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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 :)

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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

 

 

 

 

Your Daily Flow

I’ve been going deeper into this whole EAT SLEEP MOVE theory of mine. The theory is simple: make sure you do these three things pretty well and you’ll be able to really rock it out in all other areas of your life. So what does this mean in practice? And what do I do when I walk someone through an EAT SLEEP MOVE session?

STEP ONE >>> lay it all out. What do you all got going on? Chances are, you’ve got too much.

Depending on your situation (usually related to your money situation), you may or may not have a lot of what I call “wiggle room” to play with in your schedule. I also don’t really like the term schedule. I prefer to call it your “daily flow” – doesn’t that just sound better? Your daily flow can be nice and easy. It might spike up with intensity from time to time, but in general, the goal is to keep your flow flowing – smooth and effortlessly.

With “wiggle room” comes the ability to choose to either add things to your plate or take them away. Sometimes both needs to happen and this is something that tends to surface once we start prioritizing our items.

STEP TWO >>> pick out your BIG ROCKS. We start prioritizing what’s most important. Note: this may not (and should not) include everything that you do (or want to do or need to do for that matter). This is where the going sometimes gets tough. Some items just won’t make the cut. They all can’t and that’s the point. Our goal, however, is to make sure that the EAT SLEEP MOVE categories remain among your top priorities. Getting good sleep, eating well and exercising regularly become your non-negotiables. These things happen no matter what.

When I sit down with someone and start examining their “flow” for the week, what I’m typically looking for is open space. I like to draw “bubbles” around any open space I can find. The more bubbles (or blocks of time) you have the better. Again, the challenge is usually not having enough bubbles.

The goal becomes to create more bubbles.

And this leads to the hard choices. For the students I work with, they generally can’t ixnay their classes or part-time jobs (sometimes bordering full-time even) for that matter. For people with kids, they can’t ixnay their kids. This question does comes up though (kidding)!

Then there’s the big picture question of your work and what you are trying to achieve in your career. It often happens that you don’t have enough bubbles to support forward movement with those “big picture” type goals you have. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily minutiae and just trying to keep yourself afloat.

The real goal is to start leading with intention. No you can’t control every little thing in your daily flow (and shit comes up, that’s for sure), but you can choose how you respond and you can choose how you intend to move through your day, every day.

STEP THREE >>> examine how you operate. What this means is thinking about when you tend to be “most productive.” Are you a “night owl” or a morning person? Do you like to workout and then bust out your homework or manuscript? We are thinking about our energy and how best to put it to use. Ideally, we want to match up those “productive zones” with as many of our “bubbles” as possible. What can you fit in where in your day that makes the most sense, that is time efficient and that leads to you feeling your best – and basically rocking it out?

STEP FOUR >>> create a “flow” that feels good. Once we have our “big picture” in mind that includes our non-negotiables, our bubbles, our ideal time frame for making things happen, like exercise, then we start to put it all together. The most important thing to realize at this point in the process is the reason behind being mindful in creating our daily flow. Yes, we are putting together an “idealized” version of a weekly schedule according to what’s most important and how we can best operate and maneuver. But, what we are not doing is creating any sense of rigidity in our mindset or our daily flow.

We want to keep the flow exactly what it is – a flow. Of course we can’t know what might come up from day-to-day, what projects, kids’ needs and activities, what emergencies might need tending to etcetera. What we can do is respond to such things with the greatest of ease because we are prepared to do so.

That’s the beauty. By establishing – at least in our mind’s eye – an “ideal” way of moving through our days – we can actually start to feel more in line with our intentions, our goals, our best work. We can actually start to progress in those areas that are usually left by the wayside albeit of huge importance to us in the long run.

So we build our flow knowing that stuff comes up. Our baseline self-care (EAT SLEEP MOVE) comes in by helping us to become more adept at meeting daily challenges while still keeping with our flow. When the small stuff starts to fall away (and you’ll be amazed that once upon a time you even gave this kind of stuff a second glance), there becomes all kinds of room – in our days, our heads, in our lives.

And the best way to feel is to feel spacious all around.

STEP FIVE >>> be fluid and flexible. Make it a practice to explore and situate your weekly flow on Sunday’s (this way you won’t feel anxious come Monday AM). You’ll have a list of your big-ticket items (maybe a big paper that’s due, a test, or work project to be presented), you’ll have your EAT SLEEP MOVE categories designated and you’ll have your bubbles distributed throughout as much as possible.

Try to keep some time blocks completely OPEN FOR NOTHING. Just open space. That could be for an hour in the morning before you really get going with your day. That could mean taking a half-hour after lunch just to read the paper and chill before you get back to work or go to class. That could also mean reserving that hour before bed for some light reading or basic downtime with no electronic devices in sight. Having time and space in your schedule or daily flow that is totally open and without any agenda = true magic. Magic for the mind, body and soul (however cheesy that might sound).

Move through your days and think about how you are feeling at different points throughout. Notice when you are feeling energetic, when you are feeling super productive and “in the zone,” notice when you are feeling relaxed and happy, notice when you might be feeling tense and anxious or irritable even. It’s all part of the mix. Through our intentions and using this kind of “mindful approach” to creating our days, however, we can begin to smooth out some of those more irritable and challenging times and replace them with times of greater ease, contentment and general “rocking it out of the park” kind of feelings.

Each week we come back and center again around what’s most important. We set our intentions and then we simply go with it.

Click HERE to explore the EAT SLEEP MOVE Challenge in the New Year.