Naked And Afraid – The Before Photos

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Tonight I did something that was at the highest level of anxiety, pit in the stomach, REAL.

I finally got up the courage to take the #BeforePic.

Mentally, we see ourselves so different than the camera does. Subconsciously, I think our brains leave out the dimples, bumps and flaws. Our brains delude us into thinking our 3 Bedroom figure is a studio apartment and we never really get that feeling of what our true canvas looks like.

Tonight I did. Tonight I cried.

I was hit with a harsh reality that I deep down knew existed. If I’m really going to be successful…If I’m going to transform myself to the way, in my heart I feel I need to be, then it needs to be done 100%. These photos were sent to two of my closest fitness friends. Friends who I know won’t judge and will help motivate me. Most of all, they will keep me accountable to the results I’m striving for. This was the single hardest thing I’ve done. I allowed someone else into my reality.

Well, it’s time to change that reality. It’s time to be the woman I know is hiding behind the curtain of bad decisions, eating habits and laziness that shrouds my body. Time to let the Strong Beast that’s inside this skin, out.

Seeing yourself through the lens…is terrifyingly enlightening.

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Trust the Process: Pain, Progress and Lessons Learned.

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Trust The Process…even if it seems impossible at times.

October 28th.  I was so incredibly excited to lift that day.  My trainer, Brian, and I were going to lift together for the first time.  Normally, he’s all professional and does the typical trainer/coach thing, but this time he and I were lifting together as partners.

I love this camaraderie.  I love that my gym understands the importance of relationships, not just protocol.  A previous gym of mine didn’t like my trainer lifting with me during sessions. They thought it provided an unprofessional appearance.

Fuck Appearance.

This isn’t a runway show, this is Strength Training…Powerlifting to be exact. It’s gritty, dirty, sweaty, fun, challenging, exhilarating and it’s Family.  Family doesn’t care if you show up in a ripped shirt with a gallon jug.  They just care that you’re there.

At this point I am about 6 weeks into my Powerlifting journey.  I’ve been lifting in general for almost a year and I love every second, but now the goals have changed.  I’ve committed verbally to a meet in June of 2018 and I’m competitive AF.

This day, however, will be remembered for the lesson I learn on my very last rep.  I’m feeling amazing.  Pushing myself harder than usual.  The pump is good and then it happens.

On my last squat rep (5th set. This one is 135×5…my max has been 165lb) I start to power up and in my exhaustion, I lean.  Lean forward.  My mind immediately says, “Oh Shit, straighten out Stephens” and in the process, I feel the pull.  It’s my SI Joint.  I’ve notoriously had issues with an SI Joint that doesn’t just move easily, but moves often. I rack the weight and immediately stretch and figure it’s gonna be fine, just some extra pump. We move to bench.

After some quick bench work, I take to the mats to stretch.  The Rollga is not in sight, and I didn’t have my own with me.  So, I grab a traditional foam roller and start to roll out my glutes.  As I twist to try to hit my piriformis on my right side, the sharp edge of the foam roller along with my heavier body weight decided my fate.

POP.

It happened.  I popped my Right SI joint so far forward it subluxated my right Hip.  AAAAAND I’m out.

Fast forward 14 days.  14 days later, I’m writing this in the backseat of my car as we drive home from a Hockey Weekend.  Currently, I am the most comfortable I’ve been in days. Last night I had my first sleep session that was longer than 2 hours straight and woke up with little to no pain.  This didn’t come from popping pills and sitting on my ass.  This came from 14 days of hard work that wasn’t in the gym.  There were tears, screams of pain, thoughts of anything but success.  It was 14 of the hardest days I’ve had in a very long time.

Injury is not just debilitating but it’s embarrassing, it’s demoralizing and it’s the enemy of motivation. The thoughts that went through my brain included:

“Will people laugh at this?” “Are they all saying ‘I Told You So’?”  “Will I be able to continue?”  “How am I going to explain this one to the ones that already doubted me?”

I stepped back and started to really look at what was happening.  Was I done lifting? Would my coach say, “Well, if that’s how it’s gonna go, let’s just quit.”?  Nope. The next 14 days would prove to be more motivating and introspective than I would have ever guessed.

With every Chiropractic adjustment, even the ones through tears, I felt myself changing.  Physical therapy stretch sessions, multiple daily ice baths and a diet of Advil and water were mixed with one of the busiest weeks my job demands.  Multiple Rollga sessions on my Quads, Hamstrings, IT’s and glutes helped to alleviate the extreme exhaustion my muscles were feeling due to constant contractions with nerve pains.  Heating pad sessions just on my muscles with ice packs on my joints.  Sleep session that only lasted a max of 2 hours due to pain waking me up and telling me to move to my other side.  2am ice showers when my nerve pain in my legs created the most painful restless legs you can imagine.  Young living Pan Away and BioFreeze Professional were my new aromatherapy and every time I wanted to cry and just give up, *Bing* my phone would light up with another notification.  It was my FitFam.  Whether a post notification showing one of my FitFam’s newest accomplishments, a suggestion on recovery for myself or just a general inquiry, I realized I wasn’t alone.  I wasn’t going through this on my own.  This wasn’t an end, it was a bump in the road and it was going to be a major teaching factor in my workouts and how I push my training as my coach and I continue the journey to the USAPL Raw Open in MN June 2018.

As the week continued, I started to see and feel a difference.  10% mobility to 60% in just 5 days.  I started pushing myself for new options of healing so I could ditch the Advil.  Checked out my first Cryogenic Session at Kuhlen Cryo in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  (separate blog post on this) I rested rather than pushed myself and am officially 3 days advil free and my pain has decreased from a 10 to a 3.   This is progress.  Tomorrow I get to see my coach and be back at the gym.  We’ll be heading back into this slowly and working on a lot of accessory work, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t cry when I hug him tomorrow at 3:30pm.

Is my story the worst? Did I suffer the most of anyone? Nope. But when you’re the one in pain, it’s easy to curl up in a ball and give up.  The FitFam I surround myself wouldn’t let me do that.  If you ever feel alone, embarrassed or an outsider in this fitness world, Reach out!  Reach out to me, the guy on the bench next to you, or even a fitness lover that you follow online.  We are REALLY here for you. We get it.  We’ve all been there. I can officially say I have. It’s my turn to help you through the tough times.

Who is this #FitFam?

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Imagine you walk up to a wall…and just start talking.  You talk about everything from your macros for the day to how much weight you just pulled and how many times you’ve already pooped today.  You are deep in the heart of fitness talk…and the wall?  Is your husband.

He has no clue.  He doesn’t care to have a clue.  He just stares blankly until you mention a word that resembles something he understands and cares about. This takes awhile.  Finally he hears the word “dinner” and takes his cue, “YES! Dinner! What’s for Dinner?!” and walks..eh em BOLTS away.

humpfh.

Enter The #FitFam.


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You’ve probably seen fitness posts that include a million hashtags. #Fitness #CleanEating #SWOLmates #WeightLoss #Gains #DoYouEvenLiftBro and of course #FitFam.  Each of those little hashtags represent a connection to an entire world of people who REALLY DO want to talk about your protein poops and post workout pump!  People who find inspiration in your successes and will help you through your struggles.  They are your #FitFam..Your Fitness Family.

These are the people that get genuinely psyched when you succeed.  The people that will offer you any and all advice, shoulders to cry on and squat racks to spot on.  The outpouring of amazing support from my #Fitfam has been unreal. The best part?  Whether you know it or not, you start using those hashtags, and it will make you discoverable.  You too will be motivating and inspiring others in your own unique way.

img_6594-e1500474037479.pngI want to give a shout out to the people that have made such an amazingly positive impact on my journey so far..most of which, I’ve never met, let alone spoken to over the phone.

Ben – St. Cloud.
Ben is one of my original trainers turned Mestie. Man. Bestie.  He and I can literally talk about anything.  Fitness talks are pretty much nothing but passion for the pump. Ben is now an Officer in the U.S. Army and our chats are mostly via Facetime and Text.

Chris – NYC
Chris is a 30-something dad that has been through an amazing journey of his own and is now Power lifting.  He is always good for an extra kick in my ass to get the job done and has already shared so much of his knowledge and experience with me.  I also love watching the videos he sends me of his young daughter that he is teaching to lift. Chris inspires me daily.

Mollie – St. Cloud
Mollie and I actually work together.  We both have a similar mindset for what/where we want to go on this fitness journey and at the same time, the understanding of the grueling demands that radio can have on our fitness schedules and more.  She inspires me with her fearless approach to this journey.  Mollie’s focus in her transformation is Cross-Fit.

Jason – Milwaukee
Jason is a Physical Therapist who travels and is one of the most positive lights on fitness social media.  He’s like a shot of Inspirational Adrenaline in the ass.  He even offers some advice when needed.  He is the one that helped me find my love for KT Tape.

Robin – Iowa
Robin is a student, the mother of Batman the cat and always has the most fun snapchats to watch.  Whether we are showing off our current post workout pics or encouraging each other to get up and do the workout anyway, she’s been fantastic for me.

Vinny – Nashville
Vinny, aka Bigg Vinny has been through some amazing transformations including his appearance on NBC’s The Biggest Loser.  From weight loss to now Power Lifting, Vinny and his wife have always been there when I have questions or just need my butt kicked on the road.

Stephanie – St. Cloud
I work with Stephanie as well. We talk Clean Eating All. The. Time.  She is a great resource for a more holistic approach to fitness and nutrition. Steph’s fitness choice at the moment is Barre and Barre Fusion.

Bodyspace/Instagram Fitfam
I have a profile on Bodyspace and the outpouring of support is amazing.  Special shout outs to:
Stephanie Sanzo / StephFitMum- Austrailia
Kristi Youngdahl / kyoungdahl – Minnesota
Chris McGann – Roanoke,US
Todd Morris – Camp Douglas, US
RedRiverRogue – Florence, US
Jaye – Pearl Harbor, US

There are so many others that I could list, but it would take forever and It’s Leg Day Bitchachos.

Don’t forget to look beyond the wall in front of you, there are always like-minded people looking to share stories, inspiration and more with you.  You just have to seek them out.

Good Luck, FitFam! xoxo