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.




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 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.


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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

So How Was It For You?

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean, know what I mean? 

The 2022 CrossFit Open is officially concluded, and I’ll admit to a sigh of relief that it’s over for another year. Proud to have registered. Glad to be back to my/our own gym kinds of things. I’m more attuned to the personalities than I ever used to be, which is noteworthy for a non-sports-person like myself. An interesting challenge is developing on the women’s side (in my mind’s eye) between Mallory O’Brien and Tia-Clair Toomey. That will be fun to watch as the months unfold. Smiles for Saxon Panchik on the men’s side. I was stunned that Rich Froning’s Whoop strain for 22.3 was only at 4.4 (in a scale of 1-21). My body shows that strain for a 2.5 mile nature walk! For myself, I’m proud and pleased to have registered for another year of it. I’m more aware of some of my own recent successes in the just get better journey. And this season was harder than last year’s, if for reasons I can now smile about… How was it for you? What do you notice now because the global CrossFit community gathered to do this thing for three weeks?

I’m in the 50-54 age range, scaled track of things. I’m finding deep satisfaction in the weights and challenges here for me, and I’m noticing more ease in the weights-levels (for the most part). That’s cool and noticeable. Some skills are starting to come more easily that seemed out of reach last year. Double-unders, for instance. Not to the point of stringing them all together, but alternating single-doubles, I’m getting into the teens of reps unbroken. I’ve been more confident in the box jump height my long legs can do just fine. I’m still conservative and will move to stepovers when I get weary, but I’m enjoying the surprise of greater challenge. I've even made a good peace with overhead squats!

For Open things? While I have moved into the weights-range with more comfort, I still lack upper-body strength skill. I.e. no pull-ups will probably always limit me in the third workout. This was a double-edged sword for me this year. I pushed myself to just stay with the Scaled workout, which meant I didn’t get very far into it. I landed back in a shame-spiral I’ve not felt for a long while in these things. I’m proud that I pushed myself to try, to stay with what I couldn’t do...yet. I did so largely because I’ve been doing banded pull-up EMOMs at home, working toward more shoulder strength. It’s fun to do, when I remember to do it. I lack shoulder mobility, I now realize, and my left shoulder may have signs of previous injury/inflammation I’m now tending. I’m learning and will be tending that with some care at home. But the Friday night attempt-night was hard on me, on the inside and outside. Tears were close.

But then I was reminded why I love this community and why I need this journey together so very much. I was standing at the score-sheet table, listening to peeps chit-chat about their processes. One of the guys asked whether I was going to take my score-sheet slip with me, as he noticed my score-sheet was still on the table, whole. “Nah,” I said. “I couldn’t even get past the first round. I couldn’t get even one pull-up.” I tried not to let my own sense of defeat color my face, but I’m sure it was in my voice. “Oh noooo,” he said, picking my paper up. “I have every single one of these that I’ve ever done! Don’t get grossed out,” he laughed as he used his tongue to weaken the paper-fold he had made on my score-sheet. He tore my slip off and handed it to me. “We keep these!” he smiled at me. I received mine and smiled back at him, remembering. I did this. I showed up for the CrossFit Open. I showed up for myself in a new way this year. I attempted something I’ve not been able to do…yet.

It’s so bloomin’ easy to focus on all the things I can’t do when surrounded by those who can do things I cannot do…yet…or perhaps ever. This is the internally demanding thing for me (and surely for others I know) in this annual event. It’s probably worse inside of me now because I’ve begun to ‘buy into’ some of the celebrity/elite-athlete hype, mostly because it IS entertaining…but that’s really new for me. I’m not a social-media or sports girl, after all. Luddite Lisa is more my style. But I DO love the ethos and irrepressibility that this community lives into. 

It was remarkable to see everyone pushing their hardest for the best 'runs' of workouts, all three weeks. I got to count reps for some folks during an Open Gym, and celebrate the strategy and choices they made to improve scores. It was stunning to watch friends step up to the tasks before them. And I know the frustrations and even anger at not being able to...I know that was shared too.

Just get better. Just show up. Train at your edges to make it more interesting for yourself. Try the unknown things you think you cannot do. Do all this with people who can uplift you when you forget. The 2022 CrossFit Open is officially concluded, with good fruit to show for it. And...I’ll still probably always be glad that it’s over for another year.


Sunday, February 27, 2022

Fitness is the Celebration of...

In my celebration of maintenance--being where I want to be on my fitness journey, for now--I have begun to tally a list of markers of fitness for me to note, track, but most importantly, celebrate. I am a highly intentional person, by most accounts, and maintenance-intention is rather dull. Finding new markers of fitness might become a way for me to keep awake, keep myself lively. is being able to go on a five mile run, if you want to. I can already hear a friend's voice in my ear--are you high!?!--and maybe so. But this doesn't need to be a regular event, by any means. Yesterday, I wanted to move but it was cold outside. Nothing inspired me in the downstairs workout area, so I decided to take my running shoes to the indoor track at a local Rec Center. You can use the track for a couple bucks, whenever you want. Hardly anyone was using the track, and I enjoyed a delightful hour on the padded track, tending to running form, stretching and breaking every 1/2 mile or so. I pushed myself a bit at the end, I realized, because FIVE miles?! was within reach. And I walked it off for a bit, went home, and enjoyed an on-plan meal with a couple tv shows after. Fitness is being able to go on a five mile run, if you want to. Didn't require training up to it. The day after hasn't been a sore one. Fit.

As I sat with the notion of fitness is being able to do whatever you want to do, in your own skin, I bumped into a bit of a conundrum. What we want to do in our own bodies is shaped largely by past experience and the sense of possibility/impossibility we feel about it all. Most of us stay in our comfort zones, and create worlds and rationales for why that is, and what we can (or can't) and want (don't want) to do in our own bodies. Those who engage physical movement the least can often have the most narrow assessment of what it is possible for them/their bodies to do. And if they never get curious, as they age, this capability will get narrower and narrower. Most of us don't know what we can do in our own bodies, particularly if we have lived a mostly sedentary life, if movement in our bodies has been associated with pain, shame, failure, or trauma of some kind.

I didn't enter into CrossFit with a goal of jumping on a 20" box, for instance. Didn't even have the desire until recently, when I decided I wanted to challenge myself a little more than I had been. I didn't want to do that particular movement for a long time, so didn't. I assumed that I could not, or that it was simply not safe enough for me to try. Except now I know I can, and can for at least 100 reps. My sense of body-capacity expanded because space was held for me to stretch into More. Now I'm enjoying this sense of fitness, celebrating being able to jump higher on a box than I ever thought I could.

The conundrum can be tender though. Sensitivities and perceived judgments surround fitness in our culture. I was thinking out loud about this idea of fitness--that fitness is being able to do whatever you want to do in your own body--and this problem of measurement in it--that our imagination or assessment of what our bodies can do is totally conditioned by our past, and often more by our fears than actual body capabilities or possibility. I was trying to say what I've begun to learn in myself... When we move less, we have less idea about what our bodies can do. Only when you get curious and try new things can you discover new things your body can do. Right?  Well, I said it badly and landed in a quagmire of sensitivity and judgment, "your values are just different than my values", and more... which bothers me enough to write to learn more about it inside...

What does it require for human beings to get curious about their health, getting engaged in feeling good in their bodies? I know it took me fifty years to finally land in a relationship with food that feels sustainable and healthy. I guess it takes as long as it takes...and every one is empress/emperor of their body domain.

But I don't think fitness can be this being able to do whatever you want to do in your body in our overcultures today. With the various epidemics of diabesity, heart disease, chronic inflammations... and with industrialized, misleading-marketed food supplies, we have a higher and higher majority of population able to do less and less in their bodies. Traditional medicine and big pharma are shifting 'health markers' relying upon increasingly chronically-ill populations. Most of us are less and less experienced in our own bodies' feeling good. We don't even know what it feels like to feel good inside, and so our sense of possibilities and desires for what we want to do grow narrower and narrower. We become less and less curious...

In the end, better to celebrate what we can celebrate... Crafted this way, there need be no sensitivities or judgment at all.

Fitness is celebrating...

being able to go for a five-mile run if I want to

feeling most myself when I'm moving and "playing" in the movement

having all the energy I need to do all I love to do

staying curious about what I love to do AND what I am more afraid to try

leaning into discomforts of new things, in the camaraderie of friends and safely held spaces

maintaining weight and body composition, roughly, with good clean eating

continuously learning within my own and others' experiences...

[Feel free to add wisdom in the comments...!]

Monday, February 21, 2022

Celebrate Maintenance...? Listening...

Fitness is such a complicated phenomenon, I’m deciding. Inside and outside. Again.

​​SNAP SHOT #1: This word fitness has been rumbling around in my belly these last months, though arguably in my heart, mind, and body for decades. Growing up in a doctor’s family, fitness was the Promised Land. It was (somewhat ironically) the cherry on top of the hot fudge sundae. It was the thing just around the corner if I strategized, planned well enough, ate my vegetables while not eating too much of things I shouldn’t. Fitness for me as a young girl swirled amorphously around being slim, which to some degree meant trying to get my body to look like my sister’s body.

She has a body-style quite different from my own, but met the slender hips, little belly, small breasts that
slender or slim seemed to refer to for fitness in a woman. My body type, as fateful delight would have it, is more oriented toward the artist Titian’s style—strong hips, sensuous abdomen, large-breasted, tall, big bones. I was therefore rarely fit in my own eyes, let alone those to whom I gave authority. My parents, for instance.


SNAP SHOT #2:  Fitness and/or Health? The senior CrossFit Level 1 trainer opened the weekend seminar with a glimpse into his own vocational journey into the fitness industry. He’d excelled in athletics, so naturally pursued it in college. He dove into kinesiology as a major, then trained for his certificate as a personal trainer. Setting about creating his own small business in the personal training industry, he encountered a bit of a conundrum that none of his formal training really crafted for him: what does fitness mean? What does it even mean to be fit? He could give detailed schematics on the healthiest movement patterns for the human body. He could advise on nutrition, shaped by the nutrition professionals of the day. But he realized he did not have a concise, articulate definition of the word fitness. To what end would he be training clients, as diverse in age and ability as human beings come? Are marathoners exemplars of fitness? Weight-lifters? Buff men or women at the gym, making a lot of noise? Then he landed into the sport of fitness, or CrossFit. Which actually has an articulate definition of fitness.

We won’t begin here with the one-sentence CrossFit definition, mostly because it comes across as jargon. But sitting there, in that weekend training, I also felt the aha! in my body as a number of jumbled puzzle pieces dropped into an unexpected but recognizable landscape. The history that my body had lived within constantly shifting sands of becoming slender or attractively feminine opened into a stunning beautiful vista of fitness that could be adapted to my own body. I heard an expert in the fitness industry fess up that all his training did not prepare him for the integrative work of training for fitness, though he had all the specialized pieces within his training. He painted a landscape for fitness experts to become human beings able to see more, so to coach and teach each human being to just get better as made sense within their own bodies. This Level 1 Seminar began to shape us in a practice-knowledge of fitness that was finally precisely defined, professionally coachable, and collegially encouraging. It has also been empirically measured, clinically-tested, and communally developed over years now. 

Fitness in this sense is organized around (re-)learning healthy and functional movements—deadlift, squat, and push press—for most human bodies as they age over time. Deadlifts are wisely picking up heavy grocery bags so you can do so when you’re 85. Squats are healthily moving your hips-back and knees-out so you can squat on the toilet when you’re 85. Push presses are wisely placing heavier items onto a shelf in your house by means of your core-muscles and arms so you can do so when you’re 85. 

Becoming fit is being increasingly able to do this kind of physical effort, across long-enough durations of time and various planes of movement. Becoming healthy is then becoming increasingly fit over your life-span. The one-sentence definition then. Fitness, in CrossFit-speak, is work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Health refers to fitness across a lifetime. The thing I love about this community is how fantastic I feel in my own skin today. I now know what it feels like to feel good in my own body, to fuel it well so I can do what I love to do and have more energy to do more of what I love to do. Through no fault of anyone in my own family line, we simply didn’t know what fitness was, or how to frame it in a way that was dependable, fun, and healthy.

As I’ve delved into the Whoop World–enjoying myself thoroughly along the way–my sense of fitness is once again shifting and deepening, with new inputs and yet-familiar internal-habits. I’m learning that my body enjoys even more movement than I knew, and yet I’m shy about it, hiding these extra outings in my own web of relationships. I’m feeling my self-expectations expand both at the gym and at home, which I kind of like. The challenge keeps it interesting, for sure. I’m experimenting with heavier weights, recognizing I need to continue to refine form and core muscles to handle the weight responsibly. My confidence is increasing as well. In the CrossFit wisdom of ‘train your weaknesses,’ I recognize that the short, high-intensity-sprint workouts will always be my weakness-area. AND there’s something that helps me knowing I can track highest heart rate and do this push more carefully, attentively. I like that. I know that this Whoop play is keeping me healthy and pushing toward fitness challenges.

I’ve spent the last 3 weeks ‘playing with the strain’ number that Whoop records. High intensity, long-burn workouts for me, like the recent KB/burpee+jump bar one recently will show a 10.5 strain (or higher, I guess, but not yet). The highest strain I’ve seen so far is 13.4, and that had multiple workout activities in a day. The regular daily CrossFit WOD that varies movements and intensities day to day will show up at 6.0-8.5. Higher intensity BootCamp landed in the 9.0 range, if I recall…45 minutes of a collection of intervals, then one final run-through with the middle-rep count you had logged. 

I’ve discovered the Strain Coach which will give you an estimate of” strain-needed via another activity” to reach “optimal strain” or an even higher strain accumulation for “fitness gains.” A couple days last week, I got curious enough to see what that kind of “additional activity strain” would feel like, what it would be in the play with strain. One day, after a 7.0 strain morning, I went for a 5K run on an indoor track I’ve often enjoyed. I achieved optimal strain, and then was wiped out for the next day. But a couple days later, I saw only a 7.5 strain activity was necessary after the morning WOD were I to reach “optimal strain.” It was a warm enough day, so I went for a run long enough to accumulate that strain amount. And it felt awesome. I had so much energy the rest of the day, and even the next day. (Endorphins? Curious…).

So fitness is shifting inside of me. I suspect my heart/cardio systems can withstand a lot more strain than I’m expending while the rest of my musculature is slower to grow in challenge. I have to remember that Whoop fitness is all around heart-rate and heart-variability, not whether my muscles hurt or my joints are twinging here and there. Form-fitness is an area of regular learning and relearning, as in the Overhead Squats today. I lifted the heaviest OHS weight I’ve ever done, thought even feasible, AND Matt helped me see (via video and observation) that my squat is still too far forward, knees too far over my knees. Quad-dominant, I think Melissa said once. I love getting to ask what to work on next, and to see how to “just get better.” I think my form-fitness has steadily improved over the years I’ve been engaged in CrossFit, and I’m continuing to learn refinement after refinement. Pleases me. Keeps it interesting.

In all this, I’m continuing to translate my own fitness-specifications within this larger fitness-pool of Whoop athletes. My daily WODs are only light to moderate strain, which I experience as moderate to high. I’ve been tracking my own mental weather, feeling a challenge or push to “higher strain” for “better fitness.” Which is true. I would be more fit were I to sustain 18.0 strain a couple times a week. But what kind of life is that for this 52-year-old Masters athlete who CrossFits as a hobby? A pretty expansive and thoroughly fascinating hobby, but a hobby all the same…? I honestly don’t think my joints and muscles would like that life. 

I then dipped into the InBody scan, since it had been about 6 weeks since the beginning of the year, post-holidays. Given this play with ‘strain’ and increased activities to reach optimal strain, I had thought the InBody scan would show it. And while I dropped half a pound of weight, it was only .2 lbs fat and .1 loss of muscle, which basically means I stayed precisely the same. Basal metabolic rate remains high, and I can do all I want to, plus more. Healthy, in other words. Pushing into fitness gains.

Except I felt a small disappointment inside of me. I am so programmed to want to see the body-fat numbers go down, regardless. So...surprise surprise...the retraining for celebration of maintenance continues. I’m all about the drive, the new, the achievement, the contribution…but here, I need to find ways to be about celebration of maintenance.

Listening…and welcoming any tips on that from masters athletes!! :):):)