Christmas, Packing, and Ending 2012

It’s really hard to believe that it’s another year in the books, my first full year Paleo and first full year of CrossFit.  So much has happened in the last year it’s hard to cover it all but I must say that I’m extremely thankful for what has happened in the last year and the support of so many people around me.  With that said here’s a look ahead to the next week and what I’ll be up to in celebrating another year coming to a close.

Friday I’m headed to NYC for another year of Phish at MSG and running around town having fun with friends.  I’m really excited to be headed back this year and spending some time with the crew.  It should be a great four days of shows and I really hope the guys in the band bring it this year.  Our little group has an apartment in Brooklyn and we will be crashing there and heading into Manhattan everyday for the shows.  I’m looking forward to some fun, a few days of travel WODs and maybe a drop in somewhere.  I haven’t figured that last part out yet.  Last year’s daily theme was to explore Ghostbusters locations.  This year I don’t have an idea of what I’ll be doing, but I do know that I’ll be doing some cooking in the apartment and walking around Brooklyn a good amount.  I’m sure that my twitter and Instagram will be flooded with stuff from the trip and I’m going to find a good amount of stuff to bring back a bunch of people a little something from my trip.  But before I leave I have at least one more day to do the WOD at DNA and get then I’m going to close out the year and get ready to start 2013.

Today’s WOD:

20 Min AMRAP

5 Chest to Bar pullups

10 Wall balls (20lb)

15 KB Swings (1.5)

Score: 10+1

Cashout 3xME Toes to Bar 13/8/6 last round I lost my grip but I’m pretty sure I could’ve gotten more.

Overall a great day to get back into the swing of things and work off some of the extra food from Christmas.  Here’s a shot of my favorite present from my brother, a new shirt from NomNomPaleo and Fitbomb

2012-12-25 22.43.08


Down to the last few days

It’s odd realizing that the day that I’ve looked forward to for so long is almost here.  I  will be hanging out with my family by this time next week.  Seeing the people that I haven’t spent any time with since the spring and getting giant hugs from my nephews who I’m sure have grown to be gigantic in my absence.  Time here in PA has been really good for me and I’m appreciative for everything that I’ve learned about myself and where I’m headed.  I’ve accomplished a lot while I have been here, met new people, and been a part of the growth of a new Crossfit Affiliate.  I’ve also learned new skills in the workplace and taken on some things that I didn’t know that I could master.  I’m looking forward to getting back with the family, establishing myself with a new group of people at Crossfit DNA and looking into what the next big adventure will be.  I’m not entirely sure what it will be yet, but there’s lots of doors I’m sure one will open.

Like pretty much everyday I did my workout for Outlaw, today we had a number of things programmed including some pause front squats,  I filmed myself today just to see how it looked and here they are, I hope they don’t look too horrible, I actually think they look alright.

Some things just take time

I’ve been following Outlaw for my six months out here and there are still things that I just can’t do yet.  I’m working hard on getting the different required movements down but it has been a long road and it is difficult to keep in mind that I’m still pretty new at a lot of these things.  In some ways I expected that by now I wouldn’t have much to learn but I’m humbled day in and day out at the areas that I can still improve greatly.  It’s been a great year but as I get closer and closer to the end of this one I’m confronted by a set of goals that I haven’t yet achieved.  I think that maybe things this year were a bit to ambitious in some areas and in others the move, and a change in priorities in my training may have limited my chances to achieve them.  But I have learned so many things in this past year I’m trying to stay positive and focus on that.  Also I’m looking at my progress in the things that I have learned.  Today I hit 21 ub Double Unders which is the most that I’ve ever done.  They felt really good too, more and more practice and I’ll be getting longer strings of them I’m sure.  I’m excited to get back into a more normal mode of training as well.  I love following Outlaw but I’m not sure that I’ll keep it going when I get back to Illinois. The programming there takes a lot of elements of Rudy’s training and scales them down to a more normal level.  That would allow me to go back to doing most of my work Rx, and it would let me do the work that the classes are doing.  And working out with others always feels better.  So I can improve by adding in extra training on those things that I need help in.  Getting better at my Doubles, getting Handstand Pushups, Handstand Walks, and Muscle Ups down.  And I can focus on doing more competitions over the winter.  The road from where I started to here has been a long one, but the road from here to where I want to end up is a long one as well.

Summer lessons part 3

This is going to be the last section of the rambling thoughts that I’ve split up into the two other posts.  Just like the other two I’m just going to put them up here because I thought some of them might be worth sharing.

-When I open up to people it’s good for me and them, I should do it more often.

-No matter what the park you’re going to get some interesting visitors.

-I should really start working on a “bucket list” to start tackling new goals.

-Spending time alone has been good for my personal growth, I’m more well rounded today because of it.

-I believe that I’m a more thankful person today because of this summer.

-The pace of life in Illinois was more my style.

-This summer I have self motivated, not gained the weight back, and learned a lot about myself from doing Outlaw.

-Going back home I have a new set of shortcomings to take on.

That’s it for the list I don’t know how that reflects on my time sitting at the desk on slow days.  It’s great to be able to have time to think about where I am, Wonder what the next six weeks will show me.

Pushing up the volume

Starting this week I have been pushing up the volume of the work that I put in when working out. That works out to doubling up some days, and instead of just doing mobility of Thursdays I’ll be taking on the WOD that day as well.  This volume increase is to push myself past the barriers that I feel are holding me back some lately.  By doing the extra three workouts a week I’m going to make my body adapt to being ready for that level of output.  Also it’s going to help me to get more practice in on things that I don’t do very much of when I’m just doing Outlaw.  I think I’ve done sit ups once in the last two months for example.  By doing these workouts I’ll do more movements, get more conditioning, and be better prepared for doing more competitions in 2013.  I can’t wait to do some competiting and show off the hard work that I’m putting in here in PA.  All this work reminds me of just how far I have come.

It’s weird for me to think about where I was a year ago.  This time last fall I was coming up on the wedding that had sparked this transformation.  I had gotten remeasured for the tux that I was to wear and saw just how much my body had changed already.  I was down over fifty pounds and was feeling better every day.  But there was still a long way to go.  I had yet to get my first pull up without a band, and I was still struggling to do many of the workouts with a decent amount of scaling but I was getting better.  Here I am almost exactly one year ago, October 8, 2011

Me and the Rev

That’s a 2xl shirt that I’m wearing, and I’m in 42in jeans.  Still that’s a huge change from the summer and I was happy to be where I was.  I think that at this point I really didn’t expect to get too much smaller.  But I was wrong and the next few months would see me continue to progress at a pace that was amazing.  Life would change in major ways, I’d leave my ranger job, graduate college, get certified as a teacher and take a job at Starbucks to pay the bills till I found a new ranger job.  All that change pushed me to grow as a person.  Taking the new job brought me here and that has promoted even more growth, and more chances for me to push beyond where I think that I am going to end up.  That’s what all this is about. Proving to myself that there’s no boundaries for me, I am not limited by what I think, there’s more trimming to be done, better lifts to do, heavier weights to lift, and new challenges to conquer.  I hope that next year I’m writing about how I couldn’t believe that I was here in October of 2012 and how my life has changed since today.  I’m a firm believer today that life is all about personal growth and pushing yourself to be the best everyday.  I know that’s been my story since I walked into Capital City in July 2011, and it will continue to be more story for many more years to come.  Now I also hope to pass that determination on to those around me.

Overdue update

Wow how have I not written anything in two days.  It seems like the past couple days have gone by without a lot of memorable events yet were filled to the point that I didn’t even think about writing down what was going on.  I the hopes of covering a lot of stuff in a post that’s not horribly long time to dive right in.

It’s hard to believe that it is October already, seems not that long ago I was packing up the Explorer saying my goodbyes and coming out here.  Yet here I am,, having taken on all the various hurdles that have come up this summer, and in many ways it feels like I have passed with flying colors.  The news on the job front is that the park wants to keep me as long as possible.  Right now I know I have another month, I might even get till Thanksgiving, but who knows right now I’m just thankful to have a job.  I’m also still getting to know the people that are at Sports Evolution Crossfit and enjoying my time with them more and more.  They’re a great group of people and find myself having a hard time leaving after doing Outlaw without staying around at least for a while to hang out and chat while they get ready to warm up.  This leads to me doing a number of the WODs they’re taking on each week.  Today was one of those day, I walked in the door and warmed up just before 4, finished my workouts and hung out a bit and found myself taking on the class WOD at 6 because it seemed like a good one.  I’m really thankful that I have this group of people around now.  It’s been a huge improvement to my life here and it makes me think that if asked I would stick around through the winter if they found the funds to pay me.  Also over the last couple days I’ve played around with new recipes and tried my hand at making a Butternut Squash Soup, it was delicious.  I really like the flavor and it is a great part of a meal on these cooler fall days.  I have a feeling that it will show up more and more as the fall goes on.  I may even have to introduce it to the family at the Thanksgiving meal.  They make me cook my own Paleo offerings since they don’t want to have the entire family eat the food I do.  Don’t know why, my food is delicious.  Then this weekend I’m on the road and headed to NYC.  This is going to be a great trip and I’m really excited to see the city and have a good time.  Other events from the last couple days include:

-Starting to get a handle on packing some stuff into boxes now that the weather is changing.

-Rocked my way through season one of Prison Break, forgot how much I liked this how.

-Managed to still have Pumpkin Pie from last week’s baking extravaganza, it’s still awesome and I’m working to limit my intake since I could eat the whole thing at once.

-Cleaned the house like a boss, love having a clean place.

-Made plans to meet a Paleo lady while in NYC, should be interesting I’m really excited she’s very cute and I hope we hit it off.

-Trying to be patient while I wait to hear when the article about me for the Crossfit Journal is going to be published.

-Hoping to make it to Pittsburgh in two weeks for the Practical Paleo book signing.

Update Pictures:

Student teaching, Paleo, Crossfit and how it all worked together

Sometimes when I talk about my story people look at me with a bit of disbelief when I talk about the fall of 2011.  Especially when I’m talking to other teachers that remember the stress of their own experiences in the classroom, and I understand their doubts.  Student teaching was a four month stretch of stress, feeling overwhelmed, and just trying to keep my head above water as I learned every lesson the hard way it seemed.  When I headed into the classroom in those first days of the semester I realized that I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I had barely finished the On-Ramp class at Capital city, paid for my next 6 months of Crossfit and was still trying to figure out how Paleo was going to work for me day in and day out.  But there I was with nothing to do but charge ahead and I had my goal after all.  Lose the weight before the wedding in October.  I wanted to look better for the wedding and I wanted to feel better and be healthier than I was.  I look back now and question my planning on this decision.  Throughout the semester I had many challenges, I was teaching one subject that I was not very experienced in, still working part time as a Park Ranger, and trying to fit in Crossfit workouts and stay on track food wise.  Somehow I managed to make it work but I don’t know how, I guess you could say that the motivation to not fail was greater than the temptations to slack off.  My day was broken down into chunks of time that I felt I could manage.  I got up every morning and made breakfast, packed my lunch, got ready and headed out the door for the short walk to the school I was teaching at.   After arriving I generally had about 45 minutes before I had to teach my first class.  I made whatever copies I had to, checked in with both teachers I was working with.  Yes I had two different teachers evaluating me, just another stress to have to function within two systems and switch back and forth between what each expected of me.  And then get ready for my first hour seniors in Sociology.  I had three classes of Sociology and two of US History.  In all I never spent back to back hours in the same room, moving back and forth between two classrooms and a closet that I sometimes used as an office, and was doing three preps for the two subjects I was teaching.  When my day was over at 3:30 I was hitting the door to do the short walk home.   I had to get out the door so I could change and get out to Capital City for the first afternoon WOD at 4.  I loved getting into that afternoon workout, it was a great group to workout with and I knew that I had to get back home because there was always lots of stuff to do waiting on me.  After doing the WOD, hanging out for a few minutes and recovering a bit, it was back home for my evening block of work.  Every night I cooked a large meal so that I could take my lunch in with me the next day.  School lunches are not even remotely Paleo so I avoided that place like the plague.  Then I would set up the table with some coffee and some water and get to work.  Lesson planning, grading, creating the various materials that I would need, all my work needed to be done before I could head to bed. 

The system worked because I put structure to my day, and tried to focus on what was ahead of me without getting too focused on everything else that I couldn’t control.  I made time for the things that I felt were most important, student teaching and its required work came first, then Paleo and Crossfit, then any sort of social life.  I sacrificed lots of social interaction because I knew that if I was going to be successful I had to measure my time carefully.  By giving myself a plan and sticking to it, and also creating lots of lists of things that needed to be done I was able to make sure that my life didn’t go completely crazy while I was trying to get things done.  I took pride in my work and knew that while I was in the school I was there to teach and also to learn.  The students and I had a great relationship as we worked towards getting through the material.  I will admit that I loved all of the students that were a part of my classroom.  I have a few seniors that graduated and are at colleges but stay in contact.  I’m amazed at how such a simple system could work so well and keep me from going completely crazy during a time where it felt like I had a million things to do and no time to do them in.  The hour a day at Capital City was a savior.  During that time I got rid of all of the other cares in my day and could focus just on getting through that WOD.  Pushing myself harder and harder I was constantly getting better and on those days when I felt like the pressure was just too much.  The workout was the release valve and I came home ready to pick things back up and try again.   I wasn’t always the best at keeping everything going perfectly and I made one major sacrifice for those months, sleep.  I never got a full night’s sleep, and I wish that there would have been a way to include more sleep in my life, but I pushed through and in the end I was able to accomplish more than I ever thought possible when I started.


Today is Friday for most people but it’s my Wednesday.  Sometimes the life of a Park Ranger has its odd things that don’t generally get annoying but then there’s days that something will just bug you.  Today was that way for me, I was at work today and it was really slow and the few people that came in were focused on enjoying themselves and making some small talk at the desk.  They made it a point to talk about the weekend and what they were going to do.  All I could think of was that I was days away from my weekend, the idea of sleeping in tomorrow, and watching college football doesn’t happen for me.  I would love to sleep in a bit, hit the 9am WOD come home, cook on the grill and watch a full day of football but that’s not in the cards for me unless I use vacation time.  It’s a small thing but it made me think about how I used to do that every week.  The day seemed longer because of it.  It’s hard sometimes to refocus yourself when you find your mind set on one thing.  I try to focus my energy on positive things, and to concentrate on something that will benefit me in the long run.  But today that just wasn’t happening.  So I need a halftime, can I have a break, get a pep talk and then go back out on the field to finish strong? Life doesn’t offer a halftime, but I’m pushing through anyway.  Tomorrow is another day and I can work on making sure that I spend my time on things that I can change, or things that will make my life better not just being focused on things I can do nothing about.

This week is going to finish strong, tomorrow is my rest day, that means that after work I’m going to do something fun.  I’m thinking that I’ll finally make it to see Finding Nemo in 3D. I’m also pushing forward because this time next week I will be in NYC.  I’m excited for the trip and it should be a great time.  Also I got word that my boss is trying to keep me to Halloween.  So I get a few more weeks of employment out here.  Yay for paychecks so this Ranger can keep paying the bills. Afterwards I’m headed to see the family, man do I miss them a lot.

Pictures of my day:

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The importance of Goals

Sometimes when I think about the last year I get this vision in my head of Bill Murray from the movie “What About Bob” in that movie he has a ton of issues and the way that he overcomes them is to constantly tell himself “baby steps” as he does things.  

Starting where I did they amount of distance between myself and most of the workouts at Rx was vast.  I could not look at them and think that I would be there in any imaginable amount of time.  So I had to think of things in Baby Steps, I set goals and worked towards those.  Yes Fran is Rx at 95 pounds, but this time I’m doing it at 65, ok next time I want to do 75 and so on.  My life was a constant climb up a stairway of these small goals.  Sometimes today it is hard for me to visualize the workouts that I used to do, and the way that I struggled to get through them.  Things that I could not even do at the beginning I now think of as being part of warming up for a more intense WOD.  Walking into Capital City in July of 2011 I needed to set small goals, but I had one big goal.  I wanted to lose 50 pounds by the time of the wedding I was going to be in that fall.  I knew it would be hard but to get there I put up lots of smaller goals.  I wanted to be able to run the warm up 400 meters without stopping, that took me a month or so.  I wanted to be able to do 10 pushups unbroken, another few weeks.  I wanted to be able to learn various movements and each day I came in and took another “Baby Step” towards that goal.  The importance of setting these small goals was simple.  It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day when your finish line is far away.  Too easily we get discouraged by the distance between where we are and where we want to be.  If you walk into the gym never having done a pull up and say I want to do 21 unbroken pull ups as part of a WOD, you will have a long journey from here to there.  But if you break that up, set goals of moving from one color band to another, then getting your kip down.  After that getting one pull up without a band, getting a couple, and eventually you will get to 21, you won’t get discouraged when it takes a long time because you have victories all along the way.  In the last year I cannot count how many of these goals I have accomplished.  From learning movements, to running my fastest mile ever, then beating that by a minute, and then beating that time by over a minute.  Competing in the Open and doing things that I didn’t think I could do before the workouts were announced, wearing smaller clothes, lifting heavier weights, and becoming more flexible.  All of these areas needed goals that pushed me forward.  Today over a year into this incredible journey I still set goals for myself.  I am currently working on being able to do a strict Handstand Pushup to full depth, I’m still chasing that 400 lb back squat, and 300 lb front squat.  I’m close to both and working hard to get there before the new year.  I’m also getting better at double unders and have put together longer and longer sets unbroken.  Goals drive me forward, I try to have goals that are both grand in scale and goals that are broken up so I can celebrate the victories along the way.  More and more I find myself enjoying the moments of these new victories, I work hard for them and each accomplishment is a chance to celebrate the new life that I have created for myself.  These goals keep me going, they push my forward when things get tough and motivate me when I’m feeling down.  Sometimes the push towards a goal can be the difference between a good day and a bad one, even when I don’t accomplish it, just knowing that I’m one more “Baby Step” closer can be all that I need to lift my mood a bit.  So I’ll keep setting goals and you should too, write them down and take a look at them from time to time.  Share them with your friends and ask them about their goals, keep each other going and in the end you’ll find that you’ve gone further than you ever thought possible.  I did, and it’s all because I kept telling myself that it’s all about those baby steps.  Thanks Bill, couldn’t have done it without you.

Big weekend ahead

It’s been a slow day today, I actually almost didn’t write a post.  It’s hard not to get caught up in the basics of life and just think that there isn’t really anything that people might want to know about that happened that day.  Today I didn’t PR, didn’t finish my book, only had 40 visitors at the park, and did ok on the WOD but nothing special.  I didn’t cheat on the diet, and besides deciding to cut iced tea from my intake because I think I drink too much of it I didn’t do anything different.  So I guess you could call today the day of didn’t.  And I guess that’s worth mentioning.  It was a day where things went along, I did what I needed to, didn’t do anything I shouldn’t do and besides eating a huge dinner which may or may not have been more than I needed it was a day hardly worth noting.

This weekend however is looking to be a big deal.  Tomorrow night I had planned to go to see Finding Nemo, well that is going to have to be pushed back a day.  Because one of the couples at Sports Evolution Crossfit is having a get together at their house. So I’m going to be social instead.  Following that up on Sunday I’m headed to Pittsburgh for my first Paleo meet up.  and while I’m there I’ll hit up one more WOD at my favorite box in town, Crossfit Iron City.  Afterwards I’ll go ahead and see the movie.  I should maybe try to find a place to shower I guess.  That may turn into an issue since I don’t have any ideas where I could get cleaned up.  So if you live in Pittsburgh and you don’t mind a guy coming to shower at your place you should let me know.  Because I’ll be in need of a shower I’m sure.  During the afternoon I don’t have any plans so I’m thinking it will be a Nemo filled afternoon and then off to meet up with new Paleo friends.  Also I currently have three pies in the oven.  One for tomorrow, One for Sunday, and one as an experiment and because I love pumpkin pie.  Here’s a shot of the crusts, and of them headed into the oven.