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.


Establishing a Baseline

I feel like I didn’t accomplish any of my CrossFit goals last year.  In reflecting, I realized that this is because I didn’t establish any baselines and I didn’t really set any goals…I guess I just felt like whatever I did had to be better than I was (but how would I know????).  If you want to see your progress (in measurable increments) I do not recommend this approach and I decided to establish some of my own baselines (with my swole sister, of course) so hopefully in June and December we can remeasure and see if where we’re heading (if anywhere).

Of course the benchmark WODs are where we started when we wanted to establish some baselines….but which ones to choose?  We consulted our Sport Journals WOD Book ( which I highly recommend looking into if you are a “tracker” type of personality.  Together we decided to establish baselines for the following Girls:

Grace: 30 Clean and Jerks for Time (135/95).  

Grace Scaled to Perfection: My one rep max C&J is 85 pounds (6/30/16).  I think I’ll probably do Grace at 55 pounds.  Grace should last around 4:00 minutes, I don’t think i could do 65# in that time period but I might surprise myself (probably not).  Here’s a cool website that correlates 1RM for C&J with anticipated time to complete Grace which I thought was pretty neat: What’s a Good Grace Time? 

Cindy: 20 Minute AMRAP: 5 Pull Ups/10 Push Ups/15 Squats

Cindy Scaled to Perfection: No, I do not have pull ups but so many of these benchmarks mix them into the, well, mix.  My goal will be to get a resistance band so I could do assisted pull ups; if I can’t then, well, jumping pull ups it is.  I will also do the push ups on my knees because I get better upper body range of motion.

Annie: 50-40-30-20-10 Reps for Time: Double Unders/Sit Ups

Annie Scaled to Perfection: I don’t have consistent DUs yet so I’m going to do our box’s typical 3:1 single: DU ratio for this.  I can do sit ups, so no worries there.

Swole sista and I will be doing one of these per week, on a day that we don’t do a workout (this week it will be on Saturday).  Side project: we’re working on a jammin’ Spotify playlist to blare while we establish these baselines (and eventually smash them); we’ll share the link once it’s live.

On that note, what are your favorite songs to smash workouts to?  Leave them in the comments (you might find them on our playlist)!

Coordination and Grace

No. Not the WOD Grace, but the descriptive word. defines ‘grace’ as “elegance or beauty of form or movement”. It is my belief that my LACK of grace and coordination is at least partially responsible for my lack of forward progress with so many different moves.

Some moves require nothing but brute strength. Bench pressing, squatting, deadlifting, push-presses, etc.  These moves are all about you vs. the weight on the bar and strength will get you there. The stronger you are, the more weight you can put on the bar. The more you work on these moves, the stronger your muscles get. Of course, you must have good form, which is why we all started with the PVC or the 15 pound bar. But once the form is down, brute strength gets you the rest of the way.

Other moves are all about cardio. The rower, the Assault bike, running, even wall balls are generally all about cardio. It doesn’t take a lot of brute strength to toss a 14 pound wall ball into the air. And while I admit there is a bit of coordination in the timing, what it really takes is cardio strength to continue to move that small weight a large number of times. If you want to get better at running, you do more running. But it doesn’t require brute strength to run; anyone can do it. (For those of you arguing about coordination require to run, I would point out that humans are bipeds and designed to run, and that coordination, barring injury or cognitive dysfunction, is basically built in).

Many of Crossfit’s moves require a small amount of coordination combined with some strength and some cardio. Thrusters, box jumps, bear crawls, sled pushes are all good examples here. The stronger you are, the more weight you can move, but when the WOD calls for large numbers of thrusters (we had to do 75 the other day), you need good cardio as well. Like wall balls, these moves also require a certain amount of coordination to get the timing down and to save the athlete that little speck of efficiency in order to move without becoming overly tired.

And THEN we have the Olympic lifts and the gymnastics moves: clean and jerk, snatch, pull-ups, toes to bar, muscle ups and I’m even going to put double unders here because they require more coordination than other moves. Yes, there is certainly some strength involved in the Olympic lifts, pull-ups etc and yes, there is a lot of cardio required to do many consecutive double unders. But these moves are also about coordination and grace and getting your body to do certain things at certain times.

And what I’ve discovered, is that I seem to lack grace and coordination. I’m pretty dang strong. My cardio isn’t great, but it’s slowly improving. And yet, I have a sneaking suspicion that what is preventing me from not just mastering but being able to simply do them at all, isn’t strength. It’s coordination. It’s lack of grace. I watch videos, read, and practice and yet….I still cannot do these moves. My coaches will say, move “this way” do “this” with your body and yet, I don’t seem to be able to tell my body to do these things. And when I do (box jumps anyone?), I feel like I am a clumsy sort, flopping around, flailing about.

Dogs Failing at Being Dogs

Now it’s possible that my feeling about how I look and how I actually look are two different things, though when I see videos, I basically see a manatee attempting to jump rope. I lie…a manatee can probably jump better than I can, but I’m sure you get the point. Looking back over my athletic career in high school and college, I was probably really not any different. I had a lot of strength and gravitated to those positions/sports. I was a keeper in soccer, catcher in softball and threw the shotput on the track team. All things that require more strength and less grace, where launching yourself into the air and landing hard were expected, where brute strength was applauded.

I have no idea how one acquires grace, balance and coordination except through years of careful practice and more work. Something I’m more than willing to give!