I am a native New Yorker, transplant to Colorado, mountain worshiper, parrot mother, clinical psychologist, spiritual inquirer, business owner, DIY real-estate investor, lover of all things colorful, shameless introvert and complete sugar addict. The latter is my biggest downfall. It really is. And yes, I am the only person in the entire state of Colorado that does not ski.
I am a lifetime member of Get Glutes and plan to take full advantage of that. Kellie is younger than me and healthy as heck, so I think the odds are in my favor. I have been doing Get Glutes for just over three years, but I am only in Month 33 because I periodically slow the program down to accommodate my other training.
I have been active and “athletic” all my life. I did not compete in any sports until I got to college, but I grew up mountain climbing, running, skiing and doing all the outdoorsy stuff that kids do when they live in the mountains and have parents who understand how precious that is. I rowed crew in college, raced bikes in graduate school, and starting running marathons when I was writing my dissertation (because running is much more efficient and less time-consuming than competitive cycling). After graduate school I began doing more trail running than road running, and made the mistake of getting involved with folks in my local trail running community, many of whom run ultra marathons (distances farther than the 26.2-mile marathon distance). It turns out ultrarunning is contagious, and about 10 years ago I started running ultras too.
I had always been a fairly strong and sturdy human—tough, not easily breakable, with good endurance. No speed and not much power, but good endurance. Things were fine for me, physically, as a typical-distance trail runner. However, when I started training for my first hundred-mile race, I began to subtly fall apart. For the first time in my life, I developed chronic “injuries” (sciatic nerve inflammation), which I now know were simply patterns of chronic weakness and dysfunctional movement patterns. Like most novice ultrarunners, I also lost weight. Not a whole lot—8 to 10 pounds, maybe? But the weight came off over time, without me “trying” to lose it. In hindsight, I know that this is actually a bad sign for my particular body.
I thought I was getting leaner and “looking more like a runner” (which I had never looked like before), but really my body was eating itself alive. I wasn’t getting leaner, I was getting more skinny-fat. Despite my training, I was not getting stronger; I was getting weaker and weaker. It took me a long time to realize this. I wasn’t weight lifting at the time, so I did not have any standard barometer by which to measure strengths gains or losses. Further, I was used to thinking of myself as strong and durable. Recognizing that my body was weak and deteriorating required a huge paradigm shift.
One day on a trail run I noticed that I was having to use my hands to hoist myself up the big, rocky “step ups” on the steep trails. I had never had to do this before (I could always just use my legs) and it freaked me out.
The combination of my chronic sciatic pain and irrefutable quad weakness was my big wake-up call. I found an excellent PT to treat the sciatic issues, and one of his first comments to me was: “I don’t know how you run 100 miles without using your glutes, but that must be what you do, because your glutes are definitely NOT being used.”
He sent me straight-away to learn how to swing a kettlebell, which led me (online) to Marianne Fass (then, Marianne Kane), who led me to Strong Curves, which led me to Get Glutes, and ultimately led me to discover my own backside!
Probably by framing most things as challenges and hardly anything as a setback. I am not a goal-oriented person. I tend to focus on what I am doing right now, and whether or not whatever I am doing is meeting my current “needs” and desires. I rarely focus on trying to get anywhere or accomplish anything in particular. Thus when something unexpected happens in my training, I try to respond to it as an opportunity to learn, to stop, to re-assess, to change direction, or to try to understand what my body is saying, rather than as an obstacle I have met along some well-defined path. I do have specific goals from time to time (for example, right now I am training for a hundred-mile race this summer), but I tend to hold them loosely. From the outside, this can look like a lack of passion or commitment or investment, but it’s not. It is just what works for me. I want the things I pursue in my “free time” to be really rewarding all along the way, not just at the end of some grueling process. Further, I want my free-time pursuits to support me to be the best human I can be. I want to feel expanded and nurtured by them, and I want them to leave me with better access to an open and generous heart than I had before. Getting fixated on a particular fitness goal (instead of a fitness process) is antithetical to that, for me.
First: Be patient. Be gentle. Be loving. Be compassionate. Be kind. To yourself. Nobody has ever shamed her/himself into being a better athlete, a better parent, a better lover, a better partner, a better person, a better anything. If we could shame ourselves into being who we want to be, then I would be out of a job and we would all be living in a world of peace. It sounds trite, but I really believe we have to cherish ourselves in order to grow in the directions we want to grow, including growing an awesome rear-view and learning how to lift heavy sh*t.
Second: Be patient. (Notice a theme?) Be trusting. One of the greatest thrills of the Get Glutes program for me is that I don’t have to write it myself. All I have to do is do what Kellie tells me to do. That is such a relief and such a gift. The program is intelligent always, and it is flat-out genius when you get to the point that you trust yourself enough to tweak things a tiny bit when it will benefit you, relax things a bit when it serves you, and hit it extra-hard when the spirit moves you to do so. Yet be patient enough to let the program—as it is written—be the foundation. It is well-built and solid, and I expect it is strong enough to support our progress no matter how strong we get.
Third. Be consistent (which can require patience—haha). Also trite, and true. It really matters. I think it is easier to accept and release a bad day at the gym when it is 1 of 3 in a given week, or 1 of 16 in a month, instead of the only one you can remember. I am sure it is easier to tolerate a bad week at the gym when it is 1 of 50 or so in a year. Also, I personally find it easier to be gentle and compassionate with myself when I know I am doing my part by consistently showing up.
I started Get Glutes with the sole intention of getting strong enough and balanced enough to heal my (then) current injuries and prevent future ones. I started Get Glutes so that I could keep running. I had no idea that I would become enamored with strength training and compelled to explore so many related and varied rabbit holes of nutrition and health and aging and more. I also had no idea I would find myself in a community of incredible women whom I have grown to appreciate deeply for all kinds of different reasons. Yet I don’t want to overlook or underemphasize that the Get Glutes program has served me in exactly the ways I initially hoped it would: I have not had a significant running-related injury—or any chronic pain conditions—since starting the program.
I am undeniably stronger than when I started (no more hoisting with my arms!). As the photos reveal, my training is no longer as catabolic as it was; my muscle mass has increased pretty substantially over the past three years despite continuing to train for ultras.
Each of these photos was taken at just about the 40-mile mark of a 100-mile trail race, so they are comparable in terms of how depleted I am. I am older in each successive photo though!