Friday, December 20, 2013

Naughty or Nice?

The Holidays are here, and that means it is a turbulent time of year with the constant struggle b/n Naughty & Nice. Work has been a year-end whirlwind, and next person that says, "this is our slow season" will get punched in the throat. There has been nothing slow about the efforts to wrap up such a historic year for our company. It's like we've hit the bonus lightening round right at the end of the game. With candy cane-induced sanity - I pushed through, but it wasn't without sacrifice. Getting to the gym was a daily challenge - and one I failed miserably. When I stopped giving myself an hour a day to get to the gym - that's when things got a bit Naughty for me.

For a person like me - that doesn't comprehend moderation - once exercise slips - so does nutrition. Lunches were being ordered in during the workday. Working late meant not making it to class and getting to the grocery store was less desirable than being dipped in hot oil. That meant dinners at night start getting ordered in too. The domino effect multiplies and spreads to all aspects of your life. You eat crap, so you feel like crap. You feel like crap so you have a drink (or 5) and then you feel crappier. You feel crappier and need "grease" so you hit McD's on the way to work. The only way to reverse the downspiral is to exercise. This naughty behavior is so easily curable, and I'm so grateful that I drug myself back into CrossFit this week. I needed the mental break. I really needed the physical excursion. C3 happily obliged on both counts. I didn't celebrate any PRs this week - other than reversing the downspiral. Staying off the Naughty list would make the Nice side of the Holiday's more enjoyable.

The Nice side is all the time with family to celebrate. Those of us blessed to have little ones in our lives - we get to believe in the Spirit of Christmas all over again.The Holidays are stressful and filled with logistic olympics. All of the money, the lists, the class parties, the scheduling, the shopping, the inability to avoid the general public - it turns most of us into cranky robots that would please only the Grinch. I hung out with a bunch of 6-7 year olds yesterday, and it was the absolute cure for my Grinch-itis. Seeing them so excited during their class party, and reading their letters to Santa just made my heart happy.

2014 is a year I'm looking forward to. I will turn 40 in just a few weeks. I'm not dreading this. I will greet my 40's way more healthy than I was when I met my 30's. I will introduce my 3 year old to snow skis next month. She's got the balance of her brother, the swagger of her late-grandfather and my stubbornness. This will be fun! I will once again raise money for Project Athena Foundation as I paddle, hike and run the from Key Largo to Key West. I will run a 10k this year! This is something I'm bummed I never accomplished in 2013. I will continue to hike as much as possible again, and my little ones are going to be with us for the adventure. I'm sure 2014 will present the same time constraint challenges, but I'm determined to keep my health a top priority. My house might get dirty and the laundry piles might reach the ceiling - but the White's won't be sitting still long enough to notice. My 2014 Nice List will be filled with accomplishments, and I will say good-bye to all the self-destructive habits that kept me on the Naughty list in 2013.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WOD “Real Life”

CrossFit seems like another world to people that have never been. We speak an odd language to outsiders. Some accuse us of being part of a trend or dismiss us as a fitness cult. But my experience is quite the opposite. While PRs on the board are exciting, what is exhilarating are the moments when all that hard work pays off during everyday life.  On Sunday the Midwest experienced an unseasonable tornado outbreak. A path of destruction was cut across several not-too-far away communities. After we emerged from our basement, the skies brightened and the winds kicked up. Windy days are nothing new to our area – but as my 3 year old said it was a, “windy wind.” Bless her heart, she talks just like her mama!

So what does Sunday’s weather have to do with my fitness journey? It didn’t occur to me until after it was over, but Sunday presented a real life WOD that my coaches would recreate if they could install a wind tunnel at C3. Our area experienced sustained winds of 35 mph for several hours – and during that time there were gusts recorded at 70+ mph. Even though we could hear the wind constantly howling outside and rattling the windows it was fairly peaceful until we started hearing a clanging sound. We inspected the front of the house and discovered the metal siding on our eaves was tearing from the house.

WOD “Real Life” phase 1 – while exposed to the full brunt of the wind, hold ladder while The Hubs (200ish lbs) stands past the rung clearly labeled "Do not pass" to drill the siding back in place. Adding to the challenge, the location the ladder had to be placed on top loose gravel. Good times! But we weren’t finished. It turns out that was just the warm up. While inspecting the rest of the house – we realize the 10 foot swing gate of our privacy fence was breaking. WOD “Real Life” phase 2: push the gate back together and hold forever while The Hubs gathers tools. During the worst of the wind gusts, it took feet planted – full body lean and all upper body strength to keep the gate from collapsing. Initial attempts to reinforce the gate failed. We needed something more substantial. Thanks to an unrelated deck project we happen to have a pile of reclaimed lumber at the back of our property. WOD “Real Life” phase 3 kicks in. I trade off the “hold this and don’t let go” assignment to The Hubs. My newest assignment “wind sprints”. I sprinted to the lumber pile to bring back 2x4s. This was repeated four times. It turns out I can haulass with a gusting tailwind – not so much when that tailwind turns into a headwind while carrying lumber. Luckily we had enough pieces to successfully brace the gate. Then it was time for the mobility portion of WOD “Real Life”. Our pool cover was going to blow off. Challenge – wrap the sides of the pool with pallet wrap all the way to the ground. We literally duck walked around our pool with a spool of pallet wrap too many times to count. I think I would have happily held the gate longer to avoid duck walking one more lap around the pool.

With all the destruction of that day’s weather – I realize I’m so blessed that my biggest worries were a bit of siding, a fence gate and pool cover. The damage isn’t the point of all of this. Being strong enough to be useful during all of those efforts is my real point. And that is exactly the real point of CrossFit. Functional strength isn’t just something achieved inside the box. Where it is incredibly valuable is outside of the box. A personal note to my coaches, please don’t install a wind machine at C3. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What’s your number?

Your age, your weight, your pant size, your finances all swirl around you and right or wrong – are part of the equation of how we are defined most of the time. Young or old, fit or fat, rich or poor – these numbers follow us around in our everyday lives and are pretty impossible to escape. Unlike any place or activity I’ve ever experienced, somehow most of these numbers strip away once you walk into CrossFit. People with 30+ year age differences are high-fiving each other. Police officers, doctors and teachers mingle and meld with college students, corporate professionals and housewives. You don’t escape numbers in CrossFit – but the numbers are completely different.

The only numbers that matter are the numbers you set for yourself and are trying to beat. Regardless of if you do scaled WODs or Rx’d – each person has their own approach to get to the end of the WOD. During class you aren’t trying to beat your neighbor – your only competition is yourself. And I think that is the coolest aspect of the personal scaling approach to CrossFit. It is the magic of how a 63 year old can stand next to a 23 year old college athlete and each get a workout that challenges them. 

How do the numbers get set? As you build up to 1 Rep Max of different moves – you start a gradual progression of pushing yourself to grow stronger, row faster and jump further. So what is my number? Recently I’ve enjoyed a few new PRs. Dead Lift went from 123 to 133. Strict Press went from 83 to 88. Push Press went from 98 to 108, and Power Clean went from 103 to 113. 

While I’m pretty excited to be able to chart the progress, what has been more fun for me is seeing the strength outside of the box. I recently helped my husband disassemble our upper deck and reclaimed the lumber for another project – it was fun to be able to surprise him by carrying heavier-than-expected loads of lumber. And ladies, I’ve found the secret of empowerment. Want to know what it is? Sling a sledge hammer! I actually want to find more things to demo because it is just an awesome feeling!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More than a Mantra

The idea of Harder2Kill was born from encounters with three specific people. Losing my father in ’11 was the start of the realization that if he had been healthier prior to cancer he might have been able to fight it. Fast forward a few months and in ’12 I meet two spectacular women whose life journeys taught me much more. These two women unknowingly laid the rest of the foundation for my approach to living - which is oddly about striving to be “harder to kill”.

One of those ladies is Louise Cooper. I’ve described her before as an elegant badass, and I’ve yet to figure out a better description. I’ve referenced her before because let’s face it, a lot of times WODs suck! And during the suckiest of them, I almost always hear Louise in my head in the moments that I really want to just stop.

Louise is just simply one of the most awesome human beings that I’ve had the privilege to meet, and she’s a person that even brief encounters are profound. Louise is considered a pioneer for women adventure racers. Long before Mark Burnett was producing adventure/survivor shows for TV. Louise was rappelling down cliffs, crossing deserts, trekking glaciers and tackling jungles as an elite adventure racer. Louise humbly dismisses any fuss made about her accomplishments – and perhaps why I’m gushing here about her is that her perspective on life and approach to living life profoundly affected mine. I can only hope to have a sliver of the grace, strength, courage, determination and humility this woman possess.

Louise is the epitome of Harder to Kill. She’s proof that no one is above cancer, but she is also proof that if you are physically strong – then you are able to be as aggressive as necessary to fight it. Louise has been on my mind for a few weeks. Learning through friends her cancer had returned – I was pissed off and worried for her. Angry about how cancer could have the audacity to rear itself again. I learned last night that Louise is attacking this head-on as she does any other endurance challenge and knowing she’s once again in the fight to win makes my heart happy.

Wheezy you are in my thoughts and prayers, and I hope for the opportunity to once again be on another adventure with you! Countless of us have benefited from your tow line. May all the prayers, “good juju” and medical advancements be the tow line that aids you in kicking cancers ass once again! You told me once, “The only way out it - is through it.” I know you will make it through. Last time, you ran Badwater five months after completing chemo! I am eagerly awaiting what goal you put in your sights for round 2. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Until it wasn't...

I’m 17 days into my 30-day Nutritional Reset. Week 1 – flawlessly executed. Yay Me! Survived Carb Flu. Survived a birthday party (it did help that it was at Chunky Cheese). Week 2 – I was rocking by this week. I felt better. I felt strong. I felt like this was going to be pretty easy. Until it wasn’t.

Still unsure how it all unraveled so quickly, but in a blur of carbohydrates and sugar I downed a piece of my daughter’s birthday cake. What ensued over the next few hours was a crazy woman with an “F-it” attitude (note to mom: Let’s just agree the “F” stands for Forget – so don’t ground me. I’m almost 40.) Within hours I had agreed to pizza, and the unopened wine I was so proud off was completely drained. Then neighbors arrived with more wine! Woohoo! Life was good. Until it wasn’t.

The next-day remorse was ridiculous. I was so guilt-ridden about it all – that I moped, whined and berated myself all day. Not to mention felt like crap, and with my rosacea turned up to 11 - I looked completely sunburned. Nice. It’s an odd feeling to direct your anger and disappointment inward. I didn’t let anyone else down. I only let myself down. So I can’t report Week 2 as flawless. Made it right to the finish line of the week and tripped head over heels with bad decisions. Sunday was a bad day for me. Until it wasn’t. 

I was tired of being mad at myself. I built the food plan for the week, refreshed the groceries. And yes, I threw away the remaining birthday cake. Week 3 – not over yet, but in an odd way I’m more steeled for success after flubbing up last week. Somehow through failure, I’m more determined to see this through now then I was in Week 1 and Week 2 (minus the 5 hours of carb/sugar debauchery). This Nutritional Reset has been an interesting experiment about my relationship with food. I’m not a foodie by nature. I like quick, cheap and apparently dirty food. I like things that come in boxes, brown bags and from drive-up windows. I like not thinking about food every minute of the day. But that lazy approach to eating is what resulted in being overweight. That approach is also why I stalled out on my fitness goals. The Lazy Gal’s diet was acceptable for me. Until it wasn’t. 

This experience has forced me to plan, think, read, prepare and most of all cook. I know pretty much what I’m eating and when and what has to occur to get it prepared. I read recipes now, save tips on extracting natural sugar from stevia leaves, and feel I’m “one good idea” away from starting a Pintrest page (something I wholeheartedly have resisted for a long time). The Nutritional Reset has turned me into a reluctant foodie, but each meal, snack and drink is thought out, planned, researched, shopped for and prepared. I have always been an anti-foodie because it all seemed like it was too much work. Until it wasn’t. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Sweet Life

My October nutritional reset started a week ago today. I plunged myself into a month long effort to rid processed foods from my life. I’ll confess that I backed off the kiddos transition. I’m going more stealth sneak attack approach with them. I thought I’d have more luck if they were unaware that they are on a gradual path to unprocessed foods. Some will say I wussed out. Perhaps.

With Week #1 down - how am I doing? Pretty good. Picked back up my lunchtime runs – and that helps me not fall to cravings in restaurants. Some people run for health. For now – I run to avoid sitting in a restaurant staring at a menu full of things I can’t eat. I did have a dull headache for a few days last week, but that subsided by Thursday. I think that was just my body adjusting to the lack of processed sugars and other junk it was used to having. 

What am I eating? I get this question a lot. Eggs, bacon, sweet potatoes, tuna, salmon, tomatoes, spinach leaves, apples and avocados. Pretty much combos of all of those things serve me well for bfast and lunch since both meals are typically eaten at my desk in my office. Dinner has been looking like chicken/pork/steak on the grill, more avocados along with grilled peppers, onions and squashes. I can get the kiddos to eat most things (including veggies) if they have been grilled – so we do that a lot! The wine bottle has remained unopened in my house for a week+ now (Yay me!), and I even survived cupcakes and pizza during a birthday party over the weekend.

I did fumble over chicken wings – but was tired of turning everything down during a social situation that drew way too much attention to my (empty) plate. I need to get better about having my own foods so that I can discreetly eat during social situations and not really bring attention to the fact that I’m somewhere that doesn’t have an option for me. It just gets awkward with the hostess, and then people I don’t know want to debate paleo vs what they think paleo is and end-up telling me about the success someone they know had on Adkins and South Beach. All well-intended, but… I’ve always lived, and survived, by social rules to not debate politics, religion or grammar – and now I’m adding dietary preference to that list of topics to socially avoid. Next time – just going to eat before going, keep a fake drink in hand and have a snack in my purse and/or claim a food allergy. People totally back away judgment-free from allergy claims.

For week one I kept the foods basic and within a known comfort zone My bravery in the kitchen is increasing, and I have a few recipes I’m looking forward to trying out on the crew this week. I'm past the hardest part of the nutritional reset. There is a pretty sweet life - without refined sugar - and I'm really eager to explore it. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Such a Nice Girl

Monday was a great day for me. For one – I was finally mobile again after rigor mortis settled in from Saturday’s WOD. Seriously couldn’t walk down stairs on Sunday without pain being involuntarily verbalized. Props to my partner Michelle – not sure what the split was on the 250 walking lunges – but I know she carried the load more than I did. On Monday I was so happy to be able to walk without the need to stifle profanities, and I was even happier to find out the WOD would be Helen.

Here’s why like Helen. She’s a nice girl b/c Helen doesn’t do squats or burpees or pushups. Helen is a lovely name for a lovely workout. But Helen wasn’t my fav part of Monday. During the strength segment we did 5 rounds of 5 Push Presses – building in weight. I started at 63 lbs – and each round increased by 10 lbs. At 93 lbs. and with encouragement of a classmate I did a few extra sets increasing in smaller increments making it to 108 lbs for 2 Push Presses. It was a fun moment of nudging past a comfort zone and self-imposed limitation. Thanks Jackie! J 

When I was going for my second Push Press – another classmate Terri took a pic. Now here’s the thing about this pic. I was such a badass in my own mind at that moment, but the pic proves that I am indeed still a dork. But the reason I love this pic, and why I’m sharing it here, is because it really captures the moment of achievement. I’ll always remember the classmates that were encouraging me and rooting for me. Helen wasn’t the only nice gal at C3 that night!

108# Push Press 09302013

3 rounds for time:
·        400m Run
21 KB Swings (53#/35#)
12 Pull-ups

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Humans don't come with a reboot button - or do we?

Nutrition – it’s my fitness albatross. I love being active, I love working out, I love being stronger. However I have several fitness challenges that I haven’t overcome that can all be attributed to nutrition. For as much as my Love statements above – I have several “don’t love” realities too. I don’t love grocery shopping, I don’t love cooking, and I really don't love messing up my perfectly clean not-cooked-in-kitchen. I have no personality blind-spots here - in general, I’m completely inept at overall “Kitchen Management”.  

So here is where the next phase of my fitness is going to get more challenging than double-unders and burpees for me. I’ve just agreed to participate in C3's Nutritional Reset Challenge starting Monday. What is that? It is 30 day program designed to get you away from the trappings of processed foods, kick bad habits and overall improve performance. So what that means for me - is facing my dreads and shop fresh, whole unprocessed  foods and then turn those things into glorious meals my family will eat. No pressure. 

I believe in the benefits of whole, unprocessed foods. I agree the food industry is bordering on evil – and at best greedy, manipulative and negligent. I completely agree with it all. EXCEPT – I get overwhelmed every time I attempt to implement an unprocessed approach for my family. The Hubs – he’s all in (but he hasn’t seen the upcoming increase to the food budget yet). The Kids – for the most part will be unaware for the first 5 minutes – until they notice that pop tarts, Tyson chicken nuggets, spaghetti-os and almost everything else they are willing to put into their mouths – is no longer in the cabinets. I seriously hope the pros are correct in the "they will eventually eat what you put in front of them" approach. I’ve done this before – but it was just me. And I’ve admittedly never achieved a sustainable healthy balance of moderation when it comes to my relationship with food. Now I’m dragging my family down this road with me. I’m excited and dreading it all at the same time. I’m pre-plotting meals now – and embracing the adventure of cooking again. I can cook – I just don’t love to cook. However, I love the idea of improved and achieved fitness goals more!

So in preparing for this transition to literal “clean living” – I did about the most boneheaded thing a person can do. I went and pigged out on nachos – and piled everything evil I could on top of them. And of course I  have been completely sick to my stomach and sneezy since then. People laugh when I declare that I have a grain allergy – but I can eat a nacho chip (or beer, or bread, or corn) and literally be flush-faced and sneezy/snotty within 15 minutes. Why I do that to myself – is apparently a topic I should likely discuss with a therapist one day. 

C3's Nutritional Challenge arrives at a great time for me. If you know me from work – you know the level of insanity we’ve all just survived with our latest product launch. The traveling, the meetings, the daylong conference calls should be leveling back to a sense of normalcy. The pool is closed for the year, and the boat heads to storage in the next few days. The end-of-summer festivities have wrapped up and with it the accompanying lime-o-ritas (aka mommy candy) and budlight limes have dwindled from the fridge. With this challenge I’m giving myself the gift of a nutritional reset – so that bad habits don’t worsen. 

Feeling Better = Improved Workouts. All of this is perfectly-timed to not be a dietary/fitness hot mess going in to the holiday season. I want Santa to be the only one in our house with a bowl-full-of-jelly belly! With discipline and willpower re-instilled for my fitness approach – the eggnog and sausage balls won’t have such a hold on me. I’ll keep you updated and as always promise to not "sugar" coat it. Now off to purge my pantry. Anyone in to dumpster diving, there will be $1,000 worth of processed evil in my trashcan on Friday morning. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Permission to suck

It’s been a crazy summer filled with adventures and new experiences. One of my decisions to start CrossFit was to improve my functional strength so that I would be able to do more with my family. Mission accomplished – we do more as a family than we used to. Weekends are exhausting! As we do more, we try even more new things to do. And guess what? I suck at most of them. But here’s what I’ve learned – it’s okay to suck. Give yourself permission to suck at something – so that you can explore and discover what you are capable of.

Over Labor Day weekend I was home in Alabama visiting family and I skied for the first time in 13+ years! I attribute the successful effort to a few things. One – great patience on my brother’s part for repeatedly pulling me and encouraging me. Two – coaching by a friend who stayed close by on a wave runner giving me tips and advice. Three – CrossFit – with strong legs and arms – my efforts weren’t stunted by weakness. My effort became about timing and technique. I was even surprised by how little I was sore a few days later. But one of the biggest reasons for the successful attempt at skiing – I believe was my willingness to suck.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my treks of the Canyon is to check my pride and just be open to learning. I found myself doing that again. Of course I wanted to look amazing pulling up for the first time. Of course I wanted to spray my family on the dock with a rooster tail. Of course I wanted to look like a rock star. Of course none of that happened! But the reality is even better. My son didn’t see any of that occur. What he did see was his mom determined to do something and not scared to fail. He saw me fall, get back up, fall, get back up, semi-successful stand-up attempt, fall, get back up, make adjustments, listen to those around me trying to teach me, fall, get back up and stay up, still up, still standing, VICTORY – WOOHOOO!!! I’m not going to pretend it was all pretty once I was up. I wobbled, struggled for control – and clearly my brother didn’t prepare me for crossing the wake – but it’s going up on the life scoreboard as a success. I suck at skiing – but I skied!

When I first started my fitness efforts – it was all about trying to recapture the thinness of my youth. Then I learned it was more about strength and nutrition. I still fight the demon that wants to be tiny, but on the days when functional strength shows me what I’m capable of – I choose to celebrate. Go suck at something new today! It’s awesome!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hurts so good!

I love feeling sore – it lets me know I really did something! It tells me that I’ve pushed my muscles past their comfort level and they will respond in kind by growing stronger. One of the great things about starting Harder2Kill – was not only as an outlet for me to share my experiences, but it keeps me accountable too. When I’m active, when I’m good, when I’m “full-force” I don’t struggle for topics to write about. The lessons learned keep coming. 

So after the past few weeks of slacking, I’m so happy to report that I’m sore! Not injured – just sore – and it hurts so good! Monday after my unfortunate run-in with a deer, I still got a really good workout. It was great to lift again. Since I had not been consistent at C3 for a few weeks – I had not lifted. I still feel too new at it to go down to our home gym and lift. But with my husband’s guidance, I was able to. Tuesday I ran 3 miles with my neighbor and having her company – kept me from remembering that I was convinced I couldn’t run more than 1. (p.s. there’s a lesson in there about not setting limitations on yourself.) When I met her on the street my first words were, “I’ll be shocked if I make it a mile.” So much for self-confidence and positive outlook…. But with great conversation and music – I didn’t notice I had overshot my 1 mile “goal”. Today I made it to C3 and happy to report – no wildlife was harmed along the way. The workout was great (until burpees – but they always suck). Found my 1RM for Shoulder Press (85#) and survived 4 rounds of row sprints, burpees and kettlebell swings.

And wouldn’t you know it – nutrition is cleaning up nicely too J I don’t have the mental fortitude right now for a sugar detox cycle (mama needs her wine) but the grains, dairy and “chemical sh!t storm” for the most part are well in-check. I’ll let you know when my big girl pants are loose again J but for now – just trying to forgive myself for the last few weeks and get back at it.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ran out of excuses and straight into a deer

It’s Monday morning! Usually not something I'm overly stoked about, except this Monday was set to be the restart of my full-force approach to my fitness. Full-force is the category I put things when I’m successfully tying workouts and nutrition together. If you read this blog – you might have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet for a few weeks. I’ll confess – I’ve been hiding. I’ve fallen so far off the wagon that I’ve dreaded the effort it’s going to take to dust off and start up again. Fitness really is like a steam engine, you have to get the water boiling before any forward momentum can be achieved. Through work travel, family vacations, I-just-hiked-the-Canyon entitlement and just plain laziness – the water in my steam engine had completely cooled over the past few weeks.

And it isn’t just my activity level that cooled, disciplined nutrition fell by the wayside. I can only blame the IL State Fair for one day of the past three weeks. The rest was me – saying things like, “I’ve already been bad for lunch, sure let’s have pizza for dinner.” “Sure let’s have a drink – or five.” “Pasta sounds like a great idea!” or “I’m so hungry this morning – I’ll just swing through McD’s – can’t start work on an empty stomach.” 

So what has happened over this sabbatical from fitness? I’ll tell you – it ain’t pretty. My skin looks awful, Tums has become a daily need, and I’m up two pant sizes. The bikini I was so excited about at the beginning of summer – got pushed aside last weekend for my “old mom-tankini”. My “big girl” pants are snug (granted my “big girl pants are still 6 sizes under what I used to wear – but they are two sizes up from where I know I should be right now). So after all this – I have to call myself out on all this baloney and just get back to doing what I know works! Eat clean, move more!

On the days that you feel like dogging off, slipping or binging – let my experience serve as encouragement to stay the course. Trust me when I say – it is just easier to do the right thing and keep that fire stoked for the workouts. There isn’t a food that tastes good enough to feel like crap. For me one bad decision leads to another and another. Then viola – it’s three weeks later and I’m miserable.

So today was my start day! Alarm goes off at 4 am – feet hit the floor with no whining and zero dread. Yay Me! I was really excited as I got ready and out the door by 4:30 am. At 4:36 BAAAM! Hit a deer. 4:40 – I find myself standing on the side Business 55 just a few miles from home – horrified to have witnessed the deer fly through the air and still trying to move. I’m trying to figure out what to do and can only randomly recall a few thoughts... Call The Hubs cell phone – no answer. Call The Hubs other cell phone – no answer. Repeat. Do I need to call the police when I hit a deer? Look at the car. Is that deer hair in my grill? Is that a crack or a scratch? Dang cell phone not bright enough for flashlight!! Call The Hubs again – finally answers!!! I immediately melt in a sobbing,“I hit a Deer – I broke the car – deer still flopping – what do I do? It’s hurt but not dead. It’s flopping!!!” 5 words/millisecond recap. (P.S a lot of emotion/information for The Hubs to absorb and answer to at 4:38) While he's talking to me - other thoughts racing through my mind were, Where is the deer? Did I pull over enough? I should get back in my car. Seriously – where is the deer? Is that him? No – that is a pile of dirt. I should really get back in my car. I finally can hear my husband asking if I’m okay enough to drive home. After talking to him - I do feel better – this amazing man – stays on the phone with me to calm me down. I get home 4:47 (quite an eventful 17 minutes). He’s not too worried about the damage car – and more concerned about me. Bless Him! He briefly eyes the car in the garage and then matter of factly states, “Let’s go workout.” 

He appreciates the significance of my pledge to start my “full-force” days TODAY – no more excuses – and even “I hit a deer” isn’t going to fly for reason enough today. He looks at the WOD  and helps me with deadlifts and pull-ups and a bajillion push-ups. It was a P90X/free weight hybrid WOD – but felt great! 

Oh - about the deer. He assures me I didn’t hit it hard enough to kill it, and that it was able to still walk away. He might just be trying to make me feel better – and it’s working. I love that man for many reasons – but this morning highlights several of them. He’s my rock during my freak out moments in life. He’s my safetynet-goto-fixit guy. And today, he’s even my personal trainer to keep me on course with my fitness goals. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Scariest Part

So yesterday I was completely freaked out about my overdue return to Capital City CrossFit. In fact by the time I made it to the 4:30 class – this was the mental “Scary Door” picture I had in my head before walking into C3.

But instead of being scary – I was immediately welcomed by this.

Okay – not exactly rainbows and unicorns, but I was immediately welcomed back into the fold. Zack even almost smiled at me. Probably not so much about my return – but had more to do with the fact that I was handing him money. But I’ll take it J

The truth is – because of not being able to go to C3 for 3+ weeks, I had worked myself into quite a frenzy about returning. I'm happy to report that it was all much ado about nothing. After some quick hellos with fellow CrossFitters – it was down to business as usual. Since I had been gone for a while – Brian worked with me to ensure form and proper weights for my back squats. I happily grabbed the grey band for pull-up assists – and I’m so glad I did – b/c there were a million of them. I can’t lift my arms today – but that’s okay – I feel awesome! Awesomely sore – yes – but happy to have faced my fear to just walk back into the box. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has ever had life work get in the way of working out. I’m just happy to report that the hardest part of yesterday – was simply walking through the door.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Day of Reckoning

With recent travel demands I’ve witnessed a decline in my fitness commitment. It wasn’t an overnight failure – it is one that in hindsight was a gradual slipping of discipline. Here’s the breakdown of my breakdown.

Week 1 trip – very committed to not letting work and travel get in the way of my fitness goals. I was actively doing my WODs and running up to 4.5 miles 3x per week. I kept up the running, and got creative for getting workouts done at my hotel. The commitment to carving out time to get my workouts in definitely went hand-in-hand with my food choices. Without being too much of a fuddy duddy – I managed to make smart choices while remaining discreet with my intentions. I’ve learned people (especially during happy hour) don’ t really want to be aware of my thoughts about the menu.

Week 2 trip – still committed – still running, but energy definitely slipping. I have more evening entertaining to do on this trip and the nights are getting later and later. I still managed to get in 3 runs that week – but they were only 3 miles each time – and the last run was pathetic re: time. My workouts were affected by other choices (two words – Japanese Karaoke). I was pretty pleased with my efforts. Food-wise was still consciously opting for lean proteins and veggies. And then it happened – the really late nights started adding up. Not just from staying out late, but staying up late to get work done around the meeting schedule. Too many nights of seeing midnight on my computer screen. I started adjusting my alarm clock. 4 am turned to 5 turned to 6 and the desire for sleep won out over going for a run or working out. Starting the day sluggish made poor choices easier to make. Scrambled eggs became pancakes. Grilled chicken and veggies became hamburgers and fries and when the desserts came out at dinner – I was like “bring it on!” 

Week 3 trip – almost didn’t even pack my running shoes, but I managed to convince myself I was going to run. I was heading to our TX office – so I feel really safe and familiar with the area for solo runs – and I really didn’t have an excuse to not to. By this point I really wanted get back to feeling great. I do function at a higher level of productivity when my workouts and nutrition are on track. Well – the best laid plans…. The running shoes never saw pavement the 3 days I was there. Happy hours were extremely Happy, and I didn’t do myself any favors by tossing nutrition discipline out the window when it came to meals. I returned home exhausted, puffy and with a sugar addiction rearing its ugly head.

So I know all the magazines say – shake it off, forgive yourself and move on. Luckily I’m off the road for a few months. I’m eager to return to my routine. No matter how ridic my 4am alarm seems to most. It is what works for me. I have to have that workout first thing in the morning. It truly casts the dye for the rest of my day. The WOD fuels better food choices, gives me a head start on getting going, I have more energy throughout the day. By the time I get home to debate dinner, I’ve had the opportunity to layer several positive decisions on top of each other. Those decisions typically carry me through the rest of the evening. On full-force days, I’m more likely to play outside with the kids and laundry and miscellaneous chores feel easier to get done. This weekend is prime example of my attempts derailed. I was still struggling to shrug off the past few weeks, and the proof is that I didn’t get nearly as much done around my house as I typically do. With my oldest off to grandma’s for the week, I should have been able to run circles around myself. But I didn’t. I ate ice-cream instead and still have a pile of laundry to fold. 

Tomorrow is my first day back at Capital City Crossfit in over three weeks. While I’m absolutely dreading the next few days – I know it’s going to hurt. I know I’m going to get frustrated with myself. But what I fear more is what will inevitably happen to me if I don’t get back there ASAP. I’m aware that I’m perched on a slippery slope. I fear complacency and poor health more than I fear the WOD. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Adventure of a Lifetime

Adventure of a Lifetime

I'm mildly famous in a suburb of Raleigh :). All kidding aside, my best friend Aimee joined me for this year's Rim to Rim to Rim hike of the Grand Canyon with Project Athena Foundation. Her local paper featured the adventure. It felt fitting to share it here - since I talked so much about it during my training efforts. Aimee proved to be a hard core endurance athlete! I'm sure she's caught the bug now for even more challenges. It just proves that everyone is stronger than they think they are.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fat Girl Running!

As a recovering fat chick I can now admit a few things now that were difficult to acknowledge 80 lbs ago. So let me tell you a little story. I travel for work, and occasionally that forces me to participate in sprints and other random athletic endeavors that I call “Airport Olympics”. About eight years ago I was heading to Vegas connecting through O’Hare – but my first leg flight was delayed out of Bloomington. The BMI to ORD flight is a quickie – so my coworkers and I still had a chance to meet our connection – but it was going to be tight. My travel companion was a much younger, much healthier person who was brilliant enough to wear her tennis shoes that day. As I’ve already mentioned I’m a solid 80+ lbs heavier at this point and - not as brilliantly - I have overdressed for the occasion. So here I’m all dolled up to the max and wearing a pair of my beloved hooker heels.

So enough setup – back on our delayed flight we devise a plan. My coworker is going to run ahead of me to get to our gate in hopes of assuring them that others are coming. As we land our connecting flight is boarding already! It’s been too many years – so I have no memory of the terminal/gate assignments – but it was going to be a ridiculous feat to get there. So here I am – pulling my carry-on and my incredibly heavy briefcase – and I start my best attempt to run – in those damned heels! I’m running in public (which I’m sure looked more like spastic flailing in extra slow motion – I’m hot, sweaty and too many things are violently jiggling. I’m beyond winded, people are staring gawking. They are actually stopping their momentum – to make way for the spectacle that was mine. Out of shear desperation and humiliation, I have what I would guess an out-of-body experience would feel like. I can actually see myself trying to part a sea of thousands of travelers and “run” through them. Out of nowhere I start yelling, “Fat Girl Running!! Fat Girl Running!!” I have a peculiar sense of humor – I’ve never denied that. But I know in moments when I’m most mortified – I tend to race to deliver the punch line and not risk someone else making the joke. I learned it was safer to be the joke teller.

So why am I’m rambling on about this experience now? It’s because I just experienced the total opposite of “Fat Girl Running!” I’m traveling to Orlando today – through Atlanta. I landed in ATL and only had 15 minutes to go from C5 to A29. On most trips I travel dressed for work/meetings, but today I’m outfitted in my running clothes/shoes because I didn’t have room in my combo backpack/briefcase for them. So I get off the plane and see the gate assignment. I took it as a challenge – my WOD of the day – make that flight! I clipped on my backpack, pulled the straps extra snug, and I took off! It was fun – darting around others while avoiding pedestrian crashes. I ran down the escalator to the Plane Train – and then ran up the escalator when I got to the A terminal. It wasn’t until I was at my gate – with four minutes to spare – that I realized something – I wasn’t winded!!!! And I still had time for a potty break! Double victory J Today’s Airport Olympics was a far cry from Fat Girl Running! Sometimes on my fitness journey I get hung up on what I’m still trying to accomplish, or what I still can’t do. Today was a nice celebration of what has been achieved. I still have a long way to go, but today putting “Fat Girl Running!” in my rear view mirror was very healing for this recovering fat chick J So for me this week I have a PR for terminal dash!

Friday, July 12, 2013

On the Road Again

Hitting the road for work for a few different trips presents definite challenge for work/life and my don't-get-lazy-efforts. The coils in my tightly wound calendar have sprung loose and chaos has ensued. I really don't want to loose ground with my workouts so the mornings I'm on the road - I hit the road. Luckily locations are really nice and familiar - so my focus has been to continue increasing my mileage for the next few weeks. I'd like to run a local 10k in August - so that is my first "next". I have worked up to 4 miles - next week I want to get to 5-6 miles. 

Working out in hotel rooms is good in theory but there are limitations. I can do a few things while avoiding waking my hotel-neighbors or having security knock on my door. In room workouts include yoga, push-ups, toe-drivers and air squats - and I'm well aware I could do burpees - but I haven't successfully forced myself to do those yet. 

I really miss weight lifting - it's one of the aspects I've enjoyed the most about CrossFit. Sadly hotels think tossing an elliptical machine, mirrored wall and water cooler in a closet and calling it the "Fitness Center" is adequate - but for me it doesn't quite cut it. I am buying a jump rope before my next trip - I'm nowhere near a double-unders - but right now if I could string together 20 singles - that would be progress. Missing my C3 friends - looking forward to a more consistent schedule in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

10 signs you took too much time off from Crossfit

10. You’re no longer bi-lingual because your “crossfit-anease” is rusty.
9. Your six year old starts feeling heavier than he used to.
8. Can’t row 500 meters in under 2:10. 
7. You’re back to modified push-ups.
6. Burpees suck even more.
5. The big grey band doesn’t seem to have enough spring to it.
4. The 20” jump box looks really high!
3. Monkey bars on the playground no longer look fun to you.
2. You decline a jump rope challenge from your 10 year old neighbor.
1. The callouses on your hands have softened.

So it seems my little WOD vacay after my hike was probably a wee bit on the long side. First day back to Capital City Crossfit today – and it was the asskicker I feared it would be. Happy to be back at it, and eager to establish my next goal. What next? That is the big question for me now…. I need to answer this sooner than later. Any suggestions? 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The School of Hard Rocks

It has been four days since I stepped off of the South Kaibab Trail and completed a successful Rim to Rim to Rim crossing of the Grand Canyon – and words still fail me. My six year old informed his teacher that, “My Mom always hikes the Grand Canyon,” and it occurs to me that in his mind – he’s right. Since he was four – I’ve trained, hiked, recovered, trained, hiked and now recovering from making this second venture into the canyon.  So why do I do it? I think there are numerous answers to that, but mainly they all involve lessons that I’m continually learning.

I’ve learned teamwork
Twice a year Project Athena Foundation’s Robyn Benincasa, leads a group of strangers in to the Canyon and emerges with a solid, unified team. So how does a group of 20+ strangers not self-destruct under the harshest conditions most of us have ever experienced? The lessons I have learned on these treks can also be applied to life. There is an expectation that if you are having a strong moment, you lend that strength to someone that is having a weak moment. Magic occurs during that connection. It is a synaptic spark that travels across the group as the person who was once weak or struggling recovers and is again strong and well-positioned to help another person when they are in need. This process repeats itself throughout the day in a variety of events from sharing water, distracting with a joke, distributing food, giving pep talks, pulling tow lines, pushing from behind, taking on more weight to relieve someone when they are tired or even scrambling to the river to cool off clothes and gear. If this level of teamwork and concern for the success of teammates would be replicated in everyday life – businesses and people would enjoy far more success.

I’ve learned humility
My success was facilitated by so many throughout this endeavor. I’m keenly aware of the preventative efforts to keep my body from becoming the heat-induced train wreck it was during the previous year. And trust me – holding my head high while wearing an umbrella hat, ice pack in my bra and cold wraps around my neck – is a testament to swallowing pride and doing whatever was necessary to stay ahead of the ill-effects of the heat. Also – I completely agree with Robyn’s philosophy that accepting help is truly a gift to the giver. I’ll admit this year’s team was blessed with my generosity of letting people help me a lot.

I’ve learned strength
I am physically stronger than I was last year which was a stated goal. You can’t enter the Canyon and expect to successfully exit without physically preparing your body for the climb out. As exhaustion sets in, the ability to keep moving is so important. But it isn’t just about muscle strength. It takes so much mental strength to not crawl under a shaded rock and hide there forever. Mental fortitude is as important as physical – perhaps even more. I watched numerous teammates dig deep and deliver results despite exhaustion, illness, frustration and fear.

I’ve learned weakness
The sun and heat of the Arizona desert in June are too much for this gal. You can’t strong-arm heat. The sun doesn’t care about front squats and push-ups and wall balls. The sun just absolutely takes me out and knocks me around like a rag doll. I’m so grateful for the strength that I do have – for without it I would likely be selling lemonade at Phantom Ranch for the rest of my life. But I’m also grateful for my weakness, because I learned so much about myself through that as well.

I’ve learned trust
When you know you are in a situation that you cannot survive alone, you learn to depend on the ones surrounding you. My PAF nickname is Baby Bird, a name I answer to proudly. I earned this name by my willingness to listen and follow instructions. I drink and eat exactly what I’m told, and if the leaders saw me struggling, I listened and followed their advice. Perhaps I looked silly from all the preventive measures in place to protect my body from the sun and heat, but I never got sick. Considering I was sick three hours into day 1 last year, this is an enormous testament preparation and trusting the experts.

I’ve learned leadership
Successful leaders aren’t standing in front barking orders and demonstrating their strengths. The trail angles were all accomplished endurance athletes. Any one of them could have ran those trails in ½ the time it took our team to hike. Not once did any leader make anyone on the team feel like they were failing by their struggles. Instead they took on more weight, saw to nutritional needs of others while also encouraging and teaching us. True leaders facilitate the success of team members, and this is another canyon lesson that can be applied to personal and professional lives.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Game Day. Game Plan.

Grand Canyon
It's finally here! A day I've been waiting for since last year! I'm in Phoenix a day early  to rest up before meeting up with the Project Athena crew tomorrow. Justifying the hotel's pool deck as heat training - has given me the luxury of time to think. I've been comparing my perspective from this year's R2R2R trek to the preparations for last year's. One benefit I have this year is the experience from last. So I'm already one up for myself in that regard. Last year I was excited, nervous and admittedly naive about what was in store for me. I was still cross-wired as to what I was trying to accomplish with my fitness goals. In fact this time last year - I doubt I would've used the term "fitness". I was still aiming to be thin. I was so focused on no longer being overweight and trying to attain a certain size. This time last year I was still using food as both reward and punishment for efforts instead of as fuel. I did take my training for last year's hike very seriously - but I made a few crucial mistakes. I had fixated all of my training on hitting distances and time. I was mainly only doing cardio to complement the hiking. This time last year - my motivation was an internal fear of not being able to stop a  family cycle of poor health. This time last year - I was still apprehensive about meeting up with a group of strangers to do such a team effort. I just couldn't imagine feeling comfortable in the midst of strangers. The interesting thing about being in a situation where you have to depend on each other, you get past the "stranger" status very quickly. In a few hours I'll reunite with several of those same "strangers" that I now blessed to count as friends. There are quite a few of us returning for this year's hike. So a year later - am I a year wiser? I believe so. My stated goal for this year was to be stronger, suffer less and enjoy it more. So what is the difference?

Strength is Different
My focus this year has been on strength training at Capital City CrossFit and overall fitness that includes nutrition as a vital component. I now view food as fuel and have a better understanding on how certain foods help and hinder me. I know I'm stronger than I was last year. I'm banking on that strength to increase my endurance so that my body doesn't break down as quickly as it did last year.

Nutrition is Different
Last year when I was beginning to suffer - I was listening to about 20 people telling me to do about 30 different things. I was popping a variety of supplements, gu, magic water, sugar, grains, basically anything anyone handed me. All well-intended, but my mistake was not knowing how my body would react to certain things, or not knowing what my body needed at different times. I swelled like blow fish and suffered from extreme nausea. This year I have a clear nutrition plan - dried fruits, nuts, jerky, coconut chips will be used and the oreos, cornchips and fragile fruit will be left at home. I now know that grains, dairy, gluten and synthetic supplements like Gu doesn't make my body happy. Last year when we stopped to buy our trail food, I was literally buying anything that anyone else was buying - I had too much food, and I had tons of "wrong food" for me.

Schedule is Different
This year, I'll talk and look around - but I'll do it while walking. I intend to make stops very minimal. Let me restate that - I plan to hightail it like a scalded dog until I'm safely in the shade of the North Rim. Last year - as I was struggling - I was begging to stop and rest every few minutes. I understand now that frequent stopping is detrimental. My plan is to keep moving forward at every possible moment. Now I completely understand the lyrics of Rodney Atkins song, If your going through hell. In the song he sings of the need to just keep going - don't stop and if you are lucky you might get out before the devil knows you are there. I'm not sure of the background of this song or if Adkins is a fellow R2R2R trekker - but he certainly wrote the theme song for the effort.

Motivation is Different
Last year I was on a personal journey to honor the loss of my father. And while that was my conscious goal - I believe I was really on a subconscious manic-quest to draw an imaginary line and end a family cycle of poor health and indifference. This year, my motivation is to be a stronger teammate, suffer less and enjoy the experience more.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Recipe for Awesomesauce: Add Carrots

People are motivated in different ways. Take my husband as an example. He is most motivated when he’s pissed off – or what he calls “The Red Ass”. When he is frustrated, he has unlimited strength and power that I stand back in awe of. I’ve watched this man physically push an entire set of kitchen cabinets up a huge staircase. I’ve witnessed him be so focused on a goal that he literally repaired a car on the side of the interstate with a Pitching Wedge. It was a moment that would've made MacGyver himself proud. Over the years I’ve seen him push through adversity, pain and injury to accomplish physical goals – to the point it is a given that he’ll finish. And while I really admire his ability to convert negative energy into positive motion, I cannot do that. In the carrot vs stick scenario – I’m a total carrot girl. "Red Ass" breaks me down, a drill sergeant could put me in a fetal rocking position with one glare. I attended a kickboxing class a few years ago – the trainer was known for his brute approach. I completely crumbled and failed to thrive in that environment. However, others around me – loved it. I have always absorbed my energy from those who surround me. If I’m around cold, negative or mean people – it affects me. Perhaps that is why I’m loving CrossFit. It is a dynamic like no other I’ve been a part of. It is an intense atmosphere, there are hard core athletes doing amazing things yet it is a very supportive and welcoming environment. CrossFitters encourage your efforts, acknowledge your accomplishments and celebrate with you. That is the awesomesauce for me. I’m a few months in at this point, and I’m seeing newer people come in from the On Ramp cycles, and I get so excited for them because I understand the accomplishments they are going to soon start experiencing. Then I look over and see the people that are more experienced – and they are so strong, so calm, so determined – yet still smiling. Then I look over at “the cool kids” (this is what I call the people that can do the muscle-ups and the handstand pushups and the double-unders with ease) and I’m excited about the many accomplishments that still lie ahead for me.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Dangers of Maybe

The past week I've seen a few pretty cool things at CrossFit. Everything from a woman lifting her heaviest deadlift three times, to watching two of the guys lift a bar with so many weights that I couldn't calculate what it was. Now granted they are two of the more elite athletes at the box - so I'm by no means calling that a "normal" feat. What I took away from watching them wasn't about their ability - it was their attitude. All three successes had one thing in common - there wasn't a "Maybe I'll get this" thought as they approached the task. Success really has no room for "Maybe". Maybe is weak. Maybe by it's very usage means lack of commitment. I know that looking back on my fitness journey the Maybe approach was used for a few reasons. Maybe when I was scared. Maybe if I wanted a predefined reason for failure. Maybe if the attempt would somehow replace the lack of accomplishment. Is "Maybe" the biggest obstacle to overcome? I think so. In big things in life we have to set goals with certainty. There wasn't a Maybe approach to my education. I didn't approach my marriage with a "Maybe" in my mind. I certainly didn't approach motherhood with "Maybe". I don't use "Maybe" in my professional life - so why have I allowed it for personal fitness goals? I'm trekking rim to rim to rim of the Grand Canyon next week. And, as vast as the canyon is - there is no room for "Maybe". I know now that if Maybe is in my mind - or in the minds of my teammates - we will certainly experience more adversity during our trek. Maybe only opens the door for failure.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Higher Ground

Today I hiked my favorite place, Pere Marquette. I’ve been trying to get here for two months, but the weather hasn’t been agreeable lately. Pere Marquette is located at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers both of which are flooding due to insane rain levels. We found the back entrance to the state park, as the main entrance is underwater. In fact the trailhead of Goat’s Cliff was under water too. This was the main trail I needed to hike – for the incline work. We took a back trail and aimed for the top. The bugs were beyond insane – but thanks to a likely lethal dose of combining 3 different repellents – we stopped looking like dinner to millions of mosquitoes and buffalo gnats. The day was awesome – we had the entire park to ourselves. 12 miles of intertwining trails – with a few trees to climb over and what we call mud-skiing, we had a blast. I can really tell the strength difference from CrossFit. My pack when fully loaded isn’t heavy anymore. The trees we climbed over were more of a playground challenge than a deterrent. If we came to a fork in the trail and one way was up and one way was down – we went up. We zigzagged all over that park. I love that we’ve reached a point in training that what used to seem laborious – now feels like fun.  We’ll be lucky to escape the wet trails without malaria, but I am grateful for the day to play outside. 

This picture was taken from McAdams Peak. MS River at top, IL River in middle, All the rest is flooding.

Monday, June 3, 2013

At 5,000 feet – shouldn’t the view be better?

Today I had to do something I had been dreading – I climbed 5,000 vertical feet on a treadmill trapmill. I’ve avoided this day for months. I’ve played guessing games with the weather for too long. We’ve had our 5th wettest May on record and that hasn’t been conducive for getting my training hikes completed. I had one remaining hike to log – travel wasn’t an option for this one. With all the rivers flooding and trails overgrown – it started looking like the trapmill was my only option. So I found a local gym that had machines that would track vertical distance, sadly this gym also smelled like sweaty gym socks. I bought a day pass, briefly explained what I was doing to the uninterested kid at the front desk, climbed on and away I went. I know people get excellent workouts everyday on treadmills, and that is great for them. For me – a treadmill is an evil necessity used only to escape weather. Between texting with my friend, who was also completing her climb on a treadmill 800+ miles away, and discovering that I had never finished Celia Rivenbark’s audiobook You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning I survived the challenge. Her sarcasm was the magic bullet I needed. With ear buds in place, I zoned out and started my climb at 20% incline. I was in a closed room with no windows, no air moving and nothing to occupy my flea-sized attention span. With Miss Celia telling stories in my ear (and yes more than a few awkward, but actual, LOL moments), I completely blocked out the curious onlookers. I’m sure I looked odd to them on a treadmill wearing a fully-loaded backpack, but I didn’t care. I was on the mission to hit 5,000 feet as quickly as possible and get the heck out of there.


  • Sarcasm has always been my “Go To” coping mechanism – I just never realized the training benefits of it.
  • The monotony of the treadmill made me appreciate the variety you get from CrossFit.
  • Boredom was my biggest challenge. Thankfully hoofing it for a few hours at 20% incline wasn’t the hard part.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

First not Last

I experienced my First time of not being Last for completing my WOD! I know it isn’t a race, but it felt good! I got to cheer on a classmate – I’m usually the one being cheered and encouraged to finish. In that moment – I celebrated! Sometimes victories may seem so small on the outside – but they are huge on the inside.

But that wasn’t my only First! Last night was my First time to run pain free in 3 weeks! So for a few weeks now – this has been my fashion accessory.

Sexy right? It’s Rock Tape. I was introduced to it two weeks ago. And while mildly skeptical – I watched very respectable athletes get taped up a few weekends ago while at Capital City CrossFit – so I figured it couldn’t hurt.

In addition to the tape, Dr. Bill Richie worked his chiropractic magic on my ankle through two different sessions. That with two weeks of the coaches tailoring portions of the WODs for me, have allowed my ankle time to heal and resulted in one happy right ankle. I’m so grateful because 3 weeks from today I’m on a plane bound for Arizona for a Rim to Rim to Rim 46 mile trek of the Grand Canyon.

Other Firsts for me recently include 123# Back Squat and learning that I can lift a dead Romanian assuming he only weighs 103# (why is it called a Romanian Deadlift anyway?) and in a very ungraceful balance pose – learned how to do a Bulgarian Split Squat (seriously who names these things?). Another significant First for me - is Today is the First time I was able to fit back into a pair of pants from last summer! And while I'm still resisting the urge to weigh in on the scale - I am increasingly trusting the process clean(er) eating and CrossFit.

While my ankle was mending – I probably rowed enough meters to cross the English Channel. I’m more than relieved to have my ankle back as a properly functioning part of my body, but I’m also grateful for the experience. I learned to trust others around me that knew how to help me heal while still training for my upcoming trek. I'm sure there are many more Lasts for my WODs, but I'm most excited about how many more Firsts are ahead of me.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hell is no Place for a Gimpy Ankle

So I mentioned the other day that I was a dufus about not properly stretching before and after a long (for me) run. A week later I’m still paying for it. I’ve been completely gimpy since running the Fatass 5k on Saturday. For those that know my love of hooker shoes – sadly they haven’t been out of my closet in 10 days… But gladly my workouts haven’t suffered. This week I’ve experienced first-hand how the coaches at Capital City CrossFit work with individuals to build workouts that enable success while still accommodating injury or physical capabilities. Brian and Zack have been great about customizing WODs for me, but that doesn’t mean they are easier. In 32 days I’m literally hiking into the bowels of hell (better known as the Grand Canyon). I can’t slack off my training – yet my ankle has to heal. The only thing that is keeping me from hitting the panic button is the realization that I can keep strength training under their direction while my ankle and I get back on speaking terms.

I share this for anyone that thinks they can’t do CrossFit because of an ailment or a particular weakness. Working with the coaches – it is amazing what they can do to get you going.

Realizations this week:
  • Leave my pride in the car and hobble my gimpy ankle into the box and talk to the coaches about the injury.
  • The Grand Canyon will never hire me to write their marketing brochure if I keep referring to it as the Bowels of Hell. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

I’ve been quietly struggling for a few weeks – and then a friend came across Fat Chick does CrossFit blog post – saw similarities to my experience and shared the post with me. From the first sentence I related with her. I was completely entertained by her perspective and experience. But then she struck a nerve – and it is still zinging. In a short statement she completely summed up my frustration and articulated what I’ve been unable to pinpoint. “…living a fit-person lifestyle inside a fat-person body is uncomfortable and sucky. It was much easier to be living a fat-person lifestyle inside a fat-person body, and at least back then there were jellybeans.” Amen my fellow fat chick sister!

So why do I share this? Because this is reality for anyone transforming their lives through fitness. It isn’t a video-edited journey captured in one television season type of effort. It is a daily decision to make better choices, and to do more than you were capable of doing yesterday. But there are the sucky days, the days you are tired of being sore. The days you want to binge eat. The days you want to hide in your car and pretend you went and worked out. But hopefully you don’t. There are dark days on your fitness journey. I want to confess that right here and now. Because I want anyone reading this to feel okay about the day they realize they’ve arrived in their dark place. The trick is to get the hell out of there. But how?

I know I am stronger than ever. I can run further than I’ve ever been able to run. But still… In the mirror every day I see her. The fat chick is still there lurking, haunting and teasing me. So I’m always seeking the lesson to be learned. This morning I had a brief “Come to Jesus” meeting with myself. Nutrition – it is the only aspect of my training that I haven’t dialed in completely. That changes for me this week. On Saturday I’m attending a nutrition workshop at Capital City CrossFit. I know how to eat clean – I did it successfully before during my initial weight loss. I’ve just never balanced disciplined nutrition with disciplined workouts. So while in my dark place this morning, I did what no one should ever do once they start strength training. I pulled out my scale. Maybe I did it so the fat chick could celebrate my fitness failure – if so – then she should be happy because the number was ugly. I know that muscle weighs more than fat, and I know I’m a lot more muscular than I was a few months ago. But that number sent me into a frantic spiral of looking up other numbers – I dug out my measurements. My waist is smaller. My arms are now lopsided - apparently i'm stronger on my right  – but they are more muscular then they used to be. I actually have biceps now. My legs are bigger – but they were always what I’ve now learned were considered a “skinny fat” now they are muscular. I can see my quads and hamstrings. This damn number on the scale had the potential of blowing up my progress. I picked two fights this morning – I believe in a misguided effort to blow off steam. But now that I’ve dusted off the measuring tape – I’m going to track a 30 day progress. Clean foods. Nothing processed. On June 14th – I’ll share my results.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Smack Talkn the Competition

Only the lonely…

I’m an extremely social person and solitude has never really been my thing. I’ve been preparing to run a local 5k with a few coworkers. This week has been an interesting week, because of schedules and project demands we’ve all had to run solo this week – and we’ve struggled during those runs. What I’ve learned about myself is that sometimes your greatest accomplishment isn’t determined by speed, distance, or WOD performance. For me this week it was that solo four mile run. I’m not a natural runner – and likely don’t do it very well compared to real runners. Running is a cardio necessity for me, but I really do enjoy a recreational 5k. So when I set out for a solo four miles, I realized that mentally I wasn’t ready. I also didn’t take the time to stretch enough which was painfully apparent at 3.5 miles. I get energy from people around me, so you take my energy source away, and I’m left with just myself, my thoughts and my pains. But perhaps those are the efforts that should be celebrated more – the tough runs, the WODs you don’t want to do, the squat-challenge you would like to bail on – but you don’t. The accomplishments during solitude when no one is looking, with nobody to cheer you on but yourself – I believe those may be the biggest accomplishments.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The only way out - is through it.

WODs look scary most every day, but sometimes there are WODs that are cloaked in simplicity – masking their ability to kick your booty. Today was that day. WOD shared below – but here were my initial thoughts… Wall Balls – I tend to like. It is a synergistic movement that feels good when all the rights parts are firing the right directions. Kettle Bell Swings – I like the momentum and the raw power that is generated in the movement. Push-ups – not sure we’ll ever be friends. At best we’re mild social acquaintances. So when Coach Brian unveiled the WOD, I thought – this doesn’t look too hard… I really should know by now to NEVER think that – and if I think I’m going to think that – to immediately assess myself a 25 Burpee Penalty for being a dufus.

The most dangerous part of any CrossFit workout for me is when I’m struggling near the end of round 1. The reality is sinking in of how much further I have to go. There is no denying how difficult it is going to be to get there. This is the time I wish had a mute button for my brain. I’m not sure at what point you silence the complainers and whiners that take up an unwelcomed residence in your own head. But today as I am struggling into my second round I remember something Louise Cooper would say while trekking the Grand Canyon last year. I describe Louise in the highest regards as an "elegant badass". She's an accomplished athlete (worth the Google) and thankfully a trail angel to tender paws like me. We were standing somewhere along the canyon floor unable to see where it was we were attempting to climb to when Louise matter-of-factly stated, “The only way out - is through it.” That one simple statement was powerful then, and it still is today. It is Louise's voice - in that gorgeous South African accent - I hear rallying me against the complainers and whiners. Those negative and fearful voices are energy zappers, and I look forward to the day I successfully evict them out of my head.

So how’d I do? At 18:00 I had my last round of push-ups remaining. I’m so glad Coach Brian had me complete them. I’ll take the 19:23 booty kickin, but I bet if I replayed the morning – that 1:23 is probably the exact amount of time I let negative voices run unchecked in my head. Lesson learned: evict negativity during the workout.

WOD 4/29/13
For time: 18:00 cap
800m Run
3 Rounds:
25 Wall Balls (20#/14#)
25 KB Swings (53#/35#)
25 HR Push-ups

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

But I don’t want to…

I’ve mentioned before that I’m preparing to trek Rim to Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon. This trip is 46 miles round trip in two days. No helicopters. No Pink Jeeps. No burrows. On this trek you are the burrow… The plan is to hike down the South Rim – cross the canyon floor aka “Bowels of Hell” – climb-up the North Rim. Wake up and do the reverse the next day. I’m not an extreme endurance athlete; I’m just lucky to know a few. They keep the “Tender Paws” like me from dying out there, but the deal is to come to the event prepared, strong and ready to suffer hike.

The logistics of life are tricky for everyone. Carving out time for training is a highly-coordinated effort with my husband. I’m blessed that he is very supportive of my endeavors. So without sharing the excel spreadsheet (yes, there is one) here is a quick rundown of the schedule. The alarm goes off Monday – Friday at 4 am. No, I’m not kidding. An ideal training week includes CrossFit at 5am Mon-Wed. I also juggle a mid-day run that I fit in around calls and meetings during my actual job. Thursdays are happy rest days – which should be renamed “Run-all-the-errands-you-didn’t-run-Mon-Wed Day”. Friday morning is back at CrossFit for the 5am class and hopefully another run. Saturday – I’m fiercely protective of my Saturdays. That day is for playing with my babies and NO SCHEDULE!!! On Sundays we have a standing babysitting appointment, and my husband and I hike. I don’t share all this to brag – I realize it is a lot. I also recognize that my sanity was probably questioned right after I described the GC trek in the opening statement. The point today is WHY I have set this schedule. Ironically the answer is simply because I am lazy. That’s right – in fact, I’m super lazy. I just can’t allow myself to be. I’ve learned the only way to make this lazy girl workout is to bake it into a larger, even epic, effort.

To get the training I need to completely prepare for a successful trek – I need three things – strength, time on feet and cardio. A sauna would be helpful – but I learned my local Y really frowns on camping out in there all day long… I’ll get back to my point. With two little ones at home, the only way to possibly meet my training needs (and not sacrifice family time) is to workout around their schedules. Below are a few questions/commentary I get. “Do you like waking up at 4am?” No. But I can slip out of the house while everyone is sleeping and be back home by 6am in time to wake them up to get ready for school. “Doesn’t running on your lunch make you feel gross for the rest of the day?” Yes. Definitely not bringing my "A Game" in the looks department after a lunch run. But running after work isn’t an option for my family life. I’ve received comments that I spend too much time away from my family, and I disagree. This schedule was coordinated in order to maximize family time yet still accomplish very large goals. Everyone feels the pressure of lack of time. My only real option was to steal it early in the morning.

The plan isn’t perfect. There are downfalls of the plan. One missed workout has a chaotic ripple effect on not just my schedule – but my family’s schedule as well. What I’ve not listed out in the above is how we also factor in my husband’s workouts, t-ball, bus stop, day-to-day life etc. But here’s the beauty of this plan - when that alarms goes off at 4am – “I don’t want to” isn’t an option. For me – it works. I truly doubt I would workout as consistently as I do if my workouts weren’t tied to an overall training plan for a set goal or specific event.

So much of my fitness journey has been realizing things about myself along the way. For me – I have to attach myself to something epic – and just go all in to prepare for it. If the sizzling canyon floor wasn’t waiting for me – that snooze button would be too easy. So if you are struggling with daily motivation, seek out an event that requires planning and preparation. It doesn’t have to be the Canyon. Just aim for something that is bigger than just you. For me the workouts aren’t the end goal – but only a component of a larger goal. That makes them more vital to my overall success and that makes them harder to miss, even on the “I don’t want to” days.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hiking – that’s just walking right?

I’m not a gym person. If you want to make me very sad, then put me on a treadmill where I’m expected to stare straight ahead while completely ignoring the person hoofing it out on their machine 18 inches away. Don’t get me wrong, living in the flat Midwest during the winter I have to log plenty of time on a treadmill because it is my best hope of getting incline practice. But do I prefer it? Absolutely not. The reason I was drawn to hiking was my desire to get outside more. I’ve heard statistics that adults in North America spend 90% of their time indoors. We seem to have voluntarily turned ourselves into caged mice. Once I started trying to figure out what I could do to be more active, I realized that on the days I was outside the time flew by. I could play for hours outside yet one cardio class at the gym felt like torture. On the days where I “played” outside, I was more relaxed and I slept amazingly well. So here I was trying to figure out what I could do outside within my physical capabilities – and viola – I decided to go for a hike. I mean – it is just walking, right? 

Hiking is great exercise and is something that can help anyone at any fitness level. Other than good shoes – you really don’t have to invest in a lot of gear for a while. The most amazing part of outside is that Mother Nature doesn't charge a monthly membership fee. My first hikes were small and along a path at a nature preserve. As I grew stronger and less timid to venture into “the woods” the hikes became longer, and I started seeking out new places to explore. I've mentioned before that I’m currently training for a second trek of the Grand Canyon this June. The irony isn't lost on me that my hiking habit now drives my workouts in the very gym I tried to avoid early on. Having recently added CrossFit to my training, I’m now spending lunch hours on the treadmill and going to CrossFit three days a week before work. All of this is an effort to increase my cardio and strength that will be needed to successfully complete the Rim to Rim to Rim adventure. 

The majority of my weekends are now spent outdoors, or at least in the pursuit of getting outdoors. It is becoming an increasing family activity for us. It really is the activity that we can all do together. We scale back when the children join us, but I'm thrilled to see them spending time outside and happily exploring. I’ve never been the “outdoorsy” type, and I promise that you don’t have to stop shaving and wearing deodorant when you start hiking. So don’t dismiss hiking as a very real option for getting active. I was always the girly girl that avoided any activity that looked like too much work. But that girl ended up really overweight – so I stopped listening to her. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Does Bigfoot CrossFit?

Confession: I'm slightly obsessed with Finding Bigfoot. I blame Animal Planet and the lovable BoBo on his constant hunt for Squatches. I'm genuinely disappointed each and every episode where they lack conclusive proof. So imagine my delight when some of the most awesome women I'm proud to call friends organized a hike on a portion of the Appalachian Trail called the Roller Coaster for this weekend. According to BoBo the AT is the Bigfoot Super Highway. They might be hiking, but I totally planned to knock branches and woop my way into the fuzzy-film-footage-of-a-squatch hall of fame. We set off mid morning - with the goal of 12-14 miles aiming for 5,000 feet of elevation work. We never did reach mileage consensus - but we knew regardless our pick-up car was dropped at a fixed location and we had to get to it by sun down. Although in hindsight - nighttime does seem to be the best for luring squatches...The trail was challenging not only from elevation and distance, but it is by far the most technical hike I've ever done. The fact that all of us ended the day without a turned ankle is a huge accomplishment and a testament to an awesomely focused effort.

To backpeddle just a smidge: This hike serves as a training hike for an upcoming Rim To Rim To Rim trek of the Grand Canyon with Project Athena Foundation. It deserves its own post - so I'll do that in the near future.

What is important about this Appalachian adventure - are the reminders of lessons that I seem to forget all too quickly...

Lessons Learned (or Remembered):
  1. You can do more than you think. I'm a huge proponent of biting off more than I can chew. Seems reckless at times - but so far this sink or swim approach has continued to work for me. Forcing yourself beyond your comfort zone is where & when you figure out what you are made of. 
  2. Recovery. After a steep climb, my heart rate is really elevated. I used to think that meant I wasn't in shape - and while it can - what I've learned to watch is how well my body recovers from spurts of exertion. If you can haul-ass - but then can recover in a fairly short amount of time - then you are on the right track. A heart rate monitor has really helped me to pay closer attention to my recovery periods. I actually have gained confidence in my fitness by seeing my recovery periods improve. 
  3. Strength is useful everyday. Functional strength and plyo aren't just trendy - they are everywhere. From climbing up hills, squatting to retrieve a dropped pole while wearing a 30 pound pack, balancing your weight on a wobbly rock, regaining control from a slide or leaping over creeks - stronger people really are harder to kill :).
  4. Take one step at a time. It turns out - for this hike a Squatch would have had to have been standing on the trail passing out drinks for me to notice him. Because of the rocky terrain - you couldn't look up. Our entire day - there are five total pictures - and I'm pretty sure most of those were taken on the one short 100 yard stretch of smooth path. The rest of the 13.1 miles and more than 8,000 feet of ascent climbing - your eyes had to focus on each foot/pole placement. I tend to fixate on the end point instead of each step of the way. I think that is largely why it's been so easy to get derailed and disheartened at times throughout my quest for fitness. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

It might be April Fool's Day - but I'm not laughing.

I'm not going to lie. Today sucked - but then it was awesome. The Strength portion of the workout went well for me. Turns out that I'm a bit stronger than I would have guessed I was. How was this figured out? The other day Coach Brian at Capital City CrossFit  worked with me to establish my 1 Rep Max for a Clean & Press. What this is - is the heaviest weight you can get into rack position and then press overhead. This is probably a good time to mention that I'm completely terrible at tracking numbers in my head. Why is this important? Because after Coach Brian starts adding weights to the bar, I have no idea what I'm lifting. I only know that he believes I can lift more. Because he believes I can lift more, I figured 'I must be able lift more' - so I do. Another is added, another is added and then another adjustment made. I won't pretend it wasn't heavy. Yet every time I started the movement - I was able to press it overhead. I'm actually not sure how many weights he adjusted, but he finally seemed to agree that we had found my max. After I finished he asked if I knew what it was. Of course I stopped doing the math in my head after I couldn't remember the weight of the bar. Turns out it was 103 lbs. I was a bit proud. In fact - it felt slightly badass at that moment. Here's what I didn't know...That number was going to haunt me in almost every workout after that.

Which brings me to the workout below. Did I mention I'm atrocious at remembering numbers? Turns out I overloaded my bar. So for each move below I was unknowingly lifting more than I needed to. I was pooped. But it didn't suck yet. We move to the WOD. From almost the first Squat Clean Thruster I'm thinking how am I going to do 12 of these? Then I do, but I'm so happy to move on to the Burpees (something is wrong with that statement alone...) I clumsily get through those. On to Box Jumps, I'm in the homestretch now.... I start jumping with renewed vigor. But then it happens. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice my classmate and think "Why the Hell is she doing Squat Thrusters again?" and that is when the suckiness occurred. Maybe because I'm a newbie, or because I was too busy lifting too much weight due to poor basic math skills, I had totally missed the "3 rounds for time" portion of the WOD instructions.... In that moment those evil, negative thoughts that can immediately invade your mind started protesting LOUDLY. I was less than thrilled when I grabbed the bar to start round 2. Building excuses in my head, fretting about how to get through this. I mean the noise in my own head was far louder than the music coming from the stereo. Through all of this inner-chaos I notice my classmates moving into their 3rd rounds. My stress increases because I'm barely into my 2nd. But then the magical moments that seems to be inherent in the CrossFit community occur - I start hearing a few cheers of encouragement from classmates and coaches. Similar to how a small flame can snuff out darkness - a small cheer or a "you got this Pam" seems to drive you forward. Before I know it I'm finishing the Burpees and moving to the jump box except this time I know I've got one more round until I'm done. Coach Brian sees that I'm struggling and for round 3 he scales it back for me. By the time I finish, I'm exhausted, bummed that I struggled so much and yet exhilarated that I finished. In that moment the suckiness that is fear and doubt - gets overrun with the awesomeness of encouragement and accomplishment. 
Lessons learned that day were plentiful. 
1. learn how much the darn bar weighs.
2. read the WOD thoroughly - so you aren't surprised.
3. scaling back isn't failure - but quitting is.
Workout for April 1, 2013
Clean & Jerk
5×1 @ 80%
2×1 @ 90%
3×1 @ 95%
8×1 @ 70%
3 rounds for time:
12 Squat Clean Thrusters (95#/63#)
15 Hand Release Burpees
18 Lateral Over-the-Box Jumps (24″/20″)