family, fitness and nutrition, friendship

Grind It Out

The showdown took place today. A competitive event. A grind session of sorts. A last-minute change-your-weekend-plans type of gathering. Of course, sometimes the best ideas and memories are made on short or no notice. I mean you really can’t guarantee fun, it just happens when I have a bad idea. Like this one, of course. 

Really, it was just a local CrossFit competition but there were friends that were teammates and competitors. That’s kind of the thrill of the event. The more. The merrier. The crazier.  There was even family competing against family. Talk about a shit storm and I didn’t even mention the judging. Those judges that you know who no rep you for your error and you get mad about it. They are just doing the job they volunteered for.

No matter which way you look at it, the group was getting their fitness on. No matter who was on each team. Recharging their competition batteries. They were putting Corona and all its cancellations in the back seat. A much needed mindset for me anyways.

99 Problems and a Lift Ain’t One of them

Purple Reign

Cheet Cheat Never Beat

The crazy names above are three of the teams I’m highlighting in this post. My friends and family. We all showed up and we worked our asses for four grueling workouts. See below for proof. Close to 30 teams participated overall. A great turnout with today’s restrictive environment.

We all battled hard to overcome injuries, movement challenges and our minds. Our minds are a powerful tool and I have written about its power and complexities in the past. Today I saw both in action across many people.

The power of I can vs. I can’t. The power of persevering. The power of overcoming self-doubt. The power of taking action when you really don’t want to. I saw personal firsts. Personal bests. Injuries-some temporary, some sidelining and some just irritating. Wherever my fellow athletes fell on the spectrum there was always somebody there to pick them up.

A hug, a high five, a fist pump, a sign, a cheer, a roar, and so much more. This is what CrossFit is about. Community. Challenges. Digging deep. Mental toughness. Pushing yourself beyond your perceived limits. Why doesn’t everyone do it? Because it’s hard. It’s physically hard. Emotionally hard. Mentally draining. All of those factors are magnified in a CrossFit competition! Magnified beyond recognition.

You are physically fatigued. You are mentally weak. You are low on gas in the emotions tank. None of that matters though. You are an athlete. You are competing for a spot on the podium or some other significance. Whatever your reason, you are there competing. Doing your best. No time for excuses. You are on a stage. No matter how big or small the stage, you are in the spotlight as a competitor.

I loved this competition. Not because I won because I didn’t. I watched my daughter compete in her first competition. I watched her achieve things she didn’t think she could. I saw her embrace new relationships and partner through adversity. I saw her cry when she felt defeated. I heard her say at the end of it all that it was fun. I can’t wait for the next one. I’m going to be better next time. How awesome is that? The lessons she learned today will springboard her in many parts of her life and I get a front row seat to watch that growth. Simply amazing!

Whenever I can compete with my kids in a CrossFit competition, race, or business I will jump at the chance. I will put so much to the side to do it. It’s memories like these I will cherish for a lifetime. It’s an opportunity that everyone has. An opportunity many won’t seize. An opportunity I desire. 

My fitness journey is a work in progress. It has been for most of my life and it will be for many more years. In light of the recent passing of notorious RBG, I hope to still be CrossFitting my way when I’m in my 80s. Hats off to some of my competition pals. This photo isn’t all-inclusive but it is a glimpse. All warriors in a way battling their own fitness journey and I’m happy to part of their story as much as they are a part of mine.

My emotional tank is overflowing.

My mind is dancing to an amazing anthem.

My physical aches are temporary and none required a bandaid.

Big win here. Today was a success and then some.

Last minute decisions do indeed make for amazing memories.

fitness and nutrition

Follow My Lead

I’d been on this mountain many times. I grew up in its shadow. One summer I worked at a restaurant near the foot of it and climbed it every afternoon when I got out off my shift. In peak shape I would scramble up then jog down. My fastest round trip was 28 minutes back then.

I don’t do it nearly as often or as quickly these days. I live 30 minutes away and my life practically never sends me in that direction. But I try to do a long bike ride every Sunday, so I pegged Stone Mountain for today’s ride.

There’s a hilly 5-mile loop popular with bikers that circles the bottom of the mountain. I pushed through that loop more than once before my legs begged me to stop, or at least to make a change.

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I still had time, so then, in a crazy last-second heat-addled decision, I decided to climb just like old times. I had my AirPods in, I was in the zone. A bit slower than I wanted, but I already had some miles on those legs so I wasn’t too mad. Just one foot in front of the other.

It’s not too bad a climb until you hit StairMaster hill. Suddenly the granite just kicks up from manageably rocky to sheer and steep. Like lean-forward-at-a-45-degree-angle-while-you-shuffle-up steep. I passed several people on the hill, taking breaks. My steps were small but I just kept going.

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Maybe 20 yards after the hill I needed a minute to catch my breath. I don’t usually need breaks on the mountain, but I listened to my body and stepped aside well off the trail under some trees for a quick breather.

I turned to look back at the view and was stunned when, instead of hazy skyline, I see 4 people walking directly behind me. They all stopped suddenly and looked up at me. I had never seen any of these people in my life. Two men, two women, staring. But from their pull off the trail and stunned looks, it was clear they had been following my lead. After about 10 seconds of awkwardness, they moved back into the path and continued toward the top of the mountain in two separate pairs.

It’s not surprising that I was oblivious to the people hot on my heels. Music on, mind adrift, solo exercise is my zone-out time. What I couldn’t understand is why? Why follow me? It’s a clear path with dozens of people on it. I do have that nerdy, friendly librarian look where people ask me questions all the time in all kinds of contexts. But this was a no brainer. Just keep going up.

Maybe it was my pace, I thought. Maybe I looked like I knew what I was doing. I will never know.

What stayed with me is that there are times when we are leading but we may not know it.  We may not ask for it.  We may not see ourselves as leaders.  But, at times we are leading nonetheless.  

Maybe it’s not a literal mountain.  Instead, it might be going public with struggles, with triumphs, with progress, with challenges. Just living your life on purpose is leadership. No title needed. A neighbor stopped me the other day to tell me I inspired her to get moving because she sees me out walking the neighborhood. My daughter’s childhood youth group leader recently messaged me from out if the blue to ask about CrossFit, after watching my changes.

The people following you may not know your whole story.  They probably have their own goals, even agendas.  It could be they just like your pace.  Or you look like you know what you’re doing.  

You’re leading even if people don’t tell you. Near and far, people are watching. Think for a moment. What are you leading them to?

healthy hacks

Just Add Eggs

Another quick healthy hack for those interested. The “baggie” trick I learned from
my friend Milagros.

Toss things you need in a baggie and use later. For her it was marinara sauce that she didn’t want to add to a meal until it was ready. How clever. Then I thought hmmm… I’m going to incorporate that into my meal prepping.

Now I have three go-to baggies made every couple of days. 2 ounces of my meat of choice: steak, ham or sausage. Diced onion, pepper, zucchini and mushroom. Sometimes a mozzarella medallion to spice it up. Some fresh spinach.

When I am crunched for time in the mornings I toss the components of the baggie into the pan while I grab two eggs. When it’s time, I add the eggs and cook away.

No chopping, no deciding what to eat, no wasting precious time. This meal prep is simple when you do a few days at a time. You can add variety by changing up the meat or adding cheese or not.

I always add in Everything But the Bagel seasoning to give my breakfast some added flavor. Give it a try you won’t be disappointed.

I am always full and energized after this meal and it’s so easy to make and cleanup is a cinch. This is a also a great way to show your teens how to start the day off right with a good meal and a little pre planning.

Another healthy hack from 2 Chicks and a Pen. Helping you get healthy in 2020 and beyond one meal hack at a time.