Chronicles of CrossFit

This week I watched three rockstar fellow gym mates get bummed out by a “less than hoped for” performance on an Open workout – 18.4 to be exact. They did pretty amazing in my eyes as well as others, so the “subpar” view really came from within. The workout was tough, a new standard made handstand push-ups even harder (not that handstand push-ups are ever easy, just clarifying). Lots of folks didn’t do as well as they hoped.

Our head coach even sent out a quick post-workout video encouraging athletes to keep their chins up, recognize progress they’ve made, even if their score on this particular workout didn’t show it. This is part of the process, for sure.

 

Striving for your best on any given day, putting it out there and then accepting where you’re at. It’s pretty darn cool when you get to witness new heights in others (and yourself), but it’s also pretty cool getting to see that integral process unfold, slowly but surely, when you work toward goals on a consistent basis, your strength will surface.

Sometimes you even surprise yourself!

I did the easiest version for this one since there were going to be 90 deadlifts (half @ 80# and half @ 95#) in addition to a bunch of hand release push-ups, I need to save my back!

My goal was to complete the workout within the nine minutes allotted and that I did, beating it by ten seconds. Today I watched two women do the “in between scale” with 95# and 135# deadlifts and they both finished within the time cap – so impressive! To say the least.

Why do I feel inspired to write about this?

Because it’s pretty frickin’ cool the kinds of experiences + lessons you really can get in a CrossFit gym. And maybe not every CF gym, but you certainly can in mine.

crossfitworthy

Every Saturday our gym has been coming together at 9 a.m. to do the workout of the week in conjunction with the Open. We have teams (with funny names!), people volunteer to judge one another, we all rally around and cheer for each other and everyone gets to feel the love, no matter if you’re pulling 315# at RX mens or 80# like me.

We run the gamut with age and I’m constantly inspired by fellow CrossFitters who are my elder. They show me what’s possible and that age means only as much as you have it mean. Don’t get me wrong, on most days, I’m nearly double the age of fellow peeps in the gym, and that’s okay. I find that I learn from pretty much everyone I connect with, and that’s what makes our place extra special.

Last week I put myself to the test and got my first kipping pull-up!

It’s funny. Each week we can choose the “scale” we are going to do for the workout and my initial instinct was to select the easiest option because, you know, I couldn’t really do a pull-up. I use bands (and lots of them lol) which make things easier, but we couldn’t use them for this workout. I went ahead and selected the easy option.

Then I got to thinking on Friday during my noon class. I wondered if I might be able to eek out at least one kipping pull-up. I got all the bands out, tried one with the green band. Got it. Tried one with the blue band. Got it. Tried one with the red band. Got it.

Hymmm.

The red band is sort of like using nothing, but it’s still using a band. Mental. It’s in my head. How much of this is really in our heads? How often do we limit ourselves because of what we *think* to be true? That’s the beauty of the Open really. It’s a time to challenge ourselves, try things and see, to perhaps push ourselves in ways we don’t normally. You know, so we can experience what’s actually possible.

I got input on my decision from several coaches, I called a friend, I kinda got a nervous feeling in my belly, but I did it anyway. I changed myself to scale one instead of two, which meant I was going to be doing a bunch of jump roping, overhead squats, dumb bell snatches, and yes, I would see if a kipping pull-up would be possible, without my comforting red band. My goal was to get one.

I dreamt about it the night before. I was super focused the day of. I was nervous. I convinced Conner to be my judge so that she could coach me through. And that she did. And I got one! And then about 20 or so more … more or less. That first one was the best, and I probably got my chin above the bar on most others, but now I know I need to work on my form, more of a “pop and pull,” if you will. Setting up a training session next week to do just that. Want to build on the momentum.

me18.3

Suffice it to say this process teaches us a lot. About ourselves. About each other. About our community as a whole. In a way, the Open helps form a strong base for relationships that bloom + develop throughout the rest of the year. As for those who keep coming back, the Open also gives you a benchmark for your progress.

We can all take pride in the growth that happens every year. Which is why the athletes I mentioned at the top of this post, came around to feeling “less bummed” about maybe not getting as many handstand push-ups; truth is, the ones they got will carry them far.

This piece is long (!), but I want to go back to the coaching part of this. I had intended to write an entire post about Brock (smile), a superb athlete and one of our younger coaches who judged me in 18.2. Dumb bell squats and over the bar burpees galore with a one rep max clean to boot! What Brock provided me that day (or Conner, as I’m on the bar trying to do a pull-up), it’s hard to really capture. 

The coaching + support we receive at CrossFit Worthy goes above + beyond.

It truly does.

CFWcoaches

CrossFit Worthy coaches (photo credit: Heather Barnes)

I’m trying to describe the feeling as I’m flopping my body on the floor and back up, while at the same time, Brock is “negotiating” with me how I’m going to immediately pick up the dumb bells for the next set of squats. He’s literally lying on the gym floor so he can be face to face telling me this. With my body saying, “this is kinda stupid,” Brock helped my mind stay focused on the task at hand. Finish the workout. Have time to get a clean in that I’ll be proud of (which I did!) and feel accomplished for having done it.

brock

ultimate coaching = Brock (photo credit: Kaylee Kok)

Lastly, I have mention always having the best “cheering section” for each workout, with multiple folks encouraging me along, in addition to our “special kiddos” who are learning all about this process at an early age! They sure help keep me going. For 18.2, my good friend and her kids had a front row seat, which is the best.

anakids

special cheering section! photo credit: Cece First

Suffice it to say I’m really glad to be having this experience at this point in my life. It helps me stay grounded, focused, connected, empowered, motivated, strong, accomplished, engaged and happy. I’m already bummed that our last CF Open workout is this weekend. I’m out of town, so I’ll miss all the Worthy fun, but I’m going to make some new friends at CrossFit Asheville instead! We might be in store for some thrusters.

Oh joy!

One of our team names is But Did You Die. LOL

<3

P.S. Had to include one last SUPER FUN photo … because … that’s how we roll.

thegirls

these girls make my day (photo credit: Kaylee Kok)

18.1

It’s Open season for the CrossFit Games which is a worldwide competition for CrossFit athletes. I’ve never really considered myself an athlete, but this is my third year participating in the CrossFit Open. I’m not “officially” signed up, but I get to participate because my most awesome gym, CrossFit Worthy, hosts the competition for anyone who wants to join each Saturday during the five weeks it runs every spring.

It’s pretty darn cool to have this experience, especially as a novice CrossFitter.

They announce each workout on Thursday, and it’s kind of a big deal. Clues are posted on Instagram. People have fun guessing what the workout will be. Lots of folks watch it live and then check out several people actually doing the workout. That’s when you get to learn the movement standards, “strategizing” starts to happen and you begin to wonder what YOU WILL BE ABLE TO ACTUALLY DO when your turn is up!

Most everyone at my gym is participating, so that makes the anticipation + overall process doubly fun.

I did 18.1 (what the first workout is called) at a scaled version which included a 20 minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) with 8 big tucks (on the bar), 10 clean + jerks (with a 20 pound dumbbell) and then a 12 calorie row (you just keeping doing those 3 movements over and over).

I got just over eight rounds, which is good for me!

Athletes have until Monday to record their scores, so we can still do the workout during open gym that day. Sometimes people will re-do the workout to see if they can enhance their score. I’ve re-done things a handful of times over the past two seasons and it’s taught me a lot about myself.

I’m not a huge “goal setting” person, but I was curious if I could do *any* rounds at the RX level (the prescribed weight for like, you know, the “real” athletes lol). This meant doing the same workout, but much harder with actual toes to bar (T2B) and using a 35# dumbbell, a super big jump in weight for me!

I made myself a goal of achieving five rounds, just to see if I could do it.

My friend Rocky judged me and helped get me through. And I surpassed my goal! Did just over five rounds, including an additional 8 T2B and 5 clean + jerks. That was the hardest part! Really really had to concentrate on getting that weight UP, locking out my arm and legs each time. Was about hyperventilating by the end of 20 minutes, but I made it!

Check out my video on RX-ing 18.1 >> CLICK HERE :)

lynn18.1

chatting up 18.1

Why am I writing about this experience? Because for me, it’s pretty monumental in building my confidence, getting real about what I’m capable of and pushing myself in ways I normally don’t. I say this all the time, but CrossFit has been one of the most empowering things I’ve ever done.

Our community at CrossFit Worthy is a big reason why.

When I see firsthand that I can lift a weight I really didn’t think I could, then I begin to see that I *might* be able to do other things I really didn’t think I could do. The experience TRANSLATES and that’s where the magic really happens. I’m building “muscle memories” that translate to the heart.

<3

So, what are YOU doing these days to challenge yourself?

It’s a good thing to do from time to time.

Especially if you tend to be a “creature of comfort” like me.

Get out there and see what’s possible.

You might be surprised.

<3

 

 

 

 

Starting anew

Hello there!

I’m getting back into blogging to share ponderings, insights, my own evolution really. I’ve been blogging for about four years now, although it seems longer. I think it takes a good amount of courage to self express and although it makes me nervous sometimes, I feel called to keep doing it. As a matter of fact, I’m feeling called to do it even more.

I try to show up for our students and shine my light in ways that will lead to greater clarity + grounding in their lives, for today and in the long-term. Planting seeds I like to call it. If I’m honest, I’m working to do this better for my own family. We’re all a work in progress. The cool thing is that we’re connected and sharing in the journey.

I know I have something good to offer and this spring I’m diving deeper to find it. I feel grounded in my work with McNair more than ever. I’m utterly blessed to support our scholars in their own evolution. Truth is their growth spurs my own.

multidimensional human sensation

photo credit: graciela mercedes

I’m determined to keep developing my own voice so that I can contribute in even more meaningful ways. A dear friend took this photograph of me back in summer of 2016 and I frequently use it as a profile pic. I like that she caught me in the moment and I love the light. It’s one of my favorite places to sit outside and enjoy lunch too – Green Tree!

I see my work ultimately helping students be in the moment more. We all need to be in the moment more. Learning to be okay with what is, and thus, worrying less about how everything is going to turn out in the future is key. Using our breath as an anchor is a great place to start. Noticing the beauty that surrounds us, especially the smallest things that can easily go unnoticed is also key.

So, I wanted to put out an introductory post, if you will. Letting folks know of my intentions, because once you declare and share something, chances are greater bringing your vision to fruition. I’m really good at having ideas + starting things and then petering out when my confidence wanes or bumps in the road appear. I’m putting this to a stop right here.

I invite you to come along on the journey as I’m always game to learning from others, hearing your story and offering support + encouragement.

In essence, I’m interested in creating community and holding the space.

For us all.

<3

Letting ourselves emerge

One of the things I love about attending a yoga class is being prompted to think in new ways. In addition to queuing the different poses, a teacher will usually weave in a particular “theme” or “language” meant to elucidate a certain concept or idea typically related to the philosophy of yoga. In essence, the goal of yoga is becoming more in tune with your true self.

Today, we were invited to consider how much of our “true selves” we actually show to the world on a regular basis. True, there are probably parts of ourselves that are easy to share, certain qualities, beliefs, manners of being. Perhaps even truer are other parts of ourselves more easily kept hidden. Perhaps they fall beyond what is considered “the norm” or maybe we are afraid that if we show who we really are or what we really believe in, we won’t be accepted by others. We are afraid to stand in our own truth for fear of being judged and rejected.

When we are mindful, we can usually start to notice how we only allow certain parts of ourselves to show, depending upon the situation we find ourselves in.

What’s interesting about a yoga practice is that we explore such topics through breath and movement. We take a look at these “more subtle notions” through tangible things like breathing and moving our bodies.

Today, we were encouraged to embrace the totality of ourselves, flaws and weaknesses, in all. Strengths too. By observing our mind as we move from pose to pose, we learn to lean into the discomfort of simply being ourselves, just as we are. We have lots of “stories” we tell about ourselves. We aren’t good at this, we aren’t good at that. This happened and so I’m this way because of that.

Today in our yoga practice, we were encouraged to let go of these stories (that “ticker tape” constantly running in our heads), and instead, embrace the present moment of who we are. Right now. At this moment.

Can I stand in my own truth of who I am as an individual?

Maybe.

The real opportunity comes from challenging those stories, or in many cases, “limiting beliefs,” we hold so dear. Today our practice culminated with a pretty challenging pose. Immediately, my internal “ticker tape” began saying, it would be easier to just stick with the simpler version of this, you probably can’t get your leg up like that anyway, it might be too strenuous.

Instead of listening to that ticker tape, I tried it. It didn’t look pretty, especially in relation to the two beautiful teachers surrounding me and going into the fully realized version of it, but I tried it. Then I refined how I tried it, on the second side, with feedback from my teacher.

It was probably a “smidge” better on that second side, but the deal is, it was *my version* of that pose for today. Sure, my teachers’ versions still appeared “more better” (vocab from my 8-year-old, smile) in my mind’s eye; but I dropped that story, if just for the moment, and recognized myself for having tried and having accomplished “my version” of that more advanced yoga pose, for today.

heather

Heather doing “the pose” quite beautifully. This is “her version” of the pose.

I’m doing this in CrossFit too. Just yesterday I back-squatted 120 pounds. Five more pounds than I did last week. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I tried it. I focused and leaned into the discomfort involved in trying something I hadn’t done before; something I, in the back of my head, was already second guessing I could do. Darn ticker tape running and doing its job, like it always does.

And so I did that too. And maybe it wasn’t perfect, but I did it. And as a result, I inserted this notion of being able to do it, into my brain. Cool thing is, next time around, my “ticker tape” might just resurrect this belief instead!

My teacher then read an excerpt from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo:

“Like many of us, I seem to be continually challenged not to hide who I am. Over and over, I keep finding myself in situations that require me to be all of who I am in order to make my way through. Whether breaking a pattern of imbalance with a lifelong friend, or admitting my impatience to listen to my lover, or owning my envy of a colleague, or even confronting the self-centeredness of strangers stealing parking spaces, I find I must be present – even if I say nothing. I find I must not suppress my full nature, or my life doesn’t emerge.

Aside from the feeling of integrity or satisfaction that comes over me when I can fully be myself, I am finding that being who I am – not hiding any of myself – is a necessary threshold that I must meet or my life will not evolve. It is a doorway I must make my way to or nothing happens. My life just stalls.”

What it comes down to is leaning into the discomfort of new territory and discovering who you really are, even if it’s scary and even if it’s easier to stay right where we are. When we do this (especially on a regular basis), we expose, more and more, our true selves and who we really are as individuals.

It’s how we grow.

It’s how we shed our stories and allow ourselves to evolve.

<3

CrossFit Worthy-ers do self-care.

I’m presenting as part of CrossFit Worthy’s special class on Adulting 101 and I’m super excited to be sharing what I love most – helping people to develop self-care habits that will allow them to flourish on a daily basis. Super excited!

Here are my take away points in developing a self-care mindset:

  • notice how you feel
  • listen to your body
  • make it non-negotiable
  • do it a “smidge” more
  • begin again
  • trust your instincts
  • cut out the crud

Here is a LINK to my presentation too, in case you want to take a look see.

Bonus! Check out a little something I’ve been working on for our McNair scholars, that I “transformed” into something for all of our CrossFit Worthy-ers. I’m pretty excited about sharing this.

Click on the title below!
Taking Care of You: Making Self-Care a Daily Reality

Last, use this LINK to tell us you are committing to three primary self-care habits this fall season. We want to know what they are so that we can share experiences and offer support!

I talk a little more about self-care + the challenge HERE.

Here’s to celebrating our SUCCESSFUL *self-care initiatives* come this December.

clarity

One of the keys to taking care of you – being clear on your priorities + noticing how the things you choose to do MAKE YOU FEEL on a daily basis.

 

 

Bright Spots Friday

My CrossFit gym has a great community that is really active on Facebook. Besides getting to know folks while in the gym, I’ve found our Facebook group to be a really great way of feeling connected even though I might not know everyone on a personal level. We’ve recently started to share Bright Spots Friday with one another and this had added an even lovelier dimension to our exchange.

I thought I would write a short post for today’s Bright Spots Friday cause I wanted to talk a little more in-depth about how my participation in this community is impacting my life. After feeling like crap for a few weeks, I finally found some energy this week! For me, this meant pushing myself again, if even in small increments.

crossfitworthy2

I’ve enjoyed working out in a number of different gyms over the years, but CrossFit is different. I’m still working on figuring out exactly why that is so, but I’ll give it a whirl right now.

  • you monitor + measure your progress in a highly detailed way which lends to great insight to your growth in the long-term
  • these “gains” as they are called are celebrated as they are actually happening during a workout and once the results are posted in Wodify (a convenient app for signing up for classes + seeing everyone’s stats)
  • for me, I take great inspiration from those around me and even if I’m not even close to the kind of weight my fellow CrossFit-Worthiers are moving, I still feel inspired by their achievements + milestones

It proves it’s possible, which to my sometimes self-limiting brain, might not show up that way.

  • the encouragement of others is palpable, much more so than I’ve experienced in other places (I think it’s related to the nature of the work we’re doing and how it’s tracked)
  • and the coaching … gosh the coaching … is sincere, is safe, is supportive, is encouraging, is phenomenal really
  • Jeremy + Susie have created something special … not only am I grateful to be a part of it, but I’m grateful that I am able to offer this experience to our McNair scholars as they strengthen themselves + grow their confidence in themselves before continuing on in their graduate journeys

I deeply believe the work our McNair students get to do here @ CrossFit Worthy will have rippling effects in their journeys for years to come.

This week I worked on my clean + jerks. I sent this text to Jeremy after a workout which said: Feeling like I want to do more of those 65# cleans so that 65# starts to feel like 35# – thanks for being most awesome. He replied: Keep kicking butt!

cleanandjerk2

For me, cleans, especially when you receive at the bottom (look at me being all … like I know all the technical terms … not! lol!makes me feel really tough. I’m serious. I can do 35# like nobody’s business. And 65# is *starting* to feel a little more manageable. Which leads to sheer amazement when viewing others (women, yes younger, but still) doing upwards of 150#!

Bottomline? This work is exciting and it feeds all other parts of my life. It helps me be focused with my work. It helps me be a better mom. It helps me be more confident in the things that I want to do + express. It makes me feel frickin’ amazing and that just feeds everything else.

I take those accomplishments at the gym and I translate them in my daily life.

It’s a foundation. A non-negotiable. Because of the way this work feeds my life, it’s got to happen and I choose to make it happen. I really think this is the key when it comes to moving +  strengthening our physical bodies. Once we experience this foundation, we begin to see how critical it is for all other parts of our lives. It clears our head and gets rid of the detritus. And allows us to really soar.

The Gift of Yoga

What’s the gutsiest move I’ve ever made and how does it inspire my life and work today? That would have to be deciding to extend the gift of yoga to my students what is now over five years ago. This decision is significant because it signifies my stepping into what I’m truly passionate about. I’m passionate about helping people take care of themselves and I deeply believe that yoga is probably one of the best tools out there to do just that.

I work with low income, first generation, underrepresented students and help prepare them for graduate school, so when I had this idea, I immediately thought people would think … what does yoga have to do with getting into graduate school? I judge myself enough as it is, but I forecasted people judging this decision even more. I envisioned people thinking I’m taking away from the focus of the program. I envisioned people thinking that I’m wasting resources. I envisioned people thinking this kind of activity to be entirely too woo woo. And for that matter, I risked people thinking that I was a little off my rocker! Crazy girl!

I did it anyways and never looked back.

I had scholars talk about never feeling *as alive* as they did after that first session (think: senses on fire!) and I had scholars think they were being coerced into giving up their religion. I’ve had scholars puke (just once). I’ve had scholars get profound relief from back pain and mental anguish (all the same). I’ve had scholars joke around during classes and I’ve had scholars take the opportunity uber-seriously.

Perhaps I should note that we never *force* our scholars to do yoga. That would certainly be un-yoga-like now wouldn’t it? We *might* strongly encourage, role model, even incentivize them during the summer, but never force. Thank goodness, huh?

This is the thing. Yoga opened the door to having a conversation about how to take care of ourselves so that we can do awesome things in our lives on a daily basis. We’ve all got some goals and plans for our lives. We want to feel good while we are striving to achieve them (I’m assuming here). That pretty much means we need to figure out a way to keep ourselves in tip-top-shape (body, mind, spirit anyone?) so that we are in full-operational mode as much as we can.

So there’s the trick.

It’s not so easy to do that on a regular basis, is it? We might start off in a nice groove, say at the beginning of a new semester (great time to set our intentions), packing a healthy lunch when we’re on the go, getting that workout in before class, making sure to get to sleep at a decent hour. Then the semester *really starts to happen* and those plans sail right out the window.

It sucks! And I understand why.

It’s the daily pressures of all of our responsibilities that we’ve chosen to take on (key word being *chosen* as in *we choose* what is on our plates). It’s the pressure of making enough money to live while we go after our dreams (really thinking about my students here). It’s the pressures of wanting and having to do well in order to achieve our goals. It’s the pressures of all those other “little nuggets of life” that can surface in the most in opportune times and make our heads spin.

So getting back to yoga. I think yoga is one of the best tools for self-care because it gives us an opportunity to slow down, completely pause even, in our busy lives. It allows us to go inward and focus on our bodies and on ourselves in a way that we don’t really do that often. The physical postures in yoga make us feel good. We stretch and we strengthen.

But I would argue that yoga is so much more than that.

It’s the work that we do with our breath and our minds. It’s focusing on our breath and just listening, instead of having our minds constantly be in “doing-mode” and stressing about all of the things we still need to get done. It’s taking some time for ourselves (doesn’t have to be a ton of time either) and slowing down enough to get a read on how we’re really doing. Of course, there’s much much more to it, but I think this encapsulates why yoga can be so good for our students and good for everyone.

scholaryoga

McNair scholars unwinding with some summer yoga.

I think back to that first yoga session quite often and I smile. I think about how far we’ve come since then. We’ve definitely “upped” things by incorporating other wellness-oriented workshops + activities through the years, but in my mind, it still comes down to yoga. I love to give the gift of yoga, and by that, I mean inviting others to explore how yoga might create small, even huge, shifts in their lives for the better. It’s about having an open mind, creating the time + space to doing something special for yourself, it’s about experimenting with all different kinds of tools to see what really works for you.