Tag Archives: teaching

It’s Getting Real Now

41 days left as a public teacher.

Making progress through the checklist towards retirement…

  • Turned in my resignation letter.

  • Met with rep at Human Relations. (A lovely young woman named Caitlyn.  Grateful for the chance to meet her!)

  • Putting together the paperwork for the state retirement system.  (More complicated than it should be.)

  • Signed my school district’s Letter of Intent yesterday, but this time, for the first and only time, I had to choose the “I reject employment…” option.

That “I reject…” declaration threw me for a loop and triggered a little spike in cortisol that lasted for another 8 hours.

I’m excited and thrilled to take the risk to work for myself.  But I’m also nervous, praying, a little scared – all the feels.  This is a major life change.  

Our state striped away a lot of retirement benefits almost 10 years ago.  Even though I’m retiring early, I wouldn’t get much more if I stayed longer.  

So my last day with classes is June 11.  Teachers have an extra day on June 12.  My teaching contract is split over 12 months, so that is done at the end of July.

I’ve been working steadily since last fall to set up my online math tutoring business, www.OnlineGeometryTutor.com.  I’m not known online as a math teacher, so I knew creating content for that would take time.

Still working on the details of the online fitness service I want to offer. 

From my own experiences with this health transformation and talking to a lot of people about their struggles, frustrations, and *most importantly* the obstacles that prevent them from sticking with the plan, 
I know there is a need for something more than a plan on a spreadsheet.

There is a need for something more than just being told or shown what to do.  

Even me, working with one of the best bodybuilding coaches in the industry,  with his scary-smart programming, with my determination, work-ethic, and the experience of five competitions –
it’s still hard

Life happens for all of us, but life is also different for some of us. 

It’s a bit of a different challenge when you’re a middle-aged adult with adult responsibilities.

It’s a slightly different challenge when there are people counting on you who might not be able (or willing) to accept that your self-care is just as important as the role you play in their lives.

People assume that the thing they are missing is some character trait.  Maybe.  Maybe not. 
 What if it is something I can teach?  What if it’s something you know but just need support to bring it to the surface?

I’m in “plan mode” now until I’m done with the day job.  My first priority are the kiddos in my classes now.  And then I need to pack up my teacher life and turn in keys.

And then probably have a bit of a cry, take some time to decompress, and enjoy the backyard patio my husband is fixing up for “retirement” as I write this post.

If you’re on my
mailing list, I promise – you will be first to know when I have something to offer!


Training is progressing, but it makes for a boring blog post.  I think I’m max testing next week.  THAT should be interesting!  I’ve been growing.  🙂


Filed under Life, Teaching

Improvement Season Update and a New Business Introduction!

Long time, no see!  Sorry I’ve been quiet here on this blog.  Life has a lot of things happening right now.  I’m busier than I was during my competition season last summer and fall.

Improvement Season Update

Physically, I’m doing great.  I’m back to a healthy body weight.  Actually gained more than I intended.  The plan was 15 pounds.  But I didn’t feel “normal” again until I was up by 25.  And then I gained another 5.  My scale weight is fluctuating around 155 pounds now.  I’m working to maintain it there.

This scale weight, for this improvement season,  feels drastically different than it did at this point after my 2015 season.

Upper body lifts in the gym have been productive.  Eight weeks ago I tested my bench press.  Eight weeks ago I was still recovering from a long contest prep, so I didn’t expect much, but the calculated 1RM was still about what it’s always been – around 125.

By “always” I mean exactly that.  I remember a time when it jumped up to 128 and I was impressed by how many YEARS it took to go up 3 lbs.

Tested it this week again.  After 8 weeks, my calculated 1RM was 146.  Up 20 lbs in 2 months????

Yup.  Something is different.

I’m not super thrilled with extra body fat, but that’s how my body works.  When I’m anabolic, I grow.  I grow everything – not just muscle.  All tissues needed to recover.   Joints feel good, too.

There is that social pressure though, right?  I’m not immune.  No matter what anyone thinks, my reality is that I’m a bodybuilder, not a fitness model.   And it feels like I’m back under construction in a big way!!!  Yay!!


But can we just pause for a second and reflect on that bench.  A 20-pound increase in bench press in 2 months??  Who does that?  Hahahaha!


The Birthday I’ve Waited For

This Wednesday, February 14th, will be my 56th birthday.  This is the weird one.  My mother died when she was 56.  It’s going to be difficult come November when her death anniversary gets closer.  I think I better plan to do something epic for the day after that.  When I turned 50, I pulled a truck.

What to do?  What’s an appropriate physical challenge for outliving some superstitious date on the calendar?


Private Practice

The main reason I’ve been slacking on my blogging duties is because I’ve been working every spare minute on my new business – private, online teaching/tutoring.

I am retiring early from teaching after this school year.  It’s time to go for a lot of reasons – none of which have anything to do with a loss of passion for teaching.  It still feels like that’s my calling.  I enjoy teaching math to teenagers and not many people do.

However, being a government employee was never my calling.  That was what I needed to be if I wanted to be a teacher.

Times have changed.  Technology has advanced.  I can now go into private practice.  The plan is to retire next summer and begin working with students privately online.

I can only work with a few online students now because I’m still working full time and training.  Next August, private practice will be my full time passion-project.  That’s exciting!

The current task has been to create an online presence that reflects my real life experience.  That’s what I’ve been working on these last few months.

<Shameless cross-promotional marketing in 3…2…1…>

I would appreciate it if you would take a look at what I’ve created and give me any feedback you have…


My new blog is www.onlinegeometrytutor.wordpress.com

My YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages are all called Online Geometry Tutor, too.

File Nov 18, 5 48 39 PMPinterest screenshot

Oh my.  It seems like a lot when I list it all in one spot.

It’s been a feat to create content that I can use in all these places.  That’s why, if you’re following on the LMS page, you’ve seen some of the Online Geometry Tutor inspirational quotes popping up.  I’ve got to multi-task!

I do need your help if you’re willing.

If I was your math teacher, or the teacher of your child, I would appreciate it if you would drop by the Facebook page and review with a star rating.  If you would be willing to write a review of what it was like to work with me, that would be helpful to parents who visit the page looking to find out more about me as a teacher.

Following and sharing pages and/or posts would also help parents find me.

My latest video…


My business plan is to start with the online teaching first, then launch something with fitness.   I’m still not sure what that is going to be, but I want to offer something that supports people with their own health transformation, but isn’t exactly the same as what other online coaches offer.  As soon as I know what that’s going to be, you’ll know.

There is also that book I’ve been asked to write…that’s been on the back burner until I “retire”.  Ha!  Doesn’t sound like retirement, does it?


Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Teaching

2017 Prep Update: “How Did You Do?”

It has been three weeks since the last show of this competition season.  The last show was on Saturday, October 15th, and I was back into teacher mode on Monday morning.

Another HUGE life change is in the works, so I’ve taken time to reflect before I wrote this post.  I also wanted to wait until I got the “official” show photographer’s pictures so I could do comparisons from stage to stage.


THANK YOU Colin DeWaay Training !!!

Your sponsorship for this last show made it possible!!   As you read through this, you’ve got to know it was the most amazing experience I’ve had in bodybuilding to date.  I believe that it was blessed from the start because of your generosity.

THANK YOU!! Alberto Nunez, The Patient

You are a Scary-Smart Program Writer and Peak-Week-Whisperer.  We did good.  I’m excited for 2019.


“So how did you do?” is the logical question, right?  And then I see the look of disappointment in their eyes when I tell them my placing -third out of 3 in Class B, my string of last place finishes in my class continues, but this was my best presentation to date and it is ok because that’s a fair placing. And then a look of dubious agreement as I explained that this sport is about personal progression, yada, yada, yada…

Honestly, it’s better than OK.  Something finally clicked after the July show when I got last place for bodybuilding in a line created by the promoter with me and three figure pros.

I spent two years mustering the courage to get back on that stage to be judged even after I was told I would never be competitive.  2017 was all about proving to myself that I’m capable of standing back up and taking hits.  Period.  It’s not about bodybuilding or how I look – it’s bigger than that.

Hindsight is 20/20, right?  My physical transformation was a side effect of the real work I’ve been doing.  I’ve used bodybuilding – the training, the disciplined nutrition, the stage experiences – to slowly learn to face fears that crippled me before.

The mental game I needed to change myself physically has built a growth mindset about everything else, too.  2015 knocked me on my ass and gave my inner self-doubt plenty of material to use against me.

But now I know 2015 wasn’t supposed to be a disappointment – it was the next lesson.  Had that not happened, I would not have done the research, the crying, the soul-searching I needed to break through some old-thinking to become a better teacher, to be a more supportive and encouraging wife, and do to get ready for the next big, scary life change I’ll tell you about at the end of this post.

Every time we face a fear and act anyway, we get stronger.

What you see here is only the physical transformation.  Too many people get too hung-up on this part.  What  you can’t see is the most important part.  It’s the grit.  I thought I had grit before – I had no idea.  No.  Idea.

Every obstacle gets steeper.  Every obstacle navigated makes us stronger.

As I write this, I’m thinking about a young woman walking into the gym, knowing she has to loose hundreds of pounds, feeling that people are going to judge her, but she shows up anyway.  Or the grit it takes to finish those damn burpees!

I’m telling you that it isn’t our obstacles that stop us – it’s what we think about our obstacles that stops us.

So I’ve learned that if there is something that needs to be done, something inspired, something big and scary, don’t think.  Just act. Now I have the confidence to know that I can figure out the details as I go.  I CAN make it work.

I went into the July 2017 show in my best physical condition to date, was the only “bodybuilder” who registered for that show with the intention of competing as a bodybuilder, and I still came away with a last place finish.   But that’s just their record keeping.

My personal victory was getting back up there and putting the ribbon and bow on the big “Not-One-Fuck-Is-Given-Present” I needed to deliver to the nay-sayers.  This.  Is.  My.  Sport.  I will continue to get up, dust off, suit-up and show-up.

Anyone who feels compelled to clue me in on why I’ll never be competitive as a bodybuilder, needs to (appropriately) direct those comments to a mirror.  I’d rather keep placing last than quit. 

(If it’s negative me talking to real-life me – well, shut up and get in the back seat.  You’re not driving.)

“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” ~ Winston Churchill

I went into the October 2017 expecting to not place well because I knew I’d be in a line with athletes with more muscle, so the plan was to have as much fun as possible.  That show turned out to be the most enjoyable one to date!  It was an amazing experience!


My friend and teammate, Denise, did this show together, which was a first for me and made it memorable.  Her daughter did my makeup and that made it special, too.

Denise was in Class A and I was in Class B, but when they lined us up, we were next to each other.  We weren’t competing directly, so we just got to go out and have fun!  So awesome!!

I’ve been told by other competitors that it’s the camaraderie that hooks them and what they enjoy most about competing, but it wasn’t until this 5th show when I got to experience that first hand.

I was so tired after this show, I asked Hubby if we could just go home.  I showered off the top layer of tan, made myself a lovely grilled cheese sammich, had an adult-beverage, and hit the hay.  The next morning – our first visit ever to the Cheesecake Factory!!  Oh yeah.  That was pretty damn special.

It’s been a blessed competition season!  My friend Michelle flew out to support me in July and  Denise was next to me on stage in this last show.  And then a fabulous meal with my guy!!  It was a perfect way to end my two-year intense self-reflective period – a total celebration!!

I made a point to meet and get to know the other two women in our division before pre-judging.  We were all friends on Facebook by the time the night show rolled around.  We cheered for each other off stage during our individual routines.  We celebrated back stage afterwards by sharing a bag of caramel M & Ms (Thanks Michelle for introducing THAT awesomeness into my life!  Paying it foward…)

The three women  to my right have inspiring stories about how they got to this place and it was humbling to hear them talk about their challenges and blessings.  So yeah, I had fun, met some amazing women, and I think we will be friends for a long time.  And I placed last.  But this medal was not a generic, plastic trophy.  This one is special.  This is now my favorite last place ever!!!

So How DID I Do?  Really?

Ok – now the nitty gritty.  I was a couple pounds heavier in the October show than in the July show.  My peak week was different this time, too.  My coach, Alberto Nunez (3DMuscleJourney) doesn’t change things up, but for the October peak, my body wasn’t filling out.  I’d send video each morning and then he would increase my carbs each day – by a lot.  Doubled, usually.  Highest day approached 300 grams.

As a result, we both think I looked sharper in October over July in the videos, but I don’t think I see that in the photos.  The extra scale weight could be accounted for by muscle fullness, which would make the definition appear sharper.

Once I got the pictures, I think the lower body in the back was the only part that truly improved.  Or it could be the difference in the poses between bodybuilding and physique.  I’m going to just drop a bunch of pictures in here and let them speak for themselves.

Pre-Judging Pictures: Women’s Physique, Class B



Shots From Routine at Night Show


July 2017 Stage vs. October 2017 Stage

Another Big, Scary Adventure

This is me after I dropped off the paperwork requesting an early retirement from teaching.  It included a letter of resignation effective at the end of this school year.

Not retiring from working – quite the opposite.  Because of bodybuilding, because of the 2015-2017 lesson, I’m brave enough now to believe I can teach on my own terms.  I want to teach math in a way I know is effective and helps kids.

When I’ve told a few people I’m ‘retiring’, they say “Congratulations“, which I know is the appropriate response, but honestly, I feel like I’m losing something.   I love teaching math and I’m good at it.  It’s been my calling more so than my job.

I feel like I’m doing my best work now and I honestly thought I had a few more years left in my tank.  But lately, it’s been obvious that changes made in education have hurt kids.  It’s been bothering me too much that I’m part of it.

I stayed because I also know teachers can stave off some of that damage.

But something happened that crossed a line for me, personally.  It’s not necessary to get into it.  It’s sufficient to say that it was the “push” I needed to at least research my options.

If  stepping into a gym to ask for help was scary, stepping onto a stage was scary – this tops everything!  After 22 years as a government employee, I’m leaving early, so the retirement benefit will only half of my monthly income now.  Health insurance isn’t paid for retirees in my state anymore, either. I’ve analyzed and over-thunk the crap out of this since last spring when the last straw fell onto my back.

And then the 2017 competition season happened.   

I didn’t die. 

So I stopped thinking and acted.  I will make this work.  When I get worried, I flip my script and stay focused on the  exciting opportunity ahead that is pulling me out.

I’m going to be an entrepreneur!!! $$$$

I’ve been working with a business mentor to start my own business as an online math coach/tutor specializing in closing learning gaps in that keep kids from being successful in geometry.

If the negative stuff was the “push”, this is the “pull”  I’m excited!

There will also be something similar happening with fitness online, but I’m still working out exactly what my niche will be in that world.

If you’re reading this now, you will be one of the first to know about that when I’m ready.  My LMS peeps have been with me for years, so it’s important to me to tell you about it first, and if turns out to be something helpful, you will get first dibs.

The plan is to have both sides of this online business ready for a “soft-opening” in January 2018.  Assuming the school board approves my request to leave, and assuming nothing else happens to change my plans, my last day as a public school teacher will be July 31, 2018.  Whatever the next thing is going to be, it needs to be fully functional by August.

Wish me luck!!  And as always – thank you for your encouragement and support!


Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Contest Prep, Teaching

[Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Delete]

Everything happens for a reason, right?  You may not believe that, but I do.  I believe that if it’s not a blessing, it’s a lesson – if something is “off” in my life, if something isn’t working, there is something I need to learn.  The “Great Birthday Funk of Year 54” certainly hasn’t felt like a blessing.  Must be a BIG lesson I’m having trouble learning.  I’ve already shared one thing I’ve learned-I think I’m what is called a “highly-sensitive-personality” – which means my brain processes things differently.  Not sure how much of that was hard-wired from birth, but I would bet that being a teacher, having to observe and listen to 30+ kids every hour for 20 years will change the brain to be able to process a mass amount of stimulation every minute without going nuts. (Which is one reason why teacher-interns are so tired.  Most people do not have to process as much input as a teacher.)  I will not notice some things – husband will move something in the yard and I’ll notice it weeks later.  But I will notice things other people miss.  And I’ll ruminate on them.  If I’m feeling a bit blue, I’ll notice things that will feed that funk monster.

OK, sure – getting sick may have been prolonged my funk a bit because I may have been fighting off that virus for a while before I knew I had it.  It’s also likely that getting sick may have been a consequence of the internal stress I felt.  My immune system needs to work pretty darn hard because of how I train (especially during times of slightly restricted calories) and because of what I do for a living – teach geometry to sophomores. (Can I get an “Amen” from my fellow high school teachers?)  Getting sick was probably a logical outcome from being exposed to sick teenagers when that immune system was stretched a bit thin.  However, getting sick meant I couldn’t workout, so couldn’t work through stress.  That meant I indulged the birthday funk longer than I usually let funks last.  I don’t mind being a bit pissy from time to time, but letting myself get run down so I couldn’t lift, well, that’s just unacceptable.  Time to Work. The. Problem.

What can I [Ctrl]?  What can I alter [Alt]?  What can I [Delete]?  Seems like a good process to do every so often, doesn’t it? A little “reboot”?

I decided that I may not be able to [Ctrl] some things, but I can control many things.  For a few days, I paid attention to what was happening around me that triggered negative emotions.  I wanted to find things I could change.  We all have negative things we must deal when we are doing important work.  For example, on any given day, working with a teenagery teenager IS important to me.  Out of the 170 kids I see every couple of days, any one of them can have a bad day and some have many bad days.  I can’t help that.  I have learned how to work with them without internalizing their negativity, but it does take a lot of patience and it can drain my reserves for things that happen away from work.  So the TV in the weight area of my gym that is set on a channel that plays UFC highlights every morning was something that I saw as a negative, but might be something that could be fixed, right?  I asked for it to be changed and it was… for about a week.  I must be in the minority of members who use that part of the gym who think watching people do violence on each other at 4 am every morning is unpleasant.  And that’s OK.  (It’s like strawberry ice cream.  I don’t like strawberry ice cream.  Many people do.  No judgments. No worries.  I won’t eat it.  Problem solved.)   If it bothers me and it cannot be changed, I will change something I do [Ctrl].  I made an [Alt].  This week, I used the gym that is closer to work instead of the gym closer to home (same gym, different locations) on the days it was convenient to do so.  Honestly, I like that I have this option.  So this wasn’t just a negativity to [Delete], but also a nice change.

Controlling the negativity is also part of classroom management.  Teenagery teenagers can fuel each other’s negativity, which is almost all directed at me, the math teacher.  New seating charts work wonders!  I don’t just move the  kids, I move the desks.  I rearrange the furniture to increase the efficiency of whatever the activity will be that day.  I also spent some time thinking about repetitive tasks I do and found ways to make them more efficient.  Boom.  More negativity to [Delete].

What else can I [Ctrl]?  Too much time on social media.  Too much thinking about what to post on social media and monitoring comments.  Too much fitness/soft porn on Instagram, which just got on my “what the hell are you thinking” social justice nerve.  And one single minute spent with negativity on social media is a waste of time that could be spent in the real world doing something joyful.  I can [Ctrl] oodles of that.  So for the time being, Instagram has been deactivated [Delete].  I reorganized ( an [Alt]) my personal Facebook page a little so I can [Ctrl] who sees what I post.  My Lifting My Spirits page is almost always a positive place to hang out, but it has been a lot of work to keep posting content and monitoring comments to keep things positive.  I will post a little less often.  People don’t really need to watch me do lat pulldowns twice a week.  And I’m allergic to selfies.   Anyone with a page knows we have to deal with trolls occasionally – fewer posts will reduce my exposure to that unpleasant task.  It’s like picking up dog poop in the back yard.   More negativity to [Delete]!  I’m not bothered by what they say, but by the incomprehensible rationale as to why they give themselves permission to say it.  It’s annoying.  I don’t have an obligation to be exposed to that.  It diminishes my energy.

These [Alt]s have been a little bit of an adjustment.  Not being on Instagram has made me feel a bit disconnected, but that’s OK.  I can contact my friends directly if I want to know what they ate for lunch.  🙂

Today is the first day of our spring break from school.  It’s a beautiful day.  Just hung my first load of laundry out for the season.  I feel light and joyful.  [Ctrl][Alt][Delete] is a good process.


Filed under My Lifting Log

Can You Fix Everything?

This is my 20th year as a high school math teacher.  This is my 6th year of my health transformation.  It’s my 3rd year as a competitive bodybuilder.  Maybe it’s just because all these things are threads of my reality, but in my mind, there are lessons that I’ve learned in one area that apply to the other two.

My teaching assignment this year is 10th grade geometry.  This is a rough year for humans.  Remember that year you were 16?  These are the years when we expect kids to begin to accept consequences for their choices.  It’s hard for them, though.  Up to a certain point, there are ‘safety nets’ provided to help them in school…

“Yes, you can still do missing work.”

“Yes, you can retake that exam.”

“Yes, you can still turn in that project.”

We end up teaching ourselves (remember – we used to be kids) that there aren’t permanent consequences.

And then life happens.

I’m not going to get into the big, ugly, real-life things some of my kids have to deal with outside of school.  We all know those things are exist.  I think about those things every day when I look at them.   It’s the little stuff I want to get into.  It’s the late fees, the penalties, the loss of services if you don’t pay the bills, the relationships that can’t be fixed… the consequences of our daily choices that we have to live with.  I am one of those teachers that believes a big part of my job is to help kids learn how to avoid negative consequences by making better decisions.  Many kids figure it out fast enough.  Some need to fall down and learn how to get back up.  It’s hard, though.  It’s hard for them.  It’s hard for parents who don’t want to watch their kids struggle.  It’s hard for the education system I work in to let kids fail – but does anyone ever learn the big lessons any other way?  No.  We learn from our mistakes.  We learn from our struggle.  And I’m one of those teachers who would rather my kids fall down with me so I can teach them how to avoid another fall before the consequences of impulsive choices haunt them as adults.  I won’t take all the credit for how badass my kids are, but they are out there in the world doing some very impressive things.  I know I gave them a couple of the tools in their toolbox.

For most of my followers, this lesson applies to health.  How many years of self-neglect go by before we have medical problems that can’t be fixed easily?  I was lucky.  I was on the path to a major health situation, but my parents showed me how NOT to do it.  My father had heart surgery to address what years of bad choices did to his heart.  A brain aneurysm killed my mother after the same number of years of eating whatever and smoking. She was only 56.

So how far can you let it go before you can’t pull it back and fix it?   After my mom died, I was afraid I would die early, too.  I tried all kinds of “programs”.  Short term success always rebounded to more weight gained later.  I was working too much.  I was depressed because I knew that the way I was living and feeling was going to continue until I died.   Fear of what was in store for me probably brought on my issues faster, but it also made me paranoid enough to keep tabs on it.  I was on high blood pressure meds by the time I was 45.  In March 2009, a Sunday afternoon rush to the ER because I chest pains that wouldn’t subside – well, that was when I decided all the excuse-making and compromising was done.  I would get help.  I would throw money at the problem.  I would change and I wouldn’t ever need to start over again. I knew if I didn’t fully commit to my own success this time,  my life would end early.

But like I said, I was lucky to have had that ER visit when I did.   I made the choice when I still had time to fix things.  But there was no way I could have known that at the time.  I just knew where I was was going to to end up if I didn’t change.

I also believed that change was going to happen One. Cell. At. A. Time.   I think that’s reassuring.  It means that rejuvenation is possible.  I had to be patient.  I knew that, but still had some impatient days.  That’s when the support of people I put in my life helped.   Change happened.  And now I’m living with the happy consequences of those choices.  That’s my truth.

So I’m standing in front of kids every day talking about consequences for choices.  I’m setting due dates and sticking to them.   I’m doing what I can to help kids rebound after they made bad choices.  This is real-life, human training.  We can’t fix some things, I know.  But we can fix many things.  We can transform.

I pray, that if you’re reading this, and you know you need to change, you will find the courage to start NOW.  This minute.  It starts with what you think and what you believe to be true.   You know what you need to do to start.  Come on now – we all know – we tend to overthink it as a form of procrastination.  Eat better.   Drink enough water.  MOVE!   Start with what you can do now and progress.  Learn more, do better.  Search YouTube for videos about activities you want to learn how to do.  Hire a trainer.

Given enough time, fix enough cells, and things change dramatically.  You can be “fake” like me!  Hahahaha!


Filed under Life, Motivation, Teaching, Weight Loss

Long Time, No Write

I haven’t written in so long!  I miss it.  Life is very busy.  Very.  Busy.

Not sure where to start.

Right after my last post in July, I had to go back to work.  School didn’t start until August 10th, but at the end of July, I was asked if I wanted to move my classroom to a larger one with windows.  YES PLEASE!! (I think I’ve written about this before, so I’m backtracking a bit for continuity.)  It’s an awesome room.  I’ll be there for a while, I hope.  The move wasn’t far – just about 100 steps from door to door.  Still took about a week to move my stuff and get things organized.  The week after that, teacher meetings started.  The week after that, kids arrived.  There hasn’t been much time to do anything.  In fact, I shouldn’t be doing this right now.  I have food to prep, laundry to do, grades to enter, lessons to plan… that’s my non-gym life now.  There are 200 students on my rosters as of yesterday.  Not sure if I’ve ever had that many students.  And most are 10th graders.  It’s not the same as having 200 12th graders.   If you’re a high school teacher, you have an idea of what my days are like.

My days are long.  I am settling into a routine of going to bed around 8 pm and getting up at 3 am.  It’s too early, even for me.  I can’t keep that up for more than a couple of days without losing brain function.  But there is rarely time during the school day to do lesson planning or grading.  Now add in the workouts.  Yup.  Very.  Busy.

It’s been two months since I competed.  Lifting is going well.  No injuries.  Haven’t tried to hit PRs yet.  I’m focused on improving form.  Bench press form has gotten better, so I’m expecting strength gains there.  I’m not even trying to push myself through a full workout on any given day if the time is crunched.  I look at the spreadsheet Coach sends me as a “to do” list for the week – and the week might take 8 days to finish.  There is increased volume in the program.  Most secondary exercises are done in sets of 15-20 reps.  And 15’s suck, btw.   Lifting is how I cope, so I won’t allow it to be a source of stress.   My strength is coming back.  I won’t test it for another month.  Should see some PRs then.

Coach has been working with me as I transition from tracking food to eating intuitively.  It’s been fun and weird and scary.  I like it.  I need to have less stress, so not tracking food and not trying to hit macros makes like simpler.  I had a good reverse diet and didn’t gain a lot of weight post-competition.  I’ve had a couple challenging weeks with intuitive eating, so the scale has crept up a little more, but I’m still less than 10 pounds over stage weight, which is OK.  In fact, my weight now, two months post-show,  is about what it was two months before the show, so I guess that’s also evidence of a good reverse diet.  That’s about as heavy as I want to get during this entire off-season.  So my challenge is to learn how to use the mirror and the scale to adjust my activity and food intake without tracking anything.  There is no way I could have done this in 2009.  Or 2012.  Or last year.  But now I can.  I hope.  Still working on “dialing it in” as they say.

May-Sept Same Wt

My mental game is improving about life and bodybuilding.  I can’t lie – what happened at the show rocked me.  Every time I look at one of the videos I post, I’m reminded of that “you have a normal female pelvis” comment I got as one explanation as to why I didn’t place higher (one of several reasons why I didn’t place higher) – and that just brings up all the helplessness feelings I have about not being able to change things.  And then I push it off.  I remind myself that I love what I’m doing and I will continue to improve what I can improve.  I wrestle with it a bit, get it back in a box, and push it into a corner of my mind.  Coach and I both know that we will have to open that box and deal with the stinky thinking at some point again.  What has been helping me lately is a suggestion from a friend to listen to an audiobook called “The Power”, which is the sequel to “The Secret”.  I loved “The Secret”.  I show it to my classes.  This new audiobook has some parts that are a bit too silly, but the overall message is one that makes sense to me.  In a week, I’ve listened to it twice.  It’s a reminder of something I already knew – focus needs to be on gratitude and love.  I like how it makes me feel and how it helps me navigate my life.  Remember those 200 students?  And then there is the rest of what’s involved with being a government employee that makes no good sense… I need to work on staying patient, calm, and internally balanced.

As busy as I am, I have thought about discontinuing my social media involvement.  Thing is – every time I consider it, I hear from someone I’ve never met, someone who hasn’t ever commented before, who has borrowed a little courage from me to do something that is important to them.  I didn’t start all of this to be anyone’s “inspiration”.  I did this for accountability.  I knew if I told the Internet that I was going to do a thing, I would get it done.  Decades of hiding kept me from fully committing to change.  Had a conversation with a friend about the quote “I want to inspire people…” etc – you know that one?  I realized when we were talking about it that, to me, wanting to be an “inspiration” might be a form of approval-seeking?  Probably doesn’t come across that way for anyone else, but it just doesn’t feel right for me.  I spend my whole day pushing kids and I suppose that’s the same as trying to “inspire” them, but inspired or not, I expect them to work and learn a little geometry before the bell rings and they bolt off into the hall.   I’m a teacher.  I’m a teacher in my day-job and I think of myself as a teacher online, too.  Just don’t assign homework here.  (Maybe I should?  That’s an interesting idea.)

So here I am, writing instead of grading, writing instead of food-prep, writing instead of laundry.  If we attract what we put out into the the universe with what we feel and say, then posting online must have power, too.  I’ve been mindful of that before, but more so now.  It’s important to me to make positive ripples online.  I know that negative rants and such things get more attention, but they don’t add anything positive to anyone’s life – certainly not mine.  I can control that.  I intend to control that.  🙂


Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Life, Teaching

8 Weeks Out – Good News and Bad News

Good News

Prep has been progressing, as coach says,  “like clockwork”. So much so, that I started to wonder this week if my posing suit will still fit in a couple months.  Has to.  Can’t afford a new one.  Better get a couple cans of Bikini Bite!  Hahaha!

Up until about a week ago, my food intake goals were to hit my protein macros (1 gram per lb of  body weight) and use the bodybugg to keep a caloric deficit of 500 to 600 calories each day.  Carbs and fat grams have not been specifically set for me.  Calorie burn each day dictates how much food I will get to eat.  That naturally cycles carbs and fats up or down depending on my activity.  I was also given a weekly limit of 800 calories burned for cardio.  The bugg can track that for me, too.  That limit has been easy to reach with just walking.  A nice little dog walk after work.  Nothing crazy hard.  That was the protocol for a few weeks.  I’m probably due for a small diet break this next week.

Screenshot from Gym Buddy App

Weight on May 16th

I added a page to the blog for current progress pictures.  Check out the menu bar above.  This visual record will be useful for future contest preps.

Last week, Coach asked me to make a slight change.  Keep fat grams under 30% of total calories and increase cardio burn to 1200 calories a week.  I was happy to the get the extra movement.  More calories burned = more calories to eat.  My burn has been adapting downward a tiny bit for a couple of reasons – a) I’m smaller and b) I’ve been in a calorie deficit for a while, so energy is low so I’m not moving as much during the day.    Not worried about any of this – it is all expected because this is how the body works.  So the extra little bit of cardio has been good.  I have to admit that I’ve really enjoyed my cardio time because I’m doing as much of it outside as possible.  Walks and bike rides.  If I have to do it at the gym, I’ve been using high-incline treadmill mostly, because it makes my legs feel pumped, but started with the rower last week.  I’m using cardio to relax and reflect – I’ve needed to do both of those things a lot lately.

Bad News – REALLY, really bad news

About 3 weeks ago, one of my 8th grade students from last semester committed suicide.





I haven’t been able to write about it. And I couldn’t write about anything else because nothing else felt important.

I loved that kid.  She was a tough little thing.  Made me laugh every day.  Foul-mouthed, funny, impulsive, and she wiggled into my heart and set up shop.  When I was given the opportunity to transfer, there was a very short list of reasons why I didn’t want to do it – and every one of those reasons was a kid.  She was at the top of that list.   I decided that transferring to the high school she and her classmates would attend would end up working out well because I’d be able to mentor them for four years instead of just one.  And those high school years are filled with so many more opportunities for a kid to get in trouble.  Even if I knew for sure why she did it, which I don’t,  I wouldn’t discuss it here.  The news reported that there were three suicides at that school in the last couple months, but the third child did not die.   My kid was the second one.   That is all I know.

I’ve been teaching for 19 years, have chosen to work at three of our district’s “tougher” schools for the past decade, and there have been plenty of tragedies.  We tend to steel ourselves to be able to help kids deal with things.  But this was the first time a suicide was one of ‘my kids’.  It has hit me hard.  I found out because one of my other students emailed me during school the next day.  I could not teach.  The Vice Principal got my last covered so I could go over to the middle school to check on my other kids.  I was able to talk to several.  Grateful for that opportunity.  Extremely grateful to see one who was in a bad accident last winter and has made a good recovery.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I will miss this kid for a long time.  I missed her and my other 8th graders since I left that school.  My current high school students knew about the situation because that middle school is our feeder school.  One baked me brownies over that weekend and brought them in on the next Monday morning.  How sweet is that?  Yes, I ate them.  Share a few, but they became part of my post-workout meal for a few days.  Prep or no prep – when a kid bakes you love, you eat it.

It’s bittersweet right now because many of my older kids are graduating from college this spring.  If you aren’t sure why that’s a major accomplishment, remember – I’ve been working at “tough” schools.  Many of my kids were the first in their families to graduate from high school, let alone college.  They beat the odds.  Nothing was easy for them.  They worked harder than their peers at other schools.  When I started my transformation journey, I looked at my kids and borrowed courage from them.  Each of us has our Mt Everest to climb if we choose to do it.  I asked them to try and not give up.   I told them that hard work, even on the ‘little stuff’,  pays off eventually, but doing nothing gets you nowhere.  And then they left high school and did it!  I wasn’t their only teacher, so I can’t take credit for all of it, but I will take credit for being smart enough to use them as my inspiration.  They are underdogs – I’m an underdog in my sport.  They are out there kicking ass and taking names – some have earned big, fat prestigious scholarships (ie I’ve had three Gates Scholars)  just because they knew that’s what they would have to do if they wanted to go to college.  Some grew up homeless and now are doing well.  Single parent households to apartments in Manhattan.  Oh yeah – they are doing it.  It’s really not a big deal for me to get up earlier to go to the gym because they got up early to do calculus homework.  I CHOOSE to be a little uncomfortable because I’m hungry when they didn’t always have a choice about being hungry.

I’ve been listening to this almost every day for the last three weeks.  It reminds me that there is always someone with a bigger obstacle who finds a way around it to reach their goal.  It reminds me of all the kids I’ve met during the last 19 years who overcame their childhoods to create the lives they wanted.  And so it will always remind me of the one who could not.

While all this real life stuff has been happening, I haven’t felt like writing.  Social media – it’s overwhelming sometimes.   Lately, I’ve felt like digging in and doing my thing semi-privately to keep life simple. Short posts are easy, but writing this blog, sharing what’s been going on – well, that’s been something I couldn’t handle.  My ability to handle stress has been a little compromised by the prep, but I’m also grieving.  (That’s why the walks have been therapeutic.)  My coach has helped me tremendously as I processed all of this pain, joy, and frustration.    His online presence is much larger, so he knows what it’s like to have to deal with  ___ (I’ll let you fill in that blank because I have nothing good to say right there).  It’s a little weird to have a mentor who is 20 years younger than I am, but that’s exactly what Berto has become to me.  Much more than a prep coach.  I am grateful.

OK.  So I’m 8 weeks out from the competition I think I will do.  Nothing is set in stone yet.  Life this last year has been a long roller-coaster ride, so I’m not willing to fully commit to a date just yet.


Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Cardio, Competing, Contest Prep, Life, Teaching, Weight Loss