I’m begging you, EAT

While out shopping with my mom and her best friend the other day we were discussing how it seems as if we have been on diets our entire lives.

This realization made me sad.  For literally as far back as I can remember (middle school on up), I’ve been trying to fit a different body ideal.  And I’m not alone.

When I have time to peruse the blogs here on wordpress, I search the topic of “weight loss.” Thousands of new posts pop up from women every where aspiring to lose weight and look and feel better.

Some are doing it the right way, through whatever their preferred method of healthy eating and exercise is.

Some scare the crap out of me.

I’m the first to admit, I don’t have all the answers.  I’ve struggled.  I’ve failed.  I’ve gained and lost weight more times than I can count, but there are a few things that I flat out know aren’t healthy.

No matter how you’re tempted, don’t do this:

Please don’t do a juice cleanse and drink nothing but juice for a week.

And to piggy back on that, please don’t put yourself on some sort of 500 calorie a day or less diet for a week either.

Your body needs calories and nutrients.  500 is not enough.  Under pretty much any circumstances.  I’m not a medical professional, but I would bed they IV people in comas more than that.

Don’t exercise for hours at a time, unless you’re training for something that requires it.  There is absolutely no need to go to the gym for 2-3 hours if you are an average woman looking to lose weight.  Ironman?  Fitness competitor?  Training to swim the English Channel?  Then yeah, it requires more, but losing that last 10 lbs does not require a 2 hour cardio session.

Don’t starve yourself and then binge.  And then purge.  It makes me so sad to see your week of posts about your 500 calories a day, and then your self-deprecating post about eating three large pizzas and a midget (because they just looked so tasty and tender!), and then spending 6 hours at the gym the next day (that’s purging kids).  Don’t do it.  Find balance. Yours may not be the same as mine, but that is not balance.

Finally, and this one is the most important, stop hating yourself.  I’m coming from a place where I don’t always love what I see when I look in the mirror, but by God I love myself.  I am not a bad person because I have love handles.  I don’t go around stoning kittens because I have cellulite.  Simply because I don’t wear a size 4 or weigh 130 lbs or whatever your goal might be, does not mean that me, Ted Bundy, and the Unibomber are homeboys.

If you’re a homicidal serial killer you might be a bad person.  Heck, if you’re fat you might also be a bad person.  But you are not a freaking bad person because you’re fat.

Get a grip.  Find some balance.  I’m still searching for mine.  There are so so many of us out there, so let’s support eachother in finding a way to find health, without all these scary extremes.

Pretty sweet weight loss challenge idea

reduce weight

My hubs is a pretty cool dude.

Obviously, I’ve been struggling with motivation here lately.  Just like the rest of you, he reads my blog, and came home yesterday wanting to help.

He knows me better than anyone and knows that I (1) can’t resist a challenge and (2) kinda love money.

I’ve done the whole “put money in a jar every time you cheat” challenges, and they always ended up not going well.  I would start writing myself IOU’s and then arguing with myself about whether an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s constituted one cheat or four- since there ARE four servings in a container.

Knowing that I don’t do well with negative motivators, he had a brilliant idea.

And because he’s in sales, he presented it all fancy like.

It’s called “Make it a $6 Day.”

It works like this:

Marry a super awesome guy who has some money he’s willing to throw at you.
Set up a jar.
Every day that you workout, husband puts $1 in the jar.
Every day you eat clean and paleo (ie, no grains or sugar for my purposes), husband puts $5 in the jar.

He knows when you workout because he sleeps in the same bed and is well the heck aware that you’re not getting up at 5 a.m. for any other reason.  You report in nutritionally each night to help keep yourself accountable, and he calls BS if you’re chugging wine or making grilled cheese sammiches for dinner.

At the end of 30 days you have a potential to earn $180, AND get back into the healthy habits that have carried you this far.

I am really loving this challenge.  I love words like “earn” and “potential” and boy does he know it.

The challenge started today.  It’s on track to be a $6 day.  Let’s see how much shopping I get to do in 30 days.

5.31.2013

I always think of my workout posts as the “boring WOD post” and whatever else I come up with that day as the “fun”post… but I realized yesterday that about half the time my workout posts get more readers and likes than the others.  I guess I should try to sex these up a bit huh?

Warm Up:  The usual.

SWOD:  This was supposed to be deadlift but my back is really really sore today.  It’s actually radiating over into my left hip again, so I didn’t even want to try with a broomstick.  Bending forward  hurts.  Bugger.

Instead I did a solid 20 minutes of mobility work.  Foam rolled my ass, IT, quads and hammies.  Then stretched with the giant bungee cord a bunch of different ways.  It felt great, but in typical Nicole fashion I felt like I didn’t do anything at Crossfit today.

I made a kind of informal decision that, as long as my back is healing any time we do deadlifts I want to do some skill work on something else.  Pull ups would be my first choice, but depending on the WOD that day I could also use some ring dip or rope climb or double under practice. 

WOD:

For time

21-15-9 Wall Balls, Burpees

Time: 9:19 @10 lbs ball

So hey guess what?  When I do my wall balls PERFECT (ie, don’t let the ball pull me forward) my back feels fine.  The two reps I did wrong though…  ouchie.  Guess the back injury is good for something.

This WOD kind of sucked.  I despise wall balls and everyone hates burpees so it was a maniacal combination.  But whatever, I got through it.  And at one point that I really REALLY wanted to quit I was fortunate enough to look up and see one of my fellow studly 6 a.mers doing his last round of wall balls.  It’s always nice to have some pace booty to push you along.

Happy Friday everyone!  I’ll be at a tradeshow beginning tomorrow through Wednesday, but know I’ll be doing my own WOD’s while I’m there.  Anyone want to take bets on how many strange looks or comments I’ll get when in the hotel gym?

5.27.2013- Memorial Day Murph

There is so much I want to say about this day and this workout.  I’m certain that I won’t be able to get my thoughts out coherently, and likely will forget much of what I hope to convey, but I will try.

To begin, I was nervous about this workout.  Obviously, “Murph” is hugely challenging.

Also, and probably not so obvious to most of my readers, fallen hero’s hold an importance to me that I can’t put into words.  If I made the commitment to start this workout, I was going to finish it.  Not only was I going to finish it, but I was going to appreciate every minute that I was working through it, because unlike the man we were honoring and the men that the holiday remember, I could.

I didn’t want to scale it, though that option was available.

I also didn’t want to think emotionally much about why I was doing it before the workout.  I just showed up, talked with friends, marveled at how big the turn out was, and warmed up with everyone else.

When the clock counted down 3…2…1… I began the first mile of what would prove to be a journey that was as long as it was rewarding.

“Murph”

1 mile run
100 pull ups
200 push ups
300 Air Squats
1 mile run

Time: 72:42 scaled with KB swings@15lbs instead of pull ups

The first mile was actually amazing.  I felt really strong, much better than I had felt in the mile we ran on Friday, and felt like I was through it in no time.  The pack dropped me completely, but I’m used to being a slow runner and just concentrated on one foot in front of the other.  It was a really cool morning, and at one point I remembered stories I had heard about what it felt like to run in the desert.  What I was doing was easy compared to what our troops do daily.

My plan to get the required reps was 20 rounds of 5 KB swings, 10 push ups and 15 air squats.  I chose a significantly lighter KB than I would usually use as my back is still not 100% and I wasn’t sure how I would feel after 100 of them.  That turned out to be a great choice.

The first 10 rounds were uneventful.  The swings felt great, the push ups were going really well, and the squats were actually easy.  Surrounded by my Crossfit family I didn’t have to dig very deep for motivation or inspiration.

After the first 10 rounds though, the wheels started to come off.  Psychologically, I saw many people around me finishing and leaving for their second run.  I knew that we had many participants doing “SMurph” aka, a scaled Murph and therefore half the reps and distance, but it didn’t stop me from feeling like I wasn’t moving fast enough.

At round 14 I found that I wasn’t able to string together more than one push up at a time.  My arms were completely spent, and every rep was shaky at best.

I won’t lie, I seriously considered quitting.  Or at least shaving a few reps off the workout.  Who would know?  We were all in our own separate world of pain.

I won’t get all deep and poetic on you, but I will say that every time I had those thoughts or considered quitting, seconds later I considered that somewhere a soldier had pushed themselves up one more time to fight for one more minute for a freedom that I had probably taken for granted.  Someone had lost their life doing one more push up for my country… for me.

So I did one more.  And one more.  And one more.  I never skipped a rep.  I never skipped a round.

In the middle it all gets blurry, but I distinctly remember having three rounds left to go and being surrounded by the next class.  These peeps hadn’t started the workout yet, and I pretty much had my own cheering and coaching squad.  Everyone had a word of encouragement.  Everyone had motivation.

So I kept going.

In my last round of push ups (please God make the pain stop), the camera woman who had been filming the workout came over and asked me why I was there today.  My response?

“To honor the troops, to remember the fallen.  *grunt pant sweat, one more push up*  And because Crossfit is awesome!”

When all the reps were done I was so happy I could have cried.  Then I took two steps and realized every single muscle in my body was shaking uncontrollably, and I still had to run a mile.

Surrounded by a herd of Crossfitters with everyone asking how I was doing, I kept smiling and saying fine, but the truth was I could not fathom how I was going to run a mile.

Until the moment I realized that “Crossfit Angel” was standing by my side, I didn’t think I could do it.  “Crossfit Angel” is a fellow 6 a.m.er, and frolicked beside me for the entire mile, talking to me and encouraging me every step of the way.  I ran more than I thought I would.  I walked a bit too.  I threatened to hug her when it was over because she was pushing me, and she didn’t scamper off scared.

I crossed the finish line nearly an hour and 13 minutes after I started.  Super awesome girl coach was there cheering for me.  “Crossfit Angel” hugged me immediately.  Super awesome girl coach wasn’t far behind.

I was a giant pussy and started tearing up, and was immediately thankful I was sweating like a wilderbeast and also wearing sunglasses so no one would know the difference.

I stayed until the last person crossed and cheered for them just as folks had stayed to cheer for me.

When it was all over my best friend asked me how I felt via text.  My response, “I feel so accomplished and so so dead.”

In hindsight, horrible choice of words.  But even as I sit here laughing at my inappropriate self, I’m smiling because I am sure those that I thought of yesterday, those that I honored, would have laughed at that really bad unintentional joke.

Miss you.  Miss all of you.  And thank you.

5.24.2013

The dreaded fitness testing day.  All in all, it was just another fun day at Crossfit.  I have to admit, I’m disappointed in where I came in with most of them, but really what did I expect with taking weeks off from training.

So here’s the skinny:

Warm Up: the usual

The tests:

I RM Front Squat
Max Push Ups in 1 minute
Max Plank Hold
Max Bar Hang
Run 1 Mile

Front Squat:
1 RM on 2/24: 93 lbs
1 RM today: 93 lbs

Two things here.  One- I had it in my head that my 1 RM was 83 lbs, so at the time I believed this was a 10 lbs PR.  I think that messed with my concentration because as far as I was concerned I was already doing better, so it didn’t matter if I got a heavier lift.  Doh.

Secondly, I did attempt 98 lbs twice and failed both attempts at the bottom of the lift.  However, it wasn’t my legs fault, it was my back.  Granted, that meant my form was going and I was trying to compensate incorrectly, but had I not felt pain in my low back I probably could have got the 98 back up and possibly even lifted heavier.

So for next time, form form form.  Regardless of the health and strength of my back, I need to continue to work to keep my chest up, knees out, and push through my legs when coming up from my squats.

Max Push Ups:
2/24: 22 in 1 minute
Today: 26 in 1 minute

AND today I did most of them without using my knees!  I still had to drop to the floor completely for each rep (rather than just touch my chest and go), but I’ve become much stronger with these.

Max Plank Hold:
2/24: 1 minute
Today: :36 seconds

Yeah, I pussed out on this one.  I actually quit before I wanted to once, so I decided I was going to try this again and not be a pussy and what do you know, I was a pussy twice. This was actually the last test I completed, and by this point my brain just wasn’t in it anymore (you’ll see why with my mile time).  I know I’m capable of more than this, and might give it another shot tomorrow once I’m done feeling sorry for myself.  I want to actually KNOW where I’m at so that I can work to improve from there.

Max Bar Hold:
2/24: 36 seconds
Today: 44 seconds

YAY!  My grip strength is a huge limiting factor for me, so I was happy to see that this improved.  We added kipping swings to the warm up and I’m sure I have them to thank for this.

Mile Run:
2/24: 11:02
Today: 12:20

Ok kids, here’s the thing.  If you want to be a better/faster runner, you actually need to run.  Spending two months rowing rather than running because you’re a dork and you muddled something in your foot, and then taking 3 weeks off Crossfit right when your foot is starting to heal is not the recipe for improvement.

I knew this was going to be rough.  But I’ve got to say, I am totally bummed with this time.

I wish I could tell you that I punked out or that I had more to give and I could do it faster, but this little engine was giving all she could.  My cardio just wasn’t there today, my legs felt like lead, and had it not been for super awesome Crossfit friend, I probably would have walked my last few hundred meters.

There were a few memorable moments though, and I’m sticking them in here to remind myself of why I love Crossfit and the community that makes this the best sport ever.

Coach:  Come on Nicole, pick it up!  Does your back hurt?
MeShakes head no (no way I could talk, trying not to vomit)
Coach:  Oh, so then it’s your head that’s slowing you down.  GET OUT OF YOUR HEADSPACE
MeImmediately picks up the pace even though I didn’t think I could
*thanks coach*

Super Awesome Crossfit Friend:  Don’t quit!
Me: slowing my penguin shuffle down to a walk
Super Awesome Crossfit Friend:  Don’t you dare walk Nicole!  You are my inspiration!  When I first started my goal was to be like you, now come ON!
Me:  Damn it!  starts shuffling in a way that could resemble running on another planet again
*thanks super awesome friend.  You rock my Kasbah. *

Anxiety schmangxiety

fear

It’s been awhile since I’ve had Crossfit anxiety, but I’m experiencing it in full force today. Tomorrow we’re doing repeat “fitness testing,” running the same tests that we did back in February that actually inspired my first blog post and the beginning of chronicling this journey.

I admit it. I’m terrified I’m going to discover I haven’t improved… or worse, that I’ve LOST fitness.

And yes, I realize that’s irrational. Never said I was sane kids.

As if that wasn’t enough to cause a slightly neurotic freak out, I also know that we are doing a Memorial Day Murph on Monday. There are two classes in the morning, which means I will be doing this super ridiculously hard workout outside of the comfort of my 6 a.m. peeps who are used to my sex noises and death rattles.

Though there is something different about the anxiety this time.

When I first started Crossfit I would freak out that I couldn’t do a workout, or that I would not be able to finish. I was constantly worried that I would be last, and everyone would be standing around thinking, “good God what makes this fat chick think she should be doing this?”

Obviously, that never happened. And while there were certainly workouts along the way that challenged me nearly to my breaking point, I never emerged from the box feeling unsuccessful.

Come to think of it, the “anxiety” this time may not actually be anxiety at all… it might just be *gasp*… excitement?

Sure there’s a chance my fitness tests won’t show improvement. I’m injured, I took 3 weeks off, I’m in my first week back and I’m so sore that breathing should be considered my WOD for the day as far as I’m concerned.

But let’s face it, that’s unlikely. And deep down, I think I’m excited to see just how much I have improved even with all those things listed above.

And Murph? Well duh, I know I am not yet able to Rx it. Obviously, since I don’t have pull ups yet. But my coaches are awesome, there will be scaling, and my pain tolerance is pretty darn high. So come hell or high water I will drag myself through the running and the reps and over the “finish line” for that hero, who I know would be right there next to the rest of the awesome people at my box cheering me on if he could.

I’m excited to see my progress.
I’m excited to test my fitness and my limits.
I’m excited to Crossfit.

Excited and nervous feel so much the same, but in the end, knowing I WILL succeed rather than fearing I won’t are what separates the two.

5.23.2013

I completely blew up on the ride last night, and my body is so so angry with me this morning. Ah, it’s great to be back in the swing of things.

Warm Up: The usual

SWOD was supposed to be deadlifts, but with my back injury I’m not yet able to pull anything from the ground. It was actually a good thing, since that meant I got to make sweet sweet love to the lacrosse ball and foam roller. Did some good mobility work on my low back and hips, the injury is healing nicely.

WOD:

Ok, so it was supposed to be this fun little ditty:

7 minute AMRAP Ladder

KB Swings

Box Jumps

2-2, 4-4, 6-6, 8-8, etc…

But since KB swings would hurt my back, and coach didn’t want me doing box jumps (even though I argued… begged… pleaded for them) I ended up doing this:

7 minutes

:30 Air Dyne

:30 Sit Ups

Seeing as I rode last night and my legs FREAKING hate me today, this was like punishment. It was still fun and I was still sweating and panting when I was done though, so really I can’t complain.

Following class coach stayed after with me to do some stretching. Which incidentally, having a pretty good looking dude tell you he’s going to “lay you down on his table and stretch you out” isn’t the worst thing in the world to hear at 6 a.m.

Discovered a few things during the stretching:

1. Totally weird having someone feel you up when you’re sweaty and haven’t shaved your legs.

2. I make both sex noises and faces while someone else is moving my shit around. I mean, I didn’t start screaming “oh god oh god” or anything, but it was close.

3. My left hamstring is indescribably tight. It’s pretty obvious that I need to pay some attention to that, as my left side is where the back injury is and that could absolutely be contributing to it.

4. After 20 minutes of manual stretching, I want a nap… badly.

All in all a good day. Admittedly, I’m battling the voice in my head that’s telling me I didn’t get a good workout at all today because all I did was the warm up and the WOD, but I know I’m healing from an injury and some days are going to be more about mobility.

Listen to your coaches… listen to your coaches….

Hot sweaty man mouth-to-mouth… ok actually it’s Crossfit advice

fitenss advice

Four new people joined Crossfit yesterday.  They came to class in the morning as newbies, and were back today as onrampers.  It was pretty cool to see, the community at our box is really exceptional and as part of it, I get excited when I see our little 6 a.m. family growing.

Since this is the first week back for me after several off I’ve been thinking a lot about my first few weeks of Crossfit.   I think it’s because at the moment my body hurts so bad I’m considering removing a limb or two to be rid of the pain, and it reminds me of how I felt when I was just starting out.

I got a lot of advice back then, between amazing coaches and all my friends and family that thought I had suddenly gone stark raving mad, and in hindsight some of it was really really good.

In an effort to pay it forward, and to maybe help someone new to Crossfit or considering trying it out, here I will share my favorite pieces of advice, many of which I still use today.

  •  You won’t die, you will pass out first.

Yeah, this is probably the hardest thing you’ve ever done.  Even if it isn’t, there’s going to be a moment where you wonder if your body is physically able to do any more.  Chances are, if you can have and recognize that thought coherently, you can keep going.  In fact, chances are, it’s your mind holding you back and not your body.  Keep going.  If your body really just can’t do anymore you’ll know because you will come to flat on your back with a sweaty herd of people huddled around you wanting to know if you’re ok.  If you’re REALLY lucky you might come to with one of those sweaty Crossfit studs giving you mouth to mouth.

  • When in doubt, “mobilitize”.

I remember when I first started Crossfit I got irritated during classes where we would do a lot of mobility work.  I felt like I wasn’t getting a good workout if I wasn’t panting and sweating the entire time.  After just a few short weeks however, I realized that my mobility was really limiting some of my movements.  It wasn’t just about stretching, it was about helping my body to align the way it needed to in order to be efficient and effective.  Granted, I still believe the lacrosse ball to be some sort of twisted S&M device, but now I use it daily and am better for it.

  •  Listen to your coaches.  No really, even about that.

So I may or may not have been one of those new Crossfitters that thought I knew way more than I really did, especially about nutrition.  I also may or may not have resisted the Paleo approach for months and argued tooth and nail that whole wheat, black beans, cheese and ice cream were just fine for me to eat in moderation.  Then came a point where I had a heart to heart with myself.  I realized that I was listening to my coaches every single word of advice to the letter when it came to my training, why on earth wasn’t I capitalizing on their knowledge with nutrition and doing what they said?  When I did, the results finally started coming in a way I couldn’t have imagined.  Yeah, a lot of times what they’re telling you to do might be hard, it might suck, and it might disrupt the things that you believe to be true.  But chances are they are right.  Bastards.

  •  Scale your workouts and be proud of your work.

There are probably people out there who were banging out handstand push ups your first week of Crossfit.  For the record, I loathe you.  Actually, that’s not entirely true.  I envy you.  For those of us who are mere mortals, it’s really likely you’re not going to be able to do every movement perfectly, Rx on day 1.  Who cares?  You showed up and you’re doing the work to the best of your ability right alongside the burpee muscle up guy that makes you sweaty to think about even when you’re not working out.  Completing any Crossfit WOD, scaled or not, is still a victory.   The only person who knows what you’re capable of is you, and as long as you are pushing yourself as hard as the workload expected, you’re doing it right.

  • You won’t PR every day, but you still need to show up.  You committed, now do the work.

I remember in my first week my coach quoting the somewhat overused phrase, “it doesn’t ever get easier, you just get better.”  I knew it was true then, just as I know it’s true now.   Something I struggle to remember even today though, is that it doesn’t mean you’ll get better every time.  Maybe you PR your snatch last week but can’t get under the weight even once two weeks later.  That doesn’t mean you’re not improving, so many factors play into our performance each day.  They key to Crossfit, or to anything in which you want to improve really, is consistency.  Motivate yourself however you have to, but show up, do the work, and the results will come.

So now it’s your turn!  I would love to know if you ever got some great advice, or something that you learned along the way in your fitness or health journey that surprised you.

And if it includes hot sweaty man mouth to mouth all the better.

Lessons learned in the past three weeks

Things that will not help you achieve your health and fitness goals:

  1. Eating pints of ice cream and dozens of cookies because you’re depressed that you can’t work out.  Taking time off from exercise and eating you’re training for a competitive eating contest should not happen simultaneously.
  2. Going to the gym just to sit in the sauna.
  3. Drinking soda after sitting in the sauna because you are dehydrated.
  4. Drinking soda at any time.  Ever.  For any reason.
  5. Projectile vomiting at the same exact moment that you have explosive diarrhea.  In a public restroom.  When someone is in the stall next to you.  (Please note, this is great for weightloss, but not fantastic for overall health)

I may or may not have participated in all of the following activities over the past three weeks.  While I am not proud of any of them, especially that last one, what’s done is done and today is a new day.  My strep throat seems to be clearing up nicely, my back is hardly sore at all and it doesn’t seem to be limiting my movements, so as of today I’m officially back at Crossfit, and back to 100% Paleo.

With my renewed commitment I’m experiencing some fantastic things, like the most unbelievable sugar cravings on the planet and the desire to eat my entire lunch and afternoon snack by 11 a.m. because my body thinks its hungry for ice cream and a nap.  I know that the first few days of this will be the worst, and that I will make it through the hard part and be back on track to hitting my goals.

I turn 30 exactly 5 months from tomorrow.  I’ve got some big goals to achieve by then, and I absolutely know how to get there.

Good thing I polished off that last pint of ice cream over the last two cookies last night so I can start with a nice clean slate today, eh?

5.10.2013

I wish I could regal you with tails of intense Crossfit training, but I’m still sidelined.  All I have to report for today was a quickie lunch time run.

30 minutes total time- 2.2 miles

Did some hamstring lower back stretching at the end for good measure.

Saturday is a planned a long ride with the group and then Monday I’m back to Crossfit!  I can’t freaking wait.