Olympic Lifting Competition – Review

I did it. I competed in my first ever Olympic Lifting Competition. I waited a couple days before writing about it so I had time to reflect on the experience. I know that I have a habit of being very hard on myself, especially if I don’t live up to my high expectations. To cut to the chase, I didn’t PR at the comp, nor did I hit weights I had previously hit. I was surprised by how incredibly nervous I was, how much I got in my head and just how much it affected my abilities. I was pretty upset at myself at first, but after spending some time thinking about how far I had come in the past couple months I decide beating myself up wasn’t productive and it was better to be proud I had taken the risk and just focus that energy on further gains instead of negative thoughts.

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I got to the box that the competition was being held at at 8:30 for registration check in and weigh in. We lined up as they weighed us, confirmed our starting lifts and wrote it all down on a card. Maybe it’s just because I have a history of distorted body image, but I loved the fact that all of the women weighed in and had their weights said out-loud without batting an eyelid. I remember a time where stepping on the scale could make or break not only the day, but the whole week. To be surrounded by women who didn’t care what the number was and finding myself to be one of them was empowering. 

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Next I hung around with the two girls from my box who were also competing. They were definitely in a class above me, really strong girls and very inspiring. We did a typical Oly stretching warm up followed by individualized barbell warm ups our Oly coach had written for us depending on our starting lifts. They consisted of: good mornings, front squats, press, overhead squat, jerk, rdl and cleans (all with just the barbell). Then we slowly added weight doing 1-3 reps until we reached 5 lbs below our starting weight. 

They organized us from lightest start weight to heaviest. For the snatch I was 4th from the top, for clean I was 8th from the top. For each lift you stand on a stage, in front of a room of people in dead silence. There are three judges in front of you who determine whether the lifts counts or doesn’t by flashing a red or white card. You get three total chances at both the clean and jerk and the snatch. I missed the first attempt (what should have been very light) at both the clean and jerk and the snatch because I was so incredibly nervous. Both of them I missed because I didn’t lock out my arms at the top, but instead got the weight up with a bend in my elbows and finished by pushing it overhead until my arms were straight.  I got stuck at 70lb snatch and 110lb clean and jerk, neither of which were what my current PRs are. That was frustrating, but once again I just have to keep reminding myself it was my first competition and, hopefully, the next one will mean less nerves and more PRs. 

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A lot of people came to watch, both from my box and my coworker and the girl I used to workout with prior to joining crossfit. It was really nice to have all that support and people to distract me in between lifts. It also felt really great that they could have been anywhere on a nice saturday morning and chose to come cheer us on. Gotta love the CF community.

Originally they said that I had gotten 8th place (out of 18), but they later sent out an email correcting themselves and bumping me down to 11th. Another little bummer moment, but moving on from that. Now it’s time to focus on new goals. I want to get my “engine” in better shape. I went trail running the other day and died and I’m determined to go back and run the same loop in a couple months and have it not be a problem. As of now there are no competitions on the horizon (running or lifting) for the first time in like 7 months. I’m sure that won’t last too long though. I love having those goals to push me in my training.

How was your weekend?

Do you like competitions?

What motivates you to work harder?

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The Shoes Make the Woman – Reebok Lifters

My Oly shoes came just in time for my last practice! I ended up going with the pink simply because it turns out the black and white didn’t come in my size. I think they are pretty snazzy though.

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I spent the first half hour after I got them using them around my apartment, overhead squatting my dog and such. They make SUCH a huge difference. The have a good sized heel in them, so if you have tight calves/hammies like I do they make it easier to get into a deep squat when you are actually a bit elevated on your toes. Cheating? Maybe a little, but I’m hoping they help me get used to being in that position so I eventually won’t need them as much.

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This morning I was able to use them for my final Oly Training before the competition Saturday Morning. We did some light snatches, jerks, clean pulls and snatch deadliest.  They definitely helped and it made me wish I had gotten them a long time ago. SO, if you are considering getting some – DO IT. They are amazing. I can’t wait to train in them for my next Oly Comp, whenever that may be.

I am off to be productive in the less fun part of my life, aka school and work. But check back tonight for a delicious Bacon Meatloaf recipe. Layers of beef and bacon, what could be better?

Five Days Till Olympic Lifting Comp

Five Days. 5. That’s all I have until my Oly Comp. I can’t believe it’s finally this close. I am incredibly nervous and get knots in my stomach just thinking about it. Two and a half months ago when I decided that I wanted to make this a goal, I had snatched an empty bar twice, had never jerked and was cleaning 80lbs. I know I have come a long way, but it’s hard to focus on that instead of how much further I have to go. I’m hoping this competition just sparks more of an interest and isn’t discouraging.

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I have to submit my starting and attempt weights by Wednesday evening. You get three chances at each lift and I’m still not 100% sure what I want to go for. I was talking to my Oly Lifting Coach today, trying to figure out where to start/what to attempt. He’s gonna come up with a warm-up plan for me Saturday and he wants me to not go heavier than 60% of my max weight during practices this week. It’s really hard to stick to that weight, I’ve gotten slightly addicted to trying to go heavier and heavier. But I know it’s best to let my muscles rest a bit, and I’ll probably focus more on running/hill sprints to get my energy out while going light.

One thing I’ve gotten used to while prepping for this Oly Comp is being constantly bruised. If you follow me on Instagram then you may have seen the pic of my bruised and tattered legs. Every time after I jerk and I bring the bar down, I catch it slightly with my legs to absorb the weight. This means lots of little bruises above my knees from receiving the weight. Also, bruised pelvic/hip bones from thrusting during snatches.

Bruises on my collar bones/shoulders have also become the norm from receiving the weight during cleans. I’ve been promised these bruises will stop happening as much once the scar tissue forms and I have to admit I am looking forward to that day so I don’t look like I am getting beat up on the daily.

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The rest of this week I just need to focus on mobilizing, improving form with light weight and visualizing getting a new PR. And not vomittng from nerves when I step on the platform, thought that’s really out of my hands.

Do you like to compete?

How do you deal with the nerves?

A Week of PR’s

Well hello there! Sorry it’s been a while, it’s not you, it’s me. I’ve been ridiculously busy at school, work and in general  kicking ass and taking names. I know, I know.. I’m been cocky but I feel I’m allowed to brag a little since this week I got four PRs in Cleans, Jerks, Front Squats and Back Squats. I’ve had a couple people ask me if I am still doing the Oly Comp and all I can say is hell yeah, I am! It’s less than two weeks away and I am slightly terrified, but I signed up to push myself outside of my comfort zone and get a foot in the Oly Lifting Door, so here I am. I’m not expecting to do anything crazy as far as heavy weight goes, but I do feel like for me it’s finally all starting to come together. My squats are getting lower, my hips are thrusting faster (haha) and I’m getting my elbows up in record time (for me).

This past week I took advantage of the open gym at my CrossFit box and went in for two separate workouts on Sunday. The first one was just Cleans, trying to actually find my one rep max, front squats and presses. The previous time I did this I was at 103. That was one month ago. On Sunday I got 115 and was so close to 120! I came in later that day to attempt 120 again because I couldn’t get it out of my mind, but still couldn’t quite get it. I stepped away, did a WOD to take my frustration out and know that in a little bit more time that 120lb clean will be mine.

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I also PR’d with Front Squats with 105 (Yes I know its weird I can clean more than I front squat, that’s my main problem), finally was able to squat my body weight (140), which has been like a 7 month goal and this morning I got a 120lb Jerk. Now if I can just bring my clean up to 120, I will be all set for the comp!

I’m also going to take the plunge and invest in some real Oly Lifting shoes. My CF Coach had me try front squatting with 5 lb plates under my heels and it made a world of difference. I will definitely still work on stretching out my hammies so I don’t need that extra boost that the shoes provide, but until then I think the shoes will definitely help me and I’m looking for any help I can get before the comp.

Now, question for you. Up to this point, all my shoes are pink. I’m not quite sure how that happened, because I don’t own any pink clothing outside of gym items. Should I keep in the pink trend with my lifting shoes, or go for the black and whites?

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10 Things Lifting and CrossFit Taught Me About Myself

Edit:  I am shocked no one has pointed out this is actually 11 things and I messed up the numbering. I just noticed it and my Type A-ness is going crazy, so I had to put in a disclaimer: I can’t count. 

3 1/2 years ago I stumbled across a blog while looking for new vegetarian/vegan recipes.Throughout the years I kept reading as the blogger eventually admitted her vegan/vegetarian lifestyle had been hiding an eating disorder (I could relate), added meat to her diet, and started CrossFitting.

The blogger, Katelyn, published this vlog a little over a year ago. I remember watching her start to cry as she talked about how one day she wanted to compete in the CrossFit Games. I remember thinking “why the heck is she so emotional about lifting weights”? Coming from LA, my only association with females lifting was girls doing light leg press getting ready for bikini or figure contests, which was not something I had any interest in doing. Her emotion sparked a curiosity in me and I had to figure out what had driven my internet sister-from-another-mister to cry from happiness.

After 10 months of lifting on my own and recently joining CrossFit, I understand.  As psychotic as it may make me/her seem, I have definitely got teary eyed before thinking about how much it has changed my outlook on life. Neither running nor swimming have ignited the passion and confidence that lifting has. It’s an emotional process to turn insecurities into self empowerment.

So here are the 10 things I have learned since I started lifting and crossfitting.

1. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

My whole life I have had a fear of failure. I figured if I stayed on the side lines and never stuck my neck out to try something that I knew would be difficult, then I would never really fail. I figured not trying was better than failure. Boy, was I wrong. Trying until you reach failure (or can’t do it with proper form) is essential to lifting and CrossFit. Not sure if you can do it? Who cares, try it anyway. If you can’t, you can’t. The real failure is in never trying.

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2.  Buying a bigger pair of jeans is not a bad thing. 

For the first time since I was 19, I had to buy jeans in a bigger size.  I tried so long to keep that stupid number on the tag the same, watching as my jeans went from slightly baggy at 19 to plastered on as I aged. But squats and lunges helped my legs and butt grow so that they could no longer be contained in those same 19 year old sized jeans. And, I celebrated it. Bigger jeans means building muscle, which means I’m getting stronger and closer to reaching my goals.

2. 1,200 calories should only get you through lunch.

Who came up with that 1,200 calorie number that is THE number to eat if you want to lose or maintain a low weight? After years of obsessively counting calories, I’ve finally forgotten how many calories are in a medium sized banana or 6 ounces of chicken. I’ve learned to listen to my body, understand the foundations of my cravings, and give my body the freedom to have what it needs. And that is a hell of a lot more than 1,200 calories.

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3.”Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent” – Coach Beau.

Practicing will make your actions stick, so make sure you are practicing right.

4. Alcohol isn’t the only thing that can make you feel invincible. 

The feeling of conquering the world that you get from achieving a goal in the gym is addicting.  Many people use liquid courage to feel confident enough to chat up the room or do something they couldn’t do sober. I was one of them. But I’ve found that a good workout can give me that same feeling, without the headache the next morning.

5. Sweating is okay.

As a former competitive swimmer, in a nice cold pool, I have always hated sweating. I tended to avoid things that made me sweat excessively.  After a heavy day of lifting, there are definitely sweat marks surrounding my spot on the floor and it makes me want to make a sweat angel each time.

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   6. Finishing last doesn’t make you a loser if you gave it your all.

 Even if I’m the last one to finish a workout, or the weakest, at least I challenged myself to try it.

7.  Partying isn’t always worth missing sleep.

Missing sleep makes it harder to reach my goals. While it’s always good to have a night out now and then, my 4 nights out a week are a thing of the past.  Most days, I’d rather bust my ass in the gym than bust a move on the dance floor.  Though, let’s be honest, if you’ve ever seen me on the dance floor, you know those squats come in handy.

Image8. Treat your body well and it will return the favor.

Don’t punish yourself by not eating or by working out when you are too tired. Treat your body with respect, love it, and it will accomplish anything you want.

9. The confidence will carry over to other aspects of your life.

The confidence I feel in the gym has helped me try things in real life I never had the courage to do, like interviewing for jobs I thought were well out of my reach, trying out for law school competitions or asking for a raise. I have become more confident in every aspect of my life, not just with my physical abilities.

Image10. Love your body, love your determination, love yourself. 

To quote ‘When Harry Met Sally’: “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” I feel like over these past 10 months I have finally fallen in love with myself. Unconditionally. I’ve stopped doubting myself. I’ve stopped comparing myself to others. I’ve stopped punishing myself for any little thing I do wrong. I’ve finally become comfortable in my own skin. And I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life feeling this way.

Has working out changed how you feel about yourself ?
What is your favorite way to workout?

Into Thin Air – 2nd Highest Peak in the Lower 48

On Sunday I decided to go climb the second highest peak in the lower 48 states. A looming 14,443 feet, complete with snow, strong winds, and about a 24 degree temperature. Oh, and that nasty little thing called altitude sickness that decided to tag along for the ride. To say this was one of the mentally toughest physical activities to get through was an understatement.  I have never before in my life thought I could not physically finish something until this adventure. But, let’s start at the beginning.

My friend from training (who I went paddle boarding with) and two of my friends from Denver decided it would be a tough challenge to go hike a 14er (Colorado speak for mountains over 14,000ft) at the end of September, when it had already snowed up there. We thought it would be badass. And it was. Maybe a bit too badass for me. The hike was 9.2 miles round trip, with a 4,700 foot elevation gain. The 30-45 minutes were in the forest and, while steep, I could still catch my breathe through the panting. We emerged from the woods to see this:

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See those peaks? yeah, we had to go over those to get to one further on that we were going to. I definitely didn’t realize when I signed on that the hike would be this long, but I was still excited at this point. So, we trudged on. Once we got past that second tree line the wind picked up. Hard. And it did not stop. It was so strong and so cold that when it hit you head on it literally knocked your breathe out of you. Multiple times I felt like I was suffocating and had to turn my back to take some breathes. This may sound dramatic, but it was 100% real for me. I am VERY sensitive to altitude. For the first couple weeks after I moved to Boulder I would get winded walking up stairs, went to bed by 9:30 because I was so exhausted and would get major headaches.

But we kept going, with my companions being very kind and taking frequent breaks when I needed them to turn my oxygen deprive hyperventilating back to normal panting.

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Photo Credit Kristin Burkholder

Around 12,500ft I started feeling nauseous. We stopped to eat and I forced myself to take a bite of a Lara bar, but my mouth would not physically chew it. I ended up spitting it out and just drinking lots of water. If I ever do something like this again, I will definitely bring chicken broth so that I can drink my nutrition and have it heat me up. A couple passed us and we asked, pointing at a peak above us, if that was the summit. The woman shook her head and said that was a “fake summit” (one that appears to be the top, but is followed by others behind it) and that there were 3-4 more fake summits to go.

The guy saw the look on my face at this point and said “Just go 10 more steps. Anyone can do 10 more steps. Then, try to do another 10.” I literally repeated this in my head the whole rest of the way.

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Photo Credit Kristin Burkholder

We got to 14,000 feet, with only 400 feet more and I nearly quit. I stopped, sat on the ground, trying to stop my head from spinning and resisting the urge to start dry heaving. I had a conversation with myself in my head about how I was feeling crappy now, but that in about 6 hours I would be home in bed, cuddled up with my dog,  feeling perfectly healthy and would be super pissed off at myself if I had not gone to the top. This was only temporary. With some encouragement from my friends, one of whom was also not feeling so hot at this point, I kept going. And I’m glad I did, because the view at the top was unbelievable. Just like everyone had promised.

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I’m pretty sure we only stayed up there about 5 minutes, as it was sub 24 degrees and super windy. Just long enough to snap some pictures and start back down.

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The hike down was really fun for me. Going down fake summits is far more fun than going up them, complete with sliding on the ice/snow (as my friend did, on her butt, for a good portion of the way. She had also had some Fireball at the top, which probably made it even more delightful for her ❤ ). With each little bit I felt better and better, and by the time we reached the trees again I was back to myself. And starving.

Overall, I am still very happy I did it. It was definitely a rush.  I don’t think I could have done it without the support of my friends, talking me through it and being willing to stop whenever I needed to.  I’m already planning to do another one next year with the same people… though maybe we will go a bit earlier, so as to avoid the snow and the super cold wind.

On the drive back home my friend asked why people climb 14ers. A lot of people respond with “because they are there”. My friend said because it reminds her that the world is far more beautiful than her everyday life. While valid, that’s not my reason. There are hikes that are just as physically challenging, as far as steepness, that are at much lower elevation and would provide a great workout and time spent in beautiful nature. For me, the reason I have done 14ers is because it’s good to challenge yourself mentally like that sometimes, to push yourself beyond what you think you are capable of in a situation where you can’t just slow down or stop to make it easier (like on a run). Obviously, do that within a safe limit, with the ultimate ability to leave (turn around and walk down) if you really need to.

But sometimes, you need to have that inner battle with yourself to see what you are capable of overcoming.

Hope you all had a great weekend, filled with fun, laughs and love.

Oly Lifting Comp – Training Phase 1 (Partial Workouts Included)

I hope everyone is having a lovely Saturday and enjoying the slowly emerging fall weather. It makes me want to carve pumpkins and go to haunted houses :). To procrastinate the ridiculous amount of reading and homework I have to get done today, I decided to give you guys an updated on how my training is going for my Oly LIfting Comp.

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I just finished my hypertrophy (muscle building) phase. It lasted for a total of four weeks, with three weeks of building, then one week of unloading to allow my central nervous system to recover.  During this phase, I did one of two complexes that are designed to build muscle in each of my training sessions. All of the exercises are done back to back, no rest in between, with a weight that you can maintain throughout. My weight was 65lbs and I was dying by the last exercise each time. These exercises contain Front Squats, as those are an important aspect of the clean and will aid in snatches, Jerks/Thrusters/Push Press to build shoulder and back muscles to help in clean and snatch, Front Loaded Reverse Lunges to, once again help with the front squat aspect of cleans and build up my booty, and rows to increase muscle in my back.

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Each of these complexes/all my training workouts are designed by Rise Up Fitness.

 Complex 1.                                                                       Complex 2.

8 Cleans                                                        8 Total Split jerks (4 with each leg forward)

8 Front Squats                                         16  Front Loaded Reverse Lunge (8 with each leg)

8 Push Press                                                     8 Thrusters (full squat to push press)

8 Back Squats                                                                 8 Bent over Rows

8 Deadlifts

Each of these complexes is repeated three times. In between the complexes I typically did things such as kettle bell swings (to improve my explosiveness/the hip thrust needed with each olympic lift), farmer walks, jump squats (once again, to improve explosiveness/getting under the bar) etc. These are not my total workout, obviously, but were the one consistent aspect of my workout during those three weeks.

I am now onto the Strength Training phase, which includes less reps and higher weight. Even though I am nowhere near how I want to be on my cleans, I decided to give you guys a video of it anyway.

Things I need to work on:

1) getting under the bar/dropping down more quickly. This is really hard for me. I have a long way to go with my long legs and I’m not that flexible. Any tips on improving this would be appreciated 🙂

2) getting my elbows up faster

3) Getting the double knee bend – aka once the bar is over my knees they need to go back to being bent, not straight as they are now

4) Getting down under my jerk more/putting my shoulders back more once in full jerk position.

This is at 103lbs. I know that if I can only figure out how to drop down under the bar more I will be able to go so much heavier, so this is pretty much muscling it up. It’s a lot of small complex motions that requires a lot of coordination and work.  I’ve got 7 weeks to figure it out!