Monday, July 31, 2023

Pre-Games Progress Report -- MidSummer Musings

One day and counting before I jump into the car for my drive to Madison, Wisconsin, one last Grand Adventure before my sabbatical ends. Holy Wisdom Monastery, for prayer with the sisters, a bit of spiritual direction, walks in the woods, editing-revising the manuscript that is forming; then the Coliseum and Vendor Alley of the CrossFit Games, on the other side of “the lake” from the monastery, so to be in the festival atmosphere of it all, perhaps meet Annie Thorisdottir for a selfie, if I get lucky. Lots to be thankful for…feels a good day to rest, recover and jot some progress notes for myself.

Show up. Don’t Know Why. Do Your Best. I shared my year’s mantra-of-sorts with a friend yesterday, after a good open-gym workout and then a jaunt into Barbie-land with her family. These phrases have been in my circle-way life, my writing-awareness, and a sense of sacred work in the world, but this mantra also informs my entire CrossFit experience. What I often say to newcomers into the gym/box: just show up. I was amused I hadn’t made the connection between my “method of sacred bewilderment,” as I’m writing about it and my CrossFit life. 

The “don’t know why” phrase doesn’t work as well in the CrossFit context, at least how I normally intend it for seminary students to adopt curiosity instead of defensive certainties. For myself in CrossFit, I show up for fun, for fitness, for community, for how it makes me feel, for how it grounds my mind into my body, and more. Though the “let go of all expectations” intent of this phrase still holds true. I signed up for CrossFit with some intentions/expectations in mind, but then discovered a whole slew of others I hadn’t known would emerge. And in a real sense, I’m showing up at the Games this week without a sense of what to expect. Show up. Don’t know why. So be it.

I have grown a little reflective about age amidst these last weeks of my own CF practice, though with a bemused smile. I had a young coach give me kudos for “running a mile for the first time in a long while,” which is what he understood me to say when what I actually said was “running a sub-10 minute mile.” [In a recent running WOD, I ran a mile in 9:43, which was my fastest time in years. But I’ve loved running in addition to the daily WOD, often putting in over 4-5 miles at the track in the winter, after the morning’s WOD.] I doubt I would have given it much thought re: age, butin this box, there is a group of athletes I’ll call ‘young Turks’ as they train together, constantly try to outdo each others’ times, and persist in improving their technique for speed. It’s fun to watch them excel, which I celebrate wholeheartedly. I smile at their youthfulness too, recognizing my own seasoned wisdom is for me alone. I find myself wondering if they’ll still be at CrossFit when
they are in their 50’s. I hope so.

There was a discomforting encounter in this same box, these youthful more masculine energies. We had a morning with some time slated for gymnastic-skill-development, followed by a couplet WOD, ‘pirate-style.’ This meant there were just enough cardio machines for a large class, and when it came time for the 15/12 calories’ work, you had to find an open machine, perhaps wait for one. It also meant your space on the rig could be taken too, which mine was, every round, by a young guy intent on using his preferred bar. So taking down my bands without replacing them. Normally this kind of space-sharing doesn’t bother me, but this time, it got under my skin. Finally, I became aware of a familiar feeling, a common experience for me in the worlds I travel in: an inability to be secure in my own skin in a masculinized space; the intrusion of white male preference that disregards my own space, my own needs, my own work. To be clear, it wasn’t malicious or even conscious for this young guy, but it was ignorant and predictable, particularly for the white male Evangelical he is. Which is why it got under my skin. I’m constantly around this energy in my work, which is wearying. Worth saying something to the fellow, at some point? We’ll see. I go for “adult recess,” not for consciousness-raising, to be honest. I do enough of that in my day job. But I’m also practicing not minimizing this tenderness in me, as a woman in highly masculinized spaces. It’s worth it to note it here for that reason, at the very least.

On a more positive note, the push-up practice continues, both because of accountability with a good friend AND because I can already see tangible results in other areas of my practice. One box started this as a monthly-challenge, prior to the Murph WOD of Memorial Day, and I’ve simply appreciated keeping it going since then. I miss a day or two each week, but I’m consistently strengthening it nonetheless. Have graduated to slow-descent-plank push-ups, and when I get to 100 of those, I’ll buck up and work on held-form-plank-pushups. I’ve done hand-release-push-ups, full plank, but there’s always a sense of midline kip in them for me. It’s been good to work on midline stabilization, better body awareness of it. It’s helped me PR my squat-snatch as well as my overhead squat in the last two-three weeks! So…steady wins ‘the race,’ if the race is understood as better technique and stronger midline.

And I think I’ve re-navigated my own internal conversation regarding weight, fitness and nutrition. It’s good to be back on plan, 100% most days (except the predictable cocktail hours on the porch, seltzer&vodka from time to time), consistent activity etc. And while I remain heavier than I was a couple years ago, it’s consistent. I’ve therefore gotten curious about what some folks call “the menopausal middle,” the slowdown in metabolism due to less estrogen in the system, or a changing gut, which alters weight patterns for older women. My metabolic rate has not changed that much, however, which led me to focus on gut-biome things. 

When I had some digestive-issues that were most likely stress-related, amidst Brian’s departure days for Israel last month, I succumbed to some social-media advertising for some prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic supplements, aimed at helping menopausal women lose weight by improving their gut biome. By the time the supplements arrived, the overt concerns I had were much less, and the supplements had some immediate side effects I didn’t trust. The reviews that said “these were good for folks with IBS and could do more harm than good for healthy guts” ultimately urged me to abstain. So…I’m settling into being just as I am, getting to do all that I do. I’m increasingly content that while I’m heavier than I was in 2019, my lightest-while-on-CrossFit patterns, I’m consciously making good choices for my own health, increasing fitness. I’ve returned to a little bit of moringa-powder each day, usually hidden within coconut-milk unsweetened yogurt or a no-oats hot cereal I enjoy. And I feel really good, inside and out.

So tomorrow, I get to head into some “retreat-like” space for myself, seeing some friends, being immersed in crowds that love CrossFit as much and more than I do. I’ve done the bulk of food-prep I do for travels like this–granola, coconut-flour muffins, homemade mayo for easy-pick-up grocery meats like rotisserie chicken. I don’t know what the kitchen situation will be at the retreat house, but I’ll sort it out once I arrive. I love the familiar mental-pull of the Book, my writing that will be accompanying me, balanced by the physical pull of the Games, the workouts I can participate in if I want, the Adventure about to unfold, however it will!

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Laughing Off Demons' Poo -- Episode 37 Million

It’s time once again to celebrate all that I love about fitness & fun, two words I can place in the same sentence because of my CrossFit journey, coming into five years in mid-August. 

Why “time again,” you ask? 

I am awash in internalized-demons’ poo because I have not lost the pounds of fat that I had hoped I would in this last month. Seriously. [In my defense, I’m also fearful about a writing-work project and my beloved companion is away on business for several days… A bit off balance, me am, which gives deep feeling nowhere to go but IN...] But still… How is it these inherited body-demons can shit all over my insides when I love my life? When I am at a weight healthy enough for me to...?

  • Feel strong and energetic
  • Eat my favorite foods (in moderation)
  • Wear clothes that make me feel great
  • Make memories with my people
  • Carry myself with confidence
  • Maintain my body composition over months, even years
  • Enjoy my life

This listing came through an Instagram-meme a couple weeks ago, a “story” I actually watched enough times to catch all the phrases, writing them down. Your healthiest weight is that which is whatever allows you to…(see above list).

I do get to live that entire list. I’ve maintained this health-committed lifestyle for nearly five years. I do carry myself with confidence, at least when I’m not covered in demons’ poo. 

Perhaps it’s time for me to simply print out the listing, pin it to my bathroom wall, and set my sights on other factors I can control. 

Showing up. 

Number of WODs a week at 5 or 6. 

Still enjoying a light-version of cocktail hour with B–flavored seltzers with pear vodka, so really weak vodka drinker am I–but never two days in a row. 

Clean eating, but “quality of life” splurges from time to time (every other week?).

I love how much I get to move every day. I smile when I do push-ups on the floor while waiting for my lavender-salts bath at night. I revel in the new things I get to learn about my body that I’m always learning as I go. A new “shoulder stability” routine, for instance. This stuff makes me happy inside.

It’s not about the weight I lift OR any weight-loss. It’s how I feel in my body because I love to move, I love to share workouts with fun people, and the rest of my life (not to mention those I love) knows a more peaceable Lisa because of it.

Writing does seem to be a good mental-deodorant, or perhaps even a poo-vacuum. Hot damn.

I wonder if Fresh Thyme has their beef carnitas at the meat counter? One of my favorite foods…