Friday, December 28, 2012

Wholesome...

It's been a long time since I have sat down and put my thoughts into words. There has been a lot swirling through my mind and body. I want to put my thoughts onto paper to share what I am going through and share my journey.

There are lots of ideas but I want to keep my post simple and to the point. This one is about being wholesome. What is wholesome? Merriam-Webster.com defines it as, "promoting health and well-being of mind or spirit."1 This is part of the equation, but there is more to it.

Wholesome encompasses who you are as a person and what you represent. I have been thinking a lot and have been going through a lot of things in my mind. I have realized a lot of things about my life and experiences that I have gone through, both good and bad, and am asking myself where do I want to head in the future.

I want to be a more wholesome person, I want to surround myself with wholesome people. When I say people, I mean friends. Good friends that are true; who care and are interested in my life and my loved ones that in my life. I think back through my life and of all the people I knew. Some were through school classes, activities and others were through sports and friends. As time has passed and I reflect back; some people were just acquaintances or friends of friends. Others were true friends, people that were genuine, had good souls and truly cared. I want more of the people that truly care around me.

It may have taken some time to realize this and I wish I could have learned this sooner, but I am learning now and making a change. I want to surround myself with great friends. I want to live a life that is full of happiness and joy. I want to approach each day with a positive attitude and make the most of every opportunity.

I have learned a lot this past year and have grown so much. I want to thank Alex for a majority of my growth, he has opened my eyes to so much and I have learned amazing things from him. Thank you baby for all you have done. I also learned a lot from my life coach, Katie, as she has been a huge part of my growth and being my authentic self.  My parents Jane and Roberto and my sister Remy have also been amazing in helping me learn more about myself and life in general. Thank you so much!

So to close my thoughts for right now, reflect on yourself. You have the capacity to make a difference in your life; you have to dig deep and really look inside yourself. Make a change in your life and continue to move forward. One step at a time, day by day, week by week, it will be easier as more time passes. Be patient with yourself, believe in yourself, that you can do it and accept the positive support from those true, genuine friends and loved ones in your life.


1 www.merriam-webster.com

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Long days...

What do you do on the weekends? Is it your time to relax and unwind from the week? Or is it the time for you to run errands and accomplish things that you may not have time for during the week?

My weekends are usually spent at the gym. I wake up early and get myself going for a long day ahead. The amount of time that I spend in the gym will vary on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis. Today I spent a little over six hours in the gym. Yes, I know that is a long time, probably more than most people spend in the gym, but I am doing what I love. 

During the week, I am coaching numerous classes and it is hard to have long training sessions, so in turn I am able to do more on the weekends. I coach early in the morning on Tuesday, Thursday (5:00am) and Friday (5:30am). On Friday's I am at the gym until 7:30pm... this is a very long day but I head home once I am finished and get ready for the next day. 

Waking up early on a Saturday is hard. After being up and about all day Friday, it would be nice to sleep in and rest up at times, but there are things I want to do and accomplish. I can think about my goals and wish for them to come true, but we all know to make something happen, we have to put the work into it ourselves. No one can do it for us. So I wake up at 6:00am, give myself time to drink my coffee, make breakfast and head out. 

It was a brisk 34 degrees this morning, but I open the gym, turn the music on and focus on my warm up. As I write this post, some thoughts run through my head: what do people think of when they are trying to get motivated to go to the gym? I have realized through coaching group classes and one-to-one sessions, some are more determined than others. I'm curious of the thoughts/sayings that people may think to themselves when they are getting up: the bed is so much warmer than the gym; it is too far away; I don't have enough time; it won't be worth it, etc. 

I can guarantee you one thing: yes the bed is definitely warmer than the gym. It may be a fact that the gym is far away; this 'far away' is different for everyone. I used to live about 7-10 minutes away from the gym, then I moved in with Alex, and now I am 25-30 minutes away. So it is definitely further away than before, but I do what I need to do to get to my gym and train hard. Waking up at 6:00am on a Saturday to make it to Max's weightlifting class at 8:00am is what I need to do. I am happy with this though because I love every minute that I am at the gym. I am putting in the hard work that is needed to make progress. I have made this change and I feel great about it because life is amazing right now and I am very grateful for a lot of things. 

Today I took Max's class and we focused on the snatch. I made sure to drill lighter weight and focus on my technique. Once I started to feel the what I needed to change in my lift, I added weight and was able to work up to my PR weight of 143. I tried for 145, but missed three times. I got underneath each lift but lost it because I was too far forward on my toes. I dropped to 133 and focused on hitting that numerous times. Reflecting back on the class, I am happy because I was able to hit 133 a handful of times. Yes, I admit that I would love to hit 145 and plus some, but I am content in a very good way with my day and what I achieved. It is definitely better than laying in my warm bed :). 

After class, I tested for my 1 rep max (RM). I warmed up and ended up hitting 200, to which I was very happy about reaching this number because it has been awhile since I have hit 200. My max a few months ago was 205, so hitting this again was awesome. It was not the fastest front squat to say the least. My friend Julieann was watching and said she wasn't sure if I was going to drop it or finish the squat, which made me laugh because it took me at least a solid five seconds to get out of that sticky spot. I fought for it long and hard but I got it.

Following my lifting, Alex had a interval met con planned for me with pull ups, kettle bell swings and double-unders. While getting ready for this workout, I started chatting with Erica and she joined me, which was fun to have a partner to workout with. Once we finished, Julieann and I started talking again and asked if I was finished or had more planned. We chatted for a little bit, talking about what I would do next and what our plans were for the rest of the day. 

The next part was one rope climb, one muscle-up, on the minute for 15 minutes. This was a lot more challenging, both physically and mentally. I was able to get all the rope climbs, but only 4 muscle ups. The hardest part was doing the muscle up, missing it and then being able to let it go. It was frustrating because I would get almost on top of the rings on some reps and others I would get through but lost it through the rings, so I made sure to clear my mind as much as possible and focus on the next minute. Being able to let go missed reps or lifts is huge. One cannot worry or consume themselves over a missed rep. Yes it is important to look back and see what you did right or wrong or what you can correct from that lift or rep, but once you do, move forward and focus on what is ahead of you. 

Finally, I closed with a max handstand walk, 20 hollow rocks, rest and repeat 4 times. I ended up walking 8ft, 18ft, 21ft and 21ft. I was excited about this since this has been a big weakness of mine. I definitely have more to work on but I am happy that with all the work Alex and I have been putting in with my training, we are able to see  an increase in my handstand walk. I feel more comfortable being inverted and I feel as thought I have more control. I rolled out and stretched for about an hour after, I took my time and really sat in some of the stretches as I feel my body needs it. 

I know people say, how do you roll out/stretch for that long?! (and I feel that there is an exclamation point afterwards lol). With the amount of volume that I am doing, I feel better when I have a good warm up and cool down session. Stretching, using a ball, foam roller or band to mobilize helps keeps me flexible and I am able to stay on top of how my body is feeling. I believe it is very important to constantly check in with yourself. 

To recap, this was a very long day, a little longer than some days but it worked out well since I had more time. This was a lengthy post, so thank you for those who read all the way through. Thank you for reading my blog, you all make a difference in my life. You all have made an impact in my life, thank you to all those who support me, believe in me and encourage me! Thank you to Alex, who has been the biggest supporter and motivator, I am very grateful for you. Thank you to all my friends and family that are there in a positive manner, it means so much. Go enjoy your weekend, go spend your long day doing what you love - ride your bike, relax in a coffee shop, travel to a favorite spot of yours, train all day in a gym, spend it with your family, read your books. Do what it is that makes you feel alive inside.

~ MCA

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Education...


I think continuing education is great. I love to read, study and learn more for my profession. To expand my knowledge and seek new information is amazing. I am so intrigued to learn more and see what other information is out there.

This past weekend Alex and I traveled to Seattle to attend a USAW certification. We flew up on Friday and stayed until Monday, making a mini vacation out of it. It was a great trip, I truly enjoy taking trips with Alex,and we always have a lot of fun, create new memories and make an adventure out of it.

The certification lasted two days, Saturday and Sunday, starting at 8:00am each day. Early mornings on the weekends, but it’s usually the same when we are training. The USAW coaches, Mike and Donna, were both very informative and offered a great amount of help We were both looking forward to this seminar to learn more about the Olympic lifts and assistance exercises. Some information was the same but there were some helpful cues that were beneficial to both of us.

We met a variety of people there, both beginners and advanced individuals, which was good exposure being able to work with different type of athletes. The reason for this is because as a coach, I have the opportunity to work with athletes that are just starting out and for those who have been lifting for years. I get to learn from all of these athletes. Some coaching cues work for some athletes; some people may need more of a tactile cue verses a verbal cue. Having the ability to use both coaching styles is important.

For those reading this, yes, you are an athlete. You put your time and effort into a sport that you love and enjoy. There are some individuals that spend more time and put more into it, but that is what they choose to do. Every person is different and I honor everyone’s dedication to his or her passion. Whether it’s two days a week for an hour each or five days a week for three hours each, to have such an interest in a sport or activity that you make it a reality day in and day out, is amazing and it is something to recognize. So go and be an athlete and be proud of what you do. 

Back to the education piece. I think it's important to invest time and energy into furthering your education. Whether it's going back to school, taking a certication, or reading an article that is relative to what you find important in life. If you want to take cooking classes, get your masters or buy a book at a bookstore that will assist you, do it. Don't be afraid to do what you love; find that passion that lights up your body, mind and soul and follow it.

This is what I'm doing. I'm in the process of constantly learning and adding to my education. I want to go back to school and get my masters. I want to study and become a better coach and futher myself. A huge part that has helped me has been Alex's drive to go back to school. He is so knowledgeable and smart that it inspires me to read and learn more; to follow my passion and write, blog and share my experience with others. He is always sharing so much information, from articles to research papers, to videos with an empowering message. There is a podcast that I put on my facebook page from Joe Rogan's website that Alex had watched; it is simply amazing to say the least. I encourage all to watch it. 

To take an interest in furthering yourself is huge. It is a valuable piece and I hope that everyone has the desire to keep learning. Take a step to learn more, read a book or article. Go back to school; do what you need to do to seek more information. It is a constant process that will take time. It won't happen over night, but know that you are putting in the work and it will all pay off in the long run. You are investing in yourself. Every dollar you spend, each hour you study, it is all worth it. Enjoy this journey, focus on the positive and be present every step of the way.  

~ MCA

Friday, December 7, 2012

What is healthy?

Healthy. I hear the word all the time and I definitely use it a lot. What does it mean to you?

Does it mean, working out? How about, eating clean - i.e. eating less minimally processed food or less boxed items or more veggies? What about visiting your doctor or dentist for your annual or bi-annual visit?

In my opinion, living a healthy life has so many components. Working out/training, sleep, nutrition, stress, work/job, professional and personal relationships. Of course, these factors can be in any order but what I think is important is the quality of each.

I was talking with my dad, Roberto, the other night about sleep. We were discussing what I considered 'good sleep'. It made me think a little deeper about the sleep I get and if it is really good sleep. He spoke about the quality of sleep, am I sleeping the entire time or do I wake up throughout the night? I realized that if I sleep through the night, I feel better and I am more refreshed.

I admit, I am not getting a full 8 hours of sleep every night. Some nights I can get the 8 hours I want, other nights I may only get 6 1/2 hours. For example, Wednesday nights: I work until 7pm, drive home, arrive around 7:30pm. I will get ready for the next day, pack my food, shower, clean up, get clothes ready and then turn in for the night. If Alex is around, he helps me and that is amazing because it allows me to hopefully go to bed sooner. My goal every Monday and Wednesday night: 8:30pm. Actual time that I hit the bed: 9pm-ish. I wish I could just pass out as soon as my head hits that pillow but after training and coaching, it still takes me a little bit to unwind. So it is more around 9:30pm some nights.

Why do I go to bed this early on Wednesday? I coach early Thursday mornings, with a 3:50am wake up call. I am smiling/laughing right now because I can probably see some people's eyes wide open and their jaw drop. Yeah, it's really early and not the average wake up time for most people, but I love what I do and in order to do it with full attention, I have to go to bed early. This is important to me.

So there was small tangent right there, but my point was to show that a lot of thought and energy goes into my sleep and what is important to have 'good sleep' for me. Every person is different but I believe sleep is important to your recovery and daily activity. Add in long hours of training and it is very imperative to performing well.

In regards to the other aspects of living a healthy life: relationships, work, nutrition, stress - minimal stress that is, you should look at each aspect and define what healthy is to you. From my perspective, having a life that is balanced is very important. I try and find balance every day, reevaluating each component and making sure that I feel stable and am enjoying life at the same time.

I used to stress a lot about stuff, big and little things. I would always make sure to get things done right away. This definitely served me, I was on top of all my 'to-do lists' but then I was always looking at the next item on the list, verses enjoying what I just accomplished. Ask my mom and dad and even my sister. They all could definitely tell you stories :)

I have learned a lot and have 'chilled out' more from my life experiences and the people in my life. Thank you to everyone who has taught me something. I am living a healthier life each day. Find your healthy and live it.

One last note... I have updated my website: www.mcafitness.com, and if you have a chance to glance through it and share your thoughts, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

~ MCA

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

One day at a time...

It's been a good amount of days that have passed since I have composed my thoughts. Every day I think of what I want to write about, lately I have put some long days in the gym and by the time I get home, I am spent, but I am happy. I have many thoughts and ideas that pop up, so organizing them in my mind is fun.

So with the time I have right now, I am thinking about the days I spend in the gym. The long hours that are put into my training. It is one day at a time, one workout, lift or movement at a time. Of course, there is a plan, a strategy behind it. The master mind is Alex :). He sits down, will compose our programming, break it down into months, weeks and days. I admire the knowledge and intellect that he has. He motivates me to learn. To read and study so I can know more, so I can be a better coach, for myself, for him, my clients, friends and family. He spends a lot of time doing this and I am so thankful for it, all of it. Thank you so much Alex.

After the programming is in order, we talk about it, discuss what we are working towards and make a plan of action. Then comes the work, the hours in the gym. Good thing I love the gym :), I could and do spend many hours in here (currently on break between classes). Most every day that I train is plus three hours. One hour (sometimes more) is mobility and my shoulder rehab/strengthening exercises. Then I will do my workouts for the day, some days are sprints, other days are dynamic lifts, then some sort of met con. Of course, there are other lifts and accessory work that are included through out the week. Then, hopefully another 45-60 minutes of stretching.

Not every day is a great day. Some days are harder than others; they take more mental strength than anything. On Mon I have a workout that beat me down. I had already had two full days of training and this was my third. I had the hardest time trying to do a muscle up. I tried and tried, over and over. If you were in the 9am class, you probably saw me staring at the rings, determined to get those muscle ups. I did the workout with my friends Leni and Stav, they were working through the muscle ups and the other lifts and were encouraging me at the same time. Thank you so much Len and Stav, I really appreciate the support you both offered. Your words helped me. I tried so hard to keep it together, but it ate at me, deep inside. I knew I could do this movement because I have done them over and over before.

I finally got three and then was able to move forward, but then I came back to my rings and tried again. I was not able to get any more in the workout. I broke down after, cried my heart out. I could not share this with you all, but I am being my true self. I am being honest, open and sharing the days that are hardest for me. Not every day may be a day where you hit a personal record (PR), but you should put your heart into your training and what is important to you.

I took some time to recover and cool down. Then I refocused and worked on my next life. Funny thing is, I had muscle ups as accessory later. I tried a different strategy: switched rings and used a box to get my grip verses just jumping onto the rings, but it made a difference and I got all the muscles ups. I didn't give up, I kept going and I will keep going.

Take one day at a time. Focus on what you have going on in that day. Yes, what you did in the past is important and it's smart to plan for the future, but make sure to stay in the present moment and value all you are doing.

~ MCA

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Every inch...

As the day turns to night, lights turn on to keep the 'daytime' alive. Sitting up late, with many things running through my head, what thoughts do I want to write.

I keep turning back to something I wanted to share, the speech from Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday. I had never watched this film until this recent Thanksgiving. Alex and I spent Thanksgiving with Connie and  Steve and we enjoyed this movie after a day filled with good food and great company.

It was a great film and the part that really moved me the most was Al Pacino's speech when they are sitting in the locker room near the end of the movie. The quote can be found here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0146838/quotes. I wanted to share just part of it, but I think you have to read the entire speech (below):

"I don't know what to say, really. Three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional lives. All comes down to today, and either, we heal as a team, or we're gonna crumble. Inch by inch, play by play. Until we're finished. We're in hell right now, gentlemen. Believe me. And, we can stay here, get the shit kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb outta hell... one inch at a time. Now I can't do it for ya, I'm too old. I look around, I see these young faces and I think, I mean, I've made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I, uh, I've pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who's ever loved me. And lately, I can't even stand the face I see in the mirror. You know, when you get old, in life, things get taken from you. I mean, that's... that's... that's a part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losin' stuff. You find out life's this game of inches, so is football. Because in either game - life or football - the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half a step too late or too early and you don't quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast and you don't quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They're in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team we fight for that inch. On this team we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when add up all those inches, that's gonna make the fucking difference between winning and losing! Between living and dying! I'll tell you this, in any fight it's the guy whose willing to die whose gonna win that inch. And I know, if I'm gonna have any life anymore it's because I'm still willing to fight and die for that inch, because that's what living is, the six inches in front of your face. Now I can't make you do it. You've got to look at the guy next to you, look into his eyes. Now I think ya going to see a guy who will go that inch with you. Your gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team, because he knows when it comes down to it your gonna do the same for him. That's a team, gentlemen, and either, we heal, now, as a team, or we will die as individuals. That's football guys, that's all it is. Now, what are you gonna do?"

When I heard this, it made me reflect back to the conversations Alex and I have had. We talk about how every second counts, every detail is important. It is about preparation, being aware of all the little things in life and how each one plays a part into something bigger. He has explained that in football, there is so much more than meets the eye, which I definitely see now since I have been watching more football than I used to.

This is applicable to other aspects in life, not just sports. Taking the time to realize all the fine details in life is important. As some people say, don't sweat the small stuff, come to find out, there are a lot of things that turn out to be the small stuff. There is a book with this title, "Don't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff," by Richard Carlson, PH.D. Thank you to Connie for lending me this book, I am almost finished with it.

To all the small things in life, take enjoyment in them and see appreciate the smile that they put on your face, or the laughter that it brings you.

~ MCA