Saturday, June 13, 2015

Own Your Body

Two days ago, I decided not to care and I wore a bikini at our neighborhood pool.  In the eleven years since I've had kids, I very rarely walk out in public without a shirt over my bathing suit.

About five years ago, we were on vacation in Malaysia and I saw a 70+ year old woman in a bikini (practically a thong)- she did not care about her cellulite or any other skin imperfection, she was with her husband at the beach and she was happy.  I thought, if she can wear a bikini, why can't I?
That day, I wore a bikini without a shirt and I felt free.  Since then, I have not really been around people I know without a shirt over my bathing suit.

You know what?  I don't have a bad body.  I should not be embarrassed by my stretch marks.  My slightly distended stomach and umbilical hernia were carefully curated over 45 months of pregnancies.

Wouldn't it be great if we could do anything and our bodies would be perfect all the time.  A mom gives birth and magically her body returns to normal as if it didn't just grow a 9 pound human being.  We eat whatever we want and our bodies don't extend.  We get burnt or cut, and scars just fade away.
Reality is we all have imperfections, some we've had all along, some we acquired along the way.  Own your imperfections.  But most importantly own your body.
Your body is yours and yours alone.  You may think your nose is too big, or wish for a smaller waist, or less curly hair, maybe if your eyes were blue, the world would be kinder- these things, they are what make us who we are.  I may not like that my stomach isn't as flat as it was when I was 25, but I'm a mom, I've had 5 babies and I'm OK with the fact that it will never be perfectly flat again.

The other day when I went to the pool without my shirt on, at first I was nervous, I started looking around to make sure people weren't giving me that "glance".  I made sure I wasn't being classified as the lady who was at the pool in a bikini who definitely should not be allowed to wear one.

I've watched a lot of episodes of What Not to Wear to know what's age appropriate and style appropriate for me.  I know the suit I was wearing was cute, comfy, and looked good (to me).  The bottom line is, I'm the only person whose opinion matters.  If I feel good, if I like the fit and style, then why should I even consider if other people are staring at me.  I know if people are making small talk about my body, then they are not really important to me.

I don't go to crossfit to lose weight from my body, I go to lose weight off my shoulders. I go to free myself of burdens of life that we carry day in and day out.  I work hard to make myself stronger and more capable.  I focus on numbers that I can move, times that I can finish in, not the ones a needle points to.  I am more capable now than I ever have been no matter if I'm 115, 135, or 155#- I'm going to own my body because it can do miraculous things.
Your imperfections make you unique.  Without them you would be someone else.  Own your body, own how you take care of it, and own what it's capable of.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Iron Sharpens Iron

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" Proverbs 27:17
This verse means so much to me.  Over the last year, I've done a lot of soul searching.  I've really realized how important it is to surround yourself with people who bring you up.  People who make you want to be better, and people who allow you to make them better too.

Last year I made a choice to put myself in a better situation with more supportive positive people.    The first day in my new situation, I felt free and alive.  I had found my sharpening stone.

I recently bought myself a shirt, with the verse "iron sharpens iron" from a crossfit company.  I loved the parallel between the weightlifting and the relationship with human beings.  CrossFit is an important part of my life, as are people.

The day after I bought the shirt, I was reading in one of my books, and literally, no lie, the page I opened to was entitled "Iron Sharpens Iron".  All the hairs on my arm stood up!

The past year of my life, I have been sharpened so much, I have grown, and I have learned.  Mostly I have been freed to be me and see an even greater me.

Do your friends lift you up?

Does your spouse make you better?

Do your coworkers support you?

Life is too short to spend with plastic.  Are the people in your life strong, supportive, and challenging?  Do they make you want to be who you want to be?

As I've been growing into my own, one thing I've been realizing is we can't change everyone.  We can be supportive and helpful, but there is only so much abuse and complaining we can take before enough is enough.

If you want to be stronger, you need to sharpen yourself on something stronger and sharper.  If the people in your life are constantly bringing you down, it is time to move on.  You can be their iron, but if they are constantly coming back dull, it doesn't matter how many times you sharpen them because they are making you rust.

I used to be in a situation where I felt as though my friend needed me to help them through a tough situation.  But, what I found was the situation wasn't going to change, what did change was me.  I became more and more exhausted from feeling trapped into hearing the same miserable story day in and out, with no resolve.  I was allowing myself to be brought down by my friend's misery.  I was more frustrated, irritable, and tired as a result.  Once I removed myself from the situation, I felt happy and alive again!

You may feel like you are the iron for someone you care deeply for.  However, if they are constantly putting you in a position where you are the one doing all the giving, and you are left feeling down- it is time to move on.

Life is too short to spend it with anything less than the sharpest iron.

Put yourself in situations where you are surrounded with supportive, loving, positive people.

You are not alone, you can be better, there is always a brighter side- you go out there and you find your iron and when you do, you will rise up.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Murph

I wrote this exactly one year ago as I was gearing up to attack my first crossfit "Murph" WOD.  That very same day, I began reading The Lone Survivor, possibly one of the most influential books I have ever ever read (DO NOT WATCH THE MOVIE- read the book!!!)

Tomorrow we celebrate Memorial Day.  It is a day to specifically honor those who have fallen to protect us and our freedoms.

It seems to me that the true meaning of this day is not understood by most, and admittedly, I will include myself, until recently.  Most people look at this day as another free vacation day from work or a chance to have a BBQ to kick off summer.

In this great country, America, in which we live, we are so sheltered from so many things that go on in the rest of the world.  Our reality is skewed by the delivery from the nightly news report or a quick article we read online.  Most of us do not even realize how fortunate we are for so many things.

These things we would not have if our brave men and women did not stand up for us in battle and protect us from evil, from dictators, from selfish rulers, from malicious people.  

A few years ago, I read a book about an American hair dresser that moved to Afghanistan to secretly teach women how to do hair and how to wax.  Awful things were happening to the women in the story, and then she mentioned the year, 1994- this was the year I graduated high school.  Then it hit me… while I was worrying about what college to go to or who to go to prom with, girls were being forced into marriage and women were not allowed to learn.  War was happening, but in my safe country of America- tanks and bombs were things I did not have to worry about.

These are things we do not have to worry about because of brave men and women who serve for us, who have served for us, and who have died for us.  

We can pick up a Newsweek or a Time magazine and read about what’s going on, but then we put it down and we can forget about it, because it is not our reality.  Reality is some day our sons or daughters may be the ones going overseas to defend our freedoms.  Reality is we enjoy our freedom and we want to keep it.

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.  Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”- General George S. Patton

Take the time tomorrow, even a brief moment to thank a hero for the freedoms we enjoy and often take for granted.  Problems like the apple TV not working in my bedroom and having to walk down the stairs to the living room to watch TV pale in comparison to not being able to sleep at night because you hear bombs going off in the distance.

Amongst us, we have many heroes- thankfully none of whom we need to mourn tomorrow- but they put themselves at risk for us in their daily jobs.  Firefighters who will go into homes to rescue us and our precious belongings- sometimes they don’t make it - we honor them.  

We honor police who risk their lives keeping us safe in our community, safe from theft, attack, drugs.  They risk their lives with the most gruesome of people so that we can sleep safer at night.  

We honor military for they go to places we cannot even imagine going, they experience such tragic things, we can’t really understand.  We thank them for their bravery and honor in defending our country’s name.

“The brave die never, though they sleep in dust:  their courage nerves a thousand men.”  Minot J. Savage

Tomorrow is Memorial Day and we have a lot of fallen heroes to be thankful for.  You do not have to know one personally to thank them.  You could visit a cemetery and place a flag or flower on a tombstone, you could thank a parent who lost a child fighting for us, you could place a picture of a lost loved one on display at your bbq and share their story, you could read online about one, you could just take a moment of silence and be thankful for all the freedoms you have, and just be proud to be an American and wave your flag high.  

I encourage you to take a moment tomorrow to stop and look around, look at what you have- be grateful.  Life is precious and short, and no matter how bad you think you have it, you are alive and you live in America, land of the free, home of the brave.  Thank those brave people for all you have- because we all have a lot to be thankful for.

Work hard and always be proud of what you do.  Do not be afraid to stand up for what you believe is right.  Push yourself harder than you thought you could.  This week, you step foot into the box to do some hero WODs and when you think you can’t go on, you stop take two breaths and you push on.  

These heroes we celebrate, they were human just like us- they did not wake up and say “hey I want to be a hero”, it happened and in that moment, they did what was right.  A hero lives inside each and every one of us- exercise your potential each and every day so that when your opportunity arises, you will be ready!

We are training too, we are training for life, for something greater than we know- if I have to carry my kids out of a burning house, I want to be capable, if I need to save my drowning child from a pool, I want to be capable, if I need to fend off an attacker, I want to be capable, if I have to run to escape danger, I want to be capable, if I want to spend my life enjoying every minute, I want to be capable.  

Take the time this summer to read a book about a fallen hero- find the whole story behind them.  There are so many incredible stories out there, I encourage you to read one and be inspired.

"The Murph"
WOD:  1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 air squats, 1 mile run

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Technology Obsession #1

I've been feeling very frustrated with technology lately.  The technology that is causing a rift between my son and I.  The technology that is replacing personal interaction.  The technology that occupies our free time and makes everything quick and easy.

I've noticed that many of us parents feel frustrated and seek the advice of others on how to handle screen time with our kids.  I have searched for a class for my child on video game obsession with no luck.  In an effort to help myself and others, I thought I'd start a little series on technology obsession.

I'm not a PhD in technology obsession, or even master's degree.  I'm a mom of 5 children, I'm a coach, a former teacher, an observer, and also a technology user.  I speak from my own experience,  knowledge I've gained from books I've read, and observations I have been making.

Technology is good and fun.  It helps us, but it also hurts us.  When we lived in Japan, I bought our first gaming system, a Nintendo WII.  I had read many reviews of it in Family Fun and Parents magazine, rating it a great family game system.  The system came and the kids were thrilled- we could play games "together" and some were interactive.  It was great, FOR FIVE MINUTES.  Games that kids play together brought on many fights, "he took my mushroom, I wanted to be Mario, his game is still going and I'm dead"..... This game was supposed to bring my family together with lots of smiles, laughter, and sparkles.

We had to set rules, time limits, etc.  Instead of being the magical electronic Mary Poppins that I thought it was going to be, it ended up causing aggravation, stress, and resentment.  The kids loved it so much, they wanted to play all the time, more often than I wanted them to.

I also noticed, I resorted to it as a big reward.  "Hey kids, if you clean your room, I'll let you play the wii, I know I punished you for not finishing your dinner, but if you vacuum the living room, I'll let you play the wii.. If you put all the toys in the front room away, I'll give you five extra minutes on the wii..."  Soon, it became an issue of the kids holding out to do what they were supposed to do until I offered the wii as a reward.

Along came the Nintendo DS', (which I will never resent them), for the 20 hour trips from Japan to Boston.  They were a lifesaver for that 20 hour journey.  What I don't like about them is now whenever we travel, the kids can't seem to think of or want to do anything else but play their devices. What happened to the alphabet game or guessing game, even for a ten minute trip, they began asking for their devices at all times in a moving vehicle.

Moving back to the states, commercials were in English, kids could see and understand what was being sold.  Next thing you know, we have to live up to some expectation and be super cool and get the X-Box for Christmas.  We lived in a place with cold winters and surely the Xbox Kinect will keep them moving, smiling, having fun, and just enjoying being trapped inside for months.  "Mom, he's off the screen, he's in my way, I want a different song, I want my game now!!!" More torture.

Finally, with a graceful swoop in like a bald eagle, come the Kindles.  Oh kindles with your free time capabilities to control the kids' time usage and your e-books for reading time- how you will be perfect for us!  NOT!  I don't think my kids have read one book on those damn things, and not to mention, free time, not so easy or convenient to set up.  Kindles are just a porn magazine hidden inside a National Geographic.  Next thing you know, I'm changing my amazon password because the kids started accessing it through the devices, etc etc.

After all these devices, you'd think I'd learn.  Well, I have learned some things- that's what this series of posts will be about.  It's inevitable kids are going to play video games, kids are going to fight, kids are going to have too much screen time, and kids are going to be sneaky.  But we, as parents, can find what works for our family and our kids to prevent these devices from taking over and ruining our families.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mother's Day---Let'ssss be honest

Mother's Day is this coming Sunday.

Many people hem and haw and complain it's just another Hallmark holiday.

I'm going to be honest here, now that I'm a mom, I love Mother's Day.  It's a day to celebrate us mothers and all the hard work we do.  The saying "a mother's work is never done", it is just so true.

Vacations are not "vacations" when you're a mom, it's just packing, unpacking, laundry, cooking shopping, keeping the kids hands off other people's property, stress in the car, at the airport, weeks of planning, days of catching up on return.

Birthdays, holidays, etc. turn into many gifts that you can use with your kids, or to help you in your parenting, but Mother's Day, this is a day that should be about you and how you want it to be.

So often, I hear ladies upset because their husbands will not recognize Mother's Day.  They say, "well you're not my mother".  Shame on you husbands, shame on you!

This woman, carried your child, this woman is raising your child, this woman takes care of things- she deserves to be recognized on Mother's Day.

One time, my husband forgot Mother's Day- like the time we were living in Japan and we were on a trip to Australia and he turned to me and said "Oh today is Mother's Day".  That was the year that I said to a neighbor, "you know, I don't care about any other holidays, but golly, I care about Mother's Day, I work so hard, and I want to be recognized".  At this point, we had four kids, ages 4, 3, 1, and 6 months and we were living in Japan.

One time, he didn't forget, but he had to travel.  Did I mention I got 3 wisdom teeth taken out the day before he left for the trip and I could not eat anything or raise my voice?  At this point, we had five kids, ages 9 and under and no family nearby.

I'm not mad at him, but I have no justification to complain that he did not give me my 'ideal Mother's Day'.  Why?  Because I never told him what it was or how I wanted to spend the day-- in my mind he should just know.

I had a lightbulb moment this year when I was reading Carry On Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton. She was upset about her husband's efforts for her birthday when they were first married.  She sat him down and explained what she was hoping for and how she wanted to feel.  The next day they did a birthday redo and she was very happy.

You see, complaining or feeling sad or unfulfilled is fine, but how are your husband and kids supposed to know how you envision your Mother's Day to be if you don't tell them.  Unfortunately we are all not psychics and some people need a little extra guidance and that's ok.

If your husband or kids ask you what do you want to do on Mother's Day, don't say "I don't care"- because we all do care.  You may not care about red carpet treatment, but you do care.  Being a mom is tough, so take that one day to celebrate yourself.

We all feel special different ways.  Maybe you enjoy gifts, or quality time, or hugs, whatever it is, speak up and tell them something- here's a few things I can think of:
homemade cards so I can save the kids handwriting and remember their sentiments.
a day of no housework
a day of no cooking
a day spent entirely with the family
a gift
a movie
a picnic
breakfast in bed.

Whatever it is you envision, let the cat out of the bag.  You may not get the perfect day, and don't expect it either.  But it's hard to have high expectations when you have given no standards.  If you ask for a tiffany necklace and don't get it, don't be angry, maybe he will take this that you are a gift person and will bring you some type of gift.

As for me, I like small surprises and I always want handmade things from my kids that come straight from the heart.  I also would like no laundry, dishes, or homework.

Mother's Day is to celebrate you and all that you do.  Don't set yourself up for disappointment or a week of complaining when you give an answer of "I don't care" or sit around waiting for the impossible.

Friday, May 1, 2015


You are not invincible.

None of us are invincible.

We show up to the box, day in and day out to make ourselves better.   The goal is to move better, to live better, to be better.

If you want to get better, sometimes you have to do things you didn't plan on.  Sometimes you have to modify the workout.  Sometimes you have to do a completely different workout.

Have you noticed that not every crossfit box in every city in every state in every country is doing the exact same workout?  Just because you can't do the workout at your box does not make you less.

If you looked at all the 11,000+ boxes in the world, you would certainly find a box each day that does a workout that you would not have to modify.  That search would get old really quick.

Why are you so opposed to having to modify?

If you are at a really good box, then you should have really good coaches, who know what they are talking about.  The coaches are prepared to give you an appropriate modification so that you are spending 60 minutes getting better.

If you are achy, or can't sleep from a constant nagging shoulder pain, or getting up from a chair is difficult because your knees are bothering you, etc, answer me this?:  What have you really been doing to make yourself better?

Your score and your numbers, they are yours and no one else's.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, as a coach, I am more impressed with the athlete that is smart enough to recognize they need a modification and that they need to work the parts before the whole, than the athlete who suffers through and makes themselves a little bit worse.

You are here to get better, not worse.  Modify if you have to, maybe you won't get a gold star, but in my eyes you did.

Skipping a wod to spend an hour on mobility or using half the weight you think you are capable of are not signs of weakness or defeat- they are signs that you want to get better.  They are an acknowledgement that you have realized what you need to do for you to get better.

Your score is viewed by all, but your aches and pains are only felt by you.

Go to a chiropractor and get an adjustment or maybe you need PT because you've got to set that time aside to make that injury better.

Seeing a chiropractor, going to PT, doing mobility- they are not signs of weakness, they are necessary steps to improvement.  They can make you better, when you are not doing it yourself.

If you are here to be better- be better!  Do your mobility, get a massage or an adjustment- they do not mean you suck, they mean you are taking the steps you need to insure that you continue to head in the right direction.

You are not invincible but you can prepare yourself to be.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Breath of Fresh Air

It's easy to fall into a rut, follow the beaten path, do what everyone else is doing, act like a robot, and breath stale dusty air.

Sometimes you just talk down to yourself, you talk yourself out of everything, and you think "why even bother".

Nothing is going to be perfect.  Not all things go the way you planned.  Not all days are full of adventure and excitement.  Sadly, your coffee order won't be perfect every time.

There isn't always an easy way out.

Every day your hair and make up won't be perfect, you won't PR every single time, and your kids won't always say "yes mom, whatever you say".

This is reality and you know it.

Don't give up.  Don't stop.  Don't quit.  Don't talk down to yourself.

Get a breath of fresh air.

You need to have breaths of fresh air.

Find a way to take a breath of fresh air.

Breathe, that is what you have to do to stay alive, but breathe for a different reason today.  Breathe for a new perspective, breathe for new joy, breathe for a newfound interest, breathe for hanging on, breathe for sanity, breathe to come to grips with something, breathe to bask in the fact that you are alive, breathe for strength, breathe to get calm, breathe until the day is over- just breathe!

It's easy to want to throw in the towel.  It's easy to get bored.

It's hard to climb out of a rut.

Take a breath of fresh air- fill those lungs with pure fresh oxygen.  Now look up at the walls of the canyon you are in and start climbing.  Walk this way and that until your perspective is changed and that fresh new oxygen has shown you something that wasn't there before.

Things aren't always going to go the way you want.  But that doesn't mean the way you are going is wrong.  Take a breath of fresh air and face your challenges.

Stop spending time worrying about things you cannot change.  Put away your phone or get off the computer.  Stop reading gossip or other people's opinions about stuff that does not affect your life.

Stop refreshing the scoreboard to see where you lie.  You did what your body was capable of and be happy with that.

That mess will still be there tomorrow, stop what your doing and go get a breath of fresh air.  Go for coffee, take a walk, read a book, or write a letter to a friend.

Over and over you feel like you're dealing with the same problem and you can't seem to figure it out.  Stop. Get a breath of fresh air.  Pray about it.  Ask for help.  Think about it differently.  We don't always have all the answers or instant solutions and hey, that's ok.

Do whatever it takes to get that breath of fresh air.   All you have to do is open the door.