As some of you may know, or not know, in combination with being a USAPL Michigan lifter, I am also a USAPL State Referee. A couple of weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to go to Racine, WI and help referee their state meet that they have. Which, naturally, I whole-heartedly obliged to. It took place this past weekend March 11-12, 2017.
Friday I took the day off work so that I could do a minor adult thing and take my beloved to get an oi change and tire rotation. After successful completion at the best car dealership in the world (seriously, they always treat me well), I set out on my solo adventure to Racine, WI. Traffic was pretty delightful and wasn’t heavy. The toll road though. Can we just chat about those for a minute? WHY? Why on earth, do they have to be so DARN expensive?!? I don’t get it. Of course, I did enjoy the smooth road I was traveling on. So there is that. When I arrive in Racine, the people greeted me nicely and I grabbed a bite to eat. I was so exhausted from the day; I called it a semi early night.
Saturday morning, bright eyed at 5am, I prepared for the day and headed over to the William Horlick High School. Little did I know, I was going to be blown away from some spectacular kids! They all were kind and gracious, cheered each other on and there was not an empty seat on the bleachers. It really was an incredible day. The last session, I had the pleasure of being a side ref to the Michigan USAPL Chairman. Now, to you, this is going to seem insignificant BUT she has truly become a piece of my heart. She is a fighter, a genuine woman, and my gosh, has become one of my nearest, dearest friends. In my time in the USAPL, I haven’t had the pleasure of refereeing with her, and finally, it happened. I loved every second of it. Once that last bar was dropped, she and I, with her family high-tailed it out of there to get some much needed food. To my surprise, we would have an extra visitor. ((See salad picture below))
Sunday was another day of judging. I stayed until 1:30p.m. and drove home right away. The experience was so worth the mental and physical exhaustion. The community of lifters that participated that weekend was amazing.
The best was that I learned so much about how meets work, what it takes, and all the labor it takes to make the love. Many people often forget that on a much smaller scale, all of the referee's, table workers, loaders and spotters, and everyone else involved is a volunteer. They are there because they value the effort it takes to give back to the sport that has given so much to you. I am looking forward to taking more opportunities like this and seizing the moments I have to give back to the sport that I love so much.
I hope your weekend was filled with love, even if it was a labor.
A special thank you to Alex, Gregory, and lovely Erin for welcoming me in their family with loving arms. Also a special thank you to the USAPL Wisconsin for inviting me to witness such an amazing community the WI USAPL has!
Enjoy the little snapshots of what a production it was!
This is the front. (notice there are no seats in the bleachers) There are four platforms, each with a table of volunteers, and the white boards have projected lifter data on them. It was quite a phenomenal production!
This area was the back side of the top photo. This is the area where the lifters sat in their respective flights. They also has a screen so they could see who was up, who was on deck, and who was in the hole. Only coaches and lifters were allowed in this restricted area. If you look to the right, on the other side of those bleachers, there was a massive warm up area. I didn't get a photo of that, but the gym was very large!
The bug that made sure that WI was living up to its potential!
Scrolling through social media can be overwhelming when there are people out there lifting heavy and just seem to have found a groove in the gym. Often times, as a beginner, it can be overwhelming what you may appear like to other people and how to get comfortable being in the gym. Below are some tips to help you on your new adventure!
It has been quite some time since I have done a fitness update. However, if you follow me on any of my socials (if you aren’t, what are you doing with your life), you will see that I am still progressing in the area of training.
As for my nutrition, there has been some progress, but right now, I am focusing on my numbers at the bar, rather than on the scale. I started to feel myself become compulsive over what the scale said and how it would make me feel. Even though I am approaching life with a flexible macro approach, I still have this continued battle with anticipating what the scale should say and when it doesn’t meet my standards (even though there is progress), I let it dictate how I am going to feel that day. This is not where I wanted to be, and this is not how I wanted my progress to end up.
So, I have tracked my macros loosely over the past week and I have really focused on what my body can do, rather than what a number on scale should tell me I should feel like. I am just trying to get my mind right and in the way of thinking before this issue crept up on me again. There has to be a lot of self-love talking and a lot of repair in my mind that needs to start happening.
This week, I have solely focused on self-talk techniques that are positive and each morning, I try and wake up with a grateful mindset that I am here, I am focused, I am strong and I know that God will carry me through if I just rely on him.
I have always said that you are your best cheerleader and your worst critic. You take your mind everywhere with you. You are the only person you can’t get away from. So, you might as well love yourself.
I am in no hurry to get to my end goal and I need to remember that. I also need to remember that all of those sweets and all of those foods that I thought were feeding me love, will still be there when I need them in moderation. However, my main focus right now is to get my mind healthy, for I know that when my mind is healthy, my body is healthy.
As far as training, I have been on fire. This week, coach and I test maxes to see what the next 12 weeks are going to look like. I am officially 12 week out from my next powerlifting competition and so with that, on my YouTube, I will be starting my Valiant athlete series. This will be something new and something fun for me to do!
Weight: 210 (and holding)
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Often times when I get busy at home or work, I forget to hydrate myself. I find myself finally getting a moment to say “Man, I am parched.” Only to realize that I haven’t drank nearly as much water as I should have that day.
Water is such a beneficial staple for our body. It creates overall health and aids in so many things that we may not realize. Let’s take a look at the top 10 benefits of water:
Consumption of water can be tricky and eventually consuming half of your body weight is ideal but definitely not mandatory, depending on your goals.
When I first started on my fitness journey, I found myself on an app/ website called calorie counter. There I met some lovely individuals who I still keep in contact with via Facebook. After really getting deep into health and fitness, I have found a few things that I like just a tad more. While calorie counter will still have a piece of my heart, it was time to move forward to better things.
There are three main tools that I use to track my progress.
Some may find it silly that I use a paper planner instead of using the Drive app on my phone to follow my training, but I am usually not the type who has my phone in my hand while I am training to aide in distractions. I like to take my time in the gym as a time for me to be in my own head space, without distractions to get things done. This method allows me to do that.
I hope that you found some inspiration if you are just starting or continuing on your journey. Holding yourself accountable with one or all of these methods, I believe, is the key to success. Sometimes, especially for me, I need something in black and white in front of me in order for the motivation to continue. This allows for that.
I really have never been a big red meat consumer. Rather, I was very much familiarized with how to cook and prepare chicken, until a restaurant experience ruined that for me. Since that experience, I can’t even pass chicken in the grocery store. It really has become quite the issue for me. Which, when we talk about hormones in food, etc. really, it was a change that I needed to make and I actually feel much better than when I was consuming chicken. Since ridding of chicken, and really other similar products like turkey, I have been eating fish, tuna and flank steak. However, I have noticed a change in digestion and a shift in my preference to more eggs and fish rather than flank steak. Flank Steak definitely produces almost a hardened rock sitting my stomach more so than when I consume fish.
After a brief discussion with the coach, he has briefly educated me on how the enzymes change in the body, and my body quite possibly could be making this change on its own. So, this gained my interest to do a little more research to see what really he meant and how I could educate myself further in this subject.
There are three types of enzymes that your body runs on. The first being digestive enzymes, second, metabolic and finally, the food enzyme. Metabolic enzymes run the body. They exist throughout the body in the organs, the bones, the blood, and inside the cells themselves. These enzymes are instrumental in the growth of new cells and the maintenance of all tissue.
The other two enzymes, digestive and food, are the two that I really want to focus on, as they are the only two active within the digestive system (in the literal sense).
Digestive enzymes are created by our organs and secretions from the salivary glands, stomach, small intestine and pancreas. Granted, the digestive enzyme can be included with the metabolic enzyme but the digestive enzyme is the only one, of the two, that can be supplemented, which I why I pulled them apart.
Food enzymes are within the food that we eat and where this gets interesting. Food enzymes exist naturally in raw food. They also have the ability to be inactivated (denatured) when food is cooked in high temperatures (like red meat) and can often lead to the body unable to break down the food and digest it. For example: “If you eat a meal consisting of a salad, a steak and a baked potato, there are likely enough food enzymes contained in the salad to digest it (break it down so your body can use its nutrients). But, there are no extra enzymes available to help digest the steak or the baked potato. Because the steak and potato are cooked, there are no FOOD ENZYMES available to digest them, so our body must take over and internally create the needed amount of DIGESTIVE ENZYMES to handle the digestive task.”
Now, you probably are suggesting that I just include a salad for every meal, and I understand that, BUT there are other factors, such as, putting stress on the body to overwork the digestive enzymes and organs that cause the digestive process to slow down, that are harmful. 80% of the body’s function is used in the digestive process, if the body is using all of that to try and break down the red meat without it helping along with the natural food enzyme, accompanied by the natural stress and environment that the body is in, it is set for failure. However, adding a raw enzyme into the diet can aid the body in the breakdown of the food it is trying to digest.
I have a long history of destroying my metabolism through crash dieting, bingeing, over eating, etc. I also have a long history of digestive issues that have been accompanied by my bad eating. It has been a long process to help my body become comfortable to not go into starvation mode but feeding it regularly and often with good, nutrient dense foods, but I still have had a long lasting digestive issue. With learning more and more about my body, it just seems like a very natural thing to eliminate those things that cause more harm than good. Am I going to become this crazy advocate for not killing animals, etc. No. I do think, however, that we live in a society where meat is all around us, very accessible and some people choose not to educate themselves on their body and what it truly needs from them. I have spent the last year of trying to be intuitive to what my body needs, when it needs it and what I can best do to provide for it. I would encourage anyone, before they add, or remove, and thing from their body to research. Find out why your body does or does not react well to certain things.
So, some may cause this a crazy journey and label it Lactoo-ovo-pescatarian. I call it saving my body. It will not be happening overnight, as I have mentioned before, experimenting and figuring out what works best for my body is the key.
Welcome to the 2106 last minute gift guide!
The last few days are upon us for holiday parties, work gatherings and trying to remember who we could possibly be leaving off the list, more importantly, what to get the person who seems to have everything! The next few posts will be categorized for those you may find it hard to come up with ideas for or need something small for the stocking. The first Last Minute Gift Guide will feature The Adventurer! This will include gift ideas for the recipient who adores the outdoors. The second Last Minute Gift Guide will feature The Gym Buddy! This will include gift ideas for the recipient who you can generally find at the gym. The final Last Minute Gift Guide will feature The Office Commander! This will include gift ideas for the recipient who loves to spruce up their desk with gadgets! I will include links (some include affiliate) to all the adoring items making it easy for shopping. I hope you are excited for this mini series!
Today's Last Minute Gift Guide is for the Gym Buddy!
Let's see what gifts will have our gym buddy pressing for more!
WHAT MADE THE LIST!
1. Sling Shot Multi-purpose Wraps by Mark Bell
2. Gym Chalk Ball
3. Chute 1L Water Bottle
4. Sock It To Me Women's Knee High Funky Socks
I hope this Last Minute Gift Guide gives you some inspiration for the gym buddy in your life. Feel free to leave other suggestions below to add to the gift giving season!
After the emotions and soreness have settled from Saturday, ((I think)) I am able to put the day into words. Most people don’t know that meet days are long ones. Most of the morning people are making weight and are dreaming of the sandwich they have in their bag. Although hungry, they are community. Although tired, they are ready.
Powerlifting meets are almost like an out of body experience. Some (including myself) push so far into the mental zone that any lifts that come before or after mine are a blur. Then when I attempt my lift, I focus on the range of motion and completing the lift that it doesn’t even register what I have done until it is complete.
I have been challenged for the past 12 weeks to be greater, to push the limits. Really, even in those 12 weeks, it doesn’t compare to what happens or what you are truly meant to do, until you approach the bar. Some call me crazy because I asked my coach not to tell me my numbers. This was a staple in my mental readiness when approaching the bar. I know and trust my coach to make sound decisions for me. I trust that he will never compromise me or my character for the sake of “just getting a PR” or “being the ultimate” at the meet. Trust. I trusted him and he trusted me. We work together like a fine well-oiled machine. I hold nothing back and he tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.
My squat I felt was relatively easy and I knew I had more gas in the tank but it is never about that. It is about making good calls, having a clean movement and white lights. The final squat was 110kg.
My bench had a weird limbo spot in the sense that it jumps from 62.3kg to 65kg. This was the only consultation period my coach and I had in terms of the load. He said I know that you probably could complete the 65kg but 62.3 kg is still a good number and gives us plenty of gas for deadlift. So, together, we made the call to keep 62.3kg on the board. It went smoother than anticipated but sometimes, it is better to come out with three white lights than compromise missing the lift.
Deadlift. Let me just preach to you about deadlift for a second. Deadlift is the one movement that I have always been confident in, until the week before the meet. I was tired and really started second guessing myself. In my final lift prep, I tried to get 326 off the ground, and couldn’t. It simply wouldn’t go. I felt defeated, stuck and quite honestly, worthless. I came home and thought about it and I realized that I get a break for a few days and I will be as good as new, and I was. After my second attempt, I could sense that Coach had a look of reassurance on his face. This made me nervous. Only because I knew he was going to crank it up a notch. He said, “How much do you have left?” I replied: “You tell me.” Walking back from the desk, he looked at me and said “I’m going to need you to give everything you got on this. Forget about everything else and just do this.” 155kg went up and it felt like I was holding onto it forever. As soon as I reminded myself that I wasn’t giving up, I wasn’t putting that damn bar down and I need to figure it out, you see my head do this sci-fi movement and it came up. Everyone was screaming, immediately I asked him how much. When 155kg came out of his mouth, we locked arms and I was in tears. I have never pulled that much in my life. Ever.
All in all, I went 9 for 9 on all lifts. I walked away second in my weight class and gained a whole new drive to put April 29th on the docket for the next show down.
The powerlifting sport is not about competing against anyone else but yourself. It is you and you only. Sure, there is a lovely community that rallies behind you with support, but at the end of the day, it is you and the bar. It is you, the numbers and expectations you give yourself to accomplish. I hear people all the time say, “I don’t know how you do it!” and the truth is, sometimes I don’t know how I do either, but what I do know is I have found a coach that is in sync with my needs and my goals. Finding a coach or someone who can give you a solid direction, who has experience and education behind them is the key to success, in anything in life. You can do it alone, sure, but sometimes it is that outside person, holding you accountable that doesn’t hold a biased opinion, that pushes you beyond what you already knew was there. I will forever be a believer in having a coach.
When I started with Ralya Performance, I knew what macros were and I knew that there was a guideline to follow. However, I had a terrible relationship with food all of my life and it was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t break alone. I was a pro at talking myself in and out of anything I wanted to eat, and I did. Working with Jason allowed me to be free of that. At first, it gave my anxiety because I went from eating every few days (and when I did eat, it was bingeing) to eating consistently throughout the day. For me, this was a struggle. I knew that if I communicated to him, he would give me guidance and relief through the process. Then, he became my go-to and therapy for everything. He is always open and honest with me and I am with him. There is no judgment, only forward thinking on how to get goals accomplished. The beautiful thing is that I can eat good, wholesome food and make choices within the guidelines to benefit my training. Eating has become less of a chore, and more of a tool for aiding in my powerlifting progress.
When excitement of making progress in the gym started to overshadow what my body was going to look like and when I made an effort to trust the process and myself, the anxiety, depression and care about what my body looked like started to fade. Sure, do I have random thoughts, absolutely. I am human (most days). However, I know that I can always count on powerlifting, my coach and my love for macros to save me. I no longer think of food as comfort rather the bar that sits in the squat rack, on the bench or the floor, waiting for me to showcase my ability to believe in my strength.
As I am writing this, it is officially 2 days out from USAPL Michigan States. This will be my second powerlifting meet that has created a lifetime addiction. I can honestly say that I am ready. Everything for this meet will be a PR and I am definitely on the side of a sounder mind this time around. This month I had an increase in a bench day which created some tenderness and some mental hurdles to cover. I felt less prepared the first week of this phase and as my body started to adapt, I was able to reason with my body. The mental challenge also came when I was becoming more fatigued because of the consistent deficit my body was in. Even though I was gaining strength, my mind was ready for a little bit of a break. Increased macros this week helped and I will keep the increase until after Saturday.
Here is a brief look from when I started in August, 2016 to November 1, 2016:
I have a renewed faith that my mental health is the driver behind anything physical. Believing that you can and that you will make things happen. I have to constantly remind myself that if I want something, it will be there when I am ready for it. My favorite things have been around all my life; those foods are not leaving any time soon. Even though I have made significant progress, this is just the beginning of this journey. I am incredibly thankful for Jason’s patience and dedication to get me this far. What he has given me surpasses any amount of money that I could have put in his bank account.
September was probably more of a mental battle than last month. I doubted literally everything that I was doing. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to progress because lack of sleep had taken over and Daniella was in full swing of school. With the full swing of school, that also meant that sports were starting. Between volleyball, basketball and piano, she has something every night of the week. Thus, Coach Jason and I decided to move to morning training, which also meant that the bulk of my carbs was going to be in the morning. This was a hard mental shift for me. Felling full through out the day was my biggest concern and I wondered what would happen when that shift came. Ironically enough, I still feel satisfied. Funny how your brain plays tricks on you.
I was mentally shaken when I had a run in with a guy one morning that goes to the gym. In order to keep things light and my brain moving off of the subject, I will just share that it didn’t end well and he basically told me “I was strong for a girl.” And I blew a gasket. I am pretty tired of being looked at as "just strong for a girl" and not just strong. However, I’m not going to give a care what others, male or female, say or like about me. It isn't my job to please them. I don’t live my life for others to sit and criticize. I am now stepping off the soap box.
We also adjusted my carbs so I would lose at a faster pace to get a better number for meet day, which by the way, is in four weeks! (EEK!) I feel good about the shift and I am still gaining strength. That was a real big worry for me and right now, I am not willing to sacrifice strength for losing weight. As weird as that sounds. When I shifted my focus to making gains in the gym and not worrying about my body image, food starting taking precedence as fuel rather than feelings in my life. I started using the reps and weight in the gym to cure my feelings. Some days still are not the best but I know that if I trust the process and stay with the plan, I will not be failed or defeated.
Here is a brief look at the ending of September in comparison to when I started just in August:
Time to put my head down this month a grind it out. Four weeks has got me re-focused and my eye on the goal. Let’s do this October!