Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lift Heavy Shit

I did not grow up in the weight room. If I went to the gym is was for the dreadmill treadmill, the bike, or those fancy Nautilus machines. For high school sports we didn't even enter the weight room - that was for the dudes - football players mostly. It smelled in there. It was scary..... I mean, it's just a lot of yelling and high fives......right?

Then college came around. The lacrosse team was scheduled to be in the weight room two mornings a week. I kinda just went through the motions, talked, walked around, talked some get the idea. 

When I joined the gym as an adult I LIVED on the treadmill. I trained for 1/2 marathons that way - it could get boring, but there was built in child care and no weather excuses for not getting that run in.

Then came Crossfit. I wasn't really in the know about exactly what it was - I had watched The Games on TV, but that does not show you what all those women do on a daily basis to get there. I didn't know any terminology, I didn't know how to actually do any of the lifts. I did giggle at all the names - Snatch, Jerk, Box, WOD.......I'm immature. I got my ass handed to me. I still do. The technical part of weight lifting, gymnastics, and other movements are what keeps me coming back everyday. I want to do better, I want to lift heavier, I want to go faster. 


I see the change. I feel the change. Lifting weights (heavy as I can) is something I really like. Who would have thought!?!?!?! I am not going to lie - I love that I can lift the same or more than some of the guys at the Box. I'm not sure how it makes them feel (but I do work hard to be able to lift more). Lifting weights has also helped in my day to day life. I am happier, less stressed out, my once daily migraines have gone away, I'm eating better because I see how it affects my workouts.........and I'm inspiring my kids. That's the best part.......They think I'm the strongest mom around. I'll take that title any day.

I don't typically put my videos on Facebook - They are up on Instagram (@alhardman) and on my YouTube page. I don't like to just put them out there all willy nilly. I work really really hard.....but I do it for me, not anyone else. So, grab your popcorn and get ready to watch some of my "workin hard" videos.

Now go and lift some heavy shit!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cloudy, 73*, and summer coming to an end.....

This is my last week of summer. Super bummed about it - tan is going to fade, less time to play, sun, swim, and be breezy. I do look forward to hanging with my friends at work again though - always a good time. I have this week off of my extra programming from Coach Bijan (info@knighteliteperformance) - just doing mobility and WODs at CFA.

Today is cloudy. Not summer-hot. I did not sleep well last night. Perfect day for some mental toughness/confidence building activities. In college we did an exercise where you write your name on the center of a piece of paper, then you pass it around the circle. Each person writes a word or phrase about you (positive - duh). By the time it gets back to you there are 20+ awesome statements about you. Wonderful, glorious you. Don't worry - still have one of mine to share with you....your welcome.

circa 2004

My college lacrosse coach was the No way I'd be the athlete and person I am today without her. She was tough, caring, and the mom we all needed being away at school. Love that woman!

So Sam and I did this activity this morning. For me it's hard to write positive things about myself. I feel silly, or conceded......I am much better at building up others. That's my passion - making others feel great. BUT - I need to be able to do that for myself too. Right? So here's Sam's positives:

Positives that I wrote about Sam

What Sam wrote about himself - Beard???

Sam is very confident and mentally tough. He had no problem writing about his positives - which is what makes him such a great friend, coach, and husband. Here are mine:

What Sam wrote about me

What I wrote about myself

I cannot lie. I cried when I read what Sam wrote about me. Real tears. I am confident in some ways, but don't always see in me what my friends and husband do. Good thing I'm working on it, huh?!? When writing about myself I thought I would die. I hated writing "smart, funny, friendly" - just felt silly. I did feel better seeing that Sam wrote the same things about me. Baby steps.

Now, the gloomy, cloudy, end of summer day is going to go much better! How can you not smile and have a spring in your step when you have just read a list of positive things about yourself?

Think positive. Break a sweat. Smile big. Love the day!

Monday, August 11, 2014

19 months, 82 weeks, 578 days

My first day of Crossfit was Dec 9, 2012 at Crossfit Annandale. I was nervous, but Sam was with me and we were going to suffer together. My first WOD? Glad you asked:

5 rounds: 7 thrusters and 7 burpees. Took me 7 minutes.

That sounds horrible, even now. Thrusters and burpees are hell - so my first workout was killer and I still came back for more.

literally day 1
The epic picture of day 1. Workout had not started yet. We were being silly, meeting the owner of CFA, and hoping that we would not die. Look at us - a bunch of rookies. Running shoes, cotton shirts, big ol shorts....hahahaahhaha. No Crossfit gear yet ;)  So glad I'm growing my hair out now - man that was short!

Of course I took pictures, measurements, the whole deal. I was doing Crossfit to get in shape and loose weight. I didn't even know about the strong part....yet......the BEST part! I started with some serious inches everywhere (hips 44.6, waist 37.1.....). Thankfully everything has gone WAY down. My BMI stated at 33.2. I know. EEK! A few months ago it was checked again and I was down to 25.9! Progress Progress Progress. Thank you to CFA for taking measurements and having a cool machine that does BMI - it's never fun hearing all those high numbers at first, but you gotta start somewhere.

So we started Crossfit three days a week. The first week was rough, so hard to move. Everything hurt. Places hurt that had never hurt before. For whatever reason I NEEDED to keep going. I was hooked. Right from the beginning. I do have an athletic background - played sports my whole life - and I think that helped....sorta.....kinda....wishful thinking?

Field Hockey at Longwood

Lacrosse at Longwood
Then I did running and triathlons:

Burke Lake with my girls

Wine Country 1/2  marathon

Marine Corp Marathon

Reston Tri

I got to a point with running and tri's that I wasn't as motivated to train. I wasn't very fast and was getting frustrated with that. I needed something else. Crossfit fit the bill! So starting at three days a week I was very happy. I scaled EVERYTHING and loved it. As I started getting stronger, learning lifts, and becoming more confident I was able to do more and more. Which, really just means more soreness. I also made great friends at CFA - which helps keep you accountable and coming back. Who doesn't love to die workout with friends?

Then my first competition. It was last minute, I was helping out a friend with an injured partner. I was SUPER nervous - but was on a team with a VERY experienced crossfitter. I had a great time and have wanted to do every competition advertised since then. 

This picture makes me laugh. I look like I'm dying - maybe i was :)

I'm competitive. With myself. With others. I LOVE to compete. Doing crossfit competitions for me meant I needed to do extra work to place and perform how I wanted to. Insert my coach - Bijan ( If you want to do competitions, if you want to kill those weaknesses I highly recommend contacting him. He is awesome. 

Superfit Delaware. 3rd place after the first workout. Mary, Me, Bijan, Phil

Doing competitions are fun for me, but I also have big goals for each one. I now have an unlimited Crossfit membership at CFA and I am in week 34 of extra programming with Bijan. I would probably make progress without working with a coach, but not as fast and not as focused on my weaknesses (and remember I'm an intense competitive nut), and certainly not to the level where I want to be. My typical week looks like this: 4 WODs at Crossfit Annandale, 3 WODs in my home gym from Bijan, a set of sprints, and 3-ish skills to work on (chin ups, farmer's carry, handstands, etc) - also from Bijan. I email him each week and give him the results of my work, we text, email, call, and do some workouts together. It's the push and guidance I need to reach my goals. 

Since working with Bijan I have made gainz (that's's serious with a Z) in all areas. Strength, mobility, form, nutrition - all have improved. Confidence is the biggest area for me. I go through ups and downs with it, but Bijan helps put it all in perspective (mandatory rest and "remember it's just a workout"). I can get very intense about sports and he pushes me at the right times and reins me in at the right times. I also share all my goals with him. All of them. Even the silly/stupid/embarrassing ones. He tells me which ones are do-able, works them into programming and also tells me which ones are not appropriate.

I participated in The CrossFit Open in 2013 (ranked 2020) and 2014 (ranked 1321). My goal for the 2014 Open was to place somewhere in the 1,000's. I was VERY happy with 1321! I have currently competed in 3 scaled competitions (Superfit DC 8th place, Superfit Delaware 15th place, capital throwdown 10th place) and 2 RX competitions (Cold War 3, Rehoboth beach battle). My goal is to get top five at Superfit DC in October with my awesome partner Holly!!!

Jake, Bijan, Me, Holly - my partner in crime
Crossfit can be anything you want. A place to sweat. A community of people that want to work out. A place to get stronger, faster, and more awesome. I have met so many great people, have changed my body image and improved on my nutrition. Whatever Crossfit is to you, as long as you are working towards improving that, I think you are doing great! If you are looking for a little more shoot Bijan an email at and I'm sure he can help you reach your goals!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

34 bottles of beer on the wall, 34 bottles of beer......

My birthday week is officially over. Back to reality......... It was a great week. Now I'm 34 (I know! I can't believe it either).

I had a great week of working out, hanging with friends, going on little dates, and SHOPPING!!!! My friend Carly at Thirtysomethingfashion helped me get ready for my Winery Party. She is great, if you haven't been to her site, you should. If you haven't tried her box service, you should. If you haven't seen her Pinterest page, you should. If you don't follow her in Instagram, you should (@carlywalko). I cannot say enough great things about her!

I contacted Carly to get some ideas for what to wear to the Winery. She has some great ideas and I ended up with this number:

Lucky Brand
I went shopping and hit some major sales. I love sales. LOVE them. It was also the tax free weekend - double sale! I hit up South Moon Under, Ann Taylor, and a consignment shop.

For my birthday we had friends join us at a Winery. It was perfect weather and all my favorites were there. I love a good birthday week!

Yummy winery snacks

Cheers! To getting older but staying cool