Wednesday, December 9, 2015

2015 Training Review

Today's post is inspired by a recent post from Mentality WOD where you can find by clicking here

Today Dawn asked us to answer some basic Mental and Physical questions about our training over the past year, and since my motivation have been sorta stale here lately I did just that. But first, small disclaimer, I hope answering these questions isn't some form of plagiarism.

Here are my responses:


1. Which relationships helped you grow as an athlete the most this past year?

     This is by far the hardest question listed on here for me to answer. Since I don't ever get to workout with anyone or even have my own coach there are very few relationships for me when it comes to training. I believe this is one of my weakest aspects of training. You don't understand the importance of support whether it's a daily training partner or coach until you don't have one.
      if I had to answer I would say my relationship with The Outlaw Way. I started following the generalized online program this year after OPEX quiz posting and any positive gains from training can largely be tracked back to the consistency of the program. I always knew what was coming each week when it came to strength, and I'd be lying if I didn't get excited about snatch and clean days!

2. Which areas of your mentality improved the most this past year?

     My biggest improvement this year was just worrying about me. In the past I was one of those people who would let the success of others determine my own, and yet I still haven't let that completely go concentrating on the improvements I make or the performance I give is key.

3. Which books, podcasts, speeches or workshops had the greatest impact on your midnset this past year?

     Easy one. The Barbell Shrugged episode featuring Lew Howes called 10 Principles of Success with Lewis Howes. I'm an avid listener of the show, probably mainly because I started listening WAY BACK when, after I met those guys doing a certification and numerous competitions at their gym and the podcast has just continued to improve with great advice majority of the time. But this particular episode was incredibly inspiring to me mentally. Usually Barbell Shrugged focuses on training tips, and from time to time veers off course, but this was unlike any of their previous episodes. I'd never heard of Lewis Howes, and since then I've checked out his book and it's great, I even play on buying it for a Christmas present this year for some people I know who would love it too. But he really made me feel like I have the power to do something great.

4. What were the toughest moments you went through (emotionally and mentally) and how did they help you evolve as an athlete?

     Toughest emotional and mental hurdle was not qualifying for the 2015 CrossFit Regionals. I qualified in 2014 and was more inspired than ever to make it back again when the competition wrapped. Even though this year I was better than previous years in all facets of my fitness, I wasn't able to place high enough to move on to the next level.


1. Which were the toughest moments you went through (physically) and how did they help you evolve as an athlete?

     I really can't pinpoint an exact physical obstacle other than all the nagging tiny injuries that happen when trying to compete at a high level. I've also continued to work through knee issues, a majority injury in high school basketball has created much frustration when trying to get stronger. I know I have to be extremely careful on how much weight I squat and how often I squat and do 5x the recovery work on the right side as my left. I never use my knee as an excuse to not do something, but I do have to be careful and limit my training in certain areas.

2. What were you favorite or major PRs this past year?

     My favorite and major PRs this year would definitely be my weightlifting improvements. I competed in July at the Force Barbell Freedom Classic Meet and won the 69kg women's weight class, and also took home the Battle Axe for being the best female lifter in the competition. Which was pretty sweet considering Tom Stroka won best male lifter and he's a big deal in the weightlifting community. :)

3. Which skill/movement hurdles were you able to overcome this past year?

     Another big skill and movement hurdle I've made was improvements in my gymnastic skills, meaning: pull-ups, toes to bar (which was my biggest weakness in the 2015 Open), muscle ups, etc. I've struggled with these ever since I started CrossFit and when it comes down to a weakness, there are all at the top. Getting stronger overall helped a great deal. I can now knock out much larger sets of muscle ups before fatigue and I was even able to start doing butterfly chest to bar pullups during metcons (except today they were not

4. Which parts of your fitness did you see the biggest gains in?

     Weightlifting. I was able to add 12# to my snatch and 10# to my clean and jerk. Which doesn't seem like much, but its HUGE! Plus I've been hitting higher percentages much more frequently, so win win!

Okay people, enough about me, I just exposed myself big time. Now it's your turn. If you're one of my athletes, I really like to hear some of your answers to these questions. Go ahead and answer any or all of the questions below in the comment section.

Thanks for reading and Until Next Time...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Importance of Continuing Education

If you haven't noticed I've been struggling with this blog for awhile now. I have ideas pop into my head all the time about what I want to write about but finding the time to actually sit down and put them into a post has not been a priority. However, no more excuses!

Today I just submitted my Continuing Education Units to the Board of Certification for Athletic Training, yes I'm an athletic trainer for those of you who don't know. My formal education is in the prevention, evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of athletes, but in 2012 I fell into a career change that focuses mainly on strength and conditioning, and of course teaching. 

The BOC requires that for candidates to maintain certification they need to complete 50 units over a 2 year period, 10 of those being Evidence-Based Practice. Oh yeah, and trust me I don't want to take that test again, it was only a 20% pass rate when I took it back in 2009 and thankfully I passed that thing first try, so I'll do whatever it takes to get those 50 CEUs. Seems like a lot right? Well I had nearly 100 credits from the last 2 years, and I only submitted athletic training related activities. 

So here is where I want to start with the importance of continuing education. To me, continuing to better yourself, both mentally and physically, is one of the key players in finding success. I don't think I'm a genius or a know it all by any means. Actually a quote by Albert Einstein fits perfect here and sums up how I really feel about where I am:

"The more I learn, the more I realize how much I do not know." 
- Albert Einstein

But check this out, I was able to do nearly 100 hours of education in a field in which I no longer practice. Secretly in my mind, I'm impressed with myself, but who's counting. But back to it, it's a field where I don't practice right now, did that sink in? And do I think it was all worthless? Absolutely not, in all honesty, I believe I would be a better athletic trainer now that I ever was when I practiced with the amount of continuing education, coaching, and heck even just being a high level athlete myself. I also think that my background in athletic training lends well to my passion for strength and conditioning. Since I have studied so much anatomy, bio-mechanics, injury prevention and rehabilitation I'm able to give clients a bigger picture when it comes to exercise. It also helps A LOT with teaching because I went through so much disciplined education myself. 

I contribute a great deal of my professional success to continuing education. If I would have stopped learning when I finished college, lets be honest, I'd kinda suck at what I'm doing. That isn't to say that college is worthless, I still believe it's one of the best experiences you can put yourself through in life. It gives you a deeper understanding of your field and teaches discipline in a way that is nearly impossible to achieve on your own. But when you do the math: 

college + continuous education = #winning 

The past few years I've been very fortunate to save enough $$ to travel and experience a wide variety of education across the U.S. One of the best perks has been that I've met a lot of really awesome people in the field that otherwise I would have never known. Outside of all the AT stuff I've traveled to, I've been able to dig deeper into my CrossFit education by obtaining my Level 2 (Level 3 will appear in the near future :P), and even deeper in my Weightlifting proficiency with an updated USAW and Eleiko Certified Strength Coach. I've learned a great deal about technique, programming, and especially good old fashioned coaching from these experiences. And dare we not forget the hours and hours and hours I've spent reading books and articles and watching videos. You know, even my social media these days is more like reading a newspaper than just keeping up with friends. By the way: Follow Me on Instagram

I'd really like to hear from you. What do you do to keep educating yourself? Do you attend conferences/workshops, work through online material, read, watch videos, scroll Facebook? Nothing is insignificant if it makes YOU better!

Until next time...

Friday, March 6, 2015


         I recently just finished Drive by Daniel Pink and I thought I'd share some of my insights from my life based on the material presented in the book. Before you read on, you might want to watch Daniel's Ted Talk video on some of the topics he discussed in the book.

In the last section of the book he challenged his readers to answer a list of 20 questions on their own and post it on their blog, so here we go:

1. Has Pink persuaded you about the gap between what science knows & what organizations do? Do you agree that we need to upgrade our motivational operating system? Why or why not?

  • Yes, there is absolutely a gap is what science has told us and what actually happens in the work place. We need to update on motivation, its becoming stagnant. If we are looking to pursue a long happy life, our motivation needs to come from within, not from extrinsic awards.   

2. How has Motivation 2.0 affected your experiences at school, at work, or in family life? If Motivation 3.0 had been the prevailing ethic when you were young, how would your experiences have differed?

  • Motivation 2.0 has worked in my life since I have always been in a position where the "baseline rewards" such as salary and benefits have not met a standard of living. I am willing to take on additional courses, classes or work if there are additional benefits, i.e. pay. However, majority of the time, these additional actions do not provide me with any feelings of fulfillment, even if I complete them at a more than satisfactory level. 
  • I'm not entirely sure what the prevailing ethic when I was younger would be classified as. I don't feel like I grew up with a Motivation 2.0, but also I don't feel like it was entirely a 3.0, especially in the school setting. I think if I had been challenged more through a Motivation 3.0 setting that I'd be much happier in life. 

3. Do you consider yourself more Type I or Type X? Why? Think of three people in your life (whether at home, work, or school) Are they more Type I or Type X? What leads you to your conclusions?

  • Undoubtedly with anything outside of teaching CrossFit classes I feel completely Type X. Teaching CrossFit classes definitely gives me a sense of Type I where the motivation comes from within and I really feel like I'm making a difference, but I also have some autonomy in this capacity so this absoultely makes sense. 
  • When I think of others in my life, it seems like those who are older 40-60 years seem to be very Type X oriented, always searching for extrinsic motivation. I even saw this with my parents when they were at that age, always focused on money, but again, that was at a time of very low economic times in the U.S. As my parents have passed into their 60s, I've definitely seen a shift to more Type X, especially in their lives outside of work, and they seem to be happier. I also look up to my boyfriend of many years because he would be completely classified as a Type X. He treats his job as a coach, and anything he does in life with internal motivation and could almost care less about any extrinsic awards, even to the point where "baseline rewards" are not being met. I have tried to understand his mentality but I always have a hard time finding that same drive in myself. 

4. Describe a time when you've seen one of the seven deadly flaws of carrots and sticks in action. What lessons might you and others learn from that experience? Have you seen instances when carrots and sticks have been effective?

  • I've seen the example he has used in the book all too often, that is, giving children a monetary rewards for doing chores. This almost always leads to children become adults who will not complete tasks without compensation in the form of money. Motivation like this rarely creates improving lives or quality of a product/service.
  • Carrots and sticks can be effective. Take for instance in my life; a few years ago I ran an endurance program at CrossFit870. I met with a group of interested runners 2x/week and programmed endurance workouts in exchange for a very minimal price ($). Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved doing this, and it brought a great sense of joy an accomplishment. But when clients became distraught about paying an additional price, even though very minimal, on top of their CrossFit membership each month and quit, I lost motivation to keep programming and working with clients. People were getting better, reaching their goals, but money was a problem. And for me, it was too, I put a lot of hard work into creating the right workouts each week, creating warm-ups, and working with people on technique and I felt like I deserved to be compensated for my time. 

5. How well is your current job meeting your need for "baseline rewards" -- salary, benefits, a few perks? If it's falling short, what changes can you or your organization make?

  • My current job meets baseline rewards to a degree. I am fortunate that work at a college where I do have a salary that provides me enough money to live and eat each week, but not much more. As I've mentioned already, I am happiest and most motivated when working directly in a gym. Over the last few years I have been offered numerous opportunities to coach, train, and manage CrossFit gyms outside of my current job, however, thus far, I have not been able to capitalize on any of these opportunities due to lack of baseline rewards. It's not that I need to live a life of luxury, but having a place to sleep, food on a table, and money for bills is necessary.
  • I think that the functional fitness world, in general, could improve on their shortcoming if they would create a more strict hiring process for professionals. With the rise of CrossFit, anyone with $1,000 can attend a weekend seminar and become a coach. And then if you have, I believe its $3,000, more dollars you can open an affiliate. I understand why they started out with this business model but it creates an environment that lacks quality and produces quantity. There are so many gyms out there, and even more coaches, a lot of them with no business being in fitness. I think this model has, for lack of a better term, punished people like myself, who are great at their job, but must work in another field to make ends meet because they did not come from money or access to financial resources.

6. Pink draws a distinction between "routine" work and "nonroutine" work. How much of your own work is routine? How much is nonroutine?

  • A LOT of my job in routine. I am required to teach the same courses semester after semester. Same with a number of the training sessions at work, its the same thing over and over. And I don't really have much say in either of these. I am told what textbook I need to use (even though I wish I could choose others). The only thing that is non-routine is the students who attend the classes, which is always different, but in the same regard, the same. 
  • I would enjoy non-routine. Creating new projects. New sessions. Always looking to improve.

7. If you're a boss, how might your replace "if-then" rewards with more autonomous environment and the occasional "now that" reward?

  • I'm not a boss, but if I were I'd do my best to completely avoid "if-then" rewards and I'm have a budget set aside for "now that" rewards. Each person would have the opportunity to earn a bonus throughout the year based on excellent performance or something like attending continuing education on their own finances. From my experience, even something about simple as a boss telling me how much they appreciate me or value my work AFTER I've gone something great is very powerful. It doesn't need to happen often, but even just once per year is very motivating. Earning some sort of reward, above just a compliment, would be very motivating.

8. As you think about your own best work, what aspect of autonomy has been most important to you? Autonomy over what you do (task), when you do it (time), how you do it (technique), or with whom you do it (team)? Why? How much autonomy do you have at work right now? Is that enough?

  • My best work is done when I get to choose the time in which I can complete the work. The other factors are also very important to me but doing tasks on my own time is chief. On my reading list I have The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, and even though I have yet to read the book, I already have a feeling that this is me. I can get more done in 4 hours than most people can in a day or week, IF I'm motivated and its WHEN I'm ready to do the work. That doesn't mean I'm a slacker all of the time and then just work hard for a small percent. There are just projects I'd like to work on a certain times. I'll keep away from work examples on the blog, but and at home example, cleaning: either early in the morning or late at night. You can forget about me cleaning anything in the afternoon or early evening, just not my prime hours for that activity.

9. Would initiatives like FedEx Days, 20% time, and ROWE work in your organization? Why or why not? What are one or two other ideas that would bring out more Type I behavior in your workplace?

  • FedEx Days & 20 % times --- YESSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!! In either of my jobs having some time to work on projects I deem important would greatly improve my morale and productivity. I feel that I don't have a say in much of what I do, and if I did have a say I would be much happier and I think we could have a better product/service. 
  • Results Only Work Environment - not so much. Much of what I do is scheduled meeting times so some structure is required. And a lot of the students whom I work with are not attending these classes/programs for the right reasons so requiring them to get the desired results would not be a good option.
  • More Type I behavior could be created by awarding more autonomy on projects and providing continuing education opportunities based on employee interest (within reason). 

10. Describe a time recently when you've experienced "flow." What were you doing? Where were you? How might you tweak your current role to bring on more of these optimal experiences?

  • I'm usually in a state of flow when I'm at home working on studying materials I enjoy. Like right now, I feel like I'm educating myself and I feel very engaged and motivated to do so. I also get a good sense of flow when I'm teaching classes at the gym. I'm very into the tasks and truly providing a service to people. 
  • The only way I can think of right now to tweak my current role would be to ensure I get to bed early so I can have a few minutes in the morning each day to devote to my own educational time. Throughout the work week I seem to have very limited free time to do the things I'd like to do and it creates a very negative balance until the weekend hits.

11. Is there anything you've ever wanted to master that you've avoided for reasons like "I'm too old" or "I'll never be good at that" or "It would be a waste of time"? What are the barriers to giving it a try? How can you remove those barriers?

  • Yes. And nearly all of them include "I don't have enough money." I need to adopt more of a Type X approach to motivation. And I need to learn a new optimistic mindset. This has been one of my biggest struggles in life, taking failures too far and not letting them go. I also MUST STOP comparing myself to others, as it has created a very negative outlook on life. Social media plays a huge role in our society on this facet, you see all your friends and acquaintances doing of having what you want and wondering why, even though you've worked so hard, you don't get to enjoy those same things right now. As I get older, I have improved this outlook, but I know it will continue to be a battle.

12. Are you in a position to delegate any of the tasks that might be holding you back from more challenging pursuits? How might you hand off these tasks in a way that does not take away your colleagues' autonomy?

  • I'm not in that position. I'm currently at the very bottom on any professional structure at either of my jobs. Having no room or opportunity to advance is a real frustration for me. I do feel like I am qualified for a position to delegate tasks but it just hasn't happened yet.

13. How would you redesign your office, your classroom, or your home - the physical environment, the processes, the rules - to promote greater engagement and mastery by everyone?

  • I would make it more welcoming. I do enjoy the atmosphere at CrossFit870 as there is color on the walls and a large amount of usable equipment. At my school everything is plain white walls, and we are required to keep equipment that is both very outdated and very used, which limits the purchase of new usable equipment. I would love to have a different floor service, and a few different pieces of equipment that would make students feel more welcoming and engaged in the activities.

14. When tackling the routine tasks your job requires, what strategies can you come up with to trigger the positive side of the Sawyer Effect?

  • A focus on finding new and improved techniques to teach. By seeking out new strategies, this would motivate me to master the technique and then be passionate about teaching it to others.

15. Drive talks a lot about purpose - both for organizations and individuals. Does your organization have a purpose? What is it? If your organization is for-profit, is purpose even a realistic goal given the competitive pressures in every industry?

  • My organization does have a purpose. If we discuss my job at CrossFit870, purpose has been more of a focus that profit from my perspective. I am not in charge on any business aspects of the gym, only teaching classes when assigned, but it appears providing a quality services to those who are interested is of utmost importance. There is pressure to create a client base to make profit, but with the services provided, just bring in people who are not committed to receiving the service would ultimately create failure.

16. Are you - in your paid work, family life, or volunteering - on a path toward purpose? What is that purpose?

  • I believe I'm on a path to purpose, see one of my previous posts for more on that. But I do think I'm just barely skimming the water at this point. Its like I'm almost there, but I just can't break through to my real purpose in life. I don't know if it's because I'm scared to take a leap of faith and do it or what is holding me back from pursing what I believe is my life's work. 

17. Is education today too Type X - that is, does it put too great an emphasis on extrinsic rewards? If so, how should be reconfigure schools and classrooms? Is there an elegant way to reconcile intrinsic motivation and accountability?

  • Education is almost all Type X oriented. Traditional education at the heart, I believe, is focused on producing a higher level of thinking for students, its done through extrinsic means, grades. Many of the seminars and continuing education session in the fitness world now are very Type I oriented and provide a lot of great information, but I don't think it's enough to call yourself a professional. Many students who graduate from traditional college settings have the ability to think in a Type I manner, but others don't. I don't know how to restructure education to create a more Type I learning environment. I think that grades are necessary, because there needs to be some sort of measurable means to separate students instead of only awarding participation.

18. If you're a mom or dad, does your home environment promote more Type I or Type X behavior in your child or children? How? What, if anything, should you do about it?

  • I'm not a parent. But I think if I were I'd have a combo of both. I think there would be a need for Type X in the fact that kids do need some structure so they can learn discipline. But I also think I'd offer my kids a number of opportunities to be creative. Whether this be by learning a new sport or craft, they would have activities that didn't have a right or wrong answer.

19. Does Pink underplay the importance of earning a living? Is his view of motivation 3.0 a bit too utopian - that is, is Pink, if you'll pardon the pun, too rosy?

  • Pink gets his point across. This book wasn't about how to make money, it was about how to find the passion and drive behind your work. He references "baseline rewards" a couple times in the book, but he does give an example of people making $75K, and $100K. I'm not sure who all is reading this book, but it eluded to a toll booth attendant making $75K, which just seems outrageous.

20. What are the things that truly motivate you? Now think about the last week. How many of those 168 hours were devoted to doing these things? Can you do better?

  • Coaching and teaching others about how to improve their lives is my motivation. Being better every day to inspire those people who look up to me is motivating. In the past week I probably only had the opportunity to devote maybe 20-ish hours to this task. I want to do better, and I can. It's just a matter of finding the right opportunity and grab a hold.
Until next time...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Say Yes to Your Dreams

This video is incredibly powerful to those of us who dream. If you are not in tears by the end of this video, take a deep look into what drives you in life, I know I am. What is it that you want to succeed at as bad as you want to breathe? I know I fall into the thinking that there is going to be some magical moment when I know I'm supposed to go chase after my dreams, until then, its just day by day in spiritual hell. But there is no perfect timing to start living out our dreams, so tell me what are you waiting for?

Until next time...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Warming Up: Why & How to Get Started

Warm Ups. One of the most overlooked, yet vitally important components of your workout. The warm up serves a number of different purposes, foremost preparing your body for activity. A good warm up can be broken down into two components, the general and specific.

The general warm-up is any movements that increase your circulation, breathing, sweat rate, etc. etc. A general warm up can be very basic like a short run/bike/row, or any combination of exercises, body weight exercises usually work best for the overall exercise population. One of my favorite general warm ups as a coach is either playing a game, yes adults can have fun playing games, or some sort of movement out of the ordinary.

The specific warm up is the time to focus on the upcoming movements of the workout, whether that be working up progressions or adding weight to lifts. As a coach, I am a huge fan of gymnastic progressions here, since they most commonly utilize body weight and also work a good range of motion. Although there are countless variations and options for warm ups, these two components are absolutely necessary for a successful warm up.

Some of those other options include specific mobility for individuals who lack mobility or that pertains to the workout's movements. Warm ups are also a great opportunity to work on skills. If you are going to spend time on skill development you must be careful to 1) not work yourself too hard and 2) you don't spend all your time warming up and miss the workout.

No matter what you choose as a warm up, it should not exhaust you to the point where it felt like another workout, it should be used a time to prepare your body for activity, simple as that! So start treating your warm ups as important as your workout. Show up on time! Be present & attentive! And get yourself prepared properly and you'll be amazed at the possibilities.

Until next time...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What's Your Purpose?

I've been debating this whole blog thing for quite some time now, mainly because I couldn't come up with a clever name and I wasn't sure anyone would actually read my ramblings, but here it is, I'm doing it! Enjoy!

How often do you wonder about your purpose in life? If it's not every day, then I'd say you're pretty lucky. Let's just talk about our professional life here. I've fallen into a number of difference career paths in my life thus far. First I graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Athletic Training and was set on working either collegiate or professional sports the rest of my life. Well fast forward 3 years post graduation, I'm now living in Arkansas and I never made that professional debut, unless and you count volunteering with an Arena 2 Football team. I was about to graduate with my Master's degree, and although I loved working with a collegiate men's rugby team, I just couldn't imagine my next job. Before graduation I was recruited as a Physical Education Instructor at a local technical college, I took the job and I've been there ever since.

My professors in undergrad always encouraged me to follow education (Like as a career), but I wanted nothing to do with it. (Apparently getting up in front of people is a big fear or something for most people, but it doesn't bother me). Any educator will tell you, there are two sides to the job, one that really sucks, you know the "problem kid," who always smarts back to you, tells you its your fault they didn't do their homework, etc. etc. And the other, the amazing reward of improving another person's life. 

Okay, so whats the purpose of this post? Well, I think I've found a purpose. I hope its not my only purpose, but I think it's one that can be fairly apparent. I love educating, whether that be in a classroom, or more better yet in a gym or even one-on-one conversations. I truly believe the power of changing your life through fitness and nutrition can have such a carry over to all aspects of one's life. It has for me and so many of the people I know. So enter this blog, it's just going to be my personal take on training. I read/watch/listen/etc. so much information on training and I want to share that with YOU! 

So in summary, this blog with be mainly training focused (not so much life pondering like this one, I suck at that stuff). Whether that be how to improve the technique of a certain skills, how to approach daily training, understanding concepts, mental game, how to have fun and work hard at the same time, and the list goes on. I hope you stay tuned and bear with me and I start out on this new journey!

Until next time...