Sunday, January 28, 2018

The sport of my life....

I recently had an unexpected thought of former gymnastics teammates of mine.  I say teammates loosely—in the sport of gymnastics- you may be on the same team but you are essentially there for yourself it seems.  This was a competitive private gymnastics club/team and really, if you are a gymnast growing up and spending your childhood in a gym, every girls goal is to be at the top of the podium.  There is only one first place, and everyone is aiming for it.  That being said, we were always of course super close with the teammates that we practiced hours each week together with.  There is no way to not be.  These are the girls that you sit on a mat with at the beginning of practice and begin warm ups with, you hold each other’s legs to stretch, you push each other’s legs to stretch further, you push their legs down, you hold them across the vault to do back strength and ask them to spot you on some things.  You share tape, occasionally grips, beam shoes, know each other’s floor music, have seen each other fall, get hurt, be afraid, get new skills, have the best days and the worst days.  We share chalk buckets, pass down leotards, know each other’s floor routines, go to meets together, try to not eat too much together😊 We have stayed in hotels before- doing back handsprings down hallways, trying to not go into the pool the night before meets lest we become “wet noodles” incapable of keeping tight bodies, jumping on the elevators going down to get more air. 

And eventually, these are the teammates that we share our eventual dreams coming true… or in most cases, fall spectacularly short.  And the season realizing our dreams truly won’t ever happen for us, are brutal.  They come during difficult teenage years when not only are we experiencing changing bodies and experiences, we are found with a loss of identity, and new teammates “taking over our spot.”  There is only one top girl.  If you are on top, there is only one place to go if you don’t stay on top, and that is down.  That is scary.

Needless to say, you become family.  You understand frustrations at coaches who you may feel have abandoned you or let you down.  You understand frustrations at our own bodies for failing to be what we want them to be or do.  We stand next to each other while we find our places in the world.

So, even years later, it is heartbreaking to find that one is now gone.

I am unsure if gymnastics is different from other sports since it is so intensely focused during the growing adolescent years, but I talk with other former gymnasts that are now adults that seem stuck.  We are 30 and 40 year olds still doing bar routines in our mind before we fall asleep (or while asleep).  We still dream of new connections and routine ideas, we still cannot help but do handstands in places that we visit, we are adults who cannot stop leaping down the driveway after picking up the mail.  Our sport was our love and is engrained in our muscles, souls, movement and hearts.  Not only stuck continuing to walk on curbs and lines mimicking a balance beam, but stuck in some tough ways of thinking.

*stuck being a human acting as an efficient machine optimizing time management to an almost inhuman extent.  We learned this through a childhood of moving fast, and we cannot imagine doing something without a purpose/goal/intent.  We cannot imagine living without a goal.  Sometimes to a fault.

*I personally am stuck being hard on myself.  To a fault. Asking for a perfect 10 of myself, at all times, in all situations, and not knowing how to not be always reaching for the next thing, the next improvement.

*stuck with injuries….ohhhh how I have wished over the past year so many times that my back hadn’t had so  much jolting/ I hadn’t had so many falls.  My body is definitely “stuck” with some effects.

Sometimes I do wonder how to get RID of this stuck-ness that I live in, but I also am so passionate about the extraordinary benefits I received of sport during my growing years.  If you asked me what I would do differently, for the most part, I wouldn’t change a THING.  It was hard, but it was life.  Sports are life.  It was such an honor and privilege to spend my childhood doing the sport I loved.

I got to experience my greatest love, hobby, feeling in the world through my sport.  I truly was and will never forget the PHYSICAL FEELING of my sport:  flying, landing a solid jump on beam, attacking the runway on vault (when I wasn’t scared of the freaking thing), catching bars solid, swinging solid and strong. The memories of those physical sensations are priceless forever.

I have done more SINCE my gymnastics career than I ever would have had I not grown up in this sport.  I would have never known how to never ever give up.  I wouldn’t be stubborn, feisty, and all of the things that have allowed me to go through my college years as intensely as I did, worked to create my own business.  I would never have had the stubborn fortitude to adopt a child, jump through hoops for the things I believed in, and stand again when my dreams have been crushed so many times. 

I would have never learned the life lessons of:  taking risks versus playing it safe, and when to do which.  I would have never challenged myself to do the SCARIEST THING I COULD THINK OF.  I remember things that really used to scare me in gymnastics (freaking vault) but also other things/landings/ that I had to learn to overcome.  I had to learn to trust myself, to trust to let go and just try. 

I would have never known how to challenge myself physically to run and then learn to do triathlons and accept the challenge of the race distances and intensities that I’ve done.  I wouldn’t have had this inner “thing” in me that doesn’t allow me to quit.  I would have never been told that my dream wouldn’t come true and be so fired up mad that I vowed, “ohhhhhh yes it will……”  I probably never would have felt a need to prove myself (to both myself and others) so strong that I trained for and did an Ironman.

I would have never learned the beauty of coaching.  I know things that have worked and didn’t work for me, and maybe those are different from everyone.  I know it usually doesn’t work to poke a teenage girl in the stomach though and let her know that you can see that she has already eaten dinner.  I know that it does work to stand back and watch with confidence, support, joy and pride.  I know it doesn’t work when you fail and fall and disgust your own self to walk up to a coach asking you, “why did you do that” as if I wanted to bomb a routine or fall.  I know that a knowing nod of the head and hand on the back mean, “I know you know that sucked and I’m so sorry, but it doesn’t diminish you as a person or athlete.”  Those things don’t need to be spoken, they can be felt.  I know the time for constructive criticism and time for quiet support. 

But I’ve been reminded as I reminisce this past week, that I also would have never known so many beautiful friendships built with smiles, tears, chalk dust, stinky gym bags, exhausted muscles, ripped hands, hours, glory and defeat.  When you experience it ALL together, you will always be family.

*I’m so sorry Christina.  I loved you and remember you then and will always remember you.  I remember your strong legs and arms, I remember your crazy flexibility.  I remember your laugh.  I remember your power and also your softness, sensitivity and your hard times.  Your hard times coincided with my hard times and I think those last years together allowed me to see your heart and your wonderful being.  I remember always being thankful when you were at a practice the same day as me.  Those were good days, you comforted me to have someone so real around.  I remember you at meets, pulling boards for each other, sharing beams and cheering each other on.  I wish I had known you at the end.  I wish I could have maybe been that comfort for you that you had been for me.  I would have continued to cheer you and your beautiful heart on forever.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Top 5 Nutrition Bites for the New Year


Sigh. Everyone either WANTS more info on this, or they  just don’t want ANYMORE! I really frankly hate talking/writing about nutrition.  I’m not a registered dietician, so I cannot give “meal plans” etc, but also- eating is so FUNDAMENTAL and personal.  And no one wants to REALLY listen.  Because then we are held accountable slightly.

Everyone already knows both so much and so little, right?

On one hand, everyone knows how to eat well.  Everyone KNOWS how to.  It is harder to DO IT.

On the other hand, there are CONSTANTLY this that or the other diet (also known now as plans, programs etc—so don’t be fooled- a plan is still a “diet” at times….).

So, I’m going to throw out a few ideas.  AND the funniest thing- look back to anything I’ve written previously on nutrition- could be 10 years ago.  It is the SAME DAMN INFO!!  Omg. This is not rocket science, it is not hard to understand, there is not a trick that you’re just missing out on.  It is so simple, but OH SO HARD.

First:  OMG- I’ve been saying it for years – it is not something new from any company/advocare/shake companies, etc.  ::: meal prep.  You freaking must plan.  That is it.  If you do not have a meal plan for the week, I can tell you it probably won’t be really top notch healthy.  You’ll be scrambling, you’ll have snacks that you didn’t count on. You need to plan.  (again good grief, this is not a NOVEL and new thing).  Here is how I do it.  This is just one way of many, but it works for me.  Thursday nights I try to plan my meals for the following week.  Friday I check what ingredients I need that I don’t have for that plan.  Sat- Ryan shops for me- yes I am SO thankful and lucky that he does our big shopping trip!  Sunday I begin cooking/planning/putting stuff together that needs to be ready for week/washed/cut, etc.

Second.  Nutritionists have been saying it for years, I’ve tried to recommend this to frankly EVERYONE I train!  WRITE IT DOWN.  If you write down for 2 weeks everything you eat and drink, it will MAKE you eat healthier – I’d put money on it.  Either way, you’ll KNOW where you are starting/ what you really need to cut out/add in/ make changes in.  *as an aside, if it helps to SHARE that list and be held accountable for that list daily, grab a friend/ask your trainer/ someone in your workout group, etc!  Some people don’t want to be bothered to write it down (and it doesn’t need to be detailed).  Just a LIST of times/foods/approx. portions.  If you cannot be bothered to make this simplest of efforts, do not expect to miraculously end up eating better.  Sorry to be harsh, but it is going to take a smidgeon of effort.

Third:  What is the PURPOSE of the food.  Ok, again, I’ve said this FOR-EEEEEEVER.. about fitness: “what is the purpose of this workout”?  It might be VO2Max training, it might be an active recovery day, it might be hill/strength work etc, but it should have a purpose and you should be keenly aware of that purpose.  So, for FOOD:  every single thing you eat should have a purpose- what are the nutrients/fuel that you are GAINING from this!  Don’t focus on what to AVOID- focus on what it BRINGS IN—what great things it gives you to nourish and fuel your body!

Fourth:  MAKE IT NOURISHING.  Make it look great on your plate.  Look at the proportions on your plate- YES – over ½ should be veggies!  Then lean protein and whole grains take up the rest!  Make it SEASONAL!  If it is winter- do roasted winter veggies over greens with lentils and some quinoa.  Or make a nourishing seasonal soup to warm you and fill you!  Food should be nourishing which means to be FILLED with great things!  And make it fun!  Follow 1-2 food blogs that you love!  (ask me for recommendations- I follow some and even if I don’t use their meal plans, I can always even get a new great idea from a post or a picture!)

Final fifth “tidbit”:  Always think of how you are pairing your foods/ even snacks.  Every time you eat, you should be able to ask yourself 2 questions:  1. What is my fruit or vegetable? And 2.  What is my protein or calcium to pair that off with.  (for example- even a snack of an apple needs more—it needs a protein or calcium with it ---think a tbsp. of nut butter, or 2 egg whites along with it, or some crunch garbanzo beans, etc. ).

And… to those who are adamant that they cannot eat “fruit” on a diet, or fruit at a certain time of day, or a certain type of fruit.  OMG I cannot even continue talking about that silliness—show me someone who is overweight because they ate too much fruit, fruit at the “wrong time of day,” or the “wrong type of fruit.”  I cannot even.

And… one more… anyone doing a “3 day cleanse” a “10 day cleanse” ……. I cannot even… OMG WE HAVE KIDNEYS TO CLEANSE our bodies and we can EXERCISE!!  A “cleanse” is a current day term for crash diet, we are not fooling ourselves.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

2018 GOALS


So, I did my 2017 year in review earlier in the week and of course I have many many hopes and dreams for 2018.  Writer Zora Neale Hurston said, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer them.”  I love this and also believe there are always more questions that we didn’t even know we’d begin to have and always answers that we didn’t even know we were looking for.  Part of our purpose is to listen and find these questions and answers, no matter how uncomfortable they are or make us.  2017 wasn’t what I thought it would be, but I’m so glad I started it out with intentions and goals.  I am ready to learn from 2018 and energized to have a good amount of commitment to my goals!

 Ohhhh so many people say resolutions are bad- that it means that right now there is something about us we “need to change”… and that isn’t a resolution at all.  There are always things we can work on and aim to and for!  That is not bad! That is EXCITING, THRILLING, and HOPEFUL!

So yes, I have goals, specific/measurable/reaching, blah blah blah!!! Yes. Of course.

I am also doing what I have for the past few years- a “word” for the year.  I have done Joy, Love, and more.  This year, what I have realized is that I couldn’t really separate some words and they end up being actually encompassed in the letter P.

PLAY, PASSION, PURPOSE. I’m putting those words in a blender and that will be my year!

I want to feel playful frankly in everything I do!  I want each RUN to feel like child’s play- I want to bring PLAY  to my job- to people’s workouts, to classes I teach! I want to remind myself and others of the lightness and fun in our hearts and bodies!  I want to play with my family- meaning that when I am with them, I can truly be with them and play both actively and lazily!  Also, I want to PLAY in new ways- I want to try new things- I still am hoping to do a trapeze class, among other things!

PASSION: I want to live my passions daily- do the things that GIVE Me energy, I want to fuel that cycle and give even more energy out to the world in doing so.  I am passionate about LIFE, FITNESS, WELLNESS, JOY and MINDFULNESS. I’m passionate about how I spend my time and treasuring every minute with my kids.   I’m passionate about movement, outdoors, dogs, flowers, crafts, parks, porches, simplicity and quiet.   I’m passionate about breathing, moving, being near and on water and warmth, trying new things and living without regrets.  I’m passionate about my relationship with my God.

PURPOSE: I have learned to realize the present moment is all we ever really have.  I believe in having a purpose to all that I do, even things that I now see had purpose through pain (both emotional and physical).  I want to live mindfully, making my choices according to my truth and values, and sharing my life with those I love.  I am willing to go out of my comfort zone for my purpose and need to remind myself to do this without fear.

This year, I have the intentions of play/passion/purpose and of course many specific goals:

*FITNESS:  I hope to not begin my age decline yet, but priority is being smart and hoping to work to stay injury free. I signed up for EAGLEMAN again, however this is not my A or Highest priority race this year, as it usually is.  I am going to do it as a (LOOOONG) training day in the sun and heat!! while I train for my goal of being FASTER at Olympic distance races.  I am going to do MORE 10K’s this winter and sprint to keep myself honest- I am hoping to do one per month to help my training, keep me motivated- and to not “be scared” to do them even when I’m not “where I want to be”!! HOW SILLY- no one is EVER where they “want to be.”!!!!! 

I will sign up for 1-2 new races this year- ones that I’ve never done, even though of course my faves I intend to do and have already signed up for some.  Of course I have gone through  more specifics- I have times/rankings/workouts etc that I would love to achieve, but I think that would be boring to write here and I have written other places.  I also am fully committed to being open to the days as they are presented to me.  I know enough to know that my body isn’t really as I would choose it to be at this age, haha.  I have some injuries working against me, and I don’t intend to sabotage myself.  But I also don’t intend to continue (yes, I have been) being

Now, to DO THIS:

FIRST … NUTRITIONALLY.  I am already making changes.  I do this every year, and I’m actually ok with it!  I don’t eat as healthy in the fall.  I like to have a time to get off my schedule, to eat cookies, to not be strict with myself.  And then I LOVE getting back on to great food that just delivers for me… and makes me feel better and energized and fuels me like an athlete.  I cannot wait to run 10 lbs lighter again. Good grief.

I need to go back to religiously training/coaching myself just like I coach others.  This past year I didn’t do it as well because I was always “waiting” for my back to go out, or scared to commit to a workout in case I wasn’t ready for it.  My commitment will be back.

STRENGTH: I’m going to be doing this every day this year- the plan for the beginning of the year at least is: every other day hit big/small: meaning, if I do 15-20 min of “main lifting” pullups/regular/more standard strength training, etc, then the next day is all the “little stuff” which is actually of course the big stuff- this being stabilizers- single leg calf work, outer hip/inner thigh/posterior shoulders, etc. When I am doing my strength stuff, it is a natural reminder to me of play and a passion for feeling strong, working hard, and this actually helps me create and keep a cycle of motivation.

YOGA (and abs):  yoga every damn day.  Seriously.  I am just smitten in love with my yoga practice.  I’ve been doing it every day as a “requirement” of myself for a few months and have really grown to love the freedom of taking 20 minutes even to do some work on my own.

Swim/Bike/Run: I have set specific goals for my beginning “phase” of the year.  Realistic, but great motivating, specific, intensity, skill, form, fun workouts!

That was fitness, but I won’t bore you with everything:  I have too many categories, family/travel/ garden, books, continuing education, learning and living!  I have goals to learn to be still, to be a better giver, friend, mom, etc.

I want to go places—we are going to hit as many beaches this year as I can, and lakes and pool days and hikes (even if I am on my OWN….)!  I am not going to wait to make plans like I sometimes do.  I’ve already hit some reservation buttons.  I want to be outside, I want to have a list every day to feel accomplished, I want to LIVE EACH DAY so fully.  Not that I expect each day to be over the moon, but I want to delight in the days, in the simplicity, in breath, in my friends, in my work, in my heart. Play/passion/purpose.  I’m joyfully on it!

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.  – C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 in Review. YIKES!

2017 year in recap: ahhhh 2017….. you were… so… ugh… special. (a sidenote:  clearly this is just personal recap- not including family... so no comments about--- you are selfish and not addressing your role in life as a mom, which of course is my #1).

Best race:  Luray Triathlon- august… BEST RACE AND BEAUTY and family day.. literally a 10/10.
Worst race:  Annapolis 10 Miler- I’ve never spent 10 miles focusing on how to not start/quit.
Moment I am pretending never happened: That I left the Eagleman site and wasn’t there to get a rolldown slot to World Championships.
Unforgettable moments:  being dry needled silly all year until I felt a zap of electricity and now am terrified of this treatment, paddleboarding in the ocean on both beautiful and CRAZY weather days- literally being airborne with my paddleboard going over crazy waves, riding in my first races with my new Quintana Roo bike…. (I’m sorry “Black Lightning”…. We will have some better outcomes next year…), volunteering for some local races and seeing different perspectives of these events that I love!
Proud of: doing 2 races in the "open" division this year and being 4th place- JUST OUT OF $$ spot!  I'm so proud of signing up in this division, showing up as best as I could ask for, and having FUN!

I started the year very dedicated to my goals.  Run/tri/performance goals were centered almost exclusively on .. of course…. EAGLEMAN.  In a nutshell, I trained exactly as I wanted.  Going into the race I was more fit than I may have ever been, and it just didn’t pan out.  I still LOVED so many of my races this year and continue to love the sport, but I feel like I’ve had the most DOWNS this year in triathlon/running/training than in the past 10 years.  It mostly just felt like things weren’t “clicking.”

Since the beginning of the year, I struggled to keep my back and hip in some sort of conversation to keep me able to even move on some days.  At time I could run for hours, and some days I literally could not put on shoes.  Or move my right leg from the gas pedal to the brake.  Or then get OUT of said car.  I had a hard time with my training schedule and finding out what would work, and that some days I expected to do a certain workout, but seemed to very often be pushing workouts around if I just couldn’t physically move well that day.  I still do not know if it is:

1.      Aging? 


2. The many unfortunate things that showed up on my back and hip MRIs when I  finally had them done in early December: (torn hip labrum/impinged facet joint/trochanteric bursitis/hamstring tendonitis/pubic bone structure diminishing; back with 2 herniations, one is pressing on a nerve root).

But I am hoping to handle it better this next year.  I have learned that I definitely cannot:

*do 2 intensity workouts day after each other/whereas I used to do this when needed because of logistical/schedule reasons

*sometimes it doesn’t make sense for me to run on a day when my back is talking to me… or hip…

*I’ve learned that I cannot skip a day of doing core exercises and yoga.  I’m doing at least 15-20 min of yoga/day. 

*I currently cannot kick in the pool.  It took me months to figure this out.  With always thinking the pool is so good on joints, I had a hard time believing this, but I need to just sit back and listen.

I feel like this past year I’ve learned and listened to my body in a way I never have needed to previously.  Some of you know, but I’ve actually been super worried that there was something very WRONG- auto-immune/ or some major inflammatory markers or something.  Blood tests so far reveal that everything is okay in that department, so I think it is really a combination of managing the above 2 things. (aging and all of the physiological things—herniations/ tears/impingements/ bursitis’/tendonitis, bleh).

As always though, I believe so strongly that sports are really just a manifestation of our universe…. A glimmer of our life lessons… little parables to sometimes just smack us right in the face. 

This year was physically hard with my body not working, but it also bled into my heart and mind.  Maybe it is feeling physically/bodily old that made me consider mid life questions.  Maybe it is the conflicting desires of the nooks and crannies in my heart that are soul shattered by the world that we live in and the other nooks that remain so naïve and blissfully hopeful.  I’ve been saddened to learn things I didn’t want to learn this year- things I didn’t think possible, imagines I’ll never forget, things people have said both to me and around me.  People that are gone.  Events that have happened.  I’m sensitive.  I’m passionate.

I worry about my legacy. (yes, maybe this is just mid life crisis).  I worry about not being who I dreamed I would be, who I wanted to be, expected of myself.  I wonder if I cannot continue with my triathlon passion and striving for my goals, what the essence of myself is.  I know I am more than just an athlete, but it is also part of me that I don’t want to lose.  I've never been me without being an athlete.   It creates so much happiness in my heart that I don’t know what I’d replace that with.  I worry because I’m not as hard working and over the top focused on my job and MORE MORE MORE MORE hours and training and opportunity.  I’m thankful of the lessons I’ve learned in the past 5 years that have brought my life to a heart shattering, brake screeching halt… but I sometimes worried it took the entire steam and oomph and force out of me.  On one hand, I know it is a GOOD thing—I value my priorities and how I have arranged my family time, my personal time, my work time, my community time, my life time.  But it has changed, so that makes me always second guessing my work ethic versus my laziness! 

I worry that I may not be as completely, selfishly fulfilled as I had wanted to be at this stage of my life.  I miss being age 20, my time of being so fully engaged and challenged, my intensity to prove myself, crushing my expectations for myself.

But I acknowledge that I also am able to finally realize that I don’t need to prove myself.  (and never really did)(actually maybe I did- to myself). 

I don’t need to prove myself, but I am required and humbled to use the talents I’ve been given.  I have spent time wondering once again….what are my talents?  I’m not trying to be negative, but… I sometimes am feeling like I’m not even sure anymore what I am good at or will I be good at?  I didn’t think I’d be asking those questions at this age.

One thing I have learned I am not good at/or good at… is my passion for looking out for those suffering.  My heart breaks for those whose hearts are breaking.  And… ohhhh in such a not good way.  I allow myself and my heart to be broken far harder than it can handle, and I struggle emotionally with not being able to “fix” things- the world, situations, people’s losses.  I expect myself to somehow absorb other people’s pain and help them that way.  A part of me breaks and I  don't grow back stronger.

I’ve learned this fall, through slowing down physically to allow myself to begin to unlearn some of my tendencies.   I’ve learned this fall to actually take walks.  They have to be slow for my hip, but I’ve allowed myself to just walk sometimes (and not run)!  It honestly feels silly to me.  I’m 42 and I don’t know how to “take a walk” for exercise.  I can walk to the bus stop because there is a destination, but I’ve learned the joy in a 15 minute walk to just be outside in the air, to enjoy the world, to calm my nervous system, to be, to thank God for this breath, this day, this space, His plan.

I’ve learned to do yoga daily with no plan other than to follow where my breath and body take me.

I’ve learned to take a nap, and to some extent to teach myself to wake up from a nap not angry at myself and speaking meanly to myself the rest of the day for being so lazy.  And to not let taking a nap write a script to myself that “there is something wrong with me.”  That people can be fatigued.  That everyone needs sleep.

I am slowly learning to begin to have confidence that I am okay.  Fully okay.  All of me.  I am good and positive.  It is strange getting to the place where we can see back some experiences that have led us to question our inherent goodness.

I’ve learned to begin having less doubts of myself, to be quiet inside my mind enough to feel my own strength.