no shame here

Back squat 3-3-3-3 reps @ 55, 60, 65, 70
Thruster 3-3-3-3 reps @ 55lbs.
4 attempts at a max L-sit hold for time, knee tuck @ 25 seconds.

Finished in 11:20.

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.

Mary

 

back squat EMOM

WOD Prep:

Russian Baby Maker

*Accumulate 3 Minutes

Strength:

Every Minute On The Minute For 8 Minutes:

Back Squats

* Heavy As Possible

Completed: worked up to completing the reps at 125lbs.

Conditioning:

For Time:

Muscle Ups

15 Kettlebell Swings (70/53)

15 Goblet Squats (70/53)

5 Muscle Ups

15 Kettlebell Swings (70/53)

15 Goblet Squats (70/53)

3 Muscle Ups

15 Kettlebell Swings (70/53)

15 Goblet Squats (70/53)

1 Muscle Ups

* 15 Minute Time Cap

Completed: in 11:14

Day 3 – To the Finish.

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

After last night’s rant I slept like a log. Just goes to show you how pouring out all your struggles on a blog and then crawling between the blankets for bed can lead to sleeping oh, so soundly. It simply helps to get things out. It genuinely does make one feel better. Like hitting the refresh button.

Today in our Whole 30 FB Group, the question was asked – Why are you doing this? What do you hope to accomplish? We all want to lose a little weight so think of something besides that.

My FB response: I’m terrible at finishing things. I see the finish line and think, well, I’m almost there, good enough and stop mid stream. This has lead to many plateaus. I want to know what it feels like to finish, to push through the plateau and see true results. If I start with my body then I believe it will translate to other areas. New level of strength and endurance and confidence in training = changes in how I see the world = new opportunities.

Disclaimer on food – If you’ve read this blog you know I experiment with a lot of different approaches to my food; Whole 30, Intermittent Fasting, zone, Paleo, Paleo-zone while standing on one foot and eating over the kitchen sink. This is all a learning process. I love to experiment and learn what works best for my strength and happiness and health. In the end, the goal is to find what works best for me. End of story. My goal with joining our lovely Whole 30 FB Group is primarily to reign in my poor habits starting with the one area where I have instant and immediate control, my consumption of calories.

The Plan for the next 3o Days – I’ll be eating paleo; no sugar, no alcohol, no cheese, no legumes, no grains. If I reach for dairy (in the form of heavy cream in my coffee) it will only be allowed if sourced from a sustainable healthy beast; farm raised grass fed goats/cows.

Most importantly, the majority of my protein will be obtained from local, grass fed, humanely raised, animals. Whether it leads to CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Meat-Share, or a simple Saturday drive to the local farm to purchase a week’s worth of proteins. Hey, it’s the season of Farmer’s Markets too so what better time to rise to the challenge! Literally, on early Saturday mornings. The plan is still unfolding and it’s glorious to consider and research and strategize recipes.

FOOD JOURNAL:

Breakfast – coffee w/ heavy cream (finishing out the last of my Trader Joe’s heavy cream…)

2:30 Lunch – Chipotle salad to go, with extra lettuce, carnitas, pico de gallo (that’d be salsa…) and that’s it. Used Olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper for dressing.

Dinner – spaghetti squash with roasted chicken breast and Rao’s marinara sauce. So. Good. Personally, Rao’s is the best tasting and ingredients closest to the source, but it’s also crazy expensive, 8+ per bottle. Therefor I only buy when on sale and when it is, I stock up.

Post dinner snack – raw almonds and cashews and dried blueberries with added Himalayan salt. I’m concerned I’m eating way too many nuts. Like, way too many. How many? I’m afraid to actually keep track.

WOD: (my first WOD back at ACF in six weeks):

High Bar Back Squat 5 x 2 @ 80%

* Rest 60 Seconds Between Working Sets

** Quick Descent, 5 Second Pause in the Bottom, Bounce and Quick Back Up.

Completed: at 95lbs. about 50% of my 1RM 6 long weeks ago.

Conditioning:

3 Rounds For Time of:

Run 400m

7 Muscle-Ups

21 Kettlebell Swings

* 20 Minute Time Cap

Completed: in 13:50. Scaled to 14 ringrows and pushups, KB’s at 35lbs.

Facebook Post:

First official WOD back at Albany CrossFit in 6 weeks. I’m weak, and slow, my stamina is for sh*t.
But I’m ready.
And oh so happy.

Back Squat Wednesdays

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.” 
— Shel Silverstein

Because of our snow day yesterday the triple-wide was packed today. But like a seasoned Army General, Chad had us working like a well oiled machine of seasoned veterans marching into battle. BBF Carmen was my partner, and awesome partner at that, as we toiled away with the backsquats and then beat out each round of rowing, and burpees and snatches as only two BFF’s can do. Go team. Love the Partner WODs. And backsquat Wednesdays.

I. Strength

High Bar Back Squat

1 x 5 @ 85% – completed at 135lbs.

2 x 3 @ 90% – completed at 140lbs.

3 x 1@ 95% – completed at 145lbs, then 150lbs.

* Rest 2 Minutes Between Sets

II. Conditioning:

With a Partner Complete:

4 Rounds For Total Working Time of:

Row 300m

14 Lateral Burpees (Over The Bar)

Power Snatches (135/95)

* One Partner Is Working While The Other Rest.

Completed: 3 rounds plus, then ran out of time. Snatch at 55lbs. Chad pointed out something to remember, when you get tired you lean over at the waist, not fully squatting down to get the bar…don’t do that, you’ll burn yourself out, keep proper form. Thanks, Chad.

chippers.

“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?” ― John Steinbeck

Some days are very long days at work. 10 – 11 hour days. When you wake up you know you’re in for a Chipper. You just have to chip away at your day. It helps to know there’s the 8:30pm WOD at ACF, the Dirty-Thirty as it has been nicknamed, waiting for you at the finish line.

I. Strength:

High Bar Back Squat

1 x 5 @80%  – completed at 130lbs.

2 x 3 @ 85%  – completed at 140lbs.

3 x 1 @ 90% – completed at 145lbs.

* Rest 2 Minutes Between Sets

II. Conditioning:

12 Push Press (155/105)

20 Walking Lunges 

9 Push Press (155/105)

40 Walking Lunges

6 Push Press (155/105)

60 Walking Lunges

* 15 Minute Time Cap

Completed: in 7:27 at 65lbs. When the WOD was over it was one of those moments when I knew I went too light with 65lbs. and felt the residual effects of defeat. It was clear I chickened out. Should have gone heavier, 75lbs. Even just a couple of 2.5lbs. thrown on the end for good strength building measure.

Why is it with a Deadlift or Clean I will push myself to the absolute extreme of my strength, but anything over head I go soft? Fear of failure.

Not going to get stronger, not going to get better, if I consistently give into the fear.

Code Red.

“Two people in love, alone, isolated from the world, that’s beautiful.” ― Milan Kundera

codes

Do you ever find yourself always looking for the Finish Line? I do it all the time, in a WOD, at work, carrying groceries from the car. Where am I going? Where’s my destination? When will this current task be complete?

One of the things I struggle with most on my fitness road is understanding and accepting that there is no finish line in being healthy. You do not suddenly wake up one day in a state of ultimate fitness and can officially put an end to all fitness activities. I’m not saying I want to do this, but the goal oriented person in me is always looking for that spot on the horizon. This strategy works with most things, applying to school, doing your taxes, running a 10K. You set your sights on the finish line and get to work on taking the steps necessary to get there.

But with being healthy it is different. Being healthy is a state of existence. It’s an ever moving target that shifts and changes and morphs depending on the moment. One day you PR the shit out of your deadlift, the next you can barely nudge the bumper clips on the bar. Being healthy is not easy. It takes work. One right decision after the next after the next, into infinity, which is why there can be no finish line. It’s an endless work in progress; that work being you. I suppose you could equate it to making the right decisions in life on a moral scale. I choose to not steal, to not do harm to others, to not lie. Some bad choices carrying more dire consequences than others. But it’s not like you will wake up one day and it will suddenly be okay to steal. No, pretty sure you’re going to have to make the decision to not steal, if you so choose, from now until infinity.

Perhaps instead of viewing fitness as an extracurricular activity, it might be better to view it as a necessity. An integral part of life. An integral building block to a good life. Sometimes it feels as if being healthy is an accessory, like a piece of jewelry; there’s a choice to put it on or no, your day relatively unaffected if you do not. Code, Green. Unlike pants or not stealing which are quantifiable in your day to day, in that if you choose to not wear one or to participate in the other, it is going to have an immediate impact on your life. Code, Red.

The thing is, in not choosing to be healthy, you really won’t see the repercussions right away. Perhaps not for 30 years. And so, hey, what’s the urgency? Of course that does not mean the repercussions of your decisions are not there, lurking and waiting to surface.

I found this CrossFit chart of basic strength standards. It seems, according to this, after a year and a half of Crossfit, I am about to embark upon the Intermediate Level. Qui est foutrement incroyable.

I. Strength:

High Bar Back Squat

2 x 5 @ 70% – Rest 45 Seconds – completed at 115lbs.

2 x 3 @ 75% – Rest 45 Seconds – completed at 125lbs.

3 x 1 @ 80% – Rest 30 Seconds – completed at 135lbs.

* Sets at each percentage should be performed without re-racking the barbell.

** Take 90 Seconds rest between each percentage.

Completed: This was a blast since I was able to partner up with Kim, whom I haven’t seen in forever. We share similar strength. It was just great to get to spend the time with her.

 II. Conditioning:

Perform The Following With A Partner:

Row 9 x 200m

* Every set should be an all-out effort.

** Each partner will perform all 9 sets. Alternate after each 200m.

Completed: again with Kim. Awesome! This was a lung burner. Set the goal to avg. 1:45 pace per round. 3,600 meters completed in 14:38.