awareness, fitness and nutrition

Chad

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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.

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-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.

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-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?

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awareness, featured

The trigger. The seize. The aftermath.

 

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He was clearly upset. Withdrawn. Facing away from us when they finally arrived after going around and around and around again trying to find us. So much effort and time trying to relax at the beach. Environmental conditions created stress. A lot of stress.

The trigger: stress in his environment. Unknown factors lurking. A racing mind.

Recently he had been doing so well with helping and navigating and being responsible in life and on this trip. I know he is growing up and takes such pride in his adult successes… he’s achieving and as he achieves new challenges come. He is growing up.

Miscommunication leads to frustration adding to elevated stress levels. Triggers in his world. Triggers that can spark negative thoughts and emotions that make his mind race. The peace in his brain turns to excitement or sparks.

After staring into the ocean, silent, for a while, I could see he was trying to manage those feelings. Those sparks that agitate him. He finally just turned over and laid down, head down, on the beach blanket. No sunscreen, no words, no nothing. He was trying to settle him. I know that feeling!

Every few minutes he would pick up his head and pound the sand where his face would lay as hard as he could. I figured he was trying to carve out a resting spot for his ears and cheeks. But he was also still working out that ball in his stomach. He probably popped up three times to pound the sand. I offered him our shovel but he didn’t respond. He was in his own space. His own head space. He was battling his inner demons.

A turbulent mind I would explain to most. Filled with why me? Why now? Why in public? What did I do to deserve this life? At one point he got up and went to put his feet in the water then went right back to sleeping, wrapping a shirt around his head. he just laid there silent and still in the sun. One may think this is no big deal.

I see it. I see the challenge. I see the mental burden. I see the chaos lurking. I see the pending explosion. The seize is here. The seize is happening.

It was the sound that hit me first. It was a guttural scream, a groan, a call. A shout. And then he was jumping, lunging, arms out reaching for the closest object or person of comfort.

5-8 seconds seems like a lifetime in this moment. Passers by freeze. Judgment is silent. An eerie feeling is in the air as those close say nothing.

The girl who was sitting next to me in our low beach chair was the support. I knew what was happening and tried to jump in between them. Told him who I was and where he was. I used his name. It’s ok. It’s me. You’re on the beach. You are safe. Put my hand on his arm to try to calm him. He was still confused. He said his ribs were hurting and grabbed his side. That’s when I got scared since I didn’t know what that meant. I got help.

She was in in the water just feet away. Not out too far. I ran out to her and she was calm. She asked me what happened and just coolly walked back to him. She knew it was coming just didn’t know when.

At least she seemed cool compared to my jumpy insides. She called him over about halfway to him. Come get in the water with me. And he did. He went with her and they walked out together and a minute later he dove in the waves. I just watched silently as she cared for him and walked through it with him as she had a million times before. Then they called for boogie boards and I brought them quickly. Then off they went just laughing and swimming and hitting the waves.

When he came in you could tell he was a little quiet. Self conscious. She said he surveyed to see who noticed, who saw his episode. Like he has done many times before. Then the day just wore on. He threw the football and flew a boogie board like a kite and laughed and smiled his special radiant smile.

Did I do anything right? Did I help? His seizures are so different than the ones I had seen in the past. I thought I would help him get to the floor and try to cushion his head and protect him from hurting himself as the seizure ran its course. None of the that happened.

This was quick but violent. I wasn’t prepared. It was unexpected. If I was startled I could only imagine what this felt like for him. I understand he fears the seize daily. The unknown. The perceptions of others in the aftermath.

How would I feel living this way? Would I even want to live this way? I admire this boy for overcoming this challenge and the many challenges he will see in his future. Life isn’t easy. Adding a medical challenge like seizures to your life as you enter adulthood may be one of the toughest hurdles he will have to overcome.

I, like many others, admire this young man. He is so strong and so determined but also so tender and kind. He’s a caring soul. He loves kettle corn and kinder chocolate, he gives amazing hugs and is so generous with family and loved ones. He has also endured so much but never takes advantage. He works above and beyond and without drawing attention to it or complaining. He cares so hard for others, keeps a warrior’s heart while weathering storms in his own brain. New love new admiration. And a new desire to understand and cheer for him in ways that matter.

And then his Mom, who had taught him all of this with courage and resilience and determination. Who fights for him and expects him to become his best self. Uncompromising in her belief in him and advocacy for him.

I’m in awe and amazed constantly and more so now than ever. If you ever come across a family who battles daily with a medical challenge, offer kindness and hope your way.

You never know if it’s a good day or a bad day for them. They are most likely shielding their life struggles like most put a bandaid on a cut. Kindness matters. Never judge unless you can walk a day in that hero’s shoes.

He is my hero. Our hero. He his one tough cookie. Today we celebrate him and where he is going in life. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Seize today.

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