Deep breaths.

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I’ve been working on this one a lot lately, and it is hard.

It’s been a much bigger struggle with outrage, fear, and disbelief since November. I have a hard time not getting sucked into the dreaded “comments section.” I’ve seen the true colors of some of my acquaintances (xenophobic, misogynistic, and extremely racist). I’ve become more acutely aware of my own privileged worldview. I’ve donated to over seven* organizations in the past three months, despite resolving on November 8th to donate from my stretched budget to one organization each month. I marched on January 21st shoulder-to-shoulder with 100,000 other women and men (and in spirit with nearly 5 million more around the world) who believe in a different America than the one we’re seeing attempt to rise now. I guess I’ve become somewhat of an activist.

I was a political science major for the first two years of college, and now I’m remembering why. I’ve never known so much about my representatives’ positions or the qualifications (or lack thereof) of cabinet nominees. I read about world events all the time now, from varied reputable sources. I’m trying not to feel helpless. I’m trying not to feel angry. But I refuse to be uninformed, I refuse to let this become normal, and even when I’m not 100% sure what I even can do, I refuse to quietly watch and let fascism and hate take over this country.

This fight is exhausting, and I have a newfound respect for those who have been fighting for these causes in the background for decades. I’m sorry it took me so long to get loud and to get involved. But in order to be in this for the long haul (and I am, along with many other new activists) we have to take care of ourselves, too. We’re no use to anyone if we burn out.

So, if you’re standing up for the world you believe in — a world based on mutual respect and kindness rather than fear and greed — take care of yourself, too, okay? A friend of mine shared this article on Facebook recently, and I highly recommend it.

I went to my first yoga class in ??? last week. I’ve always had a love/struggle relationship with yoga; I can sense how good it is for my soul, but I can get impatient and frustrated when a pose is difficult to hold. I like to move. I like to lift heavy things. I like to be done in 30 minutes. Yet somehow, my mat has become my happy place. I almost cried in the first few minutes of class, noticing how good it felt to exhale all of the ugliness I’ve been carrying since November. As I left, I almost felt like I was glowing.

It’s hard to maintain that sense of calm and inner peace off of the mat, but it is so, so important to try.

The fabulous TV show Galavant (on Netflix) got me through the few days after the election; rereading all 7 Harry Potter books gave me an escape around the holidays. A few days ago I watched the Bad Lip Reading of the inauguration and laughed out loud, alone in my house.

In between marching for our rights, calling our representatives, and donating to the ACLU and other worthy organizations, I have to remember to take time with the people I love, unplugged from the news and doing something that makes me laugh. We need those moments these days.


*If you’re looking for ideas, organizations I’ve supported so far include Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, GLAAD, and The Sierra Club. I have a long list of others on deck as well. There are lots of causes that need your support right now!

8 Years in Review

Whoa. It’s been a year and a day since I posted here last.

Um, hi.

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been writing/blogging/journaling less and less in the past few years. I did keep a pen & paper journal last year which I turned to when I was struggling, but my public(ish) expressions are mostly found in Facebook posts and Instagram photos now. Or, more accurately, I post on Facebook about my political outrage, and I post on Instagram about my fitness endeavors, dog walking, and Portland #snowdays. (Don’t believe me, or missed it? There’s a link on the right in the sidebar. That is seriously 90% of my content.) –>

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2016 “best nine,” nature edition. All photos by me! I love the PNW.

2016 was…quietly eventful for me. It didn’t contain the massive, visible adventures that 2015 did; no cross-country road trips, no nine-week desert camping experiences, no starting a new career, no starting a life in a new state. For me, 2016 instead consisted of a lot of internal work, focused on breaking down limiting beliefs and mental barriers: starting a new coaching job and learning to teach group classes, attending an integrative wellness seminar and widening my worldview, completing a kettlebell course, rededicating myself to powerlifting (and reaching my lifetime squat goal of 150lbs – time to set my sights higher, #powerbabes!), becoming a solopreneur, and awakening my inner activist. There were a lot of struggles, and a lot of successes.

On Monday this week I rediscovered my very first blog (not counting my high school Livejournal, which I sadly deleted long ago). I started it in October 2008 one lonely night in my freshman dorm room, and blogged fairly regularly for most of my first three years of school. Teenage me had envisioned a scholarly experience filled with ivy-covered stone buildings, passionate and challenging professors, and hours spent intoxicated not on alcohol but old book smells.

Instead, I was routinely overwhelmed by my workload and lack of preparation. High school had largely been easy (with the exception of Mr. Coffey’s AP European History class in 10th grade; never before had I worked so hard or been taught so well) and I had no idea how to study. I struggled to make friends, went to a grand total of two parties and couldn’t figure out what the fuss was all about, and stuck with my major because I couldn’t come up with anything else I wanted to do. I think it’s safe to say that those first few years in college were the first time I truly encountered depression.

I was also SO AWKWARD in those blog posts. I thought I was so clever back then, but now, reading my words a lifetime later, I recognize the insecurity, the loneliness, the desperation. With the exception of my parents’ divorce, I’d had a surprisingly easy go of it up until then. I was a virgin in every sense of the word: naive, innocent, terrified of intimacy, wondering when I’d finally kiss someone for the first time. Empathetic or not, my worldview was so very, very narrow.

As I read on, however, I began cringing less and less. Though I was still so young, so blind in so many ways, I began to notice the passion that shone out from beneath the fear, the hope underneath the social anxiety, and the deep sadness of a girl who didn’t feel like she belonged anywhere. Growth can be painful, and even though I didn’t see it then, I was doing a hell of a lot of it, step by step.

I’m still doing a lot of that these days. Maybe when I’m 35 I’ll look back on this, another momentous eight years behind me, and look with compassion at the woman writing this post. Because that’s what I feel now for that girl in her dorm room, alone on a Friday night, starting a blog to feel more connected, writing awkward insecure things and wishing she had a boyfriend (but running in fear from anyone who expressed interest): compassion. I know what she has ahead of her, and how hard it will be, and how damn well she’s going to get through it all.

So, hi. I guess I’m back. Reading through that blog transported me back to those years in a way a Facebook post never could; I wouldn’t mind preserving more memories that way. I may not write as frequently as I did when I was lonely and exquisitely unsure of myself, but I’ll write when I can – even if no one chooses to read this but myself, eight or eighteen years in the future. Because I want to remember these days, these questions, these stories.

365

An incredible year in review.

I normally write a “wrap-up” post at the end of each year, both to reflect and to look forward. But January 1st came and went without a word here from me, and to be honest, though I’ve wanted to write quite a bit, I just couldn’t sit down to do it. I think it’s because this past year’s experiences were just so vast that I can’t comprehend summing it all up in one post.

Last year at this time, I was nearing the end of a four-day road trip from Wisconsin to Arizona. It was my first big road trip, and my little Civic (affectionately known as “Bandit”) was loaded up with gear for the road ahead. I had said “YES” to adventure, quit my desk job, sublet my apartment, and driven away from a place I loved in search of growth, healing, and new opportunities.

In short: I found them.

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Despite exhaustion, I loved driving all day and seeing new parts of the country. We set up camp upon our arrival at the Arizona Renaissance Festival grounds, and the next two months were filled with deep friendships, camp stove cooking, hiking, vitamin D, and absolute freedom. I woke up with the coyotes at night and the sunrise in the morning. I drank good coffee, breathed fresh air, learned new things, and belonged to a group of creative, wild souls. My heart has never been freer than when I lived in this tiny tent in the shadows of the Superstition Mountains, and I will treasure those two months for my entire life. Thank you.

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The adventures didn’t stop there; the rest of the year has been absolutely monumental, too. As if spending two months as a nomad wasn’t enough adventure for one year, now it was time to explore a new state, a new career, and a new relationship.

As my time in Arizona drew to a close, my wonderful partner flew down from Oregon and joined me on the drive up the coast for my second road trip of the year. I settled into a new apartment in a new city, got my first job as a personal trainer despite near-constant “imposter syndrome” anxieties, hiked in the Gorge, saw the effects of my first forest fire, became a dogsitter, and traveled as frequently as possible to reunite with family and friends around the country.

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It’s been a very full year since January 23rd, 2015 when I drove away from my adorable little apartment in Wisconsin to explore the unknown.

AND – there’s more?! – 2016 has already seen the start of two new adventures: I just started a new job, and we just moved to a new house in a new neighborhood! This year has already been a whirlwind, and there are more adventures yet ahead.

I may be a few weeks late, but thank you, 2015. It’s been a pleasure. 

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November

…Wait, really? It’s November? Where did this year go?

Wow.

There’s not too much to report since the last time I posted (believe it or not!). Work is very slow right now, but hopefully it will pick up soon; I’m also re-joining the REI employee team again soon and I’m psyched! I miss being an REI “insider”, and in addition to helping me pay the bills, I’m also hoping to befriend some fellow nature nerds. 🙂

I traveled to Camp Nerd Fitness in Clayton, Georgia at the beginning of October! I wanted to write more in-depth about it, but I’m not feeling up to it just yet – it was a mixed, though overall positive, experience for me and I’m still figuring out why. I’ve done a lot of traveling this year, and I’m pretty exhausted. However, I did set a new PR (personal record) and hit a 135# squat at my first ever informal powerlifting meet. What a rush!!!

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I’m not sure if I’ll return next year – I have a big brother and friends I’d like to see at the NC Renaissance Faire not too far from CNF in Georgia, but the dates don’t overlap well and I can’t afford to go out there twice when I have so many other trips in early planning stages as well. CNF may have to be an every-other-year event for me, unless I manage to be a volunteer coordinator. I’m also hoping that I might be able to attend as an instructor down the road 🙂

In addition to my minimal work hours, I’ve been dog sitting and dog walking a bit, playing a lot of Fallout 3, and apartment hunting like crazy (the housing/renting market out here is TERRIBLE). I have a lot of fun things coming up next year though and I’m pretty excited about the holidays – always a fun time of year, despite the early darkness.

I also went to an open range archery event yesterday! I loved it and definitely plan to go back. I need some work on my form and technique, but overall I did pretty well and it was a TON of fun!

I may be back in a few weeks with further updates – I’m waiting to hear on a few things that might shift up my schedule/plans a little bit. No matter what happens, there are adventures ahead!

Happy November 🙂

Hello, Autumn!

What a full summer it’s been.

I’m exhausted just thinking back about it. Honestly, I’m extremely ready for the subtle slow-down that comes with fall. I know it’s back-to-school season and that soon we’ll be gearing up for the holidays (looking at you, malls), but I feel like when the weather gets cooler, it gives me permission just to breathe.

The 90 degree temperatures that plagued us all summer have finally abated, and though the crisp undertones of fall aren’t in the air yet (does that happen in the PNW? I hope so), I’ve been thoroughly enjoying a week of rainy 60 degree weather. Aside from a brief spring interlude here in April and May, it’s essentially been summer for me since February thanks to my Arizona adventure. Let me tell you, I am 100% done with the heat. Bring it on, fall!

Despite baking in the summer sun, I’ve been having a great season. Here’s what I’ve been up to 🙂

TRAVEL

I think part of the reason that this summer feels like it’s flown by is because I’ve literally been all over the place! In addition to a few local trips and several dog/house sitting adventures, I spent two consecutive weekends flying thousands of miles to visit family. I am so sick of planes . . . good thing I have a flight to Georgia for Camp Nerd Fitness coming up next week!

Gorge(ous)

Perks of being employed part-time: when your friends text you on a Monday morning and ask if you want to go for a hike, you can say YES!! 🙂 Two friends of mine from Wisconsin moved out here a year ago, and I’m so glad they thought of me when they were headed to the Columbia River Gorge. We spent an absolutely lovely afternoon hiking the switchbacks partway up to Wahkeena Falls, navigating the log jam and the winding river path en route to Oneonta Falls, and finally grabbing some ice cream and snapping a pic of the famous Multnomah Falls. I miss many things about my home state, but there’s no denying the incredible beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I could get used to this!

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Along the path to Wahkeena Falls
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Looking up at the sky while wading through the river to Oneonta Falls
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Oneonta Falls! That water was COOOOLD. 🙂
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Multnomah Falls ❤

Bend

My boyfriend’s family is pretty amazing, and I was lucky enough to join them on their annual group camping trip. This year’s destination was the Sunriver area near Bend, OR. In addition to getting to spend time with some great people, highlights of the trip included my first bike ride in 4+ years (10 miles through beautiful high desert terrain), a create your own cotton candy adventure, a day on Lake Billy Chinook, cave explorations, and maybe the greatest small joy of all – sleeping in my tent again under some incredible stars.

On the way there, we had to take a detour due to some pretty serious forest fires in the area. Terrifying and oddly beautiful. These fires raged for weeks. :(
On the way there, we had to take a detour due to some pretty serious forest fires in the area. Terrifying and oddly beautiful. These fires raged for weeks. 😦

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Boston and the White Mountains

My dad’s family is out east, and this year I got to return to one of my favorite places on earth – the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Shortly after our Bend camping trip, John and I headed off to Boston. We didn’t have much time between MA & NH, but we did get to meet my dad’s girlfriend and Themis “Missy” the cat, visit Plymouth Rock, and hike Zealand Falls, one of my favorite trails. John maintains that the Appalachians don’t measure up to the west coast ranges, but while their peaks are gentler than the Cascades or the Rockies, they’re still gorgeous mountains to my Midwestern heart. 🙂

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No moose sightings this year despite the caution signs along the roads, and no bears either – though they’d recently been sighted in the area and we had to keep all our food in the car overnight! John’s survived a few bear encounters, but I have yet to see them up close. (I’m not really that disappointed about this. 😛 )

After an already trying day of travel (four hour drive from NH to MA, then off to the Providence, RI airport), we found ourselves heading to our gate in Newark for our connecting flight when someone ran past the TSA checkpoints and into the airport through the “exit” lane at security, right as we were passing by. We waited in place, not wanting to get caught up in the chase as agents ran after the man. When we passed a few moments later, he was lying prone with his hands on his head, a TSA agent pointing a gun at him and speaking into a radio. We opted out of gawking in a crowd (all of whom had their cell phones out) and went to the gate, hoping the “excitement” was all over. Unfortunately, twenty minutes later police officers came by to evacuate the terminal and re-route all of us back through security. While the confused chaos went relatively smoothly and we all managed not to trample each other (one of those times when having a boyfriend a foot taller than you comes in handy), the delay resulted in us getting back to Oregon at 2am (which felt like 5am as we were still on EST). Going to work on Monday morning was rough… but I’m still glad we made it home safely and had a fun east coast adventure, airport issues notwithstanding!

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Bristol Renaissance Faire

A mere three days after returning from the east coast, I headed back to the airport for yet another flight, this one a redeye to Chicago on the infamous Spirit airline. I managed to pack everything I needed into a backpack that fit into their free “personal item” category, because I refused to pay their astronomical carry on or checked baggage fees. Despite exhaustion (and a rapidly developing dislike of air travel), it was worth it to know I was about to have an amazing reunion.

Working at Bristol last year completely and irrevocably changed my life, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to reunite with friends from both the Wisconsin and Arizona festivals during Bristol’s last weekend. Despite my redeye-induced exhaustion, I spent Thursday and Friday with friends and family, reuniting with several members of my AZ tribe, drinking LaCroix and catching up with one of my BFFs, and lifting weights with my mom, and then donned my costume and headed out to work at BRF again for the weekend.

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

I thought immediately of this quote by Nelson Mandela when I walked on site on Saturday morning. Last year, Faire was my safe haven, a place where I could be myself. It was both an escape and a place to rebuild and heal after a pretty traumatic spring. I rediscovered and strengthened my confidence there, found a community of welcoming, creative, nerdy people, and made friendships that would take me across the country on some incredible adventures.

Bristol itself was almost exactly the same this year, but I am in a much different place now. It will always be home to me, but this year I don’t need an escape – I’ve built a pretty amazing life for myself. I wasn’t trying to fill a void; this year, I was just there to wear awesome hats and spend time with some of my favorite people. It was wonderful. 🙂

Home again. <3
Home again. ❤

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Upcoming

I’ve just completed three back-to-back stays with Rover – a weekend in the suburbs with an Airdale terrier and a scruffy mutt, a week in a veritable mansion with a Bichon and another scruffy chihuahua/terrier mix, and a weekend in an old country home with a Boston terrier puppy (who desperately missed her people, poor thing).

Now I’m looking at a brief two-day road trip with John next week followed immediately by a flight to Georgia for Camp Nerd Fitness. Then I have almost two months off before boarding another plane home around the holidays. I don’t need another credit card in my life, but I’m starting to think I should be opening cards with my favorite airlines to make the most of all of this traveling! We’re already talking about next year’s travel adventures, which may include Arizona, Hawaii, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, as well as any road trips we add in. And I’d really like to get overseas again someday… phew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. That’s what I get for having family all over the country, I guess. 🙂

WORK & HOME

Oh, yeah, I wasn’t just traveling all summer! Work was going really well in July, but has tapered off a little bit since mid-August. All of my traveling contributed to the loss of momentum, but it’s also pretty typical during your first year as a personal trainer to experience the surges and lulls in your schedule (and your paycheck) until your client base evens out. I’m working on finding some other options to build a little more financial stability, especially with grad school (and all of those trips!) coming up. My coworkers remain incredible, though, and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in the <5 months I’ve been there.

I’ve been away from CrossFit again for a month or so since I’ve been dogsitting or traveling most Fridays, but I really enjoy the small CF box I joined out here. It’s less competitive and includes some aspects of strongman training, which I loved! (Highlights included sprint relays while carrying a sloshing 60-80lb keg, two 70lb kettlebells, or a 75lb stone strong(wo)man ball, or the time where I pushed a 260lb sled – just over twice my bodyweight – 100ft, twice! :O ) Powerlifting with my trainer/coworker has been going great as well – I’m approaching my old deadlift PR again (with much better form this time) and have a new lifetime PR on my squat at 130#!

My to-do list is always full of plans and projects and goals, but despite everything being in flux – finances, career, house hunting, nutritional balance, new skills – life is pretty great. I have an incredible partner at my side, exciting challenges and opportunities ahead, a beautiful location surrounding me, and loved ones all over the country. Life is good. 🙂

Welcome, fall! I can’t wait to see what you bring. 🙂

Summertime

At least once a day, I find myself thinking, “I love living here.”

Life is good in the #PNW! We’ve been experiencing some rather warm weather – I’m fairly certain every day for the past two weeks has been well into the 90s. It’s not as humid as my home state gets, but it’s still way too hot for me. I was promised rain when I moved here, and it’s been sunny every day for WEEKS!! (The horror.) My body feels like it already had its summer, though, after the 2 months of camping in Arizona – so I’m honestly pretty ready for fall.

There are a few other reasons why I’m ready for fall beyond “jeans” and “boots” and “not burning myself on my seatbelt”, though…

Fall is coming!

  1. I’m going to Camp Nerd Fitness in October!!
  2. I’M STARTING GRAD SCHOOL IN DECEMBER!!

At Camp NF, I’ll get to meet an incredible community of like-minded nerdy fitness enthusiasts and attend seminars from some awesome leaders in health- and fitness-related fields (everything from yoga, weight lifting, and parkour to cooking and personal finance!). With grad school, I’ll finally get to pursue a formal education in an area I’m passionate about – fitness and wellness coaching!

I am extremely excited about both of these things. 🙂

I can’t wait for grad school (we’re not able to register for classes or get our reading lists until OCTOBER, are you kidding me?!), but in the meantime…

Career as Continuing Education

Work is also going fairly well – I’ve increased my client load sevenfold, and am learning so much as I work with some fantastic individuals. I will say that as an introvert, personal training sessions really take it out of me – I love what I do, but in addition to the high standards I impose on myself (did I program the perfect workout? are they having fun? are they making progress? do they like me??), there’s a lot of conversation and presentation involved, and it’s draining for a quieter soul like myself.

I’d like to continue to increase my client base, but I’m also enjoying the part-time, flexible workweek I have currently. Unfortunately, with Oregon’s taxes, this means I’m making about as much each month as I did when I lived in a tent and worked for artists at the Renaissance Faire, so I’ve been looking for other flexible ways to pay the bills (and avoid piling on the grad school debt) without taking too much focus away from training.

Enter Rover.com!

A lifelong friend of mine has worked for this Seattle-based petsitting start-up for a few years now. Similar to other caregiver websites, Rover connects dog owners with dog sitters in their area. You can set your own rates, your own availability, and choose whether you want to host dogs in your home or add house-sitting to your repertoire. My boyfriend, who has done two stays with me so far, describes it as “Uber for dog sitters.” 🙂

If you’re interested in becoming a dog (and sometimes cat) sitter with Rover, you can sign up here! (If you do sign up and use my link, I get an amazon gift card if you complete 2 stays in your first 2 months. I’ve got a loooot of books in my amazon wishlist right now… just sayin’ 😉 )

Here are a few of the lovely faces I’ve met through Rover so far:

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Despite my preference for larger dogs, this little guy was pretty freakin’ cute.

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Going after those goals:

I’m pleased to report that I haven’t missed a workout since my last post about goals and building consistent behaviors! Some of those workouts have been better than others, but they’ve all happened. I’ve been working with a personal trainer myself and learning TONS about both training in general and the way my own body moves.

I can’t afford private sessions forever, but right now it’s so beneficial to my own education and health that I can’t not do it. I’m hoping to continue training with my fantastic trainer (and a few others with different styles on the side!) until the end of September, when I go to Camp Nerd Fitness. That should give me a solid enough foundation to be released back into the wild. 🙂

Speaking of those goals… I set a new PR (personal record) today!! Sometime in early 2014 I fought for a 120# back squat, but with my long lifting hiatus last year, I haven’t even come close to that since. I’ve always had huge mental blocks with squatting thanks to some knee pain (oh hey, vastus medialis) that I’ve encountered sporadically for several years. Well… today I hit 120# again. TWICE. AND THEN TWICE MORE. …and then I went on to crush the rest of my lower body session!!

It’s so easy to detract from our successes, and I was careful not to give into thoughts like “120# isn’t really that much,” and “in lifting circles, squatting your bodyweight isn’t such a big deal” – but a pain-free, bodyweight squat IS a big deal for me, and I’m proud of this accomplishment! #tinybutfierce 🙂

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Or as Sanya says in the Dresden Files, “Tiny, but FIERCE!!”

With 120 clearly doable, I’m now setting my sights on 135# before October!

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All these workouts are paying off! This #flexfriday post from late June is brought to you by the mirrors in Target’s dressing room, when I said “Whose back is THAT??” 😛

Food has been more of a struggle than movement, but I’m learning lots and making progress there, too. It turns out that (as I suspected) I’m not eating enough to fuel muscle growth and fat loss, and my body is subsequently refusing to build muscle (calorically expensive to maintain) in favor of storing fat, since it deems calories scarce.

It’s a definite wake-up call, and while I’m eager to join the “lift big, eat big” club, it’s hard for me to increase my intake of nutrient-dense, balanced foods when I’m used to eating light. My trainer suggested aiming for “a wheelbarrow full of vegetables per day” but I’d so much rather work my way through a wheelbarrow full of Pad Thai or Rainier cherries (back in season and now SEMI-LOCAL, BABY). This phase of my food journey is challenging but rewarding, so look for more of what I’m learning in an upcoming post!

With all this learnin’ and movin’ and (attempted) eatin’ going on, there’s been hardly any time for more relaxing pursuits! I haven’t played Skyrim, Tomb Raider, or any of my new-to-me games (Mass Effect trilogy, here I come!!) in weeks, I’m crawling through my read-for-fun books, and let’s not even talk about the state of my Netflix queue. (Haven’t even touched the new season of Orange Is The New Black or Agents of SHIELD…) I did get to see Jurassic World with my boyfriend’s awesome family on father’s day, though, and I enjoyed its absurdity thoroughly (‘Chris Pratt, Raptor Trainer’ + impressive special effects totally made up for halfhearted attempt at a romantic storyline or the whole ‘oh look, another movie with only one main female character who’s always in high heels’ trope).

It’s been a busy six weeks! Looking forward to the adventures of the rest of the summer. 🙂

gooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaal…s!

I’ve always struggled with consistency: I feel great when I eat well, and I feel great when I work out, but I struggle to do both of those things consistently. (Further proof that this is a personal, and not professional, blog.)

On the exercise front, I do much better when I have a community of folks working out with me – I really don’t love working out alone. The friendly competition camaraderie helps me take my mind off how hard I’m breathing and how loudly my muscles are complaining. I used to have friends show up at my house twice a week to do crossfit in my garage – it made working out much more fun (and also much less avoidable). You know what I’d do when they didn’t show up? Say, “Yay, night off!” and go out for ice cream instead. …So that’s maybe not my proudest memory, but definitely a relatable one, I think.

I’m not against nights off or froyo. I’m not against Netflix marathons. But you know what my top goal is for 2015? “Be someone who works out regularly.” It isn’t an event or specific item like last year’s “get my personal training certification” (which I did, hollaaaaa). It’s a behavior.

I have plenty of specific fitness goals, too. But my second goal for the year is another behavior – “Be someone who consistently chooses food that makes me feel good.” (For those of you seeing loopholes there, oreos taste good, they don’t make me feel good.)

In fact, this is what I wrote at the beginning of the year:

2015 goals

You probably know me well enough to know I have way more goals than that. As I mentioned above, there are specific goals on the list, of course – the point is that the behavioral ones are at the top.

Specific goals for the year:

  • Be a Nerd Fitness success story. This is the site that changed it all for me, folks: I honestly don’t think I’d be a personal trainer today (that is still so weird to say!) without the incredible content of the Nerd Fitness blog. Steve often shares stories of “Rebellion” members who have changed their lives for the better, and I’d love to reach success in my own goals and be featured in that community as well. Plus I’M GOING TO CAMP NERD FITNESS THIS FALL AND IT’S GOING TO BE RAD.
  • Make 50% of my income by coaching at the end of the year. Who knew when I wrote that that I’d be hired as a PT upon reaching Oregon?! I’m still not sure where my career will take me, but I think this goal is definitely doable.
  • Drop body fat by 3%. I’m at a good weight and have a great body that does all kinds of amazing things. (Have you ever really thought about what our bodies are capable of, and what they do on a daily basis? We’re pretty incredible.) I’d like to see what it feels like to be a little bit leaner, though – and this will come from making food choices that benefit my health and by moving more, which are both good things. Plus, my body is sort of part of my resume now, if I want to keep working in the fitness industry. (Hint: I do.)
  • Deadlift 225 pounds. My last PR was probably March of 2014 at 195#. Now that I’m getting back to weightlifting, I’m currently at a working weight of about 155×3. (That’s 3 lifts in a row at 155, not 465 pounds. Talk about beast mode!)
  • Squat 125 pounds. My last PR, around the same time as my deadlift, was 120, which is roughly bodyweight for me. I’m currently focusing on my form (and mental blocks) and am at a working weight of 100×3.
  • Link 5 strict pull ups. I had 3 last summer, but I’m back to one. Womp.
  • Link 5 strict push ups. We need more women doing strict push ups, and I aim to be one of them.
  • Seek greater financial stability. See, these aren’t all fitness goals, I promise! Moving across the country is expensive, and I’m still recovering from a few college years of living off of credit cards. There are some big things I’d like to be able to do in the next few years, and they require me to crawl my way out of that sadly common financial hole. Plus, regularly contributing to a retirement account seems like such an adult thing to do, and I guess I am one now, or something.
  • Live in a tent and work the Arizona Renaissance Festival. Well, now. I just did this! And it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
  • Move to Oregon. Wahoo! I have made it to the Willamette Valley. I win at Oregon Trail.
  • Celebrate one year with my amazing guy in December. Aww. 🙂 This is definitely the most fun goal on here!
  • Bonus: Additional things to consider this year include signing up for another mud run for 2016, exploring the hell out of my lovely new state, choosing a third certification to pursue, going for my master’s, taking a firearms safety course, getting back into autocrossing (Bandit the Civic’s still got some fight left in him!), joining a krav maga studio, adopting a dog (2016 is more likely), and getting back into crossfit.

Overall, I just want to love my life, and to be honest – in this moment, I’ve got that down. 

Simone D., C.P.T.

[It rhymes!!]

Heya! Are you ready for a big, long overdue life update?! It’s been a crazy few weeks, but I’m finally ready to share some exciting news:

I’m officially a personal trainer!

This extremely awesome life change is accompanied by rather a lot of stress. (Isn’t that always the case??) Not only am I getting into the swing of things at a new job with new faces (all while adjusting to a new state!), I’m also transitioning to a completely new career/field. My fellow trainers are all extremely knowledgeable, welcoming, and supportive, but nothing can completely eliminate the intimidation factor: oh god I have no idea what I am doing why am I here.

My fears aren’t entirely rational (of course). Obviously I know a thing or two – even though I’ve struggled with consistency lately due to a rather chaotic, tumultuous year, I have been lifting and learning about functional fitness for a few years now. To back that up, I have my level 1 through CrossFit and passed the NASM exam on my first attempt. All that said, though, the CrossFit cert was one (albeit intensely amazing and thorough) weekend, and the NASM program is self-study. This is all still wild and new for me. Being in a gym instead of sitting at a desk/lifting in my friends’ basement/swinging a kettlebell in the desert is a big enough change all its own, before even adding in considerations like training and programming for others in an official capacity for the first time! I feel like the way I’m writing about this is pretty scattered and hectic, but hey, that’s how I’m feeling about everything at the moment. 🙂

I anticipate a pretty intense, stressful month as I find my footing, sign some clients, and get into the swing of things. But I’m hoping that after the first month – and especially after the first three – I’m comfortable, confident, and thriving again. I definitely managed that in Arizona; despite different challenges, I’m sure I’ll adjust out here too.

There’s lots to learn in the meantime (well, always) – I have a stack of 4 books I’m working through and another one on my birthday wishlist (hint, hint 🙂 ) that deal with programming, exercise regression/progression, and coaching cues. The sales aspect of a personal trainer job is not really up my alley, but hopefully I’ll connect with clients in my own way as people start to see me around the gym. I get nervous about approaching people, but I can’t really become a better trainer if I have zero clients to work with, and I can’t help anyone at all if I don’t offer to, right??

Also, since we’re talking fitness (and sales, ha), have you seen Nike’s new ad with their “Better For It” campaign? I love it – I don’t know about you, but the inner monologues from these women strongly resemble mine. (I especially love “Okay, yoga: change my life.”)

I hope everyone is having a wonderful spring so far!

Edit: Apparently WordPress puts ads at the end of my posts. I have the adblock & ghostery extensions installed in my browser, so I don’t see them. I recommend installing those extensions yourself if you haven’t already! I just wanted to let everyone know that I have no control (or knowledge) over what ads might appear on this site for now – please disregard them. 🙂

Keeping it real.

I miss sleeping in a tent.

When I lived outside, not so long ago, I’d wake up naturally before six. While sometimes I would have preferred to sleep later, especially if coyotes or javelinas had woken me during the night, I usually awoke fairly well-rested. I didn’t necessarily spring up out of bed, but I think this had more to do with the logistics of springing anywhere when you’re in a sleeping bag on a cot and your tent’s only 4.5 feet tall. Anyway…

Living under a roof is different. The sun doesn’t wake me up anymore; instead it feels like I’m clawing my way out of dreamland every morning (and several mornings, I fail to do so at first, and stay in dreamland for another hour or two). There’s no fresh air, no birds. Don’t get me wrong — I love not fighting with the mummy bag, reinflating my air pad, or rushing off to a port-a-potty (or nearby cactus) in the morning. It is nice to have the convenient comforts of civilization again. I honestly think the bigger issue is waiting — and doing it (mostly) alone.

My tribe has dispersed, and I miss our adventure days (Tempe! Thai Kitchen! Chandler! Art-o-Mat!). I miss our non-adventure days too, where we’d go for a walk, do a quick workout, and hole up in our favorite cafe for six hours. I liked the afternoon where I got sunburned reading an entire book, but mostly, it was good to have company — even if that meant we were all on our own laptops at the cafe until someone said, “Hey, want to go get lunch?” I’m an introvert and an only child, but I’ve learned I’m a far more social person than I once thought.

Downtime is nice. Having a “nothing” day or two where you don’t ever get completely dressed and play Skyrim or marathon Netflix until your eyes blur is great. I am also incredibly grateful that I got the job I wanted within 48 hours of arriving here — I recognize that this would be much worse if I were desperately job hunting right now. But the hiring process takes time, and I’m still waiting to hear my start date and permanent schedule. It should be later this week, but I’m filled with excitement and nerves — and with the desire to have someplace to be.

Could I be all over Portland by myself right now? Of course, and I have done a bit of solo exploring already. But I happen to have a really marvelous boyfriend who works the standard 8-5, and I’d like to share a lot of these adventures with him, you know? (Also, I’m afraid of losing my parking spot. I know. Embarrassing.)

This morning, I just couldn’t find the motivation. Not to play Skyrim, not to go adventuring, not to make breakfast or work out. I ate donut holes, turned on Netflix, and tried desperately to figure out how to avoid spending $200/month on parking downtown once I start work. I’m pretty sure I went through an entire season of Portlandia while trying to list the pros and cons of the MAX line vs an overpriced parking garage. (Despite my love of driving and reluctance to rely on someonething else’s schedule, MAX line seems to be winning.)

It’s been quite the day, but no worries. I wanted to share a realistic snapshot and not just the “omg my life is so amazing and perfect look how great it is I am!” message that we try to portray on Facebook/Instagram/wherever. My life is pretty great and I’m extremely grateful for it. But there are sedentary days, and mopey days, and days where you eat donut holes, and sometimes days with all three. It’s okay.

It wasn’t a total loss: I signed up to try out one of Portland’s many crossfit gyms tomorrow (my first time in over a year!) and plan on going to my second krav maga class on Thursday. I remembered that we have awesome leftovers from dinner last night (brats and green beans, yesssss) and so was able to end the donut hole cycle. I discovered the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix to brighten up my evening. All is well.

It’s just been one of those days, you know?

Portland: The Next Adventure

oregon trail FTW.
For my fellow Midwesterners: “It’s ‘Willamette,’ dammit.”

I did it! I’m here!!

My trip wasn’t quite like my favorite childhood video game — Bandit the Civic is heartier than a team of oxen and I didn’t have to ford any rivers, fortunately — but nonetheless, I have arrived in Oregon safely & with exuberance! Little did I know when virtually traveling west with my 3rd grade avatar “Hattie Nuff”* that I’d be headed west myself, sixteen years later.

*Credit goes to my mom & aunt for the name “Hattie Nuff.” I can still remember them gleefully naming my wagon party while I agonized about how many spare wagon axles to bring.

I picked up my Portland-dwelling travel buddy from the airport on my last day in Arizona shortly after hitting “publish” on my “Fairewell” post. After a joyful reunion, we stocked up on snacks and drinks for the road and headed back to site so I could show him around and we could take down my tent — which, as we were cautioned, did indeed have a scorpion under it. Hey, buddy! I was just leaving.

After a heartwarming farewell dinner with my remaining tribe members, a hotel stay including a hot tub under the stars and my first mattress in two months (it was hard and horrible), and a reluctant farewell breakfast with my tribe members and favorite baristas, we jumped on the freeway and headed west! Our drive through Arizona and into California was uneventful, which is exactly what you want on a roadtrip, though my excitement mounted as we sloooooowly began to leave the desert behind, and — hang on, was that a tree??

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The desert has to end somewhere, right? RIGHT?

Navigating LA was less hairy than we thought, though still fairly unpleasant, and after a fun dinner break with some dear friends, we drove the final hour to our resting place for the evening. This mattress was slightly more comfortable, but sleeping inside was still pretty odd. Brushing my teeth in a sink, however, was bliss — though I wish I could have kept the canopy of stars overhead. (Clearly skylights or outdoor plumbing are the solution here.)

Day two was another nice, boring drive up I-5. Each day I’d start us off, drive until we needed gas and lunch (usually about 4 hours), and then curl up in the passenger seat for the last 2-3ish hours. Bandit may be small, but in my opinion he’s really comfortable on long drives. Taller people may disagree. 🙂 We spent the night in a lovely, secluded in-law suite of a home I found on airbnb. Since the drive had gone smoothly and we arrived early, we went to see Furious 7, which was probably the most ridiculous movie I’ve ever seen, and a beautiful tribute to Paul Walker. I loved every second and definitely cried at the end.

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Pop it into neutral and WHEEEEEEEE!!
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“Does that say ‘Sacramento, City of Trees’? OH MY GOD THERE ARE TREES AGAIN WE MADE IT OUT OF THE DESERT”

Day three saw us driving through the absolutely beautiful mountains, forests, and hilly terrain of northern California, though it was too rainy for us to see Mt Shasta up close. It reminded me of climbing Mt Emei in China (with a sinus infection, I might add) to see the giant golden Buddha, which should be right around — oh WHOA it’s right th– did you see it when the fog shifted?? — there! it’s right in front of us, I swear I just saw it… well, the sign says it’s right here, so, I guess we made it. Probably.

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“I’m right here!” -Mt Shasta, probably

We stopped for gas well into Oregon. Were you aware that the entire state has full service gas pumps? I am not allowed to fill my own gas tank. It stresses me out. I want to do it! So instead I did what I do best and started getting really nervous the closer we got to Portland. Holy crap. I was moving across the country. I was moving to a new city. I was starting all over again when I’d just gotten comfortable in Arizona… well, I wouldn’t say 90*F and sunburn was comfortable, but you know what I mean. My friends were there. And spiny cacti and javelina and coyotes and rattlesnakes and my new scorpion buddy and you know what actually I am good with the rainy unknown of the northwest.

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Northern Cali/southern Oregon is totally Skyrim, just with semi trucks instead of woolly mammoths.
Yep, definitely in Skyrim.
Yep, definitely in Skyrim.

Life is great here so far, if a little unsteady as I transition. (Copious hours of actual Skyrim time are making it easier, though.) I have an incredible partner to share this adventure with, I’m kicking off a big new 6-week challenge with the Nerd Fitness rebellion, I’m exploring a city with tall trees and a view of Mt Hood, and another big adventure is kicking off soon…

I GOT A JOB!!!

I arrived in Portland on a Sunday night, headed in for an interview on Tuesday afternoon, and left half an hour later with a job offer. What. I’m still in shock! I’ve been waiting out the cumbersome hiring process for the past week, but should begin training early next week. Check back for an exciting announcement then — I can’t wait to share!!

Arizona was an incredible experience full of freedom, family, and growth. I am so excited to see what Oregon brings!

You'll always be in my heart, Superstitions.
You’ll always be in my heart, Superstitions.