The Power of One

 

I think we often underestimate the power of 1 pound. We think “oh what’s just 1 more pound?” 1 pound on its own can seem like nothing but try adding 1 pound to a lift that you are already at max capacity at. It makes all the difference in the world. I remember a time when I was stuck on a 78 pound strict press. I tried adding “just” 2 pounds to press 80 pounds and I couldn’t do it. I was so frustrated because I kept thinking it’s just two pounds more. I tried a few more times that day and much to my dismay, I just couldn’t get the bar overhead.

 

At LAX Crossfit, we are currently about half way through a squat strength cycle. We started by finding what our 1 rep max for back squats and front squats are. Every week we are working on rep schemes that slowly are increasing the load we squat with. When I tested my back squat 1 rep max I was at 165.  Every week I have slowly been adding weight to back squats for different rep schemes (like 4×4 or finding new 5 rep max). I can’t expect to do squats at 150 on a Monday that are ridiculously difficult to adding 10 pounds on Friday. It doesn’t work that way. I have no shame in adding 1 pound, which I’ve done. I did 150 one day and 151 the next. It’s a slow climb and I am ok with that. Every pound matters. Whenever I look at that bar and realize I have to squat with it, I get totally anxious and nervous. I think back to the last day I did squats and remember how challenging it was to stand back up with a lot of weight on my back. Adding even 1 more pound trips me out because it’s 1 pound more than what I could barely do before.

 

That’s the beauty of it. If I always try to go big and add 10 pounds week after week, I would most definitely fail and be stuck on the same weight. Slow and steady wins the race. As freaked out as I get when I add 1 pound, I am successful at the lift. It’s a gradual (and effective way) of increasing the load I can lift. My goal is to be able to back squat 200 pounds and I believe if I stick to this gradual weight increase, in time I will get there.

 

1 pound in terms of body weight is also significant. Two months ago I changed my diet as part of my plan to shed some lb’s and it is working. Slowly but surely the weight is coming off. I have lost 6 pounds in about 2 months. That seems like a long time to shed “just”6 pounds but it takes so much work and discipline to lose each one of those. I have had to pay attention to the food I put in my body as well as add some more workouts to my routine. With every pound that comes off though, I can see the pay off in the way my clothes fit and the subtle changes in my “trunk” as I so affectionately have started referring to my midsection.  I feel lighter and improving at body weight movements like pull ups.  So again, slow and steady is the way to go. I want to lose the pounds for good in a healthy way so that they stay off.

 

We increase strength and change our body composition one pound at a time. Next time you increase a movement by even just 1 pound or lose 1 pound, embrace it. It’s no easy feat.

 

 

 

 

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Young and Strong

 

This past week I had two opportunities to meet and help out with an amazing program: Wiseburn CrossFit. http://wiseburnCrossFit.org/ One of my fellow LAX  CrossFitters, Kevin Corrinet, has implemented (and poured his heart and soul into) a CrossFit program at the local middle school where he teaches. On Monday I went to help out with the girls’ after school tryout team practice. They got to work on back squats (their first time with that movement and they did awesome!). Their WOD was 3 rounds for time of rowing and burpees over the rower. It was exciting to watch these girls train in a way that most 13 year olds don’t get to. I know when I was their age, I didn’t know of anything to do fitness wise besides traditional sports (which I did not partake in) and recreational exercise (like step aerobics which I admit I did and loved).  Doing l-steps and over-the-top moves may have been fun at the time but given the level of exercise I do these days, it is amazing I found that gratifying. Then again, I was 13 and didn’t know of anything else.

I think I missed out on being part of a team, of working towards goals (and not just working out for the sake of working out). You form strong bonds with your peers when you struggle and succeed together. I didn’t have that growing up and so stepping into a gym with 16 eager, hardworking girls was probably more inspirational to me than I was to them.  I loved seeing them cheer each other on and high five each other. Those girls gave the workouts their all and rightfully so, were proud of themselves when they finished. I know when I have a kick ass workout at 6 am, like say I PR a back squat or shave time off a workout from when I last did it, that feeling of accomplishment puts me in the best frame of mind that carries me through the long work day ahead of me. I am certain that those girls share that same feeling. We all remember what it’s like to be 13 and the importance of feeling confident. I am sure this wonderful program that Coach Corrinet has put together is having a tremendous impact on these kids.

Then on Friday there was the ultimate CrossFit test. Out of 170 students who were enrolled in the 2nd semester CrossFit PE class, 5 girls were selected to compete in the very first Wiseburn Throw Down along with the top 5 boys. (They earned their spots in the competition from participating in a 2 week open style workout period: 10 events/wods).  So I had the privilege of spending my lunch hour on Friday along with 8 of my LAX CrossFit buds to be the very official judges for the event. I cannot think of a better testimonial to counter all the arguments that bloggers and CrossFit haters who  say CrossFit is not a sport.  Take in the atmosphere and excitement. Look around in the stands at the families who came to watch those kids. Look at all their teachers and fellow students cheering and flashing signs they made to support them and keep them pumped while pushing through the “Sweet Sixteen” event. It was overwhelming. The kids were competing with each other, the same group of kids they had been training with for months. They showed true sportsmanship and it was just a delight to witness.

A very special thanks to Coach Corrinet who is paving the way for bringing a life changing sport to young kids. His dedication and belief in them was so apparent given how smoothly the competition ran and well received it was. I am so grateful I could be a part of this. I wish I could spend every lunch hour working with these kids.Image

Reading Works Wonders

This past school year I was part of a volunteer program called Read to a Child. Every Wednesday at lunch, each adult partners with the same child for the whole school year and spends the lunch period reading to him/her. I partnered with another volunteer so that we could alternate weeks and we had many email conversations trying to figure out the kid we read to. Let’s call him Mike.

The program sponsors told the volunteers early on that the kids selected for the program fall into two categories: Either they are behind in reading skills or they just need some extra attention. We were advised we would know early on which it was for our kids. It didn’t take long to uncover which was the case for Mike.

If you have ever seen me around kids, I am usually totally goofy and high energy. Kids tend to respond to me off the bat. I am used to bonding with kids so I was a bit taken aback when I first met Mike. He’s a shy and very introverted kid. It was difficult to gauge his mood or know if he was enjoying reading time.  After each book that we would read, we would have to ask the kids how much they enjoyed it. They would select a smiley face that ranged from really disliked to totally loved it. No matter what we read to Mike, he always picked the happiest smiley.  Sometimes when reading he seemed a bit distracted so I was never convinced he was totally into the whole story thing. I would look around the room at the other kids and their volunteers and notice such different behaviors. The kids would be excited and initiating conversations with their readers. Most of them were leaning into the adults as they were being read to whereas Mike often sat across from me or if next to me, there was a noticeable gap between us.

He never really laughed or smiled and it actually made me a bit sad. I wondered if he was always like this at school and at home. Was he getting enough attention? Did he have friends to play with? Was he the kid who just went unnoticed?

Then one day, I selected a  classic Curious George. The story was about George and the Man with the Yellow Hat going to a vet’s office where George got into some trouble (spoiler alert!) and let puppies out of their cage. Mike for the first time laughed, smiled and got excited. “Whoa! Look at the puppies!”  He was so enthralled with the book that he was stopping me before flipping pages and making observations and comments. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever seen.

Slowly as the program went on week after week, my partner and I were noticing subtle differences in Mike. We got a better sense of what books he really liked and he seemed less distracted by the other kids. He would ask questions and turn pages back if he wanted to look at something again. I even noticed he was sitting a bit closer to me and every now and then I would get smiles from him. The last session, both my partner and I went to read together. We also were able to gift him a book so you can guess what our selection was (not surprising,  it was a compilation of Curious George stories). He seemed so touched by the gesture and the attention and it was such an endearing session. We got feedback from teachers on how much of a difference the program made on Mike and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me a little teary eyed.

Of course volunteering is about giving back to someone else. That’s a given.  I too though got so much out of it. It brings to life the cheesy cliché about how if you make a difference in even one person’s life, you have done your job.

The bigger lesson though  I realize is the importance of not overlooking the quiet ones. Whether it is children or adults, it is so easy to gravitate towards the liveliest person in a room or the prettiest or the funniest. People are drawn to energy, that too is a given. But sometimes the person who needs a little nudge or attention is the one who we almost don’t notice.  We take for granted that even the tiniest gestures can make the biggest difference on someone. Mike made me work a bit more than the average kid to gain his trust and boost his confidence. I know that by coming back week after week even though he wasn’t overtly telling me “thanks Missy I love this reading program!” helped him get a little extra bounce in his step.

It is easy to judge the quiet ones and make false assumptions (believe it or not, I am innately a shy person and I have been told that my quietness has been mistaken for snobbery). So my parting advice is to not give up on someone if your first attempt at contact doesn’t result in a warm reception. Some of  us, kids and adults, take longer to warm up to people. When you hang in there especially with kids and gain their trust, it is amazing the impact you just may have on him/her.