From Whence You Came

Hi there.

I’ve been out of blogging action again, for all the same reasons I’ve stated before: writer’s block, being too busy living, spending most of my time processing aloud with my colleagues and friends and significant other instead of in my head and onto the blog.

But.

What better activity for yet another sick day than to finally get back to writing? Armed with Kleenex, some tea, and a warm blanket, I’m dazed enough to share thoughts with the world wide web.

First of all, yes, I am upset that my Seattle Seahawks lost by way of a heartbreaking late-game interception thrown by little Russell Wilson, when the obvious choice to us fans was to hand the ball off to Beast Mode and pound the stupid thing into the end zone. But understanding our time-outs, the time left on the clock, the strategy, the downs, and the fact that it’s a team sport where the guys trust each other to make the plays make the situation sting a little bit less. They tried, and unfortunately for them (and for us) it didn’t work, and hindsight is 20/20.

Anyway. Proud of them for making it to where they did when, really, the talk went from “They won’t make playoffs” to “They won’t make the Super Bowl” to “Oh my, they could really win it back-to-back.” The team didn’t come away with that one last trophy, but, my oh my, they did so much this year. My fondness for American football has been growing exponentially since the mid-2000s, and I’m lamenting the time that exists between now and the start of the new season.

Anyway. That’s all I’ll say on the subject for now, except for I believe I would make an amazing defensive player in an alternate timeline where it’s largely acceptable for young women to play football.

Anyway.

It’s been a wild fitness ride, you know?

Two years ago, 65# hang power cleans killed me in a workout. Several months later, I struggled through 95# clean-and-jerks. I could barely overhead squat 45#. I couldn’t do a single pull-up. And all I wanted was to stop feeling like dying on every warm-up run.

Every time I start doubting my progress, I comb through my old training journals. I’ve passed the “beginner’s gains” nowadays and am making PRs of 5, 10 pounds here and there, so it’s good to remind myself of the overall journey.

I started my fitness journey at around 137lbs., with a lifetime bench press max of 65#, arms that looked nice but felt useless, and the mentality that I was never and would never be an athlete.

Now 2015 is here, I’m roughly 130lbs. but packing more muscle than ever before, working towards being able to bench press my own body weight*, and pondering how to design my training more deliberately because I keep feeling the need to compete. I also keep Googling powerlifting competitions and thinking that I should build all three pillars of the powerlifting trio, since 2+ years of training has led me to discover that my strengths seemingly lie in those lifts. Also, I can do multiple dead-hang pull-ups; it’s so awesome to finally have those, after nearly three full decades on Earth.

Running is still not a strength of mine, but it’s better than it used to be. I’ve run several 5k races because I’m a glutton for pain under 30 minutes, and that’s pretty good for my plodding pace. I would love to increase my speed on the short distances (400m and under), as well as hit a 7:00 mile, but I also have faulty mechanics in my foot and ankles, which means shin splits and knee pain come into play if I run and jump rope too many days out of the week. I suppose one 2015 goal is to work on remedying that situation.

I’ve set quite a few goals for myself in 2015, and many of them boil down to strengthening my foundations: strengthening basic gymnastics moves, increasing my work capacity in things like pull-ups and push-ups, increasing my power-lifting numbers (particularly the back squat), fixing my technique and form in my Olympic lifts, maintaining and improving flexibility/mobility, and overall increasing endurance and speed.

It’s a lot to work on.

The numbers may not be stacking up as quickly now, but the challenge still entices me. The continual self-improvement still brings me in, day after day. And the team keeps me there, grounding me, cheering me on, and helping me to simultaneously work hard and never take myself too seriously.

I’m thankful that 2012 Ardith decided to make a change; I’m happy that 2015 Ardith continues to prove herself wrong.

That said, some days, I just need to rest up and heal, and I’m hopeful that self-care will hold off any more illnesses for the remainder of the winter. Sniff sniff.

*I hit 120lbs. on my bench press on Saturday while coming down with a cold. Unfortunately, the light working out did not “sweat it out,” and I have since become a human snot factory. It’s lovely.

Why I Do CrossFit

That is such a cop-out title. People love the “Why CrossFit is Dangerous,” “Why CrossFit Isn’t For Me,” “Why CrossFit is the Best Thing You’re Missing,” etc. Even so, I want to consider and share why I continue to participate in this form of fitness and recreation, and why this is the only other athletic thing I’ve stuck with besides cheer and dance–and why it’s the only athletic thing that I feel like I’ve grown in and continue to progress in as I approach my two-year anniversary.

The Workouts
I remember my first workout clearly. I got left behind on the warm-up lap after a very nice girl chatted with me for a bit and then picked up her pace to match the rest of the group. I learned how to clean and jerk from a very hands-on coach. I was the last person done with the lightest weight possible. And I was thrashed for several days following. But I logged on to Facebook and left a very telling status update that night which basically told my circle of friends, “Okay, I finally understand this CrossFit thing.”

After one session, I realized that it was a form of fitness which provided the opportunity for people to push their boundaries, not in terms of physical limits, but in overcoming mental hurdles. Weightlifting, for example, is something I was mildly interested in, but societal norms in rec centers and other gyms is that girls, ladies, and women don’t use the weight room. It was always intimidating, uncomfortable, and a sure-fire way to look like the novice I was. But CrossFit basically says, “To Hell with that.” Women learn the same lifts, the same moves, and the only difference is that sometimes our prescribed weights are lighter. There is nothing that says we can’t aim for the males’ prescribed weights, and depending on the workout and people’s fitness levels, sometimes I lift heavier than the guys. And there is no shame in any of that for anyone.

Essentially, the workouts continue to be challenging as a person progresses. The seemingly endless ability to scale and modify–whether that means “down” or “up”–means that it truly “never gets easier, you just get better.”

The Third Space
Typically, people have their home space and their workspace. In my line of work and in the spirit of balance, we often talk of establishing the “third space,” that place that exists outside of home and work. My third space in recent years always tended to be a coffeeshop or a bar, somewhere where I spent time reading and writing, for the most part. After graduate school, I didn’t need that function as much (for better or for worse), and I floundered a bit in trying to establish a different sort of third space.

What my gym has provided me is a third space for recreation, the ability to shed the weight of the day (ironically, usually by throwing literal weight on me) and a place to rejuvenate. For some folks, that place isn’t and never will be a gym or a fitness center, and that is perfectly fine. Trust me when I say that I’m surprised the gym became my third space. For a long time, I was the girl who made every excuse to avoid going to the gym; I still do that–except I establish good, solid reasons to keep myself out so I can get a rest day in (over-training is bad for you, people!). My third space is a place to reconnect with myself, where for a small amount of time, I can disconnect from technology and the tasks at work and focus on self-improvement. It’s also, luckily, a place where I can interact with other people and feed my social life.

The People
And that brings me to the people of CrossFit. My athletic background was, in my mind, fairly minimal. I spent 12 or so years dancing and 4 years cheering between high school and college. I dabbled in other team sports, but mostly harbored a distaste for the years I attempted soccer, basketball, and softball. I enjoyed being around other people, even though I didn’t have a ton of incredibly close friendships from dance and cheer, which is no one’s fault; to me, it seems like I just didn’t quite fit in the same way most of the other ladies and men did. (On a related note, I fit in quite well with my band people, but that was outside the fitness spectrum by a long-shot, at least in my experience.) However, I still loved the team dynamic, understanding how each individual’s strengths played into a bigger picture while we were each able to hone our skill sets and work on weaknesses.

After college, the opportunity to participate in team-based fitness seemingly disappeared. I think I’ve mentioned numerous times that I tried running, I tried yoga, I tried group fitness classes, but each time, I lost interest and quit going (even after buying memberships for some of these things!). Nothing grabbed my interest enough to make me commit. Looking back on it, part of that reason was there weren’t other people to hold me accountable. Sure, there were regulars in my classes, but the environments weren’t conducive to socializing and getting to know other people.

But then there came CrossFit. Technically, CrossFit classes are group fitness classes; there are scheduled times and a coach, and you’d think it would have been the same situation as with Zumba or spin or cardio kick-boxing. For some reason, though, a team develops and emerges, and in my case, I was able to integrate into a team, which then led to my accountability to others kicking in, which then led to returning over and over to the gym, which then led to a greater want to develop individually and contribute back to the overall skill set my gym showcased.

That sounds fairly convoluted, I think, and there are a lot of psychological and social processes at work there, but what it comes down to is, there are a lot of good people that I met, and that mindset that we are all in this journey together is prevalent in the community. (“Community?” Yeah, there’s definitely a community around this form of fitness.) There are more and more fitness communities springing up, too (based on my social media), and there is a ton of potential in those teams and communities to shift the habits of other adults towards health and fitness.

Oh, and also–they’re fun!

Some of the SEAtown CrossFit crew during float day on the Yakima River near Ellensburg

Some of the SEAtown CrossFit crew during float day on the Yakima River near Ellensburg

In a nutshell–it’s a healthy combination of fitness, self-improvement, relationship-building, and fun. We push and challenge each other to try new things. We teach each other. We laugh. We encourage. A personal fitness journey moves to “we,” and the secret to what I need to be happy and healthy is no longer a secret.

 

In Retrospect: The 2014 CrossFit Open

In the beginning, there was a girl who just didn’t want to feel lazy and squishy anymore.

Then, I signed up for CrossFit, made some gains, and played along in last year’s Open.

This year, I officially signed up for the Open. It was my first year signed up, and in the month leading up to the Open, I was able to Rx most of 2013’s WODs. Chest-to-bar pull-ups were still an issue for me*, but I at least had my chin-to-bar pull-ups; in March 2013, I could barely get any bend in my arms on the pull-up bar. I didn’t sign up expecting to be a competitor, but I signed up ready to challenge myself.

photo(9)

Of course, my luck was such that the opening WOD started (started!!) with double-unders. I’ve already complained about that, though, and 14.1 will go down as “not my best performance ever.”

14.2 consisted of overhead squats and chest-to-bar pull-ups, with a scheme that gave the strongest athletes the chance to add more reps.

From 0:00-3:00
2 rounds of:
10 overhead squats
10 chest-to-bar pull-ups

From 3:00-6:00
2 rounds of:
12 overhead squats
12 chest-to-bar pull-ups

and so on, following the “+2” pattern until the rounds could not be completed.

Going into 14.2, I expected completely to finish the first 10 overhead squats (at 65lbs. for women). Before the workout started, a teammate suggested I change my pull-up grip to a chin-up grip just for the WOD. I didn’t have a lot of time to practice, so I essentially went in cold. Because of the chin-up grip, I was able to work through 10 chest-to-bar pull-ups–and because the grip was so foreign to me, I couldn’t quite kip them, and I ended up doing most of the pull-ups strict. I got through a total of 28 reps before my time was up. It wasn’t an impressive showing, but getting my first in-WOD chest-to-bars–regardless of the grip and execution–was a big accomplishment.

After the first two WODs, I hoped desperately for heavy deadlifts. I got my wish, as 14.3 was a deadlift/box jump combination.

In 8 minutes, the challenge was to work through as much of the following as possible:
95-lb.
deadlifts, 10 reps
15 box jumps, 20-inch
135-lb.
deadlifts, 15 reps
15 box jumps, 20-inch
155-lb.
deadlifts, 20 reps
15 box jumps, 20-inch
185-lb.
deadlifts, 25 reps
15 box jumps, 20-inch
205-lb.
deadlifts, 30 reps
15 box jumps, 20-inch
225-lb.
deadlifts, 35 reps
15 box jumps, 20-inch

I completed 102 reps, culminating with 12 pulls at 185lbs. It was a fantastically challenging WOD for me, and it was a workout that needed to be approached with caution no matter who you were. Deadlifts, if done incorrectly, can be devastating to the back. However, I was trained under very watchful eyes, and I silently repeat the cues taught to me each time I set up.

14.4 was a beast, with 14 minutes to work through:
60-calorie row 
50 toes-to-bars
40 wall-ball shots, 20 lb. to 10-foot target
30 cleans, 135 lb.
20 muscle-ups

Surprisingly, I finished the row in just under four minutes, then immediately tanked on the toes-to-bar. Toes-to-bar as prescribed are difficult for me at this point in time, although I’ve consistently made progress since last year’s Open, when I hit my first few. 14.4 saw me complete the most toes-to-bar I ever have within a WOD, 33 toes-to-bar. Again, not an incredibly impressive number, but a number with which I could be happy.

The last WOD was the first “for time” even in the Open, even though these types of WODs are common in programming and practice. The entire CrossFit world had called the sinister duo of thrusters and burpees, and the format in which it came was grueling.

21-18-15-12-9-6-3
Thrusters (65lbs. for ladies)
Bar-facing burpees

Lucky me, I got sick right before 14.5 was announced; I was sick on a Tuesday and Wednesday, and the WOD announced on a Thursday evening. I pushed my attempt at 14.5 until that Sunday. I was still congested and low on energy, but I wanted to complete the workout and wrap up the Open. That Sunday morning, I warmed up, watched several other athletes work through 14.5, and then I took it on with one of our coaches as my judge, with an almost-empty gym as my setting.

I ended up finishing the workout in under 20 minutes, finishing at 19 minutes and 38 seconds. That time ended up being faster than the worldwide women’s average and only four seconds slower than the worldwide men’s average. After being sick and somewhat mentally beat-down by three of the previous WODs, I was very happy with that final score.

This year’s Open reaffirmed the goals I set earlier on. My biggest limiting factors at this moment are my shoulder strength and double-unders; this I know, and this I will continue to tackle. In the past year, I’ve dialed my nutrition in a bit more, although it isn’t incredibly strict and definitely not exact science. I’m utilizing lifting class and open gym times to work on select skills, which has helped me continually come back to my weaknesses, even if it’s just for a relatively short amount of time that I dedicate to a specific skill. It’s helped quite a bit, as seen by the fact that I can perform several unassisted ring dips now, whereas at the beginning of the year, I could do exactly zero.

I have a long way to where I want to be, and I can say that about many things in my current life. I am impatient, but I’m learning to savor little milestones more and more, because those tiny moments keep building to drastically change the landscape.

 

* And I am proud to announce that over Easter weekend, I strung together my first unbroken sets of chest-to-bar pull-ups, with overhand grip and everything. It was unexpected and so awesome to finally accomplish that goal! I’d been chasing after that one since my Basic test attempt in March 2013 at HEL, and of course, I had to share it with all of my friends, teammates, and coaches past and present. 🙂

Cultivating the Self (Again)

WordPress glitched and took what was supposed to be my Friday post and saved over it. I will attempt to recreate the journal here because I have nothing better to do on a Friday night. (Excuse me, I’m sleepy and cranky.)

Thursday, Jan. 24th
CrossFit HEL – The Chief
Deadlifts
3-2-2
Load: 155lbs./160/165

then:

The Chief
5R of:
AMRAP3
3 Hang Power Cleans – load: 55lbs.
6 Push-ups – mod: from knees
9 Air Squats
1 min rest

Total rounds completed: 22

Friday, Jan. 25th
CrossFit HEL – Coats & Hats

7R for reps [of sit-ups] of:
300m Run
1 Rope Ascent – mod: rope ladder
5 Slam Ball (30/20)
AMRAP Sit-ups
Each round is 3 minutes, go for max reps.

Sit-ups completed: 97

then:

Tire Flip Team Races – partnered up with one of the stronger women at my gym because I can’t lift that huge tire on my own yet.

Saturday, Jan. 26th
Hot Yoga for Life – Hot hatha yoga

Sunday, Jan. 27th
Walking (rest day)

Monday, Jan. 28th
CrossFit HEL – The Grand Enigma in Reverse
Front Squats
EMOM10
1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10
Load: 65lbs.

then:

6R For Time of:
6 Forward Barbell Lunges (3/leg)
6 Backward Barbell Lunges (3/leg)
6 Box Jumps – mod: 20″ box step-ups

Load: 55lbs. (as prescribed)
Time: 7 minutes, 25 seconds

Tuesday, Jan. 28th
Yoga (at-home session)

Wednesday, Jan. 29th
Bench Press
3×3, 1×15
Loads: 75lbs.//55lbs.

then:

10-8-6-4-2 reps NFT of:
Bent-over Barbell Rows – 45lbs.
Slam Ball (30/20)

then:

3R For Time of:
6 One-arm DB Snatches – R – load: 20lbs. (scaled from 25lbs.)
3 Muscle-ups – mod: ring dips w/ banded assistance x3
6 One-arm DB Snatches – L- load: 20lbs. (scaled from 25lbs.)
30 Double Unders – mod: single-unders x3

Time: 6 minutes, 20 seconds
***
Weekly numbers:
130.4lbs
28.5% BF

Dates with suitors:
0

Doctoral programs applied to:
0

Pages written for book:
0

Students advised:
Like, 1000.

Okay, so basically, I’m stuck with work and working out and making healthier meals. Which is all fine and dandy, but if I’m going to be single, I’d like to at least be hanging out with guys or going out or figuring out where I’ll be eventually earning a Ph.D. Yeesh. Is that too much to ask?

I have a busy, busy month ahead of me. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be in Savannah, GA; Los Angeles, CA; and Las Vegas, NV. Jetsetter.

C’mon.

What are you waiting for?

Right Back At It

Wednesday, Jan. 2nd
Yoga (at-home)

Wednesday, I decided to practice yoga again because my shoulders were hurting something awful. I chose an online video that looked like it was shot in the 80s, but it was a surprisingly good sequence. I felt stable in my poses, and I was also surprised to noted that I could actually do plow. I struggled with that every time I would go to a class when I was still at OSU. Overall, the relaxed practice felt good, and I felt centered and refreshed.

Thursday, Jan. 3rd
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Fight Gone Bad

Those of you who know Fight Gone Bad are probably cringing. Don’t. I had to modify it because my shoulders were still hurting. I had to drop the weight down on everything.

For those of you that don’t know Fight Gone Bad, it goes like this:

3 rounds, 5 minutes each. 1 minute rest between the rounds.

A full round consists of five exercises. You must switch stations on the minute.

The exercises were:

– wall ball shots – modified to 8lb. ball
– sumo deadlift high pull (SDHP) – modified to 45lbs.
– push presses – modified to 22lbs.
– box jumps – modified to box step-ups (that has nothing to do with my shoulder)
– rowing machine (for calories)

At the end of the WOD, you total up all reps (and the rowing calories) for the final score. I came up with 254. A good number, but too bad I wasn’t able to be 100% to get my true score. I did not die, though, even though I was completely gassed.

Friday, Jan. 4th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Speed/Agility Work

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I had fun with sprints. We ran a star drill (five efforts) and V-drills w/ kettlebell pick-up and burpees thrown in the mix. Essentially, I was faster than expected on most of my efforts, minus the V-drill attempts where I spun in the wrong direction, or didn’t spin at all, or picked up the dumb weight with the wrong hand, etc. Still! I did it. And it felt great. I may not be the fastest sprinter in the world, but it’s definitely much more fun than distance running for me.

After that, we did some more agility work with the WOD. It was an AMRAP 10 consisting of:

20 double-unders or 60 single-unders
vault (mod: just some really ugly straddles over the bar)
15 hand-release push-ups (mod: from the knee)
box overs (mod: stepping up onto the boxes)

5.5 rounds for me.

Not bad considering I still trip over my jump rope multiple times, and boxes and I just don’t get along at this point in time.

Monday, Jan. 7th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Halfway

Monday was a good CrossFit day for me. We started with back squats as our lift.

3 rounds of 5 reps
Load: 115lbs.
Boom! Started at 35lbs. four months ago.

Then…

4 rounds for time of:

12 toes-to-bar (hanging exercise)4 box jumps (24″ step-ups for me)
12 kettlebell swings (scaled to 12kg., although 48 reps at that weight is starting to actually feel light)

Overall time: 7 minutes, 12 seconds

Tuesday, Jan. 8th
Rest day/Mental health day

I’m including Tuesday because I did stop by the gym to get weighed in and measured for the upcoming nutrition challenge. Challenge starts tomorrow. My lunch is going to be kind of sad because I wanted to blog tonight and not cook for tomorrow.

Spent the night hanging out with one of my good friends who just moved to Portland. I am so excite!

Wednesday, Jan. 9th
Hot Yoga for Life

Tonight marked the first time I’ve done hot yoga in about five years. And five years ago, I went once and never went back, even after buying a three-class card. Hated it then; loved it now. It’s a different kind of challenge than many other workouts, but it allowed me to push myself and also re-center. I am much more in-tune with my body now than I was even just a few months ago, so that aided in knowing when I needed to modify and when I needed to take a break to breathe.

It also helped that my friend came with me, and it was her first time at hot yoga.

We plan to go back. Definitely.

Weekly Stats?

(Yeah, it’s time to start posting those, I guess.)

Weight: 137.6lbs. (according to the home scale)
Body fat: 31.5% (according to the home scale)

Current feeling: knees and shoulders could use some love; sleepy but energized

On to the “mostly paleo” diet tomorrow! (I say “mostly” because coffee, dairy, and some alcohol are still OK for the challenge–but I’m being very mindful of this.) Wish me luck.

Hello to the New Year

Holler. The holiday break has taken its toll. As of tomorrow, it’s focus on the self and focus on wellness. Here’s the most recent fitness adventures.

Thursday, Dec. 27th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Stay Focused

Every Minute On the Minute for 5 minutes (EMOM5)
6 Barbell Step-ups (3/leg)
35lb. barbell

EMOM10
5 Bench Presses @ 75% 1RM
60lb. load

then:

AMRAP8
1 Power Clean
3 Front Squats
5 Push-ups (hand release)

Load: 65lbs.; Rounds: 11

Friday, Dec. 28th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Agility Training

Shuttle Run
5 efforts

X-Drill
5 efforts

T-Drill
5 efforts

We broke a florescent light in the middle of practice. Five minutes of frantic clean-up occurred between the shuttle run (a.k.a, lines, or suicides) and the x-drill. Sprints felt fine. I haven’t run lines since college cheer, and before that, the last time I remember running agility runs like that was in 7th grade basketball. Woof.

then:

5 rounds for time of:
10 Push Presses – Used the prescribed 45lb. barbell here
10 Sit-ups
10 KB Swings – scaled from 16kg. kettleball to 12kg.

Overall time: 8 minutes, 38 seconds

Monday, Dec. 31st
CrossFit HEL – WOD: New Years Eve

Buy in: 2012m row

then:

3R of:
20 Hang Power Snatches – scaled all the way to 22lbs. for me
13 Overhead Barbell Walking Lunges/leg – same barbell as previously

then:

Buy out: 2013m Row

Overall time: 32 minutes and 26 seconds. (As far as I can remember; the journal is at the gym!)

That WOD was tough. Since it was NYE, there were few people coming in and out of the gym that day. There were only two of us at my scheduled gym time. We both finished, looked at each other, and lamented about how much our glutes burned! Even though I scaled way down to 22lbs. for the barbell portion, I could feel my legs absolutely burning during the lunge portion. Power snatches weren’t too bad, but I’ve only done those once, maybe twice, since beginning CrossFit, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t hurt myself.

Regardless, I made it through the endurance workout. Huzzah!

Tuesday, Jan. 1st, 2013
Long walk to nowhere

I needed some time to myself today, so I decided on a mid-afternoon walk (after a much-needed nap). I walked for a total of a half an hour before reaching the grocery store; I walked home after the store, but I don’t count that, since I live about five minutes from Whole Foods. I exchanged many a friendly, “Happy New Year!” with other walkers today. Another reason that I love living in Portland.

Here’s to the New Year and months of challenges and achievements to come.

This is Going to Be Brief

It was birthday week in my world, which meant it was time for a shake-up of the normal routine. I spent Saturday and Sunday in Seattle with friends, and I got the chance to take a certain someone to Pike Place for his first experience with the market. We went to the Oriental Mart Kitchenette and had delicious Filipino food. Masarap. We split orders of pork adobo, pancit, and even some salmon sinigang. I spent the remainder of the afternoon full.

The rest of the weekend was comprised of hanging out with my former roommate, a fun night on Capitol Hill, and some good catch-up time with other friends. There was, of course, also a lot of good food: Manhattan, Cupcake Royale, Wild Mountain, Samurai Noodle, etc. So. Good. Maybe not for my waistline, but definitely all sorts of good, quality food. There was no cutting corners throughout my short trip.

Since I posted late last week, the only work-outs I’ve done were brief.

Tuesday, Dec. 4th
Morning yoga at home

I had the chance to sleep in late after my birthday extravaganza on Monday night. Snugs took me to Jake’s Grill downtown, followed by the Passion Pit concert. So, after a night centered on fun, delicious fish, unfortunate workarounds to avoid eggs, and a concert where the headlining band had a case of food poisoning, I wanted to rest. However, I knew I needed to do something. So, a yoga video to start my day was in order.

I did a Google search for morning yoga videos and found a site I hadn’t seen before. It was some kind of “My Name” Method website. I wasn’t suuuuuper impressed because I almost feel like the site is this person’s own ego boost. She’s a self-proclaimed “super bendy!” person, and there are photos of her looking super-skinny, picking out produce and essentially being better than me. It’s definitely a site that just puts out high-end vibes; I can’t really relate to the feel that’s exuded. Homegirl studied at Harvard, wanted to be an Olympic gymnast, auditioned for Madonna in dance, teaches CEOs and celebrities, etc. and so forth. That’s alright, though; it just wasn’t the yoga instructor for me.

Anyway, I did my morning yoga, and it felt good. It was the first thing I did in the morning, so I was a bit stiff and not so bendy. It did set the tone for a good, productive day at work.

Wednesday, Dec. 5th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Legs Like Oak Trees

First day back since last week! Here’s what went on.

Back Squats: 3 rounds of 3 reps
My working load was 95lbs. So close to reaching 100lbs.!

then:

5 rounds “For Reps” of:
Max reps: Back Squats (I used a 65lb. load for this portion)
5 Burpee Box Jumps – max height (I used a 21″ box for step-ups)
1 min rest

I moved fairly quickly and focused on form in my squats, as well as keeping some power through the burpees. My reps for the back squats ended up at 55 reps, 10 reps for the first four rounds and then a final push to 15 reps in the fifth round.

After the WOD, I came home, cooked up some chicken and squash in the oven. While that was cooking, I set up my dining set. Booyah.

And now… I snooze.

 

Where We Left Off

Thursday, Nov. 15th
Yoga

I was still working on East Coast time for a few days, so on Thursday, I woke up early and did a quick 15-minute yoga workout. I also had some friends I was meeting up with after work, so I needed to forgo my usual trip to the box. I utilize Yoga Journal’s videos most often for home yoga practice. They break things down by level and also by length of video.

I noticed I felt more stable in my poses this time. Tree still gives me a lot of trouble, partially because I can’t quite get the placement of my foot on the opposite thigh. My foot either slips or it’s painful. Tips on what’s going on here? I’m very stable if I drop my foot to knee- or calf-level.

Friday, Nov. 16th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: D.T. (Hero WOD)

CrossFit HEL ran an all-Hero WOD week in honor of Veterans’ Day this week. I have never participated in a Hero WOD (they tend to be even more intense than usual), but seeing that I was out for a week, I bucked up and went anyway.

Every Minute On the Minute for 5 minutes:
2 Power Cleans
1 Jerk
*increase load each minute

I worked this first portion at a starting weight of 45lbs., increasing by 5lbs. until I reached 65lbs. Cleans are the difficult for me in several key spots. I sometimes bring the bar up without fully extending through my hips, and it’s a challenge to get my elbows out to the correct level once the bar’s at my shoulders. However, Monday’s workout helped with my timing, and I think the motion is starting to come more naturally. It’s going to take a visualization of actually jumping straight up to get that motion right, I think.

Okay, so then we did this:

DT
5 rounds “for time” of:
12 Deadlifts
9 Hang Power Cleans
6 shoulder to overhead (basically, any move–I think I chose jerk–to get the bar above your head)

Utilizing a weight of 50lbs., I got through the WOD in 9 minutes and 34 seconds. The prescribed weight is 105lbs. for women, so I’ve got a ways to go. Slowly but surely…

Monday, Nov. 19th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Grace

Grace was the very first WOD I ever attempted, so tonight was my second chance to compete against myself (the first being the last time Filthy Fifty came around). In my first time through Grace, back in August, I used the 22lb. barbell (yippee!) and finished in 10 minutes and 26 seconds. I also couldn’t walk properly for about three days afterwards.

Monday also happened to be a night where I was the only team member who showed up. Coach and I worked extensively on form for the first part of the night, so I ended up doing more than the 3×3 squat clean and jerk. I started with the 22lb. bar again purely for form reasons, and as things looked better, we tacked on some weight.

Grace goes like this:
30 Squat Clean & Jerks “for time”

Pretty straight forward.

Coach recommended going through Grace at 42lbs. (two 10lb. plates on the 22lb. bar), and considering that was a 20lb. increase from last time, I figured that would be reasonable.We talked about staying consistent through the workout, not getting sloppy with the transition between reps. I was attentive to what my legs and feet were doing, as well as my hands and wrists and elbows.

Turns out, 42lbs. was incredibly light for me this time around. At that weight, I finished the WOD in 6 minutes and 37 seconds. Average times were between 8 and 10 minutes, and considering that my first time through Grace took around 10 and a half minutes, I could definitely up the stakes next time.

Even though the load was light, it feels good to know I’ve made progress. It’s hard to see it day by day, but it’s encouraging nonetheless. I know that I’m coming off some deficiencies and injuries that make this type of training hard, and it’s a challenge not to compare myself to others who are much, much stronger or who progress quicker than myself. The bottom line is that I am competing against myself, challenging myself, making myself reach for goals I never even knew existed. That’s a lesson to apply to life, if I’ve ever seen one.

CrossFit also reminds me to be humble in all that I do. Take the following:

Tuesday, Nov. 20th
CrossFit HEL – WOD: Shrinking Weakness

Shrinking Weakness? More like “remember how you really need more upper-body strength, Ardith?”
Here’s the run-down:
Bench Press:
3 rounds x 3 reps – 75lbs.Every Minute On the Minute for 10:
5 Bench Presses – 60lbs.

then:

5 rounds “For Time” and Reps of:
12 Wall Ball Shots – 10lb. med ball
1 Rope Ascent – rope ladder
Ring Rows – max reps (modified: heels on the ground, kipping motions)

(And for those of you who are totally confused by the terms here… just Google the term and put “CrossFit” after it. Trust me–I have to do it nearly every day.)

Today’s WOD was a killer. The bench presses were great, though! I’ve never benched more than 65lbs. I got up to 75lbs. tonight on my heavy sets, and Coach (who was spotting me tonight) said, “Yeah, even that still looks a bit light.” Breakthrough! Finally. (65lbs. was my max in junior high, so take that, personal record that stood for like 13 years.)

The EMOM portion was fine, as well. 50 reps at 60lbs.? I’ll take that.

The WOD, though. Woof. Here’s what happened in my world.

First of all, wall ball shots suck. I always scale down from the prescribed weight, and I have a hard time hitting the targets. What is it, ten feet up? Usually, about half my shots make it close to the target, and the others just kind of… hit the wall… somewhere. Again, I’m working on form, and I know I’m working on form, but yeesh. I used the 10lb. medicine ball and to be fair, it seemed a higher portion of my shots made it to a decent height. So that’s good.

Then, there was a rope ladder. I’ve only used the rope ladders three times after tonight, but those things are difficult to deal with. I can’t quite get the coordination, and once I start making my way up, I usually sputter about halfway up and have to come back down. HOWEVER, considering that I’ve lived almost 27 years and can only recall one time ever having previously attempted a rope ascent, I think that’s okay. Halfway up is better than not at all. I’m just impatient, but again, I’m competing against myself, and the day I make it all the way up the rope ladder will be a big deal. It just might be awhile.

Ring rows were fine. It was a completely new move to me, and I was inconsistent on how many reps I could muster through each round. My lowest was 5, but my last attempt had me at 12. Overall, I managed just 38 modified reps, but again, 38 is more than zero. So, I’ll take that, too.

My overall time for the workout was 10 minutes and 19 seconds. Not half bad, all things considered. I know where that benchmark is set for the future.

The hardest part about tonight, though, was coming home and trying to pierce several eggplants, then peel garlic cloves, and then stuff those garlic cloves into the eggplant. It is a beast to cook when your arms are shot!

Downtime

Downtime: “The period of time when something, such as a factory or a piece of machinery, is not in operation, especially as the result of a malfunction.” (retrieved from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/downtime, which is no Merriam-Webster, but I liked the definition)

This week has been crazy: crazy busy, crazy fun, crazy draining, crazy awesome. All sorts of crazy. However, it was also a time to revitalize and recharge, as well as to explore and find some peace.

I haven’t had the same amount of time for working out in the past few days, and I currently am jet-lagged and possibly getting sick (thus, tonight’s downtime is more the result of a “malfunction” than anything). What I did manage in terms of working out was fairly minimal since I last checked in here.

Thursday, Nov. 8th
CrossFit – WOD: Filthy Fifty

The Filthy Fifty consists of ten different exercises, all of which one must perform at fifty repetitions. Here’s the WOD with my modifications (or “mods,” if you will):

50 Box Jumps – 20-inch box, step-ups
50 Pull-ups – jumping pull-ups from the box
50 KB Swings – 12kg. KB
50 Walking Lunges/leg
50 Knees to elbows – no mods here, I’m just terrible at them
50 Push Presses – 35lb. barbell
50 Back Extensions
50 Wall Ball Shots – 10lb. medicine ball
50 Burpees
50 Double Unders – single unders x3

Overall time: 41 minutes, 40 seconds

The first time I encountered the Filthy Fifty was my second time testing out CrossFit. Back then, I did half of everything, so essentially, I did the Terrible Twenty-Five or something. The only other differences in this round were that I scaled the bar to 35lbs. and used step-ups instead of an 18″ jump onto a pile of weight plates; so, basically, I have gotten better. It’s not where I’d like to be, that’s for sure, but it’s progress.

Monday, Nov. 12th
Booty Barre: warm-up and work-out

Ah yes. The infamous Booty Barre workout DVD came out again while I was on vacation in New England. My friend and I bust out the DVD before our full breakfast, which was homemade banana and peanut butter (eggless) muffins. While the work-out was still not easy–I was dripping sweat and opted for just my sports bra and spandex shorts to try and cool off–I didn’t feel completely wrecked as I have before from the workout. I might have to suck it up and do the workout tomorrow morning, since I won’t be able to be in the gym until Friday.

Oh, and CrossFit HEL is doing Hero WODs (in honor of fallen veterans) all week, so Friday is going to hurt. A lot.

In terms of mental wellness, I took Saturday through Tuesday off from my standard life in Portland, OR, and flew all the way to the East Coast. I landed in Boston, MA around 4PM Eastern Time on Saturday and spent most of my time in New England. It was wonderful and quaint up there, and I could imagine hoping strongly for a stint in Portland, ME or New Hampshire in the future. We’ll see what cards I’m dealt.

Anyway, because I’m still jet-lagged, I’m incredibly sleepy, so if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to snooze.

Hit the Road

My body is conflicted right now. On one hand, I am sore and my knees and shoulders are grumbling a little bit. On the other hand, I’ve been in the gym four times, and that’s with a conference that lasted from Wednesday through Friday in Bellingham, WA, followed by a super-lazy weekend.

Let’s recap.

Thursday, Nov. 1st
Independent Workout at the Hotel Fitness Center

I woke up early to get my workout in on this particular day. The fitness center at my hotel was small, but adequate. I warmed up for a few minutes on the elliptical machine, then went through some dynamic stretches. For my warm-up, I used a light dumbbell to go through some sumo pulls (one arm at a time), then did some squats with the dumbbells overhead to work on balance and core, and threw in a few burpees. For my quick workout, I just did the following:

3 rounds of:
21 sit-ups
14 hand-release push-ups
7 overhead squats with 12lb. dumbbells

It was a really short workout, and I finished in under ten minutes. I still managed to get really sweaty in the short time I was in the center, so that’s a good sign, I think. I wrapped up with some stretches, and then it was off to my conference for the entire day. Surprisingly, I even made it to the breakfast buffet where there was still much bacon and sausage for me to enjoy.
Oh, and later that night, I danced for a good while, and I’m going to count that as something because I wore wedges.

Monday, Oct. 5th
CrossFit – WOD: Iron Oxide

Before we started this workout, Coach gave us the heads-up that the first half was all mental. It was. We started out with a seemingly easy exercise, which went like this:

Every 30 seconds for 5 minutes:
3 Back Squats
*bar may not be racked for entire 5 minutes
The total count worked out to 30 reps. However, we could not do more than 3 reps in a 30-second span. Therefore, we spent a lot of time holding the barbell across our backs. My hands started to tingle during the first half, and I had to readjust quite a bit to find a good grip that didn’t cause my old shoulder injuries to ruin my circulation. I got through this portion with 50lbs.

Next came the following:

10 rounds for time of:
3 Power Cleans
1 Box Jump (for me, modified to a step-up) – maximum height
10 Double Unders (or 3x single unders)

I came out of this portion of the workout with a time of 8 minutes, 2 seconds.The load I used for the power clean was 50lbs., and for the box, I added a weight plate to make my step-up 21 inches. I did single unders because I suck at jump roping.

Tuesday, Oct. 6th
CrossFit – WOD: Dueling Banjos (a.k.a., “Quite Nearly Hell”)

The good thing about WODs is, once I’ve survived through a workout, I get this feeling of, “Even though I scaled back and made some modifications, I got through that.” It’s a bit crazy. Especially when one considers what Tuesday’s workout looked like.

We started with rack jerks, which are basically the jerk lift with the bar starting behind your back. We did max weight for single reps, and repeated the single reps five times. I worked up to 75lbs. I need some more speed and punch before moving up in weight, that’s for sure.

The biggest challenge came next. It was broken into four rounds, for overall time. Those rounds went, simply, like this:

1. 510m Run (around the block)
15 Overhead Squats

2. 300m Run (down to the corner and back)
15 Overhead Squats

3. 510m Run
15 Overhead Squats

4. 300m Run
15 Overhead Squats

Coach has a real funny way of crafting a mile run into a workout. As I told a close friend, this workout was like running a beer mile, but instead of chugging a beer between the runs, you had to lift weights. And the thing about overhead squats is, they’re incredibly difficult for me! I used the 22lb. bar, and with 15 reps on top of already aching legs, it was a miracle I didn’t fall over. The form is coming, and I am glad to be improving both flexibility and balance with this type of exercise. Running is still the bane of my existence, but I doubt that will ever change. Good news, though: no asthma attack in the middle of any of my laps!

Overall time: 14 minutes, 20 seconds.

Wednesday, Oct. 7th
CrossFit – Partner WOD

Tonight’s workout was kind of fun. Maybe I think that because it came right after the hellish running workout.

We started with some standing rows. I got up to 60lbs. comfortably and did several sets of 7 reps. In between those, we all practiced “skin the cats” on the rings.

Funny story about “skin the cat” is that in junior high, we learned how to do this move as part of the gymnastics unit. In evaluation, I got all the way over, but instead of dropping down to the floor or reversing so I was in my starting position, I just kept rotating until I popped both my shoulders. It was the worst dislocate on the rings in gymnastics history, I’m sure (“dislocate” actually being a move, not a thing that I did to my body). The creepy thing is that there was a mild moment of hurt, but then I felt fine. Same thing happened several years earlier when I rolled my left ankle. Momentary hurt, then nothing. Granted, now I know I have a ton of scar tissue in that ankle, and I know my poor coordination and lack of judgement is what has caused my shoulders to be in the state they currently are.

Anyway. Back to today’s gymnastics practice. Coach spotted me the entire time, and I could tell in an early pass that my shoulders felt really weak and unstable once I came around. I modified the rest of the time, going only halfway over, keeping the shoulders stronger. I could definitely feel my body wanting to make that same stupid mistake of going all the way around without letting go, so thank goodness for a tentative coach.

After all of that came the 14-minute partner workout. We had an “Every Minute on the Minute” of:
P1: Max calorie row
P2: 10 kettlebell swings + 5 Ring Push-ups

We switched tasks every minute, so each round was performed 7 times. My partner and I hit a maximum total of 139 calories burned on our row, which we blame partially on being the shortest team. 😉 For KB swings, I challenged myself up to the 16kg. bell, although it was quite a bit heavier than my usual 12kg. Still made it through, although I know my height at the top of the swing suffered. Ring push-ups weren’t too bad, although I did them from the knee to focus on keeping my arms and shoulders stable and strong.

I felt good after the workout, and I was very thankful that we had a larger group tonight, as it meant more stretching at the end. Each of us calls out a stretch to perform. I picked straddle split tonight, and it kind of makes me giggle to hear my big burly male teammates groan about some of the stretches I call. Coach said it best when he told the new guys, “The dancer will always bring the pain during the stretches,” to which I responded, “Well… I could have called out ‘Wheel.'” Then I got a lot of blank stares so instead of explaining, I demonstrated. (And it actually felt really, really good tonight to move into bridge/wheel.)

After tonight’s workout, I met up with Snugs to try out a sushi place by my house. It’s the “funky” one, connected to what seems to be a divey little cafe. The sushi place has great reviews on Yelp, and after dinner, I could see why. We got an order of salmon sashimi, and it was some of the best I’ve had in the Northwest. All the rolls we ordered were delicious and well-made, and as it was a weeknight, we pretty much had the little joint to ourselves. Not a bad way to round out the day.

I’ll leave you with one take-away from tonight’s dinner conversation. Snugs and I were discussed working out, and he mentioned something about how supplements, like protein, could be really screwy in terms of what it does to people’s bodies. However, they can get people in good physical shape, even with the side effects. I thought about it for a second and said, “Yeah, but I guess there’s really a difference between being ‘in shape’ and being ‘well.'”

We both agreed that being well is a much better priority to have.