fitness and nutrition, friendship, perspective

What I Learned from Coming In Last

“It’s not a big deal to me how we do, as long as we’re not last.”

These words came from one of my amazing teammates at a recent competition. I nodded in agreement, and I’ve said them, too.

Flashback to my very first 5k “race.”  Run Your Cookies Off – a fundraiser for the Girl Scouts.  I was probably 80 or 100 pounds heavier than I am now, maybe more.  I had no idea what I was doing. I was a slow walker / jogger as I approached the start line in terror.  But as long as I am not last I’m ok, I thought.

I wasn’t last that day, but I was close.  I could see the last person behind me by maybe 30 yards most of the time.  I kept looking over my shoulder, fighting to stay ahead. I gasped and choked as I stumbled across the finish line, maybe 5th to last out of a few hundred runners.  But, not last.

Fast forward eight years or so to only a few weeks ago, the line comes into my head again. A CrossFit competition.  Looking around at some of the fitter people I’ve seen in recent memory, our direct competitors. Some twenty or more years younger.  But, we will be fine as long as we are not last.

After the first workout, we were second to last.  So, not last – a win!  And then, after that, for the rest of the day, workout after workout, it happened. We. Were. Last.

Yup, I was finally on the other side of the “as long as we’re not…”

And I looked at my teammates, two fierce, fit, incredible women, working their ever-loving asses off.  All three of us had been sick that week, with some of that sickness lingering on competition day.  All three of us were super nervous.  But we showed up, and we brought our best. And we cheered for each other.  And we pushed as hard as we could, pushed beyond what we thought we could do.  We pulled together and fought like heck for every rep, every lift, every jump and burpee and pushup and calorie.

And with all our fight, all our heart, all our effort, we still came in last.  (We actually tied for last with some of our good friends who made up another rockin’ team from our box, which made it all the more sweet.)

So, you may ask, what are the after effects of coming in last? Honestly, not much different than coming in higher on the board.

I’m proud of my teammates, as I should be.  One rocked her first competition ever, conquering move after move, challenge after challenge.  The other overcame huge obstacles to PR her snatch not just once but 5 times that day.  5 times!!!  I still smile when I pull out my team shirt and shorts.  We had a great and memorable day for our squad.  Weeks later, no one remembers what place we came in.

I’ve held onto a line I heard once many years back when I was just starting to get my health together.  It still serves me on crappy running days, and those inevitable afternoons when I just would rather not go to the gym at all:

As long as you show up…”you’re lapping everyone on the couch.”

No matter what place we finished in, we showed up. There are many who are less fit, and even many who are more fit, who didn’t have the guts or the gumption to just show up, put themselves out there, and see how they measure up.

There’s an old saying that nice guys finish last…now I also see that good people, people who work hard, train hard, and put forth tons of effort still do finish last sometimes. In fact, that effort may represent a huge personal triumph no matter what the leaderboard says. One that should be applauded.  Still, for better or worse, it’s just one day. One memorable day full of proud moments.

The real after effects of coming in last are what we choose to do moving forward. What matters most is what comes next. Nothing stops us from continuing to train and get better and cheer for each other. We’re already signed up for more races, more challenges, more adventures. Who knows where we will turn up next?

 

 

 

fitness and nutrition

Jumping into 2020

I jumped into 2020 with my fitness. I did a challenging 2020 workout dedicated to the year 2020 (20 reps of multiple lifts and movements) with my workout pals and I was ready for a nap after a grueling 45 minutes of go hard. In a nutshell, my body was T-I-R-E-D with a Capital T.

I recovered for what seemed like a short time as my new work year picked up less than 24 hours later. Where did the holiday break go? Why does it feel like Sunday? Talk about lack of motivation to wake up at 5:30 am to work out.

Well, my puppy beat my alarm clock today. She had me up at 4:20 to potty and play. Good thing she is super cute. #teddie  Boy I wish I had her energy at that hour. I guess the day started earlier than expected so I had a little extra time to checkout the workout in advance. Sigh.

It’s pretty much a jumprope-a-thon focusing on double unders which is a skill I have not mastered and really don’t like to work on. Why don’t I like to work on it? Because I suck most days and it requires multi-step directions which can challenge me some days in the coordination department. Good thing the new year is upon us and I had literally just listed double unders as a skills goal to work on for 2020.

I guess I have to go. I guess there may be hope for me to get better at double unders aka dubs in this decade since I wasn’t so hot last decade! Hope can conquer most things I would say. Just not sure dubs are on the hope list this year.🤪

To my surprise Mute Sports put on a great dubs class. So many tidbits of information that will help me get better and we got to try out their cool ropes. I wasn’t optimistic going into the class but I really enjoyed it. If you are searching for a rope, these guys are very helpful and I love supporting local businesses.

I ended up getting a new rope and a cute little fastener to keep it from getting tangled. I opted for two different handles because I need flair in my life. I only got the black cable because I need that thickness since I am entry level on the skill side. I will definitely put this bad boy to use each week to hopefully build up some muscle memory and link more than four dubs together at once. I also picked up a neat little round stone-type callus remover that they sell. It’s got a cylinder shape and I can toss it in my purse. Another great little gadget to add to my CrossFit trinkets.

But before I sign off, I think I should show you some of my jump rope history. My first rope was a brand I can’t recall that I purchased online. I was clueless when I bought it and didn’t do so hot with it so I gave it to a friend when I got my second rope, pictured below. This one I opted for hot pink and thicker cable that was coated because the whip marks on the other rope about killed me.

This was a good rope for me to reacquaint my self with single-under jumping. I did many, many jumps with this rope and still keep it my car in case I have the need to jump somewhere. This is a rope I seem to see at my box and other CrossFit boxes I have visited in the past. For this I would say great starter rope based on my experience.

Not long after, I got a custom rope at some point as a gift. This was thinner, lighter and had a fun look to it. I used this one off / on but never really mastered the dubs skill with it. I do however use this at home when I have time to practice. This one may be a fav just because of the aesthetic look. #wonderwoman

Some time mid-2019 I had a competition that called for lots of jumping. Singles, but the faster I could do them the better off I would be so I invested in yet another rope that a friend had. This one I have and use it from time to time but it will make more of an appearance once I master dubs. This one definitely hurts when you get whipped as it’s bare wire. Some of you may like whip marks but I’m a little bit of a baby so I’ll just say I’m not quite ready for this bad boy full time! Maybe that’s why they named it Bullet and advertise it as the fastest rope. Maybe there should be a warning that says use with caution unless you like pain.

As I close out my jump rope history I am merely sharing my woes of up down, up down, up down again and again. Much like jumping rope there are many ups and downs to finding a rope that fits you physically but also makes you feel confident enough to rock those double unders over and over again.

I will be jumping up down and around through 2020 but now I know I have options in ropes and tricks to help me be some a better jump roper. Thank you Muse for that one-on-one attention today.

Don’t get me wrong I can jump for a while doing singles. I’m improving at one leg or even alternating but I haven’t mastered the cadence, the breathing, the jump motion and the patience to be a double under dynamo. Not yet at least.

I will however keep you posted on my progress over the year. Gotta go it’s time to jump back into some emails. Let’s hope the Muse techniques and rope help me meet my 2020 dubs goal.

perspective

Skinny

Words have power. For good or for bad, they are powerful.

Throughout our lives words pick up nuances.  Some might say they carry baggage. Words are weighted down with history, and these can be different from person to person. It reminds me of deciding on a name for a child, looking through the books and lists…  Names evoke memories of the Jacobs, the Maxes, the Jennifers I once knew.  Some leave a bad taste simply because of the scowl across the playground one boy gave me in second grade, or the girl who taunted me in seventh.

With that in mind, I’ll share a word that has pulled the rug from under me for a while now. A word I never thought I’d hear anyone say about me.  A word that, as an adult, I honestly never wanted to hear.

Skinny.

But now I hear it pretty often. It jars me when someone says it.  Could be just me, but it never comes across as a compliment. It carries a reproach. Maybe it’s the words that often come before it:  too skinny, so skinny.  They always sound like it’s something extreme.  Like I’ve gone too far.

You’re starting to get too skinny, Beth.

When are you going to stop?  When are you at your goal?

You’re so skinny.  Do you eat anything?

(Reminder, I want to say…you are speaking to a person who has weighed more than 300 pounds.)

In high school, even college and beyond, I used to look at the skinny girls with envy.  I longed to be them.  I didn’t think about healthy or unhealthy.  I just knew skinny was a good thing to be.  It’s what people liked and wanted. Skinny meant pretty.  Desirable.  Choose-able.  Worthy.

Now, when someone says I am skinny, it makes me think I am slight.  I am weak.  I am a pushover. In my mind, I’ve traded my fat for muscle, not just a lower number on the scale. I work hard for how I look, and I choose it in many different ways every day.  I’d like to think what I’ve lost in fat I’ve also gained in confidence, but words like skinny set me back on my heels.

I’d rather hear someone say she is so lean.  She is so strong.  So fit.  So healthy.  Skinny, in my mind, doesn’t cover any of those things.

Stepping back, I think about the people saying these words.  Do they mean to hurt my feelings? Do they know the word stings?  Probably not. Are some speaking out of concern? Do they worry for my health?  Maybe. Are they speaking out of jealousy, as some close to me have suggested?  Perhaps.  For all I know, some may see it as a compliment, but I don’t hear it that way.  Such is the way of words.  Sometimes what we mean gets lost in translation, even when we think we are speaking the same language.

In the end, it doesn’t matter much.  I have learned in recent years that I can’t control other people’s actions, including what they say.  I can only control my reaction to them.  So I feel the sting, step back, then let it go and move on.

I’m the one who has to live in my body for as long as it lasts.  There are a handful of trusted people that I listen to in earnest. Their thoughts matter to me and I take them seriously.  Everyone else may either be speaking from their own agenda or may not know me well enough to have an informed opinion. So, they are taken with a grain of salt and the benefit of the doubt.

And I can watch my own words more carefully when it comes to the bodies, minds, and health of others.  How do I know what others are going through?  How can I keep from stinging them, wherever they may be on their path?  Words have a power.  Speak carefully.  Speak generously.  Ask questions.  Watch my mouth as much as I can. Who knows how often I hurt people with my words without even meaning to?

You can imagine my smile when I opened this gift from my daughter at Christmas.  She has seen me at my heaviest.  She has seen me do the work transform myself mentally and physically.  She took such care to make personal gifts for so many in our family.  She texted me about a month ago to ask me for a photo of my first tattoo.  She chose one word for me, and it is one that makes me proud, and makes me want to keep going.

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Choose your words to build people up, to make them feel brave.  Capable.  Strong.

coaching

Life as a Coach

Being a coach is an amazing opportunity to impact others. A life coach. A sports coach. A business coach. They all have their own opportunities to impact others.

I have had the luxury of coaching kids in varying age groups and sports, staff members, and those who need life management support or motivation. No matter what coaching project I am working on, I love about 98% of the process.

I enjoying winning games, but I like losing as well. Teaching others how to recover from a loss can be a challenge, but it’s life. We will never win everything in life so losing is a valuable tool for kids and adults to learn or relearn.

I enjoying coaching people personally and professionally. I love seeing them hit goals, make strides with confidence and succeed at what they are working toward achieving. Coaching provides me with as much new inspiration as I expect the folks receive under my coaching programs.

What’s the 2% I don’t like?

It boils down to those that are classified as uncoachable. It could be a team member at work who can’t see their own flaws and refuses to make adjustments to foster team or individual growth. It could be the player who doesn’t respect the coach’s authority. Or my favorite is those who think they can do the coaching from the sidelines. It could be a parent coaching from the sideline at a game. It could be the parent jockeying for play time for their amazing child prior to a game. It could even be your colleague at work who is coaching you in a false direction for their own personal gain. Or maybe your boss is coaching you downward by devaluing your efforts and contributions. This one gets me all the time but it happens!

The two percent is never my favorite but it will never dictate my actions. As a coach I am expected to lead. Lead by example. Lead with integrity. Lead with confidence. I don’t second guess my coaching ever. That doesn’t mean I have never been questioned either. It just means I am confident in what I do and the end results.

Many may want to coach but few will actually commit the time, the preparation and the consistency required to coach long-term. Coaching at the youth level is normally an unpaid gig. With that being said, the adults who bring kids to games and practice seem to think they are in the big leagues. That is an irony for sure.

When I say big leagues people start looking for college scholarships at about 6th grade. This is insane as most 6th graders are trying to remember to brush their teeth before school, not think about where they want to go for college. In addition, a lot can happen from 6th grade to 12th. In sports for example, injury or burn out is possible. This pressuring at a young age should be cautioned.

Then you shift to the workplace. Coaching should be a daily occurrence but many managers lack the ability to coach, give guidance and support their counterparts. This doesn’t normally end well. Lack of time. Lack of experience. Inability to see others needs. All are reasons I hear why coaching is lacking in business.

In a workplace, most employees crave feedback. Most want kudos for good work but some actually want to know how they can improve. In a healthy work environment you see strong leaders with tenured staff when feedback is prominent.

On the flip side, gossipy workplaces and poor production can occur when communication is weak and praise is limited. This often happens in smaller workplaces with limited human resources. These are the toughest coaching scenarios for me to take on and results are not always guaranteed.

My favorite coaching happens at the volunteer level with youth in my community. I have a pure opportunity to impact the lives of tomorrow’s leaders. I have watched elementary students turn into middle school leaders. I have watched middle school athletes turn into college recruits. I have seen high schoolers turn into coaches. The list goes on and my cup runs over with pride.

My next favorite group is young adults. The 18-26 age range. The know-it-all’s to the I-am-beginning-to-adult group. I have many that fall into this category. Some have turned into entrepreneurs while others are in leadership roles under a firm. This group is inspiring in a whole different way. I get to see them evolve in today’s world which is so very different than when I was their age. The growth that occurs here is fast and extremely fun to watch.

The adults. This is the group that can be complicated. Life wears you down and I help pick up the pieces. So many end up in different stages. This is the most challenging yet exciting to conquer. We are all set in our ways. We can have bad habits. We can lack structure and drive. We can be impacted by negative thoughts or online posts. When I coach I have to find out how each person ticks to customize a solution to suit their needs.

It’s a life puzzle. I love to solve puzzles and that’s why I choose to coach. If you know anyone looking for a personal guide, virtually or in-person, send them my way. Custom coaching options fit into any lifestyle and budget.

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