Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Take your fish oil!

There are a TON of fish oil options out there, so lets try to figure out how you can pick the best one.

Omega-3: DHA vs EPA

DHA is the brain one and EPA is the inflammation one. I'm trying to think of something clever to help keep this straight in you mind, but alas, I can think of nothing. At any rate, DHA is very important during fetal development and young children and is found in high concentrations in the brain and the myelin sheath of nerves. As we age, our bodies make less DHA and often we see myelin thinning. Studies indicate that supplementation with DHA is important for nerve and brain function, to postpone the thinning of the myelin sheath.

EPA helps with decreasing systemic inflammation, and this is most drastically seen in the cardiovascular system. Chronic inflammation leads to those nasty cholesterol plaque formations. When inflammation doesn't go away, more cholesterol is added to the plaques, sort of as a cast to a broken limb. When inflammation decreases and lesions in the vassels can be repaired, the plaques are eventually done away with. (Yes, that means obstructed blood flow from cholesterol plaque formation is REVERSABLE!) EPA assists with the decrease in inflammation process.

Ratio and Concentration

Most fish oils I've seen are close to 50/50 in DHA and EPA. Of course, you can get fish oils skewed one way or another based on what your are specifically looking for. Athletes often will look for higher EPA concentrations since their hard training regimin can cause joint and muscle inflammation, and EPA assisted decrease can help with recovery. (As opposed to the inflammation decrease seen through NSAIDS like ibuprofen and tylenol, which can inhibit recovery, a topic for another day.)

You should aim to take 3-5 grams of DHA and EPA combined. If that means you're taking a fist-full of capsules, the concentration is probably too low. 8 pills is normal, 12 is pushing it, but if you have to take 15 or more, get something else. Or go liquid.


I find it easier and faster to use liquid fish oil. One spoonful and you're done. No questions about if oxidation occurred during the encapsulation process. Quick sniff each time you take it to make sure it hasn't gone bad, you do have to keep this in the fridge. A good fish oil should only just hint of fish in the odor and taste, and I find that if I follow with water in the same gulp, I don't taste it at all and it goes down easily.

The idea of gulping straight oil too much for you? If you go the capsule route, you will want to pop open a pill first upon opening the bottle and every week or so. Sniff it, taste it. If it smells or tastes strong, just like any fish at a store or market, it's probably bad. It shouldn't smell any stronger than fresh sashimi.

The Arnold / Weightlifting Olympic Trials; Cholesterol

USA Weightlifting Senior Nationals

First: I'm leaving tomorrow for Columbus, OH to attend the combination meet "The Arnold Weightlifting Championships", USA Weightlifting Senior Nationals, and USA Weightlifting Olympic Trials. The Olympic Trials session for women is mixed in with the Nationals sessions. Basically, the top 2-3 ladies in each weight class are duking it out snatch and jerk style for the two spots we have for women on the Olympic Team.

We currently don't have any spots for men on the Olympic Team, and they have one more chance this spring to earn a spot. The odds are likely they'll get one, but the decision process for that spot will end up being a little different.

I plan on taking my computer and camera adapter so that I can post blog updates on all the cool stuff going on there. The Arnold Sports Festival celebrates TONS of activities and there should be some interesting things.

Cholesterol: Not Our Enemy

I wish I could do a search of only the websites I follow easily. I know I've read A LOT on the topic of cholesterol and health, but with all the other information that I read through on a daily basis, retaining the details can be hard. Regardless, I'm going to highlight major concerns about heart disease and cholesterol that people bring up when I mention I'm on a ketogenic Paleo diet.

Biological Uses of Cholesterol

Here are the facts that have been know for decades. First, cholesterol is essential for maintaining the membranes of every cell in your body. Cellular membranes are made up of a bilayer of lipids, and the cholesterol interspersed in the membrane gives structure to the cell. The concentrations of cholesterol in the cell differ between cell types and even within a cell, concentrating around area that hold proteins in and across the cell membranes.

The body also uses cholesterol as a precursor for bile acids, which are made for digestion early in the small intestine. They are also a precursor for steroid hormones, including sex hormones, glucocorticoids and cortisol, both of which are involved in blood sugar regulation.

Poor Understanding of Metabolism Starts Us Off

Our biochemistry and metabolism are complex things. And as much as we like to say "Crap in, crap out" and other such idioms, we are not, scientifically speaking, a walking tube with a mouth at one end and an anus at the other. Unfortunately, "conventional wisdom" (CW) and "common sense" often treat nutrition as though we are exactly that.

Doctors noticed that clots and plaques in the vasculature contained a lot of cholesterol. They also typically noticed that many health problems can be attributed to too much body fat. Using CW and the human-tube protocol, it was easier to assume that a dietary input of fat or cholesterol equates to an increase in bodily fat and cholesterol. This over simplification led to years of low fat diet regimens and an epidemic of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Dietary Cholesterol =/= Blood Cholesterol

Here is the thing, it's not about how much cholesterol is in your blood. We're learning it's not even about how much "bad" cholesterol in the form of LDL is in your blood. It's about the complete profile of LDL particles, with particular attention on small dense LDL. These are the particles that stick together, stick to plaques, and cause blockages.

The problematic presence of these particles are attributed NOT to a diet high in cholesterol, but to a diet high in carbohydrates. In fact, eating a diet high in cholesterol, especially in animal fats, does show a rise in total cholesterol with the vast majority of it being the "good" HDL variety.

There are indicators that the types of mono-unsaturated fats in animal proteins, omega-3 vs. omega-6, can influence the ratio of good to bad through inflammation, but that is way more biochemistry that I want to get into in this post. Short story, eat grass fed, pasture raise animals. Lots of them.

High Blood Cholesterol =/= Heart Disease

Again, this comes from the human-tube model of metabolism. Here's the problem: a diet that causes chronic systemic inflammation (think lots of wheat, legumes, and dairy) means you're going to see more oxidized lipids in the blood and more vascular problems. What these cholesterol plaques do is act as a band-aid over micro-injuries in the vasculature, often due to high blood pressure. Once inflammation goes away (the biochemistry behind systemic inflammation is, again, too complex to go into right now), macrophages will dispose of the plaques.

However, if the inflammation stays, the vasculature can't heal, and more layers of band-aids are added. These can eventually break off and cause a clot. Bam! Blockage, stroke, heart attack, and general heart disease. (Aside: high blood pressure can is attributed to a combination of high carbohydrate diet and high salt intake. These things can accumulate in your blood and cause osmosis into your veins.)

The best way I've heard it put is: blaming cholesterol on the plaques is like blaming the band-aid for the cut.

Meat is NOT Bad For You

I've already mentioned this, but animal proteins do not raise your small dense LDLs. Animal protein has been linked to your "good" HDL. Organ meats are also an incredible source of nutrition. 4 oz of liver has the nutritional equivalent of 5 lbs of your best fruits.

Why I Recommend a Ketogenic Paleo Diet to Others

I realize that there is no one magic macro nutrient ratio that is great for everyone. Everyone is a little different, but seriously, you are not a unique snowflake. For instance, grains, whole are other wise, are not good for you. You can argue it, but it won't be correct.

The Paleo diet, at it's core, it an anti-inflammatory, hypoallergenic diet. Even if you tolerate the no-no's of the diet, mere toleration does not equate to optimal health. I recommend a ketogenic form of it for most people, because most people are far too reliant on carbs for energy, and that can lead to all kinds of mental, emotional, and physical issues. For me, it has evened out my energy levels, taken off body fat, and lets me train and recover in a way that is positively impacting my strength.

Too many people focus on weight loss as an indicator for the effectiveness of a diet. In one month, I've only dropped 6-8 lbs. But I look in the mirror like I've lost more than that. My belt fits like I've lost more than that. In my experience, and other's experiences, the ketogenic Paleo diet is a pro-muscle diet, so for some, that means scale movement isn't going to happen much.

More Reading

Get on some of your own research, there is a TON of information out there:

Robb Wolf, author of "The Paleo Solution"

Mark Sisson, author of "The Primal Blueprint

Great Summary of Cholesterol and Health

The Weston Price Foundation

Chris Kresser: The Healthy Skeptic

The Bulletproof Executive (excellent podcast, too)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Snack Attack and WellnessFX Blood Work Results

Snack Attack!

I'm a grazer. Especially since starting Paleo and being fairly ketogenic about it, I don't get hungry as often. However, as a strength athlete, I know I can't go and slip into a calorie deficit, so I make myself snack through the day. Newest snack friends: Justin Nut Butters and Artisana Nut Butters. I just tried the raw coconut and cacao butter, and it's pretty much heaven.

They have individual packets, and you can be damn sure I'm taking some with me to Nationals!

Moving on.

WellnessFX Blood Work Results

This section will be LONG. Background: ManFriend and I decided to go Paleo in mid January. He was tired of feeling lethargic and worn down, and I simply wanted to take better control of my health. About two weeks into the new diet, we attended a seminar by the folks at WellnessFX and decided if we are going to make such a serious change, we might as well use their service to quantify the changes and keep us on the right track. A week later we had four vials of blood taken. A about two weeks after that, we got our results.

I'm going to share mine, the good and the bad.


Total Cholesterol
"Bad" Cholesterol
"Good" Cholesterol

Take away: My total cholesterol is high a that is mainly due to my "bad" cholesterol breakdown being atrocious. When the consulting doctor looked at this she asked when the blood was taken relative to starting Paleo, which was about two weeks in. Her recommendation was to maybe use some egg substitute if I was worried, but more than likely, this profile is a residual effect of my love of pancakes and scones when I had no dietary guidelines to answer to. It takes about three months for total blood turn over, so get tested again, and otherwise, keep up the low carb stuff now.


CRP is a marker for general inflammation, which could be due to infection, chronic stress, and heart disease. I was glad to see mine nice and low, especially since I recently had that bugger Maurice the Botfly removed from my side fairly recently.


Basically I'm well away from being anywhere near diabetic. The doc said that my ketogenic diet and highly active lifestyle will keep my insulin sensitivity really high for a long time. Here's to hoisting heavy things!

Vitamins and Minerals

The high level of vitamin D in my system was good to see. Something like 40% of the population is vitamin D deficient, and the higher you get in latitude (less direct sunlight, shorter days), the higher that specific population's deficient is going to be. I get about 850 IU of D through my daily multi-vitamin and calcium supplement (Calcium for strong MUSCLES! Lift weights for strong BONES!), and I'm riding my bike everywhere 3-4 days a week.

In the minerals panel, the CO2 was a touch off, but the doc said this is probably due to the ketogenic diet I'm following. CO2 in the blood is used as a buffer, and since ketogenic diets can drive your pH down, less CO2 is kept in the blood to let the pH come back up to 7.4.

Free Fatty Acids

Again, not great, but really damn close to right. The doc said that this is likely due to the same residual effect of pancake feasting I used to do, and also since it is so borderline, it could even be statistical variance.

My Recommendations

My consult doctor said I'm basically doing all the right things, and even though my blood work doesn't show it all yet, it should in the next few months. She said I should keep on with the ketogenic paleo diet, it's doing good things for me, and to keep up the supplementation regime that I'm already on and wouldn't add anything to that.

We will be getting our blood work done again in about six months, so later in the summer. I'm more interested in seeing how things change, because my scientist mind isn't happy with a single data point.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Diets don't work, and neither do their drugs.

The FDA just approved a new diet drug. You can find an article about it on the NPR Health Blog.

This pill works through (1) a stimulant to get your body to burn more calories and (2) use of an appetite suppressant. Pretty much anytime you put a stimulant into the equation, you get elevated heart rates which can be a problem for at risk patients regardless. So for that reason alone, I'd stay away from it. Secondly, this pill bends to the (wrong) rule of pure calories in vs. calories out for weight control.

If you've followed me at all, you know I belong to the school of "don't eat less, eat right" for weight control and taking off body fat. I'm not interested in you simply weighing less, I want to see people taking off fat and maintaining or putting on muscle. You can't expect to keep muscle on your frame if you cut your calories and consume the empty calories that grains provide in lieu of useful calories found in meat, fruits, and vegetables.

I hope I'm singing to the choir by now.

Rather than taking a pill, or cutting your calories down to mere snacks for meals, instead focus your food intake on real, unprocessed food that humans evolved on, meats, vegetables, fruits, eggs, and nuts. These food groups will help control the hormones that cause fat retention. Plus, but keeping your calories up and from quality sources, you won't be putting your hard earned muscle at risk.

Think of those little fibers off the end of wheat stalks as little devil horns.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gym Insecurities

Everyone stares at everyone at the gym. At the same time, most people don't give more than a passing f--- about another person. In short, even the judgers have insecurities, so you might as well get your bootay in the gym and train hard. I think this comic sums it up nicely:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Trying New Things: Archery Golf

So the first thing I'd like to introduce is this nice how-to article on making ghee from butter. But if you'd rather have a more instructive, hands on approach, I should have more information on that in few weeks or so.

Trying new things is a general principal towards creating a happier and richer life. For the past nearly 3 years, I've been a specialist as a competitive weightlifter, and I've only lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for three years and change. This place has a lot to offer. So every week or so, I'm going to blog a bit about something new ManFriend and I (or myself alone) are giving a try.

Archery Golf

Just released arrow down the course.

There are something like 48 targets across three different courses at Redwood Bowman's Archery Club. We only stayed on the shooting range and tried out the first target. Thing with an archery course, unlike put-put or frisbee, you're shooting pointy things down the path. Therefore, once you get started, you can't really decide to turn around and go back, lest you get in the path of another group of archers. 

I was a hot mess on my first, very close target. About half of my arrows went over the target, and there was no rhyme or reason to where the arrows landed on the target. I'd like to blame the wind, but really, I think I twist or jerk right as I let go of the string, expecting a recoil like you get with a gun. (Hey, I'm from Texas. I started shooting guns in elementary school.)

ManFriend shooting down course target #1.

You'd think it would be a relatively low energy thing, but it's HARD to keep that still. At least for me, it is. I found that if I started breathing out, and let go mid-exhale, I was much more likely to hit the target somewhere reasonable. Like, hit the target at all. Okay, so I'm not good at zen and relaxation, duly noted. 

So next time we do this, probably next weekend, I plan to take a camel pack of water and some serious snackables to make sure we can do the whole course and I don't waste away to nothing. Oh, and sunblock. This ginger will need lots of sunblock.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Eating Free: My review

I was directed to the Eating Free website by a fellow fitness professional. Here is their online, "free" quiz to see if you need their help:

Eating Free Quiz

Here are my issues, starting with mundane and ending with theory:

1) I have to join to get what they are talking about?

Most website authors who adamantly believe in the information they are trying to put out there don't hide their theories behind marketing jargon and membership sign-ins. Yes, to join this site is free, but if you click around outside the site, no where does it state exactly what they believe and promote. If you look at the websites of Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, or that Wheat Belly guy (brain fart... ), you don't have to log in, and they explain their stance in no uncertain terms.

I took their FreeQ quiz and...

2) Promotion of lean meats and whole grains?

Pretty much anything below a 180 is considered a risky "FreeQ" and you need their help to get on the right track. I scored a 125. When I went back and fiddled with answers, I found that my score could be brought up if I said I had "carbs with protein", are "lean or very lean meats", and included whole grains and "heart healthy fats" into my diet. What do they consider hearth healthy? It's not really defined outside sources like avocado, salmon, and olive oil. So I can only assume they mean mono-unsaturated fat. That's all and well, but saturated fat isn't the villain it's been made out to be...

If you're reading this, you probably already know my stance on grains. (Bad, bad, bad!)

3) What, you got a problem with IF?

I would have a higher "FreeQ" if only I ate breakfast "within 1 hour of waking every day" or ate "every 3-4 hours." Here's the problem, there is this little thing called "intermittent fasting" that many fitness enthusiasts are adopting and have found great progress with. When someone is eating Paleo or on a ketogenic diet, you don't get the hungry cravings, the mood shifts, and other sugar crash effects, and makes intermittent fasting something easy to do, or even something I've accidentally done for days at a time. The eating every 3-4 hours is needed for bodies dependent on carbs for mood stability or bodybuilders.

So I joined out of curiosity....

4) Just Getting Started!

I'm going to start a list, because I'm getting bored lambasting this site. It's just too easy:

a) BMI is dumb for an athlete. But thanks for telling me what it is. That leads me to...
b) I can't choose a moderate or vigorous activity level for myself. I have to call and discuss it with a "coach". I'm a personal trainer who bikes everywhere. Come on.
c) They prescribed me this macronutrient breakdown: 50% Carbohydrate, 25% Protein, and 25% Fat despite my saying I do weight training 3 to 4 times a week. Dumbasses. 
d) I think if I continue I'll just be going over offenses that are repeats of my nutritional principals. 

So basically this is a website that follows the USDA's "My Plate" paradigm, aka: the same conventional wisdom that is getting western civilization fat and chock full of diabetics and heart disease cases. Plus, the sidebar is telling me that I should cut 500 calories from my diet to lose weight, should I so desire. And its telling me the proportions of food types I should include in my diet. Wait, I thought this site was called "Eating Free"? I thought it said I should eat more, not less? Oh, the horror. 



Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's a Different Experience

All is quiet at SFCF, a rare sight. 

I've been shadowing some of the coaches at San Francisco CrossFit to get an idea of how they run their on ramp programs and classes. Starting sometime in March, I'll be running beginner one-on-ones and basics classes, as well as being put on the sub-list for the large classes. Each "box" runs their program in a slightly different way. Of all the boxes I've been to, I think SFCF, UB, and Catalyst Athletics have some of the most solid programs.

And that's not because I work there, I don't work at Catalyst. That is why I chose to work at two of these places. :)

Playing with camera settings, you can see a squat rack, dip bars, and kind of make out the monkey bars on the right. 

I'm excited about getting ramped up at these locations to be teaching class on-ramps. There are so many great and knowledgable trainers at each gym that I'm really going to have the opportunity to learn a lot. Plus, with each gym having their own set of specialties and atmospheres, I'll get to interact with many different types of athletes and hopefully get to express my own specialties, mainly being the Olympic lifts. 

What I didn't think to take a picture of is the beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, easily visible from just outside the area's gate. With the winter being as mild as it is, and the fog not descending in the morning, it's actually a rather idyllic place to get a good workout in! 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Another Personal Paleo Update

When I started eating paleo, I was about 76 kg. After about a week, I was down to 72.8 kg. Then I bounced right back up to about 75.5 kg. What gives? Turns out, about the time the weight turned around, I had started drinking lots of coconut water. The cans that we buy for home have close to 40 g of sugar in them, and I had at least one a day, occasionally two.

Yes, coconut water is Paleo. But the whole point of going ketogenic is lost if I'm drinking my calories in sugar form. My goal is to be lean and strong. Plus, I really like not getting hungry and cranky if I'm too busy running around to eat on a every 3 hours schedule. I was starting to get the hungry feelings again, so away goes the coconut water. I'm only allowing myself one when I swing by Zynga, since they have it stocked around the building and I only go there twice a week.

Blood Draw!

Yesterday, ManFriend and I had our blood drawn for WellnessFX testing. If you check out the packages, we're doing the Tracking one, where they check for 50 different markers of health and nutritional situation. It will take about 7-10 days to get the results, and I can't wait to find out.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Overtraining - Mostly Hype

For some reason, I've been seeing more articles warning their fitness readers about avoiding overtraining and stifling their progress. Honestly, I think it's much ado about nothing.

Here are a few I've seen:

1) Fit Bottomed Girls

2) MSN Article (Hint: if you're getting fitness information from MSN, you're unlikely to be overtraining at anything.)

3) I know I've seen more and can't recall the sites I saw them on...

Most common symptoms these sites say to look out for are:

  • Feeling cranky all the time
  • Not recovering fast enough / seeing performance hinderances
  • Getting sick more often
  • Getting weaker / losing muscle
Here's my problem with all of these: LIFE gets in the way of training all the damn time. Your boss or your significant other is probably getting you cranky. You're probably not sleeping enough. You're probably not eating right. You're probably not taking preventative precautions again illness and injury. And to say these are signs that you're working too hard is to create this cloud of fear around consistent hard work. Then we've got a slew of trainees who are going to pass on that workout because they might be overtrained. 


I'm not saying there aren't instances where overtraining and under-recovery occur. But for the vast majority of hobbyists and weekend warriors, you're not going to be seeing it. And I'll say there is one biological sure fire way to know that you are overtrained/ under-recovered: Elevated resting heart rate. 

I'm not telling you to take a baseline average and then measure it again every morning. If you're overtrained/ under-recovered, you're going to feel it beating in your chest and neck. In my three years of competitive weightlifting, I've had it happen to me once when I was being trained to death by my old coach. For a week, I'd wake up in the morning feeling like I'm having a panic attack. I took a four day vacation from training and ate like a pig that eats a lot, and I was back to form. 

Thing is, I was training hard nearly 3 hours a day, 6 days a week on top of a normal 40+ hour a week job. Whether it was over training or under recovery, I'll never know (there is only a slight difference, really). But the fact is, it takes hard, hard work to get there. 

So if you're feeling cranky, burned out, and tired, there are probably a lot of things going on in your life. Maybe you don't feel like you're in control of enough things in your life, maybe you need a vacation. More than likely, it's a mental or emotional thing. But don't go blaming your workout or your coach. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Coach

This is my coach being... special.


This next part is more of a rant for myself than anything. So you don't have to go any further.

I read an very raw and heartfelt blog from a fellow weightlifter on the Catalyst Athletics website. And it caused something to move in me. Now, I'll never claim I am or was anywhere near the competitive and strength awesomeness that Aimee has garnered in her lifting career. But it helped me come to terms with the notion that we all have to do this to our own end and for our own reasons. It sounds like a lot of her reasons for wanting to compete now and keep up appearances are extrinsic (coaches, teammates, new lifters that look up to her, etc.) while very little motivation is coming from a pure place within. And that can only get you so far. And this is what I realized in me...

I've never been a one sport person. As as dancer, I did ballet, pointe, tap, jazz and while one the high school dance/drill team, which should have taken up all my time being an officer, I still participated in Oddessey of the Mind. Okay, OM wasn't a sport, but the point is, I like being a dabbler. In college, I concurrently did dance, and judo, plus my nearly daily stints in the weight room. In grad school, I got into CrossFit, still did judo, some dance, capoeira, and dabbled in rock climbing. I still did some CrossFit and strength training when I was marathon training.

Then I started competitive weightlifting. Suddenly things changed.

(insert time warp flashback effects)

My last coach was a real hard ass about training. Once he saw potential in me, he expected me to train every day like I was planning at making a shot for the Olympic Team. There were no "light days" in the traditional sense, a light day to this coach meant that I would only aim for ~85-90% of my best in the lifts, and while you're there you might as well try a double at it. I was in the gym 6 days a week for 2.5 to 3 hours at a time. I had to be near tears exhausted for him to let me off the hook without a huge argument.

I trained really hard and did some great lifts at meets. I got really F-ing strong. But it wasn't just for me (maybe it was Stockholm Syndrome?), and it wore me down and burned me out after nearly two years of it. As the 2010 American Open approached, the coach thought I should add a supplemental training day on Sunday, but instead I fought tooth and nail to get a day off. On top of that, feeling suffocated with him trying to get his opinion on every aspect of my life and how it would affect my lifting, I fought for another day where I could train without him.

There were other big issues I had with that coach, and everything came to an explosive head a month before the 2010 American Open, one of the two senior level national lifting meets. I switched coaches, switched training and lifting styles, and still medaled at the meet.

This new coach is the opposite of overbearing. He has his plan, he knows what he's doing, and he wants everyone to do their best. BUT, he has three other National level lifters, and a slew of local competitors that he has to deal with. Suddenly I'm not the sole care of a coach, my push can't come from outside forces or from just trying to avoid a coach's meltdown. Add that to my many months of being burned out and fed up, and it's easy to see why my training has faltered.

But I realized another thing: I hate being a one sport person. In avoidance of old coach's freak outs, I never dabbled in other physical activities. The one time I went and played around with Strongman training, he flipped his shit. (You were tired for two days after that! Those were important days!) I have no doubt in my mind that my burn out from lifting was two fold - (1) training way too hard for way too long and (2) ONLY doing lifting to the demise of all other activity, physical or social.

So here is where I am: I will always train the lifts. I LOVE being strong, always have and always will. The Olympic lifts are amazing when you get that PR, they're fast, powerful, and technique driven. But I don't think I really care if I ever get close to a National title. I want to be a solid lifter, but do I care if someone takes my Pacific Weightlifting Association records? I don't think so. So now I'm in a transition where I have to be comfortable with that idea and not let other people's expectations of me as the local record breaker and someone who makes a national podium get to me.

I'm getting into pole dancing and ManFriend and I are getting into static trapeze and silks. We're looking to get all those apparatuses installed in our loft. Plus, it's really important to both myself and ManFriend that we have something we are both passionate about, something we can do together. And honestly, I really believe that the happiness from exploring other strength and performance activities will make me a better and more consistent lifter simply through smoothing out anxieties.

So here's to living by expectations set by no one else but yourself. :)