Sometimes the Journey is Longer than Expected

Underoos make everything better!

Underoos make everything better!


Some of us are always working on our inner superhero by developing our best selves. I'm still trying to refine my status! #superherowins Shortly before I turned 30, I set the goal of being in the best shape of my life by that birthday. Growing up I had always been athletic and I was fortunate enough to be a college athlete. Those were some of my best fitness days of my life. When I made that goal, I had recently had my second baby, and we knew we were done having kiddos. I had officially retired from teaching about a year previous. My new job was being a full time momma, and I felt I had realistic goals of getting in the best shape of my life with a more 'flexible' schedule since I wouldn't be working outside the home. Well if you are a parent, whether you are working outside the home or not, we know the schedule isn't that flexible at all, and I quickly learned that this would be a season of life where I must be flexible with my goals. We all tread through this stage of life differently. I definitely didn't think it would take as long as it did to attain my goal.

With my big goal documented & noted, I really wanted to set myself up for success and I hired a personal trainer to help me get closer to my goals (Thanks Troy! You were a catalyst along the journey.). A coach needs a coach too. I spent several years at my local YMCA, working on my fitness goals and toting my kiddos to the daycare and kids' activities, so momma could have her time. With my degree in physical education & health, I was also inspired to become a personal trainer myself and joined the team at the YMCA. I was then fortunate enough to coach bootcamps on my own and to continue to bring fitness to others. It worked for that season of life and I was excited to help others along in their fitness journeys! Age 30 came and was gone just like that.

I went to graduate school for a year so that I would have potential opportunities for when my kids were older and I was ready to go back into the 'professional workforce.' I quickly realized that grad school and young kiddos were not a good combination for ME. My priorities had changed and the commitment of school was not as important in this season of life. Then my family experienced a big move from the Seattle area to Northern California, back to Seattle, then back to NorCal. We are a little crazy when it comes to moving ha, ha! That's another story...

Before married & babies, after 2nd baby, 1 yr into CrossFit

Before married & babies, after 2nd baby, 1 yr into CrossFit


I continued to work toward my goal of being in the best shape of my life by 35, then found CrossFit. Talk about a huge fitness shift! I thank God I found this type of fitness. I thought I was in decent shape before, but truly found the athletic stimulus that I needed again. Something that was different every day and had a variety of fitness components all in an hour class. Totally different from the regular gym routine and it works for my personality and needs!! Plus, it was WAYYY better on my old knee injuries from high school and college. Higher intensity, less time pounding, modifications as needed!

Then another hiccup, bump in the road two years later. Probably due to my compensating movement patterns with knee issues, I suffered a fairly significant back injury that I dealt with off and on for two years. Finally on the other side of recovery from injury, I truly reflected on my purpose, goals, and LIFE! Why was I making the choices and choosing the behaviors that I was living out? Once I had clarity in that, I was truly recommitted to the original goal with the right intentions and focus. A little wisdom comes with age ha, ha!! I realized I needed some help with reaching my overall health goals, and I hired a nutrition coach. Best investment I have ever made, as it has been a game changer for where I am in life right now!

High school reunion, friends wedding, Thanksgiving 2015

High school reunion, friends wedding, Thanksgiving 2015


Bodies are weird! Like truly weird AF, yet also truly fascinating. I have been working on this science experiment with my fitness and body for almost a decade now trying to be in the best shape of my life!! Your body goes through weirdness with pregnancies, stress, hormones, injuries, age, etc. Some navigate this rather easily, and for others, it can be a real roller coaster of change. I've never really dealt with 'weight issues' but at 5' 10, I can carry extra insulation better than some. Some stages of life, I would be considered 'fit', and other stages I would be softer than I would've liked. Then there were also stages where it was important to be a little more 'softer' because there were little humans that I was producing and then feeding! And don't get me started on the back injury. That was just a mind f*&% in all areas of health!

I will be the big 4-0 in about a month. I can truly say that almost a decade later, I am in the best shape of my life! Nutrition has truly been the biggest component to the changes in body composition and overall health. I've always known it would be, but didn't make it a priority until I was ready for significant change. Nutrition + CrossFit for the win! It took a little longer than expected to achieve my goal (like a DECADE!), but I wouldn't change this journey. And more importantly, my overall health is the best that it has ever been! Mind, body, and spirit!

Don't give up on your goals. They can still be the same or morph and adapt to life. Just realize that there are seasons of life. Different priorities come and go, and sometimes there are hurdles along the road. Enjoy the journey! The process and life's lessons learned along the way are more important than the timeline. The goals will always be there! Be ok with being patient though the process.


The Battle of The CrossFit Open

Nine months ago I couldn't get in and out of the car comfortably or put my socks on, let alone pick up a barbell. I don't know why I was choosing to have a mental battle with myself.

CrossFit is just the vehicle that's helping me attack the battle. The previous two years when Open season rolled around, I was attempting to do the workouts with separate episodes of a herniated disc. Yeah, not the smartest choices in attempting to push yourself a little more when you're dealing with that kind of injury. Both years, I could only complete one or two workouts. Of course I was frustrated with the injury since the previous progress in training was at a peak, and then BOOM!, you can't prove it. Injury sideline!

This competitive spirit has had some real rolling hills with fitness, training, and injuries the last couple years. After finally addressing the situation, completing surgery, and now on a healthy recovery track, we come upon The Open season again. The competitive fire burns a little more, and the community gets a little more amped up to participate in this five week season. This five week frenzy is a way to see where your fitness is, what you need to work on, and work together with your fellow community members in a battle at the gym where you can celebrate each other!

This season has just begun and I am excited about being able to complete a season injury free, while making smart choices. I fully expected with the post recovery process that I would be able to complete all workouts as prescribed. A reality check occurred! Although recovery has been great, I am still adding loads and movements slowly to what I was able to do pre-injury. I am trying to make the smart choice, and not attempt movements & loads that probably are less than ideal for a healthy back right now.

Scaled. With an additional option this year to do The Open workouts scaled (meaning modified and/or less load), it has provided a safe alternative to choose for where I am right now. Do I like doing the 'scaled' option? NO! But that's ok. It is still a great workout, a lot of reps, and a safe weight load for RIGHT NOW. I know where I've been before, and I will get back there.

At this point in the journey, I am ok with what 'right now' entails. Today I am getting the strength back, and working up to loads that feel safe and within reason for right now. The end goal = fitness for life.

It's always a race to me. The race is just taking a little longer now, and I'm ok with that.


4 Weeks Post Op Back Surgery

Well this week marks 4 weeks post op microdiscectomy L5-S1 back surgery. Still feeling great! I only took 2 pain meds within the first 8 hours of surgery, more as preventative because I didn't want to wake up in pain that first night. It's crazy that I felt so great immediately after surgery! My theory is I was in so much nerve pain before surgery that anything from a little incision was a piece of cake! I also believe that because of my activity level pre-surgery, it truly helped with my recovery process. CrossFit does a body good!

I have no pain in lumbar region, but within last 2 weeks I have had some sciatic nerve pain again. Made me extremely nervous and anxious as I know that pain all too well. It's been a level 2 pain scale compared to "through-the-roof" pre-surgery, and seems to occur after sitting for extended periods of time. 

I went for my post-op appointment today with my surgeon and brought up the nerve pain. He said that if I sit too long it can compress and put some pressure back on that nerve root. It's still healing so I need to make sure not to sit for more than 45 minutes, and get up and move around. I do get relief in morning so I can tell it's just being up and about, and doing more activity as of late. I need to remember that I'm not that far out from surgery still, and the scar tissue needs time to heal over, so I need to dial it down a notch or two and keep my Wonder Woman outfit in the closet for now.

I also have been super antsy to increase physical activity level. I am getting more soft and fluffy than I prefer to be. Ha! Plus, physical activity provides a positive effect on my mental health. This mama needs her gym time! I was very specific with my surgeon at my post-op appointment in asking what activities would be ok moving forward. My mentality is, if I feel good, I'm getting after it. That wasn't going to fly with this recovery and probably is the reason I got to the point I was at with the injury. My pain tolerance is pretty high, and I need to remember feeling good doesn't equal healed! I was still put on a 25 pound lifting restriction which, for me, is treacherous and somewhat laughable. Trying to listen and abide to the doc! Also, no running, jumping, air squatting, kipping, or compression like movements for another two months. Bummer, but going to utilize this summer time to try some new activities I wouldn't otherwise try. I got clearance to bike, so I'm going to dust off the bike gear and get after it. My quads & lower half need to work hard and this appears to be one of the few activities I'm cleared to do that will achieve that!

It's really amazing how great I have felt immediately after surgery to each day after. I felt like I had been on an extended time out in life! There was so much nerve pain, it was just do what I had to do, then get home quickly so I could get comfortable. I didn't really leave a 10 mile radius from home and there were no social outings for me. It really felt like a blur of time over those 3+ months because I would just try to manage a day, go to sleep, and hope that time would help the back get better. It never did...

Most people are super afraid of back surgery and I would say it was definitely the last option I considered. I tried chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, anti-inflammatory drugs, massage, books, etc. With the first two back episodes, these therapies were effective in healing, but with this last episode, nothing worked. It was about quality of life at that point! I had exhausted options and was frustrated living with pain. Some friends connected me with my back surgeon and I am so grateful for his service. He discussed options available and I had tried all of the above except surgery. He listened to my frustrations and heard my concerns, and he felt that surgery would be effective since I had exhausted the other options. I am so glad I made the decision to have the microdiscectomy surgery.

I'm looking forward to the 3 month mark and getting back to my usual CrossFit movements. Until then, I'm going to enjoy my modified activity, try some new things, and enjoy the family time!


Surgery Day

Surgery day is here! Nervous. Surgery can always bring some jitters, but this is also surgery on my back. I just keep thinking this is the control center down from the brain. No oopsies please!

I'm excited that there is the potential to be pain-free immediately after surgery. For the last three months, I have grown accustomed to a new "normal" of dealing with the sciatic nerve pain. I haven't been able to sit, cough, sneeze, or laugh hard without going into a serious pain cave. I've also adjusted the way I squat down to pick things up or get dressed so that I avoid as much nerve pain as possible. It's really crazy to think of how long this has gone on. I'm not sure how people deal with this long term.

For the last month, I have made it to CrossFit to do modified workouts. A lot of strict press (modified weight), strict pull ups, controlled dips, slow, controlled squats and wall balls, and anything else I could do without pain or added stress. My last workouts consisted of wall balls, dips, strict press, and rope climbs… Ha, ha! The rope climbs could be questionable crazy, but I was comfortable going up and really controlled coming back down. Plus, I'm getting surgery today, right?!!

It sounds like there is a wide range of experiences of those recovering from this surgery. I am hoping that I have a positive experience to share on the other side of this.

I'm really thankful for my CrossFit family at CrossFit Loomis. An amazing group of people who are always there for you. I look forward to seeing you all on the other side of recovery.


Appreciation for Movement

Some of you know I have been dealing with back issues for about fifteen months. Although I thought I never had any major issues throughout life, I do recall the first time my back "went out." It was 2006 and I reached down to grab a dumbbell off the ground, and came up in pain. It was like an old peep moment as the weight wasn't anything strongman heavy. Ha! From that point, my back "went out" maybe once every fifteen months or so. Apparently I seem to have short term memory loss, as I hadn't remembered that this was the start of back issues or that I've actually been dealing with a back issue here and there for some time. It was probably overlooked by my ever constant knee shenanigans.

Over the last fifteen months, I had had three separate episodes of back issues. The first two were extremely painful and I was laid out for some time. I had an MRI after the first episode and it showed a few things. 1) a herniated L5-S1 disc 2) two discs above were slightly bulging 3) there was some degenerative loss of disc fluid. Although not good, it sounds scarier then it was. The herniated disc was an issue, the other two were not quite as shocking with my athletic background over the years. It happens. I was appreciative to get an actual diagnosis and visually see what I was looking at. At the time, I had a meltdown in the chiropractor office while looking at the MRI because I had been the most active and best shape of my life. I didn't want to stop doing the activities I loved to do.

It took a good six months of recovery before my back felt good again and I could train at the level I was training previously. Then five months later, back "went out" again. Seriously?!!! Ain't nobody got time for this! I was in serious pain, but knew the protocol of what to expect. Although it did get better and felt ok, this past February I started getting serious sciatica down right hip and leg. With the two previous episodes, I was in serious pain, but couldn't walk well and was more contained to being laid out flat on my back. This time was different. I was fine walking and moving around, but the sciatic nerve pain was so uncomfortable. I couldn't sit or drive for over ten minutes without being in a pain cave!


After three months of waiting, hoping it would get better, it didn't. I got another MRI that confirmed that the original herniated disc was worse and pushing on the sciatic nerve root. Well that explains it. I had tried physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, prednisone, blah, blah. After three episodes, and this time no relief, I opted for microdiscectomy surgery. I not only want to still be an active person, but more importantly, I want to be able to play with my kiddos, travel, and just enjoy movement. It was now about quality of life!

You do not appreciate the ability to move, until it is taken away from you. Talk about debilitating when the simplest things cannot be done comfortably or at all. Quality of life is extremely diminished. In the grand scheme of life, there are people who deal with far much worse, and I really just tried to reflect on my gratitude and appreciation for movement. It can definitely be taken for granted.

This is the first of a series to document my recovery process. In researching before surgery, I couldn't find much information on specific recovery for the truly active person. I still think of myself as an athlete, and look forward to getting back to CrossFit as strong as ever. I'm hoping that this series can help others that are active and looking to get back to their previous intensity and activity levels.

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