My first Weightlifting Competition

I started competing in weightlifting because it is something that I wanted to do. I knew that I loved the lifts and I wanted to see what a weightlifting competition was all about.

I wasn’t told that I should compete. I don’t have a coach telling me its a good idea.  It was something I just figured out that I wanted for myself.Do we want to look back with a constant

There are definitely experiences I know I want to have in life. I do what I can to make sure that they happen. I don’t want fear to keep me from doing something.  I still feel fear some times in trying new experiences but I do what I can to mitigate that. Working to reduce the fear might mean things like: asking for help, advice or in-person support from someone who has experience, doing some research so I am as prepared as possible and even just allowing for the fear.  However, in all fairness, I am also pretty good at just throwing myself in and learning as I go.  Many times you have to feel the fear and do it anyway. 🙂


I had a person with many years of weightlifting experience offer to help me out through my first meet and my friend Leah agreed to compete with me. It helped not being alone for the first competition.

I was terrified about the weigh-in and the singlet on top of to being terrified trying something I had never done before.

The weigh in. Having been to several Ultimate Fighting Championship weigh-ins, I was picturing the meet weigh ins on a scale on a big public stage.  The reality was a little different. 🙂  The scale was in a small private room with just one woman present. I weighed quickly and told her my opening attempts.  It was done very quickly and painlessly for the most part.

The singlet Oh the agony and angst! I dreaded the singlet. It felt scary and terrible and wrong. It would show all my lumps and curves!! It so ended up being no big deal. Every one wears one. No one cares. Honestly. I promise.

The meet  My first time walking up to the platform and I realize I have no idea what I am doing. During my first snatch attempt, I approached the bar.  It was crooked.

I looked at the main judge “Can I straighten this?”

He just looked at me. “Yes.”

I straightened the bar.

“Do I go now?”

“Yes, you can go.”

Cool. 🙂

I completed my snatch which I caught above parallel. Being the good crossfitter that I was at the time and wanting to meet movement standards, I rode the squat down to below parallel and stood back up.

Good Lift! Three white lights! Yay!!

I walk off the platform and the man helping me said “Yeah…That catching the snatch and riding it down? Don’t do that.”IMG_3820

Oh. good to know.  No one told me I could power snatch and power clean!!!!!!  That makes life a lot easier for me. I haven’t hit depth since… but that is a whole other blog post.

It was a great meet. I went six for six in my lifts and had a great time.

My point of this post is that if you want to compete… compete. Every one has a first meet. No one is expecting perfection. Gain the experience. Get a total. You will learn something every time.  Don’t let fear hold you back.  Ask for the help and support you need to help make this happen.  If you don’t have any one close to you that is supportive, reach out to me and I promise we will get it figured out.

The Slow, Unsexy Sure-Fire Way to Success

Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.

This has been my mantra recently.
I am convinced it is what leads to success at most things. In a world where we want a quick fix, magic pill and everything NOW, it can be really challenging. It is not sexy either. It does work though. You are what you do every day. Change will happen.

Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.

I am 42 and want to compete as a weightlifter. I have a coach, good programming and I know what to work on. I show up at the gym regularly and do the work. Slowly things are changing. One kilo at a time, one inch of technique refinement practiced again and again. Change will happen.

Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.

I want to make some body composition changes. I figure out a great way to do it that does not put me back in the restrict and binge cycle. I figure out how I can eat for the rest of my life and then watch my body change. Not over night, a little at time. A pound a time. Oh man. I want it to be faster. Some times it agonizing at this pace. How successful will I be if I keep looking for the next sure-fire plan? I am doing the right things one meal at a time, one day at a time. Change will happen.

Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.

Patience and consistency.

I know I am some times mean to myself. My inner voice can be cutting, shaming, critical. I want to change that. I build awareness and I start to make different choices in how I talk to myself. I am deliberate and I practice often. Change will happen. I am kinder more often. I catch myself and make a different choice. My inner world gets kinder, better. It makes me kinder, better to the world around me.

Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.

I want to grow my business so that I can help others connect with peace, happiness and health. I find good mentors to learn from. I implement changes. I am honest and authentic and I put my message out here regularly. I learn what is working and what isn’t and adjust accordingly. I try new things when I fail. I keep taking steps. Keep moving forward. Progress is made. Change is happening. Its not over night and it maybe small. Maybe one person at a time but the community grows and more people connect with peace, happiness and health.

Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.
Patience and consistency.

What I Have Been up to Lately: A Big Learning Cycle

I find that I go through cycles in my life of big learning followed by a bit of being stagnant or low growth. In reflecting on the past few months, I see that I am in a big learning cycle now and its tons of fun.

In August I attended a five week Strongman Clinic that met every Saturday morning. It was mostly women although a few men. We got to play with all kinds of fun toys – stones, axels, yokes, logs. I loved being able to try new things and test my strength with that. Strong man kegThere were several times when I thought “I can’t possibly do that.” Then I proceeded to not only do it but often with more weight then I figured I could do. That is a good feeling. I loved the sense of play and just trying things out as well as the environment of other women just encouraging and cheering each other on. Lots of fun.Olympic Center Pic



Also in August, I had the opportunity to attend a Masters Weightlifting camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. It was a masters camp meaning that every one was over 35. I would say the ages ranged fromIMG_5397 35-65 and it was about 50/50 men and women. It was so cool to be among my peers. While there were a few people who had been lifting for a long time, many were like me and just found out about the lifts a few years ago and are completely smitten with the sport. We were coached by two Olympians Zygmut Smalcerz and Oscar Chaplin. There was lots to be learned. We had several training sessions a day plus a morning warm up session that I referred to as 1970s Polish Calthestenics. We also had several opportunities to watch the resident team lift which was amazing – speed, power and strength that I can only dream about. The more I learn about weightlifting the more I love it.

Finally, August also brought the Bar Slamming Festival in Stateville, NC. It would be my second official weightlifting meet. What I was most excited about for this competition was a chance to meet one my inspirations in the sport of weightlifting Jon North. If you don’t know him, you should check him out. He is a crazy man and I love it.  His passion and energy in the sport is just contagious. To meet him and to watch him lift and hit a PR for the clean and jerk was just inspiring. I was also there with two of my fabulous friends and I hit a meet PR so it was pretty fabulous in all ways.

Kara and Jon

In September, I attended the USAW Level 1 Coaching course. Let me repeat, the more I learn about weightlifting the more I love it. It was great to interact with the knowledgeable instructors as well as attendees, some of which had never snatched or clean and jerked before. I have an Olympic Weightlifting certification from Catalyst Athletics which is near and dear to my heart. However, the USAW Level 1 is the certification that many people look for industry wide so it was worth getting.  I did learn some great coaching queues and things to improve my own lifting.

It was after the Weightlifting Camp, that I decided to refocus on my weightlifting a bit more and enlist some coaching help. I have trained a ton on my own and really I think I have taken myself as far as I can go. I had a friend who was a competitive weightlifter write me a program and I have a coach that I work with 2-3 days a week. It has made a difference for sure. I have really learned that while I FEEL like my body is doing the right things, the video shows something different. Its been great (and challenging) to get consistent feedback on how my lifts are going. I am planning to compete at the end of September, beginning of November (Both in VA) and in a big Masters meet in California in April. I am pumped about that and ready to work hard and make some gains.

Why am I sharing this? I guess as a reflective time for myself to see how much has happened in a few months but also to help inspire you to go and seek out experiences that you want to have happen and do what ever you can to make them happen. As Jon North has said, Love your life or change it!!

Ways to Reduce Travel Stress with Exercise

This week’s guest post is from Mike Manning. Mike is new to the blogging world. When he approached me about guest blogging, I really connected with his idea of sharing different ways of thinking about exercising when traveling – something I am pretty familiar with and I know we can all use inspiration around. Plus one of this posts is about positivity.  Positivity? Taking care of your body? What’s not to like.  🙂

You can find Mike at his blog:

Ways to Reduce Travel Stress with Exercise

The irregular schedules and unfamiliar surroundings frequently faced by travelers can result in high stress. Busy agendas and other factors compound the stress by making it difficult to get good exercise and proper nutrition on trips away from home. Vacationers occasionally experience these difficulties, but business travelers cope with them on a regular basis. In fact, frequent travelers tend to have overall poorer health than others. Planning and implementing a fitness program for your time away from home can greatly decrease travel-related stress as well as improve your overall health.

photo source: the

Start by planning for success.

  • Before leaving home, learn about the place where you will be traveling.
  • Find out if your lodging will be near a local running track or trail open to the public.
  • If you are booking your own hotel, find accommodations at a place with a well-equipped gym, running trails or other fitness amenities onsite.

On a recent trip to Maui I was able to book a hotel with a 24-hour gym by searching through travel reviews site before booking. The site I used, called Gogobot, made it easy to scan through a list of Maui hotels and from there I could discern which ones had the right fitness amenities.

Also pack for success.

  • Don’t forget those workout clothes, and always bring a refillable water bottle with you to help you remain hydrated as well as avoid the temptation of purchasing sugary or caffeinated drinks that can sabotage your personal fitness plan.
  • In order to get a powerful workout in a small spaces and short period of time, consider bringing portable workout equipment. This might be a simple workout band, a TRX trainer or a yoga mat.

In transit, you can also find ways to get some exercise. Many airports have begun catering to health-conscious travelers. At these airports, you can find such amenities as designated walking areas and Zen rooms for relaxation, meditation and yoga.

On your flight, take a few moment every hour or so to perform simple in-flight exercises. These should include simple stretches such as:

  • stretching over your head
  • side bends
  • gentle neck rolls
  • ankle rolls
  • as well as exercises such as knee lifts.

This will help to improve blood flow and circulation, and you should be able to minimize common discomforts such as stiffness, cramping and swelling.

Throughout your travels, remember to be realistic about your fitness level.

Travelers simply don’t have much time.

You probably won’t get a full hour workout completed at the hotel fitness center, but you can squeeze in 15 or 20 minutes of exercise before breakfast or in the evening after meetings. On incredibly busy trips, maximize your opportunities by getting a 10-minute workout with your chair and an exercise band between afternoon meetings. Do little things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. When it comes to fitness and travel, each small thing counts. Every step takes you closer to your fitness goal.

More info on exercise and travel:

CNN – “Beating the stress of business travel” –

Gogobot – Travel reviews site for research –

USA Today – “Airports get into the fitness craze for stressed travelers” –



If you want to learn more about loving who you are and getting peace with your body but aren’t sure how to do that, let Zen Barbell help you! Check out the 30 Days to Stop Hating Your Body program here.  

Stop Thinking about Losing and Start Thinking about Being Amazing

How many years have you spend focusing on a calorie deficit?

How many times have you wished for that number on the scale to be just a little (or maybe A LOT) different?

It gets depressing, tiring and old to focus on loss, smaller, less food, deprivation and really there is no “there” to get to. There is no end to that cycle.

Be more than that for yourself. Focus on being amazing.

How are you amazing?

Focusing on being AMAZING means setting goals like:

  • A body weight back squat
  • Getting a first pull up
  • Full-body-on-your-toes push ups
  • Running your first race/Tough Mudder/Adventure race
  • Learning new skills like the Olympic lifts, hand stand push ups or ring dips

You want goals that have you chasing after things that scare you a bit, get you out of your comfort zone and things that you know that when you get there you will raise your hand, fist pump and yell THAT WAS AMAZING!!

All of these take a plan, focus, daily consistent steps to be successful.  And when you get that goal? BAM! You just added more amazing in your life.  You have a new skill, you are stronger.  Doesn’t THAT feel so much better than worrying about a deficit or the scale?

Keep the food stuff simple: real, whole foods – “JERF: Just Eat Real Food”  and then you don’t have to worry about it.  Fuel to meet your performance goals and your amazingness.

Amazing people also getting plenty of sleep and have good to great stress management tools. Don’t forget about those two BIG pieces!

Crazy stuff will happen when you focus on amazing rather than weight loss.

WARNING! Side effects may include:

  • Feeling more pride in yourself
  • Increased confidence that you can set a goal and accomplish it
  • A body that feels satisfied and stronger (warning: additional leanness MAY occur!)
  • An inner monologue that shifts from negative criticism to positive high fives
  • Positive changes in other parts of your life above and beyond the health and fitness area

Each Tuesday on the ZenBarbell facebook page, We celebrate amazingness. I want people to share how they are being amazing in their lives.  Please come over and shout it out!!

If you want help getting started with your own being amazing plan, let me know! I would love to help!




If you want to learn more about loving who you are and getting peace with your body but aren’t sure how to do that, let Zen Barbell help you! Check out the 30 Days to Stop Hating Your Body program here.  

A Moment of Competition

This past weekend I participated in the Superfit Crossfit competition in Charlottesville, VA.
Going in to the competition, I was not worried about the work outs as it was all weights I could handle and skills that I comfortably have but I was surprised by how I was left gasping on the floor after each one.  While comfortable with the movement, the workouts where short and intense and harder than I though they would be.
For most of the moments I was able to stay where I wanted to be – in the moment. Before my first workout, I stepped on the floor, as the timer counted down my judge happened to say “Don’t forget to have fun!”  I was grateful.  It immediately reminded me to breathe and smile.

As I picked up the barbell again and againbreathe, power, gratitude, smile

As I felt my lungs burningbreathe, gratitude, smile

As I felt my heart poundingbreathe, gratitude, smile

As I negotiated one more rep from myselfbreathe, power, gratitude, smile

I know I showed up and gave what I had. It doesn’t really matter to me that I placed near the bottom. I had my friends there, which was so fabulous, providing all kinds of encouragement and support. I love what my body did for me over the weekend and how I just enjoyed the process of it all.

Feeling nervous at all about an upcoming event? Try these tips:

1. Go in with Gratitude for what ever your body is about to help you do.

2. Breathe.  It helps put you in the here and now so that you can be present and caught up in the stories running through your head

3. Smile.  It reminds you to have fun and enjoy the process. It also releases mental tension so that your energy can go where it belongs – into your body to fuel your heart, lungs and muscles. Plus it makes your fellow competitors suspicious.  🙂


If you want to learn more about loving who you are and getting peace with your body but aren’t sure how to do that, let Zen Barbell help you! Check out the 30 Days to Stop Hating Your Body program here.  

What are you wanting for 2013?

“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~Joseph Campbell

So many “make the best of 2013” articles coming out. Admittedly, I love new year and the feel of a fresh start – its like ONE BIG MONDAY MORNING!! 🙂
The reality is that any day is a good day to start new habits.

I am trying something new this year. I do normally make resolutions and month by month plans and I am letting all of that go.

As a matter of fact the two words – ok, three words – I am using to guide my decisions and actions this year are: Letting go and Connection.

Letting go – ZenHabits really helped bring this into focus for me. I am want let go of expectations, of not being present in the moment, of thougthat that make me miserable, of thinking I am not good enough, of extra stuff (possessions) and of planning. I am going to go where the passion and fun takes me! WOOP!

Connection – This year I am focusing on connecting with people and connecting with this moment (and this one… and this one…) and letting that be enough.

What have you been holding onto in 2012? What can you let go of it in 2013?
Clutter? Relationships that don’t serve you? The same old resolutions that you never hit and then feel bad about yourself? Self-doubt or self-hatred? The stupid scale? Expectations of yourself and others that no longer serve you? Share with me what you want to let go of this year!

You can do it. Be amazing – today and every day!! Life is too short not to be!!



If you want to learn more about loving who you are and getting peace with your body but aren’t sure how to do that, let Zen Barbell help you! Check out the 30 Days to Stop Hating Your Body program here.