Why I’m walking the distance

I have this playlist on my phone titled “Run,” but it’s an old title. I haven’t been doing much running lately outside of my Crossfit workouts.

Part of it is that my running buddy moved away. Part is that I don’t have time to drive anywhere to run and I don’t enjoy running the flat roads in my neighborhood. And part is that I’m just not that into running right now.

But I am into walking. I feel like an old lady writing that — but it’s true. Back in January and February, when I was doing the Crossfit challenge, I got up super early to complete an extra workout before moving on with my day. I started thinking about it, and I realized that once the challenge was over, I could still get up early, but I could walk the dogs in that time before I had to get going on the day.

The dogs and I have walked 4 or 5 times a week every week since then.

The dogs absolutely love me. We walk, and then when we get home, I feed them. How could they not love me? In the morning, Goose hovers next to me, tail fwapping (yes- fwapping is a word I purposely coined just for her) in my face as I lace up my shoes. She’s quite annoying, actually. Her butt is moving about as fast as her tail. And then she can’t sit still as I try to attach the leash to her. Bennie usually watches calmly– until the leashes come down — and then she’s barking extremely loudly.

As our walks are usually before dawn, I try my best to quiet her, but more than a few times she’s woken the kids with her bugle. I’m not sure whether it’s better to wake the kids or the neighbors.

On weekdays, since I’m walking before Olympic Lifting or work, we don’t go as far. Maybe 1 1/2 miles. Sometimes 2. It depends.

On the weekends, I like to walk longer. We’ve gotten up to 4 miles or more. I haven’t done that lately because the weather has been so warm and Bennie looks like she’s about to faint about halfway through.

I love being outside. But I do take my music, and I try to keep pace as we move. I feel like I know some streets so well, but we try to walk different routes every time.

I guess my walks are my time to be “alone” and meditate. When I miss a walk, I feel a little lost. like something is missing. It’s become part of my routine for waking up and thinking through my goals, my tasks, my dreams…

Do you ever feel like that?

Hamstrung by handstands

I have a confession to make.

I hate handstands.

I have tried to like them. I have tried to work on them. And I still suck at them. Therefore I hate them.

How did this come up? I dropped into Friday morning’s Crossfit class to make up for July 4, and handstand holds were in the WOD. Tabata handstand holds.

I considered not showing up to class.

On round one, I half-heartedly attempted a handstand hold against the wall. I was not prepared. Coach Carey ended up showing me a scaled version on a box. I felt like such a loser. Here I am, letting my fear overtake me, yet again.

I had told her I hate being upside down. But that’s only partly true. It’s the process of GETTING upside down that I hate. I have successfully ended with my feet up in the air and my arms locked out with help, but the kick up is nerve-racking. Handstand walks? Ugh. Wall walks? Double ugh.

You get the idea.

I know that one day I need to attack this fear. I’m not sure when I want to do that. I’ve found I’m more successful when I go after only a couple of physical goals. Right now it’s pullups, getting my shoulder and neck mobility back up to par, and beating sugar (again).

Should I really take on another goal? Should I really worry about mastering handstands now?

Photo credit: andreasnilsson1976 via photopin cc

Habits and motivation

I’ve started and abandoned several posts since March. I got in the habit of writing in Red in the Face, only to have that habit erased by work, work and more work.

Life replaced writing about life, but somehow, life seems less special when you don’t reflect on it.

Does that make sense?

And right now, I should be doing almost anything other that writing. The laundry needs folding. The dogs need walking. The clients need attention. The yard needs mowing. The list goes on for what seems like forever, and yet I made a decision this morning to write. Not because I want people to click on me or because I want search engines to find me, but because I need to in order to preserve my sanity, even if my words are about working out.

Sometimes I get the impression that people think I’m gung-ho dedicated to improving my physical health. But I struggle with the very human and natural desire to relax and enjoy moving slowly just like anyone else. Since March, I’ve battled fatigue, soreness, sometimes lack of motivation. Sometimes I show up to class, halfway hoping it will be cancelled so I won’t have to work hard.

I fear my workouts. They can be extremely difficult, and many times I doubt whether I am physically able to do it.

But I persevere. I allow those negative thoughts, then push them aside and keep going. I do it because I never want to be weak and flabby again. I do it because I need to be strong for my kids — I want to watch them go up, I want to be able to keep up with them. And I don’t want to be sick and unable to move through the world in a way where I can truly appreciate the joy of being alive.

I’m stronger now. I’m capable of lifting and moving a lot more weight than I ever thought possible. It’s not that exciting to watch, but it is exciting to know how far I have come.

My Olympic Lifting coach takes video of my class occasionally. On this day we went for a max in the snatch as well as clean & jerk. I surprised myself by my PR in the snatch lift – 80#. I was disappointed that I did not reach a new max in the clean & jerk. Sloppy technique held me back, but I know I’m cabale of at least 115#. By the end of the year, I want to reach 135#.

Reflecting on the I AM Crossfit Challenge

2013 challenge measurementsIt’s been over a week since the 2013 I AM Crossfit Challenge ended, and I think it was probably my most successful challenge, even though I only hit one of my goals.

This was the first challenge where I wasn’t pregnant or nursing, and I tried to follow the nutrition very closely. I did not Zone my food, but I did follow the Whole 30 guidelines really closely and watched portion sizes.

I also did every extra workout I was supposed to do. It was a lot — I added in two extra met-cons a week plus an endurance WOD. By the time we hit week 8, I was ready for it to be done and tired of having to fit it all in. But now, I kind of miss it.

I had set a pullups goal and a body fat goal. I did not get my pullups. I just never worked on them outside the gym. But I did get my body fat under 20%, so yay me!

But there were definite benefits that I achieved outside of my goals. I am a stronger and faster runner. I broke my gum habit ( I was chewing a pack a week!). I also broke my sugar tooth. I still haven’t indulged in dessert, and to be honest, I don’t really want it. Fruit is sweet enough.

I may have undone some of my efforts at SXSW this year. But not like last year. Last year I went crazy with the food. This year, aside from a few meals with rice or tortilla chips, I was relatively restrained.

Yes — it was a good challenge. Just the benchmark alone is a good indication of how much I improved. I barely finished the first time — with a time of 11:58. On March 9, I crushed my old time — finishing in just over 10 sec.

Here’s a clip from the WOD:

3 rounds
400m run
15 pullups
7 hang power cleans (65#)

Squat-a-thon

I used an expletive when I looked up from my warmup at the board Monday morning.
I was already sore from a weekend of workouts – two challenge WODs and a team workout that included front squats.

Back squats and front squats? Together?

Yep.

It turned out not to be as bad as I imagined. Don’t get me wrong – those were still hard as hell.
But I imagined a torture session where I would squat the bar and struggle hard the stand – maybe not being able to stand at all.

As it turns out, I was able to stand. What’s more, I focused on squatting to full depth every time. It’s something I usually am inconsistent on, especially as the weight goes up.

I could feel my weight shift on the way up as I got tired. Zach reminded me once to fight the shift, and I immediately refocused. Hopefully my shifting has improved over time. I know I spend a lot of extra time working on mobility and exercises for my hip, so I’d like to have improved.

The next morning, I was sore. I didn’t want to go to my workout. I did anyway. It was like therapy for my legs. It got the blood flowing and loosened me up. But when my coach asked me if I was sore and I said “Hell, yeah!”, his face broke into a grin.

Kind of an evil grin, if you ask me.

“Wait until we hit 90 percent.”

GULP.

My war on sleep and why I’m losing

photo credit: peasap via photopin cc

I’m writing an article about the health benefits of sleep for work, and I’m probably the worst person to do it.

Or maybe I have it backwards. Maybe I am the best to do it because of how flippantly I have treated sleep and how I need a kick in the pants to take it seriously.

The past year has been rough in terms of sleep. I have written about my lack of sleep many times. And yet, despite being aware of how little sleep I get and how much I actually need, I still seem to be trying to wage my own war on sleep — taking on new projects, signing up for extra activities, volunteering to help even when I know time is tight.

Last fall I felt miserable. I remember crying in my parents’ kitchen about how tired I was. I remember driving home from their house in the evenings and being terrified that I would fall asleep at the wheel.

I think that’s when I got serious about sleep.

I actually began taking a hard look at how turning my nose up at sleep was hurting me. I felt awful, the weight was creeping back on, and my family didn’t want to hang out with me.

I’m better now. Way better. I had a chance to rest over the holidays, and I have made sleep more of a priority for this challenge. I don’t work as late as I used to. My productivity sucks when I’m so tired I can’t think. It’s better or me to sleep and think clearly than not and.. Well.. Be a scatterbrained idiot.

I guess I’m curious if I can keep up the better sleep habit for the long haul. Habits are best changed by creating new ones. Hopefully the terrible memories of last fall compared to how rested I now feel will help.

I’m literally too tired to continue my battle against sleep. I’m ready to give up and let sleep win.

Dear Monday, I love you

Poor Monday. It gets such a bad rap.

It begins of the work week, bringing sadness to so many. We grieve the memories of our fabulous weekend and realize it’s gone, never to reappear.And Friday is soooooo far away. Ugh.

It’s Monday. We must return to our work, carrying our coffee mugs and lamenting the fact that it’s Monday.

Or do we?

Do we really need to treat every Monday as if it’s some kind of punishment? What happens if we just one day decide that Monday is the best day of the week?

Because it offers new opportunities?

Because we get to do our life’s work?

Because we’re one step closer to our goals?

In my case — because I get to throw around heavy weights in the morning and feel strong?

Because I get to see my work friends and laugh and scheme about how we’re going to change the world?

Because I need time away from my family to be able to come home to them and truly appreciate and love them?

Hmmm… When you look at it that way, maybe Monday isn’t really the problem. Maybe it’s our attitudes.

On second thought, I think I love Mondays.

Week 1 of challenge complete (7 more to go)

The first week of my gym’s Crossfit Challenge is officially complete, and fortunately I was able to fit in all three extra workouts, plus not slip up on my nutrition.

Olympic Lifting workout
This was my OIlympic Lifting workout on Wednesday, Jan 16.

It was dicey, though. I woke up Monday morning and imagined I heard rain outside, so I didn’t do the first extra WOD when I had planned it. Zach rolled his eyes when I told him and gave me one of those incredulous looks like,”you are so full of excuses.”

And while most of the time I try not to come up with excuses, he was probably dead on in that case. And many others this week. I just didn’t want to be cold. It wasn’t until Friday morning that I pulled it together to actually do an early AM WOD on my own.

Crossfit WOD on the whiteboard
The whiteboard at Crossfit on Thursday, Jan 17.

I guess there’s a reason why I go to CLASSES. I’m less likely to flake out.

Today I had planned to do the Austin Gorilla Run, a 5K that benefits mountain gorilla conservation. That would have coincided nicely with this week’s endurance WOD, which was a 1, 2 or 3 mile run for time. Unfortunately, it conflicted with the Beekeeping class Andy bought me for Christmas, and beekeeping won out, Oh well — at least I’ll have the gorilla suit for next year.

Instead, I ran 2 miles in my neighborhood. I probably should have run 3, but the instructions said you should only choose the 3 miles if you have a 9 min mile and can run 3 in under 27 minutes. I wasn’t sure I could.

Turns out I may have been able to. Time: 17:48.

I definitely need some new music. The playlist on my phone is atrocious.

Afterward, I hung out with the kids while they rode their bike and trike up and down the sidewalk in front of our house. It’s so cool watching their progress. Both of them have gone from not being able to pedal or steer to zipping up and down the sidewalk with ease — within weeks!

2013 I AM Crossfit Challenge begins with a bang

Goal setting and WOD mark challenge start

I was among more than 100 people this weekend who began Crossfit Central’s I AM Crossfit Challenge. It’s my third time to take on this 8 week challenge. The path is familiar, but even though I’m not new to it, it’s exciting and daunting all the same.

Start of something new

I feel kind of like how I always did at the beginning of the school year — oh those many years ago. Back then, I wondered what it would be like, what I would learn. My notebooks were all new and fresh and full of opportunity. I always loved that, despite how nervous if inevitably felt about meeting my classmates and teachers.

I’m trying hard to imagine what things will be like in 8 weeks when I look back. What do I want to look like? How do I want to feel? I can’t quite put it in words, so I’m having trouble coming up with my goals.

Deep down I want this physical challenge to bleed into the rest of my life. I want this energy to feed into my family and my career in a way I don’t know how to explain. Confidence? Determination? Inspiration?

I’ll have to work on those goals into something I can measure and just have faith those other things will happen naturally.

The WOD

3 rounds
400m run
15 pullups
7 hang power cleans
12 min cutoff

Everything took place at Crossfit Central’s new downtown location, which is really nice. It’s a hike for me, so I’m not going to switch my class anytime soon, but it’s still really nice.

Somehow there was a glitch, and I wasn’t on the list when I signed in for the benchmark WOD on Saturday. I wasn’t alone, but the coaches were super awesome and worked us in. Lisa Thiel even went around asking if there were folks who would switch with us so we could get into a an earlier heat (since we had kids and needed to be home).

I quickly got into Heat 2 thanks to Michael, who agreed to wait an extra hour until Heat 6 (Thanks, Michael! You rock!!!) They took our “before photo”, some video of me doing a hang power clean for a future video, and then we warmed up with Zach.

Then the coaches came for us. David was my judge. He set up my bar, but there wasn’t a lot of time, and I had to tell him what band I needed as I was running to the start line.

Some highlights

I remembered the WOD being hard. But it’s hard to imagine how hard two years later. My friend and teammate Linda took photos while I was in the middle of it (Thanks Linda!!). Here are the highlights:

  1. Our run was on the sidewalk along the I-35 access road. At one point a big truck hauling a trailer on the interstate dragged the trailer along the guardrail and a bunch of wood came popping off down the concrete wall. It didn’t hit the access road, but it made me run a little faster.
  2. The humidity was high, and my grip strength was for-s**t because of Thursday’s workout of 250 kettlebell swings for time. I felt like I couldn’t hold on.
  3. It was totally motivating to hear people cheering for me — not just my judge and Linda, but also several of the other coaches as I was running back into the gym.

Time: 11:58 (Intermediate level – 65#, blue band)

I’ll be posting those goals soon. I may only have two. But that will just help me focus.

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This is where it begins – My body comp

Body comp, fat percentage
I had my body comp done today. It’s for the challenge, which starts on Saturday.
I wasn’t too surprised by the numbers which you can see on my sheet there.

The takeaway? The body fat is over 23 percent. I think I can bring that down in 8 weeks.

The Whole 30 program has been quite a change for me, and I haven’t even read the book yet. We’ve cut out butter, scaled back on meat and I haven’t had any bacon since we started. We only use coconut oil and olive oil to cook. We’re careful about the kind of nuts we eat and the amount.

Fruit has returned to my diet, but not in a huge way. I’ll eat one or two pieces a day — usually just the one — with a little fat and protein.

I think the biggest benefit is the Whole 30 forces me to take my lunch to work. I can’t eat junk when I pack it myself. It’s a lot easier to stay on track when you don’t go out to eat.

I’ve already noticed the bloating and inflammation is less. My jeans are fitting a little better. I’m not supposed to weigh myself, so I won’t be checking in the the scale until the end of the challenge. I’m not sure what my goals will be. But I have time to think about them.