the rub

So, at long last, I’m returning to CrossFit. Well, modified CF. The nearest box is an hour away. In the last year and a half since moving I don’t miss much, I love this new place, but I can say with sincerity that I do miss CF. Whatever it was in my life, some unnameable force that kept me healthy and engaged and connected and taught me to finish what I start: I miss it. In an effort to get some piece of that unnameable whatever back into my life, I reached out to the first CF coach that I ever met who got me started in the sport in 2012, Caleb.

Caleb and I met 10 days ago and put together a 30 day plan, a holistic mind/body program that I could follow on my own. More about that here. Anyway, lift off has been slow … but steady … and I’m determined. My progress is best described in a note sent to him today. See below. It’s a longer read, but my health is not what it was five years ago and I need to make some changes.

Hi Caleb,

Great to hear from you.

In truth, this endeavor has gotten off to a slow start. There are good things, and medium things, to report. I think the best way to give an accurate roundup of the last ten days is by line-item from the overall plan. Bear with me on this as I’m excited about all of it, even if it’s not unfolding in the structured manner originally hoped for. But here goes:

Outside the Gym:

Daily Habit –

  1. Love Your Outfit – I started ditching the flannel shirts and brought out some forgotten favorites, blazers, tops, and scarves. On the first day of this new endeavor, I received a compliment from a coworker saying how nice I looked having left the bulky go-to fleece at home.
  2. Connect – I’ve made an extra effort at work to stop and talk with people, look them in the eye, ask questions about their lives, their families, a new home, their dog. It’s working! Even though the job is still fairly new, people are not only saying hello in the hallway and at the coffee machine, but they are offering the same kindness, of engaging and listening, in return.
  3. Breathing and Stress Relief – In lieu of the crocodile breathing practice, I’ve incorporated an alternate meditation which I’ve been meaning to try for a while: lie down and place your hands over your heart, take the time to feel your heart beating and your blood pumping, breathe, and think of three things (small or large/esp. small) that you are grateful for. This seems to have a calming effect and moves me out of my mind and into my body and away from worry.

Weekly Practice – Healthy Partnership & Healthy Weekly Activity – Partner is traveling. On hold for now.

Nutrition – I dialed this in immediately after we met. I cut out wine during the week and have been prepping all food at home with veggies as my primary ingredient. No eating out. It’s been fun discovering new recipes with seasonal root vegetables like turnips (taste like carrots) and kohlrabi (totally yum). At some point, I’d like to go vegetarian for a month or so, but that’s another topic.

Gym-ish Stuff –

  1. Barbell Club – I will be there!
  2. Monthly Check-In – See you soon!
  3. At Home Practice – During the last week while getting food prep organized, I read through the new programming multiple times, watched the videos, and surveyed the gym space at work. I plotted, I planned, I packed gym clothes for work… and I planned some more.

Turns out the gym at work is not equipped for back squats, overhead, dead lifts, or any real free-weight lifting. In the garage at home, I now have free weights along with a squat rack, a Concept 2, pull-up bar, and med ball. The temperature in the garage is currently averaging between 28 and 31 degrees.

Why is the hardest part of getting started taking the first step? Clearly, this is a matter of re-engineering old habits.

On Sunday (1/14), layered up in fleece and a ski hat and gloves, I rowed for 10 minutes in the garage while focusing on breathing thru the nose. I could see my exhaled breaths floating in the air. It felt amazing. It forced me to slow down, to focus on a pattern of rhythmic breathing and not the meters clicking by on the screen. I finished out at 1,596 meters total. Then I did my first set of 5×5 SDHPs @ 55lbs. focused on form. I have not squatted in a long time and my chest dropped and I could not for the life of me get my butt down. Think, stripper pull. By round three of the SDHP, I was ready to quit. But I finished.

On Monday (1/15) I rowed again, this time I got up the nerve to do it in the gym at work. I don’t know what it is, but the office gym is not that big and the space can get crowded and these are people that I see in meetings. People that I want to get along with. People that I want to like me. Sometimes shyness can overtake a person. I don’t want to sweat in front of these people, or grunt, or look disheveled or worse, have bad form. It just takes me time to warm up to certain things. I can circle a drain for days, weeks, years. Sometimes I never get up the gumption to go in, and then I give up and go home. But not on Monday. I picked up my gym bag and walked towards the gym, twice. The first time I lingered outside the door. I could hear someone on the treadmill and so I decided it would be better if I came back another time. The second time I changed in the bathroom before approaching the door to the gym. I thumbed the phone for my favorite Pandora station, took a deep breath and went in. There were a couple of people that I did not recognize on the treadmills but there was no going back. I put up 1,800 meters in 10 minutes of breathing thru the nose.

At home, after some of your programmed mobility, I back squat, 5×5 @ 55lbs. Again, the legs were weak and the butt did not want to take me below parallel. I lined up the med ball as a target, but no good. The hips and legs and core are out of practice.

Tuesday (1/16) in the garage and dressed in full flannel and fleece, I completed my first round of Daily Movements as you prescribed. I wrote it down and will use it as a benchmark for the days ahead. For the 5×5 strict press, I started out at 55lbs. but then went down to 45lbs. and finished out there.

These are not epic numbers. But it’s a start. It’s something. I’m doing it.

Now for the unexpected in all of this: recently I purchased a blood pressure machine for kicks. Seriously, my blood pressure has always, always been healthy but I thought the machine would be cool to have so I could check my pulse. Last night I took my first measurements and then again this morning, and here are the numbers:

1/16 at 8:46 pm – 141/84

1/17 at 6:18 am – 166/87

Turns out, I’m bordering on hypertension.

. . .  :  / . . . .  : /  . . . .

I’m not sure what to do with that. Other than face it. I’m still processing. I guess it’s more fuel for the fire to get back to healthy. That’s about it for now.

My best to you. See you next week.



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