"She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong." PROVERBS 31:17

Archive for December, 2013



As the amazing Christmas season is upon us and 2013 is coming to a close, I have found myself constantly looking back on my past year (9 months actually) of competitive exercise. Naturally, as with anything that you practice diligently over an extended period of time, I have made some advances in the sport both from a performance standpoint as well as a standpoint of understanding what is important to this sport.  I often get asked what I feel helped me become a better overall exerciser in these past 9 months.  My answer is ALWAYS “My squats got better”.

As a basketball player with “bad knees” – i.e. a reconstructed ACL and a non-existing meniscus, (that was removed when I was 18 after I tore it to pieces), I had been told over and over again “Don’t Squat! Especially not below parallel!”.  How many of us have heard that before? Outside of the CrossFit world we have been made to believe that squats are evil and harmful.  In fact, because of my less than perfect knee, I was not allowed to squat with my team in college – I was put on the leg press most days.  Apparently, that was “better”.  Looking back, I now understand that this was just an evil cycle.  I wasn’t squatting, so my musculature supporting my knee and hip joints weren’t getting stronger, so my knees would become aggravated easily whenever I played, so my knees constantly hurt, so I wasn’t allowed to squat, and so on and so on… you get the idea.  I actually decided to hang up my basketball sneakers after college because I did not want to be in pain any longer. Funny, I WAS NOT SQUATTING.


Then I was introduced to CrossFit and competitive exercise.  For months, everyone who knew me would always ask “But I don’t understand, your knees don’t hurt?! There is so much squatting!”.  Truth was 1) from day 1 CrossFit never bothered my knees and 2) I was an awful squatter and had no idea how much I needed to improve there.  In all honesty, I didn’t know or understand how weak of a squatter I was nor did I appreciate how important it was to the sport – and to life in general for that matter.  It took a great coach, some self-education by reading nerdy exercise literature, and a willingness to try anything to help me improve, to really get it.  I checked my ego, learned to squat the proper way, came back on all my weights (which were not very high to begin with), and worked on improving my squat form and frequency for the sake of my competitive exercise career.

Building strength in the squat is the one of the most beneficial things that a person can do for themselves physically.  These squats need to be of the correct kind.  The kind we see weightlifters and babies (yes, drop something and ask a baby to pick it up) perform daily.  This can not be confused with the movement we see running rampant in globo gyms everywhere where the individual is fully on their toes, glutes totally deactivated, taking 30 seconds to descend and only making it to 3 inches above parallel before returning up.  Whenever I see that I cannot help but think of how high the toilet in their house must be for them to be able to perform their daily business.


Being able to squat with an upright torso, core and lumbar engaged, weight on the heels, ballistically moving out of the bottom, over and over and over again under load, is an invaluable skill to have in this sport (and in life).  Not only will this help with the obvious such as workouts with front squats and back squats – but how about thrusters, wall balls, cleans, snatches, not to mention the hip power that is developed through squatting to aid in movements like box jumps, kipping pull-ups, ring dips, muscle ups and kipping HSPU.  I explain this numerous times to my athletes looking to compete in the sport.  I encourage them to get on a consistent squatting program and really dedicate some time to that aspect of their exercise regiment.  However, I also explain this to my every day gym members who are just trying to live better and get through life more comfortably.  To me, there is nothing more sad than seeing a person (who is not 90+) need assistance to sit down in a chair, or struggle to pick something up off the ground.  Being a professional in this field, I understand that is able to be avoided with the use of a proper exercise program i.e. one that incorporates squats, often.  Yes, squats are the answer to everything.  Yes, squats should always be below parallel.  Yes, squats make you a better person in general.  And yes, squats will produce that mighty fine booty you are on a lifetime hunt for.  Take away point of the post… SQUAT – low – fast – heavy – and often.


Exercise Update:

The new year is approaching quickly meaning the 2014 pre season is going to be upon us soon – like next week.  The transition from “off season” to “pre season” was always an exciting one for me because it is the sign of new beginnings and an opportunity to begin to display all the hard work I put in during the off season.  It often comes with expectations, and I’m the kind of athlete to get a chip on my shoulder from those expectations.  Needless to say, I’m “chompin’ at the bit” (yes, another KK reference) to get moving.  I will go into greater detail in my next post about what this all means exactly.  Until then, happy squatting!

unnamed-3*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at:




This past weekend was hands down the coolest sporting experience I have had since hanging up my basketball jersey. The 2013 American Open was a weekend filled with amazing, actually shocking athletes in a sport that was so incredibly different from what I am use to that it blew my mind. The idea that I was even a part of it and actually competed and held my own is still something that I am getting use to. I went into the weekend knowing it was going to be a great event, however I severely underestimated it. I am going to break this post into sections so I can talk about aspects of the weekend in some kind of order. My brain is still on overload trying to process it all that if I don’t do this, the post will be like a mishmosh of my thoughts.

1) Cutting Weight
This is an aspect of weightlifting that needs to be spoken about, especially if you have never had experience with a weight cutting sport (like me). When I qualified for the AO I did it from the 69kg (152lb) weight class. About 9 weeks prior to the AO we decided I would compete in the 63kg class (138lb). Since then I have been walking around at about 145lbs, so cutting to 138 was going to be just fine. Luckily, one of my coaches, Spencer Arnold, is one of the best weight lifters in the country and basically mirrors my weight cut exactly. So, he had been an amazing point of reference the entire time. I cut weight by basically eating a very strict paleo diet and drinking tons of water. About a week out I took out all carbs except for right around my workouts and I also took all my meals, split them in half, and put about 2 hours between meals. I didn’t eat after 7pm if I could help it. A home this is was no problem. However, I left for Dallas on Thursday and didn’t weigh in until 5pm on Saturday night. The discipline involved in this aspect of the sport is insane. I continued my strict regiment and also got on the scale religiously at the hotel to understand where my body was at constantly. I was basically a robot, following exactly what Spencer said to do. My biggest fear was getting on the scale and weighing above 63k and not even having a shot at lifting. Spencer was so good at coaching me on this that I actually was able to eat two full meals AND stay hydrated all day Saturday before getting on that scale. I weighed in officially at 62.2kg. Immediately after, I finished a bottle of Pedialyte, a plate of chicken fingers and fries, and two bags of M&Ms. I was feeling perfect and ready to go.


2) My Team
One of the coolest things about this weekend was that I went into a big time individual sport with some of the best people as my “teammates”. Many of them I have never met before, but it felt like we had been teammates for years. Although we were all alone out there on that platform when it was our time, the entire weekend I felt like I had a constant support system in exactly the same way I always felt on the road with my basketball teams. We all lifted at various times, and for the most part we were all there together watching and helping each other. The sense of pride that came from that was amazing and made such a positive impact on the weekend. Team Outlaw had an awesome showing at the AO and promises to have an even better future.


3) My Coaches
I can officially say, the coaches I have are among the best in the business. I have now witnessed them up against the best in the country and am so honored and grateful to be their athlete. As an athlete, I literally had to worry about NOTHNG else but performing. For 3 days, they did not stop. They handled all 15 of us, sometimes up to 3 of us at a time, with such ease that it was incredible. As a division 1 athlete, I understand what it is like to be “spoiled”, these guys duplicated that feeling. I was relaxed and confident, knowing that they had me prepared and I could trust what they were asking of me. Rudy Nielsen, Spencer Arnold, Colm O’Reily, and Jared Fleming are probably the biggest reason I had any success this weekend.


4) The Atmosphere
The entire weekend the atmosphere was unbelievable. The event kicked off on Friday morning with the youth division. One of my teammates, 13 year old Harrison Maurus, lifted in that session at 8am. Even at 8am on the first day, the atmosphere and energy was so cool. I lifted in the night session on Saturday. At this point there was two platforms running next to each other – 77kgA males on one and my 63kgA female session on the other. James Tatum, a crowd favorite and one of the best in the sport was lifting on one platform next to Geralee Vega, the overall winner in my weight class and competitor in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Needless to say, the atmosphere in the room was the most insane it had been all weekend. It was packed, standing room only. When I was on deck ready to lift I actually had lean in close to hear my coach standing right in front of me. Luckily, I love a crowd. The more people the better, the louder the noise the more I want to get out there, my smile gets bigger, I start having more fun. I told one of my coaches that competing in that atmosphere actually made me wish I was better at weightlifting. Unlike in basketball, where I had perfected the game, my technique and the understanding of the sport for years – I’m still just a weightlifting rookie with a lot of room for improvement in my technique and familiarity with the sport. Nonetheless, stepping up to the bar in front of that crowd was one of the coolest things I have ever done in sports. It gave me a new inspiration to keep perfecting my lifts and I cannot wait to get back there.


5) My Actual Lifts
I know this is the part that most of you are all waiting for. I finished my first ever national weightlifting meet in 16th among the 34 lifters in the 63kg weight class. My recorded total was 160kg (352lbs) which was 2kg short of a meet PR for me. I opened up my snatches at 68kg (149.6lbs) and hit it. I then jumped to 72kg (158.4lb) and missed. On my final snatch attempt I hit 73kg (160.6lbs), but received 3 red flags on my lift – my first “No Lift” ever. These were questionable red flags, my coaches and I are still unclear on the reasoning but it is what it is, bad calls happen and there is nothing we could do about it. So, my highest recorded snatch was 68kg. I then opened my clean and jerks at 92kg (202.4lbs) and successfully completed the lift. That was a meet PR. My next jump was to 96kg (211.2lbs). My coach and I have been working on a certain part of my clean technique that I need to adjust in order to become a better cleaner. I stepped up to 96kg and successfully made that technique change but was not ready to receive the bar where I did (because I have been use to doing it wrong for so long now) that the bar actually knocked me back on my butt – something that has never happened before. Although I wish I could have received the bar cleanly, I was confident in the pull and the technique change I had made. My original plan was to have my next attempt be at 98kg (215.6lbs), however, coach and I had spoke about the idea of attempting 100kg (220lbs) at the AO. We knew I could hit the lift, but everything would have to be near perfect. So we called 100kg. My coaches came back over to me a little bit later and told me that if we pushed to 101kg (222.2lbs) and hit it I would medal in the clean and jerk. Being the athlete I am, I’m never going to say ‘no’ to something like that. Honestly, I wouldn’t tell these guys no very often anyway – they’re great coaches. So I stepped out to the 101kg bar. I had already successfully made the lift in my head about 3 times. However, in real life my pull was off, I let the bar get away from me and could not secure myself underneath it. No lift. I ended my clean and jerk with a successful 92kg lift.


The Weekend Takeaway:
This weekend made me realize how blessed I really am. When I walked away from competitive basketball, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to continue be the athlete I always was – to travel around the world, to be a part of a great team, to have great coaches looking after me, to be competing in great atmospheres, to have something to work hard for everyday. Not a day goes by where I don’t thank God for bringing be to this and giving me another chance at doing the things I love to do.

This weekend also inspired me to want to be great even more. Being around such positive, hard working, driven and focused people made me realize there is an entire breed like me out there – a breed that I need to be around for both my continued success and mental well being. No matter how hard I think I am working daily, this weekend I saw there are hundreds of women working just as hard – and harder. That’s inspiring in itself – I don’t ever want to be out worked.

Lastly, this weekend reminded me that everything needs to be rooted in fun. The minute something starts becoming stressful, or a burden, or a negative experience, it needs to stop immediately. Sports is about fun, and recreation, easing your mind, and bettering your character. All the greats are out there just having fun, appreciating the moment and the opportunity they have worked so hard for, and simply living the dream.


If you don’t believe me about that, here is a little 2013AO, off-stage, behind the scenes, epicness. Yes, this is an exercise race at 3am in a hotel lobby. Yes, those are some of the biggest names in the sports of both weightlifting and crossfit. Yes, that is Paul Estrada winning a handstand race in space dolphin tights about 24 hours after easily snatching 146kg (321.2lbs). Crossfitters win.


*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at:


SEVEN DAYS.  I am officially one week out from the American Open and I could not be more excited.  I feel like a giddy little kid when I think about it – so I am trying not to think about it too much.  I will head to Dallas on Thursday to prep, get settled, and watch the events starting in the days before my session.  Both of my coaches will be there as well as almost ALL of my teammates.  I think there is something like 30 Outlaws lifting in the AO this year.  That is something I am proud to be a part of.  I am really excited to get up on the platform and do my thing, but I am also very excited to see my teammates go to work, and of course all the other amazing, national level lifters that will be there.  The experience is going to be pretty cool.  My workload has been tapered down for the week and I am eating very strict (I am now an experienced weight cutter) as to be sure I make the 63kg weight class.  This combination of knowing I have a big game ahead as well as being very regimented in my food intake causes me to become a lot more introverted and “in myself” than usual.  It is not a bad thing though; this feeling is familiar to me from bus rides on our way to big games.  It’s a true kind of focus I create for myself.  I can’t seem to stop thinking about my actual lifts, though.  I just want to get to the warm-up area in Dallas and start moving – yes, this is happening SEVEN DAYS before it is my turn to lift!  However, I know all I can really do is stay focused on the goal while taking one day at a time.
If the current schedule holds, I will be lifting during the 7:30pm session on Saturday.  Although the night session will be something different for me (I have only ever lifted in morning meets), I know that in sports, the night-cap is the “game to watch”.  Every athlete loves to be performing in the last event of the day – it has that sort of “under the lights” importance to it.  This is the American Open, and I’m headed to Dallas… with a purpose.  If you will not be in attendance (which im assuming most of my readers will not be), there is a live web stream all weekend.
Obviously, this past week was that time of the year when we take a second to reflect on the year and the things we are most grateful for.  What kind of blog would this be if it didn’t include a list of “things I am most grateful for” ?! So here are my top 10….
10.  Chocolate.
This includes chocolate in ANY form and color – most notably ice cream, cookies, or cakes with chocolate in them.  I love brownies and blondies with big old chooclate chip pieces (like the ones my best buddy Jess makes me almost weekly when I’m not in weight cut).  There is something about chocolate that makes everything right in the world.  Chocolate chip pancakes have been my “pregame meal” since I was about 8.  M&M’s have been my halftime and post-game snack since about then as well.  I run on chocolate, very happily.  Anything chocolate is GREAT.  I am very thankful for it.
9. Starbucks.
This may or may not be an out of control addiction, but I love it.  I know there is nothing special about it, almost every exerciser has their coffee obsession.  However, I am extremely grateful for my morning Starbucks – Grande Red Eye (black or with a little whole milk, depending on my eating schedule).  This is one of those little joys in life that keep me smiling and content.  In the summer I switch to the ice version, however the hot version on a cold morning in the gym is one of the things I am most thankful for.Image
8. Cow Harbor CrossFit.
This gym has been my sanctuary for the past year and a half.  It has seen me grow as both an exerciser and a coach and I am forever grateful for the people I have met, the things I have learned, and the way they make me feel.  I have met some amazing friends because of this place that have stood by me in some difficult times.  The members here are my biggest fans and supporters and are an amazing group of people.  No matter how my day is going, when I walk through the doors at Cow Harbor my mood immediately switches to positive.  I love being their coach, and I love working to make them proud. The guys on the coaching staff are the same – some of my best buddies that take care of me like a little sister. I cannot be more thankful to be part of the CHCF family.
7. The Outlaw Way.
Eight months ago, I attended an Outlaw Way camp in Brooklyn.  I walked in blindly, no idea what it was about or why I was even really attending – basically I promised one of my coworkers I would go with him.  I left with the whole-hearted decision that I wanted to do all I could to become a competitive crossfitter at the highest level.  Dan Tyminski, also an Outlaw, took me under his wing and led the way for my training.  I have made progress in this past 8 months that would have been impossible without the help of him, Rudy, Spencer, and the rest of my Outlaw teammates.  They have changed the way I look at training, the sport of exercise, and also coaching.  I learn something new everyday from them and I am thankful to be a part of Team Outlaw. I’m looking forward to making them proud.
6. My former teammates.
There is no bond in life comparable to the bond of teammates.  My college teammates were and still are literally my sisters.  I’m in touch frequently with a good percentage of them and speaking with them always puts me in a great mood.  I’m so proud of all of them and what they have been able to accomplish since we have parted – some of them are overseas playing, some coaching, some are working great jobs in the “real world”, some are great mothers, and some are in continued schooling to be nurses and lawyers.  Fortunately this exercise thing I do involves a bit of traveling.  Whenever I am on the road, I immediately think about where my closest teammate would be and how I can fit meeting up with them into my schedule.  I am thankful for the lifetime bond I have made with some amazing women. PrideSis gang always.
5. The ability to see the truth.
The truth is something that is not always easy for us to come to terms with.  However, I am thankful that I have gained the ability to see things for what they really are and not for what I want them to be.  Too often in life we get caught up in wishing and hoping things will be a certain way, so much so that we actually ignore the signs of the truth that is right in front of us.  Often this truth is uncomfortable or hurtful and so we ignore it.  Sometimes however, it is just a truth that our higher power has made to be true for a specific reason – it is part of a bigger plan.  Our human instinct wants to ignore it and “make our own truth”, but that just leaves us stressed and confused.  The ability to see the underlying truth in things is something I can never take for granted.
4. Physical Capabilities.
Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for the physical capabilities I was blessed with.  I am amazed day in and day out at what my body can do and I work hard to honor the abilities I was given.  This is part of the reason why I love the sport of exercise, it leaves me with a huge appreciation of the capabilities of the human body both when I watch myself and others.  I am thankful for where they have taken me and continue to take me.
3. Internal Passion.
I have always lived with passion, I almost know no other way.  I don’t often speak about pursuing something that I don’t follow through with.  If I am going to do something, I do it to the best of my ability.  Whether it was playing ball, something academic that I was interested in, or now this exercising for time thing – if I get involved in it, I do it with serious passion.  I’m almost positive no one taught me this, I had to have been blessed with it naturally.  Again, incredibly thankful.
2. Friends & Family.
This goes without saying, however I still feel the need to express my thanks.  My family is the most amazing bunch of people I know and I am 100% the person I am because of the influence they have had on me up until this point in my life.  My parents are the glaring example of what great parents are and I cannot be more thankful for raising me the way they did.  They have given me the confidence to face anything head on and succeed.  My friends, specifically the ones I have had for 15 years now are also something I am extremely grateful for.  Although I don’t see them as often anymore, we are in touch often.  Their support and love for what I do keeps me going.  I am thankful they will always be in my life.
1. Faith
Although not very religious per-say, I have always had an unshakable faith in things working out exactly how they are meant to.  This has gotten me through, and continues to get me through, my greatest successes as well as my hardest times.  I don’t pray everyday, I don’t attend church every week, but I do know that there is someone out there looking out for me and protecting me.  Someone who has blessed me with things I mentioned previously, and someone who expects me to use those blessings to help myself and others.  I know no matter what happens in life, good or bad, it was meant to happen exactly in that way.  I just need to keep working and have faith.  This is, by far, the most important thing I am thankful for.

*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at: