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Friday, May 20, 2016

A New Level of Motivation

I was able to work with the most amazing personal trainer while I was working in California this week. I’ve worked with a few trainers in the past, including a few in my home gym, but Eugene is not just a personal trainer - he is also a Command Fitness Leader for the Navy Seabees.

I’ve worked out with trainers that treat you like a number and just move you from machine to machine and occasionally tell you that you are doing a good job. They don’t take the time to explain what muscle groups you are working on, what the exercise is doing for your body, or how to take the exercise to a different level by adding an additional move. I wanted someone who would challenge me.

I contacted Eugene a month prior to my trip and explained that I was basically looking to get my ass kicked for a week while I was in town and that I wanted to be able to take a new program home that I could work on in between my trips.

From the second we met at the gym, I knew I made the right decision because I had that same magnetic connection with him that I had when I first crossed the threshold to my own gym back in October. I knew I was about to have an epic week.

Eugene asked me what equipment I had in my Anytime Fitness gym because he wanted to make sure I could perform the same exercises when I returned.

As we were walking through the gym, I told him that most of my strength was in my thighs (Pete and Repeat can carry their weight) and that my upper body was pretty weak so we dove right in and started working on my arms, back, shoulders, and chest.

He walked me over to the cables and, to my surprise, I didn’t leave that spot for the entire hour. I was able to do all six exercises on the same cable using different configurations.

My first workout consisted of super setting: Standing Isolated High Row and Standing Isolated Cable Press; Standing Level Cable Row and Isolated Cable Curl & Press; and finally Forward Shoulder Cable Raise and Kneeling Lat Pull Down.

I did three sets of each (15-20 reps for most) and at the end I did one more of each all over again for good luck (and to show him that I remembered how to set each one up by myself).

Because I had told him my upper body was weak, he started me off with a very low weight. He could see that I was easily doing most of the exercises so he kept adding weight…and adding more weight. After our session was over, he told me I lied and that I was a lot stronger than I had admitted.

Apparently, pulling is my thing because I was able to pull 72.5 pounds on my standing level cable row. May not seem like a lot to some of you body builders but he seemed pretty impressed with that number.

We worked on my core on Day 2. I explained that I hadn’t worked on just my core in more than three years and I asked him to go easy on me. He just smiled that grin that people give you when you are in for a surprise.

For a millisecond, I thought about faking a cramp and running when he said the word “plank”.  Just kidding. I was actually looking forward to the challenge.

The only planks I had done in the past were just the good old standard plank on my forearms and toes. Well, Eugene wanted to challenge me so he had me doing suspended planks. As he was getting my feet strapped in, I couldn’t help but make the wisecrack, “our second session and you already have me in straps”. HA!!

Again, I was super setting my exercises. I did TRX planks on my forearms and then hands (push up). Then I did Lay to Sit sit-ups and Ankle Hold Leg Lifts (he stood above my head while I was on my back and I held onto his ankles as I raised my legs to touch his hands). Those were followed up with what we decided to call Fold-ins (basically a combo lay to sit sit-up with a leg lift…very hard to do) and Bosu Ball Sit-ups. The last set was more forearm and push up planking but this time with the Bosu Ball.

Day 3 was the dreaded leg day. I had the videographer out with us to film scenes for my upcoming documentary. Eugene wasn’t sure if the gym would allow the camera in so we utilized the park.

My normal leg day consisted of nothing but weights so I was curious what he was going to do. I kept asking him and all he would do was flash that “you’ll find out” grin.

I thought maybe he was secretly plotting to kill me because leg day consisted of: TRX Jump Squats, Bosu Balance Squats, Bosu Foot Transfer Side Squats, Wide Kettle Bell Squats, Single Leg Step Ups, and Hill Sprints.

Yes, folks…not one, not two, not three, but FOUR types of squats annnnd…I had to do all of that while being filmed. WHAT THE FRENCH TOAST WAS I THINKING?

The footage of me on the Bosu ball is hilarious. I’m determined to master that damn thing. I still had a smile on my face when we finished and it wasn’t because the camera was rolling.

We decided to take our final workout on Day 4 outdoors again so we went back to the park. Despite the wind that kept my hair going crazy and tossed dirt in our eyes – it was a beautiful day for battle. And I mean that literally. I did Battle Ropes Doubles, Battle Ropes Alternating Singles, Slam Ball, TRX Pull-Ups, Dumbell Curl & Press and then I got to put on the gloves and throw some Combo Punches. I’m sure he is still laughing at my lack of coordination because I know I am. I am super happy that I didn’t have the camera rolling that day. Hee hee!

Now, I’m sure y’all are wondering why I didn’t do this in my own gym. Well…when you workout in a gym where everyone feels like family, you tend to get too close and reaching out for help gets a little tougher because you don’t want to bother them when you know they are so busy. At least, that is how I have grown to feel. Must be that Superwoman thing again...

I needed some outside motivation from someone who could see the fire in my eyes and push me harder than I believed I could be pushed.

Someone who could see my potential even though I couldn’t see it myself.

Someone who could match a program to my goals.

Someone who would show me, step-by-step, what I need to do and why I need to do it in a certain way to avoid injury.

Someone who wouldn’t look at their phone during a conversation or tell me to hang on while reading/replying to a text.

Someone who would take their time to really listen and then thoroughly explain things in a language that I could understand.

Someone who would train me like an athlete and not a body builder.

Someone who would stand next to me, behind me, or in front of me and tell me to dig deep, push, and keep going.

Someone to tell me, “you got this”.

Someone to give me a whole new level of motivation.

I definitely found that in Eugene and I cannot wait to go back and work with him again. Because when you find that in a trainer, you do not let them go!

I got this!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

THIS is who I am...Defining Myself, Part 2

Three and a half years ago, my most popular post, "Defining Myself", was published. I was at a very different point in my life when I generated that first list. My eyes were wide open to so many possibilities. After just coming out of a violently abusive and controlled marriage, I reclaimed the parts of me that I allowed to be buried for the sake of others and I never looked back. 

Here it is three and a half years later, and despite the heartbreak I recently endured after my second husband told me he wanted a divorce because I gained weight, I am still holding strong to who I am as a person, I still do not defend anything that helps define who I am, and my eyes are still wide open.

It has only been two months since my divorce has been finalized but I think I am ready to open my eyes a little wider to the possibility of dating...and that scares the heck out of me.


Because I know that not everyone can handle my heartfelt truths and some may confuse my expressed emotions with being complicated or dramatic.
  • I'm not perfect. 
  • I over think. 
  • I over analyze.
  • I live in the moment but I question everything.
  • I worry about things I have no control over (I am actually trying to work on this one).
  • I'm part German and part Italian, which means I am stubborn and have a hot temper.
  • I'm also Canadian (dual Can/Am citizen) so the flip side of the above is I am quick to apologize and I will apologize for things I haven't even done wrong.
  • I still have fluffy thighs. I always matter how many squats I do. I refer to them as Pete and Repeat. I apologize for them too.
  • Because I am also American, I yell at (and sometimes flip off) idiot drivers on the road, freeway, or parking lots.
  • I don't always talk like a lady. Especially after leg day!!
  • I do not look cute after a workout and I know my clothes stink but I'll still stop at the grocery store on my way home. I don't care - I've got stuff to do.
  • If I know I'm right about something, I will argue with you until I am blue in the face. However - as much as I don't like it, I will admit when I'm wrong.
  • I am not high maintenance in the physical sense but I greatly appreciate reassurance in the feelings department.
  • I'm loyal, patient, and very forgiving...unless you push me to the point where I no longer care. If I reach that point, all I can say is - when I'm done...I'm done...and you'll definitely know it.
I don't list these things because I think they are wrong or because I want to change them. I list them because they are part of who I am.

Losing weight gave me the confidence to embrace every side of me. Good, bad, and indifferent. After I got sick and gained back some weight, I started to lose sight of everything I had grown to embrace about myself.

Once I got back into the gym and held myself accountable, I felt like I was "home" again.

Some people go their whole lives without embracing their strengths and weaknesses. For me, it took losing 170 pounds and escaping a violent marriage before I embraced mine and I am not afraid to admit where I fall short - which in an odd way is actually a strength because not many people are willing to admit their faults.

I share my feelings and I say what's in my heart without much contemplation. Does that make me complicated? If I look at who I am as a person, I think I'm a fairly simple girl. 
  • If I miss you - I'll let you know
  • If I want to meet up with you - I'll invite you
  • If I feel misunderstood - I'll explain
  • If I have a question - I'll ask
  • If I don't like something - I'll say it (politely)
  • If I like something - I'll proclaim it
  • If I want something - I'll ask for it (or get it myself)
  • If I love you - I'll tell you
It doesn't get much more simpler than that.

To quote myself from my "Superwoman" post...

"For as long as I can remember, I have been a very strong woman.
I am determined.
I am persistent.
I push though and persevere.
If I want something, I’m not afraid to go after it.
I am not afraid to speak up or offer my opinion.
I don't let anyone stand in my way.
I am the girl who, despite wanting to fall down on the ground kicking and screaming, will look you dead in the eye and with a smile on my face will tell you that everything is good."

Again - these things define who I am. I will always wake up and choose to be happy. Even when I'm having a bad day and tears freely fall from my eyes, I will always manage a smile because I know that the moment will pass and I will keep fighting.

I was scrolling through Facebook last weekend and I came across this awesome story that I absolutely love and adore about Collin Clarke - a bodybuilder who just happens to have Down Syndrome. 

While the story doesn't define who I am, what Collin says at the end of the video defines how I am built.

In Collins words: "Never give up. When a challenge comes to you, you gotta overcome all the odds. Yeah, it might get hard. It might hurt. But you gotta keep fighting. You gotta keep pushing with everything you got."

I am a lover. I am a fighter. I am persistent, determined and loyal. I push the limits of everything I do with everything I've got.

THIS is who I am.

A very good friend recently told me that I am truly an amazingly wonderful woman and any man on earth would be lucky to have me on his side.

I know his words are true. And, whoever I date will appreciate me...just as I am.

I got this...

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