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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Day 71

Day 71

Day 71.

I am looking forward to the end but formulating what’s next. What’s the point of finishing 75hard only to return to the exact same habits as before it started?

As I’ve written before, daily walks will continue. Strength training 3-4 times a week and yoga on Sunday. The intensity may feel exactly the same but there is something comforting about working to reaching a goal without the compulsion of completing a challenge.

Besides the Trifecta goal next year, there is a weight loss goal but I don’t care as much about that as I did a couple of months ago. I want (and will have) the fitness to achieve my goals. This brings to mind another thought. Not caring what anyone thinks about my goal will be paramount to my success. Not naysayers, family, friends, my gym community or what I have come to experience most recently–the presence of a pushy online trainer on social media trying to find out exact details (like my weight) in order to give me unsolicited advice.

I will always appreciate and love support but I won’t depend on outside validation to become who I need to be to cross the line all three times in 2020.

 

Walk

Walk

Day 68 of 75hard.

I had a 5:30am strength class. I struggled to elephant crawl on the AstroTurf, quaking breath and wobbly arms, but it got done. I drove home, jumped out of the car and took a walk.

The long kind of meditative walk that I won’t stop taking once this challenge is over next Friday.

My mind wanders and winds as much as my feet do on these walks. So much to observe. The lonely cats. The barefoot woman who runs out to start and warm up her car before scurrying back in. The trashmen in dayglow vests dragging receptacles across the dewey grass. The children with their hoodies up and heads down, buried in their phones.

I remind myself often to pray. Say thank you, Kristina. You were blessed to wake up today. Your husband woke up today. Your family is healthy. Pray they feel loved and safe and want for nothing.

I may listen to something. But no earphones. I let the sound ring out from the depths of my coat pocket. When I started these walks 68 days ago, I anticipated my fitness changing, growing but I didn’t anticipate the gratification.

I think it’s better that way. Finding it, falling into a practice rather than entering full of assumptions. That is where the authenticity can be found.

There’s More

There’s More

I am home now. I feel my muscles vibrating and my heart still pumping several minutes after class is over. This Afterburn class is designed to destroy limits. All of the strength training classes I am taking are also designed for this purpose but tonight was something else… mountain climbers, push-ups, burpees, lunges, touchdown squats and something I had never heard of…Figure 8’s?

As I was winding a kettlebell through my legs, up back to my chest and back through my legs on the other side, there were many audible grunts. Another class member and I “competed” in pulling an infinity rope machine through 10 rounds at the end of the session. I thought I had nothing left when she asked us to do it. Did she not see my sweat and hear my heavy breath?

But when she called time, I pulled as if I had a shot in beating this very fit man next to me.

What’s occuring to me is that just when I think I have nothing left, just when I think I should be passed out on the gym floor, my will shows up.

There’s almost always more left.

The tank is only empty if I tell myself it is. If I set myself up with enough sleep, water, the proper food and vitamins, then it is possible.

I can give more of myself.

 

Afterburn

Afterburn

I don’t have much to say except for the strength training class I took tonight lived up to its name. Burpees, swimmers, steps, dumbbells, TRX, kettle bells and the return of the foam roller. I didn’t feel as nervous for the second class and the instructor was just as positive and encouraging as the last one. I am actually starting to look forward to the next one on Friday morning.

I am exhausted but it is worth it. Last night before I went to bed, all I felt like doing was working on my short story and I scribbled furiously into my notebook, trying not to forget any details I needed to get down. Tonight, I foresee passing out, happy with no intention of writing but hopeful everything I am investing in my body today will manifest as energy and creativity on many more tomorrows.

First Day

First Day

Today was my first day of strength training class. My plan is to go 3-4 times a week in preparation for my first Sprint race. Even though I am not a complete novice to weight training, I never have regularly done it.

Before class, I had a serious case of nerves. I knew everything would be fine but I told Hubby I felt like a little kid on the first day of school. I jokingly asked him to drop me off at class and wave at me from the window.

When I arrived, a group of three was preparing for class. Everyone was obviously already familiar with one another but they were all welcoming. My nerves bubbled up again as they seemed ready to jump into the workout but the instructor had already assured me I would get some personal attention.

Her patience was real and as soon as I felt it, I calmed down and my focus narrowed to concentrating on learning the movements. I completed the class and afterwards we spent time with the foam roller which was a new experience for me. Painful but I definitely see the necessity.

I am hoping every teacher is as lovely as this one but if not, I am still willing to show up. My curiosity is driving the bus these days. It wants me to see if I turn into the kind of woman who loves weightlifting and will be able to scale walls, swing from bar to bar and hang a finisher’s medal around my neck.

The Butterfly and the Lion

Right now, I am thinking of burning it all down. I am thinking of torching it and watching its splendid ashes float to the ground. Every time I step outside of my chalk-lined box or circle forever made around me. That is what I am doing.

I am lighting the match. I am knocking down trees with my bare fists, not caring how bloodied my knuckles become. Because I get to be the bulldozer and not the bulldozed. You may think it takes an act of gigantic proportion but to me, it is whipping around Manhattan on tired feet last week or opening my mouth and letting the words fall out, letting them hang and sit for my sister to hear, the words I have longed to tell her for almost 2 years—I miss you.

The act of taking this class and not apologizing for sitting here on a Wednesday morning. Every new thing, everything I hadn’t seen myself doing burns it down, slays a monster, feels like I could give a butterfly the strength of a lion.

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It closes the curtain of who I thought I was, what I “should” be doing, fear of what someone would say or how lost I would become.

That curtain doesn’t get to come back up.