Being a Regionals Athlete

IMG_0170

The rope burn has healed.  The scabs from the box jump scars have peeled off.  And finally, the permanent marker used to identify me that weekend has washed off.

Ok, so I actually started writing this a few weeks ago, but I moved apartments, went on vacation, and I never finished it.  But at this point, the past is the past, good times don’t last, but memories do, or something like that they say.

I am a Crossfit Regionals athlete.  This is a fact that can never be taken away from me.  I put in the time.  I had a plan, I executed, and I set myself apart as one of the top 20 fittest women in the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina as decided by the ultimate test of fitness- the Crossfit Open.  Had it been Top 50, like Regionals of yesteryear, it wouldn’t have been as special.  It wouldn’t have meant as much; I would have qualified my very first year doing Crossfit 2 years ago.  No, I needed to take my training to a new level to qualify for Regionals.  “To accomplish things you’ve never accomplished before, you need to do things you’ve never done,” or some cliché like that.  At the end of that five week test, where I only did each workout once, and maintained my focus on weightlifting, I finished 12th in the Mid-Atlantic region.

At the end of those five weeks, I took three days off, and then was in full bore weightlifting mode.  I had made the decision back in December that weightlifting was going to be my focus, but I had already put in too much work to give up on the Regionals dream.  I had accomplished the goal of qualifying, so now it was time to put Crossfit way on the back burner.  I continued to practice some Crossfit movements, did very short anaerobic work (row/bike sprints) and very long aerobic work.  I essentially avoided the things that suck- workouts like those crappy lactic intervals (3-5 minutes long) that make your lungs burn, and movements that send your muscles into the pain cave like high repetition muscle ups or high rep heavy wall balls- things you NEED to do if you want to succeed in Crossfit.  I knew I would have a good strength base, and was doing enough to get by, and I was hoping the yet-to-be-announced Regionals workouts would play to those strengths.

Weightlifting Nationals came and went.  Read about that high here I had given my body and my mind completely to that weekend (May 12-14), and it resulted in me being the 4th best weightlifter in my weight class in the country (which is awesome, but leaves me so hungry).  I took that Sunday and Monday completely off, then it was time to switch gears.

All of the Regionals workouts had been announced, and unfortunately, none of them looked like they were going to particularly suit me (note: I get it, if you want to consider yourself among the fittest on earth, you need to be good at everything and have no weakness, but I was hoping to get a little lucky).  Fortunately though, the Atlantic Regional was the last weekend, so I had about 2 ½ weeks to flip the switch.  Through that time, I hurt, I suffered through workouts by myself, figured out how to be efficient for me, and then I recovered and tapered for June 2nd.

I arrived in Atlanta Thursday morning (June 1st) and had the whole day to chill (side note: maybe upcoming blog post- it would have been nice to have a swolemate to chill with and walk around and explore a little that day.  I remember thinking to myself, “Maybe if I didn’t spend so much time working out, I’d have time to go out and meet someone.”  But then when I got to the convention center later that day, I was reminded that these are my people, and this is the kind of place where someone I would actually want to be with would be anyway LOL).  When I went to check in at the Georgia World Congress Center (which is MASSIVE, by the way), I got my weight vest fitted and was playing with some of the movements with the vest on.  It was at this point that I finally felt some excitement about the weekend of competition ahead.  If I’m truly being honest, it was the only time I felt that way all weekend.

IMG_0465

I’m a competitor and I’m an athlete.  I most certainly was going to compete and was not going to let myself down.  And when I wanted to quit and thought I stopped caring about myself, I thought about all of the wonderful people who support me who I couldn’t let down.  If I’m being real, it was really hard to get hype for each event.  I thought it would come when I started warming up.  I thought it would come when we lined up in the corral.  I thought it would come on the starting mat.  It would definitely have to come when I was out there on the floor.  The whole time I was just kind of going through the movements.  There were some events I straight up did not want to do, I had to force myself to put my head down and get through them.  Knowing so many people cared about me is what mostly helped me make it through.  When I looked up during the 11th round (out of 12) of air squats during that first event and saw Eric and Amanda at the finish line, it was like I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and there were my friends at it!  I seriously cannot thank everyone who supported me enough.  You inspired me more than you know.

The weekend itself was a blur—full of force feeding myself, a lot of FitAid, Megan (Back in Balance Massage) constantly releasing my diaphragm, and a seemingly never ending cycle of warming up, working out, cooling down, wanting only to lay down.  The events kind of run together in my mind now, but here are some memories I have:  being the last one off of the treadmill by A LOT, but then catching the girl next to me in the 9th or 10th round of handstand push ups; the butterfly kip I figured out on the ring dips not meaning jack turds because they went to singles anyway; making it through the rope climbs moving fairly strong in Event 3, only to have no arms left after them to catch wall balls- LOL those wall balls were literally knocking me over as they fell back to the earth, my dad texted me after that event and said “ I don’t know if I’ve ever seen you hurting so much,” LOL; the GINORMOUS kettle bells banging against my super tight/tender IT bands and quads as I (kind of easily) deadlifted them; being the third one off the muscle ups in Event 5, then having my judge tell me that my DB overhead squats were beautiful (duh, yes, I know, I’m a weightlifter)- this is the event that surprised me the most, my muscle ups were stronger than I practiced and anticipated; and finally, being 8 sandbag cleans deep in the final event and realizing I should probably pick it up, then crushing the last 2 reps and running to the finish line to beat the girl next to me.

I ran my races, but always made sure I wasn’t last.  And I never was.  I never felt embarrassed or that I didn’t belong.  I was pretty consistent in my placings- low/mid 30s-high 20s, but I didn’t have any one super event (e.g. heavy snatch ladder), where I was able to place really well to bump my overall placing up.  Overall, I finished 34th or 35th, I don’t know, it doesn’t matter.  I know that if I had actually trained for Crossfit, I could have been in the 20s, maybe even teens, even with events that didn’t suit me- and imagine if there had been (you know, the one year I finally make Regionals and there are no barbells…).  I met a lot of really cool people, and all the volunteers were awesome.  The atmosphere in the building was electric.  The venue, maybe not big enough for the whole crowd, felt cozy and made everything seem louder and more rowdy.  I was never in the top heat, so I didn’t fully experience the roar of the crowd, but even for my heat, the crowd was never silent, and it was really cool to be part of.  They really do create an amazing environment and exciting experience for the athletes and fans.  I was just not at a place or time in my athletic life to fully embrace it.

I’ve had a lot of time to think after it was all said and done, with most of June being a deload time for me.  Here I am going to share some of my deepest thoughts, and I think it will help me to move forward to get them out.  First, I think Weightlifting Nationals took a lot more out of me emotionally than I recognized.  As I was going through that 2 ½ week transition, I forced myself to be mentally tough, but I was drained.  I knew my body would be tired, but I didn’t understand why I was having to fight so hard mentally for every single rep in that training.  I assumed my emotional and mental capacity was limitless and I would be able to flip a switch in my mind after a high stress situation like a national weightlifting meet (and the weeks leading up to it) to being just as mentally strong for a completely different high stress event.   Now look, I’m not one to put limits on things, especially when my mental toughness is coming into question.  Maybe this is something up for discussion- I’m still not convinced mental capacity is limitless, but maybe it needs to be recharged before continuing to push the limits?  I love competing.  But this was different, something I never experienced before.  Maybe if I had figured out and acknowledged this emotional toll, I would have been able to deal with it better, or it wouldn’t have been so hard.  Or maybe going from one high stress event to a completely different one in the same month just is hard, and maybe I handled it as best I could.  I don’t know.  I do know I tried to make the best of what I was capable of, and I regret nothing.  Second, I hate not being good at things.  That’s why I work so hard.  I believe I could work hard enough at anything and get really good at it- anybody could.  Then when the day comes to be tested, I am nervous, excited, pumped up, and fearless because I know the potential I have to really do well because I am confident in the work I know I put in.  Going into Regionals, I know I didn’t put the work in.  I didn’t get that nervous but excited feeling because I wasn’t sure of how I was going to do.  I didn’t have confidence in my potential to do well.

I recently listened to a Finding MasteryConversations with Michael Gervais podcast with Jon Gordon (author of The Energy Bus, Training Camp, etc.) and they were talking about why people are successful.  They brought up the question of are successful people driven more by love of competing or fear of failure?   I thought hard about it, and decided that for me, it’s a little of both.  I work my butt off every day out of fear, fear of not being competent on game day, fear of not having confidence on game day.  Then when game day comes, I succeed because I have no fear, because I am confident, because I love competing and I thrive when the lights are shining.  I thrive because I have seen the moment over and over in my head and in practice, and I am able to keep my emotions in check and focus on what is important.  Any thoughts?

Overall, I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to compete on such a big stage in the fitness world.  It was a fun experience, and I knew not to take it for granted.  I will never forget the lessons I learned from this experience.  It was very cool to be there, and of course, at the end of the long weekend, there was room for ice cream. #ihavethebestlife Love yours too, my friends.

IMG_0172

Favorite Regionals Workout:  Event 5 (21-15-9 Muscle ups, DB Overhead Squats 55#).  I love the feeling of muscle ups- it feels like you’re flying, like you’re weightless (until of course, towards the end of the set when you feel like you weigh 1000lbs and can’t get yourself out of the dip).  And also because I CRUSHED the overhead squats.

Nerdy Athletic Training Tidbit:  I believe that Megan continually releasing my diaphragm all weekend really helped me to be successful and injury-free in making through 6 grueling workouts.  You see, when you are breathing heavy or inefficiently, your diaphragm (the top of the cylinder that is your core) gets “stuck”.  Your diaphragm attaches to the costal cartilages of ribs 7-12, the lumbar vertebrae, and the xiphoid process of the sternum (its anatomy is much more complex, but this is sufficient for now).  Based on the attachment to the costal cartilage of the ribs and sternum, it can affect your shoulder mechanics- if it’s stuck, it might make your upper back stiff, which needs to have the freedom to fully extend, flex, side bend, and rotate, which would make your shoulders have to do more work to get into the positions needed for Crossfit movements = shoulder injury.  The attachment to the lumbar vertebrae and its interaction with quadratus lumborum (simply put, a low back muscle), can make your low back stiff/stuck in extension, which would make your hips have to compensate, which could lead to all sorts of issues down the chain = hip, knee, ankle, foot, back, thigh, etc. injury.  I’m sure there are complete books written on this topic, and Megan could probably talk for days about the diaphragm, so if you have any questions, schedule an appointment with her at Back in Balance Massage binbtherapy.com .  I’m a believer.  I was sore during and after Regionals, but I was healthy.

Ice Cream Flavor of the Weekend:  I got a bigg azzz chocolate hot fudge sundae when all was said and done

Shout Out: to each and every single person who supported me- who came to the happy hour, who wrote on my wall, who commented on my pictures, who “liked” my posts, who texted me, who helped me get through the rough transition time, who loved me and was proud of me whether I am 4th or 34th

IMG_0466

 

 

Advertisements

The high of competing

You’re sitting there on a chair in this ballroom of a hotel. There is a lot of hustle and bustle going on around you. Your headphones are in, vying with the music playing over the speakers for your ears’ attention.  Then there’s also the sounds of barbells dropping, coaches yelling, cheering from the crowd on the other side of the big screen and the announcer calling names. But you’re just trying to listen to your Judah and the lion. Your song, your playlist. The same one you listen to back at home during training. The one you sing along to, and makes you smile and have fun with. You are trying to channel that same energy into this moment.  Because you need to have fun competing. If not, what’s the point?

You’re sitting next to the American record holder in your weight class, who hasn’t even put her lifters on yet let alone touched a barbell. She’s got her headphones in, dancing to her own beat too, but you aren’t paying attention to her. You can’t. You can’t pay attention to the other lifters warming up. It doesn’t matter how easy they make a 60% warm up snatch look. You can’t pay attention to who is about to go on the platform. You can’t pay attention to the coaches running back and forth from the judges table to their lifter’s warm up platform. You can’t pay attention to your name flashing on the screen saying you’re up next. That’s just your coaches playing games. It doesn’t mean anything to you whether someone comes back from the main stage with a giant smile or borderline in tears, so don’t look that way.  It’s easy to get distracted. You can’t be looking around and getting lost in the bustle. You have to embrace the moment and take it all in, but you also have to be zoom focused. You have to be visualizing nothing less than the perfectly executed lift.

You take a sip of water from your trusty green water bottle, and are still burping up fiesta chicken and potatoes. You make a mental note to stick to plain chicken next meet.

You’re anxiously bouncing your legs up and down as you sit. You think back to all you put your legs through to prepare for this- to all the pulls you did til you felt like your hamstrings were gonna pop or to those times you squatted so much at such a high percentage that you thought you were gonna poop your pants, or pee, or vomit or pass out, you weren’t sure. You just know that you prepared them hard.  You roll your shoulders back and give your neck a crack as you side bend it.  You remember all the boring, tedious stabilizing work you put in to make your shoulders ironclad.  You will not allow yourself to get red-lighted on a press out again.  You take a deep belly breath and it brings a sense of calmness and stability to your mind and body because at this point, it feels like you are about to explode.

You’re ready to go. There’s nothing left to do, just wait patiently until your name is called for your first lift. You go through it one last time in your head- the chalking of the hands, the steps on the platform to the barbell, the set up, the pull, the catch, the standing up. That’s it. You look around for your coaches to see if it’s time. She puts up 3 fingers. That means there’s 3 lifts then you.

You stand up, shake your arms, shake your legs, close your eyes, and bounce around a little. You take the headphones out of your ears and walk towards the standby seats.  Your heart is pounding and your breathing is a little more difficult.  You jump up and down a few times, give a quick stretch to your hamstrings then quads.  Another deep breath. You pull your arms overhead as your coach asks “Are you ready?” You give a big smile and nod your head yes. There’s nothing left to think about. At this moment, you can’t think anymore. You need to trust your training and let go. Only another minute or two before go time.  It’s a time where you need to be hype and aggressive, but also poised and collected.  You hear the barbell on the stage drop. You hear your name called.

You put your belt on and pull it tight. Thankfully your Eleiko leather belt loosened since you first got it and you don’t need help putting it on anymore (lol). This makes the breathing even harder, but you take as deep of a breath as you can. You close your eyes and imagine success. “Tight off the ground!” and “Jump straight up!” are the last words you hear as you walk up the steps to the stage.  The chalk stand is right the top of the steps. You grab the block of chalk and rub it over your left palm, left thumb, then right palm, right thumb. You walk along the back of the stage until you’re in line with the barbell.   You bounce once or twice more and find your focal point straight in front of you before you walk up to the barbell.

Now you’re there. You set your feet while telling yourself “You are strong, you hit this weight so many times before, you got this”. Bend down.  Left hand on the bar, right hand on the bar. Make sure your feet are perfectly centered. Wrap your hands around the bar and your thumb and look up. Locate that focal point. Deep breath out. Deep breath in.

IMG_0066

You feel the bar coming off of the ground and then you feel yourself underneath it. Like there’s some sort of magic that takes you from point A to point B. You are secure and stable and you are standing it up. Success. One down, five to go.

But it’s not magic.  It’s hours and hours and hours of work.  It’s being uncomfortable doing drills like high pulls and muscle snatches.  It’s accumulating so much volume of lat (latissimus dorsi) pulling strength that when you actually go to lift the next day, it doesn’t even feel like you remember how to move.  It’s watching yourself over and over again on film, finding all the technical faults you can be doing better.  It’s squatting four times a week, and making sure recovery is just as important as the work.  It’s pain in your knee or shoulder, or whatever is malfunctioning that week, and making sure to take care of it so you can continue training.  It’s pushing through some of that pain, but also being smart enough to know when it’s too much.  It’s the going to bed by 10:00 just about every night and the sitting by yourself on your couch on Friday and Saturday nights while your friends are out having a good time.  It’s the planning of training sessions around your job when your team is in season, and things feel hectic.  It’s all the waiting around between sets during training in your corner of the gym by yourself.  When you feel like you need to rush through your morning session to get to work on time, but you can’t, you need to stay focused and take enough rest between sets.  It’s all that time spent in your own head, at times questioning your abilities, the process, and questioning if it’s really worth putting yourself through all of this.  I like to think I’m a fairly mentally tough person.  These thoughts are very rare, but they do sneak in every once in a while because it is a lot of time spent with myself.  What I’ve learned is that you are completely in control of your thoughts, and you can change a crappy day simply by telling yourself it’s a beautiful day and if nothing else I’m grateful to be here doing what I love.  At the end of the day, I do all this for that “magic” moment.

IMG_0042

And “magic” it is.  Anyone who has ever made their last lift in a competition will probably tell you the same thing.  That feeling of standing, fully extended, all locked out with a weight overhead that has gotten you down in the past is simply so happy.  It takes a lot of dedication, resiliency, and focus to make it to and through any competition, let alone a National Championship meet.  And that feeling of standing there, knowing all of your hard work came together and paid off is so rewarding.  The feeling is addictive.  It leaves you hungry for more.

IMG_0079
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU TO MY COACH, MISCHA, AND TO TONY AND DAVE FOR HELPING ME OUT.  COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU!!

Meet weekend is over and now what?  (note: what’s next for me is Crossfit Regionals in 2 weeks, but for the purpose of this blog, I don’t compete in weightlifting again for a while- American Open in December).  I spent all that time building up for the magic, I’m hungrier than ever, and yet I need to deload.  I told my lifting shoes and nice Eleiko barbell that we were going on a break for a little bit; that it isn’t you, it’s me.  And that we can get back together when the time is right.  If competition is a high, this must be what the crash feels like.

ross

But I’ll get my fix again, and it will be even better than ever.  Dream big, my friends.

Favorite workout of the week:

Hitting my last clean and jerk at Nationals- 113kg/248lbs.  Click here to watch the magic

Nerdy athletic training tidbit:

Scar tissue from dropping a tuna can on your foot 6 years ago can still influence the way you move.  If you have any similar injuries, be sure to assess your movement patterns.

Jill thoughts:

I was given two very valuable pieces of advice this weekend from two very respected individuals-

“You’re devoted, that’s three quarters of it, now the rest- Just do it.”-Pop-Pop Paisley

“May all of your ups and downs be squats.”-Jim Schmitz

Ice cream flavor of the week:

Margie’s Candies in Chicago.  All of the sundaes came with a gravy bowl of sauce (I got hot fudge, obviously)

img_0051.jpg

Shout out:

To my mom and dad, who made the trip to Chicago to see me compete.  Sometimes I think it’s hard for family and friends not involved in the sport to understand why I invest so much of my life into it, and I was so glad my parents were able to see first-hand why.  I’m so thankful that they love and support me and my siblings in whatever we choose to do.  It was so wonderful to have them there to share in my joy and success.

***If this sounds exciting to you, or you are interested in getting involved in weightlifting, message me and let’s get started.  I’m so excited to be part of this rapidly growing sport!

 

Turn up the Lights

IMG_9921

One week.  USA Weightlifting National Championships are one week from today.  I have a lot of thoughts and feelings, and I’m going to try to get them out the best I can.

Every time I think of competing at 7:00 CT (8:00 Eastern time) on a Saturday night- prime time- Rhianna’s song “Turn Up the Lights” comes on in my head.  I get that feeling.  Where my heart starts beating really fast, I feel weak in my limbs, and almost a pit in my stomach.  It only takes a second before I remember just how prepared I am, and that nervousness turns into excitement.

You see, I love competing.  I thrive when the lights are shining.  Throw it back to a Friday night at an invitational meet towards the end of my high school freshman year track season, there were a lot of great javelin throwers from a vast area, and I had done really well.  My coach, Freddie Barletta, and my throwing coach, G (Nick Gaudiano, who by the way, should win an award for all of the AMAZING throwers he’s coached over the years), were talking about how the upcoming District Championships were shaping up for our team.  Mr. Barletta looked at me and said, “This one… turns out the better she performs the bigger the lights”.  Ever since then, I have not allowed myself to believe anything less.

Sports like javelin throwing and weightlifting are very mental.  It has taken years and years to develop the mental prowess and confidence I have.  I have learned that in the moment, the more you want it and the harder you try to get it in these sports, the less likely you are to attain it.  There is way too much finesse involved to simply try as hard as you can- to chuck that spear as far as possible or yank that barbell off the ground with as much might as you can muster up.

No, it is the days, weeks, months, and years leading up to the moment where you try as hard as you can.  Where you practice technique until you feel like your thumbs are going to fall off.  Where you squat so much you’re not sure if you’re going to vomit, poop your pants, or pass out.  Where you sweat, cry, inhale so much chalk, deal with aches and pains, and have to find the grit to get through what seems like a never ending frustrating session.  I go through all of this grind day in and day out so that when the moment comes, I am prepared.  So that when the opportunity presents itself, there is no thinking left to do and I allow myself to be calm, poised, and perfect.  I must have fun.  I put a lot of pressure on myself, but when I think back to all of the work I put in, I have no doubt that I will succeed.

I have no control over what the others will lift.  I cannot control whether I will end up on the podium or not.  All I can do is make my first lift.  I have to earn the right to put more weight on the bar.  Then make my second lift, etc., etc.  I cannot dwell on what the final outcome will be.  I can only do what I can do at the time.

IMG_9879
From “GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog and to the few of you who have been waiting impatiently, I am very sorry.  My job is busy, and training takes up the rest of my time.  I get home at night and want to eat and go to bed.  Unlike other 20-somethings who can “Netflix and Chill” for hours on end, I can’t commit to anything more than a 22 minute episode of a show on Netflix before falling asleep.  When I’m in season with a team as an athletic trainer, time management is my greatest quality, and being able to focus on exactly what I’m doing presently is the greatest struggle.  It’s a grind, physically and mentally.  Luckily I have some really great people around me to help keep me grounded and sane.  Whenever I would get an idea for something to blog about, it seemed like it was always at a time when I couldn’t write it down- in the shower, driving in the car, riding on a bus on the way to/from a game, etc.  Excuses.  I do feel like getting my thoughts out is therapeutic, and I’m glad I’m finally getting around to it.

Rapid fire thoughts:  I spent most of this spring not trusting that I am a good snatcher.  I signed up for one month unlimited yoga classes the other day.  I’ve only been once but I like the relaxing, freeing feeling.  Get out of your comfort zone, right?  I’m working on becoming a better breather thanks to Megan at Back in Balance.  I had my first ever MRI a few weeks ago.  My knees.  Nothing serious, don’t worry.  Ice cream has been fitting in my macros just about every day.  I’ve been way more serious about tracking my food intake in the past few months so I could be confident I will make weight on game day (and for improved performance too).  My smoothie game has been very strong lately.  I really miss track season this time of year, especially this year, UD is hosting CAA Championships, so awesome.   My hair has gotten really long.  I have to move apartments in the middle of June.  I’m very excited to loosen up a little once June 5th hits.  Oh yeah, and I’m competing at Atlantic Crossfit Regionals June 2-4 in Atlanta Georgia (also a very big deal, but not allowing myself any stress about this until after Nationals).

IMG_9681
Barbell unicorn 😀

As I sit here and type this on this cloudy, muggy Saturday morning, I am impressed by just how chill I am.  I made myself some very berry chocolate banana protein pancakes and coffee for breakfast, I get to see my family this afternoon, test my clean and jerk later, and maybe go on a date tonight (what Jill?! Do you really have time/energy for boys right now??).  I’ve had the best time sitting in silence with some candles lit and with the window open this morning (because the deck is too wet, and actually there’s construction going on at the house down the street, but we’ll pretend it’s peaceful silence).  I’ve been able to collect and organize my thoughts, control what I can control, and paint my nails this Barbie color.  I am so grateful for this life I’ve been given.

“Why?”

I recently had a conversation with one of our senior lacrosse players about his plans after graduation and I asked what his “why” is.  He gave me his answer and turned around and asked me the same question.  I went back and sent him my very first blog post from about a year ago.  As I re-read it, “I want to make the world a better place.  By making a difference in people’s lives, one by one, I believe that could be my contribution to the world.  I can inspire others to live HAPPY and HEALTHY lives, and if they each turn around and pay it forward, think of the impact that would have,” I started reflecting on if I am living every day according to my “why”.  I try, but I don’t always know.  But I do know for every person that says to me that I am an inspiration, or that their daughters ask about “that strong girl at the gym”, I get the feels inside. Sure lifting heavy weights is cool and all, but I just want to be remembered as being a good person.  Sometimes, I feel like I get too self-involved, and I don’t always remember that other people have goals and aspirations just as important to them as mine are to me.  I realized this about half way through lacrosse season and it actually made going to work every day a little more meaningful.  I wrote down a quote on my dresser and try to acknowledge this fact every day, even if it’s not always easy.

The Happy Hour we held last week at Cantina Feliz made me feel so incredibly thankful and inspired.  If that turn out is any indication of how I’m living out my “why”, I guess I’m doing alright.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU a million times again to everyone who supported me and donated last week.  Thank you for believing in me.  I promise I’ll make you proud.

Favorite workout of the week:

Hitting a snatch PR of 97kg (<–click to watch!)

Nerdy athletic training tidbit:

“The psoas and QL (quadratus lumborum) are bros”  Dysfunction in one of these muscles will usually cause pain somewhere else- knees, hips, ankles, shoulders, etc.  Get them tested, figure out what you need, make it better.

Jill thoughts:

DO NOT heat up chocolate protein in milk and think you’re making hot chocolate.  It will come out like sludge.

Ice cream flavor of the week:

Weis brand Premium Extreme Moose Tracks (not to be confused with regular Premium Moose Tracks, which has peanut butter cups, the “Extreme” version has chocolate filled cups)

Shout out:

To the coaches I work with- Erin, Johnny G, and Nick (Nock).  Even if your teams fall short, you’re still awesome people to spend a ridiculous amount of time with.  And to Nick, for getting wings/cheesesteaks with me when things are the most crazy.

Falling and Life Lessons

Being a professional athlete is not all cashing checks, getting your hair and make-up done for headshots, and working out with your really fit friends.  It got hard.  My body was tired.  Mentally, you had to stay so focused, but smooth, it was draining.

A few days out from our second match, we were testing the elements of the races.  During the morning session, we were completing them individually, and then in the afternoon session, we put them all together and ran the races.  Specifically, I was testing the Echo race: a set of 15 deadlifts, 20 chest to bar (C2B) pull ups, and snatches.  I’m going to be honest here, a set of 20 C2B pull ups still kind of scares me.  It’s not something I’m comfortable and confident doing (well maybe now after Grid I am).  Jill a year ago could barely string together sets of 5 butterfly C2B, but a ton of Chinese rows and strict pull up work brought me to where I am now.  Lesson #1-  trust your training.

Anyway, I did well in the morning session, but the cumulative effect of all of the movements involving gripping over those past few days had my forearms feeling not so hot.  I did my best to get them to recuperate between sessions.  In the afternoon, I knew my grip was fatigued, but I was confident I would be able to push through and complete all my reps.  That’s what is great about this team sport, it forces you to push your limits for each other.

I was borrowing Roy’s gymnastic grips (because I was not trying to rip my hands so close to game day) and the bars at the Grid practice facility were slipperier than the actual Grid.  I chalked up.  I was cruising.  Around rep 10 (out of 20), I felt myself starting to slip, so as I pulled myself over the bar, I was regripping my hands so that they were back on top of the bar.  At rep 15, I was at that place of “this is really hard, it hurts, but I’m only 5 away from being done hang in there”.  16, 17, 18…

BOOM.

My hands did not catch the regrip.  I fell backwards from the 8 foot bar and landed on the back of my head and neck.  My foot hit a box on the way down.  The impact of the fall took my breath away.  It hurt.  I wanted to cry, but I remember telling myself to be tough and don’t cry.  I don’t know if I actually did or not.  I was scared.  I work with athletes and head injuries for a living.  I was hoping this wouldn’t be the end of my Grid season.  In that moment, I realized I had the opportunity to choose how I handled this situation.  Lesson #2- you can’t always control what happened, but you can control your attitude and how you act.

I ran through a list of concussion symptoms in my head.  I told myself I did not have a concussion.  My neck hurt, but I wasn’t paralyzed or anything, thank God.  This could have been a lot worse.  I was thankful for my teammates who took care of me and made sure I was ok.  I caught my breath and was sitting on the side with a bag of ice on my neck, I was going to be fine.  The men were running through their race.  When they finished, it was time for the women to run through the whole race (they stopped when I fell).  Coach asked if I was ok to go.  I rotated my neck to the left, then the right, up, down.  The dizziness had gone away.  It’s like a car accident, you need to get back in a car and remind yourself that it’s ok.  Yes Coach, I’m good.  This did not mean I wasn’t scared, or I wasn’t in pain, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.  Also, I’m not dumb and I know my body, I’ve had concussions before and this didn’t feel like it; had the dizziness not subsided or if I felt out of it, I would not have gotten back out there.  I only had to do a set of 15 pull ups this go around, and I wrapped my thumbs around the bar so tight, I ripped skin on the side of my thumb.  I got through the race.  My big toe (on the foot that hit the box on the way down) hurt pretty bad, and my limp was significant, but if that was my biggest complaint, then I’m a lucky girl.  Lesson #3- when you fall, get back up [insert “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you ain’t gon ever gonna keep me down” song lyric]

Metaphorically speaking, we were riding a high after our victory versus Boston in the first match, and then we fell to Baltimore.  After starting 1-0, we knew could be good and we believed it.  We should have won.  We felt confident going in, but some mistakes here and there caused us not to win.  Our playoff hopes severely decreased.  All that optimism and excitement was gone.  It’s like the wind had been taken from our sails.  It sucked.

Lesson #4- Sometimes, in sports and in life, you win, and sometimes you lose.  The feelings you experience in both situations can be strong.  This is good, it means you’re passionate about what you’re doing.  Be excited when you win and be pissed as all hell when you lose.  What I’ve learned through my endeavors is that win or lose, you must remain the same humble, awesome human being.  Good times are fleeting, but so are the not so good.  So embrace the moment, good or bad, learn, then move forward.

We got back to work, and did all we could do to prepare for our final match against DC.  In the end, it was not enough to overcome DC or make it to the playoffs.  Again, it sucked, but I was proud to be part of a group that never stopped fighting and working.

image

Falling back into reality:

The season ended, and I left early on a Saturday morning following a night of fun with my team and athletes from other teams too.  It had been such a great experience.  I didn’t want it to end.  I had to cover field hockey practice the next morning at 6 am.  I didn’t want to get back to the grind yet.  Two weeks later, I’m still sitting here wishing I was back in Utah (who would have ever thought that would be said?!) with my Rhinhoes and Rhinbros, hanging out, working out, where your only responsibility is making sure you are recovering properly.  But fall back into reality we must.  It took a while for my central nervous system to have me feeling normal again, and my whole left neck, shoulder, elbow are still being wonky as a result of the fall (quick plug to Megan and Sam at Back in Balance Massage Therapy for helping me out!).  I still can’t do a burpee or lunge properly without pain in my big toe.  I finally feel like I’m falling into a routine (well as much as possible with the inconsistent practice schedules for our teams at Arcadia), and my training is back on program (squat day every day) after a deload during which I did not feel fit or like an athlete whatsoever.

I wrote this down while at practice that early Sunday morning: “Yesterday, I watched the sun rise over the magnificent mountains of Utah.  Today, I watched that same sun rise over a turf field in a city thousands of miles away.  The same sun, two very different settings.  A lot of emotions running through me.  But you know what, [Lesson #5-] the dawn of a new day is always a very beautiful thing”.

image

The Rhinos

As the two and a half weeks in Provo went on, I went from liking everyone on my team to loving them. I love my team. Lindsay, Sarabeth, Dani, Brandy, Nora,  Alice, Andrea, Wes, Nick, Roy, OG Andrew, AA Andrew, Cliff, EZ, Irving, and Mike. I am beyond grateful for building these amazing friendships in such a short period of time. We fought together, celebrated together, worked together, and most importantly, ate together (a lot). I wasn’t sure what to expect from the team after a heartbreaking loss to Baltimore in “Grid Lock”, if we would break down and fall apart or stand together and move forward. I’m so proud to be part of a team that fought until the very end.  Even the last match, we knew we had to execute perfectly and work together to give ourselves a shot. Not everything turned out to be perfect and we were beat, but my team finished strong, with a back flip 🙂

So now that I said all that mushy gushy stuff, here’s what I really enjoyed about the closeness of our team: the memes, the fact that they indulged in my ice cream obsession, mafia (can’t trust Cliff….), the van rides, all the meals (e.g. the breakfast buffet), Heads Up, being Wes’s spirit animal, bonding with Sarabeth and Alice over how hard hiking was, Alice as my roommate, making Nora pretty and doing all the girl things with the girls before our last match, Andrew’s stories, Irv’s taco spot, introducing me to Acai bowls, Jeb’s, Alice and AA Andrew racing to the rice sale at Costco, always being next to old man Roy, always being asked if we are body builders, our fearless leaders Lindsay and Nick, and really just getting to know everyone and learning about their goals and passions. They are amazing people, and I’m honored to be in every single one of their company. I’m sad our time together is over for right now, and I can’t wait until we are reunited.

Our coaches, Fredrick, Bryan, Ian, and Annie are awesome people. They are the fittest coaches in the league and push us to be the best. From the “scap” warm ups to the breathing cool downs, I learned a lot from them. This doesn’t mean the work was always necessarily fun. Nope, the breathing exercises… I was just not good at it. I could not hold my breath. I have other qualities. Anyway, I am grateful to have been able to work with our coaches and hope there is more work to be done with them in the future.

It was so much fun to be able to wake up every day (for 7:30 am meet in the lobby) and work out and hang out with my friends. I am so lucky.  It’s nice being around people who make you want to work harder, who bring out the best in each other. I have enough motivation to train to become great on my own, but it was really awesome to be around others with my same level of drive and determination. I like having a bond with other people who all share the same goal. It’s interesting to see how other people operate, how everyone works hard, how everyone is from such different places but all lead similar lives. It’s all really cool. #blessed

Also, it was cool being around people who are as jacked as I am.  We would walk around together and although we as a group would get stared down (Provo is uber conservative), it’s not just me. I feel ok to wear my tank top and tiny shorts and not like I’m gonna get asked by every other joe on the street “so how do i get arms like yours?” #wearenotbodybuilders

Being a professional athlete is not all rainbows and paychecks.  You are challenged physically and mentally.  You have to be able to get back up when you fall.  Stay tuned for my next blog post about falling- literally and metaphorically.

 

 

Grid life

Here I sit waiting for my laundry to be done in the dryer.  This is day 7 of Grid life.  I am out of clean socks.  Like a college student back in Rodney Hall (R.I.P) on the west side of University of Delaware campus, I had to collect a bunch of quarters and do laundry here at the Marriot Provo.

I found a quiet corner of this massive hotel without much distraction to do some work and try to get out my thoughts on what this experience has been like so far.

image

Where do I start?

I arrived a week ago late Thursday night, actually it was Friday morning.  With some flight delays and waiting for the shuttle bus to pick us up, I did not arrive in my room until 1:47am local time, 3:47 eastern time.  Upon arriving at the airport, I saw a bunch of really jacked looking people waiting around baggage claim and then congregating together to wait for the bus.  These are the people I need to be with, I thought.  We had gotten an email while I was in flight that we had to be in the lobby for practice at 7:30 am.  It would take a few naps, nights, and coffees before I felt caught up on time and sleep.

Practice.  We talkin bout practice.

The first practice was a lot of testing out races for our first match, which would be in 5 days against the Boston Iron, who the “Gridmaster” picked to finish at the top of our conference.   During the following days of training camp, the lineup was solidified, transitions were practiced over and over again, and we got some heavy breathing in through metcons, sprints at Provo High School, and rowing intervals.  There is some time to get some extra training in too.  It’s interesting to watch what everyone’s extra training entails.  For me, I need to make sure my Olympic lifts stay crisp and I continue squatting so I am ready to prepare for the American Open (weightlifting) after Grid is over, but for others, extra work is several metcons, gymnasty emoms, rowing intervals, etc.  It’s neat to be around a diverse group of people whose goals and journeys are all different, but while we are here, it is for one reason and one goal, and we can all come together to make it happen.

 

Provo, Utah.

When I first found out that the entire Grid season was going to be held in Provo, Utah, I can’t say I was super excited.  Yes, the views would be pretty, but was that it?  Even though I am away from home and work for an extended period of time (quick shout out to Danielle and Heather, my co-workers who allowed me to be here during the brutal days of preseason for our fall sports teams at Arcadia, thank you!), I think this is a perfect little place for this league to be.  Yes, the views are spectacular.  There are mountains all around, the weather is gorgeous- cool in the mornings and at night, sunny and warm but not humid during the day, clean air, and a main street with plenty of eateries within walking distance from the hotel and convention center (which are across the street from each other).  Additional gym space is a short drive away, the grocery store is about 2 blocks away, and we’re never too far from anything nature-y (we went on a canyon river “float” yesterday, but I’ll talk about that more in a bit).  It’s all easy and convenient, and while living in a hotel for 2 and a half weeks isn’t ideal, it isn’t the worst thing (except for the pillows, I really miss my own pillows).  The air is dry, and the elevation is high, which we’re pretty used to by now.  The elevation was a struggle in the beginning; you got Fran lung (a dry, burning in your chest, and a struggle to breathe that comes about after an intense workout lasting about 2-5 minutes for you non-Crossfitters) from a basic warm up jog, but now it’s mostly the dryness that is rough.  Chap stick is necessary all the time, cotton mouth plagues you quickly and frequently, and some of my teammates say they get nose bleeds from simply blowing their nose.    Ok, reality is I still get winded climbing a flight of stairs here.

The Rhinos.

As a rookie coming into the league, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my team or what they would be expecting of me.  I knew there were some pretty great athletes that would be my teammates, and I knew that I had put the work in so that I would fit in.  I really like everyone on my team.  We all have a place and a job, and I feel like we gel together nicely.  It’s so much fun to be part of a team again, especially when the team is filled with people like those who are on the Rhinos.  The guys are like goofy (sometimes disgusting) big brothers and the girls have taken me under their wings and force me to be a better athlete.  My roommate, Alice, is also a rookie and is awesome.  You never know how the roommate situation will work out when you’re forced to be with someone (especially for the long two and a half weeks we are here) who is probably pretty similar to you, if you’ve both made it to this level.  We get along really well though and I’m glad we get to go through this experience together.  We all spend a lot of time together- training, eating, playing games, more eating, more training, and it all brings us closer together.  There is something special brewing here.

image
More pictures to follow, I need to figure out how to rotate them so you don’t strain your neck trying to look at them.  Anyway, this is Alice.

Game Day

After five days of training camp, game day had arrived.  Our first match was against the Boston Iron, who had been predicted to win our conference, and beat us handily.  Well, we weren’t having any of that.  Like I said, we have a special group with very skilled and strong individuals who are all willing to lay it all out there for the team.  We know we have the pieces, and now it was time to put it together and show the league that we are a force to be reckoned with.  My job was to start us out in the first race with some fast pistols and deadlifts, among some other elements in the early match.  I visualized it over a hundred times from the time I got the assignment- sprint to the kettle bell and pick it up, smooth, one leg, solid, down and up, full standing up, switch legs, down and up, nine times, on to the next quadrant, etc, etc.  I had put in all the physical work, and in the past few days, all the mental work too.  Showtime.  I did exactly as I imagined it, and before I knew it I was sprinting off to tag in Nora who would handle the second two quadrants, and we won that race!  The rest of the races went back and forth.  It was stressful and exciting to be part of.  In the end, it came down to the final race.  We were losing by one point, and the winner of Race 11 gets three points.  Whoever won this relay race would win the match.  Like the rest of the match, this race was back and forth from the beginning.  The last element was two clean and jerks, and it was close.  The guy from Boston jogged up to the bar, set up, and hit his first clean.  But we have the 105 kg Weightlifting National Champion, Wes, on our team.  He sprinted to the bar, cleaned the 335 pound bar, jerked it, dropped it.  Picked it back up and repeated.  He sprinted, touched the line, and sprinted to the finish 2 seconds faster!  WE WON!  We all dashed  to the finish line in excitement.  Coach told us to remember that feeling and how good it felt.  It is surely a feeling I will never forget.

Now it is the day of our second match, and we are hungrier than ever.  The first match, although we were victorious, was not completely crisp, and was close.  We have cleaned a lot of things up, and although we thought we were good before, now we believe it.  I know for me, I learned a lot from that first match- just how important quick transitions are, how fast the race moves, and how important it is to look forward to the next race and not backwards.  The rhinos are ready to rumble.

A River “Float”

The day after our first match was a recovery day.  We were told we were going on a river float in some canyon.  Being in these beautiful mountains, we thought a nice ride down the river would be lovely.  We could soak up some sun, soak up each other’s awesomeness, and soak in the scenery.  Well, we bonded all right.  We bonded in trying to survive the canyon river RAPIDS.  There was nothing lazy or peaceful about this “float” (until maybe a little bit towards the end when Roy and I thought we lost everyone and would be floating forever).  We had single person tubes.  There were times some of us tried to hold on to each other’s tubes, but that mostly didn’t work.  The currents were strong.  The fresh water was cold.  There was a solid breeze.  You rode right into rocks, tree stumps, branches, other people, and more rocks.  We only got a very short briefing on what to expect and do, “Stay right around the first island… When you see a green trailer, get to the right, get out of the river and walk around the train bridge because you will flip if you try to go under it… You’ll know when you’re coming to the end when you see a sign”.  Ok.  So the thing is, if you’re on the left being pulled into trees and branches, there is no way to fight the current to get to the right.  This is what happened to me.   I quick flipped over onto my belly and started to butterfly stroke horizontally across the river so I could get out, figuring that would probably work better than my sitting in the tube and flapping my arms which barely got me anywhere (that technique also gave us all crazy brush burns on the insides of our elbows).  I heard others yelling for me, laughing, I was still laughing at this time.  Oh shit.  I wasn’t going to make it.  Still on my belly on the tube, I turned to face the upcoming train bridge we were told not to go under.  Oh by the way, the guy also mentioned “Yeah, the #1 reason we need to send people to the ER is from going under the bridge”.  There were pillars, and the current appeared to be stronger and rapid.  I quick made a plan in my head to put the tube up as a shield as I got closer to protect my head.  BOOM.  Hit the pillar.  Tube flipped.  Jillian underwater.  These next few moments are a blur.  I bopped up out of the water, and remember being surprised that my sunglasses were still on my face (come to find out later I had lost my swimsuit top strap).  The rapids were still rough, and there were rocks everywhere, but I think I was past the bridge.  I tried to jump back on top of my tube, I think my feet were able to touch the bottom, and landed on my belly.  I looked around and saw Andrew and Roy had also not been able to make it to the right to get out and had survived going under the bridge.  I didn’t want to stay like this so I tried to get to sitting in my tube by going through a kneeling position.  Well, turns out my shins are exactly as long as the diameter of the inside of the tube, and I got stuck.  I hit a rock as I tried freeing my legs.  Rapids still rough.  I flipped again.  I don’t know how, but eventually I got back to being seated in the tube and Roy and Andrew caught up with me.  Hearing stories of the others surviving the bridge were just as funny.  It was quite the adventure, and looking back on it, it was actually hilarious.

Ok, there’s a lot more to write about, but this is getting long.  Looks like there’s going to be a part 2!  Stay tuned…

 

Favorite Workout:

Pike’s Peak Race 1- I did 9 weighted pistols, 7 deadlifts, 7 weighted pistols.  It was my first Grid race, and it was nerve-wracking, but I had to be poised and fast.  I love the pressure.

Jill Thoughts:

When I’m president, salads are not allowed to be expensive.  Say, no more than $7.  I hate paying an arm and a leg for a salad in a restaurant, when it’s something I could very well make myself.  I want all the nutrients, but chances are, I’m still going to be hungry after eating it anyway. #needmorecarbs

image

Ice Cream Flavor:

Ok, so there’s this place called Sub Zero, and they put the cream in a bowl with whatever mix-ins and flavorings you want and then they put it under freezing nitrogen, then magic, it’s ice cream.  It tastes like slightly melted dip-n-dots, so rich.  My favorite combo is chocolate with brownie pieces.

Shout Out:

I know I already gave them a shout out earlier, but I cannot thank Danielle and Heather, my co-workers at Arcadia (and Allison our GA), for allowing me to pursue my dreams and taking opportunities when I get them.  For dealing with my constant hunger, and understanding how important it is to me to make sure I get all my workouts in.  For tackling pre-season like champs.  But mostly, just for being awesome human beings.  There is no one else I’d rather work with, and be part of the AU AT squad with.

The (not so) Lazy Days of Summer

imageI sit here on my deck overlooking the lovely town of Conshohocken on another beautiful summer evening, thinking to myself about how we were given a world that is so wonderful and peaceful- luscious green trees dancing to the slight summer breeze (makes me feel fine… yeah, I dare you to not have that song in your head now), the sunset sky that looks like cotton candy, birds chirping and fluttering around before settling in for the night, oh and the sounds of the Schuylkill (aka I-76) to my right.

My brother, Matthew, my sister, Lauren, and her boyfriend, Kyle went on a hike last week at Glen Onoko Trail in the Lehigh Valley Gorge, just outside of Jim Thorpe (the ninja/Katniss Everdeen in me loved the challenging climb, and I’m proud of/grateful for my siblings and Kyle for tackling it like troopers).  I was so taken aback by the beauty of nature- the waterfalls, the boulders, the river, the greens.  I think everyone should take some time and appreciate the world that was given to us.  There is a lot going on in the world that is not good, a lot of man-made drama.  I’m not saying we all need to be tree-hugging vegans or anything like that (no disrespect if you are though!), I just feel like if we can just relax for a minute, experience the beauty of nature, we can feel more at peace.  There is a saying on my nightstand that I read every morning when I wake up:

“If you begin the day with love in your heart, peace in your nerves, and truth in your mind, you not only benefit by their presence, but also bring them to others, to your family and friends, and to all those whose destiny draws across your path that day”.

I said it in my first post; I believe I can make a difference in the world.  I’m not going to run for president, or figure out how to stop global warming, or even bring peace to cities in our own backyards, but one by one, I can spread the love, and I encourage all who read this to do the same, the world needs it.

I am loving this summer life.  I wake up, go to the gym, coach some classes, work out some, come home, eat, watch Bones or Friends or read James Patterson, then go back to the gym to work out and coach some more, and finally end the day on the deck, eating ice cream.  It’s definitely not as high-intensity as during a sports season, but I wouldn’t say it’s completely lazy either.

My workouts have been challenging.  I’ve shifted gears for now from weightlifting to training for GRID League, which begins in less than a month.  “Grid is the world’s first professional spectator sport with co-ed teams that compete in strategic athletics racing… Each two-hour match features two 14-person teams (7 men, 7 women, one of each being over 40 years old) going head to head in 11 fast races.”  FAST.  That’s my jam.  I was drafted by the New York Rhinos as the 12th overall pick back in April, and now I am completing testers- short workouts that are actually parts of the races we’ll compete in- which I video and send to our coach so that he can begin to build the lineup for our matches.  I have found some aspects that I am really good at, and some I definitely need to work on.  I go to the gym every day and bust my butt so that I will be able to contribute to our team, and help us to win one match at a time, and ultimately, the Pinnacle Trophy.  The season will take place in Provo, Utah  from August 11th – 27th, with a five day training camp and matches on the 17th, 22nd, and 26th.  I’m starting to get really excited for this adventure, to be on a team again, to see new places and experience new things, and mostly, to lift heavy things (and move my bodyweight) FAST.  Check out some of my testers here

The cool thing about being an overall healthy person is that you can allow yourself to be human from time to time.  I was reminded of this from an Instagram post from Mattie Rogers (weightlifting American record holder, 69kg, which is the weight I lift at), and saw that she cheats too.  She eats ice cream and nachos with her friends.  When I go on our family vacation (which is a ton of fun, I’m so grateful to have such an amazing, large family), I mostly keep up with my workouts (well, as best as I can in a meathead gym with no bumper plates or women’s bars or rings or…), but my eating is not the greatest.  There are times I feel guilty about it, like where are the vegetables here, but I learned that it is ok to be human- to take an unplanned day off, to eat unhealthy for three days in a row, to enjoy the company around you, to embrace the moments with your grandparents playing Ladder Ball or the volleyball games with your cousins.  Sometimes in life, you need to realize that moments are fleeting, that times like these may never be experienced again, so you need to take it all in, and you need to understand that it’s ok to take a break from the grind, and allow yourself to enjoy the vacation.  It took me some time to get that, and I’m not saying you can completely abandon ship.  I grind hard most other days of the year- I work out, I work, I work out some more, I eat healthy, planned out meals, but if you don’t allow yourself to be human once in a while, that’s why you burn out.  As Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

image
Teaching Mom-Mom how to use Snapchat and showing her the filters 

Ok, so this is turning out to be a rather philosophical blog post.  I guess that’s how I get from all of the sitting on the deck listening to the leaves blow in the summer wind.  One more deep thought- tell those you love that you love them, hug them tight, and never take any time with them for granted.  In the past month, I have had two friends lose their fathers to cancer.  They were not necessarily old or unhealthy, but they were given the diagnosis, and not much time after.  So LOVE deeply, LAUGH often and loudly, and LIVE so fully that your eyes close as soon as your head hits the pillow at night.

Sorry it’s been a while since my last post.  I actually wrote this a few weeks ago and didn’t get around to posting it until now.  And now I’m back at work and summertime as I knew it has ended.  In my next blog post, I am going to write about the reality of being a jacked, fit chick in the summer time.  Teaser:  it was inspired by a guy at Wawa who asked me if he needed to work out to have a back like mine (because I was wearing a tank top).  I also need to write about how I’m headed out to Utah this week to be a professional athlete!

Favorite Workout:

“Annie” Plus- a Classic Crossfit Girls workout, but with GHD sit ups instead of regular sit ups:  50 Du, 40 GHD sit ups, 40 DU, 30 GHD sit ups, 30 DU, 20 GHD sit ups, 20 DU, 10 GHD sit ups, 10 DU.  Holy Abs.

Jill Thoughts:

While I was driving last week one of my favorite songs came on the radio, “No Such Thing” by John Mayer.  The lyric I absolutely love is “They love to tell you stay inside the lines, but something’s better on the other side”.  Make opportunities for yourself.  Take advantage of the opportunities life presents you.  Take risks.  Work hard.  Accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

Nerdy Athletic Training Tidbit:

I have been dealing with some swelling in my knee and leg lately, and it was a great opportunity to test out some of the things I practice on others as an athletic trainer.  I slept with compression on my leg and elevated my mattress. I found that it felt better after using VooDoo compression and after it got moving.  I did not ice.  Watch this video to see why: KStarr and Gary Reinl.  I was getting worried when Megan of Back in Balance Massage Therapy explained that my electrolyte balance was probably off, causing the venous system to not be so efficient at moving ‘used’ blood away from the localized area back up to the heart.  She said this is more common in the summertime when it is likely that you are more dehydrated.  So I started taking a Magnesium/Zinc supplement, and she gave me exercises to help loosen up my hips and activate my pelvic floor to allow my lymph system to work without compromise either.  It’s been about two weeks since that conversation now and my knee is feeling better! (Other than some bruises from doing hella fast burpees).  When I get a free hour or so, I would love to look up some evidence on this phenomenon.

Ice Cream Flavor:

Double Fudge Brownie (Seashell Ice Cream, Wildwood, NJ) and Chocolate “I Don’t Give a Fork” (The Ice Cream Store, Rehoboth Beach, DE – brownie pieces, pretzel pieces, crushed Oreo cookies, cookie dough, and mini chocolate chips. A plastic fork is placed on top of every cone, to make it easier to eat! -except I got a spoon)

Shout Out:

To my cousins, who are growing up to be really cool people. I am so proud.

IMG_7660