An ode to my league of extraordinary women.

Today I ran into an old friend. We briefly smooshed our faces together and she asked me to write more on this blog. She said the last piece resonated with her and I secretly took it as the greatest compliment in the world. It’s like getting a nod and a wink from one of your heroes. What I didn’t tell her was that she is the reason I started in this direction in the first place. In fact, my sweet friend was instrumental in several of the twists my path has taken me on in my adult life. And it got me thinking about  some of the extraordinary women who have also made such a big impact on my life.  This is a shout out to some of them.

Robyn, who first encouraged me to follow my wanderlust twenty odd years ago, which inadvertently led to my long term stint as an expat in Cambodia. She taught me that my gut instinct is almost always right and she showed me how to be brave, even when I wasn’t strong. More recently, she inspired me to be physically strong too. Through social media, I watched her from the other side of the equator as she transformed into an amazonian, smashing spartan races and half marathons with a smile on her face, a glint in her eye and dirt in her hair.

Ky. The woman who gave me a home when I needed one. She reminded me to be brave. She taught me that chasing my own happiness was not an unforgivable act. She makes me laugh til I cry and when I cry she makes me laugh. She is the kind of mother I aspire to be. She has raised the most wonderful boy into a man and now is doing it all over again. And she is hot. Smokin’ hot. If she was a man, we would have married long ago. She introduced me to my husband I introduced her to hers. She is the salt to my vinegar, the nut to my bolt, the spring in my step, the chip for my dip.

Anna, who on a balmy Bangkok afternoon, surrounded by condom art, convinced me that I could have it all – a baby, an apartment in Phnom Penh with a yard and a barbecue, and that I could make a difference. And whenever I tell her that I have achieved something that I worked hard to get, her response is always the same: “Of course you did.” She makes the world a better place for so many and does it with style.

Kristy, who believed in my soup kitchen idea so much she funded it. And she continues to fight the good fight for the people who need an amplifier for their voices, a roof over their heads, and a future for their kids.

Bon, who took me in when I was broken and gave me Beast Mode. Who inspires me by her example and work ethic. Who is boarding a plane to Barcelona tomorrow to kick some ass on the international weightlifting stage, representing the Land of Oz.

My sister, the smartest human I know.

My Mum.

There are others, so many others. And there will be more, and I am looking forward to meeting you, too.

The common thread is that they have believed in me. They have empowered me and made me strong.  They gave me the courage I needed to take risks and strive for more. To take the leap.

They have all played a part in the evolution of me.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wrong yardstick.

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Having goals can be highly motivating. It gives you a point to aim for, a target to hit, a focus point to hone in on. But what do you do when you miss your mark?

Personally, I beat myself up. I belittle myself. I aim a sledgehammer at my self esteem. My self talk is reduced to “I told you so, what were you thinking?” I keep reminding myself that I haven’t done what I set out to do in the time-frame I assigned myself to do it in.

The disappointment hurts. My ego has kept me away from this blog because this is the scene of the crime – the place where I committed to achieving something which seemed reachable – albeit at a stretch. It’s embarrassing. And who to blame? Me. And my bodgy knee. But mostly just me.

But this blame is a problem. A big problem. And it only exists in my mind. Nobody else is blaming me for anything. There isn’t a crowd of people muttering their disappointment in me. No-one is shaking their head and whispering that I have confirmed all their doubts. No one is using the word failure. Only me. I am the problem. And even saying this condemns me, as though I ought to be punished.

What I should actually do is stop being so damned hard on myself.  Instead of looking at how far I still have to go, I should take a beat to consider how far I have come.

I should gently reassess the goals I set for myself and make some new ones – sharpening the focus of the list and taking my harsh schedule out of the plan altogether.

I need to consider the constraints my recovering knee places on the training I can do. I need to consider the time I can really spare to train. When I set the bar too high I am only setting myself up for a fall. I should remember how motivating it is to actually achieve a goal so I should include some smaller ones along the way. None of this is rocket science. In my quest to achieve everything I managed to achieve nothing.  Not one thing on my list.

But last night, while visiting family, I overheard my son telling my sister-in-law how strong his mama is. And it made me think about how very wrong I have been in the way I measure success.

And that first pull-up is going to be mighty sweet when I finally get there.

Eating my feelings

So I tripped and fell in a food hole and ate my feelings – for two whole weeks!

Does this happen to other people? Do you ever find yourself at the wrong end of a packet of Tim Tams and instead of dusting yourself off and saying “Geeze, I took that a little too far,” you instead go and raid your four year old’s Easter Egg stash while he sleeps? And then, instead of going to the gym after work the next day like you usually do, you come home via the pizza takeout shop and smash a six pack of delicious beer.

I find it so easy to fall into a cycle of bad food and guilty feelings which always seems to snowball out of control at the speed of an avalanche.

I’d like to blame the stress of my job but I suspect it is a chicken and egg situation. It’s hard to pinpoint which came first – a bad day at work or a bad day of eating which amplified my feelings about my bad day at work. Same with the migraines.  Did they rear their ugly head because I am stressed out, or because I inhaled all the chocolate in a five kilometre radius?

I have issues.

At least you can’t accuse me of being boring.

Apparently I need to get better at being a little naughty and moving on. I need to look into the 80/20 philosophy.  Because being good all the time really isn’t for me.

Anyway, I am pleased to report I have pulled myself partially out of the hole. I am back in training. And mainly eating how I should, around 80% of the time.

So go on, dust your shoulders off.

And I have an appointment with a guru about my bodgy knee this week. Because I need to keep eyeballing all of my excuses.

Stay strong amigos.

 

 

 

#formidable

Inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable.

It is hard to imagine myself as anything but awkward in the gym. I get the wiggles and shakes. My squats aren’t deep enough. My toes and chin just won’t reach that bar.

In order to earn the right to use #formidable, I am going to have to spend a lot of time with my awkward self, doing awkward things. And soon, maybe those things won’t feel so awkward.

So I guess I need to turn to a different hashtag for now.

#consistent

It’s not sexy but it will get me where I want to be.

 

 

 

 

Leaderboarding – is that a verb?

So the results are in! And ouch – that stings like a muthafucker.

17,921st out of 19,859 women in the 40 – 44 age division worldwide.

1265th out of 1,415 women in the 40 – 44 age division in Australia.

 

I have been reading a lot about how you should only be competing with yourself and that The Open is a time to reflect on where you are at in your fitness journey.  Blah blah blah.  I say “Fuck that.”  It sounds like defeatist talk to me.

I am the only person I know I can do better than. I can already beat the 2018 Open version of myself. But how will I do against Rachel Smith next year? She came in one place higher than me and she didn’t even complete two of the events. If I only compete with myself I don’t think I will push as hard. So instead I plan on kicking Rachel Smith’s ass. Sorry Rach – nothing personal, I’m sure you’re really nice and all.

But I want to aim so much higher than that, even though it may be perceived as overly ambitious. The further you stretch, the more of your neck you expose, which in turn leaves you vulnerable. But I am ready to be that vulnerable person now. I have spent so many years trying to maintain a veneer of composure and control. I am ready to strip back to a naked and raw version of myself who is ready to admit I have dreams which are not what might be expected of me. But I am tired of being what people expect – it is exhausting.  A wise person I know says that if you write down and plan your dreams they become goals.  And goals are something you can work toward achieving. Make a plan. Put in some work.

So why not write them down in a public forum – be openly accountable to my goals?

I don’t want to just do better than I did this year. I want to be internationally competitive.

I want to finish in the top 200.  I want to participate on the Online Qualifier.

Have I lost you now? Was that the point when you thought to yourself “She is dreaming.” Maybe. Maybe you just went from a supporter to a detractor. Articulating an idea from a dream into a goal can be polarizing.

But just imagine if I can pull it off…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

’twas the night before 18.5…

My love of CrossFit came about purely by accident.  In April last year I lost my Dad to a brain tumour. From the day he dropped the carton of milk – the day he figured something was wrong – to the day we said goodbye around his hospital bed, it was less than twelve weeks. To deal with the day to day agony of those weeks I indulged. I drank quite a few beers every night to fall asleep. I stacked back kilos I had worked so hard to strip off. I cried in front of my son – a lot. And I lost myself, the version of me that I liked. The version that Dad liked, too.

The day after his funeral I decided to stop drinking for a while.

The week after his funeral I decided I needed a new healthy hobby among people that didn’t know I had just lost my Dad, among people that didn’t feel sorry for me. I signed up for a four week program of Beginners Boot Camp classes at Complete Health Personal Training. It was perfect. I didn’t know anyone and it was bliss to be anonymous among such a positive, energetic vibe.

The coach, Bon, took us through the basics – things I thought I already knew – and taught me to like how it feels to be in my skin. I found myself lying in front of the TV at night, activating my glutes (AKA squeezing my butt cheeks.) I loved the feeling of aching muscles when I was in bed at night – aching because I had pushed myself hard.

Six weeks later I signed up for private PT sessions and entry to The Battle of The Cup. The Battle was a friendly competition between CHPT and NXT Level Fitness – a Crossfit Affiliate Gym based 40 kilometres away.  It was to take place on a Sunday and consist of 4 WOD’s. I had no idea what any of it meant but I was keen to add a little competition to my training. I have an extreme competitive streak and love to win. However, win I did not! What a rude awakening! It is so thoroughly frustrating to try your absolute best and still be the slowest and least strong in the room by such a substantial margin. It was like the first time I tried to smoke a cigarette. I coughed and spluttered and almost threw up.  And I said to myself, “Goddamn it, I will get better at this.” And sure enough, I was chain smoking Marlboros before I knew it – all it took was a little perseverance and commitment.

Flash forward to the beginning of February, 2018. I am a thousand times stronger than I was in July. I have stuck with the weekly Bootcamp classes, weekly PT sessions with my coach, Kate, and also added in some extra training for the rematch of Battle of the Cup. And I lost again. But this time it was different. This time I felt competitive. This time I knew to expect the unexpected and to throw my whole self in. And this time I left the building with the Coach’s award. What a rush. There was talk of the upcoming CrossFit Open. I vaguely knew that it was the qualifier to the CrossFit Games – the annual test of the elite. I Googled. And I wanted in.

CHPT were gracious enough to offer to host Friday Night Lights, I registered online as an unaffiliated athlete, and here we are.

As I write this, it is the night before the final workout of the 2018 CrossFit Open. 18.5 will be announced tomorrow morning. I will go straight to the gym after work, warm-up and give it my best.  I know that in the scheme of things, when ranked against a world of CrossFit athletes, my results seem trifling. When I publish them here next week, I hope you won’t scoff. Because right here, right now – they are the sum of my efforts. They are the sum of my determination.

I wish I had better knees.

I wish I had more time to train.

I wish I had more time to spend with my son and husband.

I wish I was ten kilos lighter.

But I am proud of how far I have come. I will not give up. I will fight for every rep. When I am lying in bed tomorrow night, feeling the aches in my muscles, I will like how it feels to be in my skin. I will like this version of me. Dad would like this version of me, too.

“Goddamn it, I will get better at this.”

 

 

The Upsidedown

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On Wednesday I managed a handstand.  I even managed a handstand push up – or a HSPU.  It was about an inch – a little down and a little up – so more a mini handstand push up – MHSPU. Since then I’ve been sneeking in pike push ups all over the place – because I want to convert my MHSPU to a regular HSPU. Which I am hoping to then convert to multiple HSPU’s. I haven’t been able to wipe the smile off my face. Right up until Dave Castro announced 18.3 – the third workout in this years CrossFit Open.  I was feeling so good about my MHSPU that I had fooled myself into thinking that maybe I’d be able to RX this next workout – that I could dig deep and pull it off. But noooooo! Muscle Ups???!!! I can’t even do a pull up. And what is the scaled version of a muscle up? A pull up. Damn. Not a jumping pull up – just a regular one. Well – twelve to be exact. Hmm. Wish me luck!

*Photo credit Bonnie Grylls-Graham of CHPT