Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stuff Stash Hit List...

This post is a blatant rip off of my friend Angela and her recent blog about the stuff she loves. We all love stuff, but most of the 'stuff' sitting around my house I could easily burn and forget about.

The items below I literally could not.

Some of these items I have been given for free. Some of them I paid for. Some of it is sponsor swag, stuff I found in a dumpster (yes, really), or things I've worked years to afford. Don't judge me.

Please note that these are also my lifestyle picks. You'll be able to find the MTB specific stuff here shortly.

First up:

CLOTHES - the stuff I would be naked without.

Lululemon anything. Yep. Their leggings are my life force and the only reason I wear anything resembling 'pants'. If I can get my hands on it, I'll wear it. This includes the leggings, sweats, hoodies, shirts, tanks, shorts, bras, underwear and socks... I have more of their clothing in my closet than anything else. #athleteproblems 

 Wunder Under Pant  All Sport Bra  Scuba Hoodie II

VINCE. shirts, shirtdresses and sweaters. If I'm wearing a dress, there's a good chance (100% is a good chance, right?) that it's VINCE. Quality clothing that yes, is pricey, but it lasts almost forever and looks damn good. It's also easy to dress up or down because of the beautiful way everything is cut, and it all goes very well with leggings. 


SUPPLEMENTS - so I don't starve.

I'm a lazy athlete. Very lazy. I hate having to eat food that isn't cheese, wine, charcuterie or pastries, so getting veggies and actual protein that isn't linked with massive amounts of saturated fat (cheese or pastry) into my body is a fight. I think I may have been born to a French butcher and my parents kidnapped me... But that's just a suspicion. I look a LOT like them.

Gnarly Nutrition is a longtime sponsor of mine, but I first signed with them because of what they make: 100% organic, premium New Zealand whey products that come from their soul and are made for athletes. I love the Gnarly Whey and their BCAA mixture; I use both daily and seriously don't think I would have very much protein intake if it weren't for the quality, mixability and taste of this protein and aminos. Enough fiber to keep my blood sugar even, lovely branched-chain aminos and pure, natural whey make for a happy body. It fuels my performance and my mind, and helps me #shedexcuses.

client  product-bcaa

Quest Nutrition Products: They don't have an assload of sugar (which makes me crazier than I already am), they don't weigh me down, and they have the fibrous carbs and complex proteins I need for energy, muscle maintenance and performance. A lot of 'fitness personalities' swear by these bars, but they don't get into the science of it. Mostly, the science is this: they taste really good, they aren't full of nasty sugar alcohols and they don't make me feel like a whale. Actually, the science behind the bars and my newest favorite, the Protein Chips, is pretty reasonable. A lot of what is good, none of what is bad. Slow-release carbs mixed with healthy proteins to calm the hangriness that overwhelms all rational thought. 

Vegetables... I guess. One thing that working 80 hour weeks doesn't leave time for is chopping, steaming or excessive prep. So I stick to the easily-prepared, easily-transported, easily-eaten Green Giant Veggies when I need those greens. I also have an ongoing love affair with Trader Joe's salads. Great in a pinch and tastier than anything I could come up with, it's healthy eating made easy. Just remember to recycle, okay?!

 Persimmon Salad

TECHNOLOGY - because... DUH. 

My iPhone 6 is glued to my hand. Whether I'm tracking my sleep via Sleep Cycle app, my workouts and nutrition via the My Fitness Pal app or just taking pictures and uploading them to Instagram, I'm an addict. I use it for everything -- a flashlight, a GPS bike tracker, a workout music player and a step tracker... As well as a dating tool, a search-and-rescue enabler, and the main source of on-the-go work.

The Jawbone MiniJamBox is my favorite speaker for camping, traveling, morning workouts at the park and full-on shower opera session. Not only is it pretty damn tough and pretty damn loud, but it was the first Bluetooth speaker on the market and has a battery that will last through 12 hours of playtime. It's a great addition to any backpacking, bikepacking or race excursion adventure I embark upon, and it keeps me linked to my music.

Aqua Scales and Green Dot MINI JAMBOX demonstration of new Multi Play functionality.

RANDOM &/OR ADVENTURE GEAR - we've all got our favorite things... 

My Adidas Thrasher Trail Running Shoes are some of the best shoes I've ever owned. I love running, but get bored easily if I attempt to put in miles on the treadmill or even the sidewalk, so I hit the trails for an intense workout and some brain-stimulating nature time. Adidas consistently makes some of the best activity-specific shoes and I adore these babies, regardless of the current color I may be rocking. After all, they are my fourth pair.

I also have worn the hell out of the Marmot PreCip Jacket; it's not only a great rain layer, but it folds up into a tiny ball and is bright enough to scare anything and anyone away... Or show up in photos, too. Another favorite Marmot product that I couldn't live without is the Marmot Women's Ouray Sleeping bag; from race weekend campouts to Uinta backpacking trips, this little baby has served me well in all conditions. It's good down to 0° F temps and up to about 34° F at night before I start to sweat. It's definitely a four-season bag. 

Women's PreCip Jacket    Women's Ouray

I'm also highly dependent on my Ugg Adirondack II Leather Boots; I wear them everywhere. I'm talking every single damn place I go from November to March. From hiking to horseback riding to business dinner and traipsing around cold locales, I have loved these shearling-lined, highly versatile, Vibram-soled babies nearly to death. Another go to is my Smith Serpico aviator sunglasses. I have three pair of the polarized sunnies, and they're not being rotated out anytime soon. The last travel and adventure pick would be my Vix Swimwear BIA Logo bikini... Comfortable enough to lounge around in, sporty enough to tackle some surf, and cute enough to not worry about looking like one of the guys.


BEAUTY PICKS - facial shit, yo.

This category is pretty cut and dried. I'm not a big makeup girl and I stick to what I love and what works, so it will never be a long list.

Facial cleanser is the Kate Somerville Gentle Daily Cleanser, twice a day and once a week, I use Kate's Exfolikate exfoliating treatment. I also keep waffling between the fresh Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil during the summer and a basic, thicker daily moisturizer from L'Oreal during the really dry winters here in Utah.

For the beauty side of things, I literally have three products: Laura Mercier's Long Lash Mascara, the MAKE UP FOREVER Aqua Eyes eyeliner and LUSH's Lip Service lip balm. Really easy, really simple and just about as low maintenance as it comes.

 Lip Service


Monday, January 26, 2015

A Brain, A Legacy, And The Ticking Bomb

Traumatic brain injuries are no joke. We know. We've seen it in the news, in headlines, in pictures and even in tragedy as another athlete or trauma victim is claimed by damaged tissue and emotional outbursts. We're inundated with new research, new helmet technology and new information about the consequences every day. We know.

As a survivor of 28 medically recorded head injuries, I've suffered my fair share of TBIs -- a brain bleed a few years back, a severe stem injury a few years before that and, most recently, another traumatic injury that did further damage to my prefrontal cortex. In the words of every single neurologist who has ever looked at my medical records, I'm "lucky to be alive" and "totally fucked for the future" (that's my own editorial phrasing, by the way).

After the latest injury and especially in the last few weeks, I've noticed certain parts of my personality that seem to have simply gotten up and wandered away, only to be replaced by angry little asshole sections that infect everything around them. I'm more aware of this and notice subtle improvement as time passes; my immediate circle of contact is not. From crying in the bathroom about a mild reprimand at work to blowing up on my best friend when he suggested that our Christmas star was a bit crooked to an inability to control thoughts and idea flow, my brain has experienced a unique and terrifying change. More importantly than the impact it has on me, however, is the impact my injury has on my family, friends and coworkers. It can't be easy to watch a cellphone hurled into a wall or a grown woman stomp out of a room before she dissolves into tears. I'm sure it's not simple for anyone, wondering if I'll be rational and generous or if my brain will get fed up and decide that today is for the asshole Amanda. I know it's not easy or fair. I'm living it all.

For most of my life I've lived under the assumption that there will always be a tomorrow. There will always be another day to call someone back, do something better or apologize for being an ass. I am, quite honestly, a complete procrastinating disaster. If there's one thing I do really, really well, it's procrastination. I'm master of the delay.

A doctor recently informed me that losing my cognitive faculties before 40 is a good probability. This is not good. But this doctor also told me that he understood my desperate balancing act of the quality of my life and the length of my life; he said he was quite familiar with the struggle and left me with a few questions that have kept me examining my choices between length and quality... Whichever I choose, I have a responsibility to my family and those around me to not only refrain from becoming a burden, but to leave behind such an impossibly strong legacy that my efforts do not crumble in vain.

Hence the #ProvingPossible project. And Athletes For Clean Air. And the writing, and the activism, and everything else. Is it about ego? Is it about sport? Is it about passion? Is it about forming a connection with whomever I can while I'm still able? I can honestly say that it's probably all of the above and a whole lot more. I know that there's a small part of me that wishes for so much... To go back. To change actions. To create more understanding and fairness and kindness instead of damage and wreckage. But what I also know is that moving forward I have a ticking clock. Like sand in an hourglass, time waits for no soul, and certainly not one that's trying to create something tangible that will counteract the destruction taking place inside of my mind. I want to leave something behind that holds value for those who come after us and that reflects the internal goodness of those who pushed boundaries... I want to reflect the care and curiosity that drives me, and the kindness and passion that hide behind the faces of a broken brain. There are limits, yes, but those limits give me direction and opportunity. Those limits have unlocked the potential that lurked underneath a passive surface for so long and the passion and drive to create and build and work and hope and thrive, even if only for a short while. The limits and the bad things have even become the okay things: no speech filter, trouble with self-control, depth perception, attention span. They add up to a crazy mix of beautiful consequences that I've simply had to accept and just move forward.

So I've resolved to stop delaying, stop saying no, stop telling myself that there's always another chance, another day, another time. Because there's not. There may never come another chance to grab life by the hand and walk into a bright future.