What I Did On My Summer Vacation

What I Did On My Summer Vacation.

At the beginning of every school year, I remember teachers instructing us to take out our newly sharpened #2 wooden pencils, open up to a blank page in our black and white marbled composition book, and write on that prompt.

Did you go to the pool everyday?  Tell me about that.

Did you go on a trip to Disneyland?  Tell me about that.

Did you play video games from morning to night?  Tell me about that.

Well, what I did on my summer vacation was none of the above, but is definitely an event worth writing about on this blog.

I competed in a supertotal meet.

The two words, “super” and “total”, already feel larger-than-thou, grand, and just plain intimidating.  A total of what?  What’s so super about it?

For those that don’t know, I like to lift weights.  Not just randomly going to the gym, hopping on some machines and calling it a day, but I love picking up a barbell from the floor and pulling it straight overhead or placing it on my back and squatting down so that my hamstrings touch my calves.  I like to lift weights.  I initially started learning how to snatch and clean and jerk (aka the Olympic lifts that you see done remarkably well by Europeans and the Chinese at the actual Olympics), and then dabbled in powerlifting for a few months (squatting, benching, and deadlifting). I eventually shifted my focus back to weightlifting at the start of this year and became more serious about it when I bought my own barbell.  Anyhow, most meets will be either only Olympic lifts (2 total) OR powerlifting lifts (3 total).  A supertotal has all 5 lifts.  In a day.  Three attempts per lift.  The athlete hefts around a loaded barbell 15 times in a span of 6 hours to see how much weight she can lift.

Dang, it’s exhausting.

But that is what I did yesterday.  And while the experience was certainly memorable, there are a few golden nuggets I am taking away from this experience.

  1.  I love food.  Like, really, really love food.  I struggled with anorexia for a good part of my young adulthood, and now at 38 years young, I can say with assurance, I love food and it loves me.  I cut to the 97# weight class for this meet, and while I walk around between 101-103#, losing that much water weight and having to be stringent on the amount of salt, liquid, etc. I was taking in prior to the meet made me, well, pretty irritable.  I wanted to just eat ice cream because it was SO DARN HOT.  I wanted to eat my kid’s pizza but needed to watch my fat intake.  When I mentioned to a friend that I was cutting, a look of concern broached her face.  “Are you sure you’re going to be ok?  Even if the weigh-in is only for that day…do you feel tempted?  To, you know, be that weight?”  I love that she asked me that.  Why?  Because it showed she cared.  But also, because it was a sign, a landmark of sorts, because my response was instantaneous:  NO.  NO WAY AM I TEMPTED.  I FEEL TOO SMALL.  I CAN’T IMAGINE WALKING AROUND AT THIS WEIGHT FOREVER.  IT IS MADNESS.  And let me tell you, that first meal after weigh-ins was magical.  I ate without guilt.  Sushi?  Sure!  Frozen yogurt with chocolate toppings?  Yes, please!  Some cookies my husband bought?  Bring it!  This meet solidified that my worth is no longer tied to a number on the scale.  Emotions like guilt and fear are not linked to whether or not I had a bite of mac and cheese.  I love food.  And I have already started my journey to massing up to lift in the 49kg (107.8#) weight class.
  2. Be smart.  On the final lift of the day, the deadlift, I had the opportunity to break an American record.  I had already set a squat and bench record, and now, the deadlift.  Do I try?  Do I do it?  Do I go for it?  Surprisingly (as competitive of a person as I am), I didn’t.  I pulled three deadlifts that were pretty conservative (my nice way of saying “easy”).  Why?  Why not go for the gold?  There were multiple reasons.  I was already pretty exhausted and I knew my form would be less than stellar.  I was already at a low body weight so my physiology was further compromised.  I hadn’t trained conventional deadlifts much, let alone pulling the weight that would have had me setting the record.  I am a weightlifter, not a powerlifter, and I am starting a new weightlifting training cycle on Monday. Why compromise myself, injure myself, just for one lift?  Is hitting that arbitrary deadlift number really that important to me in the long run?  Uh, no, it’s not that important.  So I listened to my body and completed the meet uninjured.  That’s a win in my book, no matter what the weight was on the bar.
  3. Just have fun with it.  I met a new friend too.  It was her first meet.  She had just picked up weightlifting two months ago.  She arrived alone (her family, boyfriend and coach eventually came to the event), and while we waited to warm-up, we started talking.  And you know what?  She made the meet fun.  I loved sharing stories about work, lifting, and sports with her, but more importantly, seeing her take that step of faith to “just do it” (I know, corny corny corny) and jump into a competition was inspiring.  Meets are stressful, anxiety producing experiences, and yet, she did it all with a smile on her face.  This new lifting friend reminded me that while hitting certain numbers is a grand goal to have, ultimately the joy of the sport is not contingent on the amount of medals won.  It comes from that feeling of euphoria one gets when pulling a weight from the ground she didn’t think was possible.  It comes from the rush of adrenaline flowing through a person’s veins right before stepping up to the barbell.  It’s that energy, the excitement, of pushing oneself past just being comfortable and trying something new and challenging.

So that, THAT supertotal meet, is what I did on my summer vacation.  Who knew I could learn so much from spending a day with a barbell?

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Sweetest Success

Emily Dickinson had it right.

Success IS counted sweetest by those who neer succeed.

Yesterday, I was death.  I woke up with an ache in my lower back and was feeling a bit warm.  The norm, considering it is summer in Hawaii, I am 38 years old and old age is slowly creeping up on me.

But my stomach.  I didn’t know whether to vomit or sit on the toilet.

So I did a little of both.  For the next two hours.  And I still had my little two-year-old to take care of.  I called my mother-in-law to see if she could watch him while I got a few hours of sleep.  She was going out to lunch and wouldn’t be at home.  My parents were in Las Vegas.  My husband was working.

I almost started to cry.  Almost. But then I stopped, took a deep breath, and prayed:

LORD, PLEASE HEAL ME.  NOW.  PLEASE.  LET ME BE FILLED WITH YOUR HOLY SPIRIT AND BE HEALED.

And you know what?  My little toddler boy fell asleep for a nap!  For 3 hours!!  And you know what else?  My husband finished work and took the kids to Ala Moana and BJJ class!!!  And I slept 12 more hours!!!!

Needless to say, I woke up this morning sans body aches, stomach in tact, and feeling, well, pretty good.

Now what does my 24 hour bout with the flu/cold/illness have to do with Dickinson?  It is this fact:  one really is unable to grasp the grandness of what she has until it’s gone.  And then in those moments of desperation and emptiness, she can say that in fact, yes, things were pretty grand.

Health is one of those things we take for granted until it starts going downhill.  Flus and colds that diminish us to beings wrapped in blankets, laying on the bed, unable to eat anything make us appreciate the time we could go about our daily business without a second thought.

School is another.  I sometimes wish I could go back to college, where the only job one really has is to learn.  Imagine that!!!  A person is purposefully devoting all of his time to reading, discussing, engaging, learning!  When I started my freshman year of college, I was livng in the inner cities of Los Angeles as a USC Trojan.  I loved the campus.  I loved my student fellowship group.  I loved the hustle and bustle of the city.  But health issues hit, I moved back to Hawaii, and ended up graduating from UH-Manoa.  Now don’t get me wrong, UH is a wonderful institution as well, but knowing all the cultural experiences, relationships, and growth as a student at that California campus I could have had there makes me a bit wistful of the time I did spend in LA.

And the kids.  Ah, the kiddos.  I really do love my two kids, no favorites here.  But when I look at my youngest, I remember how a year or so prior to his delivery, I was bawling on the sofa, having just miscarried what I believed would have been our second child.  You can’t believe the emptiness and desperation deep within my core after having the joy of “Yay, I’m having a baby!” be replaced with “God, why take this child from me?”  It took awhile to come to terms with the fact that we would be a family of three, and then low and behold, a blessing occurred.  An ultrasound showing a little bean with a beating heart.  A little boy.  A family of four.

Success is counted sweetest.

Success IS counted sweetest.

So what to do now that I am fully recovered from my flu/cold/illness?  What do I do now that I graduated with an English degree from UH? What do I do now that we have a wonderful husband, daughter, and son?  Do I remain trapped in the doldrums, looking at what was lost and not focusing on what is?

Sadly, I do tend to do that at times.  Just for a minute.  I think it’s natural.  We wouldn’t be human if there weren’t times of discomfort, sadness, and pain.  God created us with feelings and emotions, and to try to hide them or say they don’t exist is basically saying He didn’t know what He was doing when He formed us.  The danger lies if we remain in that depressive state, only thinking of what once was.  Because you know what?  Something great, something grand, something absolutely wonderful could be just around the corner.

24 hours later, I am feeling like the Lauren of old.  Heck, I’m even able to type out this blog post.  So what am I going to do?  Go out and play with the kiddos.  Enjoy a dinner with the family.  And praise God for the sweet success He has given to me.