5 Rash Trump Quotes that Get Under My Skin as a CrossFitter

 

Not even two weeks into the new administration and it is IMPOSSIBLE to escape hearing about everything the new “president” is taking away from us. He is, as many say, bad reality television at its finest.  And like so many of us, my heart breaks a little more every time I see or hear some outlandish article or post about him. I personally need a little comic relief from this reality we are in. In an effort to (obviously) poke fun at some of the most incredulous quotes and stupid, irresponsible comments that have come out of his mouth, I want to parallel it to why none of it would ever fly if it was said in respect to CrossFit

*Disclaimer: The quotes I am using in this post are in and of themselves in their intended context completely ridiculous, and I am by no means minimizing the reality we are in. For me, applying it to another subject (CrossFit which is near and dear to my heart) is like my own weird therapy for dealing with this twilight zone we seem to be living in.

  1. “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”  (Twitter, 12/31/16).

    Aside from the obvious lack of sportsmanship, CrossFitters do not understand the concept of “enemies” or “lost”.  People who hate on us, sure they are misinformed, but we would never consider them enemies. In fact, we would never turn them away should they one day reconsider and want to try CrossFit. We having nothing but mad respect for everyone whether they CrossFit or not.

    Losing? No such thing in CrossFit. Even those who “lose’ a competition or are not at the top of the white board, they still win. CrossFit is a constant journey and regardless how someone does today, they are better than yesterday.  Not to mention, CrossFitters know what to do if they do feel like they did not quite hit their goals: they work harder. They fight back, not for spite but for themselves.

 

  1. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.” (campaign speech, 6/15/15)

    Well then, I guess I workout alongside drug lords, criminals and rapists. Gosh, I need to go find another place to CrossFit because surely every person who comes to California from Mexico is a criminal. They never inspire, work hard, show humility or any trait of a good humanitarian. Get real, Trump.  For the better, they are every much a part of CrossFit as anyone else.

  1. “That’s one of the nice things. I mean, part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich. So if I need $600 million, I can put $600 million myself. That’s a huge advantage. I must tell you, that’s a huge advantage over the other candidates.” (ABC news, 3/17/11)

    Does money get people further in life? That is highly debatable.  Is that even what lead to his presidential win?  Perhaps it factored in, but I digress.  When it comes to CrossFit, money definitely has nothing to do with how succesful an athlete is when it comes to hitting a PR or improving your Fran time. Not to mention, the funny thing is nobody gives a crap about what the person next to them squatting does for a living or how much their annual income is. Everyone is equal when they walk into a box. All CrossFitters want to see is hard work and a good a­­ttitude (ok and muscles). That is beauty. Period.

  1. “The only card [Hillary Clinton] has is the woman’s card. She’s got nothing else to offer and frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card, and the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her.”

    Ok let’s talk about the woman’s card at CrossFit. Well in actuality it does not apply. CrossFit women hustle in every aspect of their lives, from training to working to being a mother to being a daughter to being a friend and everything in between. We do not come into the box expecting coaches to take it easy on us or train us simply because we are women.  They train us because we give a shit about our health and fitness. CrossFit women do not gain respect simply by setting foot inside a box either. We gain it by working our “women’s card” asses off, not by charity or pity.

 

  1. “How do you define leadership? I mean, leadership is a very strange word because, you know, some people have it, some people don’t and nobody knows why.” — “Larry King Live,” 1999

    Really, nobody knows why? Leadership is not mythical. It is not hard to grasp. It is not a mystery. There is no formula for leaders. It is not a gene you are born with or not. Leaders are leaders because they display integrity, honesty, transparency, humility, positivity. Leaders have foresight, kindness, compassion. They inspire. The list goes on. In CrossFit, it is no different. Leadership is not an “either you got it or not” kind of a thing. It is actually quite easy to define, emulate and identify. Look for the athletes who give it their all. Look for the ones who are cheering on their boxmates. Look for the coaches telling discouraged athletes, “Yes you can!” Look for the members who come in smiling, ready to face whatever is about to be thrown their way

 

I am sure if Trump were ever to read this post he would dismiss it as CrossFitters being­­­­­ “bad press”. If being bad press means being able to back squat more than his bodyweight, I will take it. If being bad press means being part of a united community, I will take it. If being bad press means being the best version of ourselves, I will take it. Trump can say whatever ridiculous things he wants to (and I am sure there will be no shortage in the years to come). We all have first amendment rights. The difference between him and a good CrossFit citizen is, we wouldn’t simply because we just do not think at all like him. We chOose to focus on being open to everyone and everything. That is what makes CrossFit so great. It is diverse in every way from the people to the programming to our abilities. We seek to inspire people, not divide them.

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Working Out: Take the Good, Take the Bad

We tend to be our own worst critics. I know I am far too hard on myself far too often, whether it be at work, at the box or various other settings. This past Friday’s workout for me was no exception. My attempt at the prescribed strength portion was a total disaster (in my brain) and went far from how I envisioned. To give you context, it was an EMOM 10 (Every Minute on the Minute) where the odd minutes were 10 deadlifts (each round going up in weight till you had a challenging weight) and the even minutes were to be 10 chest-to-bar pull-ups. Let’s just say after round 3 of deadlifts, in which I could complete only 5 in that round, I had to go down in weight the last two rounds, might I add at which I was barely successful. As for the pull-up portion, it was like one of those bad dreams where you are so paralyzed, you cannot move. I spent a lot of time just hanging from the bar with virtually no range of motion or strength to actually swing. My plan was to do about 4-5 reps of chest-to-bar and then finish each round with regular kipping or butterfly pull-ups. Needless to say that plan went to shit in the 2nd round. I could barely even do kipping pull-ups, let alone butterfly or chest-to-bar!  I found stringing a mere 2 together was near impossible, which is not typical for me.

By the time I got to the METCON itself, I felt totally defeated and would have like to have snuck out unnoticed (which is not possible when you are just 1 of 2 people in class). Anyways, I managed to motivate to do it with my only goal of just being happy to move.

It was anything but an inspiring experience for me. As someone who works out most mornings, typically, my accomplishments at the box can really set the tone for the day. For the most part, my mornings go well and it keeps me in a positive space for the rest of the day. Of course, when I have bad workouts, just like I did last Friday, I was a total moody crank all day. I had to really to put my head back on straight that day, give myself a kick in the ass and put it into a different perspective other than my feeling like a total weak failure.  Once I did that, I reminded myself of a few really important things.

  1. I will not be on top of my game for every single workout. And that is ok. Having an off day where I cannot lift as heavy as I did even the week before or where I cannot string more than 2 pull-ups together does not measure my strength or capability. It is one day out of many.
  1. Working out is a process. One day’s workout is almost like a continuation from the days before. If you have a day where you go really hard and defy what seems possible to you, it is normal to function at a lower (albeit less inspiring) level the next day. For me (and probably many of you) I just cannot be a bad ass every day.
  1. There are ENDLESS factors that will negatively affect a workout. Here are the ones I encountered in Friday’s debacle of a workout.Germs! If you are starting to get sick (which if you are do yourself and everyone else a favor and STAY HOME!) or at the tail end of being sick, your body is expending a lot of energy fighting off those little jerks. Naturally you will have less energy to invest into working out. I had been sick the week before (well up until Monday), and I may have done too much too soon.Diet. When you think about why Paleo and other similar diets are appealing and have become so popular is because they teach us the right things to put in our bodies. They show us how we feel based on what we eat and drink (well really what we don’t drink).  The point being that what we put into our body can either fuel us or deplete us. For me, as I typically work out at 6 am, my dinner the night before powers me for what I will be doing the next morning. Before last Friday’s humbling workout, my dinner consisted of a salad and a vegan protein bar (I was too lazy to actually cook something that would have been more substantial). That was another strike against me.For us ladies, PMS. OMG TMI! Get over it, boys. This really is a thing. Every woman is different but I know I have experienced having far less energy a certain time of the month as have many other women I know. (Ladies, back me up here!) Even if I get the same amount of sleep or recovery, sometimes it will just not win when PMS is involved.

    Why am I including this is my short list of factors you ask? Because it makes the point that sometimes the logic for a subpar workout is not always entirely obvious. It also reiterates that our bodies are crazy complex things, and sometimes they may be off balance so to speak. (And if you want more scientific explanations, click http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/4-ways-your-mentrual-cycle-affects-your-workouts.html).

    Age. It’s a hard cold fact. I require more recovery and maintenance on my body (which is why I permanently have a foam roller and yoga mat sprawled out on my living room floor. It’s part of the décor really. It is also how I justify the increasing frequency in which I get massages). I feel like a car sometimes, like how many more miles do I have left in me to keep functioning at this level? Ok, sorry I digress. That could be a whole other post in itself.

4.   The most important and all-encompassing reminder though is this: I need to be far less hard on myself. I felt like my body betrayed me, despite that I understood why. My nature in general is that I fixate and torture myself over negative things I do or do not do far more than I celebrate or pride myself in all great things I do accomplish. Two days prior, I had a workout that was one of the hardest I ever did. I  felt like I was about 3 reps away from dying, which also means I I felt extremely gratified. I felt even more gratified considering the same workout had been programmed a year ago, which I had to severely scale as it was about 3 weeks after  knee surgery . So if I am going to be fair to myself, I should celebrate my success just as much as I obsessively analyzed Friday’s.  In that spirit, let me share with you what I did on January 5th 2016:

100 Step Ups (which were onto 1 or 2 plates at most)
30 Hang Cleans (no squats) at 65#
20 GHD sit ups
6 Rope Climbs
20 Alternating Hang Snatch with 20# dumbbell
30 ‘Push’ Press at 55# (by press, this would have been more of a slight dip)
100 Step Ups

Below is what I accomplished this past Wednesday, January 11th 2017:

100 Double Unders
30 Squat Cleans at 105#
20 GHD sit ups
6 Rope Climbs
20 Alternating Dumbbell Snatch at 40#
30 Thrusters at 95#
100 Double Un­­ders

To keep things in perspective,  I have every right to be damn proud of what I accomplished a week ago. I mean hello, I should be happy I can even do that many squats at that weight considering a year ago I could not squat at all.  I should focus on the gains. Thrusting 95 pounds a year ago (or really ever) would have been unheard of. I should be cheering as loudly about that instead of boo-hoo’ing over my failed deadlifts and pathetic pull-ups. Really, I need to celebrate the positives and let the negatives go. I need to reset and not be so hard on myself.

I fear I have gone off track a bit with the post (but at last this is insight into how my crazy obsessive brain works).  What I am trying to say is this. Take the bad days with the good ones. Sure, it’s totally ok, advisable even, to put some thought to understand what went wrong (there are always take aways that keep us improving), but do not let them define you. Keep moving on and remember, every time you step foot into the box (or yoga studio or boxing class or whatever your drug of choice is), you are winning regardless if it is not your best performance.

 

Time to Get Schooled On Common CrossFit Cheats

I recently came across a quote: “Cheating on your girlfriend is like cheating on your workout. Neither is acceptable” (CrossFit London ON).  Cheating happens more than we may like to admit, and it undermines and defies what CrossFit is about. Having said that, there are those who cheat deliberately, whether it’s miscounting reps or shorting movements. And there are those who cheat unintentionally. It might be due to not knowing what the movement standards are. It might be because someone is limited by injury or mobility (in which case, it is more of a scale than a cheat). It also can be because an athlete goes heavier than their abilities or needs to scale down to their level (which there should be no shame to do. It is better to scale and look solid than go too hard and look like a tool).

Whatever the reason is that someone cheats movements, this is the perfect time to get a little schooled on movement standards as the CrossFit Open is right around the corner. Let’s all understand what an honest rep is on a few different movements so we can all follow suit and help those around us who may need some extra guidance or assistance.

*Note: Cheating reps in many cases also indicates bad form which can lead to injury. I implore everyone to keep that in mind as above anything else, this is the most dangerous aspect to doing movements incorrectly or illegally.

**Note: This blog also by no means is intended to be an all encompassing technical reference nor am I claiming to be an expert in this domain. Any of the movements in the list below could be its own post, which in fact there are plenty out there if you google. I am including some references I found if you want to click to get much more information and perspective (and supporting expertise).

  1. Squatting to full depth. This means below parallel, ass to grass as we often say. This applies to ALL SQUATS: front squats, back squats and overhead squats. Also, full cleans and full snatches as they end with (front) squats. Thrusters have front squats too as do wall balls (more on this movement in #2). Do not forget the basic air squat (which are frequently shorted too). Squats may be done with just body weight, barbells, dummbells, kettlebells, med balls, etc. The point being, get full depth on any squat to have an honest rep. squat.jpg

    If you are not sure if you are squatting to full depth, firstly, do not assume you are. That just fosters bad habits. Secondly, ask someone, preferably a coach, so that they can help assist you in getting the right form to ensure you get full depth. Also, if a coach does tell you that you are not getting full depth, lose the ego and fix it, even if that means that you have to go lighter in weight.

    I found these 2 posts to have candid commentary as well as tips on how to squat correctly (and honestly).

http://crossfitoneworld.typepad.com/crossfit_one_world/2012/05/when-a-squat-is-not-a-squat.html

http://www.tabatatimes.com/why-deep-squats-are-good-for-you/3/

  1. Wall Balls (my favorite!) Firstly, I am kidding. I hate wall balls. Secondly, as they are not a short person movement, I have in my day cheated them in every way possible at some point along my journey of trying to hate them less (therefore, I can claim to be an expert in how not to do them). I fully understand how difficult they are but that does not mean it is ok to cheat them.

    Alright, so with that out of the way, remember as mentioned in #1 above, wall balls are 50% squats. SO GET LOW! A rep does not count if you do not complete a full squat. Similarly, when you throw the ball up, it must hit whatever the target required is. So if that means it has to be 10 feet, make sure you get it to 10 feet. Also, the ball has to make contact with the wall or target. If it’s all air, it’s all wrong. No rep.wall ball.jpg

 

  1. Push-Ups: the all American movement. They are difficult movements that require a lot of strength, and that is why they get so much respect. They are one of the most commonly cheated movements though, and I just find that to be rather unpatriotic.  There are too many ways to cheat a push-up so please read here for a post I wrote two years ago that gives many more details as to how to ensure you do an honest push-up.

 

  1. Burpees. We love to hate them. ­You know without a doubt they will be in The Open. One of the most common ways I have seen them cheated is by not either clapping overhead or touching a target (and yes, even burpees have variations. Often, you have to touch a 6 inch overhead target with both hands). There is a tendency when trying to quickly and ferociously crank them out to not get full height on them, so to speak. Same deal on the descend. Burpees can be cheated by hips and chest not making contact with the ground.

    On http://girlsgonerx.com/standards/, the standards are well outlined:

    Burpees Over Barbell
    The athlete must be parallel to the barbell at the bottom position, with the athlete’s chest and hips touching the ground. The athlete must come to her feet and must jump over the barbell with two feet to the other side where the athlete will start the next rep. You must jump over the barbell from both feet and land on both feet. One-footed jumping or stepping over is not permitted. Do not need to fully extend hips during jump.

    Burpees
    The athlete’s chest must make contact with the ground before the athlete can jump back up to the starting position. Athlete must jump and touch hands over head at top of burpee, reaching full extension of hips. Feet need to visibly leave the ground at the time of full hip extension during the jump.

    Bar-facing burpee
    Each burpee must be performed perpendicular to and facing the barbell. Your head cannot be over the barbell. The chest and thighs touch the ground at the bottom.
    You must jump over the barbell from both feet and land on both feet. One-footed jumping or stepping over is not permitted. The next rep will then begin on the opposite side facing the barbell.

  1. Gymnasty stuff on the bars. I am lumping a few movements together in this last point as they all have a common cheating trend: not making full contact or clearing the bar as prescribed.

    When it comes to pull-ups, often athletes can use whatever grip they fancy as long as their chin goes over the bar and that they fully extend their arms in between reps.  Chest to bar pull-ups require your chest to actually make contact with the bar. No contact, no rep.pull up.jpg

    Toes-to-bar. Your toes have to make contact with the bar at the same time. This is what I see as the most common way of cheating. If you don’t know for sure if your toes touch, most likely they didn’t. If you can’t get your toes to the bar, well then they are more like knees to chest. Girls Gone Rx explains the standards well:

    The athlete must go from a full hang to having the toes touch the pull-up bar. Both feet must touch the bar together at some point. The arms and hips must be fully extended at the bottom and the feet must be brought back to behind the bar, not out front.

I am calling all these out so everyone can be aware of encouraging and promoting  good honest reps. Often we do not even realize we aren’t doing honest reps so let’s just put it all out there. Let’s all agree to withhold the standard in which this crazy thing called CrossFit has fostered.  Let’s all hold each other accountable and help one another to learn how to do full honest reps. (And yes, I am deliberately repeating the word honest not because I have run out of synonyms but rather as I want to instill that CrossFit is about being honest as much as it is about being strong and fast). When we do honest reps, we are better CrossFitters. Let us all strive to not cheat or short movements. We will all be better for it.

 

Walking into 2017 Like…

 

It’s a new year.  Time to set resolutions? No thank you. Time to evaluate the past year and identify what I want to keep, what I want to chuck, and what I want to obtain? Yes please. I believe in setting intentions and goals for the year as opposed to resolving to never do something again or to always do something .(Those are absolutes which prove to be more detrimental than helpful. More on that point in a great post about warnings Amy Purdy gives in regards to resolutions here).  When you take the time to really reflect on what the last year meant for you, it is far more realistic to set the framework for what you want out of the coming year. For me, 2016 was a year of much personal growth and overcoming some big things, all of which I am extremely grateful for. For 2017, I still intend to keep improving. (I mean, we never really should ever stop) while reintroducing a few things that got away from me. I have personal goals for myself (maybe a bit too personal to share at the moment), and I recognize to get them, I am going to have to take 2017 by the horns (so to speak).

I am a total routine person to a fault. I stress about doing things during the week that will interfere with solid sleep. I literally count the hours of sleep I get at night (and I wonder why I am single!)  For 2017, I intend to not beat myself up if I do not stick to my day to day routine 100% of the time. Life is about the unexpected and allowing wiggle room for things that come our way. It is okay if I miss a workout in the morning (I can make it up later in the day).  I do feel like I have a balanced life, but I am open to shaking it up a bit. And by shaking it up, let’s be honest here. Realistically, it is not exactly likely I will be out raging on a Wednesday night, but it is more likely that I will be out at a hockey game or literary event. It is ok if I have a raging Saturday brunch that turns into an all-day event. The errands I have to do that day can wait till another day. I need to cut my routine and myself some slack if I want to have new experiences or just some old fashioned fun and shenanigans.

Speaking of shenanigans, I need to have more of them in 2017. To my point above, my routine has probably meant I have missed out on some fun opportunities. I am no spring chicken but I am also not ready to live the life of a 70 year old. (Actually as I wrote that, I was reminded that most 70 year olds I know are living life with far more zest than I am.) I am going to say “yes” to more invitations. If it sounds fun and appealing, no more silly excuses like, “I can’t hang out with them, I’ll be the oldest person there.” Or “But tomorrow is squat day, I need to be in bed by 9:30”. These are true stories. So get ready, friends. You will be seeing a lot more of me in 2017!

I know myself, and as much as I do I intend to break my routine this year, I recognize that I do still need boundaries in certain areas so that I do not undo the hard work  I put in. Specifically, I am referring to my old friend, Alcohol. Since I do not believe in setting a goal that has an absolute in it, I will not commit to never drinking. I will commit though to only drinking when I want to. I wrote a post a few months back about dieting and how social expectations play into it (that post here). One thing that I feel just as strongly about, if not more, is that I am accountable for what I put into my body which means I am entirely in the right to not give into societal or social pressures. I am accepting the fact, whether it is neurotic or not, that for the most part, drinking for the sake of drinking makes me feel badly about myself.  I put A LOT of tears and sweat in both in and out of the box. I strive to continuously improve, not reverse or counter all those hours by having too many glasses of wine. I am giving myself continued permission in 2017 to pick and choose when I want those extra alcoholic calories. I also quite frankly cannot bounce back the next day like I used to after drinking, and so for me, drinking becomes like a 24 hour investment. So if I decline to drink, please know it’s my own deal and internal struggle.  Having said that, as I am devoted to reintroducing fun into my life, when I am up for shenanigans, I will have no qualms if they do indeed involve drinking.

My last intention is more of a not-so-subtle ask for help. I absolutely love writing, and I intend to do more of it this year. It brings me a different kind of happiness and gratitude than anything else I do. While my intention is to do more of it, I am on the one hand trusting that the universe will give me opportunities while on the other, I have to proactively go find them as well as self-promote (which is totally awkward and even more so as I am also not-so-subtly incorporating it into this blog!). I am open for any advice or recommendations on the matter.

For me, I am whole- heartedly believing that 2017 is going to be the best year yet. 2015 and 2016 were dark years (not for me individually but on the whole for all of us in the spiritual sense.  I could spend more time on that but I will leave it there…for now). I want to reclaim a lot of things that have gotten away from me while embracing new experiences to come. I am setting my intentions as I know they will be answered.

What are your intentions for 2017?