Through the Eyes of a Judge: 6 Tips and Tricks for Making Your Next CrossFit Competition Gratifying

 

I had a blast this weekend judging at the BattleGround CrossFit competition in San Pedro (despite the dreadful farmer’s tan I am now sporting).  As a judge (and even a spectator), I got to see the good, the bad and the ugly. I witnessed inspiring moments as well as cringe worthy ones. For those who have competed before or intend to compete for the first time, I want to share them with you. (As a side note, competing is something all of you should consider at some point for the sheer experience of it.  It is like nothing else you will do). When you do compete, I want you to have the best experience doing it. It is not always about winning and for most of you, it is going to be about getting out of your comfort zone to really shock and amaze yourselves.

  1. Have a game plan. This seems obvious, yet not everyone goes into a competition prepared. For most competitions, the movements and workouts are announced before the big day. Prior to the competition, ideally you have time to do a test run or at a minimum, practice the movements. Have a plan for how you want to execute. You may consider planning how you want to break up reps or which movements you want to move faster through to compensate for another movement that you anticipate being harder to push through. For teams you want to know who is doing what to make it as flawless as possible. Athletes tend to feel more prepared and confident going in when they know what their part is.

    I had the honor of judging one of the RX teams as well as a few scaled teams, one in particular which is most memorable.  I was equally impressed by both despite that the RX  team had competed before while the scaled team was competing for the first time.  Both teams stayed in step with their mates, and nobody dominated or took over. They went in assured (even considering they were nervous!) and walked away feeling triumphant. It was beautiful to see.

    On the contrary, I judged a team who was well, to put it bluntly, a hot mess. They had no game plan and their communication was atrocious. They barely knew what the workout was (which is also indicative of a lack of preparation or simply not listening to the organizers go over in detail the workouts prior to the first heat). I have yet to see a team ever (in my times judging as well as competing) where “winging it” worked out well. Granted, competitions are whatever you make of it and for some, they may not care how they get it done as long as they do get it done. I would say though you will enjoy competing more if you feel prepared and have a plan.

 

  1. Communicate with your teammates! I cannot stress this point enough. Of all the teams I judged, the ones that inspired me the most were the ones who communicated well with each other. They had a plan going in and performed like a true team. They knew who was doing what and they did not stumble. They also encouraged each other before and during. They were respectful towards each other and communicated calmly. It really made a difference in how they executed. It also built team camaraderie because they could trust one another.

    Something else that you may not consider until game day is that competitions are quite noisy with music, spectators, announcers, etc. When verbal communication is not an option, you will need to rely on body signals or head nods to communicate to your team. Equally important though is that you need to establish in advance what physical cues to look for. The Hot Mess Team, for example, had none of that. They barely looked at each other which made their transitions sloppy. They lost a bit of time and got many no reps.  They also got to the end of the workout where it was a team relay of a 200 meter run followed by 5 burpees (each person had to do this before the next went). When it came time to do this, they all were standing around not knowing what to do or who was going.  I had to shout, “GO!” before someone finally made a move.

    Lack of communication leads to a higher level of stress and poor output, which is the opposite of what you want when competing. Pay attention to your teammates both verbally and visually. Know when someone needs help or when someone needs a word of encouragement to keep going. Know when to go.

 

  1. Communicate with your judge! Before each heat, I prefer having a moment to talk with the athletes. I like to tell them my counting scheme. For example, trying to count someone else’s double- unders is one of the hardest things to do when judging. There is also no way to count each one out loud and keep up with what rep they are on. I would count out loud by10’s. I would tell the athletes this before they started so that they did not lose focus or worry that I was daydreaming and not counting.  They appreciated this and thanked me for it.

    Some of the teams and individual competitors even told me ahead what their game plan was which makes it easier to judge. For example, the RX team told me that the male was doing all the bar muscle ups and then the female would start on the snatches. This made it more efficient for them (and me) as I knew who to look at for reps (and it did not cost them time waiting on me).

    On the contrary, the Hot Mess Team, as they showed up at the last minute before starting the workout, missed the opportunity to know my game plan in terms of counting. This lead to them asking me a million questions as I was judging which as a judge is absolutely annoying and distracting.  I am pretty sure this cost them extra reps because it took my attention away from counting. Had they communicated with me ahead of time, we also would have been more in sync and they would have a more fluid time competing. (This team was my least favorite to judge… can you tell?)

    Bottom line on this point, just like you should communicate with your teammates, you will want to communicate with your judges.

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  1. ALWAYS set properly before executing. In competitions, nerves (and often inexperience) results in athletes going for a movement, particularly barbell lifts, before even setting properly. And quite often, that leads to failed movements (aka the dreaded NO REP!). If they do manage to hit it, it’s ugggggggly (and cringe worthy as that is typically when injuries happen). One of the workouts in the BattleGrounds was a clean ladder where the teams had 4 minutes to get as many lifts as possible, with each athlete being able to attempt 2 before tagging in the next athlete. I saw athletes running from platform to platform going right into lifts and those were the ones that often failed. Setting up is so key! When I watched the more seasoned athletes, they all took those few extra seconds to set up and they executed beautifully. (Haste makes waste guys!) And I get it, everyone feels the pressure of the clock and every second matters. It is better though to take that extra 3 seconds to set and get that rep than not and fail (which means less points).

 

  1. Stay calm and composed. Similar to setting properly, it is so important to not let your nerves take over. Quite a few of the no reps I had to make were because athletes lost focus, like on double -unders. Those are just a tricky movement to begin with and they are one of the easiest to flub on. One you get out of rhythm it causes frustration (and continual fails). Athletes got in their own heads and instead of taking that extra second to regain composure (much like setting properly on barbell lifts), they would trip themselves up.

    Losing composure also happened when athletes were so determined to go fast, they ended up inadvertently cheating movements (and getting no reps). I even saw athletes start scanning their neighboring competitors to see how far ahead or far behind they are.  This resulted in them losing focus and slowing down.

    It is so important to stay composed and stay focused on what YOU are doing.

 

  1. Give yourselves time to prepare. When the announcer says “athletes in Heat 4, please go to the field”, GO! As awesome and tirelessly as the volunteers work to get everything set up, there will always be unexpected snafus. Sometimes the bars may not have the right weight on them (as sometimes people’s lanes get reassigned at the last minute). There was a team (ok fine, it was the Hot Mess Team) who showed up late and almost did not have the chance to get the right weight for the women’s bar. They were close to having to contemplate snatching 95 pounds instead of 75. Showing up promptly gives athletes a chance to check their equipment, do a few warm ups even, and get themselves situated on the right bar on the rig. For us shorter athletes, we want to ensure we can reach the bar to do pull-ups. Similarly, for the taller athletes, there were cases where they were assigned to a lower bar and had the chance to move to a higher bar for muscle-ups.

    We all are used to working out at our respective boxes which means we are familiar with the equipment and set ups. At competitions, even though you are doing the same movements you have done before, there will be an element of unfamiliarity and discomfort initially. Give yourself time to get to comfortable before you hear that buzzer to start.

 

These are all really easy and practical guidelines to follow when competing. Follow them and you will have a much better experience competing. So go get after it (and let me know how it goes!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For Fiction ‘Big Little Lies’ Holds Powerful Truths

 

If you have not watched Big Little Lies, stop right here. It is simply not to be missed (and this post will have spoiler alerts).

Big Little Lies is so cleverly told; it vacillates between what is real and what is perceived. It shows the characters in positive light as well as negative. It leaves you changing your opinion of them more times than can be counted. It gets into a lot of really serious, heavy topics that keeps you transfixed, hypnotized, stunned and reflecting for days and weeks to come. There are a few prevalent themes that I fervently and impatiently want to dive right into.

 

Judgment

I believe the writers want us, its captivated audience, to pass judgment regularly and shamelessly only to be essentially corrected to the point that we feel a tad bit guilty. It starts within minutes of the first episode. We are (briefly) led to believe that these first graders’ mothers are catty, rich women with nothing better to do than gossip and start drama. Ok, so sure, this is true to a degree, but the main characters (Celeste, Madeline, Jane, Bonnie and Renata,) are so much more than that. Sure, they live in an affluent town where almost everyone lives in houses with views that we could only dream about. It also does not help the façade given that the entire cast looks like they are out of a J. Crew catalog. Yet, they show us time and time again they have real problems: domestic abuse, ex-husbands and unresolved issues, infidelity, rape, struggling to balance work and parenthood, to name a few. It is a blatant reminder of how much judgment we often pass when firstly, it’s quite frankly none of our business and secondly, we do so without even knowing the full or real story. Not all things are as they seem.

 

Judgment and Abuse

It is deliberate that the show takes place in Monterey. It is not set there simply because of the views, the money or how much it is thriving. It is to demonstrate that abuse can happen anywhere.  It does not discriminate financially or demographically. Big Little Lies proves that women who stay in abusive relationships do so not just because they do not have the money to leave. Women (and men) stay out of some sort of fear and/or manipulation. It might be fear of not being financially supported. It may be the fear of being found and harmed.  It may be the fear of taking children away from their fathers (albeit even though they are abusers) and how damaging that can be to the children. It may be fear of public shame. Whatever it is, their reasons are valid. And from the outside it is easy for any of us to say “but just leave!” and question how they could stay, how could they leave their families in danger, how can they leave the general public in danger because they are “letting” these abusive monsters, these loose cannons out in the world?

 

That is what this show wants us to do: to question, to judge. They want us to look at Celeste and find ourselves bewildered that a woman of her stature, of her beauty, of her intelligence could be in such an insanely unhealthy marriage. The writers and producers want us to judge Jane and wonder, how could she never have reported her assaulter?  How could she not prevent him from assaulting other women? Would she really find him after all those years in San Luis Obispo, and would she seek revenge? Would we blame her if she did? If she is so haunted by him (she sleeps with a gun under her pillow), how come she never sought therapy?

 

Judgment and Bullying

It was so heartbreaking to see sweet little Amabella time and time again sad, bruised and isolated. What a horrible thing for anyone to go through, let alone an innocent 6 year old. Imagine being parents, fully aware their child is being bullied and feeling totally helpless. (Although, it can be argued that her parents could have pulled her out of school to stop her from being bullied. It can be argued that in doing so, it may solve their problem, but it is likely the bully will just find a different innocent victim).  I know I had moments of being appalled at how malicious Renata and her husband acted, how inappropriate Gordon was to Jane in threatening her with a restraining order. It is easy for any of us to feel disgusted by how this harrowing abuse brought out the worst in people, but it is not our place really to judge how Amabella’s parents  or Jane acted.  Regardless if you agree with what they did or what they said, you cannot deny they were doing what they thought best to protect their child.  And it is easy for anyone who is not in that situation to feel they know how best to handle it.

 

Forgiveness and Uniting

The power of forgiveness is something we often lose sight of. Often we are too stubborn to grant it. But my god, being angry will suck the energy right out of us. It brings the worst out in us, and it blinds us to doing really what is right.

 

Renata and Jane, even after trading nasty insults and almost having an eye poked out, they even managed to put their differences aside. They came together because their love for their children was the most important thing in the world.

 

So many of us hold grudges, some more extreme than others.  Some grudges are petty and some are founded. It is like once that grudge has been formed, all reality becomes distorted. There is no coming back from it. That is, until something tragic happens. In those harrowing, sobering moments of reality, it is like we forget why we were so angry or why we hated someone so much. It is like all traces of why we held onto so much hatred and anger just vanishes because there is something so much more important at stake.

 

In the story of Big Little Lies, it sadly took someone’s death to unite five women (and their men who supported them).  In just a few short moments, there was a sudden undeniable realization by Jane that Perry was the one who had assaulted her more than 6 years ago. Her reaction, the change in her supporting grip on Madeline became so jarring that both Madeline and Celeste (and I would say Perry) all knew it to be true. As Perry lunged for Celeste, all the women around her, including Renata, instinctively knew they had to protect her. They sensed danger and without any hesitation, they all fought for Celeste. Bonnie, who saw Celeste struggling to get away from Perry earlier, also without a doubt knew something was strikingly amiss.

 

All their drama, all their differences were gone. The scene of Perry’s murder, seeing Bonnie come running desperately to stop him, instantly bound all of those women and their families together.  In one short moment, it erased their history and showed just how powerful and magnificent people can be. I watched that scene probably a dozen times because I was truly struck by how amazing people can be and that feeling of renewed faith in humanity overcame how disgusted I was by how evil the world can also be (as seen in Perry).

To me, the best example that so beautifully ties all these themes together was in the scene of Celeste confronting her son, Max, about bullying Amabella.  There are people in the world who may never change, they may always be dark and troubled (I have met one or two in my life).  But we want to have faith and hope that people as whole, especially children, can be rehabilitated. I do not believe Max bullied Amabella because he is an evil troubled soul. He was a highly misguided child who grew up in a home where he heard, if not saw, his father beat up his mother, slamming her against walls, kicking her and throwing things at her. He then saw his father shower his mother with affection, and he saw his mother accept that affection with seemingly sincerity. He was learning that to show love to a woman (or to a girl) is to be mean, to belittle her, to bully her. To threaten her. And she will still love you. Because that’s what adults do.

 

Celeste freed Max of this as did all of the other women and their children. They showed love and forgiveness and it overcame any judgment. For as tragic and serious as many of the storylines are, I still walked away from this show feeling hopeful and renewed. Watching all the women and children on the beach, while I am not oblivious to their struggles or pain, felt ironically uplifting. I want to believe that for as fundamentally messed up that this world is, that there are good people in it. That there are people who struggle but can come together. I want to believe that when we encounter unprecedented situations, we will do the right thing.

 

 

 

 

 

As Much as I Love Being Injected With Cat Dander, Time to Battle Allergies Differently

Allergies will get me every time. I fight them every day (with nasal spray, an inhaler and prescription drugs. I am like a superhero, Allergy Girl!). I fight them every month with good old allergy shots (I have lost count of how many times I have had a tube of cat dander injected into my arm). While this may sound like complaints, I recognize that I am fortunate that allergies are my biggest chronic health issue (knock on wood). Having said that, you should know I am allergic to virtually all environmental things plus household things like mold and dust mites as well as a few foods. I sniffle so much that I don’t even notice that I do it anymore. So it is not surprising that if I could, I would prefer banishing allergy fighting from my every day super hero battles.

When a friend recommended I call a Natural Allergy Healer, I did so with few questions asked. I looked up the site and saw some verbiage about Bioenergetic Intolerance Elimination (BIE). I also read reviews of people who had been treated by her and were raving about how she was able to cure allergies that modern medicine could not.  While part of me is skeptical of something that is based on Eastern knowledge and non- traditional medicine, I figured I have nothing to lose (and a whole lot to gain).

I am two sessions into BIE and while I still have a few more to go, I am fascinated by it and feeling optimistic.  I have been wanting to rave about what BIE is but have been unable to do it any justice in my explanation. So I turned to my bestie, google, and am excited to be able to share with you what I am learning.

Before even starting the BIE treatment (definition on BIE coming later), my healer  first had to establish what I am allergic to and then decide which ones of those she could focus on first. To do this, she performed muscle testing. You are wondering, “What is muscle testing?” Amy B. Scher, Author and Energy Healer, explains it well on her blog .

Muscle Testing: Getting Answers From the Subconscious Mind

Much research has revealed the power of our subconscious minds. The                   subconscious mind is like a human computer, recording everything that has happened in our lives. Through my studies, I have come to believe the subconscious mind knows exactly what is going on with us, and how we can heal from it.

What is Muscle Testing (aka applied kinesiology)?

The body has within it and surrounding it an electrical network or grid, which is pure energy. Because energy runs through the muscles in your body, if anything impacts your electrical system that does not maintain or enhance your body’s balance, your muscles will virtually “short circuit” or weaken (don’t worry, only temporarily). Things that might have an impact on your electrical system are thoughts and emotions, foods, and other substances.

Using your muscles, we can find what events or emotions “weaken” or “strengthen” your body. This process is called applied kinesiology, but often referred to as “muscle testing.” It’s simply a really cool way we can ask your body questions and get clear answers – like a telephone to the subconscious mind.

My healer used a muscle testing method where I would sit on a chair, with my legs uncrossed. She would have me touch my thumb to my pinky on my right hand. Then, she would hand me a vile with an allergen in it which, with my left hand, I would hold against my right forearm. She would say something to the effect of “strong, stay closed, weak open”.  Essentially, if she could detach my fingers (this being “weak”), then it would indicate an allergy. If my fingers stayed closed, that’s the “strong”, indicated not allergic.  Ok, I fully realize this sounds a bit fictious or that perhaps someone could easily control themselves whether their fingers stayed open or closed, but trust me, I fully believe muscle testing is the real deal. I would tell myself desperately DO NOT let her open your fingers, but it would fail vile after vile. For the record, I tested allergic to the same things that my traditional allergy doctor verified (and then some) through skin testing. She identified a multitude of allergens like trees, grass, flowers, weather smog, mold, and the list goes on and on.

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My healer had to then figure out from all those allergens, which she should treat me for first. It would be too much on my body to do them all in one go. If you can allow yourself to accept the theory of kinesiology, it really is not so crazy. Substitute in the definition  cited earlier  “allergens” for “events or emotions”, and that’s what she did. Doing the same muscle testing, she would have me hold viles of what I tested positive on to my arm, and she would ask my body (yes you read that right, she asked my body), “Is it for Missy’s higher good if I treat her for <insert allergen>? Weak for yes, strong for no.”  She went through different combinations and in my first session, she whittled it down to treating me for grasses (about 40 different varieties).

After she figured out what to treat, she started the BIE itself.

(Taken from Back to Wellness):

What is BIE?

Bioenergetic Intolerance Elimination is a simple, natural new approach that enables one’s body to recognize sensitivities or intolerances, assisting in recovery from associated allergy-like symptoms, without the use of needles or drugs.

How does BIE work?

A lightweight state-of-the-art device is used to transmit a low electronic frequency directly onto various acupuncture points (without the use of needles) on the body to stimulate and clear any blockages in energy known as stressors. During this procedure the client is exposed to the frequencies of the substances they are intolerant or sensitive to (not the actual substances themselves). While the blockages are clearing, the body’s cells can adapt to recognize the stressing frequency. When this non-invasive and painless procedure is complete, the body will hopefully no longer see the sensitivity or intolerance as a threat when exposed to it, therefore no longer producing any adverse reactions.

BIE is completely pain free and non-invasive, and it is super quick might I add (a few minutes tops).  The only thing I had to following the session was to stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water.

Truth be told, I was not totally convinced after my first session that BIE had worked. The first few days after, LA had horrendous winds which always aggravate my allergies. I was congested, had a headache and constantly carrying a tissue. By the end of the second week, I was noticing a slight decrease in symptoms. I also conducted my very official verification of how bad allergies are by texting a few of my friends who usually suffer allergies the same times I do.  One had responded that hers had been horrible, and I was pleasantly surprised that I would not describe mine as such. Maybe there is something to be said for BIE…

Two weeks after my first session, I went back for my second BIE treatment. She went through the same muscle testing and guess what! When she retested me for grasses (which is what she treated me for in my first session), my fingers amazingly did not open.  She went through the same exercise of determining what to treat me for and my body decided on weeds, a few household allergens, histamine, smog, and wind and barometric pressure. (Yes even weather can be allergens!) While I was there, I asked if she could test me to see if I am allergic to lip gloss. The few times I wear it, I end up with the most dried out, blotchy looking lips ever. They are painful and ugly so I generally go all natural. I was astounded that she was able to test me with the tube of lip gloss itself and yes, she confirmed I am allergic. While I am prioritizing it low, I am adding it to my list of allergens I want to banish.

I completely buy into what all the cited references say about BIE and muscle testing. I personally believe in BIE  because I believe in energy. Energy in the world, energy in others and energy in ourselves.  One of my life guiding principles is making decisions based on energy. I pick up on the energy of other people and I pick up on the energy of the universe which often tells me what I should or should not do when faced with a tough decision. So to me, it is not that farfetched to believe that we have energy within our bodies that can easily be off-balance (and can just as easily be restored).

I also have gone the traditional Western route for treating allergies for years and years. I am by no means saying that medication and shots do not work. Plenty of people reap full benefit of those treatments and can ultimately be allergy free (and treatment free). I simply am not one of those people. When you get allergy shots (which is your own customized concoction that your doctor puts together based on what you are allergic to), your doctor slowly and gradually increases the dosage of allergens in each injection. The idea is you slowly build a tolerance to them which makes you progressively less sensitive to them. Everyone who gets shots responds differently. The duration of the “build- up” period can vary in the dosage and frequency. Following the build- up period starts the “maintenance” period, where ideally has an end date, and patients no longer need treatment.

To put this in perspective, I had to reach twice the average dosage in the build- up period to even start maintenance. I have had consultations with my doctor and he has said I will most likely never be free of allergy shots. I have been on maintenance about 3 years, which for me means that I am going for two shots every 3-4 weeks. (I do not want to say the shots are horrible but they are by no means pain free. So like I said earlier, after countless shots, I would not mind never having them again).

Even with shots, I am still sensitive to allergies. If it rains or the wind blows, I am sneezing up a storm. My bathroom looks like a pharmacy. I have to puff on my inhaler prior to exercise. And even while my health insurance covers most of the cost of shots and my allergy treatments,  I have still contributed my fair share to their expenses.

Given all those reasons, I have no strong argument to NOT try BIE. Even the cost of BIE is minimal considering if it alleviates allergies, then it alleviates the ongoing cost I am paying to live semi harmoniously with all my pesky allergens. I also simply relish the idea of being able to be outside in nature, WHICH I LOVE, whenever I want.

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I have another session scheduled in two weeks and I will report back! If you are intrigued and live in LA specifically, I highly recommend the healer I have been going to in Studio City. You can find her info here.