The Lost Art of Journaling When it Comes to CrossFit

I picked up the habit of journaling years ago from my former Personal Trainer, Drew. He got me one of those little itty-bitty-tiny-hand-sized notebooks where we would write my workouts in along with the weights I did, scales and times I completed them in. It was by no means fancy, but it was efficient.  I still have that journal and am grateful for it, not just for the entertainment value . (I laugh at the scales I used or the “heavy” squat days I had). It is really easy for me to see how much I have improved since then and how much I continue to get stronger. Incidentally, my trainer had told me when I started working out with him, that he became certified as a trainer when he was in the army, which he was just coming out of.  A few years later, when I found that very same journal, I was struck by how oddly similar the workouts were to CrossFit.  I saw things like “Jackie” and “workout for time” scribbled in. It turns out Drew had been certified specifically in CrossFit (and either he neglected to mention that minor detail or he did and I just had no clue or appreciation for what that was). I discovered I was doing CrossFit well before I consciously made the decision to. At any rate, I have been journaling ever since.

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Note that was back in 2008 and at that time, I could not do any unassisted pull ups. Also note Drew’s comment about needing more depth on back squats. Today, when it comes to both pull-ups and back squats, I am crushing them!

The benefits of keeping a journal are quite obvious, yet so many of us do not do it!  It is a way to track progress, and declines as that does happen. It is a way to track benchmarks and 1 Rep Maxes (RM) and things of that nature.  When you see  a workout and the coach says, “You should be snatching about 70% of your 1 rep max,” you don’t irritate him/her by saying “Errr but I don’t know what my 1 Rep max is.” Tracking helps guide us to know how much to lift or how to scale based on our workout history.

Call me old school, but my preferred method to journal is in an actual physical one. The journal I currently am using is just a simple lined paper one. I like to have it to flip through, sometimes to go down memory lane and sometimes to check and see what I should be doing for that day’s workout.  I also journal on the app, Sugar Wod for different reasons. I use that more for the social aspects of it: to fist pump my athletes and give positive encouragement in comments.  It also automatically stores benchmarks, hero WODs and 1 RM’s making it easier to have a place to go to as reference. As I also tend to workout in the first class of the day, I would like to think my commentary and tips help the athletes in the later classes.

Regardless of your method, be sure to include details in your journal. (I found this really great quick read on journaling here with some tips and methods). I personally do not have a formal method but I always add my own commentary in it. For example, if an old injury was flaring up, I’ll mention that to explain a scale I did.  From time to time, I’ll put notes to the effect of “felt really sluggish” or “was too tired”. Or on the contrary, “holy shit, I actually did that RX”.  I even use simple smiley faces and frowns.

I strongly recommend not just tracking successes but failed attempts as well. I will note when I fail at lifts, particularly when it comes to retesting 1 RM. I want to know that maybe in November I failed at  a 140 pound squat clean so that when I retest it a few months later and succeed, I can celebrate. Also as we know, not every day is going to be our best day. We may be weaker for a given number of reasons (more info on that here). Noting reasons or “off days” keep me grounded.

It is so very and utterly essential to write down what your specific scales are when you do not go RX. I note, for instance, how many ab mats I used if any for Hand Stand Push- Ups (HSPU). Maybe I did the last workout with 1 ab mat as there was a higher rep scheme, but today when the workout calls for HSPU at less reps, I may opt to do them without an ab mat.

The same is true for so many movements, like pull ups. Back before I could do them without a band, I would track what color band i used so that I could gradually and smartly wean myself off of them, which I did successfully after just a few months.   I can’t really speak to the science of seeing written data, but I can attest to there being a compelling mental or psychological element to it.  It often helps me mentally prepare  for the work at hand. There are days where I will see the RX workout and think, “I can’t  possibly ­do the prescribed  Shoulder to Overhead  weight at 105 pounds  for 30 total reps. That is just beyond me.” Then, I will find a past journal entry where I did do that same weight in a workout.  Recalling I did it before  (even if it was absolutely miserable) motivates me to do it yet again.

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Note: I wrote a failed rep at strict press, no band for ring dips and I scaled a workout on 10/5/16 to be kettlebell swings in lieu of clean and jerks due to soreness from the flu shot. I also threw in a cute little sad face. Again, my very own albeit antiquated but efficient methodology.

For those who use or are considering using SugarWOD, I strongly recommend you treat it like your own personal journal as otherwise, it can be deceiving at face value. Rx is Rx. It’s a fair playing field in that it is a given everyone is doing the same exact workout. When you see times and scores of your fellow athletes, it is evident who went the fastest and who had the most reps. When it come to the scaled sections, it is more complex (which I also should note, it is why CrossFit is really for everyone. It demonstrates how many different ways there are to scale to your level. #shamelessplug). More details are better than none. If you use bands in ring dips, or do push-ups in lieu of HSPU or maybe you do less weight in cleans, whatever it is, include it in your notes. Again, you will want those details down the line to benchmark.  I digress a bit but I feel compelled to mention this pearl of wisdom: You may have gotten the slowest time doing a scaled workout but it is quite possible your scale was the hardest. Use discretion when you either celebrate your finish or wallow in it. Keep in mind it is not apples to apples.

Journaling takes minimal time when you keep up with it daily or even weekly. Make it a part of your workout routine and that will prevent you from feeling burdened by it. It is a great tool for CrossFitters (and other athletes might I add). Think of journaling much the same as you do performance reviews at work. It is a way to set goals, track them and measure them regularly. For journaling to be effective, it needs to be much more than just logging for the sake of it. I had a conversation about this with one of my coaches at Concourse CrossFit, Ricky Sandoval. If you just write it down for the sake of writing it down, it is not really serving any purpose. It would be like counting calories for the sake of it without using it to actually tweak your diet or evaluate food choices.  There is power in knowledge, and having a workout log history can only help you in constantly progressing.

If this has encouraged you to journal, please comment and let me know how you are loving it! (Or hating it but I am confident that will not happen).

 

8 Simple Guidelines for Happy and Well Mannered CrossFit Boxes

For many of us, CrossFit is our home away from home. We are there consistently and want it to feel comfortable… and safe. Coaches and members take pride in their boxes so let’s all keep them places that we want to keep going back to. Here are a few reminders about etiquette and safety at the box.

  1. DO NOT be late to class. Not only is it disruptive to the class and disrespectful to the coaches, it could be detrimental to you. The classes are designed to have a dynamic warm up with stretching, which you should always do prior to jumping into the workout. If anything, come early to class to get in extra mobility work. (Everyone should be besties with the foam roller and lacrosse ball).
  1. If you are sick, do yourself and everyone else a big favor, stay home! Spreading germs is not the kind of love we seek at the box. Also, if you are sick, you are doing your body a disservice by working out. Let it rest so you can come back healthy and ready to kick butt and take names.

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  1. Wipe down equipment. Along the same lines as keeping the box sanitary, be sure to wipe down whatever you touch during the workout so the next person can use clean equipment.
  1. Cell phones are for the other 23 hours of your day. When you are at the box, refrain from using your phone (unless you are taking pictures of your fellow athletes.  We can all admit that we secretly like workout pics of ourselves). If you are on your phone, you can easily be distracted and that can lead to an unsafe environment.

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  1. Be aware of people around you. This is especially necessary for bigger classes that have more than a handful of members working out at one time. We do not want to drop barbells on anyone or accidentally slap someone with our jump ropes. Set up so you have enough space while not cramping someone else.
  1. Mark your territory. Know where you are working out so that you do not get in someone’s way once the madness begins. Make sure you have a designated spot on the cage so that you do not take someone else’s spot (which causes them to rest while they wait to their turn.  Ok not that we do not welcome unexpected rest, but you get the point. This can lead to someone being not so happy with you if you take their spot).

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  1. Chalk whores, listen up! The chalk is in a bucket for a reason: to prevent it from flaking all over the floor. Please be kind and keep it in there. When you need it for your hands, just chalk up over the bucket. DO NOT take out pieces and leave it on the j-cups or by the rig. It makes a big mess. You are not going to lose time on your WOD by following chalk etiquette.
  1. Practice manners. Greet each other. Introduce yourselves to drop-ins and new members. Share equipment. Thank your coaches. Follow your coaches’ instructions and programming. Refrain from inappropriate sexual comments to members (some people do get offended and may just be TOO polite to say anything). Also the box is a business and a gym, not a frat or sorority house. So basically, be good CrossFit citizens.

We did establish that CrossFit can be our home away from so, which means we often get a little TOO comfortable. Let’s keep all our boxes places that everyone loves coming to. What other rules can you add to this Code of Conduct?

 

 

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.

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?

Dear PopSugar

Dear PopSugar,

I have followed and adored you for quite some time now, and I have enjoyed the frequent tips for fitness and nutrition. I fear though, that my respect for you has wavered after reading a recent article you posted entitled “The Top 4 Workouts to Avoid if You’re Trying to Lose Weight.” (link here ) I was astonished and admittedly maddened just a few sentences in and all the way to the end. As someone who considers herself to be healthy, fit and active, I simply could not disagree more with what was written. I am not a trainer, a nutritionist nor am I a doctor, so I will not be an expert on any physiological argument. I write to you though not out of anger or spite but to well, put it eloquently, call bull shit on this article. 

Too many of the points made are straight up blanket statements. The glaring message, starting with the first reference being in the title, blatantly says these workouts will not be effective in losing weight. Does that mean that there is not one single person who would not be a candidate to shed pounds on any of the 4 offending workouts (CrossFit, Yoga, Indoor Cycling and Cardio)? I am sure you do not truly believe that to be true yet that is more or less the message of your article. There are tons of success stories out there of people who did lose weight through these workouts. Not to mention, any combination of these workouts actually do complement each other. Also not mentioned, all these workouts have the ability to be catered to anyone’s fitness level and weight loss plan.

Ok, right, let’s really get into it. CrossFit, my love, was at the top of the list. PopSugar, here is what you wrote about CrossFit (and I quote): 

“CrossFit is number one on the hit list,” Rowley said in an email. “The risk-to-results ratio just isn’t there. If you’re just beginning your weight-loss journey, you likely won’t have the strength to get an effective workout without injuring yourself. It’s very popular, and I can see how fun and challenging it is,” he noted. “But the way the exercises are done is very dangerous, especially for someone not in tiptop shape.” 

 Remember, I am keeping science out of this. I will say that the arguments against CrossFit imply that only people in tiptop shape should ever attempt it. If this were the case, that CrossFit caters to more elite or advanced athletes, then well the franchise would be out of business. The athleticism and level of CrossFitters span the gamut. Not everyone that is new to CrossFit is a former collegiate athlete. There is a very prevalent population who begin after years or even a lifetime of being sedentary. Everyone has to start somewhere, just like any other sport or activity. People do not run for 26.2 miles the first time they put on their trainers (unless their name is Forest Gump) nor does someone perform an advanced movement like a muscle up in the first metcon (but oh that would be bloody amazing if they did!). The movements and exercises done in CrossFit are extremely flexible and scalable, hence the beauty of this phenomena. A beginner can very easily modify a workout to their level and still burn calories (which as a non -scientist, I am still confident that translates to losing weight).

For someone who has been inactive, they can very well perform very basic, NOT DANGEROUS movements putting them well on their way in their weight loss journey. (Air squats, short distance running/jogging, rowing, burpees, scaled push-ups, minimal weight push presses, box step-ups, sit-ups, jumping pull-ups, jump roping. Shall I go on?) 

 Ok then, moving on to the Rowley’s next offender: yoga. Mr. Rowley says:

 Rowley explained that yoga “has a lot of benefits, but losing weight is not one of them.” Although you’ll gain strength and tone up, if you’re aiming to shed pounds, “you want to work as much of your body as possible to lose weight and to stimulate your metabolism,” and Rowley said yoga is not the most effective way to do so.” 

I have tried yoga enough times to know that instructors strategically target all muscle groups, which to me require much strength, which burns calories, which leads to weight loss. Also, as a non-scientist of course, toning up  (as Rowley did state is a benefit of yoga) means turning fat into muscle which essentially is weight loss (or at least decreasing body fat).

From the little I do know about yoga, I am comfortable saying that the practice of it centers on the idea of balancing ourselves both physically and mentally. It quiets the mind which again, in my humble opinion, is the biggest obstacle in losing weight. It is more than the time you put it in at a gym or a class. I dare say that the practice of yoga can really reshape someone’s thinking which leads to making better choices about health and diet. 

So even for the sake of argument (as Riley makes) that yoga  is not the best method in which to stimulate metabolism, he would be hard pressed to argue that people do not carry the core of yoga with them in all that they do resulting in smarter choices. 

 The third on Rowley’s no fly list is cycling. His logic is much the same as that of CrossFit. PopSugar, I quote: 

 ” While indoor cycling classes are great for exercise veterans, Rowley said, “they can get out of control as well,” and the format of the classes can put you at risk for injury. “The rooms can get too hot, the movements can be too aggressive for some…” 

 Firstly, I want to know what  Rowley defines as an “exercise veteran” and should anyone who is not in said category, limit themselves to only the very basic movement that has been around since the beginning of time, walking? Anyways, I digress. Much like CrossFit, cycling is scalable. There is a little thing on every bike called a resistance knob which enables people  to have control over their movements so that they do not “get out of control” (which I also find this bit to be vague and would genuinely love to know more on that point). I have been taking cycling classes for close to a decade and have met numerous people in them who have great success stories of losing weight by cycling. With my small science lens, I do know cycling can demand a lot of output from your body which again, equals burning calories (leading to weight loss).

 Lastly, Rowley frowns upon cardio only workouts to lose weight. He claims that:

“Cardio will help burn calories but often can make you hungry, leading to excessive calorie-consuming after workouts.” 

 This may just be my favorite worst perspective in this article. PopSugar, in the closing of your article you advocate for resistance training, which Rowley defines as weight lifting. I am just as hungry after an all cardio workout (like running or stair climbing) as I am following a weight lifting session (which I do in CrossFit may I add). I chose though to not come home and devour an entire pizza or a box of Girl Scout cookies. So, what I am trying to say is that increased hunger is  not specific to cardio (or indoor cycling) workouts, and with that increased hunger comes discipline to make smart food choices. (If someone who is trying to lose weight is not proactively planning out meals and snacks, then perhaps they are not even that committed to losing weight. That is a whole other topic in and of itself). Anyways, discipline and self-control can prevail. That is key to losing weight no matter what the preferred method is. Ruling out cardio-only routines to lose weight is absolutely ill-advised. 

 PopSugar, you are blessed with a platform to promote healthy living to many viewers and followers. I expect more from you than what this article has provided: blanket statements. I walked away believing that YOU are advocating that there is only one approved way to lose weight (resistance training).  Right, because there is always only ever one way to get from Point A to Point B. Weight loss is just that cut and dry. People should not experiment and find out for themselves what works for their bodies. I am having difficulties suppressing my NJ sarcasm because I am so passionate about exercise and fitness. I revel in the idea that there is so much variety out there, and I want to promote all the 4 aforementioned workouts as great ways to explore for weight loss. 

 Sincerely,

Missy

Do’s and Don’ts of Injury Recovery

Thursday December 8, 2016 marked one year since I had Arthroscopic knee surgery to fix a pesky meniscus tear I had. I have come so far since that day, and besides being damn proud of the work and results, it has reminded me of the do’s and don’ts of injury recovery.

  1. Do visualize and envision what you want. With injury it is all too easy to be discouraged because of setbacks and pain. I had many moments where I seriously questioned if I would ever get back to doing CrossFit and running and kickboxing and all the other crazy shit I love. I often would be frustrated as all get out and found myself thinking perhaps I ought to trade it it all in for knitting and bring back step aerobics. It sounds ridiculous ;and once I realized that, I started picturing myself hitting my goals. (I even had a dream once of doing CrossFit. Ok maybe two dreams. Who am I kidding? I lost count).  I stopped resigning to what I could not do, and allowed myself to fantasize about what was yet to come. And guess what, over time, those dreams and fantasies became reality.
  2. Do not do too much too soon. All injuries are different and recovery times vary. Regardless, it is important to recognize that one good day does not mean throw caution to the wind and go all out. Recovery requires a whole lot of patience and self restraint. I learned this when I started squatting too soon. I had maybe a week or so where all felt great. Then, before I knew. it, the knee pain came back , and I was frustrated once again. I am by no means a doctor or physical therapist or even someone who is proficient in anatomy. I just know that recovery means we need to ease our bodies back into things. Surgery in particular (as in my case) is essentially trauma to the body. We need to be kind to our bodies and respect the healing process.
  3. Do celebrate the small wins along the way. As mentioned above, you can’t do too much too soon. You can’t be frustrated that you aren’t lifting the same weight you used to. Give yourself time, and celebrate all the milestones along the way. Granted these milestones are things you may have scoffed at back in your hay day, but you don’t get somewhere in one leap and bound. It takes many. I never thought I would smile ear to ear just from doing a little old air squat, but guess what? I did. It’s a big deal.
  4. Do not expect big wins overnight . Small wins lead to big wins. Here is an example of my reconciliation and reunion with squats.
  • I had knee surgery on December 8th.
  • On March 10th I was doing  air squats at about a quarter of full depth.
  • On May 20th I did my first full depth back squats at lighter weight (75 pounds and to put that into perspective, my 1 rep max prior to surgery was 200 pounds).
  • On July 15th following a squat cycle, I hit a certifiable full depth back squat at 190 pounds (only 10 pounds shy of my PR).
  • On October 31, after another squat cycle, I  hit a 195 pound back squat (only 5 pounds shy of my PR).

You can see by this timeline, it took me months and intervals to make strides. I did not regain my abilities a month or even two months after surgery.  You also are safe to assume that to my point above this, every one of these milestones was just as rewarding to me as those first air squats I took. I also have faith and trust that one day i will hit a 200 pound back squat again, but I am not focused or worried as to when. As long as I get there safely, that is all that matters.

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  1. Do reevaluate the way you had been training prior to injury. For me, as my surgery was (knock on wood) the last of a string of injuries, I was over injuries. (That is putting it mildly. I was actually heart broken-sick and tired-ready to disown my body-kind of over it).  I had to really take a long hard look at the way I trained to find out WHY was I getting injured consistently. I found that I was not always smart about the way I trained. I would do a 280 stair climb three  consecutive times (for those in LA, Baldwin Hills was my spot) and then go to CrossFit and do a WOD where I had to use a lot of leg muscles that were already fatigued and beat up. I often sacrificed form to hit a heavier weight. I knew I had to train differently as I recovered that was also sustainable long term. Which leads me to the next “Do”.
  2. Do put programming as your first priority. In reevaluating my injury history, I concluded that smart programming was my absolute #1 priority in how I should train.  This lead me (actually prior to surgery as I had knee pain for months before I sought medical help for it) to making the tough decision to switch CrossFit boxes. I chose to go where the programming was insanely good, and where I knew people to have made some ridiculously impressive gains. It also lead me after surgery to stay with Physical Therapy longer than perhaps most people would. I feared going back into the real world on my own and falling back into my old habits. So by switching where I trained and with different coaches/trainers, I enrolled myself on a healthy journey. *Shout out to both Adan and BJ, my coach and trainer respectively, that I do not know how you do what you do with programming,but I am forever grateful for it.
  3. Do put in the time smartly and the results will come.  This is not even necessarily specific to injury recovery but is worth mentioning. With learning to squat again, I did not just attempt squats and do squats all live long day. I had to do many other things to get there, like balancing exercises and strength work (and mobility! Oh how I heart mobility.) There is a tendency to JUST practice the one lift or one skill in order to hit our self imposed goals. Take pull-ups for another example. You can’t expect to just walk up to the bar every day until that one magical day that you can achieve a pull- up. You have to put in time working on engaging the right muscles (note earlier comment, I  am not anatomy expert.  I am inclined to say engage lats and scapula) and shoulder strength to slowly build up to a pull-up. 

     

    A year after surgery, I do admittedly find my life to be of two eras: pre-surgery and post-surgery.  It really is because of all the changes to my training and mindset that I differentiate “then” with “now”. Because of these do’ and don’ts that I do religiously live by, they serve as both a reality check as well as a benchmark. I never want to take for granted being healthy nor do I want to ever minimize all the work I do every time I train. I am undoubtedly at my all time strongest (and getting stronger). I am doing workouts now (even many at RX) that I would not have been capable of prior to being injured. I say this not to be a braggard but rather it truly is my wish for all of you to adopt them so you can continue to train smart and to continue showcasing everything great about fitness (particularly CrossFit).