Tag Archives: birthday

Oh Hey – It’s My Birthday Again!

Eight minutes from the exact time I started writing this post, I will precisely be 55 years old.  I always miss my mom on my birthday.


Me and Mom

Took some progress pictures today.  I’m not competing until July, and based on how this prep has been going, it highly likely that my conditioning will be better than it was the last time I competed.  I’m humbled and grateful that I’m able to do this considering I didn’t become any kind of athlete until later in life.   I’ve become less comfortable sharing my progress pictures for many reasons.  But this blog started when I started this new life, so I also think it’s important to document where I’m at now.

Today’s pictures compared to October when I started this prep…

Oct 2016 - Started Prep

Oct 2016 – Started Prep






Can’t lie.  I’m a bit freaked out about this birthday.  I remember being younger thinking that being 55 would be close to retirement – which I might be, but haven’t really decided on that yet. (2/16/17 edit – at the end of this day, I’m leaning towards “sooner rather than later” on that retirement thing.  Love, love, love the kids. It will never be anything about them that pushes me out.) Digging what I’m doing as a teacher right now and I passionately believe it’s a better way for humans to learn mathematics.  I’d like to hang in until I work out the bugs and evolve it.

55 is also a big one because my mother died when she was 56.  Intellectually, I think I’ve done enough to alter my own path, health-wise, to live longer than my mom did, but she died of a brain aneurysm.  We don’t know if that was a hereditary condition or a consequence of her smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, and stress.

Did I say I am grateful?  I woke up today extremely grateful to be here.

My husband created most of the gifts he gave me.  Aren’t they amazing?  His time and the little things he included in these paintings (he used his thumb print to color the heart with the tree) made these the most memorable gifts I’ve ever received.


Hubby had to work today, but I took the day off.  I needed to renew my driver’s license since it expired today.  Took my little girl pup with me.  We stopped at a local duck pond for a short walk on the way home.  Poor thing has been cooped up in the house.  Weather here hasn’t been conducive for walks.  I also have a nagging issue with my left ankle and foot.  Nothing serious, but long dog walks aggravate it.


Started a new training phase this week.  It’s a very different split than what I’ve ever done before.  Coach has me doing full body four days a week for a month with a bit lighter loads.  It’s probably going to be good.  The first week will be bumpy because I need to adjust my habits.  My little gym doesn’t have everything I need, so I have to travel to another one for that one thing I do need on that one day – the logistics need to be worked out.   He also incorporated the use of RPE (Rate of Perceived Exersion) to determine the loads I use.  It’s an uncomfortable adjustment for me to make.  I mentally rehearse my lifts the night before.   When I don’t have an actual load given on the spreadsheet, I ruminate on it a bit – and that’s not relaxing at all.  It’s probably just difficult for me right now because I’m working so much and I’ve been dieting for 123 days.  I’m not mentally flexible right now.

It was a memorably wonderful birthday.  And I will have a carb hangover tomorrow.   It’s all good – I’m leg pressing in the morning.  I’ll turn it all into muscle.  😉

(I didn’t eat all of this candy today. Milk Duds are gone.  And there was a heart-shaped pizza. And a big slice of cheesecake.  This won’t be my last refeed, but it could be my last REFEED until July.)





Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Contest Prep, Life

I’m 7 Today! It’s My “Other Birthday”!

Seven years ago today, I made a leap of faith.  Three months’ prior, the event that sent me to the ER was an anxiety attack, but I didn’t know that on that afternoon in March 2009.  I thought it was a heart attack.  It could have been.  I wasn’t healthy.  I was being treated for high-blood pressure.  I was not taking care of myself.  I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.  The old woman I saw wasn’t the image I had of myself when I had dreams at night.  I didn’t know how to be happy.   I was stressed because I felt like I needed to do everything and handle everything alone.  Many years before that, my mother died from a brain aneurysm when she was 56 – I was 29 at the time.  I guess I was just waiting for a similar fate and didn’t feel I could control it.  I loved my mom, but I didn’t want to die early, too.  That ER visit scared me and something changed.  I saw things differently. I decided that I was given a warning.  Maybe my mom was given one too, but didn’t recognize it?  Instead of thinking about myself from inside my fears and stress, I stepped aside and looked objectively at who I had become.   I saw a 47-year-old woman who volunteered to carry a lot of responsibilities, was going through the motions of daily life. but was also waiting for that thing to happen that was going to end me.

No.  NO!  I’m not going to go that way.  No.

I used the rest of that school year to research and plan.  On June 19, 2009, I bought a Bodybugg, signed up for the nutritional coaching that came with it, and resolved to do whatever I was told to do. Seven years later, I’m working with a coach now who works with competitors.  The details of what I did are not nearly as important as the fact that I decided to act and not look back.  I promised – no I vowed – that this would be the last time I started over.  I would not quit.  I would not stop.  I would adjust things, I would power through things, but I would not stop.

It’s been a twisty path.  I’ve had some great successes and some disappointments that almost derailed me.    I’ve learned the mental game is more important then everything else.  For me, it is the most slippery thing to keep on track.   I know that negativity takes me off my trajectory.  I cannot indulge it, but I can’t ignore it either.  I lean into it.  I dig under it to figure out what I’m afraid of.

Based on my placings at the three competitions I’ve done, I’ve accomplished very little as a bodybuilder.  Last place three times.  There are days when that weighs on me.  But I am getting better at re framing that faster.  I still have a lot left to do in this sport.  It’s a bit of a mind-trip to be 54 years old, a 20-year veteran in my career, but starting at the bottom in this new thing.  But that’s OK.  I know it doesn’t really matter.  Let’s pretend I actually won at one of those shows I’ve done.  How would my life be different?

It would not be different.  Not one bit.  Nothing would change.

I’d still be married to the same awesome guy.  The dogs would still need to be walked.  Laundry and food prep would still need to be done.  Bills would still need to be paid.  I’d still train how I’m training.  I’d still be teaching and don’t think my students would learn geometry better if I win an overall.  In fact, I am beginning to figure out that being placed last three times has compelled me to learn more about growth vs fixed mindsets, positive psychology, and overcoming fears – all of which are impacting my teaching practice profoundly.  I’ve never failed like this before.  Learning how to cope with this is something I would never, ever have had to learn had I not decided to be a competitive bodybuilder at age 50.

There is a big BIG picture here, too.  No trophy is going to be as important as fixing my health.  A placing on stage won’t be celebrated more than what I’ve  accomplished already.  No matter what I’m doing in 2016, it’s what I did before that I’m asked about most often.  I did a transformation post-menopause, which is something I was told I wouldn’t be able to do.   Others look and think “I can do that, too.”   Having me standing over here, doing this thing, flies in the face of what people believe s possible – and that’s a big deal.  (And for my friends who know that I’m not always this enlightened,  I sincerely thank you for listening and not slapping me around too much.)

This is a photo of who I used to be back in June 2009 next to who I am now.  Please, please don’t be distracted by appearances.  It’s not about how I looked, but how I felt and how disconnected I was from everything.   My current situation – seven years of self-care, six years of lifting, three competitions done, and a year out from my next competition season during the summer of 2017.  (A not-so-fancy-first-thing-in-the-morning-over-exposed-lighting progress picture for coach.  I didn’t take a special picture for this blog, which I think now was a mistake.  LOL!) Same dog in both pictures.   You can’t see Peanut in the first picture, but he’s on the end of that leash.  And Peanut finds a way to photo bomb most of my progress pictures.  🙂



I can’t make it easier for anyone.  There is nothing complicated about what I did, but it isn’t easy.  It will probably take longer than you think.  It will be easier some days and harder on others.  Stars and planets will NOT realign to help you out.  No special workouts.  No special foods.   Just consistent work and doing what I knew I should be doing all along.  I’m just standing here saying it can be done, so adjust if necessary, but don’t quit.



Filed under Competing, Life, Motivation, Weight Loss

I’m 54 Years Old Today

I’m 54 today.  When I was a kid, my mom made me a heart shaped birthday cake every year.  That was awesome!  I looked forward to it every year.  Once I wasn’t a kid, a Valentine’s Day birthday started to be a drag.  It’s hard to go out for a quiet birthday dinner without fighting crowds.

Hubby always makes it nice.  He’s awesome.

I’m sure most don’t think 54 is “old”, but I am very aware that I’ll be lucky if there are 54 birthdays ahead.  In fact, my mother died when she was 56.  Her early death was a motivating factor for me to fix my health in the first place.  Also a motivating factor to quit wishing to be a bodybuilder and actually do it.   It seems likely that I will live longer than she did.  Even so, I want to live as though nothing is promised.  Friends my age have died unexpectedly.  Each day is a gift.  Each hour is a gift.

As hard as I’m trying to work my gratitude, I’m feeling old today.  I have a sense of urgency to do things because there may not be much time left to do them.  I have things I want to accomplish in my sport and I started bodybuilding late.  When I get in a funk, I feel sorry for myself and feel isolated.  That’s when I feel really old.  Too old for this.  Silly old woman trying to hang in a sport with younger folks.  Most of the people I know who train like I train are decades younger and we don’t seem to relate to each other well. Different life stages, perhaps, but also my introversion makes it hard for me to establish connections quickly. And I probably make a few uncomfortable. Many people my age or gender don’t want to lift – much less lift heavy.  Yup, old and weird. I’m sure many have no idea why I’m doing this thing.

But when I lift, I don’t feel old.  There is something about training that makes everything else go away.  I’m calm.  I’m focused.  I feel like I’m in my element.  A fish in water.  I feel like that in my classroom, too.   It’s everyplace else where I feel like I just don’t quite fit in.  And maybe that’s a good thing.  Mostly that’s a good thing, I guess.  Just have these days…and they aren’t always birthdays.



Filed under Life

To Do Today: Mid Life Crisis Meltdown

This one is for me.  I haven’t written in a while and I need to release this stuff into the Universe.  It’s been building up…

Today is the last day of my 51st year.  I’m having a very, very hard time with this birthday.  Very. Hard.  I’m not exactly sure why.    No, that’s not true.  I’m just beyond busy.  And since I’m the “strong one”, I’ll find a way to deal with it because that’s what I do.

I’m annoyed by almost everything these days.

Annoyance #1: My birthday is on Valentine’s Day.  And it’s on a Friday this year.  Ugh.  Seriously people??  Do you ALL have to go out and make the logistics of celebrating my birthday so freakin’ complicated??  Solution – my birthday has been moved to Sunday, the 16th.  Sadly, this also wrecks Valentine’s Day in a way.  My husband does make it special.  I’m the curmudgeon.

Annoyance #2: People.  People who make appointments with me and then reschedule.  I can’t reschedule!!!  My days are packed!  And every afternoon after work has something scheduled.  Every week.  So if you cannot keep the appointment time you made with me, I have to just skip it.  I’ve had people who asked to meet with me for my help with something- stand me up.  No show.  No text.  No email.  Nada.  Awesome.  And it seems there is regularly some appointment I’m asked to make during a time when I’m teaching.  Do regular people seriously just leave work to do things during the day??  I can’t do that.  I’m kind of responsible for kids and stuff.  Won’t even start with the insensitive things people say to me sometimes.  I do bite back sometimes.  I’ve learned that women are considered either “nice” (aka ‘a doormat’) or “bitches” (aka ‘self-respecting and confident’) by many people. I’d rather be a bitch at this point in my life.  I have things to do and taking care of the feelings of people who aren’t thinking about mine when they say some of the things they do – well, that’s just no longer on my agenda.

Annoyance #3: Sleep.  I made a deal with myself to get 8-9 hours of good sleep every night.  Pretty sure that’s impossible.  My Bodybugg tracks sleep efficiency.  Even IF I can manage to get to bed early enough, I’m not getting sleepy early enough, so I’m only getting 6 hours on a week night.  To make this happen, I’ve moved my lifts to the afternoons so I can sleep a little later. To make the afternoon lifts work in the schedule, all my other things needed to happen when they were supposed to happen – refer back to Annoyance #2.

Annoyance #4: Pain. But for some reason, I’m not recovering and have been having a lot of pain.  I suspect that is due to the fall I had a couple weeks ago because someone put a stupid slippy rug on a concrete floor and I went down on my right wrist like I would have fallen on ice.  I was bruised and banged up.  I would normally have a regular massage to work things out, but refer to Annoyance #2 again – my standing appointment time didn’t work out for her.  So I’ve been dealing with the painful side effects of the fall and of my training for about three weeks now.  My back has had days when it just spasms and cramps up to the point when I can’t move.  Not while lifting – no.  When I’m stretching.  Or rolling over in bed.  Ugh.

Annoyance #5: I’m crispy.  I don’t want to be a teacher anymore.  I love my students.  It’s the whole job that’s become too much.  It’s the constant paradox of working in this system that thinks it’s improving itself when it’s just wasting time pretending it’s improving itself for documentation on reports that bureaucrats send to each other to justify their existence.  That endless game has just whittled my patience down to nothing.  I want to retire and follow this new path I’ve been on – personal training.  But I can’t afford to quit teaching until I build that business.  And I can’t build that business while I’m too busy being a teacher.  Paradox.  I got a new class to teach and it’s really kicking my ass.  As my friend said yesterday, “It’s not just any class – it’s the hardest math class offered in high school.  Um, it’s actually one of the hardest math classes offered in college.”  It’s Calculus 2.  True, I have a math degree, but I haven’t ever taught this material and I haven’t taken the class since 1992, I think?  I don’t remember.  It’s been a while.  And some of the topics I have to teach weren’t covered in the class I took, so I’m teaching myself the material from scratch.  Using a lot of YouTube videos.  Ugh.

Annoyance #6: Too many people take Valentine’s Day off, and that can make extra work for those of us who show up.  This is a combo of #1 and #5.  Valentine’s Day at a high school is, let’s say, dramatic.  Kids are distracted and don’t want to do anything.  They are either distracted in a good way or a bad way.  Very high drama.  My campus has four separate buildings, and in each building, there are about 15 teachers.  In my building alone, I know of 7 teachers who are out today for various reasons.  Seven subs in one building.  And half of our administrators are out today, as well.  And half of the custodial staff, I heard.   It’s like my birthday is a national holiday, but I’ve got to work.

At the bottom of all of this is a realization that there is a finite number of days left.  I’m tired.  I don’t want to be a responsible grown up anymore.  I don’t want to die a teacher.  I don’t want a memorial at school.  I have other things I want to do before I get too old to do them.

And tomorrow I’m 52.  Maybe that seems like a silly age to be freaking out, but my mother died when she was 56.  I will probably live longer, but I don’t want to get to 56 still waiting to do the next thing someday.  I feel like “someday” is now.

This must be what a mid-life crisis feels like.  Or maybe it’s something else.

Annoyance #7: Windows.  Windows doing an upgrade WHILE I’m trying to write this blog post.  Ugh!!!  My Dell laptop is about 100 years old.  If I could afford it, I’d go get a new Mac.


Filed under Life, Opinions, Venting, Ranting