I never did like roller coasters

In 27 days I will walk across the stage as a first time NPC bikini competitor. At times, the days seem to drag and other times I can’t believe that I’m almost there. And, at times, I am beyond excited about the entire experience and at other times I am 100% miserable.

Quite honestly I can’t wait for it to be over. It has become something that has consumed my entire being. I am no longer who I was back in January. Am I better off? Of that I’m not sure. At 18 pounds lost to date, I am a shell of the person I was, not only physically but mentally as well.

If I could relate it to anything, I would imagine that it’s kind of like being brain washed at my own free will. I’ve become obsessed with food, on a totally different level. I’ve become obsessed with my body, on a totally different level. I’ve become obsessed with perfection, on a totally different level. And in the past week I’ve noticed that my hands shake. I’m pretty sure it’s due to nerves and being overly anxious.

My dad, who is my very best friend and tells me like it is, has handed me my ass on a plate when I discussed this with him. He reminded me that I started this journey to have fun and that if I’m no longer having fun, I either shouldn’t do it or change my prospective. He reminded me that no one is perfect and that this is not my job, so taking it too seriously is unnecessary. To quote him, “If eating a hamburger is going to stop you from being emotional, then go eat a hamburger!”

I’m an emotional eater and because I can’t eat my emotions right now, I am forced to feel them. It is causing me to burn bridges with people. It is causing me to have frequent break downs and mood swings. It’s as though I am no longer in control of myself.

I can stand in front of my mirror at home and think “Holy cow! I’m lean!” and then 30 minutes later, I can be at the gym with my peers and think I’m the fattest girl in the room. I can put on a pair of pants when getting ready for work and stand there shocked that they are literally falling off of me, and then at the same time feel bloated.

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What good has this done? What good is being “skinny” or “fit” or “pretty” when your mind is so screwed up that no one wants to be around you? Sure, I’ll look good in a bikini, but I’ll be standing alone.

As far as I can tell, the things that I’ve lost are not worth the things I’ve gained. I may have a different thought on April 25th, but today I feel like I am none the better for doing this.

My dad told me that, as a little girl, I was pretty level-headed. So why, as an adult, can I not get it together? I’m pretty embarrassed and ashamed. At 39 years old, I should have myself figured out…shouldn’t I?

At the same time, I have numerous people telling me that I’m too hard on myself. That I don’t give myself credit for my accomplishments. This is true. Oh, so very true.

Where is the middle ground?

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You sure do cry a lot

Lately I’ve been learning a lot about myself…some good, some great, and some down right embarrassing stuff…but I’m using these as opportunities to better myself instead of remaining at a stand still.

One thing that has stood out is that I cry a lot. I mean, I kinda already knew this, but it’s become less about the emotions that others have brought out in me and more so to do with the pressure I put on myself to meet my expectations and the determination to overcome my past.

Case in point…this weekend I celebrated my 39th birthday. I woke up early the morning of my birthday and walked to the beach and watched the sun rise. It was spectacular.

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I stood there watching this amazing sight and I cried. I cried because I’m finally beginning to feel happy in my life. I cried because I had felt so much pain in my past. I cried because I was grateful for my parents who gave me life. I cried because I felt blessed enough to witness mother nature at it’s best.

I then cried when my dad, the best dad in the whole world in my opinion, called me at 10:10 a.m; as he does each year because that’s what time I was born. 

Later, after posing practice with a group of girls in their mid-twenties who appeared muuuuuuch leaner than me, I cried because I felt old and because I was feeling unsure about whether or not I’d be ready for the April 25th show.

I cried again when a sweet, sweet friend gave me a birthday present.

I cried yet again later that night when I tried to fall asleep. No explanation. I just did.

When I woke up the next day, I cried because, again, I felt old. 39 is almost 40. How did I become almost 40? I have nothing to show for all this time on Earth. No children. No husband. No home. What a failure…at least that’s how I felt for a few moments.

I cried later that morning when I went beast mode on my workout…it was SO very, very hard and the tears welled up in my eyes as I fought to hold them back.  I made myself proud of my hard work. The feeling of proving to myself that I was strong and determined was awesome.

Yep, I sure do cry a lot. That’s a ton for just one weekend, and I don’t even have PMS. I could make an excuse for myself and blame the new lower carb diet my coach put me on, but truth be told, I cheated quite a bit this weekend.

I’m not sure how long it will take to overcome this little idiosyncrasy or if it will ever change. I suppose the important part is that I’ve become aware of this and I don’t deny that it’s part of my personality. I don’t want to consider myself an emotional wreak, nor do I want to appear to be a basket case, but maybe I am. And maybe that’s ok. I’d rather feel than to be cold-hearted. It’s who I am, and I should embrace it.

 

Hold the salt, please

After the frustration I experienced with my monster PMS and the terrible cold, I was more than a tad concerned that I may have gotten off track. My coach assured me that I would be fine and still able to do the April 25th show. Yet I still had doubt…and then I took some progress pictures.

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I am shocked and amazed at what my body is capable of doing. I have never seen myself look this way before and it’s a relief that my hard work is paying off.

Truth be told, I’ve had my fair share of cheats and treats. I’ve stuck to my diet 90% of the time, but I have indulged more than a few times. I’m now seven weeks out and have promised myself that there will be no more cheats (except for my birthday this week).

I know that eating like this won’t be forever and that, if I choose, I can go “back to normal” on April 26th. However I have a feeling that I will want to continue competing. I’m loving all of what I’m learning and experiencing. It’s empowering to know that I can do this despite the fact that depression still looms in the dark corners of my mind, waiting for a weak moment to attack and settle in close to me, preventing me from having the drive to carry on.

I have proven to myself that I have strength beyond physical abilities. And, right now, mental strength is harder to obtain than the physical.

On another note…I had dinner with my family the other night. I didn’t want to order from the restaurant because I haven’t “eaten out” since I started prepping. I talked myself into it and ordered something very simple…beef, raw spinach, and avocado. As I was eating it, I knew it tasted too good to be plainly prepared. The flavor was just too good!

When I woke up the next morning I knew that the sodium content was off the charts because I looked like this

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 I’ve been lucky enough to have this happen to me before and I know that salt is the cause. Not a pretty sight! Not only were my eyes almost swollen shut, but my abs were also extremely puffy. The puffiness around my eyes has gone down, but I’m still feeling bloated. Yikes! No more restaurant food for a while! Hold the salt, please!

A nice audible fart…

Following my run in with the Snickers on Friday, I proceeded to eat two donuts and an entire personal sized pizza. After which I cried my eyes out and fell asleep on my couch shortly after 6:30 p.m.

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When I saw my coach on Saturday morning, he knew something was wrong and after I fumbled my way through my workout, we had a long conversation where I admitted my food defeat and confessed that I didn’t think I was mentally strong enough to do this. Talking to him made me feel much better. It’s going to be a long journey. Not only do I need to get my body looking good enough to go on stage, I also need to get my mind right.

I’ve talked to a close friend who has been on this journey before. She has been a competitor for several years now and has done more than extremely well. She told me that no one mentions the meltdowns, the doubts, and the back tracks. What we hear about is the sweet taste of success once the chicken and broccoli has been consumed and the sweat has been wiped away.

When I think about it, I’ve only really been at it for sixteen days. Sixteen days. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a long time. Sure, it feels long because I want to eat what I want to eat instead of sticking to my meal plan. And my muscles are sore allllll the time. But, is sixteen days really enough to change my body inside and out? Clearly not. It’s going to take a lot longer so I must be prepared.

On a lighter note, I cried like a little bitch during my workout yesterday. It’s been a long time since that has happened. My mind kept saying that I could keep going but my quads said otherwise.

Oh, and I farted during my ab workout. A nice audible fart. Twice. That was fun.

It was nice of the coach and my training partner to pretend they didn’t hear it.

Guess nobody mentions that either.

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Changes in Latitudes. Changes in Attitudes.

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Today marks one week since I’ve started serious training and dieting towards my goal to compete in my first bikini competition. Quite honestly, I’m extremely impressed with myself. I have not once cheated, unless of course you count the apple I ate last Wednesday or the scoops of almond butter I had over the weekend. I haven’t had a pretzel in a week. Or pineapple (my faaaaavorite). Or wine. Or cheese. And trust me, I want pizza.

There have been plenty of times that I have wanted to cheat, but I’d only be cheating myself out of the money that I’ve already spent to hire a trainer and I’d be cheating myself out of my commitment. And that is, finally, enough for me to stay focused.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I started to notice a change in my stomach. Not only do I not have a constant bloated feeling, but it’s flatter and I can already see more definition. I suppose that, and my arms, will be the easiest, quickest places to see a change. My backside, however, will take a lot more time and effort. As will my inner and outer thighs.

When I think of how, just twenty days ago, I was a mess. How I was held captive by my emotions. How I was paralyzed by my personal situation. How I had no desire to live. How I felt I had no purpose. It’s amazing and I am relieved that I have found something that I can focus full force on. I have no time to be depressed. I have no one to worry about other than me.

This is taking time. This is taking discipline. This is taking dedication. This is proving to me that I can finally do something for myself. And I love it. My body is sore, everywhere. I’m tired. Oh, so tired. I’m overwhelmed by the food prep. I’m always doing dishes. It’s expensive. I’m hungry more often than I used to be. I have over cooked my rice and burnt my chicken (seriously, it could’ve been mistaken for sawdust when I finally managed to cut it open), but I ate it anyway. The workouts suck and are fun all at the same time. And… I. Am. Happy.

My First Crossfit-iversary!

I would always drive by local Crossfit gyms and marvel at what I saw. Strong, beautiful bodies picking mass amounts of weight. Climbing ropes. Swinging kettle bells. They had their own language. Their own lingo. They wore knee-high socks.

I tried a few different locations and was always intimidated. I didn’t know what it meant when I saw DU on the board. Or HSPU. And, I never felt comfortable enough to ask…paired with the fact that the coaches at these locations never bothered to explain properly or ask if I needed modifications. Plus, my squat form just plain sucked, so instead of embarrass myself, I’d just go back to the “regular” gym with the “regular” equipment that I was familiar and comfortable with.

At the end of 2013 however, I was at a turning point in my life…I could actually feel it at the time, but I didn’t truly realize how much my life was about to change. I was talking to a friend and she mentioned her Crossfit gym. I remember telling her that I wasn’t really interested because other places had given me a “bad taste” in my mouth. She assured me that it would not be the case here and offered me a free one month membership.

How could I pass that up?

A year ago today I walked into Crossfit Navigate and it literally changed every aspect of my life. Not only do I have a spectacular assortment of knee-high socks…I can now honestly say that I am an athlete. A year ago I couldn’t even jump rope. Honest to God. I looked like a Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail and I dorked it up even more by getting the rope caught in my pony tail nine times out of ten. Who does that? Most of my lack of ability came from the fact that I never, ever did anything remotely athletic in my life prior to the age of 25. Scary, I know.

It may not be a lot, but now I can do at least three double unders in a row…and, because I now know the lingo, I can confidently call them dubs. It took me almost a full year to accomplish that, but I did it. Not only that, but there are countless other things that I can do now that I never, ever thought I could do. And that is such an unbelievable feeling.

The past year has brought a ton of blood, sweat and lots of tears (and that’s not a compliant). I have met some of the most unbelievable people I could ever ask for. The support and the patience of the coaches and members are the biggest blessing in my life. When I have wanted to give up, they have lifted me up. When I have doubted, they have believed. When I have improved, they have given me recognition. I can not imagine a life without Crossfit or without the extraordinary friends that I have made there. Life isn’t always perfect or just the way you want it, but when you walk through those doors, the outside world doesn’t matter. It’s only you, your goals, and your dedication to be the best person that you can be.

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Me? Selfish? Ok, if I must

For the last seven years, at least, I have wanted to compete in a bikini competition…but my excuses have always prevented me from attaining this goal. However, now that I have made this commitment to myself, excuses are a thing of the past…sooooo, yesterday I hired a coach and tomorrow I will begin training for my first competition!

Honestly, I have never been so ready for this in my entire life. Sure, I’ve wanted to do it, but I wasn’t ready. I’ve reached a point in my life where I’ve discovered the true meaning of not being able to control anything or anyone other than myself. Being a control freak, it’s no wonder that it has taken me so long to figure that out.

And, honestly, I have never been so scared about this in my entire life…because I actually think I can do this. Usually, when I put my heart and soul into accomplishing something, I succeed beyond my expectations. I drive full force into it. I feel that happening with this. The feeling is amazing and there’s no looking back.

However, I’m also scared because I. LOVE. FOOD. Almost as much as I love breathing. Most days, as I’m making my morning coffee, I think of all the yummy things I’ll eat that day. I, by no means, eat poorly on a regular basis, but I do like to eat a lot of food. I haaaaate being hungry. So, I worry about the diet portion of this adventure. And, as with so many people, I eat my emotions, so I’m going to have to keep those bitches in check.

I took charge of my Stressor on Thursday and have changed the dynamics of the relationship. I’m hoping that this proactive move will eliminate the reason why I’ve been so emotional the past four months. I’ve also made the choice to share the decision to compete with a small circle of friends/family; sharing it with only those who I know support me regardless of what I do. I don’t want too many people making judgements or sharing their opinions about this with me. I’m not doing this for the benefit or acceptance of anyone else. I want to do it for me. Due to the fact that I have decided to do this, I need to have the least amount of outside stress as possible. I need to be selfish. And I’m not very good at that. But, I’ll learn.

All excuses aside…my umbrella is too small for the rain

I have, over the past 10 years, used a variety of excuses as to why I haven’t met my fitness goals. Including, but not limited to the list below:

  1. I work a lot.
  2. My husband and I just got separated.
  3. I wasn’t athletic as a child.
  4. I never played sports.
  5. My hips are tight.
  6. I’m going through a divorce.
  7. I have an injury.

However, I’ve never been one to say:

  • It’s too hard.
  • I’m too tired.
  • I’ll start tomorrow.
  • I don’t have the time.

I’ve always considered my excuses legit…but, really, isn’t that what everyone thinks of their own excuses? Thinking back, I wonder if the above excuses actually were legit, or if I was just being lazy, or scared. I wonder this today not because I don’t want to go to the gym because the workout is hard or because I don’t have the time; it’s because the number one Stressor I have in my life right now is making me want to run home straight after work, take a Tylenol PM, jump in the shower, and hide under the covers. Which, by the way, is how I spent most of October, November, and December 2014.

That’s the thing about suffering from depression; sometimes you don’t have a choice no matter how hard you try. Years ago, when my ex husband was diagnosed with bipolar depression, I thought that he was just lazy and that he lacked proper coping skills. He was an introvert as it was and I thought that this was all just part of his personality. Now, however, as I force myself to figure out how I ended up this way, I now understand that, depression is debilitating.

When I started taking antidepressants in December, I was reluctant. I don’t like to put chemicals in my body. I suffered from some major side effects and decided to go off of them. Yesterday was my first full day with out them and I felt just fine…great even. I felt strong after my workout and had accomplished all my fitness and nutrition goals for the day. I went to bed, in my bed instead of the on the couch, at a reasonable time and slept through most of the night. I even woke up early today and had extra time to enjoy drinking my coffee. Things were looking up.

But then something happened…

I couldn’t figure out what to wear. Not really a big deal. Most women have this problem, so I should be used to it.

But I couldn’t figure out what to wear because I felt fat.

I felt fat because I haven’t been able to stick to my routine because of my depression.

I got mad at myself for not sticking with my routine..and then I remembered I needed gas…and then, as a result, I was late to work.

As I drove frantically to work, I thought of the reason for my depression and it made me want to take the steps towards eliminating that factor in my life.

Which made me want to contact my Stressor so that I could tell him that we can’t continue to have the relationship that we currently do.

And then I did.

He agreed to meet with me, but said he wasn’t free until “sometime next week”.

And that I took personally…as if I’m not important.

And all of this makes me want to hide in my bed until I hear from him that he is available.

So, that one little thing caused me to spiral into the state that I’m currently in. And that’s the thing about depression. It’s like having an umbrella that is too small in the middle of a thunderstorm. All of these things are pouring down around you and you don’t have the tools to help yourself survive.

I will go to the gym today. I might not make it to my second workout, but I will do something. Even though I don’t want to.

But, I don’t want to stand in the rain either.

How do you do a squat again?

When you’re motivated, it is possible to accomplish things…we all know that. So yesterday I did both things that I wanted to do, I saw my nephew and I went to the gym… and, as a bonus, I also managed to impress myself in the process.

Walking into the gym yesterday, I have to admit, I was very nervous. As with all others, Crossfit is the kind of sport where you have to keep showing up and build on your skills. I hadn’t been there in eleven days. That’s a long ass time. And I was scared that my body wouldn’t recall what it once knew. The workout of the day was as follows:

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Rowing for that distance? I’m going to die. Is there enough oxygen on Earth to help me through this?

Snatches? Ugh…my upper body is weak…or maybe my head is weak and I’m just afraid of a little iron bar with rubber weights.

Back squats? I looooove squats…but after eleven days? How do you do a squat again? I’d better stand over here in the corner and practice.

As I sat on the rower, my heart began to beat faster before I even strapped my feet in. I overheard the girl next to me tell the coach that she wanted to finish within 8 minutes. Oh my god! What? First of all, I have to do this for eight minutes (and then some) AND there is NO WAY I’m doing this under fifteen, for God’s sake.

I’ve always wanted to believe that I wasn’t competitive with anyone other than myself. That I only wanted to beat myself…blah, blah, blah. With this “I’ll finish under eight minutes” girl next to me I was damned if I was going to go down without a fight, so as the clock began to tick I found myself pull for pull with her. Every so often I’d glance at her screen to see that she was only a few meters ahead of me. My legs were burning and as I saw my meters count down I thought of how badly I wanted to quit…but was I even working as hard as I could?…I should just be proud of the fact I showed up today…can I keep up with her?…why am I breathing so loud?…good thing the music is turned up so no one can hear these awful noises I’m making…200 meters to go and she’s still pulling her rower too…I’m going to do this…no, I’m going to die…50 more…she’s done…wait, wait…I’m done!

I finished at 9:06…30 seconds after her. And later, when I checked my performance next to the other women that day, I was number six on the board and she was first. The fact that she was next to me made all the difference in the world.

On to Snatches. The last time I did these I struggled with weight so, although I prefer Snatches to Cleans, I was not looking forward to completing this move. I told myself to focus on form, because, after all, that is one of my overall goals. And when all was said and done, I was pleased with a 65# Snatch on the board.

So, two out of three were complete, and now to the squats. Despite the fact that I am dissatisfied with the overall shape of my legs, I know that they are strong. And with work on proper form and more flexibility, I know they will get stronger. However, I had an expectation that I was afraid I was going to be unable to accomplish. When I looked at my previous Back Squat performance it estimated that I should be able to do a 150# Back Squat. Well hell, I’m not so sure about that today. I mean, I wasn’t even going to come. Just a few hours ago I wanted to get into my pjs and crawl into bed to avoid all of this. And, wait, maybe I should just practice getting below parallel without any weight at all…yeah, yeah…that way I can remind my body how to squat…good idea. No, I’m here, so I might as well do it…and if I don’t manage to get that weight, well who’s going to notice other than me?

As with most things that happen with me and my lack of confidence, I surprised myself and I actually did a 150# Back Squat. Two sets of three. I could have probably done more even, but let’s not get carried away. I ended up in third overall in Back Squat performance and THAT made me proud.

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But trust me people, the struggle is real. The. Struggle. IS. Real.

Facial expressions don’t lie…neither do the loud grunts that I made that echoed in the gym. And thank God for my coach for the support!

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Something stinks

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” ~John Lennon

One of my favorite quotes…and oh so true. On January 2nd, my sister was admitted to the hospital to be induced with her first child. The first child in the family…so of course there was a dire need for all immediate family members to stay put in the waiting room until this child was born. All other responsibilities went out the window as we all awaited his arrival. And of course, what does one do when one waits…or is bored…or is anxious? One eats. Crap.

As I munched on cookies, pretzels, and various other unfortunate things, I thought to myself that I was never going to escape the dreadful thing called ‘life’. That in which makes us unable to accomplish our goals. That in which makes us choose one thing over another thing. But, when will I ever get the chance again to welcome the first baby into our family? Never. And so, let them eat cake…and popcorn, and chips, and whatever else the vending machine has to offer.

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During the moments that I first held my nephew, I didn’t once think about stronger quads or defined biceps, or how many bad carbs I had consumed in the past 24 hours. I instead thought of all the possibilities that lay ahead for this little one. How, at that moment, life was perfect for him. If we’re lucky, we come into the world this way…and then ‘life’ happens. So it got me thinking more…

When did I start thinking that I needed to be better?

When did I decide that I had to be perfect?

When did it become ok for me to settle for less?

When did I put aside my priorities to appease others?

It’s so confusing…on one end I want to build a stronger body and prove to myself that I can do this, but on the other hand who really cares? I guess the reason lays in why I’m doing this? And that is what I need to figure out. If the driving force behind this is to be perfect, then I shouldn’t be doing it. Perfection only comes in those first days of existence when we’re all bundled up with a knitted hat on. At this point in my life, I am far from perfect…just like everyone else.

And so today I struggle with spending the precious few hours after work, before the dust hits my eyes and I’m down for the count, at the hospital visiting the only person I know who is perfect at the moment or do I go to the gym, as I planned, and work out for two and a half hours? How do you make a choice like that? Is it selfish if I don’t go? Am I being lazy if I do go? Could I force myself to do both and cut my gym time in half?

Right now I’d just prefer to go home and get in my comfy pjs and sleep until tomorrow morning…but it’s only 2:30 in the afternoon. I can smell avoidance in the air…and it stinks.