2017 USAW Senior Nationals

Tips for the Comeback Athlete

Hey, guys! I know it’s been a while. It’s been a really weird, yet wonderful few months since you’ve last heard from me. Last time I wrote here, I won my first two national titles: University National Champion and Under 25 National Champion. Since then, I bombed out in the snatch at Nationals, somehow ended up with a boyfriend (thanks, weightlifting), found a new gym, finally switched barbell clubs to McKenna’s Gym, obtained a position as a librarian, climbed some mountains in Yosemite with Andrew (he’s the boyfriend), ate some chicken feet, and I’m learning more about myself every single day.

It’s almost one year ago to the day that I had to stop lifting due to my pelvic floor and as I reflect on this last year, I never would’ve imagined that any of those things that I listed above ever would’ve happened had my pelvic floor not given out. Sure, I thought my total would be higher by now since it literally hasn’t moved a kilo, but there’s so many things that I’ve gained that can’t be shown in a total. And it’s these things that I utilize daily as I’m making my comeback to the sport.

When I first met Tamra, we decided that once I was able to, we’d lift through therapy, through my imbalances, through the hard times, rather than stopping all together to rehab. I don’t know that I would’ve made it through any other way.

Since nationals, I took two full weeks off of lifting. From there, I was on a six week body building program with minimal full lifts. I needed the break physically, mentally, and emotionally. Finally, eight full weeks after nationals, I went to the East Coast Gold Weightlifting Camp at McKenna’s Gym where I began my full-fledged lifting cycle in preparation for the American Open. It was here that it all started, I knew that seriously coming back to the sport after so having so many issues, I had to make some life changes if I wanted to get to where I wanted to go.

I’m going to share some of the things I’ve been doing to get back on track as I’ve adapted into this new weightlifting cycle and mindset:


  • Simplify your life. This seems to be my year of letting go. I’ve let go of past relationships that no longer serve me, I’ve let go of places that, for a long time, were a huge part of who I have become, and I’ve taken anything that no longer makes a positive impact on my life and I’ve let it all go. This doesn’t mean that these people and places aren’t positive for others, they were simply no longer serving me in a positive way. As humans, we grow and change and adapt. I knew that I had to make some changes in order to continue my growth. Whether it’s a boyfriend or girlfriend, a relationship of any kind, if it no longer serves me in a positive way, I let it go. Since doing this, I have made space in my life for the few things that I need to focus on. Lifting, work, and my close friends and family. Sure, this is selfish. I’ve omitted relationships in my life to fit what I need, but someone once told me you must be selfish to succeed. Athletes have to be selfish, they have to say no to friends and family often. I’ve said no more times than I can count in the last two months. And I’m not one bit sorry about it. Now that I’m working full time hours, I have little time for anything but work and training. I like it. It’s keeping me focused and keep my eyes on the things and the people that mean the most to me.



  • Surround yourself with a positive training environment. I drive 45 minutes everyday to get to Incessant Fitness. Some people think I’m insane, but honestly, I’d drive hours for the training environment that I get to lift in while there. Ernie, the owner and fellow national and international level lifter, understands my journey. Daily, I get to lift in a place where I’m surrounded by positive people who are all on their own weightlifting journeys, just like me. I don’t have to wait until classes are over, I don’t have to try to explain my weightlifting struggles, and most of all, I never have to lift alone. Lifting alone is difficult. It builds an incredible resilience without a doubt, but I wasn’t looking to build resilience, I’ve built enough of that through my pelvic floor struggles this last year. I’m looking for a positive training environment with people who get it. And you don’t fucking get it unless you’re in it. I am so thankful for the new family I’ve made over at Incessant Fitness, the positive atmosphere reigns supreme.



  • Stop talking about your body in a negative way. I am not broken. I am whole. I was an athlete battling a serious imbalance, one that affected my entire body, but I was never broken. As athletes, we’ve grown into sturdy machines. We are tough and we fight, but we are never broken unless we deem ourselves broken. Broken is linked to a negative connotation. When something is broken, something is wrong. I know we often joke about this, but really, it’s not funny. Your brain registers these negative connotations that you’re using when speaking about your body. You can actually convince yourself that you’re broken if you refer to it enough. I’ve used this term the entire last year of my life. Until last month when I started lifting again. My body is healing. Mike and Tamra have been working tirelessly to ensure that I’m as healthy as I can be. And I am. I am not broken. I’m a fighter. And I am currently the strongest I’ve ever been, physically, mentally, emotionally, even before the pelvic floor catastrophe. I will always be stronger than I was, because my body is working the way it should.



  • Find your team and trust them. The week after nationals, I received an email from Mike. It was addressed to me, Tamra (my physical therapist) and Jaclyn (my nutritionist). In it, he broke down my entire program leading up to the American Open in December (Should I remind you that it was still May?). For each cycle, he addressed exactly where he wanted me to be in a nutrition sense (my weight) and a physical sense. Get yourself a coach like that. I can’t thank these guys enough for the system that they’ve created to ensure that I’m going to be at my best as we plow forward these next few months. Find your people and trust them.



  • Trust your coach. For months, Mike’s been telling me all the things that he believes that I can do, and it wasn’t until recently that I actually believed him. I believe that I can do those things and I can feel that I’m getting stronger and I will be able to do those things. I’ve adopted a lot of self doubt this last year and it is so refreshing to let it all go because my body is healing. Mike and Tamra assessed my main issues before I started on a full program again. We were going to focus on my core and my hip flexors. Because guess what, guys? If you’re folding in cleans and failing squats, it’s very rarely because you have weak legs (like I used to think) it’s all about the core and the glutes! Tamra asserted that if we strengthened my core and my hip flexors, my hip pain would subside. I can happily report that I’ve been lifting without pain for about six weeks now. I haven’t lifted without hip pain since I started taking lifting seriously over a year and a half ago. Tamra made the calls and Mike programmed to my imbalances and weaknesses. Get yourself some smart professionals and trust the fuck out of them.



  • Trust the process. I saved this one for the last one because, though I think it’s most important, I also think that this is widely misunderstood. Everyone always preaches “trust the process.” And for so long, I thought I knew what that meant, and I did, to an extent; but it wasn’t until now that I am truly understanding just what that short phrase really means. One year ago my life was turned upside down and I was diagnosed with something that changed so many aspects of my life including breathing and peeing like a normal human. I couldn’t feel the muscles in my pelvic floor, let alone use them in lifts. I will never forget how far I’ve come as I reflect every single day after my training sessions. Though I didn’t understand why I was peeing, or why I couldn’t brace properly, I trusted those around me and I persisted. Almost every single day that I walked into the gym for the last year, I physically felt like I couldn’t make it through another session. Most days I had to back off and treat 70 and 80 percents like they were 90. Most days, I couldn’t squat full depth. Most days, the only thing I wanted to do was give up and walk out of the gym. I was healthy enough to lift, but we were starting from scratch, changing all of my technique and building new muscles to learn how to use them later. I’m not feeling the affects of this until now. That’s trusting in the process. Throughout this last year, so often I’d forget why I was putting my body through this. Until April, when I finally thought about life without weightlifting. Nothing about this last year has been easy, but I wouldn’t trade this struggle for anything. I’m finally understanding my body and the way it works. I’m understanding how to brace muscles that were underdeveloped. I’m understanding the reasons for doing specific movements and how they impact others. I’m understanding that this is the process. Wanting to give up for so long and persisting anyway is part of the process. That was part of my process and my process is going to be entirely different from yours. That’s what it took for me to understand that there is no giving in. It took all of these shitty things to happen for me to feel this way. And no competition, no amount of PRs, no book can teach you anything that I’ve learned about myself in the last year full of struggle. And that is why I’ll be unstoppable.


Count Your Blessings

I know it’s been a while and for that, I’m sorry! My life has been turned upside down since I was last here. I graduated, I’ve been on the job hunt, and now I’ve been preparing for my first professional interviews. It seems like my days consist only of training, work, coaching, and job hunting. It’s been a tiring few months, but it’s so exciting to watch my hard work unfold before my eyes.

For the last few months, every training session has been the focus of the 2017 University Nationals. All the bad days and all the good days culminated into six (well, four) singular moments on that stage in Gainesville, Florida. Mike and I had huge goals going into this meet. We were planning for big things, like a spot on the University World Team. But everything changed after weigh ins, my only competition didn’t make weight. And the only thing I had to do was hit lifts. The entire game had changed. For the last three months I was prepared to compete, mentally, physically, emotionally, only to discover it was me against myself. That is an entirely different ball game.

Sure, if you’ve seen my posted total, many would think, “She won?” I know that was my thought after taking home all six gold medals. I was a tad embarrassed, embarrassed that I put up the worst total I’ve lifted in the last year, embarrassed that I couldn’t walk to get out for my last two clean and jerks. I still, to this second have not looked at the results, nor will I.

However, after discovering that the playing field had changed, the game had changed, and that is one of the most intriguing components of this sport. My goals had changed. They were always to win, but win while competing, not against myself, but against an opponent. My goals had shifted and I only had to hit openers to win gold. Though it seemed simple, the pressure was taxing.

I took some deep breaths and remembered all of the reasons why I was there. First and foremost being that I love this sport. I have fallen deeply in love with a sport that develops each person as a weightlifter and a person. I’ve learned more about myself since beginning this journey than I have my entire life. And I think that’s a beautiful thing. So often people walk around wondering who they are and what’s their purpose. I know mine, every single day I walk into the gym with goals bigger than most people would ever dare to dream. And I know that it will take time and so much hard work, but I’ll get there. There’s not a single doubt in my mind that I will.

While waiting to warm up, I closed my eyes to think about how I got there. Only eight months ago I couldn’t lift, I couldn’t squat, I couldn’t sit without pain. I met Tamra, who you should all know so well by now, and she changed my life. She taught me how to walk, sit, brace, lift properly, without pain. There were so many instances in the last eight months where I was unsure if I’d be able to lift, let alone lift competitively again. She, however, never doubted that I’d be unfit to lift. So many sessions were spent updating her on my body, so many late nights were spent in her office, fitting me in when she had the chance. She would fly in from her adventures and treat me late that night. So much of this was for Tamra, because without her, I sure as hell wouldn’t be lifting weights and I sure as hell wouldn’t be a University National Champion.

I was there for Mike, the coach who taught me so much about weightlifting. The man who opens his house if I can’t afford to stay anywhere else when I come to lift with him. The man who believes in me every single day, who encourages me to be better every single day. So often I doubt myself, but whenever I do, I find myself thinking of Mike. I know that he sees far beyond what I see. I trust him and this journey that we’re on more than I’ve ever trusted in anything in my life. I was there for Mike.

I was there for everyone at home, especially my parents. Regardless of what it was, they have supported anything I set my mind to, never attempting to deter my dreams. They supported my decision to go back to school and my decision to drop all things and lift. They are the reason why I am able to fill my days with things that I genuinely love and enjoy. They are the reason I am able to wake up every morning and chase the things that mean the most to me. I wake up everyday with this bright fire that wouldn’t still be lit had I never had their support and encouragement.

I was there for my Absolute Strength Team. Never have I ever walked into a single place where I feel so much love and support. From my kids (yes, I call my youth athletes my kids), particularly Danny and Elizabeth. So often do we forget that by simply being and living everyday, we impact the lives of those younger than us and those around us in general. I wake up, I train, I work, I coach. I do it all over again everyday. But this cycle impacts those around me more than I could ever know. I set an example for those who don’t yet understand what it means to be a part of a process. I coach these guys three days a week and every single day I am thankful that I have the opportunity to impact their lives in a positive way. I can prove that hard work and determination can result in great things. This was for them.

This was for the rest of the Absolute Strength Gym community, all of my friends who continually believe in me through good days and bad days. Alex, who has made made more of an impact on my life than she may realize (though I know she does). Jose, who fits my massages into his schedule so I don’t die. Mike, who continues to deal with my dramatics through all of our weightlifting sessions, choosing to come in early, so we don’t have to lift alone. Everyone at this gym is part of my journey in a different way and I am so thankful that I get to call this community of wonderful humans, mine.

This was for Sarah, one of the most incredible humans I’ve ever met. She keeps me grounded when I go astray, she keeps me calm when I’m ready to explode, and most of all, she truly believes when I don’t. So many dance moves were for you this weekend. I am so upset that you couldn’t be there to hug me and hold me throughout this weekend, but you were there all the same. Thank you, Sarah for being the parts of me that I can’t be at times, and reminding me that I can be my best at others. I am so thankful. This was for you.

Lastly, this was for Rob, my first real coach. The first person to light any kind of fire inside of me, the first person to believe that I can be great, the first person to realize my potential. Thank for taking me to where I am, because had it not been for you, the last year and a half wouldn’t have happened. Thank you for the push to sign me up for my first weightlifting meet, and holding me up for my first Senior Nationals, for your understanding when I’m uneven, and for your support today. I wouldn’t be me today without you and I sure as hell wouldn’t have come home with six gold medals had I not had your consistent encouragement. This was for you.

Before beginning my warm-up, I thought about all of the people who love and support me every single day. I decided that this isn’t just for me. It wasn’t just for me because if it were only about me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It’s bigger than just me. It never was just about me, it’s about every single person who ever invested their time in me, who believed in me, when I often don’t believe in myself. It was about the support that is the community in which I surround myself daily.

So when I took to that stage, I had no doubt. Did things turn out as planned? Nope. They rarely do. Did I think I’d only going out for one clean and jerk when the real goal was 85-87? Nope. But obstacles are part of any game, any game that’s worth winning. I learned so much about myself on Friday. I learned when to fight and when to walk away (or, be carried away). I learned that competing against an opponent is often easier than competing against yourself, and I learned that I have one of the most incredible support systems anyone could ask for.

For anyone who has supported me and my journey, thank you.


Hey, friends! I know it’s been a while and for that, I apologize. Since this semester began, I’ve been up, down, and all around. But let’s be real, I wouldn’t have it any other way. So many things have happened in the last few months and everything that’s happened involves one thing: growth. Whether it’s fast or slow, progress is still progress and I’ve learned a lot about progress since I’ve last written anything here.

I left off on my issues; how it’s important to make the best of everyday with what you’re given. This is just the first of many lessons I’ve learned in the past two months.

Let’s rewind just a bit. At the end of August, I started seeing a physical therapist for my pelvic floor issues. As it turns out, my pelvic floor muscles were almost nonexistent and, if I had continued lifting with these issues, weightlifting, for me, wouldn’t be a long term thing. But as cliche as it sounds, everything happens for a reason. This setback was necessary for me to get to where I am now: confident that I’m graduating in a month.

A few months ago, I was dreading graduation, on the hunt for part-time jobs, and sure I was going to ride out the broke life and dedicate myself to this sport. Someone had other plans. School had been put on the back burner as I viciously chased my weightlifting dreams everyday in the gym. But what happens when your dreams have no choice but to be put on hold? You get your priorities straight, that’s what happens.

I focused on physical therapy, on getting better, on the things that I had the power to control, and one day, my pelvic floor would be another thing to add to that list. I spent more time at the Princeton Theological Seminary Library, adding another day to my interning schedule. I remember what it was like to be a student, enjoying class after two months off. I embraced everything that was happening, especially since competing at University Nationals wasn’t one of those things.

I had been training for Unis all summer to withdraw just a few short weeks before the competition. Sure, it was really difficult at the time, having worked hours upon hours a week for this. Having sweat for this, having missed family functions and ditching friends for this, but looking back, these pelvic floor issues, caught up with me at the perfect time.

My last blog referenced The Obstacle is the Way more than once and I’ll do it again. “The only guarantee, ever, is that things will go wrong. The only thing we can use to mitigate this is anticipation. Because the only variable we control completely is ourselves.” Me. I could control me. And I did.

I still went to University Nationals, but not as an athlete, as a coach. I watched my friends’ fantastic and courageous performances. I saw competition through a different lens, a lens that will, in turn, make me a better athlete, a lens that relight the fire that, I thought, was burning out.

That lens allowed me to not only apply this persistence to weightlifting, but the rest of my life as well. What better time to grow up than now? Graduation is around the corner, I’m on the mend so countless hours in the gym is unnecessary. Like I said before, everything happens for a reason and timing is everything.

A few months ago, if you had asked me about my plans post graduation, I’d have given you my bit on academic libraries, while, in my head, I was thinking about weightlifting. But now, after months of getting my priorities in order, I can confidently explain what I’d like my future to depict: I’m looking for a job where I can immerse myself in information involving books, preferably older, rarer texts, that preserve history. I want to make these devices available for all users, not just the scholarly. I want to create a world for myself where information can be shared simply and creatively. I want all these things and I want to lift. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I really like “The Lifting Librarian” label I’ve got going on. Honestly, it might make a wonderful marketing campaign one day, but what’s the sense if I don’t live it daily. In order to embody both halves, I have to practice both halves. And these last few months, I most definitely have. Between the various opportunities I’ve had at Princeton to my journey on the road to recovery, I have learned more about myself than I ever have before. And through all of these winding roads that I’ve been frequenting over the last few months, I’ve finally found my way.

Writing this the night before my first professional conference makes me reflect on how far I’ve come as a person since this semester began. I’m no longer preaching about being the forever student (though it’d be nice), but I’m now welcoming the challenges that will arise in this next stage in my life.

It’s an incredible thing, adversity, because often times, it forces us to take a step back, reevaluate, and progress forward with a blazing fire.

“The Obstacle is the Way” By Ryan Holiday

Life is so ironic. But seriously, it is. One of our coaches and owners from our sister gym, CrossFit 732, Mark, gave me a book after returning from nationals: “The Obstacle is the Way.” I’ve been reading it slowly, picking it up whenever I have a spare minute here or there. Essentially, it’s about looking obstacles dead in the face and choosing to emerge stronger from each and every bump in the road.  One particular line stood out to me while reading:

“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”

Every time we face adversity, we have a choice, we can let it destroy us, or we can learn from it, allowing it to make us stronger. I’ve been trying to apply the many lessons from this book in my own life. Is it easy? Nope. Am I always successful? Nope. But do I try to see everything that’s happening in a new light? Yes. Because naturally, when ti rains, it pours. And it’s pouring right now.

You hear about it often, defeated people rising from the ashes of their mistakes to become successful men and women. It often seems as though the more adversity some athletes or business people face, the more successful they emerge; the thing is that they didn’t just let shitty things happen to them. They used every failure or mistake as a lesson, a reason to learn and move forward.

Failure, often times, is our best teacher. Whether it’s in school, in relationships, or in the gym. But it’s the way in which we choose to fail that really matters. Will we lie in bed defeated, refusing to face another day, or we will understand that the things that happen today, will only prepare us for tomorrow? The choice is always yours. Once I realized this, I changed my perspective in all aspects of my life., particularly in the gym.

Over the past month, I’ve been having issues with my infraspinatus, the muscles in your shoulders that help rotate the humerus and stabilize the shoulder joint. Once my chiropractor discovered where my pain was stemming from (we literally figured this out yesterday), everything made sense. Overhead movements and cleaning have been exceptionally rough this last month. Basically everything has been a battle because I need my arms for everything always. It’s been weeks, aside from a select few days, since I have been able to finish an entire day of training as it was programmed.

Limitations are tough, especially when you’re a month out from a national meet, but what’s one meet in comparison to my entire lifting career? What’s one month of taking care of my body, rather than destroying it to get every last rep? Naturally, this has been really frustrating, but then I realized that there was only so much that I could do. So, I better do it well and do it right.

There’s more. I’ve recently developed some pain around my tailbone area, limiting squats. So I can’t use my arms, and I can’t squat. Now what? Now, I take a step back and reevaluate what’s important to me: growth. Giving everything I have on a daily basis is important to me. Whether it’s only accessory work or all the clean and jerks and snatches, I’m going to give everything I have every day until I can perform these movements pain free.

The hardest part has been learning to be content with the things that I can do. We’ve all been told to give it our all at least one or twice in our lives, but sometimes, our all doesn’t seem like very much. And that’s ok. That’s part of this process. Everyday is spent working towards the bigger picture. All of these bumps we hit along the way are only helping to pave our paths to success. And this is exactly how I have to interpret these last few weeks.

Of course, this doesn’t only apply to training in the gym, but life too: work, school, relationships, any and everything. And that, I think, is one of the most intriguing things about weightlifting: everything you learn can always be carried over into real life.

So a big thank you goes out to Mark for giving me this book. Bring it on, life. I’m ready for you.

Some Random Thoughts on Passion

How often do you think that is is exactly where you’re supposed to be? If never, you’re probably doing something wrong.

When I was in undergrad at what is now Stockton University, I studied literature. In most of my classes, especially Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and Native American Lit, I often found myself absolutely engrossed in the material. During class or while completing homework, I’d often think to myself, “I love this. This is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.” I missed this feeling; it’s a boost of reassurance that you’re heading down the right path in such a confusing world, but I haven’t felt it in a while. Until, of course, I found weightlifting.

I enjoy a plethora of things, but nothing surmounts to both reading and weightlifting. Last weekend, I headed down to CrossFit Lithium for the USAW Level 1 Certification with Michael McKenna. Within five minutes of his lecture, I was completely memorized by both the mechanics and philosophy that is weightlifting. This, my friends, is far more than a simple snatch and a clean and jerk. To many who’ve found it, it’s a lifestyle, a necessity.

The only thing I could think about while sitting in my seat, was sitting in class with Tom Kinsella back at Stockton. Kinsella was by far my favorite professor. His passion and love for literature was impossible to ignore, thus bleeding through to his students as he taught. He was able to command the room while reading Shakespeare just as McKenna held our attention for two full days with non-stop weightlifting, coaching, and mindset. And there I sat, knowing that this is exactly where I was supposed to be.

I am so incredibly lucky to have found not only one, but two passions. Throughout my weeks, I have the “I’m supposed to be here” thoughts often. I have them on a weekly basis when I touch a barbell. Though, I pity those who have never experience this euphoria. Maybe they’re unsure what they enjoy. They may have grown up being forced into a specific field of study by their parents, left wondering why they have a degree in a field in which they despise. They may be after that “American Dream” life. That life where they graduate with a beautiful degree from a state of the art school in a field in which they’ll make all the money. And, in turn, probably be absolutely miserable. It’s not worth it. Nothing is worth unhappiness. What happened to doing the things we love? Find your passion and doing something with it.

I think it’s an absolute mental necessity to follow your heart and take on all the things that you love. Challenge yourself, if you don’t thoroughly enjoy anything, figure it out. Go hiking, enroll in a dance class, an art class, pick up a barbell. Do something you’ve never done before. You just may find that it will change your life. Mine is forever changed and for that, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that I get to share something I hold so dear with my friends and family over at Long Branch CrossFit.

Because I can tell you that when I started shying away from CrossFit and focusing on weightlifting just over a year ago, I’d have never believed that this would soon become the biggest part of my life. We all deserve to do something we love. Take the things you love, cherish them, and constantly build on them everyday, and it is only then when you will truly understand when something that seems so small, can do something so big.


Hi friends! I know it’s been a while! Between school, training, coaching, and the internship, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed! But that’s actually what I’m posting about today: focus and the grind.

If any of you knew me a few years ago when I was in undergrad, you’d know that I collapsed in tears under pressure. So much of my undergraduate experience was spent completing assignments days and weeks in advance because I couldn’t function under pressure. Which is insane because I spend most of my summer course handing papers in with hours and minutes to spare. But back then, the moment I was overwhelmed, the tears flowed and I was a blubbering mess. Well, if any of you guys are like this, I have wonderful news for you: you can change, you can grow. Because, hey, I did!

March 2016 to May 2016 were probably the most stressful months of my life. I did not cry, but I did survive and looking back, I’m not sure how. But then again, I know exactly how: I had/have an incredible support system.

Let me tell you about this spring semester. At the end of this past fall, I decided that I was going to graduate with my Master’s early. I had no excuses not to: I was only coaching and training. So, after completing my winter class, I decided it was a glorious idea to take four classes in the spring. Three on campus and one online. It was brilliant. I’d take one summer class and have almost two whole months without school before fall began again.

In theory, it was a great idea. Between my winter class, the extra spring class, and summer, I’d only need a full three course load in the fall to graduate in December. Now, I’m thrilled to only have three classes before graduation, but looking back, it was so damn hard and I was so burnt out after USAW nationals.

Oh yeah, nationals. In January, I didn’t think I’d end up in the top ten of the nation for weightlifting. Nationals were a thought, but until I qualified in February, they weren’t a serious goal. So, when picking classes, I didn’t know I’d have that on my plate as well. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

So there I was taking four grad classes, coaching, training about 20 hours a week, and interning at Monmouth University. Oh man, was I overwhelmed. But I’m still here and I’m just fine. If I was hanging out, being my former self, a few things probably would’ve happened: I would’ve dropped my online class. Because it was the devil. I only survived thanks to one of my dear friends and life savior: Marielle (BTW she created my logo, my tanks for nationals, and the kick ass website). This angel helped me with all of my technology projects, staying up late on week nights and giving up Fridays to help me pass. So, when I say I have the best support system, I’m not kidding.

Secondly: I probably wouldn’t have placed 4th at nationals. A few years ago, whenever I sat down to do homework or lift, I’d have been thinking about all the things I had to do next, but thanks to Rob (as usual, he’s usually right.), and fast reads like The Art of Mental Training, I made it through. I learned how to sit down and get my work done, only focusing on my work for that allotted amount of time rather than thinking about training and whether or not I was going to have the cash to pay for nationals. For the first time in my life, I took it one day at a time, trying my best to focus on what I was doing to make the most out of the little time I had. When I trained, I focused on training, when I was doing school work, I was focused on that. I did my best to completely immerse myself in whatever I was working towards.

It was, by far, the most stressful time in my life, and I didn’t shed a single tear from being overwhelmed, and that, my friends, may be the biggest victory of all. No, I didn’t maintain my 4.0 this last semester, but it is pretty damn close. Instead, I was able to juggle all the things I was working towards, while still maintaining my grades and performance in the gym. I think there’s a bigger win there.

Looking back, I can’t believe the way I’ve grown to handle stress. I’m still not great, but I’ve come a long way.

So here’s some quick tips for time management, some of them, I utilized in the past few months, and a bunch of them I’m still trying to work on because there’s ALWAYS room for improvement. SO, when I hear, “I don’t have time for the gym.” I’m going to call bull shit. I’ll tell you why in one of these tips.

Time Management Tips!

  1. Make a daily plan, either in your head, or on paper if you like to cross things off. I did this often with my school work, and I do it in the gym with my lifting journal (yes, I write all my lifting things in a journal); however, I have to work on doing this with my entire days.
  2. Give yourself time limits. It’s safe to say that I don’t do this at the gym, but I did this often this past spring. If I was writing a paper or reading, I’d give myself however many hours I had to complete my work. I’m currently working on doing that in the gym, because if it were up to me, I’d train all day.
  3. Learn to say “NO.” Before this past semester, I rarely said no as I thought I was wonder woman and I had all the time in the world. When I realized that if I wanted to succeed in the things most important to me, I often had to say no to other things that I wanted to do outside of my big picture goals.
  4. The above coincides with priorities, which takes me to #4. Get your priorities straight. If you have your goals straight, usually your priorities are too. So priorities were no longer drinking on the weekends or going to happy hour. My friends who understood, thank you. And those who didn’t, I’m not sorry. I accomplished a lot of things over the last few months and I’m not sorry for all the hard work I put in. Get your shit straight. It’s never I don’t have time. It’s I don’t want to or it’s not a priority to me. And that’s fine. The gym or school doesn’t have to be everyone’s priority, but they’re mine, so now, I say NO to things for both of my priorities.
  5. Lastly, FOCUS. If you’re trying to multi-task, just don’t. Certain times are for certain things. I learned that if I focus the allotted time on my specific task, rather than worrying about what had to be done later, I was much more efficient. Because let’s be real, worrying about my homework while lifting isn’t going to change the fact that I still have homework. Cross those bridges when you come to them.

I’m not saying I’m a time management master, because I’M DEFINITELY NOT. I’ve just improved a bit since my good old Stockton days and maybe one or two of these will help my friends. Because I like helping my friends!

So the next time you decide you don’t have time, take a second, and get your priorities straight, and remember, it’s all going to be ok if you have faith in yourself.

Utilize Those Around You

I’m sure many of us remember walking into our first gym or CrossFit box, or whatever it is that you do for fun. You’re the newbie, with no friends, and you’re awkward as hell, right? I WAS. Sometimes, it takes a few tries to find the place where you belong, because, nowadays, gyms aren’t just gyms, they’re communities that create a home away from home.

I took me five gyms to find my home. I’ve been to some other good gyms and some not so great ones, but fifth times a charm, right? Every gym is different and sometimes, you have to find what works best for you. For me personally, I was looking for a level of coaching that I was unable to find anywhere else. Some coaches are really gifted and they work hard investing their time both into learning new things and investing time in their clients. They really have a knack for understanding the way in which an athlete learns and accepts feedback. THAT is what I was looking for and that is exactly what I found at Long Branch CrossFit.

No, this isn’t an add, I’m actually relating gyms and coaches to another vital member of the healthy lifestyle family–nutritionists. What is a solid machine, without proper fuel? Nothing. As high level athletes, that’s exactly what we are–machines. Just like proper coaching, proper nutrition is key in an athlete’s well being and performance.

I’m sure a bunch of you have seen some of my latest posts about how weightlifting is so hard and I’m so tired and blah blah blah and I’ve been stuck in this plateau forever. Instead of trying to fight through on a daily basis (I’m always fighting), I decided that the beat down I give myself on the regular can probably be helped by properly fueling myself. If I don’t feel well and perform well, the least I can do is eat well. I do actually eat really well, but I don’t want to only eat whole foods to live a healthy lifestyle; I need to eat the proper whole foods in the right portions to provide my body the nutrients it needs to do the things I do. You guessed it–macros.

I’ve never really counted my macros before, but just a few weeks ago, I decided to do a six week Primal Precision challenge with The Girl With The Butter, otherwise known as Kristin Kaschak. Kristin is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, or a miracle worker. Either or is fine and fits the title. But the best thing about Kristin is that she not only handed me a template with my numbers, but she genuinely wants her clients to improve. She does this stuff because she wants to make a difference. To her I’m not just another dollar sign. Yes, I’m incredibly lucky, because I do see her on a daily basis and she knows all the things I do and what times I eat and what my training schedule is like, but if you have someone at your gym, or a close friend who does this stuff, you’d be stupid not to utilize them. BECAUSE THEY CARE.

There’s a ton of huge companies out there doing the same damn thing. You pay all the money and they send you a template, but that template isn’t personalized. That person who created that doesn’t know what you do on a daily basis. They don’t know what time of the day or work out, and let’s be real, do you think they give a shit? FUCK NO. They know that they’re disseminating a few general templates that may work for most people and that’s the end. There’s no caring involved. Where’s the support in that?

This really gets me because everyone is about “buying local” yet so many friends and fellow athletes utilize these big companies, becoming another dollar sign at the end of the month. That’s essentially what this is. Kristin is our local NTP. She offers numbers AND the support to match. And the small price she chargers pays her bills and other adult-like things.

When tapering my training last week, I texted Kristin asking if I should be doing anything differently. DUH. After a few questions on her end and a few minutes, I had new numbers to hit on single session days. WOW. It sounds like she cares.

I’m really appreciative for the support system that I have over at Long Branch CrossFit. Between Rob, with his incomparable coaching, and Kristin with her nutrition skillz, we have a solid local team of coaches who care. And although it might not sound like a big deal, it is.

So friends, if you’re on some lame nutrition program, do yourself a favor and head over to thegirlwiththebutter.com to find out more about Kristin. You don’t have to be a number anymore.

^ That last sentence was really dramatic, but really, go check her out!

Barbells and Books

Barbell: (n) a bar that is used with adjustable weights in the sport of weightlifting.

Book: (n) a written or printed work consisting of multiple pages that have been bound together with covers to relay information to its readers.

What do they have in common? Nothing, you say? Everything, I say. While reading a book, you’re either on the prowl for information or reading a story. And that is exactly what weightlifting is: a story. From the moment the athlete’s hands grasp the bar, their story is alive. You can read an athlete by the way they lift. Whether they’re ferocious or timid, the way in which they carry themselves carries over into the bar.

What you think, you do.

My name is Katie and lifting and books are two of my favorite things. I’m often asked how my interests arose. Well, I’ve known for a while that I wanted to go to school to work in either archives or special collections ever since I helped create a library exhibition for my senior project as an undergraduate at, what is now, Stockton University.

Ever since I was younger, I knew I wanted to do something with reading and writing because I thoroughly enjoyed both of those things and growing up, my parents taught me to do what I love and to do it well. I carry that into all aspects of my life. Can you tell?

Shortly after graduating, I learned that there’s no sense in doing any of the things that you don’t like. Because why waste your life being miserable? I’ve learned that life is all about priorities and my priority is being happy. And I must say, since being laid off and starting grad school, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, probably in my entire life. I plan to stay this way.

The other thing that I love so much is weightlifting. I know. Crazy. I’m 5’0, I’m roughing 105 lbs, and I love weightlifting. I’ve been an athlete my entire life: from gymnastics, to dance, to softball, to cross country, to field hockey, to track, and lacrosse. You name it, I did it, besides basketball and soccer, because having huge balls flying at your head doesn’t seem fun to me, and did I mention I’m 5’0? I’ve already had the competitive drive before I started CrossFit almost four years ago. Time flies. And what is a huge part of CrossFit? You guessed it: weightlifting. So, I learned the lifts years ago, not well I might add, as I was horrified of dropping under the bar in the snatch and weights over my head just seemed impossible.

When snatches were programmed, I’d skip class. That’s how much I despised the Olympic lifts. But then Rob does this thing called coaching and, he does it really well. I backed off the weights, swallowed both my pride and my ego, and relearned the lifts from the beginning. Was it easy? Fail after fail after fail. No. I used to be a crier in the gym. Yeah I was that girl. There’s nothing worse than a crier. And then I learned how to MTFU (man the fuck up) and learned how to appreciate my mistakes and fail forward. This was a super difficult process, but I must say I loved every second of it. I still do. I mean that’s why we’re here right now.

The things I learn in the gym on a regular basis like learning from failure and welcoming challenges can be carried over into my everyday life. I tarnished my 4.0 this past semester, earning a B+, but I learned how to balance all the important things in my life. GOOD, I’ll get all A’s next semester. There were errors in my online exhibition for Princeton, GOOD. They won’t be there next time. Failure says a lot about a person and the way in which they handle it says more. Learning how to fail forward has made me both a happier and better person. And like I said before, I’m all about being happy.

This is only one of many blog posts, but I thought I’d start here, with two of my favorite things teaching me about life and how to be a better person. In the future, I plan to write more specific blogs about current issues involving library/CrossFit/weightlifting related topics, but for now, I just wanted to share why I loved these things enough to start a blog. Let’s be real, if you can name it, there’s a blog about it.

More to come next week! Have a nice weekend, friends!