Sarah Finding Fit

An unconventional look at fitness... my journey in reaching goals, laughing and having a bunch of outstanding adventures.

3 notes &

3 years later: A warehouse, 2 notebooks & a whole lot of memories

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In 2011, I found my way into an old warehouse in Arlington. Between sandbags and sit-ups… I quickly realized that I had stumbled upon some sort of Fight Club, a small underground society of fit finders. A group of people much like myself. Like with so many things in my life, it all started as an attempt at another outstanding adventure… and unknowingly, I’d stepped into something huge… what an adventure it has become. Fast forward 3 years…

It’s funny now to look at my little green notebook – yes, the one issued to me by CFSA at the end of Foundations. “Fight Gone Bad” fills the first page, a benchmarked initiation that seems like eons ago. It’s a mess – torn, and full of loose leaf wendler cycle programming. Each entry seems small in itself, but as a whole, these (now two) books worth of workouts, represent a good chunk of myself. Milestones, friendships, PR’s, plateaus… vacation gym visits… Crossfit is a never ending puzzle… it can be frustrating and exhilarating at the same time. I walked in for a hard workout, and I never… in my wildest dreams… would have expected the outcome:

I’ve faced fears..

found inner strength…

PR’d and pushed through plateaus

I learned that “success” isn’t always about your max effort, but rather what you’ve learned, and how far you’ve come.

I forgot about mirrors, and the scale, and in turn found comfort in myself.

I built irreplaceable friendships…

and had some of the exceedingly exciting exploits.

I tag-teamed wall balls…

and met this guy…

I found fit for 366 consecutive days – and proved it in pictures.

I came to realize that fitness ebbs and flows, there are good days and bad, triumphs and heartbreak.

So many laughs!

And a good handful of tears…

In many ways, I discovered balance…

I wore a lot of costumes,

busted my shins on far too many boxes,

Got stitches.

I was reminded over and over again how much I suck at dodgeball and tag and crab walking…

I raced, and competed, and found so many firsts…

In the beginning there was no clock or white board…

No expectations…

and that taught me more about self-accountability than I’ve learned from any competition.

Between rope climbs, and wall-balls…

Whitney Houston and Call Me Maybe…

I’ve not only become stronger,

But also more self-aware…

I grew into myself in a way that I never really predicted.

I didn’t anticipate that laps around an old warehouse would teach me to quell fear or that I’d stumble upon so much inspiration inside a gym. I looked forward to long Saturday grinders, I carried bricks, pushed sleds on a cement floor, and have been penalized far too many times by burpees. Coaches have come and gone, as have members, but I’ve found family amidst back squats - connections that go far beyond the four cement walls. Each page in my green book holds not only number, but also a memory, a connection to someone, something, some moment in time. If you were to total them, they’d show my growth not only as an athlete, but as a person.

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In 2011, by stepping into that warehouse, I stepped out of my comfort zone… today, quite the opposite is true. I find some bizarre sense of security in watching drips of sweat drool to black matted floor or relief in seeing planes land while running laps in the cool morning air or under a night dotted with stars. It has become my routine. A second home.

I know that regardless of where I land, the door to the front of the now painted and much fancier warehouse will never close… it’ll still be there… propped open with a kettle bell, welcoming me back… reminding me of the journey, the camaraderie, and the moments of mayhem. Thank you CFSA, thank you for this most excellent escapade in building self and strength.

Filed under crossfit self self discovery change challenge strenth friends balance success growth

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No PR’s. One mat, one intention, and an appreciation for the journey

It’s amazing how much you can learn on a square mat in a hot room.

Finding the edge… pushing through the tough stuff… Crossfit and yoga fuel one another – similar, but different – I find power from each in their own unique ways. Both teach me strength, but force me to be humble. Through Crossfit I seek self-acceptance through numbers posted on a board, and as hard as I try not to, I judge myself harshly against the day or week or year before. Where am I now vs. then? Recently finding failure rather than anticipated gains… among a sea of PR’s that I don’t own.

2014 has brought me back to the mat. In my self-inflicted moments of mayhem yoga puts the world in perspective and teaches me gravity – grounds me in who I am. My choices. What I can and can’t change. A different set intention. A different sort of self-discovery. A hot box rather than a lukewarm warehouse. With yoga I find ease. With it comes acceptance and self-love.

In the hot sticky air, the metronome instructions force me to fall into a rhythm, make peace with my breath. Inhale, then twist, inhale, then twist… wrung out like a towel. With each wring, rinse, re-set, repeat… the world crystallizes. I soul search… find peace, clarity. Erasing the chalkboard full of stress and emotion.

No judgments. No numbers. No winning. Amongst triangles and warriors I let life fall out on the mat… the buckets of me that I need to learn from and then let go. Move on. Build. Tear down, and then re-build again. Fear can be consuming and self-construction can be difficult, but the outcome is always positive.

The meditation in the movement pulses power through externally rotated legs and fired up Lats.

I’m forced to slow down.

Breeeeth.

It disrupts the rat race. Instead of focusing on the outcome, I enjoy the journey… Be okay with who I am today, now, at this very moment. One breath at a time, one rise and fall of the chest, then the next… Small steps to building strength, heat… forcing focus.

A river of doubt runs down my forehead and splatters into small beads on floor. It’s a sort of communion - soul saving. I stop thinking and do - an exercise of the self, but also one built from group will. Trust.

Bundled up in mis-matched sweats, the icy night air kisses my face as I step onto the sidewalk. Refreshed. Sort of re-born. Re-invigorated. Eased… I take in slow deep sips of darkness. Tired but full. My confidence glows like a small ember. Grounded again, rather than intertwined in expectations and judgments.

Under the skull cap and melty mascara, is a more self-aware reflection… An hour of stitching myself together, stringing pose-into-pose…

One moment at a time.

What I find on my little green square translates. It reminds to appreciate the road… rather than resting happiness on the goal itself.

Filed under yoga ease intention fitness crossfit power strength

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The Great 8

The text from my mom yesterday: Do you remember where you were 8 years ago today?

The details flood back… Hazy yet specific. A frenetic rush to find a flight. Seeing my brother at the airport. Lots of calls. Lack of sleep. Learning at two AM that everything was in Gods hands.

Christmas is being thankful for the people who surround you and grateful for the minutes and moments you get to spend… love, and family and forgiveness… It’s not about the hustle and bustle or buying the perfect Christmas present. It’s about all the things that aren’t material in nature. Sometimes we forget that. 

That year, I spent the holidays by my mom’s bed in ICU. Between sarcasm and casseroles, lunch money and purple olives, we attempted to set-up a Christmas tree and uncover presents hidden by my mom months before… there was family bonding through long winter nights. Among the flashes of chaos, I learned the importance of arguing less, living more, and telling people that you love them, every day. 

12.14 serves as my reminder to live. It’s an ever-important day in my history. It’s a stark reminder that people can be taken away at a moment’s notice. Life can drastically change, so take risks. Appreciate the now. Believe in miracles. Love all of the little things that you should never take for granted. The true meaning of this season isn’t about what’s under the Christmas tree… it’s about being surrounded by the people you love the most. It’s about giving something back. 

Over the course of the afternoon yesterday I paused to reflect… minutes are equated to memories. A timeline of events shared by only a few people. What would I be without her…how different would life have become. We got a second chance to be a family. 

In many ways my daily reality is impacted by that moment in time. It informs the current version of me. It changed not only my family, but my view, my life. That call… the lessons I learned. I can’t ever express my gratitude. It’s hard to explain, but I find strength in those months of off-color inside jokes and raw emotion, perseverance through fear and pain.

8 years. Wow. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday. An unforgettable Christmas wish, answered.

Filed under transplant christmas wish love family DonateLife organ donation strength

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Naps Aren’t Just for Kids

Studies show that sleep can improve strength, speed, agility and reaction time… it also helps with muscle memory and can make people less prone to developing diabetes, obesity, hypertension… the list goes on and on… even the Huffington Post has an entire online section dedicated to Sleep.

Between books, the boardroom, box jumps and buying a house, as you can likely tell from my lack of blogging, I’ve had a hard time fitting everything in. My past few months of adventures have put an exclamation point on what I learned about myself during the nutrition challenge earlier this year. While strapped for time my diet and exercise might ebb and flow, but I cannot skimp on sleep. Mo sleep, Mo better Sarah… perhaps this has become clearer with age. My nights of all-nighters are over, with a good nights rest I am a high-functioning energetic superwoman, but without it, I’m a sluggish bump-on-a-log crabby pants. So, while attempting to catnap after my workout this morning, I jotted down a few sleep suggestions that seemed fitting given my recent adult-group house escapades. Yup, I’m a 30-something who lives in a group house right now… I’m attempting to reclaim my 9 hours of nightly shut-eye:

  1. Naps aren’t just for kids anymore. A power nap can be a lifesaver… there are even companies who are installing employee nap rooms. Hello, sleep is a performance enhancement tool. I wake up at 5:30A.M. (most mornings) and head to the gym. I’m home and showered and dressed for work by around 7:45. I then curl up in bed for a 30-minute nap before getting back up to throw on some make-up, pack my lunch, poor a large mug of coconut coffee and head out the door. I wouldn’t trade those 30 minutes for nearly anything. Knowing they exist are one of the only reasons I get up in the first place. Google “Arianna Huffington” and “sleep” and see what you find. It’s inspiring.
  2. Turn off gadgets, gizmos, and all things that start with a lower case i. Do this at least 30 minutes before you try to go to bed. While you might think that you need to be updated at every second of the day, or that leaving them on is helping you get ahead - there is science out there that proves otherwise. Power down already. It’s healthy to step away from the Internet and Facebook and work for a few hours, you won’t miss anything, promise. Your friends will still love you. Shut your eyes… see the bigger picture.
  3. Workout. Yup, wear yourself out, just like you would a kid or a puppy. Take a run or a walk or venture into a hot room or a CrossFit box… I tend to sleep harder when my body is exhausted. Nothing matches that feeling of falling into bed with a “wow I did something today” kind of body ache.
  4. Scratch your brain. Think. Engage. Do something mentally challenging. Surprisingly, since going back to school, I’ve found that I sleep deeper than ever before. My mind is just so tired at the end of the night that to-do lists melt into the pillow. And, no, TV watching does not count as something mentally challenging, especially before bedtime (see #2).
  5. Go to your comphy place. Everyone has their quirks about what they like. I’m a blinds open, moderate-temperature, no pillow, wake-up with the sun kinda girl. Trust me, that’s tough when you date a black-as-night, ice-cold, fan-on-high, kind of guy. Thankfully we can at least agree on toes out of the covers…which helps us meet in the middle. While dark, cool and quiet is proven to be the most successful, find out what works for you and go with it.
  6. Some people just need more sleep than others, don’t judge. In fact, most people need more sleep than they think they do. In DC people brag about their sleep deficits - less hours of sleep are often equated with a higher sense of accomplishment or worth - “ooo I’m so busy and important that I never have time to sleep.” False! Do not equate lack of sleep with success when the opposite is actually true. 
  7. Drinking makes you drowsy. It also makes you think you’ve had the best blackout of your life (okay, which you may have had while awake), but in reality, it doesn’t do a darn thing when it comes to quality sleep. I know, the truth hurts.
  8. No TV in the bedroom. Yup, I said it. Try it. You might not get to catch up on TiVo, but in exchange, you might get a little more of something else. (insert winky-devil face). Seriously, a TV will light up your room like the 4th of July and while it might feel relaxing to lay in bed and watch a movie, it takes you right back to the dilemma listed in #2. Falling asleep with the TV on impacts your natural sleep patterns and will never allow you to get a good night’s rest.
  9. Set a bedtime. Back to all these things our parents forced us to do when we were kids but we abandoned as grown-ups. Figure out a time that works for you and attempt to go to bed as close to that time as possible every night. Okay, in reality it might not happen every night… and you likely won’t have someone dragging you up the stairs or tucking you in while you are kicking and screaming, but it’s a good goal to have. Routine is good.
  10. Last but not least, stop over programming yourself. I am the WORST offender of this - I absolutely hate sitting still or “wasting the day.” I feel like I need to cram every ounce of my time with some sort of activity, but sometimes you need to listen to your body and recharge. If you don’t, you’ll be forced to. If you find yourself running through things in your brain, write them down, then close your eyes… breathe deeply… slow the world down… and envision yourself melting into the covers.

Filed under sleep health age crossfit fit fitness lifestyle fitblogger success

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How To Talk To Your Daughter About Her Body

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"I want to stand as close to the edge as I can… out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center." - Kurt Vonnegut

Paragliding in Aspen, CO… touched the sky before landing back on the ground. Thankfully, I had a partner-in-crime to join me on this mountain adventure… We rode up a windy and very dusty road in a big truck, we ran off a cliff, yup… a double black diamond cliff, we soared, we twirled, we got to steer, we saw a breathtaking view of the valley… and then we not-so-gracefully landed. Amazing experience.

Filed under paragliding Aspen adventure onlyliveonce pressingtheedge

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32.

So, it’s real. I’m 32. According to my brother, I’m officially “old.” But… he tells me that every year.

Sometimes I can’t even believe it myself. I still walk to work with a backpack. I don’t a house or have kids. Sure, I go to sleep at 9:30 and pack my own lunch, but I just don’t feel like a grown-up. To be honesty, I hope that I never do. If anything, I still feel like I’m 25, except better… Sarah 2.0. I see myself differently. I’ve finally hit the point of knowing and trusting myself… a happy buzz, balance… I’d say that I’m more self-aware now than I’ve ever been before. I feel comfortable and confident in my own skin. We all have self-doubt, but these days it comes in smaller doses. Over the past few years of finding fit, I’ve re-thought food and fitness; I’ve dug deep and found my own inner strength. I’ve learned that success is something that’s much more than surface deep. It’s build from within.

Life is full of amazing adventures. I can only hope that I’ll continue to live with abandon, practice wellness, and continue to learn… stop time, love the moment. In celebration of my 32 years, I thought I’d post a list of 32 memories that I hold close to my heart. Each of them is a brick in the building of me.

  1. One word: Bricks
  2. A volcano in Guatemala, and a lake, and amazing food with an amazing friend.
  3. My mom’s transplant…
  4. and… the months that followed.
  5. My dad.
  6. Yoga… through it I’ve found balance and strength and zen.
  7. Double black diamonds at nearly 13,000ft.
  8. My first half-marathon… along with the months of running leading up to it.
  9. Soul searching with the stars… on many occasions.
  10. Climbing a rope.
  11. Doing a pull-up.
  12. Eating an oyster.
  13. An adventure race.
  14. Living alone.
  15. Living with others.
  16. Getting laid off.
  17. Going to grad school. Granted I just started and it might suck, but it was a big step for me even to apply, so I’m proud of myself for opening the door.
  18. Playing flashlight tag as a child. A lot.
  19. Stage crew.
  20. A high school morning show.
  21. Trudy-nanny.
  22. The Gauley… and other trips with my Broski.
  23. Walks (and runs) through the woods.
  24. A Cold War.
  25. Ragnar Relay. Take one. And then two.
  26. The battlefield of Antietam.
  27. Finding my best friend.
  28. Falling in love.
  29. Beers on the beach under the moon.
  30. Crossfit. Everywhere.
  31. Driving a race car. Okay, cars in general. My family is big on cars.
  32. Laughing, a lot.

Filed under birthday self self discovery thirties

7 notes &

It Must Be The Pants

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For some reason my red lulu leggings make me feel invincible – like a shank-style super girl. I’m not really sure why… but they exude some air of confidence, an unexplainable energy. Wearing them for the past two days worth of workouts (yes, two days)… seems to have offered some sort of clarity among my moments of crazy.

It’s been a rough few weeks. Loads of life updates: I’ve moved. I’ve started graduate school. I’m trying to buy a house. And… all the while, I’m still attempting to balance work and workouts. As 32 draws closer, I find myself questioning where I fit in the world, reviewing and re-evaluating. DC is expensive. Time is a hot commodity. How do you balance everything and still remember to breath?

Going back to school has been stressful. Fear can be consuming. I feel like a ticking time bomb. Turning in my first assignment earlier this week was much harder than walking into any gym, running Murph alone, or battling through a Cold War. The sense of self-doubt was draining, suffocating, stifling… then it erupted into every other aspect of my world. Making me question my choices… life path… is this a good idea? what will it get me? will I succeed? Change is uncomfortable and daunting and awkward. It’s hard and scary. It pushes you into new places, but it also makes you want to retreat.

Carrying around bricks has proven to be much easier than books. I’d rather have sore abs or quads! The gym is my comfort zone. I’ve come to grips with my only hour-long sweat sessions, but I already feel lonely on the path less traveled – reading, writing, scratching my brain. I miss my 6:30 “happy hour.” Between battling Annie yesterday (with my best time yet) and standing in a deep warrior two this afternoon, something clicked. I am strong. I can find comfort in the current. My perspective will dictate my performance. I have the opportunity to choose my own outlook and outcome.

What I work through now, will ultimately lead to something bigger and better and brighter. Self-construction is positive, be it in the classroom or in a gym. Life works out as planned. It pieces itself together. Instead of staring down the next three years, I have to take a step back, breathe, and then fight through one day at a time. Like pushing through a plateau – the mindset is the same – it’s about self-awareness and mental fortitude. Turn of the brain. Believe in yourself. Trust. Do. I’m tougher than I think I am and I have to recognize that.

As I kicked up into my first hand-stand during a lunch time power-hour with the yoga mat, the instructor taped me on the back and whispered, “nice work.” Perhaps it was the validation I needed to regain my super-powers.

Or maybe it was the fact that today is my Friday.

Or maybe it’s last night’s liquid sangria courage still talking.

Or maybe, it really does have something to do with the red pants.

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Filed under lululemon lulu self discovery betterthanyesterday suceess yoga crossfit