Vacation #1

This past week I traveled home to the Midwest. I was a little nervous about seeing my family after a full year of not seeing them. I’ve changed both physically and emotionally in the last year. But family is always family……..right?


I had a lot of first moments on this trip. My whole life I’ve looked up to my sister. Stephanie is two years older than me and is a stay-at-home mom. She is raising three beautiful and well-behaved children who are already turning into outstanding little humans. Through our childhood I was constantly jealous of my sister. She was always taller, skinnier and prettier. My parents did a good job of loving us the same way and giving us the same opportunities. I was never jealous that she was the older sibling and I was the younger, but it definitely effects your development.


As a younger sibling, a lot of times I felt like I was in her shadow. She was the first to do everything: walk, talk, date, break curfew, sneak out of the house…… It bothered me for a long time through adolescence that everything I did had already been done. Then in high school I started to create my own path that lead me to who I am today. I think it just takes a while for siblings of the same sex to be individuals. Even after I had grown to be an adult, I still felt a lot of the same things from childhood. Steph was still skinnier, healthier and prettier. Even my mother was skinnier and healthier than I was. I thought my place in the family was the ‘fat one’. I thought I had my mom’s physique and always envied my sister for having my father’s.   My family would gently express their concern for my weight but I felt like I didn’t ‘fit’ in my family for a long time and getting skinny wouldn’t change that. Well for this trip, I finally felt like I physically fit in my own family. I do have my father’s physique; I just could never see it.


Being able to fit in physically allowed me to have a lot more fun. We went hiking, which I never would have done before. We went to the public pool where I was seen in a bathing suit! I even went off of the diving board, letting everyone see me in all my glory. Other than a few times already this summer, I hadn’t been to a public pool in years. I had not gone off a diving board since I was dating my husband or went to summer camp. I was fit enough to feel confident doing flips and fun dives. I would have missed out on this bonding time and fun with my family if I hadn’t changed my life. On a two-mile hike, I was able to talk and run with my niece, whom I don’t get to see very often.   My niece Phoebe is my twin. She is the middle sibling in her family and reminds me so much of myself. She’s quirky, caring, funny, helpful and a little awkward. We were able to talk and laugh with each other in a way we hadn’t before. Another important bonding experience I would have been on the sidelines for.



Being physically fit and being happy with my body made me feel like I fit in my family for the first time. They never excluded me from these events before but I would find a way to exclude myself because I wasn’t comfortable. I was holding myself back from knowing and loving my family in the way I wanted to, with my weight. Having that weight gone left so much more room to bond with them.


I have a much, much different life than my immediate and most of my extended family. Almost everyone in my family is conservative, religious and lives in a rural area. I’m very liberal and love living in what my mother calls “The Big City”. My family and I don’t agree on a lot of political topics or major societal issues; so sometimes I feel like I don’t quite fit in mentally either. This is not a result from them. They are always interested in my opinions and don’t try to pressure me to come their side of the issue. On rare occasion we can agree on things, like Donald Trump’s hair.


While I do not expect these parts of our relationship to change anytime soon, I found that with my confidence up, so were my opinions. I’ve never been one to hold back my thoughts or change my beliefs for the crowd I’m in. But, in the past it’s been hard not to back down or just leave my opinion out. This time, I felt like I not only had confidence in my body, but since I’ve done a lot of emotional work, my beliefs are stronger. I felt like I could say what I meant more clearly. While I still have A LOT to figure out, I felt more confident emotionally as well. This made me feel closer to my family, like I was letting them see who I really am. It made me feel like I fit in, even though we are so different.


Another big change in my trip this time was my ability to stay calm. I know for sure this is a result of exercise and specifically boxing. I usually get nervous to fly but not for the actual flight. I hate the process at the airport and always worry I’ll lose luggage or something will come up that makes me miss my flight. I felt a lot more calm and confident about flying and getting through the airport. I even had a connecting flight, which I’d never done before. The whole time I felt a lot less anxious than ever before.


Usually on a trip, I like to know what we are eating the next day, where are we going, how long will it take to get there, when will we come back……… This time it was a lot easier to just roll with the punches.   I felt like I was able to give up control and just enjoy my time, most of the time.  I knew there was nothing they’d ask me to do that was uncomfortable or I couldn’t do physically. This made me less anxious the entire trip. I even slept better and didn’t get ‘travel belly’.


The whole trip was awesome and I loved t almost every minute. (Being eaten to death by mosquitoes in 98% humidity can just never be fun for me) If I hadn’t lost the weight and worked on my mentality, I wouldn’t have enjoyed this trip as much. I would have missed out on essential bonding with my nieces and nephews. I would have worried the whole time. AND I didn’t even realize how much I was missing before. I would have never even known. I wouldn’t have this beautiful picture of me and my sister.


Rock Climbing @ Earth Treks

Lately I’ve been feeling like the summer is getting away from me way too quickly!  I haven’t done nearly as many things as I hoped to.  Last month I had ants in my pants about getting to do more things.  So we made plans for hiking a 14er and signing up for indoor rock climbing. Read about my 14er experience here!

Rock climbing is something I’ve been interested in for a while.  I first looked in to it this winter when I was stuck inside and going crazy.  Since I live in the climbing capital of the world, there were LOTS of options.  I started on Groupon and asked around for advice on where to go.  I very quickly found Earth Treks.

ear-0130124741Earth Treks is one of the larger climbing gyms near Denver.  It’s located in Golden, CO.  Although I wish it was closer, it is easy to get to.  A friend of a friend recommended this place as well as a staff member at our local outdoor store: REI. They also have a introduction package that I thought was worth the deal.

For $79 you get a BOGO offer for two introductory classes and a 15 day open pass.   I definitely needed the introduction class and the hubby needed a refresher.  So we signed up for this past Saturday and went.


When I try new things now, I get less and less nervous.  I find that I’m so fit now that it’s hard to surprise myself with what I could do.  I wasn’t nervous about my abilities to rock climb but I was nervous about the height.  While I don’t have a natural fear of heights, I do have a fear of falling.  I hate that suspended feeling.  You know when you’re in an elevator and there’s that second of suspension before you get to your floor? That makes my stomach flip every single time. So I wasn’t sure how my brain would react to the heights of climbing and how it might effect me physically.11695823_10102799520261059_3360795853493651364_n

The staff at Earth Treks was great!  We went for our introduction class this past Saturday.  They taught us all the basics of climbing: knots, harness, safety, belay and a little bit of movement.  On my first climb, I made it to the top with ease.  The course we chose was fairly easy for our first time.  I couldn’t believe how easy it was to pull myself to the top.  I found myself thinking, “What’s the big deal?”. Just wait…..

I didn’t have any fears of falling while climbing.  Maybe it was because my hubby was my anchor (belay is the proper term) and I knew he’d never let anything happen. Even when I turned to look at the top of the wall or glanced down to find the next foothold, I never got scared.  Each climb got harder and harder.  We selected harder courses and moved to a taller wall.


11139010_10102799522162249_9012052015838964710_nBy my third time up, my arms were exhausted!  I don’t currently do a lot of forearm work because…..well I never thought about it!  But my forearms ached the rest of the day! Some parts of rock climbing are easier than I thought while others are harder.  It definitely uses different muscles than I usually work. Overall it was a great time and SUPER fun.  We went back the next day.  We also have movement class this week and will climb over the weekend again.  I probably won’t be getting a membership until the winter time.  I just don’t have enough time to mix it with everything I love and get the money out of a membership.

After climbing, I read into the health benefits of the exercise.  I felt pretty spent afterwards but I wasn’t sure how many calories I was burning.  So I read this article and really liked the information.  It’s a good read with lots of info.


Ninja Night @ Urban Acrobatics

Last night I attended American Warrior Ninja Night at a local Parkour Gym called Urban Acrobatics.  American Ninja Warrior, if you don’t know, is an obstacle course that uses body weight and momentum to travel across six obstacles.  Every time you complete a course, you move on to the next round. No American has ever finished the entire competition. I have been watching AWN for several years and have thought about it quite differently over that time:

3 years ago:  Are these people CRAZY?!?  Who wants or needs to be able to do that? What a waste of time. Get a life.

2 years ago: I don’t think I could do any of that!  These people are nuts.

1 year ago: Hm…..maybe I could do that one but never that one!

This year: I’ve got to find a gym to try this.


So I looked into finding a place to play like a ninja  First, I had to figure out what the heck Parkour even was.  For a good read about it: Check this out in the New Yorker.

Also, here’s a video of one of most famous Parkour athletes: David Belle.

If you somehow don’t know what American Ninja Warrior is, you can watch highlights and clips from this season HERE.

Now that we’ve covered the background information, let’s get in to the workout!

I found this gym, Urban Acrobatics, by doing a simple Google search for “Ninja Gym Denver”.  I saw they had a Tuesday night American Ninja Warrior class so I messaged them on Facebook for the details.  Basically, bring your $15, sign a death waiver, and have fun! The gym looked like it had a few obstacles and I figured why not! A few days ago I did some more searching into the gym to see how legit it was.  I figured I’d go either way just to get some experience. (My boxing trainer is out of town…..) The more I looked into UA the more nervous I got about attending.

Urban Acrobatics is managed by Lorin Ball, who has competed in every season of American Ninja Warrior.  You can watch him from last season HERE. The more I researched the facility and saw videos of what they had and what their athletes could do, the more nervous I got.  I thought I was going to make a total fool of myself.  I had no idea what I could and couldn’t do.  I practice on monkeys bars a lot and know I can do pull ups.  My arm and core strength are good but my back and chest need work.  I had no idea what I was getting in to.  So what do you do when this happens? You invite a friend and make them do it with you.  Thanks Thomas!11667262_10102793182581819_4851962959356950772_n

Breakdown of the night:

Run – We started by going for a short but quick run around the outside of the facility: up stairs, down stairs, hop over railings, jump up the wall and when we got back you climb down the rope wall to get started.  I felt good so far!  I could keep up and while I didn’t look graceful, I could quickly make it over the objects.

Stretching – This is when we did introductions and stretched out.  Pretty typical.

Demonstration – Then the instructors went through the course.  At each obstacle they would give tips on how to best do it or alternate ways if you couldn’t get it.  You only got two chances on each obstacle before moving on.  Here’s what the gym looks like: 11692499_10200606208154214_8984086100280193816_n11694026_10200606207994210_4935022535250535519_nI’m not going to try and describe lasts night course because it’s almost impossible to imagine but here’s a short breakdown:

Hop from balance beam, swing across the 6 foot gap, climb up the wall, across 3 balance bars, jump to the next landing, walk down the pipe, warp wall, rope descending climb, swing to a tire, box jump, salmon ladder.

Did you get all that? While I’m watching the demonstration I’m thinking, “how can I get out of doing that obstacle?” “There’s no way I can even try that!”  “Yeah……right!”  BUT, I was here to try.  My greatest fear was showing up and looking like a total idiot.  I was happy that there were others there trying for their first time.  Right away the instructors encouraged everyone to just try their best and asked the veterans to help out the newbies.  I really appreciated them accepting us!  I didn’t feel judged by anyone, except myself of course.

Practice – We then had time to practice and just play on the obstacles and try to figure them out before our timed run. So I went around and tried all the different obstacles and was surprised at what I could do!  I had a pretty good vision of what my abilities were but I surprised myself a few times. Practice was essential for me because I really didn’t know.  This was also my favorite part of class because you could get tips from the other members.

Conditioning – After practice, everyone gets a chance to run the course timed.  While you’re waiting for your turn, Lorin assigns conditioning exercises.  Last nights were: 30 leg lifts, 3 rope climbs, and one minute holds on the rock wall.  The 30 leg lifts were easy as I do that exercise all the time.  The one minute holds were a little harder.  We were only allowed to use one foot but my toes are strong from boxing and my fingers are strong from play piano so I was pretty good at this exercise!

11694773_10102793180610769_3440299652492991232_nWe also had to do rope climbs.  I am not awesome at this.  I had to use the rope with knots in it because after my run my arms were dead! But I made it to the top just the same.  I didn’t have three climbs in me but I did one. By the end of class my arms, forearms, chest and shoulders were sore.


My Run – During class everyone gets a timed run.  I was not at all excited about it!  I was nervous about everyone watching me!  Luckily I went towards the end and lots of members had moved on to their conditioning.  Some of the veterans finished the course in under a minute.  I was hoping to come out injury free.  When It came to my turn, I did the best I could.  I failed the first obstacle twice, got the second and third.  When I got to the Warp Wall, I already knew I couldn’t reach the top from practice.  But I gave it all I had anyway.  On my third attempt I finally touched the top!  The warp wall is just as hard as it looks even though it’s not nearly as scary as I thought! I was really proud of myself.  I had to take the alternate route since I couldn’t pull myself up the wall and then failed the rest of the obstacles.  It took me over 5 minutes. BUT I was impressed with myself and pushed myself to try and do new things, so in my mind, I win! Here I am after class trying a few things again.  Neither of these videos is as strong as I hoped since I was already pretty spent:

Wow.  This post has gone on for much longer than I thought it would………

After class I talked to Lorin about which class/classes would help me most.  Since I’ll be doing the Touch Mudder (AHHHH!) in September, I need obstacle training. He was very helpful and gave me a trainers name and number that works for UA.  I had a GREAT time and will definitely attend in the future and have lots of friends to bring! I’m already thinking about when I can try that warp wall again!

Moral of the story: I was scared as hell to go to Ninja night.  I was scared to try.  I was scared to get hurt or fall but I did it anyway.  And the result? No injuries and a huge amount of pride! Push yourself to try something new today even if it’s scary!

The View from 14,060 Feet

This Saturday, July 4th 2015, I accomplished my last fitness goal that I set for myself in January.  I hiked a 14er and made it to the summit!  For those that don’t know, a 14er is a mountain that reaches over 14,000 feet above sea level.  Denver, the Mile High City, is 5,280 feet above sea level.  Today’s post will consist of some advice for hiking and an account of how it went.

Can I Hike?

Anyone can hike as long as you choose a path that’s right for you.  Here’s some things to consider when choosing a path:

1. Distance – Now I know it sounds silly but don’t forget most trails are posted for length one way.  Most hikes you double the distance for there AND back.  Be really careful here. Just because you can walk 3 miles, doesn’t necessarily mean you can hike three miles.  All of the things below will effect how difficult the hike is. When in doubt start small because you can always add distance but you don’t want to get stuck half way down a trail.

2.  Altitude – If you will be hiking through an elevation change, there’s lots to consider.  I don’t notice much of a difference if the change in altitude is 500 feet or less.  Once it’s more than that, my body will notice.  The higher the elevation, the less oxygen there is in the air.  This makes it harder to breathe and some people even experience altitude sickness.  Remember to drink TONS of water and listen to your body. If you’re starting at a higher elevation than you live, give yourself a while to acclimate before starting your hike.  Then remember to take lots of breaks on the way up!

3.  Expected Weather – Try to prepare for all kinds of weather.  I recommend bringing all items in ziplocs and bringing extra for your feet in case of rain.  Also, remember to layer your clothes.  Every 500 feet up will bring the temperature down 5 degrees.  It’s hard to plan for how cool it will be versus how hot you’ll be from hiking.  Bring lightweight layers so you can dress appropriately for that part of the hike. Remember sunscreen, sun glasses and bug spray!

4.  Topography – I don’t like to track how far I am on a hike because I find it very discouraging.  However, I do like to look at the topography of the course before I start.  There is usually a sign at the beginning of most trails with this information. I like to look for check points like streams, hills and valleys.  That helps me know where I am on the trail without having to think about how much farther it is to go. Every part of the hike will take a different amount of time.  A half mile here is not the same as a half mile there so don’t push yourself to make great time because you really can’t compare one to the other.

5.  Terrain – Depending on the popularity of your trail, it’s terrain can really vary.  An ‘open trail’ hike that no one ever goes on is going to be more like a ‘no trail’ hike.  However, a ‘closed trail’ hike can often be much more open and obvious if tons of people have done it.  The terrain should help you decide on proper footwear and clothing.  The more ‘closed’ a trail, the more hiking you’ll actually be doing versus walking.  The more woodsy a trail, the more clothes you’ll want to wear for shade and protection from bugs.

Some popular trails even have message boards where you can see how the trail looked the day before you do it. Don’t be afraid to bring too much stuff you’re first time as long as you can carry the weight.  You’ll figure out what you really need the more times you hike.

Hiking Mount Bierstadt

Hiking a 14er (Mountain that reaches 14,000 feet) has been one of my goals since moving to Colorado.  However, in January I set it as a goal for this year.  After not-so-patiently waiting for the temperature to rise high enough to hike, we set a date to hike Mount Bierstadt on the 4th of July. I really thought it was going to be no big deal.  I’ve done a half marathon, so how hard could it be?


The first mile of Bierstadt isn’t so bad.  It’s not much more than walking, step up here, walk across here, small steam here, mud there…….and then it get’s hard.  The hike up Bierstadt is a 3 mile hike with 3,000 foot elevation gain. After that first mile, the gain in elevation started to get to me.  We had to stop and take breaks A LOT.  You feel like you’ve only gone 10 steps since the last time you stopped but then you look back and you’ve made it farther then you thought.  You take a minute to catch your breath and then within a few more steps, you’re already huffing and puffing.  There’s no training for altitude without practice.  I had not had enough practice.

When you train for physical goals, it gives you a bottom to refer to.  You’re thinking, “I can make it, it doesn’t suck as bad as that one time.”  But when you haven’t trained, sometimes the event IS your bottom.  I hit bottom during the second mile.  There was a point where I didn’t really know if I could do it.  I wouldn’t let myself give up or turn back  but I really really really wanted to.  The last stretch of Bierstadt is all boulders that you have to figure out for yourself.  There’s no trail at this point but you can tell where to go because you’re almost to the top. This was actually the most fun part.

And then you make it to the top.  There were 20-30 people at the summit when we arrived and lots of dogs.  Everyone is celebrating what they’ve just done and taking pictures.  It’s kind of fun to celebrate with everyone! AND THE VIEW!

IMG_3143I have never been anywhere so beautiful in my entire life!  The hike was so hard but so worth it.  Where else can you see and do this on a Saturday for fun? I love where I live!