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.