Same Path Traveled Different Journey Part 8: the scary struggle

This past weekend was the Tactical Strength Challenge (TSC) a competition for your max deadliest, max reps of pull ups, and max kettlebell snatch in 5 min.  This is one of my favorite events of the year!  Instead of competing, I was able to be one of the officials at FUELhouse who was hosting it for their first time! Such a thrilling event!  It was full of anticipation, encouragement, and Halloween costumes.

Many of the competitors, it was their time participating (so exciting!).  It was amazing to watch each individual push past through the struggle to perform their best!  There were many surprising looks on the competitors’ faces as they out preformed their anticipated goal.  This is every Coaches’ dream!  Seeing their clients go beyond what they thought they were capable of doing!

Remembering back to my first TSC, I was so nervous going into the event.  I was scared of not being able to perform to the level of my goals and anxious for the outcome.  It wasn’t till my third TSC when I was able to accomplish this feeling of performing well past my anticipated goals.  But it was only a result of working with coaches to help me overcome my fears or what I like to call it  the “scary struggle.” In my case the dead-lift.

Yes, I am a personal trainer and I have a love-hate relationship with the dead-lift and I constantly have to work through this “scary struggle.”  We all have a love-hate o relationship with at least one of the lifts in the TSC (deadliest, pull-ups, and Kettlebell Snatch).  But when we overcome our fear, it is then we learn the art of struggling well!

As Alex Elle (author) puts it “I am thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength”

No matter if you can dead-lift 300lb or 125lb, do 10 strict pull ups or hang for 10 sec, perform 100 snatches or 65 snatches within the five minute, we all have our own struggle. And a struggle is a struggle!  No matter what your fitness level may be.  We all struggle for one more rep. It is when we work through our struggle, we are able to produce our new found strength.

Keep the “scary struggle” alive! It is what keeps us moving towards the potential beyond our belief!

1TSCoct2013struggle

Same Path Traveled Different Journey Part 5: Beast Mode ON/OFF

When you enter a gym or see advertisement for gyms or a workout, it is usually with BEAST MODE ON! Yeah lets get after it!  As a coach, it gives me chills when I am instructing a group of people beast modding it up and killing a workout!

 

There is nothing wrong with BEAST MODE ON! But there are times for BEAST MODE to be OFF.

 

Seattle is my HOMEO – Optimize

F – Frolic

F – Freely

In my case rest is not something I do not do very well and when I transition from a summer of water skiing to off-season training I usually go BEAST MODE ON all the way! Well as you can guess, out of excitement of being at a new gym, I rushed back to my kettlebell routines . . . and . . . my back pain has returned with a vengeance!

 

In the past, I would panic and start to worry what would my future look like if I am injured AGAIN! Saying things like “you are an idiot” and “you are a trainer you should know better, how could you let this happen AGAIN!” I would say these things over and over again beating myself up mentally. Little did I know I was creating a trap for myself by allowing the past to relive the future just because it felt like the past crept into the future . . .. But I invited it.

 

This time I knew exactly what I needed to do . . . Step away from the bells and most importantly turn BEAST MODE O.F.F. I am still learning the importance of transitioning from my sport to off-season training.   So I came up with this little acronym O.F.F. Optimize Frolic Freely to help me not beat myself up with injuries but find the joy in the struggle and  the opportunity it provides.   To Optimize Frolic Freely is to simple enjoy playing again y with a different movement, walking, or running, crawling for finding new toys to play with.   Though I am injured again this is an opportunity for me to explore something new! First you have to be Free to live Freely!

 

This time I am at peace with my flare up! The way I am able to be free is through knowing I am not the same person compared to my first injury. I am at complete peace with my past and keeping it my past. Even though it feels like I am reliving parts of my past, I come back to who I was during that time and the lesson learned leading me to who I am today. Most importantly I am look areas of what I can still improve my current status.  I have a positive outlook verse being Negative Nancy

 

It may feel like you are reliving parts of your past because you are right back where you started . . . it could be your 2nd or 5th transformation challenge, your 10th time running that mile loop, or your million visit to the gym with the wonder if you will ever get past this point? And maybe you have a similar voice like I had allowing the past to haunt the future.

 

I know this feeling and have asked this question of myself way to many times in relationship to my injuries. Instead of wondering if you will get past this point try turning BEAST MODE O.F.F and free yourself of your past expectations. Look and see if there are something different you can do through your journey towards your health.  Maybe it is helping someone in your challenge with an areas you struggle with or simply relating the struggle together.  Maybe it is time for a your mile long loop to be a different  loop or your exercise in the gym needs a little change to spice things up again!

 

Even though you may not be where you want to be try to optimize frolic freely!  Personally,  I want to be with my new training friends beast modding it up, instead I will be practicing BEAST MODE  O.F.F.  optimize frolic freely . . .   maybe trying something completely new  like Indian club!

 

Some days will be BEAST MODE ON and other days BEAST MODE O.F.F. Enjoy the journey and go out and play freely!

 

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Pink n Powerful

Sue-5202A year and half ago, I started working with Sue McConnaha training one on one three times a week.  When she started working with me she was 60 years old weighed 195 lb with 49.3 % body fat.  Sue soon became every trainers dream.  She had the determination and the dedication to reach her goal.  She had many set back throughout our time working together but she did not let these life events set her off track.  Now I am happy to report Sue is now 61 years old and feels ten years younger weighing 125 lbs with  21.1 % body fat.

It wasn’t always fun and games.  It was a struggle at first for Sue.  For someone one who has not exercised on a regular basis since ever. Sue learned the art of  struggling well.  Every kind if exercise program there is going to be a struggle.  This struggle I like to describe a processes of shedding the old self in hopes for a new. This “new” can be a new strength, a new weight lost, a new body.

Through her struggle of continuous exercising, she rediscover her  new body as a magnificent machine.  She now loves to dead lift (PR 95 lbs) and kettlebell swing.  She now finds joy through movement and exercise.  Instead of working one on one, Sue has been able to join a Kettlebell class and do partner training improving her technique of working with the kettlebell.

As a her trainer, it has been amazing to watch her transformation. This transformation didn’t just happen through her body but her mind.  One of the reasons why she has been able to keep the weight of is simply her mind set.  She has told me “I know that this time, the weight loss is for life.  Making this mental decision, her action will follow.  Having this mind set is the game changer.

Sue’s story has been such an inspiration to so many. Her life testimony of health reaches many more people than those with weight lost goals. Knowing she had to overcome many challenges, she inspires me to maintain my health as I recover from my foot surgery.  I understand how easy it is to give up when facing challenges, let Sue’s story be an inspiration to not give up and chase your fitness goals.  Below is an interview I had with Sue discussing her story about her transformation.

 

What is your history with trying different diet and exercise routine been?
I started out as a chubby kid….there in lies the problem!
My first diet success was when I was in high school…lost 30 lbs the
summer before my senior year. What a difference that made for me that
last year. So good memory of what the hard work and focus yielded…I
always remembered that.
Got married right out of high school and pregnant…gaining 50 lbs.
The next 40 years has been taking the weight off and gaining it back.
Have done Weight Watcher, LA weight loss, Bellevue weight loss clinic
using a diet pill and their specific liquids. Have been on 7 day a
week 75 minute work outs. Gave up red meat…then did the Atkins heavy
protein….brown rice diet, grapefruit diet…body flushes…I could
go on and on. Any and all of these were not sustainable for me because
it was so far from normal for me.

What made this program so different?
This program has been able to figure out a plan in the current
lifestyle that I have.

Was you mind set different from the rest attempts?
I honestly didn’t think I could or wanted to do it again. But I always
remember how good it would feel when I would be loosing and feeling
better about myself.

How much weight total did you lose? Start weight? Goal weight? Current Weight
I started last April 22nd at 193lbs with a goal of 150lb. That is
about the same start and goal I have had on all of my various diets.
Sometimes I got there and other times not. Seemed like the decision
point was when I would be close to the 200lbs on the scale..
I am happy to say I surpassed my goal and I weigh 120lbs and have been
at that weight for the last 3 months. I haven’t weigh’d 120 since I
was in the 6th grade.

What were some challenges?
Challenges were not as evident this go around because the formula was
working. My husband and I go out often so menu items were a struggle
at first. Then I figured out any restaurant would prepare it how ever I
would ask. I just wish there was a diet wine…as that is one of my
vices.

Can you describe you job responsibilities and how this was a challenge?
So I am in charge of Bakery and Food Courts….all food related. WeSMcConnaha3
have cuttings all the time…it is not that appealing when I am trying
to spit out the sample in front of 12 people….but they are used to
it now. Even have 2 or 3 of them doing the same thing!

What about your work travel schedule?
Travel is always interesting….nothing nutritional offered on
commercial flights so I just get a salad to go before I get on and
don’t use the dressing. When on the company plane there is plenty to
pick from I am so lucky.

Was there anything hard to give up like certain foods, habits, etc
Limiting/eliminating wine big challenge?

I still think about it and work at it.SMcConnaha2

Since you have reached your goal weight what keeps you motivated now?
My motivation has been that  it keeps working…that never happened
with any diet because it wasn’t sustainable.

What motivated to lose so much weight?

The attention from the quality people at the pro club….You, Julie,
Ali, Dr Upton…the people at the desk’s…everyone. My husband has played a huge support role as he does most of the cooking .Also everyone’s
comments are very motivating puts a smile on my face every time.

Explain the need for back surgery during the program and how it could have created a set back, but you did not allow for it.  How did you not fall back into your past unhealthy routines?
When I found out that I had to surgery I thought this would be a
stopping point not knowing how it would set me back. Well it didn’t!I
It took about a week to get back to a soft routine and that was it. I
stayed the course with the nutritional part recording
everything….sometimes over estimation the amounts to keep in check.

What advice do you have for other who struggle with weight loss?
You have to keep trying…it took me until 60 years old to find the
program that fits my lifestyle.
I believe I have discovered the formula that works good for me.
Everything I do I feel is sustainable.

What advice do you have for people your age being active and exercising?
You must get up and move…5 minutes then 10 minutes…and more. Never
push yourself to make it hurt just feel good. If it hurts you won’t
want to continue.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
The most satisfying thing to me is setting a good example with my
family, friends and people at work. I have explained my process to so
many people that it keeps me even more motivated.
My grandson is constantly inspecting what I have on my plate and
comparing to his…now he always orders a salad instead of french
fries…how can you beat that.

 

Kettlebell Quickie

As a water skier,  I try to generate workouts that will transfer well to when I am on the water. One of my favorite exercise is the Kettlebell Swing.  It generates strength and power all at the same time.  Here are some of the benefits of the Swing:

  • Turns a person into a Fat Burning Machine
  • Improves Core Strength
  • Builds a Strong Back
  • Improve Breathing Patterns
  • Produces Power
  • Healthy on the Joints
  • Forces the Glutes to turn on
  • Strengthens the entire body
  • Creates Body awareness
  • Time Effecient

One of my favorite reasons why I love workout with Kettlebells is because it is very time efficient. Here is a video of one my routines.  It is 3 sets of 10 Double Kettlebell Swings then right into 5 Front Squats (video only shows one set).  If you are not familiar with the basics of the Swing I would not recommend you start with doubles.  If you are interested in learning more about the swing please leave your comments.  Enjoy

 

 

Next post I will be working a three basic core exercises that are simple and can be done any where.

Plus I will also be working on a little surprise for all the water skiers as we all enter into off season training.

Hamstring Prep for Water Skiers

I have been receiving many questions on how to project your hamstrings when water skiing.   Here are some very basic movements before hitting the water.  The key with these movements are to make sure you meet your body’s current range of motion (ROM).

There is always a progression that we  can work towards.  Do not force your body if it is not ready for the next level.  Just like we all want to cut rope and if we are not ready for the next rope length, it will not be beneficially for our skiing. Same thing with these movements, consistently work at the level you are at and then you will soon be able to move to the next level.  Enjoy!!! Happy Hamstrings make a Happy Skier.

Seated Ankle Circles:

  • Sitting nice and tall with legs straight, start pointing and pulling your toes  (plantar and dorisflexion).
  • Next draw circles one direction then the opposite direction
  • Avoid moving your thighs and hip, this is simply to create good range of motion for your ankles

No Progression with this movement

Benefits: passive stretch for hamstrings, improves ankle range of motion, creates lower body awareness between ankle and hip movements 

Active Leg Stretch:

  • Laying down on your back one foot on the floor other leg is straight up in the air
  • Note: It doe not matter how high your leg gets.  This is where you need to listen to your body.  If  your leg starts to bend when you raise it higher you have gone to far.  Bring it back down to where you feel the stretch but your leg is straight at the same time.  Switch back and forth about 4x.
  • When you find the magic spot for your stretch, begin the “ballerina toes” same movement that you did when sitting.  Continue to switch back and forth 4 x

Progression: Scissors with or without ballerina toes repeat 4x.  If you cannot keep your both legs straight, practice with the one foot on the ground.

Note: This progression may not be for you, at least not yet.  Practice with your foot on the ground and you will soon gain more flexibility with your hamstrings to be able to progress to straight legs.

Benefits:  Hip mobility and ankle mobility, hamstring stretch, and core stability. 

Single Leg RDL

  • As you lower your chest down kick through your heal creating a straight line from your head to heal
  • The stable leg will slightly bend, making your glutes activate
  • Repeat 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps on each leg alternating back and forth

Progression: Raising the active leg to hip height as you return to standing position

Benefits: strengthens gluteus and hamstring , improves balance, core stability, and increase hip range of motion

Next week  I will be posting a Kettlebell routine I do when days are to busy for me to get up the lake.  It is quick, simple and challenging all at the same time.

Please leave your comments below of other exercises you would like to see in future post.  Thanks

Coming out of the Closet on CrossFit

Many have asked if I am straight, bi, and/or lesbian. This post is not to answer these types of questions. But I am coming out of the closest to set the record straight about my opinion about CrossFit.

 

When I first entered exercise as a professional, I was eager to become part of the CrossFit movement. Yet over a year of doing CrossFit style workouts my body became very broken. As a result of this, I was totally turned off from the Crossfit community. Like a high school student feels being benched the entire season, I felt I was the outcast for physically not being able to keep up with my teammates. Jealous I was not part of the team, I banded CrossFit. Then I find out the gym I am working at is opening a CrossFit “box.”

 

As CrossFit continues to grow, I have been challenged professionally about this growth. Like any type of exercise whether it be CrossFit, Zumba, Martial Arts etc, without the proper coaching there is always going the be the risk of injuries.

 

There is a lot contrast about if CrossFit is healthy or not. When the real question is how are the participants being coached. If you want to perfect a skill through Crossfitt, or kettlebells, it will take time and diligence. We can’t just jump into these classes knowing exactly how to do all the lifts and expect no injuries. It takes time and proper coaching. Even as a coach, I still seek coaching to perfect my kettlebell swings and the water skiing abilities.

 

I have the privilege to work with an amazing team of experts these past three years. They have challenge themselves to continue to expand their knowledge and coaching skills, while at the same time pushes each other to new physical limits. I have learned so much working with them both with coaching and reaching my personal physical goals.

 

With the new CrossFit Bel-Red opening up, I trust all the coaches will take the correct safety precautions. I know this team of CrossFit Coaches will make a huge difference in this community and will start changing the poor reputation CrossFit has to a safe and effect type of exercise. They have changed my opinion of it and I am excited to see the impact this “Box” will have through our community.

 

CrossFit has an amazing community, let this community grow to support all types of movement, exercise, and sports. Even though the high school student may not have the chance to play on the court they are still supporting their team by being there. We all can support one another. Not everyone can physically do CrossFit, more power to you if you can, I may be little jealous. Let us support our differences and remember the main goal: improving each other life through health and exercise.

 

CrossFitt may not be for everyone but movement is for everyone. Find something you enjoy and go “live with passion!”

I will leave you with one last comment. I am not a cross-fitter but I am open to learn from them. I am not bi and/or lesbian but open to dating not a boy but a man.

Off Season Training Begins

This past weekend I was able to compete in my fist tactical strength competition.  It consisted of max dead lift, max pull ups and the 5 min snatch test.  Those who are not familiar with the snatch text, it is completing as many kettle snatches you can within the 5 mins.  I accomplished a 205 lb dead lift, 14 pull ups and 105 snatches.  However, I could not have completed any of this without the amazing encouragement that was surrounding me from all the other competitors.

The best part of the day was seeing how strength brought strangers to friends, friends to encourages and  encourages to competitors within minutes.  The atmosphere was filled with motivation and inspiration, like a forest set on fire the motivation and inspiration started burning inside each of us in hopes to do our best.  As a result, many people had personal record  PR (in water skiing we call this personal best PB).  It was amazing to see and be a part of the determination, the strength and the encouragement from everyone wanting to improve their physical abilities.

As any competitor, we want a t-shirt to wear for bragging rights.  This was the shirt rewarded to all the competitors.

tshirtTSCfall13

I love the quote on the back of the shirt.  As a personal trainer, I believe strength does have a greater meaning.  For some, strength is losing weight, others may be a fight against cancer,  or it might be like my case a back injury and being able to walk pain free is strength. For me,  strength is a tool, a hope to use as inspiration for others.  Many of you know my story (and if you don’t you can read previous post about my back injury) and from this story of healing I hope I am able to inspire others to never give up on their dreams.  It is people and their stories that motivate me to continue to strive for my best, yet there is still a greater meaning to strength for me.

Snatch Test 105

As a competitor I am constantly reminded where my strength comes from:

  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go ~Joshua 1:9

He is my strength and power.

Strong First

God First

and it begins . . . .2013 Water Ski Season

We had the lake all to ourselves
We had the lake all to ourselves

This past month I have been busy with water skiing and getting excited for the 2013 season.  Seattle has been having amazing weather and I have been taking full advantage of it by getting out on the water as much as possible.

April 3rd was my first day out on the water and we had the entire lake to our selves.  To start the season off I was able to have my first water ski set on Lake Sammamish. It was great to have the open water and not to worry about the buoys.  Like Marcus Brown, I value the importance of free skiing and getting to back to the basic of the sport which we all know is to have some fun.

Since then I have been able to ski up at Hilltop, a man made lake, practicing the course.  Since it is early in the season I have only been doing back to backs.  This means I start at 30 mph and instead of going up to the next speed I repeat 30 mph.  So a good practice set look like 30 mph, 30 mph, 32 mph, 32 mph, 34 mph, 34 mph (women’s max speed).  By doing back to back s, it give a skier time to focus on form and technique verses the buoy count. As a skier it is important to allow your self time to ease back into ski-shape by doing back to backs and mixing in a couple of free skiing sets.

As I prepare myself for this season, I made sure I started this preparation during the winter months. Some skiers enjoy skiing in the cold and I have to admitted I missed water skiing during the winter, but there is a reason why they call winter the off-season.  It took me a very serous back injury to learn my lesson  balancing this sport with strength training during the off season.

Instead of skiing during the winter I focused on Kettlebell workouts and giving myself plenty of time for regeneration before and after workouts.  Regeneration (regen) is  foam rolling and dynamic stretching.  With hard workouts , there is a need to rest.  My rest day usually consist of foam rolling or some form of yoga and icing.  As I start to water ski more and decrease my time in the gym, I know regen will be even more important to maintain.  Water skiing is one sport that puts a lot of torque on the body resulting in a very tense muscles. It is important to keep the body stretched and relaxed to help prevent injuries during the season. Even as I am typing this I am rolling out my feet with a trigger point ball.

Stoked for the 2013 season I am reminding myself not to be kid in the candy store and am learning the importance of slowing easing myself back into water skiing shape.