Athlete Ready?

Athlete Ready?

This past weekend I became a Strongwoman. I may have always known there was an inner strength but I unveiled a woman that was physically strong, too.

My gym hosted a Strongman competition. There were many classes (light and heavyweight women and men, master’s men and women, novice men and women which was my category). I also found out we had fitness trainers among the competition which made me proud that people like me who don’t work in the fitness industry could hang and in some cases, beat those who do.

I had my husband, friends and family there to cheer me on which besides the friendly and vibrant Strongman community, was the best part. They knew and understood my investment –the time, the money and the conviction it took to believe I could do it. It would have not been as special without them.

There were five events: the log press (65lbs lifted repeatedly overhead for a minute), the deadlift (my favorite starting at 125lbs–met my goal of 315lbs), the husafel carry (carrying a 110lb iron tomb-shaped structure 100ft), the hand over hand sled pull (pulling the sled 50 ft across AstroTurf while sitting in the middle of a tire) and the sandball toss (for my class, throwing a 10lb, 15lb and 20lb over a 12ft caution tape in the fastest time).

I placed 4th in log press (16 lifts), 1st in deadlift, 3rd in husafel (16.77 seconds), 5th in hand over hand sled (I lost my balance and fell out of the tire but I was 2 pulls away from finishing before getting back in to complete it) and 2nd in the sandball toss (15.65 seconds). Overall, I finished 3rd!

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I am incredibly proud of entering the competition, daring to see myself as an athlete, grateful for pushing past fear to recognize my body’s ability and of course, for medaling my first time out.

If you had told me six months ago I would be standing in a gym, hearing someone ask “Athlete ready?”, I would have definitely thought you couldn’t have been talking about me.  But there I was standing in a gym, with chalky palms, bruised forearms, broken nails,  sore arms and a genuine smile feeling more like myself than ever.

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At 315lbs! Adrenaline rush is real! Could have pulled more but this was my PR.

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What’s Next

What’s Next

I have been thinking about what it means to do it all. Recently, I was asked to recognize that just because I can do it doesn’t mean I should. It also doesn’t mean I should try to do it all at the same time because it rarely works well and something inevitably falls through the cracks.

I have been taking time to figure out what that means to me. I am still training for my Strongman competition next month, gearing up to accelerate training for the Spartan Trifecta, planning a workshop with a partner and I have started facilitating a creative non-fiction class at a non-profit for returning citizens.

While I love all of it, I am yearning to devote more time to short stories and reading. So I am. Even if it means one of the other things (like posting here) temporarily falls by the wayside. After reading “Heads of the Colored People” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, I reconnected with the part of me that needs to slow down and explore what it means to bring my heart and imagination together on the page.

I remembered fretting over prompts given to me in a fiction writing class last year but ultimately happy when the stories came to fruition. I was even looking forward (albeit nervously) to critique by my classmates and teacher. I wanted to get better.

So this is me.

Saying yes to what’s next.

 

Last Week

Last Week

Last week, I saw “Just Mercy” based on the book by Bryan Stevenson and I left not knowing what to do with the rage and helplessness for several hours afterwards.

I had a long talk with a friend and she gifted me a magazine full of thoughtful essays.

I went back to Hot Vinyasa yoga and fought my body and then accepted it for what it CAN do.

I trained 3 times and felt gratitude for the love I have consistently showed my temple.

I watched a show that made me tremble for the world’s future and wonder how I can be brave.

I got a solid and unexpected reminder of what love looks like  (love is a verb) by my husband.

The fear that left me with a sense of paralysis after this past summer’s family health scare seems to have taken leave and I won’t be inviting it to come back over.

Whatever was fragile is whole.

And I will hold onto it for as long as this world will let me.

 

 

Battle

Battle

I know I will look back on this month as the time I chose to bet on myself AND trust God.

I am starting to increase my training this week to ready myself for the strongman competition in March. I finally have a date set to facilitate my first class (February 5th!). I am signing up for the second race in the Spartan Trifecta soon and buying my copyright for “What I Love About You” this week.

Executing on all of these things means I am fighting ancient battles, ones so old I was not even 10 years old when they began. I am worn from the fights but I have a renewed energy.

I was standing in the ocean a couple of days ago, foamy cool waves soaking my feet and brushing against my calves. I thought about what I want my life to look like and the things I want to let go. I want to make room for all of the possibility and trust all of the new I am embarking on will bring me to a place where some of those battle scars will have healed.

I want to go back at the beginning of 2021 to the same spot and reminisce on who I was and all of the changes I made. No journey is ever really over but I want leave the intensity of the fear and uncertainty behind.

Set it free.

Set myself free.

 

 

 

Salt

Salt

Last Saturday, Hubby and I went to a salt cave for the first time. Months ago, I looked at a couples massage in a salt cave for a weekend getaway but didn’t end up going. When I saw a deal on Groupon for a local salt cave, I jumped at the chance to try it for the following reasons:

“Halotherapy is known to help relieve skin conditions, stress, high blood pressure, respiratory infections, hangovers, and allergies. Salt is a natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial.”

And also because I didn’t want to shut down any modes of therapy that may prove beneficial just because I don’t know much about it.

I set a 45-minute appointment for two chairs at a spa that primarily does float therapy and has an infrared sauna. The cave was dimly lit with 4 cream-colored reclining chairs. We were surrounded by bricks of Himalayan salt from Pakistan and the floor was also covered in salt. We were each given a fresh pair of socks to wear as to not track salt back into our own shoes after the session. 

 

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I don’t know if it was the gradual release of salt-infused air into the cave but I drifted off easily when I chose to use the wireless headphones provided to us.

When our session was over, I just thought it was a great way to get quality rest. However the next day, that changed.

I don’t know if I can attribute it to the salt but the nagging pain in my left ankle from the light sprain and the strain on the left side of my right knee disappeared. It’s been a few days and it hasn’t come back. I am willing to explore it more because I have heard of the healing properties for people living with psoriasis.

Since the completion of 75hard, my desire to experience life more fully has only grown and I am glad it now includes halotherapy.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

2019 held lots of beautiful memories. It was truly full of firsts– indoor rock climbing, my first open mic, teacher facilitation training, someone telling me I could be an athlete (Strong woman, here I come!), submitting a short story, throwing axes, completing 75hard, my first pole fitness class, attending Summit of Greatness solo, the publication of The Digital Storytelling Project for Women of Color and my citation in “Liminalities” and finally getting around to buying necessities to distribute my E-book (coming in 2020).

I also experienced some of the most scary moments in my life– terrible anxiety, unexplained pain, calling 911 for the first time and spending many nights in the hospital with Hubby this summer (we are so blessed he is well). There were times when I did not know if our lives would look even remotely the same. I knew better than to wallow in sadness and feed into the defeat and sadness that sometimes threatened to overtake me but I wasn’t always successful. I had to trust God and our past triumphs over health trials guide us back to the place we were supposed to be.

I reviewed 2019 and it would be fitting to set goals for 2020. Because I have already started work on the goals I intend to complete for 2020 (the Spartan Trifecta, Strong woman competition, book selling, teaching writing next year ), I will continue what I have been doing. Anything else I aspire to do like more reading, writing, travel and volunteering will be done but I don’t want to see it as part of a resolve to be a new person, I see it as a natural evolution.

Evolving into this person who chooses her experiences, forgiveness and leaves who and what does not serve her behind.

Happy New Year to all of you.

I send love and peace of mind as we start a new decade and revolution around the sun.

 

75Hard Recap

75Hard Recap

It’s Day 76. 75hard is over which means I accomplished the following:

150 workouts (mostly walks but many strength training workouts)

Drank 75 gallons of water

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Stuck to my diet (calorie counting for me) using the Lose It app.

Lost over 20 pounds.

Read over 750 pages of personal development books.

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No alcohol (I already didn’t drink)

I recapped more of the emotional side yesterday and I have said it before but it bears repeating:

I am less afraid.

The thing I thought I would be more fearful of was what to do next but it’s clear I had nothing to fear. Today, I went to a small group workout, took a walk and along with Hubby and a friend, climbed for the first time at an indoor gym.

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Even though the mental transformation far outweighs the physical, here are a couple of pictures to showcase that aspect:

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Today and August 2019
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Day 75 vs Day 1

I feel more confident about the next steps I am taking. If anyone is wondering if I would do it again, the answer is a resounding Yes. If anyone is doubting if they can do it, please don’t. The old saying is true: You will find the time for the things that matter to you.

One last note.

I loved that unintentionally the bloglikecrazy challenge came at the same time I was winding down with 75hard. I have a record of these last 30 days which included teacher training, strength classes, a fulfilling writing intensive and the introduction of the idea that I will one day be a Spartan and a Strongwoman.

 

All Done

All Done

There will be more reflection tomorrow but I have to acknowledge I made it to Day 75!

I both completely believe it and have a sense of disbelief that it’s almost done. I just have a few more ounces of water, dinner to track and I will close my eyes to wake up to Day 76.

I keep thinking about Friday, September 13th. I was at lunch with my friend explaining the challenge to her, asking if she’d like to join me. We agreed to start on Monday the 16th. That could have given me pause right there–starting on a Monday. How many times had I said that?

But this time was different. I didn’t have a special restrictive diet or fast to stick to and this was more about developing mental toughness which I lacked.

The morning of Monday, September 16th came. I was in bed, contemplating an excuse to not start and then my friend sent a text. I saw her name but didn’t read it. Seeing her name was the impetus for me to roll out of bed, get dressed and take my first walk in the neighborhood. It wasn’t until I was out there that I opened the text. It was a picture of her and a message saying her first workout was done. My response: “Yes! Doing first workout now!”

I know she’ll read this and see I might have sabotaged myself on yet another Monday if she hadn’t been stronger than me that day.

So I thank her for being my partner. I thank my husband for filling up gallon water bottles, packing lunches, taking pictures and pushing me on the days when the second workout ended up beginning later than anticipated.

I owe gratitude to all the people who supported me and to God, whom I prayed to repeatedly asking for strength to finish and for a host of other things during this time.

No more words tonight.

Tomorrow may be day 76 and the challenge is over but I have a walk I want to take and a small group workout I will choose to participate in.

Because this is only the beginning.

 

 

Day 74

Day 74

I am spending time with family. I often wish I could bring all members of my family together, in-laws and all. But I am grateful for the faces I see today and not even feeling the slightest hint of bitterness about what I have left to do to complete day 74.  One more workout and a few ounces of water left will have it all done.  Since I am sitting passenger side and on the way back home, I am keeping this short. I don’t want to miss many more moments.

Day 75 tomorrow!

Self-actualization

Self-actualization

Noun

the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.

At Afterburn class tonight, I was the only person who showed up. I was ready to work but didn’t expect to talk about where I have been or where I see myself going.

While warming up, my teacher asked me about how I spend my days. I told her about my day job and my writing and upcoming teaching. And then she asked a question I knew I would be writing about this evening:

“Do you feel self-actualized?”

I told her I feel it more now than ever before but I think it’s a journey. With the addition of these strength training and weekly yoga classes, there is a distinct difference for me. I had to change the fitness story I’ve been telling myself forever. It used to go like this:

I like to walk and jog, preferably outside. I love to dance and water aerobics but that’s really it. I don’t like weightlifting. It’s boring and it’s just not for me. I have never been an athlete.

In just a few short weeks, I am ready to alter some of those details:

I love weightlifting, especially one on one or in a small group. I love to dance, go to water aerobics classes, walking and jogging outside everyday and challenge the flexibility and strength of my body in yoga. I am an athlete, training to compete in a Strongman and my first Spartan race in a few months time. I love the powerful woman I am becoming.

There is no destination for me. I believe I am constantly unfolding and breaking old molds. I am in a state of perpetual vulnerability which can be equal parts exhausting and exhilarating.

And completely worthwhile.