Just don’t stop

I’m not even sure how long it’s been, but it kind of feels like it’s been a month. Yeah, that sounds about right. Okay, it’s been pretty close to a month of the BFF’s now-dubbed Torture Death Plan (TDP), and I am still alive. Though I do have this nasty thing on my heel from Sunday’s Torture Death Run (TDR):

Blisterious. Ick.
Blisterious. Ick.

I’ve tracked every single thing that goes in my mouth, and have been vigilant with the exercise plan that we’ve put in place. And no, I do not yet love or even LIKE running, and I doubt I ever will.

I am told that I look noticeably different. Though I’ve dropped about 1.5#, so not a whole lot there. But I feel good that I have a nice little routine, and even though I HATE running, I like that this time around I am better controlling my breathing, and can run at least 2.7 miles without stopping. Just don’t stop. That’s the mantra of BFF.

That being said, not all runs are the same, and the TDRs in the hills of Greenwich are exactly that–torture, and you feel like you will actually die. The first mile of the run is all uphill. Then steeply downhill. Then small uphill. Then the way back is just awful because it’s steeply uphill, followed by a mile of downhill, which still sucks because it’s the final mile. Oh, and this goes without saying, but I’m luck to run half of it.

BFF’s goals were essentially threefold: (1) Slim down. (2) At the end of the month, be able to run the entire first hill-and-a-half without stopping. (3) At the end of the summer, be able to run at least the 3-mile TDR without stopping, but preferably the 5-mile TDR.

I told him he was out of his mind.

But a week ago, I ran to the top of the first hill without stopping.

And a few days ago, I ran to the top of the first hill without stopping. Then stopped briefly. Then ran to the top of the (very steep) half-hill without stopping.

Winded.

Miserable.

Blistery (new shoes).

But I did it.

Why is it that everything I do that is exercise-related have to be such a mental game for me? Obviously, there are the aches and pains and blisters and side stitches, but once you move beyond that, why is it that it’s so hard to just keep going? To just not stop?

I believe I will always struggle with that question, just as I will always struggle with food, with my weight, etc., etc. But it’s always a little easier when you have someone in your ear, telling you Just don’t stop.

Toeing a line between excuse and reality

It’s been exactly one week since I started BFF’s plan. Well…I guess almost a week. Last Friday, I was super pumped up with some music I found on Spotify that I got home and decided to go for a run. Not the best run in the world, but a run nonetheless. And then Saturday was when the real ass-kicking began.

I have vigilantly weighed, measured, and tracked what has gone in my mouth, while continuing to exercise (and not increasing calories by whatever FitBit/MyFitnessPal told me I burned). Then my schedule was thus:

Saturday – 2-mile run with BFF

Sunday – 4(ish)-mile run with BFF

Monday – Couldn’t move, so rest day

Tuesday – Short morning strength session

Wednesday – Short morning strength session + evening Vinyasa (super challenging)

Thursday – Short morning strength session

Friday (today) – rest day + cheat meal

Friday is also my traditional weigh-in day. After all the effort put in this week, I was anxious to hop on the scale. I woke up, emptied out (ahem), and hopped on. And…

What…?

Up 0.6#.

I was both shocked and not at all surprised. I mean, what has been my pattern recently, anyway? Exert effort, body works doubletime to shut it off. What it FEELS like is that I’ve just messed around so long with diet and exercise that now just everything is out of whack and nothing wants to work. The level of frustration just exploded.

And then I had what is most likely my final WW coaching call (I ended up canceling/nonrenewing, effective next week). And while Coach LG was very nice and helpful, her reaction to the weight gain was more of “What could be happening?” than going for “What did you do wrong?”

Which is fine. Which is what they’re supposed to do. But I also feel like the “What could be happening?” question just kind of gives you something to blame the gain on that is not yourself.

For example, last week, I had a tough week and was up 1.5#. I was/am super constipated (TMI, sorry). Coach LG’s suggestion? Well, it’s clearly the constipation, and just keep doing what you’re doing.

Okay!

This week?

Well, you have been exercising a lot more than your body is used to. Your muscles are probably holding on to a lot of water right now. And it’s nearing that time of the month. And you’re still constipated. Keep doing what you’re doing, and I’m sure this is a fluke.

Okay!

But I gotta wonder…does this method totally take all responsibility off me? This week, I tend to agree. I’ve been sore beyond belief and I’ve been drinking a ton of water. And my PMS is in full swing (sorry, The Boy). But if you gain and gain and gain…it can’t always be water weight or PMS.

Really, this method toes the line between reality and excuse.

What is reality?

Well…

  • Even double doses of magnesium isn’t helping my….daily rhythm.
  • My period’s due to start in about 4 days.
  • I have worked out hard 3/7 days, and done strength circuits 3/7 days.
  • I have craved salt.
  • I have tracked food, and stayed within budget, but of course can always measure more carefully.
  • This is the first week since March that I have eaten dinner every night.
  • I had four meals out this week: 2 dinners (Saturday + Sunday) and 2 lunches (Tuesday and Wednesday), plus some soft serve on Saturday, though tracked to the best of my ability.
  • I have not slept well on most nights.

And that’s the god-honest truth. What’s most important right now is being honest with myself. I have even sent nutrition screenshots to BFF to keep me on track.

I hope these are not excuses, and I hope that I AM being honest with myself. But who knows…maybe my muscles ARE being shocked and holding on to a crapton of water. We shall see.

In the mean time, I’m trying not to get wrapped up in fads. Facebook is hard. A few years ago everyone was preaching the virtues of intermittent fasting. And now–surprise, surprise–those same people are preaching the virtues of flexible dieting (i.e., If It Fits Your Macros). These sorts of people and philosophies make me SUPER uncomfortable and self-conscious. Like I’m doing something EXTREMELY wrong, and THIS IS THE ANSWER. I really don’t want to fall down that rabbit hole; while macros are important, I’m not interested in obsessively hitting each goal exactly.

The goal here is to live life, be healthy, look hot, and not obsess/encourage further eating disorders.

Triggers, man.

DK OUT.

PS, have a great and healthy weekend, all! ❤

My boyfriend, the CrossFitter

Look! He CrossFits!
Look! He CrossFits!

Yes. You heard correctly. The Boy is CrossFitting.

I. AM. SO. PROUD.

It’s not just that he’s doing CrossFit. Because honestly, I got over the fact that he wasn’t CrossFitting early in our relationship. What I didn’t get over, though, was his stubbornness regarding doing any sort of physical activity.

When we first met, there was a really rough transition. It was long-distance, so the only time we saw each other was on the weekends. And on the weekends, we wanted to see each other, and for him that did not include working out. So, if I visited him, I had to try to work out by myself, away from CrossFit. That meant mostly running or walking on a treadmill. That, along with being as anal as possible with food, allowed me to minimize weight GAIN, and it was INCREDIBLY difficult to even maintain.

Fast-forward, and even more changes have taken place that have made it difficult or impossible to make it to the gym five-days a week, and relaxed effort at certain periods with food, and weight loss has been impossible.

But I digress.

When we first met and I was working out solo on the weekends, I constantly invited him to partake. He ALWAYS refused. One day, I persuaded him to come with me for a leisurely walk along the Chenango River, and halfway through he started a HUGE fight because he didn’t want to be on the walk. For me, this was a relaxing stroll. For him, anything that was exercise was the OPPOSITE of relaxing, and weekends are for relaxing, therefore he would not handle a walk.

After that, I laid off. Once in a while I would try to get him to go to CrossFit, and he would always refuse.

But it seems like it’s been about baby steps here. After we started shackin’ up, he started feeling better because he was eating better (i.e., I was cooking for him). I got a FitBit in the fall, and he loves gadgets, and he was super enthusiastic about playing with mine. So I got him one for Christmas, and he LOVES it.

Then, a few months later, my close friend offered The Boy the opportunity to get his feet wet with a CrossFit Bootcamp. I quietly suggested it, thinking that he’d immediately shoot it down. But he didn’t. He said he’d think about it.

And then he decided to actually DO IT.

And he’s not the fastest or the strongest, but neither was I when I started, and neither AM I even now. I have to say that I am SO PROUD of him for taking that first step and waking up at the asscrack of dawn and making his life better one day at a time.

For Valentine’s Day, I got him a 2-month membership to our CrossFit. The Boy from a year ago would have cried, screamed, and ran away. But The Boy NOW? He did a happy dance.

Maybe one day—maybe someday soon—we can cheer each other on TOGETHER doing WODs and PRing, and finding joy in each other’s health.

Here we go again…

Jean ValJean: The original Strongman?

So, I’m competing on Saturday.

Yeah, I’ve known about it for a while.

I’m going to be doing the World Wide WOD (WWW) installation of the Garage Games, the same peeps who brought us the X&Ys back in March…which was, incidentally, the last competition I have done….

After having the nice little chat about mindfulness with Dean a while back, and feeling how awesome it was to not put quite so much pressure on myself, I had sort of vowed to lay off the competitions. I’ve had a greeeeaaat time explaining to people why I was sitting out competitions one by one.

Someone had to photograph the event.

It was too expensive.

It was too time-consuming.

Historically I gain weight on competition weeks (the recommended tapering and recovering periods are not generally very kind to me).

But really…it’s putting yourself in a stressful situation.

But it’s kind of like…once you’ve felt what it’s like to compete—and now I have three under my belt, a team one, a singles one, and a partners one—it’s hard sometimes to not. I mean, yeah, you get stressed, but you also have this incredible adrenaline rush that helps you power through WODs you didn’t think you’d be able to. There’s nothing like it, and for that reason, I encourage everyone to try to compete at least once.

And you know, I can’t say that I’m once again HUNGRY to compete. I’m not really like that. But I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t getting that itch again.

Ultimately, I decided I would participate in the WWW because it’s on my home turf. Like, my real-life home turf. I have never competed in Portland before, and this one is hosted at my regular box here. And you know, my Albany family has seen me compete and heard me yammer on about it, but my Portland family…well…they’ve heard me yammer about it, and that’s about it. I thought it would be fun to give them the opportunity to see what I can do with this new body I’ve acquired. Ya know?

So how is this competition going to be different?

Well, for one, it’ll be small. And I’m fairly confident in what I can and cannot do.

Will it be stressful? Yes. But it will be a different kind of stress, and the stress won’t be coming from the uncertainty of what the day holds. Because, unlike other competitions, I already know what all the WODs will be. The crappiest thing that will happen all day? Check it:

Karena

5-minute time

60 sit-ups

AMRAP wall balls (choose your own weight)

Score is reps of wall balls x weight

Umm…. Frackin’ gross, people.

But really, I’m pretty excited. I think.

Yes, it will be a great and new experience to compete at home. Wish me luck!

Touched

Joy.
Joy.

Surprisingly, I’m not one of those bloggers who gets tons of fanmail and is too big for her britches. When people write to me or comment on my posts, I take it to heart because, truly, it means a lot to me that someone has taken the time to share their thoughts.

Over the summer, I received an email from someone who had read my blog and wanted to produce a video about me for AMRAP, a new YouTube channel by the publishers of Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, and Prevention magazines. I thought about it, and thought that was pretty rad, so I agreed.

Fast-forward a few months, and we actually made this happen! He and a camera crew spent several hours at Albany Crossfit filming this video about me and my journey over the past two years. Enjoy!

I just wanted to say how profoundly touched I was by this entire experience. It’s not every day that you get to share your story with the world, and I think that they did a really great job. Of course, it’s always nerve-wracking to know that you’re being filmed in spandex when you still have problem areas, but I think this is a good snapshot of who I am and where I’m coming from.

Here’s to another two years of Crossfit magic!

The traveling Crossfitter, or, when you decide to Crossfit while away

Crossfit Southwest Portland: Home away from my other home(box).
Crossfit Southwest Portland: Home away from my other home(box).

If you haven’t guessed it already, I’m kind of a Crossfit junkie. I mean…I love it. But it’s not just the workouts that I enjoy, because I’ve tried doing some Crossfit workouts at home by myself, and I rarely (a) finish or (b) have the motivation to get the same intensity or stimulus that I would at a box. So really, what does it for me at Crossfit is the exercise, supplemented by the community (people + coaches).

When I first began at Albany Crossfit, it was toward the end of autumn (end of October/beginning of November), and I knew I would be visiting my family for a full month over the holidays. At this point, my track record with sticking with any sort of exercise or nutrition plan was bleak. Literally, I’d say, Okay, diet starts tomorrow! Then I’d do my Latin dance workout for two days in a row, see I wasn’t losing weight, and then go back to eating tacos and watching TV. (I wish that was a lie, but you don’t get to almost 300 pounds by gorging yourself on kale.)

So, in anticipation of my “normal” self creeping back into the picture, I decided that I’d find a Crossfit near my family, pony up the dinero for a one-month membership, and just go a few times a week over the holidays so I wouldn’t completely lose my momentum, or quit Crossfit all together.

And I did.

And I hated almost every moment of it.

You know how I said that it’s the combo of the exercise and the community that really does it for me? Yeah. Crossfit Near My Family really frickin’ sucked in the community department. The people weren’t very friendly, and the head coach was a damn tool. When I asked for a movement demo, he looked at me, and said, completely unironically, “I thought you said you’d done Crossfit before.” What. An. Ass. I mean, props to me, because I did finish out that month going to Crossfit Near My Family consistently. Consistently, but with the intention of NEVER returning. (A side note: Later on, I was checking out their website, when I found videos that Head Coach had posted of him doing Turkish getups with a curled-up lady instead of a kettlebell. What a smelly hipster tool! And I LOVE hipsters!)

Me and James.
Me and James.

In any case, after that, I pretty much gave up on the idea of Crossfitting while at home. Whenever I visited home, I would pass by Crossfit Near My Family and sneer. Instead, I had to find other ways of staying active. That first summer home was awesome. I did things I never thought I’d even want to do to stay active. I was riding miles on my bike, going for runs, taking the dog on long walks that wore him out! But I quickly found that it just wasn’t enough. I missed Crossfit, and it was much more difficult to lose weight. Not only that, but there was a serious decrease in my strength when I DID get back to Albany and start Crossfitting again.

Yes, when you take a break and come back, you’re sore. You hurt. It’s not pleasant. But when you take a break, you basically take three giant leaps backward. I would leave for Portland using 55# for a metcon. When I’d come back, I’d be like, Aiiiiiieeeeee! 45#! Y u so heavy?!

No joke.

It didn’t feel good to feel like you’re starting all over and that you’ve lost strength, even if you are consistently doing some other form of exercise/cardio.

After going through that cycle a few times, one of my old friends from Portland told me that she had started going to a Crossfit, and that it was awesome and I should definitely go with her once or twice when I was back in town. And I did. And I felt an instant connection with the people there. At that point, I didn’t commit to a membership, but I did decide that I would go a few times to make sure I liked it, and revisit the following summer. After my first few visits, I understood that Crossfit SW Portland was nothing like Crossfit Near My Family. The coaches were super down-to-earth, and all the members I met were incredibly friendly. And, for once, I didn’t feel immense pressure to beat someone else at a WOD or PR consistently. It was a…nice…feeling.

After that positive experience, I started thinking about sampling other Crossfits, too. I wasn’t quite as put-off by the idea of trying a new box, like I was after my monthlong stint at Crossfit Near My Family.

That March, I visited Crossfit Dublin…and it was awesome!

At Crossfit Dublin!
At Crossfit Dublin!

And just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to WOD at Crossfit Reclamation (we did Fran…) and Crossfit Portsmouth. And that was awesome, too! And so was Crossfit Dilworth in Charlotte!

So here’s the thing—I noticed that Crossfitting while away is not just about staying fit or working in another workout. It’s not like going and exercising at a hotel gym (which I have also done, unfortunately…). And with the exception of Crossfit Near My Family, all of my visiting Crossfit experiences have been EXTREMELY positive. I’m excited to meet new people, make new connections, and expand my Crossfit community (because, you know, there is such a thing as Crossfit outside your home box!).

Being a Crossfitter doesn’t only mean that you take pride in your bruises and that you do heinous crap that other people usually can’t even fathom and that you sadistically enjoy it. No, being a Crossfitter means that you don’t only have membership to your home box, but that you have membership to a worldwide network of other really amazing people and boxes, and that no matter where you are in the world, you can walk into a new box and be treated like family. It’s a pretty awesome and wonderful feeling, and I’m so lucky that one bad experience didn’t turn me off to Crossfit, but instead opened me up to a whole myriad of absolutely fantastic ones.

About that Active Link

Increasing over time?
Increasing over time?

I have a super love-hate relationship with my Active Link. At about this point, you’re either nodding your head because you know exactly what I’m talking about, or you’re wondering what the hell kind of gibberish came out of my mouth just now.

Well, Active Link is this little gadget from Weight Watchers, which tracks every up-and-down, back-and-forth, and side-to-side movement. It looks like this:

The Link
The Link

And you can put it in your pocket or wear it on your belt, bra, or around your neck (a few people have thought that it was a clothing tag when I clip it on to my sports bra and am wearing a burnout tee). It unplugs and has a little USB drive so you plug it into your computer and the program will tell you how much activity you’ve done that day.

But the thing about Active Link is that you don’t just put it on and have it monitor your activity.

This thing sets goals for you. (If you look at the top image, you can see how the Active Link goal for me is to increase gradually the amount of activity I’m getting every day.) You get it, hook up the software, and then wear the sucker for a week during “assessment.” Once you’re assessed, the program asks a few questions about your current activity goals, and then you go.

Now, I was warned about Active Link. My friend/leader Jennifer told me before they even came out that for someone like me, the Active Link might piss me the f off.

Because I work out. I mean, I weeeerk out. I go to WOD four times a week, and then I do a kettlebell conditioning class once per week additionally. But at the end of the assessment week, doing everything normally, the Active Link showed that on most days I didn’t even meet my baseline. (This is something that’s cool about Active Link: Using your age/height/weight, it calculates how much activity it takes for you to simply maintain/be alive.) And since I was barely making baseline, I wasn’t earning any Activity Points. Which is what initially pissed me off. Because before, even if I didn’t eat my Activity Points, I would record between 12 and 15 APs for ONE Crossfit WOD, and at the end of the week, I’d accumulate something like 70 or 80 APs. I knew it was probably wrong, but Active Link (a) confirmed that, and (b) gave me little or NO Activity Points for my workouts!

This is what my first week looked like:

Week 1
Week 1

As you can see, I earned an average of 47% each day toward my GOAL of earning ONE Activity Point. This coming from someone who thought for sure she was earning 12 to 15 PER DAY.

Now, a note on Active Link: While it tracks movement, it obviously doesn’t take into account many of the pieces of Crossfit that make it more intense than other exercises. For example, if I’m doing deadlifts or thrusters, it won’t register a difference between me lifting 200# and me lifting 50#. Savvy? So often, I get only a few minutes worth of “moderate” activity registering for most WODs.

Like I said, I was initially quite…QUITE salty about this. I mean, how DARE Active Link tell me that I work my ass off at the gym and not earn APs? How DARE they?!

Simultaneously, I know that part of the goal of Active Link is to get you to move around when you’re not at the gym. So, parking a little further away (or taking the bus to campus), running up and down stairs doing laundry, etc., all contributes to your daily activity. And that was something I had to start to deal with. That my everyday motion contributed significantly—not just the WOD. Like, there’s a HUGE difference in my day if I (a) only WOD, come home and shower, and then lounge around, vs. (b) WOD, go grocery shopping, come home and change, take the bus to campus, and walk around school.

Once I saw that very first week at 47%, I knew that something HAD to change. I needed at least to earn 100% to be satisfied. Or, you know, make that stupid baseline. After assessment week, I started taking walks EVERY DAY.

This helped. It helped A LOT. But soon, I was getting burnt out. Not only that, but the weather wasn’t always nice, and I frankly didn’t have time to do another HOUR of exercising every day.

That’s when I talked with Dean, and we tweaked my eating and exercising habit.

Now I’m doing the WOD on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, with Kettlebells on Sunday. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I work on running. Yup, you heard. Running. (And I’m getting a lot better at it!)

To give you an idea of what that’s done for my chart, this is what my last week looked like:

Big diff!
Big diff!

Yeah. Big difference. As you can see, I’m almost always above goal (the days that I’m not, I try to at least make baseline). The Crossfit workouts contribute to the Moderate Intensity checkmarks, and the running contributes to the High Intensity checkmarks.

And while it might seem tedious to do what I do, I will say that this has DEFINITELY jump-started my weight loss. Which, after a full year of plateaus, is definitely welcome.

Am I still pissed at Active Link?

Well…no…not really.

I get annoyed with it, yes. Because sometimes I feel like I work so hard at the WOD for very little recognition. (I do take THAT with a grain of salt, or I at least try.) But then again, I really enjoy (a) getting a more accurate reading of what kind of activity I’m doing (and you can itemize it my MINUTE, if you want…it’s pretty cool, really), and (b) finally dropping the LBs. And you know…it can’t be all that bad if it’s forcing me to really work on one of my biggest sucks (i.e., running). Who knew?!