TransActive Fitness: The Tao of Turkish Get UPs

There are 11 movements to get in and out of a Turkish Get-Up the way I think of it.

Each movement requires power and focus. Each movement is an act of mindfulness, strength and flexibility - both emotional and physical. These movements do not feel “natural” per say, but they feel important. There is a sense of accomplishment in making the movements more precise efficient each and every time, though not faster. When we do Turkish Get-Ups, it is a time to move in a measured way, to be present with ourselves. When we can really reframe this time “me-time,” the net result of Turkish Get-Ups as a practice is far greater than just  getting “swoll.”

In this one exercise lies the foundation of what we are creating with TransActive Fitness. In this program, we will absolutely encounter movements that may not feel natural, and likely contradictory to what we were told our bodies should do - or COULD do. These same movements will leave us changed for the better on the other side. Mike ASKS (never demands) us to push ourselves in these ways, and while we are used to being pushed in ways that have harmed us, we have the opportunity to learn what it feels like to be pushed in ways that are supportive. We are offered this time to tune into a body we may have spent a long time tuning out of. Every moment spent in healthy movement may serve as an of offering of gratitude to every muscle we have become disconnected from or neglected. The progress, however we mark it individually, is very personal, and Mike is an ally in seeing those benchmarks.

All of this gain possible in 11 focused movements? Try the Turkish Get-Ups, they come highly recommended.

TransActive Fitness: Old Habits Need New Understanding

There is me, doing single arm rows, rowing away. 

Mike: “Pull your elbows in close to your body!”

I feel into the motion, focus on my elbow without any tangible change. 

Me: “I thought I was.”

Mike, looking at me curiously, “Put the weight down. Let me see something.”

I put down the weight and Mike asks me to row again, elbows to my side. They are not touching. 

Mike: “May I touch your elbow””

Me: “Yes!”

Mike presses my elbow to my body for me. It feels awkward, and when he removes his hand I can’t hold it there

Mike: “Hmm. No worries, this is just another one of those things that we can, and we WILL retrain. Keep it as close as you can. I will show you some exercises after that will help. Keep doing it the best you can while focusing on keeping your elbow in, and we will work this out.”

My body has spent 40 years adapting to having a large breasts. That’s 40 years of spent avoiding squishing, hitting, and accentuating their curves. This has caused physical and mental obstacles that affect me in ways I never would have understood without working with a trainer post top-surgery. Stick my chest up and out? Row with my elbows in? Pull my shoulder blades back and together?

There are muscles that need retraining. There are ways of thinking that are deeply ingrained and need to be uprooted. There are protective mechanisms in my psyche that require safety to be relinquished. MIke is coaxing these changes, gently, firmly, persistently, one step at a time.

TransActive Fitness: Weighing In In a Trumped Up World

“I can't do weight and pinches today. It has been a hard week. Can we just get to work?” I text.

“Sure” Mike replies, and I can relax.

It is a few weeks post Trump election and I have been working to implement strategies, policies, and organizational support for the larger Transgender community from morning until night. I am the Executive Director of the Trans/Gender DIverse non-profit Trans*Ponder, and it is important to Earthquake proof the house before an Earthquake hits. Heck, even if it never hits, at least we will be well prepared.

Getting on the scale is hard for me. I would like to say that I do not base my feelings about the  hard work I do all week on my body on the numbers of the scale, and I will come out right now and say that I still do. I know what matters is how I feel, how my body is shaping to look, and the ways in which I am improving my overall health. As a being in this society, and especially after spending a lifetime in a female body, the scale is a nasty bully to my sometimes fragile self-esteem. We are definitely in an abusive relationship. Sometimes the scale strokes my ego, soothes me, and even sometimes as soon as the next day pulls the rug out from under me. Just as quickly it apologizes...on and on in a viscous cycle.

Today thankfully  I am greeted by Mike, rather than this fickle friend-foe, and we get working right away.

 We are joking in between sets, and Mike in his Arnold Schwarzenegger voice jokes as if we are in the movie Pumping Iron. “It is all about the pump. Nothing is better than the pump.” As ridiculous as this seems there's a truth to it. My muscles feel tight and swollen, my endorphin level reaches epic heights, and for an hour at least I forget about the battle I am fighting on the front lines outside of these doors. For an hour it gets to be about me. I get to dive deep within to find resources I am not sure that I have, and that Mike pushes me into discovering that I do.

The work we are doing is about sculpting a body that is gender affirming. The results that are taking place are more than that, though. We are strengthening a resolve, pushing through self-imposed limits, and creating a warrior who is ready to take on the world. In these times, there is no other option.

The Feelings of Competing

This blog post is LONG overdue. As some of you know I had my very first bikini competition in May 2016. I did better than I ever dreamed I would do. My goal was to get up on stage and do it and if I placed that was just frosting on the cake. I entered two divisions; Novice Bikini and Open Bikini Class F. Novice is for those who have not competed or placed before. Open Bikini is open to anyone who would like to compete, F is my height division. I decided to do both divisions because I really wanted to get a tiara! But if you are trying to save money and enter only one division enter open. Open is really what counts, no one really touts a novice trophy in the big pond.

I came away from my show with two pieces of hardware; 2nd in Novice Bikini and 1st in Open!! Talk about blowing the goal out of the water! I was so excited! I worked my tail feathers off and it was apparent and I won!

To get up on that stage was one of the most exciting and scary things I have done. I was really doing it. I was really going up in front of a ton of people and then asking seven strangers to judge me on my looks and my sassy nonverbal skills.

All the girls I went up on stage with were really great. We were all so excited and back stage everyone was friendly even if we were all going to be gunning for the same trophy in just a few minutes. In a sport that can be perceived as a vanity sport I met a lot of really great people. I feel like I was adopted into a family of sorts. We cheer for each other and give encouragement to each other. It is a God send to have like-minded people around when “normal” people look at you like you have lost your marbles because you are weighing an apple.

After all that training finally came to fruition I was excited to have some time off. Unfortunately, I am a dummy and set my sites on a marathon later in the year. I shifted my training from lifting to running. I still lifted just not as aggressively. I was ready to be not as regimented with my time and my diet. I needed to take the time to bask in my victory and eat cake. It was actually very difficult to let the measure everything, track everything mentality go. I could see where eating disorders could arise out of this sport if you were not careful.

 My boobs came back. I put my body fat back on and the world turned warm once again. I am so happy that I did it. Some days there were tears and some days I was angry. I was so tired and ready to be done. But there is not one day that goes by that I regret it. If you are on the fence about competing I say do it! Nothing will make you stick to a diet and exercise goal quite like a competition. You don’t have to win trophies and tiara’s to be a bad ass.