Stacy’s Training Update: 45 Days

Last we left off our story, our heroine had decided that she was wanted to be strong. She wrote that post, walked into a local strength gym the next day, looked her coaches in the eyes and said Whatever I have to do to start training Strong(wo)Man, I want to start. Today. And so she did…

Breaking Chains at PaleoParents

What I love about the box where I train is that it is Strength & Conditioning gym. It’s not just a CrossFit box. They have award-winning Olympic lifters that train there for their Olympic lifting coaching, of course they have CrossFit with great coaches, but the very unique thing they have is The Edge 2.0, the StrongMan component of the box – which I am now a part of!

What & Why: StrongMan

I remember starting CrossFit and asking the owner what all the crazy stuff in the back of the gym was… and why the huge dudes mostly sat around in chairs drinking water and eating protein. We both giggled and she explained that it was for StrongMan and that they train differently. Already feeling overwhelmed, I didn’t really think much more of it until months later when I came to really respect and enjoy working out with a specific CrossFit coach.

Every time I did a WOD with Mike I found he pushed me to do something I was afraid of, did something that was exciting and made me feel powerful, or was able to explain form or movement to a way that helped me better understand and improve. But, it was when I worked out with Mike’s girlfriend, Caroline, that I realized StrongMan (which they both train for) wasn’t just for men. She pushed me to try harder and lift heavier – telling me if she can do it, then certainly I can, too. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

With all the positive encouragement, I began loving every WOD that had a strength component. I looked forward to lifting heavy things… so it was a natural progression that when I decided to officially train more often and more seriously that I would add the extra days of the week as StrongMan days. I wasn’t sure what that would lead to long-term, but I knew I loved the powerlifting movements paired with fun toys, like tires and sledgehammers.

PR Deadlift at PorkBellyFitness on PaleoParents

Turns out, I not only enjoy it – but with dedication to sleeping more, eating right and more training I’m getting good at it too. If you follow me on Instagram you know I often post photos when I hit new personal records (PRs). Here are some of the ones I’m really excited about (note: progress represented by about 1 month for them all except Thruster which I didn’t record earlier):

Back Squat:

pre-commitment Jul 8, 2013 – 3×3 143lbs

post-commitment Aug 5, 2013 – 3×3 173lbs

Dead Lift:

pre-commitment Jul 21, 2013 – 1RM 235lbs

post-commitment Aug 4, 2013 – 1RM 253lbs

Front Squat:

pre-commitment Jul 22, 2013 – 3×3 123lbs

post-commitment Aug 2, 2013 – 3×3 143lbs


pre-commitment Apr 24, 2013 – 1RM 95lbs

post-commitment Aug 19, 2013 – 1RM 135lbs

So, how am I managing to fit all this in? My schedule is as follows:

  • Monday: 5:30pm CrossFit (leave work at 5pm, home by 6:45, eat dinner with the boys)
  • Tuesday: 6:30pm StrongMan (leave work at 6pm, call boys and say good night on way to gym, stay late at gym)
  • Wednesday: 5:30pm CrossFit (leave work at 5pm, home by 6:45, eat dinner with the boys)
  • Thursday: : 6:30pm StrongMan (leave work at 6pm, call boys and say good night on way to gym, stay late at gym)
  • Friday: Open Gym/Rest Day (go as a family and catch-up on a day we may have missed or else take a rest day)
  • Saturday: 9am CrossFit (the kids have (9:30am CrossFit)
  • Sunday: noon StrongMan (usually bring Cole & Finn and we have a Mom & son “date” after)

It was quite an adjustment to lose the Tues/Thur with the boys. But we talked with them about how I wanted to work out more, be healthier and get stronger. When I ask them if they’d rather me come home or work out and get stronger they almost always say, “Let’s just FaceTime, we’ll see you later!” I realize that not everyone has a fantastic partner in their life who is willing and able to take on kid duties the way Matt does – but, I do… I’m lucky. And he gets his own time during the week to use how he sees fit now that the boys are all in school, even Wes who goes a few hours 2 days a week.

It’s Contagious

Another way I make time for working out is doing it with family and friends. Specifically, I love that on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons our box has “open gym” and I get to spend hours on strength, taking lots of rests and recovery time in between sets. I especially love that our gym is uniquely open at those times so it’s easy to convince awesome friends to come train with me on those days! Side note: I met my friend Courtney pictured below at the local farmer’s market about a year and a half ago. She was having some health struggles and I convinced her to go paleo for 30 days… and she’s been paleo since. To return the favor, when she started rocking CrossFit over a year ago I got jealous and was inspired to start too. Then she recently placed in an Olympic lifting competition a few months ago, and inspired me to want to compete too. How awesome that our friendship helped one another get healthier and stronger!

Zercher Squate on PaleoParentsAxel Deadlift at PaleoParents
Zercher Squats and Axle Deadlifts: much harder than they look

Husafell Stone Carry at PaleoParents This Hersafell Stone is a BEAST… I want to lift it off the ground and carry it 120ft before Thanksgiving

Joining StrongMan has allowed me to change my relationship with people at the gym. I feel like instead of the hey-how-are-ya chit chat I had with CrossFitters in between heaving breaths I now have an opportunity to chat and enjoy the company of like-minded individuals as I train StrongMan. We follow each other on Instagram and give virtual high-fives on Facebook if we’re not there to witness each other’s big PR moments. I now call several people at the box friends and look forward to seeing them, catching up with them personally on Facebook or even celebrating my upcoming birthday with them!

PorkBellyFitness WOD on PaleoParents Crossfit Anywhere by PaleoParents

Committing to train more often and with vigor has also been great for those around me… I make everyone do it with me! It’s been incredibly hard this summer since we somehow insanely made plans to travel for 8 out of 9 weekends in a row. But I convinced Aimee and Bill & Hayley to join me for a WOD in Pork Belly Fitness (their garage gym) while we were in Pittsburgh. And I got Matt and Cole to WOD with me while we were in Raystown, PA glamping. When you’re excited and enthusiastic about something, it helps others be excited too!

Things I’ve Learned

1) I’ve learned that working out doesn’t have to be this burden that overwhelms you and makes you feel like you “have” to do something… and then it’s a riot in your brain to what excuse you can come up with to get out of going. Instead, I’ve found that after a stressful day a good sweaty session lifting heavy things is a much better thing to do than coming home and have a glass of wine or gin & kombucha.

2) Committing to get stronger and train with intention has set my mind straight about eating right not just for health but also for performance – I’ve only had two times in 45 days where I’ve enjoyed things outside the perfect paleo template, both intentional, and I can definitely see a difference in my body composition as well as strides in strength as a result. I still haven’t really lost weight, so I’m going to think about looking into things like Carb Cycling, Paleo Zone, or other things athletes do to help themselves lean out and maintain performance. Because [crazy talk] I have to start thinking of myself as an athlete now! However, given that I am losing inches and gaining strength and have a history with disordered eating I will approach it all with great caution.

45 Days of Training on PaleoParentsNote: this is after working a full day, CrossFitting and then blogging this very post on the treadmill desk!

3) Also learned: My grip strength sucks. StrongMan adds a new muscle group I hadn’t used before with CrossFit: my hands. From wide handle farmer’s carry to the axle bar, my hands are learning how to hold and maintain strength as I lift heaving things without being able to hook grip them. To work on this I’ve started to always work with a standard (men’s) bar in CrossFit which has a wider handle and also doing specific grip-strength activities.

4) Supposedly I have a good squat. I’ma try and exploit that. Not sure how… it’s still an underwear gnomes plan at this point.

5) All my original rules of starting CrossFit still apply, but I’ll add a new one: good mascara is a must. You need solid lashes to keep that dripping sweat out of your eyes!

6) Also, I love my new shoulders.

Stacys Strong Shoulders on PaleoParentsThis is the silly tough-girl face I’m working on… whatcha think?

Not without Challenges

Digestion is crucial. When I first started I had some hormone issues that resulted in my inability to sleep soundly and digestive distress. I consulted with my expert friends in the health & nutrition field who gave me lots of great advice. Some of which was to stop working out so much (I curtailed my metcon activity and focused more on strength as a result) and to get in more Vitamin C (naturally in fruit) and magnesium. I also personally applied the method of increasing my veggies with my meals, since without a gallbladder my body is very sensitive to protein and fat. I found that within just 48 hours of this plan my digestion and sleep were resolved and I can say it’s been over 30 days now without any further concerns!

I will admit, I did have one set back a few weeks ago. I overtrained; I got hurt. I PR’d a few days in a row, knew I should take a rest day, but came in anyway and pushed too hard, achieving another PR. As I was lifting that 260lb bar, I felt my body telling me to slow down and take it easier and lighter, but I didn’t listen. As a result I had some back muscle pain and spasms for about a week, delaying and regressing my training much more than if I’d taken it easy that night. I’ve learned to take a rest day when I feel I need it and to really remember that training for a competition is a marathon, not a sprint.

The Biggie

Yes, I said competition. With all this new found love of the sport I want to commit to it in the only way I know how – competition. So, when I approached my coaches about competition I said I’m open to whatever you guys think, you know me and my abilities best – let me know if there’s a competition in 2014 you think I’d be decent at, and I’m in! Turns out, there’s a StrongWOMAN competition being hosted by my box in December 2013. It’s REALLY rare to have a women-only competition like that, especially hosted at my own gym, there’s no way I can’t not participate. But the date was MUCH sooner than I was expecting.

It’s been a great motivator for me to have goals. My personal goals are:

  • 300lb deadlift and 250lb back squat by 2014
  • being able to pull a truck (Mike says I could likely do this now but my goal is by 2014)
  • pick up the Husafell stone from the ground by Thanksgiving
  • I want to handstand without a wall SO badly and am getting VERY close, my goal is to have that party trick for my 32nd birthday party on Sept 14th – eek!

All of these goals and dates are coming up quickly! All the more reason to be serious about food, sleep, training and proper rest. Off to bed for some muscle recover, so I can start all over again tomorrow ♥

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  • If you did not already inspire me in so many other ways…. this: “it’s still an underwear gnomes plan at this point.”

    Just made you one of my favorite people EVER!!!! It’s ok to have a plan with step one and step three… Step two will come… LOL Thank you for the reminder!

    • Ha! I knew a few people would enjoy that one 😉

  • TashaOrlovsky

    You *are* an athlete! Go you!

  • Holy guacamole, a 200 lb backsquat! You should be SUPER PROUD! Great work!

    Looking at your schedule… does this mean your hubby is doing all of the paleo cooking in the house?

    • Kate, Matt’s a stay at home dad and has always done all of the weekday cooking in our home… and in our books! 🙂

  • Kara Klett

    You are so awesome.

  • A. Oliver

    AWESOME Inspiration!

  • Alexis Arnold

    Your stats are truly amazing! So what if you haven’t lost weight- you have gained so much more in strength and health! You go girl!

  • Leslie

    “Things I’ve learned” paragraph 1 is so on point it’s ridiculous!
    This is my life. The StrongWoman competition? Could the universe have aligned
    that more perfectly for you? I think not. Clearly something you were meant to do. I love
    today’s blog. You’re quite an inspiring woman! Thank you!

  • Valerie

    Oh my gosh…this is SO inspiring! I’m doing great with my workouts but my good is the constant struggle…trying to figure out how to approach that without going to extremes, which is where I gravitate. Thanks for sharing your progress!

  • A

    You were definitely my push to get started on getting stronger again. Hopefully we can work out together some day! You are rocking it, momma!

  • That’s so cool! I know you’ll rock that competition and feel a personal sense of accomplishment in the process! You’re a great role model for your children too — setting goals and working toward them.

  • Courtney McGregor

    So proud of you! And so proud to be your friend! It was great doing StrongWOman with you; I had a blast and got a great workout! Strong is beautiful, and Stacy, so are YOU!!!

  • Diana

    Love this post. You are so strong! I’ve been lifting for years and am not as strong as you. Good job. Can’t wait to see what is next!

  • Hilaire K. Troyer Romero

    Inspiring post! I turn 31 on Sept. 14th! I really did not reach many of the goals I had for my 31st year. But your post was the little nudge I needed to give it all another go this year! Good luck, thanks, and Happy Birthday!

  • sara

    You. are. awesomeeee. Can I ask you how you got so comfortable doing handstands?? I’m a 5’9 170lb girl and I am scared to death of kicking up to one even though I’m sure I have it in me. I am the most ungymnastic- like person out there and need some serious help.

    • They’re really not hard! I’ve always done them since a pre-teen in gymnastics. Just gotta believe you can! Practice press and push-ups and other shoulder movements and have someone spot you. You’ll be surprised 😉

  • Rennie

    Stacy, YOU are amazing. That is all.

  • You’re so cool. Move to my city and be my workout buddy/drag-me-to-the-gym friend. 😀