Category Archives: Fitness

In Honor of Fitness Friday…

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When you’re open to meeting new people, you never know what random conversations with strangers can lead to…

After moving to a new town, it quickly became apparent that I needed a new gym closer to home. As much as I loved the local Planet Fitness, it’s million dollar face lift and all the new equipment that came with it – commuting an hour each way daily was exhausting.

When I found “The Club;” ten minutes from home complete with a sauna, olympic size swimming pool, jacuzzi, basketball court, affordable membership with childcare, a shit ton of classes and FREE WEIGHT Olympic bars, it was such a blessing!

(If you’ve ever gone from Planet Fitness to a “real gym,” you understand and appreciate the importance of having an actual squat rack with Olympic training bars)

For seven or eight months, while training in the weight room of the new gym, I’d sneak peripheral peaks through glass windows into the adjoining basketball court – at the class training there twice a week.

The women and men who trained displayed some of the craziest feats of strength and endurance/conditioning I had ever seen. They flipped tires, ran ladder drills and made box jumps looks easy. I couldn’t help but marvel at their strength and unity.

You know that scene in the latest Wonder Woman movie where young Diana watches the other Amazons train, desperately longing to join them? Yeah, that was me every time I watched this class.

I wanted to be part of THAT.

But fear infiltrated my Warrior heart like an undetectable poison.

I’m afraid to try something new…

What if I don’t fit in?

What if I’m not strong enough or can’t keep up?

I’m afraid of joining a class on my own…

This went on for months.

Then, through what I can only describe as divine intervention, Kathy (one of the women from the strength training class) started a conversation with me in the locker room. It was something along the lines of “Hey I see you training all the time in the weight room, you should totally come to class!” That conversation was all I needed to kill my ego, face my irrational fears and finally step into the Hybrid Strength & Conditioning class I so admired.

Just a couple of Amazons getting our Strong Woman training on! Kathy (left) my inspiration for joining the class and Steph (right) one bad mamma mamma and all round rad mama! BOOYAH!!!

 

 

Nearly a year after stepping into that class; I’ve learned to flip 600 lb and 700 lb tires, nail it with box jumps, pull a pickup truck with kegs and several dope humans in the bed of that truck and lift some crazy ass shit…like this 185 pound dead lift with two jeep tires attached on an axel! (pictured above)

As Hybrid Athletes; we train together, support one another though life’s ups and downs and encourage growth in every aspect of our lives. This dynamic group of badass athletes aren’t just people in a class, they’re family. A family that would have never become part of my life, had it not been for a cancer diagnosis pushing me to join the gym…and of course for that lovely divine intervention! 😉

This journey through “dis-ease” into health and wellness has been hard, trying, and at times completely exhausting. Yet every step of the way has guided me toward living a more fulfilled life. A life centered around gratitude and compassion with a much deeper connection to the world around me.

To read more about the PHENOMENAL WOMEN of this class and how they kick ass in Strong Woman training on the weekends too…click HERE!!!

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Rest, Recover, Reflect

Standing, unilateral, landline press with a two-inch, Olympic weight bar weighing about 44 pounds (20 kilos) 3 SETS EACH SIDE: 15 lb. plate added for 7 reps, 10 lb. plate added for 10 reps, no weight added (bar only) for 10 reps

One week ago today, was my first day back at the gym after a two week hiatus spent recovering from the flu and pneumonia.
Hit the weights hard, warmed up with a little HIIT cardio on the elliptical since my lungs weren’t at full capacity. Trained triceps and shoulders with a little bit of back. Played around with the weight doing these standing, unilateral land mine presses. By leg day on Saturday, I was riding the wave of endorphins flowing within my body – welcoming the soreness that followed from killin my quads, knowing I’d given my all.

It was longest length of time I’ve spent away from the gym since beginning to train nearly four years ago. Even during chemo, I’d only take a week off between treatments.

Feels extraordinary to have that piece of myself back in place.

But…will also say my body needed LOTS of rest with the way I’ve been running myself into the ground. Between goal smashing, being a present parent, maintaining our household, both kiddos getting sick back to back and training our new pup – I’d forgotten to be a “kindness warrior” to myself. Listening to stubborn self talk like, “Keep grinding, sleep later, write more, work harder,” led to me not only falling ill but also to the realization that I was forgetting to play and seek adventure in the everyday.

I was losing myself to my own hustle.

The level of exhaustion I experienced over the course of the last few weeks has been comparable to how chemo treatments left me feeling. It also reminded me that my tendency is “all or nothing” and how easy it is for me to burn my candle at both ends.

So I’m back to training again, but this time – mindfully – with more respect for my body than ever before. When she wants to rest, we’re gonna rest and when she’s too sore to train – I’m letting my body recuperate.

My fitness journey isn’t about a number on a scale or achieving a certain body type. It’s about loving the skin I’m in, conditioning my mind to be stronger, and pushing past my own limits…no one else’s. 

Let Challenge Transform You

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PHOTO LEFT: This was me, 3 years ago this May, age 29, three months into chemotherapy…and super blonde! I weighed 119 pounds, my hair was thinning, exhaustion and fatigue were relentless daily adversaries, intent on defeating me.                                                                                          PHOTO RIGHT: Fast forward to today, this photo was taken Feb 2017. I now weigh a HEALTHY 145 pounds (fun-sized at 5’4”), am letting my natural auburn/brunette hair color come shining through and have never felt healthier or stronger!

When I began chemotherapy in 2014, I was told that my treatments would more than likely cause muscle loss in my body. That alone made me want to cry. For ten years I struggled to gain weight, no longer the thick curvy girl I was in my early twenties. I weighed 119 pounds, on some days 117. Bi-weekly doses of toxic chemicals, poisonous to the point of killing my healthy cells too, flooded directly into my blood stream in hopes of destroying the cancer cells.

Being told I may lose even more weight was the turning point for me. I became angry. “NO…FUCKING…WAY!” I told myself. I was determined to let this dis-ease in my body break me open, not break me down.

I joined the gym. I started slow. I could barely do three sets of squats with a ten plate on each side, with a Smith Machine. Now I squat with a free bar, 5 to 7 reps per set with 140 pounds…155 or a little more when I have someone there to spot me.  Miraculously, I gained about 18 pounds or so by the time I finished all of my treatments. Then another 5 or 6 pounds a few months after that. Now at a solid 145 pounds, I have my curves back and then some. My self-confidence and self-love are through the roof!

The thing is, it’s not the results that gave me back my confidence. It’s the promises I’ve kept to myself as a result of deciding to take value in my own health and well being. It’s the self-respect I gained through eating healthier, being active, staying committed to my workouts even when I’m tired, even when it’s easier NOT to go to the gym.

Being diagnosed with cancer saved my life in so many ways. It brought me closer to my family, to my children, guided me to going on a week long women’s retreat where I made lasting friendships and healed the relationship I had with myself. It brought me more compassion and understanding for the human condition. It gave me the gift of loving deeper, laughing louder and knowing just how sacred the precious commodity of time truly is.

It led me to a day where I said “ENOUGH” and joined the gym. That decision alone has led to so many new friendships and experiences. It’s led to fitness becoming part of my children’s lives early on, something I hope stays with them as they grow into adults of their own. It’s led to me becoming an Ambassador for the supplement company I’ve been using for about two years now.

Cancer could have destroyed me. Instead, it acted as a catalyst – transforming my mental, spiritual and physical states beyond the parameters of what I knew to be true. It accelerated my soul’s growth and brought me to a more authentic version of myself.

If there is something in your life – a fear holding you back, don’t let it.  I never would have thought that joining the gym could change my life so dramatically. My life, and who I’ve become, are practically unrecognizable from where I was three years ago. But it’s only because I took that first step. You are always one decision away from a completely different life, YOU have the power to make it a masterpiece!!!

(Shot out to Unico Nutrition!!! Use promo code Amber7 for a 15% discount at http://www.uniconutrition.com/shop/team/Amber.Strong )

You can also follow my new IG Fitness account at Amber.Strong.Journey

THANK YOU so much for reading! 🙂

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