Saturday, July 4, 2015

Strength in Women

It seems with every year that passes, I get to know myself a little bit better. Not only that, I suppose you could say I give myself permission to be myself a little bit more with each passing year.

I've been doing CrossFit for just over 4 years and this blog has been largely about that journey - from a darker place in my life to the significantly healthier place I'm in today. The affirmation this journey has given me has afforded me the confidence I needed to truly begin following my heart in everything I do. Looking back, it's definitely true I've spent too much of my life wondering what other people are thinking about me and my decisions rather than focusing solely on what feeds my soul. That being said, I think it's a relatively natural phenomenon, but one I've been aware of and am trying to work on lately nonetheless.

When my facebook feed blew up with posts about Synergy hosting a rookie strongman/woman competition just over a month ago, my curiosity was instantly piqued. However, I quickly talked myself out of it - I was training CrossFit at the time, after all. I thought that was that, but my mind was far from over it. I thought about the greatest moments I've had in the last four years of CrossFit... they have been when we've had strength biased workouts. Strength has always been my thing. I was scared to take the jump though... what if I hurt myself? What if I didn't know what I was doing? Even more than that... what if I fell in love with it? Would I be able to love myself as a strong woman?

With the greatest amount of nerves and unanswered questions, to be true to what my heart was saying, two days before event day, I signed up.

It was just as my greatest fears had predicted - I fell in love. I had the best day. I walked into each event nervous, but proud of the strength my body possesses. The transition was nowhere near as radical as I had told myself it would be - I have always prided myself in CrossFit upon being strong. The strength events have always been my comfort zone. When the day came to a close and I found myself in a tie for second place, I realized with some hesitation I may have just found my niche. However, my assumptions of strongman/woman training were still scaring me away. I came home telling myself it was a great day, but that I'd be returning to CrossFit the next week.

I was wrong.

There was this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me not to waste this opportunity. After talking to some of the amazing strong ladies/men at our gym, I realized the things I was worried about were based on the opinions of others and had very little to do with reality. So began my official switch into strongman training.

Since making the switch, I have been having a blast. I was nervous I may not get enough cardio with this new program, but I'm still finding myself flat on my rear after our workouts and I'm feeling the results of a workout well done. Just because I choose strength does not mean I do not also choose conditioning and eating well. My fears are floating away. I'm loving our meetings of the strong ladies/men and I'm fired up in a good way. It's awesome to feel this way about training again. It's powerful to be among like-minded, beautiful people.

I'm committing myself to this program until October when I plan to take a whack at competing in the Strength Symposium. At that point, I'll continue to follow my heart and re-evaluate. For now,  it's telling me to admire, respect, and be proud of being a strong woman. Just as some other incredible ladies did for me, I hope to do my part to change the stigma of strength in women.

Here goes another exciting journey!

With Love,

Kimmy G

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Tone" it down

Allow me to preface this post by saying I know what I’m about to speak to can also impact men, but for the purposes of this post, I will simply stick to what I know personally – my own female perspective.

It’s out there.

The desire for females to become “toned” is a hot topic; it’s in magazines, books, TV shows, and even in conversations with friends. I’m about to say something I don’t think anybody will see coming – all of this getting toned hype, as it stands right now, does not entirely sit right with me.

Why is this? I go to the gym regularly. I have muscles. I value fitness. I’m constantly cheering for others who decide they want to do the same. What gives?

Well, it seems to me, many of these conversations about getting toned are followed shortly thereafter by a fear of becoming bulky. Many women are scared to pick up weights because of this fear. When I think of getting toned, I think immediately of muscle. Muscle does not happen by accident (though, wouldn't it be awesome if it did?!). Muscle is intentional; it takes work, it takes drive, it takes consistency and above all else it takes a whole lot of hard work. Yet, many of those I've heard from expressing the desire to become toned also express a fear of muscle gain; this leads me to wonder, what is the definition of toned that we’re all buying into? Doesn’t the word toned come from MUSCLE tone? What is it that I’m missing here? How do you become toned without building muscle?

There have been times where I’ve felt insecure about my muscles… then I look around at all the strong women around me and remember how much I have to be proud of. I think we very naturally want to become like those we admire. For me, this is not the female body portrayed by the media, it’s the strong women surrounding me I most want to emulate. They inspire me. I think we need more than one definition of toned to work with because I think there are many, none of which are right or wrong; one definition cannot stand alone as the only ideal. There was a time where doing this would have freaked me out, but for the sake of breaking the stigma, I’m happy to share mine. Count me in as one voice speaking against the masses to do and be what feeds YOUR soul, not what you think others want to see.

Here’s what I know; I love my body just how it is and it took me way too long to be able to say that. I would just like to encourage all women to think for themselves and not for the pack mentality; you are your own person, do what feels right for you (whatever that may look like) and let everything else go.

With Love,

Kimmy G

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cast Iron Classic, 2015

Well, another competition is in the books.

Yesterday was the Cast Iron Classic at Synergy Strength. This event was so unique! I have to say, reflecting on the day, it may have been one of my favorite competitions I've ever taken part in.

I haven't competed in nearly two years and there are a couple reasons for that. The first is I have a very competitive mindset; as much as I used to love competing, because of my innate competitive nature, I often found it to be emotionally draining. Competition is amazing for pushing people to their absolute best and driving them to do things they've never done before; this self-discovery is something I have always adored about competing. However, there was always a flipside of that for me... I used to often fall prey to the evil green monster of comparison. One of the most beautiful things about the CrossFit community is the tendency to cheer on individual successes, whether huge or seemingly small. I always found competitions to be amazing for magnifying these successes... however, many times I found myself walking out of competitions having seen incredible things and wishing I could do more and be more. This was good in that it pushed me to work harder, but also less than ideal as it often stopped me from appreciating how far I had truly come.

My solution? I took a break from competing for a little while. This was actually a really natural progression for me because things with school (and now my career) had to take the spotlight. In this time, I put my focus on finding a healthy work/gym/life balance. This has been my story for the last couple of years, and I've been really happy. I'm finally starting to find balance and life is treating me well. I'm realizing I can't be a rockstar in every area of my life... I can just be the best version of me - and I'm happy to say I'm finding a lot of joy and freedom in that. No pressure, no comparison... just me.

When Alex approached me about joining him on a team for the CIC competition, it seemed like the perfect time. My head is finally where I want it to be and I was ready to have a little bit of fun. I wound up on a team with three amazing people who have never competed before... this was perfect for me. It was a pressure off situation where we were all going in just to throw down our best and forget about the competition element of the day. We named ourselves #YOLO, because really, you only live once and you may as well have some fun and do some crazy stuff while you're here!

Leading up to the event, we practiced a lot of the workouts and kept each other updated on how things were going. We knew, going into the competition, the rough numbers we were hoping to hit and the goals we wanted to attack. It was quite incredible to see, as each race went by, how each one of us SMASHED what we thought we were capable of. I'm so proud of each one of them, I can't even tell you. Michael completed "Fran" in under 6 minutes (21-15-9 of thrusters and pull-ups), Alex pumped out 23 ridiculously heavy clean and jerks (with an injury...  he still did over 10 more reps than he managed in practice!), Shelby CRUSHED the thrusters in the last event (yes, the girl who only started doing thrusters two weeks ago!!! Oh, and did I mention those thrusters she was doing for REPS were 10 pounds under her personal best 1 rep max thruster??), and I had a moment of awesomeness as I shaved off nearly a minute from my "Isobel" time, completing 30 snatches in 1:57. The individual successes on our team were HUGE, and that's what made the day incredible. It wasn't our standings that mattered to us... we knew, no matter what, we would be top 40 - and guess what, we were! ;)

I have so many favorite parts of the day because I allowed myself to fully appreciate what our team could do. Yesterday really put the fun back into competitions for me - I might just have to get myself back into the swing of things. If time doesn't allow that for me though, you can count on me being back to compete in next year's CIC. No question!!

Cheers to Synergy for putting on such an incredible event. I had a blast! To my team - I'm so proud of each of you. You all went in nervous and you came out victorious. You. Are. Champions!


With love,

Kimmy G

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Another reason to smile

Hello all,

I know I've been on quite a hiatus from this blog... I blame life! Though, I suppose I should re-word that; I thank life. Life has been full. I'm not huge on new year's resolutions and I never have been, but I'm always making goals. Sometimes I write them down and sometimes I just keep them floating around in my mind. As 2014 drew to a close, I read something I thought was profound and decided to take it on as my personal mantra for 2015; perhaps you could even call it my resolution. It is this:

In 2015 I want to live from a place of hope, not fear. I want to make choices with bravery knowing that I may not succeed immediately, but that I'll have a chance if I try. Living from a place of fear is living in complacency. It's safe there, but it's also a sad place. I've learned too much about being happy to be okay with that.

Tonight I had a moment where I acted on a hope and told my fear to take a back seat. Especially in the past couple of years with school ending and my career taking off, I've been struggling with my necessary decision to spend (a wee bit) less time at the gym. I aim to get there 4 times a week now instead of 5. There have been weeks where even this has not been possible. Though I know I'm not at the same caliber I once was, I have taken great pride in knowing I am healthy. My current gym goal is to maintain 4 times a week and to stop convincing myself I can't do things because I'm there one less time per week. Tonight we were working on handstand pushups. A couple of years ago, I did an assisted handstand pushup with help from some bands and from a coach to kick up and keep me steady. Recently, I've been putting a lot of work into throwing fear to the side and gaining the courage to kick upside down on the wall without assistance. I have gained confidence. Tonight, I allowed myself to hope and I tried kicking up on the wall by myself (without the assistance of a coach) with bands... I got up. Then the kicker? I managed to get 2 handstand pushups (with the bands)! I am so excited! This one can be chalked up to technique practice and hoping enough in the potential to try. Heck yes!

So here's to 2015... to replacing fear with hope.

With love,

Kimmy G