Why we (scale) crossfit

I’ve spent four days this week working on the Landscape Industry Certification test. I help set up, administer, and tear down. I do need to point out I am one of a slew of people needed for this. And it’s a lot of work. Most of the work isn’t physically demanding, but some of it is. Also my professor self is not used to working outside all day, in the blazing sun, in the billion percent humidity, doing any kind of work, much less hard work. 

So this got me thinking about why I crossfit. (Please inset whatever form of exercise you love). I started crossfit to look better. I kept it up to get stronger. I keep it up so I can get my old, kinda chunky, professor butt out of my office and work along side younger (mostly) guys who are used to being outside and doing this kind of work.

I heard the following over the past few days:

1. Nice guns!

2. You still doing that healthy stuff?

3. I started exercising after I spoke to you.

4. You’re a little thing, are you sure you can … yep! You definitely CAN lift that. 

I’m not trying to brag, but to point out that some form of strength training is essential as we age. It keeps the joints and muscles moving and able to lift things. It will allow me to do so for the next 20+ years.

Scaled or no… that is why I crossfit. 

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Reality Check

Dear self, you are 49 years old. You are not 20. You are not even 30. You are probably closer to death than to birth and this means certain things for your body. 

1. You are under no obligation to “keep up” with the younger athletes in your box. Push yourself, yes. Keep going, yes. But please try to stop beating yourself up when the 20 and 30 somethings are faster/stronger. You do you. 

2. You are under no obligation to keep up with those in your age group. Yes, there are several mid to late-40’s women that you very much look up to. They are doing their own thing. You are doing yours. Push yourself, yes. Be happy for their accomplishments, yes. You do you.

3. You are under no contractual obligation to get: pull-ups, double unders, toes-to-bar, rope climbs nor any of the plethora of moves you don’t have. Work toward them, yes. Push yourself to try them, sure. Should you, one day get them, rejoice. But life isn’t over if you never get them. You do you. 

4. You don’t have to excel at all the crossfit things. You might want to, but you were given certain skills and certain strengths and some of those might not be exactly what you need to excel at crossfit. This is okay. Work on your weaknesses, yes. Push yourself to get better, sure. But not excelling isn’t failure. You do you. 

5. Learn to accept your journey. I keep telling myself this one. I’m not sure my brain fully buys in to this one, mostly because it’s not all all the journey I had initially dreamed of when I decided to get healthy several years ago. This is the hardest to accept. But again, you do you. 

If I keep repeating these, maybe one day I will believe in them. 

Meal Prep Sunday

Plan the Work, Work the Plan.

So, after 4 weeks of no CrossFit and generally feeling lousy (thanks, bronchitis); I decided last week it was time to get back into meal planning and preparation.  Though I didn’t fall completely off the Macro Train, I certainly wasn’t putting the time and effort into planning what I was eating….which wasn’t as big of a deal as it normally is when I’m working out consistently.

I thought today (and maybe next Sunday), I’ll just share my plan to the week and how I’m prepping.  Maybe I’ll even keep myself a bit accountable by doing a review for the week (at the end of the week, of course).  Overall, my first week last week went well until Friday night which is generally what happens anyway but…no excuses!  This Friday will be better 🙂

Where to start?  After working with a dietitian last spring, I determined that my daily calorie goal is 1400 calories (I’m working towards losing a bit of weight, so this is deficit for me).  My daily macro goals are: Carbs 157, Protein 88, Fat 47.

My new job as an interesting quirk that I am on the road during lunch time.  This means unlikely access to a microwave.  Thus, I started planning with my lunches this week because of all the meals, the options will be most limited.  After lunch, I moved onto dinner and made sure to include my Plated meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Breakfasts were last.  So here’s what I came up with (macro totals provided by My Fitness Pal app or myfitnesspal.com).

Monday, Wednesday, Friday:

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Chocolate Overnight Oats – C46, P15, F5. (http://www.itscheatdayeveryday.com/pb-chocolate-chip-overnight-oats/) and a clementine orange – C13, P1, F0

Lunch: Cold Sesame Soba Noodles and Broccolini and Mushrooms – C55, P72, F15 (http://fitmencook.com/5-easy-cold-lunch-meals/).  That includes 6oz of chicken, not sure if I’ll really eat that much…seems like a lot.

Dinner: Slow Cooker Honey Lime Ginger Pork – 21, P30, F7 (http://therecipecritic.com/2016/02/slow-cooker-honey-lime-ginger-pork/), Brussels Sprouts – C5, P4, F0, and Applesauce – C12, P0, F0.

Daily Total: C154g, P123g, F28g = 1369 calories.

If I do CrossFit tomorrow, I may add in a small snack somewhere in the day.  Probably a Nature Valley Protein Granola Bar or 2 (190 cals for 2).

Tuesday, Thursday

Breakfast: Protein Shake (1c almond milk, 1c frozen mixed berries, 1 scoop protein powder, 1/4c oats) – C28 P22 F4.5

Lunch: Mason Jar Taco Salad (2oz ground beef, 1c lettuce, 0.25c corn, 0.5c black beans, 0.5c quinoa, 0.25c cherry tomatoes, greek yogurt dressing) – C55, P29, F23

Dinner: Plated – Pine Nut Crusted Salmon – C44, P44, F-52 <– I will be using less oil than the recipe calls for, so this will be lower.

So, that’s my plan for the week.  Hope you enjoyed!  I’ve never tried any of these recipes before so hopefully they turn out well!

 

Rest Dayz

Ever since having my son, I feel like it’s only a rare occasion that I make it to the gym three times a week.  I celebrate those weeks.  In between those weeks I’m inevitably under the weather (daycare germs) though I will definitely say this year was much better than last year…. There may be hope for us yet!).  I miss getting to the gym but I also recognize the importance of resting (see: get back to gym sooner) and not getting everyone else at the gym sick (see: don’t get sick again later when it mutates and you get it again).  

I was looking through my Instagram pictures and came across a saying that was plastered on a hotel gym wall in San Francisco. The wall said “Prepare for it, train for it, fuel for it, rest for it”.  I Love this!  It’s not your typical motivation sensation… I particularly like that it includes fueling and resting…. don’t see that too often.  

I’m lucky in some ways because when I miss the gym, I know I’ve got a good reason. I cherish my gym time and it does hurt when I know I shouldn’t go (see: all last week #somuchcoughing) but I know it’s the right thing.

So, what to take out of that long rambling?  Pay attention to the walls in hotel gyms, you may just learn something valuable.

Non-Scale Victories

nonscale victories

This was posted to my box’s Boot Camp page on Facebook and it got me thinking, which has me writing!

I’m the first to admit, I will probably not be in any “before/after” transformation pictures since basically I am the same weight as the day I stepped into the box (my pants are 2 sizes smaller) and I don’t really think I look different in pictures I see. Don’t get me wrong, people have noticed that I look different and carry myself differently, so I know changes are happening, but when I see pictures of myself, I still see a fat, old lady, one who perhaps has no business being in a gym at all, much less a crossfit box.

{Now coaches, before you go and give me a billion burpees for sounding negative, please keep reading!!}

Are there moves I still don’t have down? Yep. There is a reason this blog is called Scaled to Perfection. My crossfit partner in crime and perpetual “in my head” sista (I swear we are one brain, separated by 20 years), have struggled with so many things for the years we have been doing crossfit. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know what they are, but if you are new, let me inform you of all the things I (well..perhaps we) still need to achieve, much less master: double unders, pull-ups, rope climbs, chest-to-bar, toes-to-bar, hand stand push ups, most things with the GHD, and box jumps (I had them, then the box tried to kill me so my brain refuses to let me do them again). My clean and jerk form, while improved, is a work in progress and  the snatch? Ugh… Ugly is a good word. Burpees about kill me and anything cardio is a long trip on the struggle bus.

This makes it sound like I can’t do anything at all, which isn’t true. The powerlifting moves are ones I love. I don’t mind thrusters, wall balls, the ski-erg, rowing, and kettlebells. I love all the accessory work we do! And I’m fairly certain that not one of the coaches would say that I give up, no matter how much I’m struggling, no matter how dead last I am and I will often go ahead an finish a workout, even if we’ve been time-capped, because…well…I’m not a quitter. That part has changed in me; I used to stop at the time cap, but I prefer to finish (if I won’t be in the way of the next class, or my taking a few more minutes means I won’t be late to work). I’m a firm believer in the crossfit attitude of cheering for everyone and that the last person to finish is just as, if not more, important than the first person. I LOVE to cheer on my fellow athletes when I get the chance. This is one of the things I love best about The Open. Except for your own heat, you get to watch and cheer everyone else, keeping them motivated if needed. I never thought that was a real thing, until it was happening to me and people really believed it.

Do you see a trend here? I do. If it has to do with brute strength, I’m all over that. If it requires grace and/or coordination, I struggle. I’m slowly getting better at all of these things and I have no shame in continuing to work on them, even as frustrating as it can be at times. I think back to high school and college sports and the positions I played: keeper in soccer, bench warmer in basketball, catcher in softball and shot-put in track. Those positions don’t really require coordination. You can just fling your body around without fear and that often gets the job done. The gymnastics move require something I’ve never really had the opportunity to train for, work on or even think about in my daily life. My parents didn’t send me to ballet or gymnastics (I would have told them no anyhow), so I never worked on those things and now I’m finding that I really need those things and old brains are apparently slower to learn than younger brains!

Back to non-scale victories! I’m a LOT stronger. I don’t give up easily (which can also have its downsides – hello calf muscle; I’m looking at you). My shirts are smaller; my pants are smaller. I can do the things the coach’s ask of me, especially scaled. I have enough confidence in my abilities that showing some of the newer athletes a move or two doesn’t worry me.

I’ve met so many wonderful people, many of whom have become dear friends. I participate in our #socialcommittee events as often as possible and have done some things that I never thought I would do, such as not 1, but 2 5k runs.

I’m fascinated by the programming and would love to know more about the inner workings of our head programmer’s mind when he puts the workouts together. And as I’ve been told to stay off this dang calf, all my workouts lately have been very modified and that has also been incredible to watch. It only increases my resolve to eventually save enough for my CF1, not because I want to change my life and start coaching, but because I want to know ALL THE THINGS, and the more data, knowledge, and information I have, the happier my brain is.

So as you progress through your journey, remember that there are many victories you will encounter along the way. Some will be more weight on the bar. Some may be getting a move that you didn’t have previously. Some may be taking time off your 500m row. Some may be as ‘simple’ as showing up every day, drinking the amount of water you know you need. You could drop clothing sizes; participate in a competition, partner with someone stronger/faster than you to push yourself; partner with someone slower/less strong than you to help them along. Relish all the little things because often the ‘I can’t’ permeates the day. Believe me, I know this from a LOT of personal experience over the years; I’m a pessimist at heart. But here and there, now and then, a glimmer of positivity shows up. And THAT is a non-scale victory I can get behind.

The Open, RX’d

Another Open has come and gone! Quite unexpectedly, I decided to RX every workout. This decision was, in itself, my major 2017 Open victory. I did not have any PRs or remarkable scores, but I did take on some movements that I couldn’t do last year (chest-to-bar pull-ups, handstand push-ups). I also identified several movements that need additional work (double-unders, snatches) and, of course, I’m still on a quest for that first muscle-up. But the Open has reinforced some of the most salient lessons I’ve learned from Crossfit:

  1. Be humble. I was very enthusiastic about 17.1. I felt super prepared because last year a shoulder injury resulted in a great deal of single-arm snatching. I was confident that I would crush that workout right up until the fourth round of snatches when my vision began to narrow and I started gasping for air. My cockiness melted onto the floor in rivers of sweat as I fought for every rep and realized that I had a long way to go both in the WOD and in my Crossfit journey.
  2. Laugh at yourself. I laughed during the 17.2 announcement because I knew it was going to create an uproar among both scaled athletes who were still working toward pull-ups and RX athletes desperate for a muscle-up. I love a good uproar. Following 17.1, I was feeling quite philosophical and decided that I would RX the workout (why waste those toes-to-bar I’ve tried to master all year?), but not worry about the muscle-ups and have fun. After all, I’ve lived 31 years of my life without a muscle-up, so what was one more day? I relished those first 78 reps and then did my best swinging, kicking, and flailing to try and get up and over that bar. My husband stood nearby, vacillating between chuckling and offering encouragement. Eventually, my coach came over and gave me a helpful boost so I could hang out in a muscle-up for awhile and feel happy to be part of such a fun group of people.
  3. Try hard things, fail, and try again. I’m not good at snatches. My 2016 goal was to get all of my lifts at or over 100lbs, and I succeeded with everything except snatches. Indeed, I entered 2016 with a 1-rep max snatch of 75lbs and concluded the year with a 1 rep max of 80lbs. So I suspected 17.3 was going to be brief if I RX’d, but I had worked very hard last summer on chest-to-bar pull-ups so I was certainly not going to give up my chance to show them off in the Open! I mustered my way through the round of 65lbs with only a couple of no-repped snatches. I reached the 95lb snatch with just over 30 seconds to spare and failed twice before reaching the time cap. So I took ten pounds off the bar and got a few reps at 85lbs– a small but real PR!
  4. Trust the process. 17.4 repeated my favorite 2016 Open workout, and I was super excited! Last year I scaled this workout and got a few deadlifts into the second round. This year, I RX’d and pushed through as fast as possible so I could try a few of my newly-acquired handstand push-ups. My reps were significantly lower this year, but 17.4 showed me that my overall fitness has definitely improved. This workout was a great reminder to trust my coaches and the programming they have planned, even when it’s painful. I’m very excited to work hard for another year and then try this workout again!
  5. Surround yourself with positivity. In a painful workout with both double-unders and thrusters, the positive community at my gym really shined. I loved watching my friends take on 17.5 with gusto and celebrate each other’s successes. I am grateful that this atmosphere is not exclusive to the Open; the joyful energy that radiates around the box buoys the athletes every day. It accompanies us in our jobs and homes and gives us courage to face life challenges beyond thrusters. I feel a great comfort in knowing that I get to visit such an uplifting space and such inspiring people daily.

Happy end of the 2017 Open, everyone! Onward!

Post Open Thoughts

So…The Open didn’t quite go as planned. I was hoping to Rx more workouts and if a repeat was in the schedule (which has happened for several years now), I was hoping to do better. None of these things happened. And while I feel I have let a lot of people down (mostly myself), in reality this likely isn’t the case.

I am still dealing with this dang, blasted calf injury, and my coach told me he wasn’t letting me do 17.5. Here’s the thing, I was about 98% of the way to this decision on my own, so when he told me, I really wasn’t upset. Correction, I was upset for about 0.15 seconds; but, in reality, I knew it would be the best thing. Seriously, rowing was problematic the week before; one of the other coaches watched me back squat and noticed my body mechanics were off because of the pain. I have no one to blame but myself for this injury and for it lasting so long. Back in December during a workout with the dreaded double unders, I did the first 100 with few issues. But I was struggling with the second 100 and when I got to 150, the cramps moved from pulled muscles into what I could feel was rapidly moving into serious injury and rather than take the blow to my ego and simply stop the workout, I stubbornly (stupidly) kept going and followed that up with thrusters. I literally could not walk for 2 days. The coaches modified workouts for me and the instant I would feel even slightly better, it was ‘balls to the wall’ again, and right back to being injured.

Well…that has gotten me nowhere. I didn’t complete The Open; I didn’t do as well as I’d wanted. And I have only myself to blame. I’m okay with this realization, but now is the time for me to (finally) listen to the coaches, modify workouts for several weeks and go see the deep tissue massage therapist regularly.  I need to get healthy again so that I can start working on those gainz and goalz from the beginning of the year.

One final thought, I have to recognize that I’m not 20; I’m not thirty; I’m not even 40. Thus my age may mean that I need to ramp down the intensity a little bit. That doesn’t mean stopping; that doesn’t mean not going for PR’s and faster times. That means recognizing when I need to take a break; it means recognizing when I need to stop a workout. It might mean scaling something in order to stay healthy. Mentally, I will need to come to grips with this because I still have all those goalz to attain. It just might take me a bit longer to get there since I’m not just fighting a lack of coordination and grace, but time.

Slow progress is still progress, right?