There’s a countdown app on my phone that says there are 50 days until the CPU (Canadian Powerlifting Union) Nationals.


I’m registered. The trip is paid for. I worked my ass off to qualify, and I got it done.

But right now? Right now all I want to do is withdraw, because I am not ready.

My squat isn’t where I imagined it would be. My bench press is all kinds of awful – it’s inconsistent, it’s the weak point relative to the other two lifts, and it’s not progressing. My deadlift, the strongest of the three lifts, looks horrific and I’ve developed the bad habit of setting up the lift and then gently “booping” the bar away from my body with my shins when I go to grab it.

Not. Ready.


I need better technique. I need practice. I need to get stronger. I need more time to recover from the car accident that happened in fucking JUNE. I need to lose weight.

I am not good enough. Yet.

But let’s back up for a second, to fifteen years ago, where I never, ever in a million years thought I would be competing in anything athletic. Like, NEVER. Like I would go WAY out of my way to not get involved in any kind of physical activity. Or to ten years ago, when I had lost 100lbs and I was just getting started as a personal trainer – I thought it didn’t matter whether or not I accomplished anything great as long as I was out there participating, dragging my middle-of-the-pack butt over the finish lines of fun runs, community triathlons, and later on, obstacle races. Or even to five years ago, when my weight had ballooned again and I was on the brink of giving up on everything.

I never imagined that one day, at age 40, I’d be competing in anything at the national level. That’s bananas shit.


So here I am, in spite of everything…and all I want to do is run away because I’m not ready.

Here’s the problem with “not ready” though: I will never be ready. I will never be where I want to be before I get on that platform – if I wait until I’m ready, it will never happen. There will always be a couple more kilos there, technique to tweak, strength to gain, injuries to overcome. There will never be a moment where I say, “that’s it, the work is all done” and waltz onto that platform without a hint of consternation. “Ready” is an illusion. “Ready” is fake news.

So here’s what’s going to happen instead. I’m going to follow my program, get my workouts in for the next seven weeks, and when Feb 20 rolls around I am going to get on that platform the way I am. I won’t be ready and that’s ok because on Feb 21 (or, let’s face it, Feb 24 or 25) it’ll be time to get back to work to qualify for CPU Nationals 2019. I will have learned some lessons and have new numbers to chase.

We’re going into a week where typically I sit down with a lot of people and have a lot of discussions about New Year’s resolutions, and their dreams about what the next year could look like if they could just get rolling on making them happen. Most of those people will tell me that they’re motivated, that it’s time to get down and get to work…and they’ll get some instruction once they’re in shape and ready to take it to the next level. But you know what usually happens to them – “ready” never happens because, well, life. And because change is hard.

Here’s the bad news: time is going to keep marching on whether or not you go after what you want. It doesn’t make a shred of difference to anyone except you.


Want the good news now? The good news is, there is virtually no downside to grabbing the bull by the balls and going for it. If you don’t succeed, so what? You’ll know a little bit more about yourself, you’ll know one path that doesn’t work, and you can dust yourself off and keep trying, or go after something else.nr5

But if you wait until you’re ready – ready to get in shape, ready to level up, ready to compete (in whatever; this theory applies to pretty much anything) you will not move forward. “Ready” will never happen because there will ALWAYS be more to do. Might as well jump in with both feet, commit to the process, and enjoy the journey.


Change to Spare


So, mah dudes, 2017 is almost over. How are we feeling about this? Last year, at the end of 2016, the general concensus was that people could not wait to see the door hit 2016 in the ass on its way out. Not so much this year, although I feel a general sense of optimism about 2018. Seems as though culturally and socio-economically there’s a sense of relief that the sky didn’t actually fall in 2017 and there’s nowhere to go but up from here.sc2

I have mixed feelings about 2017. I started it with some pretty wild expectations (I was born in 1977 so it was a milestone birthday year) and maybe that’s where I went a little bit wrong…because there were some wild successes but also some colossal failures, and life threw me a couple of curve balls that left me reeling for months – I’m STILL working on some course correction. Here’s the thing, though: we PLAN for the good stuff; we work our butts off for it over the long term, and we earn it. Usually – I mean, there’s some element of being in the right place at the right time and luck and all that – but when awesome stuff happens, it’s highly likely that some work went into it. The bad things that happen, on the other hand: more often than not, they’re a surprise.  And because of them, I learned some tough lessons, grew in directions I wasn’t expecting, and was inspired to put some processes in place to guard against that shit happening ever again. All told, it was a pretty epic year.sc3

I was at the mall with my twelve-year-old daughter recently. We were standing in line at Starbucks when I glanced down at my baby and saw someone I was not expecting: a young woman. Tall, strong, smart, beautiful, kind, independent… It was like an anvil dropped out of the ceiling of the mall and fell right on my head. I was not prepared for it at all – I mean, this is my youngest kid, who dresses like a unicorn had explosive diarrhea all over her, who loves playing with Lego and who, given the choice, would just be a kid for her entire life…and she is growing up. The bittersweetness of it made me choke up for a minute.


Do you ever feel kinda overwhelmed by changes? Like you push and push and push for things to move forward and suddenly everything comes loose and you can either dig in and resist and get crushed, or jump up and ride the wave and see where it takes you? That seems to be what’s going on in my corner these days.

I mean, don’t get me wrong – change is good. I can be okay with my daughters growing up, they are turning into amazing women who will make the world better. I can grow and change as a professional; I have stuff to say and embracing some discomfort is necessary in order to get my voice heard. Change is inevitable and it’s almost always a good thing. Sometimes, though, change is a harsh bitch who forces you to take a really close look at what and who you’ve grown attached to and why that attachment formed…and if we’re honest with ourselves it can be eye-opening. Still, nasty and shocking or exciting and stimulating, change always carries with it opportunities to grow. I mean, you could just squeeze your eyes shut and stick your head in the sand but how interesting would that be?


If you ask me, the hardest part of embracing change is not dealing with the new, but letting go of the old. Even if the old SUCKS – it’s familiar and it’s comfortable, like an old pair of sneakers that are so worn out they have holes in the bottoms. You know that pair. You throw them out and then haul them out of the trash an hour later because nothing is quite as comfortable as they are…until you wear them outside again and realize that your feet are cold and wet because those fucking shoes have holes in the soles. Chuck them out and get some new ones!  Because if you look around, things are shifting and moving and changing everywhere at an alarming rate – the social climate, industry, culture. All you have to do is open up whatever social media platform to see that under a microscope (which can be kind of horrific). In order to not get sucked out to sea in the riptide of change, some introspection is necessary – what ideas about myself am I hanging onto that I’d be better off letting go of? How do I redefine myself so that I am on the leading edge, shaping and steering the change rather than trying to keep up? How do I stay relevant?

sc6These are the questions I’m pondering as I shape my goals and aspirations for 2018. I’m seeking out opportunities to change and grow because I know things aren’t going to progress in a linear way and I want to be ready.  It’s going to be an interesting year.

What do you want to do in 2018? Hit me with it – I’m always listening.

Trainers Are The Worst


I was in the locker room the other day and overheard two women talking in the next alcove over.

“You coming to spin class today?” asked one.

“No, I need to get my strength program done,” the other replied.

“I don’t know how you work out around the trainers,” the first one said. “I only do group fitness because I can’t stand being around them. They’re always watching everyone out of the corners of their eyes, judging and critiquing in their heads. Trainers are the worst.”eyeroll

There was another woman in the alcove with me and up until that moment we had been quietly changing. She knew who I was though, and at that moment she leaned over and whispered, “for the record, I don’t feel that way.” I thanked her and she headed out to do her workout. I loitered in the alcove for a few more minutes so as not to pop out and embarrass anyone and make them hate trainers more…

But, okay, I guess this is a thing that needs addressing because it’s not the first time I’ve heard someone say something like that. I’m probably preaching to the choir here but hopefully this clears up some misconceptions.

Disclaimer: These are just my opinions, but they are based on working with a lot of other trainers over the last dozen years or so and I think my generalizations will apply to 90% of the trainers out there. (There are exceptions and that sucks, but that’s the reality in any field.)

  1. Yes, we are watching you. Being a trainer in a big gym, especially at peak times, is a little like being a lifeguard at a swimming pool. When you exercise, you are subjecting your body to a physiological stress that lots of people in the gym are not accustomed to, and the unexpected can happen in a hurry. I’ve been in situations many times where I had to react quickly to someone (not the client I was working with) fainting, greying out, or throwing up. It happens. We are also on the lookout for impending injuries – recently I was working out with my trainer and the guy on the next bench over accidentally loaded two plates onto one side of his barbell and only one on the other one. Had that guy tried to bench press that kind of lopsided weight it might have ruined his day. I didn’t notice myself because I was focused on what I was doing, but my trainer was paying attention to what was going on around him. So, while we are mostly focused on our clients, we usually maintain some degree of peripheral awareness to make sure everyone stays safe.Big-Brother-is-Watching-Your-Squat
  2. We are not judging you. Let me say that again: WE ARE NOT JUDGING YOU. Everyone has to start somewhere and we see some bizarre things go down in the gym…but unless you are about to hurt yourself or someone else we usually keep a lid on it. If you’re in the gym and exploring and having fun and moving, all the power to you. If you have a question, we’re here to help and support and educate…you know, if you want us to. Which leads me to #3:
  3. Some people get upset that that guy over there has a crappy squat set up or she’s arching her back bench pressing or whatever, and we’re not stopping them and fixing them. But you know what? Unsolicited advice doesn’t usually go over very well because seriously who wants to get interrupted in the middle of their workout? I was working out incognito at a different gym a few months ago and a young trainer sidled up to me and gave me a 10-minute mansplain on how I could improve my deadlift…and it took some serious effort on my part to stay polite and thank him for his advice in hopes that it would make him go away. So again, unless someone is going to hurt themselves or someone else, usually we will let them be. That said, most of us establish some degree of rapport with the regulars where we work, and being on a first-name basis with you makes it way easier to offer assistance with cleaning up your technique if and when it’s needed…squat2
  4. …but the other thing to remember is that most of the time that we’re out there on the gym floor, that person (or people) we’re working with is paying for our time and attention, so if we’re focused on them and not so much on everyone else, don’t be offended – that’s really what we’re there for. If you have a quick question or need help finding something feel free to approach us but if you want your form critiqued or measurements done or something that will take more than a minute or two, please book an appointment. We’re happy to spend the time getting to know you whether or not you are looking to train over the long term.
  5. Finally, almost all trainers do what they do out of a genuine desire to help people. Methods differ (wildly, sometimes) but those of us who end up in this field for years on end do it because we get great satisfaction out of helping our clients find a better quality of life. We’re not judging or laughing or critiquing or thinking any less of you for anything you’re doing. If you want help, we’re happy to assist in any way we can but if you want to be left alone to do your thing, that’s cool too.thumbsup6