End of a week

Well that’s it I’ve made it a week.  Tomorrow officially starts week 2, and with the exception of one extra cup of coffee I’ve been perfect.  It hasn’t always been the most enjoyable week and I’ve noticed somethings about my emotional state that has changed but overall it was a good week.

This week:

-I had less coffee daily than I can remember.

-Snacked less frequently and when I did snack they did the trick and I didn’t find myself wandering to the kitchen multiple times.

-Drank over a gallon of water a day, sometimes I felt like this a good thing, the middle of the night bathroom trips to pee were less fun however.

-Did not have caffiene after 9pm.

-Realized that my emotional state changed with the lower carbohydrate levels, I have to adjust my intake some.  Bring on the sweet potatoes!

-Bacon was a part of my breakfast 6 out of 7 days.  I call that a win.

-I’m already feeling like I’ve lost a little around the midsection, pictures tomorrow morning will hopefully show some results.

Week 2 goals:

-Continue to fight the coffee cravings, at this point it’s mostly in my head, coffee was just something I always had, cup of water, and cup of coffee at my desk throughout the day.

-Keep working on judging if I’m having cravings or hunger when I want to snack.  I did pretty well this week, need to keep it going.

-My reflections should tackle more emotional feelings about my day, not just log what I did/did not do.

-Eat a few more carbs, this week I struggled with this and I think it’s what led to most of my snacking found myself drawn to the larabars and date bars I had in the house.

Pictures from today:

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Bringing things into the present

                So far I have talked about stories that have happened in the last year, and I will still do that as part of my writing here.  The last couple weeks I have felt a pull to bring things into the present, and talk about my life today and how it is different from before, as well as the daily struggles that come around.  This is going to be the first post that talks about my life today, and at least one post a week will be that way.  Yesterday I picked up my copy of Practical Paleo, I got it not only because the author is an awesome lady that I have had some dealings with via twitter, but also because for my last month in Pennsylvania I am headed back strict.  I thought that I would outline what that will cover here since for the next month I’ll be doing some extra posts to talk about how going back to strict for a month is treating me.  “Project Sexybeast” as I’ve just decided to call it is 4 weeks long and will end just before I move back home to see everyone in Illinois.  The basics of the program will center on four things: retooling my food intake, going to 6 days/wk of programming, getting better sleep, reflection on the last year.

One last week, one more challenge

                It was time for the last week of the Open.  The time came for the workout to be announced and yet again it was happiness and a gut check all in one.  This was another 7 minute cap, sweet because that means it won’t be a long period through which I would suffer.   Even the first movement I was happy with, 100lb thrusters, no sweat.  I can do those all day, then the stack of bricks drops.  Chest to bar pull ups, now if you saw the other post you that I had only been doing pull-ups of any kind for a few months at this point.  I still was not to the point that I was doing them without the band in most workouts, but I could put together groups of 5-6 in a row.  But that was normal pull ups, not ones that I had to touch my chest to bar.  Even in the last week I was setting myself up for a big challenge and this week would be a huge accomplishment.  I was going to get at least one chest to bar pull up.  Taking on the workout for the first time I got through the first three reps of thrusters and moved onto the bar.  I spend the remainder of the time missing every attempt I made.  I would get close but just couldn’t touch my chest to that bar.  I was frustrated about it, angry at myself for not being able to get at least one.  And also worried about how that would reflect on my score that week.  There were other people trying the WOD, so I watched them and was talking to Kristi when she said why don’t you just change you grip a little like this and see what happens.  I walk over to the bar and just try to see how it would work.  And I did one, really easily I did one, and I was even more pissed now.  I threw the weight back on the bar thanks to a few words from Tony and Kristi, and I was going to give it another shot.  I tried it again and this time I got not only one of the pull ups, but I finished that round and moved to the next, and in the end I got 13 reps.  It was a low score, but it was four times that amount that I had before.

                The open was a great experience, I learned a lot about myself, and areas that I was better than I imagined, and areas where I was not as good as I thought.  I learned that my body will push itself to the level that I needed and that there was more in the tank when I called for it.  Each week I looked forward to learning what the workout would be, and then I dreaded my first attempt because of the uncertainty of how I would do.  I made plans, got rid of those plans and made new ones, and watched hours of YouTube videos trying to find just the right way to take on the challenges before me.  When the dust had settled I was not going to be the fittest man on earth, not even the fittest man at Capital City Crossfit, but I was the fittest that I had ever been and I had done things that I would have not thought possible when I started in July.  The open pushed me to new heights, and also laid me low.  But in the end, I got up, finished strong and went forward with new confidence that only competition can bring.

                At the beginning I said that I wasn’t sure how to feel about the Cummings signing me up, now I can say that it was one of the best things to happen to me in the winter of 2012, and you can bet that I’ll be competing again in 2013.

Karen, oh how I hate you

Karen, oh how I hate you.  The first part of the required workout for week 4 was Karen.  To those not familiar with this horrible WOD, this is 150 Wall balls with a 20lb medicine ball.  To actually make it through the entire workout you would need to do all 150, plus 90 Double Unders with a jump rope, and then 30 muscle ups.  Needless to say this guy would not be completing the entire workout under the twelve minute time cap.  But I had a plan, and I was going to rock out the Wall balls and then look like an idiot trying to get the Doubles.  I was not good at them, actually I’m still not good at them.  I don’t know if it’s my white boy lack of rhythm that betrays me on it or what.  But I just cannot get into the correct flow to string them together.  The ones I do get look pretty ridiculous.  I wasn’t even considering the muscle up phase because I knew that I wouldn’t get that far.  Backing up for a minute to the Wall balls, I had to get through those first, and I knew it was going to be a challenge.  Sending a 20 pound medicine ball from your chest to a target 10 feet up on the wall and catching it was enough.   Knowing that the target was only 6 inches across made it more difficult, and the full squat that you had to do with the ball held under your chin was no joke either.   Stringing all 150 together with no breaks was not an option; I knew it so I had to make a plan.  I was going to break it up into 25’s.  I figured that if I did 25 at a time, then took a breath and started back up again I would do alright.  And I did, finishing that part of the workout in 7:22.  Not a bad time at all, I followed that up by spending the next four and half minutes trying to get the Doubles and to illustrate just how bad I was, I did thirteen of them.  I’m sure that now I could get a few more, but even now six months later I’m not sure that I would get all 90 done in the time left. 

                What did this week teach me though?  Well having to do 150 reps of a movement pushed my mental toughness.   Not even halfway through my shoulders started to get fatigued, but I pushed on, breaking 100 my legs burned really bad, but I pushed on.  I had a plan and I was going to stick to it,  I knew that no matter what I had to finish, and that I was going to make it through.  Secondly this week brought me some new confidence in doing the doubles.  I still don’t do them well, but it was a solid 4 and a half minutes of practice, they weren’t pretty but just getting them helped.  Lastly pushing myself to get through my body once again surprised me with its response.  I knew that physically my body was on board with this, it craved the challenge and the feeling after the workout was over.  Mentally I also craved the challenge, no matter how much I moaned about it I wanted to see where I ranked, and each week I saw that I wasn’t at the top, but I was never last either.  There were always people that struggled like me and put up numbers about the same as mine.  I saw that I was beating people too, and that’s always a good feeling to not be at the bottom.  There was one week left of the Open, I knew that I wouldn’t be headed to regionals, but I knew that from the start.  I also knew that I had done better than I thought I would on some of these and that now I needed to do some other competitions to see just how I matched up locally.

Week 3

Two weeks in and the Open had been humbling in many ways. Over the previous months I had begun to develop a pretty impressive self-confidence about my weight loss. More often I was taking on the WODs without scaling, and my strength was way up. This third week was going to be another challenge for me. The workout was eighteen minutes, so my endurance was put to the test. Also it had two things that I was not the best at. I had just in the past couple weeks started doing all my box jumps at the normal height of 24” for this workout I’d need to complete 15 of them each round. Following that up was a 115lb push press. No big deal there, I’m strong enough to knock those out. But to end the triplet was Toes to Bar, 9 of them. I still was not very good at those either. But I took on the movements and came away with a score that I didn’t even think that I would get. A short 18 minutes later I had my score, 162 reps. I was happy because I had wanted to break 150 and had done so. I pushed myself hard and came away with a little gift from the box that I was jumping on. I tore into my shin with the corner of the box and it was deep. Not as deep as some others that I saw but it’s still there and it has been months now. I’ll forever carry around the scar of conquering week 3 of the open. It was and is an amazing feeling. This was not the first time that I had gone into a workout unsure of my abilities but yet again my body was telling me that it had more in it than I might have thought. Each round I was asking my body to do things that just a few months ago would have been impossible. At that point my maximum height that I was getting on a box jump wasn’t more than a few inches higher than the one I was doing sets of during the workout. Hanging below the bar I had just started to get to the point where I could put a few Toes to Bar together without having to stop and reset, but here I was doing sets of nine each round. More and more I was coming to the realization that my body was on board with my new lifestyle. That the work in the gym and the work outside of the gym through my eating and lifestyle habits were paying off. I knew that I would need to keep it going but I was amazed at just how far I had come. And all of this in less than nine months….

Open Wk 2

Being a bigger guy the first week of the Open was not going to get me very far in the competition, but I hoped that week two would be a little better. The fact that I had never really attempted to do the Snatch did not deter me. Week two was going to be a bit more for me, I liked to lift heavy stuff and here for week 2 the structure of the workout was to do a Snatch ladder. Ten minutes to work as far as I could through, the first thirty reps at 75lbs, the second 30 at 135lbs, the last thirty at 165lbs, and if I got that far 210lbs for any extra reps. Looking at it I was confident that I could get through into the 135lbs stage and it was a question of how far I’d be able to go. I practiced some in the days leading up to my attempt and figured out that I could do 135 but it was pretty close to the max that I could do. So it was time to attempt, Brian and I set up and I got ready to start. I flew through the 75lb reps. I was able to muscle snatch them, and then with about nine minutes left it was time to get through the 135 reps. On the first attempt I got through 10 good Snatches, I would try again and I got 14 reps. My final score for the week was 44 reps. Not bad for a guy that hadn’t done the movement before that week. Another week down, this time I learned to Snatch, made lots of dirty jokes and even did better than what I would’ve thought. I had a dream goal of hitting all 30 in the second level of the ladder, but I knew that I would have to get lucky to get all those. I had some new confidence, I was ready to take on the next three weeks and confront what was in front of me. The people at Capital City were very supportive, and their cheers as I moved through the challenge were a huge driving force. I was two weeks in, and getting ready to take on the next three. The Open was underway, and it was an exciting time for not just me but thousands of athletes around the world.

Competing in the Open week 1

In 2012 for my birthday my friends Tony and Kristi decided to pay my entry to compete in the Crossfit Open. I would come to wonder if it was out of love or a secret hate for me that they subjected me to the workouts of the Open. Each week would bring a new challenge, five weeks and five workouts.

Set up for the attempt, had to touch the ring

The first of which was a simple in theory. Seven minutes, as many burpees as you can do. With each rep you had to jump and touch something six inches above my reach to make sure I was doing the movement properly.  This one was definitely not one that I was going to excel at but I believed that I would do okay. Definitely designed for the smaller guys I knew that my score would not be among the top scores in my region. Five weeks to test myself against other people around the world. I had no dreams that I would be going to California in the Summer for the Games, but I wanted to see how I ranked against others. Going into the first week I watched the video and tried to make a plan for later in the week. Come Thursday it was time for me to tackle the WOD. I did what I originally planned to be my first attempt, with the plan that I was just going to go hard till I couldn’t go anymore. Needless to say it wasn’t the most well thought out of plans. In the seven minutes I was able to put together a decent performance, I did a total of 66. I went out as fast as I could, and in the end I died about halfway through and my conditioning showed that it was not ready to tackle the level of the open workouts. I would try the workout again on Sunday morning. The second attempt I had a plan I was going to try for 12 burpees each minute for the seven minutes. If I had stayed to that plan I would’ve hit 84, I came close but the last two minutes I wasn’t able to keep up and in the end I got the same score as on the first attempt. I had begun a journey that would last for another four weeks, I would attempt new movements, and find myself moving forward with new confidence. Looking back on the first week I wasn’t mentally prepared for the challenges that were in front of me. Having come so far in such a short time I was overconfident, but the first week was a gut check. Coming back I had to answer the call.

Hitting a new PR

Tuesday was a banner day for me, 3 different lifts had a PR. It was an amazing day, and one that was most needed. I hit the mountaintop, and it felt good. Immediately following the workout I sent messages to friends announcing my awesomeness and telling them all that they could line up later in the evening to bow before me. It is really easy to get yourself worked up after hitting a PR, and I for one believe that you need to take pride in these days. Understanding the role of the days that you break through the barriers is important in helping to keep yourself motivated when things go bad. Today I walked on the mountaintop; I won’t always be here but while I am the most will be made of it.

            Hitting a new PR is a beautiful thing, and it should be savored, so I wanted to share how I celebrate my PR lifts.  First I log my workouts so when I have a day with a PR then it’s gets noted just like every other workout.  I make sure to mark that it was a PR, and like every day I write a couple notes about the workout.  Except that this time there is a huge line that notes what I did and I make sure that it’s large enough that I’ll notice it whenever I’m going through the book to get to whatever day I am on.  Going past days that have been marked as PR days I can see where I’ve been doing well.  On other days those notes serve as a way for me to take encouragement from my lifts, and see how I have progressed over the course of the last few weeks.  There will be day’s ahead, days that do not go so well and finding support in your good days is important.

            Secondly the days that you do well help to push you to be better.  I know this seems simple but it’s true.  Today I hit my first PR on my first part of my lifts.  That success pushed me forward to try for heavier weights in the next movement, and then later to start heavier and push further again.  I can trace my success in the second two movements to my success in the first.  Pushing past barriers can and does increase confidence not only that day but in the days moving forward.  Keeping the momentum going from a day like today is important, but taking a moment to celebrate is also essential.

            Stopping for a minute to celebrate is a big part of my process when I hit a PR.  There are different ways to accomplish this but for me it’s pretty simple.  My celebration was to have some applesauce as a dessert after dinner.  Having a big post PR meal, and then following that up with the sweetness of the applesauce makes for a great PR night meal.  There’s little that I’ve been crushing on more lately that organic unsweetened applesauce with a huge helping of Cinnamon mixed in.  Pair that with some coffee and you have a recipe for a great evening Paleo treat.  Coming home I had a great evening of West Wing, coffee, and great food.  Pushing my motivation levels even higher.  Wednesday is a rest day for me and I’ll enjoy that like no other.  Then come Thursday it’s right back at it.  Taking on the day and pushing myself to be the best that I can.  I know that not everyday will be as awesome as today was, but I know that these are the days that I need to look back on when things get tough.

The Pull-up

            It took me a while but I finally got one, after months of practice I got my first pull-up in the fall.  Starting Crossfit in July I was unable to do a pull-up on my own, and at the beginning I had to use the largest band to pull me up.  Over the course of the next few months I not only got lighter, but I also became stronger.  Working on getting better at pull-ups and practicing my kip I was so close to doing at pull-up but couldn’t quite get my chin above the bar.  For a long time it seemed as though it was just a little outside my abilities.  I spent a lot of workouts using bands to help me complete the movement, but slowly the colors changed.  As those colors changed and the assistance being offered got less and less I was getting closer to getting my first real pull up.  Eventually as the fall progressed I started to feel like I was getting really close.  The holidays were approaching and I was really pushing towards getting a pull-up on my own.  I had come in second in the paleo challenge the month before and really wanted another feather in my cap as I was getting ready to go home for Thanksgiving.  My active recovery days had become skill transfer days.  Every Thursday I came into the box, ready to do a little rowing and mobility and then work on getting a pull up.  Every week I would do some kipping and then work on the pull ups.  Then on November 19th I was really close.  I had been trying and trying and was about to head home when the consensus among the group is that I should give it one more shot.  A few tries, and a few pointers and I finally had it.  Brian was busy with some other people there so he missed the first one, but the iPhone came out and a very blurry picture was taken of my first ever pull up.  I couldn’t believe it, finally after trying for months and months I had done a pull-up.  It would be a long time before I was doing workouts without the band, but I had finally gotten myself over the bar. 

            Getting a pull-up was a huge deal for me in terms of my confidence.  As a large guy doing pull ups just were not a part of my skill set.  Even at my best I could never do pull ups, so at 29 I had done my first pull up, and in the months that followed I have done many more.  But that first one sticks out in my head, a great accomplishment in getting better.  It sticks out in my head as one of the best parts of my fall, and moving forward I was thankful for all the encouragement that my friends at Capital City had given me up to that point, and in the months since.  To this day I’m still working on my pull ups, but it has been a steady progression of getting better and better.  One day I’ll be able to break 20 in a row, but for now I just chip away at them.  This is just one of the many things that would have brought a laugh if I told myself that I was going to do one in my first six months of Crossfit, but my body got on board and encouragement from friends helped push the pace of my development.  It’s odd to think now that I grab onto the bar and get to work without much thought about how new an ability it really is.

Dropping In

H.O.T.Side Crossfit

Over the last year I have been blessed to get to meet some amazing people at some great places when traveling to different places. These people have given me a great set of experiences and challenges as I grew as a Crossfit athlete. Each time I visited a box I came away with a new appreciation for the people that I worked out with back home, for the people that are a part of the Crossfit community as a whole, and a better understanding of my abilities.

Walking into a new box it makes you realize just how much of a part of the appeal of Crossfit the people that you workout with are. Meeting new people at the box and sharing about your journey and learning about their lives you begin to see just how they are drawn into the box by the people around them as well. Crossfit has such a strong group dynamic that visiting another group of people and seeing their group dynamic I came away with a better understanding of just how great a group of people I had around me everyday. The people that I came to work out with when I was at Capital City pushed me to be a better person, not just in Crossfit but in my life. I had other guys around my age, as well as those older and younger than me. Women that were classmates of mine in college, and women that were younger than me and looked at my progress and asked questions, but also ladies that were older than me and made me feel as though I could approach them with questions and needs that only someone with more life experience can offer. The people at Capital City encouraged me and pushed me though the tough times, they offered kind words and a sometimes not so gentle push when I needed it. And they were always there to call me out when I was trying to get away with not pushing myself to the limits. Visiting other places and seeing those same attributes in the members there made me understand that as a community Crossfit is built of an amazing mix of people that bond so strongly over the shared trials of the WODs at their respective boxes.

Looking at that community I began to understand just how special of a group we are. In a larger sense we are one community, and while I may not know the people when I walk in the door I can tell you that when I left that place, I left a group of friends. Over the last year I have had the privilege of calling one particular box my home away from home. Crossfit DNA in Dyer became my go to gym when I went home to visit my family. And each time I got a new peak into the lives of the people there I began to understand how as a group Crossfiters are special. I saw many of the same attributes in people there that I did back home at Capital City, I saw the same love for one another and the same desire to make each other better. As a large group of people not only across the United States but around the world these people have dedicated their lives not only to making themselves better but to making the lives of those around them better as well. My appreciation for people that participate in Crossfit has grown because I have come to see the dynamics of many groups of people in different parts of the country and how they all dedicate themselves to each other.

A visit to another Crossfit affiliate also gave me a better understanding of my own abilities. This is because it brought with it a new set of programming that I may not have seen back home. Visiting other boxes I got to see how they programmed, and sometimes they did things in a very different way than I was used to. It was on a visit that I first spent time on skill work for the Snatch, the first time that I worked on my Handstand Pushups and the first time that I did the workout Michael. All of these pushed me in different ways. Having to work on movements that I wasn’t familiar with pushed me to come back home and look to be better at them. They also brought forward some ways that I wasn’t in as good of shape as I thought I was. But in other ways it showed that I was ahead of where I was comfortable with back home. Pushing myself to show my abilities to a new group of people made me go longer and push harder than I may have done. Always wanting to come off as someone that knew what they were doing you tend to bring your A game around new people. This is a great example of that, who wants to look bad in front of people you have just met? Not this guy, so I always pushed absolutely as hard as I could. Sometimes that push saw me go beyond what I thought was possible and a new appreciation for my transformation was born. Understanding that being back home with the same people can build a comfort zone that you operate in, going outside of that zone by visiting a new place and wanting to impress the people there is good for you. I believe that making visits to other Crossffit affiliates is an important part of being in the Crossfit culture. If you want to succeed doing Crossfit, get out there, visit some people, make new friends, and above all, have some fun with it. It’s on a visit to a Crossfit box that I got to play med ball dodge ball. It was a great time.