Thursday, November 17, 2022

Remembering, Refocusing -- Fitness Freedom

I’m remembering this week what fitness-freedom feels like, shaking my head a bit at how often I need to re-learn and re-member this sense of freedom inside. How can I not anticipate the mind-habits that narrow and narrow, constraining and confining inside my body? So very curious, this gift of impermanence and remembering.

I dipped into my home gym this weekend, both for a drop-in WOD and to do the InBody scan before the holidays really land. For about 7 weeks, I’d been experimenting with an intermittent fasting routine that I’d read about in The Obesity Code–a MWF “don’t eat until noon” routine, so six hour eating windows on those days. The rest of the days, deep intentionality about making my calories’ daily intake. I did fairly well, keeping track. I noted some familiarity of energy-deprivation, satisfaction, at “what i must be losing” with such a routine. I found myself weighing in on the downstairs scale, to confirm the habitual weight-loss accounting. 


The InBody showed the lowest BMR (basal metabolic rate) I’ve ever had. Yes, I was down in total weight, but muscle was also down. The fasting routine was lowering my body’s rate of metabolism. Though I know I need to eat more and aim for good fats, proteins, lower carb and no added sugar, I had inadvertently slipped into a calorie-reduction mode, frustrated I wasn’t reaching the lower body weight I had in mind. I was back into the habits of “refrain and reduction of calories” means fitness, when all I succeeded in was lowering my body’s metabolism.


This week, I’ve relinquished that “reduction” mindset, and stayed precisely on-plan, with the calorie amount recommended by my FatSecret app. It’s a lot of food, when you come right down to it, but there is also an abundance mindset that comes with it. A freedom to eat, and eat more. Each day has had less than 50g net carbs, sometimes even less than 30. I’ve not worried as much about fats and protein ratios, trusting them to sort themselves out while I restart my BMR climbing again. And I'm remembering the fitness freedom I've known before. It feels easy to not crave or desire old-habit foods.


All this may seem overly technical and even exhausting for those who don’t want to think so much about nutrition and body-fueling. I think my take-aways are pretty straightforward, signals for me once again…

  • Stay off the f**king scale, even when it seems like it could tell you something. It’s too hard to see the numbers–either high or low–and have any clue to what’s actually going on. Standing on the scale leads to old habits.
  • Love the abundance of food you get to eat in this way of being, more than gaming the dance with carbs or finding the least amount possible, which won’t really assist fitness anyway, in the end.
  • Focus my fitness energies with other movement-goals, pursuits...

In the end, trust that staying off the scale, focusing on abundance of clean foods, and enjoying the movement like I do each week is enough. Focus on other fitness goals, like shoulder mobility and core-strength development, persistence.


Do that? Become more fit.


Good enough. Not only that. Just plain GOOD.


Saturday, November 5, 2022

CrossFit Container Contentment

 I found myself naming “the deepest contentment I have ever known in my body” in some writing today, attributed to my CrossFit journey. There are other reasons for such contentment, in other words, but my CrossFit ‘bucket’ is a large one into which I can place a lot of reasons. It’s living in a CrossFit ‘container’ or entire ecology of attitudes, practices, and community that holds so much of it all together: body, nutrition, fitness, fun, friendship, challenge, failure, trying again…all of it needs to be held close in somehow, and CrossFit means that, does that, for me. As today is a rest day, I thought I might muse a bit on whatever arises.

I just finished making a batch of cauliflower-mash for the week, which seems to be my new favorite accompaniment. I had to experiment with the recipes I could find, so to land on one that would stay fresh for the week. The first recipe–with coconut cream as a part of it–did not. This one–one head of cauliflower, Kerrygold butter, garlic, unsweetened almond milk, a little chicken stock, salt–stays fresh all week long. And it goes with everything, somehow, feeling like ‘mashed potatoes’ to me by now. A delightful treat. I’ll probably add rosemary to it for the holidays.


I do think I forget how drastically different my palette must be from Brian’s. He’s been critical of my cooking of late, which I began to get defensive about inside. For one, my palette is so ‘quiet’ compared to his. I don’t need or even desire the sweet- or rich-highs that he craves. He probably doesn’t appreciate becoming aware of those in himself, in contrast to my own body-steadiness. Two, my weekly staples he rarely samples–except the homemade mayos–so what can he actually be critical of? I think he must still grieve because our choices are so very different. 


I’m in a good and balanced season, in both food and alcohol consumption. I’ve landed in a high-intentionality, clean-eating rhythm for the last several weeks, with the occasional ‘splurges’ of some gluten-light flatbreads for egg sandwiches (Ghostlight Coffee, in particular). A few more carbs in the morning feels good, once or twice a week. And strangely, I’m so attuned inside now, I can actually say that with a knowing smile. The ReFrame and DrinkControl apps I’ve played with these last two months have also created a conscious-choice rhythm for cocktail-hours with Brian. I easily keep my weekly ‘limit’ and find myself choosing homemade seltzer in a big ol’ wineglass much more often. Not sure why that matters, but I feel splurgey and participating in cocktail hour if I’m drinking seltzer in a wine-glass. Whatever.

I’m finding my way into staying connected to my own deepening practice and to friends-in-community while stretched somewhat between two ‘boxes.’ My workaday rhythms have settled into a 6 a.m. class most weekdays, looking into the week’s work-on-campus commitments for a weekly 4 p.m. drop-in with my home-gym. I do like being showered and into work by 7:45 a.m., and I’m getting more work done, more efficiently. Feels good for now. When weekend spaciousness allows, I drop-in for Open Gym, enjoying a more intensive workout, potentially partner-style, with CFD folks. Brian’s asked me to sing the choir for Advent, so that’ll cut into my own spaciousness, but…it’s a good time to be highly visible in his work-life there.


The actual CrossFit practice is deepening for me too. The previous post nodded to my GHD learnings, but I’m enjoying the diversity of coaches and coaching at the new ‘box.’ I love the ‘movement-review’ that happens in every class, regardless of whether there are new or seasoned athletes present. I love the post-WOD stretching, which reminds me how important mobility work is for my 53-year-old body. My movement-skill is increasing, as is my confidence.


I’m much more aware of this deep confidence, letting it lead in deciding on my level of challenge for the day. As a result, I’m choosing more-challenging, more-often, though I’m careful about that depending upon the movements in play. We had a rowing-max-thruster WOD on Friday morning, for instance. First of all, I was surprised I’d woken up ready to go, having done my first round of Filthy Fifty the day before. Green WHOOP recovery, though, so…alright then! I probably could have chosen a heavier weight for the barbel–even Rx, which was 75–but I also figured I’d barely get 2-4 reps per round, with probably pretty weary form. I chose to go lighter–55#--and found myself in the zone of others’ rep-counts. Which wasn’t even a determinant for me, but I do scale myself so to maximize strong movements–rowing, for me–and minimize ‘cost’ of other movements I know I’m slower at–thrusters, squats, etc.


There is also now a 6 a.m. crew that is seeming to gather each weekday–Sergei, Gabriel, Anthony, Christi, Alex, Stacey and Michael, even a new Mike yesterday. The summer was touch-and-go for who all might show up, so now I’m enjoying the familiarity of the faces, even as it’s all ‘armed-forces-social’--i.e. not within my own sense of familiar. 


The last item that seems noteworthy for musing is my newer experimentation with intermittent fasting days. I re-read The Obesity Code sometime in August, I think, and was surprised by the ‘intermittent fasting schedules’ he offered in the Appendices in the back. One was a MWF schedule of intermittent fasting days. That seemed a bit extreme to me, given what I’ve learned and experimented with before. But I was heading into a week of work travel in which the food felt it would be questionably ‘clean,’ so I thought…why not? Try it and see what I might learn. I’ve been quite surprised at the heightened energies on those days, and the rhythm that it creates in my week. MWF, I eat at noontime, with dinner usually around 6 p.m. The other days remain a more normal 9/10 a.m. into 6/7 p.m. eating window. The calories have stayed largely the same, perhaps a little less on MWF, but close to my 2000 (BMR of 1706-39 over the years). It’s altered my food-intake a little–more protein, less fat perhaps, if still within the 15% carbs/20-30% protein/60-70% fat ranges. I’ll be curious what the InBody scan shows in a couple months.


Re-reading quickly, I smile at the ecosystem of it all, what I mean by CrossFit that most others do not understand “as CrossFit.” Even Brian, who lives with the close-up views of my daily life. I think he still sees CrossFit as my morning workout. But it’s all the above…food, fitness, fun, friends.  


A good season...


Tuesday, October 18, 2022

And So It Goes...the Sneaky GHD

One of the things I love about CrossFit is its regular stretching of what I thought I knew, how I have come to know my body and capacity, and the community that holds me well amidst these challenges. It’s all good, “as long as it doesn’t result in hospitalization,” a friend texted me today. I’m fine, and my body is fine, yet I’ve also learned a lot in the last 24 hours!

 

Basically, I’ve had my first prolonged encounter with the GHD (glute-hams-developer), at the newer-to-me CrossFit gym. Having done the L1 training, I’m always a bit surprised when it’s listed in the programming there. This is a much higher-skill, greater risk ‘machine’ in the mix of CrossFit movements, with most beginners advised to do just that…begin…slowly, and with a different movement than a sit-up (hip-extension, from stomach-position). Whenever I’ve seen it programmed here, I’ve tended to choose abmat sit-ups as scaled option. I know I always need to work on core-strength, particularly now as the newer gym doesn’t tend to it as well as my home gym.


 Yesterday, it was an EMOM (every minute on the minute) skill-building workout where I could keep the reps low and listen more slowly in the movement: GHD situps, deadlifts, and chest-to-bar pull-ups. I decided to stay with the more advanced GHD movement, though staying largely above ‘parallel,’ which meant only a ¾ sit-up each rep. It seemed conservative enough for me, yet also stepping into something that I would have previously avoided. As I’ve taken to saying, CrossFit is my near daily practice in ‘small steps of courage.’ I’ve grown and challenged myself this way, loving what I get to learn.

 

I knew something was different in my body as I left the gym that morning. Inarticulate. I felt fine, but also wearier ‘inside’ somehow than I’d been in a long time. I could feel my hamstrings/posterior-chain weary, with some back and shoulder exertions too. But I was glad. I knew I’d sink into the 90-minute massage I’d scheduled for the afternoon.

 

The morning appointments via Zoom at home were rich, and breakfast at noon was delicious. I did sink into the massage, and having seen it as an option on the entry-form, I welcomed some abdominal work for the first time too. Unsure what that might have meant, I learned it was careful attention to hip-bones, hip-flexors, tendons of the pelvis. All was tender, but I could also feel stress and energetic releasing too. I drank my large glasses of water and, unusual for me post-massage, I curled up on my bed and took a 90 minute nap.

 

That probably should have been my first clue, but we had a business dinner to attend to, so off we went. I suspected that a 6 a.m. workout was not in my future, given later dinner and emotionally heavy content of it. I texted some CF peeps to find out the workout in my home gym, decided I might enjoy a drop-in after my afternoon meetings on campus.


I named some of my GHD adventure with a friend—also a CrossFit mama or older-sister—and she startled enough to insist I check in with her in the morning. “That’s 80 reps!” she said. I smiled inside, feeling both cared-for and warmed by the bit of “her over-concern.” I enjoyed my evening hot-bath-soak and slept well.

 

I did indeed sleep in (for me), and first thing, noticed weariness. Nothing too extreme, and all the signals of the morning were fine. I texted in that I was smiling and fine. “Abs sore?” she texted back. “A little,” I responded, “but nothing horrible. All is well.” I noticed lower back tenderness, but that sometimes happens when Nala leans into me at night and my arm gets at an odd angle. Didn’t think much of it.

 

As the morning wore on, the weariness didn’t abate, and even seemed to get heavier. I felt something that might be called ‘echoes of cramps,’ which was odd for a post-menopausal woman. Not painful, but whispers of discomfort of an era gone by. Lower back remained weary, tender. Not painful, but tired. By the time it came to decide whether I was going to drop-in for the 4 p.m. WOD, I sat in my car, and it dawned on me.


My abs were really sore. I laughed aloud in the car. She’d been right after all.

 

I always think of these muscles as being only in my stomach, around belt-line or waist-line. But the muscles the GHD requires your body to use are lower, pelvic-oriented, and surround the area below the waist. All of my morning’s discomforts were post-GHD discomforts. Even though I had been measured, care-full, knowing the higher risk skill-building, I’d still let it sneak up on me.

 

Damn.

 

But oh well. Bedtime is coming. I feel much much better. I stepped into something that had previously scared me, perhaps stepping in a bit too far, but now I know to cut any rep-counts in half, at least. I've wanted to work on core-strength, and did. I know more of my body's capacity and how it speaks to me 'after.' And I’ve been reminded all day that CrossFit community checks in with its own. I’m blessed with friends who care, and show it.


Even blessed with friends who are always right, blessing and curse as that may be (for her). 😜


 

Monday, August 8, 2022

Looking into the 2022 CrossFit Games...

So the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games are done.

Order has been restored, if with a helluva fascinating competition. Moreso than the last years when the leaders seemed to dominate the field. CrossFit commentators say this “bodes well for the sport,” which has always struck me as an odd conclusion. Like CrossFit is only a business or a sport aiming for professionalization. CrossFit is and always will be a grassroots community building fitness community to me, which professionalization and specialization hinder. All that said, I’m clearly ‘caught’ in the hoopla now, with my favorite athletes and curiosities to see who’s “up and coming.”

 

CrossFit Reykjavik didn’t do as well as they had hoped, I’m sure, but it was still fun to cheer them on. Annie Thorisdottir will always be my favorite, particularly as she approached Rich Froning in the normal CF post-competition ‘hug.’ That took class. He hardly gave her the time of day, not even a smile, which bears poorly on him. Competition and rivalry are marvelous, as long as there is respect. She held her end, he did not.


 Tia-Clair Toomey’s journey through the Games surprised me with its impact felt within me. It literally pained me to see the cameras focus on her during the progression event where she missed the 75 unbroken singles. It actually felt mean to me, defensive of her (shaking my head). I’m an egghead, after all, with little to no emotional investment in anything athletic. Yet I was relieved when her fitness clearly 'held up' over the 13 events.

 

Ricky Garard’s return was also complicated but interesting. How does redemption and/or forgiveness function in our world today, in a strong-knit community like CrossFit? He erred, got caught, and “paid his penalty” of four years.


I was morally supportive of his return to the Games. And then I found his attitude/voice in interviews irritating. I was glad that the podium landed as it did. I love that Justin Medeiros won the competition without ever winning a single event.

 

This is the first Games I’ve paid such close attention to the Teams competition, given Annie’s involvement. I find the road to success curious, as it involves much more team-building, communication, and communal strategizing than the straight-forward individuals’ competition(s). At the same time, it’s clear (at least in Mayhem Freedom) that the team-division is/was simply another vehicle for Rich Froning iconography. The other team-members’ names are not media-focused nor therefore memorable after any particular year. I was startled to hear that no Mayhem Freedom team has ever been the same, except Froning.

 

Annie’s move to create her own team from elite athletes around the world couldn’t give much time for the team-building, intuitive-perceptive movement of the parts as one whole. Particularly with such strong-willed folks that elite athletes would have to be. 


Seeing these two next to one another, I can see two familiar styles in contrast. One, a pretty old-school “train with the master in the toga” philosophy, surrendered to his charisma and will. Two, a convergence of expertise or elites that has less skill at the team-building, development of communal intuition & cohesion. Unless done over time, though I’d doubt CrossFit Reykjavik will be reconvening to train another year.


Though I didn’t enjoy the event itself as much, my favorite moment(s) happened in the Sand Bag Ladder. I loved seeing the community of elite athletes look with awe at Dani Speegle and the 250lb bag. At the 240# bag, one of the commentators gave voice to the community: “Okay…we’re clearly competing for second place here.” Loved that.

All in all, a good run through the Games, I thought. Even without Dave Castro at the helm. So the community evolves, grows, changes. As we all must. FUN.

I think my husband is glad the Games are over though. :) Now we can go on vacation together.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

How Are You Liking...at CrossFit?

How are you liking your membership at Bombers CrossFit? I received in my Inbox yesterday. Indeed, how am I on my CrossFit journey these days…?

 

As ever, I’m thoroughly enjoying my CrossFit life, practice, rhythms. I recognize these rhythms are changing, which feels healthy and responsive to what I’ve been experiencing (however I might describe or interpret the experience). Easing into this transition gently has placed me between two “boxes,” for now, which can lead to a comparative/contrast frame of mind. Or not, simply appreciating the gifts I get to experience with each, both, right now.  


One gift is that I have multiple options each day to move and flex my work, need for a workout, need for a community-social space while I workout. As my job is so solitary—higher education, much of it online now—the social needs not getting met at my original box pushed me into considering other options to meet this need. Bomber’s has begun to meet that need, for which I am grateful. The challenge, of course, is honoring the rest-day that my body needs in its rhythms. So I listen for that too, recognizing that I will always choose a playful WOD (adult recess) whenever I physically can. I’m slowly learning coaches’ names and recognizing fellow CrossFitters’ names with faces.

I’m also receiving a whole lot more coaching in my CF movements, skill development, which is fabulous. With so many different coaches I now have access to, I’m re-invigorated in learning to refine skills I wouldn’t even attempt in my original box. I did a tempo-negative-handstand-pushup for the first time this week, for instance! Did the handstand kick-up, slowly lowered myself to my head (on top of two abmats), more conscious of my hand-placement and direction of my elbows, thanks to diverse coaching. I stood up, delighted and surprised that I’d done it!

 

This broader expanse of CF community has also made it easier to dip into my old 8 a.m. class without the anger or frustration in someone being rude to me. Don’t care. Don’t engage much there anymore. This is neither here nor there, because my rhythms are already clearly shifting toward the sabbatical patterns to come: first thing in the morning writing-reading, midday WOD, then return to work/administration in the afternoon.


 I will guess that dropping into Community Workouts, perhaps an afternoon WOD/week at my old box, will allow me the continuity and sense of community I’ve loved but also had to grieve with CFDedication. And the deepening of my own CF practice and skills will be fed by Bomber’s CrossFit. For now, my family and I are fine to expend financially for the gentle transitioning my relational heart needs.

 

Eventually that will become unnecessary, and I’ll be at the Box I need to be at. It's a gift not to have to choose at the moment… 

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Whoop Experiment -- Field Notes for July

Green recovery day! I said to Brian this morning as we eased into our morning coffee, reading the news, slow-Monday dawning… For nearly six months, I’ve been learning a digital-app-based body metric system known as the Whoop band/strap. It came at a discount after the Level 1 CrossFit Training Seminar last September, so I decided it was a Christmas present for myself. (Supply chain issues meant the tech-band didn’t arrive until end of January). Ever since then, I’ve watched my strain-recovery-and-sleep metrics each day.


 As I am not an elite athlete, monitoring top performance requirements, Whoop serves as a nerdy conversation partner for me, most days. I like how it keeps me intentional about my body, both in energy output and in healthy recovery practices. Intentionality is probably its biggest gift to me.

 

There’s a journal function, for instance, which allows me to track my macros/food-intake about 4-5 times a week. This keeps me conscious and honest about how I’m eating, what I’m eating. The ‘recovery score’ reminds me to balance strain and sleep with intention as well. I’m largely a yellow-recovery person, with few in the red, a bit more in the green. (Red=0-33%, Yellow=34-66%, Green 67%-100). It really is quite stunning how a good night’s sleep skyrockets my recovery into the green.

 

The biggest surprise for me, however, has been how the strain score gives me a sense of both confidence and challenge. I’ve needed an outside metric to balance my sizeable anxiety and/or fear about my body, its messages to me I learned to distrust from an early age. I am relearning trust, with confirmation.

 

Several days in the spring were in the 13’s, even 14’s, as I played with morning WODs followed by afternoon runs. I listened to my body—it really did feel like moving, pushing—and I eased off when the strain moved into the 13’s. I knew that was my upper limit for a healthy ‘push.’ Having that outside metric as confidence-builder allowed me to push myself in ways I didn’t know I could. I felt better and stronger, more and more confident. The largest strain score I’ve recorded was the July 4th WOD plus “reorganization of the storage unit” while Brian was away. A partner WOD and all the lifting and moving of stuff? 15.0 strain. I was exhausted. And slept hard into a yellow recovery.

 

At one point, I set Whoop’s alarm function for whenever Recovery would hit 67%.  That wasn’t a good pairing for me, as I would sleep ‘on edge,’ waiting for the buzz that sometimes didn’t come. I realized finally I relaxed and trusted more when I wasn’t waiting for “Recovery success.” Pay more attention to the big picture.

 

So I’m enjoying my Whoop experiment. It’s given me more confidence in my body, stronger ability to push myself without fear.


Or maybe I simply feel most at home with nerdy conversational partners.

 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Do You Want to Join the Team?

“Hey Lisa, you want to join the Savage Race team?” read the text message from a Crossfit buddy. I stopped what I was doing and re-read it a couple times. On Google, I researched a bit. Hmmm…yes…it is what I thought it was. A campy American Ninja obstacle course, 5 miles or more. Participants soaked in mud from top to bottom, posing for pictures with their medal. What did I want…?

I was ambiguous in my first response, asking for more information. I checked the calendar—weekend immediately before my days of intensive teaching. My project-manager-self began her argument for why this was a bad idea. Like Saturday’s events could irreparably harm Monday’s classroom responsibilities? Some other part of me grabbed the phone and texted him, “Sure. Why not? I love the stuff you get me into...” I wrote CF into my calendar, letting it sit. I didn’t say anything to Brian about it, though told him I’d be out “for a CrossFit thing” on that Saturday in June. He nodded. I smiled at myself… What in the world was I thinking…?

Well, apparently some part of me simply wanted to have an adventure!!!

As the day drew near, I found my anxiety rising, with a sense of forboding. What if I broke a bone before teaching in class the following week? What if I let the team down somehow by not being able to do one of the obstacles? What if I let myself down and backed out at the last minute? These are the kinds of things my mind runs my gut through before an adventure that some other part of me wants to have.

On this side now: It was AWESOME!!! I was prepared for multiple strategies—two different pairs of shoes, options to bring knee sleeves or gloves with better grip when muddy, several protein bars and two water bottles filled with electrolyte-mixed water. I was SET. I made the choices that needed making when I got there, watching everyone else I could see. And we dove into the marathon-obstacle-course, together, laughing.
What a hoot. Running up the hill when pictures would be taken, then walking slowly the rest of the way to the summit. Walking carefully through the potential muddy lanes, until "why bother?" Crawling under real barbed wire, or learning to roll, which was more fun. Carrying logs through the woods. Scaling 50-ft-high nets both up and down amidst a water sprinkler. Anything that depended solely on upper body strength, I’d give one shot, then laugh and walk around.

I didn’t break anything but a smile.
Our team did the obstacles as each desired, waiting for any/all of us before the next one.
We crossed the finish line together, arms up in victory.

I HAD AN ADVENTURE!!!!

One couple I joined in congratulations gave me a real compliment as gift too.

"Not bad for 53," I had said to them with a smile. "FIFTY-THREE?!" She exclaimed. "You're a beast! "

I'll take it.