Meditation For Strength Athletes

"Amber when did you become a new age guru?" When my body gave up on me and I died inside. So since I was born. Hey ohhhhhhhhh.

Kidding. I've been "meditating" for almost three years and I've found it helps me in my daily life and on the platform. The most important part of lifting is the mental aspect of it. It can make or break an athlete let alone a single performance.

You don't have to make your own granola, burn incense, and go to a temple to meditate. Let me share my meditation practices and you can see how easy it can be. Bear in mind I'm not a meditation expert. I'm just a girl who makes videos of herself doing weird things, dresses up her catdog, and will fight you if you disrespect Lady Gaga.

See A Movie In A Theater

I love any excuse to see a movie. The smell of popcorn, the delicious Blue Icee, and a $5.50 Kiddie Pack (popcorn, drink, AND fruit snacks?!) are my favorite part of the movie experience because let's face it: I'm a perpetual fat kid. And apparently cheap as balls.

But what I love about seeing a movie in a theater is the fact that you become fully engrossed in it. It's not the same watching a movie at home. I don't know about you but aside from NOT feeling 22 (whaddup T-Swift) I get distracted at home. Or I feel like I need to be productive and working.

When I've paid money for a ticket, I'm forced to put the cell phone away and just watch the screen. I'm transported to whatever activity is on the screen. It's one of the few times I am completely still and my mind is quiet.

Guess what? A still mind is meditation. I like to go with friends but more often than not I go alone. Why? For starters I tend to be the only person who wants to see the film. I also like to go on cheap days (Sundays and Tuesdays are half off in Jackson at Regal Theatres). But most importantly it's "Amber time". Plus, you don't have to share your snacks.

Take A Hike

I'm 29 going on 79 because I live for nature walking (forest, trails, beaches, the backyard, and even city sidewalks--don't get snobby; nature is outside. Simmer down Basic Betty).

Why? I get to see birds (have I mentioned I've been to bird watching meetings and checked out field guides from the library?), squirrels, random bugs. I get to see the flowers and shrubbery. The sky. I can focus on smells and sounds regardless of whether it's hot as hell or it just rained.

Another plus? No cell phone usage. You're focused on your surroundings and being in the present. Your mind will wander but you'll be present in those thoughts.

Some folks prefer to run or bike. I don't run because, uh, MURICA but I bike on occasion. However if I'm biking, it's going to be on a mountain bike trail and my mind is focused on not eating dirt or bark. It's fun but not relaxing.

Walking forces me to really focus on what's around me and not on how fast I'm going to get there.

Ditch Your Electronics

The main take away for a good meditation (in my opinion) is to disconnect from electronics. Ditch your phone and your social media. Don't worry you can always take a picture of your meditation practice and post it later with some really original and cool hashtag. You can listen to music but it shouldn't be your main focus. I prefer the lights off and maybe a candle if I'm going old school. Even an essential oil diffuser is cool.

Meditate Your Own Way

While there's no right or wrong way to eat a Reese's, there's also no right or wrong way to meditate or find peace. Do what works for you, boo. Your mental game on and off the platform will improve. Don't stress about it. It won't be perfect but it will be something you'll benefit from.

Here are some ways I like to meditate. Some are conventional. Others, not so much. Some days it depends on what kind of peace I need. Do I need to zone out completely? Do I need to dig deep? Is crying allowed? What about singing? Seriously.

  • Conventional meditation: Lights off. Candle blazing. My hippie oils diffusing (sidenote I love aromatherapy). And sprawled out on my back on an old Simpsons blanket. See? It couldn't be THAT conventional if I'm doing it. Yoga mats make me feel restricted but I do like the space of a blanket. I close my eyes, focus on my breath, and let my mind wander where it needs to go. I usually end up talking to God in my head. And going through my feelings and why I feel that way. But I have to breathe and focus on clearing my mind before that can happen.
  • Shower meditation: I try to only think about the cleansing aspect of the water when I shower. Focus on how it smells. Focus on how it feels. Focus on the noises. Just be present. Hippie and weird but it works for me. Sidenote: my showers are super fast. Because thinking is hard. And also we ain't got time to waste gallons upon gallons of water y'all.
  • Talk meditation: Ok, this is where I'll lose some of you. If I'm having an irrational feeling or just can't understand WHY I feel some type of way (hello old internet phrasing), I talk it out. Out loud. To myself. Sometimes I film myself. Sometimes I voice record. Sometimes I just talk. I say things like "I feel insecure. I feel insecure because I was rejected. I feel rejected because Johnny Tsunami didn't call me back. Johnny Tsunami not calling me back isn't on me. That's on him. But I feel this way. I shouldn't feel this way. Why shouldn't I feel this way? Because I have XYZ going on for me, people don't validate me....blah blah blah...and then somehow end up at EFF EVERYONE I AM AMAZING SUCK IT HATERS."
  • Singing: Horribly. To songs no one else likes. And record them and just say it's some kind of karaoke. For me, it's just fun. And freeing. It also instantly improves my mood.
  • Listen To Thrash/Speed Metal: Head banging and "dancing" is an out of body thing for me. It's just something I do. Randomly. Or while listening to music. I HATE dancing in public but put me at a metal show and it's game over. I think it's just something about the noise. Fight me but metal is the new classical.

How do you meditate? Have you tried it before; did you like it or was it pointless for you?

If you want a program, personal training session, or to schedule a clinic or meet, message me.

Know what you're doing but just need another set of eyes? Schedule a consult or sign up for video analysis of your training.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise Bulimia: My Story Of Exercising To The Extreme

A powerlifter trained two hours a day. A runner ran up to 15 miles a day but always ran a minimum of 6 daily. A group exercise instructor taught Bootcamp and Spin five days a week.

Sounds like a routine schedule for those three individuals.

What if I told you it's not three individuals but a 21 year old girl. She did all of these activities on a bag of popcorn, an apple, and a bowl of oatmeal daily. She used exercise as a means to "purge" her body of the calories consumed.

No one said anything to her because she was just doing what an active girl did.

Even when bald spots began forming on her young, feminine head.

Bald spots were real in 2008 y'all

Bald spots were real in 2008 y'all

Or when she cried on the scale at powerlifting competition weigh ins.

Not even when she refused to eat in public after running a race and avoided all public mirrors and pictures.

In fact, no one said anything to her until she was injured in a bicycle accident. A bicycle accident that shouldn't have happened. The girl had already lifted for hours, ran for miles, and taught classes on a near empty stomach. Thinking she was fat and needed to burn off the calories of her daily apple and oatmeal, she mounted her mountain bike for a road ride. She was clipped by a purple van, flung over it's hood, and thrown across the pavement.

I made a collage of the accident because why not. 2008.

I made a collage of the accident because why not. 2008.

 

It wasn't the fractured hip and cheekbone, busted blood vessels in her eyes, or missing fingernails that caused anyone to notice her disease. It was being witnessed immediately after diagnosis of her injuries trying to do sit ups in the hospital. She was convinced her 117 pound frame was going to gain weight because she hadn't exercised in two hours (since the accident).

That Girl Was Me

I was diagnosed with exercise bulimia and was included in the statistic that 13.5% of elite athletes suffer from some form of an eating disorder.

I can hear you now, "Wait, what eating disorder? You just exercised a lot."

Unfortunately exercise isn't always good for you. I'll wait for you to lower your eyebrows and close your mouths at that metaphorical bombshell.

In my pursuit of a perfect body I ruined my own. By training excessively, improperly fueling my body, and never taking rest days, I had done irreparable damage. My L3, L4, L5, and S1 vertebras in my back (pretty much the entire lower half of my back) were permanently bulged and I am now prohibited from performing high impact movements and sitting for long periods of time.

 

So what happens when exercise becomes such an obsession that it derails training and causes more harm than good? How do you know when you, or someone you love, crosses that line and suffers from exercise bulimia?

Exercise Bulimia

Bulimia can affect 4.7 million women and 1.5 million men during their lifetime but it's rarely mentioned in the fitness community. Most individuals, especially athletes, want to be stronger, faster, and look better naked. Usually no one bats an eye at how often someone exercises; that can't be considered a disorder can it?

Learn the warning signs and symptoms of exercise bulimia (or excessive exercise), effective approaches of tactful intervention, and how to seek appropriate treatment for yourself or your friends so you don't have to suffer as long as I did.

The Basics

Exercise bulimia is a subset of bulimia, a disorder characterized by the inflicted individual's need to "purge" calories consumed. Rather than the "traditional" vomiting or use of laxatives, exercise bulimics use excessive exercise as their purging outlet. A majority of individuals suffering from this disease have underlying depression or anxiety.

Warning Signs & Symptoms

Not every symptom or warning sign will be as extreme as some of mine.

Exercise bulimia can be a subtle and sneaky disease manifesting in behavioral and physical conditions. Most individuals suffering from it will "appear to be normal bodyweight" so it's important to notice any behavioral changes.

Below are some common warning signs and symptoms to look for if you think you or a friend may be suffering from exercise bulimia:

            Behavioral Signs & Symptoms

·       Excessive exercising regardless of health, injury, and weather

·       Attending the gym three or more times a day

·       Refusing rest days

·       Skipping class, work, or social functions if they did not exercise that day

·       Avoiding social functions where food is involved

·       Hyper focusing on calorie intake and output

·       Exercising for a very specific amount of time or until the calories consumed have been burned

·       Reducing caloric intake drastically if unable to exercise that day

·       Fearful of gaining weight if they do not exercise that day

·       Feeling extreme guilt or anger if unable to exercise that day

·       Being uncharacteristically defensive if someone suggests they exercise too much

 

Physical Signs & Symptoms

2011 CrossFit Relapse

2011 CrossFit Relapse

 

·       Hair loss

·       Dehydration

·       Osteoporosis

·       Stress fractures

·       Chronic joint pain

·       Heart complications

·       Loss of  menstrual cycles in females (exercise induced amenorrhea) resulting in potential reproductive system failure

·       Weakened immune system resulting in frequent or prolonged sickness.

2013 Running, CrossFit, powerlifting competitions every weekend relapse

2013 Running, CrossFit, powerlifting competitions every weekend relapse

Regardless of whether the warning signs and symptoms are behavioral or physical, perfectionism remains at the core of exercise bulimics' need to purge through exercise so their actions and thoughts will mirror that.

2015 restriction and binge relapse. Exercise bulimia doesn't mean you are skin and bones (or muscles). You can be "bigger" as well and be unhealthy in your thoughts.

2015 restriction and binge relapse. Exercise bulimia doesn't mean you are skin and bones (or muscles). You can be "bigger" as well and be unhealthy in your thoughts.

Intervention Approaches

If you are reading this article and have even the slightest concern for yourself or someone you love, then something isn't right. You need to address the issue before it escalates any further. However, what you say to someone who may be suffering can either push them to relapse or recovery.

            Confronting Yourself

·       Carefully evaluate how often you have been training, why you've been training, and how you've been feeling using the checklist above.

·       Confide in a trusted friend about your concerns. A support system is vital in your recovery.

·       Seek out a general practitioner, therapist, or psychiatrist to talk to and work through your recovery. I know from experience this is the hardest thing to do but I promise you it is worth it.

·     

            Approaching Others

·       Approach a nutritionist or professional with any questions you have before talking to your friend to ensure you handle the situation tactfully. I recommend Constance Shelby of Perfect Fit Nutrition.

·       When you talk to your friend, do so in private. Keep your tone comforting and conversational. Do not judge, berate, or make fun of your friend. This can cause them to be defensive and spiral further into their disease.

·       Do not ask them to keep a food log. If someone has an eating disorder this is the worst thing you can do.

·       Do not talk about their body weight or appearance (good or bad); focus on their behavioral patterns.

 

Treatment Options

Typical treatment options may include therapy sessions with a trained professional. Since exercise bulimia is typically associated with depression, anxiety, or trauma, those underlying issues need to be addressed so the individual can recover. The severity of the disease within the individual will dictate whether they will receive in patient or outpatient therapy. If caught early, most individuals will receive outpatient treatment in a therapist's office. Individual or group therapy sessions are typically available.

Individuals with exercise bulimia have an unhealthy relationship with food and calories. Working with a licensed nutritionist or dietician to help improve their relationship with food is crucial in creating long term success and recovery. Learning about food and why your body needs certain nutrients goes a long way in that journey.

Medication may be prescribed if necessary but typically would be used to treat the underlying diseases that contributed to exercise bulimia (depression, anxiety, PTSD).

Monitoring of exercise habits may also occur. Seeking the advice of recommended personal trainers or professionals with experience in eating disorder is beneficial to instilling a healthy relationship with exercise. Learning how to balance healthy exercise regimes and having that progress monitored and can help form safe and long lasting recovery.

Conclusion

I spent years in recovery, found a nutritionist, and activities that didn't require me to obsess with my weight. For years I had to avoid Fitness magazines and things that made me feel inferior.

Working in a fitness facility hindered my recovery but that took me years to figure out. If you look on my Facebook timeline you'll notice an absence of photographs from certain time periods. That's because I was in relapse; I was injured or had gained weight (easy to do once you stop restricting) and was ashamed of how I looked.

Happy and healthy (on left) with friends at a restaurant in 2017

Happy and healthy (on left) with friends at a restaurant in 2017

Luckily I've been able to find balance in the last few years. The thoughts to purge my body of calories are very few and far between. I just don't act on those thoughts anymore.  Instead I take my experiences and use them to work with my own athletes and those struggling with eating disorders and exercise bulimia.

Teaching my youth lifters how to have a happy mindset with their bodies because I finally have one myself. 2016.

Teaching my youth lifters how to have a happy mindset with their bodies because I finally have one myself. 2016.

Exercise bulimia is a silent disease undetectable by the uninformed eye. Yet society does not have to be silent about fighting it. Dialogue not only opens doors but can save lives.

Being silly in a dressing room this week. Happy, healthy, and beyond the exercise demons.

Being silly in a dressing room this week. Happy, healthy, and beyond the exercise demons.

If you feel like you or someone you know is suffering from this disease, in any form or fashion, then please speak up and say something.


 

 

How To Kill Your Passion 101: Weightlifting Edition

Step One: Use It As An Outlet

When I started Mississippi Barbell years ago, it was my metaphorical baby. I don't think anyone will ever understand how much sweat, tears, and our own money went into starting the program. Not to sound like a martyr but starting an organized sport in a state that didn't have it was very hard. It's still hard.

I was going through some rough transitions at the time we started it in 2013 (2012 if you count before we got the club sanctioned). And in the periods that followed. Ending law school, relapsing an eating disorder, injuries, mental illness, sexual assault, going broke, and lots of failed (and toxic) relationships.

The club, and the sport, was my outlet from all of those things. I used it to ignore those issues or as a means to channel my frustrations. It also became something I could control (that wasn't my eating).

More than any of that it was my (self-imposed) job. Networking, book-keeping, fund raising, meet directing, recruitment, seminars, social media, website... I spent hours upon hours working on it all. Don't get me wrong I had help from my business partner along the way but it was my choice to do A through Z.

But when you spend 5 hours on Christmas Day re-working a website and schedule sessions at all waking (and non-waking) hours of the day, you have a problem. Or you are on the fast track to burnout. Especially if you keep that pace for 4 years.

Step Two: Don't Ask For Help

Asking for help isn't my strong suit. I've gotten much better at it the last ten months though. But that was only spurred because I had a giant mental breakdown after a trauma, quit my job, and was having suicidal thoughts. Whoa, we just took a giant turn here didn't we? Don't freak out: they were just thoughts. Never actions. I'm medicated and see a professional.

CALM DOWN BABY BIRDS CUZ WE JUST GETTING STARTED ON THIS HELLACIOUS ROLLER COASTER.

When I was depressed, and injured (because why get massages to repair yourself when you've had chronic pain for over a year?), I didn't like going to the gym. It was mainly the depression but it was also burn out.

Not asking for help with coaching, social media, event planning only made matters worse. I'm also a perfectionist, an ENTJ, and inefficiency makes me rage. If I did ask for help (outside of my business partner), the help was denied, put on the back burner, or never came to fruition (looking at you Fundraiser Planner and One Guy Chicken & Steak).

My love for the sport, and my resentment, was beginning to build. There's only so much one person can do. It felt like the weight of the (local) weightlifting world was on my shoulders. I became Google and everyone seemed to just want free advice. Everything was being taken and hardly any one was giving back (note: this is NOT directed at my core group of gym friends and other clubs. You guys know who you are).

Step Three: Think National Recognition Means People Will Care

Fast forward and I started to hate everyone and everything. I hated myself. I hated that I couldn't make the Club more money. I hated that I couldn't get people more interested. I hated that no one (seemingly) cared.

After all in the last few years (and especially the last year) we had accomplished so much (see the full Mississippi Barbell history here):

  • We had been featured on USAW multiple times.
  • I'd been nationally published repeatedly.
  • We had the first kids and teams to attend National events.
  • International medalists.
  • WORLD CHAMPIONS.
  • Hosted the only USAW meets in the State (repeatedly).
  • Brought the sport to the Coast (thanks to my ride or dies at GPX, Gulfport Crossfit).
  • Sold shirts designed by local artists to help raise money.
  • Coached youth. Coached adults. Coached beginners. Coached advanced athletes.
  • Did things for free for so long (check out the Barbell history time line here).
  • Volunteered an entire weekend at a national event for a mentor where we had one athlete (seriously, the entire weekend' I absolutely do not regret this at all as it was a very dear mentor and I know how hard it is to staff events. It just occurred at a time where my assault PTSD was high and my medications were new).
  • It's not uncommon for us to coach athletes who aren't even ours at events if they ask for it or look like deer in headlights.
  • Offered our services to schools (I seriously wrote personalized emails, notes, and letters with brochures to every, single, school in our area. I sent over 50).
  • My favorite part is people name-dropping to other coaches across the nation in hopes of getting their foot in the door or getting a job. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind it. I only mind when you were an athlete who quit out of the blue (and didn't say anything to me) or were someone who has literally never spoken to me or attended any event I (or Barbell) hosted. Fun fact: Coaches message other coaches about you. And we speak the Truth. But thanks for using my name and efforts without permission.

I just didn't understand why no one seemed to care. I wanted them to care because I cared so much.

But it was demoralizing and frustrating when I was putting my entire heart and soul into something only for marginal success. We were literally working at least 15 hours a week in the gym and about 8-12 hours outside the gym on growing it as well. Without getting paid.

Remember, I'm a perfectionist. I must be making a gazillion dollars and continuously improving to be a "success". Hilarious, I know.

Step Four: Call Set-Backs Failures

Recently things happened with our facility and we were left homeless with no notice. Our core group of supporters opened their doors to our gang to lift (thanks CF 601 and Res CF for that). I had to cancel a scheduled meet and an event because of it (which is something I DO NOT DO).

So to me, I had failed. I failed because no one seemed to care about what we were doing. No one understood (in my head anyway) Tyler and I weren't making money. No one understood how hard it was for us to balance life and coaching (for free because hey the little money we make goes to our athletes and their needs; grants weren't rolling in). What else do people want?

I got bitter. I'm still a little bitter. Is it because we don't have half naked people on our team? Is it because I'm perceived as a cunt? Yea, I said it. It's true though. Was it my fault we "failed"? Did I not work hard enough?

I can't answer those questions. I can't make people give two s**ts.

I sincerely wanted to step away from it all. I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit coaching. I wanted to quit the club. It wasn't fun. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

But all of these things were just momentary set backs and not failures. I am nothing if not persistent and I just needed a little break.

Step Five: You Ignore Who You've Helped And Disregard Your Successes

My turning point was when a local gym (CrossFit Flora) reached out for a private group weightlifting session. I was still bitter about everything. But as soon as I started coaching, the love and pure joy I get from it came flooding back. It energized me and encouraged me to push through all of this. Just with a much more level head and a set of checks and balances in place.

And guess what? MS Barbell still exists. We still lift. We still support weightlifting in Mississippi. We've had to move a lot in our small time due to space or rent issues. We haven't quit. Luckily I have Tyler who isn't injured and always on site. I kept the Youth program and train the kids in their parents' garage or gyms with our equipment. We have just had to adapt how we offer our "services" and that's ok. Two years ago we didn't have a Youth program.

I've had at least 4 people in the last six months (here and across the country) reach out to me for help in starting their own programs. From California to Florida, Mississippi Barbell had a hand in helping those programs get started. Not to mention the fact the reach my national publications have had that I don't even know about (is that egotistical)?

Meets still happen. Because we started them here. We still have our state meet set for June 3rd 2017.

Clubs still continue. When we started we were the first ones to exist. As of this publication there are five other clubs in the state.


TL; DR

Regardless, I'm like Cher or a cockroach. I'll never die (just on the inside). Since I won't die then that means the club will never die either. Nor will the passion for the sport. I've been lifting since 2003. You don't stay in the game this long if you don't sincerely care about it.

I stayed here after law school to start and run this program. I've had a lot of people chastise me for it. It may have been silly to do it considering i wasn't get paid. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. I just regret that I tried to make it mean anything to anyone else. What other people think matters in this day and age. You can't convince me otherwise. Social media is the Devil but it's a necessary evil. I quit caring about trying to make my own personal account anything for anyone else and I lost 50+ followers and set it to private. Don't want to see cat pictures or me doing karaoke? Don't follow me.

But when you have fallen down a million times, you dust yourself off. The Club, and the sport, isn't a way to make money or make a name for myself. It's a passion that we worked so hard to get started.

We'll never die. We'll just keep designing more and more alienating shirts.


Have You Killed a passion before?

What was it? Did you ever come back from it? If so, how?

Share your stories in the comments below along with any topics you wish to hear about as well.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Ten: What I Wish My 12 Year Old Self Knew About Weightlifting

I started lifting when I was a twelve year old cheerleader. Pick your jaws up off the floor. Ya'll know I was a base (#BigMomma). Our school's strength coach encouraged me to try out for the powerlifting team and the rest is history (if you don't know the history then click here).

Working with two female youth weightlifters (aged 7 and 9) at Mississippi Barbell

Working with two female youth weightlifters (aged 7 and 9) at Mississippi Barbell

Since I work with a lot of youth weightlifters now I thought I'd share some of the same advice I wish I would have known when I was starting my journey. Even though my girls are starting at ages 6-12, the advice remains the same.

1. Don't Worry About Your Bodyweight

I won't say my eating disorder started as a direct result of participating in a sport with weight classes at a young age. I had a coach that was adamant we not worry about bodyweight or use unsafe methods to lose weight (diuretics, fasting).

But when you could only accept two girls from each weight class (at most), I became hyper-aware of my weight. Especially compared to all of the smaller girls. I didn't just want to be in my weight class. I wanted to be the smallest one in it. That logic is horrible by the way.

Fortunately my girls on Mississippi Barbell don't have to worry about that. It's never something we talk about or discuss. I'm not limited by how many Youth can compete. After all, as a kid, you just need to be focused on having fun and getting comfortable in your own skin.

2. No One Cares About Your Singlet

Young or old, this seems to be the thing that scares folks about from weightlifting. I spend the most time talking people off the ledge about it. I've even decided most of my local meets I host won't even require them just to get people to stop complaining and actually lift.

I never require my kids to wear a singlet. But I do encourage them to get one. The "big kids" wear them. In the gym the "big kids" are their heroes. They don't care about what their heroes look like in their singlets. And those little kids are our heroes. So we don't care either.

3. Go Easy On Yourself

I think girls are hardwired to be hard on themselves. I was...and still am. If a girl lifter is getting down on herself for a lift not being perfect, I have to step in and remind her we don't have to keep trying the lift over and over just because we perceived it wasn't perfect. It'll never be perfect. We can't be perfect. We just have to try and keep practicing. I like to think this will help bleed over into their "real lives".

4. Always Have An Opinion

We aren't allowed to say "I don't know" or "I don't care" with Coach Amber. My girls (all my kids) should always have an opinion. You do know--you probably know more than you think. And you do care.

Speak up. Be confident.

5. Don't Compare Yourself To Other Girls

You will never look like someone else because you aren't them. You're you.

You may never be as strong as someone else. Harsh reality? Maybe. But that doesn't mean you don't try to outwork them. It doesn't mean you are less of a person because of it. And it doesn't mean the other person is better than you.

The amount of medals, PRs, or attention someone else gets doesn't take away from your shine and uniqueness.

6. How Much You Lift Doesn't Define You

It's easy to get obsessed with kilos on the bar. But it doesn't define you. Lifting is just one part of your life. It's your hobby. An outlet. Something that makes you feel good.

Squatting 100 kilos or snatching 70 kilos isn't going to make people like or hate you. If you get injured people won't think less of you. If they do then you don't want them in your life anyway.

7. Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions

You are just starting your weightlifting journey. Ask questions when you don't understand something. Ask questions about event rules. Ask questions about exercises. Speak up!

8. Find A Mentor

Having a role model helps. It doesn't even have to be a coach or a lifter. Just find someone you admire and trust. For me, I had a best friend's sister, my coach, and I looked up to an older lifter. Clearly I had no problem searching for inspiration.

9. You Can't PR Every Meet

When you start you feel like you PR at every meet. The longer you lift, you'll realize you can't hit PRs every time you walk on the platform. That's ok! Your weightlifting journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Always strive to get stronger and be better but don't obsess over your perceived failures or shortcomings.

10. Not Medaling Isn't The End Of The World

Everyone loves a shiny medal. Unfortunately not every one can get one. Does that mean you need to cry and stomp your feet? Absolutely not. Work hard and do your best. You won't always win. You won't always PR. But you will compete with dignity and integrity.


What advice would you give your 12 year old self about weightlifting or powerlifting? Did anything I say sound wrong? Let me know in the comments!

Share online if you feel like other coaches or parents would benefit from hearing this.

Tuesday Ten: Why You Need A Local, Licensed Nutritionist

As a recovered exercise bulimic and binge eater, I never thought I would ever have a healthy relationship with food. I went through three nutritionists before I found one that meshed well with my personality and my mind. Before you get up in arms, the other three weren't bad at their jobs at all (and Sarah is my spirit animal). My brain wasn't in the right place to actually make any changes. Once I entered consistent therapy, got on medication, and made a very conscious effort to address my underlying issues, then I was able to make a lifestyle change.

But I couldn't have done it without my spirit animal, food guru, and friend Constance Shelby, CEO and owner of Perfect Fit Nutrition.

Who knew fruits could be so funny? Constance Shelby did. Perfect Fit Nutrition will get you healthy and keep you smiling. Seriously!

Who knew fruits could be so funny? Constance Shelby did. Perfect Fit Nutrition will get you healthy and keep you smiling. Seriously!


1. Accountability

Real accountability. It's no secret I remotely train clients but I've never shied away from the fact that seeing someone in person consistently is better than analyzing a few lifts here and there.

Nutrition works the same way. Constance has face-to-face consultations and follow ups. You can't cheat your logs. You know your meeting is coming up and it helps keep you on the primrose path.

Also included in some packages? Unlimited email and text check ins and contact. I once woke up at 11:00 am one day (I think I went to bed at 5:00 like a wild woman) and was like "Um...do I skip breakfast? Do I skip lunch? Do I eat everything now? HALP". I texted her and she shot me an answer back quickly. And without judgement.

2. Personalization

Sure, you can pay $25 to follow a cookie-cutter template for whatever you think your goals are from some Instagram celebrity who only has an online certification from Diets Are Us (I made that name up so if it's real it's a coincidence. Don't sue me, please).

But are you going to see real results? Probably not. Everyone is different so we all need different things in our diets. More than that, we all work differently. Someone may be able to count macros but someone else may need meal plans only because numbers send them into a tail spin (*raises hand*).

Constance will use whatever system works for you to help you achieve your goals without you going insane.

3. Credentials

"I lost 50 pounds and now I'm going to tell you how to do it" is NOT a credential. Also, most states have laws against people without credentials and state licensure creating meal plans and giving advice.  Spoiler alert: Mississippi is one of them.

I love Constance for many reasons but one of them is the fact she has worked with EVERY population out there. Seriously. Folks with diabetes and heart disease. Those who wanted to lose weight. Others who wanted to gain weight. Juveniles and adults.

Did you know she was the Health & Wellness Director at a nonprofit for 5 years? Or that she was recognized as the 2015 Young Dietitian of the Year? She has a BS and Masters in her field?

So, yea. Constance knows her stuff and will keep you healthy without ruining your metabolism and mind.

4. Improved Sports Performance

Local sports teams, functional fitness athletes, triathletes, and olympic weightlifters have used Constance to gain an advantage on and off the competition field. Each sport requires different fuel so sit down with her to iron out your goals to get you on top the podium. I lost 25 pounds but my muscle mass continued to increase as did my bench press.

That's actually me in October after only 8 weeks. Hay girl hayyyyyyyyy

That's actually me in October after only 8 weeks. Hay girl hayyyyyyyyy

 

5. Combat Genetic and Lifestyle Diseases

I personally have a family medical history that includes everything under the sun: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke risk, diabetes, and Alzheimer's. Constance worked my plan so I could offset those concerns.

But if you are currently suffering from health concerns, it's not too late to work with a trained professional like her. You need the correct information and strategies to make sure you stay healthy for the long run.

Plus, paying for medications all the time is expensive. I can't promise she can ween you off all medications but I know she has kept me off medications so far. And a lower dosage could mean less money that comes out of your pocket. We ain't made of money! (Well if you are please consider buying training packages or donating to Mississippi Barbell)

6. Budget Friendly

You don't have to pay an arm and a leg for professional nutritional advice. Perfect Fit Nutrition has options for every sized wallet.

I'm not rolling in dough (oh like you didn't know. A criminal defense attorney, weightlifting coach, and nonprofit owner? Please. I'm like Robin Hood without the cool hat. Or being a fox) but I was able to find a package that worked with my budget and lifestyle. You get what you pay for.

7. You Won't Starve

Probably my favorite part about working with Constance and Perfect Fit is the fact I wasn't deprived of the things I loved. I love cheese and dessert. So guess what? I get both every single day. And I still lost weight and had a beautiful mindset about it all. Gone was the guilt and shame associated with foods. She taught me foods aren't good and evil: they are food.

Quit playin, yall. Get you some cheese and live your life!

8. She Is A Real Human Being

If I were blonde and enjoyed being social, then I like to think I would be Constance. She is my spirit animal in the fact that she is as real they come. Seriously. Don't let her bubbly personality fool you. She'll give you tough love if you need it BUT she will do it without judgement. And with a smile on her face.

She's a wife, a mom, and a business owner. She knows what it's like to run around like a chicken with her head cut off most days. If you need meals on the run, you aren't going to have to live out of a Tupperware container. She added in days where I could eat Chick Fila and Newks when I was running around. Once again, no shame. No judgement. Just delicious food.

Also, if you don't follow her social media, you really should. She cracks me up.

9. You Will Learn Something

If your nutritionist or dietician hides things from you then they just want your money. Find someone who empowers you. Like Perfect Fit Nutrition.

Once again, just another reason why Constance is head and shoulders above some peers. Rather than just throw a meal plan your way, Constance sits down and tells you WHY she wrote it that way.

She has Education only sessions in some packages as well. Learn everything you want to know about food and how it fuels your body. Her Fitastic Challenges (the private facebook group) do just that--- every. single. day.

10. You Want A Lifestyle Change

I know in this day and age everyone wants quick results. You can go on crash diets, slap caffeine patches on your body, or give in to whatever Shake of the Week gimmick is on facebook and get those results. Then gain the weight back.

Working with Constance will get you long-lasting results. They won't be super quick but you will see changes. And they won't leave you quicker than your paycheck does when you go to Whole Foods.  By promoting healthy and consistent eating habits, you will feel better and begin to live your life again.


Is there a local business you'd like to see promoted in a Tuesday Ten? Comment below or send me a message.

Have you ever had a nutritionist before? Did it work? Tell us your personal stories (you can remain Anonymous if you'd like).

 

 

Music Monday: Face On Mars Mash Up

Switching gears from last week's Pantera pick, this week's Music Monday is local Mississippi band Face on Mars. They describe themselves as "a cataclysmic combination of heavy blues rock and loud fuzz with elements of psychedelic rock, doom metal, and southern sludge."

What does that mean? I don't know but I absolutely listen to this entire album training...and driving. A lot.


I couldn't pick just one song so you get four:

  • "Beat Em Dead"
  • "Jump the Gun", "Source of Ignition", and "Psychedelic Jesus" in the video compilation of the first Olympic weightlifting meet in Mississippi history (hello shameless Mississippi Barbell plug).

Buy their album here. If you support local weightlifters and local business, then support this local band!




How'd you like the songs? Would you have picked something else? Sound off in the comments below!

Pro Tip Thursday: 12.29.16

Nothing says the holidays like eating your bodyweight in foods you really don't care about just because you're bored. I use that apathetic energy, bloat, and self loathing to create more Team Infirmary Pro Tip videos for all you strength and conditioning, powerlifting, and olympic weightlifting nerds out there.

Enjoy the last two week's worth of videos (I know you probably missed last week's while you were preparing your body for stale popcorn and brownies) below.

Spoiler alert: this week's compilation (12.29.16) has me dancing and singing. And trying on homecoming dresses.

In case you missed last week's Team Infirmary Pro Tip mashup because you were busy stuffing your face and waiting on Santa, check it out above.


This week's compilation of Pro Tips for all powerlifters, olympic lifters, and sports performance connoisseurs. 


New videos are uploaded daily in my Instagram story (@sheppardstrength) but I put some extras into the YouTube channel to reward you sad, souls who plow through them. I'm kidding, you aren't sad. You are actually validating my existence.

Post your own videos online, tag me, and use #TeamInfirmary so I can see them.

Is this a subject you need advice on and want to hear my Pro Tip about it? Comment below or shoot me a message so we can address it this week.

Tuesday Ten: Stupid Questions You Shouldn't Ask Your Coach

Your elementary school teacher used to say, "There are no stupid questions." Well, she was wrong. There are stupid questions and if you ask your coach one of these ten questions, you're likely to get punched in the face (results may vary).


1. It says Snatch. Does that mean full snatch or power snatch?

It means I hate you.

2. What am I doing today?

Learning how to read your program apparently.

3. Did you see (Instagram Loser Name Here)'s video? He/she posted it at 11:43 am.

No I was working. Also, I don't care.

4. Should I compete at the event we are hosting?

If you want to remain on this team you will.

5. If my back hurts on squats then I should just keep squatting, right?

You should keep on walking right out the door and into a chiropractor's office.

6. Can I max out today? Everything feels so easy! I mean I know I'm competing in a few days but I want to.

Sure. But I'm not coaching you at your meet coming up BECAUSE YOU JUST RUINED MY LIFE.

7. Is it cool if I don't pay you this month?

Only if you don't want a program this month. I know your 18,000th pair of shoes and 6,000th shot of Patron this month was worth it.

8. Why does my form suck? I only missed two months of practice.

Go directly to jail. Do not collect $200.

9. Do I have to stretch?

Nah. Just injure yourself and complain about it for 3 months.

10. Why aren't you coming to my meet?

Because you signed up without telling me, told me three days before, and it's 12 hours away.


Have you said any of these things?  Heard any better "stupid questions"? Let me know what they are in the comments!

Purchase programming and training packages in our new online Sheppard Strength store.

As always you can comb through the Archives to see some past Tuesday Ten gems, read some of my national publications, or check out some before and afters of Sheppard Strength clients.

Music Monday: Pantera, "Drag The Waters"

This week's Music Monday pick isn't as polarizing as last week's tune but it'll still fire you up to lift, compete, or negotiate like a boss. Listen to the lyrics closely and you'll be uncomfortable but that's what happens when society is cray.

Drag the waters means uncover the Truth. See? Metal can be deep too, haters.


Drag the waters some more
Like never before
— Drag The Waters

Sound off on what you thought about this week's song below in the comments or on facebook.

Would you have picked a different Pantera song? Let us know!

Pro Tip Thursday: 12.22.16

Santa is a jovial old Man and he will breaking and entering into your house this Sunday. Why not have some laughs of your own before your house is ransacked by watching some Team Infirmary Pro Tip Videos from the last week?

Spoiler alert: I will also be eating all of your cookies and blaming him for it.

Photo credit: somewhere on the internet

Photo credit: somewhere on the internet



New videos are uploaded daily in my Instagram story (@sheppardstrength) but I put some extras into the YouTube channel to reward you sad, souls who plow through them. I'm kidding, you aren't sad. You are actually validating my existence.

Post your own videos online, tag me, and use #TeamInfirmary so I can see them.

Is this a subject you need advice on and want to hear my Pro Tip about it? Comment below or shoot me a message so we can address it this week.

As always if you're bored at work on waiting on Uncle Joe to shut up so you can change the TV to something other than the news, feel free to scour through the Archives.

Wordless Wednesday: Holiday 2016 Edition

Tired of reading about injuries, Pure Barre, and watching my Pro Tip videos? Rest your brain and just stare at a picture on Wordless Wednesday.


Share your holiday pictures, with or without your pet, in the comments below or on facebook. You can also follow us on Instagram @sheppardstrength

Want to read some words? Go back in the Blog and check out older pieces. You can always mosey on over to the Archives to read my nationally published articles too.

Tuesday Ten: What No One Tells You About Mental Illness Recovery

I've always been open & vocal about my eating disorder history. But I've also suffered from severe depression and PTSD. Today's Tuesday Ten isn't about Pure Barre but what real life recovery from mental health issues can look like. I still throw in some comedy gems so don't worry, you'll still get some lolz.

I had no idea what picture to put here. Recovery can be h**l so this picture with baby flames will suffice. Screen shot it and send it to your friends in a group text and make fun of me if you need to.

I had no idea what picture to put here. Recovery can be h**l so this picture with baby flames will suffice. Screen shot it and send it to your friends in a group text and make fun of me if you need to.


 

1. Talking (And Writing) Is Therapeutic

 

Everyone has their own way of healing. My illnesses love secrecy. I was hesitant to share my experiences at first because I felt like I would be stigmatized. But articulating your thoughts and issues can help. It can help yourself and more importantly, others.

I have depression. Some days I would wake up crying and couldn't stop. Other days I was perfectly fine. Some days I had all the motivation, others days I would lay in bed until 1:00pm unable to even sit up.

I was physically abused. That explains to some of you why I don't like hugs or I flinch a lot. I have worked on both of those things a lot this year.

I've been sexually assaulted. It took me a very long time to even open up about that to my therapist. I felt broken. It affected relationships. I had night terrors and would wake up screaming in my bed or at the front door. I still get triggered sometimes and I've cried in moments I "shouldn't have". But again, this too has improved considerably.

Dialogue can save lives. Talk when you are ready.

2. Medication Isn't Your Enemy

When I started regular, consistent therapy in May after struggling from severe depression and PTSD, I fought hard against medicine. I utilized behavioral and cognitive therapy but things weren't improving. Eventually I gave it a try and my life began again. Without getting into too much detail I realized, with the help of multiple doctors and friends, "Hey Amber. You really aren't insane. It's a chemical imbalance. Try it." I'm glad I did.

3. Animals Totally Help

I may be biased but my catdog helped me out tremendously. Having a pet forces you, hopefully, to get out of bed. Care about something. And the cuddles are awesome. Their love is unconditional and when you feel like you're surrounded by dark clouds, some days they can be the only light you see.

4. It Won't Happen Overnight

No spoiler alert there right? If you're like me you want everything done, or fixed, NOW. Patience is not my forte even if it is a virtue. Healing is a slow process. I'm still working on it.

5. You're Probably Going To Relapse

Debbie Downer, right? The world isn't sunshine and rainbows. Some days those dark thoughts, or dark urges, will creep up on you. You may not give in to them but you might. Does that make you a POS? HECK NO! You're human. The perfectionist in me had/has a hard time with this but my mantra has been, "Progress not perfection". Just get back on the horse. It's not over. It's never over.

6. There Is Still Stigma Attached To It

Should there be one? No. But there is, especially if you are dealing with a Mental Health issue. So much so that it can hinder recovery; some people refuse to seek treatment. I hung the phone up three times before finally making my first appointment. Don't be like me.

When you're ready, if ever, talk about your struggles with friends or family. It makes these issues more relevant and personal to that person thereby helping to eradicate that stigma.

7. Relationships Can Be Hard

Whether you were in one prior or if you start one after (or during) treatment. Personally, I felt the need to list my "problems" early on. I did it because I felt insecure. Eventually I realized the right person wouldn't see it as a "problem". After all, I was actively getting help. And eventually someone proved me right.

8. Pinterest Can Help

What a basic thing to say, right? But pinning on boards and seeing what other people had to say helped me. You can access my Recovery and Mindfulness Tools boards anytime you want. Most of the things I pinned can be used for many different disorders.

9. Don't Alienate Your Friends

Some days you want to curl into a ball and stay there. But try to keep your close friends at least informed. They care about you. They want to help. They may even make you laugh. They mean well and will understand. If they don't, then say "Bye Felicia".

10. It Gets Better

Is this cliche enough? But it is true.

I had some points where I thought if I died it would be better than what I was suffering through (I don't think this way anymore so don't blow my phone up). When things were very dark I cancelled all of my plans I ever made. I didn't even like the gym anymore. I cried in the bathroom and I cried between sets because I didn't feel anything but numb. Something I once loved so much and I felt absolutely nothing. I felt like a worthless failure because I quit a job and that just wasn't "Amber"; Amber never quits.

But I needed to take care of myself for the first time in my life. Really take care of myself. And I did so for six months were all I did was "recover". Seriously: I made that my job. Fortunately I had quite a bit of savings to help me get by (but I still stressed out about it every single day) and I know not everyone can do that. But I'm a workhorse---had I kept a full time job I never would have allowed myself the time to recover and get the help I needed.

Quite honestly I needed routine therapy (behavioral and cognitive). I needed those 45 minute nature walks by myself. I needed nutritional help. I needed group therapy. I needed to cry and express how I felt. I needed to face what had happened to me. I needed medicine.

I promise that while treatment and recovery isn't easy, it IS worth it. My self esteem now is the highest and best it has ever been my entire life. I had to hit rock bottom and crawl, scratch, and climb back up. It was so hard. But I did it.

Keep fighting.


Have you ever suffered from an illness or during your recovery process? What was the hardest thing you faced? Share your story below to help fight against Mental Health & Substance Abuse Stigma.

If you or a loved one needs help please seek out trained professionals. A good place to start is the National Alliance of Mental Illness. I'm always here to listen as well (but bear in mind I am not a licensed therapist or trained professional).

 

Music Monday: Slayer, "Hate Worldwide"

Hide your wife. Hide your kids. Slayer's making errybody's ear drums bleed. This pick is a stark contrast to the melodic 80s song of yesteryear from last week but it's my jam.

Is it the most well known Slayer (or SLAYERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR) song? No. Do I like other Slayer songs better? Yep. Should you listen to this at work or around children? NOT AT ALL.

But it's my go-to song lately. I use it pump myself up before the gym, getting ready in the morning for court, or when I have crippling social anxiety and need a little boost.

Before you listen to the lyrics and start stoning me....it's just a song. I don't sacrifice lambs and I'm a good human being.

My scars insane, my life profane
I deny, defy, and spread a little hate, worldwide!
— Slayer

I know y'all have some opinion so sound off in the comments below, on facebook, or shoot me a message.

Check out older Blogs, read some of my national publications, and see what fancy services we have to offer these days!

Pro Tip Thursday: 12.15.16

I know this is the only reason you guys follow me. This week's Team Infirmary compilation is live on the YouTube channel and below for your viewing pleasure. If you're at work keep the snorting to a minimum.

Every day I post a new "tip" on my Instagram story which usually isn't a tip at all, references feeling dead inside, or features my catdog being weird.

Each Thursday I compile the previous week's Tips and will be posting them here (and on my YouTube channel).


What did you think of the tips? Were any helpful? Did some jokes fall flat? Comment here, on facebook, or on the YouTube video and let us know.

Join in on the fun and make your own Pro Tip videos! Tag us @sheppardstrength and #TeamInfirmary so we can see them on Instagram. Friend us on facebook and tag us there too so we can make sure we see them.

Maybe we'll repost some of them in a compilation video next week.

Have any questions? You can always message us. If you watched the video you can see we clearly have no life.

Tuesday Ten: Why Pure Barre Isn't Just For Rich Snobs

Last week we talked about the Ten Meet Essentials you needed to have a successful meet. This week we are doing a 180 and talking about my new obsession: Pure Barre.

Hold your horses. Before you roll your eyes, ask me my Lululemon size (10), and question my sanity, hear me out. As a member of Team Infirmary I promise I won't steer you wrong.


1. Not Everyone Is In Head To Toe Lululemon

First of all, there is nothing wrong with wearing head to toe Lululemon. They have breathable fabrics and they last forever.

But I show up in tie dye cat shirts, rolled up pants, and get compliments on them.

2. It Isn't As Expensive As You'd Think

Yes, it is pricey if you compare it to a chain gym. But half of you reading this pay an arm and a leg for functional fitness gym memberships. Most studios have unlimited packages (which can be expensive dependent on your budget) BUT they also offer 5 or 10 package classes as well so you can spread them out as needed. Plus you find money for what you really want (within reason).

3. It's Not All Stick Thin Humans

Body shaming in any form is ridiculous. Big or small: people are people. Genetics are genetics. Sit down.

I'll be honest. I felt self conscious the first time I went. I was bigger than the regular clientele but no one batted an eye. Plus, I can do the push ups on my toes. I am the 1%.

4. Fancy Sticky Socks Aren't Required

I wear mismatched socks half the time. Or big obnoxious white socks. Do I slip on occasion? A little but it's only on the :90 planks and I welcome the rest so I'm not complaining or buying more socks.

5. The Music Doesn't Suck

I've totally danced around when the beat drops on occasion. The beats can be boss. But that's coming from a 28 year old nerd who likes Moby Dick Concept Albums.

6. Those Tiny Movements Suck Out Your Soul And Replace It With Structural Balance

You may scoff at the ballet/Pilates fused class thinking it's easy and people don't work in it.

Image credit: https://i.imgflip.com/1bbr8l.jpg

The class will burn out whatever muscle you are working and it's typically all unilateral movements. My quads and glutes burn like fire. Your abs, which you think you work now, are going to get an intense workout too. Your lifts are going to thank you for them all.

7. Women Aren't The Only Ones There

It isn't 1804. Men and women are both taking classes just like men and women both lift weights.

If you are a woman who constantly posts about how women lift weights too and it won't make them bulky then don't let me see you talking s**t about men in Pure Barre. Guess what? Men need structural balance too.

Bye Felicia.

8. It Isn't Just Cardio or Strength Training

It's a little bit of both. They also offer Platform: a cardio based, higher intensity strength training class. I sweat in both but my lungs and muscles scream in Platform. Pick your poison and enjoy both.

9. Instructors Aren't Stuck Up And Rude

I know as a group instructor, you have to be "on" and nice all the time. But I can smell a disingenuous human from a mile away. So far, I've been greeted by each instructor at the door, they repeat my name during class, and again when I leave.

Yes, I know that's Rule 101 for instructors/sales but not everyone actually does that. Or means it. So far, so good.

10. I Go There

Seriously. Y'all know I don't roll around in dough, Lululemon, or walk around with my nose up in the air. I pick up coins off the ground, wear Old Navy pants, and walk around taking pictures of my catdog.

The class is fun & different for a strength nerd. Plus it doesn't hurt my injuries.

Let your unique flag fly and check out a class.


Have you tried a Pure Barre class? Comment what you thought below. Do you want to try a class? Why haven't you yet?

In the meantime go back in the Blog and check out older pieces. You can always mosey on over to the Archives to read my nationally published articles too.

Music Monday: Soft Cell or Marilyn Manson, "Tainted Love"

Say what you want about this 80s classic but it has stood the test of time. The Manson version is what I work out to but the Soft Cell version is still amazing. "Tainted Love", let me count all the ways you are awesome.

Amanda Smithers, eat your heart out.


First of all, look at that album cover.

Secondly, this song is two songs in one and merges seamlesly into "Where Did Our Love Go".

Third, just admire this lyric. ADMIRE IT GUYS.

And you think love is to pray
But I’m sorry I don’t pray that way
— Soft Cell, "Tainted Love"

The Manson version proves the original's lyrics are still as amazing as ever.

This video proves what a hot mess the early 2000's, Manson, and Not Another Teen Movie was. The movie is streaming on HBO right now (as of 12/11/2016).


What do you think of the Sheppard Strength Music Monday Pick Of The Week? Is Tainted Love not your cup of tea? Do you jam it weekly? What would you have picked instead? Sound off in the comments!

Want to see more Music Monday picks? Follow the Music Monday tag below!

Check out older Blog pieces in the Archives and read some of Coach Amber's national publications here.

Pro Tip Thursday: 12.08.16

I've been injured for a few months so I decided to poke fun of myself and internet "fitness gurus". I created "Team Infirmary" as a joke--it doesn't actually exist in real life....just in injured folks' hearts.

Member Of Team Infirmary Since 2008 When A Van Ran Me Over And I Had An Eating Disorder

Member Of Team Infirmary Since 2008 When A Van Ran Me Over And I Had An Eating Disorder

Every day I post a new "tip" on my Instagram story which usually isn't a tip at all, references feeling dead inside, or features my catdog being weird.

Each Thursday I compile the previous week's Tips and will be posting them here (and on my YouTube channel).

Enjoy!



What did you think of the tips? Were any helpful? Did some jokes fall flat? Comment here, on facebook, or on the YouTube video and let us know.

Join in on the fun and make your own Pro Tip videos! Tag us @sheppardstrength and #TeamInfirmary so we can see them on Instagram. Friend us on facebook and tag us there too so we can make sure we see them.

Maybe we'll repost some of them in a compilation video next week.

Have any questions? You can always message us. If you watched the video you can see we clearly have no life.

Wordless Wednesday: Simpsons Edition

We've had Music Monday, Tuesday Ten, and now Wordless Wednesday is upon us. What does that mean? It means I shut my trap each Wednesday and just post a picture. That's it. Tune in tomorrow for Pro Tip Thursday (Team Infirmary Style)!


Credit: The Simpsons

Credit: The Simpsons


What do you think of the photo? Does it speak to you on a molecular level? Make you grimace, smile, or run for the door? Tell me in the comments!

Want to read words? Go back in the Blog and check out older pieces. You can always mosey on over to the Archives to read my nationally published articles too.

Follow me on Instagram @sheppardstrength to see more comedic gems and the occasional training video.

Tuesday Ten: Meet Essentials

Every Tuesday I'll be channeling my inner David Letterman with a Top 10 List for the "Tuesday Ten" blog post. Will it be exercises, recipes, lifters? Maybe my favorite memes? Only time will tell.

Top 10 Meet Essentials

"Gee, Amber. You really broke the mold on this one. What a cliche topic to write about..."

Look here, Sassy Pants. Those other lists didn't have the self deprecating, comedy gems Amber's list is about to throw at you.

So sit back, relax, and eye roll so hard you strain your retinas.

1. Waffle House Grilled Chicken and a Waffle

Why? There's a Waffle House (or it's step-brother equivalent Huddle House) almost everywhere so no matter where your meet is, you'll always be able to find one for your post weigh-in meal. What's even better is the waiter/waitress will think you're insane for ordering the chicken. But trust me, it's a life changer. #BlessedBeThyChicken

2. Reese's Fastbreak

No. Not a Reese's Cup. That's too much work to peel off the paper. Save your digits for that PR you're about to hit. Get the giant Fastbreak and thank me later.

3. Your Obnoxious Singlet

I have a Space Galaxy Dance Biketard. Don't snicker at me, that's what unitards with legs on them are called. $30 from dance stores. Suck it Adidas (just kidding!)

Fun fact: I actually bring an extra singlet with me to every meet just in case something happens. I actually even bring one when I'm coaching just in case my athlete forgets theirs after 7,890 reminders from me. I've let folks borrow a singlet at a meet I've been at before too.

4. Your Team Shirt

If you belong to a team, then bring your Team shirt for Introductions and lifting. If you're lucky enough to medal wear it on the podium.

If you belong to a Team and wear another company or gym's shirt then you just slapped your team, coaches, and team mates in the face. UNLESS you are under sponsorship obligations.

5. Your ID

You aren't famous. No one knows, or cares, who you are. Especially the weigh in official. Bring your ID with you. And don't get uppity if someone asks you for it; you aren't a special snowflake. Rules are rules.

6. Extra Set Of Clothes

If you're at a meet, then chances are you're going to sweat. If you don't we need to talk and you may need to a trained doctor to see what is going on with your body. But you'll sweat. Bring clothes (including your unmentionables) to change into you if you aren't going home after the event so your significant other doesn't disown you.

7. Headphones

No one wants to hear your music. It probably sucks. Bring headphones. The bigger the better. It tells the other lifters you hate yourself.

8. A Good Attitude

Have fun. Make lifts. Some folks take their meets so seriously. Don't get me wrong: be focused. But on meet day don't be a d**k to everyone. Don't yell at the officials or volunteers. Smile and be merry.

9. Your Attempt Selections

Have your openers ready to go at weigh ins (in pounds or kilos dependent on the federation). Have your warm ups and 2nd/3rd attempt plan written down ahead of time.

10. Your Dog

Check with the gym and event director on this before you do it. There's nothing magical about this but if I happen to be at your event, then I would want to pet it. Bring me all the puppies and I'm sure you will PR.


Did you agree with this list? Disagree? Comment below and let me have it either way. Want to hear about a certain topic next week? Let me know here or send me an email!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's Wordless Wednesday... or go back in the Blog and check out older pieces. You can always mosey on over to the Archives to read my nationally published articles too.

Follow me on Instagram @sheppardstrength to see more comedic gems and the occasional training video.