becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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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.

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3…2…1…

if i’m counting (which i totally am), i’m three days away from my 30th birthday! now i don’t even make resolutions or hopes or wishes on New Year’s because i think that the amount of things that can happen in 365 days is so mind-boggingly vast that trying to predict your progress is just counter-intuitive…but…

i’ve been thinking a lot about my 20s – what happened, what didn’t, what i thought would happen and if it did or didn’t – and relating it to my pending decade of good times and loud laughs.

i turned 20 on the last day of my sophomore year at cornell. seven months later my bulimia and cutting were out of control and i was admitted into renfrew and then, after about six weeks, transferred to a DBT-based program at columbia presbyterian in NYC.

i was 22 when i started my dream degree (voice) at one of a handful of dream schools (hartt).

when i was 25 i started dating somebody. i fell in love with her. i started to think about things like marriage and babies and happily ever after. i graduated from college, got into grad school – two, in fact! – and accepted a spot at the university of kentucky. 25 was a good year.

at 26 i moved 750 miles away from everything i had ever known, to start my master’s degree. i was 26 when i got engaged. i met people who grew to be cornerstones in my life.

and then 27 hit. my mom died. my family self-destructed. “i love you, don’t ever leave me” turned into “you’re not being fair, i can’t be with you any more.” i successfully defended my master’s thesis and graduated, but missed the ceremony because i had my leg sawed into by a wonderful surgeon whom i adore even though it sucked.

with 27 barely in the rearview, 28 brought the decision to stay in lexington another three years and become a PhD student. most of 28 was overshadowed by knee rehab; my physical therapist and my advisor kept me sane and alive that year.

on my 29th birthday i found out that what i had thought was just a bump in the road in my grandma’s health was actually terminal. i sat on the tennis court outside the gym and cried for an hour that day. i went home and booked a flight to florida to visit; it would be the last time i would see her.

the same week my grandma died, i started training with my powerlifting coach – i was actually driving home from our first session when my dad called to tell me grandma had passed away. i broke 5 state powerlifting records while i was 29. presented at my first professional conference, visited texas for the first time, and successfully completed my PhD coursework.

after the crap that was 27, i’ve found myself hopelessly smitten with somebody and it’s weird and surprising and a whole lot of fun.

i have no grandiose ideas for my 30s. i don’t necessarily want to: get married, have babies, buy a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence. maybe i will! and that would be cool. but if i don’t, that’s just as cool.

in 3 days, i’ll turn 30. i’ll teach a sunrise yoga class at 630am and i’ll run sprints a little before nine. after i crawl back to the gym i’ll foam roll and shower and i’ll spend the rest of the day at the library, studying for my qualifying exams. my uncle will call at some point, and my dad will too. when the library closes at five i’ll go home and have dinner and look at my training schedule for the next day.

at some point while i’m 30 i’ll pass my qualifying exams and maybe even get a dissertation proposal approved. i’ll start applying for sabbatical replacement positions and for fellowships.

i’ll lift a lot of things and i’ll laugh a lot. probably loudly, because that’s how i roll.

you never know how the chips are going to fall. am i happy that 27 went the way it did? of course not. but am i in love with the way my life is in the last three days of 29? you better freaking believe it. and i’m going to try my damnedest to make 30 just as great.


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sit in the suck.

as some of you may or may not know, i am a wannabe crossfitter. i almost joined a box last january, as a “something else” to add to my half marathon training. but then i got a ticket in florida that cost 3 months’ worth of crossfit, so i abandoned the idea. and then 6 months later i connected with my coach and the rest is powerlifting history.

i was watching the crossfit regionals this weekend and event 6 is a monster: 50-calorie row, 50 box jump-overs, 50 deadlifts, 50 wall balls, 50 ring dips…and then back down again. 21-minute time cap.

i turned on the live feed at the tail end of one of the men’s heats. only 2 men in the north central region actually completed the damn thing, to give you an indication of how brutal it was. no women in north central finished; stacie tovar was the only one to even make it back on the rower. but anyhoo, while watching one of the men complete the workout, as he was on the rower just tearing away, the absolute pain reading all over his face, one of the announcers said, “he is in the pain cave right now. and with a minute left…all you can do is sit in the suck.”

the hardest skill – and yes, it was a skill! – for me to wrap my head around in DBT was radical acceptance. the idea that sometimes…shit’s gonna happen. and there’s nothing you can do to change it, so you just…sit in the suck.

i think about the weight gain that came with recovery. i fought it for years – “well i can still be this weight and recovered…ish…” – because i couldn’t accept that my mental ‘ideal’ weight wasn’t one that was healthy for my physical self. and when i did finally come to terms with that…well there were still days where i would quite literally not leave my dorm room because i couldn’t stand the thought of putting my physical self out in front of people.

see also: it sucked.

when my mom died i tried so hard to be brave, to be strong, to be graceful. and i think i did an admirable job of being, in some capacity, all of these things. but sometimes, some days…you’re just walking down the street drinking a diet coke and you get slammed by a wall of sadness and all you can do is plop yourself down on the curb and cry.

and it sucks.

i try, really i do as it’s against my cynical nature, to look for the good in things. but the fact is, sometimes things just plain suck. and you you know what, sometimes it feels good to fight it – sometimes i just need to raise hell and be angry, and maybe i am banging my head against a wall but you can’t be graceful in the face of adversity all the time, right?

there are parts of recovery that just plain suck. most parts are great; some parts suck.

losing my mom…well, saying it sucked doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

and sometimes, you have to just embrace it. embrace it and sit in the suck.

 


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NEDA Week 2014.

tomorrow is the first day of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2014. i’ve been thinking for almost the entire month about how i was going to approach it, if at all. and here’s what i’ve come to settle on:

this week is important, for sure. it’s important to raise awareness in the general public, not just about eating disorders and what they are, but also about their prevalence and the problems surrounding getting proper treatment for those in need. a while back i wrote about my feelings on recovery and why i have chosen to remain distant from the ED recovery community. that decision becomes especially apparent during this week. but since every now and again i get asked about how my recovery is going and how it “still works” after several years, here’s what i have to say:

recovery isn’t about this week. it’s not about going on as many NEDA Week Walks as you can find within driving distance. it’s not about buying the t-shirt with this year’s catchy slogan. it’s not about wearing your purple ribbon around fielding questions about what it stands for.

recovery isn’t about being a spokesperson, spouting information, or sharing your story. it’s not about NEDA symbol temporary tattoos or scale-smashing parties. all of those things might exist within your recovery, but they do not define or signify it.

i’ll tell you what recovery is. recovery is about being a fucking warrior. why? because it’s hard as hell. you’re going to have to fight every goddamn day, hour, minute to keep doing what you need to do to emerge from the rubble of a decimated self-concept.

recovery is about taking responsibility. before anyone starts throwing shade at me and calling me insensitive: the biggest turning point in me moving from sorta-kinda-in-recovery with a side of relapse to full-on recovery was taking responsibility for my actions and my reactions. people are going to say shitty things, do shitty things, shit is going to happen. just because something is upsetting or “triggering” does not mean you are bound by some invisible contract to react in a way that engages your eating disorder. begin exercising your human right to make your own choices and to rise above habit and reactionary decisions. which goes back to the idea of being a warrior – force yourself to rise above the situation and come out stronger.

and finally, at some wonderful amazing point in the process, recovery becomes about not needing your eating disorder as a definition of yourself. you no longer need to cling to your diagnosis like a security blanket, because in sloughing off the skin of your disorder you have uncovered three dozen things that are infinitely more important to your idea of self.

recovery is a 365-day-a-year engagement. this week might be a little booster for you, a nudge or a reigniting of the flame, but recovery doesn’t only come out of its shell during these seven days in february every year. enjoy this week and use it in the way that best furthers your endeavors, but go out and be a warrior every day from here on out.


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a week in review.

this week was Week 3 of our semester, but it was our first full, 5-day week.

mine began with somebody smashing the rear window of my car, in attempt to break in, at 4:45 monday morning. 213$ and some very lovely gentlemen at Safelite later, i had a new window that now bears a sign:

WAIT
if you’re planning on breaking into my car – and you would be the third person who has tried in six months – there are a few things you should know.
(1) i am a BROKE ASS grad student
(2) there is nothing cool in my car
(3) in fact, here’s a list of what’s inside:
     – protein bar wrappers
     – a book of clementi piano sonatas
     -crumpled receipts
     – one ice scraper (broken)
if, after reading this, you have decided that you still want something from inside my car, please COME FIND ME AND ASK. i will gladly let you in so that i don’t have to pay for yet another car window.

in all seriousness though – i was so angry. like, i realize i live in a shitty area, but really, people??

and when something like this happens, i get what i call an “anger spiral:” i get pissed at the asshole who damaged my property, but then i get angry at the person i lived with before who shit all over my roommate and i and left us scrambling for a place to live, leading to me ending up in this dump in the first place; i get mad at k for breaking my heart and leaving me feeling like i might as well stay in lexington since i had no reason to go anywhere else; and then i just get sad because none of this – my break-up, subsequently staying in lexington, ending up at the last living situation which landed me in the current living situation which resulted in my shattered car window – would have ever happened if my mom hadn’t died.

how’s that for a cognitive pathway??

besides that though – training was a little bleh this week. my bench has felt like crap lately and i don’t know why. i’m in the process of my weekly carb-up right now. last week’s made me feel kind of sick – my belly did NOT respond well to the reintroduction of carbohydrate! – so i’m trying different foods this week to see how it feels.

and for today’s Project: Going Keto revelation: keto pancakes. these are especially great if you’re craving carbs or something bread-like and sweet.

soften some cream cheese to room temperature. for every ounce of cream cheese, you’ll need one egg. put the cream cheese and eggs in a blender or magic bullet. add some cinnamon, and stevia/splenda/sweetener if you like, as well. blend away. what you get will look a whole lot like pancake batter. make them as you would pancakes! they’ll be more like crepes – thin, and they cook quickly – but they are 100% delicious and wonderful.

welp that was a bit of a lame “week in review,” but it hit the salient points! car got injured, found a new yummy recipe, and currently i’m happily guzzling milk and eating rice cakes. february is almost here!

 

 


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the obligatory airport post.

as always seems to happen when i fly out of lexington, i made it through security in 3 minutes (NOT complaining!) and now i have an hour and a half to chill and enjoy free wi-fi.

and as always seems to happen when i have an hour and a half to chill with free wi-fi and no grading or papers to write(!!) i shall blog instead.

2012 was a year of heartache. mom’s passing, my fiancee calling it quits, and then i had to have this little surgery.

2013 has been, largely, a year of healing. in the most literal sense, my bionic knee has slooooooowly been working its way back to normal (even though it will always be a bit crunchy). i even ran a sub-8:00 pace half marathon!

when my grandmother got sick, i started crying on may 1st and pretty much didn’t stop until after the funeral two months later. losing her not only broke my heart, but in a way i grieved twice – for her as well as for my mom. when mom died i was so busy being strong, being graceful, being in shock let’s be honest…that i didn’t leave myself room to grieve. so when i knew i was losing my grandmother, the floodgates opened and 18 months’ worth of sadness got funneled into those eight weeks.

this is the year i finally realized that i don’t need my relationship back. i am more than okay on my own; i have everything i need in the people in my life right now.

and this is the year that i finally began to find myself and be okay with what i discovered.

oh, and this is the year i got strong. like, in the physical sense. if you’re reading this i could probably deadlift you, and maybe squat you too. i have two state records and just recently lost my top-10 national ranking in deadlift – which i full plan to recapture in april!

it has been a good year. i am grateful for my students, my faculty, my family, my friends.

wishing everyone a wonderful holiday – time for me to get on a plane!

 

 


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set the world on fire.

be who you were created to be, and you will set the world on fire.

– saint catherine of siena

the semester is 99% complete. all of my major papers (3 of them plus an article review, totaling over 10,000 words) have been handed in. i know that i received an A on one, so that’s a nice feeling.

i have 2 final exams to give and grade, and 2 to take myself. i should probably be studying right now, but it’s friday night and i’m exhausted so i’m going to be a lump and then hit the books (and recordings) hard tomorrow.

three weeks into the term i was crying on the phone with my father, convinced i wasn’t going to make it. classes were too much work, i was teaching two new curricula, i wasn’t smart enough, i was going to crack under the pressure.

yet here i am. as silly and cliche as it sounds, i find myself more and more every day. i bother less and less to hide my laugh, my personality. i don’t worry about being quiet, being contained. i realize that i am truly good at my craft; i’m a more confident teacher every time i step into the classroom. (both of my faculty evaluations came back with very positive remarks, which is wonderfully encouraging.)

oh and did i mention i’m getting strong as heck?! i benched 115# for 7 reps earlier this week; six months ago that was my 1RM. i pulled 235# for 7 last weekend; my 1RM in august was 240#. my squat continues to get more stable – i hit a triple and some solid doubles at 150# earlier this week, and did some banded box squats up to 175# bar weight/about 250# top weight with band tension.

oh and this happened:

(i know it’s the slowest pull ever. my right ring finger got caught in the seam of my leggings and i stalled for about 2 seconds so i could detangle it. but that moment when i lock out? pure bliss.)

i’ve been chasing a 300# pull for a while now. i pulled 281# pretty easily at the meet in october and i really wanted that next milestone.

i fly home on thursday. it’ll be a week in NY, then a week in FL with my uncles. when i get back to lexington i have another 2 weeks off before classes begin.

we’ll also start our meet prep training; my next meet will be the middle of april. if i stay healthy and keep progressing, it’ll be a great time had by all.

it’ll also be my triumphant (and very short-lived) return to 56kg-status. because right now your girl is lovin’ life at 62kg. a little bit of fluff never hurt anybody; i plan on doing serious work on the christmas cookies back home!

this semester has been one of growth (no pun intended har-har). definitely one of struggle, but mostly joy. every day has been about finding myself, even if only a little bit. i have found a field i love, a profession i adore, and a sport that fuels me and makes me feel alive.

i will, in the best of ways, set the world on fire.