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.

3Splitz Farm

A Little Sunshine

This cute little mason jar full of freshly picked flowers has so much meaning. It’s fresh from the farm to my table.

Planted, sprouted, trimmed and packages to-go by my farmily at 3Splitzfarm. A new farm that is sprouting in many ways.

The garden. The livestock. The visitors, the flowers. All designed and labored by the farm family. So much pride. So much love goes into each delivery.

As days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months and months turn into years. Our farm story is evolving. Some years our corn will be plentiful. Other years another crop may struggle. We never know what nature holds for our little farm.

What we do know is we have dreams. We don’t mind hard work. We live to see the fruits of our labor in whichever form it produces. We love sharing our story with the world as well.

From how to start to how to maintain to how to survive all that gets thrown your way. We document it all to share virtually as well as in books. A benefit of 2 Chicks also being 2 farm girls.

Sometimes we have a pen in hand. Other times it’s a tractor or pruning tool. You never know what adventures we shall share with you.

From our farm to you. Enjoy this virtual flower arrangement. We will be soon selling flower subscriptions and delivering special treats through your community to make others smile.

challenges

The Solo Comp

Ah I signed up for a solo CrossFit comp. Masters age group. Local venue, national footprint. Just wanted something to do before the end of the year. I wanted to say I squeezed in another event to end the year with a bang instead of boredom.

Why? Because I guess I had nothing better to do. I guess I’m a bit neurotic. I guess I’m a bit curious. The list goes on. I guess I hang with some crazy friends who like to do weird things like me. 

I do a little practice session on event one. It was just 6 minutes but I wanted to die at about 4 minutes but I somehow pushed through with the help of my workout buddy Kim. I’m still here to write about the escapade so it wasn’t that bad. The event is above if you want to test the workouts yourself and see how you fare.

We opted to try another comp trial wod the next week. It was equality shitty. This time it was 9 minutes and another lung burner and sweat fest. I finished. I recovered but ugh it wasn’t pretty. Not feeling successful after two events. The photo below shows my pal after her efforts. She wanted to kill me for pushing her in the moment but she got over it quick. I think.

Fast forward a couple weeks and I practice wod 3 with another friend. This one was a whopping 7 minutes long and I took yet another beating. Now the reality is I have to do all three workouts in one day. Limited rest. Competitive environment and just me, myself and I to rely upon to get it done. Just me cooling off outside in the cold using the cement to cool down my body temp rapidly. Just 7 minutes to wipe me out. And I thought a masters competition would be easy!

Part of my issue could be that most of the events require body weight movements, some of which I do but not fast. I’m a thick fit type of body which equates to moving a lot of body weight in comparison to others that might be a bit more agile. Another could be I’m just not in the top shape I was a year ago. This happens.

I will do all events regardless because that’s what I signed up for. The measuring stick. I can’t always win and I may lose big. It’s okay. Part of the process is how to learn from the opportunity. 

How to show up.

How to rely on myself.

How to push forward when times are tough.

How to set an example for anyone watching.

How to celebrate my willingness to try.

How to celebrate me in general.

In life I rely on myself. I have others whom I can lean on from time to time but when push comes to shove it’s me. Competing on any level allows me to reignite the fire within, to keep on trucking day to day to get through whatever life hurdles I have to face.        

Less than 3 weeks until the event. Lots of hard work in my sights to prepare myself. Wish me luck. I probably need a little for this comp.

perspective

Stripping the Fun Stuff Away

The return to “normal” has begun.  Gyms, restaurants, hair salons, sports leagues, bowling alleys, summer camps and a host of other businesses have gotten the green light to open their doors. Yay! (right?)

Of course, nothing is really normal and the “new normal” has already lost it’s luster (if it ever had any). Opening business doors often comes along with an eye-popping list of new restrictions.

Both the chicks have recently given their views on restaurant dining.

Like restaurants, for many businesses, industries, and institutions, it’s still a strange time. We are all figuring it out on the fly, customers included.  I’ve noticed that in some cases, we are stuck trying to do the hard parts but the fun parts are what we miss now.  Here are a few examples:

Gyms are starting to reopen.  But, I never really stopped working out.  I’m still exercising in my basement or on the pavement most mornings due to financial and work constraints. Some lifting, some cardio, some basic bodyweight movement, Heroes on Mondays. I get my exercise in one way or another.

Is it the same?  Yes and no.  Yes, I get my movement in.  But some of the most enjoyable parts of the gym experience are gone.  I don’t see friends and like-minded people.  I don’t get coaching.  I don’t get to use all the great equipment. I don’t get the occasional coffee and breakfast after with friends. Sure, I don’t miss certain things about the gym, but some of the parts that made it fun and special (and the hard parts less hard) can’t be replicated in my home.

My work is a similar situation.  I am a librarian that teaches in an elementary school.  We left school for a long weekend in mid-March, not knowing that students and most teachers wouldn’t return this year.  Instead, we’ve been teaching and learning online for almost 9 weeks.

Are we getting the job done?  Yes and no.  Yes, there are lessons and many teachers working extremely hard to connect with students and families.  Yes, there is learning happening.  But, some of the parts that make school fun and meaningful are stripped away.  Field day. End-of-year culminations of work and celebrations.  Social time at lunch and recess on the playground. Working shoulder-to-shoulder to finish a puzzle or create something together. For me, it’s just walking through the library with a student and helping them find a great book.

Or reading a funny or suspenseful picture book to a live Kindergarten audience, laughing and responding together in that moment. Nothing replaces those. And those are some of the things that make school worth going to for many kids (not to mention food, etc.)  Instead, online school often seems like a lot more of the work and a lot less of the fun stuff that makes school special. (And yes, this is about the teachers, too.  I miss the energy of my students! Computer screens, while helpful, don’t cut it for connection!)

On the flip side, there are also students and families who aren’t built for distance learning.  Some have limited or no access to technology. Some need the structure and surroundings and encouragement of others working.  Some need the social benefits.  Some need the food and care that come along with being at school.  Some parents are working from home while also trying to manage multiple children learning online.  It is all extremely stressful.  School isn’t working for many, and it is definitely not the same even for those getting by.

Then, there are the fun things that are just not happening anymore at all.  Most notably for me are travel plans for myself and my family, and races I was training for.  Pleasure travel by anything other than car seems risky (and if you take a road trip, where do you stay overnight?)

I was sad that the triathlon I was training for got canceled.  They can’t guarantee safety and I am sure liability is also a big part of that decision.  Would I have wanted to participate in some sort of sanitized race?  I had mixed feelings about the virtual 10K I ran recently. Although it wasn’t terrible since I was able to do it with friends, I missed the trip to Nashville, the mass of runners, all the spectators and the thrill of race day. It just wasn’t the same. I may still do a virtual version of the triathlon at some point since I am already training.  But, some things just can’t be replaced.  You can’t take away some of the most fun and challenging parts and expect a similar experience. Again, some of the most fun stuff of life is stripped away.  And it is hard not to be bogged down in the frustration and sadness of it all.

You can’t recreate the Mona Lisa with a Magic Marker. It just isn’t the same.  And will it ever be the same?  What do I expect? I don’t know. I know many people are trying their best.  I know many people disagree about how all of this is being carried out.  Frankly, between dealing with that personal and political drama and the abundance of the day-to-day changes, I am exhausted at times. The fun stuff buoys me along and there is so much less of that.  Nonetheless, I want to try to find the celebration in the irritation.  Today, I realized I would have never bought my road bike if I hadn’t set the triathlon as a goal.  My bike has been a huge part of my sanity through the stay-at-home orders. So there is a bit of sunshine.

It’s hard not to wonder when things will get back to some kind of regularity.  What will things look like on the other end? When can we plan a race, some pleasure travel?  When will I be able to read to kids again?  When is the finish line of this mess?  I can budget my energy if I have a finish line in sight.  But now we are in the long middle miles when it’s hard to stay energized and forward moving.

I think it’s ok to pout as long as you don’t wallow in it.  Acknowledge the loss then move on.  It might be easier if we knew the story had a happy ending.  I can deal with suspense as long as it gets resolved.  I have to believe that day will come.  Maybe not quite happily ever after, and maybe this is a heck of a long chapter, but it will be resolved.

 

 

 

 

 

awareness, fitness and nutrition

Chad

IMG_8971

We’ve written about CrossFit Hero WODs here on the blog before.

The subject of today’s blog is one of the more recent ones, known as “Chad.”

Read the story.  It’s a worthy one.

The workout seems seems simple enough. 1,000 box step-ups with a weighted vest.  Not much movement.  Same thing over and over again.  Just counting and moving, moving and counting.

1,000 of anything, though….I’m not sure CrossFit has any other workouts that reach into 4 digits.

My mindset: It would take a while.  I knew that.  It would be grueling.  I would keep going until it was time to stop.

So, before sunrise in the middle of the quarantine, I started counting and moving, moving and counting.

As with many hero WODs, there are lessons to reflect on.  The story of Chad made me think about mental health throughout most of the reps.

Here are the lessons I learned, 50 reps at a time. As many face mental health challenges in our current coronavirus situation, some of the lessons seem more important than ever.

-It is ok to set your weight down sometimes.  You have to pick it up again eventually but it is ok to take a break sometimes.  This was easy for me to say with my dumbbell in a backpack, but what about those who can’t put their weight down?

-I had choices.  I brought out dumbbells, plates, and more.  But in the end, it seemed like too much trouble to switch even though it might have brought relief to do things a little differently.  Lesson:  Sometimes even our best advice or tools aren’t useful to people who are consumed with just getting through whatever it is.  People will often default to what is familiar because it is familiar.  When you are enduring hardship, change can be too much of a challenge even if it might help.

IMG_8382

-Good music helps.  Drowning out the discomfort and having a little to sing along with makes a big difference.

-After a while I lost my form and was just flailing.  I also took extra steadying or stutter steps on the ground between each step up after about 500.  I thought to myself I should be more efficient and tried to skip the extra steps and keep my form together but my body just wasn’t doing that. It needed the extra break or correction in between. Sometimes we can see a problem and think our way into fixing things, other times not.

-I would have sudden bursts of energy, seemingly out of the blue.  I’d just push right through 6 or 7.  Then, it would go back to the same slow rhythm.  Unpredictable energy levels happen.  I may seem ok, but then slow down again.

-Coming down was just as hard as going up.  You’d think the up would be the challenge, but I noticed myself coming down harder and harder as the reps went on.  I knew my knees were under pressure.  Even the easier things require effort and concentration.

-Sometimes, the only way out is through.

Surprises:

-My heart rate was SO high and I burned so many calories.  To a passer by, it would probably not look that complicated or taxing. Just up, down, up, down. What’s the big deal?  I couldn’t believe how out consistently high my heart rate was.  Sometimes we can’t tell the effort others are putting in to things that may look simple.

IMG_8381

-Sometimes my body just refused to step up even though my mind told it to. A few times I barely missed the top of the box.  Other times my body just stopped like a stubborn horse refusing to jump.  Just no.  Sometimes our bodies and minds don’t work together.

-I ran the full gamut of emotions.  Bored, Anxious, Determined, Giddy, Frustrated, Relieved.  All over the map.

I thought to myself:

-I wish I was not by myself.  I wished it was a partner WOD at one point, then I thought I would have settled for a buddy or even a FaceTime friend.  CrossFit is built on community and shared suffering.  It was REALLY hard to do it alone.  It just lifts you up when you see others engaged in the same task. But, sometimes in life going it alone is the choice you have.  I had many partners in my thoughts cheering me on.

-I need a coach.  When I felt my form and motivation slipping, a coach watching me, helping me, encouraging me, barking at me would have meant a lot.  Someone who knows what they’re doing, knows me, and knows what to do is a good companion.

-I had a huge case of the “I don’t wannas” between 300-600.  Not at the beginning, not at the end, just the long, wide middle.  Monotonous.  Boring.  Is it over yet?  I just kept pushing but it was mentally and physically taxing when I wasn’t in the excitement of the beginning but couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The middle is hard.  What about situations where we don’t know where the end point is?

-I was hard on myself.  I “no repped” myself many times when I didn’t stand up completely on the box.  But really, does it matter that much?  How many people do we know who are just really hard on themselves when it’s not entirely necessary?

-At times I lost count or had repetitive thoughts.  I got so tired things didn’t even make sense anymore.  I was taking a break every 50 reps to have water and write.  But, sometimes I would go to write things and I had already written them, or I couldn’t remember what I was thinking about when I got to the paper.

-Toward the end, I had a burst of “I Think I Can” and Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” in my head.  It was almost time for me to go to work so I also got a little flustered toward the end thinking I wouldn’t finish in time.  But getting toward a goal can be motivating.

The aftermath:

-Pain that went all throughout my body in waves for about 48 hours.  Just gotta keep moving to keep the real pain of immobility from setting in. Pain is real.

-I was one of the first to do it in our gym group.  So, I was able to encourage people who came after.  This is one of the most important parts of being on the path, and being a survivor.  Help those who are with you or coming along after you.

Finally,

The first thing I wrote was,

-What is my mountain?

I am still thinking about that.  There are many.  Short term, long term, distant future.  This was a metaphor for many challenges in life and living.  I’ll keep thinking about it and I wouldn’t be surprised if I do it again some day.

What is your mountain?  Who can be your partner on the path?  Your inspiration?  Who can you encourage today?

IMG_8391