becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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i haven’t cut myself in ten years, and this is why i’m terrified.

i’ve mentioned a few times before – most notably here and here – that i battled through an eating disorder for a pretty good portion of my adolescence and 20s. but something i’m much less forthright about is that years before i fell into the rabbit hole of anorexia and bulimia, i became ferociously addicted to tearing open my skin.

self-harm was a completely different animal for me to fight and attempt to conquer. while some aspects of it were linked to my eating disorder, most of it related only peripherally. i have no better way to explain it than, i just got hooked. anyone who has ever felt the grip of addiction can attest, to some degree, to that hopeless, helpless need, to the pathway of “I’ve got this under control” and “I could stop any time I want” to, gradually and then all at once, “Oh my God I can’t not have this in my life.”

and so at thirteen years old i became an addict. by seventeen i was running out of real estate, my hours upon hours spent attacking myself relegated ferociously to only those places where the cuts and scars couldn’t be seen.

not even a month after i turned eighteen, i entered Treatment #1.

less than a year later i started attacking my arms, my legs – things i had told myself i would never do. too obvious, too visible, too risky. my eating disorder worsened, i drank too much. i felt everything and nothing. and i tore into myself with a reckless, i-don’t-give-a-fuck abandon that would eventually lead me to Treatment #2, which slipped seamlessly into Treatment #3 when the kind folks at #2 deemed me a poor fit (i.e., a little too far gone) for their program.

I was in the beginning of my 6-month stint at Treatment #3 when i cut myself for what would become that last time.

it was February 15, 2005.

and here i am, ten years later. anniversaries like this are funny things. once i realized i had a “streak” going i began meticulously counting weeks, then months. at one year i bought myself a bracelet (which i still have). every year for the first seven years i got myself something on my “sobriety” date – a new shirt, a fun snack, something. at five years i got a custom-made necklace that i would wear every day for a few years, and after that, every February 15th. last year, when i thought i had lost that necklace i tore through my entire apartment until i finally unearthed it, tangled amid jewelry i rarely ever wore and had all but forgotten about.

and here i am. ten years. one decade. a pretty significant milestone.

but instead of it feeling celebratory, it all scares the shit out of me.

the terrifying thing about being addicted to hurting yourself is that you can never get away from your intended target. every night i go to bed in this body that i crave to attack, and every morning i wake up in it. we are inextricably linked, this body i live in and the demon in my head that yearns to destroy it. and even though it has been ten years – ten entire years – when i’m acutely distressed my default emotional response is to want to dig into myself.

ten years. and i am still frighteningly attracted to sharp things.

ten years. and when i feel like my heart is breaking, i am compelled to break open my skin.

ten years. and some days i am still that 13-, 17-, 20-year-old girl, literally shaking with need, and the best i can do is close my eyes and bite the inside of my cheek and remember, recall, but try not to fantasize. because that is too dangerous.

because it takes only eleven steps from my bedroom door until i am standing in front of the butcher block stocked with a plethora of tantalizingly sharp edges.

because there is no “only this once.”

because ten years is a long time. and while it may seem like a badge of honor, some days it feels like an albatross. like a thread that has been stretched just one inch too long, my timeline is fraying, spinning in upon itself, threatening to snap.

so i try not to think too hard. i try not to remember too much. but i try to remember enough that the ten years still seems worth it.

ten years. and i’m still afraid to let it feel permanent. because above all else, i am always myself. and this is part of my story; some chapters never end.


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9 weeks out – finding the drive.

today was the first day of a new, 4-week training block. i really enjoyed the last one, and i feel like my back and shoulders gained some strength and size. since it was a four day split i also enjoyed a little more flexibility with my three off days – i rock-climbed a few times, did some metcons, and once or twice just grabbed a platform after work and did some hang cleans to work on power and speed (my elbows, and really everything, are the opposite of speedy).

this past week didn’t go quite according to program. the girl i’m very much in love with and i called it quits; i’ve been sad as hell about it. it was the strangest, most loving break-up i’ve ever experienced, but i’m still so sad that it’s hard to move sometimes. and on monday i had to have a little surprise oral surgery, which led to more melting down because (a) i hate the dentist ANYWAY, (b) i wanted my mom, and (c) i now have a big-ass hole where my molar used to be.

so with all of that on my mind, i had a hard time hitting it in the gym with my normal energy. plus, my training partner and i haven’t been able to coordinate schedules all week so we both flew solo monday and wednesday.

but nothing is ever perfect. training schedules can’t be followed 100%, all the time. meal plans can’t be followed 100%, all of the time. i got in there and put in work, even on the day when i was still bleeding from aforementioned big-ass hole in my mouth or the day where i laid in pigeon bawling while i was doing my post-lift mobility.

but today i hit my projected squat opener for two triples. so there’s that.

 


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10 weeks out and sending a 9

up and down week, training-wise. if i could compete in accessory work i would own so many records. sadly, i compete in three lifts, and one of them (my squat, what else?) is currently a mess.

but today we hit projected second attempts on squat for three singles, and 240# came up like buttah. we widened my stance pretty considerably and it helped me feel like i could really sit down into the hole, rather than needing to hinge back. so that was exciting, and a pretty big relief too.

we hit second attempts on bench for 3×1 as well, but we were in a hurry because my coach had a 4pm client so there was maybe a minute rest between each. my first 135# came up slow but fine, second didn’t even budge off my chest, and third was a grind. right now it looks like i’ll open at 57.5kg/126# and take either 60kg/132# or 62.5kg/137# for my second. i think when i’m well-rested i should be able to bury 62.5, but we’ll see how the next few weeks pan out!

and then the girl and i went for a little friday night indoor climbing fun. i warmed up on a 6 and a 7, and then jumped to an easy 9. and while it was definitely a light 9, i sent it and was super stoked! i’ve (a) never sent a 9 before, and (b) not climbed since…november? then i went and climbed two other routes – an 8 and a 9 – and now my forearms are falling off. but we had so much fun. a good friend of ours works at the wall and caught us all night. after having spent the last four weeks with our relationship in so much flux and stress, it just felt incredible to hang out and be silly and have fun.

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this route was really fun to climb. i’m also really excited that my calf does this, because it’s kind of muscle-y and neat.

Week 4 of training continues tomorrow with tons of back, shoulder, and chest work. i have to get cranking on my El Paso presentation (the paper from which also just got accepted to a conference in LA…more on that later!) and some exam things for students.

here’s to a great weekend!


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doing the thing.

sometimes relationships get rocky. even when you really love the person and they truly love you, and you both believe in one another and your abilities to make each other happy…shit still happens. and right now i’m with somebody who i really care about and with whom i’m willing to work through the shit.

the last month has been difficult for both of us. i went for about a week only sleeping 2-3 hours a night; i dropped nearly an entire weight class in ten days. we’re still fumbling; we’re nowhere near the couple we were. but we’re working and working it out.

and last night we spent an hour together doing what we do best: goofing around. we did a metcon (which i will discuss no further because i detest conditioning workouts!) and then hijacked a vacant wallyball court to do some acro and other yoga fun.

(if you’re just tuning in, the brick-shaped one on the left is yours truly. the very cute one in the orange is my yoga partner/thai food cohort/snuggle buddy/girlfriend.)

i wish i had the time and patience and general electronics knowledge to splice and cobble together all of my favorite snippets. we took about 20 minutes of video, and my favorite parts are where one of us bites the dust and we end up in a laughing heap of silliness.

but i did capture this image, because we both love being upside down:

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things are far from perfect. we’re hanging on because we believe it’s right. because even though everything seems mixed up and sad right now, when we see each other it all feels okay. and last night was good. i’m lucky to be in a relationship where the “good” is so good it makes you want to work through the not-so-good.

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happy hump day, everyone.

 


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meet prep: 11 weeks out.

we’re nearing the end of our first block of training. yesterday marked the beginning of Week 3; after Week 4 we’ll switch to a new block. since the reemergence of my appetite i’ve been feeling more comfortable with bigger weights (imagine that!) and not as frustrated.

monday we had 12×1 of our final bench warm-up. i hit 120# for all of my singles and they were smoke city. ideally i would like to open at 60kg (132#) on meet day, but i’m okay with opening at 57.5kg (126#) as well. we’re still far enough out that i can continue to plan and strategize!

but then we had 3×10 pause squats. my training partner is a former collegiate soccer player who then started CrossFit after graduation. she owns me in anything high-rep. i, on the other hand, am a tubby powerlifter who considers sets of five cardio conditioning.

we both did 135# for all of our working sets and i was straight f*cked up for three days. i literally got on my yoga mat at 5am on tuesday and thought to myself, “i can’t bend my knees so maybe i can just…freefall down to the floor…”

then yesterday we got to do something i’ve been waiting for for quite some time: we got to pull heavy! i worked up to my approximate opener weight (275# in the photo; will open at either 125kg/276# or 127.5kg/281#) for three speedy singles, then did 225# 3×3 with pauses at the knee. it was great to pull heavy again, and to be back pulling conventional too. i had good bar speed – especially for me, the world’s slowest lifter – and just need to focus on cranking my shoulders down.

275 pull january 2015

and then for fun we did a widowmaker on bench – video here! 75% of final competition warm-up, which had me right at 95#. the final rep was so long i wasn’t sure i would come out of it. and inb4 CHEATER ARCH. don’t hate on lumbar flexibility. brandon lilly even complimented it. so there.

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today we did accessory work, and i teach yoga for 2.5 hours tomorrow for some good ole active recovery. things feel good; a little beat up, but strong. excited to smoke the end of this training block and get going on the next one!


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12 weeks out – meet prep life.

i’ve decided to compete in another full power meet, on April 18th. even more exciting is that for the first time, i have a training partner! she’s also a grad student here, and we’ve been lifting together for about two months now on and off. she decided she wants to compete, so we’re running this meet prep cycle together. our pulls are almost exactly the same; i have a bigger squat but hers is way prettier than mine; and she never really benched regularly so while mine is bigger, hers will shoot up in the next few weeks.

this prep cycle is way lower volume than i’m used to – only four days of lifting per week, and big lifts on only two of those days. i wondered if having three “off” days would make me anxious or antsy, but so far i love it – the training days tax me so much i’m more then ready to take an entire day to recover before the next one!

mobility is a huge priority for me right now. it helps that i’m teaching yoga 5-6 days a week. plus i force my sorry butt to get up and do some spinal and hip work every morning before i go to the office. my back unlocked over break; now we’re just trying to keep it there!

my squat continues to plague me; my bench is growing slowly but steadily. we pull heavy on friday for the first time in ages, and that will determine openers. i’m shooting for 231/126/281. i hit 120 for twelve really fast singles on bench today so that bodes well. 126 was my second attempt last meet so it would be nice to open there or even 132 if i get some good training reps in these next few months.

i had lost my appetite – and a good deal of body weight – due to some crazy stress and anxiety earlier this month. everything is slowly getting back to normal, and my metabolic furnace is back to its usual spastic and speedy self.

and in other, less gym-y news, if you don’t follow me on instagram (@jenncanliftyou) already, go do that so you can watch videos of my girlfriend and i playing the ukulele and singing. it’s so cute i swear you’ll fall in love with us.

and i’m going to el paso next month for a conference. so there’s that too.


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we’re always all right

I win all the awards for worst blogger ever. Except that now that I have the WordPress app I’ll probably come around a lot more often. Sad but true.

Since acquiring the elusive and sought after status of Doctoral Candidate (Extraordinaire) I have managed to…do pretty much nothing productive. Unless you count copious amounts of cross-stitching, reading four books, and watching lots of Homeland and The L Word with my girlfriend as “productive.”

I spent winter break in Florida with my dad, at his new house right on the inlet:

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and my girlfriend joined me a few days after Christmas. The holidays without mom and now my grandmother too are still hard, but they’re getting more manageable every year. I had a really nice time, and as always am struggling with the whole “back to the grind” thing now.

Before I left I squat 185# for a set of 20. So that was something.

And now, here we are. I have a goal to have my dissertation proposal in a full draft form by spring break. One of my papers got accepted to a regional conference that will bring me to El Paso next month. And I’m competing in April.

Life is crazy. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but most of the time it’s great. Maybe I’ll come back here more often. Until then:

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Smile and laugh, guys.


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All But Done!

as of this past monday, i am officially ABD. (which really stands for All But Dissertation, but All But Done works just as well…) passing my qualifying exams was the goal of this semester. i put training on the back burner; for the first time in my teaching career i wrote lesson plans the day of instead of the day or weekend before; i took advantage of the fact that we have no “official” dress code and my students have thus now seen me in jeans.

but it was all worth it because i passed and am one step closer to my PhD.

and now that it’s november and i can breathe a little, i can also sit back and reflect on what has gone down the past few months.

first off, i started dating this lovely lady (see below) in july. one of our favorite things to do together is acro yoga. i started out as our base but we were getting nowhere; one day we randomly switched and in five minutes i was up and in bow.

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this was day 2 of us messing around with me flying.

10405430_10101934463706025_3197186026047467459_nlast week or so? upside down bow. when i’m standing i feel like a very stout brick-human; here somehow i look like a spider monkey.

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can’t win ’em all!

besides that…training is going well. we’re continuing to un-yuck my squat technique. on halloween we worked up to a single at 225, did 3×2 at 185, and then closed with a widowmaker at 155. and then i tried to not puke or cry:

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my advisor instructed me to take this week off. no worrying about my dissertation, my proposal, next year’s fellowship…just relax. and i have been and it’s been great. i’m teaching 5 yoga classes a week plus i’m in the middle of a four-week workshop i’m running on yoga for athletes. i just booked my flight to see my dad for christmas, and the girl is meeting me in fort lauderdale for new year’s. i’m spending thanksgiving with her and her family.

sometime this week i want to come back and spruce this blog up. change the URL, maybe reorganize the pages, get some training videos up. i’ve got a instagram nowadays – @jenncanliftyou – if you want more photos of my silly faces and flexing and random acro things.

life is good. really good. maybe i didn’t get here quite the way i would have liked, but i’m really really content.


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change and things.

life is crazy. busy and stressful and insane and wonderful.

the semester has started; i’m teaching two sophomore classes. the faculty member i’m working under for one of them is a lot of fun and super laid-back. my adviser is on sabbatical this term so while i miss her intensely, she has gifted me her office as an office/study space in her absence. and it’s a beautiful thing.

my seizures have been out. of. control. these exams need to be over so they’ll hopefully settle down.

i moved. i’m sharing a house with three other people. i’m a 5-minute walk from my office and a 3-minute walk from a coffee shop, a fro-yo place, and a liquor store. aka i have moved to heaven.

 

10394511_10101746354408565_8498642638783457684_ni bought a bike. she’s fun.

i squat 275 with wraps last week. and then two days later i pulled 285 for six triples. i’m competing in two weeks, just for shits and giggles, and then our big meet is in december. if i can cut to a 56kg and not lose any strength i can put a serious scare in the national deadlift record.

i’m seeing someone. and it’s fucking spectacular. we’ve known one another for a few years, peripherally, and we started hanging out this summer. she’s somethin’. it’s a new relationship but i’ve got a good feeling about it. it’s relaxed. i laugh more with her than with anybody, outside of maybe my college best friend. we take things one day at a time. and today, things are awesome. hopefully tomorrow they will be, too.

my first qualifying exam is in 19 days. it’s my non-area exam but it has been eating up all of my study time lately. i think i’ll be fine. i have tons of outlines, i just need to commit them to something of a working narrative in my memory. then once that’s over i have exactly one month until my 8 hours of area exams.

this is a hurdle, a rite of passage. i’ll do well, but not without some tears and fits and  lot of caffeine, i’m sure.

this blog…i don’t know what i want to do with it. i have a new phone and i make training videos a lot now. i want to make a training-specific blog, especially now that i’m getting my technique de-bugged and starting to get more confident in my lifts.

we’ll see. it’s a process. everything is a process. change is inevitable. sometimes it sucks but damn sometimes it’s awesome.


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full circle.

probably the most-read post i have ever written was about my first experience with cutting weight for a meet. at the time, i had been lifting with my coach for 3 1/2 months and had yet to reach my pre-op weight after almost a year and a half of rehab. 56kg is the low end of normal for me, but since 24-hour weigh-ins allow you to manipulate your “true” weight, it wasn’t a big deal to pee myself into my weight class.

then came my off-season. i ramped up both my eating and my training as we worked on technique, form, and building mass. and build mass i did, in the for of both lean muscle and body fat. this:

august 2013

turned into this:

may 2014

in less than nine months. i’m now squatting what my summer 2013 max deadlift was. and in the process i have, almost necessarily i would think, put on weight.

the struggle for the past few months has been deciding on a weight class. at the georgetown classic i weighed in at 57.0kg – a kilo over for the 56kg class, and that was after a nasty, gnarly cut that i never want to relive. it was frustrating, especially knowing that i still had some body fat i could have pulled, and potentially could have made weight.

i have nationally competitive numbers as a 56kg lifter. as a 60kg lifter – which also happens to be a much more common weight class, for whatever reason – i am a bebe fish in a very large and strong pond. so of course the competitive and stubborn side of me wants to remain in the 56kg class.

my coach and i have spent a lot of time talking about this. STV has caused me to build a startling amount of lean mass in just over a month’s time. and i’m also dropping body fat. yet my weight remains around 62-63kg.

so yesterday i did something i had assumed i would never need to do again in my adult life: i went to a nutritionist.

nutritionist appointments were a part of my regular treatment team/schedule for years. there were times in my treatment history i actually had a better relationship with my nutritionist than my therapist. i have sat in those offices and screamed, argued, cried, cursed, and flat-out refused to do things like eat full-fat cheese or not break my bagel into meticulous, tiny pieces before eating it.

i have also sat in those offices and said things like, “i no longer need 12 cups of coffee to get through my day,” or “i don’t get dizzy every time i stand up any more.” those offices, the arguments and meltdowns and revelations, played a huge role in me healing my relationship with food and my body.

and i never thought i would find myself in one again, after all these years! but yet yesterday, there i was. i had been put into contact with a sports nutrition professor who specializes in part with athletes who compete in weight-classed sports.

it was strange to be in one of those offices and not boiling over with anxiety. it was strange to have no stipulations beyond “i’ll eat anything but olives.” it was strange to be in that position as a healthy person with a comfortable relationship to food and their body.

maybe we can never escape our pasts, but we can look back at them and, when a situation presents itself that shows us how much we have changed, how much we have grown, we can appreciate them and how they molded us.