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Balance

14 May

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It feels like years since I’ve been blogging consistently. This is what happens when you work 60+ hours a week. It leaves little time for much else. My personal training business has been growing quite rapidly, and for that I am extremely grateful. But I definitely miss the times where I was able to sit down with my coffee, write a blog post, and take photos of my food. Like. All day.

Someday I’ll do that for a living. Until then, it’s sporadic training updates and slivers of my thoughts here and there.

It’s been refreshing to live a life that is mostly outside of the blogosphere, but there are definitely aspects that I miss. There are so many things that I have said I will write, and have never gotten around to. So many things half-written. Like how you’ll start cleaning one corner of the house, and before finishing, move to the next. Before you know it, you have spots in every area of the house that are clean, but nothing quite comes together like when you work on one thing at a time.

That one thing, for now, has been my business. I have a difficult time balancing my personal life with my work life. When one improves, the other tends to decline. It’s a constant see-saw between doing what I love, versus doing what needs to be done. I am fortunate enough to be in a situation now where I am doing what I love that also needs to be done. But it has left me little room to do the other things that make me happy. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

So I’ve decided that I don’t want to let myself go to any more extremes. Moderation is needed. I need to get back to doing what I love, in order to appreciate the times where I have to do things that are necessary to continue doing what I love. Otherwise I work for very little. I don’t want a shitty tax return on my efforts, so to speak.

That being said – my meet in Ohio is only three weeks away. Three. Time goes by so fucking fast.

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Women vs. Women: When Will It End?

12 Dec

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(NOTE: This post is a half re-post from a piece I wrote earlier this year in May. I just wanted to add in a few other things, and thought it was perfect timing, what with all the nonsense going on about the VS Fashion Show.)

And so begins another rant, prompted by stumbling upon day-to-day interactions between women on social media websites (not surprisingly). Distasteful ones, I might add.

What is it with women and wanting to put other women down?

Humans are comparative by nature. However, women are particularly insane in this regard.

One of the better comments I read on Facebook in regards to women’s aggression towards one another is worth a re-post:

“It is true that we evolved to where we are today from from physical creatures whose every action was meant to increase chances of survival, but as we evolve as a species we are able to reject our baser survival instincts which no longer serve a purpose. Evolution means change after all.”

– Jesse Bruni

The man hit the nail on the head. These instincts no longer serve a purpose outside of stroking our own ego. I’m truly sick of the snarky comments and catty attitudes – most of which are stemming from a severe lack of self-confidence and an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. When you cannot or will not source the problem, the easiest solution is taking it out on something or somebody else; in this case, other women.

“Real women have curves! Skinny women look like bags of bones.”

“I love my curves – shove it, you skinny bitches!”

“They all look like walking toothpics.”

“They all look so unhealthy.”

“Ew, are you kidding me? She’s so thin. I like having extra meat, I don’t want to look like a stick figure!”

Shut the fuck up.

Who would have thought these would be the first search options to pop up?

She looks beautiful and healthy to me!!

She looks beautiful and healthy to me!!

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Every woman has said something like this. Either in relation to smaller women, or larger women. I am also guilty of this (hey, it would be wrong to say that I have never spoken negatively before) But all this kind of attitude does is boost your own ego, however temporarily, and makes you feel better by trying to make other people look worse than you.

This is terribly, terribly wrong. And selfish. And ironic. Seeing as by uplifting your curvy stature you are attempting to fight against negative outside influences (i.e. media pressure), yet your way of doing so is by doing precisely the same thing the media does, only reversed.

Stop to think about what you are actually saying when you define somebody as a “real” woman. What constitutes “real”?

Would you ever tell a woman who has had a double mastectomy that she is not a “real woman”? Would you ever tell a woman who could not have children that she was not a “real woman”?

No.

So why would you tell a slimmer woman that she is not a real woman?

Boobs are gone. Cancer = beat. Is she not a "real woman" anymore?

Boobs are gone. Cancer = beat. Is she not a “real woman” anymore?

You know what makes a woman “real”? Being born with a fucking vagina. If there is no penis between her legs when she is born, she is a real woman.

Well. With the exclusion of some rather complicated intersex conditions. But you get the point.

The point is: get over yourself.

Lawd have mercy.

Not everybody has the same genetic make-up. Some women are just naturally on the smaller side. This doesn’t make them any less of a woman. But it makes YOU less of a lady by trying to make her feel inadequate. Everyone has their own battles to fight. Why kick someone when they are already down?

No woman anywhere likes to be put down. Period. Fat, curvy, skinny, fit, what have you. No woman likes to be told that they are not a woman because they do not have certain attributes.

We always complain about the pressure of the media that we face on a daily basis. And I get it. Fashion magazines, music videos, celebrities, etc. all give off the impression that skinny is beautiful. The media tends to look down upon women of different weights and proportions, which is why a lot of women who have a little extra meat are fighting back.

But since when has encouraging other women to love and embrace their bodies been a case of telling other women that they are “twigs” and “not real women” ?

How can you honestly feel good about encouraging women to love themselves and embrace their shape if you are putting down others who have a different shape from yours?

Ridiculous.

Ridiculous.

“BUT CHRISTINE!” they say. “THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!”

I realize that some young girls may feel a little insecure if they do not look the same as the models. But truthfully, it’s really not these ladies’ fault that girls feel insecure. The women may be a trigger, but the trigger is not the cause. It is a very deep-rooted psychological issue that needs to be addressed through therapy and positive reinforcement – NOT through condemning women who are naturally thin. It is YOUR job as a parent, sister, aunt, whatever, to be a positive role model. It is YOUR job to raise your child with confidence and strength to the best of your ability. You should not have to demand that other women to stop doing what they do so that your children can feel better about themselves. You need to raise your children with the knowledge that they are beautiful, no matter what.

Don’t you think that women who are slimmer feel bad about their bodies sometimes? Don’t you think that they also need encouragement to love and embrace their bodies as well? How would it make you feel if you knew that the girl you called a “little boy” killed herself from all of the negativity she received in regards to her body shape, and from her low self-esteem?

Don’t act like that shit doesn’t happen.

What if it was YOUR little girl? What if you had a daughter who was genetically thin, who got picked on for her size? You might have a tough time explaining to her why you were so negative about other girls with the same body type. Would you allow others to mock her for her size, or would you stand up for her and let her know that she is beautiful?

Would you ever call your child “disgusting”?

Would you ever say to your child that she was “ugly”, and that she didn’t look like a woman because she was not shaped a certain way?

We need to be more positive. There is enough outside negativity as is without us adding more fuel to the fire. It’s not just about teaching curvy women to embrace their frames. It’s about teaching ALL women EVERYWHERE to accept and appreciate their bodies, and not down-talk themselves.

We need to encourage women to be HEALTHY and to be free of mental and physical self-inflicted abuse. Not send out negative vibes. The media does a good enough job at that already, and when you say these things to these other women, you are doing EXACTLY the same thing as the “fat-shaming” media that you hate oh-so-much.

You cannot encourage self-love through degradation of others.

So stop it with all this “real women have curves” bullshit. There is no reason to be enemies with someone because they are different. Learning to be supportive of others is  how you will find your own peace.

Spread love. Let go.

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all shapes and sizes

The Illusion of Definitive Answers

7 Dec

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“….the Exalted One looked around over the silent company and said,

‘Well, ye disciples, I summon you to say whether you have any fault to find with me, whether in word or in deed.’

And when a favorite pupil exclaimed, ‘Such faith have I, Lord, that methinks there never was, nor will be, nor is now, any other greater or wiser than the Blessed One.’

The Buddha admonished:

“Of course, Sariputta, you have known all the Buddhas of the past.”

“No, Lord.”

”Well then, you know those of the future?”

“No, Lord.”

“Then at least you know me and have penetrated my mind thoroughly?”

“Not even that, Lord.”

“Then why, Sariputta, are your words so grand and bold?”

(**Note: The book “Buddhism” by Huston Smith has proven to be one of the best things I have picked up to read in quite some time. Everything resonates with me in so many different areas of my life. Admittedly, I am new to the study of Buddhism. But I am formulating my own answers and conclusions based on my perception of the teachings, and so far, have been learning quite a bit about myself. This is my take on the excerpt above.)

In this particular passage, Siddhartha explains to his young student that without fully knowing every Buddha of the past, future, and present, it is impossible to make so bold a statement as “There never was, nor ever will be, nor is now, anyone greater than thee.”

Because, well. Frankly, the claim has no base.

And like anything in life, without understanding your past, knowing your situation completely, or being able to predict the future, it is impossible to make assumptions about the present – especially ones that are so fatalistic or fixed in nature.

I think that very often, we come up with opinions on things without fully understanding them, whether out of excitement, anxiety, fear, or otherwise. The fact of the matter is that we do not know everything, and therefore must not assume that because something appears one way it is the only answer there ever will be.

Science is always changing. What was a supposed “proven” theory at one time has been debunked by nature years down the road. And whatever we think we know about the present world will inevitably change at some point as we broaden our knowledge. So while something may seem to be the answer at the time being, you should never settle on it as the end-all, be-all to everything.

There should always be a hunger for greater understanding.

Maybe at some point you have failed at something in life, and thought, “This is it. This is the end. Nothing will ever change, the situation will never get better, and I am stuck here forever.”

Not only is failure as temporary as you will allow it to be, accepting defeat without knowing what the future holds and without analyzing the situation makes little sense. Perhaps what you perceive as a failure is really not much of a failure at all. The experience could be preparing you for a future event, in which you will inevitably succeed. Will it have been such a failure then?

Think of your circumstances as the “Buddhas” that Siddhartha spoke of to his student. I will say it again: If you cannot fully grasp what has happened in the past, cannot predict the future, and have little idea what is going on presently, you have no grounds to make irrefutable claims.

Alternatively, sometimes events can be so positive that they cloud our vision, and we become somewhat blinded. Like when someone falls in love for the first time, and cannot see the faults in the person that they are with. During this time, that person is the most perfect person in the world. But this skewed perception can often lead to future resentment when imperfection is unavoidably discovered. It would be wise to avoid putting people or circumstances on a pedestal.

Whatever the situation, try to take a step back and think of things more rationally, not letting your adoration or negativity cloud your opinions. When you have learned to think calmly and sensibly, then you will find that people and events are more easily understood, and nothing becomes either the best thing, or the worst thing. Black and white is abolished, and the diversity of color is introduced.

Learn all you can, accept nothing at face value, and question everything.

Waiting Room

26 Nov

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You’re alone.

The silence is so thick you could cut it with a knife. You grasp the arms of your chair and sink your body further in, licking your dry lips and gasping in short, desperate breaths. You feel every vein in your body tremor as your heart palpitates.

There is a monster outside the room. And soon…soon it’s going to break through the door.

It’s going to break in and fucking kill you.

“Not much longer now”, you think. You clench your white-knuckle fists even harder. Every cell in your body braces for impact. Your lungs exhausted from the struggle to hold air.

But the monster is still outside. You are still safe in the present. It has not come crashing through the door, and perhaps it never will. It could walk right past you and that would be the end of it.

It might not even exist.

The problem is that you can’t see beyond the fact that there might be something waiting outside your door, and you have not yet seen its face. You don’t know how you will react. You don’t know what will become of your life, should you open that door.

So you wait.

Anxiety is different from fear. If you walk into a room and see a dead body, you might get scared from the shock. But if you are outside the room, and have an unfounded belief that there is a dead body in there, thus causing your heart to pound and sweat to seep out your pores…that is anxiety.Scary Door

Anxiety can be thought of as the apprehension of the future. It is the “fear” of the unknown. It is the excitement and dread that comes when you think about what has not happened yet. Often, these thoughts are over-exaggerated to the point where it’s no longer just a dead body in the next room…it is rows and rows of bodies. Possibly thousands.

Most of the time, our anxiety comes as a gut feeling. It is an emotion just like sadness, anger, happiness, and excitement. It’s your body’s way of warning you that there is danger ahead, making it a necessary reaction in appropriate times. The problems start arising when you have an overwhelming emotion that appears to rule your thoughts, and affect your life in a negative way.

We begin to envision monsters. Unimaginable terrors. Our thoughts become erratic, irrational, and like a ravenous beast we fuel them with even more thoughts. What begins as a harmless-looking tree on the surface of the soil turns into hundreds of feet of roots underground, that branch off in various directions and lead this way and that.

Similarly, when you are having anxious thoughts, what started out as a harmless idea of a future event became something extra complex. We then expand on the idea with every apprehensive thought, until it becomes something too large for us to handle.

Our downfall is that we keep focusing our attention on the monster outside the room. Whether it is very much a real entity or a product of our own fears and wild imagination, it is in control of our thoughts and actions. And the more you think about it, the scarier and more real it becomes.

Through anxiety, you have the power to not only create new monsters, but to invite existing monsters through the door subconsciously as well. Because our premonitions can often dictate our actions, and what you fear so much may just present itself to you by your own hand.

They say that you should be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. Likewise, we should be careful what we DON’T wish for. Because with enough anxiety, it might just inadvertently happen; we often learn this the hard way.

I’m not here to tell you that you are crazy. I’m here to tell you that you are not alone, and to educate those who are unaware of just how debilitating an anxiety disorder can be.

I have fought with the monsters outside the room for over ten years now. Here are a few things that have really helped me to control it when it gets bad.

 ———-

1. Self-Hypnosis/Meditation

I don’t mean having someone dangle a watch in front of your eyes, or running up to the top of a mountain in Tibet to become a hermit for a year. But there are many things you can learn from hypnotists, and also from Buddhists in regards to relaxation.

Self-hypnosis is quite possibly one of the most effective drug-free solutions to anxiety, with more than enough resources on the web. If you search YouTube, you will be able to find many videos and recordings from psychotherapists and psychologists. I promise if you take fifteen minutes out of your day, every day, to dedicate to meditating and relaxing, you will benefit greatly from it.

Here is one of my favorites:

2. Reading

It often helps to distract the mind when it’s spinning. To put away your own thoughts, you need to have something else to think about. Picking up a book when I begin to get anxious has helped with calming the nerves.

3. Philosophy Lectures

This one might be a bit out of the ordinary as an anxiety recommendation, but still deserves a mention, even for those of you not especially interested in philosophy. I found that listening in on lectures has been instrumental in helping me not only question my actions and motives, but also understand myself more as a person. It is wonderful for character development, and finding your direction in life. I cannot recommend Alan Watts enough. I wish I could meet him to tell him just how much he has changed my life.

4. Music

Namely, classical music. Why? Because it is completely unbias, and extremely therapeutic. Empty your mind and focus on the music. The complexity of the compositions, the tiny notes of each instrument. No words. Just sound. Don’t speak – just listen.

 ———-

Above all, remember that you have control over your life. Whatever is happening right now that is causing you trouble will pass. Pain is not permanent. Nothing ever is. The present is finite.

And when you think that something might just be too big for you to handle this time, keep in mind that the fact you are alive indicates you have gotten through 100% of every hard time you have faced in life.

I will close with two of my favorite quotes:

“Tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly.”

– Alan Watts

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

-Corrie Ten Boom

What Do You Desire?

12 Nov

I don’t have quite a lot to say about today, except for what is expressed in this video…in words far greater than anything my own mind could conceive.

Alan Watts… thank you, my friend.

 

Relentless Detroit 2013: Recap

5 Nov

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I felt like this deserved a more in-depth description. It’s hard to find the words to describe this amazing weekend.

When we arrived on Friday, it was definitely a little overwhelming. Entering a room full of hundreds of people, including many well-known and respected lifters made me feel incredibly small. Thankfully there were people we knew there, who I stuck around the whole night (cause I’m a chicken). Despite how out-going I am when you meet me, this was my first real big meet, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. When Marshall Johnson walked past me I had a damn near heart attack.

The second day was definitely a lot easier to handle. If anyone knows me they know I have some anxiety issues in big crowds. But hiding behind my camera did help somewhat, haha. I got a lot of great shots that will be posted up over the next couple of days (bear with me here!)

It’s hard for me to describe the impact that this meet had on me emotionally though. This competition was so much more than just getting to meet and watch my “idols” doing their thing. It was an opportunity to help others by doing what we love, and physically seeing the result of all our efforts.

Marshall put it best in a video he posted today about what Relentless meant to him (watch at the end of this post). He said that he never thought that his talent would be used to benefit others…but it has. In such a huge way.

I resonate with that. Before I knew what Relentless was, I never really saw what we do as being able to be such a big help to other people. It wasn’t until I saw the children and their families walk into the room that I was hit hard with the realization that we DO have the ability to help others with our strength. I realized what all our donations were really going towards. I saw the look of excitement and happiness on these kids faces. It made me feel so honored and so blessed to have been able to help them and their families, and to help give them hope. It made me see that regardless of what bad things are happening in my life, there is always someone out there who is fighting a harder battle, and keeping their head up the whole time.

I want to be that strong. I feel like after having seen those kids fighting for their lives with a smile on their face, the least I can do is keep my head up high and not tap out. They aren’t quitters. I won’t be one either.

Regardless of any weight that was thrown up on Saturday, those kids and their parents were always the strongest ones in the room. I think most of us can only hope to be that strong-willed.

That being said. There were some awesome feats of strength I witnessed over the weekend. I watched Kathy Johnson squat over 500 lbs. Another woman (whose name I’m not sure) benched over 400 lbs.  I watched a 9-year old boy deadlift more than double his bodyweight. I watched Paul Carter tear his quad, only to get back up there and kill his bench with zero leg drive, and stiff-leg deadlift 600 lbs. I watched Marshall Johnson pull over 800 lbs, with every person in the room, including the children, up against the stage cheering him on. That is certainly a competition moment I will never forget.

It’s not often you see such camaraderie in sports. But powerlifting is one of the few where everyone supports the other person. It’s not about being better than someone else. It’s about being better than yourself. And this was the most selfless competition I have ever witnessed. Everything was for these kids.

Hearing the stats of the donations raised brought tears to my eyes. We raised a combined total of $137,000. Enough for each family to go home with $15,000 to use towards medical expenses, needs, and anything else they could possibly want. That is $107,000 more than this same meet brought in last year.

Thank you to everyone who helped with a donation. Everything was very much appreciated. Even if all you could give was a dollar…we wouldn’t have reached that total without you!!

Next stop…$300,000.

We may look hard on the outside, but we’re pretty soft on the inside. And our hugs are pretty killer.

Photo credit: Ashley Reed

Photo credit: Ashley Reed

Source

Marshall’s full video “What Relentless Means to Me”:

The Power of Negative Influence

31 Oct

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“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Ghandi

We learn through demonstration.

Every act of malice.

Every ill-spoken word.

Every blatant display of mistrust and betrayal.

And we are creatures of habit.

We absorb, but we also implement. For every lie we are exposed to, we speak another, for we know its power over those we intend to manipulate. For every word we hear spoken in hatred, we use again to bring down those we dislike for reasons that have to do with our own self-assurance. Our words can bring about new life, or cut a current one into the ground. We fertilize and repair, or we tear down and allow our own self-hatred to get the better of us. And what we choose to pass on can directly influence the energy and attitude of those around us, as well as our own.

Our outward presence and treatment of others is a direct display of our inner confidence.

We cannot bring someone down unless we are first on the ground ourselves. We cannot lift someone up if we are not already up in spirits. Likewise, we speak badly of others when we feel badly of ourselves. And we speak kindly of others when we value ourselves.

Considering this, how can we expect our future – that is to say, our sons and daughters – to grow into the kinds of people suitable for keeping the earth alive, if we cannot teach them through proper demonstration of what should be considered redeemable qualities?

Those who influence us the most influence our habits. Our thoughts are formed through repetitive engraving of old words passed on, and experiences in our most impressionable years.

It is through these countless demonstrations that we form our moral fibre. And it is with the absorbability of our minds that we might also reverse our poor habits and exchange them for better thoughts and actions. The mind is an amazing thing. While certain things cannot be unlearned, they can be counterbalanced with enough positive reinforcement.

Remove bad influences from your life. Let go of negative people, and surround yourself with those who lift you and others around them up. Submerge yourself in the good so that you will be able to pass on that goodness to others. Realize that a poor attitude only prevents you from experiencing all the good in life. There is no reason to settle for cynicism.

Positive thoughts equate positive actions. Dedicate time each day to improving the way you think, and be mindful of the words you choose to say. We only get one try at a first impression. The negative ones last a lifetime.

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