3 months ago, I was stepping GINGERLY into the shower with my husband and I looked him in the eye and said “I’m never going to PR my squat again and I’m okay with it.”
The last time I was able to max was Fall of 2017. And my joint health has just been such a problem. But I didn’t ever give up. And I never stopped working.
In 2016, I had my first trip to the knee surgeon. The surgeon gave me 5 diagnoses on my left knee and assumed the right knee was in a similar status because I have a congenital defect. To simplify it – I was born with my knee caps in the wrong place and dislocate very easily. The surgeon told me that there was little to nothing that he could do. To quote him as closely as possible, what he said was “one day you’re going to not be able to bear the pain anymore and you’re going to say “it’s time” (to get a total knee replacement). The reason that he said “one day” is that if I went for a TKR, it would be a long and slow rehab and it would probably remove me from competitive CrossFit and Olympic lifting.
I’ve done the work that the knee surgeon recommended – I tape my knees (McConnell taping technique), wear braces, ice, compress and done so much PT.
Fast forward. May. I can pinpoint it. It was the Thursday before we were to do Murph. I had just done a shitton of double unders. I mean. SO MANY. Because my assignment was to get 10 sets of 30 unbroken and to keep going until I could do that. So. I did. And it took me about 45 minutes and 23,000 attempts. I was moving onto Snatches and had set up on the OLY platform. Next to the platform was a stack of weights that butted up to the weight shelf. I put my water bottle there, but being clumsy, I dropped it. I walked around to the front of the shelf to retrieve it, but I couldn’t reach. So, I stooped down and leaned forward, reaching for the water bottle. My knee gave a loud pop. But that was it. I got my water bottle and went back to practicing snatches.
Middle of the night, I got up to go to the bathroom, and I could not bear ANY weight on my knee.
After a day, we went to urgent care. Got x-rays. Got sent home with a big metal hinge brace and prescription for 400mg Ibuprofen. Doctor’s appointment and then surgeon appointment and then MRI and another surgeon’s appointment resulted in one course of oral prednisone (and a weight gain of about 8 lbs which is BOOOO HISSS) and then a cortisone shot in my knee … because … I tore my medial meniscus this time. I started PT at Rokke Therapy and had to lay off squatting.
But then. Slowly, strength in my legs started to come back. Jake programmed SO MANY exercises besides the PT (which I still do EVERY MORNING) … following the PT’s recommendations of lots of single leg work. Lots of slow, steady movement. SO MANY BOX SQUATS. BORING WORK. But work that I was willing to do.
So when there was a front squat ladder at last weekend’s competition that went from 65 to 175#, I was aiming to HOPEFULLY make the 155 bar. That one went down and up easy … so I decided to hit the 165# bar. And figured why not try on the 175. It was money.
I’m always learning.
I now know that I just can’t ever say something is not going to happen.
And I also know that the world is watching, or at least Mama Danger is ❤️ and she writes for the Morning Chalkup and they celebrate all of the wins.
authentic (1) of undisputed origin; genuine (2) based on facts, accurate, reliable (3) relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposeful, and responsible mode of human life
Last weekend, I was so fortunate to have been the subject of a photoshoot. I am a brand ambassador for The Chestee and it was time to get more than screenshots from video for promotion of my involvement with the brand. I’ve never had a photoshoot like this before. There was a makeup artist and hair stylist. There were multiple outfits to change and so many props. And honestly, good music thanks to my CrossFit coach and so many laughs, smiles and fun thanks to everyone involved.
The photographer Molly was amazing. She has some experience shooting CrossFit, a graphic arts background and has an amazing gift at capturing someone’s spirit and personality in a photo. And this gift is why she was chosen for this photoshoot. We wanted someone to capture ME. Not just another fit girl modeling a sports bra.
I will be 100% honest about what I first saw when I saw this picture vs what I see with my growth mindset focus.
I first saw the flap of skin hanging over the waistband of these pants and was immediately disappointed in myself for not tucking it in.
But then, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that the skin is there as a sign of human life and healing. That skin is just a physical representation of growth between when I was trying to find my way and today.
And in this moment of realization, I immediately felt so happy, proud and motivated to just keep plugging away.
The truth is … flap of skin or not … THIS PHOTOGRAPH IS AMAZING. It captures the ESSENCE of WHO I AM. I am HAPPY. I am STRONG. I LOVE the barbell. Living life to the fullest, laughing and spending time with my family and working towards my goals using small baby steps is the core of my identity.
I could have made the choice in that moment to remain critical of my body and not like this photo. Or I could have requested that my photographer photoshop that skin out.
But instead, I am so proud to be able to share this amazing picture. I have made the choice to be authentic, to love myself … and I am sharing it, proud and happy. This is who I am.
I’ve been asked by people what my max lifts are. And what my other PRs are.
What I’m finding along this transformation journey is that as I change focus … they change drastically. I think that it’s about what you are most focused on … and that as a newer athlete (4 years now) I don’t really have muscle memory built up.
So lately, my focus has been gymnastic strength. I’m up to being able to do 10 tight and proper pushups in a row … from 3. But my front squat max has dropped from 175 to probably somewhere around 165-170 (last tested I got 165, however last night I was able to do 163 for 3 reps). And that my back squat isn’t 220 anymore. But I’m able to load up to 205 and get 3 reps.
My advice about maxes is this. Know them so that you can do your percentage work in a strength cycle and so that you can GROW and achieve more. However, don’t focus on that number. It’s not who you are always. It is who you were in a moment.