Crossfit

Do you still Crossfit?

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This has been a question I’ve been asked a lot since since shoulder surgery and since recently moving out of the “box” and into arguably the best powerlifting/strongman gym in the area. Yesterday was no different when one of my gym friends asked me if I was still in to CrossFit. She and I met through a mutual friend and in a CrossFit class I was coaching, so this was definitely a very valid question to be asking. We’ve also been training at the same gym (not known to be a CrossFit gym although it is an affiliate) for about a year together and have also competed in a Stongman comp together. Again, valid question since I seem to be all over the map this past year with how I’ve been training. So, what’s the answer?

Occasionally – if you’re talking about the clock ridden metcons that CrossFit is known for (otherwise, what is CrossFit?).

Shoulder surgery was definitely the catalyst that motivated me to be a better athlete all together. And CrossFit has been the gateway drug I needed to introduce me to Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, and Strongman amongst other modalities. This past year plus I’ve tried my hand at 12 weeks of a hybrid CrossFit/Strongman style programming done by a friend/fellow coach, 12 weeks of Strongman specific programming that felt a little bit more like powerlifting, an attempt to program for myself along with a local box (my wife and I tested all of the WODS that I wrote for the box for over two months), and now I’m finishing the third week of Travis Mash’s “Getting Jacked” programming. I have training/working out ADD I believe. However, I’ve learned quite a few things through this journey.

  1. Leave your fucking ego at the door.  No, seriously.  DO IT.  If you’re not listening to your body and in turn doing something that you KNOW you really shouldn’t be, then WTF?  Now, if you’re getting paid to do this – and I mean that you are sponsored by Reebok, Rogue, Innov8, Again Faster, Progenex etc etc etc and you DO NOT have a day job because you’re getting paid to do this – then by all means, bring that ego to the bar because you gotta make those dolla billz.  Yet, I digress…we’re all adults here, and if 25 reps of something sounds asinine or an extra 10lbs on the bar makes your form go to shit or 30 more seconds of anything is going to make you puke like you were in college again (which you may still be anyway) then grow up, let the drama go, and say “oh, right, I can say no and still know that I just had a great workout despite xyz”.  Now, if you’re a sandbagger and you need your ass kicked responsibly, then shut up and do one more rep…otherwise, grab some water and be ok with the fact that you know your body better than anyone else and it’s ok to do your own workout as long as you’re safe and not harming anyone else.
  2. Find something that you really enjoy and what you’re good at (they will likely be similar).  I have found that I really like Olympic Lifting, I also happen to really like Strongman implements, and I really like gymnastic movements (like pistols, anything on the rings or pull-up bar, jumping, etc).  So, what does that all mean really?  I find ways to put those things in to my programming because that keeps me interested and in the gym.
  3. Figure out what you don’t like, or what you probably shouldn’t do.  I hate pushups, they are a big challenge to me, I curse them, to me they are stupid (really they aren’t, it’s a good bodyweight movement).  So, to that extent I don’t do a ton of them, although I do find ways to work that range of motion and strength because I realize that I can’t avoid it all together if I want to continue to train the way I do.  Powerlifting is boring to me, it doesn’t hold my interest.  I see the purpose of it, but for me it wouldn’t keep me going back to the gym day after day, so as a modality I skip it.  I won’t really ever compete in powerlifting, so other than a general understanding of the modality and its usage I’m ok without it.  I also know that the shape of my shoulders, structurally, isn’t designed to handle tons of overhead movements (presses, pull-ups, etc) – hence one of the reasons I had surgery, though definitely not the only reason.  That being said, I don’t do a lot of arm intensive movements back to back in my daily training sessions.  Unfortunately, it took shoulder surgery for me to realize this.
  4. CrossFit Group WODs are fun, I love CrossFit and what it’s open my eyes to.  They’re fun to coach.  They’re fun (and sometimes scary) to watch.  It’s fun and motivating to workout with a group of people and to share in a similar experience.  There’s definitely something to be said for the cardiovascular aspect of such WODs, too.  Especially for me since training more in a strength bias lately, I realize the importance of keeping the heart pumping and the body moving.  Big bonus, not only did CrossFit introduce me to a healthier lifestyle all together, but it also brought me to a box that I would meet, workout with, and ultimately marry the best WOD partner ever.  That’s worth it’s weight in gold any day.  And without CrossFit, I wouldn’t have been introduced to Olympic Lifting, Strongman, etc.
  5. I’ve never been stronger, and I am continuing to get stronger.  Realizing now that if I stayed in a “box” I likely wouldn’t have increased my strength beyond a certain threshold due to the inherent design of most traditional CrossFit programming.  I had to get out of the box and into a gym with a ton of strong ass mother fuckers to break that ceiling.  I witness people squating over 600lbs, deadlifting over 700lbs, benching over 400lbs and flipping 800+lb tires on a regular basis.  I enjoy the gains, and I enjoy the inspiration that these strong individuals provide.  “Surround yourself with the best to be the best” is the moto of the gym, and it’s true – surround yourself with like minded people who will motivate you to be a better version of yourself and BAM that’s what will happen.
  6. High repetitions can be a recipe for disaster.  Now, before you go and bitch at me about how you just did 100 back roll to supports and you feel amazing, I don’t care.  For me (and likely most of the population) form goes to shit and injury soon follows with high repetitions, especially when the pressure of a time component is added.  Now, if you’ve left your ego at the door, you might be alright because it won’t matter that it took 2 minutes longer to complete your 100 back roll to supports because you executed them all perfectly.  And higher reps equal greater hypertrophic response (google it) which equal great muscular gains (I didn’t say strength because some may disagree with that, although for me it’s definitely worked), but those higher reps are executed at a manageable weight with adequate rest between sets.
  7. Eating food is fucking fantastic.  I LOVE TO EAT.  I’ve done my share of Paleo challenges and have learned how to eat healthier, feel better, stay healthier (I’m WAY less sick), cook more and make better decisions regarding the FUEL that I put in my face.  Now, I am NOT Paleo, and if you are and it works for you I think that’s amazing because it really helps a lot of people.  For me, cutting out dairy caused me to get too skinny and loose strength.  Besides, ice cream is one of my favorite foods.  I added grassfed dairy back in to my diet after my longest Paleo challenge and have had no issues.  I still have a challenge when it comes to sugar, but otherwise I eat what I want, when I want, in the quantities that I feel keep me satiated and strong.  It is still a fight to be ok with the 15# weight gain and the tighter clothes because of the unfortunate conditioning in my past to fit in to a specific mold, but that’s a longer post for another time.
  8. Training the posterior chain and doing accessory work is BRILLIANT.  Prior to shoulder surgery I paid attention to the coaches without doing a ton of my own research.  Then came recovery post surgery – I learned a TON and keep learning as much as possible.  One of the biggest take-a-way’s was that I need to be pulling equal to, or double the amount, of any pushing movements.  I’ve also taken accessory movements seriously and in turn have experienced an increase in overall strength finally pulling more than 235lb in a deadlift, for example (a spot that I was stuck at for YEARS).  Anyone that takes my classes might get annoyed with the constant reminder of how important I feel pre-hab, accessory training, posterior chain activation, core engagement, etc are…but if I reach just one person so they can avoid injury or surgery then I’ve done my job and paid it forward.
  9. Mobility is necessary for increased strength and recovery.  If yoga isn’t your thing, call it something else.  But get your sweaty ass to the mat or park yourself on the carpet in front of the boob tube (that isn’t even a thing any more) and mobilize!  I like yoga, I teach yoga, therefore I encourage it.  But again, refer to #2, find a way to enjoy getting mobile because it really does help.  I rediscovered yoga after an inconsistent at best relationship with it in the past, and discovered that I really enjoy the entire practice – both the mental aspect and the physical aspect.  My strength has improved, my anxiety has decreased, my injuries are less frequent.

I’ll stop at 9.  I really wanted a round 10, but 9 is my favorite number and I think my quota of smart ass comments may be depleted for the day.  If you managed to read this whole thing, go check out Brute Yogi – this is my wife, Lisa’s, brain child.  You might even find me in there too, just sayin.

Day 31 – ONE MORE DAY!

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 This quote is it in a nutshell.

It’s that moment where I reflect on the challenge as a whole.  My coworkers asked how it was going today, and interestingly enough I realized that 30 days had gone by and they went by a LOT faster than I thought they would.  The challenge has gone well, very well I think.  I surprised myself in how competitive I have been throughout this month – I really do/did want to win!  I don’t know if I’ll pull it off in the end – we have until Monday to accumulate a possible 30 bonus points.  I may only grab 10 of those points and my closest competitor, er uh, participant, will like grab at least that.

Here’s what I’ve taken from this challenge:

  1. Awareness of the amount of sugar that is in our food in this country (and likely else where).  There are just some things that DO NOT need sugar.  Peanut butter for example (keep your “that’s not paleo” to yourself – it’s delicious).  Sausage – does that really need sugar?
  2. Grains are EVERYWHERE.  I think there’s an evil grain alien plot to take over the world.  It’s just empty calories, really.
  3. Speaking of empty calories – I’m much more apt to take a pause before I eat something that’s less than fuel knowing that it won’t really satisfy the need my body has in that moment.  However – I miss ice cream and will be having some this weekend.  BAM!  So kiss it.
  4. Creative intentional exercise!  Maintaining points through out the challenge I have had to get creative about exercise every day – especially when I’m working 12 hour shifts.  Stair climbs, walks around the hospital campus, too much foam rolling, yoga in the middle of my office, you name it!
  5. Writing every day has been much more enjoyable than I may have initially imagined.  My creative mind is just flowing with ideas!  It has been really awesome to be reacquainted with this habit of mine.  I have missed writing.

Here’s something I didn’t realize would happen: While I’ve struggled with my weight throughout life, attempting to look a certain way, fit in to a certain size, have the scale show a particular number, etc – I’ve realized that my happiness is not wrapped up in a number or an exterior appearance.  When I’m fighting with an image I have in my head I’m missing the point entirely by not accepting myself unconditionally.  It’s a long process to recondition my mind and I have to practice this daily or it will never go away.

So, I had to get on the scale at work today for our annual Health Risk Assessment (height, weight, lipid, glucose panel…).  If you remember – my bad habit that I was giving up for this challenge was NOT to get on the scale unless required to for doctor’s visits.  I haven’t been on a scale in over a month.  Today I contemplated covering my eyes so that I didn’t look, but I was curious.  Had the number changed while on this challenge?  How would that number make me feel?

Nothing changed.  I wasn’t attached to that number I saw, so I wasn’t excited or disappointed.  I felt the same walking off the scale as I did walking on to it.  I’m the exact same number on that scale that I was when I started (or at least really close to it).  I didn’t think I’d loose weight honestly.  #bruteyogi and I have been lifting heavy for 2+ months now and doing much less in terms of metcons.  I’d expect my strength to increase along with my muscle mass.  It seems as thought that theory is true.  I’ll post pre-challenge pictures at the end along with the final challenge photo and you can see the changes for yourself.  But what is not visible in those pictures is how I feel.  I am stronger than I’ve ever been.  My body feels good.  I care less about those numbers (pant size, scale, etc) – I care more about the fact that my clothes are snugger in my shoulders, biceps, quads and ass because my muscles are growing.  That’s what I like to feel.  I like to feel strong, I like to be strong – I am strong. 

Today’s Total: 10

We’re off to the Mid Atlantic CrossFit Regionals in the morning!

Day 17

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Ask the questions you’re afraid to ask – you may be surprised to hear the answers.  Identifying as a gay woman that also happens to CrossFit, play in Strongman, is a Paramedic, used to train dogs, teaches yoga….blah blah blah – has apparently opened me up to some pretty interesting lines of questioning.  Here are the one’s I hear often:

  • Can you help me with my dog? (It’s likely that I can, but it’s not my job any more.)
  • Did you see that crazy WOD? (Yup, I may have even programmed it!)
  • Do you workout? (Yes, I do.  Why do you ask?)
  • I have this rash…what do you think it is?  (Insert any complicated medical question here…remember that I’m not a doctor and I don’t likely know what’s wrong with you.)
  • Can I do yoga if I can’t even touch my toes?  (You can touch your toes, just bend your knees.  And that likely means you should do yoga.)
  • How old were you when you came out?  (How old were you when you told your family you were straight?  I was 14 or 15 when I told my parents.)
  • Have you ever been with a guy?  (Have you?  Why does it matter?  I’m a gold star…are you?)

Don’t hesitate to ask – if someone wants to tell you the answer, they will.  Just ask your question in a respectful way without any attachment to the answer.  I am a curious person and will likely ask you something some day.  The questions that are asked will likely teach you something about yourself – maybe something you didn’t even know before.  listen-karith

Listen to the answers, even if you don’t like them, they’ll still teach you.  Observe your response and reaction.  It all has meaning.  Remain a learner of life.  When you are asked, do the same.  Observer your reaction, response, your answer.  We’re curious animals, we like to know what makes each other tic.  Especially if it’s something we’re unfamiliar with.

I’ve asked some doozies of questions (and will likely again), if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have started dating and then marrying my wife (she actually proposed to me), found my bestie (I ask her a ton of questions that make her blush), learned how awesome the owners of my gym are….the list goes on….

What’s something you’ve always wanted to know but were afraid to ask someone?

Today’s total: 10

Total Points thus far 214 out of a possible 450

Day 15 – Let’s talk about YOU!

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A good friend of mine re-posted a blog that she wrote almost two years ago on why she quit dieting – check it out here at Body Positive Yoga.  It was wonderfully timed for this current challenge that 18 of us are participating in.  She writes I learned that dieting almost never works”  after years of she had failed attempts, years of various different exercises, doctors visits and nutritionist consults.  And I have to agree.  The word diet has evolved in to more than what I believe it’s original meaning was intended to be.  It’s defined by my Mac as the kinds of food  that a person, animal, or community habitually eat.  Our diets have evolved with the food that is available in the moment that it need to be consumed.  Here in the states we have a LOT of options for food and lots of decisions to make regarding what we put in to our bodies.  I’d like to see the word diet go back to the simple meaning and not the subset meaning of “what diet are you on?”….Paleo, Atkins, Vegetarian, Vegan, etc???….Our diets are the most manipulated and diverse of any animal, and we’re likely lucky and haunted at the same time with all of that power.  Think about it – dogs, cat, fish, bears, all eat basically the same things every day of their life without little variation.  We, on the other hand, can eat different things every single day if we wanted to.  Granted, our guts are a little more evolved to do so (I’m sure there’s some argument here), but we could change our diet almost every day with the types, quantity, quality, etc of food that is available to us (given the means to do so of course).  The rest of Amber’s post goes in to her personal evolution of acceptance and it’s definitely worth the read.  

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I’d like to highlight some of the best and worst from the challenge participants.  Everyone is working so hard and finding out little tidbits more about themselves and their environment.  Last night I asked them all to share their experiences thus far…and in no particular order….let the drumroll please….

The Best Parts so far…. 

  • Feeling GOOD!  A lot of participants echoed this thought, noticing a difference in how their bodies feel and operate.  Bonus = having random strangers validate how great we are all feeling, even if they were possibly intoxicated (we all know that’s a truth serum).  Extra bonus = having your spouse validate it (there are a few couples doing this challenge together).
  • Trying something new!  As part of the challenge bonus points were awarded for trying something new with friends.  Some chose a local ropes course with their family (super bonus! hanging out with the kiddos!).  Some chose yoga.  Some chose cardio kickboxing.
  • Becoming more mindful about the food that has been put in to our bodies – what are we eating, why are we eating it?
  • Eating out less, which means spending more time at home with family.  (I love this one!)
  • Drinking less alcohol.
  • Awareness of the bad habit we’ve challenged ourselves to squash during the month. Drinking less caffeine = more sleep. No scale = less obsession over things that really just aren’t that important to begin with.
  • Feeling more productive, energetic and motivated in every day life and living with more clarity.
  • Getting back on track after loosing sight of any type of control over diet, exercise and life.
  • Experiencing this with 18 other people, sharing in this challenge.  Since we share a group FaceBook page a lot of participants have really enjoyed the encouragement, motivation, humor, confessions, knowledge, etc.

The Worst Parts so far….

  • Loosing points without realizing it.  Sugar has been a HUGE culprit, that shit sneaks in to everything without our knowledge!
  • Once a point is lost – just going ape shit and eating everything or drinking everything that caused that point to be lost because we don’t loose more points, just more self control.  This “defeats the purpose of the challenge, which is more important than the points” one participant laments.
  • Missing foods that were enjoyed pre-challenge.  Sushi was a big one (we must all have distinct pallets).
  • Drinking less alcohol (yes, that appeared in both categories) = also goes with hibernation during challenges as we find our voices within the community….participants tend to socialize less in fear of loosing points and/or having to deny themselves the potential illegal challenge items in such situations.
  • Boredom = online shopping (more than one participant admitted to shopping more).
  • More dishes – yes…lots more dishes!  I think the wife and I do a load in the dishwasher EVERY DAY!
  • Not even half way and already getting a little misty eyed that it’s coming to an end.
  • Finding foods that are gross…

I don’t know about you, but I see a lot more positives on this list than negatives.  17 days left, tomorrow is the halfway mark!

Today’s Total: 10

 

 

Day 14 – Two Week Check In!

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Well, look at that…two whole weeks down in our month long diet and fitness challenge!  I actually didn’t even realize that until I typed it in the subject line for this post.  Originally I was going to write about the evolution of a mature athlete…..but I think I’ll save that thought for another day.  Remind me if I forget.

Let’s do a check in for these past two weeks:

  • Be prepared!  Good grief – as if #bruteyogi and I didn’t always have emergency food with us at all times, now it’s a serious situation that we MUST have food with us.  Finding challenge legal food is, well, a challenge.  So to combat that we carry a bag of food with us every where we go.
  • Eating at restaurants can be done, but is a bit boring.  We’ve had a burger or seafood steamer bucket where ever we’ve been.  It’s been the easiest choice if we are to stay compliant.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to chow down on some chips and salsa or some sushi (with the rice!).  However, I do feel great and I’m fine without it for now.  Who knows, maybe I’ll eat less grains and sugar once this challenge is done.
  • Grocery shopping was fairly eye opening.  Sugar being the culprit.  The wife and I eat fairly well already…or so I thought.  When I looked at some of the ingredients of things that we had purchased in the past I was shocked to find that a lot of things contain sugar that doesn’t really need sugar to begin with.  These are things that we won’t likely be purchasing again – exception being ice cream and butcher bacon for sure…duh.
  • Lifting heavy has not been affected by the challenge diet in the least.  WIN!
  • Making time to move mindfully has only really been a challenge on the days when I am in the hospital for 12+ hours, especially over night.  Those days I tend to make the workout a bit lighter, or practice asana (yoga), or stretch, roll and mobilize.  All good habits I am looking forward to maintaining.
  • Sleep is definitely high on my to do list every day.  With this challenge it’s meant maintaining a perfect daily score.  I’ve come close a few times these past two weeks to docking my sleep point and somehow been able to pull it off by sneaking a nap in.  It also shows me how much sleep I really need, and anything under 7-8 hours is just not going to cut it.
  • Writing blog posts each day has been really enjoyable.  I am surprised to find something to write about every day, and wonder what I’ll be writing about in two weeks….oh wait…we’ll be at the MidAtlantic CrossFit Regional Games….I’ll have plenty!  Now just to make the time to do it while we’re there. Time…yes that’s a challenge in writing blog posts and that’s also why some of the posts are shorter and much less edited than others. (Insert sheepish grin here.)

The next bonus challenge is to PR on something at the gym.  My goal is to PR on one of my lifts since I haven’t tested them in about a year.  We can grab a few more points if we PR on two things, and since I’d rather not PR on two heavy lifts in one week I’m going to try and beat one of my double under PRs (max unbroken, max in a minute, etc).  Check back at the end of the week to see how I did!  Hopefully everyone posts their personal bests so I can share with you what they’ve been working on as well.  I’m looking forward to the excitement and accomplishments!

Today’s Total: 10

 

Day 13 – How’s your down dog?

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Unicorns and rainbows?  Why not?

Had the pleasure of watching my wife, #bruteyogi, wrangle about 40 dudes at a Bro’s and Brew’s event today at a local brewery.  Not that I’m biased or anything, but she’s pretty fucking awesome when she’s presenting her passion to the masses (in this case a diverse room of all men).  Not many people can teach yoga to a bunch of guys and hold their attention AND make an impact in the way that she does.  Her craft is body mechanics and understanding how to give the room what it needs in a way that they can receive it – it is a kick ass sight to behold.  Need a tune up?  Go follow her on Instagram @yogiweezy, or FaceBook, or Twitter @yogiweezy, or all of the above!  You won’t be disappointed.

We – the wife and I – also had the pleasure of working out and hanging out with our amazing friend, Josh (I’ll have to work on a nickname for him).  Working out with friends is always so much better than working out alone, guess that’s why CrossFit was so appealing in the beginning.  We are such social creatures by nature that the group aspect of CrossFit has really helped to make its mark in the fitness world.  Just like this diet and fitness challenge.  All 18 of us coming from fairly different backgrounds (doctors, lawyers, self employed, coaches, mothers, fathers, single, military, etc) really helps put the diversity of life in to perspective.  While we are all the same animal, breathing the same air, our containers and experiences in this life are vastly different.  It’s also a reminder that what we put our energy towards is what we will ultimately get in return – it’s why we’re so diverse!  It’d be pretty boring if we were all the same, eh?  I’d have nothing to write about every day……….

My favorite quote this week from our private FaceBook group:  “…make sure you bend over in the mirror and do the “see thru” test before you buy.. No one wants to know your down dog is not neutered….”  I may have seriously laughed out loud even copying that in to the blog!  Tomorrow I’ll debut another creative quote from one of the participants…these people are seriously witty with their words.

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Insert Creative Smart Ass Caption Here

Today’s Total: 10

PS.  I’m not proof reading this because I want to go to bed.  There, I admit it…I’m a lazy editor.

 

Day 12 – No Excuses

"Is their gluten in that?" Feeding the little birds.....

“Is their gluten in that?”
Feeding the little birds…..

I don’t want to hear any excuses about “I don’t have time to workout” or “I’m going to cheat because I’m going to a kid’s birthday party”.  Screw that.  You can make time to do the things you want to do, or the things that you find important.  If it’s not high on your priority list then let the excuses fly because I’m not listening.  Talk to the hand, cause the face don’t wanna hear it any more!  (Name the movie!)

Not only did #bruteyogi and I get up at 4:00am to get a workout in before I had to be at work at 7:00am, we also went to my nephew’s 2nd birthday party that surrounded us with pizza, chips, salsa, beer, and homemade cupcakes!  The wife lost a point with her gluten free beer (we’re such a stereotype), but I don’t like beer – my will power came in with the tortilla chips and homemade cupcakes.  I surprised myself without having to even fight with my good angel and devil – I didn’t even flinch with the temptation at my finger tips.

Be prepared.  If you’re going somewhere that has temptation – go in knowing and allowing yourself to have the temptation, and then don’t beat yourself up about it.  I don’t want to hear, “oh, I shouldn’t be eating this or drinking that”.  I call bullshit – you’re an adult and can say no if you want to.  Today, I said no.  Today #bruteyogi went in knowing she was going to allow herself to enjoy a beer with the rest of the people pretending to be adults.  Did she apologize or beat herself up for it – absolutely not.  If you don’t want to give in to the temptation today – bring food with you, or eat a big meal before you go, and say thanks but no thanks.  Get rid of the story and the excuses why you can, can’t, will or won’t do something.  Enjoy yourself, be yourself.

Oh – and try something new!  Today was #bruteyogi’s first time EVER in a bounce house (she has horrendous vertigo and motion sickness).  Her adventure buddies included a 3 year old that asks “is there gluten in that” because she’s been recently diagnosed with Celiacs, and the most adorable 2 year old nephew in the world that happens to look like a minion.

Today’s total: 10 + 5 bonus points for 4 perfect days in a row

Seriously - could they get any cuter?

Seriously – could they get any cuter?