Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Monday, November 29, 2010

Inspired! And the Testimonial.

Sorry blog, its been awhile. Like planned, the whole lifestyle I adopted ended up being second nature. Yeah, I had a few shots of whiskey and tequila and several slices of pizza.. and there was that one burger. It wasnt common, but it added up slowly. And I just felt 'off'. I decided to go another 90 days strict, just for the hell of it. I started it so long ago.. November 5th (had to look that bad boy up)

Truth is, I dont really have a good answer prepared when people ask me why I quit drinking too. I fall over my words. Ummm... discipline test, clarity, weight loss. The truth is, it just seems like good things happen when I go 100% clean. Dont know why, but it seems to be my horseshoe. Last time I got promoted and went to Spain. This time, I just feel damn good.

There is a control over my life in the form of discipline, even when everything else feels way way out of control. Discipline. Its the word I dedicate to my practice in yoga. Every single time for over a year now. It serves as a reminder that I quickly can get off course with distractions. Work needs constant re-focusing, and so do my goals. All those crazy goals I want to achieve.

Coach Shanna encouraged me, right when I needed a reminder of how far ive come, to share my whole story and I finally wrote it all out. writing about 29 years in a few paragraphs seemed daunting, and there is that whole feeling exposed to the world thing. Finally, here it is. (The before/after picture shows you how long Ive been dragging this out- Ill update on my one year with newer pictures)

For most of my life I have been a prisoner in my own body, jailed by my own limitations which I depressingly tried to hide. Although I had a happy childhood, I was a sickly kid who often sat on the sidelines. My chronic ear infections led to multiple surgeries then permanent damage, and my poor eating habits and inactivity led to early obesity. By the time I was in middle school, I was watching my diet and struggling with the roller coaster of weigh loss that would haunt me till this last year.
I remember so many occasions where my poor health and fitness kept me from feeling part of a group. I couldn’t climb a tree like my playmates, the yearly Presidential Fitness Test was a source of shame, and the dresses I wanted to wear to the dance didn’t fit me. I labeled myself anything and everything but athletic. I was a musician, a writer, the academic, and everyone’s helper.
My family suffered as I did and we did what we could to not be victims of our own health. Whether it was group focused weigh loss programs, shakes, books, and everything conventional or not, we tried it. We would temporarily succeed and the scale would move back and forth till I left home. The one thing I never tried was to give myself the label of being ‘fit’. I went off the college and got married. Went through some life struggles and did what I could to make the most of what I thought I could do.
Then a little over a year ago, everything changed. My beloved father, who I am almost exactly like in work ethic and humor, got mysteriously ill. We knew and dealt with his heart problems since I was little, but this was different. And then the story gets hard to talk about. After being referred to the Mayo Clinic and having this incredible fear of the unknown, I made the decision to take advantage of my potential. I no longer wanted to waste my life. If I was lucky enough to be able walk, why not run? If I could lift my arms, why not get strong?
My dad’s kidney’s failed after he came back from the clinic in Jacksonville. And he stopped responding to my voice in ICU several days later. The family was called from out of town and his best friend was planning for his services. However, we are fighters in my family. And he did. And after several close calls and over three months in the hospital he finally came home. During this time, I started running and counting calories like I done before, desperate to be tough enough to handle the stress his diagnosis, a rare auto-immune disorder. Luckily, I had the support of my office and husband who wanted the same for me.
Right before that summer, I got on a scale for the first time in years. 209lb. I was a size 18. At my heaviest I was a size 22W and I had never been below a size 12. I was always tired, had a hard time waking up and going to sleep. Health wise, I was a mess. I was always sick, colds would turn into monsters that would take me out for weeks. My family doctor confirmed my high risk for heart disease and diabetes. My hormones were off, and I feared never being able to have children. It was my prison, my body.
After I made the decision to take control of my health, all I needed were the tools. I was struggling with running, the shin splits and hip aches didn’t stop me, but I was clearly doing something wrong. Luckily, I had a dear friend, Eva, who I worked with and had recently had her own transformation. She said ‘Heather, Crossfit is made for you, just sign up’. And for months I dragged my feet, a bit intimated and thinking I had to get fit for the program. She was persistent, and I am thankful for that! I finally emailed Shanna at Crossfit Asheville and signed up for Feburary 2010 OnRamp. It was the best decision I ever made.
So excited, and unnecessarily nervous, I started to do what I do best, research. Eva was eating Paleo diet which was explained on the Crossfit Asheville’s website. I followed their links to Cordain’s website, where the testimonials mirrored my own gut, allergy and weight problems. I read books like ‘The Primal Blueprint’ by Mark Sisson and ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ by Gary Taubes, and I knew I found the answer. I cut out grains and sugar. I immediately felt better. My energy skyrocketed and my constant stomach problems subsided. By the time I came in for my evaluation with Coach Corey, I had lost 15 pounds.
During that first visit to the gym I was inspired by the other members working out. Every age group and fitness level was represented and what they were doing was flat out impressive. Each doing the same workout, but scaled to their individual fitness levels. They were cheering each other on and there was a sense of community, representing Asheville as it should.
I should tell you, my first day of OnRamp was a real eye-opener to how unfit I was, even with all my ‘training’ for crossfit. I was trying hard and at my lowest moment, right when I needed the support, Shanna got down on the floor while I was trying to do pushups and said ‘remember this moment, there is no better starting point’. And she was right, and my mantra was born: Nowhere to go but up. I vowed to myself to keep coming back.
Inspired and excited that I could only get better, I decided to go strict with my clean eating (Meat, Veggies, Nuts, Seeds, some Fruit), including no drinking for 90 days to really test the lifestyle. I cannot stress enough how easy it was and how much the benefits made the switch worth it. I went from a size 16 to a 10 by the summer. My skin cleared up, my eyes brighten, and for the first time in my life I had no allergies. The strength I gained was not just physical. I was far from confident before I started working out at CFA. I gained poise that I didn’t know I had. With that, I was able to overcome obstacles at work, and I earned a major promotion putting me at the top of my field at a young age. That self-assurance led me to travel oversees by myself for the first time. That adventure showed me that being fit meant living a better quality of life. I could lug around my bags across Spain, climb fortresses, hike for miles and miles and enjoy every moment without being winded or exhausted.
A year ago this month, I contacted Crossfit Asheville and my life has changed completely because of it. I am now in the 130s for the first time in my adult life and I fit into a size 4/6. While most people comment on how different I look, what I am most grateful for is how I feel. I am not a prisoner anymore. I am strong enough emotionally to be there for my family, I am capable of tackling and succeeding at a high stress job, and I am fit enough to experience the world the way I always dreamt I would.
The coaches at Crossfit Asheville are truly salt of the earth. , and my fellow crossfitters are my family. They have cheered me on, held me accountable for my actions and been the foundation for all my successes this last year. I am forever grateful.

Forever grateful CFA!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Primal Overseas

Spain continues to drive me. The two weeks I spent overseas has increase my desire to see the rest of the world, but not just see it in the form of photo ops and tour buses like a tourist, but to conquer it with no fear like a proper traveller. When my insecurities were not an option, because well.. there was only myself, I discovered strengths and a confidence I thought were still years off. For whatever reason. There were a few times, when I found myself lost and overwhelmed, that I quickly reminded myself to breath and take control of the situation.

This all comes from the discipline I have gained from taking control of my diet and of the surprise lessons I learned at Crossfit Asheville.

The intensity of life, and oh! is it, is a gift we often run from. What a burden to not be comfortable! But the lessons of experiences, of finding yourself in a new moment, becoming a new person, and overcoming stress breaths life into staleness. I only awoke because I was prepared. Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally. Rick Steves guide book was also my bible.

Let me see if I can remember all the 'if I wasnt as fit, it wouldnt have happened' moments.'

I didnt want to check a bag, Rick Steves says best not to, travel light. I had my shoulder travel bag and a carry on (roughly 35lbs) which became the child I tended to the whole trip. Countless times I was left with only option of hauling it up steep narrow stairs at homes, in hostels, at the Metro and even at the airport. There is no way I could have done it safely and without injury if it wasnt for my training. I know this because as I lifted it overhead into cabinets and closets, I totally did it to form. Squat, Clean and Over!

Oh, and the stairs at Madrid Metro... Sumo Deadlift highpull.

However it is the endurance that was tested that lead me to realize I was having a better life. Walking miles, climbing up forts, and most importantly... running after buses and taxis.

When I got off the bus from Madrid to Granada, after knocking my head on the underside carriage getting out my bag, feeling more embarrassed then hurt.. I hurried past a group of cops checking passports and was stopped by an older gentleman. I remembered him sitting towards the front of the bus but I spent most of my time enjoying the spanish movies instead of socializing. The Romania woman next to me was clearly disappointed when I put my earphones on.. but at that point, I wanted to be away.

"You must go to San Nicolas in Albacin at sundown" I smiled and said I had heard that, but he persisted "you really must not miss it". So I settled into Granada, the days passed and I kept missing sundown. The Polish student studying in my hostel room was quick to tell me I should go with him to a non touristy spot, that San Nicolas was crap. He also told me the Alhambra was overrated... so, whatever, he was losing credibility fast although he was an excellent roomie. I had fears of being roomed with party animals... So when I told my hosts in Madrid I was staying an extra day, he too pressed I should go to San Nicolas.

I went on my last full day, at like 4pm.. I gasped at the view and wandered around the narrow streets with grand adventure. But I was burnt, so I headed back to the hostel around 6. At 7, I started to think.. I didnt go at sundown! The view of the Alhambra apparently turns red with the setting sun. Rick Steves, old guy in the bus station, hosts, my husband and President Clinton say its a must. So I washed up.. and when I stepped outside I realized I was losing light FAST. I started running to the main drag. and then got turned around.. and started running in the right direction. I AM GOING TO MISS THE SHOT. THE MOMENT!

I was darting through the crowds of locals, tourists, children and pooches, sprinting to the little red #31 bus that would take me to the viewpoint. It was several blocks ahead of me, like a rabbit in front of a dog, and moving fast. Who is the crazy tourist running? me.
This little 'never been athletic' caught the bus, just as it was closing the doors at the last plaza heading up to Albacin. I settled in, but my heart pounded knowing it was going to be close. At the stop I raced past confused tourists, knowing where to head at BAM! THE VIEW! Bursting with a deep red, it wasnt just the palace, it was the mountains, and the sky. The world was on fire, and I took one quick shot with my camera. The next one was not as vivid, and the next and next... I caught it in right in time.

That adventure would not even have happened last year. I would have never caught the bus, or raised past confused tourists on steep stairs. I could breath, I could experience. It was awesome.

Diet overseas reinforced the importance of eating clean. I went with the intentions I would do my best, and about a week into the trip, while I was not eating packaged crap, grains and sugar had become a daily occurrence. I could have stayed clean, but was trying to be balanced in the experience of all the new food... And I started to get really sick. I picked up on my body's cues.. I was getting allergies again, an ear ache, acne, stomach cramps (all the old daily symptoms of unhealthy Heather) and I panicked. I had gotten really sick the last time I was overseas and this time I didnt have Justin to protect me. I scouted out the local Pharmacies, looked up key words in my spanish book, and started to eat clean. Besides vino. And guess what, I immediately started to heal right up. I made it to my flight, and then got a sinus infection on the flight. Oh well.

One day of rest at home, two rough workouts with some coughing, and now I am 100%. I am vino-less for a week now, going for 30-60-?. That clarity only lead to positive things happening for me, especially training wise. and professionally.

Eating clean (Paleo, Primal, whatever) is now more about health then appearance. Good thing too.. I feel like my weight loss has stalled. I wouldnt know though, and hell.. I dont care. My body is shaping still and my muscles are doing cool things like being there. But to not be sick, and wonder anymore why my body is my enemy is such a huge relief. I know what I eat effects my whole self.

I did do squats and pushups while I was away. Maybe 8/14 days of my trip. I thought all that walking would keep me fit, but coming back to Crossfit was a total shock on my body.

I was so sore last week. Now I feel back in the groove and perhaps the Charleston Bridge 10K in April is a resonable goal for me. I did the mile trial when I got back and I didnt do as well as I expected to. I cut off some time but my body was still recovering. I am going to go back to my weekly extra sprint drills. and just keep moving forward.

For the duration.

If one thing I did really learn in Spain was I need not to fret. It is best to have confidence and find a solution than worry and fear. Part of it was their relaxed lifestyle, but most of it was realizing that there is no point to have your heart race to feel you are doing your best. My best comes with balance, health, and knowledge. All things I can control.

It still sticks with me. I am bringing it to work, and to all my daily challenges.

Nowhere to really go, ever, but up.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

One of those days

One of those days, yeah. With such extreme highs and lows, that my quest for a full life felt less like a goal and more like a hellish, yet somewhat rewarding, obstacle course to... home and bed. I felt every range of emotion today.

One of those days that I knew I had to write it all down. So much so I told myself 'break that stupid rule of one word blog titles and knock it out'. I have about 15 drafts of blogs. A few sentences, and then the thought, do I really have anything to say? ever?

Social norms dictate my words. My position at work requires me to. if I don't, I could be sued or my license taken from me. And I speak for others. Sometimes for an agent, or a client, or a coworker.. sometimes for myself. The good wife. The good employee. The good daughter. The stress of it all was as if someone was having me doing lifts and runs all day. I couldnt breath.

Today, my office, and my life, gave me an emotional WOD. It is riddled with success, but I still feel tight and my skin is hot. As if I jumped right out of a plane. My choices are to fight or run run run....

A scream, so loud, resides inside of me and for no reason then to release. But what do I have to say?

Today at 7am I went to take on whatever my coaches had cooked up. I didnt feel defeated, or even that off.. I was in the fight. PR on my front squats but I had to stop maxing after 10lbs over. This is good.

But then the workout. 4 rounds of 200m run (cool! I thought) and 10 Thrusters (38lbs)

On the second run I got a side stitch and felt dizzy. I panicked. After a few thrusters, I lost count and I looked at Shanna and said something like 'I made a mistake, I put too much weight on'. Not sure if she was shocked but she looked it at first, but hell.. I was. I never had backed down mid workout. As the words left my mouth, everything changed. Shanna said to do a few more to see how I did. I finished up and ran out the door. Ran. Stopped for a slow turn around, and side stitch. DAMN IT! I havent drunken enough water and I left my water bottle somewhere...

Coach was waiting for me. I moved as fast as I could, a defeated run.. a jog to the bar. Shanna said 'Do 4 and then two sets of 3'. Then I zoned. I corrected when I heard Corey and Shanna directed me but I was gone. gone and going. every other sound was a blur, although I knew the voices and what they were saying.

My brain just focused so intently that when I heard 'you can do five' I just kept going... I had no thoughts whatsoever except directing my body to do what it had to do. I can never do that. Be so intense on one thing.

Then the last two I really dug down into my quiet mind. And they were good. I finished strong.

after a short breath and donated water, it was time for max burpees in 2 minutes in celebration for a fellow crossfitter's birthday... and I wanted to give it my all. The slowest most painful attempt at burpees ever. Didnt count, couldnt think, one at a time and done. damn.

Then work. "Upset persona on your voicemail, heather."

Did my friend pass his state exam, is one of my agents dead?

"should money be sent there or there, how are we going to get paid, my phone doesnt work, my email doesnt work, why is this like this, what is this called, Im going to do it my way because, I dont care, I need you" check, check, check, agent is alive and my buddy passed his exam! yay!

Then conversations with family about ongoing health issues. Another world was happening that I had to put aside during work.

But what do I have to SAY?

Every heartbreak, thought, conversation, smile, and failure is a gift. My heart might beat loud, but GOD it is beating and my blood is flowing. What could mean more than owning your existence? I have made that decision, so this I ask the world: teach me. Make me stronger, wiser, and even wittier.

If I can control my words, maybe I can learn to control my doubts.

Sounds like a good time to go to Europe.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Oy! I can't complain. (you'll see why further down this read)

I sort of want to.. but what an awful, useless exercise so I am going to try to limit myself to just one itsy-bitsy paragraph. GO!
Ive been tired and missed several workouts, hiding my alarm clock under a pillow, wanting to stay in my dreams. I have been LETTING myself get all excited at night. That ended last night, but I still slept in. My body is forgiving me after several early morning crash outs. Ill write this all out and go to bed.

Finding my groove.
So, what is with all this excitement!? New job, new adventures planned, new body and face, new friends, everything is brand spanking new. Every day is an overload of 'to dos' and 'to plans' and 'to buys' Nothing feels constant, just yet! A full life. Yep. Remember that. Thats what I wanted.

But exposing yourself is not for the weak...awkward conversations haunt me. Stumbles and missteps too.

When I told my doctor awhile back I was feeling a bit stressed, he told me 'Dont forget you made that choice: that job, that life'. Ugh, it rings and rings in my head doc. Trying to make that advice work for me.

What I know is that I want to choose the path less travelled by. I want adventure and discovery, and the discomfort it comes with, to bring the best out of me. So I am just going to figure this shit out. Get it taken care of. But that person. Walk it off.

Life has changed. My diet has given me health, freedom from pain and sickness. Crossfit has given me confidence that there isnt some self prescribed limit to what I am capable of in any aspect of my life. The practice of discipline has been all encompassing, and if something doesnt serve me, it is time to let it go. Somehow all of this has led me to being rewarded. Like big.

I am going to Spain August 31st.

did I have funds to fly to Europe? Hell no. Did I give up hope... pretty much. And then all the work, stress, hours given to my career paid off and I was given the best gift of them all: a real adventure. 13 days in Espana. Going to beautiful thoughtful inspiring Laura get married. And I am going solo.
Spending my time practicing Spanish and staring at a tight budget on the kitchen table, making it work on $50/day. Which should be plenty. Oh but to swim a foreign sea, to eat tapas, to drink vino, to discover Toledo.. and ride in a train across the country...

Planning for this is keeping my blood running hot. I am so excited. and scared. and pumped. and humble. I am lucky that when I first get there, I will be thrown into a downright celebration of marriage and love. Up in San Sebastian... yes, delicious beautiful rolling hills, salty air Basque Country. But then... ohh, maybe Barcelona and then back to Madrid. Toledo. Segovia.

Still working on that. But yes, it will be me, my backpack, my camera and this little netbook. A first aid kit (outfitted by Justin of course) and some books.

Donated clothes from Eva and Ericka. We should have a Crossfit Clothes Exchange!

My family is thrilled. Ive been talking about this wedding for over a year, and I have been wanting to 'put myself out there' and see the world. I am reading alot about travelling solo, and only fear getting lonely. Apparently I should be fine. Since I talk to everyone.

This is the stuff I fret over.

So I DONT KNOW MY WEIGHT! Thanks coach ;) I was told to only get on it once a month, on the 1st, and if I miss that date, oh well. Just a few days away!Im smaller though. I can tell.

I am running about 90% Paleo right now because I had a half of beer and pizza (after my 'break' at work) this week. Neither was worth it. I didnt die, like I thought I would. But, ehhh. I rather have some fruit and some steak. and grilled veggies. Had a lovely Paleo dinner at the Whitehurst's. We are starting to find eachother, us modern caveman, and it is nice to trade information and tips, and feast. I feel lucky to have Anita as part of my support team. Two year old Ruby Jo said grace. I didnt mention how much I loved that moment. and being blown kisses.

But goodnight, it is late. I am going to workout tomorrow.

Oh, I almost forgot. Going 30 days without drinking in August to help with focus and training! Then off on a plane, over a whole ocean....

Monday, July 5, 2010


Mini-Heather (a before shot)

Today has been fun for me. The office was closed to celebrate the day after the 4th of July and the only 'must' I had to do was head into Crossfit Asheville for 'Fight Gone Bad'. A workout of box jumps, sumo deadlift high pulls, rowing, wall balls, and push presses. Justin came too, and it was the first time he has seen me workout, or as he says 'really workout' since he has seen me in a regular ol gym before, going nowhere on an treadmill.
For you guys that know my husband, you know him as the polite, sweet, supportive man that will gladly leave the table at a dinner party to fix a broken car door or to help man the kitchen because everyone else is sloshed. And a lucky few know him as the wise, humble man who has a lifetime of tragedies and victories in a few short years. To me, he is my life witness. He has watched me grow from a teenager without a clue, to a lazy military wife, a 3 job holding caretaker, to a stressed unhealthy real estate agent, to now... it was nice to see him cheering me on today. My ultimate witness.
So here is my cheers to him. Just a little one because he doesnt like alot of hooplah. Thanks for cooking Paleo for me without complaint, listening to me ramble on about weightlifting, telling me i look amazing when I stand in front of the mirror wondering why my belly is really the last to go, and for calming me down when the day has killed my spirit. You will make a great father (one day, mom!) as well as be a champ in the delivery room, and for the 9 months before. You are the most helpful person I know, which is what has bonded us from the beginning. You are a hero to my family and me. Thanks for looking up medical questions in the middle of the night, thanks for driving, thanks for feeding us, thanks for making us sane. And for changing my oil in the heat while I type this away in front of a fan. I adore you.
So that was on my mind. Which is nice.

I have been very fortunate lately with my work, earned a promotion, and with that I am researching methods to properly handle the stress which is inevitable with the position. Coach Corey has been mentioning different breathing techniques he is going to review with us, and I have been religious about my exercise, diet and sleep patterns. So it will only get better with practice. Exhale.
But I suppose stress always comes with change of position. I just want to be damn good at my job.
In Paleo lifestyle news, my face is finally clearing up. After suffering from acne since being a pre-teen and trying every system, lotions, natural or not. The solution? Nothing but water.
A month or so ago I came across an article on http://www.marksdailyapple.com/ about acne. Here is the link for you. At this point, when I came across the read, I was damn frustrated with my skin. The Paleo diet was suppose to clear my face.. but I still had teenage like breakouts. My skin glowed, and my eyes were clear, but those spots... a friend even bought me proactive several months back, which would work for about a month then it relapsed. So I thought, what the hell do I have to lose??
I stopped using any products to clean my face. I use mineral power to hide what is holding on but my skin is about 90% better than a month ago. I just bought fish oil and b12 to tweak my nutrients, and I feel hopeful for the first time about my skin. My pale, creamy skin that shows my life from birth to death... it hides nothing, all my decisions, what I eat, when I get bites, when I fall, when I gain and lose weight.
So, the plan? To continue! Although it is weird to wash everything in the shower but my face... Should I stop washing my hair too?! People have, and swear by it. But as Justin says, you cant be a dirty hippie and a Broker In Charge (apparently it takes a month for your hair's natural oils to regulate themselves).
I agree. I have stop using conditioner and my hair is soft and full of life. Alot of personal information here people!
Well, this was a pretty 'chick' blog post... next post: music! My ideal mix tape for crossfit and how I must make it for my coaches, as a thank you.

Keep keeping on, people.