J’s Blog: Reasons to remember the month of November (in December)

I know, I know. You were waiting with bated breath for November’s blog and I didn’t deliver. But you got to see the recent superstar interview with the amazing Geri Bunn instead, so that is a completely awesome plus, in my book!

It has been a crazy month for most everybody and a “weirdly horrible but hidden blessing” kind of last couple of weeks for me. We’ve had “The Election” of the century, and I was unexpectedly laid off from a place I’ve worked at for nine years. So it’s been a tad stressful. Well, when I say “a tad”, I mean full blown inner meltdown, scrambling to find work, blood pressure rocketing, hyperventilation tad. I have not been unemployed since I started part time work at the age of fifteen at Boots the Chemist (think CVS or Rite Aid with two floors) whilst at high school. Except for waiting for my work permit when I first moved to the USA, I have not been unemployed. It’s a scary place to be.

So, this Thanksgiving, I was very thankful for a supportive husband and family and a wonderful community of friends at the Kettlebell Fitness Center who have been amazing; from lending listening ears, offering sound advice and being willing to pass my resume on for me. To my amazement, I was offered a job within 45 minutes of completing an interview and ended up only being out of work for Thanksgiving week! The group of people I now work with are awesome, and I feel at home there already.

With all of this going on in my life, it’s easy to forget the other good stuff that’s been happening, and there HAS been some great stuff happening. Remember a couple of blogs ago when I told you that I had got a PR of 245lb on my trap bar deadlifts? Let me tell you a story of glory.

On a Saturday where I woke up bleary eyed, desperately needing coffee, I got to The Kettlebell Fitness Center without a clue as to what I wanted to do. I decided to warm up and then made up my mind I was going to do some lighter deadlifts interspersed with heavy swings. Nancy asked me if I was going to try and go heavier than my last PR to which I answered no, I wasn’t feeling it and so was just going to probably take it easier today.

I don’t know if it was that I had lowered expectations or if it was because this particular Saturday, the center was full of chatter, people swinging metal and good music, or whether it was the fact that my coffee was exceedingly strong and tasty, but there was a great vibe in the place that morning, my friends…a great vibe.

Starting off with 175lb for 8 reps, I started adding plates and then after the lifts, swinging a 28kg bell. I didn’t calculate the weights this time, because I knew that I would only probably be able to get up to 235lb max that morning at a push, even if the coffee was that good. I finally got to that place where it was tough to lift and did 2 reps of what I thought must be 240 because it felt so hard. I added the weights up, and realised that in my bleary state, I added them incorrectly. So I got Matt to add them up for me. I felt like he also added them up incorrectly (sorry for doubting you, Matt!), so I asked Beverly to calculate the weight using her phone. Then I asked her to calculate again, as I was sure she, Matt and I were all wrong. But no, gentle reader; I had just lifted…..*drum roll*…..260lb. Yes, you read that correctly. Two hundred and sixty flippin’ pounds!

I would like to tell you that I stopped there…but again, no. My final PR for that morning was a pretty beautiful 265lb. The sound you’re hearing right now is Purcell’s Trumpet Fanfare. I wish there was a photo to prove this all, but there isn’t, so you’ll just have to believe me, or badger Beverly for the truth.

I’m also still working towards hanging from the landing bars of an airborne helicopter too, and believe that if I can hang longer from a pull up bar, it will happen. It will. Honest. Oh, and I have started to do negative hangs on the pull up bar, which I couldn’t do before. I no longer drop like a dead weight after jumping up to start from the top…and that is progress.

As we’ve passed from Fall to Winter, my soup making mojo has been ratcheted up a notch and I would like to tell you how to gussy up your common or garden Butternut Squash soup. Many use cinnamon, nutmeg or even cumin to give it that extra depth. I do too, but a few weeks ago, I let down my hair, whipped off my secretary spectacles and added a new ingredient to the ol’ standby.

I chopped up a butternut squash, a large sweet potato, and a large chunk of fresh ginger root. Putting those three ingredients in a saucepan (some like to roast their squash and sweet potato first, but I think “ain’t nobody got time for that!”…unless I’m in Superstar Chef mode and want to go that extra mile) with some Organic Low Sodium Vegetable stock, I brought it to a boil and then turned down the heat a tad. Once the ingredients are soft, I chuck it all in a blender with a little coconut milk and add salt, pepper and chilli pepper flakes to taste. That’s it. Bob’s your uncle.

If you want to zhuzh it up a bit, wilt some spinach or chard or baby kale in a pan and fry up some good bacon until crispy. Put the wilted greens and bacon crumbles on top of the soup for a little extra texture and taste. It’s really very good, believe me!

So my adventure in fitness and eating well continues. I haven’t packed on the pounds this year since the holidays have started, like most years. I actually didn’t stress eat or stress drink when I lost my job, which is a huge thing for me. My new job lets me get up from my desk and move a lot (and I’m going to be getting a head set for my phone so I can do lunges and squats and bodyweight get ups all over the building whilst still talking to people. Of course I wouldn’t do that – I don’t want to freak my co-workers out this early in the process  – .but I could if I wanted and you’d never know…unless I was making grunting, out of breath noises, of course…) To my new co-workers and boss, if you ever read this…I’m joking. I promise I won’t do get ups.

During this holiday season, remember to make time for yourself and your health. It’s important – and, like a certain shampoo brand, you’re worth it.

Stay strong,     – J

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