Monday, March 29, 2010

It's how you play the game

It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. That’s what we tell our children. But is it what we really believe? I mean, who doesn’t love to win? Winning is awesome. Winning feels good. Winning is so very, very cool. It rocks! But is it really what matters in the end?

I’m a competitive person. I always have been. I was in 4-H as a child. I still have my box of ribbons and trophies. I also had one of the fastest horses in our neighborhood growing up. It was either me on my horse Toby, or Gwen on her horse Little Man who came in first in races. I always liked first better than second. I like winning card games and am quite happy when I stomp someone playing Yahtzee. I enjoy nothing better than being the house Guitar Hero top-dog for the night. I won’t even let my children beat me if I can help it. I rationalize this by believing it will make them tougher in the end. In high school I raced my 1976 Subaru down several gravel roads trying to beat guys next to me. I’ve even competed for the attention of boys with other girls. . . that shocks you doesn’t it?! And of course, there’s CrossFit. No, competition there, huh?

So now that I have established I like winning, let’s talk about losing. Based on what I’ve just said, one would assume that I think “losing” is just awful. But believe it or not, I don’t think that. There is something to be said for giving it your best and being happy with the outcome. I know what I said about how cool it is to come in first, but there are times when the one you’re competing against is yourself. It’s then that you need to think about what it means to win.

Define “winning” for yourself. What does it really mean to you? Gaining a sense of accomplishment that you didn’t have the time before? A new PR? In my mind, that’s winning. Winning is sometimes just finishing. Winning is bettering yourself. Winning can be overcoming something that you fear and conquer. Each circumstance is different, but the result is the same.

In addition, there is “good-natured” competition and there is “win at all costs” competition. I am a fan of the former, rather than the later. Losing gracefully is of equal importance as to winning gracefully. Maybe this is something I should learn when playing board games.

Here is what I think. And it’s what I try to live by, although I don’t always. . . Work your ass off. Play smart. Push your boundaries. Go the distance. Do every thing that “they” say to do when you want to achieve greatness.

But remember . . . Sometimes the outcome isn’t “First Place.” Second Place is not the “First Loser.” And sometimes you just did your “Best.”

In any event, try to believe in your heart that YOU’VE WON.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Easy question. Tough to answer.

A friend asked me the other day, “What do you want out of life?” The strangest thing happened. I realized that I didn’t really know. Or rather, I could not quickly answer the question. I think we get very caught up in day to day life without ever taking the time to think about what it is we really want -- and then going the next step of actually working towards attaining those things.

So I sat and thought about what I wanted. I thought and I thought. I wrote down my list. It’s in no particular order. Actually it bounces all over the place as I thought of things. I suppose that’s okay. It’s not like life happens in order or with any rhyme or reason.

Some are easy and tangible. Some are harder to reach. But I think the idea is to know where you are heading or where you want to go. Try to do this. I think you’ll find it harder than you think if you get really specific. Things like I want to see the Grand Canyon. Or I want my children to have fond memories of experiences from their childhood. Or have a job that’s rewarding. Or be able to sit in peace with your own thoughts. Or get to share those thoughts with a friend that enriches your life. Or have enough money to support your desires without letting it define your happiness or success.

I imagine there are some things on everyone’s list that will never come to fruition. And maybe that’s okay too. We can’t have it all, can we? But there are probably some things on that list that we can.

Life should be challenging. You shouldn’t just let it happen to you, although the vast majority of us do just that. For instance, ask most people why they do the job they do and they will tell you “they fell in to it.” That’s not bad. We all have to do what we have to do. And of course “do-over buttons” are pretty rare to come across. Life and circumstance can dictate what we do and why we do it. I understand that. But shouldn’t we try to make our lives what we want them to be? That’s easier said then done, of course, but it’s worth shot.

My friend, Kim Derting, is an example of a woman who knew what she wanted and went after it. She’s now a published author with her first book, “The Body Finder,” just having just been released nationwide by Harper Collins. Her second book, “Desires of the Dead” will be out in 2011. She could have decided that at 40, with three children and a busy life, that her desire to be published was a pipe dream. But she did the hard work. She took the leap. She’s reaping the rewards. She inspires me every time I think of her.

My Mom has always said that “not making a decision is making a decision in of itself.” So in that vein, letting life just come at you without knowing what you want from it, is like saying that you don’t want any control over what happens. Right?

Well, I don’t want my life to just “happen.” I want to live with love and joy and challenges and goals and desires and wishes and abundance. I want to control what I can and accept what I can’t. Wishful thinking? Maybe. Probably. Too much to strive for? Never.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chasing Cari. . .

Although I have several of what I consider to be “weaknesses” relating to my fitness, running is number one on my list. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me. Maybe I was born with little lungs? Maybe my feet are extra heavy? I don’t know, but it continues to be something that I struggle with.

I have feelings of dread whenever I see running as a part of a WOD. I would rather do almost anything than run. And from a CrossFit standpoint, when talking about the functional aspects of our training and how it relates to everyday life – well, I still can’t see that running any sort of distance, beyond a sprint, is necessary.

I have argued this theory several times. If a bad guy is chasing me, I’m not fast enough to stay ahead for very long – maybe 200 meters, tops. So even if my endurance could outlast him, my slow legs will be the determining factor for him actually catching me. So what is the point? And I’m only partially kidding. Part of me, really believes this to be true. The other part, however, knows the fitness benefits of running.

So why do I continue to try and get better at it, when I most definitely do not like it? Well, mostly because I can’t stand “something” beating me. I can’t stand that I am not good at it. And I sincerely want to get better. So here’s been my plan. . .

I decided to get a couple of 5K races on my to-do list. The first one, I had never ran anything over 2 miles. My time was 35 minutes. Awful. Awful. Awful. I told myself I didn’t care about my time and that “finishing” was what mattered. I lied. I wanted to do better. So, I signed up for another.

Did I prepare? No. But I did manage to beat my time by a considerable amount. Second 5K. . . 28:23. Wow! I was so excited, I signed up for another. What does this tell me? I am chasing being “better.” And that’s the mind of a true CrossFitter! Chasing getting better, chasing a better time, working on my weaknesses.

Today, Cari and I hit the Orting Trail for a short 2 mile run to work on “my weakness.” We decided to chat and listen to birds and forgo ipods this time. As it turns out, my heavy breathing nearly drowns out nature, and apparently Cari and I have told so many stories, we may be "running out. " Back to music next time!

Live and learn. Or “run” and learn as it was today. Either way, I will make a new play list, throw on my shoes, and chase Cari’s red pony-tail, down some road, dreading each step, self-talking my way to the end, another day, towards my goal, until. . .

I reach another finish line.

(thanks friend)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I want to be Aimee

When I grow up I want to be Aimee Anaya-Everett. Who is she, you ask? She is a phenomenal national champion Olympic weightlifter. Actually I am in awe of many women who lift big weights, but I just happen to enjoy watching Aimee. I watch her form. I slow down videos, watching every single movement of her pulls. I wish I could ever be like her.

It’s kind of a funny thing to be pushing 40, and wish that you could turn back the clocks a bit, and be a professional Olympic weightlifter. I guess you’re never too old to try something, but I imagine that I’ve missed my window of ever being “good.” It’s something to work towards, however.

I am fascinated by the sport. For those of you who don’t know about it, there are two lifts in Olympic weightlifting – the clean & jerk and the snatch. Both are such incredible movements. My personal favorite is the snatch. I love the feeling of getting the weight off the floor and over my head in one fluid movement. These lifts are like a work of art. They are quick and explosive, beautiful and precise.

I especially love the technical aspects of the sport. There are so many elements to piece together, each one dependant on the other to have a successful lift. To me, it’s a continual work in progress. Even when you think you’ve gotten “okay” at the lifts – there is always room for so much improvement. I think that’s what I love most about Olympic lifting. You’re never good enough. You’re always working to get better. It pushes you every time.

This week I had a Snatch PR of 94#. I was thrilled! I was alone in my garage and had failed 2 attempts before going for the last one. I tried to visualize my success. I took my breath and went for it. I made it. With the bar overhead, I yelled to the walls “YEAH!!!” A wonderful moment that I wished I could have shared. That’s how exciting a PR is. It’s a moment when you conquer something you thought might be bigger than you can handle. Sheer exhilaration.

I have a goal of snatching my bodyweight some day. I have a ways to go. I really wanted to be in the triple digits by my Birthday in April, but I don’t think I will make it. And my max snatch isn’t terrible for my size and my extremely amateur status. But it could be better. And it is nothing, and I mean nothing at all, when you compare it to what good women lifters can get off the ground.

I recently watched a video of Aimee snatching 86 kg which is approximately 191#. And I just saw a picture of her snatching an inconceivable 91kg. Doesn’t that seem unbelievable? How extraordinary that she can get that much weight off the floor and over her head! And it’s a beautiful thing to watch. Check out some of Aimee’s and other amazing athletes’ videos, who train at Catalyst Athletics ( Go to the “workout” menu and watch any of their training.

You will be as inspired as I am.

(11/12 new snatch PR of 105#)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Go ahead, let it out

I am a crier. I cry for so many reasons. The obvious is sadness. But I also cry out of frustration. I cry when I am happy, when I am touched, when I am joyful. I cry when I am scared. I cry when I am very tired. Or in pain. I don’t think this makes me a weak person, I think crying is an emotional release, granted, my very common emotional release.

Some may tear-up more often than others, but everyone cries. There is not one person who is immune to the feeling of tears welling up in their eyes only to have them roll down their cheeks – sometimes taking a trail of mascara with them. Tears are like a window to your heart. It’s hard to pretend that you’re “fine” with wet streaks down your cheeks. Or the tell-tale puffy eyes that follow a good cry.

But let’s face it, sometimes you would really prefer to be able to keep your emotions controlled. You’d think this desire would make it easy. Unfortunately, it’s not for me. Sometimes I try to tell myself, “I will not cry.” And then I do. I once cried at the school because Stella was suffering from separation anxiety and I was forced to walk away from her while she was sobbing. I think the women in the office didn’t quite know what to say to me. They wanted to console me, I am sure, but I also know that I made them uncomfortable. That’s just one example of wishing I could turn off these tears of mine at will.

Crying makes others feel helpless. That’s because people in general don’t like seeing someone who is visibly distressed. We also have a tendency to want to say the right thing when someone is crying. We want to fix the problem. Because just watching someone cry without trying to fix the problem makes us feel rather powerless. We want to make someone stop crying. That’s our goal. Stop crying so we can believe that you’re better.

My neighbor’s cat died yesterday. She was crying. I wanted to do all the things I just discussed. But she was just sad. And there wasn’t a thing in the world that I could say or do that would make her feel better. Most times we can’t control our own tears, let alone the tears of others. Sometimes people just need to get it all out. Until they are done.

This brings me to a couple of conclusions. First, I need to stop telling my daughters to “stop crying” several times a day. They most obviously get it from me. Second, I will apologize ahead of time for crying in your presence – making you uncomfortable, and leaving you wanting to fix the problem – because I am certain it will happen at some point.

Hello, my name is Lori, and I am a Cry Baby.