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...