to me that life would be easier if I didn't approach new situations and people with fight or flight firmly in mind. I don't know that I'll ever be enthusiastic about change or warm and bubbly with new people, I'm not even sure I'm warm and bubbly with people I know well. In 2018 I am going to strive not to approach new experiences and people with every exit mapped out in my mind. I might even see how it feels to go into a meet with some confidence in myself.

I have goals for 2018, and it's probably no surprise that many are powerlifting goals.

1. Achieve a three lift total of 1000 pounds (currently my three lift total is 994 pounds).

2. Compete in the USAPL NH State Championships in April.

3. Have a total that will qualify me to compete in the USAPL Raw Nationals in November 2018.

4. Continue to lose fat and gain muscle.

5. Figure out what I want to do with my life when I grow up and pursue that as hard as I've pursued powerlifting.

Thanks for taking time out of your life to read my ramblings. I will continue this blog, it's a way to document my journey and my passion.

2018 will be another memorable year.  I have no idea what will happen, but I will be doing my best to approach the experiences with an open mind and an open heart. Don't expect me to be a completely different person. I am as I will always be, a work in progress.

Thanks for reading!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


I will not be sorry on Monday, January 1 to know 2017 is over. I have no idea what 2018 will hold, but I am well and truly done with 2017.

2017 was year of big lessons. Some I brought on myself, some brought about by other people.

The biggest lesson I brought on myself. I learned that when I am overwhelmed, out of my depth and frankly outclassed I need to pay attention. Never again will I bury what I feel and hope if I try hard enough things will be okay. Trying hard is important, it can work, but not always and definitely not when every fiber of your being is screaming at you to get out of a situation. I've learned to listen to my "gut" no matter how foolish it might feel.

I've learned that not everything that looks good on the surface is good. I changed jobs this year and I can tell you that as crazy as my new job can make me I feel for the most part that I am valued and appreciated. Not every second of every shift, that wouldn't be real life. I'd like to say that I felt the same about my previous job, but I didn't. I'm not looking to lay blame or anything like that. My feelings are my own and they might not have been accurate, merely my perception coupled with my experiences. I just know that at the present I feel like I can make a positive difference.

Another lesson from 2017 is that my circle is small, but it is strong. Some people I thought were a part of my circle turned out not to be. They had their own path and journey to follow and I wasn't a part of that. As I've stated in other posts I am not angry about that.

I have a small group of people who support me one hundred percent. I am more blessed than I deserve. I can call on any one of those amazing people and they will be there for me. I support them too, maybe not as much as they deserve, but I support them.  There is room in the circle for other people, but I'm wiser and less trusting about who will get a place now. I can and will be friendly, polite and helpful, but the walls will stay up. Not that I've ever been what one would call a social butterfly, but I am even less so now.

2017 taught me that while powerlifting is my passion there is NOTHING about it that is easy. I've now sadly moved out of that phase where PRs happen all the time. I'm in that spot where if I'm lucky I might see a PR once in a training cycle. Oh, let's add to that that when you ask for the "next level" of competing you need to be ready for it. I barely made it through my first meet in 2017 with USAPL. I failed my first two squats, I struggled to get my head in the game and I failed every last deadlift. I walked out of that meet struggling to put it in some sort of perspective. I felt I had let everyone there to support me down and the absolute worst was feeling I'd let my coach down, that I had disappointed him.

I went on to another meet 7 weeks later and took home the gold. I still struggled with my deadlifts, but the squats were spot on perfect, at least in the eyes of the judges that day.

I had read in a forum that I am a part of that it is very common to make different levels of progress on the lifts at different times. 2017 seems to be the year where my squat is improving. My bench press is coming along and my deadlift now feels like my weakest lift. I am working on lock out, on bracing my core with and without a weight belt and I feel confident that all this work will improve my performance at my next competition. We'll see in April  2018 when I go back to NH and face down the same platform I was quite sure would be my undoing in 2017.

2017 has been a year of mountain tops and deep valleys. Times I feel as if I have it under control and times I am pretty sure I don't have what it takes to crawl forward one more step.

That's been the biggest lesson of 2017 I suppose: never underestimate your ability to survive.

Before I let you get back to your life I'd like to share one of my Christmas gifts with you. I might be struggling with my deadlifts at the moment, but I also need to keep in my mind that what I consider a pitiful pull might still be regarded as impressive.

Love, love, love this. 
Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 16, 2017


I have new favorite song. Not a song for setting personal records (PRs) when I lift. One to remind me that it will all be okay in the end. That despite how I feel I have what it takes to overcome whatever obstacles are in my path. "Lions" by Skillet. I'll let you choose whether or not you'd like to look for it and listen to it. I found it on YouTube when I was watching the video for my PR song "Monster". It's not as loud, there isn't a driving bass beat. It's the words that caught my attention. Especially the last few lines of the chorus: "If we're going to stand, we stand as giants. If we're going to walk we walk like lions".

I've listened to this song a lot in the last week or so. I don't exactly feel like a lion or a giant...

Again life threw change at me. One I was not ready for in the least. I never wanted this change. I am still ridiculous enough to hope maybe it was all a bad dream...that I'll wake up and it won't be true. Though as each day passes I have to admit it was real, it happened and nothing I do will change it.

I also realize that this change didn't just impact me. It impacted a great many people. I'm not special or unique in all this. I've shed many tears and I'm sure I'll shed more before I have processed it and decided how it fits into this journey. I will do that you know, I will figure this out and I will be stronger and better for it.  After all: this is MY journey. This is about ME. I can't control what happens, I can only control my reaction.

Yes, I'm being cryptic again. But I don't feel the need to make it all public. A lesson I learned well this year: not everything in the journey needs to be public. Sometimes what I'm talking about involves other people who deserve their privacy. Sometimes the lessons learned are for me to ponder and there is no need to make them public, it's just not my place. Other people will do what they will: that's none of my business. My job is to keep moving forward.

I'm not a giant: I'm not even sure I would know how to stand like a giant. I suppose it would mean chin up, eyes straight ahead, shoulders back. No anger and no fear. Just knowing that you have everything you need to be successful within yourself.

I'm no lion either. I can roar, snarl and look fierce when I set my mind to it. I am not a lion though. I see lions as confident animals. They don't wonder and obsess over whether they can do what they need to do and get their job done. I get the job done, most of the time, unless I can't get out of my head. That happens more often than I like. I can talk myself out of being able to do things I've done a million times before. I know it's silly, but it happens.

2017 has been a year of changes. This was just another one. Change is a part of life. Whether I accept it calmly or face it by bursting into tears change is going to come.

I'm not a giant.

I'm not a lion.

I'm just me: super self-critical, distrustful, sensitive (many times over sensitive), scared to fail, worried I'll let everyone down, trying to be an athlete, wishing to be a good powerlifter, and a big old bundle of crazy.

Now that I've dumped this batch of crazy I'll let you get back to your life.

Thanks for reading!

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


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


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!