“Say Cheese!”

Disclaimer: I am by no means a medical expert so take this post with a grain of salt (as maybe working out in hard casts isn’t the big no-no I have always thought it was). If I am totally off base, please please tell me! This is just a pet peeve of mine and going to blog it out of my system.


When most people see a picture posted of an athlete doing step ups on crutches while having a foot in a cast or an athlete doing squats with an arm in a cast, they think “wow that’s so bad ass!” When I see those pictures, I cringe and think “Gross, they are probably growing mold”.

From what I know, when you are in a cast, you can’t get it wet.  It’s annoying for sure (I do not ever want to have bathe with a plastic bag over my foot in cast dangling off the side of the tub ever again) but it’s just the way it is.

When I was in a cast, I was always trying to find ways to work out. Doing dumbbell curls with 10 pounders on the couch just wasn’t cutting it. I asked my doctor if I could maybe do some pilates exercises that didn’t involve my foot (is that even possible??) and he told me a big fat no. “You can’t get your cast wet from the outside or inside. That means no exercise as it results in sweat.”

Don’t believe me? I met someone once who had a broken arm and grew mold inside his cast. Can you imagine growing mold inside something you can’t take off? Mold is pesky and gross and to me no workout is worth walking around like a spoiled piece of cheese.


Yesterday was my 6 week follow up appointment with my orthopedic doctor.  Thanks to physical therapy, I am finally on the right path to getting rid of my foot woes. The plantar fasciitis on the bottom of my foot has improved drastically, however the scar tissue on the side of my foot where I fractured it 3 years ago is the main villain causing the pain I am still continuing to have.  The plan of attack the doctor took was to give me another shot of cortisone to help break up the scar tissue (and for the record that shot feels like it goes straight into the bone. I bring this up because well I have a low threshold for pain and just expressing how much that sucked). I will continue with PT as it is helping my recovery, continuing to refrain from running and jumping and I will go back to the doc for a follow up in another two months.

Some people can get rid of Plantar Fasciitis in 1 month, some people take years. I obviously want to be done with it as quickly as possible so that just means I need to practice more patience (which for those who know me, this is not my strong suit). I realized when I left the doctor’s office that I didn’t even ask how long he foresees my recovery to be.  Maybe part of me doesn’t want to know that there’s a chance I can be dealing with this for more than just another month or two. I also realized I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment. If he had told me I could be back to running a 10k in June, imagine how frustrated I will be when June rolls around and I still can’t run. It goes back to resetting my frame of mind for as long as I need to in order to make this bum foot a thing of the past.  If I spend every minute of the day feeling sorry for myself, I’ll drive myself insane. Keeping perspective though isn’t easy and every now and then I need reminders.

Last night I was watching Dancing with the Stars (yes I can admit that) and one of the celebs is Amy Purdy who just won a bronze medal for snowboarding in the Paralympics. At the age of 19 she lost both her legs below the knee to bacterial meningitis. Watching clips of her board and dance is astounding. So many of us with 2 “good” legs can’t even do those things and here’s this girl just going for it (and kicking ass at it). She found the strength to push through her injuries and not let them define her.  Check out a cool link on Amy

Watching Amy put things back into perspective. How many times do we focus on our injuries and woe’s me, I have to take a few months off from doing what I love? We forget that what we love isn’t going anywhere and when we get better, we will be that much more prepared to take it on safely.  I have many moments of breaking down because I can’t do what I want to RIGHT NOW.  So I have plantar fasciitis. Yes it sucks but it isn’t the worst thing that could happen.

I know far too many people who push the limits on injuries or don’t take rest days when they should. I get it, we all want to constantly push ourselves further than we have before.  We just need to know when to listen to our bodies and show them some TLC by NOT doing a thing. Sure I could continue to run or do burpees and learn to manage the pain. (see note above, I have a low threshold for pain). All that is going to do is delay recovery. I rather take a time out now, fix it and come back to see what I really am made of.

A Defining Moment

Here is another guest blog I wrote for my girl, Nikki. Her blog can be found here (and I highly recommend you follow her too!). Posted on 5/15/2012


There is a moment in time in which all of us are defined as an athlete in our own minds.  We tend to hold our definition of what we think an athlete should or shouldn’t be wrapped pretty tightly around. When this moment happens the mold of who and what we thought an athlete is cracked a bit. Not because those athletes aren’t athletes anymore, but because we are.

I believe an athlete to be someone who doesn’t take no for an answer. Someone who goes into a workout with nothing less than the best they have to give on that day. A person who takes on the challenges that lie before them physically and mentally no matter how much it scares the shit out of them. Someone who strives to learn from others and returns that favor no matter how high they can reach. A person who wants to be better when they leave their box, than when they entered.

There is a moment in which we start to believe anything is possible…..

I promised Nikki I would write something to put on her blog from the perspective of being a newbie to the CrossFit world. That was two months ago. Every time I started to put my thoughts together, I just couldn’t find anything exceptionally inspirational that would maybe motivate someone else to try it or make it relate to what they were going through.

Then this morning for 6 am class, our WOD was Fran. 21-15-9 reps of thrusters and pull-ups. Most workouts get me a little skittish but Fran is notorious for being dreadful. It had been a while since I last did it and since I never bother to write down my CF workouts, I was debating how to scale it. I asked Gus, the assistant coach, my standard question of late “Should I go light for this one?” He asked me what I was thinking for weight and I nervously said 55 pounds (Rx was for 65). He told me I could do it and I laughed telling him I don’t know why I bother to ask him. He always tells me I can and then I know I have to go for it.

I had a red and thin blue bands set up for pull ups as from past experience I’m smart enough to know how much that many reps absolutely suck. I had recently started doing kipping pull ups (thanks to Nikki who broke it down so well that I got it in my first attempt a few weeks back). I asked the coaches if I should start out doing a few kipping pull ups without the bands (I figured I could maybe get 2 in) or if not to bother and just stick to the bands. They told me to go for it and do what I can. I can drop down to the bands when I max out on kips.

The clock started and I somehow got through 21 grueling reps of 55-pound thrusters. I wasn’t the fastest one but I know how important it is to pace myself. With less trepidation than I expected, I went over to the pull up bar and jumped up to grab it. I swung once and got myself up for my first kipping. I could hear my fellow athletes from the first wave who were now cheering everyone on, calling out “Go Missy!” I got right into my next kipping and my third. I got to 5 and dropped down. I shocked myself and surprisingly I impressed even those CrossFitters who have been going for years. I think when I was on my 3rd pull up, I heard someone shout out “Nice Missy! Damn, where the hell did she come from?” It isn’t all about accolades but when I got a genuine compliment from people who I look up to as being so elite and at a level I never see myself getting to, it’s like I had that moment where I felt like wow, maybe I AM cut out for this CrossFit craziness.

Up until this morning, I have always felt like a little kid trying to hang with the big kids when I walk into CrossFit. I always had this mentality of going lighter so that I wasn’t the last one to finish. It’s not that I haven’t gone hard, but I realized after today (getting through Fran in less than 8 minutes and wanting to vomit after minute 4) that when it comes to CrossFit, I have been sandbagging it at times. I’m not a total guppy and I am ready to take it to the next level. My own success is dependent on setting my own realistic goals. I shouldn’t benchmark myself against other people. I’ve taken on things before (running, kickboxing) and I’ve done well with them. CrossFit shouldn’t be any different. Once I realized that I can’t let the intensity or a past injury (broken foot) intimidate me and stop me from achieving my goals. I know what my strengths are and I should let those be my focus and encouragement. I feel like I hit a CrossFit milestone and I am over the moon to keep going for the next one.

Missy Berkowitz 
Crossfit SouthBay
Crossfitting for 6 mos.  



My Paleo Challenge Experience

Last year I participated in a 6 week Paleo Challenge when I was at Crossfit SoBay. Despite my typical stress and nervousness, I came out on top and won one of the “Miss Congeniality” titles. Here is what I wrote for their blog (which can also be found here: http://www.crossfitsouthbay.com/words-from-the-spring-paleo-challenge-winners/): 

I never felt like I ate “unhealthy” in terms of too many calories or super greasy foods (or any of the other stereotypical bad foods) but I realized I was eating way too many carbs and foods that weren’t giving me energy. I’d come home from working my butt off at CrossFit in the morning to counteract it by eating cereal with soy milk. It left me feeling weighed down and just gross for the rest of the day. I rarely cooked any meals outside of stir fry or pasta, and I felt like the Paleo Challenge would give me the discipline and routine to change my habits. I also told myself that committing to the challenge was only 6 weeks out of my life and in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not a big deal. I had concerns about being a pescatarian (I don’t eat meat, just seafood) going into a diet that is heavily reliant on meat. I also was worried I’d be hungry all the time or just not enjoy any meals. I was worried my social life would become nonexistent as I’d be the Paleo black sheep that couldn’t do anything but workout and cook. I viewed the challenge as a needed push to get into a better routine of cooking (as well as trying to lose some lb’s/fat and gain more muscle). Obviously cooking was a big change for me but holy moly, the planning/prepping that goes into it blew me away the first few weeks. I started buying non-perishable foods and kitchen items I didn’t have (like a food processor) weeks before the challenge started to break up the hit to my wallet. During the first week, I literally made at least 8 trips to food stores. (My daily routine was Crossfit, work, email Ashley Merrell for encouragement, food shop, cook, sleep). I found tons of recipes (thanks to suggestions of books and websites from my paleo peers). I’d plan out what I wanted to make in the coming week and would spend a few hours on Sundays cooking so I’d have enough to get me through at least a few days. 

The first few weeks I was ridiculously tired but that slowly subsided. I didn’t really see changes in my body, I just felt less… bloated (sorry if that’s TMI but I can’t find a more pleasant way to say that). I was amazed that I started feeling less hungry (and less frequently). I would feel full eating smaller portions. I never would have thought a hodge podge of veggies for lunch would be so delicious and satisfying. My clothes started fitting a little differently (I did lose a few inches). I am probably my own worst critic so I can’t see a drastic change physically but it is enough of a difference to keep me believing in Paleo. I managed to make most social invites I had during the challenge. I would try to plan my meals around them so I wouldn’t be caught hungry, staring at food I couldn’t eat. I even went to a friend’s birthday blind wine tasting in which I resorted to sniffing wine instead of tasting (mildly depressing and pathetic but hey, I got 2 out of 6 right!). 

I had plenty of opportunities to cheat where I could have easily justified them… like a trip to Urgent Care for a crazy allergic reaction or visiting my family or frosting cupcakes for my niece’s 1st birthday party. I didn’t cheat though other than grabbing food at BWI airport so that I wouldn’t be stuck on a plane for 6 hours, hungry and grumpy.

Now that the challenge is over, I feel great! Paleo is so routine for me, it’s almost scary. I’m much more aware of what I’m putting into my body and feel less desire to indulge in things I would have pre-Paleo. 

Not only did I learn to cook to my liking but I even cooked for friends and family. I got my 3 year old nephew, who is uber picky with food, to try roasted cinnamon carrots I made (and he told me they were “super good!”) 

Spending so much time in the kitchen has sent shock waves across the country to my family who says better late than never, at least I joined the rest of normal functioning society. 

Blueberry brussel sprouts (Recipe ) is delicious despite that they come out looking purple. I also love apple pie slices for a snack (recipe here ) 

Just a big thanks to Ashley Merrell for being my Paleo sponsor. I really had moments of doubt that first week if I’d survive it. I may have given up had it not been for her. She always responded quickly to my MANY emails and never made me feel like a pest even though I really was! Also, Sarah Hinrichs gave me the encouragement I needed before starting the challenge. Without meat, I didn’t know if it was realistic to go into it. She was a huge resource for me and also gave me a really simple but amazing tip. I was so hung on up foods/drinks I couldn’t have, I was making myself nuts. She reminded me to focus on everything I could have instead and that helped me in remembering all the options I wasn’t giving up.

If You Can’t Join Them, Watch Them

(migrating my old blog page to this one. Post from 3/10/14)


If you want to see camaraderie at its finest, stand on the sidelines of a marathon. You can feel the desire from the runners to finish, and you just know how much time, energy and sacrifice they have put into training. I waited at mile 20 yesterday for friends running the LA Marathon and I can tell you, I saw some pretty awesome things.

There were numerous people on the side waiting for their loved ones to come by so they could hop on the course to bang out a few miles with them. I saw little kids waiting for their fathers to come by just so they could give them high fives for encouragement. By far the most inspirational thing I witnessed was a blind runner come through. Wow wow wow.

I even saw people I knew running who were as surprised to see me as I was them. I did feel like a bit of a jerk when I heard a runner scream out “Hi, Missy! “That must be like Bad Spectating 101. You spy the runner, not the runner spy the spectator.

I was getting text alerts tracking my friends so I was able to keep an eye out for them approaching. The first to come through, Marlene, requested I bring a spray bottle (which was the best call and a sign that she is a veteran Marathoner. Her 15th might I add. Talk about impressive). I gave her a good hose down, checked in to see how she was feeling and sent her back on her merry way. Side note, it is slightly awkward though when strangers see the beloved bottle and demand you spray them in the face. (Tip: Don’t buy one from the dollar store. The pressure on it was like getting squirted with a water gun).

My next two friends, Kelly and Celina, came through a few minutes later. They looked like they were actually quite enjoying a little jog around LA (although they claim otherwise). We shot the shit for a few minutes as if I had just met up with them for a latte at Starbucks. They welcomed the water hose down too and thanked me for the encouragement to finish the last leg.

I cheered on my friends and I cheered on perfect strangers. Some people smiled and said thank you. Some people looked at me deliriously trying to figure out if they knew me. I did learn that I need to work on coming up with new phrases to yell out. I alternated between “Good job. You got this!” and “only 6 more to go!”, with the latter resulting in 9 out of 10 times people giving me the “F you with your just 6 more” look. Needless to say, I welcome suggestions for phrases people do like to hear.
When you are pushing your body to its absolute limit, you are bound to have moments when you just want to stop and give up. Then you hear someone urging you to go and with your adrenaline kicking in, you don’t stop. You keep going towards your goals and you truly feel blessed to have someone reminding you that you can do it. Seeing my friends even if just for a really brief moment reminds me of how much a few minutes, or even just a few seconds, can positively impact someone. I wouldn’t trade those moments for a kogi taco (and if you know anything about me,that says a lot).


Mental Training

Here is a blog I wrote for LAX Crossfit that got posted tonight. Hey I wrote it, so I can promote it right? 
The link to the website is: http://laxcrossfit.com/2014/03/mental-training/

Stepping into the box and getting ready to tackle that day’s WOD is challenging. Stepping into the box with an injury is challenging and just all around sucks. Looking at the white board and realizing you can maybe do one of the 4 movements that day is disappointing. Looking at your fellow athletes doing 20 inch-box jumps while you breeze through 12 inch step ups is just embarrassing.

What I have come to know over the last month is that being injured is so much more mental than it is physical. I know physically what my restrictions are as my foot will remind me when I piss it off (like when I wear high heels for too long or supinate my foot during deadlifts). The physical is easy to manage: you have things you can do and things you cannot do. My brain (and ego) have some catching up to do though. I want it to be MY choice to not run a race or to participate in the CrossFit Games’ WOD’s. I don’t want to be restricted when it’s not on my own accord.

Sometimes people who are injured need the most encouragement (at least I know I do). It is really easy to have a pity party and focus on all the things you can’t do, which I find myself doing more times than I care to count. I choose to not have a pity party and remind myself for one, at least I can still work out. I also remind myself that just because I have to modify workouts does not mean that it is any easier than what everyone else is doing. (Try doing double unders on one foot and you will know what I mean). Injuries are temporary and while they feel like they might be slowing you down, they can also be a good opportunity to reset goals while it heals.

I am willing myself to not look at what I can’t do and to look at what I can do. While I may not be able to do 50% of movements, there is still the other 50% I can do and get better at. Stringing more unassisted ring dips together and rocking out more consecutive pull ups are skills I can spend time improving on so when I do have two functioning feet again, I will be that much better of a better athlete.Image