Day 36: Running on Empty

Today was a hard day in my life. It might go down as one of the hardest. Due to compounding personal circumstances, I not only got almost zero sleep last night, but ended up skipping work to spend the day with my family. Things are OK, but I hold all of my stress in my digestive system, and this led to me not eating a single thing all day until about 4PM when I finally came home and the BF made me a fried egg. Then I ate a few pieces of sliced turkey. And then, with all of about 200 calories in my system, we left for CrossFit.

The WOD tonight was 5 rounds of 500 m run, 5 toes-to-bar, 5 push-ups, 5 chest-to-bar, and 5 front squats. I did my squats with 65 lbs, The BF did his with 125 lbs. So, basically, almost a mile and a half of running, plus all those other things, going on 3 hours of sleep and a moderate-sized snack. It did not go well. I managed to not finish last, but I think that’s only because the person who finished behind me apparently had a minor epic in the 4th round of running, because I somehow almost caught up to him even though he had almost lapped me in the previous round. In the 2nd round of running, I felt like I was about to pass out. After my last round of squats, I was seconds away from throwing up.

Based on the state of my day, I very nearly did not go tonight. And I wouldn’t have felt the least bit bad about not going. But at the last second I went for it, and I’m really glad that I did. Tonight was really the first time that I have gone to CrossFit in order to kind of escape my life. And it worked. I’m glad I haven’t had to use it for that yet, but it’s good to know that some days, when I just need to get away from everything and forget about what’s going on, I now feel like I have somewhere productive to go.

On the bright side, since all I’ve had today is a fried egg, some lunch meat, and now a protein shake, Day 1 of the Paleo Challenge has been a success…

Day 35: Paleo Challenge

Whoa, it has been a big weekend.

Yesterday I worked for 14 hours. You would think that on a Saturday, I wouldn’t be working at all. Oh, but you would be wrong. I worked for 9 hours catching people as they zoomed towards me on a zipline, then worked for an additional 5 hours chatting and taking drink orders at a nearby tavern. I mean, ziplining is fun but ziplining for 8 hours and then 5 hours of being exceedingly talkative and bubbly is exhausting. Also I would like to take the time now to point out that no, I have not yet seen the new South Park episode about ziplining. But I bet it’s pretty accurate.

Anyway, because of my double-shift I missed the kick-off to my gym’s Paleo Challenge coming up, so had to make it up today. Starting tomorrow, I think there are about 20 or 30 of us who are going to be eating strict Paleo for the next 30 days. We get points for each Paleo meal we eat, plus bonus points for things like taking fish oil, drinking 2 liters per day of water, getting 8 hours of sleep, and doing 3 or more WODs each week. We lose points for caffeine, alcohol, and cheat meals. The BF isn’t doing the challenge since, as I’ve mentioned, he needs massive amounts of calories to survive, but I am going for it. I’m pretty excited. Since starting Crossfit, I have transitioned to about 60%-70% Paleo, but haven’t really had the motivation to make the last push and go for it. And all the people at my gym are super supportive, so I have high hopes for this coming month! We also took some “before” photos and measurements, and I don’t remember what all of mine were, but I did notice that I have lost a full inch from my butt since my original measurements last month!

I am also excited because I think that the 2nd month of Crossfit is the perfect time to do something like this. My body is no longer in shock (most of the time, anyway), and is even starting to get into the rhythm of muscle recovery. Also as far as weight loss, I still have only lost about 3 lbs. since starting Crossfit, although I am continuing to notice the composition of my body changing. I think that now that I’m in more of a routine with my workouts, going the extra mile and spending a month eating strictly Paleo might help me shed just a little bit of weight.

As the last component of the challenge, this morning we did “Jackie,” a benchmark WOD that consists of 1000 m of rowing, 50 Thrusters at 45 lbs, and 30 pull-ups. After my day of zipline-catching yesterday (which included a lot of pulling people towards me while they were suspended in mid-air slash trying to roll backwards away from me while I tried to keep my footing on a platform on the side of a hill), my shoulders and upper back were pretty exhausted. I didn’t feel very strong for the WOD and finished in 14 minutes flat, but we will do it again in a month to see what our progress is. I was pretty happy with my performance on the rowing part, though – 2 summers of raft guiding finally paid off!

This also means that I am going to get a lot more annoying with the food journal posts, and I hopefully will also be posting some paleo recipes! Stay tuned and have a great Monday!

Day 32: Responsibility

Yesterday was painful. Literally full of pain. After running backwards for 1/4 mile on Monday night during our warm-up, my calves were pretty sore on Tuesday but it seemed innocuous enough that I decided to go for a 3-mile run on Tuesday night (my logic went something like: It will loosen them up! Just what they need!). First of all, this was the first run I’d really done since starting CrossFit (remember when I mentioned that I am supposed to be training for a marathon? No, you don’t remember that? Apparently I haven’t though much about it either…), and it did NOT feel good. I did not feel strong, and it didn’t help that I was running (as I always do) with my long-legged, distance-running boyfriend and our friend who is currently about 3/4 of the way through a marathon training plan. Really set myself up for success there. And did I stretch after this 3-mile worst-idea-of-my-life run? No, sir. I drank beer and ate pasta and chocolate bread pudding. Yes I did.

Yesterday when I woke up, my calves felt like they were full of hot lead. When I tried to get out of bed, I literally fell over backwards. I then spent the entire day doing an hilarious but painful Quasimodo hobble-shuffle around the office, wincing every time I crossed my legs and the top of my calf grazed my other knee. I called my twin brother, an amateur but very experienced bodybuilder, to ask him what I could do to bring my calves back to normal without having to skip my WOD (which included no less than 350 double-unders, YEAH RIGHT). He literally laughed at me. “Do NOT work out tonight,” he told me on no uncertain terms. “Give your body a rest. What are you thinking?”

Let me tell you what I was thinking. I was thinking, “I am on a program, here, buddy! I can’t just go around skipping WODs left and right! I only did 2 last week, and I am supposed to be getting better at this!” So I got off the bus a block away from my gym (I just can’t get used to calling it a Box, I’m sorry) and waddled up the street.

I knew that I could not do 350 double-unders. I actually can’t even do ONE double-under, but last night the thought of merely jumping rope made me nauseous. When I walked in, I asked Cheez if we could replace the double-unders with something else. His first suggestion was tuck-jumps. I rephrased. “No, what I’m trying to get at is that it would be a suicide mission for me to do anything explosive with my legs.”

But, thankfully, this is what CrossFit is all about: modifying and adapting. Eventually we decided that I would do 30 air squats instead of 50 double-unders in each of our 7 sets that also included 5 handstand push-ups and 3 deadlifts at 80% max weight. And I didn’t die. It hurt a little (doesn’t it always), but today I am not immobile and in fact feel pretty good. But I did learn a lot this week about being a responsible owner of my body. It was a little embarrassing to walk in last night and have to ask for a modification, basically saying, “I am too weak tonight to do what I am supposed to do.” But there is a fine line between pushing yourself and hurting yourself, and this week I have been walking on that line as if it were extended across a canyon.

Day 30: 15 Truths for Crossfit Beginners

I drank the Koolaid… It tasted like Progenex.

With my first month of Crossfit under my belt (boo-ya!), I think it’s time to pass on some wisdom.

1. The concept of getting in shape before you start Crossfit is absurd. I keep hearing, “I want to try Crossfit, I just need to get in shape first!” Crossfit is going to kick your butt no matter what, so stop making excuses and just get in there.

2. Puking is apparently not a sign of weakness, but a sign of being a badass. Bleeding is also encouraged. (Bonus points if you puke blood?)

3. You are not allowed to eat anything that was not available to our Paleolithic ancestors – luckily, they apparently had unlimited access to expensive whey protein powder.

4. The drive to the gym will become the most nerve-wracking part of your day.

5. You are going to be sore for the rest of your life. “It will get easier as you get stronger” doesn’t apply when the workouts can be scaled to push you to muscle failure every time, even if you are a Viking.

6. You are only competing against yourself. Nobody else cares if you finish last or if you have the lightest bar, they just want to see you do your best. Even your trainers are having a hard time finishing the WOD, so don’t feel bad.

7. As per #6, you will get called out if you are not doing your best. No corner cutting or “losing count” allowed.

8. If you request Britney Spears to be played at the beginning of a WOD, no one will ever ask you for your music preference again.

9. Talking non-stop about Crossfit will instantly become almost irresistibly appealing, but it is generally discouraged if you want to keep your non-Crossfit friends.

10. Crossfit is expensive – but you will find ways to afford $150/month membership fees while still eating organic vegetables and grass-fed beef by cutting out all other social activities in your life. Priorities, people. So maybe #9 isn’t so important.

11. Cheat meals are going to become a really, really big deal. The nachos you are only allowed to eat once a month will become a borderline religious experience.

12. You will start reading Crossfit and Paleo blogs. A lot. You might even start one.

13. Forget what you thought you knew about what you can and can’t do. All of those things are going to be redefined, and then redefined again the next time.

14. Barefoot-style shoes and compression tights will suddenly start to find their way into your daily rotation. You will begin to rationalize why a sports bra is totally part of a business casual wardrobe.

15. The concept of working out in any other capacity will become almost comical, so you might as well cancel your Pilates membership now.

Day 29: The Real World vs Real Life

So, remember how I said that I was excited to get into Crossfit because I am excited for the benefits of increased strength and endurance when it comes to the outdoor activities that I love? Well, rowing a big inflatable boat this weekend (and grunting and sweating while doing it) really made that even more tangible for me, and I am super excited to get back in the box (apparently that is what you call your Crossfit gym if you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about) tonight!

This weekend was amazing, people. Amazing. Mid-80s, sunny, no wind (which is unheard of), and just as full of turkey sandwiches, pasta, beer, and cheese as I had hoped it would be. Getting out there was huge – I miss the river so much, and I especially miss the people who I go on the river with. Having just moved to the city after a few years living the seasonal life as raft guides and ski bums, the BF and I talk a lot about the difference between Real Life and The Real World. The Real World is where people have jobs and worry about how much those jobs pay and let other people define them based on those job titles, where you plan meetings and schedule lunch dates and set alarm clocks. In many ways, it seems that if you exist outside of The Real World, your life choices are somehow less legitimate and important. People don’t care how happy or unhappy you are, they just care about your titles and the people you know and the companies you’ve worked for. But, Real Life is what happens when you stop worrying about The Real World and start living from the heart. Real Life is the life we get out on the river, where it doesn’t matter what time it is, or how fast you are moving, or how far you have left to go. What matters is sharing moments and pushing limits and paying attention to what’s going on around you. In some ways I think that the biggest difference between The Real World and Real Life is that last component. In The Real World, our focus can be so internal and so specific that we fail to notice the big picture, and the amazing things that happen around us all the time are totally ignored. But on the river, in the mountains, on a bike, or a pair of skis, or even just on a porch in the sun with your family, Real Life can show up and suddenly you realize that you are part of something much bigger and much more important than you can fathom. It’s hard to have those moments when your day is scheduled in 15-minute increments.

How does this relate to Crossfit, to fitness in general, to setting a goal and going for it? I think that pursuing a healthy lifestyle is one of the cornerstones of Real Life – by recognizing that your body is the most important and precious tool you have, that in reality you actually have nothing if you don’t have your health, you take a step away from The Real World, and start making time for yourself. Especially in Crossfit, I feel like I have opened the door to a whole new set of eye-opening experiences. Pushing your limits is definitely part of Real Life.

Tonight’s WOD is apparently called “Hammer.” I don’t imagine I will do the prescribed weight, but this is what we are looking at.

5 rounds timed separately:

135# power clean, 5 reps

135# front squat, 10 reps

135# jerk, 5 reps

20 pullups

Rest 90 seconds

So much for my back being back to normal after 2 days of hobbling around like an old woman last week. Also I can’t promise that my post tomorrow won’t involve an MC Hammer song. In fact, it might be a requirement.

Adventure Inspiration for the Weekend

Two posts in one day?! I might be breaking some blog rules here, but since I am going to be gone all weekend on an adventure, I wanted to post a little more adventure fitspo to get everyone excited to get out and do some fun things this weekend, too!

Rafting in the Grand Canyon. Definitely on the bucket list.

Ski season is pretty much over, but doesn't this photo really make you wish it wasn't...

Not adventurous per se, but inspirational nonetheless. Hey, maybe your weekend adventure involves a bunch of medicine ball cleans...

Have a great weekend!

Day 25: Progress Photos!

Serious back pain today. Like, borderline injured pain. Found out my deadlift max is 145lbs, though. I think those two things (back pain and dead lift maxes) go pretty hand-in-hand. The BF can deadlift 235. I mean really.

We are heading out on the river this weekend, so no Crossfit for us until next Monday. In fact this weekend will most likely consist of almost nothing Paleo, with probably a good amount of rowing but otherwise just a lot of hanging out at camp and horseshoes-playing to be done. River trips are the best.

But I decided that before I go out this weekend and drink beer and eat bagels and put melted cheese on everything and reverse all my progress, it’s time to post some new photos!

I definitely think that the Boyfriend has made more noticeable progress, especially in his shoulders, but he already started out with very little body fat and a good amount of upper body muscle (isn’t he dreamy…) I guess I’m not too bummed that I haven’t gained much muscle, because overall “muscley” is not really an adjective I’m going for. But my side photo definitely proves that some major toning is going on! Also, I have lost a grand total of 3.5 pounds in the past 3 weeks, so I’m now at 128 lbs… not a ton, but I am keeping in mind that I am definitely building muscle, so watching my weight is not going to be a very good indicator of progress through this process.

To be honest, if anything I think I look like I've gained weight in this one... Oh well.