Wednesday, February 11, 2015

This morning as I read my gyms blog post about The CrossFit Games Open this year I felt a twinge of being left out and some nostalgia.  
I participated in the Open in 2011 through 2013 but last year I did not.  Many of the members at the gym where I coach weren't around back when I " did the Open." Back when I "did CrossFit."  I have wanted to write about why I don't do CrossFit for awhile and with the Open approaching it was a good time to share my story with my community. 
CF Games Open 2013
CF Games Open 2012
CF Games Open 2011

The first thing you should know is that CrossFit irrefutably changed my life…more so than any thing ever has.  In 2009 when I walked through the doors of CrossFit King of Prussia I weighted 320lbs, I had never played a sport, I had never touched a barbell and I couldn't do much of anything without assistance. I walked through those doors, despite millions of reasons I could not have because when I heard about CrossFit my gut told me "go."  When my institution speaks like that, I listen.
"My first CF Pic"
I fell in love with CrossFit immediately.  I couldn't jog 400 meters without stopping in the warm ups but I felt more alive than I had ever before.  Thanks to Aimee and Jason Lyons and the community that they had created, I was challenged to do things everyday that I never thought possible.  I fell in love with intensity and also the barbell.
Being "big" the barbell stuff came much easier than the body weight stuff.  But the gods honest truth is that I loved the workouts with all the body weight stuff that I sucked at more than the ones that I was good at.  It was that feeling of overcoming something hard, I loved that. I didn't avoid what was hard for me I embraced it. 
One of the things I became enchanted with was the Olympic lifts, especially the snatch.  You would think I would love the deadlift as it has always been my claim to fame, but the truth is it never made me excited like the snatch did.  Even though many factors limited my ability to do the Olympic lifts well, I was enthralled with them.
Back in late 2013 I was having a ball doing CrossFit, adult gymnastics classes and yoga regularly. I had always wanted to work with a real Olympic lifting coach on my technique, so I decided to add a lifting practice to the mix.  I was adamant to the first coach I worked with that I did not wish to compete.  I wanted to keep doing CrossFit and just work on my technique.  That was until I met my current coach Mike McKenna.  
 Although I still did not want to give up CrossFit, the more I worked on my lifts with Mike, the more I fell in love with lifting.  Before I knew it, I had dreams of qualifying for things and was signed up for my first meet.  I began training, and slowly did less and less CrossFit.  
"Doing the 5 Ton 5K (without walking)"
There are several reasons why that is.  The number one reason was time…as much as I would have liked to devote my whole day to my fitness my husband and children demand otherwise.  I had a hard time fitting my weightlifting programming in, let alone a WOD as well.  But the other big reason is that through lifting I discovered I had some real problems with my body  that demanded my attention.  I decided I could not afford to reinforce my bad movement patterns any longer.  CrossFit demands Mechanics, consistency, intensity.  However, I had in many ways skipped over mechanics.  I'm not saying that my coaches left me lift with atrocious form, because at my gym we care about doing it right. To an extent I was doing things correctly, but after building a base line of fitness there were some significant holes in my mechanics. There  are other reasons why doing most WOD's became challenging like not wanting to be too sore or to over tax my Central Nervous System but honestly that was secondary.
 No longer doing CrossFit or taking classes with my community on a regular basis  was very difficult for me and It wasn't something that happened overnight.  I'm a pretty loyal person when it comes down to it…and I owed so much to CrossFit, making the choice to focus on lifting was a hard one, especially as a CrossFit Coach. But just like I had followed my gut into the doors of CrossFit…my gut told me weightlifting was going to teach me the next lessons I needed to learn.
Once again following my intuition out of my comfort zone led me to something that has changed me for the better. I am better in every way for the choice I have made to be a weightlifter, just as I was when I made the choice to be a CrossFitter.
 This year I won't be doing the Open with my CrossFit family. At this point I cannot offer my athletes "CrossFit camaraderie," even if it makes me a little sad. Even though I'd love to lie on the floor with them after a hard workout, I won't.   
 I may not have the CrossFit experience in common with those I coach anymore (but believe me I have experienced it all.) However what I do have in common with my athletes is way more important than that.
There is a saying "don't wish it was easier, wish you were better."  Although at first glance it may seem choosing weightlifting is about making it easier for me, but that couldn't be farther from the truth.   Being a weightlifter is about me becoming the best version of my self and that is what we are all trying to do.

White Rose Open 2014
 As a coach its my job to encourage my athletes to make the hard choices to be better too.  There are is no one  right answers or one size fits alls when it comes to what that means. My greatest wish is that I will help my athletes discover what they must do in order to be better and support them in every way that I can.
As CrossFit Games Season kicks off, I know my support will include some intense cheering during the Open.  I also know that some of my CrossFit Athletes might be on the fence about signing up for it. If that's you, making that choice might mean stepping through fear, through the unknown or even self doubt.  The choice might be uncomfortable…but you should ask  yourself  "might I be better for having done it? " If the answer is yes, than the choice (although not easy), is clear.   

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The New Hate

I don't profess to have an infallible body image. However I seem to have cut the tie between what my body looks like and my value as a person.  I don't compare my body to other peoples bodies.  I have accepted that I am a big woman.  When I gain weight, it’s a matter a fact occurrence that means I need to pay attention. Not that I'm a failure. If I feel off balance with my food choices, its time to bring consciousness to my eating. Not time to beat myself up and drown in fear.

 However old habits die hard, and I find myself applying my old ways to another aspect of my body….my physical abilities. 

 I often find myself feeling sorry for myself in regards to my lifting.  Sorry that I started my athletic career so late.  Sorry that I beat up my body so badly for 29 years. Sorry that I have structural limitations that limit my mobility. Sorry that I have to work all the much harder because of those things.

And I often compare myself to others.  Not only comparing the weights they lift (especially girls more than half my size) but also their technique when they are lifting.  Their speed, their squat…good quality movement. Things I envy and wish I had. 

 Of course I know that feeling this way isn't rational nor healthy…and certainly not helpful. Over the past two years since I've been lifting many times I have DECIDED to stop feeling this way and ACCEPT who I am. That works for awhile….

 And then something happens….someone says something, I see video of myself lifting poorly or I have a lifting day where I can't seem to do anything right.  I find my self swirling down the spiral of self loathing.  I feel ashamed and embarrassed and defeated.

It’s the same exact thing that used to happen in my relationship to the way I looked.  I knew early on that I needed to love myself, that it was key.  I knew I needed to accept myself at age 16. 

 I would often DECIDE to love myself to ACCEPT myself.  That would work for awhile….

 And then something would happen… someone would say something about my weight, I'd see a picture of myself or I'd go try to buy clothes and nothing fit.  And down the spiral I went. 

 The spiral never led to getting any better, just more of the same.  Even when things seemingly got better, my feelings about myself were never enough.  Losing weight wasn't my problem anymore than getting better at weightlifting is.

 What I really wanted wasn't to be skinny.  What I really want is not to be a good weightlifter. What I want….what is essential to my life is that I feel good about myself. That I am content.  That I can accept what I cannot change and love myself regardless.  No thing, no achievement, no number, no way that I look just standing here or in a snatch is going to make  me realize this.  

 We are destined to repeat a process, until we have truly worked it out. Obviously I still have more to learn.  And although it seems like I am just doing the same exact thing again, the truth is I am not who I used to be.  

 Just like in weightlifting, often times we need to break things down and rebuild our foundation as we reach new levels in our ability and strength.

 The first step is almost always becoming aware and to be honest as I wrote this, my awareness has become clearer. 

 I am a strong, confident and worthy human being…the negative voices may try to convince me otherwise but they are just noise, old noise and a wake up call to start living my life from a place of WHOLENESS.

 It is and still is about one thing…my Radical Hateloss.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Pendulum Swing

The best metaphor for my life over the last 5 years is a pendulum.  The summer of 2009 the pendulum swung to a place I've never known. 

For the first time in my life I had a good relationship with my body.  I found CrossFit and with that primal/paleo eating. I learned the value of following my intuition.  I discovered the magic that happens when someone lives in alignment with what they truly want.  Although I made changes one might think were difficult. They felt joyful and easy.

Then about two years ago the pendulum started to swing the other direction. 

I found myself focusing on a specific goal rather than general fitness.  I started working with a coach and training for Olympic lifting. At the same time I started embracing the idea of moderation when it came to eating and very consciously decided change my diet.  

Having the pendulum swing the other direction was not easy.  It was very confusing.  I was constantly questioning and second guessing my choices.  My life which had previously felt easy, was feeling pretty hard.  And it didn't help in the middle of it, my mother died.

Even though things felt difficult, my intuition told me continuing on this path, was what I was supposed to do.  I knew there were lessons I needed to learn. 

And I did….I learned innumerable lessons about myself, training and about life.  I not only learned about discipline-- staying the course when its not easy but also that getting better at something requires patience, consistency and good old fashion work.  It's not always going to be fun.

I learned that I enjoy, enjoying food.  I used to say their were no good foods and bad foods, but the truth is I did hold many foods as 'bad' in the past and that took away some of my ability to actually enjoy them.  Although the way I used to eat felt like freedom… I discovered freedom on a grander scale with moderation.

 But I think with the swing in this new direction I have lost some of the magic of what I initially experienced at the start of my journey.  I am not as present as I was back then.  My ego often leads rather than my truer self. 

Although I believe in moderation in my eating, I find it difficult without structure to keep the balance I want. 

Sometimes I think…."just go back, it was so easy."  However in my heart of hearts I know that's not the answer. It rarely ever is.

 The truth is that my pendulum is searching for its middle.  

 Presence and Passion.  Hard work and Discipline.

 Structure and ease.  Moderation and freedom.

 I wish I came to this post with it all figured out.  At the moment I don’t really know what's next.  I don't know what the middle looks like.  The only thing I know is something grand is coming.  So for now, I'll have faith in that.