Lift like a girl…

My wing-men…

I was once a puffy armed young man, spending my Friday nights in the gym, suppressing protein drink burps, clapping my hands as chalk settled on my shirt, and chest thumping with my buddies in between sets of heavy bench presses.  Hey, it was Friday night.  What did we need girls for…?

My training partners back then were also puffy armed guys, just like me.  It was always cool to be seen and heard working out with the other strongest guys in the gym.  They were my brothers in iron; they were my wing-men.  No girls allowed.

Of course that was in an era when few girls dared to enter the gym anyway.  If one did enter, it was rare if she would find her way to the business end of the gym; where the free weights clanked.  This was the era when the cardio bunny was born.

Lift like a girl…

My wing-man is now a girl.  She’s hot, but she’s no cardio bunny.  Beyond hot though, she is stronger, more focused, and more disciplined than any male workout partner I have ever had. Strong, focused, and disciplined; those are valuable qualities in a training partner.  She’s also dependable.

For much of the past two decades, I have preferred training alone, or with women.  Each has their value.  The values of having female training partners are numerous.  Some of my partners have been high level competitive bodybuilders, while other have just been women who prefer to take the weight room very seriously.

Why I lift like a girl:

  • No ego.  The women I have trained with could care less how heavy a weight is, relative to how they are managing it.  They focus more on how heavy a weight can feel.  Though they rarely lift as heavy as I do, they are always in the conversation, and I’m okay with that.  The women I’ve trained with do so with a greater purity in their form – something I rarely see from men. Serious female athletes tend to extract more from a singular repetition. Over time, this adds up.
  • Concentration.  Serious women apply serious concentration to their workouts.  When we lift together; there is usually no out-there out there during the sessions.  There is only the workout, and the communication between us, which is often silent.
  • Performing at my best.  If I’m blessed enough to workout with the hottest, most serious athletes in town, and I usually do, you can believe that I will live my entire life through every single repetition while their eyes are on me.  This is my time to shine, and their time to admire.  What’s more motivating than that…?
  • I want what she has.  Whether I’m looking at my partner’s exercise form, the meat on her back during a lift, or staring at the veins across her abs in-between sets, I want what she has.  I just want it on a more male scale.

No question, the best workouts I have ever had have been with women.  The muscular gains I have made during training phases with female partners have always been exceptional.  Take ego out of the picture, add in some feminine intensity, and muscle just grows.

Yes, I lift like a girl and I'm proud of it...

Yes, I lift like a girl and I’m proud of it…

Captured by Carrie

My current partner is Carrie.  Carrie chooses not to compete in bodybuilding.  If she did, she could compete at a national level today. Though her physique is of that cass, her competitive interests are with CrossFit and Hapkido.  Carrie has more balls than any male training partner I have ever had, yet has taught me the value of ovarian fortitude.  She is the most committed, most focused, and most intense athlete I have ever worked with.  Our sessions are intense, but they are always fun.

Striations like Ruffles Potato Chips on those delts...

Carrie: Striations like Ruffles Potato Chips on those delts…

What makes my relationship with Carrie so unique is that she is also my friend – in a way that a guy can be a friend.  That means when I tell her to “arch your back and blow” during a set of lat pulldowns, she knows why I smirk as I say it.

Carrie and I train together, run together, and dine together frequently.  I’m proud of how professional and serious we keep the workouts, but the inferences and innuendos we share make it fun, and can be motivating for each of us.

There are times when I’m watching her do low back extensions that I’m blown away be the Christmas tree on her low-back.  Other times I just think about licking the sweat off of it – and I have no problem telling her that.  That’s just how we roll.

Heterosensual…

Don’t read too much into this, Carrie is happily married.  Most of my female training partners have been married.  That’s okay, I often spend as much time with them as their husbands do, and I often get to see as much skin.

I’m not saying that training with a woman is for everyone, least of all for a puffy armed young man who would rather hang out with his ‘Bros’ on a Friday night.  I am saying that training with a female adds a level of intensity, intelligence, and a balance to my workouts, as well as to my perspective, that I have yet to find with one of my ‘Bros’.   Hey,  once you go chick, you’ll always get thick.  Read into that what you will… rc

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I hit the “stop” button on the  blender inside my head.

Oh, and there’s this from the Vulgar Boatmen.  Enjoy…

The inner light…

The inner light…

It took me a long time to have this picture taken.  That is, it took a long time during the photo shoot.  You see, I had to stop and cry a lot.  Taking my shirt of, and revealing the body shown below made me feel worthless – based on where that body had previously been.

Roy_Pig

Taken on 9/11/12. Ironic, as it looks as though I committed and act of terrorism — AGAINST MYSELF!

I had to come face to face with it though – with what I had allowed to happen to my body.

This photo was taken on 9/11/2012.  Ironic, as it appears I was in the process of committing an act of terrorism – against myself.

In truth, I just let my guard down for a while.  “For a while” could easily have turned into forever, but I didn’t let that happen.

No, I’m not going to insert of photo later on in this post of how I look today.  Trust me, I look fucking great.  That’s not my point.

I’m sharing this for two reasons:

1)  To let those who struggle with issues of personal fitness, eating, and body image know that we are all human, and we can all become vulnerable to life’s challenges – even experienced fitness trainers.

As a fitness trainer, former marathon runner, lifter, cyclist, bodybuilder, and life-time practitioner of daily action, I became vulnerable to all things which anyone else might find blocking their path; depression, relationship issues, self-loathing, junk-food-medication, alcohol, and more.

Once I when I realized I was down though, I chose to get back up, and here I stand.

2) To remind those prejudiced, zealot fitness assholes who think they know everything about life, about exercise and eating, about how to change the body, the mind, and the attitude, but who actually prize physical appearance above all other virtues, that at the time this picture was taken, I was still very active.

Shell shocked, but still functioning…

At the time the picture above was taken, I was running with my running pack each week, and fairing quite well.  I was lifting daily, and ahead of the game with my poundages.  I was still a good business man.  I could still crack a nice joke.  I could still turn a phrase like ringing a bell.  I was still a good father, a good friend, and a good citizen in my community.  And what I looked like didn’t have a fucking thing to do with who I was on the inside.

Yes, I want to look good – but looking good is only a shell.  Though my shell may ebb and flow through the rocky course of my life, so long as I live my intentions, who I am on the inside should never waiver.

I no longer look like the picture above.  If I did though, the only thing that would be changed about me, would be how I’m perceived by (some) people around me.

But that wouldn’t really be about me, would it…?  It would be about them, and their prejudiced tendencies with regard to physical appearance and beauty, which can be separate from functional fitness.

In truth, I do prefer the way I look today over the way I looked in that picture.  And trees are made out of wood.  I went to a party several weeks ago wearing a pair of jeans I could have worn in high school.  There was a confidence in doing that which escapes description.

The confidence that comes with looking better and possessing a higher level of personal fitness does, I believe, enable me to contribute better to all facets of my existence.  Perhaps that is the single greatest rationalization of my life.  I don’t know…

Looking good, feeling good…

This I do know: There is a difference between aesthetic fitness, and functional fitness.  Aesthetic fitness is simply the act of looking good – looking good is optional.  I believe all of us though, have a responsibility to be functionally fit – the progression of our society depends on it.

I won’t attempt to deny the superficiality that is behind my pursuit of being aesthetically fit.  I would rather go through life with aesthetic fitness than without it.  I try very hard though, not to judge any person for any reasons, least of all for what they look like or how they function.

In my day-to-day psyche I work very hard to remember that in the end, none of us will be judged by the shape our abs or whether we do sinister justice to that little black dress.

In the end, we will only be judged by the deeds of our minds, of our hearts, by our actions toward others, and that whatever we do, be done out of love.

Taking me back…

As far as getting back to my current level of conditioning an appearance goes, to change the landscape of the human body; both in terms of ability and in terms of appearance, there are not two more important words than:

–          Awareness

–          Discipline

I became aware of that which I wanted to change.  I applied the discipline required to affect those changes.

In fitness, I believe these are the only two words which matter...

In fitness, I believe these are the only two words which matter…

With a healthy respect for those two words, an entire attitude can be formed, and a body can be changed… Be well.  rc

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I hit the “stop” button on the blender in my head.
Oh, and there is this from Poi Dog Pondering.  Enjoy….

On social cancers, building walls, and establising legitimacy…

No real cancer answer…

I have believed for some time that the future of humanity depends largely on religious tolerance.  I believe that through my very core.  To say the same thing from a less optimistic direction, it is my opinion that religious intolerance is a social cancer metastasizing, and preparing to deliver a slow and excruciating and death to mankind.

Of course the conundrum in that scenario is that humanity’s cancer can’t be treated or cured by a select few practitioners such as priests, popes, or prime ministers.  For this cancer to be cured it will need to be an effort in which the entire congregation opens their minds and steps outside of their comfort zone.  Let the followers lead, and the leaders will follow.  Well, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Cancer: Real pretty from the outside...

We can see this pattern unfolding in other areas of life as well – everyday, and all around us.  Divisions in nations, politics, the sciences, and social issues in the media are increasing as time expands.  Chasms extend.  Harder and faster lines are being drawn as cultures and subcultures push further apart, and shore themselves into deeper isolation.  As these divisions become wider, the walls separating them become more important to those behind the walls.

Let’s face it, we just need somebody to fear – or somebody to hate…

Chasms in lesser places…

There is an increasing divisiveness in the fitness communities as well. We have clean eating vs. IIFYM, Yoga vs. Pilates, Paleo eating vs. Mediterranean eating, barefoot running vs. ultra-stabilizing shoes, P90x vs. Tai Chi, and CrossFit vs. the gym on the corner.  Of course, these are just light examples of such divisions.  Hard and fast lines are being drawn, walls are being built, and unwitting insurgents are being bread by way of the social media with each new week, and with each new trend.

Think about it: the ways that fitness factions use their constituencies, information, and the media to increasingly establish their legitimacy is not too different from the ways religions, nations, and causes use their constituencies, information, and the media to establish their legitimacy.  There is a blurry line though, between establishing legitimacy, and creating isolation.  Just look at around…

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall.”

Oh, and when you’re done, can we please recycle the materials so we can build a new wall in Gaza, or in Texas…?

We'll teach those barefoot runners who's in charge!"  And I wouldn't want my sister to marry one...

In fitness subcultures, unlike in national or religious identities, loose borders are first established by the followers of organic trends such as barefoot running.  As an organic trend catches on and increases, speculators identify the trends and see them as profit centers.  They then seek to take control of those borders, redraw them, and depend on those who initially carved them out organically, to take protect them.  The followers of the organic trend have then become followers of a corporate trend, and the organic subculture dissipates in favor of a for-profit trend. Then again, maybe that is how happens in states, nations, and faiths…

The leaders of fitness business trends don’t scare me as much as the foot-soldiers who guard these borders do.  The followers, or devotees, of many modern fitness movements are the militia of these fitness factions.  Like other militias, these people often don’t even understand the flexibility of the borders they strive to protect, yet they make the most noise, and throw the first gas cocktails when feeling threatened.  Many aren’t too willing to try and understand the other factions.  Hope fades in fitness, as it does in Gaza.

“For this cancer to be cured it will need to be an effort in which the entire congregation opens their minds and steps outside of their comfort zone.  Let the followers lead, and the leaders will follow.”

Getting good with groups…

There must be some reasons that life, in biological and in social terms, unfolds in groups rather than in singularities.  We have multiple languages, corporations, skin tones, species, radio stations, landscapes, faiths, and fitness pursuits.  Life varies.  There is simply no denying the divisions of life that we live among and between.

I teach a very specific style of strength training.  I see a great deal of utility in what I teach and I’m proud of how I teach it.  I don’t, however, see it as absolute.  Nor do I see what I do as a good fit for everyone.  It’s a good fit for those who see it as a good fit for them.  So too should be Judaism, Hinduism, and Catholicism.

An open mind is a dangerous thing, and must be stopped in our lifetime...

In this age of increasing divisiveness, I don’t find it surprising that people may not agree with one way of eating vs. another way, or of one way of exercise vs. another.  What does surprise me though, is how passionate people become about disagreeing with others.

Building walls and screaming through them is our new national identity.  It just seems to me that channeling all that passion into understanding others, even if we disagree with them, might be a better use of our energy.  I guess I would also like to see that applied to the way we view nations, faiths, and causes as well…  Be well.  rc

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from the Replacements.  Enjoy…

The Mother Of Reinvention…

“Necessity is the mother of invention”  Unknown

Carrie Sandoval and Carson Kressley...

Not yet invented, or reinvented, mother Carrie Sandoval seen demonstrating her world class photography skills for Carson Kressley.  More on that later…

Jack Of All Activities, Master Of None

As a fitness trainer I have worked to complete a variety of physical accomplishments.  Some of these I have enjoyed and kept primary in my life; they connect the thinking me with the skeletal me.  I have found much fulfillment in strength training, trail running, and surfing.  I have excelled in strength training – not so much with surfing and trail running, though I do enjoy them.

Strength training; the methadone of my existance...

Strength training; the methadone of my existance…  2005

I have participated in other activities because fitness is my livelihood and feel I should be adept in a variety of actions.  I have found little joy in running marathons, paddling a flat board across the open ocean, horseback riding, or hitting a little ball a couple of hundred yards with a stick – but I can say I have participated in them, and done so with serious intentions.

Comparing Me With Myself

In pursuit of physical challenges, I have rarely compared myself to anyone else.  If I have felt any need for comparison, I have occasionally compared the me of today, with the me of yesterday.   In truth, I’m not too competitive even with myself.  I do the things I do, intensely and passionately, because pushing my body hard sooths my reckless mind, regardless of how well I perform. I understand that the human body will only get so strong and so fast.  To want too much of these, I would be physically greedy, and I’m just not a greedy guy – usually.  I also respect that we are designed to age and to lose our capacities over time, and I’m good with that.

Post Long Beach Marathon -- King Taco in hand...

Post Long Beach Marathon — King Taco in hand…  2008

Bustin’ Down The Door

The first time Carrie entered my studio I was immediately struck by her musculature.   She had been introduced to me by her Hapkido Master, who was my neighbor located behind my fitness studio.  He felt strength training would be complimentary to Carrie’s increasing fitness regimen.  Two days later she began strength training under my guidance. Three things were immediately evident about Carrie:

  1. She is genetically gifted, both in strength and in structure.
  2. She has a supreme work ethic.
  3. She is a discriminating eater.

With that combination, in my mind, she was about to become a competitive bodybuilder.  I would confront her about this on and off for over a year as her development advanced.  In an aw-shucks kind of way, she expressed that she really wasn’t interested in that.  That’s okay.  To be great at something and not want to compete, displays a rare humility.

Thies beauty is a beast...

This beauty is a beast…

Ups And Downs

Carrie made fast progress with her strength and with her physique.  As hers were on the rise though, mine were on the way down.  Due to a couple years of scattered workouts, intermittent eating patterns, and boredom, my strength as well as my physique was waning.   As this occurred, I began comparing myself more and more to Carrie.  Consider that; a professional fitness trainer was now comparing himself to a 40-year old mother of four.

No, you're not hallucinating.  Incline bench presses with 50 lb. dumbbells -- in perfect form...

No, you’re not hallucinating. Incline bench presses with 50 lb. dumbbells — in perfect form…

Though I was stronger than Carrie in most every movement, she was in the conversation.  After a year though, our directions crossed paths and she became stronger than me in nearly every movement in the gym.  There was no shame in that for me – she’s just gifted and hard working.  This did illuminate though, that I was becoming more content with being in a lesser state of fitness.  Carrie would also become leaner – much leaner.

Enough Is Enough

Carrie wasn’t always the beast who roared her way through the deadlift forest.  Four years ago she was eating at McDonald’s 3-4 times per week.  Her typical order was 2 regular hamburgers, a large order of fires, and a regular Dr. Pepper.  Poor eating was where she was.  Physical activity was where she was not.  She even nicknamed herself, The Cookie Monster, for her love of cookies.

The cookie monster is no longer on the loose...

The cookie monster is no longer on the loose…

Whether it was out of necessity or not, this mother decided to reinvent herself.  In addition to Hapkido, she began fitness classes in that same studio.  Eventually Carrie was handed some eating tips by guru Bud Ravenscroft.  Adherence to these suggestions fostered noticeable progress with her weight loss, and that progress changed the way Carrie viewed and used food. Carrie also changed the way she viewed muscle.  Previously resistant, she came to accept the value of muscle on a woman.  That’s when she chose a new path – the path of most resistance.

Carrie has her tickets to the gun show...

Carrie has her tickets to the gun show…

The Mother Of My Reinvention

As this 40-year old mother blew by me, I found new inspiration.  I was still ahead of the game for being over 50, but came to feel I should be stronger and faster than anyone I train, or at least as strong, and at least as fast.  It became time for me to walk the walk once again.

Twelve weeks in and finally seeing me again...

Twelve weeks in and finally seeing me again…

Since we were evenly matched in strength and workout intensity, I approached Carrie about leaving my care as a client, and joining me as a workout partner.  She felt this would be mutually beneficial and agreed.  That was about three months ago.

They eyes have it, and if the don't the striations do...

They eyes have it, and if they don’t, the striations do…

My workouts with Carrie have raised my game.  I push myself harder so I can teach her better.  I push myself harder because I’m inspired by her.  I believe this is mutual.  I’m using poundages I have not used in years, and I’m loving my workouts like a junkie loves a hot spoon.  Our Sunday morning trail runs on Monserate Hill are epic, and have become an integral part of each week’s rebirth.

Getting back to being me again...

Getting back to being me again…  Monserate Hill, 2012

Of Grindage And Grace

What I have learned most from Carrie is something I have known for years, have taught to hundreds of others, yet not practiced myself too much of late – that for success in fitness, eating is 80% of the game.  I’m eating today, better than I have eaten in years.  Those eating choices are showing up in how I look, how I perform with my activities, and even in how I think.  I have, it seems, engaged in a reinvention of my own, sponsored by this mother.

The traditional post-Monserat Greek Salad.  Z-Fafe, Bonsall, CA

The traditional post-Monserat Greek Salad. Z-Cafe, Bonsall, CA

If you had told me four years ago that the person I would most compare myself to – most strive to be like, and most be inspired by, would be a forty-two year old  mother of four, I would have laughed in your face.  Now Carrie has become a mother of six; her four children, and her two reinventions – hers and mine.  Be well.   rc

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My last essay for 2012.  Please have a safe and healthy holiday season.  Check back in early January to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head…

Ab-solutley, NOT!

Short and sweet this week.  Some thoughts on abdominal work which I posted to my Contemplative Fitness Facebook page a few weeks back.  If you haven’t yet “liked” that page, please check it out today.

Please check back here in two weeks for a fresh essay on the philosophy behind the fitness.

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Abs: completely misunderstood…

Despite all the crunches, sit-ups, and kinetic abdominal exercises that you have done in the past, and all the ab exercises which have been crammed down your throats by the so-called “experts” in the fitness media, the primary function of your abdominal muscles has been long forgotten, or perhaps has never even been understood by you, the owner of the abdominals.

The abdominal muscles (and tendons) exist on your torso, along with muscles of the low and middle back, to stabilize your torso when your body is under strain. That is, they are meant to flex much more often than they are meant to move.

Sadly, as lists of the “top 5”ab exercises get thrown around the internet, the gym, the office, and the TV set, the most relevant and functional of all abdominal exercises never seem to make those lists.  Here’s the beautiful part though; if you’re a regular strength trainer, runner, cyclist, or just an active person, you’re probably already offering your abdominals all the functional training they need.

My two favorite examples exercises which strengthen and condition the abs, aside from standing up and siting down, are deadlifts and squats – the acts of weighted standing up and sitting down. Without realizing it, we flex our abdominal muscles, as well as the muscles of our low-backs when we sit and stand – this flexion is what keeps us from scattering our vertebrae all over the room.

Flexing the abdominal muscles is a natural involuntary response during most strenuous movement, including strength training, running, cycling, and gardening. In strength training for example, regardless of whether the exercises are performed on machines, with dumbbells, while seated or standing, your abdominal muscles continually flex to keep your spine in-line.

Notwithstanding, kinetic abdominal exercises such as sit-ups, crunches, and leg raises do not determine or influence the shape of the abdominal muscle – AT ALL. Genetic predisposition does that. The only tendons in your body that fuse muscle to muscle, and not muscle to bone, are the tendons of the abdominal group. Those tendons are what create the lines between the muscular sections of your would-be six-pack. Your mom and dad dealt you those tendons, and no exercise you choose will influence genetic predisposition.

Yes, the abdominals do allow one to sit-up and to crunch, but movement is a secondary responsibility for the abs. Flexion for the sake of stability is their main mission. If you do any amount of regular deadlifting, squatting, standing or sitting, then your abdominal muscles are getting their share of functional work.

If you would like to add a kinetic movement into your workout, I suggest the cross-over crunch (commonly referred to as the bicycle maneuver) shown in the attached video. This movement recruits upper, medial, and lower abs, as well as including a torso rotation to increase flexibility in the low back and obliiques. This is a very efficient exercise, and the only ab exercise I do on a regular basis… Be well.  rc

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button the blender in head.

Yes, each day does matter…

I began yesterday thinking I was having the worst possible day…

I woke up to an ice-cold shower – my water heater had developed a leak, and shut down overnight.

I had planned to spend time catching up on food journaling, and correspondence with my clients after my morning sessions were complete – my internet went out mid-morning.

I chose to cancel my afternoon sessions so I could seek resolution to the internet problem, and to have a new water heater installed.

A loss of time equals loss of income for a sole proprietor – this is never a good thing, least of all in the months after the holidays.

Notwithstanding, I missed my own scheduled workout due to the visits from AT&T, and from the plumbers.

Nothing was going well, I was completely out of my rhythm, and there was no sign of my bad day synching back up into a pleasant conclusion.

Eventually, I got my water heater replaced, and I was able to get my internet reestablished – for a while.  I was elated to be connected again.

The first email I opened was from my friend Shelly.  She had asked me if I heard about a mutual friend of ours, who had apparently had a heart attack overnight.  Shelly advised me that our friend, Gretchen, was in the ICU of a nearby hospital.  Through another mutual friend, Gretchen’s cousin Kim, I received the following message a few hours later:

“I just spoke with my mom. Gretchen suffered a severe heart attack. It is estimated that it took between 10-30 minutes to re-start her heart, during which she was deprived of oxygen to her brain. She is heavily sedated to keep from the seizures/tremors she is experiencing that could cause further brain damage. The neurologist said that the next 24 hours are critical, and not much further diagnosis can be made until she is more stable. He said that if/when she comes out of this state, there is little chance of a full recovery.”

Every time I think I’m having the worst possible day, I try to look for a reminder – some little thing that will remind me that things can often be much worse. Sometimes I have to work hard to find such a reminder. Yesterday the reminder was delivered to me, via email.

Gretchen passed away that afternoon. Only a few years separated us in age.   Gretchen was a beautiful woman, with a kind heart.  She was an active person who loved her family, her pets, and her friends. She enjoyed living, being active, and being social.

Gretchen...

Gretchen…

The sudden loss of someone so young, so active, and so vibrant is always shocking.  I really don’t know that there are any lessons to be learned from this. There is though, that little reminder of the biggest cliché I utter from week to week; that every day matters.

Suddenly that thought doesn’t sound so cliché.

No internet, no hot water, no workout for a day – small stuff, no problem.  Actually, experiencing, and recovering from such small problems seems like a pretty good way to go through life.   “through life”… rc

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Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head….

Going Home, by Mark Knopfler

Not quite, dead…

Yesterday I coached a friend and workout partner to a 315 pound deadlift – almost.  I have said this to her, as I have said this to clients thousands of times:

“I will never put a weight in your hands, or at the ends of your legs, unless I am certain you can do it for at least one complete repetition.”

That turned out to be a distortion on my part yesterday.  She and I joked and made small talk in her car as we headed to a nearby urgent care facility to seek treatment for her back.  No broken vertebrae, just a muscular strain.  I was asked to leave them room as the nurse shot up her back with a strong anti-inflammatory.

I bought her lunch after we left urgent care, and I then watched nervously as she ate.  She was rigid and moved cautiously, with difficulty at times.  I cried some, and said I’m sorry over and over again.  I fought an increasing nausea as the day continued. I just couldn’t let go.

Humbly, she insisted this wasn’t my fault.  We had discussed earlier that often times earning the biggest rewards can require taking the biggest risks.  There was talk between us after lunch of her next attempt at 315.  There was also talk between us of no future attempts of a single-rep-max, ever.  I don’t even recall where we left off.

After my skydiving accident in 1993, I swore I would never deadlift again.  These days I deadlift about every 10 days or so.  Yesterday I watched my partner collapse to the ground after failing with 315 lbs.  I joked with her and laughed until I realized she was hurt – then I was horrified.  What purpose is there, I have been thinking ever since, in lifting such heavy weights…?  Or running marathons…?  Or driving cars in circles at 200 mph…?

There are blurry lines between what we want to do, what we can do, and what we should do.  Identifying these lines is a challenge to be sure.  Reconciling where we fit between those lines, or if we should fit between them at all, can be maddening.  There are no clear answers.  Still, we choose to do the things we choose to do because we love to do them.  I guess that should be enough.

At the end of most days I still believe that sitting still is simulating death.  At the end of the day yesterday, I had to wonder if sitting still doesn’t actually preserve life… rc

SEEN BELOW.  CARRIE SANDOVAL SUCCESSFULLY PERFORMING A RAISED DEAD LIFT AT 275 LBS.