Thursday, December 31, 2015

Customary End-Of-The-Year Recap And Goals

It's that time again!  

First and foremost, I apologize for being extremely lax in my posts.  My schedule has been nutty this year, and my blog has been severely neglected as a result.  Goal 1 for 2016 is to start posting again, at least a few times a month.  (Let me know, by the way, if there are subjects you'd like me to cover!)

2015 was an interesting year.  A lot of my friends and colleagues went through terrible tragedies, either personally or within their friend and family circles.  The world has been in turmoil with threats and acts of terrorism, and the media has been lapping it up and ensuring that our lives are constantly immersed in fear, paranoia, and polarization amongst one another.  2015 has not been easy, to say the least.

Personally, 2015 has been setting off my panic button a lot.  I have panic disorder (I've had it since I was a child), and the news is a major trigger for me.  My panic attacks got bad this year, almost to the point in which I was afraid to go outside.  The good news is that I finally found something that has worked miracles on me.  I started doing weekly one-hour sensory deprivation floatation sessions in November, and I am happy to say that I have not had a panic attack since I started.  I'm sleeping better and overall in a much better mood.  There is some interesting preliminary research on floatation tanks which I'll probably write about in 2016.  But they seem to have been used successfully for PTSD, depression, anxiety, and even sports performance.  I can certainly say from personal experience that they are the only thing that has ever worked on my anxiety, and I am absolutely a believer at this point.

In other news, in September, I successfully completed my master's degree in health psychology!  It was a very difficult and frustrating road, but I did it, and I'm pretty darn proud of myself.  A lot of people ask what I am going to do with the degree.  To be honest, the main reason I did it was to learn more specifically about food psychology, and also as a personal challenge to myself.  However, beyond this, I hope to do a great deal more public speaking and possibly teach a weekly class at a local college.  

In 2015 I achieved American records in all three lifts for my age and weight class in powerlifting, which was an exciting achievement.  I also won a bench press for reps competition that I had not trained for, and that I decided to enter literally within a half hour before it began.  I also honed my oldtime strongman skills a bit more and did my very first strongman show (this is a portion of it):

That was lots of fun-- wouldn't mind doing some more. 

Last week, I signed up for my first strongwoman competition (not the oldtime kind-- the kind where you pull trucks and walk with yokes and things like that).  This will be a huge challenge because:

1) I have never done most of the events before or anything like them
2) Everyone in the competition will likely outweigh me by a minimum of 20lb
3) I think I will be the least experienced person in the competition

Still, it's an exciting challenge, and even if I don't manage to complete any of the events (but I hope I will!!), I'm excited to at least try.  I've been getting coaching at a strongman gym about 40 minutes from me (it's the closest one!), and one of my coaches will also be competing at this event, so it's nice to have some company.  I've had two sessions so far, and it's been kicking my butt, but in a very good way!  

So, here's how I did with last year's goals:

  • 200lb squat or heavier  
  • 150lb bench press or heavier
  • 300lb deadlift or heavier
Not yet on any of the above.  Boo.  But I have the feeling I'll get closer to them this year, especially with the strongman training.  
  • Mastering short steel bending (I mostly do long bending at the moment-- short bending has always been very difficult for me)
YES!  (See the above post from my strongman show!)  As a matter of fact, I bend 40D nails on a fairly regular basis now, and am hoping to get to blue nails-- maybe even red nails-- this year!
  • Back and/or front levers
No, but I also have not really been training for them.  I can only concentrate on so much.
  • My friends Jarell Lindsey and Batman O'Brien got me thinking about trying to get my middle splits back, too.
Also have not been concentrating much on this, but got really close when I tested it:  

  • 120lb Atlas stone lift
YES!  It wasn't pretty, it wasn't perfect, but I did it!!!!


  • Continue to grow Flawless Fitness, Evil Munky, and Steel, Stone, & Sugar.
Two outta three ain't bad.  :)  SSS didn't really have too many workshops this year.  However, Flawless Fitness and Evil Munky have both been flourishing, and I am very grateful for this and proud of my little companies.  Planning on continuing to grow and strengthen both indefinitely.  
  • 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)
Yes, and I will likely be applying for teaching positions in 2016.
  • Do lots more public speaking (if you'd like me at your event, say the word!)
This year, I got to speak at the NSCA national conferences as well as some other fitness conferences, and I got to teach a strength workshop in Manila, Philippines in October.  I will be doing a few workshops in the UK with the amazing athlete and human Alex Kay in 2016, and can't wait for that!  I will also be speaking for the NSCA in Anaheim in January as well as the NorCal Fitness Summit later in 2016.  Hoping to fill up the calendar with many more speaking engagements!

  • 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!
Sadly, the MC project is currently defunct.  However, I have joined forces with a great shredder named Chris Ulrey, and we are in the process of putting together a great original power metal project!
  • 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!
We did another one a few months ago and raised lots of money for two different animal rescue organizations!  Busy putting together the next one-- can't wait!
  • Hoping to get lots of new shows for all three bands this year.
Yes, there were lots of new shows, and I also joined a new Deep Purple tribute band called Stormbringer.  There may be some big stuff happening in 2016-- stay tuned!

  • 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.
Yes I did! :)
  • 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!  
This, too!
  • 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.
Well, I didn't get to go to any of those places, but I did go to Korea and The Philippines as well as Austin and my home state of NY.  I believe there will be much more travel for me in 2016!
  • 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. 
Been pretty good at keeping this going!

My goals for 2016 will go something like this:

Health and Fitness
  • Enter and complete at least one feat at California's Strongest Woman competition
  • PR my deadlift (current PR 259lb), bench press (current PR 125lb), and get my squat back to 190lb or higher
  • Bend an Iron Mind blue nail
  • Increase the speed of my phone book tearing
  • Continue to grow Flawless Fitness and Evil Munky!
  • Do lots more public speaking
  • Possibly obtain a teaching position at a local college
  • Write at least monthly in this blog!
  • Submit at least one research paper for publication
  • Continue to keep panic disorder at bay
  • More travel
  • Continue to spend time supporting my friends at their shows and events
  • Start cello lessons again
So now that this novel of a blog post is done, what are your goals, hopes, and dreams for 2016?

Whatever they may be, may 2016 bring you nothing but beautiful things.  Happy new year!