Note from Spezzy: This month's Rebel of the month goes to @missmarissa, who happens to be one of our guild leaders in the Warrior Guild. Marissa has been a part of the rebellion for a few years now and it has been absolutely amazing to watch her progress not only strength wise, but seeing the mindset completely change, and come back from injury setbacks and completely rock it. Marissa is not only competing in powerlifting (finishing her last meet at 95.7/47.5/112.5) but also has decided to just do ALL THE THINGS (like, backflips!) that she loves and has shown that you can actually be a total badass in multiple areas of fitness
Anyway, I'll let Marissa take it from here
I'm Marissa! I currently live in the Madison, WI area and work as a Mechanical Engineer in the space industry. I'm a Warrior at heart, but I've been branching out a bit lately into assassin and ranger territory. I love powerlifting, but I've grown fond of gymnastics, kettlebells, yoga, and other bodyweight training recently (NF Rings and Handstands anyone?). I've also signed up for a GORUCK challenge in September with a handful of other nerds and the thought of running/rucking both terrifies me and excites me. My nerdy interests are primarily Harry Potter and the DC Universe; I'm a Harley Quinn fanatic. Drop me a line if you ever want to geek out about Space, powerlifting, feminism, all things Batman, or anything else at all really :)
How long have you been a member of the rebellion? How did you find us?
I first discovered Nerd Fitness in Fall of 2013 when I googled "Paleo diet" and Steve's article was one of the first to pop up. I quickly devoured nearly all the content on the blog. I joined the forums in May 2014 and have been fairly active since January 2015. I also attended Camp Nerd Fitness for the first time in 2016 and looking forward to attending in the future.
Tell me a bit about your daily routine.
Weekdays are pretty consistent. Wake up around 7, eat breakfast and get ready for the day (pack lunch, change, hair and makeup, pack gym bag). To work by 8:30 where, depending on the day I work until about 5:30 or 6. Every day at work is different and presents its own challenge. After work is different depending on the day. Mondays I head to gymnastics, other days straight to the gym for lifting (I aim for 3-4 days a week total) or sometimes I go home and do things around the apartment or run errands. Most nights I cook dinner around 8, and then shower and spend the rest of the night relaxing with my boyfriend or reading. Tuesday nights I have a weekly meeting with a few other nerds here in Madison, where we go over our goals from the past week and how we did and then set goals for the next week and put a plan in place to achieve them.
Weekends are a wild card. I usually like to relax around the apartment and read comics or watch movies. Sundays I try to make it to the gym, grocery shop and do some meal prep for the week.
What changes have you made to your batcave to help you succeed?
This is actually something I've been working on A LOT recently (and struggling with!) I've been trying to improve my morning routine and finding different ways of what works for me and what doesn't. Most recently I've been shutting my cell phone off at bed time and not turning it on until I leave the apartment for the day. Things I've done before that have worked really well is always having healthy snacks on hand in a drawer at work (jerky, nuts, protein bars, herbal tea, rice cakes) so I can avoid using a vending machine or grabbing a donut. I've also tried to put a focus in my life on reading more, so I'm always carrying a book with me and have stacks of books and comics throughout my apartment so that I look to pick up a book before I turn on the TV or open up my laptop.
Biggest success since you joined?
I don't know if I can point to one single success, but a handful of things that stick out in my mind:
· The first time I successfully did a chin-up. I had been practicing banded pull-ups at home on my doorframe pullup bar. And one day I just walked by and decided to try without the band and managed it. I freaked out, I was so excited!
· Leaving a fairly cushy job that I hated, in a city I didn't really enjoy all that much either and moving to Madison for a new job with lower pay. I ended up loving my job, the city, my new gym, and making so many friends here.
· Starting gymnastics at 27 years old, after a 16-year hiatus. And progressing farther than 9-year-old Marissa ever did. I can do a BACK FLIP you guys.
What are your tips for success?
Find what works for you! Experiment! Before NF I had always thought that getting healthy meant running on a treadmill and eating salads. And that never worked for me. I found that I love lifting weights, but I also love doing handstands and flipping. I've tried counting calories, counting macros, paleo, cheat days, etc and none of those have really worked for me either. But I've found success with an intuitive eating / moderation approach. I don't ever feel deprived because if I'm craving something, I'll eat it, but I don't eat junk food just because it's there. It was something that CNF headmaster Maddie Berky preached about at camp: having compassion with yourself and your body based on your food choices, and making a conscious decision to eat something that might not be traditionally "healthy" and finding that balance with what is healthy. Using that to nourish my body and my mind.
Biggest failure? How'd you bounce back?
In March of 2015 I had injured my hip and groin muscles. I couldn't do any physical activity for over a month because of the pain and had to rebuild back up from a bodyweight squat up to back squatting with heavy weight again. It was incredibly difficult for me emotionally knowing that I couldn't do something I love at all (lift weights) which caused me to have a bit of a depression and spiral into emotional eating. I didn't really have a great support system at my gym at that point and with my coaching. As soon as I realized this, I hired a new coach who is a better fit for me and have tried to focusing on forming friendships with my gym mates. It was hard for me to set my ego aside and start back from the beginning, but I'm so glad I did. Just finally 2 weeks ago did I reach a 210# squat, which is what I was squatting before I injured myself. And I'm proud to say that it was faster and with better form than before.
What's the biggest tip you could give to a new recruit to the NF Rebellion?
If you set a goal and screw up or don't reach it, it's not the end of the world. You didn't fail, you just found something that didn't work for you. Dust yourself off and try again. One donut won't make you re-gain that lost weight, and one failed rep in the gym doesn't mean you're a failure as a person. You can't compare yourself to anyone else, or in some cases, even past you. As long as you're truly putting in the work to improve yourself and giving 100% effort you will succeed. (Also, giving 100% looks different from day to day. Sometimes 100% effort means crushing your workout and eating paleo all day. Other days it means just putting on pants and brushing your teeth. That's ok.)
Any other parting words
A quote I read on a Chipotle bag once that stuck with me (yea, a Chipotle bag… of all places.) "We will never have a perfect world, but it's not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one." I've applied that quote to self-improvement and it's really helped me embrace the journey. Which is what this is all about, the journey, not the finish line.