Stories from The Grit

This week was like a giant “American Grit” reunion for me.  It started with the Olympics.  Watching those athletes in action makes me feel like such a whiny-ass when I get winded on the treadmill.david-neville-gold-medal-olympian

My teammate, David Neville, was a gold and bronze medalist in the Beijing Olympics.  While the other teams were doing their thing, David used to train us on running techniques to go faster; lift your knees higher, cut the air with your hands, focus on your breathing pattern.  I’m still in awe of what he accomplished, and I told him so on Twitter.  (You can read his story: here.)

Our team after winning 4 evolutions in a row
Our team after winning 4 evolutions in a row

Hopefully our team will get to reunite in October for Lumberjack’s wedding, which will be so much fun.  I miss my team!  Now I just have to figure out logistics.

The next totally random Grit moment came when my friend Serena texted me that she had two tickets for the WWE Smack Down, starring John Cena, and did I want to go with her.  Well, duh!

With Serena at WWE Smackdown
With Serena at WWE Smackdown

I had never been to a wrestling match but I remember watching Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant on TV when I was a kids. It was pouring rain, streets were closed off and yet still the arena was just mobbed.

John Cena was well hidden behind a labyrinth of security guards.  The closest I could get to him was to ask a person who worked for the Erwin Center to hand a note to the promoter, because no one actually talks to John Cena directly, even former contestants on his reality TV show.  *Sigh*

John Cena in action
John Cena in action

But the wrestling was a lot of fun and I could see why he was a crowd favorite; he really played to the audience and got everyone shouting.  But I have to tell you – my very favorite wresting match was between Colonel Sanders of KFC fame and a giant chicken.  For real.  The chicken was clucked.

The next day I was feeling a little down with nothing major, just general mom-fails, and that was the moment when “Living With No Excuses” by my mentor, Noah Galloway, arrived.  Inside there was a message, which I’m mostly keeping private, but one of the things he wrote was that I was the heart of the team and a lion of a mom.  It was exactly the thing I needed to read in that moment.  It was like being with my team again.

Me holding up "Living With No Excuses"
Me holding up “Living With No Excuses”

I’m already on chapter 12 and I can’t wait to finish the book.  The smartass comments his family make throughout the story made me giggle.  The descriptions of wartime Iraq and how he lost two of his limbs in a roadside bomb were shockingly vivid and dealing with his life after…he lost his limbs, his job, his wife through divorce, all at the same time…I can’t even imagine what he went though.  I have no right to complain about anything, ever.

On Saturday I took a field trip to Houston to meet with my new posing coach, Christine Anderson.  I’ve done lots of NPC, INBA and NFF competitions before, but never Musclemania/Model Universe so I needed to learn the new routines.  It was a blast!  I’ll write more about that in a different post.

After my session, I met up with Brooke Van Paris (aka – Ice Bath Girl) to go to a book signing at Barnes & Nobel.  Who was signing books?  None other than Nick Irving, (aka – Reaper) the sniper who was the mentor for the red team.  We went to the back of the crowd and waved hi and to our surprise he invited us up next to him and asked us to share our stories with the crowd too.  (You can read Brooke’s story: here.)

Standing with Nick "The Reaper" Irving and Brooke Van Paris
Standing with Nick “The Reaper” Irving and Brooke Van Paris

The stories that he told from his new book “The Way of the Reaper” will make your jaw drop.  His nickname comes from the fact that he had 33 confirmed kills in four months.  NBC will be doing a miniseries based on his multiple deployments for the War on Terror.

He said, “Picture you’re on a football field at the 50 yard line and you’re five guys in a ditch.  You’re surrounded by the enemy all around the stadium and they are all firing at you.”

He made it out alive and kept going back to battle, even as other died around him.  He spoke of the dark side of war; the toll it takes on you mentally to kill someone, even knowing that they are enemy and would kill you first if they had the option.  He spoke of sleepless nights eased only by alcohol.  Finally he got his drinking under control and began writing online about his experiences, which resonated with other veterans.

We gave each other copies of our books
We gave each other copies of our books

As he was signing books, different people in the crowd who had seen “American Grit” came up to me and Brooke, sharing some of their own stories with us, about wanting to lose weight or that their kids watched the show and were rooting for us.

One couple spoke to Brooke and said that they could relate to her story of being a gymnast to not being able to use her arms for two years after a car accident and then coming back into herself.  Their son had been paralyzed and just recently regained the use of his legs and was in a dark place.

Brooke had kept her story largely secret until one day she saw a meme online that said, “Your story is the key that can unlock someone else’s prison,” so she decided to tell people what she went through.  She said that for awhile she asked God, “Why me?” until she realized that if bad things only happened to bad people no one would care.  But when bad things happen to good people, like their son, it happens for a reason.

I know that Season 2 of “American Grit” will be starting up again, with a new batch of contestants, but I’m still proud to be part of the original cast.  We had our differences on and off camera, but I’m reminded how much I respect each and everyone of them for overcoming obstacles and really striving to connect with others and make a difference.

Everyone goes through their own dark times.  Share your story.  #ShowYourGrit

Enjoying our food prep in the parking lot
Enjoying our food prep in the parking lot

Lisa 🙂

P.S. – If you’re serious about getting healthy, but need help getting started, try my S.L.I. Method on my website  Only YOU can do the work, but I can give you the tools that I’ve learned over the past four years about nutrition, exercise and overcoming excuses.


Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, on FOX!!!

Shes-losing-it-book-cover (c) 2012-2016 Lisa Traugott. All rights reserved. No portion of this blog, including any text, photographs, video, and artwork, may be reproduced or copied without written permission.

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