superstrongnana

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set Backs and Come Backs

July 26th 2015, I competed in my second powerlifting meet. I was the leanest I had been in years. I was strong and I was physically prepared. My numbers weren’t the best. In fact, the weights I was lifting the weeks prior to the meet were much higher. I let myself feel disappointed, but not for long. I knew that that was the last meet I would do. It was a goal and it required a lot of time and hard work, but I was ready to move on.

I actually didn’t want to compete because of the very specific training I had to do which interfered with other goals I wanted to accomplish. I mainly did it because my youngest son, Nigel was competing in his first meet and I wanted to do it together. It was a great bonding experience.

The week I got back, I had much needed surgery on my thumb. I had put it off for a year while I was training and endured a lot of pain. My cartilage was gone and my bones were wearing down from chronic arthritis.

The procedure is Carpel Metacarpal Arthroplasty. They shave down the bones or remove the more deteriorated bone and use the forearm tendon to replace the cartilage. It was pretty invasive surgery. Full recovery can take up to a year. Of course, I knew or rather thought that would not apply to me.

I devised a workout program that I could do to work around my hand. I was quite proud of myself. I busted my ass in the gym despite my disability. Little did I realize that even though I avoided using my hand, that my workouts were stalling my recovery. When the pain didn’t subside and sometimes got worse, my doctor explained that I was still contracting the joint. It was time to take off and focus on recovery.

My lack of consistent exercise soon turned into eating junk and weight gain. It was depressing to see the scale and my body fat go up, yet it didn’t stop me. I ate junk, felt bad and so I ate more junk.

In October of that year, I was slowly working out again but with modifications and then I broke my foot. I spent the next six weeks in a cast. Almost immediately after getting my cast off, I had to have kidney surgery to remove a huge stone and with that came a stint and more time off. Shortly after that, I hurt my back because I rushed back into working out instead of focusing on regaining quality movement and mobility.

Basically, I was injured or recovering from injuries from July through December. Physically, mentally and emotionally, it was one of the lowest points of my life. I ended up completely out of shape and weighing the most I’ve ever weighed in my life.

I was ashamed of my body and felt like a failure as a fitness instructor. Who is going to listen to me when I can’t even get my own crap together?

Last month, after starting and failing more times than I can count, I decided I needed help. Left to my own devices, I will sit on the couch and drown my sorrows in Oreos while watching a Cops marathon. I finally decide to get help. I hired a team of professionals to help me not only with the physical aspects of my life but with the emotional part, which for me is a huge piece of the puzzle.

I got myself a trainer, Beth Andrews,who is helping me reach my next performance goals. I hired a dietitian, Jon Allen to help me relearn to eat healthy and lose this excess fat and I hired a health coach , Carol Donahoe to help me get back on track in all areas of my life.

Having accountability to each of these people is what drives me to succeed. I just started recently and can already see changes in my life. After almost 10 months of being lost, out of control and depressed, I now have a plan of action and a purpose. Although progress is slow since I am just starting with getting my strength back and my eating under control, I feel hope and I feel empowered.

Maybe the last ten months have been a blessing. I now know that if I want to succeed and be the best I can be, I need help. It was a hard lesson to learn but that’s ok because I made the decision to change and I’ve surrounded myself with the right people to help me.

Oh How I Love My Data

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form] 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

 

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.

Super Fun Workout

I’ve recently let the guys from Tallahassee Strongman use my gym for their training. I decided to join them when I could between my other workouts.

These workouts are tough but so much fun. I leave feeling empowered and proud that this almost 51 year old grandmother can accomplish amazing feats of strength. I know that many women and men my age feel that it’s time to slow down. They are afraid that hard challenging workouts are not in their cards anymore. I’m here to tell you that it’s not true.

With proper progression and a solid program that includes joint mobility and movement prep along with recovery, almost anything is possible.

I am constantly inspired by people my age and older who do not let the aging process slow them down. I am in awe of those people doing Ironman, marathons, powerlifting and other seemingly impossible workouts.

They motivate me to continue to get stronger and more fit. My golden years are going to be my best ever!

Here is a video of Sunday’s workout with the guys. I pulled and SUV and did a 115 pound atlas stone lift. Now that was fun!

Super Strong Nana is coming up on 51

Wow, what happened to the year? Seems like I just turned 50 not long ago. Fifty has been great and I am looking forward to 51. Crazy to think that I will soon be a woman in her “50s”.

I remember thinking 50 was old..hell, I remember thinking 30 was old. Aging was always a scary thought. I think it was because my perception of older people, especially those over 50 was what totally wrong. I used to think that I would be overweight, move slow, drive slow, have a ton of wrinkles, drive a sedan, eat at cafeterias and start all my sentences with, “When I was your age”.

Reality is that I am in better shape, move better and look better than I have in the past 50 years. I drive an awesome fully loaded Chevy Avalanche and I’m happy to report that I have not eaten in a cafeteria. Ok, I have to admit that I have used the words, “When I was your age” a few times, but only to make a point.

One of the best things that I have found that comes with age is that I am less concerned with what people think of me. I can’t tell you how much that has changed my attitude and my self esteem. With age comes wisdom and with wisdom comes peace.

This month I am going to feature interviews with some incredible men and women in their 50s who inspire and motivate me and I hope it does the same for you.

New Adventures in Training

Recently I met with Strongman competitor, Dave Covan of Tallahassee Strongman. He was looking for a new gym to bring his crew for training. The typical gym does not think kindly of heavy deadlifts, chalk, Atlas Stones, kegs etc.

One of my goals for last year was to compete in a strongman competition. As I invited his crew to use my gym, I realize, I no longer had an excuse. At my disposal was a competent, experienced trainer, strongman equipment and a group of guys training with the same goal in mind.

I joined them on Sunday for my first strongman/woman workout. I invited my friend, Madeline who like me, enjoys doing weird, challenging workouts.

I already do online training with Brett Jones of Applied Strength, he gave me permission to add a “fun” day of Strongman training. So during the week, I work on my movement skills and do specific training to reach my other goal of doing the RKC Iron Maiden in 2013.

I love turning my training over to experienced coaches and trainers. Left to my own devices, I would probably never reach my goals and worse, I would probably end up hurting myself.

So on Sunday, I had my first taste of strongman skill training and I loved it. While the guys were doing massive farmer’s walks, Madeline and I loaded up other bars with enough weight to equal 85 pounds per hand for our carries. It was tough, but we did it. I am thankful that my nail bending and grip ball pullups have made my grip strong.

We also did our first yoke walks. This was seriously intimidating. We did our first set with no weight. The yoke weighed 135 pounds. After getting comfortable with walking with a huge contraption on our back, we added weight equalling 175 pounds. It was tough but still doable. I stopped myself from going any heavier. If I learned one thing over the last year, it’s that my injuries always occur from going too heavy too fast. I have learned to train smarter, not harder.

So, here is a quick glimpse of my first day of training.

Super Strong Nana is Getting Stronger

Working out alone is getting easier, obviously the blogging is not. It’s not that I don’t have stuff to write, it’s just that I get lazy when it comes to writing. It’s really a lack of discipline. I’m finally getting more disciplined with my workouts but now I have to carry that over to my home and work life.

A lot has happened since my last blog. I have continued working with Brett Jones. We Facetime every couple of weeks and he sends me workouts based on my goals.

As I have mentioned before, my goals include completing the RKC Iron Maiden Challenge in the next year. That includes a pull up, press and pistol squat with a 24 kilo (53 pound) Kettlebell as well as a double body weight deadlift.

So far I have been doing weight ladders for Turkish Get Ups and pressing. It’s been 4-5 sets of 1 rep using different weights. I’ve also been doing single DL, Squats, pull ups and single leg DLs.

When I received my first workout, I was shocked to see a single get up with a 24 kilo bell. I was directed to just do it as far as I can. I was certain I couldn’t do it, so I chose a lighter weight the first time. The second time, I decided to use the 24k but just do the roll to press and see how that went. I felt pretty solid and I ended up doing a full TGU on both sides!

http://youtu.be/SzNZKej249c

One thing I had to learn about PRs (personal records) is that they are elusive. I just assumed that now I would always be able to do my Get Ups with a 24 kilo and my presses with a 20 kilo. Wrong!!

Some days I can’t even come close and once in a while I can do it with ease.

The next few weeks have me backing off on weight and focusing on reps. One important thing is that you should never train your max all the time. I used to do that and ended up getting hurt. I’m pretty confident that when I go back to the heavy singles, I will be much stronger and my PRs will become my normal.

Superstrong Nana says, Suck it 50

Just thought I would start a Facebook album with pictures of me defying my age. I hope this inspires you and shows you that age is just a number.

At 50 years young, I am in better shape and much stronger than I have ever been. I am making time for movement prep and proper warm ups so that I can workout for the long haul.

Superstrong Nana has a new PR

Super excited today. I’ll keep this short but I just have to share.

As you might know from reading previous posts; I have a very hard time working out by myself. I have tried to set my self up for success by having a workout partner or meeting friends for workouts.

My workout partner, Jerritt moved to the other side of town. He used to live a couple miles from the gym so it was easy for us to meet in the afternoons. Not anymore.

We tried meeting after his midnight shift as a police officer but we were both exhausted and our workouts suffered. So I had to dig deep and start flying solo.

It’s tough but so far so good. I guess having a solid goal is what is driving me to workout alone. I am finding although I still get distracted, I am able to do this.

Yesterday was a huge PR for me. After a long, long time trying to get one good dead hang Pull up, I actually got 3 good ones in a row. I never expect to get the third one (see previous post on confidence) but yesterday I surprised myself…and I did it for 3 sets!!

After I finished my workout, it was time to goof off and I thought I would try a two finger hanging leg raise with feet to my head. Just goes to show (me) that you never know what you are capable of until you try.