Embracing humiliation

I heard an interview on NPR the other day with Aisha Tyler about her new book — all about her most humiliating moments. It got me thinking about my own humiliations that I’ve brought on myself over the past 37 years.

There was a time in my life when I was deathly afraid of making a fool of myself. I remember being terrified of people laughing at me in middle school for my clothes or music, or even the way I sat. I feel kind of sad thinking about that now. I think I spent more time worrying about what others thought of me than in truly embracing who I was.

I think that’s why I approach humiliation differently now. I’m much more comfortable in my own skin — so I feel more courageous and willing to put myself out there.

I regularly laugh at myself and humiliate myself in all sorts of ways. Like Olympic Lifting and Crossfit. There is no room for ego. And there is always someone better than me.

And 9 times out of 10 someone is going to snap a picture of me with a crazy look on my face or having sweat stains under my arms or my belly poking out.

Oh, that’s lovely. Just lovely.

And yet there is something to be learned from humiliation. I usually learn what I’m capable of. If I didn’t do things because I was worried about embarrassing myself, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I remember being a teenager and trying that whole schtick of not doing something because it would mess up my hair. What a boring, fat girl I was.

Life is worth the risk of humiliation, especially since you don’t know where it will lead. Or maybe you DO know where it will lead. It could end in failure or it could lead to success. Humiliation could potentially go along with either, but it’s more likely to accompany failure.

And I guess that’s where your mindset comes in. Are you afraid of failure? Or do you embrace it?

I made a conscious decision to embrace failure not too many years ago (yes — it’s only been a couple of years. I’ve grown a lot). It’s scary and hard, and I’m not always successful at it, but I was tired of being boring and letting my environment determine who I was going to be. I think about Olympic Lifting mostly because I’ve struggled so much in it. It’s all about trying and failing. I feel like a huge goof sometimes. But I made a conscious decision to stick with it and give it everything I have, no matter how hard it gets.

I think embracing my failure in Olympic Lifting has helped me do so in other aspects of my life. I figure, if I can do it in Oly, which is really hard, it’s can’t possibly be that bad at work or home. Right? The worst is rarely has bad as we fear it to be.

It’s not about the failure. It’s about how you handle the  failure.


Why I’m walking the distance

I have this playlist on my phone titled “Run,” but it’s an old title. I haven’t been doing much running lately outside of my Crossfit workouts.

Part of it is that my running buddy moved away. Part is that I don’t have time to drive anywhere to run and I don’t enjoy running the flat roads in my neighborhood. And part is that I’m just not that into running right now.

But I am into walking. I feel like an old lady writing that — but it’s true. Back in January and February, when I was doing the Crossfit challenge, I got up super early to complete an extra workout before moving on with my day. I started thinking about it, and I realized that once the challenge was over, I could still get up early, but I could walk the dogs in that time before I had to get going on the day.

The dogs and I have walked 4 or 5 times a week every week since then.

The dogs absolutely love me. We walk, and then when we get home, I feed them. How could they not love me? In the morning, Goose hovers next to me, tail fwapping (yes- fwapping is a word I purposely coined just for her) in my face as I lace up my shoes. She’s quite annoying, actually. Her butt is moving about as fast as her tail. And then she can’t sit still as I try to attach the leash to her. Bennie usually watches calmly– until the leashes come down — and then she’s barking extremely loudly.

As our walks are usually before dawn, I try my best to quiet her, but more than a few times she’s woken the kids with her bugle. I’m not sure whether it’s better to wake the kids or the neighbors.

On weekdays, since I’m walking before Olympic Lifting or work, we don’t go as far. Maybe 1 1/2 miles. Sometimes 2. It depends.

On the weekends, I like to walk longer. We’ve gotten up to 4 miles or more. I haven’t done that lately because the weather has been so warm and Bennie looks like she’s about to faint about halfway through.

I love being outside. But I do take my music, and I try to keep pace as we move. I feel like I know some streets so well, but we try to walk different routes every time.

I guess my walks are my time to be “alone” and meditate. When I miss a walk, I feel a little lost. like something is missing. It’s become part of my routine for waking up and thinking through my goals, my tasks, my dreams…

Do you ever feel like that?

Hamstrung by handstands

I have a confession to make.

I hate handstands.

I have tried to like them. I have tried to work on them. And I still suck at them. Therefore I hate them.

How did this come up? I dropped into Friday morning’s Crossfit class to make up for July 4, and handstand holds were in the WOD. Tabata handstand holds.

I considered not showing up to class.

On round one, I half-heartedly attempted a handstand hold against the wall. I was not prepared. Coach Carey ended up showing me a scaled version on a box. I felt like such a loser. Here I am, letting my fear overtake me, yet again.

I had told her I hate being upside down. But that’s only partly true. It’s the process of GETTING upside down that I hate. I have successfully ended with my feet up in the air and my arms locked out with help, but the kick up is nerve-racking. Handstand walks? Ugh. Wall walks? Double ugh.

You get the idea.

I know that one day I need to attack this fear. I’m not sure when I want to do that. I’ve found I’m more successful when I go after only a couple of physical goals. Right now it’s pullups, getting my shoulder and neck mobility back up to par, and beating sugar (again).

Should I really take on another goal? Should I really worry about mastering handstands now?

Photo credit: andreasnilsson1976 via photopin cc

Habits and motivation

I’ve started and abandoned several posts since March. I got in the habit of writing in Red in the Face, only to have that habit erased by work, work and more work.

Life replaced writing about life, but somehow, life seems less special when you don’t reflect on it.

Does that make sense?

And right now, I should be doing almost anything other that writing. The laundry needs folding. The dogs need walking. The clients need attention. The yard needs mowing. The list goes on for what seems like forever, and yet I made a decision this morning to write. Not because I want people to click on me or because I want search engines to find me, but because I need to in order to preserve my sanity, even if my words are about working out.

Sometimes I get the impression that people think I’m gung-ho dedicated to improving my physical health. But I struggle with the very human and natural desire to relax and enjoy moving slowly just like anyone else. Since March, I’ve battled fatigue, soreness, sometimes lack of motivation. Sometimes I show up to class, halfway hoping it will be cancelled so I won’t have to work hard.

I fear my workouts. They can be extremely difficult, and many times I doubt whether I am physically able to do it.

But I persevere. I allow those negative thoughts, then push them aside and keep going. I do it because I never want to be weak and flabby again. I do it because I need to be strong for my kids — I want to watch them go up, I want to be able to keep up with them. And I don’t want to be sick and unable to move through the world in a way where I can truly appreciate the joy of being alive.

I’m stronger now. I’m capable of lifting and moving a lot more weight than I ever thought possible. It’s not that exciting to watch, but it is exciting to know how far I have come.

My Olympic Lifting coach takes video of my class occasionally. On this day we went for a max in the snatch as well as clean & jerk. I surprised myself by my PR in the snatch lift – 80#. I was disappointed that I did not reach a new max in the clean & jerk. Sloppy technique held me back, but I know I’m cabale of at least 115#. By the end of the year, I want to reach 135#.

Reflecting on the I AM Crossfit Challenge

2013 challenge measurementsIt’s been over a week since the 2013 I AM Crossfit Challenge ended, and I think it was probably my most successful challenge, even though I only hit one of my goals.

This was the first challenge where I wasn’t pregnant or nursing, and I tried to follow the nutrition very closely. I did not Zone my food, but I did follow the Whole 30 guidelines really closely and watched portion sizes.

I also did every extra workout I was supposed to do. It was a lot — I added in two extra met-cons a week plus an endurance WOD. By the time we hit week 8, I was ready for it to be done and tired of having to fit it all in. But now, I kind of miss it.

I had set a pullups goal and a body fat goal. I did not get my pullups. I just never worked on them outside the gym. But I did get my body fat under 20%, so yay me!

But there were definite benefits that I achieved outside of my goals. I am a stronger and faster runner. I broke my gum habit ( I was chewing a pack a week!). I also broke my sugar tooth. I still haven’t indulged in dessert, and to be honest, I don’t really want it. Fruit is sweet enough.

I may have undone some of my efforts at SXSW this year. But not like last year. Last year I went crazy with the food. This year, aside from a few meals with rice or tortilla chips, I was relatively restrained.

Yes — it was a good challenge. Just the benchmark alone is a good indication of how much I improved. I barely finished the first time — with a time of 11:58. On March 9, I crushed my old time — finishing in just over 10 sec.

Here’s a clip from the WOD:

3 rounds
400m run
15 pullups
7 hang power cleans (65#)


I used an expletive when I looked up from my warmup at the board Monday morning.
I was already sore from a weekend of workouts – two challenge WODs and a team workout that included front squats.

Back squats and front squats? Together?


It turned out not to be as bad as I imagined. Don’t get me wrong – those were still hard as hell.
But I imagined a torture session where I would squat the bar and struggle hard the stand – maybe not being able to stand at all.

As it turns out, I was able to stand. What’s more, I focused on squatting to full depth every time. It’s something I usually am inconsistent on, especially as the weight goes up.

I could feel my weight shift on the way up as I got tired. Zach reminded me once to fight the shift, and I immediately refocused. Hopefully my shifting has improved over time. I know I spend a lot of extra time working on mobility and exercises for my hip, so I’d like to have improved.

The next morning, I was sore. I didn’t want to go to my workout. I did anyway. It was like therapy for my legs. It got the blood flowing and loosened me up. But when my coach asked me if I was sore and I said “Hell, yeah!”, his face broke into a grin.

Kind of an evil grin, if you ask me.

“Wait until we hit 90 percent.”


The human body is amazing

I shared this video on Facebook the other day, but it stayed with me so much I thought I would share it here too.

It’s about how a disabled vet who had been told he could never walk without assistance again — and pretty much lost all hope — somehow met a person who decided to help. What follows was months of grit, determination and transformation.

The video is pretty awesome. It even brought a tear to my eye.

I love seeing that kind of human story. You know, the one about hope? About defying conventional wisdom? People are pretty amazing, ya know?

And I’m not just referring to physical ability. Yes, losing weight and regaining mobility is incredible in its own right, but the mind is truly amazing. The ability to believe in yourself and keep going, despite falling, possibly feeling embarrassed — it would have been so easy to give up.

Yep, the human body AND the human mind are pretty amazing. Don’t you think?

My war on sleep and why I’m losing

photo credit: peasap via photopin cc

I’m writing an article about the health benefits of sleep for work, and I’m probably the worst person to do it.

Or maybe I have it backwards. Maybe I am the best to do it because of how flippantly I have treated sleep and how I need a kick in the pants to take it seriously.

The past year has been rough in terms of sleep. I have written about my lack of sleep many times. And yet, despite being aware of how little sleep I get and how much I actually need, I still seem to be trying to wage my own war on sleep — taking on new projects, signing up for extra activities, volunteering to help even when I know time is tight.

Last fall I felt miserable. I remember crying in my parents’ kitchen about how tired I was. I remember driving home from their house in the evenings and being terrified that I would fall asleep at the wheel.

I think that’s when I got serious about sleep.

I actually began taking a hard look at how turning my nose up at sleep was hurting me. I felt awful, the weight was creeping back on, and my family didn’t want to hang out with me.

I’m better now. Way better. I had a chance to rest over the holidays, and I have made sleep more of a priority for this challenge. I don’t work as late as I used to. My productivity sucks when I’m so tired I can’t think. It’s better or me to sleep and think clearly than not and.. Well.. Be a scatterbrained idiot.

I guess I’m curious if I can keep up the better sleep habit for the long haul. Habits are best changed by creating new ones. Hopefully the terrible memories of last fall compared to how rested I now feel will help.

I’m literally too tired to continue my battle against sleep. I’m ready to give up and let sleep win.

Dear Monday, I love you

Poor Monday. It gets such a bad rap.

It begins of the work week, bringing sadness to so many. We grieve the memories of our fabulous weekend and realize it’s gone, never to reappear.And Friday is soooooo far away. Ugh.

It’s Monday. We must return to our work, carrying our coffee mugs and lamenting the fact that it’s Monday.

Or do we?

Do we really need to treat every Monday as if it’s some kind of punishment? What happens if we just one day decide that Monday is the best day of the week?

Because it offers new opportunities?

Because we get to do our life’s work?

Because we’re one step closer to our goals?

In my case — because I get to throw around heavy weights in the morning and feel strong?

Because I get to see my work friends and laugh and scheme about how we’re going to change the world?

Because I need time away from my family to be able to come home to them and truly appreciate and love them?

Hmmm… When you look at it that way, maybe Monday isn’t really the problem. Maybe it’s our attitudes.

On second thought, I think I love Mondays.

Week 1 of challenge complete (7 more to go)

The first week of my gym’s Crossfit Challenge is officially complete, and fortunately I was able to fit in all three extra workouts, plus not slip up on my nutrition.

Olympic Lifting workout
This was my OIlympic Lifting workout on Wednesday, Jan 16.

It was dicey, though. I woke up Monday morning and imagined I heard rain outside, so I didn’t do the first extra WOD when I had planned it. Zach rolled his eyes when I told him and gave me one of those incredulous looks like,”you are so full of excuses.”

And while most of the time I try not to come up with excuses, he was probably dead on in that case. And many others this week. I just didn’t want to be cold. It wasn’t until Friday morning that I pulled it together to actually do an early AM WOD on my own.

Crossfit WOD on the whiteboard
The whiteboard at Crossfit on Thursday, Jan 17.

I guess there’s a reason why I go to CLASSES. I’m less likely to flake out.

Today I had planned to do the Austin Gorilla Run, a 5K that benefits mountain gorilla conservation. That would have coincided nicely with this week’s endurance WOD, which was a 1, 2 or 3 mile run for time. Unfortunately, it conflicted with the Beekeeping class Andy bought me for Christmas, and beekeeping won out, Oh well — at least I’ll have the gorilla suit for next year.

Instead, I ran 2 miles in my neighborhood. I probably should have run 3, but the instructions said you should only choose the 3 miles if you have a 9 min mile and can run 3 in under 27 minutes. I wasn’t sure I could.

Turns out I may have been able to. Time: 17:48.

I definitely need some new music. The playlist on my phone is atrocious.

Afterward, I hung out with the kids while they rode their bike and trike up and down the sidewalk in front of our house. It’s so cool watching their progress. Both of them have gone from not being able to pedal or steer to zipping up and down the sidewalk with ease — within weeks!