Crossfit for Hope Results

A few weekends ago I participated in Crossfit for Hope at Crossfit Simple.  This was a fundraiser for St. Jude’s Research Hospital and I was happy to support a good cause.

I was not happy to be working out in a gym full of people as I still have a lot of garbage in my head that is tough to shut up.  The Naysayer has yet to be completely quelled and sometimes that bitch is loud and annoying.  Also, she is not particularly nice to me.

Will and I work out with a personal trainer three times a week.  While there are other people working out at the same time, and occasionally we do the same WoD’s, for the most part it is just Will and I with our trainer doing various things.  Crossfit is not glamorous.  I sweat, I strain, I sometimes work to not pass out or throw up.  I know when I leave there I feel good, but I usually do not look particularly good as my hair is falling out of my ponytail, I’ve sweat through my clothes, etc.  With Will, I do not feel shame or embarrassment when I am sweating and making horrible faces – this man thinks I am completely irresistible whether I am dressed to the nines or if I am in stained sweats with my hair askew.  There have been times when I’ve been sick with the flu, just crawled out of bed, and look awful where he hugs me and tells me how pretty I am.  I am always baffled, but at least this insanity of his works in my favor.

With our trainer, I am not self conscious about that kind of thing any more because after working out with him for over a year I just kind of got over it.  It helps that he has a way of making you feel comfortable, is really encouraging, and cares about proper form so we do not injure ourselves.  I doubt he cares about my ill-fitting clothes or sweaty face.

With all of that said, I am very aware that even after a year of working out there and with 50 pounds lost, I am probably the heaviest person at the gym, or at least the heaviest person I have seen working out there on a regular basis.  Over the past year, I have seen a couple of people who are heavier than I am from time to time, and I am always so happy to see them – I want to hug them and tell them that Crossfit will change their life and bring them joy, but by the time I get over my social anxiety/awkwardness, they seem to have disappeared.  Also, when you are working out, the last thing you want is a crazy Crossfit Evangelist hugging you and preaching to you about how great it is.  Usually you just want water and to be left alone.  I always hope that they are there, working out during times I am not at the gym, but I worry that they leave feeling inadequate, or because it is too hard, or some other reason that time would help them overcome.

The men and women at Crossfit are all at different levels of fitness, but I find them all so inspiring because they do such amazing things – the sense of inspiration I feel looking at all of these incredibly fit people can easily be turned to intimidation if you flip that lens around.  I keep in mind that I am a work in progress and that I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I was a year ago.  I try to focus on comparing myself to me and not others, as we all have different backgrounds, skills, strengths, and ability but sometimes I do feel that insecurity, that bite of being fat.

Which was pretty much what I was feeling prior to the Crossfit for Hope workout.  When I am nervous I tend to be grumpy.  Poor Will had to deal with me yelling at traffic, being grumpy and nervous, and basically being unpleasant all morning prior to the workout.  I have little experience with performance anxiety, as I can pretty much be told of a topic 5 minutes before I have to go speak about it in front of a large audience and be fine.  I do not embarrass very easily, but I have never really been in athletics or the athletic realm.  I played soccer as a child, but quit around the age of 12.  I had definite performance anxiety the morning of the workout.

And it was crowded.  Unbelievably crowded.  I wanted to back out and go home, but one of Will’s friends from high school had pledged to donate $1 a rep for each rep I completed and another friend of mine was donating a per rep amount, too.  I really believe in and support the work of St. Jude’s so I honestly felt that I couldn’t back out primarily because of that, but also because of my own self respect.  Not doing something because I feel momentary insecurity is simply not acceptable as an excuse.  It is a cop out.  It is being a wuss.  I am not going to be a wuss because I want to like me and I want to respect me.  If I’d left due to irrational anxiety, I wouldn’t have liked or respected me.

The scaled workout was one minute of each of the following: Burpees, 35 pound power snatch, 12″ box jump, 35 pound thrusters, and jumping pull ups.  Someone follows you and counts your reps for each exercise and writes it down.  After one round, you get to rest for a minute then you do the circuit again, rest a minute, and complete a third circuit.  So altogether it is a 17 minute workout, and the first group to go was very crowded.  It was organized chaos.

One of the things I love about Crossfit is that you cannot maintain a feeling of self consciousness when you are actually working out.  The workouts are usually too intense for those self-absorbed, petty thoughts to hold sway.  Heck, the main reason you have someone following you around counting your reps for you is it is hard to even count when you are going all out with these kinds of exercises.  The first round I still tried to count.  I wanted to make sure I averaged a certain number of reps so that my donation pledges for St. Jude’s were good, but after the first round I gave up.  I simply couldn’t keep track of what I was doing.

The self-consciousness that had plagued me all morning was gone by the third rep – and honestly, it is ridiculous that I was even worried about it.  Everyone is so focused on what they are doing, that no one is really thinking about what you are doing, except for trying not to get in each other’s way.  When they do notice what you are doing they shout encouragement and praise at you, or they help you get your form right to prevent injury.  It is pretty easy to feel silly about my fears going into this because this gym is always so supportive, so encouraging, and so very nonjudgmental that it is a bit insane that I was worried at all.

Round scores:

1st – 11 burpees, 14 power snatches, 13 box jumps, 9 thrusters, 7 pullups

2nd – 12 burpess, 17 power snatches, 16 box jumps, 9 thrusters, 10 pullups

3rd – 11 burpees, 12 power snatches, 18 box jumps, 18 thrusters, 11 pullups

The third round I doubled the amount of thrusters I completed.  From a different spot in the gym, our trainer saw me staring blankly at the barbell in the third round and shouted encouragement at me.  I honestly do not remember what he said, and he could have even been talking to someone else and it just looked as if he was looking at me, but it helped me go all out on that round.  Each round I did I got higher scores, and it usually goes the other way around.

My overall score was 187 and for those who did the #2 scaled workout, I was in overall 4th place (at least the last time I checked the scores) which made me happy.  I also beat Will by 30 reps as he got 157 overall.

We stayed for the next two rounds of workouts.  I wanted to see how everyone else did, and during the second round I was counting for a friend of mine going through the workout.  It was awesome to see so many people go through something I just went through.  To see how different people attacked the workout.  It really made me feel a kinship with everyone there, because we all worked hard, we all got tired, we all sweat, we all made faces showing strain, we all did it together.  I also enjoyed watching some of the trainers and the Crossfitters who are just in great shape work out because it is always so inspiring.

Really, once I can get The Naysayer to shut up, things go along just splendidly.  Luckily, she can’t catch her breath to talk when I am working out.

The Problem with Pedestals

I had a woeful tendency to put people on pedestals.  I do not realize that I am doing it, but I meet someone and they are cool, smart, funny, and/or awesome in some way and I tend to think the world of them.  My husband says that this happens because people are “new and shiny and you haven’t discovered their flaws yet.”  Another friend of mine once said that I fall half in love with all of my friends – which is true in a very non-romantic sort of way.  My friends are awesome, fun, clever, wonderful and I find joy in being around such Shining Ones.

Years and years ago, I had a friend I thought was awesome.  He was so funny and witty and clever.  I loved talking to him.  Then he loaned me some George Carlin dvd’s and he mentioned, casually, “I steal a lot from him.”

By “steal a lot” he meant “everything I have ever said that you found insightful or funny was actually a George Carlin bit.”  I was happy to discover Carlin, but a bit dismayed to find out that the entire personality I loved about someone was really just a mirage, a front – fake.  This was a pedestal shattering moment.  Will tends to know that these pedestal shattering moments are going to happen.  He knew it with this friend.  Will is sometimes more insightful about people than I am.

Part of the problem is that we tend to like the idea we have of a person better than we actually like the person.  I’ve seen this often in couples who break up – they never really knew each other and the love they felt was for their idea of the other person, not the reality of who the other person was.  One of Will’s prerequisites for romantic love is understanding the other person.  He believes that if you do not understand the other person, you do not truly love them, you merely love your idea or illusion of them.  This is why when we first got together he asked me endless questions.  Even now, if I am not forthcoming with details he will ask me endless questions.  Being married to Will is sometimes like having your every thought exposed and dissected, but I know that he loves me, warts and all, not some sort of unattainable ideal of me.  I’ve even gotten used to being constantly analyzed.

With every new friendship (I live in a college town so people tend to come and go from my life in revolving door of school/graduation/moving) Will tells me that I should not be so excited.  That I will be disappointed.  That having these idealized, romantic notions of people will bite me on the ass eventually as I will be crushed when they fall from their pedestals.  He is right, of course.  I have worked pretty hard in making sure that I do not put people on pedestals anymore.  It hurts me when I realize they are human after all, it hurts the other person who can in no way live up to expectations, and it is living life in illusion instead of reality – something I really strive not to do.

This has really helped me maintain more of my current relationships.  If someone is treated and viewed as a human instead of a pedestal topper, it is easier to roll with various flaws and offenses.  Every once in a while I still get surprised when someone turns out to be a completely different person than I thought they were, but more often than not this is less because I am putting them on a pedestal and more because they were putting on a front.  Sometimes, people can just be disappointing.  Sometimes people who are not even on a pedestal in the first place can just break your heart.  People, on occasion, have simply tragic flaws.  Ask Hamlet, he knows.

When I was younger and more confrontational, I would say that if you had something bad to say about me say it to my face.  As I got older, this attitude changed.  If there is a problem I can fix, or something I did that offended you that I need to know about, please tell me.  I am happy to make amends when the situation calls for it.  I am flawed and socially awkward sometimes, and I occasionally am a bit too blunt.  If you are just griping about who I am, feel free to say it behind my back because I am not changing for you and I am not interested in your drama.  I am aware of my flaws and I work on negating them as much as possible.  Usually, in this life, we are all doing the best that we can – sometimes we mess up, sometimes we are messed up, and sometimes we manage to succeed.

I think that more focus needs to be on the positive in people than the negative, not in a pedestal topper way, but in general see the good and feel joy for the positive.  More energy needs to be put in achieving our own potential than in denigrating the efforts of some one else.  It takes time and energy to constantly be tearing other people down.  I think we should put that time and energy into building ourselves up.  More often than not, the people who spend all of their time and energy tearing down someone else are doing so because they want to feel better in comparison.  They tear down others to build themselves up.

How about skipping the first part of the equation?  Instead of tearing someone down, why not just build yourself up?  If you do not like who you are then change who you are to someone you like.  It is not difficult.  Be awesome.  Be great.  Be someone you like.  If you do, then it won’t matter when people try to tear you down, because you will be too awesome to hear their noise.



My Brain Lies to Me

I have had this week working out where I see the WoD and I think, “Nope.  I do not think I can do that.”

I want to quit or go home.  I want to just say, “Hey, I am not feeling up to this today.”  Anything to get out of it because my brain keeps telling me that I cannot do it.

But I do it anyway.  I figure that our trainer goes to the the trouble to be there, come up with something for us to do, listens to us bitch and in addition I go to the trouble to go to bed early, eat well, and push Will out of bed and out of the door in the morning, therefore I should at least try it. It has been really a challenge to not just say that I feel sick and want to sit this one out.  I do feel slightly sick this week, but considering that my brain lies and I have yet to actually BE sick, I think it might be mental not physical.

Self respect won’t allow me to simply not try it.  And lately, self respect has been this huge motivating factor.  If I plead off will I be happy with myself?  No.  My thoughts this week have been that I should at least try the WoD and if I feel like I am going to die, THEN I can see about pleading off.

Thing is, I haven’t died yet.  All week long I look at the WoD on the board, I struggle through the normally not too bad warm ups, and by the time I hit the WoD I am doing ok. I am too in it to think about quitting.  After you’ve done a round or two quitting seems like such a stupid idea because you’ve already done part of it, of course you can do the rest of it.

Also, I like to complete WoD’s faster than Will.  I am not keeping score or anything, but it is wonderful to win, even if it is by 4 seconds or 1 rep or whatever.  Today he beat me by 4 seconds and I was killing myself trying to row faster than him.  Stupid long arms on that man…

Point is that my brain is a liar.  My brain is lazy and wants to go back to bed.    My brain is kind of a wang, truth be told.  There is a part of it that really doesn’t want to achieve change.  But screw that part of my brain.  Every time I finish a WoD that I thought would be too hard, that I thought might kill me, or that I looked at and thought that there simply was no way I could do it, I feel fantastic.  Because I kicked the WoD’s butt and my own in the process.  Because something that looks easy any one could accomplish – it is accomplishing the things that look hard or impossible that really matter.

My sister, who is always timely with messages whether she knows it or not sent me the following Nike ad about running:

Reincarnate Nike Free Ad

Basically, the message of this ad is to (of course, buy Nike) but leave your old self behind.

That is what I felt like I have been doing all week.  My old self knows that it is getting left in my dust so it spent this week trying to convince me that I couldn’t do it.

Screw you, old self.  New self can do this shit.

It Is All Progress – Crossfit, Yoga, Paleo, Etc.

In January of this year, I started changing my diet.  I counted calories and tried to reduce the number of calories I ate and increase the number of fruits and vegetables I ate.  This had little to no effect on my weight loss.  I’d been Crossfitting since May, and other than the first initial weight loss of 40 pounds, I’d been in a plateau since October.  The seasonal foods of November and December did not help, of course.

I gave the calorie diet a shot for over four months.  My husband loses weight simply in comparison to me, and this diet worked very well for him.  However, for whatever reason, this had little to no effect on me.  I’d be excited about 3 pounds lost one week, to have them plus a friend back the following week.  It was seriously annoying.

I’d played around with the Paleo diet before, but was convinced that since I couldn’t get grass fed beef that the diet would be out of my reach.  Ah, excuses, they are endless and somewhat ridiculous in hindsight.  However, through a friend of mine, I started reading Nerd Fitness, Mark’s Daily Apple, and a few other Paleo/primal blogs.  Apparently, grass fed beef is ideal, but you could still eat beef even if it wasn’t grass fed.  There were lots of good ideas, recipes or links to recipes, and advice in these blogs.  I did my total information submersion in these various blogs for about a week and then made the switch.

On April 24, I implemented this diet.  The first two weeks sucked.  A lot.  I had no idea how much processed food and sugar had a hold of my system.  I knew that kicking the sugar habit was going to be a hard one, but since I’d been counting calories I figured that I mainly did not feed my sweet tooth very much at all anymore.  Well, that was wrong.  They sneak sugar into everything!  My 80 calorie yogurt was one that surprised me.  I mainly got through the first two weeks by eating lots of apples and meat and veggies, but had zero weight loss the first two weeks.

Apparently, the sugar in fruit is enough to keep you the same weight, especially if you are having 3-5 apples a day.  I was mainly going for easy, portable, and tasty.  Once I went down to just one or two pieces of fruit (AN apple, a kiwi, singular not plural) it was like the pounds magically melted off.  I force myself to look at the scale merely once a week.  I want to look at it every day, compulsively, but that is a way to Crazy Town.  Once I am more comfortable in what I am doing and how I am eating, I am going to wean myself further off of the scale – once every two weeks, once a month, etc.

More than the weight loss, what I noticed after the first two weeks was that I was happier.  As someone who has battled depression this was also somewhat miraculous.  I am just happy for no particular reason.  Normally, I have to work to find reasons to be happy.  It has become second nature to think of things that make me happy so that I thus become happy – an exercise I started in high school when the depression first manifested.  Now, I am just happy.  Life still has its nasty surprises that sometimes cause a bit of a kick, but fundamentally, I am pleased with life and the world in general.  Ask any of my friends who have known me longer than a few years and they will tell you that the reverse used to be true.

In a long habit of looking gift horses in the mouth, I started to wonder, What if I had been going to yoga twice a week, attempting to jog three times a week, Crossfit three times a week, AND done Paleo back when I started Crossfit in May of 2011?  Well, the answer is not that I would be a svelte 100 pounds lighter, but rather that my head would have probably exploded.  I had to integrate each step along the way into my schedule, into a habit that was not changing, into my person and identity.  Too much change too fast either causes total change failure or a complete identity crisis.

Recently, Nerd Fitness published a blog entry about easing into change.  Taking it a step at a time.  It is a pretty good read that made me feel like my step by step approach (Crossfit, then yoga, then diet, then jogging, then a different diet) actually was the right way to go about things.  I wasn’t dragging my feet but simply building momentum.

Feel free to read what they have to say about building habits.  It is a pretty good read and even includes Inspiring Stories!  Basically, as long as you making steps forward, even if they are baby steps forward, you are making progress.