Thursday, July 17, 2014

When you feel like the Goodyear Blimp...

I sat down at my desk and cried this morning. Not ugly-cry sobbing, just those tears that silently creep up on you and suddenly they're rolling down your face and you can't stop it. Never even saw it coming, but there I was weeping on the phone to Steph 5 minutes later.

Pregnancy has been a lot harder than I expected, but not in the traditional ways. For me it's been more mentally and emotionally taxing than anything else. I'm going to label it "fat girl PTSD" which would be funny-sounding if it weren't so tragically true.

In the beginning I envisioned myself continuing with business as usual. I would burpee my way right through the next 9 months, stopping only to give birth and jump right back into the swing of things. THIS pregnancy was going to be done right.

Unfortunately my body had other plans. The first trimester was scary and exhaustive and my doctor and I had to make the decision to put all forms of working out on hold until further notice. It was a really tough pill to swallow, but I knew that if something had happened I would have always wondered if I could have prevented it.

The next two months I mostly sat on my ass. There's really no other way to describe it. Some days were good, some days were depressing, I mostly just looked like I was letting myself go instead of being pregnant. All the while I prayed to make it another week without any issues and eventually days and weeks turned into a month and another good ultrasound and suddenly I was free again!

The past 3 weeks I've been working my way back into a physical routine, walking and jogging, doing crossfit solo at a lower scale just a few days a week, maintaining good eating habits. Feeling like ME again. But there's a problem--I'm 20 weeks pregnant.

Everything is fucking harder when you're pregnant. My boobs are gigantic. Like 2 sizes bigger. Wtf anyway, they were already big enough so this is just ridiculous. And my body is pumping what like, 50% more blood than before? So I can't catch my breath like ever. And I pee my pants when I least expect it. And there's a baby in my uterus and even though it actually took longer than I expected for him to pop out (my core was stronger than I EVER realized), the belly is now there and it ain't going away. No amount of "sucking it in" that will change this. I assure you. Sigh.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being pregnant. I am so thankful for this opportunity because I love sustaining another life and feeling him move and knowing that I get to share a child with the person I love more than anything in the world. I love that our kids are all going to be connected by this new little person and that they're SO excited for a new sibling.

But I used to weigh almost 300 lbs once, and for the better part of 4 years I've maintained a high degree of control over my body. Not. Anymore. Not in the way I'm used to anyhow. It's scary for a former fat chick/current control freak when I know how hard I worked to not be "big," to now feel that it's out of my hands. I know it's just for a short period, and the end TOTALLY justifies the means, but it's a very real struggle and today it got the better of me.

Monday, November 4, 2013

One for the Booger-Pickers

I believe that some people were just born with a natural inclination toward being athletes. They move effortlessly with grace and speed, throw a perfect spiral, fire off 3-pointers like it's their job, or hit a baseball like they came out of the uterus swinging a bat. For whatever reason, there are people who don't have to work for it nearly as hard. That's not to say they don't put in the time and energy to hone their talents, but the truth of the matter is most of them are born with a certain amount of ability that just isn't teachable.

And then there are the rest of us.

I grew up next door to three of my closest (male) cousins, which meant all we did was play sports. Unfortunately that didn't happen until I was a little older, so by the time I had developed enough skill to actually be decent at anything I had already given up on everything. I was one of the kids who got stuck in the outfield picking dandelions during the early years because I just didn't really understand what the hell was going on. And if I could say I was blessed with any minuscule amount of natural athletic ability, it definitely didn't show up until later in life.

My son is what you might call one of the booger-pickers. That's not to say he won't try--he even gets to make a play on occasion if he's in the right place, at the right time, with the right mindset. But he has the flattest feet I have ever seen in my life (runs slower than a 7 year itch), throws a baseball in a way that I would categorize as "awkward at best," and his coordination is sketchy. Connor is not a natural born athlete; that boy has to work for everything he gets. But I'll tell you why I absolutely love to watch him play--the kid has moxy and spirit like you wouldn't believe. He loves to go out and be part of the team and cheers his little heart out at every single game. I know I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, but every time I look at that kid and I see how kind and respectful and full of life he is, I know that being his mom is one place I have succeeded exponentially.

Connor is a diehard when it comes to Crossfit. He love that shit. The kid begs me to take him to the 5 or 6 am classes with me, and has literally come into my bathroom in tears in the morning because I didn't wake him up. When he does get to come along during an evening class of coaching, it's like Christmas come early. During the Lakefest parade, he singlehandedly burpee'd his way down half of Market St and most of Main alongside the float and by the time it was over there was so much black on his face that he looked like a prisoner of war. At my wedding he was more excited to tell the people he knew from the gym about his new Nano 2's than anything else, and he gave rousing edition of burpees to AC/DC "Thunderstruck" that left half of us in awe and the other half like "wtf is that kid doing....?" The last time he did a WOD with box jumps he asked me to get him a plate. I wasn't sure why, but I gave it to him anyhow and the motive soon became clear--he wanted to stack it on top of the box to make it a higher jump.

Today his efforts have paid off in a new way--Connor was voted Crossfit Crave's Athlete of the Month for November. He. is. STOKED. And he deserves it! Connor never complains, and he always wants to show up. Booger-picker or not, that's the kinda guy I want on my team. I'll take a badass personality and phenomenal attitude over a jerk with talent any day of the week.

Thanks to the Crave family for making his day!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Love and Crossfit

Just a little over 6 weeks until Todd and I get married. Holy. $hit. I'm not even sure how that happened!

I was going to take the long way around today and write all this crap about my fears and shitty-self-esteem issues, my effing disastrous past relationships, how this all ties into the gym... long long long. I'm too mentally disorganized right now to process all that and have it even make enough sense for anyone else to read it.

Here's what this all boils down to for me: Commitment.

Every success, every failure in life revolves around to how much time and energy you are willing to put into the thing. It has taken me f*%&ing yearsssssssssss at the gym to realize the only way I'm ever going to be the best version of myself is to commit to it and consistently show up. I would say 90% of the time I'm happy with getting up each morning and going to the gym--even if I'm not feeling great at first I always am by the time I leave. I've learned that on the 10% days when I want to stay in bed, I just have to tell myself to keep showing up and then follow through. That's my commitment to myself. I generally like to do everything the hard way, so it took a long time and a lot of failures for me to finally understand that these seemingly small steps equate to big change over time.

This policy transfers to anything in life. Without going into detail, my past relationships = Trainwreck. Foundations built on the wrong things with the wrong people. Houses built on sand in a stage 5 hurricane would have a better chance of survival. Honestly you could've put me into a crowd of accomplished men and 1 loser and he would have been my top choice. I'm no stranger to failure here.

It's different now--I'm committed and I know he is rock solid too, but that doesn't mean it's always easy. We have 4 wonderful-in-their-own-ways-kids in multiple families, with a handful of other parents to contend with, and a TON of things going on. There are days where it's 60/40, 80/20, 100/100... there are days where I want to throat punch him... there are days when he wants to smother me with a pillow because he's tired of my attitude. That's life! But at the end of every one of those days--shitty or awesome, I know that we are going to go to bed at the same time, and he's going to throw his arm over me, and he is not going to leave. 90% of the time I am obnoxiously happy, and on the 10% days I show up anyway because that's what we have committed to each other and our kids. I know that's a lot easier to say after only a year and a half together than it may be after 4, 7, 14 years of putting up with someone's shit day in and day out, but the older I get the more sure I am that relationships aren't about all the butterflies, sunshine and rainbow bullshit so much as they are about committing to see the best and choosing to love someone even on the days you maybe don't like em so much.

No matter which way you frame it, success in anything requires commitment--either you're in or you're out.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ditching the Scale

I have a very "all or nothing" approach to most things in life; it's either 110% balls to the wall or nothing. Sometimes this can work to my advantage, I think it makes me a pretty good friend because I'd do anything for the people I care about, and now that I'm at full-force mentally with giving the right kind of time and attention to the gym it has become second nature. Todd and I are kicking ass on our investment property because we've actually had some time to put into it the past week or so and we're gaining more momentum by the day--those are the times when my 110% mentality works in my favor. But of course the flip side to this (doing nothing) can be incredibly problematic, especially as it applies to my health. Laziness. Fatty McButterpants. It's a road I'm pretty familiar with.

What about when the 110% becomes the problem? Sometimes you get obsessed; I get obsessed. When I first started Crossfit in April of 2011 I was already getting into decent shape using my own hack version of weight watchers points system/clean eating which involved a shitload of BINDING grains (my digestion was a fucking nightmare) and literally working out like 3 hours a day (so dumb). After about a month of coming to the gym I sat down one day with Ash to talk nutrition and she introduced me to the premise of eating Paleo. I decided it was worth a shot because I felt like I needed something to break the plateau I had hit, and started reading up on anything CF/Paleo related that I could find. I discovered an article by Martin Berkhan about Intermittent Fasting and delved into those concepts head first too; by May I was ready to kick ass in the Paleo Challenge. Not only did I make it through the month without cheats (let me tell you about how fun it was watching my friends drink their faces off every weekend and sip my diet dew), but I also incorporated a pretty extreme version of Intermittent Fasting by doing alternate day 24 hr fasts through the week. I ended up cutting a pretty good amount of weight and dropping my body fat several percentage points to about 21%, but I was also hungry and bitchy and ready for a binge.

Thus started the emotional cf/paleo/binge/fail process that I've been cycling through for the better part of 2 years. I've never allowed myself to get to a point where I was super-sized again, but I have stepped my toe in the water plenty of times while basking in the pizza and cookie dough filled glory of a cheat day that turned into a week that turned into two months of "where the fuck is the gym at again?" We've had this discussion people, it's easy for me--maybe easier for me than most. You pile up enough of those "I'll do _________ tomorrow"'s and you end up with a whole lot of empty yesterday's.

The other major paleo-faileo issue I've experimented with was last spring. I was strict with the occasional cheat hour/day and yes, I got results in the form of a good weight loss and body fat drop (again to around 22%), but this is what I would eat on a typical day: Coffee and water til lunch Tuna and almonds for lunch Chicken and broccoli for supper. Maybe some more almonds. Maybe. Really, that's just setting yourself up for failure. I mean I was sub-1000 calories a day, wod'ing and doing man's work for a job. I went through this song and dance again in the fall (after half-assing it all last summer), and did the same thing--major losses, unsustainable eating.

Two major issues with all this-- 1. I'm already an emotional wreck with all the insanity that goes on in my life, and 2. I've been mentally programmed my whole life to self-soothe with food. So the things that needed to happen this time around were to wrangle the emotional aspect of my eating and make it just about fueling myself, and to stop trying to survive on a few leaves of lettuce and the occasional breath of air. I ditched the scale because it makes me crazy and obsessive, and odds are if I stepped on and for some reason was up 1/4 of a pound I would get pissed and rip snort through the first package of oreos I could locate. This time I made it about how I feel physically/mentally/emotionally and how I'm performing at the gym. No more counting my almonds like the Rain Man or obsessing over what my next meal would be or what I'd eat on my cheat day. It hasn't been easy and I've had some shit days but I really feel like I'm getting a grip. For someone like me, that's empowering.

It's been several weeks now and I decided I want to start keeping some kind of measure of my progress from this point forward, so I asked Ash to do a body fat for me today. Honestly I was a little worried, but after the wod I asked her how it all came out and she told me I'm at 18% body fat. Seriously? That's lower than when I was NOT EATING EVERY OTHER DAY. I'm eating way more and I'm doing way less (at least when it comes to physical labor), and I'm not hangry (hungry+angry). And you know what else? Sometimes I eat a shitload of almond butter with half an apple or a whole stinkin banana! *Not often, but sometimes* I wouldn't even look at fruit before!

I still don't know what the number on the scale said today when she had to weigh me, and I don't really care. The only numbers I care to worry about now are the weights on the bar, and I want them to go up. I feel good, I'm enjoying going to the gym and doing my best, and sometimes I even feel good when I look in the mirror. That's a big step for me and that's all I need.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Courage to Change

That might have been a little cryptic and morbid in comparison to my normal opening, but stay with me here: Changing your life on purpose is hard. Being deliberate about your choices is hard. Doing what is right for yourself and the people you love... yep, hard too. Not because it isn't worth the end result but because it requires some level of change, a deviation from the life you've grown accustomed to. But you know what's even harder? Living a life that you don't feel good about. It goes back to that whole "nothing changes if nothing changes" scenario. It doesn't pay to be stagnant in this life, but when you're standing on the cliff looking down into the depths of a scary-new-unknown versus looking back to the comfortable-old-familiar, it's hard not to second guess yourself.

I find myself standing/teetering on that brink sometimes when I look back on the lifestyle I used to live versus the way I have decided to be now. The habits aren't the only thing that changed--I didn't just trade late nights boozing for early morning burpees or my once a week pint of Ben and Jerry's for a frozen banana with almond butter (which is, incidentally, freakin delicious). Everything changed, even my relationships changed. People look at you differently when you demand more from your life and from yourself. Some are impressed, others are jealous. Most of them won't understand--that's the hardest part. And they'll probably talk shit either way.

No matter what you'd like to believe, changing yourself means changing everything--and that means accepting the fact that some of the people in your life will choose to be left behind. Not all of them; some will watch you for awhile from a safe distance and then join in. Others will check in from time to time but stick with their old ideals, and that's okay too. But some will scoff at you and try to belittle the choices you make because they're not brave enough to do the same. Lead, follow, be dragged, or be cut loose; nobody needs deadweight in their life. It's hard to come to terms with the idea that a better life for yourself would actually deter people from wanting to be around you, but that is the cold hard truth kids.

Thankfully you will find a better and more solid network of people somewhere along the way if you just hold fast. Jump in and tread water for awhile, eventually someone is going to throw you a life preserver and help you make your way to a new spot where you'll find a whole bunch of new someone's--other people who had the courage to take that leap of faith and understand why you decided to show up. And no matter how many times you stumble (and stumble I have!) on that road to a better life, they will always be there to help you get back on your feet once you're ready.

I won't lie and say all of this is an easy transition for me; there are days where it's all I can do to keep myself from backpedaling for fear of the unknown. Spending so many years with the mindset that I didn't deserve the best that life had to offer has made it very difficult to shift that paradigm and realize that I do deserve anything that I'm willing to work for. That includes a healthy mind and body, a good relationship with someone who really loves me, and a happy (albeit completely crazy) household. I have allowed that self-deprecating mindset to be a crutch for my backsliding for so long, it just isn't worth it.

How much further along would I be if I had just believed in my heart a long time ago that I was entitled to more than just mediocrity? It isn't worth dwelling on, but it is a valid question. Now, I'm not much for doling out advice unless you need someone to tell you what not to do--then I could write you a GD book. But I do know that the only way to get where you want to go is by continuing to put one foot in front of the other, so that's what I'm going to do.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sharing your Passion

He started drinking water on Sunday afternoon. I didn't think much of it at first, but then curiosity won over as the day wore on and he kept doing it. I was totally perplexed, because anyone who knows Todd can tell you that given the chance he would drink Mtn Dew from sun up till sun down. And then he started on the water again first thing Monday morning while I was making him breakfast. By 3 pm when he walked in with a Dasani bottle I just couldn't take it anymore and decided to ask him what the hell was going on. He's not one for any sort of change so when he does things like that it puts me on high alert--I'm thinking maybe he isn't feeling good or there's a zombie apocalypse on the horizon, which seems about as plausible as him drinking water. He simply says "What, it's better for ya" like I haven't told lectured him about this 18 dozen times. Like I haven't warned him about his sugar consumption and the fact that he has a family history of weak hearts and already has high blood pressure that isn't being managed by medication. The benefits of water over Mtn fucking Dew are not new to me. I realize that you have to pick your battles, and he's an adult, so I don't feel like I should have to nag or beg him to take care of himself. But Todd isn't your typical overweight/overeating heart-attack-waiting-to-happen kinda guy, which is what makes it even scarier in my book to think that he may be a ticking time bomb. I want him to be around for our kids and their kids, and I want him to be around for me.

When we first started dating he said, and I quote, "sooo what's up with this Crossfit thing?" He then proceeded to tell me that it was fine if I was into it but that I'd never get him in there and we pretty well left it at that. Yet over the past couple months since I've been hitting it full force I can see some interest sparked in him; not just about the eating aspect but the working out part (although he finds the state of my poor hands to be appalling). I can tell he wants it but he doesn't like to do anything unless he's the best at it and he sure as hell isn't going to walk in there and have me out-lift him at every turn. Like so many people that walk into the box for the first time, he's super self conscious and he doesn't realize what the rest of us have long since learned--nobody else gives a shit what you're doing because they're too worried about what they're doing! I'm freakishly excited about his budding interest in paleo and (potentially) Crossfit, but I'm doing my best not to show it too much for fear of spooking him like some kind of wild animal.

I've found myself already loading him up with information, sending him links and trying to explain to him why pasta is the devil and fat is a satiating little merrymaker who's been living with a bad-rep for so many years. All the while I'm sitting on the edge of my seat hoping he will buy into this lifestyle because I know how much healthier he would be and how much easier it would make my life if he were on board as well. At what point do you have to come down off the soapbox and realize people are going to do what they're gonna do and you can't force them wake up and take care of themselves? I know that even though I've had some guides and helping hands along the way, I ultimately had to come to a place of health on my own for myself and realize that only I was responsible for my success or failures. Good intentions don't mean a damn thing, it's what you do that counts.

So how do you begin to explain something as simple and complex as Crossfit? I mean he already sees me coming home drenched in sweat and dirt and occasionally blood, bruised and battered and thinks I've lost my GD mind. How do you explain in words something that elicits so many feelings in you--ask anyone and they will tell you that the box is so much more than the workout.

It's learning something new every day.

It's finding discipline and strength you didn't believe you could ever begin to have.

It's physical, mental and emotional transformation that works from the inside out.

It's a new sense of confidence.

It's doing things you've never been able to do.

It's conquering your own demons.

It's pushing beyond those self-set limits.

It's showing up for yourself.

It's showing up for each other. Community, friends, family--by far the most rewarding part.

I don't know where this whole water-drinking, question-asking phenomenon is going to lead, but I really hope it's a step closer to the box.. Fingers crossed!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Time Well Spent

We spent last weekend out of town for a couple days on a mini vacation, taking the boys to the Louisville Slugger factory, then heading back up to Cincy for the zoo and a Reds game. Britt was out of town with her mom so she wasn't able to come, but I'm learning that going with the flow is a necessity when everyone is going in different directions. Trying to hold all that together is hopeless as herding cats some days, and with a family and a business the glory days of my early 20's seem far away... Goodbye Gulf Shores girls' trips. Much as I love my family I am a little sad to see those days go. But the boys were super pumped about going and it made me happy to see and hear how excited they were to get to do something that I consider so simple.

I spent several hours on the day before our trip running around like a mad-woman trying to get everyone packed and ready to go. There's nothing simple about traveling with this many people, even if only for a long weekend. Extra clothes, snacks for the kids, plenty of activities to occupy them on the drive down (because otherwise Braylon, aka the question man, will drive you bat shit crazy), not to mention planning the trip and getting a hotel, because who doesn't love waiting til the last minute to do these things?! At any rate we pulled it all together and nothing irreplaceable was forgotten.


Becoming a parent and partner to a much larger family has presented me with a lot of new challenges. When it was just Connor and me things were still relatively simple. He was of course first priority, but that didn't make it tough to still do the things I needed/wanted to. Now it's a whole other ball game. The problematic thing about a growing family and more complicated life is that we tend to put ourselves on the back burner and then use our added responsibilities as an excuse to stop taking care of ourselves. Or at least that's what I did, and I think it's a prevalent story in society. Forgoing our duty to ourselves to be all that we can be for everyone else--hello folks, we're mothers not martyrs! Fortunately I've been down the ugly road of zero self-care once before and am unwilling to do it again, so I pulled myself out of that tailspin before things got out of control.

It made me wonder why we sacrifice self-care as a legitimate trade off for being a parent/partner, telling ourselves it's ok to be unhealthy or skip out on exercise because we just don't have time--too busy taking care of everyone else. Newsflash: if you don't take care of yourself first, you're not going to be around to take care of anyone. I may not have been moving into the obesity limelight again, but I can tell you my attitude sucked far worse than it already does when I was dipping out on the gym and slamming pizza and ice cream on the regular. At first I found myself feeling guilty for taking that time away every day to go to the gym, but I realize it is absolutely necessary if I want to be the best version of myself for everyone else, and damnit it makes me feel good.

An hour or so a day at the gym isn't that much in the grand scheme of things, and having friends that I can work out with and talk to about something other than baseball, WWE, or farts is time well spent in my book. Forking out a little more on fresh foods and produce at the grocery store rather than boxed bullshit or mediocre restaurant food every night is worth the payoff. If my kids see me making time to take care of myself (even if that means I have to get up ungodly early), odds are they're going to do the same one day because that's how they assume it should be. Make yourself a priority... taking care of your family isn't a justifiable excuse for not taking care of yourself.

(And if you come to Crossfit, you can buy your kid sweet shirts like this one)