My Reality

1157642_10201738537888190_2119404513_nHumans are such an enigma.  The fact that we can experience feelings, have different perspectives, and live such adventurous lives is so beautiful, and yet also so mysterious.

So much is based on our own thoughts and feelings.  We are driven by an inner soul.

I always find it so interesting how so many people can look at the exact same painting, for example, and yet all of them have very different feelings and interpretations of the artwork.

So much of life is run by opinions, not facts.

In my short 34 years on Earth, there are some life lessons I have come to realize for myself:

1. I am my own reality.  What ever I believe to be true, it is true.  What ever I say I am, I am.  What ever I say I can or cannot do, it’s true.  If I say that I am a victim, then I am, and I will live my life as such.  If I believe that I am strong and independent, then I am.  If I think everyone is out to get me, then it’s true.  If I think people are mostly good, then they are.  I create my own reality.  Just as you create your own, whether you want to accept that responsibility or not.

It’s a big deal if I make it a big deal.  If someone cuts me off in traffic, I can get upset and think he’s an a**hole…I can assume he’s rushing to the hospital to see his baby born…I can just ignore it and move on…There are many ways I can interpret that moment and make it a reality for myself.

My life can be beautiful and easy going.  Or, it can be hard and depressing.  I could say that my friends are reliable and trustworthy.  Or, I could believe that they are all two-faced and fake.  It’s my own reality…My own interpretation of my life and the people in it.

It’s a monumental responsibility to take on.  Knowing that my own thoughts and feelings control my own reality and way of life is like finding out that you were born with a superpower, and as you grow older, you must learn more and more how to control it and use it for good (or bad).

2. What ever I can change, I can change.  What ever is out of my control, I can change how I react and feel about it.  Beating a dead horse is unproductive.  If I don’t like something that I cannot change, then I must take the responsibility for myself to change how I deal it personally.

Harping on something, letting it nag me, and allowing people to live “rent free” in my mind is destructive and hinders growth and happiness.  I can make the conscious decision to move on and be free.  People and situations are only difficult if I allow it to be.

Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t care about things and get upset.  Human emotions are raw and beautiful, and you should feel every one of them.  But, they do not have to consume you, define you, or destroy you.  And, don’t accept someone else’s reality of you.  Remember, YOU are you own reality.

3. I am not important in the grand scheme of things.  This sounds really harsh, but strangely enough, when I accepted this, it actually had a very calming effect on me.  I am not the end all, be all of things.  If I die, life will still go on.  If I fail at something, life will still go on.  If I miss the party, the party will still go on.  If I miss a rep, the competition will still go on.  I do not control the sun and moon, and I definitely do not determine the fate of the human race.

Most people don’t even care about what I am doing or saying.  I think a lot of people worry about what others are saying behind their backs, or what others will think of them, and the honest truth is, they don’t know, don’t care, or don’t even know you exist.  They are too caught up in their own reality to be worrying about yours.

4. I am important to those that matter.  My husband, my daughter, my parents, my brothers and sister, and a few very good friends.  I think all too often, many of us work harder for the love and attention of people who don’t really matter, and we take for granted those that do.  Put your time and energy into the right people.

There is a wonderful satisfaction in putting your time and energy into the right people, and letting all the others exist in the background.  And, it’s not nearly as draining as trying to win over people who are committed to seeing you in a bad light.

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I put my reality to the test today at the gym.  I was going for a 1 rep max Strict Shoulder Press.  My previous was 110#, so of course I wanted a PR today.

I started out feeling “tired” and “not in to it.”  So, I lifted like that.  The barbell felt very heavy!

Then, I switched gears, and told myself I felt awesome and strong.  Lo and behold, I lifted better and the barbell suddenly felt a little lighter.

I got to 105# and after I completed it, I told myself, “Oh boy, that felt really heavy, I don’t know if I can get over 110# today.”

I went for 115# anyway, and totally missed it.  Not even close. My reality was already decided before I attempted it with my negative attitude.

I walked away, then switched the bar to 112#, and told myself that this was totally doable!  I believed that a 2# PR was easily attainable.  And, what do you know, I lifted it with ease – Even easier than the 115# attempt!

So, I shook my head and laughed a little, and went back to 115#.  Gave myself a couple of minutes, told myself I was going to make it, and as I started to lift the bar, I kept telling myself, “Yes, you can, you will, it’s going up, up, UP!”  And, I nailed it!

The mind is so powerful.

What ever you believe, will be.

You are what ever you say you are, and your life is what ever you say it is…So, what kind of person are you creating yourself to be, and what kind of life are you allowing yourself to live?

Be honest.

Be humble.

And, take control.

Work Harder

10428320_718026561572538_1848452235404257806_oAfter watching the NorCal Regionals this past Saturday at the San Jose State University Event Center, I realized something…

I need to work harder.

The ONLY reason why I was not down in that arena with the rest of the competitors this weekend is because of ME.

Being a spectator this weekend was challenging for me, because I knew I let another year go by, and I only have myself to blame for it.

It’s a very hard pill to swallow – Personal Responsibility.

I could blame it on being the mother of a two year old, or being a business owner, or going through therapy, or dealing with family issues, or my shoulder injury in the fall season…

But, then I refer back to the quote, “If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way.  If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

So, how badly did I really want it this year?

Maybe I was just infatuated with the IDEA of going to Regionals, but I really didn’t want to work hard enough for it?  Or, maybe I had to work on myself first, before I was ready to really take on something like this?  Maybe I needed to reach that “breaking point.”

Well…I’ve reached it.

The Regionals and Games athletes work really, really hard to be where they are.  Really, really, REALLY hard!

I’ve been doing probably about 1/4 of what they do.

I’ve been thinking about this all weekend, and getting more and more upset with myself.  Mad that I didn’t do more to be better prepared for the Open.  Mad that I let another whole year go by.  Mad that I wasn’t better.

Mad that I’m not living up to my potential.

And then…I had to finally accept the fact that I just need to work harder.

I can’t control new athletes coming out of the woodworks each year who are bad ass firebreathers.  I can’t control accidents and unforeseen injuries and illnesses.  I can’t control other athletes training harder.

I CAN control what I put in to it, though.  I can control how hard I push myself.  I can control how often I work on my weaknesses.  I can control all of me.

I need to do more.

Put up or shut up!

This can apply to everything in life.  I need to work harder on my patience as a mother.  I need to work harder on finishing our house remodel.  I need to work harder on being a better wife.

If things don’t end the way you want them to…If you aren’t getting the results you want…Then DO something about it.  Change.  Do more.  Work harder.  Dig deep.  And, don’t settle.

3, 2, 1, Go! 😉

Body Image

body_lsThe other day, I saw a nice post on Facebook by a woman named Taryn Brumfitt.  She is trying to start a new movement she calls “Embrace,” which is trying to promote global change for women to love their bodies.  You can check it all out here (click on title): Embrace

There are a lot of similar movements like this.  Dove, the skincare product, encourages the same idea to love your body, all shapes and sizes.  And, I see it all the time on Facebook – Other articles, blogs, ads, memes, and what-not that promote loving your body, no matter what.

I have to be really blunt, though.  And, I’m going to hit nerves with a lot of people, probably.  But, here it is…

I get really frustrated and annoyed with all of these movements to love your body just the way it is.  There is a HUGE hole that is being ignored here.  While I understand and appreciate what all of these movements are trying to do, there is a MUCH greater issue going on.  It is not a mere matter of body image and blaming social media and the beauty industry for our distorted views of ourselves.  It’s not a simple remedy of just loving your body the way it is.

There is a reason why people become obese.  There’s a reason why people deteriorate and let their bodies go.  There’s something going on inside.  Deep, deep inside.

Now, I’m going to put in the disclaimer now that there are always exceptions to everything, and there are those few out there who have legitimate health issues out of their control that prevent them from having a size 6 jeans or rock hard abs.  So, leave that out of this.  I’m talking about the rest of us who have the ability and capability, and just don’t do it.

When I was a freshman in college, I gained the “Freshman 15,” and then some!  And, I can’t blame it on the partying and alcohol, because I was severely allergic to alcohol then, and I just never was a big party animal.  I gained weight with food and not much exercise.  For someone who grew up super athletic, there was clearly something wrong.

I’m 5’3″ and I started college around 135 pounds.  By the time I reached my junior year, I was pushing 165, and it was not muscle!  That just is not healthy for me, and for a movement to tell me that it is okay, and that I should just love my body the way it is…It’s not addressing the real issue!

I hated my body because all of that excess weight was a constant reminder of all the baggage that I was carrying emotionally.  I ate to coax myself and temporarily soothe the pain.  But, as I added weight, it added to the obvious issues I was having inside, except now I couldn’t hide it because it was evident in how my clothes fit.

My body was telling everyone that I was “damaged goods.”

I hated my body because I hated myself.  It was never really about my body, per se.

Hating my body was just an after effect of hating myself.

I was severely unhappy with the decisions I had made in my life, the crappy people I let into my life, and the horrible experiences I had to endure on my own without help and support.  I was broken inside, and it started to show on the outside as I gained weight.

So, this is what I’m getting at here.  Most of us, especially women, have horrible body images NOT because of social media and the beauty industries, but because of something else much deeper inside of us.

Social media and the beauty industries are just the scapegoat.

It is not the responsibility of the world to give you a good body image.

It starts and ends with YOU.

It taking personal responsibility.  Fully and completely.

I reached my breaking point my senior year at college.  I was a lifeguard at our college campus swimming pool, and one day I was sitting down in my lifeguard chair and suddenly realized that my big belly was actually touching my thighs.  I cried when I got home.  I needed help, and I needed to change.  Thankfully, our school campus had free counseling on site, so I took advantage of it, and it helped a lot.  Unfortunately, though, I started in the spring and then graduated, so I only had about 2 months of help.  It was help nonetheless, though, and gave me a kick start to changing my life.

The only problem was, I went super hardcore into fitness, and although I fixed the health issue, I did not really fix the emotional issue.  It’s a funny thing…Often we say that we workout to relieve stress and deal better with things, buuut, if you never truly deal with the REAL ISSUES, then it’s just a hamster wheel you’re running on.

I was training for half Ironmans, working out two to three times a day, and super fit.  I was Wonder Woman…With a lot of emotional baggage.  I went from one extreme to the other, but still had the same internal issues.

I went from thinking that I could “eat my problems away, ” to thinking that I could “run/swim/bike/train my problems away.”

The other day, I was watching the movie, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” with my daughter, and in the beginning the main character, Flint, invents spray-on shoes to solve the childhood problem of untied shoelaces.  But, he fails to think ahead of how he would take them off, so he is permanently stuck with wearing the spray-on shoes, and all of the school kids make fun of him.  As he runs home in the rain crying, he says, “I wanted to run away that day, but you can’t run away from your own feet.”

You can’t run away from your own problems.

Doesn’t matter if you try to eat sweets, workout three times a day, work long hours, shop till you drop, or do drugs.  Those are all just temporary remedies, but with consequences, because now not only do you still have the same problems still looming around, but now you also have new ones – Excess weight, Diabetes, sports injury, sleep deprivation, credit card debt, and addiction.

So, this is why I always have a hard time with all of these body image movements.  It’s a nice idea, and I appreciate the good intentions, but it’s just not that black and white.  Nor should anyone be okay with being 100 pounds overweight.  I don’t think everyone has to be a CrossFitter, and I certainly do not expect everyone to be super fit and 10% body fat, but I do expect people to be healthy, body AND mind, whatever that means for you.

Being a mother of a daughter now, I constantly think about how I am going to address these issues with her one day.  When she looks at those beauty magazines and commercials, how will I teach her that those are just marketing gimmicks, and beauty comes from how you treat yourself and others?  Beauty is through actions.

This past year, I went through a lot of therapy to finally address my issues from over 16 years ago that have followed and haunted me all this time.  After completing the CF Open and my therapy, I got to really experience for the first time in my life what it felt like to have all that “weight lifted off of my shoulders.”  It’s an amazing feeling.

I learned to forgive.  I learned to embrace my past, because it has made me into who I am today, and while I would never wish what happened to me to happen to even my worst enemy, I am strangely grateful for it all.

And, maybe that’s what Taryn Brumfitt and all of these body image movements are trying to get at.  To embrace your past and accept the circumstances you were given?  To forgive yourself and those who hurt you?  Maybe?  But, they always seem so sugar-coated and simple – It’s the beauty industry’s fault, and we should just love ourselves exactly the way we are.  Period.

Ha!  If only it were that simple…

Now that I have truly let go of the past, and am building a better life today, I am falling in love with myself for the first time.  And, in turn, I have very little to no body image issues now.  Go figure!  I am by no means “perfect” or “model material,” and technically I probably have about 5 to 10 pounds of excess weight.  BUT, I’m f***ing happy and healthy!!!

Because I love myself, I now love my body and the things that I can do with it.

It starts and ends with you.

No amount of Dove products and feel-good movements are going to address your own problems.  You have to go deeper than that.  Much deeper.

Beauty really is from within.  But, too many of us are too scared to go inside and get it.

Just remember, anything worth doing is going to be really hard.

Your body image is not the issue.

Dig deep.

Beautiful Barbell

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The barbell never lies.  Ever.

But, are you paying attention when it’s talking back to you in your lifts?  You should…

This is me the other day trying to get a PR in my 1 rep max Snatch.  One of my best attempts at triple extension, if I do say so myself. 😉

I have to be honest, in the past year, I’ve completely slacked off in my lifting.  I definitely did not do nearly enough strength and skill sets as I should have been.

What I did do is “maintain.”

The sad truth is, I am Deadlifting and Snatching the exact same weight I was a year ago.  Why?  Because of all of the lifts, those are the two I hate the most.  They are my weaknesses, and just like any other human being, my natural tendency is to avoid them whenever possible.

But, after my big breakthrough in the CF Open season, I realized that the Snatch is the perfect representation of how I’ve dealt with my life for so many years.  I worked up to a weight that I was comfortable with, and then once it got hard, I stopped progressing and just stayed at that plateau, and made a lot of excuses for it.

Somehow, I was okay with staying in the same place.

For many years, I worked hard to get to a certain point in my life, and then I would just stop progressing and would maintain a level of “good enough.”

I got by in life.

I got just enough good grades for the honor roll in high school.  I did just enough to please the teachers and keep them off my back.  I did just enough on my SATs to get accepted to college.  And, I actually only applied to one college.  That’s how little I thought of myself.  It was totally a safe situation, though, because I knew I met all of the requirements.  I went with the “easy route.”

I originally majored in Occupational Therapy.  But, then it got hard.  Really hard.  And, just like the Snatch, I suddenly stopped progressing and made excuses.  I got scared.  I didn’t want to face it and put in all that work.  It was just “too hard.”  So, I eventually quit OT, and went into Psychology.  Psychology was “safe.”  Another “easy route” for me to take.  And, even there, I did just enough to graduate with decent grades.  I can claim to have graduated with Psi Chi Honors, but in all honesty, I just barely met the minimum requirements for that.

After college, though, I did grow up some, and eventually took pride in something I did, which was being a summer swim coach in San Rafael.  I coached the team for six years, and was Head Coach for the last two.  It was the first time in a very long time that I actually went above and beyond the call of duty, took great pride in what I did, and worked really hard.  I invested my heart and soul into that team.  For once in my life, I actually felt fulfilled and accomplished.  But, then, unfortunately, the volunteer board members my last year of coaching had ulterior motives, swept the rug from under my feet, and I suddenly found myself betrayed and left out in the cold.

It was a heartbreaking experience, and it only validated the reasons why I hadn’t tried so hard in the first place.  I hate to admit it now, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth, and made me step back into my old bad habits again.

As an elementary school teacher in Corte Madera, I was thankfully surrounded by awesome people, which in turn, motivated me to be awesome.  Unfortunately, though, it didn’t trickle down into any other areas of my life.  So, I was a super awesome, hard working teacher, but then the second I got home, I was mediocre at best at everything else.

Then, I found CrossFit.  It was just like everything else in my life – I started out strong and motivated, worked really hard, was even asked to train with the team, and then I reached my plateau.  I stopped progressing, I started making excuses, and I missed my opportunity to go to Regionals and the Games with the team.

When Spencer and I opened our box in 2011, I was reinvigorated and ready to take on competition again.  But, right at my peak, I suddenly got pregnant, which obviously put things on hold for a while.

So, this all leads us now to the last two years of my training.  After I had Bailey, I trained like crazy for the Open 2013, and I was actually doing really well.  All of my hard work was finally paying off.

But, then in the 4th week of the Open, I managed to get a horrible stomach flu that left me depleted and dehydrated for a week, and I was barely able to even get a decent score completed.  I was like 500th overall in that workout, which yanked away my chances at Regionals.

It gave me flashbacks of my summer swim team being taken away from me.  Now Regionals was being taken away from me.  And, again, I fell back into that “feeling sorry for myself” mode.

And so, I trained hard this past year for the Open…But, definitely not like crazy like the previous year, and honestly, I did “just enough” most of the time.

Deep down, I was holding back due to fear of it being taken away from me again.

The barbell was telling me this the entire time.  My lifts were not increasing.  The Snatch felt foreign to me most of the time.  I wasn’t making gains and getting PR’s like I should have been, and the barbell let me know it.  But, instead of listening to the bar, I made excuses.

About six months before the Open began, I finally did something for myself that I should have done a long time ago – I started going to therapy.  Therapy is just like CrossFit – It only works if you have a good therapist, just like CrossFit only works if you have a good coach!  Thankfully, I have a great one!

Through therapy, I was able to finally face some demons and deal with my past.  In dealing with my past, I was able to start taking things head on.  But, when that happened, it was already too late for the Open.  I still did really well overall, but I didn’t qualify for Regionals.

That’s my fault, and mine alone.  Bad habits die hard.  Change takes time.  And so, the Open became my breakthrough therapy session, rather than an actual competition.

I was fighting for myself…not for a high score.

I was qualifying for life…not for Regionals.

I was certainly heartbroken that I didn’t make it to Regionals, but the difference this time in my life is that I am NOT left with a bitter taste in my mouth, nor am I feeling sorry for myself or wanting to retreat.

This time, I want to try harder.  I want to be better.

For too damn long, I floated through life and ducked from every punch thrown at me.

Now, I’m the one throwing punches.

Lately, the barbell and I have had a different relationship.  A better one.  A stronger one.

Last Thursday, when I was going for a 1 rep max Snatch, it was the first time since August 2013 that I attempted anything over 125#.  And, I didn’t just add a few pounds, I went for 135# with gusto!  Unfortunately, after about 7 or 8 attempts, I failed to complete it.  However, I did get under that bar every time, and the fact that I kept trying was a huge deal for me, personally.

Then, yesterday, during Competition Training class, we did a Clean & Jerk ladder.  It started at 65# and went up by 10’s.  I made my way to 185#.  I missed the Jerk, though.  So, I tried again.  Missed again.  Tried one more time.  Just barely missed the Jerk, again.  But, each time the Clean felt stronger, and the determination in my kept grew (Rather than diminish, like the old me).  So, I went for a 4th attempt.  Cleaned it well, again, but missed the Jerk.  Oh well.  It was another successful experience for me still, because I was finally going hard and fighting for things.

The barbell is a beautiful thing.  I really have learned a lot from it.  Because, even though I have made huge changes in my life recently, and I am finally moving in the right direction, it’s still going to take time for other things to happen.  It’s not all overnight!  I have to keep working hard at it. And so, even the barbell reminds me of this fact with my recent Snatch and C&J lifts.

So, the next time you’re lifting that barbell, listen to it.  What is it telling you?

What does the barbell say about you?