Mineral Baths Got Me Like…

Spending time in mineral pools and baths this past weekend did something to stimulate a deeper interest and understanding in what keeps people coming back and making sacrifices to get what they want. I will also cut to the chase as it really is quite simple: how badly do you want it?

My friends and I were comparing our stories of our first times… we each stepped into a CrossFit box. None of us walked in and thought, “Wow, yes this is home! We have found the motherland!” We all felt confused, overwhelmed and intimidated. Warm ups were difficult to follow. Understanding the movements had us like what is happening?  A clean is what? You want me to bring my knees to what? Many people try CrossFit and find it is not for them. So they quietly retreat back into the night. I did not know that CrossFit was for me for probably 6 months. I loved it yes, but I also felt like a fish out of water. So what kept me, and my friends, and other athletes from giving up on CrossFit? What kept us coming back?

What makes me different than someone else? What gives me the motivation to go back that someone else does not have? And while I am predominantly referring to CrossFit in this post, feel free to insert your sport of choice (albeit running, kickboxing, Pilates, etc).

There are so many other components or factors that go into the perfect formula for getting on track:

  • Having stellar coaches who pay attention to you and put you at ease.
  • A supportive community that keeps you accountable and builds camaraderie that draws you in.
  • A box that is logistically feasible to get to.
  • Programming that you can get on board with.
  • Having gorgeous workout clothes (oh wait, that’s just me)

 

But if you do not have the will and the confidence to go back, none of these other factors will be enough to keep you going. Where this is a will there is a way.

As I mentioned earlier, I cannot quite say in all honesty that I really loved CrossFit the first few months. I mean, I did not hate it, but I also do not think I really “got it”. I kept going though. Why? Why did I stay with CrossFit over trying something else or giving up completely?  I had an overpowering desire to get my muscle tone and strength back. I lost so much of it from having a broken foot that I was pretty depressed about having years of hard work reversed in just a few months. I missed being able to run (well I did not actually miss the act of running but I wanted the choice to run to be mental and not a physical limitation). I had that will. I had a taste for what it felt like to be fit and happy in my own skin. I wanted that again. Very badly. And I knew that CrossFit would keep me accountable.

For anyone to keep going, they need to find their own motivation and use it to fuel them. I believe it is different from person to person. It could be that you got a reality check at the doctor’s office. It could be that you found you got winded just playing with your kids. Maybe you have 10 pounds left of baby fat to shed. Whatever your motivation is, you need to have the mental will to implement it. You need to want it badly enough that no excuse is going to interfere. Not even those summer bbq’s or chili dogs at baseball games are going to take you off your course. You have to want to hit your goals, to get healthy far more than you want anything else.

I remember coming out of 2 weeks of Fundies and going to my first “real” CrossFit class. I was completely over stimulated and did not enjoy it one bit. I easily could have declared that CrossFit is terrible and never go back. But I didn’t. I had that passion to keep going and see it through. It is far too easy to have one bad experience and rule the whole damn thing out. Maybe you try one yoga class where you did not like the instructor or the vibe of the class, but you generalize that all yoga sucks. And so you never go back. Well maybe it was just the wrong studio or just the wrong day for you. You should not give up. Go find another one. Same with CrossFit. People often feel like they did not connect with the energy of the class or found one athlete to be arrogant and territorial. Or they thought the programming that day was too difficult or too scary. So they do not return.

hat I suspect is really happening in some cases in my unprofessional, pure speculative opinion is that we often WANT a reason to quit. Because it is so damn hard to be healthy. We know there is no short cut for losing weight or getting healthy. It does not happen overnight.  This is not ground breaking news. Yet, so many people give up and give in without really fighting or what they want.

(Please note, I am by no means insinuating this is 100% of the time. I recognize people may have addictions or illness, for example, that may limit them. This post is not about that population).

It is like when your mom told you as a kid to try asparagus or fish. You stick your tongue out, lick it and say “I don’t like the texture. I can’t eat this.’ It’s the same deal with working out sometimes. We tell ourselves we should try it and do it, but we LOOK for that reason to validate that we should not ever do it again.

That is what distinguishes those who go back, every day, from those who do not. We want it. We want it badly. We may not love it when we are in it but we sure as hell love what CrossFit does for us.

5 Ridiculously Irrational CrossFit Fears

So many of our fears can be irrational or debilitating.

I know all too well what an irrational fear (well in my mind it’s rational) can do to a person. Just look at how traumatized I get by finding a water bug in my condo. To me, it’s totally rational. They are scary ugly crunchy little turds that have no business being in my home. What if I step on one in the dark? What if one crawls over me as I am rolling out on my floor? What if I choke on the fumes of the Black Flag I spray to kill one? (I probably use half a can per bug. No bueno). What if one craws unbeknownst to me into my gym bag and I transport it into my car and it crawls over me driving and I crash? I know, this sounds dramatic. But these thoughts are honest to god what goes through my head every time I see one or I think I see one. The fear is REAL!

But I get it, to most of you, it’s an irrational fear. (And no, this blog is not going to be about my fear of water bugs although BELIEVE ME, I could easily write 1000 words on that topic!) Much like my own water bug phobia, I have been around CrossFit long enough to have heard, seen and experience what I consider to be irrational fears.  I write this partially because I find them shamelessly amusing as well as to be a hindrance to progress.

 

Disclaimer: There are legitimate fears in CrossFit, like tripping on a box jump or hurting your back on squats. But that is a different topic for a different day. The spirit of this post is to call out some common irrational fears so that we can stare them down and move past them.

 

  1. Fear of looking awkward or not “fitting in” at CrossFit.  I have been there. I would say this is common for a lot of newcomers to CrossFit. Often, we worry of trying something and either failing or just looking sloppy doing it. So we don’t do it. Which is just silly. Mastering a skill or a lift does not just happen by osmosis. It takes failing to reach success. I think we all probably know this consciously but when it comes to the moment of “should I or shouldn’t I?” the fear of looking silly or awkward can take over and prevent us from even trying.

    My two cents on this (besides the standard “Get over it”) is to remember this. EVERYONE in my opinion who steps foot into ANY CrossFit box is bad ass. It takes guts just to get there so the fact that you show up is half the battle. A good citizen of CrossFit will support and encourage you to push yourself. And if you find that your fellow boxmates are actually mocking or being anything other than supportive, you may want to think about going to a different box.

    The fear of looking awkward will keep us in our comfort zone. And we all know where the magic happens and it ain’t in there!

  2. Fear of the snatch. This is 100% a legit fear. Why is it so scary? Is it the concept of having to lift a barbell from the ground to overhead in one quick movement? Is it being insecure in strength and skill? For me, it is a combination of those, or maybe it is a fear of commitment. I have a really hard time committing to the barbell when it is to be snatched. I find myself setting and resetting half a dozen times before I even lift. Who else does this? All I can say is, they frighten me.
  3. Fear of not knowing what the WOD is before getting into the box. The panic that ensues when the next day’s workout is NOT posted before bedtime. You all know what I mean! The texts, the facebook posts… It is like we cannot function in the unknown. Let’s admit it, CrossFitters can be control freaks! It’s ok to be a little fearful of the unknown. It keeps us on our toes.
  4. Fear of agony and pain. Raise your hand if you ever left a CrossFit class and said, “That was easy.” You may say “that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be” or “I actually kind of liked it.” But if you are walking away thinking it’s easy, then most likely you are not allowing yourself to get into that “hurt so good” beast mode. Possibly because you fear what it feels like to experience that suck so much. But hey guess what. It is part of CrossFit. Do not fear it. Embrace it.
  5. Fear of bands. Using a band for pull-ups, ring dips or other gymnastic moves can be super awkward. We all have struggled getting the right footing on those suckers. I would say some of us even have trepidation in using them. Perhaps we fear somehow slipping or getting catapulted by the band clear across the box. I am fairly certain that will not happen so get used to them. (But not too used to them because you are a bad ass who will not need a band forever. Mic drop please. Boom.)

Fears. We all have them. They can be silly and they can be overwhelming. I get into my own head A LOT, but I also in all sincerity believe CrossFit is my safe place. Above and beyond any silly fear I have, it is the place I have seen so much growth and progress. I focus on that these days far more than the “what ifs” that fear can lead to.

I also found this article which is in the same vain as my post. Check it out!  http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/945851/crossfit-dont-fear-the-fitness

 

Fear 2.0

Disclaimer: Hi friends! I admittedly have writer’s block. Well, that’s not entirely true. I actually have A LOT of topics whirling through my brain faster than I can really process them. So, since they are not quite hatched and ready to be written, I looked back at posts from last summer. I came across this one and thought that it is very fitting. The blog in its entirety I still stand by. I do believe fear is one of the biggest obstacles people face in CrossFit when it comes to progressing and reaching goals (and any other sport really). It had me thinking though how it ties to so many other things in life. I know I am in a period of transition and change in many ways so what if I took the same post and added a little extra commentary? It sounds grand doesn’t it? Well then please, read on. 

Note: I have deliberately made a distinction as to what was in the original post compared to today’s, with the latter being in italics.

 

It’s been a week box of retesting 1 rep maxes.  Snatches. Squats. Cleans. Jerks. You name it. What do they have in common? Fear. 1 RM brings out fear in the best of us. There is the fear of failing. The fear of letting the mental override the physical. The fear of committing to a movement. The fear of experiencing what suck really feels like.

Fear keeps us from reaching goals. Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable to get to where you want to be. Sometimes you have to let go of a friendship or relationship to allow space for new ones. Sometimes you have to experience the suck of a diet or giving up your favorite vice to reach your health goal. It is a give and take in life in general in my opinion. We all know you don’t get things for nothin’.  If you want something badly enough, how uncomfortable are you willing to get to achieve that?

 

The thing is though, we use fear as a reason to not push ourselves. It feels safer that way. Or maybe it feels easier. It’s better to successfully press 100 lbs and not even try 105 (that’s just crazytown) than it is to attempt 105 and fail.  Psych! Read that and tell me it makes any logical sense. If you do CrossFit, it’s a safe assumption that you are there for the challenge. We don’t walk away from a metcon typically saying “that was fun”. We are there for the suck. The suck is what makes all of it gratifying and challenging and therefore fun.

Think about what you procrastinate on. Is it laziness? Is it being overwhelmed? Or is it perhaps the fear of pushing ourselves? Do we not push ourselves because to push ourselves means it might hurt in some way albeit short lived or not? The thing is though, sometimes pushing ourselves leads to new great things, but we fear the unknown. I know I have been guilty even of pushing myself with the topics I should to write about out of fear of being judged or too vulnerable. Yet I know the times I do push myself to go a little deeper or a little more into unchartered waters, I often get great results and inspire others.

 

Fear means getting comfortable being uncomfortable.  In CrossFit, the whole idea is to push ourselves beyond our limits. We can never do that if we stay comfortable and never get on the other side of fear.

 

 

 

To take this one step further, let’s get into the difference between feeling challenged and feeling like you are doing the near impossible. There is a fine line between the two yet the distinction is so powerful. Take back squats for example. If you have ever done a squat cycle, this should sound familiar. The volume and load methodically increases and decreases throughout the cycle. You slowly build strength. When you are in one of the last weeks of it, you’ll likely be doing reps at a high percentage of what your starting 1 RM max is. Or you may be doing higher reps at somewhat lower percentage. It’s not likely you will fail (even if you fear you will) as squat cycles are brilliantly programmed to avoid this. So you go through the reps, and no, they are not easy, but you do not fail.

Even if you do fail, it is not the worst thing in the world. If anything, it fuels you to want it even more. Failing also just means when you do succeed, you will appreciate that glory and gratification exponentially more.

 

Then comes the retest day. You start working your way up to your 1 RM and then you test the waters and increase the weight to get a new PR. When you get to that say 110% of your 1 RM, the difficult y of that squat should feel subtly yet distinctively harder than when you squatted during the cycle. There’s that defining moment right after you complete the descend and start to stand back up. It’s that really sticky make or break moment where you dig deep inside and push like hell through it. And you do it! Yet, when you are on the ascend there’s a split moment where you make the choice to give in or keep going.  If you give into it without trying, you have gained nothing. If you power through it, you may actually experience a really wickedly awesome moment. Even if you fail trying, it will benefit you far more than not trying at all. Giving into fear just kills the drive and motivation to ever push harder. Fear despite the connotation, is actually a good thing, if you let it power you as opposed to inhibit. If we wanted to stay comfortable all the time, we would not be in CrossFit.

If we wanted to stay comfortable, we definitely can. Many of us do and are content. But is content enough for you? Are you ok with having the same 1 RM in any lift for life? Are you ok staying in a job that leaves you content but perhaps not inspired? Is comfortable more important to you than happiness?

 

Those sticky moments are uncomfortable. The first time you experience it, it may even be intimidating and feel icky. I encourage everyone to find that sticky moment. It’s difficult to even explain that feeling. All I can say is once you do, you will fear those moments less. The element of the unknown is gone and you will feel far more confident to keep testing yourself. Find that and then watch and see all that you will accomplish.

Well said if I do say so myself. I encourage you to proactively find those sticky moments. Choose to work through them. Choose to not let fear deter you. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. The reward will be infinitely invigorating and satisfying.

 

Original post here: https://prthislife.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/fear/

 

 

Bathroom Selfies: Trouble or Truth?

A few Saturday mornings ago, I was getting ready to workout. I had on pajama bottoms that are probably 5 sleeps away from completely disintegrating, paired with a sports bra. I was not exactly a vision. Anyways, I was walking around my condo doing who knows what (I get easily distracted) when I sauntered past a mirror. Mind you, I do not typically stroll around in just a bra because well, it’s just not my thing. ANYWAYS, I caught a glimpse of my stomach. Well really I caught a glimpse of what I thought might actually be abs.  I had to rub my eyes a few times to make sure I was not dreaming. I obviously had to strike a few different poses and angles to confirm it was not just a figment of my imagination.  I also went into my bathroom to check in that mirror. I turned on and off every combination of lights from my bathroom to the hallway to my bedroom. Ok so at this point of reading, you are thinking, “Missy, you are psycho”. Yes, yes I am. And that is the point of this story.

The psychosis continued. I messaged two of my friends that I knew would tell me if there were really indeed traces of abdominal muscles showing or if it was a figment of my imagination. I expected them to confirm the latter, but much to my dismay, they did not. They told me something like “Missy, you look amazing! And you need to get your head checked. You have total body dysmorphia.”

I share this little story because I know I am not the only one with thoughts like this. I know I am not the only one even at my age who still struggles with body image insecurities. I also know that like many of you, for every moment of confidence I have, I have exponentially more moments of self-doubt.

At this point, I could go in a few directions with this (much like the book series I grew up with, Choose Your Own Adventure). I could write about how we are our own worst critics and give a few tips for how we perhaps can start to change our thinking, but that is not really the main point that is percolating in my brain.(Nor do  I truly know how to do that because surely if I did, I would not even be writing this post today). If you are like me, our insecurities are years in the making.  I am not arrogant enough to think my post will make any of us, including myself, think otherwise.  Or perhaps I could write about how we as a society have unrealistic expectations, but that’s been done time and time again.  I would not do it justice.

Truth be told, I have edited this post about 5 times because I keep vacillating on what is I really want to articulate. I have pinpointed what I essentially want to tell myself and anyone else reading this who also finds themselves obsessing about what they think is imperfect about themselves:  Let’s cut ourselves some slack. We will always have goals or some formed idea of what we think perfect is that we continuously work towards, possibly never to actually be achieved (not because of pessimism, but because we must admit we often set unrealistic goals). Because the thing is, there is no perfect. We can spend our whole lives feeling like we do not measure up, and it becomes like any other negative thought we have. We start thinking it and putting it out there. We keep seeing flaws and ignore everything else. Instead, we need to focus on the positive and freakin compliment ourselves for when we notice something that makes us go, “Well damn, that is impressive.”

Yes, absolutely, I want a 6 pack or even just to have a flat tummy. I also workout like a boss and I do stuff that blows my own mind. Maybe my abs are not where I want them to be, but what about those traps?  Or biceps? Or whatever it is.  My body does reflect the work I put into it if I would just take a minute to acknowledge it and appreciate it.

I know that despite a few bad ass bathroom selfies I am not going to poof, become totally in love with my body. Nor do I expect you to overcome whatever your insecurities are from one little ole blog post. But I do think though that what I learned from those pics is that I spend a lot of time zooming into pictures and honing in on everything and anything I do not like (and I know a lot of you do the same…  It’s ok to admit it, I just did!)  We are not going to change overnight what could be years, decades even, of negative thoughts, but I sure do not want to feel like they are ruling my life. I do not want to be consumed by the negative. I should not need anyone else either to validate how I look (as I did in sending my abs photo to friends). If I see it, I should own it. So should you. End of story.

 

­­­

 

­­­­

I Bet You Have Done CrossFit to Justin Bieber and Didn’t Even Know It

I recently had a conversation with one of the coaches where I do CrossFit about music. He wanted to do an experiment where he did not play any music during class. I want to say I encouraged this idea, but well, I did not.  I have been in class once or twice without music and bitched the entire time. I suggested perhaps he phase it out once the workout starts to see if anyone even notices. Much to my chagrin, the Great Music Experiment never happened (which, if it had, this blog may have been written very differently. Not to point any fingers, Ricky!)

Anyways, working out often is synonymous with music. We cannot workout without music, or more specifically without the right music. I agree with this… to a degree. There are tons of articles out there in regards to the benefits of listening to music: how the beat of music can match the cadence of your heartbeat. Or how the right tempo or song can boost your effort: the faster the beat the faster you move.

In my own experience, music does matter to me when I am working out solo. With running, I need music that gets me hyped up the same way it does when I am home procrastinating on putting laundry away. I blast Spotify to get me moving because for some reason, the idea of moving around my room putting items in the closet and drawers without music sounds like pure torture. There is something with music that gets me motivated.  When I think about kickboxing, I would not want to be punching a bag with a sappy Celine Dion song playing. Hearing “My heart will go on” are not the most inspiring words to give a swift left hook to the bag. When I take cycling classes, I strongly believe in the concept of “shared energy” which music is a big attributing factor. It gets people excited, nostalgic even when an old favorite comes on, and gets people to pump those legs harder.

Yet, when it comes to my steady favorite, CrossFit, I want to ask, how important is music to the workout? I may notice what is playing during the strength portion because there tends to be sets with rest in between. However, when it comes to the workout portion, I notice what is playing for maybe the first ten seconds, but after that, I could not tell you if it was Justin Bieber playing or Metallica. (And for the record, if you are rolling your eyes at the Bieber reference, I defy you to deny that he actually has talent). At any rate, I am curious, who else experiences this in CrossFit or am I on my own lonely planet? What other workouts do you feel music is more of a supporting role than a lead?

The more I think about this topic of how important is music to working out, particularly CrossFit, I come up with question after question. I could attempt to answer them, which I have contemplated the reasons within the confines of my own brain, but it brings me deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. So in the spirit of interaction, I am deliberately leaving much of this open ended. I would LOVE to get feedback from all of you as to your thoughts and perspectives.

Let’s start with the obvious: why? Why do I not notice what is playing? I mean, I am aware something is playing, and I am fairly certain if the music stopped, I would notice (mainly because I would hear my breathing coming through in full force). So what is it about CrossFit that is different than other workouts? Like cycling, it’s shared energy, yet it does not seem that music is the driving force. So if it is not what creates energy, what does? As I ask that, I suppose the answer is fairly obvious. With cycling for example again, it is instructor lead. They drive the pace and the intensity. For the most part, you are pushing yourself just as hard as the person next to you. Sure, you may require less resistance on the bike than the next, but generally speaking, people are moving at similar speeds. (It is not like driving 50 on a highway with someone coming up next to you going 80).

Perhaps with CrossFit, it generates a different kind of energy.  It generates a sense of competition WHICH IS A GOOD THING. It could be competition with the clock, competition with fellow athletes or competition with ourselves.  In all instances, I believe, as is the case with me, perhaps I am more focused on other variables. I am focusing on keeping good form. I am focusing on mentally pushing through some difficult reps. I am focusing on not burning out too fast and losing my lead on the person next to me. Are these valid reasons why music really does become background noise?

Is it that with CrossFit, it is not about just getting a workout or burning calories?  Is it that it is so varied, you do not get into a rhythm like other sports? If I compare it running, I tend to want to get to a steady running pace and stick with it. I also recognize though there are all sorts of training to do with running, from intervals to sprints. For all you avid runners, I am curious, does music, particularly what music is playing, factor into how well you train?

The funny thing is, I know a lot of coaches who put a lot of time into playlists for classes. I am wondering though, is it necessary? Don’t get me wrong, I have been known to yell out “what the hell are we listening to?” I’ve worked out to music that sounded more suited for the bedroom (and I voiced that complaint). But again, in looking back, I really only think part of the class I am even aware of what is playing. There comes a point, as I said usually within seconds of when the clock starts, that what is on that playlist does not even matter, at least not consciously.  On the flip side though, does it somehow impact us even if we are not cognizant of what we are hearing?

I can go on more about this, but I suppose I should ask a telling question that will either validate or disclaim this blog post. For those who CrossFit, can you name a song you heard while you were last getting your sweat on?

 

*In lieu of not yet having a trademark to put on my blog, consider this a small Public Service Announcement. I am all for sharing my writing (in fact I am flattered!) Please just give credit where credit is due. Thank you.

 

To All You Creatures of Habit: Go Towards The Unexpected

 

A few weeks ago, a close friend of mine was raving to me about a product, keto/os, she had been trying and was 100% sold on. She had all this sudden energy and new found excitement and lust for life. She was so smitten with it that I naturally wanted to try it. I barely needed any other information because hello? Who wouldn’t want more energy? I got my ketone samples a few days later and within a few days, I completely and utterly understood why she was elated over ketones. I too was hooked.

My friend gently nudged me about how I would be perfect to promote. She told me I embody health and fitness. I love CrossFit and I love working out and she was positive that it would be a natural step for me to take. I was hesitant to say the least primarily because I do not consider myself to be the sales type AT ALL. If anything, it is nothing I ever envisioned myself doing. Yet, something about the proposition was appealing to me. I could not deny that she was right about my passion, and let’s be honest. Any chance I get to talk about it, I gladly do whether it is in a meeting at work, bumping into a friend or chatting after a workout  with my fellow athletes. When she pointed out that is it not a sales thing when it is something that is an authentic part of my life, I knew she was quite right. It’s a lifestyle I am completely on board with and essentially really all I am doing is sharing that with others. She’s a smart woman who I trust (and for the record, the only person I would trust to lead me on this journey) and so I signed up. I got myself samples and well, here I am, just a few weeks later. I am not the top promoter by any means (YET!) , but I definitely am an improved version of myself.  And here is why.

It’s like this crazy confidence booster.  The primary way that I have been generating hype and interest is by posting on social media. I have had quite a few unexpected people reach out to me asking, “OK, Missy, I am intrigued. What are these ketones you are taking?” It is gratifying to me and a testament to my character, to my integrity that friends and acquaintances (even family!) trust and respect me enough to know that if I am raving and posting relentlessly about anything, it is because I completely believe in it. I am not trying to scam anyone or stimulate interest on something that I think is mediocre. I have had people reach out to me who I haven’t exchanged a single word with in years. I am humbled knowing that they trust me. I am humbled that they are not shying away from reaching out to me. I am humbled knowing that they do not view me as like an annoying infomercial on social media. One woman in particular, who I have not seen in two years, even told me that she reads my blog posts and gets inspired (in addition to wanting to learn more about ketones). Total bonus. It really fills my heart with this new warmth and bliss knowing I am having an impact on others.

Similarly, for those who have tried keto/os (the product I am promoting) l I have received so many messages telling me how much they are loving it. They are experiencing the same things I am that are almost hard to describe. They are full of energy, full of excitement and vigor. They are feeling stronger when they workout and are just overall feeling recharged.  It is so gratifying for me to know that I am playing a part in sharing this with people and guiding them to embrace this lifestyle. It’s filling a void I suppose I had without even knowing it. I have always been passionate about health and fitness and I always derive enjoyment whenever people talk to me about it or ask me about my experiences or for advice. With ketones, it harnesses those same emotions and qualities, but it is on a whole different level. People are taking my recommendation on a product that sounds like it is too good to be true (spoiler alert, it is that good! And there is nothing fantastical about it.  It is as real as it gets). Our bodies are sacred and I completely understand why people are cautious about what they put into them. So along with their own research and my little humble opinion, they are deciding to try it. And I thank everyone who has. I thank them because it is truly the highest form of flattery.

Another really rewarding aspect of this new journey is all these people I am getting to know that I would probably not otherwise have crossed paths with. I am meeting so many other women (albeit virtually) who are promoting for keto/os and every day I find myself absolutely inspired and awestruck by them. (For the record, there are plenty of men who are also part of the keto/os family). It is really special and unique to be promoting for something along with all these other women who are so completely and utterly vested in. We chat all the time about the importance of being positive, manifesting our intentions and what we want from the universe. I realize it sounds really cheesy and like I am in a hippie time warp and maybe it is and maybe I am. For me though, it is nurturing this part of me that clearly is shouting to be heard. We share information on ketones,  we seek advice, we share successes (and failures).  Through it all, it’s like there is this understood and agreed upon no-negativity policy. Sure we vent about frustrations but we do not spend much time in those lows. We learn, we encourage and we move on. We all live in different places across the country (Kentucy, New Mexico, New jersey to name a few..) and we all lead very different lives. We all also have our own different angles and spin on how we promote ketones. Yet we all have this common ground and respect. It is the most unique “work” environment I have ever been in. Perhaps I am in a bit of a euphoria because I do not look at this like a job (and yes I am not solely supporting myself on promoting). But it is like a dream work environment where EVERYONE seems to be on the same page. It is not something that happens everywhere, and I am no fool to ever take it for granted.

I am a total creature of habit, which can be good but it also can be limiting. Promoting is something that is so far out of my comfort zone and completely out of my norm, yet in this short time, it is already opening my eyes to things I would not have been receptive to otherwise. It is reminding me that it is ok to go after things even if they seem to defy my norm.  (If you read my blog last week, this nicely ties together. Link here). It is reminding me to trust. Trust myself. Trust the universe. Trust that things happen for a reason. I have no idea where promoting ketones will take me. I have no idea if it is my end game. I have no idea if it is short term or long term. And all of that is ok. Right now, it is in my life for a reason and I am going to get the most out of it. The most important aspect in all of this is that it is something I am not doing on my own. I get to share it with all of you and so I thank you from the bottom of my heart for going along with me.

 

 

 

 

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.

 judge.jpg

  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!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I