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Jessica is our 2016 Olympic Hopeful and Sarah is our 2012 Olympian in Weightlifting. We're setting out to be "Pretty Strong" and we encourage you to do the same.

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

It's over!

     I'm not sure how long most of you have been following my journey. Some. I am sure since the very beginning and others probably as late as my spot on Big Giant Swords or hearing about me some other way. Anyways,  if you don't know what my particular predicament was, a simple google search can help you out. Well, today is the day it's over! I can compete again! This is a long time coming. I have read and heard a lot of people say I handled it with grace but, I think minus one situation, I did a pretty good job. Someone called me a cheater to my face and I didn't take it so hot. I said a series of words my mother wouldn't have been proud of including what she calls, "the big one."
     I've mentioned before some of the things I've been through in this situation but, there is always more to say. I am not sure what motivates me, as I figure there are different things but, one thing I know that motivates me is to keep my promises.
     Once word was out and I could talk to someone, I immediately called USA Weightlifting and told them I was coming back, made a plan for paying off my fines, and made sure to get into out of competition drug testing so I would be eligible to compete again. I have been good on all of that. After the Olympics in 2012, I was contemplating moving on from weightlifting. We made a deal and shook on it. "It's you and me against the world, kid." So we went forward only focusing on us and putting all else aside to make a go for 2016. After the bad news in 2013 I can remember, "This doesn't mean you can't train. You can still qualify for the Olympics. Don't you dare quit. If you do, I'll never speak you again." I chose not to quit. Ever. Even though I thought about it. I couldn't do it. I made a promise to myself and to my coach that I would not quit. I didn't. I will not. The coach that started me initially told me "This is an injury to your career; at least it's not an injury to your body." With all that in mind, I pressed forward.

I struggled a lot. I feared a lot. I learned a lot. I overcame a lot.

     One day while talking about something with my roommate I said, "Hey, it's not the worst thing I've experienced." She asked, "Well, what is the worst thing you have experienced?" Well, the deaths of loved ones are of course at the top and probably the suspension being the other. But, you know what? I am a blessed woman. I have been two years without insurance because I a.) don't qualify for elite athlete health insurance any more because of obvious reasons and b.) I can't afford it. You know what? In two years I haven't had a single injury and I think I was sick maybe one time. When I couldn't afford a place to stay, a roof was put over my head. When I struggled to pay for groceries, there was food on the table. When I was lonely or sad, mom was a phone call away. I had friends to hug me or distract me with silly movies. I live a life here in Texas that is very fulfilling. I went from having almost no friends in Arizona (minus those I trained with and a few others), my dating life was non existent, I wasn't allowed time to visit home, or do anything else but train. My spiritual happiness suffered. I was bitter at times, and sad, and isolated. I am as active and as spiritually strong as I have been in my life here; which is important to me. I have so many friends! My teammates and coach here are as supportive of my athletic career as they are of my personal life. I believe that has made all the difference.

Really.

     How can a person go from training three times a day, no work, no social life, no family life to having to work 20-30 hours a week, struggle financially again. move, start all over, to only train once a day and still manage to get back into the same shape and better shape than she was before things got crazy? I believe it's because I am faithful, I work hard, and I am supported. I have a well-rounded life. I am happy and I have things in a greater perspective now.

     If this had not happened, I wouldn't have known about a couple of cousins I found along the way. I have family here in Texas and a cousin in Arizona where I was stuck for a week with car problems. I think that may be God's way of letting me know I am not alone.

Here are a few things that were irritating during this process:

Gossip: 
     People in the weightlifting world that had never anything to say about me, let alone something good, all of a sudden had their two cents to put in on my situation. I read so many ignorant actually not smart or nice things said about me. Not once did I get an email, or a call to ask me from my point of view what the situation entailed. The other side of that were people who ran weightlifting blogs, forums, radio shows, etc. again all of a sudden wanted to talk with me. I've been lifting since 2008 and they had not once asked for an interview to know my opinion on anything, to say congrats on winning, or anything. The minute I have something negative to my name, they want to interview me? No, thank you. I will not let a hot button topic about myself help generate publicity for you solely for your gain. People also wanted to use me as an example of what not to do as a warning for others. I am not the first nor am I the last to be in this situation. I made mistakes along the way, and yes, I will admit and own up to them. Shame on these people for this behavior. I will even say shame on me especially for the way I handled a couple of things.

Fair weather friends:
     Suddenly, people that were right there by you when you were on top, aren't there to defend you. They suddenly go missing. Ghosts.

Sponsorships, grants, and agents:
     Well, when you're not on top, and you have something like I did attached to your name. You are faced with difficult situations. Sponsorships that were hard to get in the first place, won't be there. A.) It's not an Olympic year and B.) No one wants to touch you with a 10 ft pole. I had a $5,000 grant that I had to return. The donor of the grant was very nice and I think I could qualify for it again some day but, giving that my world was crumbling around me sending that check back in the mail sucked so bad. I had an agent for a short period of time who knew exactly my situation and knew it was going to be hard to only tell me later, "I can't work with people who don't make me money" and "I thought things would have been a lot different by now." Well, no. Things weren't different. Yes. Marketing me in this situation is hard. Thanks for being another one to give up on me during a time I needed someone to see and market the best of me.

People who are purposely out there to stop you from improving:
It is really surprising to experience what I have from other clubs here in Texas. Especially coming from one club where a coach helped me at an international competition. I've been doing my best to be part of the weightlifting community here. I have coached at other gyms. I have helped with a clinic at a university. I have stopped by other gyms to say, "Hi" and watch training. One of the local clubs had an athlete pass away suddenly and I got a card and had my whole club sign it and took it to her family. Two particular situations happened where these, what I call "Concerned Citizens" decided it was their business and everyone's problem that I was participating in an event. At one competition, the meet director asked me if I could hand out medals and take pictures with the athletes. How horrible! The concerned citizens called the national office saying they didn't feel it was "appropriate" that I did that. It's weird that they didn't express concerns directly to me... Maybe it was because I was busy cheering for their athletes, and helping people. On another occasion, I was going to lift as exhibition at the same time as a weightlifting meet. It would be a good way to connect with people, stay tuned up for competition, and have fun. The other "concerned citizens" who didn't even attend the meet made sure to call the national office to make sure that I had as little to do with this meet at possible. As a precaution in case I could be in violation of my sanction, I was advised to lift in another room." So I proceeded to lift in the back where the athletes warming up could see me. Man, that 100 feet of space made so much difference in the outcome of things. (there's is so much sarcasm here n case you can't tell). Yet, some how, I'm supposed to be the bad gal? Anywho, that all happened but, I still pressed on doing my thing.

Lessons learned along the way:

*Follow proper protocol and if you don't be prepared for the consequences. When you think you've experienced the worst of the situation, there's probably more to experience.
*Stick to your guns. If it feels right, and you believe what you are doing is the best thing for you, do it. You are in control of your body and spirit. No one else.
*Know who you are. My papa used to tell me, "When you leave the house you are representing your family." I know who I am. I know what I stand for and I know who I represent. I try to do what is good and right. I try to be worthy to bear my name when I come each night. I also train hard to so I can one day lift on that Olympic platform again.

I hope to represent my God, my country, family, team and self the best I can.

Cheers to that. RIO 2016 OR BUST!

Sarah

One of the coaches I helped teach at the University

Some of my awesome teammates

My and my hammer friend!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

I am a Large Woman

To this you would think, "Duh!" and you would be right. A lot of people view their bodies as inhibitors. "If I were taller, shorter, skinnier, more muscular, had a bigger butt, had longer hair, etc. I could do _____, I could wear ________, So and so might be interested" and so on. While I can most certainly empathize with you, I have lived a very interesting life and have slowly learned along the way that besides my personality and hard work, my body has been a catalyst for the wonderful, beautiful, adventurous, and fun things in my life! Which consequently has helped so many women feel good about themselves, inspired them to do things they never thought they could, and live healthier and more active lifestyles! How cool is that?! As I am a fan of positive elf talk and loving even the things that frustrate you the most about yourself, I'd like to share some things with you.

As a large woman, I get noticed and it's not always positive. I was teased a lot growing up and still hear rude comments and get stared at this day. I was never good at hide and seek. I couldn't fit under the desks at school if there was an earthquake drill. I wasn't picked first for games. I have a hard time finding affordable, modest, beautiful plus size clothing. I sweat more than an average sized person. I hit my head on things. I walk into stuff all the time. Chafing sucks. It's tedious to always have to wonder or ask what the weight limit is on things. It sucks being crammed into airplane seats. It's easier to get fatigued and harder to recover. It's easier for a medical ailment to get blamed on weight. My height and weight add a new element of difficulty to dating. Being stronger than men also adds another element of difficulty to dating. It's rare that my size isn't a thought on my mind for one reason or another. As a large person, especially a female person, things don't always come easy, cheaply, or comfortably. BUT! These are not the things to dwell on. They are there. They are real. They are valid and I share them plus so much more with at least half the female population.

Here are some great things that happened not in spite of but because of being a large woman. Or jut simply, because I believe I am the whole package. We are all the whole package! Our worth and blessings come from us being all different! When you look at a table of gifts, do you shun any of them because they are of different sizes? Do you want to return them because they are wrapped in different paper? Maybe one box is small and another is oblong, another can be huge! I don't want to compare us to objects but, I think we are all gifted with different attributes and we can be gifts to others.

I've gotten fan mail
I've made an Olympic Team
I've traveled around the world
I've been kissed!
I've made an unbelievable amount of friends and witnessed the births of their children
I give awesome hugs
I have a better vantage point and can find things and people easier
I can reach things safely off high shelves
My long arms enable to snatch a lot of weight
My height has helped me throw shot put and discus far
My bodyweight helps me move heavy weights
Looking intimidating has helped me feel safe
Being strong makes me feel safe
I can pick up children if they fall
Kids feel safe with me being their "body guard"
I can pick up injured animals and carry them to safety
I am strong enough to help people move when they're sick
I can reach easily around someone to give them the Heimlich
I can change light bulbs and use top load dryers
I don't have to ask for help for pretty much anything. Especially pickle jars. Screw those jars.
My height, weight, and strength weeds away week minded people
My weight, height, and strength weed out superficial men. Most people I get to date are high quality
I get to inspire people

I'm not famous, or popular, rich, or traditionally beautiful. However, I am the whole package and so are you. Not a single person on this earth is perfect. We can learn to accept our imperfections, improve on our faults, and keep adding to the list of amazing and wonderful things we can do and be. It may be hard but, try to look at yourselves objectively and you'll start to see the great things about your self!

Love, Sarah

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Training in Adverse Conditions

The other day, I was so over the heat. Like, almost quarter-life-crisis status. I had dealt with 3 nights of little to no sleep because our air conditioner was broken and I pretty much sweat for about 9-12 hours of the day. I realized at practice one day that I have spent 24 out of 26 years of life in hot places. I grew up in Desert Hot Springs and San Jacinto, Ca, I lived/trained/competed at the University of Alabama, Arizona State University and now I am living in Texas.

In high school, I trained 5-6 days a week. Our lifting facility was a large non-air conditioned room with one door and a large fan. Everyone hated that one kid who stood by the door being a fan hog. I'm clenching my fists right now just thinking about it. I lifted in there 5 days a week. Track practice after school would last until sunset almost every day for me and there was little to no shade. Just you, your implements and the elements. Throwing things in shoes purposely made with no traction in the rain and digging through the mud is no fun. Sweating your face off and having no trees or cloud coverage to protect you from the sun in triple degree heat is no fun. Training when it's cold and windy with bulky clothes when you need to be able to move a certain way is also not fun. Three nights a week, I would go lift in my coach's garage. Competitions were even harder. You spend over 12 hours a day traveling in a school bus to go to the competition, compete, watch others compete, and suffer whatever conditions are there. Some times the throwing facilities are far away and you feel like you're not part of the competition, some times the ground is rough and bangs up your equipment, sometimes the sector is of center, sometimes it rains, some times it's so windy you can't get in a decent throw to save your life, sometimes you can't use your own equipment, sometimes there are bad calls and unobservant or under-qualified judges, and sometimes the meet is poorly run in general. These are just some of the things that made training and competing rough even through collegiate athletics. I can remember at Alabama, we had a day with torrential rain and my teammate and I were throwing hammer even when our feet were completely submerged in water. We had a competition at Auburn that was so cold we couldn't feel our finger tips anymore. This is important for throwing things, obviously. The craziest day was getting in one good throw at the Mid-East Regionals only to have the Tornado sirens go off and have to hang out in a basement for an hour before resuming competition.  What?! Needless to say, these things aren't fun but, they helped toughen me up a bit.

In Arizona I trained in a large  non-air conditioned warehouse and here in Texas, I train in a two car garage. Training in Arizona in both track and weightlifting reminds me of this:


While training in these environments, you have to learn to acclimate. You have to learn how to physically handle the situation and how to mentally handle the situation. When traveling and competing abroad, I have observed Americans as those who handle change the worst. Sorry, teammates but, it's true. I have heard complaints about the weather, or transportation, the bars not spinning well, the training hall is in a parking lot down hill, the chalk is too fine, the plates are falling apart, there's no heat or a/c, the food isn't good, the music is too loud, there are no spectators, the roof is leaking and there are puddles of water on the floor, someone just walked in front of me, that person won't stop talking...What. Ever. In my opinion, those who handle stress the best, compete the best. The body needs to adapt to different stimulus as does the mind, eyes, and ears. There are a lot of people in the US training on nice equipment, with ideal temperatures, and sports med, or housing facilities, and cafeterias. On the other side of the coin, there are people training in completely opposite situations like myself.

My coach often says, "If you can train here, you can train anywhere." I believe this is very, very, true. I have moved a lot, lived, trained and competed in less than ideal situations, have not been financially stable, and so much more. For these reasons, I attribute much of my success as an athlete. I am able to handle stress well. I am a surprisingly patient person. This is exhibited by how little I end up yelling at people Haha.

Any who, to be your best self, you have to be stretched and challenged. Get out of your comfort zone and expect the unexpected. As my old coach used to say, "be comfortable being uncomfortable."

Sarah

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Less than 3 wks out

So much for part two of 6 weeks out, huh? Oh well.

My first weightlifting meet back will be at Freight Engine Crossfit in Santa Fe, Tx on August 9th and we weigh in at 9 am. If you're interested in attending, please come! We will accept donations and we will be lifting, hanging out, and eating food! This meet will be a qualifier for the University National Championships in Ogden, Utah. I'm excited to lift weights but, not to take classes again. Oh well. At least I'll be less stupid than I was before the class, closer to a degree AND hopefully, I'll break some records.

Training is going really, really well. I feel like I am in shape to hit personal records by the time the University Nationals comes around. I am also hoping to break the University National records.

Just like I did when I couldn't compete at the 2013 World Championships, I trained and prepared myself in training to be ready to lift big weights at the same time as the Pan Am Games. I did a 271 total at a local non sanctioned weightlifting meet and when I found out what the winning Snatch was from Pan Ams, I was determined to do it for a double. Here it is:

 

The only thing that has really been racking my mind lately has been the President's Cup in Russia. It is essential to my eligibility to qualify to get invited. I have been waiting almost a month to hear if I get to go to the competition. It is one of two competitions within my time frame I need in order to be eligible to compete at the Olympics. If I don't get invited, my Olympic Journey for 2016 is over. I can still lift and accomplish my other goals but the Olympics... not so much. Here are a couple things that sum up how I will feel if I don't get to attend the meet:


                                       
                                          
                                            

Also, I have been considering moving back to the OTC by the time October or December rolls around. :o Ok bye!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

6 weeks out: Part One

I'm about 6 weeks away from being able to compete again. I am left with so many memories of these past two years; both happy and sad ones. I am also full of many emotions for the year(s) to come. I'd like to take a little bit of time and thank some people for helping me get through these times.

My mom: My mom is my rock. When I told her I wasn't going to compete for these two years, she wanted to hug me through the phone and cried with me. She knows who I am and what kind of person I am. She reminds me of my good qualities and reminds me when I am being neglectful. We share everything together and I know a lot of what she does in her life is to help support me financially and emotionally. I literally wouldn't make it week to week without her.

My Coach: Tim (in case you didn't know his name) was instantly excited about working with me and gave me so much hope and comfort. He never judged me once and made me feel at home. He helped me with a place to stay, find a job, get connected with good people and helps me if I ever am in need. He reminds me all the time that I am a special athlete and to not take it for granted. He tells me I can do anything and he is looking forward to getting this year started off right. We're hoping he'll be by my side at the Olympics.

My Hammer Coach/Teammate: When I was in Arizona, my friend's coach told me if I ever wanted to throw, I could stop by. The day after I was no longer training with my old weightlifting coach, I showed up to practice. This was a few weeks out from the World Championships and he seemed a little suspicious as to why I was there when I should be training for lifting but, let me do my thing. He quickly gained my trust and I enjoyed every minute of relearning how to throw hammer and lift with them to stay in some kind of shape during my transition. He listened to me, pushed me, gave me space, allowed have a "bad days" where I cried on the bench, made me laugh and was someone I could complain about things to. My teammate Meagan was just as influential. We had dinner nights, bonded Yelping, throwing things, and had fun training together and pushing each other. I had fun complaining with her to. Hey, sometimes you just need it.

Crossfit Crew: I was always welcome to come and train over at Crossfit Crew. Coach Dairus is a Godly man and I appreciate him and his gym for opening themselves up to me. I can remember dragging my barbell with me everywhere and over there twice a week. That poor thing! It was nice to be in a positive environment where everyone cares about you and wants to just get better. Sean (hammer coach) and Meagan would do clinics there once a month. I also got to train side by side with Meagan again so that was always a positive

My Current Teammates: They push me to stay competitive and in shape when I feel like I can't or occasionally don't want to. They help me coach the kids. They encourage me to live my life to its fullest and to accomplish all I can within my power. I had one teammate help run a meet for me so I could fund raise, I have a couple who are trying to help get me back in school again, I have one who has let me do a couple of clinics through his gym, and I have a lot of people just plain cheering me on. All of this is goof for morale.

My job: I work at Home Depot. Although, they do not have the Olympic partnership anymore, my coworkers and managers have been very great to me. I love my job, my coworkers, and managers, They really work with me when my training schedule changes and help correct me when I make mistakes.

Substitute families: First, let me mention, I have a lot of best friends. I just kind of collect them. Strange as that may be. I love them so dearly and they helped me more than I can ever hope to repay. When I was in Arizona, I quickly became best friends with Danielle. I went to her house all the time. Her mom always made sure I never left hungry of empty handed. I was always treated like another member of the family. At some point she and I lived with her grandma and she let me stay there for very cheap. My best friend Ciera and I at first did not get along but after our second time being subjected to each other, we got along swimmingly. Eventually she got married to this super cool guy and I got along with him super great. Anywho, I became a sister to her and an Auntie to all four of their crazy, beautiful children. After things went down at my old gym, they let me stay with them rent free so I could save up for Texas and continue pursuing my dreams. Here in Tx, I became good friends with Nate and I get to spend time with his family as well. His mom always feeds me always saying something like, "It has protein in it!" We watch movies, do scripture study, eat gummy rocks, and play lots of games together. This Sunday I went over there and spent Father's Day with them. It helped ease some of the sadness I had from not being able to share it with my own dad. I have lived very far away from home since I graduated high school and I often don't get to see my family. I go years between seeing people. I miss them and I miss a lot. Sometimes it can feel pretty lonely and isolating.

Financial supporters: There are too many to name but, I have had people buy me stuff off of my Amazon wish list, donate to my Gofundme campaign, donated to my pay pal, helped with gas money or food money, etc. I am really thankful. I am sorry to burden you guys. I wish I were more financially stable and independent so I wouldn't need help but, lo, that is the position I am in. I still need to pay off my fines, manage every day finances, pay for competitions, etc. but, it's all working out for the best.

USA Weightlifting: I have been in contact with USA Weightlifting and have been doing my very best to stay on top of things, be communicative, etc. They have been doing a good job being non-partial and helping me stay on track and working with me along the way.

My old coach: Joe is a fantastic coach. The level of intensity and discipline he brings as a coach is not often matched, We learned and grew a lot together, Sadly, we had to move on from each other because of the circumstances. but, I am truly thankful for all he did for me. Yes, we butted heads a lot, yes, I could be a stubborn diva, but we accomplished a lot in a short period of time and more than many could ever even hope for. We made a great team. I wish him the best with his athletes and look forward too seeing how well my old teammates do in competitions.

Pursuing an Olympic dream is a difficult task. This has been made even harder by the nature of my sport as well as some decisions I made as well decisions were made for me but, through everyone's help, I have learned and gained so much. I am a blessed woman. I reflect a lot on all of this and at times it brings me to tears. Thanks so much! I can't wait to actually tell you about non-sentimental things and talk about weights in Part 2!

Sarah.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

May '15 Update-Sarah

So much has happened since I last blogged! I have been so lazy and distracted! Let's see if I can get it all in without being too long-winded.

Work: I'm starting to become more comfortable with my new responsibilities I have at work. Recently, a squirrel has paid us a visit. It's been there going on two days now. I really want to see it terrorize other associates or customers. Keep your fingers crossed.
Fairly consistently, I have been coaching a 10 year old on Tuesdays how to throw Shot Put and Discus! It's a lot of fun...except when woman eating mosquitoes are afoot.
Right now, I also have two. eight week classes going on at Crossfit Propel teaching them technique and getting them stronger. I also have some one on one sessions set up. Hopefully, this turns into a longer time gig.

Training: Training has been going pretty well! I am very excited! I have about 8 more weeks until I get to compete again so I am looking forward to a nice little training cycle going into it. Recently, we went and competed in a nonsanctioned weightlifting competition at Crossfit Eado and I did a 271 kgs total which is just 4 kgs under my competition best and 16 kgs under the American Record total. I am pretty excited for upcoming meets.

Competition: Because of how close my sanction is to the National Championships, the National Championships and World Championships are not in the Cards this year. Which is really unfortunate because I can score some much needed points for Team USA to get Olympic Slots. This also kind of throws a wrench into things because per International Olympic Committee rules, I need to compete in two international meets before the Olympics. This leaves the Russian President's Cup (invitation only) in December, the Women's Grand Prix in Austria (self-funded) in probably May of next year, and the Pan American Championships 2016. I started a Go Fund Me to help raise money for the National University Championships which will be in Ogden, Utah toward the end of September. I had a goal of $800 and so far that go has been exceeded by $190! This is good in case prices change or I need incidental monies. August 9th we will have my little comeback meet to qualify me for the National University Championships. I will be fundraising again for the Grand Prix and/or the President's Cup when I get more information. I will be attending the National Championships in Dallas this year as a spectator and to help and cheer for my teammates. If you're around, be sure to come by and say, "hello!"

Personal Life: My roommate is getting hitched soon which is great for her! Unfortunately, this means finding a new place to live...again. I have been considering moving back to the Olympic Training Center after the National University Championships but, I'd really hate to have to leave. I like training here a lot Unfortunately, it's not financially reasonable anymore. We'll see what opportunities present themselves. I really hope to stay. Also, I've been on a couple of double dates. Crazy, right?

Media Opportunities: DID YOU SEE ME ON BIG GIANT SWORDS?! Wasn't that like, the coolest thing ever?! Here's another little diddy they made Sword of the Olympian There's so much to talk about with this show experience, I have another blog in the works. I may have a couple of really fun opportunities coming up. One will get started in mid-July and I am waiting to hear if I have been chosen for something else. Pray that these things will happen. These opportunities will be good for exposure for myself and the sport. Here's to hoping new sponsorships will come for me this next year!

Here are some photos!










Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Mental weakness exodus by JESS

The Mental weakness exodus

"So we say with confidence,
   "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
      What can man do to me?"
Hebrews 13:6

Everyone who knows me knows my "potential" or "what I'm capable of"

As much of a compliment as that sounds coming from Olympians, and very respected coaches it sounds to me more of a slap in the face. Why?
Because its a reminder of my mental weaknesses, basically That i could be good if I Was mentally stronger.

Ive had a lot of help with friends, sports phycologists and many coaches. The help would get me through a workout, maybe two. Never once has it really gotten through and really marinated in my soul, Until recently.

I'm a christian. I do honestly believe that God gave me gifts to glorify Him. I believe that He wants me to be the best I can be. That should be enough to have the courage to succeed, shouldn't it? Not necessarily to a very insecure woman. I would twist the "gift" I was given. I thought my gift was given but only enough to fail over and over and the way I glorify Him was to keep getting back up and keep trying and still praise His name.

Recently, I've been coaching a lot of high level Crossfit Games athletes, AND just beginning athletes. Listening to them and trying to be the best coach I can be. Which in my opinion is defined as making sure that athlete feels safe, respected and that I am 100% in their corner. Ive found that Actual knowledge aside, mental fortitude goes much further than talent or program. The crossfit open, for those of you that do not participate or know what it is, is a very very stressful 5 week process of competition. Every workout is judged and a score is posted that is compared to every other athlete in your gym, state, region, country and world. During this 5 weeks every score, every week matters in ranking. Obviously a lot of nerves, stress and comparing goes into the process.

I've had multiple athletes come to me during these weeks with insecurities and general nerves. Being able to be there for them as a coach and see this side of the competition process has been very eye opening for me as an athlete.

Realizing that overthinking is crippling, and draining. Figuring out finally that I'm the only one stopping me. God doesn't want me to fail. I was just scared to succeed.

The LORD is my light and my salvation—
       whom shall I fear?
       The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
       of whom shall I be afraid?
  When evil men advance against me
       to devour my flesh,
       when my enemies and my foes attack me,
       they will stumble and fall.
 Though an army besiege me,
       my heart will not fear;
       though war break out against me,
       even then will I be confident."

Psalm 27:1-3


Now i get it!! Moving forward I WILL go into every lift I attempt with 100% because I fear nothing but God. I will fear no weight, no competitor and no opportunity (no matter how big). Only God controls my destiny so who else should I fear?

FEARLESSLY,
J

Saturday, December 20, 2014

End of the year update: Sarah

I've been having some "first-world" problems not having internet access at home so I am pretty excited to be able to finally sit down and blog!

I just wanted to sit down and kind of let you know how this year has been going and give you some hope for me for this upcoming year.

Charity

This year, I had quite a bit of charity events going on. They were all a lot of fun and uplifting and I recommend that you try them out for yourself if you ever get the chance.

*I started a Pen Pal program with first grade students from California. They got my picture, and letters from me, They practiced their reading, writing, and drawing skills. It was adorable!
*I've been helping coach youth weightlifters at our gym. Team Houston Weightlifting is a non-profit organization. Coaching kids is fun even when you get frustrated.
*I organized what I called "Hulkamania Night" at church. We brought old clothes into church and did a clothing exchange, dropped off whatever clothes were left at Goodwill, then all the shirts that were too full of holes or stains we ripped off of ourselves like Hulk Hogan. It was a blast
*When I am home, when we decorate my dad's grave stone, we help clean up and maintain those markers in need. So in honor of what would be my dad's 64th birthday, I took on the task (along with friends and whoever else wanted to help) of cleaning and maintaining 64 graves this month. Currently, I am at 59 and I am at the tail end. I think I have family from my dad's side of the family buried here in the Houston area so I want to finish up by finding out where they are and get to my 64. In the process, I managed to find out that I had a relative buried in the cemetery down the street from my apartment and his wife and son live in the same town as me. I will meet them next Sunday!

Super Secret Project

A couple of months ago I had the privilege or going to Martha's Vineyard to work on a project. We are only a few weeks out now from me being able to announce it and you all getting the chance to nerd out with me. All I can say is that it's going to be "big." 

Training

I had one month of training where I was going 90+% in my Olympic lifts 1-3X a week. I then hurt my upper back a little but but, came back from that fairly strong hitting a front squat personal record at 200 kgs. A little while later, I back squatted 190 kgs for a personal record of 6 repetitions. Since then, I have been struggling with having a tight lower back. I have just now been massage and chiropractic care. It has slowly been getting better especially as some weight loss has been accompanying my treatment. We had a local meet organized where the entry fees went to help me off-set training and living expenses and I lifted as exhibition. I missed a 115 snatch but made 110 and made a 150 clean and jerk. Considering how training was going, how the back was feeling, and my work schedule, I had a pretty decent day. 

Come January 8th, I'll have about 7 months until my suspension is over. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! I am getting really excited to have something real to train for yet, I am also nervous. 

Personal Life

*I love my job and got a raise recently which is pretty exciting. I still have a long ways to go into being really good at my job but, every day proves to be a fun, new, challenge.
*Still single but, I have my first date since being out here next Saturday
*Church activities are going well. I enjoy the volunteer work I do there. It's definitely testing and refining me in ways I never expected. Most of my friends are from church and they are wonderfully supportive and amazing. 
*My #bitsandbarbells amazing roommate is moving back to Minnesota and that makes me sad.  I get to move in with another friend and get to know her better so I am looking forward to that. I will also be closer to work and training. 
* Gas prices are dropping!
*I have been doing a lot of family history and genealogical work lately and it's surprisingly, a lot of fun.
*I will be a bride's maid for the first time. 


If I think of anything else, I'll try and update you through facebook/twitter

Happy Holidays!

Sarah
 
  
 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Find your star by J

What inspires you? Is it watching someone better than you do something you have never done?

For me it's watching people that want to be good work there butts off. It doesnt matter to me what level of sport they are. I don't care if they are a 3 time Olympian, won the Crossfit Games and just finished medical school and is now volunteering in Africa with underprivileged children. They could be a regular person who drives their kids to school in the morning, takes care of the house and comes in the the gym for a class workout and puts their head down and gives it all they've got. I love watching people who dream of something they want to accomplish and will do anything and everything it takes to make it happen. NO EXCUSES.

I've had a few wow moments in the last month watching athletes i coach and i just really want to share it with the Prettystrong world.

First i train this beautiful woman, lets call her Lenna. She is a nationally ranked sand volleyball player, Crossfit regional (hopeful) competitor AND masters Olympic Weightlifter. I should also mention she is a very successful very busy full time business woman. I watch her day after day sick, tired, sometimes burnt out walk in the gym and say "lets go coach." At our gym we have a lot of  "specialists" that coach there-She works with each one of us. She will do an hour and a half with our Gymnastics coach, hour lifting with me and finish her day with a metcon and sometimes volleyball practice too. She's a go get-er. She never waits for anyone to make anything happen for her she goes out and takes what she wants. Never once have i heard her say she "can't." Many days i tell HER she needs a day off after us arguing for a few minutes she usually convinces me she's fine and ready to train anyways.

Recently i was coaching her through a workout and we were discussing other athletes in all the sports and how they train and what they do differently. She told me "maybe they're not getting better today but I AM." Lets just say i had to hold back tears i was so proud of how strong and amazing of a woman she is. That night she texted me about her past with volleyball that she started playing late senior year in highschool and wasn't very good. She had dreams to play in college though even though people told her it was too late. Lenna worked all summer that year and played at as many places as she could to learn how to get better. Finally a junior college saw something in her so she played with them and still wasnt very good but kept trying and did her best everyday. Finally she got to play at a 4 year college and made that dream happen. Like i said earlier, today she is nationally ranked. I'm in awe of her on a daily basis and she pushes me in my workouts everyday. To me, she's beyond Prettystrong.




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My next story i literally do cry about on a pretty normal basis. I'll call him by his real name but you have to promise to believe i'm not being biased because he is in fact my boyfriend, Christian Lucero. He is the most relentless athlete i've ever met. He has more energy than that weird energizer bunny. Fear is NOT in his vocabulary and being one of his coaches it scares me pretty often fighting for lifts he probably could let go but fights till the death with every attempt and usually comes out with a win.

Christian is a Crossfit regional competitor and probably the most talented Crossfitter i've ever watched. I've never met an athlete in ANY sport put as much heart and soul into every single lift, muscle up, thruster...anything he's given in any workout. Christian will work a full day coaching every single class from open to close barely have time to eat all day and workout from 8-11pm and wake up at 4am and do it all over without complaining. Nothing is going to stop that boy and he pushes me everyday to be half as strong as he is (mentally AND psychically.)  He's only 21 years old and has barely been in the sport a year and he's already close to making the Crossfit Games and that isn't just because of his natural talent.



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There are a lot more athletes i work with and meet through coaching and as an athlete that inspire me that way. These two specifically have been pushing me recently even if they aren't next to me during my workout. I watch how bold and tough they are and know that i am capable of it too. If at the end of the day i dont make my dreams come true but i put every ounce of me into trying and worked half as hard as them i would still feel #prettystrong


I hope this inspires all of you as much as it does for me but even if it doesnt find your star! Find what motivates you even if its just saying your prayers at night and dreaming big.


fearlessly,
Jess

Friday, October 3, 2014

The inner feminist is coming out (nsfw?)

So recently, I shared a video on my private facebook page.

What are your thoughts? For your I, the video is graphic and some may be sensitive to the video. 

I cringed and laughed all while shaking my fist. This video was gross, sad, hilarious (at a certain part) and all true at the same time. 


Were you thinking this was "pornographic," "offensive," or "inappropriate?"

I had a conversation with a male friend of mine who shares my same religious persuasion soon after it was posted. This is how it went:

"not critizing except the part about the naked woman post on facebook"
"What was wrong with that?"
"naked women=pornography
pornography = bad.... its something we're commanded to stay away from in the church"
"That's not really pornography. It's a message about how messed up beauty ideals are in our society and how women feel pressured into looking a certain way."
"so have her wear a full one peice swim suit... or jogging clothes"
"I think that would take away from the message. The intent wasn't to arouse anyone. But, hey, we can all make the choice to watch or not watch."
"sure we can make the choice....by why is a friend putting a friend in the position to have to make the choice?"

Instead of avoiding the image, or not watching the video, or unsubscribing from my newsfeed, shouldn't have to make someone else choose, the person who made the video should have covered her up, etc.

Please, if/when you comment, be kind. If we share our ideas, let's remember that not all of us feel the same way; and that's ok. If you have anything negative to say about my friend, please keep that to yourself. He is a kind man. 

Anywho, I am unsure of which direction this will go but, here we go. 

Under the logic that a naked woman (I believe the conversation would be the same if it were a man) is pornographic the following images would be considered as such:




It sure would be hard to learn to be culturally sensitive, get educated, or appreciate are with out seeing some skin at some point

As a person who has seen pornography in the past, been in a relationship where it was encouraged that the man "try before you buy" and having one of my best friends go through a divorce because of a porn addiction, I strongly disagree that the video shared is indeed, pornographic. I am not here to discuss pornography or whether it is right or wrong. Instead, I'd like to talk about some other things.

Without words, the video has managed to show how women feel sometimes that they have to change in order to fit in or feel beautiful. Most of the time it isn't even for ourselves. It's for the people who create and force certain standards on us.

I discussed this with a friend and her response was "So, what he's trying to say is that he can't control his own thoughts?" Yes, I can agree that they way we dress, talk, and act can and does affect others. Ultimately, though, it is up to the individual to be able to control our own thoughts an actions.

We are all beautiful and special creatures. We are made attractive to each other for a reason. Because of this, wonderful things can happen. Because of this, not so wonderful things can happen.

Because people can't control the "madness" or the "improprieties" that would ensue at bare-breasted women, they have to always remain clothed. While men can freely do so themselves. Because some people can't control themselves and choose to view the body of the opposite gender solely as a sexual object instead of what it is: a body; that choice is then taken away from another person.

When we respect our own bodies as well as others, so many fantastic things can happen. Just look around you and see the great things each body is capable of doing! I am amazed every day.

When the body is disrespected and we lose control of our emotions, terrible things can happen:
*I had a friend live with us for a short period of time because her step-father was molesting her.
*I had friends that grew up and their mother would have sex with the father in order to avoid having her children beaten.
*I have had a friend who was raped by someone she knew and trusted.
*I had a friend with special needs who was taken advantage of and was impregnated at least twice, resulting in abortions

Those women all had choices taken away from them and are scarred from the actions of someone else who could not control their mind or their bodies. It was not the women's fault. "Well, she shouldn't have been alone." "She shouldn't have gone home with him." "She should have never married him." "She shouldn't have flirted." "She shouldn't have worn that outfit."

A more basic example is when my car got broken into and my wallet was stolen. My coach at the time said, "You shouldn't have left your wallet in the car." My response? "Me leaving my wallet in the car is no excuse for someone else to break the law and rob me." Same thing applies here.

Here's a link to an interesting article from Women You Should Know  about what is "acceptable" to post on the internet despite trying to post something body-positive.

Another interesting article was this one:  Plus Size Bikini This brought up a valid point about how most of the gawking and teasing about her two piece was from men. Later on, her boyfriend wore her dress (to stay warm) and got even worse reactions. A woman can wear pants but, a man cannot wear a dress? I understand that there was a time when pant-wearing was unacceptable but, why is it that wearing a dress for men has yet to catch up? What is wrong with being or looking like a woman?

Why do our bodies have to be policed so much? Why must we be shamed for them? Why is it that when something goes wrong, it is the woman's fault for "dressing like that?" Instead of changing the way we think about things or the behavior of those who oppress others because of their lack of will-power, we should just"cover up." Guess what? Under all those clothes...there's a naked body. *gasp!

Now, I do have my own set standards of "modesty." They are probably different than yours. Maybe they are more "extreme"or way more "relaxed" than you are accustomed to. I will be very clear in that I choose to dress and act a certain way according to my own reasoning. Yes, they comply with church standards but, I made the choice myself. My parents don't tell me how to dress, my church does not force me to dress a certain way, and I certainly do not dress a certain way in an attempt to please other people."

I will not attempt to persuade another person to compromise their standards and I do not purposely try to offend others when expressing myself or my opinions. We still have a long way to go when trying to be equals with each other. We are on the right track though, I believe that having an open mind, things can change for the better. It is important to be aware of other people's feelings and standards without trying to compromise our own. Let us try to be more educated. Education is so important when making societal leaps and bounds. Let us all take a minute to reflect on ourselves and where we can improve. Are we oppressing ourselves and others? If there is no willingness to change, can there at least be a willingness to understand?