Friday, March 14, 2014

True Strength

With the CrossFit Open being in full force, the talk of strength and strategy for each WOD are all I hear in the box. Its an exciting time! But its not always about your score. I encourage everyone to participate in the Open. Not that I think they'll make it to regionals or the Games, but just to support our sport and have fun. The score for most doesn't matter. And that's okay. Its about the experience. Its about doing the same workout as the games athletes and actually being able to do the movements.

I've been reminded of this more during this Open. My strength isn't back 100% so I knew I couldn't compare to last years performance. But I've seen the 'CrossFit Games spirit' more in my mom. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in December of last year. She's been crossfitting for over a year now. She thought about not participating in the open due to her schedule and the effect of radiation on her body. But my brother and I encouraged her to jump in and have some fun. So she did. Her confidence has been high throughout her treatment. She's been praying more, being the rock for many.

"It's just cancer. Not the end of the world. I got this."

I had the privilege of doing 14.2 with her last weekend. The workout consisted of overhead squats and chest to bar pullups, 3 minute rounds with an increase of reps after each round. The masters weight for overhead squat was 45 pounds. Well my mom has only lifted 25 pounds overhead in a squat. So needless to say she was a little defeated when the challenge was announced last Thursday night.

Well we get to DRiV Fitness on Saturday in St Augustine after an hour of her talking about she won't be able to lift the weight. I kept encouraging her.

"I've never lifted that much. I'm going to have a dash dang it!"

followed by...

"I don't know what I was thinking, I'm just not strong enough."

So yea. She was defeated before she even started. So we walk in to the box, go through a thorough warm up, do some test runs, etc. She starts with light weight and goes heavier on the overhead squat. First 15, then 25 pounds. She gets some confidence back and goes for 35 pounds. Nails it. Her confidence is through the roof now. I can see the shift in her demeanor. She is going to get this! Anne and I encourage her to try the 45. Coaching her along the way with verbal ques and encouragement. Her face is still showing fear, but she's going for it. And she gets it! Followed by an immediate scream and 'happy dance.' Her confidence is back. Awesome.

So we start 14.2. She's not sure how many she'll be able to get, but she got one and that's all she needed to record a score online. She ended up with 4! And in pure Mama Davis fashion she had set up a bar with lower weight so she could get a workout in. And after I was done with 14.2 we did a workout anyways. She was so excited about her 4. I was so glad I was there to watch her overcome what she thought was her limit. And that's what the CrossFit open is all about. No you may not be able to have the top score in your region. But you can give your best effort. And getting caught up in the hype of the Open can propel you past limits you thought you had, giving you that extra boost of confidence. And that's one of the reasons we do what we do to ourselves right? To look good and feel good?

So encourage your fellow competitors. A score of 4 should be celebrated as much as a score of 300. Pick each other up. Don't spread discouraging or negative conversation. That's not what the Open is about. Seeing her overcome her own battle in her head, watching her silence her inner critic was one of the most motivating experiences I've ever witnessed. I shared it with my box, CrossFit Rebels in Clearwater and they were also motivated by your strength. Mom, you are an inspiration to so many. I'm thankful for your drive, your spirit and never give up attitude.

Just a few steps ahead....

More and more I'm reminded of the person I once was. Brings back a wide range of feelings. Smiles and laughter all the way to shame and guilt. I'm confronted with these more this time of year due to the busyness of the season. Can I ever fully outrun her? Sometimes I feel she is way too close for comfort. Makes me feel uneasy and trapped. 

When I'm confronted with my former reputation it does make me cringe a little bit. Yes, I had a ton of fun. Yes, I did hurt many people (mostly myself). And if I could do it again I wouldn't change anything because I believe it's all part of the plan. The bad decisions, the struggle, the adventures, the heartache, it all made me who I am today. 

I'm thankful for God's grace and mercy on me because I don't deserve it. 

He has been so patient and loving with me. Placing the right people and circumstances in my path at just the right time. Closing the right doors so others could open. They have taught me lessons about Him, myself and about life. And I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for the storms. I've learned to accept the struggle. Praise Him during the trial. Knowing each 'war' is a lesson, a test; He is teaching me something about Him. He needs to prune me for something greater.

I'm not sure where the next day will take me, I'm just thankful I'm not in control. Someone's gotta be at the wheel of this crazy train and I'm glad it's not me. I tried for a long time to 'do it my way' and failed miserably. Made some memories and I'm able to tell some epic stories, with a side of embarrassment mostly. Haha. I used to crave the uncontrollable but for different reasons. Always chasing the party and the adventure. Quick give me a shot before I walk in. You know....random madness. But I no longer crave these things. Which is just short of a miracle if you know me at all. I could care less about going out to bars, clubs and parties. God took the desire away from me. I am oh so thankful for this. What's important has shifted. It doesn't bother me to miss the happy hours, ball games and concerts anymore. Yes I ocacaisionally catch a game or a show, but it's not the same. And unfortunately, some things I thought were amazing years ago...well, they are boring and somewhat annoying now. Complete weirdness. And it's heartbreaking too. So I've yet to do some things with my new viewpoint on life, maybe I'm scared to find out how lame it is? Some memories/experiences I don't want crushed by reality I guess.

So the journey continues...

This round just happens to be a little lighter. Had to let some people go, lost some weight and let go of guilt. I've never felt more free. I've never felt more 'me' if that makes sense. At first I wasn't sure and fought God the whole way. After many face plants and head knocks, I decided to just listen and obey. Glad He takes special care of us stubborn children.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sickness & Crossfit

Well, it could be any form of exercise where you measure your results. But lets just use Crossfit for example. Its my story after all.

When I say sickness, I'm referring to auto-immune sickness. Diseases that involve a remission roller coaster. Sicknesses like a cold, flu, stomach virus are important, but not for this story. When you have a disease that puts you on the on again, off again remission ride, it makes things a little dicey at the gym. My personal story is that I have UC. When I'm in remission its like I'm not even sick. On the other hand, it gets a little complicated when it comes to day to day activities. Being active and fit is a huge part of my life. And this year, more than ever, I've been humbled at the gym. So I thought I'd put together some tips for those of you who struggle with the same things as I do. Also for those who don't having any issues, this will help you understand our thought process, you lucky S.O.B. :)

  1. Say bye-bye to your pride. 
This should be the case for everyone who walks into a box/gym anyways. But especially for my fellow athletes that are in a constant form of a diseased state. At first its going to be hard. Real hard. The first couple of workouts will humble you big time. Especially if you are diligent in writing everything down and referring to the last day you did the workout. Don't be surprised if you don't come near to your previous time/weight. Don't be surprised if you have fellow athletes looking at you like you are a slacker during the workout. Don't be surprised if you get dizzy/lightheaded/weak/gassed only a few minutes in. Understanding this will help you maintain a positive attitude at the gym. Because no one likes a 'Negative Nancy' or 'Bitter Betty'. 

   2. Don't get discouraged or disappointed.

Its very easy to get discouraged during a workout when you are out of remission. When you are consistently missing past PRs on weight and time, it can be a slippery slope to full on depression to be honest. Don't be hesitant to scale a workout you previously crushed. Its a better emotional win to finish than to struggle with workouts you crushed when you were healthy. Set new goals for yourself. Achievable ones. First, after you are comfortable with scaling, set a goal to finish without scaling again mid workout. Trust me, no one will care if you scale. Its way more important to understand your body/health and finish than underestimate the power of your disease and struggle. Nobody likes to see that. And trust me, it doesn't' feel good either. 

   3. Pay attention to your body.

This is probably the most important tip. Only you know what is going on with your body. Learn to recognize triggers, limitations and thresholds. Sometimes we just need rest. And that is OKAY! Maybe you need more active rest days. Maybe you need to take a few weeks off. Maybe you need to stay away from certain movements. I've learned to be wary of jumping movements, i.e. double-unders, box jumps, running, etc. Since my intestines and colon are inflamed, its almost like having a weight under your imagine jumping over and over. Super funtime. Or heavy weight days, pay attention to your heart rate, your vision and hearing. Lifting heavy can make you lightheaded when your healthy, its gets a little squirrely when you are out of remission. 

   4. Inform key people.

You don't want to yell your disease from the rooftops or anything, but you should tell a few key members of the gym. Inform your 'inner circle', whether that is your coaching staff, trainer or workout buddies. Someone who can act as a support system and look out for warning signs. When I say warning signs, I'm referring to things like an instant change in your skin color. Don't know about you, but I'm so used to feeling a little off that the line of 'too far' gets a little fuzzy sometimes. Its helped me in a few workouts. Your body will send warning signals when its in distress. Mine just happens to be losing blood in my face and going pale. 

There is a ton of information out there, inform yourself! Join a support group to connect with people who are in your same boat. It helps, take advantage of the knowledge of others, most of them are happy to share. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Who am I?

I found myself asking the question this year more than any other year. So much has changed. Who is this person in the mirror? What are her wants and needs? So I think I've figured it out, well some of it anyways.

My Faith

This year more than ever, my trust and faith in God has been strengthened. I'm in my sixth year of an eight year bible study, this is my first year as a leader. I've seen more prayers answered in my life and others this year. God has 'pruned' my life to better serve Him and others. Learning to trust the struggles this year has been a challenge I've accepted and my battles are getting easier with God's help. I can truly see Him at work in my life and those lives around me now more than ever. 

So how has that changed who I am? Well, I've turned from my former life. My old life was full of conviction with no sacrifice. I've been a christian for several years now, but not until this year have I made it a point to remove sin from my life. I'm still a sinful creature of course, but I've made certain adjustments to be closer to God. To turn to Him first, trust in His timing, obey Him only.

My Health

Being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis early in 2012 has been one of the biggest reasons for a change. For those of you who are 'What the heck is ulcerative colitis?', best explanation is here. Big triggers for my UC are stress, sugar, alcohol and certain foods. 

No alcohol? What the heck? This was by far the hardest thing to change, and not for the reasons you think. It wasn't the actual alcohol that was tough to quit, it was the people and activities surrounding it. Found it was very difficult to spend time with certain people while sober. Not because they were only bearable when I was buzzed. But some people don't understand nor do they care what you are going through. So many questions were asked, over and over and over....

"Why aren't you drinking?"
"You mean you can't just have one? Come on now, that's lame."
"Why don't I see you at the bar anymore?"

Needless to say, it got old quick. I tried to continue to spend time with people I used to drink with and go to certain establishments and just not drink, but became pretty difficult. And, for those of you who don't know, it sucks to be the only sober one around a group of drunks. No offense to my bartender friends, but I would love to see you more often, just don't want to be the jerk ordering water from the bar. So I just don't go. Then I had to figure out who the non-partying Courtney was, which was pretty difficult. By eliminating that part of my life, it made me realize how much of my life I've spent in that realm. Pretty depressing actually.

I was in remission for a year. In remission, its almost like I'm not sick which is wonderful. But, when I'm in a 'flare' its a roller coaster of craziness. Been in a flare since the end of July. For a snapshot of my fun during this time:
  • Blood loss daily
  • Pale skin
  • Swollen abdomen (sometimes making it look like I'm 4-5 months pregnant, no joke)
  • Weight gain and loss 
  • No energy
  • Most time spent in the bathroom or running to the bathroom
So, yes its super fun. So I've had to eliminate people and things from my life that aren't supportive to me getting better. Re-prioritizing what is truly important. Eliminating high stress people and situations are very important. The key is determining what/who contributes to 'high stress'. That has been a fun exercise.

Girly Side?

As I look in the mirror I see a feminine version of myself that is unfamiliar. I'm finding myself taking interest in girly things. What the heck?! What is going on? Am I actually buying and wearing dresses? What brought all this up? Well, his name is Richard Nestler. The relationship I have with him made me realize I've never dated a real man before. I know that sounds silly, but hear me out.

No offense to my exes, they served a purpose and I have no regrets. Thinking back, I've had to be both roles in the relationship. Being the rock, the provider, the decision maker, the strong one, etc, are all roles that should be filled by the man in the relationship. But up to this point, I filled those roles. So my feminine side never had a chance to show. Which means now at 32, I'm just now digging into the world of makeup, matching outfits, hair and jewelry accessories, etc. Yes, its ridiculous. There are new feelings popping up that I didn't know existed. Feelings of vulnerability, security, safety ... and the obvious, girly.

Things are different now. I've never felt more girly before, and to be honest, its freaking me out a little. What is this new feeling? Not sure, but I'm liking it :) 

My Career(s)

Well, my stint as chief communications officer for Total Title Solutions is coming to an end. So what's next? I'm starting my own company. Launching in January, BrightLight Solutions, a social media management and training company targeting small businesses. 

So yes, I'm taking a leap. I found the deeper I got into the social media realm for Total Title, the more people were asking me 'how-to' questions and asking for my advice for their business pages. The timing is perfect, so I'm diving right in. I'd rather put my heart and soul into this and fail, than regret never taking a chance. If I fail, the worst case scenario is that I lose things I can replace. I'm not going to die. 

Also, my role at Crossfit Rebels has changed. I'm on the coaching staff now. I'm so thankful for the Crossfit family at Rebels, its strong and has helped me so much this year. 

What's Next?

I'm hoping to have this blog back up and running for 2014. That's the plan anyways. Look for topics involving faith, social media, crossfit, health and random rants. Should be a fun year :)