Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's a Trick

When I walked in through the doors of my office building today, past the receptionists desk I half closed my eyes and thought to myself "please don't let there be any candy out." There was not. Each time I turn a corner past a desk or office, or walk into the kitchen, I think "no candy." So far, there is no candy in sight. Tomorrow will be a different story I'm sure as my co-workers will try to save their children from rotted teeth and type II diabetes by putting their kids bounty from many door bell rings in the kitchen. I must remain strong. Seems only a few understand how one piece, just ONE piece will lead to weeks of destruction, and I just can't have that. I like my non-stretch jeans to fit, thank you very much.

Saying no to all Halloween candy is the first step in passing up Thanksgiving gluttony. Saying no to Halloween candy is the first step in saying no to all the cookies and candy and crap that will appear in front of us in the next 2 months. Saying no to Halloween candy is the first step in NOT having to make a New Years Resolution about "losing weight" or "getting healthy." It took me a long time to make the connection between eating crap making me want to eat more crap. You could say in that respect, I was a little (ok, A LOT) slow on the uptake. I never saw how eating one fun sized Snickers caused me to eat 13 more of them, and wake up 2 months later with no pants that fit, until I didn't. Last year, and I'm pretty sure the year before that, I put the brakes on Halloween candy and ever since I've had entirely different holiday seasons then what I was used to.

This year, I decided that I wouldn't even hand out candy because I just don't want in the house tempting me. Also, maybe its just me, but the whole idea of strange kids knocking on doors for candy had become suddenly very odd to me. When I was a kid, I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Now, I think its weird, and kind of annoying to have to keep getting up to answer the door, the dog goes crazy...etc. I'm 83? We didn't even get pumpkins to carve this year, or decorate the house. Maybe next year I'll be more into it.

In other news, I'm feeling back in the groove of things. My mental weirdness from last week has vanished, and I've been pushing myself pretty hard at the gym. I've decided I want to start running again, and am aiming for 2x a week. Some sort of interval/tempo run on Wednesdays, and a longer (3+mi) run on Sundays. The weather has been absolute crap lately, so its tough to get motivated for an outside run. I'm hoping for a cloud break today when I get home from work!

Oh, and to Jenn that asked about CrossFit competitions- haven't done any yet. Maybe I'll consider it once I can string together double unders and do 3 or so pull-ups in a row? I don't know. The competition side of CF has never appealed to me, but I do love watching and when people I know compete!

I'll leave you with sharkeatingdog. Yeah, obviously I don't have kids.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Nuthin' But Crickets

Ok, so I guess no one has any questions for me...Fine. :)

Winter has officially arrived here. With our beyond goregous summer, I was hoping for a few weeks of beautiful fall. We maybe had a day or two of fall? Smack into winter. Complete with the super short days, temps in the 40's and grey skies. I'm hoping when we set our clocks back, we will get a few weeks of relief. Whining over.

Possibly in conjunction with the instant weather change, yesterday I talked myself out of going to my normal noon-time CrossFit session. In the 2 years I've been doing CrossFit, I've NEVER talked myself out of going. Clearly something was amiss. I looked at the posted workout, and said eff THAT. It was a 300rep chipper, and I just wasn't feeling it. Weird, right? Usually I see a ridiculous workout, and I can't wait to get in and do it just to say that I did. Plus, going at lunch provides me a much needed mental break from the office. Instead, I just worked through lunch and left early.

So when 11:30a rolled around today, can you guess what happened? I started to talk myself out of going to the gym again. I almost had myself convinced when I snapped out of it and realized I was being ridiculous. Yesterday's decision was making it all to easy to attempt to skip today. Instead of just being lazy, I dug a little deeper and before too long, I found the culprit.

I was suffering from a lack of confidence. See, I haven't really been feeling on top of my game lately, and some of the recent workouts have hit me hard. Last week, during a box jump workout, I landed on a box and scraped the sh*t out of my shin, then the following day, we had a workout where we did 10 rounds of 3 ground to overheads (95# was recommended weight for girls), and after the 3rd power snatch (or ground to overhead of your choice) 15 wall balls (14#). First off, for the life of me, I could not get my 95# snatch. I can do 85# all day. Throw 10 more pounds on there, and I freeze. Its mental, I know it is. Coach tried all the tricks in her book. Nothing. So, I chose 85# as my ground to overhead weight. The wall balls killed me. The whole workout killed me. It took me 10 minutes longer than anyone else to finish, no one else was using as heavy of weight for either the ground to overhead or wall ball, but STILL...10 minutes longer than anyone.

This week I was determined to shake it off and get into the groove again, but I was derailed on Tuesday by 5 rep max deadlift day. I love deadlift day! I looked up my previous 5 rep max ( 205#) and decided I wanted to hit 225#. Then, on FB one of my gym buddies posted how she PR'd and hit 255# for 5!!!! I felt a lot of pressure, and decided I wouldn't be happy unless I hit 235# for 5. I ended up getting 215#. While it was still a 10# PR for me, I felt defeated. I mean, this other girl hasn't been CrossFitting as long as me, and yet she keeps making huge gains. What gives? I began to violate my first rule of success. Don't compare yourself to others. Only compare yourself to you.

Once I realized this was the root of my hesitance today, I changed into my gym clothes, downed some BCAA's and of course, knew I wasn't going to regret going. You know what I did today? A 95# snatch. 3 times!!! My first time ever getting a 95# snatch. Don't get me wrong, it was not pretty. But I knew I could do it, and now I can move on with that number under my belt. It will get easier. Then one day I'll get into the triple digits. Perhaps yesterday was a mental break I needed. After our Olympic lifting session (which was a pretty solid workout in itself) we did 3 rounds of 4 minuteTabata's, each round was alternating between 2 exercises AKA, my favorite thing in the world. You are moving so fast for such a short time, and you are alternating exercises, its TOO SHORT TO SUCK (TWSS?). I love it. And, I love how drenched in sweat I get for only 12 minutes of work. Now, all is right in the world.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Questions? I got Answers. Maybe.

I'm ready for my life to settle down any day now...I just don't see that happening anytime soon. I know I say this all the time, but I can't believe its practically the end of October! Then it will be Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Years...then 2013. Holy frickin crap!

I would like to take a moment and address the comment left on my last post about "how I know when my body is using fat for energy rather than sugar/carbohydrates." There are a few simple answers to this, and a few not-so-simple answers. First off, I know its going to sound cliche, but, I just know? I feel different. I think different. Of course, I'm sure people are rolling their eyes at this point. That is fair. These are the not-so-simple answers, because they are entirely subjective. My feeling "different" is also accompanied by (Sorry if this is TMI) a change in the way my urine smells. This is the simplest answer I can give that is backed up by something real- excess Ketones in my urine. Generally, I feel the "difference" in myself, and then shortly thereafter my feeling is backed up by noticing a change in the way my urine smells. That is why I claim to know the exact moment my body flips the switch.

Last week I was in Denver for work training, and I met a really nice girl. We were in the same car from the airport to the hotel. We hit it off immediately. This doesn't really happen that to me that often- finding someone that I click with right away, especially a female, so that is why it is so noteworty. But, that's not the point of this story. After a few minutes of chatting, we decided to go to dinner together since we arrived at the hotel late from traveling from our respective locations, and hadn't eaten yet. Then she drops the Vegan bomb. I instantly bite my tongue. I relaxed and changed the subject, no need to discuss my personal eating habits as I'm sure her reasons are just as personal as mine. That's called being an adult. However, I will mention here that in the two meals we shared together (separate days at the hotel southwestern themed restaurant), both times she ordered chips and guacamole as her full meal. Vegan? Yes. Packed with nutrients? Eh, I think there were better choices on the menu.
Kinda reminded me of how Norma mentions her "vegetarian" phase as being her most unhealthy. Either way, I did not let her food choices distract from how fun she was to hang out with. It sucks going to meetings where you don't know anyone, and you just hope that all the people there aren't total nerds. We had fun, and showed some of the nerds how to have fun too.

I started my day right today with some fish oil, a scramble of backyard eggs from the ladies with some peppers and a (single) chicken sausage. That will hold me just fine until I hit the gym at noon (I'll down some BCAA's prior to workout) and then I'll eat my awesome protein packed lunch and an apple with almond butter for my "treat." Haven't decided on dinner yet, but we have a big tub of baby spinach that needs to get eaten, so I may start there. Our workout today looks pretty brutal, and even has a time cap. 15 minutes to get a lot of work in- 55 Kb Snatches and OH lunges on each side (110 total) 55 lateral burpee box jumps (perform burpee then jump laterally over a box, or laterally jump on top of box then down to other side) and 55 star jumps.

Maybe its just me, but there seems to be a lot of chatter lately on the interwebs about running, running 5K's, half-marathons, etc. Its kinda making me miss running. Maybe its time I revisit the half marathon...

Oh, and on an unrelated note, I think when bloggers host a Q/A session, its kinda fun. If anyone has any questions they want to ask me, ask away in the comments and I'll answer. I may not have enough readers for this to be successful, but we'll see!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

State of my Union

Heh. Not like civil union, although, we did celebrate our one month anniversary yesterday (I know, we're dumb). My union, as in the state of ME. I feel that as someone who likes to write about personal nutrition and exercise, I owe readers periodic status updates as to where I'm at. There is nothing worse than thinking you are reading the blog of someone focused on bettering their health, only to find them spinning their wheels. So without further ado, lets recap the last 12 months:

September 2011- proclaimed 1 year of challenging myself to strict Paleo
October 2011- still going strong. Down 5ish pounds
November-December 2011- eh, doing ok down a few more pounds. Trip to Vegas, holiday treats creeped in.
January 2012- Holiday bloat in full effect, 7ish pounds lower than September, but in need of reset
February 2012- Reset month. End of February- lowest weight for me in 6+ years (18lbs lower than September 2011).
March 2012- Rebelled against reset month, but not in a super crazy way and was able to keep weight loss off.
April 2012- Decided to ditch my year long challenge, I was bored? IDK, I'm sure I had some good excuse at the time (see post from April 2, 2011 if curious). I was eating good somedays, not so good others, not out of control, gained 3 pounds since Feb low
May 2012- same as April, but began praciticing IF- loved IF, and was essentially able to eat what I wanted and maintain weight (a bad discovery for a sugar addict)
June 2012- Same as May, continued IF, same weight
July 2012- Same as June, continued IF, same weight
August 2012- reset month. Lost the 3 pounds, back to Feb low.
September 2012- wedding celebrations, slight rebel against reset eating, gained 3-5 lbs from low weight.
October 2012- Continued celebrations into first part of month. See bad habits creeping in. Gained 2 more lbs. I know what I have to do.

So, I'm still 11 pounds less than I was a year ago (progress) but typing out how the year went is not so stellar, if all we look at is pounds lost. I am a work in progress.

As far as capabilites, I've hit more PR's over the past year then I can count. Some current stats:
Max back squat (hips below parallel)- 235# (October 2011, I'm guessing it was around 205#?)
Deadlift- 245# (October 2011, again, guessing- 215#?)
Strict press- 95# (October 2011, guessing- 80#?)
Push press- 125# (October 2011, guessing- 105#)
400m run- 1:50 (October 2011- 2:20? still recovering from ankle at that time)
Max box jump- 27.5" (October 2011- not possible, still recovering from ankle)
Pull-up progression- green band (medium thickness) (October 2011- performing jumping pull-ups only)

This makes me happy, seeing some pretty large strength gains while losing 11 pounds. Hmm, perhaps the 11 pounds lost over the course of the year were not composed of simply water and lean muscle tissue.

Periodically, I like to do a reset on my eating. Since learning tremendous amounts about what works for me and what doesn't over the past 2+ years, occasionally I feel the need to get back to basics and re-test my tolerances, adjust my macros. What does this mean exactly? Well, for me, it means ditching all the little bits of sugar that have slowly crept into my diet. It means making sure my insulin response is working correctly by ditching the starchy carbs, and limiting fruit. It means kicking my body back into ketosis, which I've been out of since the before the wedding (over a month now!). It means drastically increasing my protein and vegetable intake. It means drinking a crap ton of water everyday, and it means being so incredibly boring for 4 weeks or so (no alcohol, eating the same things over and over).

The goal of this little exercise is to remind myself how good I feel when I'm fueling my body with the correct nutrients. I'm not trying to lose "weight." I'm not trying to fit into any specific outfit or see some number on a scale. The only thing I'm interested in is making my body as efficient as possible. I want to make sure that my body is able to access my fat stores and use those for energy. This switch takes time. I've mentioned before that I can tell the exact moment my body flips this switch. It's incredible.

I'm sure people are reading this and thinking, "if she knows what she needs to eat to feel good, why doesn't she just do that, always?!" Oh, boy. If I knew the answer to that question, I'd be one rich lady. The only thing I do know, is that I HAVE found what works for me. I feel so much more at ease with the concept of ditching conventional dietary advice. Also, I find that even my fit/healthy friends perform periodic "checks" where they focus on cleaning up their diet and/or focus on training for something for a period of time. Taking a few weeks to be strict with myself is something that I am no longer ashamed of, in fact I see it as a means to continuing my long term awarness, and a sign that my thoughts towards food/nutrition are reaching a more sane and balanced place. One important thing to point out is the scale of which this reset encompasses. This is not me going from a standard american diet to the Whole30, like the first time I tested eating real food/"paleo"/what have you back in 2010. This is me going from occasionally eating some rice with dinner, or having some chocolate for dessert, or drinking a glass of wine after work to NOT doing those things for a period of time.

After these next few weeks or so as I get my system up and going (fat adapted), I will resume my intermittent fasting. I really love the schedule of having a small eating period (1pm- 7pm) and performing my workouts fasted.

Here we go (again) Ctrl+Alt+Del

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


It is inevitiable with anything "different" or "new" that goes public there will be immediate supporters, immediate skeptics, and immediate haters. Examples include: anything made by Apple, cellular phones, Pepsi clear, get the point. Support, skepticism, and doubt are all normal reactions. Time is the true test of of what sticks and what does not. Remember when everyone on a cell phone was an asshole? HA! Look at us now! Pepsi clear on the other hand, that was never going to make it.

When I first heard about CrossFit a little over 2 years ago, I thought "wow, those workouts are badass. I want to be badass." The more research I did, the more it appealed to me. Of course, I've been active my whole life. Gyms/running/sports etc. were not new to me, nor were they ever viewed by me as a chore. I've always loved exercising (but loved eating more?), I've always been competitive, and I knew that if the CrossFit I was reading about was anything like the images I had conjured up in my mind, I would love it.

I get the major criticisms. I get that whenever someone is doing CrossFit, that's all they fucking talk about. I get that its sort of culty. I get that some gyms royally screw up the programming and injure clients. I get that in the fast pace growth of boxes popping up everywhere there are some locations that are not going to be as high quality as others. I get that Paleo diet talk is annoying. I get that it is not for everyone.

As humans we seek social community. We want to feel part of something, whether it be religion, a sporting team, chess club, poker night, book club, etc. we want to surround ourselves with like minded individuals. We want to feel validated in what we do, and point out how everyone else is wrong for not wanting what we want. Again, this is totally normal. Unless of course you are unable to see this behavior in yourself, and get legitimately pissed off when people don't want to join your cult. That's just crazy.

Yesterday was a reminder of what sets CrossFit apart from any exercise (gym/or on my own) I have done or belonged to in the past. I received a personal FB message from a guy that had just started coming to the gym maybe 6 months ago. He is very socialble, and it wasn't long before he was regularly cracking up the noon class with his antics. I even invited him to come to my wedding (which he did). His message said that he got a new job, and therefore would be attending a new (different) CrossFit gym. I was pretty bummed, but hoped that his new job was something he was hoping for. I responded with a quick note. About 1 hour later, when I pulled into the parking lot of the gym, I see his car there, and 4 of the other "regular" noon-time buddies crowded around the car laughing and giving him a hard time for saying good-bye to us, then showing up. It was a perfect sunny fall day, and it took me a few minutes to realize that no coaches were at the gym, and everyone was standing in the parking lot not only to socialize with the guy, but because we were locked out! It was still a little early, so we figured whoever was coaching was just a little late. No big deal. More minutes passed, and reality set in that no coaches were showing up.

The workout for the day had been posted the night before, including the warm-up, so we knew what we had to do. The workout was 5 rounds of: Run 400m, 5 deadlifts (115#). As luck would have it, there are 8 tires stacked up outside the doors to the gym. Without even thinking, all of us knew we would be running and flipping tires as a deadlift substitute. One guy turned his car stereo on, opened up his doors, and lead us through the warm-up. We found a phone to use as a timer, and wasted no time getting to it. At the time, it all happened without any second thoughts. There was no talk about leaving because no coaches were there, there was no discussion about what to do for a workout because the workout that was written was one we could do nearly exactly with the equipment we had in the parking lot. There was no effing off because there were no coaches there. It didn't really hit me until I got back to the office just how awesome the whole scenario was.

CrossFit has proved itself to be my community. I feel bad missing a day because I might miss a story from a workout buddy, or miss someone PR on a lift. Heading to CrossFit is my favorite part of the day, I get to put on my spandies and sweat it out with people that are there for the same reason I am. When we are faced with challenges, either in the gym, or outside in life, we help each other get through it. I'm inspired everyday by people at the gym. I've been very fortunate to only be exposed to quality gyms with quality instruction. Never did I expect my gym buddies to become close friends, but that is exactly what has happened.

So yes, I get that CrossFit is not for everyone. I just hope that whatever community someone chooses, it makes them feel as welcome and as awesome as CrossFit makes me feel!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Kick in the Pants

Sometimes we all need a little kick in the pants. Like say you are going about your business everyday, thinking you are a good, hard working individual. An opportunity for a promotion pops up, so you apply. Your interview goes well, you start getting excited for all the manicures you can afford with a new salary, and then, you don't get the job. Or like how you go to the gym everyday and kick your butt (or so you think) and then a new trainer comes along and TAKES AWAY YOUR HEAVIER WEIGHT AND REPLACES IT WITH A LIGHTER ONE. Or how you think you have this awesome sex life and then your boyfriend cheats on you. Clearly these scenarios are hypothetical. Except for maybe a trainer replacing my 35# Kb with a 25# Kb during single arm Kb thrusters in a warm up. And clearly, I'm over it.

Seriously though. An event or action or decision or circumstance that rockets you out of your comfort zone and gives you a split second view of reality often is the best possible thing that can happen. Chances are you won't see it like that at the time, but eventually, you will. Upon receiving the "kick in the pants," there are two options. Continue along the same path you are currently on, or change somehow, someway, something. After not getting the promotion, one might re-evaluate how hard they are working versus how hard they think they are working and make some adjustments. Or one might just get bitter. Upon learning your bf is cheating on you, one might leave him. Or, some (I don't know who) would ignore it/pretend its not happening. See what I'm getting at?

This new trainer at my gym is turning out to be a kick in the pants.
1) The first time I we ever met- without her ever have seen me do anything, or knowing my history, abilities, or anything she made me change to a lighter weight Kb than I normally use for things.
This had several different effects on me. First I was kind of irritated. I mean, I chose a weight I was comfortable with. Who was she to change that? Then, when I used the lighter weight she gave me and it was like stupidly easy, I felt like I was super strong. Yeah, I'll show her! Lastly, I realized that maybe I'm an idiot and I need to just let her do her job, and stop being obsessed with the numbers on the side of a Kb, as if that is somehow a reflection of my worth.

2) Same day- post workout. It was my second workout back from 2 weeks off (honeymoon, etc.). I felt ok cardio/lung wise but it was clear from our toes to bar segment of the workout that some of my grip strength had left me. She called me over to the pull-up bars after a 12 minute workout that involved many toes to bar. My hands were shot. She told me she wanted me to practice "pulling down the bar" as I swung my legs up towards the bar. I grabbed onto the bar, swung wildly, more like I was being electrocuted than a controlled swing. I jumped down, looked at her, and she said flatly "ok. we're done with that for today." Then she went on to say "but, before class everyday, I want you practicing these scap pulls*."

3) The second time we ever met- everyone in class was setting up their stations for a circuit of push-pull-squat-lunge-twist-flex-extend. Any barbell moves were to be done with 65# for girls, 95# for boys. The workout was 4 rounds of: unknown reps of each of the following movements- push press (65#), Sumo Deadlift High Pull (65#), box jumps, lunge-jump over cone, Russian twist, sit-ups, back extensions. The reps were to be decided by a deck of cards, and change each time they are "dealt" over the four rounds. I set up my bar for 65#, and trainer comes over to me and says "um, can you push press 65#?" I looked at her kinda funny, and said "yes." I was thinking Really? Who can't push press 65#? Then she said, "well some people pick a weight they can sumo high pull, but they can't push press it" and walked away.

4) Same day- post workout. I chalked up my hands and walked over to the pull-up bar. It was just me and new trainer in the gym now, since pretty much everyone leaves right after the workout. I told her I need to get on a program for my pull-ups, and she told me to start doing 50 pull-ups after every workout that didn't include pull-ups. I stared at her blankly. "I can't even do one unassisted." "Well, thats fine" she said. "Work on those scap pulls. Do 50." I grabbed onto the bar and did 10. Rested, did 13 more, then went for more chalk/escape (my hands were killing me). We were just talking about stuff, and I was planning on heading out. Then she says "um, I know you haven't done 50 yet." Damn. I see how this is going to be. I got back on the bar and I could only knock out 5 or so at a time. I had to keep re-chalking cause my palms get so damn sweaty. Then my forearms seized up into one huge cramp in each arm. Its a feeling I've had many times at Crossfit, so no need to panic, just shake it out. Non-chalantly I mentioned my fore-arms were on fire. Not as a complaint, just a fact, and she says almost sarcastically, but definitely with no sympathy "oh, I'm sorry." It made me laugh so hard. It was right then I fell in love, and finished my last 7 scap pulls.

New kick in the pants trainer, I love you. I don't want to be coddled, I don't want to be babied, I just want the facts, and I realize the harder I work, the harder you are going to work with me. See, its not YOUR responsibility to make me better. Its MY responsibility. You will do everything in your power to help me, but it needs to come from me. Challenge accepted.

*Scap pulls- short for scapula pulls- hanging from a pull-up bar, engage your shoulders and pull your shoulder blades (scapula) together. When done properly (even adding in a little controlled swing) your body gets a slight upwards lift towards the bar. The better you get at it, the more height you get.