Saturday, January 31, 2015

Is Spartan Taking Over the World?! #Giveaway

(Yes, I really did just use a hashtag in my title.)

I did my first Spartan Race waaaaay back in 2010. I was going to link to my recap, but that was BB-- before blogging. Someday I will have to write about that first race because it began in me a journey that has taken me through many miles, mountains of mud and lots of laughs. Spartan is still my favorite race series, although it has grown and morphed into something quite different than it was in the beginning.

The heart behind Spartan Race is to get people up off the couch and moving toward physical fitness and good health. What began as a small word-of-mouth type organization is now sometimes criticized for "going corporate." It has, in a big way... Spartan has partnered with Reebok to bring quality gear and even footwear, has expanded the number of races in a variety of locations, holds group training, has a certification for coaches, and has made its way onto television. All for the better, I believe.

More people are completing Spartan Races, finding joy in physical challenges, learning that getting active can be an adventure. This is all a very great thing. Most recently, Spartan Race founder, Joe De Sena has written and published a book. But it's the latest news that has me (a total podcast junkie) excited...
That's right, Spartan has entered the podcast world. What I really like about the podcast is that it's a mix of conversation and guest interviews. It's not all about Joe or Spartan Race-- rather, he sits and talks to a group of people (experts, friends, fellow racers) about the topic of the podcast, then the interview is played and the group reconvenes for discussion of the interview. I really enjoy the format-- it has a little bit of a "behind the scenes" kind of feel. It's not just Spartan letting us to listen to an interview or educating us.

But speaking of education... the podcasts are packed with interesting experts on a variety of topics-- competitive athletes, entrepreneurs, and just overall amazing individuals including:
  • Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder & CEO
  • Former member of SEAL Team Six
  • Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO
  • Sir Ran Fiennes, world’s greatest living explorer
  • Barry Sternlicht, Starlight Capital Group Founder & CEO
  • Stanley McChrystal, retired U.S. Army general
  • Mimi Anderson, world record holding ultra-runner
  • Risa Mish, attorney & expert on leadership and resilience
This is definitely a podcast I recommend checking out. And to entice you to go have a listen, Spartan has provided me with a free race to giveaway. Click the link to enter the giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don't win the free race, you're still a winner-- use this code: SPARTANBLOGGER for 10% off any race. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

5 Habits to Increase Your Awesomeness

My New Year has started like a whirlwind. Seriously. January 1 found me riding in a car for 16 hours to travel home. 5 days later I was boarding a plane for another 5 days in the Bahamas (NOT relaxing, supervising approximately 50 adults and teens on a mission trip). Now that I'm home and the wind is dying down, I can write a little on my recent life reflections.

I've made it known that I'm not a fan of NYRs (New Year's Resolutions) because they're here today and gone just as quickly. I want something long term. Something that doesn't help you lose 10 pounds, but helps you be better at life in all areas. Here are some habits that I'm striving for.

1. Look on the bright side. 
My Optimist
This one's a constant struggle for me. I'm a pessimist. The glass isn't half full-- it's almost empty. For some reason I've developed the deeply rooted idea that if I look on the cloudy side, I'll never be disappointed. And of course, this isn't' true. Being married to an optimist has helped me greatly. EVERYthing is ok-- no, everything is awesome for my sweet husband. EVERY THING. Sometimes it frustrates me to no end. Most of the time it's the greatest gift he could give me. Example: I'm trying for a new max snatch. (A technical weightlifting move that involves pulling the weight from the ground to overhead in one motion.) I fail and feel frustrated and disappointed in myself. His response-- it's not a fail, it's a pull, which equals success.
*How do you develop sunny side thinking? 1) Surround yourself with positive people. 2) Whenever you detect negative thoughts, stop and redirect. 3) Begin keeping a gratitude journal-- at the end of the day, list 10 things you're thankful for. 4) Begin your day with inspirational reading. For me, it's the Bible-- the Psalms are a great place to find peace and encouragement.

2. Decide what's important.
These guys are what's important.
They also make sure I laugh often
and push me outside my comfort zone.

Voltaire said, "Good is the enemy of great." I cannot do everything I want to do. I cannot do everything I'm asked to do. I personally spend too much time doing things that don't matter (hello, Facebook). The key to being successful and at peace with your life is figuring out what's really important to you and then devoting your time and effort to those things. And this one is also a constant struggle. Too often I fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent-- just doing the things that are crying out for my attention. But that only leads to frustration and a frazzled life.
*How do you choose the important? 1) Make a list-- what is crying out for your attention right now? Jot it all down and the put it in number order. 2) Really think through that numbered list. Those things seem important, but are they really?
3. Face your fears. Aka Step outside your comfort zone.
I have grown the most when I've done things that have absolutely frightened me. And I'm not talking about going to Halloween Horror Nights. I'm talking about entering a competition, taking a job I wasn't sure I was qualified for, writing articles (and even this blog), interviewing people. All of those things have seemed beyond the scope of what I could do. But in facing those fears, I've experience such great joy-- and sometimes a little heartache. Facing your fears may not always end well, but it's worth the journey.
SERE Challenge. I laughed more in this event than any other--
thanks to an awesome team!
*How do you face your fears? Stop thinking about it, and do it. 

4. Laugh.
Don't take life so seriously. And especially do not take yourself so seriously. I'm a pessimist, but I also laugh. A Lot. Life can be difficult, and the amount of pressure that our employers, friends, and social circles put on us can be overwhelming. Laughter really is the best medicine. (Well, besides eating clean and exercising.)
*How do you laugh more? Seriously, did you just ask this question? 

5. Be yourself. This one might be the most important. People talk about finding themselves, or say they don't know who they are. I don't really get that. You are you. We are all uniquely created. There isn't really anything to find. Do what you like to do and forget about what everyone else says. Just don't hurt anyone in the process (or do anything illegal). Don't worry about pleasing other people. Don't be a jerk, either, but one way to ensure a miserable life is to spend it trying to please others. 
*How do you find yourself? Take your right hand, reach up and touch your nose. See? You're right there. Seriously, though. Just stop worrying about what you think you should do and do what makes you happy and healthy. I like what God says, "Love God. Love people" (my paraphrase). 

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Inspiration comes in so many different forms. I mean, it's all over the social media feeds-- those nice little quotes with a pretty picture in the background. But I just heard something recently from a few truly inspiring individuals that really made me rethink the overuse of the word:

Something that is inspiring should result in action. If you are truly inspired, then there should be action that results.

This past weekend I attended the Wodapalooza CrossFit Competition and Fitness Festival. I wrote a preview article about the event, which can be found at WODtalk. I also wrote an athlete profile on Steph Hammerman, which might be the most important piece I've ever written. Steph is a woman living with Cerebral Palsy, which affects her brain's ability to communicate with the rest of her body. She not only participates in CrossFit, she also competes. And she not only competes in CrossFit, but she also coaches CrossFit. (Just read the profile on her-- she's a pretty incredible lady!)
Kevin Ogar and Steph Hammerman
Kevin Ogar, also a CrossFit coach, also an adaptive athlete who competes-- a spinal injury at a CrossFit competition just over a year ago led to his paralysis-- partnered with Steph for a motivational and informative talk on adaptive athletes entitled, "Adapt. Inspire. Educate. Compete. The Hammer and Ogar Story."

Steph talked about how getting moving and becoming active has helped her lose weight, become more mobile and increase her quality of life. She shared her passion for helping others find the same benefits of CrossFit that she discovered.

But she had some words for us typical athletes. She told us not to be inspired that she and other adaptive athletes get dressed, brush their teeth and are able to drive themselves to the gym. Those aren't extraordinary things. She wants us to be inspired by how she pushes herself in the gym and what she accomplishes there.

We need to understand that adaptive athletes may have different challenges than typical athletes, but that they can get in there and do work, like the everyone else.

Friday, January 2, 2015

And My 2015...

I’ve been thinking about 2015, specifically, my plans for 2015. Rolling around ideas, playing with possible goals and dreams, imagining what it is that I want to write about in the 2015 year-in-review blog. And I just don’t know. I’m still feeling like I’m in a bit of a funk. But maybe that’s because I’m blogging from the un-sunny winter cold of Indiana.

This is the sticky note that's been on my
kitchen cabinet since last May.
I’m still stuck, still reflecting on last year. It was a year of so many firsts. The year I turned 40. I feel in some ways it was a peak year for me. Odd that a person could have a peak year and turn 40. Can I make 2015 a new peak year? 

Maybe that’s why I can’t quite focus on the coming year. Maybe it also has to do with the fact that my oldest will be entering his senior year in high school, getting his driver’s license, possibly going to prom. It’s hard to forget I’m getting older when my sons are a daily visible reminder. 

Right now, the only thing on my mind is conquering the muscle-up. I’m so close. It frustrates me to no end. I’ve got until the end of February, specifically, the beginning of the CrossFit Open, to reach this milestone.

After that, I just don't know. And I think I'm ok with that. I've worked so hard and focused for so long on getting ready for this year's Open, that I just want to see where I am after the scores have all been submitted. 

UPDATE: I just id my first weighted pistols, which has left me feeling a bit more positive. So, here are the things I will be working on in 2015:

Muscle ups.
250 lb back squat
175 lb clean
125 lb snatch
Write 100 pages in my novel
Read 50 books

And while working on those things, I will practice 1 Corinthians 16:14 which says, "Let all you do be done in love."