Put on the suit.

Fun fact: I am a huge Avengers fan. So when I title a post “Put on the suit,” there’s really no excuse for me NOT to include this photo:

avengers

Oh, hello.

But this post isn’t necessarily about superheroes. Well it sort of is. But anyway, on with it.

So it’s been a crazy week. (“What else is new, Steph?” you ask.) The school play is tomorrow night so we’ve been running to dress rehearsals, and preparing for shows tonight and Saturday night. But before we GET to Saturday night, we also have a big children’s event at church on Saturday morning, followed by lacrosse practice, then my son’s birthday party on Sunday.

Not to mention the fact that I have family members arriving tonight at 6pm to go over to the school with us to see the play, and the house is a mess and I have no conceivable time between now and 6pm when I could actually clean it. Well, I guess I could be doing it now but I’m pretty sure my husband and kids wouldn’t appreciate my running the vacuum at 5:03am. So yeah, dirty house + impending company=more stress.

My blood pressure just rose writing those two paragraphs.

But in the midst of this week, I had a very cool epiphany on Tuesday.

Tuesday was a kind of “meh” day. After a school delay because of MORE WINTER WEATHER (I can’t even talk about it) I worked from home for most of the day. I also had to miss my date with the iron at 6am because of the aforementioned weather.

I had a ton of work to do but couldn’t seem to get focused.

I tried to focus on cleaning up around the house but still felt so “off.” So I told myself I was too busy (not) working to clean.

I accomplished very little that day except eating a bunch of crap that was in my house for no good reason. You know, just because it was there and I couldn’t put my finger on why I was so stressed and unproductive. So obviously, eating some shitty food was the right answer.

sarcasmI tried to cut my losses by planning a work out date with Mr. Badass at 6pm. But I couldn’t find a sitter.

General malaise ensued. More food was eaten. I figured it was a wasted day and got on with it.

Then I decided to stop being an asshole and signed myself up for the 7pm class to do the ole “kid switcheroo” as my husband came out of the 6pm class.

At 6:20, I (rather reluctantly, in full disclosure) went upstairs to get ready for my 7pm tabata workout.

Again, full disclosure, I tried to think of some excuses that would make it okay for me not to go.

And then it happened.

I pulled on my sports bra and workout gear, and I immediately felt better.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was somehow true. As soon as I was in those black pants with my sweet ass blue training sneaks on, I felt like myself again.

The bad day was left behind. The crappy food. The sense of general wrongness.

I was ready to go kick some ass. (And I did.)

For me on Tuesday, those workout clothes were my equivalent of Ironman putting on the suit.

Ironman

It felt wrong to choose a photo that did NOT include RDJ’s face.

So what’s your suit? Put it on, and kick some ass.

***update: At 7am, I managed to clean up my house a touch, with the help of a handsome husband. I wouldn’t call it “clean and pretty,” but at least  it is “vaguely presentable.”***

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They Lured Me in With a Girls’ Weekend…Otherwise Known As, WTF Am I Thinking?!?

It almost sounds like the start of a bad joke: two runners, an Olympic athlete, and a fat girl stand at the bottom of a mountain…

Wait, let me back up.

Last year, a bunch of awesome people I know did some mud runs. They got muddy, and it looked like fun. I thought maybe this year, I’d like to do some mud runs, too. But as they new year approached, I became more and more focused on this idea I’ve had of doing what I love, of only saying “yes” to commitments that make me shout, “HELL, YEAH!”

So when I revisited the idea of mud runs, I was kind of meh. Frankly, I hate running. I didn’t used to hate running, but since I took up HIIT training, I have come to find it deadly dull boring, and it makes me feel like I’m slow and fat when everyone else is quick and lithe.

Yes, running is hard, but all my workouts are hard. One key difference has stuck with me, though: after the workouts I do now, I feel strong. Empowered. Totally badass. When I finish a workout that involves running, at the end I really don’t feel any of those things. I feel exhausted and defeated and miserable, and it sucks.

Here’s what I feel like, after running:

To be clear, I'd be the one on the left.

To be clear, I’d be the one on the left.

And here’s what I feel like after one of my current workouts:

Word, bitches.

Word, bitches.

Why wouldn’t I stick with the workouts that kick my ass the most efficiently AND that make me feel like a rockstar afterward?

So I was kinda shying away from the idea of it, and planned to set some goals just for myself that had nothing to do with running, whether in or out of mud-related obstacles.

Then some friends started bugging me.

Friend: Let’s do a Tough Mudder!

Me: No.

Friend: Come on, it will be fun!

Me: No, it will be awful and I will hate it. I don’t want to do it! I hate running! Leave me alone.

Friend: How about in Vermont?

Me: Eh…

Friend: Just adults?

Me: Ehhhh…still not really into it.

Friend: How about just girls, with a whole weekend in Other Friend’s house in Vermont and we can party and have a blast after we get all muddy?

Me: BLUUURRRGGGG!!! SonofanevilsuccubusFINEI’LLDOIT!!!!!

So here I am, against my will, doing a Tough Mudder in August. On a friggin mountain. With two runners and, oh, did I mention that Other Friend is LITERALLY AN OLYMPIC ATHLETE? What. The. Hell.

Yes, I am terrified. But I’m not terrified that I won’t be able to do the Tough Mudder. I know I will. I could finish a Tough Mudder tomorrow if I decided to…it might take me 6 hours, but I could do it.

What I am terrified of is being the weak link. The one who holds everyone back, or just has to resort to saying, “Just go ahead without me, girls. I’ll catch you at the finish line.” I’m terrified of being the fat girl who can’t keep up.

I guess in the end, things are as they should be. Sometimes, the things we don’t really want to do are likely the things we should be doing, and I think in this case it’s true for me.

And the hard part of this journey to badassery is that the more badass I become, the crazier shit I have to undertake to keep pushing beyond my comfort zone. And this Tough Mudder–specifically as part of a team–is waaaaaaaay out of my comfort zone. When I ran my triathlon, I did it alone. I had no one to answer to but myself. This is different.

As for my goals, it really helps me define them and have a clear deadline and REASON to completely crush them by the deadline, or have to have my fear become a reality on Mt. Snow in August.

229472543485348475_7mY5nOUj_cSo I have just under 7 months before I’m standing at the bottom of the mountain with 2 runners and an Olympic athlete, crapping myself. And in order to make sure that I’m NOT the butt of a bad joke, here are my goals between now and then:

  • Reduce bodyweight by 30-40 lbs (part of my fear stems from the fact that, while I am strong, I am HEAVY. My bodyweight is a huge handicap for me as part of my team
  • Increase my strength in the following ways:
  1. Work up to doing 30 consecutive pushups with good form and depth (currently I am at about 12-15)
  2. Increase my deadlift max–need to determine what my true current max is and then set a specific weight goal
  3. Increase my pullup capacity–I’m not sure what is a reasonable goal to set with this yet, because bodyweight plays such a role in it. I know I want to significantly decrease the amount of support I get from bands and make aggressive progress towards being able to do an unassisted deadhang pullup. I doubt an unassisted pullup is realistic for me in the next 7 months, but I will talk to my awesome trainers and get back to you!
  • Increase my endurance and overall workload capacity in the following ways (goals for the last 3 months of training) :
  1. Work up to run 3 miles consecutively without feeling like I want to kill myself. (Hmmmm, this one could be hard…and I know the Mudder is longer than 3 miles, but the one in Mt. Snow is actually quite a bit of walking since it is mostly up hill, plus the running gets broken up by obstacles.)
  2. Focus on increasing my metabolic workload by counting, tracking, and increasing burpees, climbers, box jumps, etc. during workouts
  3. Run at least once a week with my son, including speed and endurance work for both of us

So this is where I’m starting. These goals could change, as I plan to ask my trainers for input and feedback. But I’m not going to forget about them, and will let you know as they change with my training program.

So now it’s your turn. What’s cooking for you in 2013?

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.

Three questions to change your life. Part two.

So after reading yesterday’s post about figuring out exactly what you want, and setting your goals in clear, specific and certain terms, you want to know what the next question is. Right on. But buckle yourself in, because it’s a tough one:

What are you willing to do to get what you want?

Let me ask this one in a bunch of different ways: What are you willing to sacrifice? How hard are you willing to work? What are you willing to commit to in order to make your goals a reality?

And there’s the rub, peeps. This is it. The sticking point. Where the rubber meets the road. Where the shit hits the fan. Where the chicken meets the egg. Or whatever.

Despite the mixed metaphors, you get my point: this is the place where most people fall down, and here’s why: yesterday, it might have taken you a little while to really dig deep inside and figure out exactly what you want, but then all you had to do was write it down or say it out loud.

Goals

Today, today…I’m telling you that you need to determine–honestly–what you need to do to get it, and to admit to yourself–honestly–if you’re willing to take the needed actions.

Notice I didn’t say “able” to take the needed actions; I said “willing.” This is not a question of “Can I do it?” It’s a question of “Will I do it?” (Because I know you can do it.)

Frankly, this is the point where most people piss me off, usually by saying stuff that annoys the crap out of me. Like this:

  • Where do you find the time to do all those workouts?
  • Oh, I could never do the kinds of things you do.
  • I’m not sure I could stick to clean eating; I love chocolate/cupcakes/pizza/whatever too much

Wait. Let me be more precise. It’s not people saying these things that pisses me off; it’s when they combine them with phrases like, “I wish I could do what you do. I wish I could lose weight. I just can’t because…(insert 50 lameass excuses here.)”

My answer to those people? “It’s not that you can’t, it’s just that you haven’t decided you WANT to.”

I mean, really. Do these people think I have more hours in the day than them? Some special gift that makes this shit easier for me? HELLOOO!! I’m just an average person, working my ass off to reach my goals, and it is HARD.

I legit find it insulting when people say this kind of crap, like I am somehow privileged or lucky to be reaching my goals. Nope, sorry. It’s hard work and dedication (bordering on obsession, yes. I acknowledge that. But that’s what I need to do to get there.)

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying everyone should have the same exact goals as me, fitness or otherwise, because we each have our own path to follow.  Hopefully you’ve defined that for yourself a bit better by figuring out what you want.

But don’t SAY you want something, and then give a bunch of reasons why you can’t get it. If that’s what’s happening, YOU DON’T WANT IT BAD ENOUGH! (Yes, I yelled at you. But you needed it, and I did it out of love. Now go take it off your list of things you want, or stop making excuses and DO IT.)

If you want it bad enough, there’s nothing you won’t do to get it. No sacrifice you won’t make, no challenge you won’t overcome. You’ll have to make hard choices and do hard work. I know you are able; are you willing?

hard work

So let’s talk sacrifices and hard work in terms of my personal goals. Here’s what I, personally, have committed to:

  • 5 or 6 seriously tough workouts a week, usually at 5:30 or 6am
  • clean eating, 90% of the time
  • a monthly financial investment in my health
  • continuing at a job I like a lot, but don’t love…and putting in extra hours on my own to work towards my bigger career goals (perfect example: I’m typing this on my lunch break!)

What am I sacrificing? A lot.

  • my warm, snuggly bed at 4:45am (this is a muuuuuuch bigger sacrifice in the winter months!)
  • endless slices of cake/pizza, cookies, cheeseburgers, and other delicious foods I love on a regular basis (in fact, at a recent birthday party, I had to turn down a slice of a-mah-zing looking cake THREE TIMES!)
  • a new car to replace my nearly 10 year old banged up old Jetta–which does not have a radio, and is generally embarrassing to drive–because it gets me from A to B at this point and to afford the new car, I’d have to cut back on my fitness costs (right now, NOT an option)
  • family time on Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings

There’s definitely more to this list; these are just what immediately come to mind.

The list above also represents things I want, but I have judged that something else is more important. What is  most important to you? How will you prioritize your fitness goals with your career goals and your family goals, etc. etc.? The answers to those questions make up YOUR journey, not mine, and you get to decide.

But do decide; don’t just slop around like a lazy ass and “wish” that you could make your life better. DECIDE, and DO.

Here’s an example: Imagine you came up to me right now and said, “Hey, Nash, I freakin’ LOVE cake. I am going to eat it every day because this is my life and I choose to live it with cake. If that means I am going to have a muffin top/fat ass/thunder thighs/floppy back-of-arm jiggle for the rest of my life, SO BE IT. I will have CAKE, and it is worth it!”

chocolate cake

Come to me, my delicious friend. (No, I definitely did NOT just lick the screen. Shut up.)

That would be hilarious, but then you know what? I would high-five you and be like, “Word. Way to own your choices! Have some cake for me, and make sure you cross ‘rock-hard abs’ off of your list of goals and replace it with ‘eat cake daily.’ And rock on!”

As amazing as cake is, as much as I want a piece like RIGHT NOW, I can’t let anything take my focus away from my current top priority goal.

Oh look, a little quote image that sums up my meaning. You know how much I love those!

what you want most

(I really want a new car NOW. Sigh.)

Okay, that’s it. You know what you need to do. Work it out: review those goals, and figure out what lengths you are willing to go to so you can achieve each of them. Maybe some of them invite a more cautious, long-term approach, and others are so important that you need to jump on them with every fiber of your being (we’ll talk about that another day).

But today, YOU get to decide. So do it, and get to work.

I’m Avenged…Barely.

This is a quick hit and run post, but I had to share this struggle of a morning. The workout was the Avenger…40 second intervals with alternating strength and cardio. We like to call it “super hero training”!

Usually, I love this workout; it’s fun and challenging. Today, it was challenging and miserable and I barely made it through. It was frustrating and I was so angry about it. What the hell? How can I be struggling this much when I’m working so hard, especially coming off a rest day? Even the stations that I typically hit like a rock star posed a serious challenge.

But I gave what I had and then, afterward, I came across this message:

Image

So, in the spirit of my new outlook to focus on the positive, here are some good things I am taking away from my workout struggle this morning:

  • I dragged my sorry ass out of bed at 4:42am and actually WENT to this workout
  • I did both 40 second rounds of power jacks without stopping
  • I hefted two 35# dumbbells during split jerk intervals (not gonna lie…those bitches were HEAVY!!!)
  • I (mostly) kept up with my very fast and agile partner during the ladder runs

These are all things I couldn’t do a month or so ago (well, except for the first one). And I did them today.

I wonder what I’ll be able to do by next month?

Reflections on Perseverance.

I read a book a couple of years ago about this awesome woman who went from over 300lbs to being a seriously fit and trim marathon runner. It was a pretty inspirational read.

But once I finished it, a couple of things just didn’t ring true to me. I have no doubt that this woman wrote truthfully about her own experiences, but these things just didn’t jive with mine.

Here’s the first thing: She wrote about her “aha” moment, which was cool, and basically woke up the next morning and changed her life. Also cool. She adopted better eating habits and committed to doing some sort of physical activity 30 minutes a day, every single day, even if it meant walking her cul-de-sac at 10:30pm at night…which she says she did a number of times. I had a lot of respect for her commitment.

Then she went on to say things like, “It was so liberating knowing I never had to go back to my old lifestyle,” and “I never missed a day, no matter what it took.” (These are definitely not direct quotes; I am generalizing from a book I read 2 years ago. You know how committed I am to complete and utter accuracy.)

My deal is this: I believe her in fact, but I don’t believe her in my heart. I get what she was saying about her liberating new lifestyle, but it just sounded too easy. Like anyone could just wake up and DO IT (true) and never have a doubt or struggle with it (serious bullshit).

Maybe she did write about struggles, but I don’t remember. They weren’t highlighted enough in her book for them to have stuck with me.

And for me, it’s all about the struggle. I struggle with my journey every single day. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I feel amazing about my fit lifestyle and choices, but just as often I want to eat whatever the hell I want and not have to work my ass off 5+ times a week. I don’t give in to that, but I do want it. A lot.

So how could this chick not miss the chocolate chip cookies that she wrote about baking almost daily before she changed her life? How could she make it sound like a total piece of cake? This is some hard shit to do, people!

I agree with her 100% that anyone can wake up, decide to change their life and DO IT. But…to do it, you have to work your ass off every single day, every single hour, every single minute. Especially when your journey might stretch into years…because that is a LOOOOOONG time to persevere. It’s worth it, but it is seriously friggin hard.

You mess up along the way, you hate the journey sometimes, you have your “screw it” moments, you really REALLY crave a big honkin piece of pepperoni pizza–or two or three or seven–and you might just kill your mother to get it some days (sorry, Mom). That’s the reality of my journey.

Strength and persistence

That’s one of my trainers, Christa Doran, the original Tuff Girl. She is pretty amazing, and is a true testament to the power of perseverance.

So look at the guns on my trainer Christa. And the quads, and the perfect form. She is such a badass, but she will say time and again that achieving this amazing body was not easy. She had to sacrifice again, and again, and again, and again, even when she didn’t want to.

For a full year, she ate clean and worked her ass off, and she’s still doing it to maintain this awesomeness. THAT’S what it takes, and she’s had her share of struggles along the way. But she kept going.

Perseverance pays off.

So back to the book: I mentioned this woman ultimately ran a marathon. But I’m not sure how, because one second she was walking on the treadmill or riding the recumbent bike for a half hour a day, and all of a sudden she said, “oh, and BTW, I ran a marathon, too!” There was like a huge middle piece missing there…and it was the piece I really, really wanted to hear about. THE HARDEST PIECE!

I trained for a sprint triathlon: swim 1/4 mile, bike 12, and run 3.1 miles. My time was god-awful (well over 2 hours) but my goal was to finish, and I did.

Training SUCKED. I hated nearly every minute of it. There were a few seconds of joy, sometimes when I was coasting down a hill on my bike with the wind flying at my face, but mostly, it sucked. I was a big fat girl in a dorky helmet on a bike. Or a big fat girl flopping around in a pool trying desperately to do that breathing thing without panicking. Or a big fat girl clomping around on a treadmill.

During my training, I was exhausted. And discouraged. And terrified. But I kept going. I started it, and I was determined to finish.

I had to drag my kids along most of the time because my husband was on a travel assignment during my 3 months of training. Sometimes they had to sit on the bench in the aquatic center while I swam laps. Sometimes they were sitting in the middle of the track with snacks and toys while I ran/walked laps, and they were not always well behaved (hellooooo, understatement). My son used to sit on the rock wall at the edge of our yard and read his book while I biked the .45 mile circuit that is our block about 20+ times. Once, I fell off my bike for no apparent reason near the corner of a major road, making a complete ass of myself as cars went by. I got back on.

That’s the stuff that I want to hear about, and that’s what I missed from this woman’s story. The nitty gritty. The details. The sweat and tears. The scraped knees and crying kids. The determination that moves you to grind your way past all those things and Just. Keep. Going.

So what are your struggles? Your nitty gritty details? And how do you push through them and persevere?

Remember: Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged people who kept on working.

Keep fighting, peeps! It’s going to be worth it.