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Friday, July 11, 2014

Sometimes We Need To Take the Scenic Route

Even the best laid plans don't always go as expected.

Since beginning my CrossFit journey almost 5 years ago, I knew almost immediately that I wanted to be a coach and one day have my own gym, but not for the reasons you would expect...or maybe so.

When I found CrossFit, I was needing something positive in my life. I was empty and lost and on a terrible spiral down into a dark depression. I had prayed for God to lift me up and what He did was lead me to a place where I would learn to lift myself up...and I did.

How could I not share this? How could I possibly keep this to myself? I had found the best therapy for me.

Yes. Therapy.

When I started CrossFit, I was 15 pounds underweight, living off minimal sleep and just trying to make it from day to day. I can promise you, "getting fit" was NOT on my mind. The only reason I joined my first CrossFit class was because my boys karate instructor had been pretty excited about the "new class" he was offering and he thought I would like it. If you don't know any karate instructors, they are quite persistent.

So, I tried it out, partly because he asked me to, but mostly because I needed to do something other than sit around feeling sorry for myself.

That first class we did a little chipper. It didn't look bad at all, but I ended up in a puddle on the floor. As I was pulling out of the parking lot that night, it occurred to me that in that hour long class, I had not thought ONE TIME of anything else that was going on in my life. My focus had just been on the moment I was in and I was hooked!

As time went on, I really began loving getting stronger. I fell in love with the barbell and I had finally found an outlet for my secret competitive side by competing in local CrossFit competitions. My husband soon began CrossFitting and my boys started CrossFit Kids. To say CrossFit had changed my life would be a complete understatement. It changed my whole family.

Fast forward two and half years and I was blessed with the opportunity to open my own CrossFit gym which I would co-own for the next 2 years. What an amazing experience! (That is a whole separate blog.)

My love continued for coaching. I fell in love with Olympic Lifting. I wanted to be better, to be stronger and faster and my goals continued to evolve. I felt more comfortable in my 40-something year old body than I ever had my entire life! I made life long friendships in the community and I was happy.

I imagined how the gym would grow over the next years, all the awesome things that we could do, but sometimes my plan and His plan are different.

In June 2014, I finally had to admit to myself that it was time for me to change course and I sold my part of the gym to my business partner. Once again, I felt like a failure and very defeated for those first few weeks, but God always has a plan and I had to remember that. I can absolutely testify that sometimes the right decisions are often the most difficult to make.

Almost immediately, my husband and I began working on our garage and made it into a garage gym. It was around our 3rd workout together that I realized how rare it was that we ever workout together. In all the years I have been coaching, I can literally count the number of times we have worked out together.

It was fun! FUN! and I was given another reason to love CrossFit. My boys joined us for the next one and I was given yet ANOTHER reason to love it.

Did I imagine 5 years ago that I would be coaching people out of my garage? No, but I did imagine that I would still be in love with CrossFit and I am. It continues to be the best therapy ever. It's my "Happy Dose" each day!

CrossFit has been given a bad rap over the years, but I can tell you that it saved me and it saves me everyday. I LOVE getting stronger. I love sweating and knowing I gave a workout everything I have but mostly I LOVE coaching. I love the look on someone's face when they do their first double under, or kick up to their first handstand or get their first pull-up..when I see the joy on their face, there's nothing like it. THAT's what it is all about to me and I don't see that getting old for me anytime soon.

I'm still on my journey and what I have learned is that God's detours are blessings and I believe sometimes He wants us to take the scenic route instead. I am thankful for the detours because it causes me to slow down and enjoy the scenery.

Everyone has a different reason for beginning CrossFit and my story is just one in a million. Whatever your reason is, the goal is to be happy with who you are and what you are doing.

So go be happy! Life is just too short to be anything else.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Blessings of Having a Child with Autism.

Something amazing happened this weekend that I would love to share with you. I also think it is neat that this happened this month because April is Autism Awareness month and my 17 year old son, Taylor, has autism. He is the one I want to tell you about.

I wanted to share this because I want to give parents who may have just had their world rocked by that word Autism and give them something else. Hope.

I will admit it. I love to talk about my children (I have 3 boys). They are my world! Yes, I am about to brag, but this post is mostly about a prayer that was answered. One that I have been praying relentlessly for 15 years.

I will go ahead and warn you that this may be a long post and has absolutely nothing to do with CrossFit. I also understand that you may not have a lot of time, we are all so busy, but I hope you stick around to read this. Pardon the history, but I do feel it is necessary to go back a few years to really explain this in the best possible way.

As a baby, Taylor was perfect. Absolutely PERFECT. He had the biggest, bluest eyes and was so pretty that most people thought he was a girl, in spite of the brown tractor shirt I would always put him in. He learned to walk at 10 months. He loved to give hugs and kisses and he was soooo curious, constantly into everything. ALL. THE. TIME.

It was around 18 months that it became apparent that he was no longer hitting those milestones. The biggest thing I noticed was that he wasn't talking like his peers. I was mildly concerned but I also realized that toddlers develop at different stages. He was walking earlier than my other friends' babies, so it stood to reason that they were just talking early.

I mentioned it to his pediatrician and he said “wait until he is two years old.” He didn’t seem concerned, so my mind was eased.

I started writing down every word Taylor said and kept it on the refrigerator. By the age of two, he had a total of 20 words, some of which he had said once and never again.

I knew this wasn't right.

Again I asked the pediatrician and he said “wait until he is 2 ½ years old”. I did, although my mind was not eased. I KNEW something wasn't right.

At 2 ½, he had a total of 24 words. Most of which only my husband and I could understand. NOW the pediatrician was concerned and he recommended speech therapy.

We immediately started speech therapy with Taylor twice a week. (FYI: the state provides these services for free and they will come to you!)

It was about 1 month into speech therapy that I asked his speech therapist a question that had been eating at me.

“Why can he repeat full sentences from his videos, but not put his own words together and make his own sentences?”

The result of this seemingly innocent question, turned our world upside down.
That day, all she did was tell us she wanted someone else to come see Taylor. A child psychologist. Yes. I was fairly alarmed.

A week later we were visited by this doctor. I remember specifically Taylor trying to get her attention the whole time he was there. He wanted to see what was in her bag and was using his words “can I have?” and she wasn’t listening to him. She was telling us about Autism.

I wasn’t concerned at all. Really!  I knew what Autism was. It was that guy in Rain Man. YEAH. Taylor was NOTHING like that!

But a week later we got the report…Autism.

The floor fell away from my feet and I couldn’t breath and then I cried. And I cried. And I cried some more.

But after a few days a switch turned on in me. I actually felt a little relieved. I wasn’t crazy! After being ignored by his pediatrician for year it turned out I was right about Taylor being a little different. (We got a new pediatrician) I still knew nothing about Autism but now I had something I could research. I could fix this, right? I made a plan and I went into action.

Remember, this was 15 years ago. There was no Google. No support groups to speak of. All I had was a few magazines and a brand new “information highway”. It took time but it gave me a purpose. It gave me a goal.

I was going to help my son.

My husband and I continued him in speech therapy and added Occupational therapy to his day. When he was three years old, we placed him in early intervention in the local school system.

Every year he made progress but every year I kept waiting for someone to tell me that there was cure.

I will be honest, those first years were an emotional roller coaster for me. Every 6 months or so, I would dive into a huge depression.

Why him? He did nothing to anyone. This beautiful, innocent child.
I would get angry at God. Why would God allow this to happen to this child? Look at all Taylor was missing out on.

While my friends were taking their children to t-ball, we were going to speech therapy.
While my friends were telling me all the funny stuff their children would say, I was telling them how he finally called me “Mommy”.
While my friends children were have sleep overs, we were sitting in hyperbaric chambers.

I didn’t have many things in common with my friends anymore. My circle became extremely small. I felt that no one could relate to me. No one knew what it was like. I felt very alone.

It was during one these really low days that my best friend, Cindy, set me straight.

We had just left a bible study that we were attending together. It was about how God wants what is best for us. If we live for him, he will always take care of us.

It made me angry. I remember her looking at me very carefully as we left the church. She knew what was going through my head. She took me to lunch so we could talk and once again, my life was changed.

Without even asking me what I thought, she told exactly what I was thinking.

“God is not punishing Taylor and He is most certainly NOT punishing you for anything in your past. He is not!”

She said, “I know you feel like Taylor is missing out, but he is one of the happiest children I know! Taylor is fine! YOU are the one that is missing out. (Ouch!)

Then she said, “BUT look at what you have that we other parents don’t!”

“Taylor is my angel,” she said. “He makes me laugh every single day. He has taught me to appreciate all the things we come to take for granted.”

Then she said, “Look at all the lives he has touched. How can God not be in that?!”

To this day I don’t think I can ever express how much I loved my friend as I did at that moment.

My whole perspective changed. I admit, I still mourn for those milestones that we as parents just expect to happen.

I still go through my mourning every now and then but it’s much more rare. The most recent I can remember is when he turned 16. He didn’t get that driver’s license and I didn’t get to post a photo on Facebook warning everyone that “Taylor is on the road! Look out!” But I got over it because I know I will have that moment one day.

But there was one milestone that I wished and prayed for him since I first took him to social therapy in the 3rd grade.

His first day at the Montevallo Speech and Hearing Center, Professor Murdock asked me what my goals were for him.

“My goals?” I kind of laughed. “They may not be what you are expecting Professor Murdock but here they are. I want to have a back and forth conversation with him one day. I want him to have a best friend. I want him to have a first kiss. I want him to go to prom. I want him to get married one day. I want him to have a job. I would rather him work at a gas station and have a family than be a surgeon unable to have to friends. THOSE are my goals for him”

Let me tell you that at 17 years old, I have a back and forth conversation with him regularly, albeit something that he wants to talk about.  He is mainstreamed into his classes and has been from the beginning.
From what one of his teachers told me, he had his first kiss in 9th grade under the bleachers during P.E. (He still can’t figure out how I found out about that one!)

And the biggest so far…PROM.

This Friday night, Taylor went to his Jr. Prom with his friend Allibeth, one of the most beautiful girls I know. They have been friends since they were toddlers and Taylor told me that she is his “best friend”.  (another goal I had for him.)

Allibeth gets him. It seems that she always has. When they were little, she could play with him when other kids didn’t know how to. She has never been embarrassed by him. She never ignores him. She loves to talk with him on the phone and now text with him. (He loves to talk about movies)

My child going to the prom had at one time in my life been something that I just expected to happen, but it became something so much more significant to me.

I still don’t feel like I have been able to express my feelings about that night as well as I wanted to. It is hard sometimes to put a feeling into a word or words, but what I saw Friday night was a prayer answered, a mom and dad that were moved to tears, a 17 year old that had the best time and young lady who has the most beautiful spirit about her.

My final word is for those parents who have children with special needs. I know there are hard days (or even weeks) but even on those days look for the blessing and know that you are not all alone.

These children are our angels. I truly believe that.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Just Show Up

The CrossFit Open is here and in full swing! Over 100,000 people have registered to participate this year! For 90% of them though, the Open is not about going to the Games, it's about something even bigger than that. It's about being better. Doing things they haven't done before, or just stepping out of their comfort zone and embracing new challenges. For Brett Reeder, it's even bigger than that.

If you ask Brett Reeder who his inspiration as he prepares for the 2014 Open, you may be surprised by his answer.

The 31-year-old dad began his CrossFit journey a little over 14 months ago at CrossFit J19.  “I had been doing the Mainsite WODs on my own, but a buddy of mine had started coaching there and I wanted to try it out,” Reeder says. “I showed up for those first 10 classes and then just kept coming back!”

Then, in April of 2013, while at a local competition, the unexpected happen. Reeder’s 3 year-old daughter, Charlie Jean, began complaining of her stomach hurting. “She doesn’t ever complain, she is always very active, so we knew she must really feel bad,” said Reeder.

Coming home a day early, they took Charlie Jean to the doctor. After discovering blood in her urine, the doctor sent them directly to Children’s Hospital for more tests. After a very long day, they finally did a CAT scan on Charlie Jean discovering a tumor about the size of a softball, in her midsection. “It pretty much took up her whole body,” Reeder explained.

Cancer. A word no parent ever wants to hear. Charlie Jean had been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma.

Immediately they began treatment for Charlie Jean. She went through 5 rounds of chemotherapy, 20 treatments of radiation, a stem cell transplant and is now currently having antibody treatment. The good news is that the tumor has now shrunk down to nothing. Just the scar tissue and remnants of it remain, but it was on September 16, 2013 that it got really rough for little Charlie Jean.

“It all seemed to culminate in September when Charlie Jean began her stem cell transplant,” says Reeder. “We were in the hospital for 56 days and she had to go to ICU for 7 of those days after developing a liver condition. At one point we honestly thought she was going to die.”

One night, while in ICU, the doctors told the Reeders that they were giving Charlie Jean 24 hours to improve, explaining that if she did not, they would have to put her on a ventilator. In that 24 hours, Charlie Jean had a miraculous turn around and was finally able to leave ICU.

Living at the hospital with Charlie Jean was what Reeder did for those 56 days. CrossFit and training was not the priority. “I was eating jelly donuts, and wasn’t working out much at all,” says Reeder. It was all about Charlie Jean.

“I remember that first week back in the gym and thinking, ‘I don’t have it in me to get back at it again,’” Reeder says. “Then I thought about how much Charlie Jean has impacted the lives of so many people and she doesn’t even know. I mean, she is only 3-years old! She has no clue of the magnitude of people’s lives she has touched.”
Charlie Jean doing a WOD with dad during the fundraiser "Charlie's Angels"

So with those thoughts, Reeder slowly began to get back into his training. What he began to notice was that the people at his gym seemed to gain strength just from the fact that he was there, just moving and working so hard to get back.

“I think that is what the Open is to me this year,” Reeder says. “I mean, you don’t know who is watching you. You don’t know whose life you are going to impact by just participating!”

“If you get your first double under or your first muscle up, or even if you are just able to come in and do each workout with a smile on your face,” Reeder continues,  “I mean, you don’t know whose life you are going to change by just showing up and being a part of the community.”

“You don’t have to be Rich Froning, Jr.,” Reeder says. “A lot of people have this misconception that you have to be Rich to be in the Open. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about testing yourself. Being the best you and showing people around you that they have the capabilities to do things they probably didn’t know they could do.”

Reeder demonstrates over and over again that true strength also means being the best you even on your worst days.

“Our gym name comes from the verse Joshua 1:9 about strength and courage,” says Staci Olcott who owns CrossFit J19 with her husband, Kelly. “To me and Kelly, Brett is the perfect example of strength and courage. He is a fighter. He is a warrior. He IS strong and courageous! He amazes us! And Brett says that Charlie Jean is the strong one.”

Coach and gym owner, Kelly Olcott, says that Reeder motivates members of CrossFit J19 on a daily basis. “All CrossFit gyms are unique in their culture but all have one thing in common, a strong camaraderie and family atmosphere,” Olcott says. “You really get to know people when they are exhausted and at the point of being ready to quit. You really become close to people when you are the one that is exhausted and others are around you encouraging you not to quit and telling you that you can do it. Brett Reeder is one of our brothers.”

“Back in April when his little girl Charlie Jean was diagnosed with cancer, our hearts were broken to see our brother faced with this great obstacle,” Olcott explains.  “Like a family dynamic, we all began to think of ways that we could help support the Reeders.”

Rallying behind the Reeders after Charlie Jean’s diagnosis, the CrossFit Community from all over the Birmingham area, quickly came together to help support the Reeders.

“People have been very generous with their time and resources and prayers,” says Olcott. “The CrossFit community came together as a whole and with only six weeks of planning put on a competition to raise over $10,000 to help support some of the financial needs of the family.”

Friends at CrossFit Trussville, after meeting Charlie Jean at the first “Charlie’s Angels” fundraiser knew immediately that wanted to help. In January, they hosted the second “Charlies Angels” to help raise more funds for the continued care of Charlie Jean, demonstrating just how many lives the Reeders have touched.

Reeder says he is just amazed by the community and that he is still “actively recruiting” his wife, Amanda. “Her first experience was watching the Games and she was like ‘Wow! These people are intense!’ and we are,” admits Reeder “but at the Charlie’s Angel Events, she saw the compassion behind that.”

“It’s amazing because the model of CrossFit are these high intensity workouts. You go [into the gym] and spend yourself in every workout, beating your old time, getting one more rep, and it carries over into the lives of these people because they ARE very passionate about what they do,” Reeder says. “You have to be [passionate] to do CrossFit and that drive carries over. When we, as a community put our minds to something, amazing things happen!”

While Reeder is inspired by the huge support of the CrossFit community, Reeder is also the source of encouragement and strength to all those around him.

“I have had the privilege of talking and walking with Brett through a lot of this experience. I and many others have learned a lot from this rock of a man. He has been a leader to us and his family by displaying unwavering faith and commitment to being positive in a very difficult situation,” says Olcott.

“To this day, Brett is the most encouraging person I've ever met,” says friend and fellow CrossFitter, Jeffrey Mollette. “Not only in the gym but outside of it. He always keeps a positive state of mind despite everything that is going on with Charlie. He inspires me to always push harder than I think I can.”

“What I feel like everyone can learn and take away from Brett and Charlie Jean is to never be afraid, instead push yourself further then you think you can,” says Mollette.

Reeder says he gets great strength from Charlie Jean. “If we keep working like Charlie Jean, I mean everything that comes in her path and the way she moves through her day… She is faced with obstacle after obstacle and trials and pokes and prods and she just keeps moving forward,” says Reeder. “She never allows herself to get down or sit in that place of ‘I Can’t’ for too long.”

“I think it’s important for people to know that they can do these things. They can lose weight. They can be active. They can play with their children.”

“You know, I am just an average ‘Joe’,” Reeder states. “but you get better by just showing up. That is what the Open means to me.”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Strength from Within

I have met some amazing people and have heard so many stories of courage and strength and how CrossFit has been huge in the lives of people going through a very difficult time. Sometimes a persons strength has nothing to do with how many plates are on the barbell. Sometimes, it is God's strength from within that shines the brightest.

Recently, I had the honor of meeting Landon Johnson who has such a testimony. Both Landon and his story have truly blessed me. With his permission, I am sharing it you.
Landon and Jaime with baby Callie.

In November 2012, Landon Johnson had big plans. He was training for the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Open with a possible shot at making Regionals, preparing for his Level 1 Certification, and expecting his first child with his wife.

All of that changed for Johnson in just a matter of days.

After a routine check-up, the Johnsons’ doctor informed them that their daughter had not shown as much growth as he would have liked and thought it would be best to schedule a C-section for the next day. 

On November 9, their daughter, Callie, was born at almost 37 weeks, weighing only three pounds eleven ounces. An ultra sound revealed that Callie also had a hole in her heart. Understandably, the Johnsons were shocked but believed that surgery would be able to fix it.

The next day, the Johnsons were dealt another blow. A second doctor said that she noticed characteristics that were similar to Trisomy 18, a chromosomal abnormality, in little Callie.

As a concerned father, the first thing Johnson did was research Trisomy 18 and was devastated to learn that the prognosis wasn’t good. Most babies diagnosed with this condition usually don’t survive past the first year of birth.

“I was just in a state of disbelief. I had all these plans for my daughter,” Johnson said. “I wanted her to grow up, play with Barbies, paint my fingernails, and us go shopping. Now they were telling me I may not see her past one year of life?”

“It hit us hard. You go from excitement to a state of panic in just a day, in just an instant,” Johnson said.

Johnson and his wife, Jaime, made the decision to enjoy every single moment they had with Callie and told the doctors they wanted to take her home.
Landon holding his daughter for the first time.
“We wanted to hold her, love on her and just have her home with us as long we could,” Johnson said.

The day before Thanksgiving 2012, the Johnsons were able to take Callie home.

“Taking care of Callie at home wore us out physically,” Johnson said. “We had a hospice nurse that came in twice a week. Callie was also on oxygen and had to be fed through a tube every four hours, but we wouldn’t have traded any of those moments.”

They cherished every day they had, taking her to see Santa and to the Christmas party at the fire station where Johnson works as a firefighter and paramedic.

“We wanted no regrets,” Johnson said.

On February 7, 2013, Callie passed away at 90 days old.

“My wife woke me up early one morning to tell me that Callie’s breathing sounded funny,” Johnson said. “I woke up to see her take her last breath. I got my stethoscope to listen for her heartbeat. It was the most difficult day of my life.”

Johnson says it was his faith and his relationship with God that helped him through this time. He also discovered how much Callie touched the lives of so many people in her short life.

“At her funeral, I was blown away by how many people showed up,” said Johnson. “People from my gym, I mean, I didn’t even know all their names! I felt bad, but they were there supporting us through this time.”

It was during this difficult time that he said CrossFit became something more to him.

“CrossFit was therapy for me,” Johnson said. “The friends I have made through CrossFit just blew me away. They made me smile. They would tell me daily how much Callie had touched their lives. Talking to people about Callie was healing, and I took every opportunity to talk about her.”

“They are loyal. We suffer together, and we are family,” Johnson said.

CrossFit was also healing for his wife. Jaime had never done CrossFit before Callie’s death, but she credits it with helping her to relieve stress during this difficult time.

One year later, Johnson is now a coach at Over the Mountain CrossFit. 

As a coach he has such a positive attitude and always knows exactly how to push people and get them motivated,” said Clay Adams, owner of OTM CrossFit. ”Landon has been through some tough trials at a young age, and his faith and strength has made us all better people. I can truly speak for everyone at our box and say that he has not only made us stronger physically, but mentally taken us all to a new level. We are blessed to have Landon as a leader and friend.

As Johnson prepares for the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Open, he says he has a new perspective on life. He has recently started back competing on the local competition scene, putting his name out there as someone to look out for.

Although he said his support system and coaching is essential to his training, it is his daughter’s memory that drives him most.

“Whenever I get tired, want to quit or drop the bar, I think of Callie and I think, ‘Be strong for her. Push through for her,’ and most days I feel like I can go forever!”

Johnson said his daughter taught him a lot in her short lifetime.

“This situation taught me that life doesn’t always go the way we plan. Life is short. Whether you live 90 days or 90 years, life is still short. If you are not living out your purpose, your calling, it’s going to be wasted,” he said.

As for his ultimate goal in CrossFit, Johnson said he “just want[s] to make Callie proud.”

The Johnsons are currently in the process of adopting and are expecting a son in May.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, New Goals

Once again it is that time of year where I look back on the past 12 months and take an inventory on the year past.
Admittedly, there have been years that were just too painful for me to dwell on, but thankfully those have been few and very far between.
This year was not one of those years.
This year blew my mind and was the best year I have had in a long time. It was a year that many of my dreams came true and new dreams were born. 2013 contained more excitement and joy than I could have ever anticipated.

It was also a year of really hard times. I lost dear loved ones. I learned very hard lessons about friendship and trust. My husband had to move 1200 miles away with his job. My sister's health continues to deteriorate...the list could go on.
So  how could I say that 2013 year has been the best year I have had in a really long time?
Because one of my goals for 2013 was to be happy and the life lesson I have learned this year is that happiness is a choice. I can choose to sit here and tell the sad stories I have been through this year but there have been far, FAR more happy times. Why would I focus on the negative?
My number one goal for 2013 was to be happy, and I am.

Did I meet all my goals for 2013? No, not all of them and that's okay. They will make the list again for 2014.

How many times have you set a New Year's Resolution, only to be completely frustrated and done with it before January is even over?

I will tell you the truth, when I used to make New Year's Resolutions, I don't think I ever made it past the first week!
A few years ago, I found the solution to this annual failure that I seemed doomed to repeat.
I stopped making New Year's Resolutions.
What I did instead was change my whole mindset. I decided New Year's Resolutions didn't work for me and did not motivate me at all. What motivated me was setting reasonable goals, and that's exactly what I did.

I am a list person, and in 2010 I began the year by writing a list of 5 things I wanted to accomplish by the end of the year, writing at the top of the paper "2010 GOALS".
I met 3 out of the 5 goals that year. That was a first, or for you crossfitters, a HUGE PR!

The next year I made a longer list and met more goals.
The next year was even better!

So this is what I want to encourage you to do. Make a list of goals...REASONABLE goals. .
If you have never cooked a meal in your life, serving a 5 course meal by the end of the week may not go well, but learning to cook your very first dish? Yes!
If you have never touched a barbell, becoming the next Annie Thorisdottir at the 2014  CrossFit Games may not happen, but competing in your very first CrossFit Competition this year is a sure thing!
If you have never run a mile, running a marathon by March is not likely to happen, but running a 5K is.
When you run that 5K, make a goal to run a 1/2 marathon and so forth.

Attainable goals. Reachable goals. Before you know it, you will be doing the impossible, the unattainable, the unreachable. You know why? Because you can!

So, make your list. Set your goals and get ready for an amazing 2014!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Embrace YOU!

I think we could all learn some valuable life lessons from children.

This morning I was telling the story of when my son was 5 years old and wanted to be "brown".
When he was in kindergarten he had a little girl friend named Desire (pronounced Dez-er-ray). She was a precious little black girl and he talked about her all the time.
One day he came home and informed me that when he grew up he was going to have brown skin.
When I asked him why, he explained that he was going marry Desire so he needed to have brown skin like she did.
As sweet as I thought this was, I explained to him that he didn't need to change who he was to marry anybody and that it was important to just be himself.
He thought about this very hard for a moment and then proclaimed that he was going to have brown skin and have orange hair.
"Why?", I asked.
He answered very simply, "Because I like the color orange."

Fast forward 9 years. His skin is not brown and his hair is not orange, but he is a 14-year old that has embraced being an individual. He is that kid in band that has the long hair when no one else does. When all the kids were wearing skinny jeans, it seemed he was the one kid who refused. He didn't care what everyone else was wearing. (smart kid) When all his friends were playing baseball, he chose soccer.
He doesn't follow "the crowd" and aside from that day when he was 5, he has never wished he was anyone other than who he is. The kid is pretty self confident.

I have found that as adults we still struggle with this very thing. Self-Confidence.
I have met so many people in my adult life who are not happy with who they are, wishing they could have what someone else has,  or do what someone else does.
I know I have been guilty of this in the past, thinking "if I could do "x" like this person, I would be sooo much happier!"
This is not healthy. Mentally it can be debilitating.

As CrossFitters, most of us at one point or another have looked over at that person next to us who has just crushed their WOD, secretly wishing they would drop a plate on their foot. We yell and congratulate them on their PR, giving them high fives while secretly thinking, "Damn It! How did they just beat me?"

It's okay to admit it. I mean, maybe you had a bad day and are just in a terrible mood. This doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you human. When it becomes a regular thing though, when you are constantly comparing yourself to someone else, that is the time to step back and take a breath and reevaluate.

If your thoughts are constantly on what other people are doing, you are no longer working on yourself. It makes it a bit more difficult to become better if you are focused and preoccupied with what everyone else is doing. What this WILL DO is cause you to get frustrated, disappointed and frankly will just suck the fun right out of your day!

As some of you know, one of my favorite CrossFit athletes is Cheryl Brost, initially because she is my age and watching her compete in the CrossFit Games gave me the confidence that I was not too old for CrossFit. Cheryl is a phenomenal athlete and I think it would be incredible to be as strong and fast as she is one day.
Coach Mike Burgener is another amazing person that inspires me and I can only hope to be as great of a coach as he is one day.
Will I ever be just like Cheryl Brost or Mike Burgener?
Nope! It's impossible for the simple reason that I am not Cheryl Brost or Mike Burgener. I am me. Do I want to get better? YES, and they inspire me to push myself harder, set new goals, continue to learn and better myself.

God made us all very different for a reason. We all have different goals, skills, talent, gifts, dreams...and faults. If we were all made the same, this world would be a very boring, uncolorful place.

So, the next time you get your butt kicked in a WOD by that person, EMBRACE it!
Be INSPIRED by it!
What you may not realize is that YOU were the one that inspired them first.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Be Beautiful Today

Why are we, as females, so hard on ourselves?
 I know you have heard that phrase, “We are our own worst critic” but seriously, we can be absolutely hateful!
We will say things about ourselves that we would NEVER say to anyone else.
Where does that come from?
Just recently during one of the classes I was coaching, I was watching one of my athletes do dead lifts in a WOD. It became obvious immediately that the load she was using was way too light. After class, I worked with her to help her get a true 1 rep max on her dead lift. At first, I could tell that she was hoping I would just let it go so she could just slip out the door.
What she told me was something I had heard many times before but on this occasion it was also enlightening and something that I have been thinking about for days.
She said she did not want to lift heavy because she did not want to get bulky.
Looking at this sweet, gorgeous, quiet woman, my first response was automatic and reflexive.
“You will not get bulky doing CrossFit.”
“Women are only bulky if they TRY to be.”
“They have to do “X” kind of things to get bulky!”
I gave her the answers I am always prepared to say when I hear this.
But then I LISTENED to what she was saying. I mean, really listened. Why in the world did she feel this way? This woman is not someone I would ever say could be bulky and yet, she absolutely believed she could. Why?
Then she said, “I've always been told I could easily get bulky.”
“I’ve always been told…”
Words are powerful and I knew then that this wasn't just a conversation to brush off and give the one, two, three answers.
Insecurities are real and sometimes they are very hard to overcome.
I am terribly guilty of my own constant self criticism. I have gotten better and better at keeping them to myself, but they are there and they are real.
Just the other day I was called out by a good friend of mine. He even scolded me for not being able to take a compliment. 
I suck at it. It’s true.
This seems to be an issue with almost every woman I know to some degree. Even the top athletes in CrossFit suffer insecurities. I read a blog the other day about a CrossFit Games athlete with her own anxiety about how her legs looked in short-shorts. It was a great post, and I assure you, her legs are gorgeous, but in her mind they are something to be hidden.  Why?
I promise you, sometimes I would prefer the sticks and stones.
My own insecurities go all the way back to elementary school. I moved around a lot as kid and by the time I was in 5th grade, I had already attended seven different schools. Making friends was hard. I was terribly shy and being the new kid was something I was made fun of for.
In the 4th grade, I was made fun of the way I dressed.
In the 5th and 6th grade I was teased that I was too white, too tan or just because I wasn't black. I couldn't win that one.
In middle and high school I was teased by everyone for everything, even my best of friends.
I was too dumb.
I was too blond.
I was too skinny.
My boobs were too small.
I was too tall.
My hair was too curly, ect.
Was I a depressed, sad and lonely kid?
No, not at all! I have some great memories from high school and lasting friendships. I wasn't miserable at all and I don’t want you to think that this is about bullying. I took most of it in stride and just accepted that I was “that girl. I just began to embrace it.

In my adult life, it still continues. This was who I am and this is how life goes. As a result, I have grown some pretty thick skin, but those insecurities are there. They are real, no matter how I try to ignore them.

What I am saying is that years of being told that you are not “this”, or that you should change “that”, or that you are not good enough for “this”, WILL have a lasting effect on someone.
CrossFit has done more for my self confidence and my self-esteem than I can put into words, but even now I have a hard time with compliments.
There are still things I struggle with. I have blogged before that someone close to me has always talked about how I need to get rid of my lower belly.
 If there is something I have issues with, it’s my tummy.
Don’t get me wrong, if I am working out in our box in 100 degrees, I am the first one to dump my shirt, but it’s because I can’t stand things sticking to me, not for an ab show, that’s for sure!
 Most of the time, right after the WOD, I will drape a towel over me in a way that no one can see my tummy well until I cool down enough to put my shirt back on.
 I recently went through over 3000 pictures from a competition my box hosted and found myself not posting ones of me because all I could see was my belly. All I could see were the flaws and think “I’m a CrossFitter! I shouldn’t have a belly!”

I promise you, I DO NOT do this with anyone else! I will post photos of ladies from my gym and they will ask me, “Why did you post that? I look “insert reject word here””
I always, honestly respond, “All I see is a strong and beautiful woman!”
It’s true. At my gym, I do not see old people or overweight people or skinny people. I only see amazing, beautiful people that I love to spend my day with!

So the moral of this blog is this.
I need to learn to cut myself a break.
I need to be nicer to myself.
We all need to do this because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside, it’s the beautiful person on the inside that people love.

Be beautiful today.