Day 5: More Fitspo

Weekend. Exhale.

This week was one of those where I just did not feel like I got anything done whatsoever. Except, obviously, for starting a bitchin new blog. Obviously.

Tonight we head to our 3rd Elements class, where we have been instructed to wear high socks and the word “pull-up” has also been casually tossed around. In my mind there is nothing casual about pull-ups, but I am really excited to wear my pink zebra knee socks.

So, to psych myself out for pull-ups when my triceps are still cringing from Wednesday, I’ve compiled a little more fitspo. Once again, these photos are not mine and are mostly gathered from Pinterest (BTW, if you want to follow me on Pinterest, you can do so here!), so if you see something that is yours that you would like removed, please let me know and I would be happy to oblige.


Speaking of socks... I probably need these ones.

And this one, just to remind me that ultimately my goal is overall fitness so that I can enjoy the things I really like... like frolicking in the desert. And if this photo isn't the epitome of desert frolicking, I don't know what is.



Day 3: Pizza, Paleo, and Thrusters

Another inspirational photo. This one, I have a feeling, is brought to you by a lot of Thrusters and grass-fed beef.

Ow, guys. Ow.

Will every one of my posts start with talking about how much pain my poor wobbly muscles are in? They just might.

Last night was our 2nd Crossfit Elements class and workout. Knowing that the learning part of the night would be covering diet – and knowing that would probably mean  being preached to about the benefits of Paleo – we decided to pre-game at our favorite brewery with some beers and a pizza (in case you are unfamiliar with Paleo, both of those things are blatantly non-Paleo). I’m not gonna lie, I may have been just a tiny bit buzzed when I walked in for our workout. Not the best plan ever.

Our teacher and trainer for the night, Cheez (not TJ from Monday), spent about 40 minutes going over the benefits of eating Paleo. The concept behind the Paleo diet is to mimic, as closely as possible, the diets of our pre-agricultural hunter/gatherer ancestors. In a nutshell, you eat lots of lean, grass-fed meats, lots of bright colored and leafy green veggies, some nuts and seeds, a little bit of fruit, and NO sugar, dairy, or grains. Dairy and grains are obviously a new-ish addition to the human diet with the development of agriculture and animal husbandry, and the Paleo diet argues that our bodies have  not sufficiently evolved to process these foods without serious damage to the lining of our gut. Sugar is bad because it causes your insulin levels to spike, which in turn inhibits your body’s production of glucagon, which is the chemical that allows your body to release fat to be used as fuel. At their most basic levels, carbs, alcohol, and lactose are sugars.

Just as my pizza and beer began to harden in my gut from all the talk about the evils of gluten, dairy, and alcohol, we moved onto our movement clinic. Using the lightweight PVC pipes again, we learned Shoulder Presses (standing, start holding the bar against your collarbone with your elbows sticking out in front of you – move your head out of the way as you lift the bar over your head to keep the bar from being moved out and then up – end with your arms locked over your head), some other kind of Press I don’t remember the name of (same as the Shoulder Press, but start by slightly dipping your knees and then popping back up to give yourself a little more power for the Press), and then Thrusters. With a Thruster, you start in the same position, then drop down into a squat and pop all the way up, not so much standing up as jumping up, ending with the bar over your head.

This is what a Thruster looks like. This guy is much better at them than I am.

Onto the workout. A 400 m jog to warm up, followed by 3 sets of Thrusters and Push-Ups, doing 21 reps in the first set, 15 in the second, and 9 in the third. If you are familiar with Crossfit, this is a modified version of the “Fran” workout, with Push-Ups instead of Pull-Ups. Some people can complete this entire workout in under 2 minutes. It took me 7 minutes and 22 seconds. I was the last to finish in our group.

The drive home was brutal – I grunted and groaned as I turned the steering wheel and my arms shook as I tried to unlock the front door. I tried to get on the computer, but suspending my forearms above a keyboard was way more than I could handle. Today everything from my armpits to my hamstrings are sore. And all morning I’ve been wondering, Do I need to eat Paleo in order to fully commit to Crossfit? I can’t decide. But I will tell you this: I am really craving some nachos right now.

Coming Soon: A discussion with my boyfriend (who literally needs about 3000 calories a day to survive) about Paleo, and “Before” pictures

Day 1: Wink Butt

Last night after much anticipation and even some nervousness, the boyfriend and I put on our workout gear and headed to Crossfit Jai. We would later find out that Jai (pronounced Jay) is Sanskrit for Victory – because, as the owner TJ puts it, Crossfit is so full of victories, both small and large, that it seemed fitting to use that word in the name.

We didn’t just dive straight in to a WOD (Workout Of the Day). For these first 2 weeks, we will be part of an “Elements” class, learning how to safely execute the basic movements and learning about the concept of Crossfit. So we arrived and sat down on wooden boxes in front of a white board, along with 3 other newbies. “Crossfit,” TJ began as he jotted notes on the board with a dry erase marker, “is One, constantly varied; Two, high- intensity; Three, functional movement.” We spent the next 30 minutes going over this definition. In a nutshell: Constantly varied is pretty self-explanatory, as is high intensity. Keep things interesting and don’t stop moving. Functional movements are basically movements that are natural, basic, and move large amounts of weight over large distances in short periods of time – imagine a squat thrust vs. a calf raise. In a squat thrust, you start on the ground and end with a jump. You move your entire bodyweight, quickly, a relatively far distance. With a calf raise, you are just slowly adjusting your body by about 3-6 inches. Made sense.

The next question, “What is fitness?” We spent some time comparing different extremes of athletes – ultramarathoners vs power lifters – with CrossFit athletes. Who would win in a tree-climbing competition? What if you had to build a wall out of sandbags to keep out a flood? Even in a race or a deadlift competition, the Crossfit athlete might not come in first against a marathoner or a power lifter, but they wouldn’t come in last. So that’s the concept, to become a solid, all-around athlete, who has power but also balance and flexibility, cardio endurance but also explosiveness and strength. Made sense, too.

The last part of our first night was a squat clinic and workout. After the first few minutes of TJ explaining squats and slowly walking around to evaluate us as we practiced them, he walked back to the front of our little semi-circle and said, “Claire, can I use you as an example?” Something told me he was not going to show off my perfect squat form. And I was right. Apparently I have something called Butt-Wink, which means that when I reach the very bottom of my squat, my butt tucks under my body, probably because my hamstrings are so tight that I haven’t ever been able to touch my toes. This is dangerous because it flattens out your lower back, which adds stress. So I spent the next 5 minutes doing more squats while everyone stared at my butt. As someone whose athletic life has been framed by the things I CAN’T do – whether due to asthma, lack of coordination, or just plain getting-picked-last syndrome – it seemed fitting that I would immediately be made an example of what NOT to do. Insecurities? Check!

The night ended with 8 minutes of squats. That may not seem like a long time, but when all you are doing is squatting (20 seconds of squats in their various formats followed by 10 second “rests” which were not rests at all, but rather holding the lowest part of the squat), 8 minutes seems like a VERY long time.

I left my first night of Crossfit feeling tired, wobbly, embarrassed, and a little defeated. I have heard that it’s really common for people to leave their first WOD thinking, “I thought I was in better shape than that!” While I had no illusions of being in great shape, I at least thought that I would be able to hold my own against a room full of other newbies. It was a little rough, to be honest.

Today, however, I am feeling better. My quads are exhausted but not unusable, sore in that way that makes you feel like you accomplished something. And so far, I have been able to get over the embarrassment of having 5 strangers stare at my winking butt while I squat. Just barely.

Inspiration Day 1

So my first ever Crossfit workout (WOD? Still working on the lingo…) starts in 1 hour! I am more than a little nervous – also it doesn’t help that I got mad sunburned this weekend when my intentions for a 45-minute trail run turned into a 2-hour hike when I took a wrong turn… I am not looking forward to inevitably having to hold a bar over my shoulders!

Anyway, here are some inspirational images that I’ve been using to get myself psyched for the next 90 days! (PS, most of these images are from Pinterest or Tumblr – if you see an image here that belongs to you that you would like taken down, please leave a comment and I will be more than happy to oblige ASAP).

Day 0: An Introduction

An inspiring image (and most definitely not me)

Hello. My name is Claire. I am 24 years old and live in Denver, CO. I work at an entry-level B2B Marketing job, live with my boyfriend and border collie, and enjoy the kinds of things that other 24-year old Denverites enjoy: hiking, rock climbing, skiing, and drinking beer. I am relatively active but not terribly athletic, with moderate asthma and a very serious addiction to all things involving melted cheese and/or pancakes.

I have spent the majority of the last decade trying to figure out WHY I feel driven to get in shape. I am 5’3, weigh about 130 lbs, with a petite build, narrow shoulders and slim hips. I am neither overweight nor sedentary: I run 5-10 miles a week, and generally get at least one other activity (climbing, skiing, hiking, biking, etc) in once a week as well. By most standards, I am an active girl with an average-to-above average build.

But there’s something else you should also know about me: I have spent the past 2 years as a very active outdoor professional, guiding rafting and backpacking trips, working at a ski resort, and generally being as much of a dirtbag as possible. Doing those sorts of things all the time is my dream. I want to be a very active person with the capacity to wake up in the morning and hit the trail running, then follow that up with a few hours of climbing or skiing and maybe a bike ride. And, even after 2 years on the river and the mountain, I don’t quite feel like I’m there. This is a classic case of my outsides not matching my insides, and it has taken me until the last few months – when I’ve moved back to the “big city” to work in a Big Girl Job – to realize that in order to really feel like I’m meeting my potential as a person and as an adventurer, I need to get to the next level of fitness and endurance.

So now what you know the WHY, here’s the HOW:

I’m sure a lot of you have at least heard of crossfit: a style of workout that involves intervals of basic, sometimes almost primitive, moves, done with extreme intensity. I have tried listening to Jillian Michaels; tried following a running program (I am currently also training for a marathon in October); and tried eating nothing but eggs and canned tuna. I have tried getting into yoga, and I love it, but it just doesn’t push me in the way that I feel I need to be pushed. So, starting tomorrow, I am embarking on a challenge to do Crossfit for 90 days. This does not necessarily mean 90 days straight, because I know that I will need to give my body a few days to recover here and there, but for the next 3 months I will be documenting this (hopefully intense and transformative) new phase in my life as an adventurer and athlete.

I will also be occasionally posting some “fitspo” – images from around the internet of athletic women whose physical fitness and determination inspire me. Other things you can expect to see are occasional food diary entries, pictures of my physical progress, and maybe even a video or two of me passed out on the side of the road or struggling to do a pull-up (aka dangling).

Thanks for joining me, and here’s to the next 90 days!