What it’s like to be an insecure athlete

Not an athlete, but a totally badass hilarious chick none the less.
Not an athlete, but a totally badass hilarious chick none the less.

Hey blog-o-sphere.  I’ve missed you.

So SO much has happened since I’ve last been around, probably the most important of which is that I started a new job with arguably the most incredible company out there.  I’m working as a camp enrollment guru for Triathlon Research.  If you’re in the Tri world and on Facebook like, at all, you’ve heard of us.  We’re the ones who do the camps with Crowie and Rinny and Gwen, and you totally want to come to one.  Just admit it.

This is what we do!
This is what we do!

As it turns out, I’m so amazing at talking with athletes all over the world about the sport I love so SO much that I earned my way into our upcoming camp in just three weeks in Kona, HI with Craig Freaking Alexander.

I’ve never been to Hawaii.  I’ve never had any formal triathlon coaching, short of a few amazing swim lessons with a coach when I was first starting.

Oh, and did I mention I’ve gained 30 pounds back since I started this job?

To say I’m nervous is a bit of an understatement.

In fact, I think it would be fair to say that I’m equal parts nervous and excited, and let me tell you, I’m REALLY excited.

It’s not so much that I’m concerned that I won’t be able to do anything we will be doing at the camp.  I am pretty much intimately familiar with what to expect, and I know that while I’m slow, I’m more than capable of swimming, biking and running the workouts we have planned.  Even more than that, I know that I truly NEED the coaching I’ll get over the course of the week, because my form, technique, workout design, nutrition and transitions are abysmal at best.

If I were to be totally honest, what I’m actually nervous about is the fact that I don’t “look” like a triathlete.

Heck, even 30 pounds skinnier I didn’t look like a triathlete.

A girl who loves wine?  Sure.  A girl who really really loves cake?  Abso-freaking-lutely.

But a girl who can haul her booty over the finish line of a triathlon?  Not so much.

Do I realize that’s a dumb thing to think?  Of course I do.  Body confidence is something I’ve spent the better part of my life working on.  You know, once I was old enough to realize I had a body and it didn’t look like everyone else’s.  Typical girl here.

But knowing it’s a stupid thing to be concerned about, and actually NOT being concerned about it are two different things.

I actually had a near panic attack when I stepped on the scale one day last week and realized I was up ANOTHER two pounds, and I walked out of the bathroom and told my husband I wasn’t going to go.  I actually had it all planned out.  I was going to email my boss and fake an injury, just so that I wouldn’t show up at camp and meet all these athletes who I helped register looking like a sausage who got stuffed into a casing that is too small.

After about 10 seconds of having those thoughts, I gave myself a mental bitch slap, and asked myself WHY?

This struggle is real kittens.  And I know I’m not alone.  Ya’ll know that most of my posts are just sharing little pieces of my life.  Whether they are hilarious, inappropriate, or just plain sad, it always helps to know that I’m not the only one out there.

And if you’ve ever questioned if you should or could do something because of an insecurity about your body, know that you’re not alone either.

Let’s keep giving ourselves mental throat punches and remind our inner voices that we are SO MUCH MORE than what we look like.

Downhills and tailwinds kittens…

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IronGirl Clearwater Half Marathon Race Report

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This is the first race I’ve ever done where I slept like a baby the night before the event.

Granted, that’s probably because two nights before the event I went out with the hubs and got completely wine wasted, stayed up till 3 a.m., had to wake up for work at 6 that morning and didn’t let myself take a nap, but I digress.

All things considered, that was actually, apparently, a really smart idea.  I fell into bed the night before the race by 8:30, and when my alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go.

The drive from my home to Clearwater was uneventful, and by the time I arrived and found parking, the sun was starting to peek out over the horizon and the day was shaping up to be a beautiful one.

Oh, and I had drank so much water and coffee that I had to poo and pee like, immediately.  So I made good friends with a port-o-potty.  And YAY, that was the only time I had to get friendly with that stinky receptacle for the day.  10 points for me.

This is what I look like at 5 a.m.  I'm smiling, so this is totally after I pooped.
This is what I look like at 5 a.m. I’m smiling, so this is totally after I pooped.

I had done this half marathon before, back in 2011, which was the first year they had it.  The course had changed since then, and I was excited to learn we’d be running along the water, and over and back two of the most beautiful bridges along the way.

Going into the race I knew there would be steep bridge repeats, four total, but I hadn’t really planned for how that last one beginning at the 12 mile marker would feel.

And honestly, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t think too much about it on the front end.

Starting line... 321 GO!
Starting line… 321 GO!

The race was amazing.  We started right on time, and within less than a mile the herd had thinned out and there was room to find your groove.  I even hooked up with a friend of mine, Erin, and we took a running selfie!  She and I hung together for a mile or two before her speedy needs got the best of her and she took off. Go girl!

This is what a running selfie looks like!
This is what a running selfie looks like!

All in all, the race was perfect.  Miles 1-10 felt amazing.  My 5k time was right on target of my goal pace, and my 10k was trending just a bit ahead of where I expected it to be.  My legs and lungs felt great, and I stuck with a cup or two of water at every aid station.  The course was beautiful, and the volunteers were amazing.

Mile 10 marked the first of the two return trips across the bridges.  On the way over I had run up each, but for the first time in the race outside of taking in some water, I slowed and walked up the bridge.  My heart rate stayed under control, but my quads were starting to really not love life.

Check out that view!
Check out that view!

This bridge is the steeper of the two, and after only about a half mile I was on top.  I enjoyed the view for just a moment, looking across the water to the next bridge that awaited me, and started running my way down.

By mile 11 my legs were questioning my sanity, and I started with run/walk intervals.  After checking my pace on my trusty Garmin I realized that I was on target to PR by nearly 10 minutes, if I could just keep my last two miles under 14 minutes each.  Given that I had kept well under that pace up until that point, I knew I could do it.

I was actually moving slowly enough I took this pic and it's not even a bit blurry... what's that tell ya?
I was actually moving slowly enough I took this pic and it’s not even a bit blurry… what’s that tell ya?

Then we hit mile 12, and you know how people say the “wheels came off?”  Yeah, I totally understand that saying now.  It felt like one minute I was chugging along and the next I was lucky to be walking.  My quads were cramping so intensely every step was actually painful to the point that I’m certain I cried out a few times, and the last bridge was really an exercise in will power.

Never once did I think I would quit, but it was absolutely hard to convince myself to keep going.

In the end, that last mile took me 25 minutes.  I didn’t PR, in fact, I finished about 8 minutes slower than the last time I did the race.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 9.18.18 AM

My husband had been tracking me on my Garmin, and when I called him after I finished the first words out of his mouth were, “I’m so sorry!”

He fully expected me to be devastated, as I had been so close to a huge PR.

Funny this was, and is, that I’m not.  Sure, it would have been awesome if my increased strength, fitness, and solid training had resulted in a mile 1 to mile 13.1 strong and amazing race.  But it didn’t.

That doesn’t mean I’m not super proud of my effort.

I haven’t raced in years due to a stressful work environment, and a ton of weight gain.  This is the first time since 2011 I’ve even been in good enough shape to consider doing a half marathon.

The last time I ran this race I did it “just to finish.”  This time, I actually trained and pushed myself to finish faster than before.

finisher medal

Clearly, there were some gaps in my training, and knowing that is going to make me even more prepared for the rest of my races this season.  But I’ve gotta tell ya, even with that last excruciating mile, I am damn proud of my effort.

So MEOW kittens!

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Did anyone else have races this weekend?  How did they go?  What did YOU learn for next time?

Apparently I was accidentally bulking

Confession time.

My nutrition has been, er let’s just call it “sub optimal” for a few weeks now.  And by “sub optimal” I mean wine and Chinese food and Easter candy like a boss.

Pretty much every morning I would wake up and say, “ok today is the day I get my shit together.  I can’t keep eating like this or else I’m going to start gaining weight,” but things would fall apart once I had a hard workout in the morning, arrived home starving for lunch, and raided the leftover takeout food containers.

Yeah, I know I should have just thrown the crap out and gotten it out of my house, but that’s such a waste, no?

So here’s the good news.  It’s not like I’ve done so much damage that I’m back to where I started.  I’m up a few pounds and feeling more fluffy than I have in months around my middle, but I’ve done a great job with meal prep this week and have actually given myself the tools for success.

What’s more, I’ve been working out like a freaking beast.  Other than taking a few days off last week to let my body recover from everything I’ve been putting it through, I’ve been extremely consistent and am seeing some darn heavy weight come off the ground on all of my lifts.

Today I took progress pictures just to gauge where I’m at, and honestly in part to make myself feel better that I haven’t completely ballooned up.  I mean, it’s not like I can actually see the jelly beans hanging off my thighs or anything.

But I noticed something surprising in my pics.

Whereas when I first started this weight loss journey, I was eating at a pretty solid calorie deficit to help my body to shed fat, over these past few weeks I’ve been eating at a pretty even calorie balance, and some days in surplus.

And let me tell you, I’ve got GAINZ.  Like for real.  My arms are looking jacked, and my booty is more HELLO than I’ve ever seen it.

Seeeee?

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So not all is lost with my junk food binge.  Yeah, it’s time to stop putting crap in my body and get my pie hole under control, but putting on a little muscle in the process was a surprising and not entirely unwelcome side effect.

How is your nutrition going lately readers?  Anyone want to be accountable with me and get yourself back on track?

Repeat after me: It’s ok to take a rest day

rest day

My workouts have been awesome lately.  I’ve had several solid weeks of training, and have managed to fit in not only my runs in preparation for the upcoming half marathon I’ll be doing, but several rides, and weight training 5x per week.

My diet has been, uh, ok I guess, but given my activity level I’m getting away with eating a lot of things I normally wouldn’t and still maintaining my weight.  Anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight can probably tell you, gaining it back is among one of my biggest fears, so I’m happy that I seem to be holding pretty steady.

Yesterday I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed just like every other day, but within about 10 minutes of getting out of bed my energy was zapped.

My entire body hurt.  I mean, I’ve been sore daily for the past several weeks and the level of ouch was about normal, but for some reason, yesterday it was hitting me particularly hard how sore I was.

And I was tiered.  Even after my usual cup of coffee in the morning I was still dragging, and just didn’t have it in me.

I made the executive decision to skip my morning Yoga class, and it was a good one.

By 3 o’clock I was ready for a nap, and my body told me without hesitation that I would not be riding that night.

I won’t lie, I tried to pep talk myself into it.

I mean, it’s only Wednesday.  I can’t skip a workout this early in the week.

And I ate rice with lunch.  RICE!  That’s carbs, I need to work that off, right?

And what about cross training?  I mean, riding my bike is great cross training for this run I’m doing and I don’t want to take a step backwards in my fitness, do I?

And oh my god, the CALORIES!  If I don’t workout how am I going to burn at least 500 calories over what I eat so I can continue losing weight?

So yeah, I’m more than a little crazy.  But after a few hours of playing this game with myself I finally said ENOUGH.

My body needed rest.  Even today, I’ve decided to postpone my long run for the week (9 miles) until tomorrow to give my body just a little more time to recover.

Sure, there’s a million reasons for me to train, but sometimes we also need to realize when our bodies are actually trying to tell us something.

There’s a definite difference between being lazy or unmotivated, and legitimately needing rest and recovery.  It took me awhile yesterday to realize and understand, I’m on the recovery end of that spectrum.

So the moral of the story for today, kittens, is that it’s ok to take a rest day.  Learn from my inner struggle and listen to your body.  It’s the best way to prevent getting burned out, prevent injury, and ensure that you love your training every day.

Anyone else have a hard time taking an unplanned day off?  How do you cope?

Spicy Treadmill Hill Interval Workout

hamster wheel

Today I’m suffering from one heck of a sunburn after a charity ride this weekend.  Now that all my northern followers want to punch me in the face, I will continue to complain because I need to get in a little run today, which means doing it in the treadmill.  If there’s snow and ice where you live, my bet is you’ve become more than a little familiar with this torture device over the winter months.

If you’re like me, you might refer to these as “dreadmill” workouts.  I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t love running on my own personal hamster wheel at the gym.

To keep it spicy and interesting, I love this thirty minute hill interval workout below.  I’ve added in my own personal (and oh so eclectic) playlist based on the beats per minute that will match my running stride.

Feel free to use it, and if you don’t like the song suggestion check out this website to find another with the same beats to keep your heart rate up and your legs moving.  I’ve included songs from every different genre out there, so hopefully there’s something you love, and maybe even new inspiration for your playlist!

For the workout, the effort is based on an RPE, or a rate of perceived exertion.  This is based on a scale of 1-10, 1 being an easy peasy stroll through the mall and 10 being a level of effort you couldn’t hold for more than a few seconds.  You’ll notice I ramp it up and hit all the way up to an RPE of 9, so while puke isn’t eminent, it is possible.

I didn’t include the speed, as we’re all different at what pace we run (read slow as shit here), so  use the RPE as your guide, and be sure to use the incline to really give your legs and heart a spicy little workout.

Once you’ve given it a try, don’t forget to let me know what you think!  Leave  a comment, a favorite workout song, or post your own boredom busting treadmill routine for me to try.  I’m always looking fun new ways to shake it up!

 

Time

Effort

Incline

Song

0:00-3:00

Warm Up RPE 2

1%-3% (Increase 1% each minute during the warm up)

Maroon 5- Maps

3:00-7:00

Jog RPE 5

3%

Jeremiah- Down on Me

7:00-11:00

Hill Run RPE 8

5%

Taylor Swift-Shake it Off

11:00-15:00

Jog RPE 5

3%

T-Pain- Church

15:00-18:00

Recovery RPE 3

1%

Meghan Trainor- All About that Bass

18:00-22:00

Hill Walk RPE 7

8%

Luke Bryan- Country Girl Shake it For Me

22:00-24:30

Hill Run RPE 9

8%

Slipknot- Wait and Bleed

24:30-29:30

Hill Walk RPE 6

6%

The Who- Baba O’Reiley

29:30-32:00

Cool Down

1%

Kelly Clarkson- Stronger

Non-Scale Victories

It’s Fitness Friday and I’m in the mood to celebrate!  With the holiday season in full swing, I’m doing what most of us are and working hard to try to maintain balance with my fitness and nutrition, and all the fun going on around me.  I don’t ever want to get to a point where I’m not living life and enjoying it because I’m worried about gaining a pound.  And as someone who has now successfully lost over 40 pounds, I’m really working to understand not only how to keep these healthy changes I’ve added into my life, but how to maintain the weight loss as well.

Enter non-scale victories.  Sure, I still weigh myself and take measurements to ensure that everything is moving in the right direction, but the proof is in the pudding as they say, and lately my pudding has been delicious!

First up we have this killer Beast Mode pic from last week at the gym.  Have you ever posed for a flexing pic before and had people say, “ok but now make a muscle?”  Yeah, that was me for the longest.  Not anymore:

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The highlight of my week, however, happened just yesterday.  While getting ready for a bike ride on a beautiful day I ran across my most favorite pair of tri-shorts in my dresser.  I haven’t worn these since 2011 when I did the Florida 70.3.  I remember this because pretty much immediately after doing that race I stopped doing anything and started my slow and steady gain of close to 50 lbs that I’m still struggling to lose the last of.

Needless to say, the shorts haven’t fit in a long long time.  I tried them on back in October and still looked like a tasty triathlete sausage stuffed into a spandex casing and had some serious gut dun-lop going on.  (As in, my gut dun lopped over my pants).

Yesterday I decided to give them another go.  The results are below:

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TA-DA!  Those are some shorts that fit people.  And fit well.

It really is the little things that make this whole journey worth while.

So how about you guys?  What are you up to on Fitness Friday?

Don’t be jealous

weight loss

I admit it, I’m a bit of a hermit.  Sure, I go out once or twice a week, but it’s totally normal for my friends to only see me once a month or so.  Most of them just stalk me through social media, and love me anyway.

Lately I’ve been making the rounds and keep getting told how amazing I look.  *Brushes shoulders off* thanks peeps.  But even more than that, friends are reaching out to me privately to find out what I’m doing to see such great success.

Just this past week I’ve had five different people text or message me asking how I’m doing it.

I think sometimes regardless of how much we know about how to be successful in our weight loss and fitness efforts, it helps to have someone who is doing it tell you the things you already know.

So I tell them.  I’m eating healthy.  Lots of protein and veggies at every meal.  Healthy fats, starchy veggies for carbs.  I eat a lot.  I don’t drink.  I’m very active.  I lift weights every day.  I rarely eat junk food, and if I do it’s as a special treat and in moderation.

Basically, I do all the things we all know to do but always find reasons why not to.

Yesterday when talking with one awesome friend who recently popped out a  human from her vagina (ok actually she had a C-section, but really, it’s the growing the human part that’s hell on the body), she told me:

I’m super jealous.

Boy do I get that.  Before I started seeing my own success I remember trolling Instagram on #transformationtuesday and looking at all the amazing before and after pictures.  I remember wishing desperately that was me.  I would get angry with myself for not being strong enough to get there.  In some of my worst moments I would wish I was actually fatter and completely inactive so that I could do something “easy” like just walking around the block to lose weight.

Yes, I was that stupid.

But let’s face it, we’re all our own worst enemies.  And for a long time, I was mine.

My advice to my friend?

Don’t be jealous.  Do something about it and be your own success story.

 

I don’t have all the answers.  And lord knows half the time I still don’t know what I’m doing.  But I’m doing something, and you can too.

So readers, if you’re seeing success let me know.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing from you.  And if you’re struggling, lay it out there for me as well.  I will totally break out my pom pons for you.

No, Crossfit didn’t make me fat

About five months ago, I quit Crossfit.  Prior to leaving my super duper awesome box, I had been WODing for nearly two years, and loved every minute of it.

But since leaving Crossfit I’ve lost a shit ton of weight.  A few months ago it was enough that people were starting to notice, and at this point it’s enough that strangers are starting to comment on it.  I look good.  Damn good if I do so say myself, and I’m working my ass off for it.

Interestingly, there seems to be a camp of people who believe that Crossfit was holding me back/making me fat/made me gain weight/limited my potential the entire time I was doing it.  They have no problem pointing out to me time and again that it’s only been since I stopped doing Crossfit that I’ve found the weight loss and physique results that I was looking for, and truly believe that Crossfit was the “problem.”

So here I am to set the record straight folks.  Before one more naysayer jumps in and feels the need to spread their drivel let me clarify to the world:

CROSSFIT DID NOT MAKE ME FAT.

When I quit Crossfit I took a long hard look at the things I was doing from a fitness and nutrition perspective and made the decision and commitment to really overhaul  my lifestyle to make lasting changes to get the results I wanted.  I didn’t cut out Crossfit because it was a change I felt I needed to make to be successful, nor did I think it was holding me back.

I WAS HOLDING MYSELF BACK.

Crossfit isn’t what kept me from reaching my goals.

These things are:

  • Alcohol- I was drinking most every night, and not just one glass of wine.  The calories in the booze combined with the effect it had on my metabolism, and the poor nutritional choices I made as a result of being buzzed contributed to my unhealthy weight.
  • Poor Nutritional Choices-  As I mentioned above, I wasn’t great about making good choices.  While I certainly knew HOW to eat well and to fuel my body properly, I was also just as likely to justify a cheeseburger and fries BECAUSE of the really hard workout I had earlier in the day.
  • Eating too Much-  Calories are weird little buggers.  Sure you can eat 100% Paleo for several days straight, but if that involves gobs of bacon and avocado and not so much in the spinach and greens department, you’re not going to see weight loss results either.
  • Making Lots of Excuses-  Any time I deviated from the nutritional guidelines I knew I should have been following, I always had a really good reason why.  If I had spent that much time and energy convincing myself to just stick to the healthy choices, I would have been much further along.

Moral of the story is:  to achieve your goals you need to work towards them every single day in every action you take and every choice you make.

I’m not perfect, no one is, but over the past 5 months I’ve made great choices every chance I’ve had and am seeing great results because of it.  It’s not because I quit Crossfit, it’s because I quit making excuses and prohibiting myself from being successful.

So to the Crossfit smack talkers- piss off.  I still love the sport, I love my box, and have a lot of respect for the people who do it.

And regardless of what fitness plan you follow, get out there today and kick some ass.  Who’s with me?

Uh dude, it’s not your body

Lately I’ve had some of the strangest comments made to me.  Now sure, I’ve heard of shit like this happening to other women before, but I guess I was never fit enough that I fell into the category… until now.

Obviously, I’ve lost some weight.  I’m at 36 pounds and counting, and my body looks different.  Like really crazy there’s an entire oompah lumpa gone different.  I’m not “skinny” kids, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m getting smaller.  And it’s pretty common knowledge that I’m not done yet.

I have no idea what my “goal weight” is, but I am aiming for a goal aesthetic.  More than that, I have some performance goals I’m working towards.  And imagine that, getting faster and stronger also equates to getting physically leaner, and in my case, smaller.

So I’m trucking along.

But lately people, especially men, have found it not only appropriate but necessary to say things like:

Don’t put on too much more muscle, you’re going to start looking manly.

Or perhaps even more ridiculous and offensive:

Well whatever you do don’t lose so much weight that you lose your boobs (or sometimes your ass).

Husband, thank God, hasn’t said anything so idiotic.  I think he knows that I would smother him in his sleep.

But somehow, that makes it even WORSE.  These are random dude friends who somehow think that they have a right to not only make these types of comments on my body, but that I actually give a shit about what they think or how they feel about the way I look.

*sigh*

Sure, there’s a part of me that wants to be attractive to others.  But kittens, I’m not doing this for anyone else but me.  If I were, there would be no way I would be this successful.

 

*GASP* A Progress Picture

I’ve blogged about progress pics before.  If you’re too lazy to click the link (which I know most of you are because my analytics tell me so) the gist of it is, posting the “before” picture literally gives me a panic attack.  Like a palms sweating feel-like-I-might-burst-into-tears panic attack.

I don’t want to think about what I looked like before I started.  And like I posted this weekend, I really really really don’t want to consider the possibility that I will end up back there any time soon.

But ya’ll I’ve got to tell you, I am so so proud of myself here lately.  I posted a pic of me flexing at the gym yesterday to Facebook and got an overwhelmingly supportive response from my friends.  The best compliment was from a friend I haven’t seen in a long time who told me that I’m the fittest he’s ever seen me.  Since the last time he saw me was about two weeks before I raced a HALF IRONMAN, that’s saying something kittens.

So to keep with my mantra of overcoming my plethora of fears, I’m saying eff it.  Without further ado, here is my progress to date.

progress pic October 2014

The picture on the left was taken right after I completed a 62 mile charity bike ride back in March, and the pic on the right was taken on Sunday.  It was leg day, but I couldn’t resist taking a flexing selfie because dem guns doe.

I remember when the pic on the left was posted to Facebook I almost cried.  That was the start of a big turning point for me when I realized something had to give.  I was riding 4-5 days per week, doing Crossfit 5x per week, and was still busting out of my size 14 jeans.  The fact was, I was sabotaging all of my success with a shitty diet and bad drinking habits.

I started slow in March, and really ramped up my efforts after a work conference in June that I had to buy a new suit in a size 16 in order to attend.  I had never been that large, and didn’t want to be again.

Today, I am SO PROUD not only of the weight I’ve lost, but of the muscle I’ve put on.  Obviously, it’s a journey.  I’m not done yet, but I can’t hide behind my fear of failure to the point I don’t celebrate my successes either.

So there you have it readers.  Feel free to tell me I look fabulous.  My ego loves you all already, so you might as well stroke it some more.

And if you’re feeling up to it, share your pics too!  Feel free to link to your blog in the comments, I want to cheer you on too. 🙂