Thursday, August 24, 2017

T.S.

Leaving on my run this morning, I was hoping that some inspiration would hit me over the course of the few miles for something to write about. I have a few notes stowed away in my phone,  but none of the topics felt right, and so I was hopeful that my run would spark a good blog post.

Yet as I hit the 'shuffle' button on the Taylor Swift profile on Spotify, all I could do was reminisce as each song brought up a flurry of emotions and/or memories. And I thought to myself, no Kait, you can't write a blog post about Taylor Swift, no one wants to read that.

And then I thought, hold on, this is my blog though and I can actually write about whatever I want.

Now you may be thinking: "Kait seriously maybe it's time to reevaluate your life priorities, you're 29 years old and still fan-girling over a female pop artist?" 

Highly disagree. At this point you should know I'm a little bit crazy, and a lot more crazy when it comes to music.

It's on in my ears/apartment/car for several hours a day; I prefer music over T.V. New song releases are usually the best thing about my Fridays, and I'm extremely passionate about a solid Spotify playlist.

And when it comes to T.Swift - well, I'm maximum crazy. Like drive my husband insane giving him updates he doesn't care about kind of crazy.

However the reason I want to write today is because I want to give you the 'why' behind the crazy. Because the past ten years have tons of memories tied to her music, and honestly it's kind of cool to reflect back on. So just hear me out.

18 years old: Taylor released her first self-titled album, I was a freshman in college in '06. It was pure innocent country, and my dorm roommate (Amy) and I would try to out-sing each other to her song 'Tim McGraw'. It was fabulous and precious.

I think the best caption for any pictures from our freshman year is 'wow.'

20 years old:
 'Fearless' came out my Junior year of college in '08, and 'Love Story' and every remix of it took over the speakers at the volleyball house I lived in. It's also a song I would eventually walk down the aisle to six years later, to a guy who at the time was half the reason I cried to Taylor Swift songs in the first place (sorry babe, but let's not act like our relationship has a fairy tale beginning).



22 years old: 'Speak Now' was her third, fall of 2010. I distinctly remember laying on the floor of my bedroom in Fort Collins, Colorado, in the midst of a hard/weird transition from Undergrad to Graduate school, and listening to the songs on repeat. This was the first time ever uprooting and moving to an entirely new state without knowing anyone outside of Andrew, and the process of figuring out how to do so gracefully was made a little easier with the help of Tay.

24 years old: I will never forget when 'Red' came out, because it came at one of the harder transitions in my/our life. October 2012, I was living in Columbia, MD, and neither Andrew and I were doing fantastic. Columbia wasn't really a town for us to thrive in, although we didn't realize it at the time. We hadn't made many friends, were both adjusting to working full time jobs, etc. Half the songs on Red made me cry - like really cry - and probably still would if I was in an emotional mood.

26 years old: '1989' came in hot, with a full-on switch to Pop. My life at the time was full of wedding planning and stress (Fall, 2014) and I was psyched for a new album to distract me. I won't lie, I remember listening to Shake it Off on my drive home from work and being a little confused. Then I listened two more times, and started dancing in my seat. Then I listened two more times, and realized she was a genius.

It's been over 1,000 days since she has released new music guys. Somewhere in there (July, 2015), I have one of the most favorite memories of my life; when my sister and I saw her live in Chicago on her "1989" tour. Emotional overload. I won't get into the details but it was an amazing experience.



So yes, I just wrote about my musical history with Taylor Swift. Because I love her music, and the amazing memories and feelings I have tied to them. From car parties on the way to downtown Foco, to 26.2 mile races, from dancing at our wedding, to my now 12 hour flights home. She's been there through it all.

Anyways, new single tomorrow (tonight for my U.S pals) and new album coming in November, and I'm stoked. Like, will most likely wake up at 4 am tomorrow and start listening to it on repeat kind of stoked. You don't have to like her or her music, but don't forget that she writes every one of her songs to some degree; you can't deny that she's one talented babe.

Cheers - 
Kait

Friday, August 18, 2017

365

We live on a really beautiful street.

About six months ago I was talking to a random stranger and when I told her where we lived she remarked, "That's my favorite street in Tel Aviv!"

At the time, the comment struck me as a little odd. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary that made our street worthy of favoritism; it was just another street. But that comment then made me more attentive, and through that I realized that it really is a pretty cool street.



The trees are huge and shade-bearing, which I have an extra-special appreciation for in the heat of August with two dogs to walk. The apartments range from super old to very new, and they're all unique and quirky. There's a school on the corner, our vet is across the street, and three mini marts and cafes within a five minute walk from us. We are pretty centralized within the city; I can get to the beach in 12 minutes if I speed walk, 5 if I ride my bike. It truly is a really great street.

Today is our one year anniversary of living in Israel. 
It. has. flown. Even when it felt like it was dragging and days were repeating and things weren't getting easier - none of that was true.

I remember landing at Ben Gurion like it was yesterday, and nervously pacing in the airport waiting for Kai's crate to come out. I remember wandering around that first night trying to get our bearings, and the several days of confusion that followed.

I did stupid stuff, a lot of typical tourist mistakes, yet it felt a little extra painful because I wasn't a tourist. I tried to pay for a coffee with the equivalent of ten cents, I consistently bought the wrong foods. Which still happens by the way, just yesterday I tried to buy seasoning for fish instead of chicken and the (this is a rarity) kind lady at the check-out pointed out my error.

These past 365 days have been honestly nothing I ever thought I would see or experience in my lifetime. If you would have told me when I first met Andrew at age 18 that ten years later we would be living in Israel together, well... I might have believed you, but I'm not sure I would have been enthused about it.

It's been hard, beautiful, painful, confusing, enlightening, refreshing, exhausting, and that's just scratching the surface.

And we have days where it's still really hard. Or at least we think it is, relative to first world problems. We knew going in that it was a feat in itself moving ourselves thousands of miles across an ocean - away from our closest family and friends - ripping our support system out from under us like an unneeded band-aid that actually wasn't ready to come off.

Yet what happened more easily than I predicted, was that we also quickly got adopted into new families here. From other Americans who had also been transplanted out here, to our gracious gym community, we are eternally grateful for each and every person who has come alongside us the past year. And I mean that.

So to bring this full circle... my goal this next year is to be more intentional. And for it to not take 8 months to finally realize that we live on a beautiful street. I like to think that I've got most of "it down" now; our schedules, where to go for what, a handful of words I need to know, when jellyfish season is, when certain produce is in season, how to cut in line at stores, etc. My hope is that with the anxiety of the extreme unknown during our transition period now gone, I can try to be more observant, less stressed, and intentionally grateful.



Easier said than done of course. In the 'go go go' of the Monday-Friday, little appreciations are too easily overlooked. My bike commute to work/the gym in the humid afternoon heat, with my shirt clinging to my back and my quads burning is annoying at first thought, but I know one day I will deeply miss riding/walking/running along the Med every single day.

So I'll try. Here's to the next 365 days, and seeing more good. Even the ones that feel crappy. 
Thanks for following along with us and supporting us. To to our Western Hemisphere friends for dealing with the excessive time differences, and to our Israel friends for dealing with our pretty much non-existent Hebrew.

Cheers - 
Kait

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Offended

I saw a quote awhile back that was something along the lines of:

"2017, the year everyone was offended by everything."

It's stuck with me, and while I internally laughed at it at the time, it has continued to resurface throughout the past few months as I realized how frequently offended I let myself become. 

Because that's the thing - I let myself be offended. It's a mindset. I think summer has highlighted it a bit more because honestly my patience wears thin when I'm constantly sweating out of my mind, and if someone on a corner so much as looks at me wrong I feel myself getting pissed.

However. That's not really the best way to go through life - letting my blood pressure skyrocket on a daily basis because of some random interaction with a stranger. Which happens WAY more here than it ever has in the States. It's more common for someone to randomly offer advice to you, make a comment, bluntly ask you out on a date, stare at you for long periods of time - than I've ever experience anywhere else I've lived. 

This past month in general, here are some examples of when I was given unsolicited feedback:

- I was accused of not picking up the dog's poop, when I religiously do so.

- I was told that we should not have Huskies in Israel, they belong in Alaska.

- I was told I don't plank correctly.

- I was told I don't backstroke correctly.


To be fair: it's not. It's just not something I really cared about.

However my 'lightbulb' moment with my chronic offended-ness was while - of course - grocery shopping.

I walked into the store down the street from me last week, and an employee was washing out the deep freezers in the frozen section. I looked into the freezer and what I saw grossed me out a little bit, and the thought crossed my mind that this should be a task done when the store is closed, not open.


Then, I got partially sprayed in the face with the dirty freezer water.

Walking home, I was fuming to myself at how absurd that situation was, and how zero shits were given by any of the store employees. How offensive, that is no way to treat a customer.

As I stalked home, I realized two things.

1. I sounded like a bratty diva and simply have to get over the brashness of Israeli grocery stores.

2. I could either let this annoying experience ruin my day, or I could get over it.


So many of us love to get offended; sometimes I almost feel like we seek out opportunities to do so. 

Yet the more I think about it, the relationships I value the most in my life are the ones I truly know I can bluntly speak to - and they will do the same back, without getting offended. So why should I not try to mimic that across the rest of my life?

In summary, I'm trying to care a little bit less, and put the word 'offend' on the back burner. And that means across all outlets of my life - social media, real life interactions, emails, you name it. This summer heat causes me enough to sweat about, so if some random old man wants to tell me again that my dogs belong in Alaska, well maybe I'll just smile and thank them for that beautiful piece of advice. And then carry on with my day.


Cheers - 
Kait

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Gold Stars

I was going to write about something else today, but then I read a blog post and it really stirred me. Particularly this:

Ben Bergeron actually shared this blog earlier this week, sparking my thoughts for this post.

After reading it, I sat staring at my laptop for awhile picking apart why the words got down into my stomach and made me feel a little bit weird. And I realized, I am very much guilty of what he's talking about. Read the whole thing here, it's very short.

I'm competitive, and I like being good at what I do. That goes for a lot of us. I don't like losing, hence why playing on a college volleyball team that had four losing seasons in a row really got to me at times.

But those four years shaped me into someone I believe is pretty mentally (and sometimes physically) strong, and taught me a ton. I wouldn't trade my college experience for the world.


I also think that's why I stayed fairly competitive post-college. Almost immediately I got into running, and then semi-quickly I realized I was fairly good. So I started racing with the mindset of, if I didn't place then it wasn't a successful race..

Fast forward: I'm not a 'competitive' runner anymore, I wouldn't win any races at least. And that bothers the crap out of it. I really hate the s word but man I've slowed down; my mileage has gotten less and less, trading in time on the pavement for time at the gym instead; on the gymnastic bars, the barbells, in the pool, on a bike, laying on the beach.

Don't get me wrong, I feel very balanced and I love the athlete I am today. But I hate that I'm no longer great at running. More so, I really dislike the constant pressure I feel coming from literally only myself, that I need to get faster again. Because if I'm not great at it, what's the point of doing it?


Right? Wrong.

Hence the light bulb moment this morning. I had literally just come in from a short three mile run and was having an internal conversation with myself, planning to start back up on some speed work. For no other reason than the fact that I felt too sub-par.

The truth of the matter is - and why I wanted to write about this - is that we pile a lot of crap on our plates. A lot. We glorify the term 'busy' and society often conveys that if you aren't staying busy, you're basically being a slob. Which isn't fair, or true. And is a whole different discussion we can have someday.



Yet because we often have so many plates spinning at once, odds are we just aren't going to be absolutely great at everything. I cannot be a speedy fast runner, while building my strength, while actively trying to train two puppies to grow into polite adult Huskies, while balancing two part-time jobs, while trying to improve my cooking skills, keep our apartment clean, etc. etc. Not to mention the extreme guilt I feel a few times a week from the fact that I'm not practicing or taking time to learn Hebrew.

Had to sneak a pup picture in there

The list goes on - as I'm sure yours does too. Then there's the even longer list of things we wish we had more time for - and we don't even have kids yet.

At the end of the day, some of those tasks/skills will end up being done averagely, or maybe even sub-par. We won't be the best, we aren't going to constantly be winning medals. I'm never going to win any cook-off contests that's for damn sure, and I'm OK with that. I can feed myself and my husband and as long as it's not a plate full of broccoli or avocado, he's going to be happy. #Winning.

Give yourself a break. If you're trying your best, you're happy, and you're not bringing down people around you in the process - you're a step ahead of a lot others. Striving for greatness is a really fantastic goal, but we need to stop bludgeoning each other (and ourselves) to pieces when we don't walk away with gold stars in every category of life.

(Sidenote: there is a difference between putting your best foot forward and coming up short, and half-assing something)

Next time you catch yourself doing it - which I know I will at some point today - do me a favor. Stop, take a breath, and instead of lecturing yourself for something that didn't turn out as planned, instead just tell yourself:

                                                           It's good enough.

You finished the workout, but you were dead last? You only finished half your loads of laundry? You finished your run, but you had to walk half the time?  There are still dirty dishes in the sink? You made it to work on time but just realized you have a coffee stain on your pants? Your son insisted on only finishing half of his breakfast?

It's good enough.

You're alive, you're trying. Sometimes, that's just good enough. Smile about it.
Cheers - 

Kait

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Squishy

You guys. I'm going to try to keep this short, and to the point. And take it back to my roots of writing about health and fitness.

We - as a world -  including myself - can be incredibly lazy. We like it when things are easy; our lives are constantly being simplified by advancements in technology.

Example: There are buttons, little clicker things, that you can now order on Amazon and keep in your pocket/purse whatever. When you click the button, it will re-order the product that you are out of.



What.

"Honey, can you click the Tide button - we are almost out!"
6 hours later a bucket of Tide is sitting on your doorstep courtesy of Jeff Bezos.

That's cool and all, get yourselves as many clicky re-order buttons as you want. Here's what really irritates me when it comes to trying to make things easier/cutting corners.

Fitness.
Exhibit A, on the left:

When I open Pinterest and see pins like that I want to bash my head into the wall.

Now - I've literally written about this on here before, but the fact that I still see crap like this splattered all over social media makes me feel like I need to reiterate.

There are not six exercises to BANISH SQUISHY BACK FAT. You will not simply just do six exercises over and over for 20 days - and suddenly have a back that looks like that.  Also what in the F@%K is squishy back fat? Why is that even a phrase? Do some people have hardened back fat?

If you want to lose weight, if you want to build muscle, if you want to lose fat, you have to put in work and you have to sweat. If you want to "tone up your butt" - you can't just focus on your butt - that's not how it works. That's called spot targeting/spot reduction and it's a garbage catchphrase. It doesn't work.


I'll wrap up, because honestly I'm kind of fired up and could angrily type about this for the next hour. If you are trying to get in shape - if you're looking for some kind of fitness results - there are plenty of great workout regimens out there that can help you do that. The amount of 'boutique' style gyms in this world is now mind-blowing, you have unlimited options to find something that you like that will make you sweat and help you see results.



You also have the outdoors, and a pair of running shoes. And sit-ups, and air squats, and push-ups, and burpees - the lists goes on - and all those things are free.

Lastly and also importantly, I will copy and paste exactly what I said over two years ago. Remember, the phrase 'you can't out-exercise a bad diet' is more true than you want it to be. Pizza and beer for dinner five days a week will catch up with you - no matter how often you may be working out. Abs are made in the kitchen - Google will 100% back me up.

Last but not least, drink your water. 

I rant, because I care. And because I've made all these mistakes myself.
Cheers -
Kait

Friday, July 14, 2017

5 Things Friday - Trader Joe's Edition


I've mentioned on here before that grocery shopping isn't my favorite thing to do here. Take that with a grain of salt - it's not like I'm trudging through a muddy market and can only pay in cash - they have normal groceries stores. Most are just smaller, with less of a selection than what my spoiled millennial self is used to, so that rarely am I able to just go to one and get everything that I want in one trip.

First world problems, I know, I know.

So like I've also said in the past, I try to shop online for a good majority of stuff - anything that isn't perishable. And then there are both of our wonderful mom's who love us so much that we semi-regularly get boxes full of food from them as well.

Typically their boxes are exclusively stuffed full of food from Trader Joes. Which even the dogs now get excited for, because they love Trader Joe's dog treats. So for my Five Things Friday today, I think I'll share our top five staples that we always ask for when offered a Trader Joe's shipment. (Keep in mind, I would pretty much have everything shipped if I could but anything that needs to be kept cold just ain't gonna make it across the ocean and arrive in edible condition, as shipping time averages 8-10 days.)


Beautiful.

You may find this topic incredibly dry and if so, feel free to close the window now. However if you also get riled up just by hearing the phrase 'let's go to Trader Joe's' read on - and also - please share with me some of your all-time favorite TJ's staples, so that I can have some new ideas next time I send my mom to the store for me.

#1 - Plantain chips. This one sits far above all the rest of the list. They have both salty and sweet, both are great, salty always wins though (we actually even make nachos with them sometimes).

I'm drooling

#2
- Bars. I have a bad habit (I think it's bad?) of eating two small lunches - one before and one after our mid-day workout. So typically the first half of lunch is a bar and some fruit. I used to exclusively stick with Larabars, but I'm also now also a fan of Quest Bars when I need a change up.  I ALSO just saw that Perfect Bars are now going to be carried at Trader Joe's as well - which are my ultimate favorite.

#3 - Jerky. Andrew might list this as his number 1, not sure, but he can finish off a bag in one sitting. Both beef and turkey are great, and while it's not the cheapest of snacks, it's some great quick protein.

#4 - Trail mix. Any kind really - but if it has chocolate in it, it's extra special :)



#5 - Any kind of treat. Andrew's mom recently sent us cowboy bark and I'm pretty sure I single-handedly finished off the bag over the course of last weekend (Andrew doesn't really like sweet things - confusing - but a win for me). However those dark chocolate pretzel thins are also pretty amazing... chocolate covered almonds... honestly, if it has chocolate, ship it.

Bonus: My sister made me aware of their Everything Bagel Seasoning last month. Since my mom has shipped it to us, I've been putting it on A TON of stuff - Andrew's daily scrambled eggs... sweet potatoes... and the best yet, pictured below.

Avo Toast and Eggs

That's all I've got. Tell me your top 5 - and then go out and have an awesome weekend.

Cheers - 
Kait

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer

Laying on my stomach on my cartoon beach towel that I've had for way too long, it feels like it's 100°. Fahrenheit of course, Celsius conversions will forever escape me and I gave up trying awhile ago although that's what they use here.

Of course it's not 100, it's probably not even 90 yet, but something about the humidity in this city kills me. I glance to my left and can literally see those heat wave things coming off of the sand. 

Sweat rolls down my forehead. What I thought was a mid-week beach break treat yo' self was actually just turning into a heat stroke.


Never did I think I would live in a climate that I found to be too hot, to be honest.

I shift again, and a girl in a purple thong bikini catches my eye. It's not out of the ordinary on the beaches of Tel Aviv, but her put-togetherness, her long manicured nails and large floppy beach hat make me overly aware of my disheveled hair and lack of makeup. She kind of looks French.

I wonder if I'll ever muster the courage to wear a thong on the beach, I ponder. Just about anything goes here; speedos are right and left, the less clothing the better it seems. I conclude that there's no point in burning my butt cheeks just to show some more skin.

It's kind of funny, we often get questions from our friends and family (particularly those planning to visit), "Do I need to cover up more? Do I need to wear pants? Should I buy a one piece?"

No. In Tel Aviv at least, you should do the exact opposite. You will see just about anything and everything; nothing shocks me anymore after walking up and down the beach for almost a year now.

I shift from my stomach to lay on my back, and make the mistake of putting my feet on the burning sand, quickly correcting it by burrowing my feet underneath. The breeze feels great, and I consider for a second actually going into the sea. Until I remember the warning from friends that it's jellyfish season, for at least another week.


Yeah no thanks.

To my left there's an old man whose a deep shade of brown that my ethnicity will never allow me to reach. I wonder how he's asleep when we are basically sitting on the sun. I'm jealous of his beer next to him.

We need more post-it notes, I remember to myself. Post-it notes are one of my odd loves in life; actually, making lists on them is. It was on my list today to try to find more post-its, and some cheap plates. You know what I mean - everyone needs at least a few crappy plates that you and your husband can easily chuck into the microwave/into the dishwasher/onto the floor without worrying about damaging them. Our old ones from the Target dollar section were getting disgusting.


Oh Target, I miss you. #2 behind Trader Joes.

I should probably wander down Allenby Street before heading back home to get some work done, and see if I can find a store that sells both post-its and plates together. Odds are low, which is why we now just order roughly 75% of things we need off of Amazon - even if we have to wait a week for it.

I stand up and immediately slip on my Birks to get my feet off the sand. Maybe I should stop at the juice stand on my way, in order to avoid heat exhaustion on my mile-long walk home? Sounds like a plan.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Two

Want to know a secret? The first half of last week was kind of rough. I found myself tearing up almost every day; it was like this weird relapse of mourning, and I just missed Kai a lot. I had weird moments where I would be putting away laundry in the closet where Kai frequently hid, and would suddenly feel tears welling up. I was vacuuming on Thursday and literally thought to myself, what I would give to have a couch full of fur again.

Before we lost Kai - way before - we had made the decision that this summer we were going to get her a sister. She was pretty bored, always howling at me when I tried to get work done, and was the most happy when she was at the dog park.

Fast forward to this spring, when we were suddenly dog-less and devastated. We pretty much immediately knew we wanted two together this time -  siblings - when the time was right. Yet we also knew we needed time to grieve Kai, and get through a busy spring.

So for the past month I started scouring husky Facebook groups and classified ads for two siblings, either two females or male/female pair, we didn't care as long as they got along and were located somewhere in Israel.

Side note: The amount of Huskies (and dogs in general) that we've seen living in Tel Aviv has possibly been more than I've seen in my entire life. Being well aware of this, I quickly became panicky that we would never find two together who needed a home. I saw plenty of single Huskies who needed homes and they would almost immediately get scooped up by a willing party.

This past Friday night, I received a message from a man I had contacted awhile ago. He was active in a Husky Israel Facebook group I belonged to, always posting pictures of his 8 huskies - three adults, and five puppies. I had messaged him simply asking where he had gotten his dogs, that they were beautiful and I was struggling to find Huskies who needed homes in Israel. He told me how he had rescued the three adults separately, and the male and female had mated and had puppies. I told him they were all beautiful and we left it at that.

His message read: How is the search for two huskies together going?
Me: Not great, I look every day though...
Him: Well, after a lot of discussion with my wife, we've come to the conclusion that we can't afford to take care of/raise all of the puppies - it's just too much. If you and your husband are willing to raise them together and give them the care they need, you can take a brother and sister home...
Me: Yes.

Coming home!
The next morning, we drove the two hours south into the desert, near the Dead Sea, and met the pack of 8 - and brought home the brother and sister - Kira and Dakota. They weren't too sure about us at first, but after a few trips to the dog park and some treats this past weekend, I think they're warming up.

They're six months old, born in November (just like Kai was). Dakota currently weighs 3 kilos less than Kira; she kind of acts like an alpha and is my shadow. We kept the names they came with as they both already know them, but we abbreviate Dakota to Koda.



They were trained in Hebrew (sit = shev) so we are working on training them in both English and Hebrew - bilingual doggos. All of my time at the dog park with Kai has taught me most of the basic commands.

Is three months after losing our first pup too soon to get two more? Really I don't think there is a right answer. I don't think you ever fully get over losing your best friend way too young, and I also don't think you are ever ready to take on raising and training two Husky puppies together in a foreign country. I do know that Kai loved all other dogs and this is what she would have wanted for us; to grow our pack and love them well.



Stay tuned, they're already a furry handful and we love it.
Cheers-
Kait

Friday, May 26, 2017

Fear

Last weekend, I competed in Reebok's Ready For Action competition. The top 48 females, males, teens, and masters who finished in the Crossfit Open in Israel were invited.

Disclaimer: I promise this post won't be some meathead rant about throwing weights around and protein shakes. It was way more than that.

source

If I am being upfront, I had a minor panic attack the day before I was scheduled to fly. Andrew and I were on a run, and I suddenly stopped and started crying and babbled about how I was terrified to compete in a foreign country, I wasn't ready, I had just spent four days in Mexico eating quesadillas and drinking margs like it was nobodies business, etc.

There was never the actual question if I would actually go back and do it or not. I landed Wednesday night, picked up my gear, and went to bed. But I was scared.

Thursday was basically a longer endurance workout to rank us into heats for the next day. I wasn't necessarily nervous about that, because I knew I could do it. What I was scared of were Days 2 and 3, and facing workouts that were going to knock me on my ass.

Scared actually might be an understatement here, because I was f@cking terrified excuse my french. And when Day 2 rolled around, and I stood in the hallway waiting to enter the arena for my heat, having minimal idea of what was actually going on as all of the announcements were in Hebrew -

SIDE NOTE: HUGE thank you to my coaches and teammates for not only the constant coaching and reassurance, but having to translate non-stop for my ignorant monolingual self. 3 2 1 GO may now be the only four words I remember in Hebrew. 

Anyways, as I stood there, I had that fear that gets down deep into your stomach. And I turned to my friend Jillian and asked, "Why did I sign up for this?"

Of course, like so often in life, after the fact I couldn't be happier that I did it. 

Don't get me wrong, there isn't some magical ending to this story, where I work super hard and pull off an awesome performance. Naw. The workouts were hard, I got my butt handed to me. I failed handstand push-ups for ten minutes straight after managing to complete three. Which is better than the zero I could manage two months ago - but still - nothing like repeatedly falling on your head in the middle of an arena.

I was faced with this workout, which was simultaneously my favorite and one of the hardest I've done in my Crossfit life:

10 Rounds for time:

1 Rope Climb
7 Overhead Squats @ 40 kilograms
8 Bar Facing Burpees

While wearing a 6 kg vest, 20 minute time cap

(kilograms x 2.2 = pounds) 

Want to feel badass? Rope climb in weighted vest. Want to the immediately feel not badass? Walk over to your barbell and fail the overhead squats multiple times in a row (I eventually got through a few rounds).

I sadly don't have any pictures of myself doing rope climbs but here's
one of my pal Moshe killing the workout

The last workout of the competition (for me, I didn't make finals) was to max out on our squat snatch. Snatch is my worst lift... well none of my lifts are great, but it's trickier for a 5'11" chick to flip a heavy amount of weight above her head and catch it at the bottom of a squat. Quickly. And stand it up. I did manage a small PR, but my favorite part was watching the top women's heat.

One of my favorite athletes - who I had never spoken to in my life - nailed a heavy PR on her snatch. I only know this because she immediately dropped to her knees and started bawling. 

I approached her afterwards to congratulate her, and tell her that she had made me tear up myself. She was still smiling through tears, yet didn't speak English, so the girl standing next to her translated my message.

It took me too long to realize it, but it finally got through my thick skull that it didn't matter that the entire competition was put on in Hebrew, or that I don't speak the primary language of 90% of the competitors there. Or that I'm not as strong as a large majority of the girls there. We were all there for the love of competition, of challenging our bodies, and seeing what we are capable of.

The three females representing Crossfit Tel Aviv

It was a crazy cool life experience; one of those that will get tucked away into my brain forever. And If nothing else, I hope this rambling post encourages you to go out and do that thing you've been putting off or avoiding. That thing you have coming up that you don't want to do because it scares you.

I think the concept "Do one thing a day that scares" you has a lot of merit. And it can be exemplified in so many awesome ways. So just do it. Talk to that guy you've been terrified to say anything to. Shoot to run/bike/swim/roller blade a distance you never imagined in your wildest dreams. Grow that garden you're certain you will kill within months. Steal the neighbor's cat and make it your own.



Don't be afraid of failure guys, be afraid of never actually failing. That means you aren't challenging yourself.

((Drops mics, walks off stage, grabs beer))

Cheers -
Kait

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Home

Man it's good to be back. Back on my blog, but also back home.

I've been thinking about the word home a lot lately, and what exactly it means to me. It's a word we all throw around a lot - "We are heading home for the next two weeks" - or - "It's good to be home" -  etc.

Since moving to Tel Aviv, I have struggled with the definition of home. When people here ask where I'm from, in my mind I think, "Where from as in most recently, or where I grew up? Please clarify." I usually say Chicago. Yet we did live in Baltimore for the past five years - it's where we are most recently from, and where we will eventually move back to.

Baltimore - 4th of July - 2014
Sometimes in conversations as a couple, I just roll with Andrew's response of saying that we are from Colorado. It's easier - I did live there for almost two years - and it's where eventually we want to end up. The Colorado flag still hangs over our bed as I put minimal effort into home decor and we both dream of the days when we will live next to the Rocky Mountains again.

Estes Park - December - 2013

I think home can mean a lot of things. Ultimately, my home in regards to my roots will always be the Chicago area, my favorite city in the world and where my awesome family lives. Yet my home is now Tel Aviv, where my husband and I reside, and it took up until the past week for that to really hit me.
It was interesting going home the past two weeks - and by home, I guess I mean the U.S. We hopped from Chicago to Colorado to Mexico and back to Colorado, and saw almost all of our good friends and family in the process; it was a fantastic time. Yet it was the first time when meeting someone new and asked where we were from, we both smiled and said Israel. Tel Aviv.

But to be honest I was kind of dreading coming back. I was being a huge whiny baby and was afraid to fly back without Andrew, acting as if I was being sent off to a third world country with no connections or friends. When in reality, I was coming back to our cozy apartment and some super supportive and amazing friends.

I was wheels down here last Wednesday evening - JFK to TLV is an 11ish hour flight - followed immediately by a three day competition that I'm really excited to write about next. And what I was sure would be a tearful, mopey return on my part absolutely wasn't. It was easy, comfortable, and above all else made me realize that Tel Aviv is now truly my home.

Tel Aviv - Yom Kippur - 2016

I'll wrap up by getting a little mushy. This spring has been absolutely insane - in both good and bad ways. We lost our dog daughter which will forever make our souls ache, but have figured out how to work through hardships together while friends and family rallied around us. We had several visitors come explore Israel with us, followed by a fabulous time back in the States. We have tallied 15 total flights between the two of us since March.

Fort Collins - May 2015

Today is our two year anniversary today and while at this point a low-key night of wine and sushi sounds perfect, I don't want to downplay the celebration of the past two years. It's been nothing and everything that I could have imagined, and I cannot and would not trade a single second of it - I think he would say the same.

We aren't necessarily following the cookie cutter timeline of how things should look for married couples... we won't own a house for awhile still, and don't plan to start a family while living overseas.  But I've really never been a cookie cutter, follow the recipe/instructions type of girl. I prefer to make my own odd, unique cookies. Even if they sometimes get a little bit burnt.

Cheers -
Kait

Friday, April 28, 2017

Investments

I like the kind of questions that make me stop me in my tracks. The kind that get down under my skin and really make me think, forcing me to repeatedly revisit it.

April has been nothing short of a whirlwind, with two fantastic weeks of back to back visitors. First we had the honor of hosting Andrew's brother and wife, who then went on from here to Greece. Two days after I headed back to the airport to scoop up three of Andrew's high school/middle school/elementary school (IDK these guys have been friends forever) buddies, who we had a blast running around Israel with.

Andrew's friend count of visitors: 5
Kait: 0
(not including family)
Where ma' girls at?

Since the dust settled this past Monday and the boys went on to their next connections - including Andrew who had a work trip - the apartment has been eerily quiet. Too quiet. So quiet that I made a point to hardly be in it at all, jumping from working in coffee shops to dog walking to visiting new babies to the gym, etc.

But it was the quietness and loneliness of this week that made me revisit the question that one of Andrew's friends asked me last week - What would I even be doing with my time in Israel if I didn't have an interest in fitness.

The question honestly left me without an answer, and my response at the time was to laugh and shrug, admitting that I had never even thought about that.

Think about it though. Think of the most prominent interest/passion that you have in your life, whatever you are most invested in and love, and then pretend you actually don't like it at all. Wipe it off the map. What do you think your fall back would be?

I'm still scrapping my brain. I would say my runner up is writing - but how do you make friends through writing? Attend slam poetry contests? Maybe a local writers workshop hosted in Hebrew?

Perhaps I would get heavily invested in dogs. I mean I already am - and genuinely, heavily miss being a dog mom every single day. I've always had in the back of my mind to volunteer at one of the local shelters - and have even looked up courses as to how you can become a dog trainer. Dogs are probably my second passion tied with writing.

I don't know why, but the question shook me and simultaneously made me step back and really appreciate what this passion has done for me - actually for both of us as a couple - in regards to the life that we have built here in TLV.



Outside of the fact that fitness-related activities take up a lot of my time and are slowly but surely intertwining with my career, it's also how we have made roughly half of our friendships in Tel Aviv. So to imagine removing that entire portion of my life actually makes me wince a little.

It's an odd thought to have, but I found it to be an equally productive brainstorming session. At any moment passions/loves/interests can quickly be extracted from our lives, and perhaps it's smart to know what you can fall back on when it comes to dedicating your time and energy.

Just felt the need to share, and let the general realm of health and fitness know that I'm appreciative of it. On that note - I'm off to swim. Have a great weekend!

Cheers - 
Kait

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

L's

Never in my life have I wanted to fast forward through a few weeks more than this past month of March.

More than back when I had college finals, more than long weeks of two-a-days during volleyball preseason; I would go through all of that again without hesitation to avoid the pain that March brought with the loss of our pup.

It's been eye opening how together we've dealt with the gaping wound that loss brings. At first I felt pretty desperate, knowing there was literally nothing that was going to heal my heart besides time.

Time.

It's time that it takes to heal a lot of things really - physical and emotional - injuries, getting over relationships, etc. And so with that comes patience that you don't want to have.

I wondered how I was going to get work done, get groceries purchased, when every 5 minutes something would trigger tears and I would literally belly-flop face down onto our bed and get mascara on the sheets for the 4th time that day.

Don't worry, I'm not doing that anymore.

Andrew has a habit of using sports analogies throughout conversation, a habit I've grown to love. So March was a lot of discussion around 'curve balls' and 'taking an L' (a big one) and re-figuring out our life in Tel Aviv without a dog, a life we haven't known here.

Anyways, the point of this blog post isn't to make you sad, even if it is a little sad. I waited a long time to write again because I wanted to wait until I had something positive to say, and until I had a grasp on what I was learning. Because there is always something to learn from situations that life throws at us.

So here is what I learned, that I've always known, but never really known:

1. You will always need your family more than you think.  Even when you're 29 and "all grown up" you're not - you will need your mom and your sister to lay on the couch with you and cry while they bring you a glass of wine. And your dad to take you out to breakfast and simply reminisce about times when life was a little more simple.

2. When you're upset, wait to write. Actually no, write whenever you want to but wait to publish your words. You don't want to see some of the dark stuff I have in other drafts and journals.

3. We will never be confronted with things in our life that we aren't able to handle. It might feel like it at the time - I fully, 100% believed that I wasn't going to function in Tel Aviv without Kai; she was my right-hand woman and went everywhere with me. And while I'm still sad and sometimes lonely, I'm very much functioning - waayyyy better than I thought I would be able to. Even if functioning means I'm stopping to pet every other dog I see on the street.

4. There will always be good in bad. You just have to allow yourself to see it - which can take awhile. When you are sitting in a situation that feels like 100% shit, I promise there's something good you can dig out of that shit.

It snowed my last day in Chicago, and to me it felt like a sign. Snow has always been my thing, and it brought this weird sense of calm when walking into O'Hare through the flurries to get on my flight to go back and see my husband and face our empty apartment for the first time.

Losing things; people, pets, jobs - loss is never easy. There's often a big fat why, but honestly what has helped me to keep my chin up (besides my great husband) has been to stop questioning. If I'm being honest 2017 started off super bumpy, I felt like my heart was being repeatedly stomped on - situation after situation, a lot of which will never make it here in text. But I had to force myself to stop trying to figure out WHY it was all happening, stop always trying to find logic in hardships, and instead just trust that it was supposed to happen.



Trust - keep on swimming, and find the good. Joy is tattooed on my foot for a reason; because we are designed to be joyful, and to find it even when we think we can't.

So cheers, to the life that a new month brings. Andrew and I have a pretty crazy two months ahead of us, and I'm excited to sit back and enjoy that ride - good and bad.

Kait

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Solo

Last week I posted about my training experience in Greece, yet today I want to ramble on about the one day I had there to explore. Because honestly, a day going solo as a tourist in Athens totally sold me on the you should take the time to travel alone theory.

Cue the eye-roll, wow this is cute Kait, so you're an expert travel blogger now huh?

No, I'm realize I'm far from it.  I'm pretty sure getting my wallet stolen because I didn't fully close your purse while trying to hail a cab disqualifies me as a travel expert.

Yet we've all see those "10 places to travel to before you die" and "12 reasons why you should try traveling alone" type of click-bait articles.  This obviously isn't click bait, it's just something that I now believe in, that I never believed in until I actually tried it.


Athens was a very last minute trip - once I got into the training, we booked a somewhat central Air BnB and flights roughly two weeks out.  I did almost no planning, and it was Thursday night with a 6 AM flight the next morning when it occurred to me I had no idea what my plan was for my free day in Athens.

It also occurred to me I couldn't check into my Air BnB until 3 pm, and would be on the ground in Greece by 8 AM.  So it was a shove 3 days worth of apparel into a backpack type of packing, proclaiming to Andrew (he flew in Saturday morning) that we couldn't dine anywhere that required a nicer dress code than gym clothes (typically my preference regardless).

Anyways, my tentative and only plan upon landing was knowing that I had to see the Acropolis - it was the main attraction, and centralized high up in the middle city; I couldn't miss it.


And I have to say, when I stepped off the Metro into the middle of a crowded Athens square on Friday morning, it was a very liberating feeling.  Not like a - WOOHOO I'm gonna run wild because Andrew isn't here - type of feeling, but more of a, I can literally go wherever I want, and do whatever I want with this day.

So I wandered to Starbucks first, because those aren't located here in Israel.  From Starbucks I could visibly see the top of the Acropolis, and so I started meandering in that direction. I wound up weaving through crazy colorful alleys full of great looking restaurants, and so I eventually stopped at one of my choosing and had a delicious omelette.



I couldn't help but wonder what the table full of high school girls next to me thought, as I sat there alone with my backpack, wolfing down my food as they gazed upon me, chain smoking before school. But it was liberating because I also didn't care; I would never see them again.

I saw three main sites, the first being the Acropolis which is fairly large and took some time.  From the Acropolis I could see pretty much the entire city, and so I picked out other sites on the map that looked of interested to me.  Next it was the Temple of Olympian  Zeus, and then finally the Panathenaic Stadium, whose name I'm still unsure how to announce.

The stadium ended up being my favorite site, probably because of it's relation to sports.  There were plenty of other things I could have seen or done - Andrew spent both Saturday and Sunday exploring, and covered pretty much everything.  If there was one thing I would see if ever back, it would be the Olympic complex from the 2004 games, which is located further outside of the city.

Anyways. Solo Kait took plenty of time to take pictures, and just sit and gaze.  I peed (in toilets) as many times as I want to because apparently I have a small bladder which can be annoying when I'm traveling with others, I'm sure.  I sat in the stadium for probably longer than Andrew would have wanted to, and even grabbed a passerby for a random handstand pic on the track.

duh
I stopped at a cafe and ate cake for lunch, and shortly after got my wallet stolen.  But honestly, even with that occurrence, I fully enjoyed my 12 hours as a wanderer in Athens. I met and had to rely on some great people who advised (and helped) me.  And I think having to overcome some obstacles on my own only made me respect my adventure a little bit more, looking back.

In summary, I'm not saying I prefer to travel alone.  Andrew and I travel well together, and I don't enjoy being alone by nature.  However, it was a great learning experience that felt different than any other tourist experiences that I've had so far, and I'm simply recommending if you ever get the chance but you're hesitant because it sounds scary or whatever, give it a try.  Just a day - maybe you'll love it.

Cheers - 
Kait

Thursday, February 23, 2017

L1


I'm the worst at self-development.  Literally.  It stems from being lazy about reading, and if there are too many big words or large paragraphs or the topic doesn't fully hold my attention, I ditch it.  So when I sat down at the beginning of this year, I tried to be reasonable about goals.

One goal that has been creeping around my mind for the past few months has been ways to develop my fitness background, professionally.  Then, through a series of cool events, that goal got fast-tracked - and this past weekend in Athens (which was a crazy story in itself) I went through the Crossfit Level 1 Training Course.

Yep, I was in a gym for most of my weekend in Greece.
A massive, beautiful gym for the record.

Crossfit North Zone

I learned way more than I anticipated - covering aspects of nutrition, how to calculate work and power, details around movements, etc. I could go on all day.

But what I really loved, is that I was the only American there (besides the instructors). I got to spend the weekend next to 7 Greeks, 2 Turks, 2 Egyptians, and 1 Cypriot, learning about constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movements.


While the course was in English - it was a second language for everyone but me.  Which wildly impressed me (there was a translator on hand who helped with some of the technical concepts - I really can't imagine learning about 'food blocks' in another language).

Stories were shared - crazy cool stories.  I sat next to a guy who had been doing Crossfit for three months, and loved it so much he decided to MOVE across Cyprus to live closer to an actual gym.  Then two months after that decided to take the L1 course.

Something else that really resonated with me is that we only had 4 females out of 13.  Compare that to the numbers I found for the 2016 Crossfit Open  - 42% female participation - to 31% females in my course.



I don't have numbers to back it up, but I'm pretty confident in suggesting that the female participation rate in Crossfit at an international level drops off big time if compared to just the US. It's more normal than not to find myself as the only female during classes in Tel Aviv.

Yet that doesn't really  discourage me.  It encourages me, because that shows potential for growth.

It also - for some reason - puts a chip on my shoulder to go harder.  Because it's not just that I'm a female in Crossfit - I'm also 5'11'', and I love running - two things that existentially go against Crossfit stereotypes.  I can't even tell you how many times I had to be corrected over the course of the training because I have these long ass femurs that refuse to track over my toes - my body is nowhere near compact - therefore I have a larger margin of error to f*ck up a movement.

Excuse my french.

It's my grind though. I might not "look" like I should be doing Crossfit but man do I love it, and how it's changed my outlook on both fitness and life.  Mentally it's made me stronger than being a Division 1 athlete did.  And I'm convinced I can be good at it, get down all the movements, and eventually coach it.  As a tall, gangly female.

But why?  Why Crossfit - why don't you just stick with running Kait?

Because Crossfit is running.  And rowing, and swimming.  And slamming balls around and swinging around on bars, walking upside - it's everything.  It's being able to move the bookshelf across the room without having to wait for your husband to get home to help, and it's being able to throw your 6 year old over your shoulder when they're having a temper tantrum in public.


It's cliche but it truly is training for life, and
I dig that.

But I think even more - I dig the camaraderie.  When you're grinding through crapiness together day in and day out, you realize that you actually have a team to help you get through.

And at the end of  Day 1 last Saturday, when the instructors (who were rockstars) threw a golden workout of thrusters and burpees at us, we had one classmate teammate struggling through the last set.  So you know what we did?

The rest of us - the 12 who had already finished - started hitting the floor with him.  The words 'I can't' left his mouth and we were like oh hell no, and we were up and down with him, grueling through, until he finished those freaking burpees.

And that's why I wanted a Level 1.

I've seen it change people's lives, I've seen people lose massive amounts of weight, kick habits, take on new hobbies because of it. But it's the knowing that you have people who believe in you - really truly - that's why it works.


Anyways, if you're reading this and rolling your eyes and thinking I'm brainwashed, I promise I'm not.  Or maybe I am, but I also know the facts. I've loved health and fitness for pretty much as long as it's been on my radar.  I jumped from globo gyms to niche gyms, consistently ran my face off through stress fractures and broken toes.  I've bought passes to hot yoga and cycling studios, and it's all great, I've enjoyed it all and still do.  But I've never seen or felt changes like Crossfit - and I've never seen fitness transfer into my other passions like this has.



Anyways, thanks for reading if you got through this whole thing.  I'm excited about what's to come, if you can't already tell.  And huge thanks to my husband & my "boss" -  who both enthusiastically got behind me to pay for the training - that sh*t ain't cheap - and it was one heck of a bday gift/work perk.

Signing off, just in time for the Crossfit Open to kick off.  Oh, and to drag my butt 13.1 miles (21.1 km) tomorrow morning.

Cheers - 
Kait