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Tri Mojo

From Ironman to Ironmom: 10 Truths for the Postpartum Athlete

postpartumtruthsThey tell you life will change when you become a parent. They don’t necessarily tell you how triathlon will change. Here are just a few of the ways I’ve changed between three Ironmans and two babies.

1. You have a new definition for “fit.”

THEN: One of the barometers for “fitness” was how I looked in my race kit. If things weren’t popping out, being pinched or otherwise out-of-place, I considered at least some aspect of my training to be successful.

NOW: Fit has nothing to do with what you see on the outside. I might not be able to rock a “performance tri skin” without incident, but I was walking laps around the labor and delivery wing one day post C-section. BOOM!

2. Your alarm clock is no longer needed.

THEN: You triple-checked your phone to make sure the alarm would go off at least twice the next morning, lest you miss the opportunity to arrive at the pool in time to get a lane or need a reminder as to why you’re up so early.

NOW: You wake up every morning at 5:00AM. No reminder needed, that’s what the wailing baby is for.

3. Training is not a priority.

THEN: Happy hour? Bachelorette Party? Holiday family dinner? It really doesn’t matter what comes on the schedule, it WILL be managed around your workout. Git-r-done.

NOW: Hustling a toddler around IS training, right? It’s cardio and weight-lifting all at once, and makes good use of the 200 calories you maybe got to eat in a 12-hour period.  GIT-R-TO SLEEP.

4. You fall behind.

THEN: From trends to training partners, you were on top of your game. You rocked the latest gear and you ran with the fast crowd. You PR’ed and you were awesome.

NOW: What fits? I’ll wear that. I’ll show up and that’s plenty awesome!

5. You forget what it’s like.

THEN: You used social media to post all kinds of summaries on fantastic workouts, grueling race reports, and play-by-play updates on all training experiences.

NOW: You read those same updates from other people and think, “Don’t they have anything else to do besides train and post about training?”

6. You schadenfreude. Just a little.

THEN: One of your peers has a bad race day, and you legitimately feel terrible for her. She’s trained so hard and deserved such a better experience.

NOW: One of your peers has a bad race day and for a split second you feel glad that someone else is suffering out there—though a crappy race is nothing compared to a literally crappy hand/floor/wall/outfit.

7. You imagine racing again, and it’s daunting.

THEN: You hum to yourself during taper week while enthusiastically creating gear/nutrition/clothing checklists for everything you’ll need to be race-day ready.

NOW: You’ve been packing the diaper bag so much these days, the thought of anything above and beyond basic needs is too much to fathom.

8. Sleep is NOT overrated.

THEN: If the only time you can get that two-hour ride in is on your trainer at 3:00AM, then so be it. Who needs that much sleep anyway?

NOW: If you’re awake at 3:00AM, your boobs are probably out, and not in a fun way.

9. 4:00PM is your new “22 Mile” marker.

THEN: Your race is going well, you’ve caught a second wind and you’re headed into the home stretch. Suddenly, it feels like you hit a wall at the end of the marathon and you must summon all mental strength to get to the finish line.

NOW: Every day is race day, and 4:00PM is the wall. Just two more hours until the bed-time routine can commence. JUST.TWO.MORE.HOURS.

10. Your finish lines are less important.

THEN: Crossing your first Ironman finish line seemed like the most important thing you could accomplish in the world. Once you did it, crossing it with a PR became your next focus.

NOW: You’re still focused on finish lines, but none of them are yours. Your enthusiasm for milestones has shifted from running a sub-8-minute mile pace to seeing if your son can count to ten, identify all the colors of the rainbow, and go down the slide by himself at the playground. There’s no finisher medal for those moments, but there’s nothing that could truly represent your pride in those accomplishments anyway.

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Tri Mojo

T3 Project: Bolder Bands Bring It

BB1
Easy style, before and after your workout

Hair. No matter what length or style you rock, your locks can become an issue during and after your workout. In the throws of training, it can be annoying to readjust hats, headbands and elastic ties to keep sweaty strands out of our eyes. And post-workout, there’s not always time for coiffing and primping. The ol’ “pull it back in a ponytail” look can get old pretty quickly, so what’s a girl to do?

Grab a Bolder Band.

The unique design of these fabric headbands adjusts to accommodate a range of “fit” needs for various hairstyles. In the past year, I’ve gone from long hair, to a shoulder-length bob, to a pixie cut and have found the Bolder Band to be effective (and stylish) at every length. The secret is in the way the band is crafted. It can be folded so that the coverage is more narrow (about an inch and a half wide), or expanded to act almost like a handkerchief covering most of the head.

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Warning: Bolder Bands can cause extreme cases of SASS!

To style the band for a post-workout look, try pulling different pieces of hair beneath the band to frame the face, while letting the fabric expand over the “obviously just worked out” areas (for me, that’s usually where my hair parts, and things look sweaty even after I’ve cooled down and air dried).

Bolder Band comes in a range of colors and patterns to customize your look, and comes with an awesome motivational card to remind you exactly how awesome (and busy!) you are. I keep mine tacked over my desk in my home office.

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Pink chevron band + words of wisdom

 

Let’s see how Bolder Band measures up against the T3 criteria:

T3 Brands Must Do Good — Bolder Bands Keep the Love Local

These handcrafted headbands are 100% made in Colorado, USA. A percentage of the profits from Bolder Band’s Breast Cancer Band sales are donated to local women fighting the disease, and the company also donates headbands to the local high school track team, and supports several races and fundraisers in the area.

T3 Brands Must Be Innovative — Bolder Band Fills a Gap in the Market

Amy Crouse, founder and creator of Bolder Band, is a cross-fitting, running mom of three kids who enjoys working out but could never find the right thing to hold her hair back. Tired of the name-brand elastic headbands popping off  after every third burpee, she decided to take matters into her own hands and created an alternative. Her tagline, “chick headbands that stay put so you don’t have to,” says it all. It’s the only headband on the market that can be worn six different ways, offering unparalleled versatility, and crafted from absorbent Lycra to keep you dry during your workout (or help to wick away moisture post-workout).

T3 Brands Must Be Non-Multisport — Bolder Band is For Women Who Are Busy, Balanced and Bangin’ On All Cylinders

Bolder Band’s ode to its customers does a nice job summarizing WHO the product is for, and all of the reasons why we sometimes need to get our hair out of the way. Ms. Crouse reminds us, “To be the bold, beautiful, web blogging, downward-dogging, ball chasing, marathon racing, racket swinging, laundry slinging, baby-sitting, crossfitting, chance-taking, booty shaking, snow obsessing, bench-pressing, grocery shopping, never stopping YOU.” Amen.

FROM BEAST TO BABE:
The run might be over, but that doesn’t mean you’re done running! You don’t have to hide your hair under visors, dri-fit caps and heavy hats. Instead, style it with an absorbent headband that gives you the perfect blend of fashion and function.

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Tri Mojo

#SitDownKayla: 11 Reasons Why #FitFam and the Fitness Culture on Social Media Is Inspiring

47217753Recently, blogger Kayla Inglima (self-proclaimed “likeable human”) shared a post on why she believed the fitness culture on social media needs to be stopped—citing, among other things—that this culture may be the next pitfall of civilization, and that it could potentially ruin the world. While her target was people in the bodybuilding world, her real problem seems to be with the pride and passion this “cult of people” displays on their social media profiles. I’m not a bodybuilder, but I’m a three-time Ironman finisher…and like bodybuilders, triathletes spend a great deal of time preparing, planning for, and yes—taking pride in—our accomplishments as athletes.

I believe this pride and passion are important to share, and I’ve created a neat little list to argue each of Kayla’s issues with the “antics” of the #FitFam.

Kayla: They make completely average people think they are famous.

Reason 1: Social media connects us to success stories beyond our immediate circles.

When average people do extraordinary things, people not only notice, they begin to think of the possibilities for themselves. I would be willing to bet that for every runner, triathlete or bodybuilder out there, there are a handful of people that person inspired to set a new goal. For some of these people, it may have lead to their first steps toward a healthier lifestyle. For others, it could have been the impetus for reaching out of their comfort zones to grow and thrive in new ways (in fitness or otherwise). If we’re “famous” on social media because we dared to challenge ourselves and were consequently recognized for it by friends, family and acquaintances who decided to share our experiences with a broader audience, what is so bad about that? How is that ruining civilization? In a world where obesity is increasingly on the rise, maybe it’s not the worst thing for average people to see themselves as celebrities, and therefore responsible for acting like role models.

Kayla: They make you feel bad for eating normal food

Reason 2: Social media exposes you to a variety of ideas and methods for doing things.

In the fitness world, you quickly learn there is no “normal” when it comes to success—you have to know your own body and manage it accordingly.

There is also no such thing as “normal food” and nobody can make you feel bad about what you put in your mouth except for yourself. Since Kayla’s post appears on a site that represents “the voice of Generation Y,” I can understand why she might find it easier to blame others for her struggles rather than be accountable for her own actions.

Last I checked, grilled tilapia, string beans and sweet potatoes were standard culinary fare. Even so, runners, triathletes and bodybuilders actually do indulge in a fair amount of “blasphemous” food. It’s called “cheat day” or “post-race dinner.” We don’t deprive ourselves; we just factor in foods that EVERYONE should eat in moderation around other elements of a nutritional profile that helps us to be successful in meeting our goals.

And I’m sorry, Kayla, that you feel bad about eating certain foods. We don’t feel bad about eating the occasional grilled cheese sandwich because we don’t eat six of them at a time, washed down by a liter of soda. People’s emotions with food often have little to do with the food itself.

Rather than feeling “limited and sad” about what you should and shouldn’t eat, use social media to find new inspiration for clean eating.

Kayla: They think this is sexy (insert image of muscular woman). Caption reads, “gross.”

Reason 3: Social media reminds us that “sexy” comes in a variety of flavors, and there’s no “ONE” body type to strive for in order to be a successful athlete.

Kayla, I’m just wondering if there are any other images you’d like to share in your proclamation of what is and isn’t sexy? Perhaps you don’t like redheads either. Do you have any preference on race when it comes to your sexual attraction?

The point is that people come in all shapes, sizes and colors and there isn’t a pre-defined standard to what constitutes sexy. When you look at a woman that has a strong, muscular build, maybe it’s unappealing to you. To others, the landscape of a physically fit body is a symbol of a strong work ethic, unparalleled dedication and a drive to succeed. I’m not sure where those attributes fall on your “sexy meter,” but they rate pretty high on mine.

Kayla: They only know how to express themselves in meme form

Reason 4: Memes are the digital form of motivational Post-It notes, a light-hearted way to overcome excuses and obstacles.

If only we had the luxury of “sitting around all day” to create memes, as Kayla describes. Maybe she’s not aware of how easy it is to put text over an image and post it to Facebook (it took me less than one minute to make the meme accompanying this blog).

To be honest, us crazy athletes find memes to be an entertaining and easy way to share some inspiration and joy during a chaotic day wherein we must juggle full-time jobs, childcare and social obligations around 17-20 hours of training time. Do that math—because it’s a tough equation, sister. Solving it requires sacrifice, compromise and discipline. (Or you can just Choose C, “working out is too hard, I’ll just complain and make excuses instead”).

Kayla, please excuse us if we happen to feel inspired by clever sayings or images while we’re on social media, and that we feel compelled to share them somtimes. Sorry it’s causing you a case of the Mondays. While you’re complaining about memes and hitting snooze on your alarm clock, we’ve already worked out, showered, and are picking up a coffee on the way to our job (yes, we have those, too).

Kayla: They complain about their self-imposed lifestyle (e.g. “meal-prepping”)

Reason 5: Social media reminds us that every lifestyle comes with challenges and therefore complaints.

Think the grass is greener on the other side? Social media would prove otherwise. I’m friends with people from all kinds of professions, and it doesn’t look like ANYONE can escape the urge to share a little bit of their frustration with the daily grind, whatever grind that might be. Misery loves company. Sometimes even the most dedicated athlete needs to know that somewhere out there, someone else is struggling with the same things to get to their goal. Part of the way humans overcome challenges is by commiserating with others.

Kayla, if you don’t want to see updates from people who are “meal-prepping,” you can use the “block” feature to get your newsfeed focused on the things you do care about (which according to your blog, includes pictures of brunch, Italians making sauce and stories of drunken Saturday nights).

Scintillating.

Kayla: They upload photos and videos of workouts that anyone can do.

Reason 6: Social media is a go-to resource to learn about fitness—even for beginners.

Kayla, maybe you’ve never been to a gym before (sounds like you probably don’t have that kind of time), but as it turns out, “anyone” can’t actually do workouts. There’s a reason why people hire personal trainers. Working out isn’t as simple as doing bicep curls and squats, and even when these simple exercises are performed incorrectly, a person can become injured. If you don’t need the guidance on how to execute certain movements, don’t watch the videos. I’m just trying to make your life easier, dude.

Kayla: They suddenly believe they are certified nutritionists

Reason 7: Sharing is caring, and knowledge is power. Social media puts that all together for you. Thank you, social media!

Pinterest is full of ideas for decorating one’s home through a series of DIY projects that everyday people shared (from their experience, gasp!). You don’t have to be a professional interior designer to figure out how to make a Ball jar into a vase, or an electrician to figure out how to make that same jar into a cool lightning pendant.

And you don’t have to be a certified nutritionist to know how many antioxidants are in a cup of blueberries, or how many calories are in the foods you eat.

Personally, I think it’s awesome that a quick reference to social media can help us make smarter eating decisions as opposed to having to schedule an appointment and spend a ton of cash on a professional to draft a food plan. (Coincidentally, a lot of serious athletes do work with nutritionists, and are likely sharing information on food and diet based on what they’ve learned in those experiences).

Kayla: They “follow” and “like” people and posts as if they belong to some sort of cult…which they do.

Reason 8: Social media builds camaraderie.

I have to ask, Kayla, did you come up with this “issue” while you were hung-over scrolling through your Instagram feed looking for brunch photos? Because really, it just seems stupid that anyone would have a problem with people liking and friending things they have in common.

Maybe “Italians making sauce on a Sunday” don’t form the same kind of camaraderie as bodybuilders and triathletes do, but in our world having friends to hang out with and learn from is actually kind of cool. “Fitness girls” and “bros who lift” aren’t horrible people, and yes, we cheer each other on because we know how hard it is to maintain this kind of lifestyle.

Kayla: Neon: (Insert image of two buff chicks wearing neon colored sports bras), caption reads: “The worst to happen to neon since EDM.”

Reason 9: Social media is proof that everybody is wearing what they feel comfortable in, and you should too.

If you have concerns about what to wear at the gym, you shouldn’t, and social media can help you overcome those fears. Worried you’ll look sweaty, off-trend, outdated or that you’ll call too much attention to yourself? You’ll be in good company. One of the perks of getting in shape is developing a better self-esteem…and with improved self-esteem comes a liberation that empowers you to wear what you feel comfortable and attractive in, versus what you think you “should” wear. (If Kayla had it her way, I guess we’d all be wearing black stretch pants and gray sweatshirts when we work out).

And Kayla, if you don’t like Electronic Dance Music then listen to something else. You probably can’t handle those sick beats anyway.

Kayla: Their food makes us sad.

Reason 10: A healthy diet doesn’t have to be a letdown—it’s all about your attitude.

Kayla, if pictures of grilled chicken and steamed asparagus make you sad, you might want to take a pregnancy test. I’m speaking from experience when I say the most RANDOM and seemingly insignificant things can elicit sadness when you’re knocked up. And watch your flippant references to antidepressants, because there happen to be lot of legitimate reasons to “pop” pills. Just sayin.

When I see the foods that some of my bodybuilder friends post on Facebook, I actually think that I would like some of it. Egg white omelets with fresh salsa? Whole-grain toast with avocado slices? Those are some of the nutritional staples of the successful athletes I know. Eating clean actually forces people to get creative in the kitchen. The key to embracing (and being excited by) a new diet is to approach it with a positive attitude, rather than finding the worst-case scenario and fixating on what it lacks.

Kayla: They date each other, procreate and form tribes of weight-lifting spawn.

Reason 11: Social media helps connect people that proactively want better things for themselves and others. You can build a network for increased opportunities.

Whether you find your future love interest, a training buddy or a business partner, you’re sure to strike up a conversation with someone meaningful through fitness. Some of these relationships have formed “tribes” that do a lot of good in the world. (I’ve written dozens of profiles on Ironman athletes who have used their sport and connections throughout the industry to raise millions of dollars for charities and generate unprecedented awareness for a variety of causes ranging from mental illness to helping disabled children—or spawn, as Kayla might refer to them).

I’ll tell you what, Kayla. We’ll continue hooking up with each other in the gym, and leave it to you to bear the children that sit in their basements playing video games for hours with Cheeto-stained fingers, okay?

The nerve of healthy people getting together with other healthy people to form strong families with good exercise and eating habits. Really, what is the world coming to?

 

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Tri Mojo

T3 Project: Pacifica Brings Easy, Natural Beauty

Pacifica offers a quick beauty routine that fits in your pocket.
Pacifica offers a quick beauty routine that fits in your pocket.

Let me set the scene: It’s 4:59PM on a Thursday. You’re closing the laptop and hoping to get out of the office without delay so you can get that hour-long run in and still have time to get ready for a casual date with a few girlfriends. You drive to your favorite park, sip some coconut water, get through the run, and return to your car feeling good about the workout. Aggh, now you need to quickly freshen up for drinks with the girls — but how much freshening up can one do from the trunk of a car?

A surprising amount, actually.

It turns out that coconut water isn’t just a good way to naturally energize your workouts — it’s also a great way to energize your beauty routine. Pacifica’s PURIFY coconut water cleansing wipes remove toxins, oils, pollutants and make-up from your skin without water (and with a slight tingle and fresh island fragrance, they also enhance the post-workout feel-good factor!)

And what to do about make-up? Swap out the arsenal of creams, powders and brushes for a single, effective product: ALIGHT Multi-mineral BB Cream. This bare skin tint acts as a light foundation and illuminator in one. Build coverage as needed through several layers to even out skin tone and diminish the appearance of pores and fine lines. Top it off with your favorite lip gloss and get after those margaritas already!

Coconut wipes and mineral cream: a one-two punch for a winning beauty routine.
Coconut wipes and mineral cream: a one-two punch for a winning beauty routine.

The best part about these products? They don’t require a lot of real estate. Pack them into your gear bag on a bike, stash them in the glove compartment of your car, or have them handy in the side pocket of your gym bag.

Here’s how Pacifica performs on the T3 criteria:

T3 Brands Must Do Good — Pacifica is 100% vegan and cruelty free.

Products are never tested on animals, and always free of petrochemicals, sulfates, mineral oil, parabens, phthalates, peanut oil and propylene glycol. The brand was born after founder Brook Harvey Taylor returned from a surfing trip and decided to transform her background in aromatherapy and passion for the outdoors into a world of fragrance. Pacifica’s sustainable products stay true to the environment from which they were inspired.

T3 Brands Must Be Innovative — Pacifica is revolutionizing natural skincare.

Rich peptides, concentrated floral stem cells and coconut water combine to create a powerful, natural concoction for healthy, radiant skin. The coconut water infused natural towelettes feature papaya, a natural exfoliant, with aloe vera and calendula to sooth the skin. The wipes are also biodegradable. The multi-mineral BB cream enhances skin tone with specialized illuminating and brightening mineral pigments that adjust to your skin shade.

T3 Brands Must Be Non Multisport — Pacifica roots itself in a simple philosophy: “Romance, travel and adventure are all in a day’s work.”

The brand’s manifesto encourages us to love what we do, and do what we love—to not follow trends, but our hearts. To invent a new world but keep ties to the old one. While these sentiments were not written for triathletes, they certainly resonate with the PR-seeking woman who is comfortable in her wetsuit, her race kit, and most importantly…her own skin.

FROM BEAST TO BABE: You made it to your workout on time. You’re in a great mood after an amazing run. Now play up that natural beauty with a revitalizing coconut towelette and a fresh dewy glow. It’s an easy routine that fits perfectly into the seams between working out and going out.

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Tri Mojo

T3 Project: Tieks is Tri-Friendly

Tieks—The Ballet Flat, Reinvented (shown here in Fuchsia and Electric Snake)

I’m excited to kick off The T3 Project with Tieks by Gavrieli — “The ballet flat, reinvented.” This is a great brand for women on the go, and female triathletes are perhaps some of the “going-est” women out there.

As a recap, the T3 Project is about finding brands that help women strike a fashion-forward, time-saving, feel-good balance between their lives as athletes and their lives as moms, wives, friends, working professionals and everything in between. Here’s how Tieks performs on the T3 criteria.

T3 Brands Must Do Good —Tieks Empowers Women Entrepreneurs Around the World

The Gavrieli Foundation contributes money to women around the globe (often in countries where poverty prevails) in order to inspire social change and provide opportunities for women to improve their lives (and those of the people around them). For every “like” the Tieks Facebook page gains, a dollar is donated to the foundation. To date, the company has committed $709,330 to this cause.

T3 Brands Must Be Innovative — Tieks Are Portable, Comfortable Fashion

Any woman who has ever packed a bag to transition from workout to workday at the gym will tell you that getting an entire outfit into a single, compact area without snagging, tearing, wrinkling or soiling the garments is a major stress. Tieks are the only shoes that you can actually fold in half and store in a small, protective pouch.

A shoe that’s foldable for easy portability; and fashionable for easy posh-ability

Handcrafted from fine Italian leather, you can rest assured that you’re not only packing a high quality, fashionable pair of shoes to change into post-workout, but there’s no risk of a jagged heel catching on anything, or your sweaty, dirty workout clothes coming in contact with the leather. (Sweat can eat away the metal frame on a spin bike, and cause hair ties to SNAP after a handful of workouts. Not exactly the kind of substance you want to pack your Louboutins next to).

The shoes are also comfortable, thanks to way they’re made. An elastic band around the majority of the shoe ensures a good fit, but it gives way to a cushioned heel for more support and comfort in the back. Unlike many ballet flats, these shoes are also crafted to offer additional support through the arch of the foot and a durable non-slip traction in the signature Tieks-blue sole. Having a closed-toe shoe that looks and feels stylish, AND is comfortable is a miracle product for the athletic woman whose feet may be in perpetual need of a pedicure (black toenail anyone?) and a massage (ask any woman training for an Ironman which she’d rather indulge in — six-inch stilettos, or a foot rub…).

Tieks come in every color you can imagine, and every pair is shipped with its own packable tote, for the woman who may be looking for a place to ditch her heels and slip into some ballet flats en route to her workout after a day of dress-up.

T3 Brands Must Be Non Multisport — Tieks, Meet Tri. Tri, Meet Tieks.

When I first reached out to Tieks about being featured in the T3 Project, I wasn’t sure how they would respond. The website features a parade of women that evoke high-fashion editorial, as opposed to high-volume training. (No sports bra/bike short tan lines on these ladies, and nary a stich of Lycra to be seen!) The brand was really excited about the multisport audience, and a perfect fit to kick off our project.

FROM BEAST TO BABE: You’ve nailed your tempo run, and hammered out your bike ride. Now transition from workout to werk-it in a pair of Tieks ballet flats without sacrificing style or comfort.

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Tri Mojo

The T3 Project—Brands that Bridge the Gap from Beast to Babe

Triathlon is a combination of three sports, linked together by two transitions. The first transition, T1, is when the athlete goes from swimming to biking. It usually requires the athlete to make a mad scramble from the water to an area where she sheds her wetsuit, puts on cycling shoes and grabs her bike before cycling for several hours. The second transition, T2, is when the athlete puts her bike away, changes to sneakers and heads out to run a number of miles before finishing her race.

Ladies, I think it’s time to talk about a third transition.

T3: The transition from tri training back to the rest of our lives.

I’m all for tearing up a workout, getting down and dirty and going beast-mode to be a better athlete, but when the workout is over I want to get back to my softer side…I just don’t have a lot of time to do that.

In 2014, I’m committing myself to make the effort to reclaim a little bit of the woman I was before Ironman. I’m not talking about LESS training, or editing my goals…I’m talking about bringing back some of the style and flare I used to spend time and money on BEFORE I started swimming, biking, and running 17-20 hours a week. I’m talking about the MOJO before multisport.

I’m on a mission to find the brands that make it possible for me to look and feel just as good in the boardroom as I do on the bike. I’m packing away the race T-shirts, yoga pants, flip-flops and sneakers, and pumping up the pizazz, pretty and polish. I’m looking for function AND fashion, sense AND style, comfort AND couture.

And don’t tell me it’s not possible, because if being an Ironman has taught me just a single thing, it’s that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

To kick off the project, I’ve researched a few brands that GET it. I’ll be featuring the first T3 brand and product review in January here on TRI MOJO. The brands that GET IT understand that we wear many hats in our lives.

It’s not just about making it easier to go from swim cap to helmet to visor, but to the hats we wear as career women, moms, volunteers, board members, social butterflies, and everything in between.

Here’s how it works. I’ll review a new brand/product every month, as long as it meets the following T3 guidelines:

T3 Brands Must Do Good

Triathlon has become a platform for spreading awareness and making positive changes in the world. Many athletes use the sport to improve a cause close to their hearts. We’re looking for brands that do the same. Just like triathlon is about more than the numbers on the clock, a T3 brand needs to be about more than the numbers on the bottom line.

T3 Brands Must Be Innovative

As triathletes, we’re constantly looking for brands that “change the game.” Innovation in multisport usually boils down to the ways a product can ultimately improve our performance to make us faster. A T3 brand needs to find ways to bring flare, function and fashion together FASTER so we can Clark-Kent our way out of a locker-room looking and feeling like the amazing women we are.

T3 Brands Must Be Non Multisport

This is not your typical triathlon gear review guide, and therefore we are not looking for your typical triathlon gear. We will not review any products that are traditionally associated with the sport. A T3 brand is one that caters to the woman on the other side of her workout.

 

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Tri Mojo

Putting the “Fly” in the Fly Wheel

Advanced Cycling isn’t about the music, it’s about the mojo.

Recently, I received an email from a fellow cycling instructor in Australia asking me for advice on how to put together an Advanced Cycling class on a stationary bike (or spin bike). It’s a question I’ve gotten before from athletes who want to recreate my class on their own time, and from other instructors learning to coach an experience somewhere between “aerobic workout class” and “hardcore triathlon training session.” With five years of “advanced cycling” experience behind me, and dozens of happy, strong athletes to vouch for the success of my classes, I feel qualified to answer this and thought I would share it on my blog for anyone who wants a few tips on how to put a new spin on their indoor cycling workout.

I’d like to preface this by saying that the terminology “advanced cycling” does not mean that my classes are intended for only very fit people or established athletes. The classes are “advanced” because they go beyond the ideas of simply burning calories and completing a workout. The classes are designed to build endurance for athletes, but also for people who want to reach a bit further in their workouts—to exercise body and mind. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed the attendance of Ironman finishers, newbie triathletes, senior-citizens, stay-at-home moms, recovering cancer patients, Biggest Loser challengers, thrill-seeking fitness junkies, amputees, first-time cyclists, and teenagers in my classes. There is no “certain type” for an Advanced Cycling class.

It’s about a mindset, not a fitness level.

OUTSIDE WE HAVE ROADS, INSIDE WE HAVE MUSIC.

Putting together a successful spin class requires a motivational playlist. This is not a news flash. However, when you’re trying to make the class emulate an outdoor ride, you need to think of more than just the sound of the music. When I listen to potential songs for my class, I’m listening for “topography.” I can hear hills, straight-aways, brutal climbs and false flats. As a coach, my job is to weave together songs in a way that makes my athletes feel as though they’re covering miles in one continuous movement, just as they would outside on the road. When we approach a hill from a flat road, we don’t stop the bike and get a drink, we “blend” the efforts together seamlessly. We shift the bike into a higher gear and begin to spin the legs to tackle the hill, and when we crest the peak, we resume a slower cadence in a harder gear. In a typical spin class, the focus is on the effort within each song, and the instructor will usually tee up the experience to begin and end with the start and finish of the song.

TIP: To recreate the outdoor riding experience, you must focus on the moments between the songs to emulate the flow of a long, continuous ride.

WE HAVE TO GET THROUGH THE WALL. ALL FOUR OF THEM!

Endurance athletes talk about the “wall.” It’s the term used to describe the point in the workout where we struggle to keep moving forward. It’s the place where many give up, or greatly compromise their expectations. Overcoming the wall is a very mental experience—it’s a game of chicken between what you think you can do, and what you can actually do. The more confidence you have as an athlete, the easier it is to break through what you perceive to be your limit. When you take a “long ride” inside, you’ll often have a tougher time executing it. This is because boredom sets in, and boredom can breed unproductive thinking (or “negative self talk” in coaching terms). Great music is part of the remedy for pushing limits, but it can only take us so far. When you log a few hours on a stationary bike with four walls as your only scenery, you’re bound to figure out a few excuses for cutting the workout short. As a coach, my job is to help athletes “see” beyond the four walls to stay the course. Using the music, I play off the tones and texture of the sound to help people feel (and therefore see in their minds) the miles we’re covering. I like to think of myself as a catalyst…I don’t want to see the road for them, I want to give them enough inspiration and motivation to start to see it for themselves. In this way, I use the class as an opportunity to teach visualization technique.

TIP: Ask athletes to come to class with a few specific roads in mind. When you begin to cue certain tracks in the workout, coach them through the process of using the music to visualize the hills or flats they’ve filed to memory.

YOU HAVE TO PUT PASSION IN THE PEDALS.

It’s not enough to have the right music, and say the right things in front of your class. I could put together the best playlist and draft a perfect script for any instructor to deploy in class, but it will not guarantee a successful experience. In my years of experience as a fitness instructor, coach, athlete and class attendee, I have seen that passion is without a doubt the single most important motivator for people to attend a class. I’m lucky enough to be part of a gym that has always had a strong team of engaging and motivating fitness instructors. Many of us have been coaching and leading classes for five or more years. One of the core beliefs of any fitness instructor is that we have to be more exciting than the StairMaster and the treadmill. That’s how we get people to go from their solitary workouts on machines to a camaraderie-driven atmosphere of cardio party fun. On a treadmill, you push the buttons. In a class environment, we push the buttons. That requires KNOWING who you are, what you’re all about, and what makes you tick.

People are drawn to people with passion because it gives them an opportunity to open up their minds to the idea of their own potential. The treadmill can make you feel good about a workout. The right class can make you feel good about life. The best instructors are the ones who so clearly love what they’re doing, that you can’t help but love what you’re doing when you’re with them.

How else would it be possible for me to lead a group of people through two straight hours on a spin bike on a Friday night? I love what I do, and it shows in the way I coach my class. It’s a passion that I cannot fake and cannot teach any other instructor to have. There are times when we have to navigate unforeseen obstacles in class—the stereo system will suddenly stop working, the mic breaks, etc. We’ve done two-hour advanced cycling classes with no music before. When you’re the coach, you make it work. You pull from your passion, and you lead.

TIP: Figure out what drives you as an instructor/coach, and weave that into your class experience. Coach athletes to see the class experience as a life-changing event rather than “just another workout.”

DON’T TEACH MY CLASS, TEACH YOUR CLASS.

“Passion” is a good segue to my final piece of advice, which is that you have to make the class authentically “yours.” We are all driven to fitness classes and athletic challenges for different reasons. At the heart of every person who raises their heart rate during a workout, there is raw emotion at work.

We turn to fitness to fix our health. So we do not die.

We turn to fitness to fix our feelings. So we can be happy when something crappy happens.

We turn to fitness to fit into clothes. Because we want to look and feel a certain way.

Fitness is tied to who we are and what we want to be as people. As a coach, if you can channel YOUR core emotions into building blocks that help your athletes find what they’re looking for in their own workouts, you’ll be successful.

TIP: You know how you tend to “confess” things to the person you work out with? That’s because when we’re working out, we’re churning the waters in our soul. Things loosen, surface and flow out of us when we start to sweat. Share a bit of that with your class—show them who you are as a person, not just a coach. In life, we are inspired by anecdotes. Don’t make your class all “business,” be sure to share some of the “personal” too.

 

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Tri Mojo

Happy Mojiversary

The first year of Advanced Cycling, we learned about blood, sweat and tears…and mojo.

Five years ago, something was born at Gold’s Gym in Syracuse, NY.

A new kind of training program came on the scene, simply named Advanced Cycling. The class was organized as a weekly long ride on the spin bike, providing cycling enthusiasts, athletes in training and gym rats alike with an opportunity to ride longer than the usual hour-long spin classes on the weekly schedule.

On its face, the program seemed to be little more than an extended workout.

In its soul, it became so much more.

I designed the program to give myself a way to train for Ironman on the spin bike, and answer the call that many had made for years: do a class that’s longer than an hour! I wasn’t the only one that wanted to ride long, but I knew that I had to make the best use of my time to transform those long rides into something more than great music and moving fly wheels. There needed to be purpose behind the pedals. How fast to turn them and with how much intensity? I turned my coaching brain on to develop a program that held to the basic tenets of any successful endurance training program: periodization, building aerobic base, increasing volume slowly, peaks and valleys. This was the just the beginning.

For 16 weeks I would use the spin bike as a training tool for my own race preparation, but also as a way to introduce people to the sport of cycling and the psychology of their inner voice.

The power of the mind comes easily to me, but over the years I’ve realized that for many athletes, this is THE area that they are most confused by. How do you teach yourself to THINK differently? How do you push yourself through things that hurt, and when you’ve mastered that, how do you make yourself have a positive attitude about it? I knew that I wanted to make “the mind” a front-and-center focus in my classes.

I didn’t just want to give people “a good workout,” or a “mind-opening session” on the bike. I wanted to give them the tools to make all of their workouts feel that way. On the bike or not, with company or not, as part of a goal or not.

I wanted to teach them to fish, if you will.

As a cyclist, I loath the fact that “spinning” has become a branded term to describe a cardio workout on a cycling machine in the gym. Spinning is technically a cycling term that references a fast, light turnover on the pedals. It’s the opposite of “hammering” which is typically used to describe slower, more forceful pedal strokes in a bigger gear. (Note to self: Can we have a Hammering class?). In the first year of Advanced Cycling, I’d say that half of the athletes were cyclists looking for a way to get in long workouts on the bike through the winter months. The other half were hardcore gym rats who wanted to take on whatever challenge I (or anyone else in the gym) could throw at them. I was eager to take them on my journey through Ironman training, but also to introduce them to cycling.

And most importantly, to the power of the mind.

I wanted them to learn about “spinning” as a way to truly engage their being through the pedals rather than syncing movement with pop music.

I wasn’t interested in push-ups on the bike, jumps out of the saddle, or hair tossing. I thought to myself, “I want to build the kind of class where all of that excitement and drama is building from within.” I didn’t want hype or gimmicks.

If someone were to look through the glass door during my class, they might not see how much work is actually happening on those bikes. Oftentimes you’ll see a person leaning forward in an aerodynamic position plodding along for long periods of time. You won’t see the work from the door.

But you’d see it in their eyes.

My class has been compared to many things—Soul Cycle, therapy, Jillian Michaels, stand-up comedy, a DJ set, and hell, to name a few. I believe people come to get different things out of it. In a row of five cyclists, I could have an Ironman athlete, someone riding a bike for the first time, a recovering cancer patient, a mother and her son all pedaling along to the same song, under the same coaching.

But they will be on five very different rides.

This, to me, is perfect. This means that people are using fitness as a means to an end. Life is hard, reality sucks, and for most of us every day comes with some sort of challenge or obstacle that tests us. Based on what I’ve seen and heard for the past five years, I’ve come to understand that Advanced Cycling has almost zero to do with getting stronger on the bike. Yes, it WILL make you stronger and is designed to do that, but it’s not the physical strength that people talk to me about when they’ve completed the journey.

It’s the mojo.

The program works because it trains the mind. When your mind is strong, you can do anything. Riding a bike for two hours is just the beginning. Crossing an Ironman finish line is just the beginning. Your first 5K is just the beginning. Surviving a break-up, a death, an illness…is just the beginning.

Mojo isn’t about finish lines. It’s about new beginnings. As we wrap up the first week of this fifth year of the program in this evening’s two-hour Advanced Cycling class, I will look around the room at the faces before me. Some are back from previous years, some are joining us for the first time. If you see us through the glass door, know that you’re looking at a sea of change.

Come April 26, we’ll be crashing out of there with the force of a tsunami ready to take on the world.

 

 

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Tri Mojo

Mojo for a Modern World

This year, tune out the world and look within.

These are trying times for America. In my pending motherhood and mid-thirties mindset it seems I’m more sensitive to what’s going on in the world than ever before. In the past, political and social banter have felt like a sort of white noise to me. Something I could tune in to now and then, but push to the background when I needed to focus on my personal daily radar. That has become increasingly harder.

I’ll say that it’s much easier to tune out the world when you’re training for something that requires 17-25 hours of your time each week. Some people in my life have regarded this investment in endurance racing as a self-centered journey that’s led me away from what matters…but I think about it differently. “Lisa only cares about her races and herself,” I’ve heard people say (in various, more vague iterations, but that was always the gist).

The hours I’ve spent swimming, biking and running have shaped me into a better, more thoughtful person. My political and social opinions may differ from others, but I know they have come from my heart…away from MTV, the news (which is sort of like MTV these days, let’s face it…), Facebook, Twitter, and the like. In short, I’ve tuned out the mass media and the “group think” that can occur when we take on the opinions of the people we trust, rather than spending time to form the opinions that truly resonate with ourselves.

To me, it doesn’t matter what someone’s political views are. It matters that they are deeply rooted in thought, not the shallow flower box of social media or pop culture.

My training may have started as a numbers game…racking up my 13.1, 26.2, 70.3 and 140.6 miles like sequential badges of honor, but they soon became constellation prizes compared to the real reward of crossing those finish lines—self confidence, loyalty and conviction in a world that’s becoming more double-faced and wishy-washy every day.

I don’t write this to poo-poo anyone with an opposing view (or no view at all). This isn’t me on a soapbox to talk about how enlightened I am because I am a triathlete. This is a post to share one of the possible ways you can tune out the world and tune into yourself, for the betterment of you and the world around you. This a post to promote being selfish.

“Selfish” gets a bad rap. To be called selfish is to be painted in a negative light. To be selfish is to suggest too much of an “on yourself” focus. To feel selfish is to presume that you haven’t given enough of yourself to someone or something else. To “put yourself first” has come to mean that you “put yourself, only.” As if nothing comes next, or the idea of making yourself right and healthy before tackling the well-being of something or someone else is wrong. Relationships 101 says that you can’t be a good partner to your significant other until you are good with yourself. I think the same holds true for being a good citizen in your community.

In this world of sharing every thought that we have with every possible person that is willing to listen, read, like, share, comment, or retweet, it seems that selfish has suddenly become more of an “outward” thing than an “inward” thing.

I might be wrong, but the world could use some more “inward” thinking. More introspection. As a nation, I think we could all use a tune-up on our moral compass. That isn’t to suggest we need to find God, or draft laws, or take sides. This isn’t about finding the opinion you most align with so you can confidently buy into and repost the digital “chotchkies” of Viewpoint A over Viewpoint B.

We don’t need to repost, we need to reboot.

I’ve always said that if everyone in the world ran just three miles per day, we’d all be better people. Something happens when you take yourself out of the white noise for a bit and tap into the pure sound of “you.” It’s a kind of honesty with oneself that stirs the soul, and it keeps things from settling or becoming stagnant. This is the stirring that makes people feel like they can do a race that lasts for 17 hours.

In short, the stirring that enables us to overcome obstacles—real or perceived. It’s also the kind of stirring that strips you clean of any agenda you may have had.

See how much energy you have left for manipulating and calculating in the last three miles of an Ironman. It ain’t there. You’re back to basics. Stripped to the soul. It’s good stuff.

In this modern world, where we are overstimulated and grossly tuned in to the ugliest details of opinion and tragedy, we NEED to find a way to bring it back to basics.

If you want to be great, you must start with you. Be selfish. Find “you time” in 2013 and look inward, even if it means suffering the judgement of friends, family or peers with respect to your relationships and careers. Don’t go through another year on autopilot just because it’s easier to please people or uphold the status quo. Challenge everything you thought you were comfortable with and look for ways to stir your soul. Find your mojo in this modern world.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Tri Mojo

An Open Letter to Lady Gaga—Come Ride With Us!

“To all the girls that think you’re ugly because you’re not a size zero, you’re the beautiful one. It’s society who’s ugly.”

Thank you, Lady Gaga, for channeling the words of Marilyn Monroe through your BODY REVOLUTION campaign and reminding us that our flaws can be fabulous.

Your recent photos make me smile. I don’t see a pop star who has gained twenty-five pounds, I see a woman who is pouring her passion into her craft and doing what she loves on her own terms.

Here in Syracuse, there’s a team of girls who has not only accepted our bodies despite our excess weight, scars and other imperfections, we’ve shown society what we can do with them.

And we want you to come and do a REVOLUTION RIDE with us to help support the BODY REVOLUTION and get the next generation of girls feeling as good as we do.

Over the years this group has collectively completed 4 Ironmans, 14 Half Ironmans, 12 marathons, and 187 miscellaneous swimming, biking or running races, covering a total of 4235.6 miles.

Based on that, you might imagine us to look a certain way. Society says that athletes should be skinny. We should be lean and muscular with near-perfect bodies. Sound like any other industries you’re familiar with?

But we’re not—and like you—we couldn’t care less that we don’t fit the mold. We’re in this because we love what we do. We are fueled by our passion to reach new limits, not our desire to uphold society’s expectations of what an athlete should look like.

And we don’t hide our bodies because they aren’t “athletic” enough. We’re sporting the same tight shorts and teeny tops that the world champions do.  Society be damned!

For three years now, I’ve been volunteering as a coach and mentor with the local chapter of Girls Inc, a national non-profit organization that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold through life-changing programs and experiences that help them navigate gender, economic and social barriers.

I lead them through a series of workshops rooted in fitness—not because I want to give them the tools to LOOK a certain way, but because I want to give them the opportunity to FEEL a certain way.

To me, fitness isn’t about exercising your body—it’s about exercising your mind in a way that makes you feel something so strongly you have to move. That’s the way I’ve taught my spin class for the past seven years, and it’s the way I’ve executed every race I’ve ever done.

The way you tackle a piano with emotion, technique, and hunger is the same way we tackle each workout. The way you own the stage for hours on end is the same way we’ve taken to the roads for hours on end (Ironman can last for 17 hours…ride, ride pony!).

Girls need to know that this kind of strength and fire doesn’t come from conforming to society’s idea of what they should be doing. It doesn’t come from throwing up, cutting, abusive relationships, or drugs. It doesn’t come from those short-term vices we find and rely on in our darkest moments.

It comes from accepting yourself and your flaws and being brave enough to feed your passions despite the obstacles that are in your path. It comes from feeling good enough about yourself that you can rise above the pressures from society to look and be a certain way—as a superstar, as an athlete…

As a woman.

In that spirit, I would like to invite you to lead a #RevolutionRide spin class with me to support the next generation of girls who are fighting against society every day—from the people in their day-to-day lives who judge and bully them, to the strangers at large who stereotype the way women should look and behave.

I promise you an hour of sweat, fun, progress, and acceptance with hundreds of women who will proudly flaunt their flaws together on the fly wheel to raise money for Girls Inc.

Let’s get on the bike with our huge asses and give society a big middle finger as we pedal to a better place and empower girls everywhere. Are you with me, Gaga?

Yours,

Lisa

little monster, fat triathlete and passion junkie

Follow this cause on Twitter at #revolutionride with @spinningleese, or on Facebook.com/revolutionride