mental health

Chad, Again

Last week was Veteran’s Day. It’s become a recent tradition for some in the CrossFit and fitness communities to complete the hero workout Chad. I have done this one once before, right as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting. That seems like a decade ago in so many ways…work, family, fitness, friendship, life in general.

I skipped it last year but this year it pulled on me over and over again. I finally chimed in to my fitness group to see if anyone wanted to complete it the weekend after Veteran’s Day. I can’t decide if I was surprised or not that some of my friends said yes. In many ways this workout feels like a “one and done” but my friends are also crazy like that. We couldn’t all be there, but we had some cheering for us in spirit.

I was glad I had written about my first experience doing this workout in detail. I went back and reread my thoughts before I started. I remembered it being grueling. I remembered rushing to try to get to work (on my couch). Much of the rest I had just let go of.

This time was different, doing at a gym. This time was different, doing it with a vest…a little lighter than last time, but a weight I would not take off (no matter how much I wanted a break!)

This time was different, though, since I had friends to do it with.

Friends made the experience a bit less challenging. Was it still long and tedious? Absolutely. In fact, it may have taken me 45 minutes longer this time around. Some of that I attribute to a lower level of fitness. But some is just because we chatted between the rounds. I lost count a bunch of times. But I kept going. We were going to finish this.

Friends make hard things a little easier. This was the main lesson I learned this time around. Hard things don’t stop being hard. But the hard path isn’t as lonely. It makes me think about VFWs and other social organizations. Sometimes we need a place where we are truly and deeply understood.

Life has been challenging, lifey, whatever you want to call it lately. Things feel heavy. In some ways, time is moving very slowly. I’m not at all comparing my challenges to veterans, but I knew I had to complete this workout for myself as well. Getting something done is hard these days for me. My mental soundtrack has been less positive.

These and other friends inspire me to just keep going. Keep showing up. Keep moving. Every day won’t feel great or be the best. Some of the challenges will seem unending. But if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, I will eventually reach the goals I have. Days will get brighter. Get up, show up, never give up.

celebrations, fitness and nutrition

The Experience

Not too long ago I wrote about my upcoming CrossFit competition and my lack of preparedness. Today is the follow up which will summarize the experience because that’s what I decided it was. An experience that I will cherish for many years to come.

Let’s start with being fortunate. I am fortunate that at just shy of 50 I can compete at a high level and put myself out there in front of many. I am also happy that I get to share that experience with not only my friends but my youngest daughter. That in itself makes the experience more powerful and memorable. We did the same moves. We struggled together. We cheered together. We were a team although not on a team together. Just a day with my mini. 

Although this isn’t our first time competing together, it is always an adventure. New location. New moves. New competitors. New everything. I get to see her work through fears. I get to see her reach new heights. Sometimes I even see her coaching others who could be older than her. It’s a fun sight to see. I can truly say she grows with each event.

The day didn’t always go as planned. I started out workout one with strength but ripped my hands pretty good about 4 minutes into the 10-minute workout. I’m never good at working on the bar with my grip but when my hands ripped everything moved in slow motion except the pain. That was front and center. The suffering was over quick enough but how would the rest of the day go since I needed my hands. Luckily I pushed through. Of course I was the only one who ripped. Just my luck.

The day was long but so many giggles and milestones. My partner and I killed our box over and snatch workout. It’s the one I’d say we were most prepared for. This little bit of success helped us push through the afternoon. This workout was also the one my daughter and her partner did amazing at. Maybe even the fastest time of the day. Two little teens moving like they had fire on their feet. It was so exciting to witness. Team bonding. Team unity. True partnership. I was right there front and center to experience all of it.

Lunch break was fun, too. Chairs in the parking lot. Food trucks. Snacks galore. Chats with friends. Wardrobe changes. Selfie time for many. Just good clean fun. About this time a few non-participants showed up to cheer everyone on. That was just very cool. People took a long drive on a Saturday to cheer on friends and gym pals. This was amazing but this is CrossFit. Community. Like minded people coming together to unite around fitness. I will remember this because it was as a connection of people that went beyond the walls of a home base or gym.

The next workout was harsh. 12 minutes of repetitive moves requiring teamwork, communication and true grit. No real rest time. Pure adrenaline pumping in the body. Fatigue like you didn’t think was possible. You glance at the clock. It’s five minutes into 12 minutes. Will the workout ever end? Can I continue? So much runs through your mind. Are you contributing equal work as a partner? Is this a test? I survived my 12 minutes that felt like they would never end, but now it’s my daughter’s turn. I led by example. I gave hints for success. Will she listen? I mean she is a bullheaded teen. Will her age and inexperience hinder her? The day after post online noted below shows the confirmation of others thinking that 12 minutes was brutal!

The clock began. The battle with self ensued. Her partner was showing signs of weakness early on. She saw it. She didn’t want to accommodate her needs but she had no choice. Both were competing. They battled hard. They leaned on each other when they wanted to scream at each other. What a sight to see. In the end they persevered. It was such a sight to see. The after math was not so fun. The fatigue and anger showed their nasty side. This is part of the process.

The competition was nearing an end. A five minute workout remained. A simple one but so hard at the end of the day after all the athletes had endured. The power went out. The struggle with self continued on many levels for many athletes. You can’t quit now. The roar of the crowd gets you over the finish line. We did it. We came. We battled. We conquered ourselves. We left a little stronger. We gained a little respect for others. We enjoyed the experience from a-z.

This is CrossFit. Many say why do you do it? I do it for the fitness first and foremost. I do it for the friendships and community. I do it for the experiences. Competing takes all of that to a whole different level. It teaches you how to adapt. How to overcome. How to face adversity. How to smile. How to push through. These lessons crossover in life daily.

Our collective group of athletes hit the jackpot today. We all medaled. Not because of a low turnout but because we worked hard and did the best we could that day. There was a soon to be married couple in the mix. The doctor and the mid-twenties guy. Two sets of aged athletes in the masters category. Two teens. A wife and young adult combo. Such a diverse group.

This was a great experience. One to be shared. It is my hope that somebody reading this feels inspired to to try something new. Maybe it’s a new fitness routine. Maybe it’s just stepping outside their comfort zone to see what life can offer.

Enjoy today. I know I will. For tomorrow I will be sore. A sore like no other.

fitness and nutrition

The Countdown

I am less than ten days from my next CrossFit competition and I may be the least prepared of any comps, even my very first Comp years ago. Surprise!

Why? I have been battling a nagging foot injury for weeks limiting my movements. I have missed a few days of training due to life being lifey. And finally my eating hasn’t been fine tuned for a few months meaning I have extra fluff I’m toting around each day. Big sigh.

Not enough time to fix a, b and c. However, I can put my best “good” foot forward and perform as best I can in the shape I’m in today. Good thing I’m in the Masters division this time around. “Old” or Masters Division means lighter weights and scaled movements which equates to easier in some aspects. Thank goodness for that positive note.

I’ll be working on my endurance the next several days to condition my body for the shock of the competition day stress it will endure. What’s fun about this competition is a the diverse group of workout buddies who will huddle up at this event. Many of us have changed up training locations, partners and coaches over the past few months and this will be a reunion of sorts.

Although we will compete, we will also be cheering for each and every one of our workout buddies despite where or how they train. That’s what I love about CrossFit. The bonds you build with people live outside the box. The strong bonds continue beyond the four walls of the CrossFit box. 

Coffee meet ups. Dinner dates. Text updates. Phone calls. Porch drops. Note cards. Group hikes. Long weekend getaways. Competitions. There isn’t much a group of crazy CrossFitters won’t do together if it might even remotely sound fun or adventurous.

Some may even say it’s a bad idea, but follow up with when do we leave?! I have the best group of fitness pals out there. From teens to 20 somethings to maturing in their 30’s all the way up there to the 50’s and 60’s. That’s some range of age but we all get along. We all sweat the same. In a competition we all do the same movements in each division. We all have our own crazy gym attire as well. And we all love to take pictures to document our crazy life.

Some fall into the bougie category. Some fall into the fancy sock category. Some are shoe fanatics. Some like revealing booty shorts. Other prefer to be topless. The list goes on. All different but all sync together because of fitness. Everyone needs a fit family like mine.

What a beautiful life I live. What a great group of people I am lucky enough to engage with. Surround yourself with greatness. You will rise to your own level of greatness.

Wish me luck in the coming days. I’m sure I’ll write about my event day at some point.

fitness and nutrition

Stick it in Your Ears

A couple of months ago I moved from a CrossFit box to a more conventional gym. Many things haven’t changed that much…I still do many of the same movements. I still sweat there most days. I see friends and connect with them there. But there are definite changes as well. More options for machines and movements (but figuring out how to “work in” on a machine is new.) Coming and going without a set class time requires a different kind of discipline. And then there’s the music.

Music is huge for me when I workout. At CrossFit the music was generally ok. I found it funny that different coaches chose different music styles at times. The class I attended had many “older” athletes and attentive coaches seemed to work with that in their music choices.

These days the music isn’t as loud. My new gym has several spots where the music is far away. I sometimes end up chatting instead of singing or dancing along when I’m with my gym gals.

Then there is the rare time I am alone at the gym. AirPods make their appearance. I’ve noticed that pretty much everyone who is flying solo at the gym has headphones in of some kind.

So here’s a new game I like to play…I wonder what they are listening to? This is basically an exercise in stereotypes, I guess. Bro sesh? Jock rock? Girl power tunes? I laugh as I try to size people and their musical tastes up. Once in a while I’ll see people dance a little, shimmy the shoulders or shuffle the feet. Hm. A guy shadow boxing between sets made me wonder if he was pumping up to the theme from Rocky. Then to amuse myself I’ll imagine someone benching with huge biceps listening to opera or country or even theme songs from little kids shows.

At times I wonder if people are wondering what I’m listening to. Would any of them guess?

As I reflect, it’s one of the different things and sometimes hard things about the new setup, when people are all in their own little worlds, listening to their own thing, on their own paths. I like having my own tunes on solo runs or bike rides but at the gym I like having shared experiences and music along with it. I’m thankful this solo song time doesn’t happen too often.

dare to be different, fitness and nutrition

Have Fitness, Will Travel

“It’s okay to live a life others don’t understand.” -Jenna Woginrich

The older I get, the more that quote rings true. Today’s example: Time away from home. Vacation, business trip, whatever it is. Many use this as a break from their regular exercise routine. Not this girl.

With fitness, consistency is the name of my game. I rarely go a day without intentional exercise. Some might scoff at this. But, I know I am happiest when I get it done, first thing in the morning if possible. It improves my stress level and mental outlook immensely. Those things need to be on point whether I am home or not…(even vacation travel is stressful!)

How do I make this happen? First, I pack exercise shoes. For a recent road trip, I packed CrossFit shoes, running shoes, and hiking shoes. Second, plan for some equipment if possible. On this stretch, I knew I had several nights in hotels with fitness centers. I packed a 25# dumbbell for other days. That’s about all I needed. The rest could be improvised.

Fast forward to my first night on the road. Reliable Hampton Inn. Saturday morning. Up early for coffee and a quick sweat before my daughter’s lacrosse games.

Walk to the hotel fitness center only to find it is closed for COVID. But the sign on the door says we can get in to the LA Fitness next door. Score, since I have my swimsuit and need to train for a triathlon anyway. Until….LA Fitness doesn’t open until 8:00 am on Saturday and we need to leave for the field by 7:30. What to do…go back to bed? Pout? Nope. Open up the Compass trunk and grab a dumbbell, start a timer, and away I go.

Pulled up a “travel” workout from Street Parking that I hadn’t done before. Pushups on pavement or overgrown grass were a no go. So, elevated pushups against a light post would do. Goblet squats with the dumbbell and some taps against the curb. Got sweaty. Got my heart rate up. Did something. Forty-five minutes later, I am good. The next morning, another parking lot workout with hang power snatches and some air squats. Is it perfect? Nope. But I moved and made myself a priority. Mission accomplished.

The rest of the week was a hodge podge. 5 bike miles to a local coffee shop, then back. Kayaking, running, and a couple of actual hotel workouts with pretty nice equipment to boot. Moved every day and felt much better than I would have otherwise.

Would this work for everyone? Surely not. But making my health a daily priority through movement is one of the ways I honor and love myself. Although some in the hotel lobby or parking lot might raise an eyebrow when they see me, perhaps there are others who feel inspired or encouraged to do what others may not. No matter what, I’m doing what feels best in my own skin.