Monday, December 19, 2011

Guide for Newbies - How to Avoid Injury

Yes, my blog has been a dead zone.  Call it creative differences with my brain... but I've had a couple of inspiring moments at the "box" of late.

First, a story that is not meant to embarrass anyone, but point out my sense of humor at my situation.  I visited the "south" box this last week because I wanted to see how it was going "down there".  Needless to say, I knew very few people.  I went about the normal warm ups and then set up my bar for a pull-up, power clean, box jumping WOD.  After a few power cleans at WOD weight, a fellow teammate complimented me and then asked... "Are you going to do that with one arm?"

My answer... yes.  Editors note: (the guy writing the blog really doesn't have much of a choice.)  It was a great question.  I guess I don't realize how hard it is to tell if/what limitations I have.  Some WODs hide it and in others, it's pretty obvious.  The guy had never seen me workout before, so how could he have known.  It was a valid, insightful question.  So... when you do see me, DON'T ever, ever be afraid to ask me anything.  I've had this all my life.  I don't know any different, but I know it's a curiosity to most everyone else.  Hell I get nervous around people with nubs for hands and gimpy legs (not meant as a joke). It's normal.  Don't be afraid, I don't bite... unless you take my bar.

Alright, HOW TO AVOID INJURY for newbies:

10.  Learn there are two proper positions for the pull-up bands.  Knees and foot.  Crotch is not one of the proper positions.
9. Ensure you take a pre-WOD pee (and dump if needed).   Trust me, nothing worse than a strained muscle from holding that puppy in the entire WOD.
8.  Do not forget you just threw a wall ball in the air.  If you have ADD, you may need to take an extra hit of meds before a WB WOD.  20lbs to the noggin is a little like a James Harrison hit.
7.  Do not hang a white board without a certified carpenter helping you... right Trevor?
6.  Ensure you have the proper protein drink mixed, in the fridge, and ready to consume IMMEDIATELY after the WOD is over.
5.  Get to know the person before complementing their snatch or asking them to watch you jerk.
4.  Avoid Alonzo's Mobility WODs like the plague.  Nothing like stretching to make you hurt.
3.  Buy a separate pair of shoes for each movement.  Currently, I have wall ball shoes, box jump shoes, oly lift shoes, running shoes, pull-up shoes, KB swing shoes.  I hear they just introduced Ring Dip shoes (not sure what the technology is yet), so I guess Santa better get his shit together and bring me a pair.  The only thing is that it really kills my time is changing the damn things during the WOD.  Oh well, it's a small price to pay for being in the right gear.
2.  Don't eat sausage balls that have been left, unrefrigerated, at the North gym for three days on the plate of cookies from the local chiropractor.

And finally....

1. Don't take my bar.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kate's Birth Story - Repost

Many of you have heard this story, some haven't.  One year ago, my daughter Kate was born after 7 long years of trying and 1 long day of trepidation for Angie and me.  It has been an outstanding year both personally, professionally, and physically.  I couldn't be more proud of my wife, Angie, my 16 year old Anna, my 13 year old son Grant, and our newest addition, Kate.

If you are interested to see how much a baby can progress in one year, take a look at this video of Kate's first year.

The ORIGINAL STORY (as typed on a Blackberry at 3:00am).

For those of you not on my email lists, here is the story:  

Well it was an adventure. Kate wasn't due to arrive until 11/18. So I decided to go to a work conference this week in Denver and even booked a mini vacation in the mountains for Thursday and Friday. Angie called Thursday morning to let me know she had a few signs of labor. But at her doctors appointment he said she was fine and I should stay in Colorado. 

At noon, her contractions were bad enough that Julie (her boss) sent her home. Meanwhile, I was wringing my hands on if I should return or stay for my mini vacation. Angie and I toiled over the decision until I listened to her experience a contraction over the phone and I knew it was time. One canceled hotel, one cancelled car, and 1 flight change and I was on my way. Unfortunately, I had 7 hours before the flight left. 

Back in Arkansas, the contractions got quicker and more intense. Angie's mom gathered her up and took her to the hospital. I was still sitting in the airport. Delynn, my colleague (who is 7 months pregnant herself), kept me pretty calm for the next few hours.  I even helped Angie through a few contractions over the phone. She was only 3 centimeters at that point. Plenty of time... right?

However, just before getting on the plane she was at 6 and heading for the epidural. This is the exact moment that I started 



A 2 hour plane ride with no updates. Even Delynn stopped pretending I had plenty of time. 

By the time I landed, an entire plan had been put in motion. My quick phone call revealed Angie was 10 centimeters and ready to push.  I also found out I had people waiting on me. The plane crew let me off first and the Gate crew ran with me to clear a path through the airport. 

Maisha was at the top of the escalator wanting my keys and directing me to a white SUV waiting at the terminal. Julie was waiting in her Land Rover with a police escort. As we flew through the back roads, Julie's glee at being in a police convoy kept me distracted. We survived the back roads and as we barreled down I-540, Julie explained my exact route through the ER door to my wife's room. 

Meanwhile, Maisha convinced a incoming airport passenger to drive her around the airport economy lot until she located my car. 

As I arrived at the hospital, I jumped out, got through the doors and made it just in time. The stirrups were in place and the pushing started immediately. 1 hour later, after a heroic effort by Angie, Kate Lauren entered the world. 5 lbs 1 oz, 19 inches long at 11:45pm. Mom and baby are great. Kate has a full head of brown and the tiniest hands imaginable. 

I'm a proud dad and now I get to lose sleep all over again. A heartfelt thanks to Linda, Delynn, Maisha, Julie, the police, the passengers of flight 6729, and the Willow Creek staff for a crazy, stressful and ultimately wonderful experience. 

And of course thanks to my lovely wife who did the hard work while I sat in an airport.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Fair warning.  This post is not about Crossfit nor is it a happy one.  I won't be linking to it in Facebook or any of my other social media.

It's about my Grandmother and how sad I am that she is gone.  She isn't dead, but she is gone.  Alzheimer's is a nasty, nasty disease... one that may hurt family members even more than the victim.  It's gradual and long.  It wears down family members that have to deal with all the difficulties it creates.  Sometimes, I would guess, to the point of irritation.

I'm really good at denial, as I've blogged about before.  Not your traditional denial of pretending it isn't going on, but rather of accepting the consequences.  I was telling my mom that Grandmother had it before she ever even thought to have her tested.  But that doesn't mean that once we knew that I'd accept it.

But I'm getting ahead.  My granddaddy got it years ago.  He died last year after a long slow deterioration. God spared the latter stages of Alzheimer's where one doesn't know family members.  He still knew us all, but not much else.  My grandmother took care of him virtually by herself for all those years.  Once he died, it was almost as if she gave her body permission to deteriorate too.  The effect was almost immediate.  She began disoriented and forgetful.  Soon, it was too bad to deny and mom had her tested.

I probably have the timelines wrong, but I don't care.  That's what happens when you deny reality.  But then something happened this week which brought the heaviest stones down on my shoulders.  Stones of guilt, remorse, anger, hate, and most of all, sadness.  See, I turn 42 on Monday.  My wife, being the kind, beautiful soul that she is, wants to make me whatever dessert I want.  This despite having to make cakes for my two daughters whose birthdays are all within the same week.  Oh and hosting my parents and throwing a sweet 16 and sweet 1 party.  She STILL wants my needs to be met.

That's when it hit me.  She is the sweetest person I've ever known except for my grandmother.  I made it worse by asking for my favorite dessert, a Pecan Pie.  (Side note: as another example of my denial, I've always said that German Chocolate Cake is my favorite dessert... and my grandmother made me a least a dozen of them over the years... but the real truth is I wish, every year, I'd asked for a Pecan Pie.)  My grandmother makes the best Pecan Pie in the world.  My wife has slowly replicated my grandmother's most prized recipes... sweet potato soufflĂ© and german chocolate cake.  I have no doubt the Pecan Pie is next.

God, it's really crazy how these moments sneak up on you.  I haven't stopped thinking about her in the subsequent 3 days since this happened.  I MISS her.  I miss the woman that would tirelessly prepare the best damn food you could ever eat.  Her dishes were legendary and her recipes spread like wildfire among people lucky enough to taste one.  I miss the woman that invented the large cookie.  The Cookie Factory did not.  My grandmother was feeding me big cookies 34 years ago.  She was also the woman that taught me to throw a baseball... even though she really didn't know how.  She would stand in the back yard and let me zing baseballs at her.  Hell, I'm sure at times I terrified her.  Thank God she finally told me she couldn't do it anymore.

This woman also would meticulously alter my long sleeve shirts to fit my right arm.... and cut two fingers out of my gloves.  As a kid, I took it all for granted... not that she ever needed anything other than an "I love you..."  Thank God I said that a lot to her.

Up until recently, I use to call her every week.  But it was SO hard to talk to her.  She didn't remember talking to me last week or anything I said.  So I got a little worse at making sure I reached her every week.  She kept asking me to bring Kate to see her even though I already had.  I didn't know if I should remind her or not.  It's just really hard to know how to approach it.

A couple of weeks ago, the family moved her to an Alzheimer's assisted living place.  I think it was a great move.  She has people to interact with and a staff to keep her safe.  But selfishly, I realize that I will never see her in her kitchen again, nor sitting on her couch holding her great grandchildren.  And it just makes me really really angry.  I think of all the shitty people in this world and she gets picked to suffer this in her life.  It makes me want to kick the shit out of whoever decides this stuff.  But anger doesn't work, so I blog instead.

The most disturbing thing about this is how closely related my grandmother and grandfather's disease was.  Both were fairly healthy otherwise (except high blood pressure) but both got Alzheimer's despite being from different genetic pools.  And they got it within a similar timeframe.  I'm convinced, more than ever, it is diet.  But who know WHAT it is.  They mostly ate meat, fruits, veggies and grains.  It wasn't until much later in life they took upon processed foods, and never to the level we all eat now.  So, who knows.  We are all probably killing brain cells every day...

I don't really know how to end this.  No witty closing, no words of wisdom.  I'm sad and I don't know when I won't be anymore.  I know it will pass, but until then, I miss her.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Goals in The Pursuit of Health

For those reading my blog (the old one and this one), you've heard the story of my "Oh s--t" moment which started me on a new road to health.  For those who haven't, hear is the cliff notes version.

I tried Crossfit on whim and it was hard... but I hated being defeated so easily, so I stuck with it.  At about the same time, I was reading a book recommended by a friend "The Culprit and the Cure".  It showed me my current lifestyle would result in a premature death of almost 20 years.  I changed my diet immediately and continued on this path to health.

With such an epiphany, I was convinced my change to life was permanent.  To see my progress over the next 10 months, I knew I'd never go back and people around me believed too.  I set some tough goals only to blow right past them 2 - 4 months earlier than planned.  IT. WAS. GREAT.  I reached my target weight and was within striking distance of my body fat %.  Then a dirty little secret revealed itself to me.  As Gandhi said "Glory lies in the attempt to reach one's goal and not in reaching it." 

The path to my goal was a focused, relentless experience.  I was not to be denied my end state.  My willpower and discipline was incredible and enviable.  I could be surrounded with my favorite foods, drink, and sit stoically as others enjoyed.  My bland vegetables tasted wonderful.  I never bored of broccoli and cauliflower (even though I still can't spell either right the first time).  I counted, measured, controlled, worked out, and continued a constant march.

I had two major goals: (1) to run a 10k before left my 40th year and (2) to see a weight of 225.  On 10/16/10 (1 day before my 41st b-day), I ran the Chile Pepper.  On 11/4/10, I weighed in at 225.

WHEW.  Glad that's over.  Honestly, I didn't feel like it was over and my attitude didn't really change, but without a tough goal, my relentless focus because a little less.... well... relentless.  I continued to work out... HARD.  I continued to eat well.  But, I began letting thing creep back in, slowly.  And it happens very gradually.... almost at a glacial pace.

You don't realize it at first.  A few chips instead of tomatoes.  An occasional sandwich instead of meat and veggies.  A few bites of ice cream.  An occasional night of imbibing and eating whatever you see.   Those small encounters are harmful.  But it grows like an unwanted weed.  Few becomes many.  Occasional becomes often.  Small becomes medium.  The weed takes hold and suddenly you have a lot more weeds than you wanted.

The good news is I'm not in crisis.  I maintained my weight for many weeks post reaching my goal.  And still even today, I'm within 5 - 7 lbs all the time.  I still workout religiously, but, I'm a little slower on my runs, I'm a little weaker on my lifts, and a little slower on some of the WODs.   My eating has ebbed on the weekends with at least 2 or 3 or 4 cheat meals.  All very fixable.

But here is the other dirty little secret.  My motivation to fix it SUCKS.  I thought my "re-epiphany" would be all  I needed to kick my effort into high gear.  WRONG.  I need a purpose, a hard goal.  Something which cannot be achieved without relentless focus and discipline.  I'm not sure my exact goal yet, but I know  it will be so damn hard, I won't even want to think about it.  It needs to take me a year to reach.

Meanwhile, I've set some smaller goals.

Deadlift 400 (my PR is 360).
Run a sub-7 mile - my best is 7:10 (took me 3 days to recover LOL).
Clean 185 - 1 armed. (175 is my best)
Fran in 7:30 - (8:15 is my best).

So my advice is this:  As you near you "big" goal, begin thinking about the next one.  Don't change it but allow yourself the victory of achieving the first one.  Give yourself a week to celebrate, then rip it down and put up the next big thing.  Otherwise, complacency might just be your next big thing....

Monday, July 25, 2011

Limits and 5 Answers to a Dumb Question

It's been a while because I've not had a lot to say.   With a busy job entailing conference calls, then home to make baby talk with a 9 month old, guys tend to run out of words.  Warning, this one is a ramble ;)

Many people sipping the Crossfit Kool-Aid (like me) believe it creates a sense of limitless improvement in your fitness and performance.  I tend to agree with the statement but with some notable exceptions.  Full disclosure first, I'm 41, 6 foot 3, and have 1 full arm and 1 with a slight birth defect.  Crossfit has put me in the best shape of my life... at 41.  My journey is well chronicled but as a reminder, I have pushed SO far beyond my perceived capabilities, it's great.  (Awesome is the actual word, but this is supposed to be a respectable, if not totally awesome blog, so I don't use words like "awesome".)

Limits.  I have them.  I have started finding some of them and I'm completely OK with them.  Before you lynch me as the Crossfit anti-Christ, let me explain why this is a GOOD thing.  As I said, I have busted so many barriers, it's not funny.  I've run a sub 7:30 mile, I've beat some our best athletes in certain WODs (I got them drunk as hell the night before while I played DD, but hey it COUNTS, right?).  I've pushed through pain and exhaustion time after time.  I've pushed past people that should beat me only because I wasn't afraid to hurt worse.  I've changed my diet 180 degrees and kicked a drinking habit that was headed for alcoholism.  I have felt invincible at times.

So what the hell am I talking about?  I have found some things in Crossfit I consider beyond my capabilities which I have no desire to bust through.  1 arm rope climbing.  At one time, I considered trying it.  Instead I have chosen NOT to work toward that goal.  I assessed the situation and decided it was too dangerous and would take more work than I am willing to give it.  Some people would consider this bad... a failure.  BUT, I've redirected that energy to getting better at something else.  Specifically for me, my core strength with should not have a limit for me.  In a twist of fate, Crossfit pushed me past the limits I thought I had but at the same time has exposed some limitations I DO have with my arm.  I had always held a belief there was very little I couldn't do.  I used to prove it in sports when I was younger.  Nothing ever arose to convince me different.  I kayaked, played basketball well, tennis, swimming, spelunking, rappelling, football, volleyball, and ultimate frisbee.  I was pretty good at all of them.  Oddly the thing I sucked the worst at was soccer... which didn't even require arms :D

Then at 40, it was easy to pretend I didn't have limits from the safety of my couch.  So I find it refreshing that I have FINALLY found something so challenging, it has taught me limits.  I'll never do an overhead squat, nor a handstand pushup.  It will simply never happen, my physiological realities won't allow it.  And... I'm

I wasn't at first, but I have slowly learned to accept them and not wish them to be different.  How many of you would have paid an iota of attention had I been "normal"?  Would I have inspired as many people, or made people work harder (people hate it when I yell "the handicap dude is beating you"!!!).  I have limits, but knowing some of them has liberated me... and caused me to focus on the areas where I can kick your ass.  So watch out!

P.S. I don't yell that at people.

Now your payoff for reading that crap:

5 Answers to a Dumb Question:
All the time, people want to know:  "Is Crossfit hard?"

5. "No"
4. "Only on the days when I show up."
3.  "If you rearrange the letters in 'Crossfit', you can make 'of course it's f--king hard you idiot'."
2.  "Have you ever been chased by a bear for a mile, then climbed a tree only to have the bear knock down the tree so you had to run another mile, then climb another tree and then fight him off with your boot?  If so, then Crossfit won't seem that hard."

1. "It's hard, but not as hard as the bodies it produces." Queue cheesy 70's music!!!! Booyah!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dance Dance WOD

Warning, the following post is wrought with sarcasm, the highest form of humor... your job is to figure out exactly where it is.

We all know Crossfitters are elite. We are elite at WODs, elite at diet, elite at life... hell we are elite at being elite.  If you doubt me, then just look at our t-shirts.  Anyway, one of the main tenets of Crossfit is that it prepares its disciples for the "unknown".  If you WODed (or is it WODDED, WODEDED) for very long, your mind has probably wondered how an exercise like a Thruster or a weighted lunge might play into the "unknown" one day.  I've imagined some pretty interesting situations where needing Double Unders skill would pay off.  I'm just not sure being held hostage by a Jump Rope Comp Team is a realistic.  I put my Karen time as an accomplishment on my Annual Evaluation, but my boss made me take it off.

So I was scratching my head a bit for some of our moves.... then I saw a video of Trevor on vacation and it hit me.  Dancing!  For those of us "rhythmically challenged", Crossfit teaches us to be elite in yet another way.

1. Music - each and every WOD introduces you to yet another heart pumping track.  You may be stuck in your "country music heaven" day after day, but you can still know all the latest rap and dance tracks in just 1 hour per day at Crossfit.
2. Volume - we also blare music directly into your ears long enough to slowly deafens you.  This prepares you well for withstanding the loud club music...
3. Hot Bodies - gotta look good if your out there dancing, 'nuff said.
4. Sweating - if you've ever seen a decent dance movie (Footloose, Flashdance or Dirty Dancing), you know dance sweat is an integral part of being elite.  As you swing your head around, glistening drops of perspiration must fly in all directions, creating a halo effect around your awesomeness.

and finally, the most important way Crossfit prepares us for Dancing?

5. The MOVES!  You finally get up the nerve to ask the blonde at the end of the bar for a dance.... She spies your t-shirt that reads "For a Good Time Call Fran, 21-15-9" and HAS to say "yes".  Not expecting to actually score a dance, you have officially entered THE UNKNOWN!!!!!!

But wait, you are prepared... just start stringing together some moves... I have provide a couple of ideas to get you started...
a.  Triple T - Thruster, Thruster, Thruster, pause, then Turkish Get Up, TGU, TGU, pause, twofer, twofer, twofer, pause. Repeat.
b. Fresh Prince - 8 Jumping pulls pause, Side Step, reverse Side Step, lunge, lunge lunge, pause, burpee, burpee. Repeat.
c. Oly Oly Olsen Free - Deadlift x 4, SDHP x 4, Squat Clean x 4, Push Jerk (only 1), then finish strong with 3 OH squats!

I promise, you WILL be the talk of the club.  Enjoy your new found preparedness for clubbin'!

P.S. Be honest... how many of you actually tried to picture these dances in your head?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Top 10 Moments for a Crossfitter

A journey to a healthy lifestyle is a personal one. How you get there, why you do it, and how it changes you are all unique experiences for each person. But... top 10 lists rock, so I thought I'd try to find 10 great moments in every Crossfitter's life.

10. Surviving your first WOD. You don't think it is a top 10 moment at the time. Matter of fact, you probably thought it was a top 10 worst ideas you've ever had. But months later, you realize surviving the first was a great moment.

9. The first time a "new guy" comes in and YOU explain the WOD to him. You realize you are no longer the newbie... he is! :D

8. Completing your first "girl" WOD. Us men love it because we like to run around all day declaring "I did _________, today!"

7. Writing "RX" next to your name on the white board. I don't mean a running WOD, but one with weights or body weight movements. You worked hard, you gained strength, you Rx'd!

6. Finishing your first Hero WOD. You know your mental grit and tenacity have reached new heights.

5. Your first pull-up without a band. Some fit people never experience the sheer joy of working hard for months and FINALLY shedding the bands. It can be a long hard road but the reward is so sweet.

4. Repeating your first WOD and destroying it compared to last time. This usually happens at about 3 - 4 months and it validates all the sweat and tears you have shed.

3. Finally beating "that guy". You know the one, the one you never thought you could out run or out lift. Finally one day, it all works in your favor and you leave him in the dust. It's rare, but it's great.

2. PR'ing your nemesis. It can be a WOD (Fight Gone Bad was mine) or a move (Squat Cleans), but we all have our ONE hated, dreaded nemesis. Finally kicking it in the teeth is a feeling like no other.

1. The TOP moment in CF, in my opinion is the day people realize you are different. You look better, you feel better, and you carry with more confidence. This is the moment they ask you, "what is the secret?" It's your turn to convert someone to a new lifestyle.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


One of the great things about Crossfit is scalability. Most everyone who walks through the door scales workouts. Matter of fact, unless you are a gymnast, Navy Seal, or a freak of nature, I think you HAVE to scale the WODs for a while.

Scalability is what allowed this 300 lb 1 arm guy to keep coming back for more. Scaling helps you build strength faster by putting you through more reps in a full range of motion than you would gain by only doing a few reps whilst cheating form. The importance of scaling is clear.

Some people, mostly guys, are too prideful to scale. My 13 year old son insisted on not using a band
for pull-ups, even though he could only struggle out 1 or 2 full range pull-ups in a minute. I told him using a band (or going to knees on a push up) is no different than picking up the 25 lb dumbbell instead of the 50 lbs dumbbell for curls. It "feels" different because it is an assist versus scaling weighted equipment. It isn't. He finally got it and had much more productive WODs. Pride is mostly a guy issue.

On the flip side, and the main point of this post, is using scaling as a crutch. True, there are some exercises that some of us may never get. Muscle ups, HSPU, and some of the heavier weight WODs may always result in an "S" by your name on the whiteboard. That is OK. However, I think EVERYONE should be able to work up to Rx on many of the basic moves of Crossfit.

How do you know if you are scaling too much? If you scale workouts but consistently finish in the top 20%, you scale too much. I believe more difficult/slower produces faster results than being first but at B or C scale. How do you know if you've scaled to the right level? My method is to pick someone who does well at Crossfit (but isn't a rock star). I monitor if I'm finishing a round or reps about the same time. If I'm much faster, I add more weight. If I'm a little slower but doing more weight than last time, I made a great choice. Taking twice as long? It depends. If I want to Rx, it may be OK. If it is a skill I'm still developing, I may drop the weight slightly and get the form right. I adjust in the middle of new WODs all the time.

This brings me to a second point. You shouldn't have to guess at most of your capabilities. You NEED TO TRACK YOUR RESULTS. This isn't a study in narcissism, it is a practical tool for getting better. With smart phones, laptops, and iPads, you can easily track them. Figure out your own method, or refer to this old post. Not knowing your back squat max means you simply haven't written it down (unless you are new).

Crossfit can be competitive. I've seen people week after week scale the weight portion of a WOD so they can be first out the door to run. Sometimes, they beat the group by 10 minutes. They fail to realize that 38 minute at "A" weight is a better result than 28 minutes at B or C. So if you truly are competitive, load the bar, shed the band, get off your knees... be a little slower, but be an Rx'er! Trust me, you will feel a huge sense of accomplishment.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stages of Crossfit

I have been Crossfitting for over a year now (P.S. I just trademarked "Crossfitting" so don't use it.)  Anyway, I have been through some distinct stages and have written about some of them here.  I wondered if people go through the same ones as me.  After talking with a lot of Crossfitters (also trademarked), I believe the answer is generally yes.

[Warning - Salty language ahead]
Stage 1:  Duh
I think 90% of the people walking into the door for the first time have no clue what to expect.  Some have seen results and want in on it.  Others are sick of hearing about it from a co-worker, friend, or family member.  While yet others are "seekers" and are constantly looking for something new to try.  Regardless, Glassman said it best (this is paraphrased) "I can't really tell you what it is, just come to the box and I'll show you."

On our first day, most of us were slightly embarrassed at our newbie stature.  Everyone around seemed to know exactly what was going on... but at the same time, there seemed to be no real organization.  People were stretching, others were talking, some were already sweating and laying on the floor.  WTF?  Even after having the trainer/owner come over and start clueing us in, we were still a little overwhelmed.  This stage lasts for a few days, up to a couple of weeks.  Everyday is a new exercise we don't know how to do.  Slowly, we get comfortable and see people we recognize.  We aren't afraid to ask what something is and we know the drill: warm-up, stretch, WOD explanation, 3-2-1-GO, sweat, pass out, recover, go home.

Stage 2: Holy ShitSnacks... WTF have I done?
This stage often overlaps stage 1.  It begins when you cannot rise easily from the toilet a couple of days after your first Crossfit WOD.  You begin to wonder a little about your sanity, but a LOT about the sanity of the people at the box.  They almost seem to enjoy this thing called HELL in a box.  You ask "have I found the nuthouse for fitness buffs?"  (The answer is yes.)  This stage can last for a while but typically is 2 - 6 weeks.  It takes that long to begin seeing your way to finishing most WODs, learning you HAVE to change your diet, and understanding all of the different exercises.  But, you aren't sure how to talk about it to friends and family yet.

Stage 3: I Think I Like It
Oh yeah, you do.  This is a great stage and is usually indicated by your first purchase of a Crossfit T-shirt. Suddenly you find your voice to friends about this really awesome thing you are doing.  Results may start to show, but you definitely know the drill when you walk in.  You know the people, you talk about how sore you are, you lament the WOD and you joke about not paying the $1 for water.  You are still intimidated by most WODs, but you begin to believe in yourself.  You know you'll finish, or die trying.  You begin relishing the post WOD endorphin "fix".  Crossfit has officially "Crossfitted" you (again, trademarked, so don't even think about using it).  At this point, you'll soon need to start budgeting a separate line item for Crossfit apparel.

Stage 4: Obsession
I've written about this before.  I won't belabor it... but you need to know the signs.
1. You look forward to the WOD and begin predicting your time.  (P.S. You are wrong)
2. You talk about it ALL. THE. TIME. TO. EVERYONE. ALL. THE. TIME. ALL. THE. TIME.
3. You begin purchasing shoes, ropes, tape, chalk, progen-x, etc.
4. You can occasionally make the 5:15am WOD.
5.  You have "liked" more CF related pages than any other on FB.
6. You have a more CF friends than other friends.
7. You plan out your strategy for the WOD.
8. You begin trademarking Crossfit terms.
9. You "witness" to friends, family, and co-workers about joining you.
10. In all seriousness, Crossfit becomes a true lifestyle change: diet, habits, workouts, and it dominates your thoughts.

and the final sign:  you are in the "getting unbelievable results" stage.

Stage 5: Burnout
It has been said that if you haven't burned out on Crossfit, you haven't been working hard enough.  I thought this was bullshit, until I burned out.  Boy, it was rough.  I actually begin hating the WODs, dreading the box, finding faults with everything from the programming, to the form, to my results.  I had a seriously bad attitude and was grouchy when I showed up.  I did not realize it at the time, but it was very real and a little destructive.  Crossfitdom (trademarked) suggests you take a cycle off every 3 months to rest the body.  I believe this is great advice but also recommend slightly longer break every 6 - 9 months to rest the mind.  Essentially, you need to be "Crossfitless" for a few days (do I even have to say it? TRADEMARKED.)

For me, I decided to take off a cycle for my shoulders.  Then I got sick and missed a second one.  The second one allowed my mind to rejuvenate.  I was SO ready to come back after the 8 days off.  My burnout stage was over.  It was GREAT to experience the bad attitude because now I can head it off next time.

Stage 6: Mature Crossfitter
This is the simplest stage.  It is defined as "one who has passed through all the other stages."  I am unequivocally in this stage and I love it.  I'm still making progress, I still love it, but I can function without talking about 100% of the time.  I relish WODs, the pain they bring, and the progress they cause me to make.  It took me 16 months to get here.

On a Separate Note:
Honestly, there are times when I wish I could rewind and go through all the stages again.  It has been such a life changing... no, that is too tame... life... ALTERING experience, I really would love to do it all over again.  The pain sucked.  My results sucked.  I was LAST IN EVERY WOD FOR 6 MONTHS.  I'm not anymore, but some days I kinda wish I was.  There is a special power of being a newb and making superhuman leaps in progress.  It's nice to hear Trevor tell me "I never thought you would come back after the first week."  He laughs and tells me he has given up trying to predict who will take to CF and who won't.  Some "naturals" never come back but other dolts like me stick around forever (my words, not his).

So what stage are you in?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sore or Injured?

If you do Crossfit, we universally share at least one thing... soreness. At first, it can be debilitating and surprising because your first few WODs are typically cut in half (How can a few minutes of air squats in your first session cause you to seek out wheelchair providers?)  My legs were the worst. More than once over the first few months, I wanted to install handicap rails around my toilet. Luckily, I perfected the "1 hand between the legs launch off the toilet press" which mitigated the need.  But my arms weren't much better, but since I couldn't lift them the pain wasn't as acute. The worst was shampooing my hair. Who knew rubbing your head against "soap on a rope" could work so well.  I looked like a cow scratching his head on a fence post, but I didn't care.

In most workout programs, as you repeat often, you rarely experience the initial soreness again.  Not at Crossfit.  Even the most fit athletes, there will be WODs driving you so hard, your muscles will notice.  Some cycles are worse than others, but the soreness never completely mitigates.  In a weird way, I enjoy it. After over a year or Crossfit, if I'm not sore, I think I loafed.

This may sound like a bad way to train.  But actually it results from one of Crossfit's basic tenants, "highly varied functional movements".  We don't do the same movements everyday.  We "SHOCK" the body to get results.  This means we challenge it in constantly different ways.  The positive effect of this is VERY few repetitive motion injuries.  The negative effect is a more constant presence of soreness... but normally in a different spot than last week.

Now, what about injuries.  As with any sport, workout, or getting off the couch, injuries happen.  We know the spiel that it is usually a result of poor form.  Regardless, they happen.  How do you know the difference?   think if you've been coming a while, deep down you know the difference, but don't want to admit it.  The easiest way to tell the difference is the immediacy of the pain.  If you are working hard and the "soreness" is immediate (i.e. during the workout or just after), it is 95% more likely to be an injury than soreness.  Soreness typically takes 24 to 48 hours to feel painful.

The next best way is probably localization.  Soreness is more general over the entire muscle you've expended whereas an injury is typically localized to a tear, rip, or break.  If you feel an acute, localized pain, you are likely injured and need to stop.

What if it's neither?  There is a condition called rhabdomyolysis we should all be aware of.  Basically, it is an extreme breakdown of muscle tissue.  It causes damage to the muscle but can also be dangerous to kidneys if enough cells enter the bloodstream.  The good news is the condition is preventable in most cases with proper hydration and reasonable restraint when exercising.  Genetics can make you more or less susceptible to the condition.   Some CrossFitters have experienced it (and it was the main focus of a "anti-CF" article in the NY times 6 years ago).  But as I said, as long as you aren't going crazy and drink plenty of water, you are unlikely to experience it.

Crossfit... "making you sore in places you didn't know you had for more than a decade."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Top 10 Things You'll Never See at Crossfit

We are different.  I like that about Crossfit and it's the main reason our results are so dramatic.  It also means our box does not look like much when you first encounter it.  For example, when I walked into the new box yesterday, I thought it looked great.  Then I realized to a non-inductee, it must have appeared unfinished.  "Where the hell is everything?"

Top 10 Things You'll Never See in a Crossfit Box

10.  A magazine rack.  Ever tried to do a squat clean or a box jump while reading GQ?

9.  A broken elliptical machine.  Hell even if we had one, it would never break because no one would use the boring piece of junk.

8.  People with a "can't do" attitude.  Charlie Sheen said one thing right.  The slogan is Just Do It.  We do it and we do it hard.  If you say "I can't" very much, you won't be around long because you'll hate Crossfit.

7.   Personal fan with water spritzers.  Instead, we use the sweat flying off the person next to us.  Secretly, I love those damn things though.

6.  A working elliptical machine.  I realized #9 was wrong.  We might actually take a broken elliptical.  Except we'll strap a rope to it and pull it through the parking lot as part of a WOD.

5.  Bird legged muscle men.  If your arms are twice the circumference as your thigh, you won't survive a month given all the squatting, cleaning and other leg stuff we do.

4.  People judging you regardless of your fitness and ability.  I was 300 lbs, 40 years old with only 1 fully functional arm.  I was NEVER made to feel uncomfortable by anything except the WODs.  I think people cheer louder for the last finisher than the first.  Everyone at the box sucked when they started, so we want to help you get better.  Save your embarrassment for when you drink too much at the office party.

3.  TVs - see #10.  If you want to watch TV at Crossfit, you'll need to hang out in the kiddie room.

2. "The Social Gym Rat" - he or she cannot exist at Crossfit.  We require work, hard work.  After standing around for a few day of WODs, I guarantee even the thickest skinned SGR will begin feeling outta place and be back to Steam rooms and Stairmasters.

1. Annual Contracts - Chances are you've joined a gym with a year long contract at some point in your life.  You'll never find this at Crossfit.  Typically people either love it or hate it.  If you hate it, we don't want your money bad enough for you to be in the way during a WOD.  If you love it, well, why the hell would we need to sign you to a contract?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Most Hated

After a few days containing some of Crossfit's most despised movements, I started wondering what was THE most hated.  Unfortunately, I don't have the ability, nor readership circulation to do a scientific poll... so I get to pick (Blogger Powers... activate!).  My first task was to write down all the movements we do.  I count almost 60 main movements.  Some of these are Crossfit 540 specials, but most are Crossfit staples.

Before I rank them, I thought it would be interesting to put them in categories.  Now of course no movement is pure anything, so I put them in their predominant classes.

Cardio/ Endurance:
Run, Box Jumps, Double Unders, Box Overs, Air squats, Beep Test, Suicides, Mountain Climbs, Rowing, Dan Cs (unspeakables), Reversal Burpees, Side Steps, Squat Jumps, Burpees, Frog Jumps, Lunges, Jumping Pull ups, Commandos, Weighted Lunges
Olympic Lifting/ Technique:
Back squats, Front squats, Sumo Dead lift High Pulls, Dead lifts, Power Clean, Squat Clean, Power Snatch, Hanging Power Clean, Shoulder Press Push Press, Push Jerk, Bench Press, Thrusters, Turkish Getups, OH Squat, Farmer Carry, Ground to OH
Gymnastics/ Calisthenics:
Push ups, Pull ups, Sit ups, GHDs, Back Extensions, Chest to Bar, Toe to Bar, Knees to Elbow, Wall Balls, Ring Dips, Hand stand push up, KB swings, Cousins, Burpee Pull ups, Commando Push ups,

Flytraps, Muscle Ups, Moonies, Tire Flip, Planks, Twofers, Upsey Daisies

We obviously do a lot of different moves.  Sometimes I actually start missing a move and try to predict when it will show back up.  99.67% of the time I'm wrong.  I like to look at the list though and smile with the realization of why my old program was so ineffective:

Eliptical (maybe a run here and there)
Oly Lifts:
Bench Press, Shoulder Press
Gymnastics/ Calisthenics:
Stupid Exercises We Don't Do:
Arm Curls, Tricep Extensions, Leg Curls, Leg Press, Calf Raises, Lat Pulls, Chest Crossovers, Cable Presses, Twisty Ab Thingy...

I was missing so much it isn't funny.  What is funny is I rarely did any of the ones I just listed.  I limited most of my WODs to 30 mins on the elliptical reading a book (yep, got a lot of reading done... BTW, I thought I was REALLY kicking ass if I kept going past time because the chapter I was reading was so good.)  Then my POST WOD exercise was a 12 ounce curl... 6 - 8 reps.  

So on to the rankings.  I'm not ranking all of them, just the ones that make your stomach drop when you read the WOD blog at 10pm.

Sucks Worse a Root Canal:
Box Jumps
KB Swings
Toes to Bar

Makes You Want to Slap Your Momma:
Front Squats
Wall Balls (though I like them)
Beep Test
Weighted Lunges

And finally, Hell's Spawn:
Thrusters and Frog Jumps

What do you hate the most?

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Just as Edwin Star asked the same question about War, I wondered what is Fear good for?
We all get afraid, we all experience FEAR in life.  Today, I'm talking about it in the context of our health and specifically Crossfit.  When I first started, I was afraid... very afraid almost everyday.  It's odd to think back now because I can't even recall why I was afraid.  I can not articulate what I was actually afraid of.

I'm not afraid of much.  At age 41, in my (wonderful) second marriage, with my third child working at a tough company for 20 years ... I've lived through a lot.  I'm not a tough guy like our military, police, or firemen but not much in normal life scares me.  So what the hell was I afraid of?  I'm honestly not sure.

"I am afraid of the WOD" is too generic of an answer.  You can't be afraid of a WOD.  Are you afraid of dying from it?  Are you afraid that it will hurt?  Are you afraid that you will embarrass yourself with a DNF (did not finish)?  Next time you say you are "afraid of the WOD", ask yourself to be more specific.  If you are even able to provide an answer, it'll likely be lame enough that you will quickly lose the fear and develop a more positive attitude towards it.

Now that I've doled out advice, I'm promptly ignoring for the next paragraph.  However, I did feel fear a few nights ago during the Back Squat WOD.  It dawned on me... heavy back squats still strike fear in me.  I am afraid I will blow out my knee or tear a leg muscle.  Reasonable?  Maybe.  Likely?  Doubtful.  I just know that it is keeping me from achieving better weight, improving my form, and impressing my wife (she monitors my back squat max performance carefully).  It is time I overcome the fear somehow, some way... to achieve more.  My approach?  I'm going to take my own damn advice and see what happens.

By the way.... clowns and snakes are a WHOLE different story.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Diet - What is it Good For?

Zone?  Paleo?  Atkins? South Beach?  Which one is right?  During my fat years, I read a lot of books and tried a lot of different diets.  After many failures and one very big success, I realized a few things about diets.

Every single book will discuss its diet as the single and perfect answer.  It will purport to have "done all the analysis" and "conducted all the studies" that PROVES it is right, 100%.  I become very amused when a diet or supporters of a diet claim that the other guy has it wrong.  They cite a combination of anecdotal and qualitative analysis to support its position.  The argument is without failures, very convincing.

Unfortunately, the human body is a complex organism and food a complex compound.  No two people are the same, it is what makes the world go round.  It seems an obvious fact that no two people will react to foods the same way. At this point, the most objective book, in my opinion, remains The Culprit and the Cure.  The reason is because the author is not selling a diet.  Instead, he read a bunch of other people's studies, in fact, almost all of them.  He drew general conclusions about diet and exercise but clearly stated they were guidelines based on the "average results" from all the studies.  He even acknowledged his exhaustive study could not be consider factual knowledge.  The human body is simply too complex and the interactions of food too numerous to draw hard and fast rules.  I lost a lot of weight using his

In Defense of Food takes a similar approach to say that food's affect on the human cannot be dissected easily.  He explains the origin of the now universal approach of breaking foods into macro (protein, carb, fat) and micro nutrients (vitamins, minerals).  It stems from a government sponsored study that concluded fatty beef was bad for you.  The Beef industry used its significant lobbying power to "spin" the study to saturated fats versus fatty beef.  So began the carb revolution and the significant weight gain of America.

It just goes to show that you can't really trust ANY book, study or publication 100%.  If money is involved, and it always is, there will be a bias.  So my first conclusion was, "use my head and do what makes logical sense"

I think it is obvious where some foods are on the spectrum of health.  Clearly a diet of twinkies and coke will not provide healthy results.  Likewise, a diet of natural fruits, veggies, and meats seems to be pre-destined to help your health improve, maintain weight and keep you well.  However, when we delve into the particulars of a sweet potato versus a turnip green, it seems like we are splitting hairs from the same head.

As most of you know, I'm a Zoner.  I considered going Paleo, but was turned off by the zealousness of it.  I believe Paleo's premise is makes a lot of sense.  It makes sense that eating how our bodies did as we evolved provides healthy results.  I've seen people get great results with it.  It just wasn't for me because of the restrictions.  I was certain I would fail at it, so I didn't try it.  So my second conclusion was "go with what works for you".  Make sure the diet is achievable, but effective.

I get irritated when it declares knowledge in areas where studies are inconclusive.  I get irritated by Dr. Sears (father of the Zone) in the same way.  However, I like the Zone because I can stick to it, I feel good on it, and it keeps helping me improve.  If Paleo or South Beach or any other diet does the same for you, stay with it.  In my opinion, they are all in the ballpark of healthy eating:  "Whole foods, in reasonable proportions with a sense of balance."  Personally, I saw better results on the Zone than I did following the Culprit/Cure guidelines, so I switched.  Since then, I've added back things and taken other things away trying to find what works best.  I've learned what I should really avoid (alcohol) and what I can indulge in (dark chocolate) with consequence.  So my third conclusion is "don't be afraid to experiment and learn."

Finally, most diet books are written to help people walk a thin line between how they live/eat now (poorly) and how they should.  Most are written to make you believe wholesale changes aren't needed.  Bullshit.  If you have crappy eating and exercising habits, you have to BLOW IT UP and start over.  If you want to pretend that tweaking a crappy lifestyle is the answer, you are DOOMED.  You have to make a serious choice to change.  That means truly starting over and simply installing a healthy, permanent diet and exercise program.  If you don't want to do that, then you need to bookmark this definition.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Another Success Story

Some of you know Dax Weindorf.  He was a regular throughout the summer and fall until he moved.  He still comes back on the weekend.  His wife discovered an old picture on her phone.  You be the judge if Crossfit works:

From Dax:

This was me at 215.  2 months prior to starting crossfit.

Word of advice for those just starting. Don't cut yourself short. You've heard Bryon say this... Don't miss WOD'S and work hard at getting better with form. Oh yeah, almost forgot. No one can push you as hard as you can. This is me 7 months in at 190. and 11% body fat down from 20%.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Team WODs: Point/ Counterpoint

This is a direct quote post Katie Bell sent me to include here.  It is unedited by me.  I will provide my commentary at the end.
My Case for the Team WODs

Like all families, CrossFit 540 has traditions. For example, we usually go to same restaurant on box excursions (Mojito’s). We have our own signature WOD (The 540 – 50 OH Lunges 35/25, 40 pull-ups, 30 Thrusters 95/65, 20 Burpees, 10 Squat Cleans 135/95). We celebrate all national holidays (and apparently local snow days) (or any other day Trevor deems appropriate) with the Filthy Fifty. And, new to the list, we do team WODs on Saturday mornings.

I had already come to look forward to the weekends at CrossFit. Without the schedule of my weekday duties to fret about, I feel like I work out on Saturdays and Sundays with a clearer head and more focus. There’s a particular gleam to the equipment that only occurs during those mid-morning to early-afternoon hours, when the garage doors are open wide, the sunshine is streaming in, and children are climbing up and down the tractor tires. Also, I have free time and I appreciate being able to develop technical skills before and after the WOD. I like catching up with the people who’s weekday schedules don’t coordinate with mine. The addition of the team WODs has given me even more to look forward to.

I was scandalized when I recently found out that not all members of the CrossFit 540 family love the Saturday morning Team WODs the way I do. And they don’t just not love them; they hate them to the point that they are considering not coming on Saturdays at all. DON’T DO THAT! I guess I can understand some of the reasons why a person might feel like Team WODs are more of a test of nerves than of fitness, but I can think of lots of reasons why showing up is a better idea than staying home:

1. A missed workout is a missed opportunity. Every workday of our four-day cycle is a chance to get stronger and faster. Systematically skipping a workday is a sure way to delay progress. And I don’t care what you say – you’re not going to get comparable benefits doing an alternative workout somewhere else. If those workouts really worked, you never would have signed up for CrossFit in the first place.

2. The Team WODs build a stronger community within CrossFit540 (which is my very favorite thing about our box). I know that we typically buddy-up with people we already know, but it doesn’t always end up that way. The Team WODs give us an opportunity to get familiar with CrossFitters that we may not regularly talk to. And when you team up with someone you already know, spending approximately 40 minutes sweating together is a great way to really close.

3. No man is an island. Or in less dramatic terms, working as a team balances each person’s strengths and weaknesses requiring that we support and rely on each other to complete the WOD competitively. The fact that one person takes an inordinate amount of time to do burpees is balanced by the other’s utter inability to perform double unders; and in turn, the one person makes up time lost with incredible dexterity to do wall balls, and the other speeds through push presses. In the end, it all evens out, and we are better for it.

4. Accountability makes us better. Knowing that someone is counting every single rep, or is going to chastise you for missing the full range of motion, or is losing time or holding a squat longer because you are slow will motivate you. That motivation may push you enough that you will get out of your comfort zone and make improvements that will be reflected in your regular WODs. Forcing someone to share your misery with you sounds awful, but the silver-lining is that we all expect this to be reciprocated. For example, I’m telling you that your squats aren’t deep enough because I think we are friendly enough that you will tell me my butt’s sticking up in the air during push ups.

5. Physical qualities aren’t the only things developed by CrossFit. We also improve perseverance, conviction, dedication, self-respect and moral fortitude. Team WODs reflect qualities that aren’t always represented in individual WODs, like adaptability, humility and generosity – things we can all stand to improve.

6. Injury is not a legitimate excuse to skip a team WOD. I certainly am not encouraging a person to work out if they should be letting something heal. I am, however, encouraging someone to work out if they should be limiting the use of something and would have come if the WOD was individual. Teams WODs can be modified and scaled just like individual WODs. Similar to the argument I made in 3 above, we all have weaknesses. You deny yourself the opportunity for a workout of the healthy parts of you, and you deny your potential partner the opportunity to get stronger by compensating for your injury. Further, each person brings more than physical performance to the WODs; the team is denied any encouragement, technical critique, and fraternization that you would otherwise provide.

7. Team WODs simulate competitions held outside of our box. If you aspire to compete in the National Games, or just to get involved in some small local competition, the Saturday morning Team WODs are a great way to practice.

8. Finally, you signed up for this. You pay CrossFit 540 to challenge you and hold you accountable to an increasingly higher standard of physical fitness. And if that’s what the Team WOD’s do, then on Saturday mornings, you’re getting your money’s worth.


For the most part, I agree with Katie.  I think many of her points are valid, especially #3, 4 and 5.  That said, I COMPLETELY understand the nervousness and apprehension of team WODs.  Each WOD has contained at least one exercise where I am severely weak.  Also for most team WODs, I've had a stronger partner (it's really easy for me to find a stronger partner :D).  I've worked harder than ever before.  I push harder because I don't want to let someone down.  

Here is the cool thing.  At least once during each WOD, I've been the stronger of the two of us.... even just for a moment in time.  It felt great and motivated me to keep pushing.  For at least one of the WODs, I probably only did 1/3 of the work.  But during another, I did 2/3s of the work.  You know what, I enjoyed the 2/3s more than the 1/3.  In other words, if you aren't able to do as much, you are helping your partner feel better about themselves!!!

If you are nervous about the team WOD, find somebody during the week you enjoy being around and coordinate a time, and go be partners.  Then have some fun.

Thanks Katie for the post.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

February - Make It or Break It

We’ve all heard of the witching hour.  I believe that February is the witching month.  Many people start their new year off with resolution to lose weight, get in shape, and solve world hunger.  I put the three together because all are damned hard.  The good news is that the first two are within your control.  January is typically a month of strong willpower because the memories of our Holiday overindulgence are still fresh.  Then comes February, the month of broken promises and a return to our old ways.  January sucked so HARD with all the changes we made.  Our minds wander back to the “good old days” of indulgences and leisure time.  Of course, this analogy applies to any “second month” of a major life change.

I’m at the beginning of Year 2 on my fitness journey.  I remember distinctly that February was a tough month for the reasons above.  At first I pushed through it, but it continued to get worse.  I was lucky because I was so convicted in my goal, I continued to push through it.  But I’ve had many moments in the last year where it just seemed too hard.  My guess is if you are new to your “healthy” commitment, this month will be your first true test. 

If you are dealing with this phenomenon, then I recommend a counter-intuitive approach to “fixing” it.  Immersion.  Sit down in front of the computer and begin reading about health, diet, exercise.  If you are doing Crossfit, this is REALLY easy.  You can go with the “official” reading of the Crossfit Journal.  Or if you want some different perspectives, there are a ton of Crossfit spin-offs that use the same basic foundations from diet to workouts.  The point being is the more you read, the more convicted you become about the positive changes you are making.  The other point is:  it doesn’t take a whole lot of hard work :D and so you have NO excuse to avoid it.  Give it a try.

The next thing to focus on is you have about 3 months before “summer” and associated clothing arrives.  You can significantly impact your body in 3 months.  You can lose 30 lbs and build a ton of muscle and cardio health.  BUT, you can’t do that if you have a major false start in February.  Recommitting in March actually puts you TWO month behind versus staying committed in February.  You will lose ALL of the progress you made in January and the opportunity to get better for February.  It isn’t a 10 lbs swing, it’s more like 15 – 20.  DON’T lose February AND January.  You’ve come too far.

Friday, January 28, 2011

5 Things I Miss About my Globo Gym

5. The Sauna - There is nothing more fun than sitting with my bare ass on a cracked, warped piece of wood, in a dry hot room.

EXCEPT, sitting with my bare ass on a cracked, warped piece of wood, in a dry hot room with a bunch of old naked men...

4. Bird Legs.  There is nothing sexier than a man with bulging biceps, and a stacked chest that can barely be contained by a shirt... sitting on top of a set of legs skinier than a 12 year old bulimic.

3.  Computer Linked bikes - gosh I miss the days of racing with my buddies at the gym.  Nothing quite as much fun as trash talking about how I just fake beat him on a fake course on a fake bike.  Of course I didn't have anyone I worked out with, so I just trash talked the computer biker.

2.  The free towels - Whenever I accidentally dripped water down my chin from the water fountain, I always had a free towel close at hand.  It was a good thing I never sweat enough to use it for that.... because it'd be gross to use a sweaty towel on my lips.

1. The TVs!!!  After I left my Globo Gym, my streak of 1,035 episodes of Oprah ended.  Brett Farve has nothing on me.

Globo Gym... I <3 you.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Case for the Whiteboard

Why does Crossfit have a whiteboard?  It is a unique part of our program.  At first, I understood the basic reason for it... to write down my result and track progress.  Others believe it is for the competitive types to compare scores.  It was after a few months did it really sink in its real purpose.  And I think it is more than either of those.

But first, why don't you use the whiteboard?  I can only think of a few reasons why.

1. "I didn't feel like it."  Really? You are too lazy to write it down?  You just finished 20 minutes of hell and you can't muster the strength to walk over, pull off a cap, and move your arm a bit?  Not buying this one.

2.  "I forgot."  OK.  I'll admit that with all the great friends you make, you get busy talking and totally flake writing it down. Every. Once. In. A. While.  If it happens more than once a cycle, you need to put a muzzle on that mouth and put up your score.

3. "I'm embarrassed."  This seems like a good excuse.  However, no one at Crossfit 540 will ever judge your score.  Many of us have come from the absolute depths of the board.  Hell, I was last for MONTHS.  I wrote down every single shitty score.  Every single one.  If I didn't finish, I wrote DNF in PINK... just to make sure it was clear.  You know what?  I NEVER felt judged.  Not once.

People like me know how long it takes to get bigger, faster, stronger, so we will never pass judgment.  So you are holding yourself back under false pretenses.  In my opinion, writing down your score puts your psyche on notice:  you are not afraid of holding yourself accountable and measuring success.

And finally,
4.  "I think it is stupid/I don't believe in it."  This may be the only valid excuse I can think of.  You simply don't buy into the mechanism of publicly tracking your WODs.  You aren't competitive and you don't care to remember your last score.  I think this is problematic, since the premise of Crossfit is to improve.  This may not be the place for you.  We get results... when you sip the kool-aid and follow the program.... modify it and we make no promises!

Whiteboard Undressed
So, in my opinion, what is the real purpose of the whiteboard?  It is simply this, to solidify for you, publicly, how you felt about your performance at that moment.  If you were disappointed, writing it on the whiteboard SEARS it in your mind.  On the wonderful flip side, when you have a great WOD, you set a PR, beat someone who normally kicks your ass, or beat a personal goal.... writing it down is a joyous celebration of that moment.  Sometimes it is simply a celebration that you CAN write down a time.  It means you FINISHED the "damn it to hell" WOD.  The whiteboard makes your emotion about the WOD very real, very tangible.

I remembered my time and weight lifted for almost every WOD for the first 5 months.  Why?  Because it was easy for me to recall my emotion at the time.  It ranged from sadness, shame, frustration, anger all the way to relief, surprise, joy, and elation.  Making the emotion tangible had a profound effect on my psyche about my results.  I liked feeling the pride of my score, so I worked like hell to replicate it.

So write on the white board and write it in a journal so the next time you can compare and see just how far Crossfit will take you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I'm Back Newbies...

After a few month hiatus, I realized that I miss blogging about fitness and specifically Crossfit (also known as the "Fitness Cult" or "Those Crazy People").   For those of you not aware of my past, my old blog was 40 year old fat guy with 1 arm gets fit.  The title was no longer appropriate so I stopped blogging.  However, I have too damn many words to go cold turkey, so I have to get it out, and you have to read it.  HAHA...

Well, my progress has remained steady, but I don't want this blog to be about me.  I want it to be about the newbies.  You know, the ones joining gyms and making resolutions in January.  My statement is not a criticism, hell at least you give a damn to try.  The question is do you give a damn enough to stop trying and just do?  Crossfit requires doing.  It is not kind to people "trying".  It usually chews them up and spits them out about round 3.  During round 4 the rest of us step on you ... a lot.

So, I have some advice to any and all Crossfit newbies.  Here is my original advice as a fat guy just a few months ago:  Crossfit Tips.  Those were good tips, but left a lot to be desired.  After celebrating 1 year in Crossfit, I have some recommendations for anyone really wanting to get results.

1. Commit to Crossfit for at least 1 month with no skips or substitutes.  The only acceptable excuse for skipping a class is (a) an injury or (b) a family emergency.  Other than that, you MUST go to the box and do the WOD.  Don't make up your own.  Do the damn WOD.

2. Listen, learn, set aside your ego, and accept that you suck.  Everyone sucks at Crossfit when they start.  If you don't suck at it, then you probably don't need it.  Get over yourself and stop trying to come in to show everyone how big your balls are (note: I use this analogy because its typically us guys with the egos, most women don't have egos or balls).  Just listen to the trainer, do what he says, and do your best.

3. Learn the form.  VERY important.  Check the ego, keep the heavy weight off the bar until you stop screwing up the form.  Form = safe performance = results = big balls.  Note: realize that proper form takes MONTHS to perfect.  So don't get discouraged, but don't think you have it in a week.  Unless you have only 1 arm, do not follow the form over to the right.

4. Measure your body, take pictures, find a pair of pants that barely fit.  Write it all down, and put it somewhere safe for a month.  Come back at the end and do a comparison.  The progress may be slight but it WILL be noticeable.  Notice I didn't say weigh.  You can, but you'll be disappointed.  Crossfit builds muscle, especially the first few months.  You will gain weight at first.  Then the fat starts melting :D

5. Socialize, make friends.  We all give a damn about you and want you to be successful.  Introduce yourself, tell me your goal, ask for my help, give me money cause this blog is SO DAMN GOOD. ;)  See... my friend is sharing my box.  I just wish he'd kept his shirt on.

6. Don't skip.  Yeah I already said it.  But at first, you don't realize there is a proven method of WOD programming.  If you skip or sub a WOD, you are saying your programing is better.  It isn't, not yet.  Maybe one day, but not until you study the theory and experience it.  If you hate Cardio, oh well.  If you hate Weight day, oh well.  CROSSfit, CROSSES many aspects of fitness.  Success = doing ALL the WODs.

Month 2 will actually be less kind than month 1.  I'll tell you why later.