Sometimes You Just Need a Kick in the Butt From the Universe

I have been waiting a long time to write this. Actually, I have been waiting a long time to post this. I have been writing this far before I even knew this post would be a thing. Because I have been manifesting for this to happen. I have been 100% believing that it would. I just did not know when. Or how.

I am leaving my corporate job.

 

Microphone drop.

 

I have put it out there that I want to leave and have been mentally getting myself ready to do that. So getting the push to go has not been scary for me. It’s been liberating. I have known I would leave, I just did not know when or how. When I got the news I am part of a surplus, I felt gratitude and relief. It is so easy (and if we are honest with ourselves, how many of us are feeling this way?) to stay complacent and not act. Because to act is to go into the unknown. It’s to go into something that is seemingly less stable or unpredictable (but let’s be real, how many corporate jobs are truly secure anymore?). I have been dipping my toes in other ponds for a while and now the universe is giving me the push to GO ALL IN.

 

While I have been remarkably and surprisingly cool, calm and collected, when I really think about what I am giving up, I have moments of “what the F am I doing?” My entire career all my job choices have been made on two very basic things: stability and money. I was taught at an early age to never be without them so as soon as they were in my control (aka I started adulting), I made decisions based on that.

 

Yet, every time in my life I have accepted a new job, I always had this knowing feeling it was not right for me. I of course pushed those feelings down as far as I possibly could. Today though, I am at the point in my life where I simply choose to no longer ignore that. It will not serve me going forward.

 

I am a firm believer in timing. I should say that this life changing decision was not one I made on a whim or on a feeling. It has been years in the making. With the help of my spiritual healer, she has taught me to trust in myself, my abilities and the universe. To trust that I would be guided at the right time to make changes, and that until then I need not worry about it or proactively seek out whatever it is I am meant to do. I have spent years working on myself and overcoming my own demons and roadblocks. I have also manifested the shit out of good things to come my way because I have known in my heart of hearts that I was playing a role in my job that was not something I wanted or could sustain.

 

And so the day has come that I am going to start my transition into a new world. A new world of opportunity of positivity and validation. A new world of doing something that I know will have an impact on many people. I am finally being true to who I am and who I want to be. I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up!

 

For decades I have had so much passion for health and fitness. I am one of those people that actually freaking loves to workout (I know, weird huh?) I absolutely love talking about working out and I can’t really understand those people who do not love it. One of the great things about being an Independent Promoter for Pruvit is that it has forced me to broaden my network. Conversations I am having, regardless if people are interested in ketones or not, have lead to being inspired over and over again. There is no shortage of inspiration in this world when you take the time to hear other people’s stories.

 

I feel like ketones are my gateway drug to so to speak. It has given me a taste of that euphoria of helping someone feel all the feels. It has given me a taste of what it would be like to really listen to someone and understand what it is they need, or what they are missing. I am also starting to realize and understand that while I have that drive and grit to workout and to not shy away from it, not everyone does. There are endless valid reasons why people fear it. Or maybe they want it but they do not know where to start. Maybe they feel like a fish out of water at a gym, which I get because I am completely uncomfortable when I step into a Home Depot. And it’s like everyone there KNOWS I do not belong. And so I quickly find what I need (by find, I mean I have to have someone direct me) and then I get the hell out as fast as I possibly can. That’s how people feel about working out I believe if they have any kind of hang up or roadblock.

 

Or maybe someone wants to workout but they are overwhelmed by choices or they do not know what type of workout suits them. So instead of trying them out, they may not do a thing. Which by doing nothing is really doing something. We have choices and there are so many options out there. I want to be that person that helps someone find what they like so that they can make their dreams and goals a reality.

 

I want to help people stay accountable and be that extra support they need to become healthy and fit.

I want to do this because I know how amazing someone can feel if they take action. It is common and very easy to talk about wanting something, but never do it. Then as soon as you do, and you start seeing results, you ask WHY did I wait this long?
Between what I see myself doing and the skills I am fortunate to have learned over my current career are all lining up to make me kick ass at my dreams. I wish I knew what my “job title” is, but that will come as I work more on the business and marketing side of my journey. (Which p.s. I do not see myself being called a health coach. So for all you marketing geniuses, I am open for suggestions as to how to brand myself).

 

I always thought I would transition into a new career when I had every last detail sorted out and not a second sooner, but I am realizing I don’t need that to go all in. In fact, over just these last 3 days of talking to my colleagues about leaving, I am getting even more validation and support that I ever anticipated. I keep waiting for someone to tell me I am crazy or stupid or reckless. But guess what? Nobody has said that. It’s validation that because I am SCREAMING into the universe that I am more than ready to trust it, and that is what I am getting back. Nobody is trying to talk me out of it because it is meant for me to be taking the biggest leap of faith ever. Being open and honest not just with myself but with those I work with, interact with, friends, family, hairdresser, you name it is opening me up even more for what is in my power to have. The universe gives back what we give to it, and that is why I am more than confident in knowing I am making the right choice, the best choice, for myself.

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Mineral Baths Got Me Like…

Spending time in mineral pools and baths this past weekend did something to stimulate a deeper interest and understanding in what keeps people coming back and making sacrifices to get what they want. I will also cut to the chase as it really is quite simple: how badly do you want it?

My friends and I were comparing our stories of our first times… we each stepped into a CrossFit box. None of us walked in and thought, “Wow, yes this is home! We have found the motherland!” We all felt confused, overwhelmed and intimidated. Warm ups were difficult to follow. Understanding the movements had us like what is happening?  A clean is what? You want me to bring my knees to what? Many people try CrossFit and find it is not for them. So they quietly retreat back into the night. I did not know that CrossFit was for me for probably 6 months. I loved it yes, but I also felt like a fish out of water. So what kept me, and my friends, and other athletes from giving up on CrossFit? What kept us coming back?

What makes me different than someone else? What gives me the motivation to go back that someone else does not have? And while I am predominantly referring to CrossFit in this post, feel free to insert your sport of choice (albeit running, kickboxing, Pilates, etc).

There are so many other components or factors that go into the perfect formula for getting on track:

  • Having stellar coaches who pay attention to you and put you at ease.
  • A supportive community that keeps you accountable and builds camaraderie that draws you in.
  • A box that is logistically feasible to get to.
  • Programming that you can get on board with.
  • Having gorgeous workout clothes (oh wait, that’s just me)

 

But if you do not have the will and the confidence to go back, none of these other factors will be enough to keep you going. Where this is a will there is a way.

As I mentioned earlier, I cannot quite say in all honesty that I really loved CrossFit the first few months. I mean, I did not hate it, but I also do not think I really “got it”. I kept going though. Why? Why did I stay with CrossFit over trying something else or giving up completely?  I had an overpowering desire to get my muscle tone and strength back. I lost so much of it from having a broken foot that I was pretty depressed about having years of hard work reversed in just a few months. I missed being able to run (well I did not actually miss the act of running but I wanted the choice to run to be mental and not a physical limitation). I had that will. I had a taste for what it felt like to be fit and happy in my own skin. I wanted that again. Very badly. And I knew that CrossFit would keep me accountable.

For anyone to keep going, they need to find their own motivation and use it to fuel them. I believe it is different from person to person. It could be that you got a reality check at the doctor’s office. It could be that you found you got winded just playing with your kids. Maybe you have 10 pounds left of baby fat to shed. Whatever your motivation is, you need to have the mental will to implement it. You need to want it badly enough that no excuse is going to interfere. Not even those summer bbq’s or chili dogs at baseball games are going to take you off your course. You have to want to hit your goals, to get healthy far more than you want anything else.

I remember coming out of 2 weeks of Fundies and going to my first “real” CrossFit class. I was completely over stimulated and did not enjoy it one bit. I easily could have declared that CrossFit is terrible and never go back. But I didn’t. I had that passion to keep going and see it through. It is far too easy to have one bad experience and rule the whole damn thing out. Maybe you try one yoga class where you did not like the instructor or the vibe of the class, but you generalize that all yoga sucks. And so you never go back. Well maybe it was just the wrong studio or just the wrong day for you. You should not give up. Go find another one. Same with CrossFit. People often feel like they did not connect with the energy of the class or found one athlete to be arrogant and territorial. Or they thought the programming that day was too difficult or too scary. So they do not return.

hat I suspect is really happening in some cases in my unprofessional, pure speculative opinion is that we often WANT a reason to quit. Because it is so damn hard to be healthy. We know there is no short cut for losing weight or getting healthy. It does not happen overnight.  This is not ground breaking news. Yet, so many people give up and give in without really fighting or what they want.

(Please note, I am by no means insinuating this is 100% of the time. I recognize people may have addictions or illness, for example, that may limit them. This post is not about that population).

It is like when your mom told you as a kid to try asparagus or fish. You stick your tongue out, lick it and say “I don’t like the texture. I can’t eat this.’ It’s the same deal with working out sometimes. We tell ourselves we should try it and do it, but we LOOK for that reason to validate that we should not ever do it again.

That is what distinguishes those who go back, every day, from those who do not. We want it. We want it badly. We may not love it when we are in it but we sure as hell love what CrossFit does for us.

The Lost Art of Journaling When it Comes to CrossFit

I picked up the habit of journaling years ago from my former Personal Trainer, Drew. He got me one of those little itty-bitty-tiny-hand-sized notebooks where we would write my workouts in along with the weights I did, scales and times I completed them in. It was by no means fancy, but it was efficient.  I still have that journal and am grateful for it, not just for the entertainment value . (I laugh at the scales I used or the “heavy” squat days I had). It is really easy for me to see how much I have improved since then and how much I continue to get stronger. Incidentally, my trainer had told me when I started working out with him, that he became certified as a trainer when he was in the army, which he was just coming out of.  A few years later, when I found that very same journal, I was struck by how oddly similar the workouts were to CrossFit.  I saw things like “Jackie” and “workout for time” scribbled in. It turns out Drew had been certified specifically in CrossFit (and either he neglected to mention that minor detail or he did and I just had no clue or appreciation for what that was). I discovered I was doing CrossFit well before I consciously made the decision to. At any rate, I have been journaling ever since.

Drew.jpg
Note that was back in 2008 and at that time, I could not do any unassisted pull ups. Also note Drew’s comment about needing more depth on back squats. Today, when it comes to both pull-ups and back squats, I am crushing them!

The benefits of keeping a journal are quite obvious, yet so many of us do not do it!  It is a way to track progress, and declines as that does happen. It is a way to track benchmarks and 1 Rep Maxes (RM) and things of that nature.  When you see  a workout and the coach says, “You should be snatching about 70% of your 1 rep max,” you don’t irritate him/her by saying “Errr but I don’t know what my 1 Rep max is.” Tracking helps guide us to know how much to lift or how to scale based on our workout history.

Call me old school, but my preferred method to journal is in an actual physical one. The journal I currently am using is just a simple lined paper one. I like to have it to flip through, sometimes to go down memory lane and sometimes to check and see what I should be doing for that day’s workout.  I also journal on the app, Sugar Wod for different reasons. I use that more for the social aspects of it: to fist pump my athletes and give positive encouragement in comments.  It also automatically stores benchmarks, hero WODs and 1 RM’s making it easier to have a place to go to as reference. As I also tend to workout in the first class of the day, I would like to think my commentary and tips help the athletes in the later classes.

Regardless of your method, be sure to include details in your journal. (I found this really great quick read on journaling here with some tips and methods). I personally do not have a formal method but I always add my own commentary in it. For example, if an old injury was flaring up, I’ll mention that to explain a scale I did.  From time to time, I’ll put notes to the effect of “felt really sluggish” or “was too tired”. Or on the contrary, “holy shit, I actually did that RX”.  I even use simple smiley faces and frowns.

I strongly recommend not just tracking successes but failed attempts as well. I will note when I fail at lifts, particularly when it comes to retesting 1 RM. I want to know that maybe in November I failed at  a 140 pound squat clean so that when I retest it a few months later and succeed, I can celebrate. Also as we know, not every day is going to be our best day. We may be weaker for a given number of reasons (more info on that here). Noting reasons or “off days” keep me grounded.

It is so very and utterly essential to write down what your specific scales are when you do not go RX. I note, for instance, how many ab mats I used if any for Hand Stand Push- Ups (HSPU). Maybe I did the last workout with 1 ab mat as there was a higher rep scheme, but today when the workout calls for HSPU at less reps, I may opt to do them without an ab mat.

The same is true for so many movements, like pull ups. Back before I could do them without a band, I would track what color band i used so that I could gradually and smartly wean myself off of them, which I did successfully after just a few months.   I can’t really speak to the science of seeing written data, but I can attest to there being a compelling mental or psychological element to it.  It often helps me mentally prepare  for the work at hand. There are days where I will see the RX workout and think, “I can’t  possibly ­do the prescribed  Shoulder to Overhead  weight at 105 pounds  for 30 total reps. That is just beyond me.” Then, I will find a past journal entry where I did do that same weight in a workout.  Recalling I did it before  (even if it was absolutely miserable) motivates me to do it yet again.

journal.jpg
Note: I wrote a failed rep at strict press, no band for ring dips and I scaled a workout on 10/5/16 to be kettlebell swings in lieu of clean and jerks due to soreness from the flu shot. I also threw in a cute little sad face. Again, my very own albeit antiquated but efficient methodology.

For those who use or are considering using SugarWOD, I strongly recommend you treat it like your own personal journal as otherwise, it can be deceiving at face value. Rx is Rx. It’s a fair playing field in that it is a given everyone is doing the same exact workout. When you see times and scores of your fellow athletes, it is evident who went the fastest and who had the most reps. When it come to the scaled sections, it is more complex (which I also should note, it is why CrossFit is really for everyone. It demonstrates how many different ways there are to scale to your level. #shamelessplug). More details are better than none. If you use bands in ring dips, or do push-ups in lieu of HSPU or maybe you do less weight in cleans, whatever it is, include it in your notes. Again, you will want those details down the line to benchmark.  I digress a bit but I feel compelled to mention this pearl of wisdom: You may have gotten the slowest time doing a scaled workout but it is quite possible your scale was the hardest. Use discretion when you either celebrate your finish or wallow in it. Keep in mind it is not apples to apples.

Journaling takes minimal time when you keep up with it daily or even weekly. Make it a part of your workout routine and that will prevent you from feeling burdened by it. It is a great tool for CrossFitters (and other athletes might I add). Think of journaling much the same as you do performance reviews at work. It is a way to set goals, track them and measure them regularly. For journaling to be effective, it needs to be much more than just logging for the sake of it. I had a conversation about this with one of my coaches at Concourse CrossFit, Ricky Sandoval. If you just write it down for the sake of writing it down, it is not really serving any purpose. It would be like counting calories for the sake of it without using it to actually tweak your diet or evaluate food choices.  There is power in knowledge, and having a workout log history can only help you in constantly progressing.

If this has encouraged you to journal, please comment and let me know how you are loving it! (Or hating it but I am confident that will not happen).

 

Working Out: Take the Good, Take the Bad

We tend to be our own worst critics. I know I am far too hard on myself far too often, whether it be at work, at the box or various other settings. This past Friday’s workout for me was no exception. My attempt at the prescribed strength portion was a total disaster (in my brain) and went far from how I envisioned. To give you context, it was an EMOM 10 (Every Minute on the Minute) where the odd minutes were 10 deadlifts (each round going up in weight till you had a challenging weight) and the even minutes were to be 10 chest-to-bar pull-ups. Let’s just say after round 3 of deadlifts, in which I could complete only 5 in that round, I had to go down in weight the last two rounds, might I add at which I was barely successful. As for the pull-up portion, it was like one of those bad dreams where you are so paralyzed, you cannot move. I spent a lot of time just hanging from the bar with virtually no range of motion or strength to actually swing. My plan was to do about 4-5 reps of chest-to-bar and then finish each round with regular kipping or butterfly pull-ups. Needless to say that plan went to shit in the 2nd round. I could barely even do kipping pull-ups, let alone butterfly or chest-to-bar!  I found stringing a mere 2 together was near impossible, which is not typical for me.

By the time I got to the METCON itself, I felt totally defeated and would have like to have snuck out unnoticed (which is not possible when you are just 1 of 2 people in class). Anyways, I managed to motivate to do it with my only goal of just being happy to move.

It was anything but an inspiring experience for me. As someone who works out most mornings, typically, my accomplishments at the box can really set the tone for the day. For the most part, my mornings go well and it keeps me in a positive space for the rest of the day. Of course, when I have bad workouts, just like I did last Friday, I was a total moody crank all day. I had to really to put my head back on straight that day, give myself a kick in the ass and put it into a different perspective other than my feeling like a total weak failure.  Once I did that, I reminded myself of a few really important things.

  1. I will not be on top of my game for every single workout. And that is ok. Having an off day where I cannot lift as heavy as I did even the week before or where I cannot string more than 2 pull-ups together does not measure my strength or capability. It is one day out of many.
  1. Working out is a process. One day’s workout is almost like a continuation from the days before. If you have a day where you go really hard and defy what seems possible to you, it is normal to function at a lower (albeit less inspiring) level the next day. For me (and probably many of you) I just cannot be a bad ass every day.
  1. There are ENDLESS factors that will negatively affect a workout. Here are the ones I encountered in Friday’s debacle of a workout.Germs! If you are starting to get sick (which if you are do yourself and everyone else a favor and STAY HOME!) or at the tail end of being sick, your body is expending a lot of energy fighting off those little jerks. Naturally you will have less energy to invest into working out. I had been sick the week before (well up until Monday), and I may have done too much too soon.Diet. When you think about why Paleo and other similar diets are appealing and have become so popular is because they teach us the right things to put in our bodies. They show us how we feel based on what we eat and drink (well really what we don’t drink).  The point being that what we put into our body can either fuel us or deplete us. For me, as I typically work out at 6 am, my dinner the night before powers me for what I will be doing the next morning. Before last Friday’s humbling workout, my dinner consisted of a salad and a vegan protein bar (I was too lazy to actually cook something that would have been more substantial). That was another strike against me.For us ladies, PMS. OMG TMI! Get over it, boys. This really is a thing. Every woman is different but I know I have experienced having far less energy a certain time of the month as have many other women I know. (Ladies, back me up here!) Even if I get the same amount of sleep or recovery, sometimes it will just not win when PMS is involved.

    Why am I including this is my short list of factors you ask? Because it makes the point that sometimes the logic for a subpar workout is not always entirely obvious. It also reiterates that our bodies are crazy complex things, and sometimes they may be off balance so to speak. (And if you want more scientific explanations, click http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/4-ways-your-mentrual-cycle-affects-your-workouts.html).

    Age. It’s a hard cold fact. I require more recovery and maintenance on my body (which is why I permanently have a foam roller and yoga mat sprawled out on my living room floor. It’s part of the décor really. It is also how I justify the increasing frequency in which I get massages). I feel like a car sometimes, like how many more miles do I have left in me to keep functioning at this level? Ok, sorry I digress. That could be a whole other post in itself.

4.   The most important and all-encompassing reminder though is this: I need to be far less hard on myself. I felt like my body betrayed me, despite that I understood why. My nature in general is that I fixate and torture myself over negative things I do or do not do far more than I celebrate or pride myself in all great things I do accomplish. Two days prior, I had a workout that was one of the hardest I ever did. I  felt like I was about 3 reps away from dying, which also means I I felt extremely gratified. I felt even more gratified considering the same workout had been programmed a year ago, which I had to severely scale as it was about 3 weeks after  knee surgery . So if I am going to be fair to myself, I should celebrate my success just as much as I obsessively analyzed Friday’s.  In that spirit, let me share with you what I did on January 5th 2016:

100 Step Ups (which were onto 1 or 2 plates at most)
30 Hang Cleans (no squats) at 65#
20 GHD sit ups
6 Rope Climbs
20 Alternating Hang Snatch with 20# dumbbell
30 ‘Push’ Press at 55# (by press, this would have been more of a slight dip)
100 Step Ups

Below is what I accomplished this past Wednesday, January 11th 2017:

100 Double Unders
30 Squat Cleans at 105#
20 GHD sit ups
6 Rope Climbs
20 Alternating Dumbbell Snatch at 40#
30 Thrusters at 95#
100 Double Un­­ders

To keep things in perspective,  I have every right to be damn proud of what I accomplished a week ago. I mean hello, I should be happy I can even do that many squats at that weight considering a year ago I could not squat at all.  I should focus on the gains. Thrusting 95 pounds a year ago (or really ever) would have been unheard of. I should be cheering as loudly about that instead of boo-hoo’ing over my failed deadlifts and pathetic pull-ups. Really, I need to celebrate the positives and let the negatives go. I need to reset and not be so hard on myself.

I fear I have gone off track a bit with the post (but at last this is insight into how my crazy obsessive brain works).  What I am trying to say is this. Take the bad days with the good ones. Sure, it’s totally ok, advisable even, to put some thought to understand what went wrong (there are always take aways that keep us improving), but do not let them define you. Keep moving on and remember, every time you step foot into the box (or yoga studio or boxing class or whatever your drug of choice is), you are winning regardless if it is not your best performance.