The Most Important Years in Life..2013 in Review

As I sit and reflect upon 2013, a couple of words come to mind: growth, change, and potential.  Or rather you could say that this is just the positive way I plan on looking at 2013 as I look back.  I am not going to lie and say it was a favorite year of mine, but I am not mad or upset about that because not every year of life is going to be awesome and full of achievements.  To be perfectly honest, 2013 for me was more full of disappointments, challenges, and change than anything else.



“The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.” – Unknown

1.  I failed to compete in figure.  This was a major disappointment, but decided instead of frustrating myself further by trying to lose the weight that simply refused to come off, I decided to try competing in Crossfit which was another 2013 goal of mine (thinking that giving myself 2.5 months to get in shape for a competition was good enough).

2.  I failed at competing in Crossfit.  I came back a little too aggressively and my rotator cuff issue that I had for a few months was not going away even when I was babying it.  My hip flexors were also not ready for the work load I asked of them.  As I usually tell clients, Crossfit can sneak up on you a month down the road.  I was getting ridiculously stronger in one month’s time which I thought meant I was fine, but my body decided otherwise.  My hip flexors are what did me in and I took a good 2-3 months off of squatting and overhead work to try to heal everything up.  I am still trying to work my way back into everything.

3.  I failed to accomplish the PRs  that meant the most to me (snatch, clean and jerk, front and back squat).  I did PR my snatch from the hip by 5lbs (previous PR was off the floor) and was 5lbs below my previous clean PR (off the floor) from the hip position for 2 reps.  I am smart enough to realize I would have smashed my old PR’s if I was to have maxed out which does make me feel better.   I also believe that if healthy, I would have met or been extremely close to my goals.

10 RM Back Squat at 195lbs

1 Hip Snatch @ 130lbs + 2 Fails

2 Hip Cleans + Jerk

As you can tell from above, a lot of my life revolves around athletics.  I get a lot of my gratification from setting goals and meeting them (or at least getting as close as possible).

Challenges and Change

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” – John C Maxwell

 1.  This past year I realized that I needed a break from coaching college swimming.  I am not sure if it was because I’ve never taken time away from the pool since I was 8 years old, or more than likely because I could not handle the constant disappointment I felt when athletes failed to meet my expectations, did not train hard enough in order to reach their potential, or didn’t seem to care about the sport like I did.  I soon realized I have been trying to receive gratification through their performance.  If they did bad then it was a disappointment and I took part of the blame, and if they did well, then it wasn’t necessarily because of my coaching ability regardless if I was their main coach or not.  I grew less patient and more frustrated and I wanted to be in charge, do more coaching, and less of the assistant duties of travel and paperwork.  I realized I needed out and I needed a change.

2.  This year I finally finished my masters in school counseling and for better or worse, I realized it is not what I was meant to do with my life.  I have been passionate about fitness and nutrition since high school and because I was in fear of not having a “plan B” in life that had a job at the end of the tunnel, I got into school counseling thinking it would be a good fallback.  Wrong.  I applied to over 115 jobs in 2 months while working full time and training, which only led me to 2 interviews.  However, I took this as God’s way of telling me to stop being stupid and do what I am passionate about.  Isn’t that what life is supposed to be about anyways?


“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” – W. Clement Stone

 This year has tested me in more ways than one, but I have also had a lot of positives come out of 2013.

1.  I love my current job-  Right now I am coaching crossfit in Pittsburgh and do online nutrition coaching.  I love everything about both of these jobs and I don’t have any of the boring paperwork that came with my old job!  I get to work with people who want to improve and get better and I get to be creative by programming for classes that I teach whether its Olympic lifting or strength classes.

2.  I have gotten closer to God- There have been times throughout the year that I have been close to tears in church.  I would get this overwhelming feeling of sadness, beaten down by life, and lost and wanted to just curling up and cry on the floor of the church (no I would actually never do this in case you were wondering).  There have been weekends I just couldn’t bring myself to go because I had a feeling I would get teary-eyed again and did not want to have to go through that or risk someone seeing me like that.  I think it was my emotions of living an insincere life that was not genuine to who I am and the stress that comes with making life decisions.  I was not happy with my job and was struggling to find a new one, I was not progressing towards my athletic goals like I had hoped, I missed my grandma, I felt lost in life, and sometimes felt that I had no one to turn to when it came to certain situations.

As I had a prayer answered and found a job that I love doing, I then had the stress of moving back home, learning hundreds of new faces and names, having to perform and hoping I made a good decision, and struggling to figure out how I will make enough money to eventually move out and support myself.  But I know the last one will come as everything else has through God’s plan.

I also had to deal with some personal stuff as well at the same time that effected me more than I expected.  This is what ultimately brought me closer to God.  I knew that nobody could say anything that would make me feel better and that time would heal my heart, so I kept a lot to myself and just went to church.  Church made me feel better so I went at least once a week if not more.  I prayed a lot and felt better doing so and even though there were times when I got teary-eyed when my mind drifted off during the service, I still came every week knowing I would get through this and God would help me.  I knew eventually all things would work out for the best and I just needed to trust Him.

halloween- me and heather3.  I have met more people and have created close friendships- Through my new job, I have met so many new people!  I get to coach with awesome coaches who have turned into a second family and I have gotten to know a lot of my clients whom have welcomed me with open arms as a new coach.  It is truly great to meet so many different people and getting to know what they are passionate about, what they struggle or succeed at, and what makes them unique.


meandmike4.  I received my masters degree- Because of my counseling degree, I have counseling skills that can be used in any profession that requires communicating with others (what field doesn’t?).  It has also led me to meeting my best friend who has become such an integral part of my life.  Because of him, I have met so many awesome people through Crossfit and weightlifting, I got to tag along to several Crossfit boxes which also led me to meeting my current bosses, and he has been the positive force I needed to just go for what I want out of life.  I have no doubt God placed him in my life on purpose.

5.  I may (I did say may..) be more patient- Patience is not a virtue that I have been blessed with, but I doubt I am alone.  Throughout this year I have been tested and like most things, when you can’t change your situation you either crumble or you figure out a way to drudge through it.  I am stronger because of these challenges and even though I still have days I may feel like crying, beating something with a stick, or ask for hugs (oh yes I do this), I have a lot more days that I talk myself out of a bad mood and tell myself I will come back better and stronger and that God has a plan for me.

6.  I already have exciting things lined up for 2014- Just because a year is not going swimmingly does not mean it is a failure.  I have had a ton of positives and I have a few exciting opportunities that are happening in 2014 that I am stoked for!  I refuse to sit in my crap and cry about it.  Life is about progress and moving forward regardless of what pace.  The way it seems to me is the more positive you are, the more opportunities tend to sit in your lap.  So find life’s positives and keep at it!  Things will work out in your favor.

“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” – Dr. Wayne W Dyer


2013 may not have been my favorite year but it has been full of growth, improvement, and change.  These kind of years may not be comfortable or as exciting as the years where we crush life (in a good way) but these are the most important years of life.  These are years we train for battle; We sharpen our skills, learn new tactics, and prepare ourselves physically and mentally to accomplish greatness in the future.  Struggle and change is scary!   But because of years like these, we become better and stronger versions of ourselves, have a better chance of reaching our fullest potential, and learn how tough we truly are.  So if you have had a year full of change, disappointments, or challenging experiences, do not fret.  Find the positives and prepare yourself for a win in the future.  These years are the slingshots of life.  You may feel like you are being pulled backwards, but know that once released, you will fly.

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