Rebel Ramblings – The Pursuit of Toughness

That video right above this sentence… Yeah, I’m doing that shit.

Balls. In. Throat.

Due to some amazing friends/Rebels/crazies who banded together and registered me for something that I very well could have secretly resented them for (because I mean… SURPRISE YOU’RE DOING A 24 HOUR TOUGH MUDDER!!!!!) I am a fully registered member of the World’s Toughest Mudder legion and I couldn’t be more stoked about it. The “get Cox to WTM 2014” movement was spearheaded by my man Justin and his better half Maggie whom along with a Unicorn and some dear friends I get the pleasure of traversing the Sin City landscape with come November 15th through the 16th. Justin and I had many a conversation about how nuts it would be to get after World’s Toughest Mudder and had you asked me a couple months ago I would have sworn on a stack of every religious academia you could find that I DEFINITELY wouldn’t be attacking WTM this year.

Well wouldn’t you know it… we’re now about 3 months away from that getting blown out of the water like an epic pirate battle.

Sounds like living to me!

24 hour Tough Mudder course in Vegas with my favorite people? Sounds like living to me!

So now that you know the setup here’s the skinny on this Rebel rambling. I’ve found myself having a lot of thoughts and feelings on the matters surrounding this event that keep swirling and swirling around in my brain cage frantically searching for a crack so they can escape. My better half Cara is an absolute blessing. She is here to talk to and through this whole fiesta with and I’ll never be able to express my thankfulness for the encouragement she provides just merely with her presence and reassurance that “I’ve got this shit.” I’m not sure what part of my circus-addled brain is soothed by writing out my thoughts and feelings, but I’ve learned not to really question it and go for it with gusto. So… here we are.

There are some days I find myself riding a wave of anxiety like I’m trying out for the upcoming “Point Break” remake *Editor’s Note*BOOOOOOOOO!!!!*End Editor’s Note*. I have a problem sleeping through the night as is but now my brain dog has another stress bone to chew on so I’m sure you know how that goes. With that being said… Something I firmly believe in is that all goals worth working towards carry nerves behind them. It means you care. It means you FEEL what you’re doing and your heart is IN IT! Sure, these feelings are scary and intimidating but they can be just as much exhilarating and refreshing. Problem is not everybody percolates on those nerves long enough to experience the good side. I see it a lot like Platform 9 3/4 in “Harry Potter.” You see this brick wall in front of you and you’re told there’s an awesome place behind it… All you gotta do is run through it!

You just look like a weirdo when you stop and stare at the wall though...

You just look like a weirdo when you just stop and stare though…

The point I’m making for those unfamiliar with the reference (aka muggles) is that the fear of the worst case scenario is strong enough to hold a lot of us back from the best case scenario when we sit on our haunches and pray for the day life gets easy and problems don’t exist anymore.

Update: All problems solved.

Update: All problems solved.

That day will not only never ever come but contrarily we arrive back at my first point… All goals worth working towards carry nerves behind them. The nerves highlight the adventure. The anxiety amplifies your focus when channeled correctly and it all starts with that good ol’ cliche we call perspective. Simple enough… If it were easy it wouldn’t be special. So… even the bad feelings surrounding this World’s Toughest Mudder insanity are really just good stuff in disguise!

There was a point and time when I was competing back when that I documented every single milligram of nutrition I took in and every molecule of energy expelled out. Each second spent on a cardio machine, every rep lifted, and every pound accounted for all day, er’ day. I did some semblance of this with various extremes (most often on the “most” extreme setting) and I burnt myself out like already bald tires kicking off an all day drag race.

Hey there...

Pictured: Creepy face and burnt out.

When every waking moment is spent worrying about controlling literally everything around you it’s common to crash and crash HARD. When you are too stubborn to crash however is when you find yourself caught in this limbo between a complete mental breakdown and the self assurance that this is the price of being “healthy.” It’s like an emotional purgatory where all you want to do is laugh and cry at the same time equally and BOY IS THAT CONFUSING! Are you doing the right thing? Are you hurting yourself? Are you merely feeling the result of hard work and dedication or are you overdoing it? AHHHHHHHHH!!!!! So the answer… WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN BECAUSE THAT WAY YOU CAN CONTROL ALL OF THE THINGS!!!


Did all of this obsessive compulsion and delirious drive lead to me being the best body builder in the world? Not a chance. I was mediocre on my best day when it came to competition. It’s the journey though… The experiences I had, knowledge thirsted for, and dedication to see it through even when every aching inch of me screamed to quit every single goddamn day that molded into my approach now. I learned not only what not to do but also how I didn’t want to feel. What did I want out of fitness? What was the overall end goal? Do the ends justify the means and once I achieve physical perfection I’ll be happy or do I have it backward? What’s the point of burning the candle in the middle and at both ends if you’re too exhausted, angry, and high strung to enjoy it? Is that really the goal? Is that REALLY how you want to feel at the end of the day or did you just find a new form of misery because that’s where your fucked up self is most comfortable…?

These were the hard questions I found myself not able to shake once I’d finally hit the major burnout point. They were the questions that were nagging in my brain all along I just didn’t have the strength to run away from them anymore.


Don’t get me wrong… Some people truly do thrive off of goal oriented health… Even NEED it for happiness and sustainability! I found out the hard way I am not one of those people. It’s kind of like how some people absolutely LOVE mathematics and numbers while others (right here) see an algebraic equation and can literally feel an aneurysm giving birth unto itself. If you’re one of those “math makes my soul hurt” kind of people can you imagine the torture of attempting to become a calculus expert? On top of that can you see how ridiculous it would be to beat yourself up for not enjoying it? Yeah, kinda like that…


Fast forward about 7 years from my last competition until now and the thing I’m most proud of regarding my personal accomplishments in this health and fitness world has been my ability to equalize and maintain. Those questions from above that caught up to me… I answered them and answered them accordingly. Had I not gone all in on the roller coaster that was my weight loss/body building journey I wouldn’t have been able to define what health means to ME. Plain and simple… I would never have known! For all that stress and anxiety I put myself through I also found a lot of things that DO work for me that I implement to this very day. I learned an immeasurable amount about nutrition, the human body, exercise manipulation, and so much more in the process. I proved to myself that I could do something and finish it out. I was and am proud of myself and to earn your own self pride is what makes your heart flower blossom in my opinion.


Something like this… only inside your chest.

I defined fitness and made it fun for myself. I started doing everything I could get my hands on… I became two timed TRX certified, began a love affair with the BOSU and undulating ropes, took a couple Russian kettle bell courses, started signing up for mud runs, developed a fierce Zumba habit for awhile, and much more all in the name of taking it all in and experiencing the joy and benefits each different thing had to offer. I learned to explore and redefine the way I think! I learned to accept and carry my demons with me rather than feeling like I’ve got to banish them forever and until then I’m broken and useless. Truth is we are ALL broken in some way or another so there is zero point in feeling like you’re a solo cracked vase coasting through a sea of flawless fine china.


So during those 7 years and even with all the comfort zones I leaped out of I never found myself face to face with an event that required the kind of meticulous training (above and beyond the hard work I put in by default) a body building competition requires… Until now. Sure, I’ve upped my training ante for various relays and Tough Mudders but never to the all encompassing degree that body building demands.

To me this World’s Toughest Mudder is more than just a 24 hour obstacle course designed to see what you’re made of. It’s my chance to take everything I’ve learned the last 7 years and combine it with the mindset and dedicated training nature of the competitive perfectionist I was (or frazzled myself trying to be rather) the 4 years prior. I get to take the fat kid I once was (and still am to a degree) with me for the ultimate culmination of “I told you you could do it you sad son-of-a-bitch-amazing-woman!”

Drawing credit: Fellow Rebel Jason Moughon

Drawing credit: Fellow Rebel Jason Moughon

The swirl of all this means I’m yet again in new territory which is frightening… but also where I thrive. I refuse to get as high strung as I used to yet will be showing up to Las Vegas in November in the best shape I’ve ever been in. You can bet on that like your mortgage depends on it. Only I’m going to have fun first and foremost. I’m going to get the results people don’t get by doing the work people don’t do but I’m gonna do it with a big ass grin on my face. I’m going to eat with purpose and experience the joy of feeling great rather than dwell on the fact I can’t get Green Burrito tacos every other night because I’m a TEMPLE, DAMNIT! If I feel myself getting out of whack and losing focus on getting results and enjoying it in the process… Then I’ll eat some cake and take a day off like a boss. There was a day when I internalized that as “fitness suicide” but now I look at it as a life essential. THAT is what I learned in the last 7 years and THAT is the thing I’m most proud of out of every single thing I’ve ever done; to be exceptionally normal. 


I will have my slip ups and pitfalls but that’s part of the growth. I accept and embrace them, something I never used to do. Through this process I will exacerbate my inner silver back gorilla to the umpteenth degree and passionately cherish every moment. I will be so sore I can barely walk and then I will take care of myself properly (with some Unicorn help because she is what makes the world go ’round) so I can do it again. I will rest when I need to. I will eat when I need to. I will switch my training schedule when I need to. I will modify when I need to. All things I equated to being a failure merely years ago that now I have learned is the only way to success… Adjust and adapt, baby!

Pictured: The feeling of adjusting and adapting.

Pictured: The feeling of adjusting and adapting.

To conclude this introspection/therapy session I plan on updating these Rebel ramblings frequently. This was cathartic as hell while providing some accountability. Aside from all that important stuff I hope that a look behind the curtain might help some of y’all out. There’s comfort in knowing you’re not the only one struggling and the struggle is definitely real. We’re all in the same boat just rowing different oars! Iron is forged by fire and if you’re in the midst of gettin’ scorched just hold on like Wilson Phillips because you’re gonna emerge from the flames stronger than you were before.

Trust me.

On the flip side I hope to represent that when you NEED some forging fire… make it! You are the pilot of your own plane and you alone get the blessing of deciding where you’re going. You also get to decide what kind of plane ride you’re going to have as long as you know that you can’t control the turbulence and just need to ride it out till it clears up (mini vodka bottles not included).

Until next time…


– Rebel8


From a Rhino to a Unicorn

Cara the Unicorn


From a Rhino to a Unicorn

                Cara Jones is a spritely 5 foot even mother of three from Washington transplanted to Northern California. With a presence comparable to a burst of sunlight through cracked blinds whenever she enters a room Cara could best be described as a firecracker with a natural knack for love and compassion with a seemingly endless capacity. A successful career in Human Resources has put her charm to good use as she has somehow found the time to incorporate marathon running in between the rigors of maintaining a family and a social life to boot. Americana personified, Cara has done it all with a smile on her face and an eye flutter that will make you melt. Funny how initial impressions are never quite revealing as to what truly resides behind someone’s castle walls…

                When you see a person sprint by you at full speed on the street there are two ways you can interpret the situation; they are either chasing something or running away from something. Those who are perceived to have it all are often assumed to be chasing success like a lion after an antelope. Rarely is the other end of the spectrum in that scenario visited which is the possibility of a desperate attempt at running away from struggles constantly nipping at their heels and diverting focus towards overwhelming undertakings leaving no room to worry about the real issues left behind. In Cara’s case both perspectives happened to be true. It also happened to be that the real issues were gaining speed and catching up fast…

                Growing up smack dab in the middle of the grunge movement in its prime brought with it plenty of stories and experiences worthy of a furrowed parental brow but a lesson in irony occurred swiftly when she had her first child at 16. Motherhood forced an early adulthood as she quickly set herself on being the best mother she could be with her family by her side. Running away from a childhood cut short led to a devout work ethic and drive to take the best care of her newly arrived little one the best she could. She only had to travel through a small handful of different jobs before finding herself a good management position with a lot of potential for a reputable entertainment group. All of this required the kind of hard work and perseverance that had become second nature by this point. There in lied the time bomb waiting to explode…

                Through all of her endeavors, Cara always found herself needing to put her absolute everything into all that she did. By no means is this a bad thing, but lost in the shuffle was HER. No longer did she care about her needs for there simply wasn’t any time for that! To put effort towards herself was to take away from the livelihood of those closest to her (so she felt) so to be that selfish was unfathomable. Her mother had also happened to be the closest thing to a living saint one could imagine, so her standard of caring for others was damn near unobtainable. The one vice Cara gave herself was a smoking habit that had started before she could legally see a PG-13 movie. She wasn’t proud of it but found smoking helped manage the stress better than anything else so it was an easy decision to keep it up. I’m sure there are quite a few of you can relate to that one…

                After a smoking habit spanning almost 2 decades the shame of the addiction superseded the anxiety management component of it and that was when she set out to kick it for good. It wasn’t easy, but it was doable and after quitting cold turkey on her nephew’s birthday… it was done! Afterward however a slow transition into a new replacement drug occurred. The new drug of choice; food. Making matters worse was that her entire life Cara had always had a petite frame that matched her stature, so when she gained 30 pounds after quitting cigarettes it was an unfamiliar road she had NEVER traveled down before. She suddenly found herself lost in her own psyche when that was the LAST thing she could afford to have happening (I’m sure a few of you can relate to that one too…)

                With a dedication to a more holistic eating approach and a passion for running infused in the process, Cara found herself shedding the weight she’d gained and emerging healthier than she could remember being in a long time… but something still wasn’t right. By dropping the weight Cara had anticipated an intangible burden lifting off of her shoulders at the same time. Instead, all of the insecurities she had come to face during her fight with “food for comfort” and the depression that followed lingered like fruit flies at a picnic on a hot day.  It was the love of a particular Unicorn picture and a conversation with a loved one that happened to set everything right…

                Along her journey to figure out why she could be doing all the right things and still feel like something was weighing her down, Cara had posted a photo of a rhinoceros on a treadmill staring at a picture of a Unicorn as it ran. She made the image her profile picture because it reminded her so much of herself; running in place in pursuit of something you most likely will never be anyway. When asked about it by a friend one day, Cara told them her reasoning behind it and why it was the first thing you see when you go to her Facebook page. Her friend gave her a look like she was crazy and Cara couldn’t help but ask what it was in her explanation that warranted such a response.

“You’re not the Rhino in that picture… You ARE the Unicorn!”

                That subtly suffocating weight resting on her shoulders unexpectedly started to lift at that very moment. An epiphany clicked like a seatbelt connecting to a buckle. All this time she thought that her struggles cast an ugly shadow on life’s potential that lay waiting at her fingertips which kept her from reaching that happiness peak and basking in the sunshine of self-worth, when in reality she was every bit the “Unicorn” she aspired to be all along! The very things in her life she thought were responsible for cloaking her true beauty happened to be defining points of her shine and grace. We all know pain and struggle, yet to carry that back breaking load on your own with the assumption that you’ll never be “like the rest” is what holds most of us back from seeing the amazing spirit that lives in every single one of our heartbeats. In essence, we’re ALL Unicorns… We just don’t always see it.

                To see that picture will forever be a reminder to Cara of just how far she’s come and just how important including yourself in your list of priorities happens to be. In fact, her connection to the picture grew tenfold once she realized what was REALLY happening:

The rhinoceros wasn’t on a treadmill looking at a photo… it was looking in the mirror.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?