fitness and nutrition

The Difference Between Simple and Easy

I hit another milestone number on the scale today.

Today I weigh the same as I did when I got married.  Just shy of seventeen years later.  I am sure my weight went straight up just after the wedding, and I haven’t seen this number since.

Is my body the same?  No. Pregnancy and many other things have happened since then, not to mention just a lot of time being very overweight which leaves its mark.  But I’m working on shaping this body into the best it can be right now.

This was also the weight I randomly put into myfitnesspal when I started tracking last year.  I had to choose something, and 185 seemed good enough.  I don’t really know if I ever thought I would get there. Goals are not my strong point.

This week I’ll think about a new number and other goals.  I’ll try to be more mindful about it. But in the mean time…a quick reflection on one thing I have noticed lately.

As I’ve gotten further into tracking, my eating has gotten simpler and simpler.  My shopping list has gotten shorter and shorter.

Basically, most weeks look like this:

-Chicken (lots – ground / boneless skinless breast / tenderloins / rotisserie)

-Lean ground beef

-Vegetables for roasting (butternut squash, brussels sprouts, broccoli, onion, etc.)

-Yogurt – low to no fat, high protein

-Creamer

-Lowfat Cheese

-Sparkling water

-Then, if I need to replenish: extra thin corn tortillas, garlic & seasoning, carbs like PopCorners or Captain Crunch (yes, you read that right!), Fairlife milk,  protein shakes Yasso bars, etc. These are more accessories than essentials.

Sunday morning meal prep starts with roasting a huge pan of vegetables (see above).  I make my Mike Nuggets for my whole week’s lunches. Then I make one or two other varieties of chicken – crock pot fajitas, Mason’s Naked Tenders (great for the girl who chronically overcooks chicken), etc.  I also cook some ground beef to season as needed.

Most dinners during the week are just measuring and assembling these building blocks.  Veggies, meat, maybe some cheese if it works with my numbers (although my numbers are pretty much the same each day when I get to dinner, unless I am super hungry in the afternoon and have half an ace bar.) Nothing too fancy.  If I go out I have Chick-fil-a or Zoe’s Kitchen or an omelet with veggies and wheat toast, butter on the side.  End of story, most of the time.

Is it simple?  Yes.

Is it easy? No.

Simple and easy are very different things, I’m realizing.  I used to think they were synonymous.

Simple is keeping the moving parts minimal.  Staying in a routine.  Welcoming boredom, even.  Leaving little room to think about it. Deciding to stick with the plan.

Easy is more about effort and choice, I think.  I still pack my same breakfasts and lunches every. single. day.  Simple.  But, it would be easy to hit the drive-thru on the way to work. It would be easy to indulge in the staggering amount of food – mostly fat and carbs – I am offered working at my school in a given week, and have to resist.  (Someday I will blog about that.)  It would be easy to take it slow on Sunday mornings instead of cranking up the oven and meal-prepping like mad. It would be easy to drive-thru (again) in one of the hundred restaurants I pass when I am hungry on my way home. It would be easy to grab a beer when I am stressed or frustrated or anxious. It would be easy to sleep in or skip the gym when I have it scheduled but I’m tired.

All these things are easy but, ultimately, they make life more complicated. They distract me from my goals.

Will doing what’s simple most of the time ever come easy?  I have to think so. I am getting closer to seeing food as fuel and not entertainment or comfort. The gym is hard for me to resist unless I simply cannot make it.  Still, I am not always successful at resisting what is easy.  Sometimes I give in and just do what’s right in front of me, even if it goes against what I am trying to accomplish in the long run.  But I am working on it. Until then, I’ll simply choose the harder path as often as I can.  And set a new goal to shoot for, so I can earn my confetti again.

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fitness and nutrition, perspective

From “They Think I Can” back to “I Think I Can”

 

One of my favorite kids’ stories is The Little Engine that Could.  This might surprise people who know me well, since I am not always known for my positive mindset.  I tend to be cautious, take baby steps, and keep my expectations conservative (at best.)

In case it’s been a while, the Little Blue Engine, when faced with an enormous task, takes it on, chugs along, and tells herself “I Think I Can” as she pulls train cars loaded with toys over a tall mountain.  At the end, she is a hero to the kids on the other side.

I think like this story so much because it is a challenge to me.  At time, my inner mindset is “What if I can’t? What if I hurt myself? Make a fool of myself? What if I fail?”  Then, if repeated often enough, it becomes “I can’t. I’ll fail.” End of story.

This is where friends and coaches come in.  I’m lucky to have several people around me who believe in me. Who challenge me. Who call me on my negativity. Who tell me that THEY think I can.

Enter Coach Alex.  I’ve talked before about injuries I’ve had at the gym.  I do modify movements, keep weights light, and scale in all kinds of ways.  Although it is mostly for safety purposes, there are still times I forget to challenge myself and just basically coast.

One movement that scares me is box jumps.  Body weight movements are just challenging and coordination is not my strong point.  An aggravated Achilles last year was another setback.  I had worked back up to step-ups, often with weight, but Alex got me jumping again.  He prefers jumps to step-overs and step-ups.  I moved from dumbbells, to two plates, up to three.  I was feeling pretty good.

Then one of those friends that challenges me asked me, “So how much higher is it to actually jump on the box?  It can’t be that much higher.”

Which got me thinking.  (Maybe I can?)

She had noticed I was jumping higher and thought that was great, but she isn’t one to let me just rest on my laurels.  The best kind of friend, even though being challenged may not always feel the best.

So between Alex and my friend, I knew the day to try was coming. Today turned out to be that day.  Box jumps in the workout.  As we were getting set up I grabbed the box and, unceremoniously, walked it across the gym to a tucked-away corner (in case I face- planted), set it down, stared at it for a minute and…

remembered what Coach Alex said.  Jump with everything you have.  Feet wider, pump my arms, focus on the box.

Then I remembered my friend, and thought “it isn’t that much higher than what I’ve already conquered.”  (I think I can….gulp).

And I jumped!

And I jumped!

And I jumped! Again and again, 52 times all together.  A few shaky landings and wobbly knees, but NO face plants or scarred shins.  Success.

It doesn’t read as nicely as the children’s story.  There’s not really a happy ending, cheering children, an unlikely hero…for me, there’s only maybe a happy ending to a chapter, then a look at what comes next. (A higher box?)

Thankful for friends and coaches who remind us that we can, when we’ve forgotten what we can accomplish.  Changing our minds can lead to changing our lives, whether in the gym, the classroom, in the living room, or just about anywhere.

perspective

Ch-Ch-Changes: Chick 2’s 2018 Recap Post

2018. A year of change.

Here’s a recap of Chick 2’s year…one with much more change than usual.

Since I mentioned working on my weight a while back, here’s the 2018 tally.

Started a challenge on January 15 at 243.2 pounds.

Final weigh in of the year: 193.6 pounds. Total loss for the year (minus the first couple of weeks, which I gorged myself knowing that diets were on the horizon): 49.6 pounds. I did a series of eating plans, including keto, modified paleo, and now I am working with Stronger U Nutrition. Each has their benefits and drawbacks, but right now I am primarily learning to pay close attention to what I eat and portion sizes. All the changes have helped me grow (and shrink!)

Pics above are February to December. Do you see a difference?

My major life change was moving schools. I worked at my previous school for 5 years. It was a great situation with many beloved co-workers. No school is perfect (since there are humans involved and humans are notoriously messy), but I had a lot of freedom and trust.

Still, for several reasons, the time was right to switch. It would be a better opportunity for my daughter and bring on new challenges for me.  The jury is still out on this life change…it’s been a tougher adjustment for both of us than I had anticipated, but I am still hopeful that it will work out.  (And if it doesn’t, or even if it does, lessons!) Pic below is me getting ready to host the governor’s wife in my library this fall.

My older daughter left the nest to live on her own.  It has been a Proud Mom Moment to see her work hard, scrimp, and come to a new appreciation of life’s challenges and earnings.  She puts in a lot of effort to maintain her independence.  She embraces her strength, uses her smarts, and works at her health.

I’d be leaving out a big part of my life this year if I didn’t mention my fitness family.  I spent a lot of my time this year sweating out stress while smiling at CrossFit Pure.  It was time for a change late in the year, so I’m happy to now call CrossFit Faded Glory my gym home. You’ll definitely hear much more about this amazing place in future posts.

I have worked through some setbacks with injuries, but I still stay as consistent as I can.  I know that my diet is the major part of my weight change, but CrossFit has changed my body shape as well as my confidence level.  It’s a journey I hope to continue.  Deepest thanks to all of my coaches and “classmates” (co-sufferers / co-crazies) who keep me going (in mostly the right direction) each day!

Goal post coming soon.  Until then, thanks to 2018 for all the lessons.  Welcome 2019 and more changes for the better!

fitness and nutrition

Baby Steps and Big Jumps for Chick 2

Is there such a thing as a “traditional” or stereotypical CrossFitter? Maybe there’s an image in your head of what a CrossFit athlete looks like.  Muscular, slender, radiant (or rugged), ripped, youthful. (Hobbling, maybe).  You can tell who they are because they are always Talking About CrossFit.

If there is a stereotypical CrossFitter, I am NOT that.  I am heavier, older, basically an uncoordinated mess on most days. I do talk about CrossFit a lot, but that’s where the resemblance to that image stops.

I have a long road. Everyone starts somewhere, but many of the people at my box have some sort of sport or physical activity in their background. Swimming, gymnastics, dance, and so on. Not me. So I’m not getting back on the horse or the bike or whatever, but riding it for the first time. I’ve described CrossFit as finally getting to know my body after living in it for 45 years.

Between my lack of athletic background and various injuries, my workouts look different than most of the people I am in class with. I have been doing CrossFit regularly for 15 months and still do many / most workouts with some kind of scale and / or adaptation.  Thankfully we have great coaches who know me and help me continue to improve.

Here are some recent milestones that might be unimpressive for some, but were big deals for me.

A couple of weeks ago we had 1000 jump ropes in a single WOD. Five rounds, 200 in each round. Jump ropes are a struggle for me, both in coordination and breath control.  Lifting 200+ pounds off the ground that many times is a lot of physical and mental lifting. I was already preparing myself for failure, asking my coach what to do if I just couldn’t get the rope to cooperate. I had to complete it in in sets of 30 or 40, sometimes even 20.  But, I made it through it. I’ve never done that many in a single workout before! Celebration!

The second big milestone was burpee jumpovers.  Sometimes the workout calls for jumping over a barbell (with plates) or a box.  I always either step over the box or jump over a bar on the flat ground.  But, this time the WOD had dumbbell jump overs.  I was working out by myself and just went over to the little side area of the gym and gave it a try.  Ok, so it’s only like 6 inches off the ground, but it was still another mental and physical challenge.  So tiring! But I did about 50 of them (without falling) which felt like an amazing accomplishment.  (See pic below. Too tired to smile.)

My steps forward may be smaller than most.  There are movements that may take me many years to attempt, much less achieve.  But, I keep showing up and trying to get better each day.  It has given me new confidence. I’m not even afraid of sled pulls anymore! Or embarrassed by doing them in front of people in the parking lot!

I don’t think there’s such a thing as a stereotypical CrossFitter. It can work for anyone, and it’s big for someone like me to say that.  As time goes on, I’ve come to see myself as an athlete after all.

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fitness and nutrition

Chick 2 and the Birthday Burpees

This time last year, I was still pretty new to CrossFit.  So when I stumbled into my box on my birthday for a workout, someone told me it was time to do my birthday burpees.

Now that I think back, there was some snickering around the box that morning about birthday burpees.  But, I am pretty gullible, and I was anxious to be part of the community.  I also don’t like to seem like I am slacking or afraid of hard work.  So, I went over into the beginner’s corner (what I call the side area of the gym where I often retreat when I am doing particularly sloppy / awkward movements), and started at it.  I did them a few at a time, very slowly, spread throughout the workout, probably cursing each one, but I did my 44 burpees.  Maybe halfway through the 44 someone saw what I was doing and told me that it was all a joke.  But, I did them anyway.  Why stop part way through?

Here it is, my birthday week again.  It’s been over a year at CrossFit Pure.  My birthday fell on a Sunday this year so I didn’t have anyone to tell me to do burpees.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am working on health and weight loss.  I also have some challenging injuries that limit my ability to do some of the most dominant CrossFit movements (squats, deadlifts, etc.)  To be sure I am still getting a solid workout, I often add things on my own in addition to scaling and adapting movements.  At times, I challenge myself to do certain moves each day during a week as extras, like 50 sit ups, 50 slam balls, and so on.

During my Monday workout this week, I decided to do some extra burpees. Burpees kick up my heart rate better than nearly any other movement.  Monday was a shorter workout so I was able to do 50 spread throughout my gym time, mostly before and after. I thought I would do 50 each workout day this week. On the way home, I thought to myself that, given it’s my birthday week, maybe I should go a little bigger.

How could I challenge myself?  What could my birthday burpees be this time around?

So, I decided to go a lot bigger, shooting for a goal of 10 times my age in burpees.  So, 450 total for the week.

As I sit here on my birthday, I am happy to say I reached that goal, and even BEFORE my actual birthday.  I learned something each day, too.  Here’s a snippet:

Monday: The first 50 burpees, completed before I set the actual goal.

Lesson: Sometimes you start something without a goal in mind, then the opportunity to create a measurable goal comes to you.  Embrace it, and challenge yourself beyond what you think you can reasonably do.

Tuesday: Another short workout, so managed to add in 100 burpees on this day. I set that 100 burpee goal when I walked in the door that afternoon, given that the workout was brief.  Plus, I decided that if burpees were part of the regular workout, they did not count toward my personal goal, so I had to push myself on the days when they weren’t programmed. (We don’t see the next day’s workout until the night before.) (Total: 150)

Lesson 1: Set intermediate goals that help you along the path.  When you have the chance, take a bigger bite out of the goal than you normally would if you were doing the same amount each day.  You never know what life will throw at you.

Lesson 2: Making up my mind before I started also helped me push through the after workout burpees.  The workout we did pushed my upper body to exhaustion.  So, when I dropped to the ground after it to finish my birthday burpees, I laughed out loud since I couldn’t push my body back up.  But, I had a goal to achieve, so I shook them out, took a few minutes to rest, then got going again.

Wednesday: Did 50 burpees during a crammed schedule kind of workout, then 25 at home. (Total: 225, halfway there!)

Lesson: My schedule was off this day.  Arrived at the gym late, couldn’t do the programmed workout due to injuries so had to pull one up from previous weeks, had a doctor’s appointment just after gym, and so on.  We all have these days where it is hard to fit things in, but we have to do it anyway.

So, I did 10 burpees in the driveway at 6:00 am while I was waiting for my daughter to get in the car. (This stunk on concrete but I was SO much more awake on my drive!) I was at the gym for less than an hour total but still got 40 burpees in.  Then, I did 25 more at home that night.  Those were also awful since I wasn’t in my gym clothes and trying to do them on carpet or tile is just different.  But, I did them. Striving toward goals means doing things that aren’t ideal or just plain stink sometimes.

Thursday: Another 100 burpee day. Did all 100 before the workout. (Total: 325)

Lesson: Most of the week, I did my burpees in sets of 5, EMOM style.  (Every Minute on the Minute, do 5 burpees.)  I didn’t wear out too much this way. I just chipped away at it. Take bite sized pieces from your goal.  This day I did them for 20 straight minutes, since my schedule was off again.  (I don’t usually have this much time before a workout).  One of our CrossFit coaches saw what I was up to and said, “look at her, over there doing burpees like it’s her job.  Like it’s her JOB!”  And this week, it really was my job.  It was my commitment to myself.  It’s also so helpful to have people notice along the way and encourage you!

Friday: 75 burpees. These were the hardest of the week. (Total: 400)

Lesson:  What I dreaded all week happened Friday.  There were burpees in the workout.  So on top of the 36 in the workout, I did the additional 75 that I needed to do for my birthday goal.  I was so tired after a long week, hadn’t eaten as much as I usually do so I felt sluggish, had a busy day at work, and so on.  It was a true mental challenge to get through these, especially since I did all 50 after the workout.  Again, sets of 5 EMOM style.  I nearly cried about 4 times but I just talked myself through it.  It was a slog and a true mental test. I just kept focusing on the next five.  Thankfully, the end was in sight at this point.

Saturday: 50 burpees.  Mostly all after a challenging workout. (Total: 450!)

Lesson: For these, some of our awesome gym ladies jumped in and did them with me.  We all challenge each other at times, so this was a great lift (and an amazing support since burpees aren’t much fun for anyone!)  This also made me push harder, since these ladies are all faster at burpees than I am and were doing them until I was done.  So, my EMOM style meant everyone else was doing more! more! more! I had to do the last 20 without a break so everyone could stop!  This is one small example of how our community makes you push yourself out of solidarity and encouragement.

I was so happy to get over the finish line.  I screamed in relief and joy. I am so thankful for what this body and mind can do.  There were several times this week when, through the pain and “I don’t wannas,” I reminded myself to be grateful for the strength to do this.

Later that day, it was fun to clean up, dress up, and have a tea party, again with some of my amazing friends from my box. Then, family celebrations as well.

The big takeaway:

It was a week of CELEBRATING WHAT MY BODY CAN ACCOMPLISH at age 45.  Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting slower or weaker.  I can set goals, push through, and have people cheering for me and pushing me along the way.  It is a metaphor for life, goal setting, achieving, and setting new ones (which is what I am doing today!)

Maybe next year I’ll do burpees all month.  Maybe by then I’ll be doing my burpees completely correctly. Or maybe it will be something else that seems like the right mountain to climb. Who knows.  I’ll see where I am and set a new challenge.

This post wouldn’t be complete without a tip of my party hat to Chick 1.  If you’ve been reading her blog posts, you know that she is a goal setter and a goal getter.  I didn’t really understand much about making progress toward goals until I watched her in action.  She is a marvel in what she chooses to strive for, how she accomplishes it, and the way she holds herself accountable. I’m still practicing this whole goal thing, but her showing and sharing that process has been a gift to me that will keep unfolding for years to come.

May 45 bring all the growth that 44 did, and more!