personal trainers in tallahassee

The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

“I not the strongest. I’m not the fastest. I’m really good at suffering.”

Amelia Boone (The Michael Jordan of OCR).

Way before I began serious training, I had to work on my mental toughness. I read many books, listened to podcasts and talked to a lot of people who have accomplished incredible events including two of my closest friends who have completed the Death Race.

I had so many doubts about my ability to take on the Joe Warner Bragg Heavy. I have never considered myself the type of person who could take on such an event. So why the hell did I sign up?

My sister and I were visiting my parents who live in Fayetteville. I grew up at Ft. Bragg. I was trying to convince my sister to register for a Tough that was taking place where we both live now, in Tallahassee, FL. She was on the computer looking at events and then said there is one at Ft. Bragg and that we should sign up and stay with my parents. We were both so excited about the opportunity to do an event on the hallowed grounds that my dad trained on for so many years. We registered AND THEN read about what the event entailed. I was terrified and immediately began my typical doubts in my ability and my mental strength.

This was in June and I figured I had plenty of time to train. At this time I had done a GORUCK Tough and a Light. My second Tough was the following month.

The first Tough I did several years earlier, I hated. I was in way over my head and wanted to quit many times. I even thought about falling off a curb and breaking my own ankle to get out of it. Yes, I was that miserable. Seven of us finished and I was one of them. I came home and threw my patch in a drawer and swore I would never do one again.

The following year a bunch of my friends and clients (I am a personal trainer and own my own gym) signed up for a Light so I got suckered into doing it. It was a great event and soon I forgot how traumatized I was about the Tough I had done.

I signed up for the Tallahassee Tough against my better judgment, but again, my friends and a few of my clients were doing it. I succumbed to  peer pressure.

I never work on conditioning and I hate cardio. I had spent the last couple of years training and competing in powerlifting. Anything over five reps was enough cardio for me.

I finished the Tough along with our whole group and not once did I think about breaking my own ankle. Although it was very challenging, I was hooked.

With 7 months until the Joe Warner Bragg Heavy, I figured I had plenty of time to train.

I downloaded a few different programs online and began to focus on becoming an endurance and cardio girl.

I soon found out I was not good at rucking longer distances. One of the first things required for a Heavy was a 12 mile ruck in under 3 ½ hours. My sister, an endurance athlete had no trouble. I on the other hand was dying. I was slow and had all kinds of pain in my feet. My mind began to work against me. I’ve never had much self-confidence and training for and failing the simple task of fast rucking only made things worse.

From the very start, I was thinking about how I could back out.

After screwing around for a couple of months and not getting any better, I hired a coach, Flo Zurkinden who had done many endurance events including the JWBH and several Death Races.

The first few workouts sucked. I was taking a lot of breaks and left gasping for air. The doubt really set in. I made sure that everyone who knew I was signed up, knew I wasn’t sure I had the mental strength to finish. My doubts, my lack of confidence and my fears permeated every part of my life. I became a loser before I even started.

My workouts included running and I hate running. Many times I be out on the trail and as soon as I started getting out of breath and uncomfortable, I quit.

It took a couple of months before I started getting some endurance. I still couldn’t ruck fast even when I added spurts of running. The thing that scared me the most was being last and left behind.

I finally started working on my mindset. I even met with a sports psychologist, things were that bad. We came up with several techniques, the first being to quit telling every one that I lacked mental toughness.

I started training my mind. One of the best things I did, although weird was to read and copy Mark Klemm’s (number 35 in selection) quotes. I had one quote put on a bracelet that I never took off. I had the quote as my screen saver and had a copy in my car. I had my friends and family write personal letters which I laminated and kept in my pack. The other important thing that one of my friends wrote for me was to focus on the task at hand and don’t give any thought to what might be next. That became my mantra.

I covered my weight plate with a picture of my dad receiving his Silver Star after a heroic event he performed in Vietnam. My dad, who served 35 years and is a retired SGM was my inspiration. He spent so much time training at Camp Mackall and I wanted to be there.

Finally everything came together. I was at a place that I was confident in my physical abilities and I began to believe that I could finish. I would finish no matter what.

My sister and I arrived in Fayetteville on the Wednesday before the event. My mom was sick and my sister decided to spend the time with her and not to do the Heavy with me.

My dad is currently in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. We spent the afternoons and evenings visiting with him. Most of the time he doesn’t quite know who I am. Sometimes with coaching, he knows I’m his daughter but doesn’t remember my name.

I don’t want to get into this too much but it’s hard to see my dad, my hero, so vulnerable. I never know what to say to him because he can’t communicate very well anymore. I wanted to tell him what I was about to do but wasn’t sure he would understand.

The afternoon before the event, I asked him if he remembered, Camp Mackall. His face lit up and he said, yes. I told him I was about to do training there. I don’t think he understood that. I wanted so bad to talk to him, ask him questions and share this experience with him but I couldn’t.

I went to War Stories that night. It was great to meet so many people that I only knew from Facebook. I was thrilled to meet, Mark Klemm ie, number 35 from GORUCK’S hardest event, Selection. I wore my, “I finished the day I signed up” shirt. It was a statement he made during Selection that stuck with me. Of course, I got a picture taken with him.

I also took a huge risk by trying to bribe Cadre Dan with a handful of Dons, the official money of Pineland. I figured he’d either think it was funny or he’d make me regret it the next day. Thank God, he thought it was funny.

Bribery

Friday was a blur. I packed and unpacked my ruck several times. I started to panic. I was worried about bringing the right clothes, the right food and the right gear. My sister helped me weed out the contents of my ruck so it wouldn’t end up weighing 100 pounds.

We had one last visit with my dad before we headed to Southern Pines. I met up with a couple of ladies I knew from FB and had met the night before at War Stories. We made plans to stick together.

At 5:00, everyone was ordered to get in line. It was go time.

Stay tuned for Part Two, Joe Warner Bragg Heavy AAR (after action report)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You Can Start Your New Year Anytime

It’s January 31st and by now many people have already reverted back to old habits and behaviors and their New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Does this sound like you?

January 1st is just another day. There is nothing magical about this day but somehow it’s become the day when it seems everyone is making resolutions to lose weight, join a gym, quit smoking and make other abrupt changes in their lives. The problem with this is that many people set these goals without a clear plan of action of steps to take and plans for backsliding.

Starting out on new goals and behaviors is exciting but what do you do when that initial motivation begins to wane? What actions and plans do you have in place when getting to the gym or doing exercise becomes a chore? What about plans for backsliding? This is when many people give up. Then the target day to change becomes Mondays, or the beginning of the month or God forbid, on the first day of the following new year.

The good news is that you can start over anytime. You can start your day over anytime. The point is, never give up. Accept that you may have blown your resolve. Get over it fast and pick yourself back up. Changing is not easy. It may take many attempts and many failures but do not give up.

Get a notebook and write down very specific goals. Put a deadline to each goal. Most importantly, write specific things you will do each day to reach your goals AND write some action steps to take when you feel yourself falling by the wayside.

Believe me, I have to pick myself back up many times. I have never claimed, nor will I ever claim to be one of those fitness professionals that always eats clean, works out every day and never struggles with body image. I’ve had a life time of bad habits, low self-esteem and disordered eating and it’s not going to change over night. I just refuse to give up. I certainly get down on myself, but I always manage to get right back on track.

Part of my success in not throwing in the towel and giving up completely is writing. I keep a journal. I write down goals, both personal and professional. I set deadlines. I write action steps and I get help if needed from people who have more experience in areas than I do. I work with a trainer and a business coach. I surround myself with people who are goal oriented, successful and like-minded. When I get off track, lose focus or begin to doubt, they are there to set me straight and get me on task.

If you feel lost or have given up, do yourself a favor and find mentors. Find people who emulate the kind of life you want to live and who are the kind of people you want to be like. Start keeping a journal. Set goals. Expect there to be ups and downs but have a plan in place to deal with them so you can get back on track fast.

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Oh How I Love My Data

I am a data freak! I admit, I am one of those obnoxious runners that take five minutes to set my heart rate monitor,  MapMyRun app, my Round Timer and the perfect playlist. Thankfully, my running partners do the same. I love the data. I want to see my heart rate, how many calories I burn, how far I ran and how fast (slow) I went. The same goes for my weight lifting and gym workouts.

Although I haven’t done a bodybuilding competition in almost 20 years; I still have my workout and food journals. I knew every workout, weights lifted, sets done, how I felt and every morsel of food that went in my mouth. Yes, I was obsessive, but I had to be. I had to know where I was in order to get where I was going.

Setting goals, which I am adamant about and which I blog frequently about are one of the most important things you can do on your fitness journey. Once a goal is set, there needs to be a specific plan. It’s like taking a road trip. You have a destination (your goal) and your plug that into your GPS and follow directions. Next thing you know, you’ve arrived at your destination.

The best way to follow the map to reach your goal is by collecting and keeping data. Obviously, you don’t have to be as obsessive as I am, but you do need to figure out a way to track your progress that works for you.

The easiest way I find is with a good old-fashion training log. My personal favorite is the Convict Conditioning Training Log which you can see below.

My Favorite Training Log

 

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A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

This quote by French author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery hits the nail on the head for me and for pretty much everyone I coach and train. One of the things I like to do when I meet with clients is to get them to set a goal. This is what I get, “I need to lose weight”, “I’m going to try and lose weight”, “I would like to exercise more”, “My Doctor said, I need to lose 50 pounds”, “I want to get in shape”, “I want to be more toned” and my personal favorite, “I need to lose (fill in the blank with unrealistic number) for my wedding next month”.

So without a plan of action, these people; without intervention, will continue spinning around in the cycle of diet hopping, changing workout plans and trying every quick fix available on late night TV, only to find themselves right back where they started.

Does this sound like you?

The answer is simple. Set a realistic, specific, exciting goal that when accomplished will have you jumping for joy and feeling so empowered that you are ready to take on the world.

Here are the steps:

1. Make a goal. Be as specific as possible! If you want to lose weight, how much? Is it realistic? Do you want to hike a mountain in a foreign country? Is it realistic? This goal does NOT have to be about weight loss. It can be about anything. The process is the same.

2. Write it down! Get that goal on paper. I prefer good ol’ pen and paper as opposed to the computer. There is something about the person connection of writing that seems to have more power. Having a goal, no matter how good floating around your head with everything else is going to get lost, so write that sucker down.

3. Write it down. Yes, it’s that important. Put it somewhere you can see it throughout the day.

4. Get support. Ask positive people and family members for support. Have them join you. Stay away from those who discourage you with well-meaning comments like, “You don’t need to lose weight, you are fine just the way you are”. Yes, you may be fine, but are YOU happy with where you are? That is all the matters.

5. Set a date. Your goals need to have a sense of urgency or they will never happen. Again, be realistic. If you have a lot of weight to lose, give yourself 6 months to a year. If you reach your goal before that…AWESOME!! If you plan to run a marathon or climb a mountain, make arrangements, pick a race far enough away that you have plenty of time to train without getting injured.

Here is an example of my goals that are written at my gym for all to see. To my surprise, I’ve reached and surpassed a few of them and had to make them bigger.

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Super Strong Nana

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to blog more often. As you can see it’s already two week’s into 2013 and I’m just now writing my first blog of the year. Ok, so it hasn’t exactly been a priority lately. I’m responsible for another blog for The Tallahassee Democrat and that one has deadlines. Hmmm, maybe I need to make deadlines for myself.

As a person who procrastinates and is easily distracted, deadlines are important. One of the things that I do as a fitness instructor is to encourage my clients to set deadlines. Whether your goal is performance based, fat loss based, work based or any other important thing you want to accomplish, you must set a deadline if you want to succeed.

Setting a goal without a deadline is certainly a setup for failure especially if you are a procrastinator like me.

I am a very creative person. I am always coming up with really cool ideas for my business. I start the process of making things happen and then I set it aside convincing myself that I will get back to it. I never do. I then lie to myself to justify my procrastination. I convince myself that it was a dumb idea, nothing will ever come of it and that completing the goal is not worth the work that must be put into it. I do that with fitness and performance goals as well as personal and work goals.

So now that I know what the problem is, how do I change it? Deadlines.

If you aren’t already using a calendar or a planner, then it’s time to get one. Just a little FYI, I have also perfected procrastinating on this. I search and shop for the perfect planner and pen. Writing goals and deadlines on a plain pad of paper or a boring planner…Never!

Now it’s time to make things happen. Set a realistic deadline. Put it in your planner. I like to count days or weeks back and jot them down so I know that I have so much time before D-day (deadline day). It creates a sense of urgency.

You nor I are going to magically have our goals accomplished on D-day. We must have a plan of action. My performance goals require that I work out several times a week and that my workouts are specific to my goal. Those get scheduled in my planner…Ok, there are not in there right now but they will be as soon as I’m done with this blog.

I set deadlines for the small goals I want to accomplish to reach the bigger goal. One of performance goals for 2013 (and it will probably be the end of 2013) is to complete the RKC’s Iron Maiden Challenge of pressing, doing a pull up and a pistol squat with a 53 pound Kettlebell. In order to accomplish this, I have to set goals along the way. Right now I have an 8 week goal of a weighted pull up with a 10 pound bell and an easy consistant press with the 40 pound Kettlebell and a solid pistol squat.

My business and personal goal is to write a book. It’s been a goal since early last year. It’s been months since I did any work on it. So now I will set a deadline of December 31st 2013. That book is not going to write itself and of course I can’t start on December 30th. So I set aside a couple hours once a week to write and it goes in my planner..again, it’s not in there yet, but will be when I finish this blog. I told you that I am a big procrastinator.

I would love to hear about your goals and especially the steps you are taking to reach them. Post them in the comments section.

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Superstrong Nana Gets a Little Lazy

It’s not what you think. My laziness has to do with keeping up this blog. I am responsible for 3 different blogs, one of which is due once a week for our local paper, The Tallahassee Democrat.

I wrote what I think is a good blog and I decided to repost it here.

It’s Sunday. Thanksgiving was four days ago. It’s time to put down the fork, toss the leftovers and get back to sensible, healthy eating. I write this blog for you, but also for myself.
I would love to tell you that I am one of those trainers whose Thanksgiving dinner consisted of roasted turkey, vegetables and sugar free, fat free pies, but I’m not. I’m normal and yes, I went way, way overboard these past few days. Due to a snafu in my plans of ordering my entire meal online and happily spending my day visiting with family instead of being in the kitchen all day, we ended up with nothing but one Turducken and two pies. That’s what happens when you send your husband out to the grocery store to pick up the meal.
Thank goodness I had the foresight to make stuffing. I threw together some mashed potatoes out of a bag leftover from a week before. That left us with meat, starch and pie. The vegetables I ordered were left deserted at the grocery store as well as the rest of our side dishes.
The only vegetables at our table were the Gerber First Bites green beans that my grand daughter happily gobbled up from the tray of her high chair. Even if I glued the tiny pieces together with maple syrup, it would have given us one green bean a piece.
With a belly full of starch and sugar, I spent the rest of the day on the couch. My carbohydrate coma and lethargy dashed all of my hopes of getting in a good workout. Eating too much of the wrong foods have that effect on me. I know that what I eat and what I put into my body have a direct effect on my energy and my mood. I also know that starches and sugar set me off on a binge much like a drug addict searching for that next high.
My October issue of the IDEA Fitness Journal had an article on food addiction and the effects of sugar on our brain chemistry. Without going into all the science behind these studies, the gist of the article states that hyperpalatables such as sugary, starchy, fatty and salty foods have a direct effect on dopamine; the neurotransmitter that signals when rewards are present, motivates us to seek rewards, promotes exploring and learning about rewards and maintains awareness about reward related cues. It goes on to say that Cocaine and Heroin target and hijack this reward system and so do appetite controlling hormones.
Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institue on Drug Abuse used PET scans and radioactive chemicals that bind to dopamine receptors in 2001 and their research revealed that obese people had fewer dopamine receptors in the brain’s striatum (reward center) and therefore had to eat more to experience the same rewards or “high” as people of average weight.
Studies with rats showed that when they were given free access to typical hyperpalatble foods, their brain structure changes the same as if Cocaine were ingested. Functional MRI studies proved that both obese and lean women who demonstrate addictive behavior around food show the same pattern of neural activity as a chronic drug user: high levels of anticipation and low levels of satisfaction after consumption.
There is hope. The book; The Hunger Fix: The Three Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction by Pam Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP goes into detail about how reducing stress, regular exercise and a diet rich in Omega-3s can have a positive effect on our brain chemistry. For more detailed information, I recommend you get the book.
One thing we must do however is to detox. Pick a day and make a decision to stop eating those “foods” that keep you in the cycle of addictive eating. Be prepared with lots of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean sources of protein. If you aren’t already; start exercising. Even getting out for walks will have a positive influence on your stress levels and mood. Surround yourself with people who will support you in this endeavor and avoid those who sabotage your efforts.

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Superstrongnana Turns the Big 5-0

My AARP card arrived in the mail today. I guess it’s official, I am now a senior citizen.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks, including my first ever trip abroad. In case you are wondering, I reached my goal of flipping the tire 50 times. I did it twice, once with my 17 year old son. It’s hard to conceive that in February, I was not sure I could do it. I remember the first few weeks of training and the whole time I had that little voice inside of my head telling me that it can’t be done. I remember days feeling utterly defeated by that tire. I remember the massive bruising and swelling.

I’ve learned that with proper training and progression, I can do way more than I thought possible. I’ve also learned how incredible the human body is at adapting. The last few weeks of my tire flipping training, I never bruised. Not only did my muscles and bones and cardiovascular system adapt to the stress, but so did my tissue.

I’ve been back from vacation for just over a week now and I am slowly getting back into the workout groove and adjusting to our soul sucking heat.

Having reached a goal that I worked so hard for has left me feeling a bit empty and lost. For months I had something to work for and focus on and now that I’ve checked it off my list I’m trying to figure out what’s next for me.

I have so much that I want to do. Accomplishing such an incredible goal is empowering and now I want to set MY bar higher. I find my biggest problem is workout ADD. I want to do it all. I want to train for and be good at everything.

So this week I sat down and sorted through my goals. My goal for this year is to train for and compete in a strongman competition. I’ve been researching and there just aren’t that many women competing. The events change depending on the competition so I know that I have to train for different strength events. The other thing I have my sites set on is passing the new standards to recertify for my RKC level 2.

The new requirements involve doing Windmills, Turkish Get Ups, double presses, push presses and jerks with a Kettlebell that is 1/3 higher than snatch weight. At my current weight, my snatch size bell is the 16 kilo (35 pounds). So that means training to be able to pass all the requirements with a 20-22 kilo bell (45-50 pounds).

Here’s the catch; now that I am 50 years old, I can perform all the required skills with lighter weights, but I don’t want to. How can I inspire my clients and my followers by using my age as a barrier? I started this blog to inspire grandparents and older people everywhere to break through the barriers, stereotypes and limits they or society puts on them due to age.

With two majors goals for the year, I have to get focused. As Dan John says, “I have to make the goal, the goal”. For the next 40 days I will be doing Dan John’s Easy Strength program. It’s simple but not easy. I pick several skills that I want to improve and that is what I do…for 40 days. For the people like me with workout ADD, the hardest part is sticking to the program. The lifts I picked are Deadlift, Presses and Pull ups. To this I add Snatches or some other conditioning work. The workouts are designed to always leave some “gas in the tank”. The sets and reps change but the exercises stay the same…for 40 days.

I love going to my gym and having a plan and I love the idea of focusing on the lifts and get stronger without the stress of doing max weights and going to failure. I find that too many people workout way beyond the point of no return. I love the idea of leaving some gas in the tank.

Yes, I have big, crazy goals for this year, but I will begin by going back to basics. Getting stronger in the major lifts will give me a good base for everything else I want to accomplish in the next year.

I still plan on doing my trail running/walking with friends and I will spend one day a week learning and working on the odd object lifting required for strongman competitions but the meat of my program will be spent on the basics. Simple but not easy.

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