Choosing To Be In The Arena

This past weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the @injafit women's retreat. Interestingly enough, someone at the retreat asked me if my daughters had ever heard me speak. I smiled and with a small laugh responded- no, but they hear it all the time because I'm constantly trying to teach them- whether it be through my actions or through story.
While I was away I received an email that I knew would bring complete disappointment to my oldest daughter. In the grand scheme of life it's not that big of a deal, but children typically don't think in "bigger picture" terms. I truly wish more role models and leaders would take note.

Anyway, my thoughts started racing on how I was going to explain this email in a logical way that would not bring down her spirit or disrupt her work ethic both in sports and in school. In my anxious mind I text my husband about the situation and like most men, he removed emotion & downplayed it. Which in all honesty, that can be a good balancing act for someone that deals with other people's emotions on a daily basis. As a coach, I have to not only be able to help people work through their emotions...I have to then teach them how to learn from them and ultimately grow into a better person.

Yesterday, I decided it was time to tell my daughter the news. My heart was racing, but in my calmest demeanor I told her I had something I needed to talk to her about. I went on for a few minutes explaining that it wasn't a big deal and so on. But before I got too deep she looked at me and said- I know what this is about, mom. I saw the texts to dad. Yes, it hurt me. I even cried and for awhile, I was really sad. But then I thought about the stories you tell me and the one about Michael Jordan and not giving up...and I felt better.

This is the kind of moment I lay in bed at night and think about. My daughter had a choice to give up or keep going and on her own, without any parental guidance, she made the choice to keep going.
I would much rather her be the girl that got knocked down and chose to get back up...I want that for all of my girls.
We don't grow by sitting in the stands watching...we grow by choosing to be in the arena.

 


This body of mine...

Poor body image is a very real thing, but it's something that is rarely discussed. We talk about all kinds of things, from eating the "right" foods to training harder...all to feel better about the skin we are living in. But what is rarely discussed is how we truly feel about our bodies even when we have done everything right, achieved what we thought was our dream body composition, and possibly even being recognized as "fit" in a magazine or on a stage...or even by a random stranger at the store.

In the early winter of 2013, I did a photo shoot for outwork apparel. I modeled all of their new women's clothes so they could have images for their site. My husband thought it would be fun for me to do a few bathing suit shots and training shots since my hair and makeup was already done...that only happens once or twice a year. In thinking ahead, he purchased a one piece GUESS black bathing suit- it's the one in my picture. I hesitantly agreed to putting it on and taking a few photos. I wish I could share what went through my mind as I stood in the mirror staring at myself...my 5'3", 135lbs body looked shoved into this suit. My shoulders were overpowering, my lats almost busted the seam and my non pregnant baby pooch was something I was not going to be able to suck in. It was awful and I couldn't fake feeling beautiful. Needless to say, that photo shoot had a ripple effect and I was determined to get lean. Fast forward five months later and I was the leanest I had ever been. I dropped 20lbs and for the first time in my competing history- I had vascularity in my quads. But that look faded as the competing season came to an end and the added ten pounds made me feel soft, fluffy, and uncomfortable. No matter what body I had, I never felt good enough.

And this is when it hit me like a brick in the face. I can tell myself all I want that I am enough, but unless I truly believe it...I will never understand what it's like to feel it. I made the decision at the time to stop the madness of weight gain and weight loss. I made the decision to stop training for aesthetics only and I made the decisions that how I feel about myself is up to me- not my reflection. I realized I am my reflection...what I see and how I feel should not be two different people.

It's been a long road and I have spent a lot of time working on this mind of mine- two years to be exact.

Does this mean that I never have moments of feeling like I am not enough...absolutely not. I will always have those moments, but I work through them with logical thought and I evaluate why I am allowing myself to feel that way- rather than blaming it on the things everyone talks about...the food, the training, and everything else that has nothing to do with my heart and my spirit.

I am at the smallest muscular frame I have ever been since I won my pro card. If I stood on a stage today- I would absolutely get smoked and I feel damn good. When I stopped training to measure up to what a judge was looking for or to beat the woman standing next to me...that was the day I took my power back. That was the day I learned what it felt like to be enough. And maybe my body will still change throughout the years as I continue to emotionally evolve...this is a continuous journey for me.

I put this suit on so you can see what I look like today. I don't look like the person I did two years ago, but that's not because I wanted to fit into this suit...it's because I'm not the same person. And although I no longer look like I could win a boxing match... I have fought like hell to become who I am today.

bathing suit.PNG

2015 I AM ENOUGH RETREAT RECAP

It’s been 3 months since the last I Am Enough retreat. Women from all over the US and Canada flew to Boise, Idaho to participate in a weekend of opening hearts, unclenching fists, and self-discovery. And what a weekend it was. From the moment the women arrived at the hotel every detail of their weekend was thought out and taken care of… from food each day, transportation, and activities. The only requirement to attend the retreat was the promise to arrive with an open heart and an open mind… the rest was left in my care.

                                       Laken Fulton Photography

                                       Laken Fulton Photography

 

The retreat started on a Thursday evening with drinks and appetizers. One by one each attendee entered the hospitality suite- some with smiles of excitement and some with a slight fear and hesitation in their eyes. By the end of the night the room was filled with laughter and anxious feelings on what was to come the following two days. As I was saying goodnight to each person, I realized we were missing an attendee because her flight didn’t arrive until midnight… little did she know she would arrive the next day with open arms waiting to hug her and a personalized hashtag of #whereskristina!

Each day started started with a provided breakfast and a physical activity. We started our Friday off with a morning walk along the Boise river and ended the day with two hikes… yes two! One hike was our warm up at Camels Back in the historic Hyde Park District and our second was a 3.5 mile sunset hike up to the top of Table Rock- one of Boise’s most breathtaking views. It was a perfect way to end a day full of seminars lead by Jen Jewel from Inner Jewel Athletics and Ashley Swoboda... along with a workshop lead by me. We shared tears and laughter and made a life changing pledge.

Photo by Laken Fulton Photography

Photo by Laken Fulton Photography

I am enough pledge

 

The last day full day of the retreat was on Saturday and we started the day off by surprising the women with a special trip to the Bodybuilding.com headquarters to do a group conditioning class lead by Kandace Hudspeth. By the end of her class there wasn’t a dry shirt in the building! It was a perfect start to another day filled with more workshops lead by Macaile Hutt from Take. Your. Heart. (hearts were definitely pounding during her workshop)  along with an additional workshop lead by me. By the end of the day a deep connection was created... a connection that can only be made when the walls come down and the door to vulnerability is opened.

Group exercise room at Bodybuilding.com. Photo by Laken Fulton Photography

Group exercise room at Bodybuilding.com. Photo by Laken Fulton Photography

Bodybuilding.com. Photo by Laken Fulton Photography

Bodybuilding.com. Photo by Laken Fulton Photography

 

Although the retreat officially ended on Sunday morning, we celebrated Saturday evening with a group dinner. I wanted the women to have a memorable evening, so I chose to treat them to dinner at Grimaldi's at the upscale Village at Meridian. The wine was flowing and the food was devoured. After two hikes, a group workout, and hours of laughing and crying... an evening of relaxation was much deserved.

Photo by Laken Fulton Photography

Photo by Laken Fulton Photography

Each and every woman had a story... just like all of you have a story. But many of us spend our entire lives not realizing that it's our story that makes us who we are. Some people run from it and some people don't want to talk about it, but just like a book... it's not the cover or the description on the back that makes it worth reading~ it's the pages inside that make it unique and special. With every sentence... every chapter that is written~  our lives are a continuous journey with many necessary endings and hopeful new beginnings.

Photo by Laken Fulton Photography

Photo by Laken Fulton Photography

 

I wish I could share all the details of that weekend, but it's the details that made it so intimate and special. Stories were shared, tears & laughter were abundant, and lives were changed. We may have only been able to share a few days together, but our connection will last a lifetime. None of us are perfect, but we are our own kind of beautiful and we are more than enough. 

Photo by Laken Fulton Photography

Photo by Laken Fulton Photography

Summertime

It has been one month since my kids have been out of school. All three are home...all day

I usually get anxiety during the summer and last summer was awful. I was traveling a lot for work and I was still trying to manage it all- it was a recipe for a meltdown.

Ross and I are very traditional in that he leaves for work every day- rain or shine... sick or not. And I work at home regardless if the house is empty or filled with kids.

Last summer I had an incredible amount of responsibility and it definitely took a toll on me. I wasn't happy, I was grumpy a lot, and my kids rarely got a consistent good vibe from me. I'm not saying they were always angels either, but I'm the adult and most of the time on the inside I felt like I wanted to be in the fetal position. Between my husband's crazy hours at the office, working full time while managing my home, and trying to take on multiple soccer tournaments- I just felt like I was swimming in the deep end at all times while trying to keep a smile on my face.

Here's the real talk...I'm not a stepford wife and I don't want or need to be. I can't cook for the life of me (my husband will vouch), my house will most likely have a mess behind the closet door, and I feel like I've won something if my youngest two look like they showered! Trying to be the perfect wife and perfect mom only made me feel less and less like I was good enough.
What I learned about myself last summer is that I lived to please everyone else, but myself and this doesn't just pertain to my family.

This summer has been a bit different and I've yet to have an anxiety driven breakdown. I work, but I know that it's okay to walk away from the computer for a few hours. I purchased a gym for my home so I can train when it works best for MY schedule, but I have been training from home for the last two months- this gym was a want not a need. I am also learning that it's okay to feel blah, happy, sad, frustrated, tired, and excited... all of these emotions are a part of being human and if I try to suppress or numb one, then I'm ultimately depriving myself of feeling true joy.

I love being a mom and wife. And it takes daily practice to love just being me.

I'VE ALREADY MADE IT

In 2010, I started training for my first contest. I knew nothing about competing- I just knew I wanted to do something outside of my box for my 30th birthday. Little did I realize that I would be exchanging one extreme for another. I went from being the mom that distracted myself from my own life by starving myself... to being the mom that loaded the kids up in the car every single evening for them to spend 2 hours in the gym daycare. I had tunnel vision and within 9 months of competing in my first NPC show, I won my pro card in the IFBB.

I continued with my tunnel vision and all I could think about was qualifying for the Olympia. Because if I qualify for the O then I could say I made it. As cliche as that sounds...that is what I believed. Two years had gone by and my kids were going from being in school, to pretty much going straight to the gym, to eating dinner and off to bed.

And then a bomb was dropped.

3 weeks before my pro debut my dad passed away from a massive heart attack at just 57 years old. I still competed at that show...I actually had tears as I walked onto the stage. It was the fist time my girls and my mother had ever seen me compete and I will never forget seeing their sad faces as I did my quarter turns. I was ashamed. I was lost. I was heartbroken. And yet, competing remained the priority.

Life is different now. I am present. I still love to train, but it enhances my life...it doesn't control my life. I took 16 months off from the stage and although I did 3 shows at the end of 2013- my kids were actively involved in my "hobby" and not once did I sacrifice my time with them. Losing my dad opened my eyes and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank him for his powerful message...

Time is the one thing I will never get back.

I am a better mom because of the gym, but I am also a better mom because I know what is truly important in life. I will most likely never qualify for the O or make it on the cover of a magazine- But it's when I'm standing on the sideline of a soccer game, helping with a spelling test or enjoying a moment like this~ I know in my heart... I've already made it.