My “Fitness Journey” is really just my life

Bing, bang, BOOM! So, lets chat about this little “fitness journey” of mine that’s really just, well, what is now my not so lazy life. Four and half years ago, I decided, “I want to run.” So, I threw on a pair of old sneakers, cotton shorts and shirt, and a bra that didn’t hold my (then) 36D ladies. Needless to say, I hated it. But I learned to walk before I learned to run. And before I knew it, I was killing 5k races and completed marathon relays and training for half marathons. And then – BAM.

Injury. I hurt my ankle running, ended up in PT and couldn’t run for months. I turned to indoor cycling and swimming – both of which I sucked at. It’s also when I found Crossfit. Injured and whiney, it became a no excuses playground for me to learn and grow. I healed and became stronger than ever, and figured out that lifting barbells was pretty fun. My push press went from 10lb dumbbells to a 90lb max and I was learning to throw weights over me, around me, through me, and I loved it.

Then I decided I’d sign up for sprint triathlon, mainly because a friend convinced me. My swimming improved a little and I stopped looking like a fish out of water and not knowing what I was doing, I bought my first bike since I was a child: a hybrid. With some setbacks, I still completed my first triathlon in under my goal time and 2 weeks later, bought a road bike on craigslist, practically new, for hella cheap. Right after that, I did other triathlon and killed it on my new bike. Basically, I fell in love with road biking – put on well over 1000 miles on my new bike that summer of 2014.

Then came grad school that fall. That meant little less time in the gym and lots of time on my indoor trainer. I learned to downhill ski and at that point, had been cross-country skiing with my hubby for 3 years. But came February of 2015, and boy did my fitness journey throw me for a loop.

So to quickly go back, in 2014 I was peaking. I looked like a triathlete/runner with tiny arms and I was the smallest I had ever been at 120lbs. Looking back, though, I was doing workouts a day, working out at a Crossfit gym focused on endurance and not as much on strength, and I was not eating nearly as much as I should have been. So my body, reflecting back, was moving into a breaking down point. Then I was learning how to do jerks with a coach in the gym, and tore my quad.

Guys…I TORE MY F**KING QUAD. I couldn’t believe it. I still have the forever indent in my leg to prove it. I was struggling through grad school, working an unnecessarily stressful full time, a part time job and interning, verging falling apart and then, I all of a sudden couldn’t run, bike, lift… nothing. I could do nothing involving my quad for months, and no coach at my gym could figure out how to help me modify. It was the most frustrating thing that could have happened to me. Many times I would go in and try to do a workout, and just leave, frustrated and crying.

Finally, months later, I was released to start lifting, biking and running again. Yay! I tried training for a marathon, but my knees would hurt and my muscles weren’t strong enough yet. Biking and swimming were the only things I felt I could do and not feel like I’d have to spend days recovering from. 10 months later, in December 2015, I decided to leave my Crossfit gym, feeling it wasn’t a good fit and I wasn’t making any improvements. I felt lost, and weak, frustrated, and unsettled that I wasn’t working towards anything.

Then my friend said – come try Crossfit Fairbanks, see how you like it. So I did. And I did. Shortly after starting, I did my first ever weightlifting meet. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun and felt that strong. I started the RP Diet and my quad gained so much strength and recovered so well and so quickly (don’t forget ya protein yo!).  I was able to downhill ski (finally) with no pain from my quad. I started a cycle of Oly lifting and it was fun, but frustrating, and I discovered I am definitely a Powerlifter.

So here I am, 7 months later, stronger than I have been in close to 2 years. My endurance is not the same, but I PRing lifts like crazy, and I have never enjoyed something so much. I still love biking, it is my passion, and lifting only complements it. So the bottom line is that this journey has brought me here. I have tried this, and tried that. I thought I might be a runner forever, but my body had better plans for me. I thought swimming might be next and I took time to improve my technique, but just realized it’s become a nice backup for me. I love to lift and I love to ride and it’s taken me some trial and error to get here, and what I do inside helps me to be strong and play outside and that’s just as important to me. Lifting makes me strong when I bike, and biking keeps my endurance up. You need endurance and you need strength if you want to get outside and hike, paddle, ski, and play play play!

So I encourage all of you to stay active, and find things you love. Don’t let people but you in a box, or tell you what fitness is supposed to be, and that to love one thing you have to be able to do another (i.e. if you want to love biking you have to cross training – do what you love!). Want to bike all day every day? Then do it. Want to run everyday? Then do it. Do what you love and love what you do.

A Journey to Self-Discovery: Part IV

Well, well, well. Happy New Year!

Here we are, part four of my journey to self-discovery. So, how did I get here? Well, being unemployed since the end of October, I’m happy to say I have accepted a job offer (woohoo!). This piece is really a reflection on my past few months digging through the trenches of myself and figuring out what is important and what my goals are. I saw a great post on Instagram where someone had brilliantly split up their goals in such a simple way that I had to follow suit.

Goal categories:

  1. Home 
  2. Health
  3. Wealth

Home: What do you want this year at home? This can include your relationships with friends and family, larger projects around your home that you want to complete, etc.

Health: How are you going to take care of yourself this year? Your fitness, eating habits, self-care, etc.

Wealth: This doesn’t mean “how do you want to get rich?” Goals like buying a home or a new car, saying more money each month, starting your retirement fund or life insurance, paying off this bill or that loan, exploring a new career, etc.

So, this is how I’m moving along on my journey to self-discovery. Next up, what goals did I come up with and what’s next? Stay tuned! Don’t forget to follow my blog. 🙂

What are your 2016 goals, wishes and wants? 

What its like to transition into unemployment

I’ve now been unemployed since the end of October now, and I can tell you it has its ups and downs. I had become part of something much larger than the work I was going in my community. As i’ve said before, Alaska is large in size and small in community. We became so very connected to people around the state doing the same work as me in their own communities and those connections made my work not only more valuable, but easier. We contributed to one another and each other’s work even from hundreds and thousands of miles away from each other in our very own state.

Then, I lost my job. At first, there are the “we would love your help in transitioning out… we want you to continue to be involved…” etc, etc. But the reality is, you slowly become pushed away and disconnected. The hardest part?

A piece of me has been taken away. The program I brought to Fairbanks feels as if its been taken away. Every day I regret not taking the steps to bring the program here on my own, but instead I feel like the piece of me that is lost is this one program itself. Being involved and volunteering is something I plan to continue to do with the program, but being ultimately removed from a role that I created is heartbreaking and has been the most difficult part for me.

People are easily replaced in non-profit. Even though my role was removed from the agency, some of that work has to be picked up by someone. I went from being part of the large prevention network in our state to feeling as if I might not belong there anymore because I am not longer in that “role.”

Your co-workers are not your best friends. When we work 40 hours a week, we become connected to many people who we begin to care about and consider our friends. But the reality is, most of your co-workers will not remain your friends or even check on you when you’ve gotten the big news that you’re no longer needed there. This is a reality we often don’t realize until this time. Now, mind you, that doesn’t mean that you won’t make lifelong friends at work, but everyone isn’t going to be that for you.

Now, what are the great parts?

Fitness. I can go cross-country skiing and swimming and running and crossfitting in the middle of the day! That is something I will miss a little (lot) since I am now officially training for a triathlon.

Sleeeeeeeep. I can sleep. I mean, really, nothing more to say about that.

House projects. Remember all of those little projects (I’m sure you have a list) that you want to get done but never have the time? Now you do. If you don’t have a list, you soon will.

Dinner planning is possible. Enough said!

Purging. Sounds weird, but so true. It gives you the time to go through and do your “spring cleaning” and downsize your life a little. Speaking of cleaning, I finally cleaned my bathtub.

So now that I’ve got all of this down, it’s time to figure out how to transition back into the world of the employed. But I can say I’m not nearly about distraught about that.

 

 

On Second Thought…

I decided to give in and rented a road bike…

After staring out at the sunshine here in Southwest Virginia on Thursday, I decided the voice of the road calling was too loud. I had to go and rent a road bike. So I headed out to Blacksburg to HokieSpokes in the early afternoon, rented a bike for 2 weeks (being their off-season helps to get a good deal), and hoped on my brand new Fuji road bike (new brand for me to ride!) rental and headed up the road to hit the Huckleberry Trail and get my cycling legs back.

A short 12 miles felt great and I kind of liked the thrill of racing the sunset back to the parking lot. It reminded me of a 34 mile ride me and my friend Erin did to end out 2014 season by riding the Goldstream – Steese – McGrath – Farmers Loop circle where we just barely made it back on our Alaska fall ride before the sun set on us. Sometimes you’re just out having too much fun!

Self-Discovery in Practice: Self-Care

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Spending time on the east coast with my friends – and at Thanksgiving next week, my family – has been refreshing. I’ve worked on finding a balance between keeping myself busy and sleeping in until noon just because I can. It’s great to be able to relax and still work on the to-do list I would have even if I were home, and it’s rewarding to help out friends here and to help out at the local shelter here where I started my career in social work.

Driving through my undergrad college town of Radford, Virginia brings back fond memories for me and when I lived here – it seems like such a lifetime ago. I was such a different person then, exploring and learning about life and who I wanted to be. Being active and outdoorsy was not me and was not part of my self-care. Now as I am here enjoying the fall weather instead of the negative temps and snow that we have back home in Fairbanks right now, I am longing for my road bike and wishing I had packed her up and brought her along (anyone have a road bike I can borrow while i’m here?!). I get to enjoy trails here like I never did before – running and listening to the rhythm of my breathing, the light breeze blowing and the creek flowing. Stopping by the river to watch the leaves fall off the trees as they hit the river and float away.

I get to find new Crossfit boxes to call my “go-to” boxes when I’m visiting home. Here, I have Crossfit Radford and when I stay with my Dad, I have South Riding Crossfit. When you move away from a place that always has a piece of your heart, you find new ways to love and appreciate it when you get to come back.

So as I am ever so much watching the sun shine outside and craving my road bike (btw, it rained yesterday – take that winter in Alaska), I am getting out and running. Enjoying the fall drenched trails and getting a few more miles on my feet to run a 5k with one of my closest friends next week, which is exciting and special to me as together yet 5,000 miles apart, the two of us have struggled through our individual journeys in running. Now, we finally get to run a race together.

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Take care of yourself, friends. It’s so important.