Still my therapist

Back a few years ago I wrote a post entitled Gym is MY therapist . It talked about my journey of finding the beauty of the barbell.  This is a continuation of where I have been since then. Lets sum up the past year: Quit the gym. Bought a squat rack. Heart stopped working quite right. Surgery in June. Recovery for 2 months. Afraid to start lifting again. Stress, stress and stress. Hubby got me a online personal trainer for a Christmas present. Cousins at Christmas insisted I go lift with them! (Thank you Nick and Derrek, you guys are the best!) And now we are in May of 2016 and I have been lifting again for 4 months or so.

Let me introduce myself: I am a mom. I homeschool. I teach at the local co-op (i.e. classes for homeschool children). I am a youth minister. My girls play the violin and harp. And we all fence (swordfighting sort of)! I love to crochet, quilt and garden. And I love to cook. To say the least, I have a full schedule most weeks. And I also volunteer where I can.

I have a squat rack with 310 lbs of weights, a barbell and a bench. It lives in my living room. Nothing fancy at all. I got a super great deal on it due to a store going out of business. I found some boards in the garage that I rubber banded together so that I can board press and I invested in some bands. I use what I have to get the work done. And for now 310 lbs will do me nicely.

So how do I fit lifting into this wild world I live in?

Well, here it is: I lift after I get my kids to bed! I don’t like lifting before Dave goes to work, because I don’t want to lift on an empty stomach. I am not a morning person. And I am grouchy if that wasn’t implied before I get my cup of coffee. Once my day starts, I really don’t have time to carve an hour out to lift. So I end my day with lifting. I can all hear the moaning: but I am so tired at the end of the day. Well so am I, but this is important to me and my well-being. And I know that sweet spot of pure bliss is about to come!

We started with a four day a week lift schedule.
Monday – Bench
Tuesday -> fencing and then coming home to Squat
Wednesday -> REST
Thursday -> fencing and then coming home to OHP
Friday — Deadlift
Saturday -> Fencing
Sunday -> REST ….

After a few months, we figured out that wasn’t going to work. I was getting overwhelmed with trying to get everything done. So we have modified it down to a 3 day lift schedule. Monday -> Bench
Tuesday -> Fence
Wednesday -> Squat
Thursday -> Fence
Friday -> OHP/Deadlifts
Saturday-> Fence
Sunday -> Rest

So the kids are normally in bed by 8:30. Then, I get dressed into workout clothing. I don’t have too, but it makes me feel better and besides I sweat ALOT! No reason to ruin my every day clothing! So I am at my “gym” by 9pm. It usually takes me an hour to finish my programming. And like last night, it got interrupted by a little girl who couldn’t sleep. Their are days when I am overwhelmed with preparing lesson plans, church ministry, sick children, myself getting sick, whatever lift decides to through at me: All I can get accomplished is my main lift. And I leave without any guilt and I go to bed.

But to be honest, it was easier to lift when I went to the gym. It was on my calendar. I was meeting someone at the gym (physical trainer). He was there to make me do one more set or to say that is enough stop. Everyone, well most everyone, was also lifting. The kids went to the gym day care. There was no distractions.

Now, I don’t have to drive to the gym. I just walk to the living room. I don’t have anyone that makes me go. I have to pass all the things that need my attention. I step over Shopkins that my daughter left out. Or a puzzle we have been working on. Move my other daughter’s paintings from the bench because it was the perfect place to allow them to dry. Its a living room. We live there. And I lift there. Sometimes, when the girls stay up late I lift while listening to Jesse play in the background, or whatever kids show they are watching at the time.

Is it all worth it? Definitely. Even when my schedule is over-filled. And lifting is just one more thing I have to get done. Lifting helps me be a better Wife, a better Mom, a better person. Lifting is my therapist. My stress relief. It is hard to explain. But when I place the bar on my back. It settles onto that sweet spot. Everything feels tight. I look up. Everything fades away. I don’t see the weights on the bar. I don’t see the messy room. I don’t hear all the nagging crap going on in my head. It all goes away. I see the lift. I believe the lift. I do the lift! Those few moments are pure bliss for me.

How do I make it work?. I have a huge support system. 1) From my husband! I cannot say he understands my need to lift. He doesn’t understand how it clears my head. But he sees the results of my lifting. 2) My coach: He understands that life, not being healthy (several issues going on.. heart is only the tip of that iceberg), sucks at times. And there is only so much you can do. And truly listening to your body is important. There is a time for everything. A time to push hard and a time to rest hard. However, when it is time to work, we work! 3) My children: They understand that I want to be strong. They understand I want to be healthy. They encourage me to be better! Lifting is a priority in my life because of what it does for me. So at 8:45, when I am tired and I have a list of things a mile long, I am usually getting ready to go find that moment of bliss where that list doesn’t live.


The Gym is my therapist!

But it didn’t start that way.  The gym was a means to an end.   I just was going to lose enough weight to get the doctor’s off my back.   Got tired of hearing:  Your overweight.  You need to lose weight.  Your FAT!    Never solutions other than eat less, exercise more. Oh yeah and drugs.  Here are some magic pills that will make everything better.  (For the record, I refused them.)   I also had no problem with my weight.  I carried it well.   I kept up with the kids.   Yeah I was tired, but ask any mother and they will tell you that.   I kept asking myself, if I am okay with my weight, why can’t they be okay with my weight.    Well, I will never get the answer to that question.

So to the gym I went.  But I knew that if I was going to be successful at this endeavor, I was going to have to have a personal trainer.   I had to have that “appointment” scheduled in my daily planner.   I had to be held accountable.    Plus, I had never really ever been in a gym.   I was 34 years old and walking into a gym was like my worst nightmare.   I didn’t play sports in highschool.   Never even knew we had a weight room at my highschool until last year.  HA!      So I hired a personal trainer.   She and I got along just fine.    And we did alot of isolation training.   And boy did I find muscles that I never even knew existed.   There were alot of days I could barely walk I was so sore.    But she helped me manage that as well.   I really didn’t like going to the gym.  But it was an appt in my planner, so I went.  Plus I was trying to drop under 200 lbs.

Well one thing led to another and I had to take 2 weeks off to go help my Grandmother who was trying to fight cancer.   I got a phone call on the way home, that my trainer had left and she had transferred me over to another trainer at the gym.   Well,  that is when my gym time got flipped upside down.   Andrew introduced me to the barbell.   And I fell in love with it.   No more machines for me!  I want to feel that steel on my hands, over my head, on my back!   We started out with the little sissy bar.   I still use it for my clean and snatches, but boy, I despise that bar.   Everyone I saw was using the 45 lb bar and here I was using the “LADIES” bar.  I even hate its name.   Any how, at some point, I moved up bars, and rarely does that bar come out.

I mean today, I was doing clean and jerks.   And I totally nailed 95 lbs with no issues.  (It is totally mental.. I know this… and it normally eats my lunch.)   But not today!    100 lbs now that took some effort.  I tried and tried and tried… And I just couldn’t get the timing right with the lift.    (I still have some form issues I need to work on as well…  But all in good time).   Finally on the 4th attempt, I nailed the clean.  It was ugly, but it was done.. and I promptly set the bar down…  I totally forgot the jerk portion of the lift.  I was so freaking excited that I got the clean!  I was ready to celebrate.  Ha!   It was a good laugh.  Time to focus and make the next lift.    It was still 100 lbs but this time I was going to clean and jerk!    And I pulled it up, snapped under it, caught the weight in a squat and forced my elbows forward and stood up.   It felt so much prettier than the first 100 lb clean!   Let the weight settle on my shoulders and deep breathe and the weight flies up over my head!   YEAH!!!   Did you hear that?!   All the cheering.. Probably not because it is all in my head!    But that rush that you get when you have been struggling and finally it all just goes right and you complete that lift.   It is the BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD.

I know that every day I go to the gym, I am probably not going to have that feeling.   And there are days, that I just want to scream and get mad and angry and nothing went well.   I feel like crap.   But I know that is just part of the journey.  That the mountain in front of me, WILL be conquered and I will move on to another mountain.    But it is days like today that you feel spectacularly wonderful because you have moved a bit closer to removing that mountain in front of you.

I am so thankful that I was introduced to the barbell.   I am thankful for the people I have met because of it.   And trust me, there are some really awesome people that I have met (maybe not in person, but still) because of my weekly date with the barbell.  I have some great friends that listen to me on the bad days, and celebrate with me on the good days!   I am thankful I have a date with a barbell!

Looking around

I was going on a run today.   If you don’t know I hate running.   But I run anyway.   A great friend says you should train things that you aren’t good at.   Well running is one of those things.   And today I ran for a bit longer than a mile and half.    And I thought about where I was last year.    Last year, this time, I had just started running.  I mean JUST started running.   My best friend decided I was going to run my first 5k just to get it under my belt.    And I did.  I finished under my goal of 38 minutes.   And I just barely beat that.   But most importantly, I finished.

This timelast year, I couldn’t run a mile without stopping and sucking in tons of air.   I was getting frustrated because I didn’t feel like I was ever going to be able to run a mile without effort.   Everyone talks about getting a second wind when you run…  Well to this day, I am still wondering where the heck that is…     Last year, I could barely increase my distance more than ONE THOUSANDTH of a mile at a time.   Yes, I would .56 of a mile one day.. and .57 the next day.  Because that is all my little mind could wrap my head around.    Seriously…  some days it was all I could to go the same distance I did the day before.

But today, I went for a run.   And yes, the first half mile sucked and I wanted to just stop and walk back home, but I knew better.. Just have to push through those demons that want to tell you to stop.    And after that first 1/2 mile, things got a bit easier and I got into a rhythm that I was comfortable with and I ran my predetermined route.   I still hate running by the way.

It always does me good to think back every once and awhile because it drives me forward.   Last year I couldn’t dream of just leaving my house with my earphones on and just go for a run.   Never mind a mile and half.   In fact, I probably would have put money on the table that it would never happen.   I had try running in the past and it went horribly.   I was determined that it was going to go horribly again.    (Thank you Erin and Andrew, for never giving up on me and pushing me when I didn’t think I could push myself any more.)

So on my list of things to accomplish this year is a 10k.   And quite honestly, this scares me.  It is 6.2 miles in case you didn’t know.   6 miles… which means I would be running for over an 1 hour and half.   I am trying to convince myself that I can do this.     There is a 10k in 2 weeks.    So I guess it is time to face this demon!

Feels Good

Today was just an ordinary day at the gym.  Well sorta.  In the middle of doing my rounds, Andrew asked me if my PR was 120?  Then he remembered my last PR was 185 and asked if the weight was too light.   I said something more or less along the following lines:   “yes, you can definitely put more weight on or we need to increase reps or something as they aren’t challenging”.  Well that is what I eventually got out as I was doing burpees at the time.    So on another 20 lbs goes!    So another set or two and i realized that I was having no issues at all doing a deadlift with 120 lbs.   While that is probably nothing to most people who deadlift, this was my PR 2 months ago.   I was like… I am deadlifting my personal record 2 months ago without any issues what so ever.   I mean it is a great feeling to add more weight on to any bar and successfully lift it.  But when your PR becomes part of your normal lifting routine and it was I dare say EASY:  that is just a great feeling.    And believe it or not, burpees are becoming less challenging as well.   I need to keep working on doing pushups here at the house to help continue to master pushups.     They are looking and feeling better!   And I dreaded the dumbbell swings as well.   And even though they were hard, it was all manageable!   I had a great time at the gym today.

I will….

I have alot that I keep thinking about in my head.  So it is best to just jot it down and dump it tonight.    This week has been a tough week in the gym!   But I have been asking for it.   I kept throwing around the E word… That nasty E word!  ha!   And truthfully, I was working hard at the gym, but it seemed a bit too easy.   Easy isn’t the right word.  It wasn’t challenging.  It was status quo.   I probably could have done another set or two.   Well…. that all changed this week.   I worked hard this week.  Harder than I have in a long time.  I got frustrated.  I struggled.   It was like that stupid bar was messing with my head.   I mean… I can front squat 120 lbs….   There was only 75 lbs on the bar…   yet, i couldn’t clean it easily.  I struggled.   Mentally alot because I knew I could squat it if I could only clean it.   It took me 3-4 times to clean it.   God that messed with my mind.   Today, I couldn’t keep up with my training partner.   She was a monster today.   And truthfully, I didn’t know that I WANTED to go to the gym.   But 40 minutes before my scheduled time, my trainer texts me:  Can you be here in 10 minutes…..   So I went.   But that bothers me.  I actually contemplated not going.   I was so afraid of not being able to do what I was going to be asked.   Yeah I know!  I need to have more FAITH and CONFIDENCE.   I lack it.  I know.     And oh what fun was to be had.    A Deck of cards… a barbell and a dumbbell…   about 15-10 cards left, I wanted to quit.   I was sore.  I was sweaty.  I was beyond done.    But I kept going.   I finished.    Not exactly sure.  I remember telling someone that I couldn’t even feel my legs anymore while doing squats.   But I kept going.

This week sucked.   BUT lets look at the upside.  Because that is where the lesson is:  I did more than I didn’t think I could do!  I finished when I wanted to give up.   I have a great support system that I need to learn to trust, have faith, and believe in.   I will get stronger!  I will overcome pushups.   I will overcome burpees.   I will clean 75 lbs!   I will move forward!


Sorry for not posting lately. I got the flu, a kidney infection, and pneumonia.   I stayed out of the hospital and only missed 2 training sessions.   Yippee!   I still have been going to the gym.  I think I was training 3x a week before I stopped posting, but I have had a shift in my work schedule that allows me to go the gym at the minimum of 5x a week and up to 7 days a week.   Last week I made it all 7 days!  Go me!   I am still living too.      So before we get to the post that has been stuck in my head for freaking days, lets get to the positive news!   Saturday, I front squatted 100 lbs!!!!   ROCK ON!  is all I have to say.   We started with just the 45 lb bar.  I did 10 reps… Did other misc things, came back to the bar, and added 5 lbs to it.   So it was 50 lbs.   Did 3 reps and moved on.   At some point we started moving up by 10 lbs.   Don’t ask me when, as I don’t count weight when I am training… That is Andrew’s job!  =)     At some point, we stopped doing all the other misc stuff, and went to only squatting.   I only did one rep and then sat down.  increased weight and did another rep!   I got to 100 lbs!   Anyway, no one else might think it is awesome, but I do!

So, Andrew and Erin have both been encouraging me to run.  I hate running.  One reason, I am horrible at it and I feel horrible after I run.   Did I mention I hate running?   Anyway, I was doing intervals on the treadmill trying to increase speed and was listening to the words to some music.   Well I am a person that if I don’t know that I can do something successfully, then I normally don’t do it.   I like staying in my little bubble.   Fear is a powerful thing.  It can keep you from doing stupid things.   And then it can paralyze you.    And that is where I have been.  Fearful I won’t be able to complete a mud run.   I have never been athletic.   Even with the aforementioned squat PR, I don’t consider myself athletic.   Yes, I go to the gym.  Yes, I complete what ever Andrew asks of me.     But doing these runs, just has had me paralyzed that I was unable to complete them.  If I cannot complete it, then there is no reason to try.

But you know, there is a reason to try.  Who cares if I cannot complete the run.   I at least attempted it.  There has to be something about that.  And what am I teaching my kids.   Stay in your comfort zone.   It is nice and easy there.    So the words that were in the music that made me change my mind was:   “And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance; I hope you dance!”

So I have told Andrew I would do a Mud Run.   We will start small and go from there!   Apparently there is a 5k at the end of March.   So we shall see what happens.

Well, of course, I did.   They were 25 cents per 3 lbs.   How could I not?    We like sweet potatoes at this house.    Well I thought I would do a tutorial about what to do with 18 lbs of sweet potatoes.

First, wash and stab all your sweet potatoes.   The sweet potato is quite tough, so PLEASE be careful and use a sturdy blade.  If it won’t go all the way though, just stab them on both sides.   After that put them on a cookie sheet like this:

1st Step

2nd:   Put them in the oven at 425 or so.   Let them cook until they are all smooshy.   About an hour.    There is no exact time with this.    Some of the sweet potatoes will start to spill juices on to the baking sheet.   This is okay!  =)   As you can see I put 2 sheets of potatoes in!

2nd.  I used both racks

Once they are smooshy, take them out of the oven and let them cool.   Once they are cooled, you can peel them.   You won’t need a knife or anything.   The skins should just peel off.   I put my peeled potatoes in a BIG bowl.


As you can see in the picture, the one side is my peeled potatoes, and I started mashing with a plain old potato masher.   If you want them to be pureed, feel free to put them in a food processor.    I just used the potato masher.     Once you get them all mashed up, then you can put them into freezer bags.   Be sure to mark them.  As I have pumpkin in the freezer too.  Hard to tell the difference.   Just put what ever your family will eat in one sitting.   I put about 3 cups in each quart bag.     If you only need 1 cup, then just freeze them in 1 cup increments.   Make sure you try to get as much air out of the bag as you can.   20121231_150956

So what do you do with mashed sweet potatoes.    Well you can eat them just like they are.   You can put them into a baking dish, reheat them up with some butter, cinnamon and sugar.    You can turn them into sweet potato casserole, pie, bread, or soups.   They are quite versatile.    Hope this helps.