The Horse’s Mouth, Apple Carts, and Other Stupid Metaphors

Well, hey there. Life has taken a bit of a hectic turn–as it tends to do just when things start to feel like smooth sailing–and we’re in a period of transition over here as my husband settles into his great new job with the not-so-great commute. Of course, more commute time=a much longer day for him, and a lot of added stress on both of us as I have to man the ship here at home and do all the kid-related running around, most of the cooking, etc. Like so many worthwhile things in life, this new job for him has given us new challenges, but it’s worth it.

And as you know from my last few posts, I’m not quitting, but I am struggling to find a balance between the hectic-ness and continuing my forward motion on this journey into badassery.

I’ve written about 10 blog posts (in my head, of course, where they’re not as interesting to you) but by the time I get a minute to sit down in front of the computer, I draw a blank. What was that fabulous phrase I had in mind while I was driving to class at 5:20 the other morning? Or the gem I came up with just before I drifted off to a dead sleep last Tuesday night?

So I came up with a fairly brilliant idea and started using the voice recorder on my phone. It helps while I’m driving, as I usually tend to be the most inspired on my way to or from workouts. I’ve had this one recording I thought had some good ideas in it for about three days and kept trying to get to working it into a post. And it just hasn’t happened.

So then I came up with a possibly even more brilliant idea but semi-terrifying idea to just give you the straight recording…why don’t I just transcribe that shit for you so you can get the crazy thoughts straight from the horse’s–er, my–mouth? I’m not going to edit it or try to make it make sense. I’m just going to give it to you. Talk about getting real. I am not thrilled about doing this but it’s in line with my stepping further and further out of my comfort zone, and giving you a birds’ eye view into my struggles.

Here goes (please let me type fast):

“I’ve been trying to figure things out. I’ve been trying to figure out what my problem is…why my attitude is so bad…(insert sound of blinker clicking…) I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m so grouchy when a couple of weeks ago I was so excited about what I was doing and how I was progressing. My progress didn’t stop. So what was the problem? Why did I lost my excitement for my journey, including writing in the blog?

I was waiting. I was waiting for…no, I wasn’t waiting. That’s bullshit. Let’s be honest. I was putting off. I was putting off writing another post until I had it all figured out. Ha! Yeah, right.

And then I remembered. People that read this blog…that like to read this blog…don’t need me to have it all figured out. Part of what I wanted to do on this blog was share my ‘figuring out’ process. I definitely don’t have it figured out yet, but here is what I know:

  • I like waking up at 4:30am. I like sipping my coffee and having some quiet time in the morning.
  • What I like even better is going to the gym after my coffee-sipping, working my ass off and coming out feeling like a f**king rock star.

But after that morning high, why am I so up and down throughout the day? That’s what I don’t know. Why do I let the fact that we’re in a time of transition affect me so much?

Because I’m a human being, that’s why. Duh.

So here we are in another time of transition and uncertainty, and I’m worrying. About a lot of things. I’m worrying about my family, I’m worrying about money, I’m worrying about…why am I worrying so much? What are my expectations? What am I trying to make happen that I can’t control? Because that’s what makes me worry. When I can’t control stuff.

Here’s another thing I know…what I can control is my own choices. And when I start to feel out of control with other things in my life, I start to let control of my food go. That’s stupid! That’s counterintuitive. Why would I do that? Why wouldn’t I take control over the things I CAN control? I don’t know. Human nature? At least, my human nature.

So you see I’m still figuring it out, but I have to hold onto the things I know.

  • When things feel out of control, I can control my own choices.
  • Endorphins are good, and I especially love them after morning workouts.
  • When I eat a brownie that I mixed out of a box, it tastes like shit, and gives me a headache later on. And doing that is f**king stupid.

The end.”

(At this point, I had turned off the recorder and kept driving. Then, I had some more thoughts pop into my head and turned it back on.)

“You know what? Maybe, maybe what I’m rebelling against is expectations. My own expectations of myself–which we all know are ridiculously high–everyone else’s expectations of me, YOUR expectations of me…my readers. Maybe even though I love hearing positive feedback (who doesn’t?) it puts additional pressure on me to meet those expectations, to be who everyone thinks I am.

What if I’m not that person? (pause) Am I really that person? (longer pause) I want to be that person. (REALLLLLLLLY long pause).

This is what happens when my apple cart gets upset. Everything in my life that I’ve ordered so nicely gets turned over. And I have to reshuffle it. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe there’s something really cool at the bottom of the apple cart and I never would have known it was there if it didn’t get turned over.

That’s the f***ing stupidest metaphor I’ve ever heard. Seriously lame. (longest pause ever).

Okay. That’s it.”

So, okay, there you go. And this reminds me of a quote that I have on my personal FB page and try to live by:

This “transition time” is not just something to be gotten through. Life is a series of transitions, and I’m going to keep working to figure it out, control what I can, and, in the meantime, enjoy the ride as much as possible.

Gratitude, clarification, and a bit about a dead guy.

So, first things first.

You all should know how much I love you. I try to thank you on a regular basis. I’m doing it again, today, right now. I was so completely bowled over by the comments and outreach–both public and private–that yesterday’s post inspired, and once again I am grateful for all of you wonderful people who buoy me up on a regular basis. You really are my lifeline on this sometimes miserable journey.

Catlike gratitude goes well with catlike badassery.

I do want to take a second to clear up one or two things, though.

First and foremost, I have no intention of quitting. Not even for a second did I consider it.

That’s what I’m talking about.

I may be tired…physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted on this journey. But there isn’t a chance in hell that I’m stopping. I’m. Not. Finished.

That doesn’t mean I’m not going to get frustrated. It doesn’t mean I won’t bitch or whine sometimes. It doesn’t mean every workout is going to be my best, and it doesn’t mean I won’t have moments when a caramel apple IS more important than my goals. Yeah, I said it. So what? It doesn’t mean I’ll quit, and in the long run, not letting a caramel apple (or two or three or seven) be the reason I give up is why I’m ultimately going to succeed.

caramel apples

Soon, my delicious friends. Soon.

I have no delusions that I will never have a treat. I have no delusions that I will look like a fitness model before Thanksgiving. And I have no delusions that I am special or different than anyone else–I know that I am only human and will flounder and struggle from time to time. I’ve been anorexic, bulimic, underweight, overweight, on the wagon, off the wagon, and under the wagon.

THIS IS DIFFERENT. It’s a lifestyle change, and my eyes are wide open as to the challenges I’ll face, and the commitments and sacrifices I’ll have to keep making. Over and over and over.

lifestyle change


Sometimes, that sucks. Let’s face it, a lot of the time, that sucks. Yesterday, it sucked BIG TIME, and I had a little tantrum. I kicked and screamed about how unfair it was that I wasn’t losing faster, that I had to work SO hard for SO long and still see such excruciatingly incremental progress.

When I started this blog, I committed 100% to making it an honest account of my journey, the good, the bad, the ridiculous, the miserable, the uplifting, and the absurd. If I didn’t write what I did yesterday, I would have given up on the commitment I made to myself.

When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure if anyone would read or care. That wasn’t the point, although I hoped at least a few cool peeps (like you!) would. It was more for accountability to myself.

But a bunch of you awesome badasses–some friends near and dear and some folks I’ve never even met–actually are reading, so now I’m accountable to you, too. So you’re going to get the highest highs, the lowest lows, and all the mediocre in-betweeny stuff. It may not always be what you want to hear, and it more often will be stuff I wish I didn’t have to tell you (like about the Cheeto incident of Sunday afternoon…) but it will always be authentically what I feel at the moment I write it.

Allow me to quote my old pal Emerson, a famous dead guy that I think had some swell ideas, even if he was a little arrogant…

emerson consistency

Absorb. Emerson was a heavy dude.

I will be genuine in every word on this blog, in the moment I write it. Even if the next day, I say something completely different.

Today, I feel much better about this journey, mostly thanks to you. I’m so grateful.

Highs and lows, and why staying the course blows.

I am frustrated.

So. effing. frustrated.

When you last saw–er, read about–me, I was on a high. In fact, a number of my posts get written when I’m at a high point. That must be annoying. Right now, I am annoyed with the version of myself that wrote those blogs. I wouldn’t blame you at all if you wanted to punch that me in the face.

Today’s me is generally pissed off at her lack of progress, despite working her ass off and committing her whole heart to this sickening journey.

By “sickening,” I mean like a rollercoaster. And I friggin HATE rollercoasters. Up and down and sometimes sideways, at points perfectly exhilarating and at other points you just want to puke while you try to figure out why the hell you decided to go on this miserable ride in the first place.

So yeah, I’m at a low today. A bend-over-the-trashcan-and-vomit-up-the-carnival-food-you-unwisely-ate-before-the-rollercoaster low.

Today’s me knows that she should find some stupid pictures to put in this blog, but she’s not going to, because it’s just too much work right now.

I’ve been trying to figure out what my problem is. I get that I’ve made a lifestyle change, and I can live with that. I like the clean food I eat, and I am not feeling deprived lately. But I did let things go just a tad this weekend: a splurge meal turned into a splurge day, which turned into an almost-the-entire-weekend splurge.

It’s easiest for me to eat clean during the week, but on the weekends, sometimes it’s a pain in the ass…not because the preparation is difficult or I am looking for a donut and cheeseburger, but because I just don’t want to worry about it. And quite frankly, I don’t think I should have to.

And there’s the rub. Those sneaky little turds: the “shoulds.”


Here’s my bitchy list of shoulds:

1. I work my ass of five times a week, and eat squeaky clean and portioned M-F. I SHOULD be able to eat whatever I want–within reason–on the weekends.

2. Given the monumental amount of effort I’ve put in over the last 5 months, I SHOULD be further along on my journey.

3. I have worked hard in my fitness journey, and at my new job. I SHOULD be able to afford to reward myself with some new clothes and not have to walk around in saggy ass pants that don’t really fit me anymore. I SHOULD also be able to get some hot new boots for the fall.

4. Speaking of fall, it’s my favorite season, full of rich smells, bold colors and crisp air. I SHOULD be able to enjoy my favorite fall treats without having to obsess over every bite.

5. I’m tired. I SHOULD be able to get more sleep.

I could go on like this forever. I think you’re getting the picture, though, and hopefully my bad mood isn’t rubbing off on you.

The reason I’m so low right now is because I know that even though I SHOULD…for all these things, I CAN’T. Just because something SHOULD be, doesn’t mean that it is. And today–well, for the last week really–that is pissing me off in a major way. See, I bolded it so you know it is REALLY pissing me off.

Staying the course on this fitness journey just sucks right now. The progress is so slow it makes me want to scream. It just seems unfathomable to me that I can work this hard and still not be further along and I. Am. Frustrated.

I’ve started to question what is reasonable, and what is obsessive when it comes to this long haul. I repeat to myself, “Stay the course. It’s worth it.” But how much? How long?

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about haters and metaphorical fat, where I noted that some of the awesomest people in my life love me DESPITE my possibly annoying focus on training and food.

This is true, and as always, I am grateful for those people.

But in my head, I’ve been wondering where the line is between being motivationally obsessed and being unhealthily obsessed. I don’t want my life to be ALL about fitness. I don’t want to be so crazed that I am going to be suicidal if I can’t get into a size 4 ever again.

But on the other hand, do I need to be THAT obsessed to really stay the course?

I don’t know.

I just want to be a reasonable person who can have a beer a couple of times a week. And maybe some cheese. And possibly a caramel apple, since it is fall, after all.

The serious challenge I’m facing is tempering this journey to a fitter and smaller version of myself with preserving MYSELF. And MYSELF freaking loves apple crisp made from apples I picked off a goddamned tree myself, with brown sugar and butter all mixed up together and then baked to a crisp on top.

It’s food, I get it. I obsess over food. But sometimes I feel like changing my attitude toward food is just as much about not making a huge deal of eating something once in awhile as it is about making sure my diet is clean and portioned.

But how do I know when I’ve gone too far and turned into a crazy obsessive freak instead of the best version of Steph I can possibly be? Where’s the line? Do I have to draw it myself?

That’s a stupid question. Of course I have to draw it myself. Shit.

I’ve solved nothing with this post. Perhaps I’ve even confused or annoyed you, my favorite reader. (Yes, you.) Apologies.

Some days, it just feels too hard to stay the course. Today is one of those days, but I guess I’m going to do it anyway. Fine.

This is a shameless horn-tooting post. You’ve been warned.

Listen, some days you just have to revel in your own awesomeness, especially when said awesomeness comes from working your ass off regularly. Plus, I’ve been meaning to post some more detailed info about my workouts, and this is a good excuse to do it.

Today’s workout was The Hulk, created by my amazing (but possibly evil genius) trainer Christa. It is a strength circuit with looooooong intervals (over a minute) where we are encouraged to lift as heavy as we possibly can with the goal of leaving the workout feeling like a limp dishrag. (Mission accomplished. In a very big way.)

We’re also encouraged to keep a scorecard of how much we lifted and/or how many reps we did. This can get a little confusing–well, at least it did for me today because my brain started to get addled after awhile and I would forget to count, etc.–because you’re running from one exercise to the next, choosing the right weight, and trying to log your results all in a short rest period between intervals.

Folks, get ready for the shameless horn-tooting I’ve promised you. Because I rocked that workout in a serious way today. I couldn’t even believe what I did today, and am so proud of my progress, and some MAJOR WINS I had.

Now, my clothes didn’t actually tear apart during the workout, but I seriously felt like the Hulk.

So, here’s what I did, in the order I did it:

  • WIN! Explosive shoulder press: 6 reps with 2 40# dumbbells (that’s 80# total, just to make sure you didn’t miss it), and 5 reps with 2 35# dumbbells
  • Goblet squat: 31 squats holding a 45# dumbbell
  • Seated row: I used a purple band (the most resistance) AND a red band (lowest resistance) combined and did 19 rows
  • Box jumps: This is a HUGE WIN for me today. There are 3 levels of box jumps with the Rogue boxes: regular, high, and you-must-be-insane high. Since I overcame my terror of the Rogue boxes, I have mostly been doing regular, with one or two high mixed in when I’m feeling especially saucy. Today I did 10 jumps onto the high box, and I am so proud of myself. I wanted so badly to turn it over to the regular level, but I resisted the urge and kept jumping high. (To give you some perspective, the high box probably comes up to about my mid-thigh.)
  • Bridge lift: 22 reps (I think?) with 70#
  • Unexpected win! Farmer carry (using the hex bar loaded up): 155# Holy. Shit. I actually didn’t realize how much I was carrying until the end of the round when I went to get my scorecard filled out. I counted twice to be sure because my math can’t always be trusted.
  • A bit of a fail. Romanian Deadlift: I had some trouble with these today. I picked up the heaviest weights I’d ever tried for these, 2 45# dumbbells, and it wasn’t the weight but my grip. My forearms following those farmer carries were just done. Plus, Christa came over to show me that I was bending down too low. I ended up dropping one of the weights on my foot like a dork, and during this whole process, completely forgot to count how many reps I did. But, the good news is that I (barely) made it all the way through the round with those super heavy weights.
  • Jam ball slams: 26 slams
  • Meh. Chin ups (using the equalizer bar): these are my nemesis; one of my weakest exercises. I did 11.
  • OH YEAH! Pushups: For the first time today, I tried using a resistance band to make my pushups a little (okay, a LOT) more challenging. I was able to do 3 pushups with good form and depth using the red band (lowest level of resistance). After I dropped the band, I did 12 more pushups.
  • Goblet lunge: I did 17 reps with a 45# dumbbell. And at this point, I was seriously feeling exhausted.
  • TRX chest press: I did 10 reps on the lowest angle I could do…not quite parallel, but getting there. I came up a few inches towards the end of the interval and did 3 more reps.
  • Wall ball: I did 15 throws with the 18lb ball, and I was super proud of the height I got.
  • Blurg. Pull ups: Well, shit. Pull-ups are the part of the workout that make me feel defeated, especially when they come at the end of a workout where I’ve been pushing to my max. I used one purple and one black band to assist, and I managed 2 full pull-ups before I had to start holding midway. I know this is the way I’m going to build up to dropping a band, but it still feels so lame. I didn’t give up, though. I kept pulling as high as I could and holding til time was up.
  • HOLY BADASSERY WIN!!! Deadlifts (with the hex bar): So here I am. It’s the end of the workout. The last interval, and I feel like I could just be done. Oh, and have I mentioned yet that today’s workout was the 6th workout I have done in a row this week? Yeah. I could have gone easy. But I didn’t want to. I decided to see what I had left, because I think we always have more left than we know. I loaded that bar up for a total of 205#, thinking I’d have to drop down during the interval. I DIDN’T. I did 5 slow, painful, excruciating pulls, each time sure it would be my last rep. At one point, I actually felt like I might cry a little from the exertion and the emotion I put into that last round. But, with 5 seconds left, I made that 5th pull. It was such an amazing feeling to know that I really had pushed to my absolute limit.

Okay, so, I am definitely proud of myself. But why should you care? Maybe you don’t, and that’s cool. But my point to you is this: I am just a normal person, with no superpowers or special talents. And if I can do these things, really, ANYONE can.

All that stands between someone saying “I wish I could…” and someone (like me, today) saying “I did” is the work. Are you willing to do the work?

I am so grateful to my trainers, Christa, Karin and Mike, who motivate, teach, encourage and inspire me regularly, but at the end of the day, I did the work.

And guess what? I’m still working, so those pull-ups, chin-ups, and Romanian deadlifts better watch their backs.