More weight.

So, back in the day when I was a high school English teacher, I taught The Crucible. My students and I were always fascinated by the consummate badass Giles Corey.

The quick and dirty on old Giles is that his wife was hanged for witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. And then he was accused…and as you probably know, once you were accused of being a witch in Salem during that time, you were basically screwed. So Giles refused to plead at all; he just kept his mouth shut. The Puritan law stated that a person who didn’t plead couldn’t be tried, so their “just” solution to this was to press the person.

In case you haven’t been pressed lately, this meant they would lay you down, completely naked, place a board over your body, and proceed to pile up a bunch of heavy ass rocks on you until you entered a plea. Or died, I guess. Um…yeah. It’s horrible.

Giles was in his seventies. This old dude suffered the pressing torture for over 2 days, and every time they asked him to enter a plea, he only replied “More weight.” In fact, in true badass Braveheart fashion, he yelled out those two words one final time just before he died.

As in, “Suck on that, Puritan douchebags!”

In The Crucible‘s fictionalized historical account of the witch trials, Giles is emotionally weighted down long before his untimely pressing. He is burdened by guilt after mentioning his wife reading strange books during her “trial” for witchcraft. Not surprisingly, she was hanged, and he feels responsible.

This may be one of those times when you ask yourself, “Where the hell is she going with this?”


Here’s the thing: I think of Giles often when I’m in the gym. As I’m loading up the bar for my next lift, I’ll say to myself, “More weight.” There’s something totally empowering about it. (I also like to imagine I have a really badass gaze going when I’m thinking this…but in reality, I’m probably lucky there’s no mirrors in that part of the gym.)

But there’s way more to this than badassery. I imagine Giles feeling freed with every additional pound of rock they dropped on him. The physical burden of all those rocks might have lightened the emotional burden of what he was going through, somehow lessening his sadness and guilt. At least, I like to think that when I lift.

Of course I’m not fighting against the injustices of Puritan society in one last act of defiance like he was. I’m just working out.

But still…when life’s burdens get heavy, it helps to duck under that bar, put something tangibly heavy on my back and make it my bitch.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s one of the most important reasons I love lifting so much.

You will laugh at my Buddy the Elf reference.
You will laugh at my Buddy the Elf reference.

No matter what kind of burden I’m carrying in my heart when I walk into the gym, loading up the bar and lifting the crap out of some heavy weights makes a world of difference. It takes away the powerlessness I sometimes feel in the face of sadness, disappointment, fear or anger.

So right now, some people I care about are struggling with some majorly heavy emotional burdens. One of them is my friend and workout partner, who is dealing with serious health issues that have kept her out of the gym for a couple of weeks.

The first day that I showed up knowing 1) that she wouldn’t be there and 2) why she wouldn’t be there, I realized almost immediately that I had radically underestimated the power of a lifting partner as awesome as her. I had taken for granted the strength I drew from having her there next to me, working the same lifts, encouraging me when I struggled and congratulating me when I had a win. I missed her and her general awesomeness, and I felt weak.

I faced the bar alone on this particular morning, and again I was glad there was no mirror because yeah, I cried a little. I cried at the sheer powerlessness I felt. My friend wasn’t there and there was nothing I could to help her. There was nothing I could say that would ease her burden or change what she was going through.

I wanted my partner back so we could get into our regular workout groove and her life would be just as it had been, with all that hard stuff having just been a bad dream she had before the alarm clock went off.

More than anything, I wished that I could duck under the metaphorical bar next to her and help her shoulder the hefty weight of all she was dealing with.

But yeah, there was no “metaphorical bar.” This is life, and the only bar I had was the actual one in front of me at the gym that morning. And it looked really friggin heavy. Like, too heavy for me in my sad and somewhat pathetic state.

So I did what I usually do in these kinds of situations. I told myself to shut up. I put on my badass face (I think) and said to myself, “More weight.”

And I lifted the crap out of it.

Yes, my friend’s burden is still heavy, and that weighs on me, too, as someone who cares about her. We all have our emotional weight to carry around, and some days it is almost too much to bear.

But the act of lifting that heavy physical burden, of fighting through the weakness and powerlessness and pushing that iron up high…well, it helps. In some way, it lightens the load on my heart, and makes me stronger inside and out.

More weight? Bring it on.


Put on the suit.

Fun fact: I am a huge Avengers fan. So when I title a post “Put on the suit,” there’s really no excuse for me NOT to include this photo:

Oh, hello.

But this post isn’t necessarily about superheroes. Well it sort of is. But anyway, on with it.

So it’s been a crazy week. (“What else is new, Steph?” you ask.) The school play is tomorrow night so we’ve been running to dress rehearsals, and preparing for shows tonight and Saturday night. But before we GET to Saturday night, we also have a big children’s event at church on Saturday morning, followed by lacrosse practice, then my son’s birthday party on Sunday.

Not to mention the fact that I have family members arriving tonight at 6pm to go over to the school with us to see the play, and the house is a mess and I have no conceivable time between now and 6pm when I could actually clean it. Well, I guess I could be doing it now but I’m pretty sure my husband and kids wouldn’t appreciate my running the vacuum at 5:03am. So yeah, dirty house + impending company=more stress.

My blood pressure just rose writing those two paragraphs.

But in the midst of this week, I had a very cool epiphany on Tuesday.

Tuesday was a kind of “meh” day. After a school delay because of MORE WINTER WEATHER (I can’t even talk about it) I worked from home for most of the day. I also had to miss my date with the iron at 6am because of the aforementioned weather.

I had a ton of work to do but couldn’t seem to get focused.

I tried to focus on cleaning up around the house but still felt so “off.” So I told myself I was too busy (not) working to clean.

I accomplished very little that day except eating a bunch of crap that was in my house for no good reason. You know, just because it was there and I couldn’t put my finger on why I was so stressed and unproductive. So obviously, eating some shitty food was the right answer.

sarcasmI tried to cut my losses by planning a work out date with Mr. Badass at 6pm. But I couldn’t find a sitter.

General malaise ensued. More food was eaten. I figured it was a wasted day and got on with it.

Then I decided to stop being an asshole and signed myself up for the 7pm class to do the ole “kid switcheroo” as my husband came out of the 6pm class.

At 6:20, I (rather reluctantly, in full disclosure) went upstairs to get ready for my 7pm tabata workout.

Again, full disclosure, I tried to think of some excuses that would make it okay for me not to go.

And then it happened.

I pulled on my sports bra and workout gear, and I immediately felt better.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was somehow true. As soon as I was in those black pants with my sweet ass blue training sneaks on, I felt like myself again.

The bad day was left behind. The crappy food. The sense of general wrongness.

I was ready to go kick some ass. (And I did.)

For me on Tuesday, those workout clothes were my equivalent of Ironman putting on the suit.

It felt wrong to choose a photo that did NOT include RDJ’s face.

So what’s your suit? Put it on, and kick some ass.

***update: At 7am, I managed to clean up my house a touch, with the help of a handsome husband. I wouldn’t call it “clean and pretty,” but at least  it is “vaguely presentable.”***

How about a photo Friday?

New levels of accountability: posting a photo every Friday! I hope some of you will join me–post your photos every Friday on the FFG FB page.

Here’s the Part of the Blog Where I Share a Picture Just Taken This Morning:

(after getting my ass kicked during Circuit Blast)

Samm made me laugh.
Samm made me laugh. But the workout was no joke.

So Circuit Blast is a little insane, especially after the workout I did yesterday morning at 6am, which included a total of 32 pullups. Which is a pretty big challenge for me. But I did it and am feeling it today for realzzzz…definitely making today’s workout that much tougher.

It’s 45 second strength intervals (stuff like trap bar deadlift, push press, TRX rows, pushups, pullups, chinups) followed immediately by a 20 second metabolic interval (burpees, high knees, climbers) then 15 seconds “rest” before the next strength station. 16 stations total.

Of course I put “rest” in quotes because it’s barely enough time to stop gasping.

Along with my weekly photo, how’s about a little goal check-in too?

The Part of the Blog Where I Update You On My Progress Toward Goals:

Reduce bodyweight goal:

Well, I kinda refuse to weigh myself that often, and I haven’t yet. I will NOT judge myself by a number on the scale…but I do need to reduce. So I’ll be weighing myself maybe once a month to check progress in a healthier way than scale obsessing on a daily or weekly basis. (PSA: if you obsess over the scale, please stop. It is kinda bullshit.)

But I have been training hard and eating clean about 85% of the time, and I know those are the steps I need to take to reduce. So I’m feeling good that there’s progress happening there.

Strength goals:

  • Pushups: Today I did 15 consecutive pushups at the end of a workout that really challenged my tired body. Considering in the past I would squeak out maybe 10 in a 45 second interval–probably with multiple 1-5 second “breaks” (lame)–I feel like this is solid progress.
  • Deadlifts: I definitely pushed myself on deadlifts this week, and pulled more than I have in the past for the amount of reps we did. (Thanks to encouragement from some awesome partners! Shout outs to Meaghan and Kathrin!) Still not sure what my max is, and hoping we’ll be doing that soon enough so I can get more specific on this goal.
  • Pullups: See above. Definitely feeling good about progress here.

Endurance/Metabolic goals:

Technically this goal isn’t really in the forefront right now, as I want to build strength NOW and then work more on endurance in the 3 months before the Mudder.

However, I did count my burpees during the intervals today and made sure that I did as many on my last round as I did my first round. So I have an idea of where I am now and will continue to track these types of things so I don’t stagnate during this time that I am more focused on strength.

So talk to me, peeps. Share your photos. Update me on YOUR progress towards goals. Let’s hear it.