2014 Goals

Photo 5Welcome, 2014! This year is going to be better than 2k(unlucky)13. 2013 definitely had some great moments, but there was a lot of heartbreak, loss, and hardships had by all. I guess this is true of every year, but for some reason it really hit me hard in 2013. Here’s to a much better 2014 of making things happen, BIG changes, new steps in life, and a new me (holla, engineering graduate!!!!!). Also, cheers to starting another new year of being committed to my health and fitness, no matter the challenges. Hopefully this year will be injury-free!!

 

With that being said, here is my list of 14 goals for 2014!

  1. Buy less coffee/make more coffee at home. It takes 7 minutes total, the same amount of time it takes to stop on the way to school. It costs on average about $3/cup at Starbucks depending on the drink (usually just black coffee, but sometimes froo-froo sugary shit…another reason to stop going). At home? Less than 30 cents a cup. If absolutely necessary, only black coffee from Sbux.
  2. Stop eating at so many restaurants so much. They aren’t even special anymore. I want the excitement (and the money…and my body…) back. I stray from my desired dietary choices when I’m out, and that’s bad.
  3. Speaking of, get my freaking will-power back. What happened to the girl who nixed ALL GRAINS for like 5 months, and most alcohol, and almost all refined sugars, and all sodas?! Could I do that at my current state? Hell-to-the-no, especially all at once. Rediscover that drive and dedication. I will not let school absorb ALL of my motivation and dedication.
  4. Travel to a new country. Tops of the list? Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Thailand, Russia. Backpack, sleep in group hostels, take the trains, figure out public transportation systems in languages I don’t understand, walk miles and miles per day to see things that I really want to see. At the very least, check out a couple new states in the US. Get tattooed in far-away places.
  5. Graduate in May(!!!!!!!!!!)/secure a job(!!!!!!!). Don’t settle for a sub-par salary. No unpaid internships/co-ops. No positions that require a degree less than what I have. I know this sounds pretentious, but I have worked so hard to get to where I am now, and I refuse to settle. The jobs are there, it’s just a matter of getting in.
  6. Take more baths. Buy a bath pillow to enjoy them even more. Spend time reading in the tub by candlelight. Read more, period.
  7. Find an adult dog companion for my dog, and add her/him to our furry family. Support Tyler in getting a ferret (worst idea) or a bird (even worse idea) or some kind of small animal. Fix the outside balcony so Buns can roam the entire 60 feet, come Spring.
  8. Purchase a new over/under washer/dryer combo. One that doesn’t rip up our clothes. One that will not twist up clothes and wrinkle them to all hell on the spin cycle of the washer.
  9. Have realistic workout goals. Beat previous CrossFit Total, unassisted ring dips, start working towards muscle-ups, stay injury-free (especially while I’m still trying to get health insurance, faaack), cycling more than 4 HSPUs to one ABMAT, get back into pole dancing after more than a year off, ACTUALLY participate in the CrossFit Open this year (February 27th!!!!!!!!!!!!) instead of breaking bones the week before (ugh), bring that will-power and confidence back (as stated in #3) and stop getting so upset with myself when a workout doesn’t go exactly how I planned it to, and use the gym as an escape from reality instead of a burden (never forget the feeling of physically not being able to workout and how absolutely horrible it was).
  10. Keep visiting family. I tend to drop off in the middle months of the year, and I refuse to let that happen this year. Built-in bonus, this means visiting Erin, Krystal, and Shaun more!
  11. Take better care of my hair/skin/nails. Make all three look nice more often. Allot time to blowdry hair more often, or to do fancier up-dos instead of my go-to top-knot or messyass bun.
  12. Be a more compassionate friend and partner. Spend less time focusing on loss, and more time on what (and more importantly, who) is still here. Recognize, evaluate and eliminate selfish behaviors. Feel less sorry for myself. Reclaim my inner strength and peace. Stop comparing myself to others.
  13. Take more photos. Maybe attempt to do something artistic. Frame/hang some older work. Frame/hang some new work. Be proud of creating again.
  14. Learn to love the mornings. Get new window treatments (New curtains? Plantation blinds? New rod system?) to aid in waking up earlier. Make full breakfasts more frequently. Cut down on alarms (3-5, normally) and snooze-button use (3+ times per alarm). Take more morning showers. Get in a nice long morning walks with Lady. Try to wake up early enough to spend some early morning time with Tyler (key word: try).

A Few Nights of Ranting, Put Together Semi-Coherently.

Yesterday, for the first time in a week I was actually hungry. I had a pretty filling dinner, and then I just couldn’t stop eating! It felt great, and then today I had a huge lunch/dinner. I am so beyond excited to get back into the box and workout, once I fully kick this. Being sick has got me thinking a lot. It might be all the time spent on the couch, or the cough syrup with codeine, but my brain has been very active. After the last week of hardly eating anything, I realized that I have lost a bunch of weight. When I open my mouth wide, my cheeks sink in right below the cheek bones as the jawbone flares out. My hips are protruding and my abdominal muscles have started to disappear. The bones in my shoulders are more pronounced, instead of the muscles surrounding them.

I know I talk about this a lot, but it’s so important. In the past, the sight of these things would probably have left me absolutely elated…which is pretty sad. Honestly, I look unhealthy. I look sickly, which I have been, thanks for bronchitis, strep throat, and an upper respiratory infection. But this is what I always wanted, right? Not anymore. Now, I want to be bigger. I want more mass, so I can support larger, stronger muscles and move more weight. I want to be considered “athletic.” I look at women working out at my box and idolize them for how large and toned their thighs are and how much they’re able to squat, or for how wide their lats flare out during anything overhead, or for how stable their trunks are while clean and jerking well above their body weight. “You look so tiny under all of that weight!!” is the quote said to me that will forever echo in my head. Looking tiny is something that females are supposed to want, thanks to stereotypes and outside influences. I had a past partner tell me not to work towards a 6-pack because girls with 6-packs are unattractive. You can hear women all the time saying they want to tone but don’t want to “be bulky” because muscular women are seen as unfeminine and gross. What few people realize is that it is extremely hard to “bulk up” with muscle as a female. We just don’t have the gene-stuff to enable this without an intense amount of work, way more than most are willing to put in, and way less than it takes a male. I’m willing to put in the work because I do want it. I want to be big and strong and helpful and successful and energized and exciting and adventurous. Why would you not want those for your life?

Crossfit has had more of a positive influence on my body image than I ever could have imagined. And my nutrition. And my whole life. I will never again look at magazines full of photoshopped women (oh yeah, art school kind of ruined magazines for me early-on, anyway) and want to look like them. I will never again see fad diets and fasts and cleanses for weight loss as acceptable means for transformation of my own body (read: do what you want, just my own opinion for myself). I have found something that has screwed my head on straight and I’m seeing better results than I ever have in my life doing anything else, back when I was “trying to be skinny.” Which is something I did. For a long time. Never. Effing. Again.

Anyway, the moral of this rant is that I can’t wait to get back to working out again. I have been thinking about goal-setting; I have a few longer term goals that I am still working on, but accomplished a few of the short term ones fairly recently. Deadlift over 150lbs, 10 unbroken kipping pull-ups, 1 strict pull-up, and squat my bodyweight were all of these. I had time deadlines on them, and met every single one. Set goals with a time line, make a plan to work towards them daily, and make them a reality. The payoff is so great.

Tough Mudder in 6 days! Hopefully I’ll be in full health by then. I’ll probably be pretty silent on here for the next week, since I still won’t be training in order to get back to being healthy, pre-Mudder. But you can guarantee you’ll be hearing from me afterwards. And whether I had to walk the entire course or not, I will have completed Tough freaking Mudder, another one of my goals.

T-Minus 10 Days…

Here I am again, 10 days before Tough Mudder. I’ve been counting down the days since last month’s fiasco, training hard and keeping up with my workouts, until getting sick this weekend. I’m having serious fears of failure, this time around. My body feels so weak from being ill, my lungs and chest hurt every time I breathe, every muscle is sore from coughing constantly, and the idea of moving at anything faster than a crawl is sickening. I’m sure the fears of failure all come from these feelings; fighting illness has a heavy mental component for me. I have to not let it consume me, while at the same time taking it easy enough to not over-do it. I’m scared of so many things about TM, currently. Will I freak out while crawling through the tunnels and not be able to finish? Will I lose a shoe halfway through? Will I not be able to get up Everest? But most importantly, what if I’m not even well enough to run it? What if my bronchitis cough is still lingering? What if my lungs can’t handle the stress I put them under and I end up really injuring myself?

I’m going to do everything within my power to get better before then. But it’s so hard with the demands of college and midterms, and also battling severe sleep problems, concurrently. I am strong. I am a fighter. But there is only so much I can do with the timeframe of a week and a half, and this brokenass body. Aaaand I’m crying. It’s ridiculous how much running this means to me, and the thought that I might not get to yet again is absolutely heartbreaking. I must stay positive and not stress myself out any more than I already am. This has to be okay. This has to work out in my favor in the end. It just has to.

Sunday 9/16 Climbing at Carderock, MD

Tyler and I took a couple friends rock climbing today and we had an absolute blast. One of them grabbed my camera towards the end and took some killer photos of us climbing, and I feel awful because I hardly got any of her! I am so sore from the last ascent I did. We woke up at 6:30am today (I know, on a Sunday!!!) and headed to Carderock at 7 to set up a good climb spot that had easy to hard climbs accessible from the one point. Our spot was perfect.

 

 

 

Click through for a ton of non-phone photos!

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Reflection!

Okay guys, this is about to get a little wordy. This past weekend I was away celebrating a big birthday for my mom, with her and my father. We had a really great time, saw two Frank Lloyd Wright houses, went on a handful of adventures, had a bunch of champagne, and ate some of the best food of my life. Every single restaurant had different kinds of gluten-free bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and designated menues), so I definitely overindulged in that, but I also managed to workout on Saturday and Sunday while there, and walk until my legs felt shaky on both Sunday and Tuesday. I also got my parents into the gym with me, which was awesome. The gym had its own little café bar thing, and we ordered huge omelettes, protein shakes, fresh squeezed juices after our workouts. I would log those workouts here, but they weren’t anything spectacular because they didn’t have any free barbells for oly lifts, just a Smith Machine, which makes everything so much easier!! I could deadlift for days on that thing.

I unknowingly overdid it on my calf raises last week, and wound up with tight, crampy, shortened calves for about three days. It was awful. I literally felt like my calves were going to snap every time I stood up after sitting for more than 3 minutes. The crazy part is, as I was leaving the gym, I thought to myself “I definitely should have done two more sets of those.” Dear workoutgods, had I done that, I would have been 100% paralyzed from the waist down. It is so crazy, because I absolutely did not feel like I had worked them that hard at all. That was pretty scary.

I returned home Tuesday evening and went straight to class, and today I got in a 500m swim between classes. As I was relaxing in the hottub afterwards, I stared ever-so-longingly into one of the gym’s workout rooms, watching people stretch pre- and post-workouts. I wanted more than anything to get in and workout. And I want more than anything to go to Crossfit tomorrow. And Friday. But guess what? TOUGH MUDDER IS THREE DAYS AWAY.

As I mentioned before, I accidentally crippled myself doing calf raises last week. I am so worried that I will do some strange workout that will destroy my legs and I will be in bad shape for Tough Mudder. I kept it light with the swimming today, and might try to get into Crossfit tomorrow and take it SUPER easy, and just do enough to get my muscles warm.

I am so incredibly excited for Tough Mudder. It was what started me back on this fitness kick, and my motivator throughout the summer to keep working out, discover new Crossfit boxes and ways to workout on my vacations, and never let myself back out because I was tired/lazy/busy/stressed. I have more than doubled my loads on all of my lifts, been able to preform faster, increased my endurance, improved my running, accomplished lots of minigoals (to name a few: unassisted pull-ups, strict push-ups, squat more than 100lbs, full toes-to-bar, string together 30+ doubleunders!!!!! All of these are so great!!!!!), and have completely changed my goals for this fitness journey into being the best, strongest, fastest, most energetic me that I can possibly be. I need to start setting more goals with dates that I want to accomplish them by, and I need a new white rabbit, like Tough Mudder has been. I’ve had so much fun chasing it, and all of a sudden it’s only three days away. I’ll be taking my camera in order to get lots of “during” photos, and I think Tyler might even be wearing our GoPro cam. If you don’t hear from me until Saturday night/Sunday, I apologize, but I think I’m just going to keep taking it easy so as not to overexert myself before crushing the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done. I can’t freaking wait.

 

Why I Lift Weights

I have been working on this post for a few days now. Lifting weights has become such an important part of my life in such a short period of time. Back in September of 2011 when we first tried Crossfit, I knew my fitness life was about to be drastically changed for the better. I had found something that felt right, and that I knew would give me the results I’d been in search of for years.

If you’d like to know my top 7 reasons why I lift weights, keep reading. It’s super text-heavy with no images, but who knows, something might resonate within you and cause you to finally give it a try.

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Back to the Grind…on Vacation!

I went and saw an amazing orthopedic surgeon for my shoulder on Wednesday. His name is Dr. James Gasho and he is located in Chevy Chase, MD. I can’t say enough great things about him. He tested a bunch of ranges of movement, and at the very end, without any feeling around, pushed his index finger right into my shoulder and pinpointed the EXACT location of the pain. I couldn’t even tell you exactly where it was located, after having it for four days. It was amazing, but also made me squirm in utter pain. The verdict? An inflamed rotator cuff (no tear, whew!!) and some extra-strength anti-inflammatory pills. Avoid a few certain movements, but other than that I am okay to keep working out. I just need to keep listening to my body, and if something hurts I need to back off.

I also had a chance to ask about my other shoulder from the AC injury I had in the beginning of the year. It turns out I must have injured the joints at both ends of my right clavicle, because where my collar bone connects with my sternum will click with certain rotations now, and protrudes slightly more than the left side. He felt the clicking and poked around at the spot, and said it would only be a mild annoyance, and was nothing to worry about. He said it’s a strong joint, and will probably always be a little sore on and off, but that the best thing for it is to leave it the hell alone.

I seriously can’t say enough good things about him and his practice. The office was laid back but professional, and very to-the-point. He had gotten hung up with an older couple earlier in the morning, so the wait was a little longer than I would have liked, but that’s almost to be expected these days.

In other news, this morning I took my final exam for the second class of my summer semester, and Tyler and I headed down to the beach! I can’t wait to get back into Crossfit Carteret and take Tyler!! We’re planning lots of Crossfit, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, swimming, and tons of other exciting activities, so this will definitely be an action-packed ten days!!! Now that I have the okay to go back to working out finally, expect normal WOD posts and pictures! I’m even going to try to get some video this week!

Stereotypes Are The Worst!

Two pictures that my good friend, The Caveman’s Man, took of me for a different type of blog (post is safe for work, overall blog not safe for work/body modification-related/some gross stuff/don’t look at the rest if you’re not into that) have me thinking lately. As someone with more than half of a brain, I view all different kinds of things as body modification: dentistry, cosmetic surgery, tattoos, scarification, piercings, body sculpting, and the list goes on. As a “modified” female, there are lots of stereotypes. Tattooed and pierced women are very overly-sexualized through the media, and that is one of the main reasons why I have been so shy about pole dancing for so many years. My joke is “I don’t get paid to do it, I pay to do it!” which I do, since I pay for my sessions at my pole studio. I have had strangers in the grocery store ask me if I model for certain tattooed/pierced “adult modeling websites,” and that is infinitely far away from how I want to be seen as a woman. On a different spectrum, women who get breast augmentation or face lifts are immediately dubbed “superficial.” People who get lipo are “taking the easy way out.” Sean’s post focuses on how we have both taken the step into a different form of body modification from what some modified individuals would normally consider a typical modification: health, fitness, and some rockin’ strong bodies.

Along with all of these stereotypes, there exists those about women who lift weights or are looking to make a drastic change in their body compositions. Many will discourage women from trying to achieve (the elusive) 6-pack, or from weight lifting in general because they think muscley girls are “gross.” Well, I hate to break it to those people, but it’s not your decision!!! Being strong is amazing. I love being able to piggyback and lift my 6’7″ muscular boyfriend who tops over 200lbs. I love not struggling with a bunch of heavy grocery bags. I love being able to help move heavy furniture. I love being in good shape and being able to run up flights of stairs without getting winded. I’m healthy, fit, strong, motivated, driven, and dedicated. You’re right, all of that is so gross.

There are always going to be certain stereotypes or displeasure from other people when you do anything to better yourself in your own eyes. Be yourself, love yourself, make changes that better yourself, and fuck the rest. People will always question you because of their own insecurities, and it’s sad that this happens. You can’t please everyone, so you might as well just please yourself! It’s been a long road for me to really understand and accept this, and I am so happy I finally have.

 

80lb Clean and Jerk.

Typical Crossfit Questions

I talk about Crossfit a lot. Whenever it comes up in conversation with someone who has never tried it, I can almost guarantee that a certain slew of questions will come rapid-fire, and I’ve done my best to prepare educated responses, in order to quickly and efficiently get the message across of what Crossfit is all about, before the person loses interest or just flat-out decides that I’m full of beans. These are the questions, with my explanation that I try to give. I hope this will help at least someone feel more comfortable about taking the step to give Crossfit a try!

  1. Isn’t Crossfit hard? Yes! Crossfit is hard! Do you know what else is hard? Remembering to drink enough water every day. Having to work and having a job. Remembering to do your laundry before you run out of underwear. Putting yourself into new social situations to meet people. We do these things because they will advance us to a position more favorable in our own eyes. Be the motivation hydration, money, clean undies, a boyfriend/girlfriend or other, there is a drive that makes us follow through with everything in our lives. For me, the drive is there for working out. I feel better, sleep better, eat better, look better, study better, take care of myself better, and move better when I’m going to Crossfit regularly. Why would I not want to do it?! Because it’s hard? Hard is relative. And let’s be serious, it is one hour of intense working out, that’s it, and all of a sudden I feel like a goddess.
  2. Can I do the workouts at home/my gym/without going to Crossfit? Eeeehhhhh. It’s not as easy as a black and white answer. You cando them on your own, but that doesn’t mean that you should. There are lots of reasons for this: A. You don’t have someone monitoring your form and making sure that you’re not on the road to injuring yourself. B. You might miss the point of the workout without getting the proper instruction (ie. go fast and light, slow and heavy, some mix of the two, etc.). C. You push yourself WAY harder when you are in the group workout. You may think that you can push yourself hard enough, but I swear to you, you have way more in you than you think. It’s amazing. D. Access to proper CF equipment/space is not always available at all gyms. E. Crossfit is really about community. You miss that entire aspect if you’re doing it at home. You meet people on the same journey as you and they hold you accountable for your workouts, and you start to feel guilty if you skip out on one because it’s “too hard,” and they will probably give you shit about it (nicely, of course!). F. See number 5 where I talk about how amazing the coaches are. I could go on and on and ON about why it’s better to train at a box. But those are my main reasons.
  3. Do I have to join a Crossfit box with a membership? No, but most Crossfit programs say that in order to really get the benefits you should be attending no less than 3 times a week. Almost all boxes will let you drop-in (provided you have completed a foundations class…and some extra cash), and offer different monthly packages depending on how many times your schedule will allow you to attend, and those are always cheaper than paying for 3 drop-ins a week for 4 weeks.
  4. Don’t you feel weird working out around so many people who could be watching you? At first it was very intimidating. And then I realized that everyone is so focused on their own workouts that no one pays attention to anyone else, except maybe to chat with their friends. I don’t feel like a piece of meat when I walk into a box (which is 120% how I feel going into normal gyms, especially when working on olympic lifts), I feel like a female about to rock the shit out of whatever WOD is programmed for the day.
  5. Isn’t it expensive? Personal training is expensive, right? That’s essentially what you’re getting at Crossfit. The trainers/coaches get to know you, everyone introduces themselves if they don’t recognize you, they remember your past injuries, work around current soreness/tightness/issues, and are a bottomless information source. They see when you’re struggling and come and coach you through when you need it. They’re the most attentive trainers on Earth. I’ve worked individually with trainers who I would classify as extremely inattentive, especially compared to those I’ve had at every Crossfit location I’ve been to. You truly get what you pay for.
  6. More-so a comment than a question: I could never do that!/I’m not strong enough for that! Really?! Because I think that is a big load of excusescrap! I couldn’t do a push-up, a pull-up, or run half a mile without walking when I started. Most people are in the same boat. Everyone can do it. It’s scaleable. That’s how they are able to have a Masters category at the Crossfit Games for people 60+ years old! You start slow, you start light, you start where you’re comfortable. Fitness isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon, and so is Crossfit, and that’s what is so wonderful about it.
  7. How do I sign up!?! Go to CrossfitHQ’s website and search for affiliates in your area. Contact them and see what their options for newcomers are. Most of them will offer a free class or allow you to drop into a WOD, and they will coach you along and give you all the necessary information for completing it within your fitness level. Check out a few, if there is more than one option in your area. Then, sign up for their foundations or beginners course, start going, and show up to some WODs! Now get off your butt and take the first step!!!