A Little Perspective

It’s common that for those of us who CrossFit or lift weights to get caught up in the crazy beast mode side of it that we lose perspective a bit. I’ve seen people (and have been in this scenario myself) where we poo poo a PR or instead of acknowledging what we did well, we focus on what we want to do better. I’m not saying we should not work on what needs improvement but before you get up your own ass about it, stop and take a minute to register your successes and your strengths.

Here are a few reminders to keep your hard work in perspective.

We get pissed that we “only” deadlifted 200 lbs and failed on 210. We get pissed that we are stuck on a 150 lb back squat. We get pissed that we can’t front squat more than our body weight. We forget that most likely, even if we don’t “feel” like we are lifting heavy, we probably are. We get sucked into the CrossFit mentality of always wanting to lift heavier that we forget to take stock and realize that we are throwing around and throwing down heavy weight.

We also tend to benchmark ourselves against other people, but are we benchmarking ourselves against the appropriate people? Are we factoring in the duration that we have been doing CrossFit compared to the person we are comparing ourselves to? Are we factoring in the volume and frequency of how often we workout compared to our benchmarks? Are we comparing ourselves to someone of comparative size? There are plenty of blogs and inspirational posts that say things like “You can’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’ chapter 20.”  These are excellent reminders to focus on you. The point of all this is to think about who you pick as your benchmark because if you are not picking the right person, you are bound to be disappointed by your own success. If you have thoughts like “I cleaned 100 lbs in the workout. while Strong Sally was cleaning 120 lbs. I am so weak.” This is bs if say Strong Sally weighs 40 pounds more than you or say Strong Sally has been CrossFitting for 5 years and you have been CrossFitting for 1 year.

I get caught up quite often feeling I “should” be lifting more. I will see someone else lifting heavier and I think damn I wish I could do that. And I can. One day. I have to factor in I am 5 foot tall and weigh less than a lot of people I train with and around. I am not saying weight is an excuse, I am saying though that I may have to work harder and take longer to get to where some of my box mates are. I want a 200 lb back squat. I am slowly working my way there. I got a 9 lb PR the other day at 184 lbs. It’s not 200 but when I did a calculation, I realized that’s 184 lbbs is 55% more than my body weight. That is a shit load of weight for someone of my size to be carrying. That’s impressive and I should (and am) take pride in it. Just because someone else may be back squatting heavier, if I look at it pound for pound, it’s possible my back squat is actually stronger than the next lady. I am not meaning this to sound smug or competitive. What I do mean to say is keep perspective. Don’t let the number of pounds dictate what you define as heavy or strong. Look at what you are lifting in relation to your own weight and size.

Also look at how far you have come. I didn’t walk into CrossFit Day 1 and back squat 184 lbs. If I had journaled in my early days, chances are I was squatting less than 100 lbs…a lot less (and that was 3 years ago). Keep perspective.

Remember too a PR is a PR. Whether it’s 1 pound more or 10 pounds more. This is a journey and each pound is helping us in getting that next pound and the one after that and so on and so on.

Keep on working out. Keep on setting goals. Keep pushing yourself. But never lose perspective.

Affiliate Showcase Low Down

The Teams

This past Saturday LAX had 3 fierce teams compete at the Legendary Competitor Affiliate Showcase in the Scaled Division at the Fit Expos held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Our roster was:

Team Guns and BunsBenzo, Garrett (he’s still loyal to us even if he switched boxes to be closer to his new gig), Sheena and Megan Enge

Guns n Buns

Team Go Thrust Yourself: Coach Nick, Coach Salty, Marlene and Amy Simpson

Team Go Thrust yourself

Team LAX United Nations: Coach Keenan, Alex PD, myself (Missy) and Coach Zoo

Team LAX United Nations

There were so many of us competing that it’s like we almost lost sight of other teams in an effort to support each other. There was a strong sense that we all genuinely wanted to make LAX proud and prove that hard work pays off. Prior to the competition, each team had independent practices but it was a “share the love” kind of effort. We exchanged strategies and tips with each other and kept the morale (and occasional teasing) going until the big day.  It was sportsmanship at its best. In the end, when it was go time, each team ended up with very different strategies for every one of the 3 workouts. It goes to show that the beauty of a team is that you can play into everyone’s strengths.

So much hugg'n it out!

More hi-5's and hugs before and after each WOD

Not only did LAX represent in terms of athletes competing but we had our very own Abo and Kimmie no reppin’ as judges. (P.S. judging is a great experience to see a different side of competing and I encourage all of you to consider doing this at least once. Chat up our resident judges to get more info if interested). Between other LAX members, coaches, friends, family, coworkers and significant others, we also had a tremendous support system in the crowd cheering all of us on. (Not to forget all the people who sent us good luck texts and messages that morning). All of this makes competing that much sweeter. You see a familiar face everywhere you turn which definitely helps to calm down jitters.

best Judges ever!

After a bit of a grueling day of working out, we came out victorious. Everyone gave it their all which is what competing is all about.  Here are a few highlights (and by no means do these even begin to capture all the awesomeness the ensued). Salty banged out 15 thrusters in 22 seconds. Benzo got to the top of the rope climb in about 2 pulls. I survived (barely) wall balls to a 10 foot target. Keenan at lightning speed squeezed in 50 double unders to help get LAX United Nations some extra reps before the time cap. Zoo did 15 power cleans unbroken. Marlene snatched a heavy 75 barbell. Amy back squatted 95 lbs about a million times like it was her warm up. Garrett was part of a human rack for his team to use for back squats making transitions faster and hence more reps hence leading to a better score. Sheena was smiling during all the workouts making everyone believe she was loving every second while still being a force to reckon with. Megan kept a steady and quick pace on back squats without ever slowing down. Alex (unplanned) helped getting a lot of weighted double unders (this is NOT an easy thing to do). And Nick moved 135 lbs from ground to overhead like it was nothing.

Always a strong support presence

For some who compete, they do it to win. For most people though, it’s about getting out of our comfort zone which is how we keep getting better and stronger. (Having said that, special shout out to Go Thrust Yourself who landed in an impressive 6th place in the Scaled Division).

Classic Salty face

All the teams cheering on Coach Keenan

Garrett leaving had absolutely nothing to do with the unprofessionalism of his team mates dancing mid WOD

Team Effort

Why I Heart Invictus

 

I was the most skeptical person of my own abilities to even attempt to follow Invictus programming. I didn’t know much about it other than I have seen the strongest athletes at LAX doing it and that it seemed like some crazy shit. I never in a million years thought I would even attempt such madness. Here’s a sample of an Invictus workout:

 

I didn’t take into account that Invictus could be scaled. I don’t know if the Invictus programmers would cringe at that statement as I suspect they designed it for the cream of the crop to train using the RX weights and movements. When a few of us hijacked a facebook status by one of our resident bad asses, Chris O, I scoffed at the idea of doing it. But like a lot of others things, I was easily convinced to get on board. I was curious to find out what I really am made of. I also was presented with a sensible and strong argument that it would help me get ready for the team comp I got suckered into signing up for in February (which is now just two days away).

Quickly into my new training program (which I began about 6 weeks ago), I began learning more about myself and the benefits to getting out of my comfort zone to train differently with a different team dynamic.

1)  Pound for pound I am strong. I have always had a hard time accepting this mind set because I focus a lot on my weaknesses and I compare myself to others. (And of course I’m sure self-confidence plays a big part too). I am by no means perfect or as well rounded as I want to be but that doesn’t automatically place me in the weak or mediocre category either. There are plenty of times I move some seriously heavy weight when you factor in that I am 5 foot tall (and about 115 lbs, which you should not commit that number to memory!). The way Invictus structures its strength portions is quite often based on percentages of 1 RM. I am used to doing maybe 1 rep at 90% on occasion but with Invictus, it could be 4 reps. Example: Back in October I increased my deadlift 1 RM from 203 to 235. This week during the deadlift strength portion, the last of 6 sets of deadlifts was 4 reps at 90% which came to 211 lbs for me. That set felt like death but I did it. I lifted (4 times!) from the ground almost 100 lbs more than my body weight. I never would have attempted that had it not been for this training.

Almost every day I train in this capacity, and I typically get within 10% of my 1 RM’s across the board. This is daunting and I get butterflies when I step up to the bar but I dig deep for the confidence to do it and I do.

2) Along the same lines as #1, Invictus gives me more confidence. (Although if you were basing it on my pre-competition jitters this week you could argue this point…) There is some bewildering combinations that come up in the workouts that I would have looked at it and said “Helllllllllllllll no, I can’t do that.” I now look at like “Ok I can do this!” It’s like Invictus carries so much clout and respect that I want to do my best to not make a mockery of it.

3) I posted once about not every day being a good day. This is no different with this type of programming but the difference now is, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t somehow surprise myself with what I have done. Each day is typically divided into 4 parts of programming. Each of which is quite difficult. Each one on its own would be a sufficient solo workout. Yet, I get through each them, and after each part, when I don’t think I have anything left to give, I find that I do.  I would not have necessarily have had this chance in regular classes simply because a strength or skill portion followed by a Metcon was sufficient enough for me to get my ass kicked. Why would I think there was any reason I should (or could) do more than that? Invictus has shown me that I have more in me than I realized. I will carry this mindset as well when I get back to regularly programmed classes to motivate to do some skill work or a mini wod after class.

4) Chris O told me probably the first or second day of Invictus training that I will quickly discover my weaknesses and that there is no place to hide from them. With the high volume of programming for each day, we cycle through a lot of movements quite frequently. Snatch and Over Head Squats are  my two worst lifts because of my mobility  (rather lack of mobility). Since they pop up in workouts a few times a week, it’s forcing me to work on them and really concentrate on improving technique which in turn will let me gradually increase the load. (Not to mention, I definitely cannot escape wall balls either, my true nemesis).

5) By far the best perk to doing this training program is the group of people who are doing it alongside me. (Big shout out to Amy, Zoo, Marlene, Steve, Alex, Chris O, and Garrett!) It takes a certain type of grit to even walk into a CrossFit box and tackle that day’s workout. It takes a different type of grit to do Invictus, and it is not because people who do Invictus are any better than those who don’t.  It just takes a more disciplined level of commitment to do it. For one, the workouts take much longer (about an hour and a half on average plus pre-workout time to stretch and warm up). For us who do this at the crack of dawn, we are starting at 5:45 which for me means I wake up at 4:30 (most sane people would not do that!) I also am in bed by 9:30 these days because sleep is one of the most important factors in the equation of a successful workout. Most days by the time I get out of work and either do needed errands or get in some ab workout back at the box, I’m not even home until 8:30 at night. That leaves me about an hour of down time before I need to get my beat up ass in bed. I am choosing to give up a lot of my personal time to devote to Invictus (who I affectionately now refer to as my boyfriend). I would not have this level of commitment if it weren’t for my friends I train with. We keep each other accountable and motivated. We are all making some sacrifices to do this and that shared camaraderie is indescribable.

6) Not only do we share similar goals and disciplines, we have bonded, to the point of probably making other people roll their eyes and gag at our overt words of encouragement and affection for each other. For me, I genuinely admire all of them and aspire to be as strong as them. The energy and genuine respect between all of us is quite remarkable. They make what would otherwise be a grueling grind actually fun. They make me want to push as hard as I can and I would like to think I do the same for them.

7) I can eat carbs! Seriously. This makes me happy. I can eat burritos and pasta without guilt. My body actually needs that stuff to be fueled for these high intensity workouts.

What is really comes down to me is this an extra push I need right now to help me get to my goals. It’s making me hungrier for goals I have set but yet to reach (like butterfly pull ups, a pretty snatch (ha!) and the elusive muslce up. It’s helping me be the best I can be which hopefully I can infect others with that same positive energy.

 

The Diet Journey

*Disclaimer: I am by no means saying paleo (or any other diet plan) is good or bad. I am hoping to convey what I have learned about “dieting” as it may help you reach your goals.

I gained a lot of knowledge and changed my eating habits immensely from doing a Paleo Challenge a few years ago. Focusing on every little thing that went into my body taught me to pay attention to ingredients and spend an extra few minutes at the grocery store to find items that did not have so much unnecessary crap added to it. Dried fruit for instance is perfectly delicious on its own without having to add sugar to it. Prior to Paleo, I dreaded cooking and rarely did it. Paleo reminded me of the value I would gain from making Sundays my food prep day so that I would have healthy options for the week.

Paleo also helped me to recognize what foods fuel my body versus the ones that deplete energy from it.  I lost a few pounds and inches when I did Paleo and I kept them off. I also then hit a plateau about a year into it. I had to reevaluate my diet once again just like I did when I started paleo. I enlisted the expertise of my sister this time who is a registered nutritionist. While I was eating paleo about 80% of the time, I was getting into bad habits. I tracked my diet for a week and had her look at where I was getting unnecessary calories and what changes I could make. The short version of the findings is that I was eating a lot of Paleo approved foods but too much of them like dried fruit (dates for instance are high in calories) and nuts (which are heart healthy but I was consuming too many).  I was also snacking way too often which was indicative of not getting enough substance in my meals to keep me sustained for 3 hours in between meals. As a result I made small tweaks like giving up dried fruit and nuts and adding more servings of veggies. I even started reintroducing Paleo forbidden foods like chic peas. I managed to lose about 9 lbs of fat and reduced my body fat percentage by 3% over 5 months. (This may seem like a disproportionate amount to lose over the time span but keep in mind I’m only 5 foot. Every pound I lose is a lot of hard work).

Then, over the last few months I slowly noticed my weight on the scale was starting to creep up. In a panic, I went and had another BodySpec scan (this is a whole other blog post worthy topic) and was pleasantly surprised to learn I gained 3 pounds of muscle.  I had also been a few weeks into a new workout regime that followed Invictus competitor programming and had an increased appetite. I was trying my hardest to not succumb to it and when I got the scan results, I was able to relax a bit. I knew I needed to change my diet to keep up with my workouts.  Here was another key time to reevaluate my diet.

My workouts start at 5:30 in the morning and I was finding that eating  what I always did (a banana) an hour before the workout was not making the cut. I would be so hungry about a half hour into my workouts and my energy pretty much died out shortly after.  Also, I was typically eating a salad for dinner with a lot of veggies and avocado. I instinctively knew that I was not nourishing my body with what it needed to get me through an hour and a half intense, high volume workout. With the permission and sense of my sister, I reintroduced carbs into my dinners. Eating pasta with mixed frozen veggies and homemade sauce has made a huge improvement in my energy level. (Carbs are not always the enemy!)

The most important lesson I am learning is that no diet is one size fits all. Also like other things in life, diet is something that should be flexible and change with your lifestyle’s twists and turns. Paleo, or any diet for that matter, is not cookie cutter and I find it a bit alarming when people jump on any bandwagon without properly understanding what it is they are signing up for. I am guilty of this. I still don’t quite understand what harm a chic pea can do that perhaps a green bean doesn’t? I subscribed to the rules of Paleo without properly learning the “why” behind them and if they truly made sense for me.

I know a lot of CrossFit gyms promote Paleo Challenges and other healthy eating challenges. I am by no means saying these should not be encouraged. I just think prior to signing up participants should do their homework and whenever possible talk to experts (i.e registered dieticians).  While people who have done Paleo can definitely offer their own expertise and tribal knowledge they have acquired, it is really up to you to ensure that you are following a plan that suits you.