Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Annual New Year's Posty Thing

Holy cow-- it's almost 2015.  That went fast!  So I suppose it's time for my 2014 wrap-up post and my 2015 hopes and dreams.

2014 was a mixed bag of emotions.  Many people in my life lost loved ones and went through extreme hardships and sicknesses, and my heart is with all of them.  My cousin Marlene died very suddenly just a few weeks ago, which was a big surprise, too.  I have not seen her in a long time, but I remember spending many family events at my aunt's house with her and her family.  She was a wonderful person, and like a sister to my aunt.  She will be greatly missed.

In 2014, some important friendships in my life dissolved, which is always heartbreaking.  I try to see these things as learning experiences, though, and am growing stronger as a result.

2014 also brought some good things.  I made a lot of great new friends and became closer to other people in my life, including my aunt, who I had been sorely remiss in talking to on a regular basis.  She is a beautiful, wonderful person, and I plan to spend a lot more time with her in 2015 (at the very least virtually, since she lives on the opposite coast).

I got engaged in 2014 (I know, right??!!).  Dave surprised me with a trip to Costa Rica and popped the question at the Sloth Sanctuary despite me making it very difficult for him (long story; if you really want to hear the whole thing, I'll tell you in the comments section. :) ).  We do not have a date planned at this point because school is taking up all my time and resources, but most likely sometime in early 2016.  Stay tuned.

I didn't compete in any powerlifting events this year because of a mysterious knee injury I got last winter.  I discovered that the injury was actually from a pair of ill-fitting Sanuks I wore in the cooler weather.  Once I got rid of the shoes, I had no more knee issues. Unfortunately, laying off squats has led to a huge downgrade in my previous squat numbers.  I've tried several different programs with varying degrees of success, but I'm happy to say that this week, I came extremely close to squatting 175lb to parallel, which is by far the best I have done since the issue.  Once I own 175lb, it leaves me just 15lb short of my previous max.

Flawless Fitness and Evil Munky Enterprises both had their one year anniversaries in 2014, and both continue to go strong!  I did lots of workshops with Steel, Stone & Sugar, too.  I'm looking forward to continuing to grow all three in 2015 (and if you'd like a workshop in your area, let me know)!

My bands have done well-- Ed Force One in particular.  It's always an uphill battle, but 2015 looks bright for us!

In April, I started my master's degree program in Health Psychology.  I am almost halfway done, and should graduate in October.  It's hard work and takes up a great deal of my time, but it will be worth it.  I had planned to get my PhD right after this, but I've decided to put that on hold for a while and enjoy having some free time again!

Which leads me to my plans for 2015:

Fitness:  Many of my fitness goals remain the same because I have not reached them yet.  They include:

  • 200lb squat or heavier
  • 150lb bench press or heavier
  • 300lb deadlift or heavier

All at or under my current bodyweight of 104lb.

Other things I wouldn't mind achieving:

  • Mastering short steel bending (I mostly do long bending at the moment-- short bending has always been very difficult for me)
  • Back and/or front levers
  • My friends Jarell Lindsey and Batman O'Brien got me thinking about trying to get my middle splits back, too.
  • 120lb Atlas stone lift


  • Continue to grow Flawless Fitness, Evil Munky, and Steel, Stone, & Sugar.
  • Graduate my master's program and begin teaching at the community college level (or at a university that will let me teach with a master's degree)
  • Do lots more public speaking (if you'd like me at your event, say the word!)
  • I have a few side projects and planned projects I am not yet ready to talk publicly about, but I am excited about them, and can't wait to bring them to fruition!
  • There will be a new album with the original band I sing with, Maxxxwell Carlisle, this year-- I'm looking forward to recording it, and to hopefully begin touring!
  • I partnered up with Other World Productions this year to create a series of concerts with Ed Force One and other bands to be named later that will help raise money for people who can't afford to pay their vet bills.  As a huge animal lover, this is an issue near and dear to my heart, and I'm looking forward to our first one on February 13!
  • Hoping to get lots of new shows for all three bands this year.
  • You probably don't know this about me, but panic attacks run in my family, and I am one of the lucky recipients.  I'm hoping to conquer them this year, as they can be debilitating.
  • I want to spend a lot more time seeing my friends' shows and just generally being more social.  I miss having game nights, dinner parties, and movie nights.  Once I graduate from school, I'll have a lot more time (and resources) to start having fun again, and I plan to have lots of fun!  
  • I have a few places I'm definitely planning to make time to visit this year.  They include Yellowstone, Portland (Oregon, although I'd love to go to Maine, too), and possibly Idaho.  That being said, I love to travel, and there are tons of other places on my list-- these are just those I am pretty sure I'll be able to make work this year.
  • I started a new tradition this week that I plan to do all year and probably all the years ahead.  Believe it or not, I found out about it through a meme, and I liked the idea so much, I decided to start it.  What you do is, you get a jar (or container of your choice), and every time something nice happens, you write it down and put it in the container.  At the end of the year, you read all the papers and remember all the great things the year brought, since it's easy to forget sometimes.  In the meme they called it a Blessings Jar.  I think I'll call mine the Jar of Awesome.  

  • I'd also like to see this year bring health, happiness, and peace to everyone.  The last few years have been brutal for me and those around me, and I think it's time everyone had some really good stuff happen to them!
I wish all of you the happiest of new years and a safe, healthy, and wonderful 2015 and beyond.  And I'd love to hear your plans for 2015-- feel free to write 'em here!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Alarmism Is Alive and Well

This is more of an op-ed post, I suppose.  Sometimes it's hard for me not to seethe a little, reading the stuff I read by "experts."

I just read this article about Food Babe and her fearmongering style.  Like many in my industry, Food Babe may (*may*) have good intentions, but may be causing more problems than she's solving.  While there are certainly a lot of ingredients in food (particularly stuff that comes in packages) that shouldn't be there, a lot of the information Ms. Babe gives is only partially informed or misunderstood.

Confused?  Yeah, I'm not surprised.

She's not alone, though.  I am inundated with emails with titles like, "The ONE Food You Should NEVER Eat That You Probably Have In Your Cabinet RIGHT NOW" or "The ONE Food That Will Make All Your Gains Go Out The Window" and that sort of thing.  Yesterday, I saw a status from a well-known fitness professional stating, and I quote, that "Plants are as dangerous to eat as pufferfish."

Beans are bad.
Plants are bad.
Fruit is bad.
Wheat is bad.
Carbs are bad. 
Sugar is bad.  No, wait-- it's good.  No, it's bad again.

Seriously, it's getting a little ridiculous.  Should we all be air-itarians?  Oh, no wait-- air pollution.

There is currently no research that I am aware of that assesses the health effects of a mostly meat and fat diet (as the Pufferfish Guy follows), but there is plenty about plant consumption.  I would imagine that eating minimal plant foods would cause pretty serious nutrition imbalances, but that's just me.  I have posted time after time about the myriad health benefits of plants.  Here's more fuel for the fire, should you need it:

and both raw and cooked vegetables have merit, so consume both:  http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/13/9/1422.short

I have, in the past, discussed at length the beans and grains issue.

Oh, and hey-- you don't need to ditch healthy carbs to lose weight (and chances are, you'll feel better if you don't).  

Another thing to consider would be this:  people telling you not to eat THIS ONE COMMON FOOD or THIS TOXIC INGREDIENT YOU ALWAYS THOUGHT WAS HEALTHY are often selling something.  Buy their book/DVD/program and learn about the TWENTY "HEALTHY" FOODS THAT WILL KILL YOU.  You see the link?  Fear, like sex, sells.

So what to do about Food Babe and all the fearmongering out there?  Well, here's my take (and this is nothing I haven't really said before):

-Don't eat stuff that makes you feel bad.
-Don't eat stuff that you have discovered makes your health worse.
-Eat as close to nature as possible most of the time.
-Don't believe every alarmist piece of craziness you read.
-Do your own research-- but read the science, not the hype.  Here is a decent guide to choosing your sources wisely.  Keep in mind that there are numerous conflicting studies in the realm of nutrition and fitness, and it can be confusing out there.  The landscape is always changing.  That's part of what makes it so interesting.

My point is, take everything you read with a grain of salt until you've delved into the facts.

Wait... salt is bad.  No, it's good.  No, it's bad again.

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!