Monday, September 23, 2013

The Beginning

She entered the CrossFit box unsure of what she would find there. Acceptance? Challenge? Stares? This is not easy; this step into the unknown.

The class is full-- men and women of all shapes and sizes. To her left, a woman in six-pack abs and a sports bra. To her right, the rounder version of the man she married.

She remembers, not that long ago (or maybe it was?), when a walk out to the car didn't leave her winded. When carrying bags of groceries didn't make her arms ache. When pulling on pants was a stress-free occasion.

She looks at the board containing the workout. A foreign list of exercises... something about rounds... 1 minute for each exercise. Sounds fairly simple. The moves are demonstrated. She now begins to think that this first workout, this slow return to fitness will be a piece of cake. No, cake is once again off limits.

At the word "Go!" She officially leaves behind her sedentary life.

Hasn't it been a minute yet? Seriously? Sweat begins to flood from her body. These movements, this work... it's been so long. Next station. How many exercises until the break? When did her body become this heavy? How long since she has moved this rapidly?

The coach approaches, checks on her, encourages her with words that correct her movements to protect her knees, her back, her soul. She is working too hard to notice Ms. Six Pack. Did she just finish 2 rounds or 3? Her heart is pounding, pumping life. Life.

The coach returns. Smiles. Encourages. Sees. She slows her pace. She now is just trying to survive until the end. Breathe.

Something new swells inside. No, it's not new, it has just been absent for so long. Determination flashes fiery in her eyes. A touch of anger replaces excuses that have become the voice in her head. No more. This new person is person is not who she is. It is who she has settled into.

She will find herself again. She will move. She will fight. She will live.

This is beginning.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Future of CrossFit?

This one is a participatory post, directed mainly toward those who CrossFit and strength train... I want to hear your thoughts.

After excitedly watching the final events in the the 2013 CrossFit Games and also watching and listening to all things Games athletes before and after, I have started to see a pattern.

The training habits of the top CrossFit Games competitors seem to be built on a foundation of a solid strength building program like Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 or Louie Simmon's Westside Barbell program. Essentially, to perform well in the Games, the Fittest people on earth are also among the strongest people on earth, arguably.

I just find this very interesting. The top CrossFit athletes are not doing primarily CrossFit. Oh, they are doing CrossFit WODs, but to get better, they aren't just doing more WODs. It seems that the top CrossFit athletes are doing structured programming for strength, with CrossFit metcons as the additional work.

Now, at the core of CrossFit philosophy is the idea that you have to train your weakness because that is where you will see the best improvement. It just seems that for many of the top Games competitors, strength seems to be a weakness.

Maybe that's not a news flash for you, but it was for me. I thought that in order to improve my WODs, I needed to WOD more. But actually, as I've gotten stronger, I'm performing better in WODs because my body is not as exhausted from the weight of the work.

So, I'd love to hear your thoughts: Will we see more CrossFit boxes adding some traditional strength and powerlifting in addition to the WOD? or was the 2013 Games just heavy on the... well... heavy weights?

Not an exhaustive list, but some articles I've been reading on training:
Rich Froning
Barbell Shrugged Interview with Julie Foucher (podcast; contains language)
Lindsey Valenzuela (from 2011)
Dan Bailey

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Why I am Vehemently Opposed to the Scale

Here is why I would advise all humans to stop weighing themselves:
Every time I step on a scale, I become a slave to it.

Maybe you are better than me. Maybe you can get on a scale, look at the number and not proceed to spend the rest of your day (and several more that follow) analyzing what has led you to that number. Maybe you can step on the scale, see the number and then leave it there, not carrying it around with you until the next time you step on a scale. Maybe you can step on the scale and then not beat yourself up (or reward yourself with a yummy treat) because the hard work doesn't ever seem to reveal itself on that inanimate monster, anyway (or I've worked so hard for so many days that I deserve a little treat). 

Maybe a photo journey through my life speaks more strongly than my words can:

Me at 15.
I was preoccupied with my weight. Weighing myself daily, sometimes more than once a day. Some days eating little more than a serving of soup and a few bites of dinner. 
Me at 16.
Smiling, but still unhappy with myself. This was at my heaviest. I watched the number on the scale continue to grow; I refused to weigh myself after I passed 150. By this time the years of restricting food has shifted to the other extreme. I was unhappy, so I ate binged to feel better. Then I felt miserable. Then I ate more. If I didn't loathe vomiting, I would have been bulimic. 
A healthier me at 21. By this time I was not living and dying by the number on the scale... as much. Not binging until I couldn't eat anymore, and then punishing myself by fasting or working out. I was working out regularly and had shifted my diet to healthier choices. But I still over-indulged often in sweet treats.
Me in 2012. At my healthiest "skinny" weight. Two years and 3 marathons had transformed me into a lean athlete. Yes, athlete. I was finally choosing my calories, not based on losing weight, but because I wanted to sustain a healthy, athletic lifestyle. My weight was about 120. 
Me, summer of 2013. I'm quite happy to say that I can't tell you exactly how much I weight. Last time I stepped on the scale a month or so ago, I was at 135. Near my heaviest, but wearing the same sized clothes as in the picture above when I was at 120. The difference in weight is lean muscle.  
So, all of that to say... the scale may tell you a number, but it's not a measure of your fitness. Of your health. Make healthy food choices. Train your body well. You won't find your happiness in the number on the scale.