Strong, Beautiful Women: Handle It.

 

We are entering a year that is predicted to be THE YEAR of women’s power rising. I strongly believe that. Yet, for as true as that may be, we are still fighting antiquated ideals and perceptions. One of them that has really been triggering something in me is how often the line between being complimentary and downright inappropriate still happens. I know this happens to men just as often as it does to women but for the sake of this blog, I’m referring primarily to men being inappropriate with women. It is also specific to social media. There are so many turns this subject can take, but for now, this is where my outrage, confusion and disgust are originating from.

Somewhere along the way as we celebrate women for their triumphs, their journeys, their fitness, and their bodies, there are men who seem to believe that those photos and videos that are posted on social media are personal invitations to warrant sending sexual messages. And this disturbs me on many levels.

I realize that as a society and culture we do have an unhealthy fixation on our physical appearances and a whole lot of body image issues to support that. The thing is though, there is so much campaigning against this that shows itself in so many forms. Women of all  shapes and sizes are sharing their stories which takes damn courage and bravery to do.  Scroll through your social media feed and notice how everyone looks different. We are no longer just paging through magazines where everyone seems to be the same or fitting into a mold that fashion dictates. We have this amazing ability with social media to showcase strength, beauty and vulnerabilities.  We have the ability to see what every day people are doing and not just celebrities and models.

My point is that all this celebrating should be just that: celebrating. It should not be an incitement for anyone to perceive that women are looking for sexual advances. And for anyone who says it is a shared responsibility between the person who posts and the people who view, I agree we should use discretion and we should be cognizant of the messages we are sending. Yet, this does not mean that it is ok for men to be downright creepy.

I can speak to personal experience based on what I post, and I can assure you I am never promoting sex or provocation. I am promoting myself, fitness, CrossFit, my story, my challenges, even ketones. Nowhere in there is a hint or suggestion that I appreciate messages from men telling me that they love how I look in yoga pants or to send them a picture of me doing a handstand in a bikini (and then he will buy what I am selling. Not a ketone slut, thanks). This shit really happens and I have NEVER insinuated that is the attention I want. If someone were to tell me I was “asking for it” or I have to expect that, I would strongly encourage them to rethink that.  For the majority of my audience, they are respectful. They even get inspiration from my posts and photos. This is the point. Most can handle a bicep flex or an amateur bathroom selfie of abs without taking that to mean I am being provocative. Why do I need to change my behavior? Why can’t the men who think they have free reign to say whatever insulting things they want, change their behavior?  And again, my “behavior” is not scandalous. I post with respect for myself and others.

I also get many comments and messages from men who know how to pay a compliment without me wanting to throw my laptop at them. It is quite easy to be respectful. Men can tell a woman she is pretty or that her fitness is inspiring or she looks great. And leave it at that. As most do. (Thank you to the good ones out there!)

So to be crystal clear, it is one thing to be complimentary and tell a woman you think she has a pretty smile or she looks strong or has great eyes. It is another thing to send a woman a message telling her you think she is sexy as fuck or asking if it is ok to send inappropriate photos.

Women are getting messages and comments from men with graphic photos, crude comments and slimy solicitations. And for the record (for those who ever think a woman is “asking for it” with her choices in clothing), it is not always what a woman is wearing or not wearing that leads to inappropriate messages. Women can post pictures in sweatshirts and baggy pants with a messy bun and men will still tell them they like their curves or want to know what they look like underneath all those clothes.

I used to joke that a job hazard of mine was getting sexually harassed every day, but I realize now it is not actually funny. Because it happens a lot. And not just to me. Women should be able to do their thing without fearing the response they get. I personally do not ever want to hear a post of mine “was asking for it” or that I have to expect the responses that I receive. I absolutely DO NOT. The solution should not be that women, tasteful respectful women, should have to censor themselves. The solution should instead involve that the men who think it is acceptable to be downright  bad-mannered, insolent creeps should be schooled to know it is not ok.

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Sometimes It Takes Stitches to Find the Right CrossFit

I have done a lot of really clumsy, stupid, embarrassing shit that I normally can just laugh off without thinking twice about it. I have had countless near accidents that were probably a hair away from cracking something open or needing stitches. Basically I have tempted fate many MANY times, and it finally caught up with me. In the most embarrassing way I ever could have imagined. It also gave me cause to pause (and re-evaluate).

As you probably know, I have been on a serious quest to find a different CrossFit box to switch to. I have taken this more seriously than when I have gone car shopping or even job searching (well in a past life at least!)  It is my health and well-being that are going to be affected and well, I take that very seriously.

Finding a CrossFit box is more than just finding a place to workout that has the right class schedule and is less than 7 miles from where I live. It is about finding the right environment, coaches and programming that are going to keep me getting progressively stronger all the time. I want to look and FEEL better every year because I do not want my 20’s or 30’s to have been my peak. (I say this about my experience, but I also encourage everyone to take that into consideration. A lot of people stay at a box often that is not the right fit for a slew of reasons, one of which is they may not even know what better is. This could be another blog post in and of itself so I digress).

I had found a box that I was going to try for a month, but I was not 100% sure if it was the right fit for me. I figured I would not know until I tried and was set to do just that until I had posted a blog I wrote earlier in the year called “4 Common Reasons CrossFitters Divorce Boxes” (link here) to a CrossFit Masters group I am in on Facebook as the members share information and questions. Anyways, I am glad I did it because an owner of a box that is just under 7 miles from where I live reached out to me to drop in. I think he just really wants masters athletes there which I am happy to represent (although after my embarrassing incident, he is surely going to reconsider).

I did drop in and I did like it. I was excited too because he invited me to come back the next day when he would be working out. I should mention, he’s a Regionals/Games athlete. I felt like I got invited to hang with the cool kids. So when I got there for my second drop-in, it kind of felt like meeting CrossFit celebrities. (It was him and 3 other equally bad ass coaches). Despite feeling intimidated, I was digging the vibe. It was a bit exhilarating to know I would potentially be a member at a box where there is that kind of caliber (and for the record, I am NOT insinuating I am ever going to be a Games athlete! I just mean it is inspiring as a unicorn to be working out alongside that talent and coached by the best of the best).

The workout that we were going to do had chest-to-bar pull-ups.  After the warm up, I figured it would be wise to do one or two before the actual workout since truth be told, I am not the best at them. I hopped up on a bar and swung (probably violently as I tend to do that to make sure my chest makes contact with the bar). It happened pretty fast so I’m not 100% what went down (or up) exactly, but at some point in my swing, I smacked my forehead at full force into another bar maybe 6 inches above the one that I was on. Yeah, I somehow managed to not see that when I picked my spot to do a pull-up.

I do not even know how to explain the pain of having my head go crashing into pure metal other it felt like this sort of slow shattering sensation. It was then very quickly followed by pure shock like “What the FREAK just happened?”  It is also possible that due to shock or denial, had someone not said “hey get down, you are bleeding” I would have proceeded to attempt another pull-up. (I never said I am the brightest bulb on the porch).

When I got down from the bar, I went totally numb at that point other than a little tingling in my nose which thankfully I did not break. I was being asked if my head hurt while we were attempting to stop the bleeding. I felt no real pain at that point. Just sheer and total humiliation. (And I probably said at least a dozen times, “I am fine. I am just so embarrassed.”) My ego hurt far more than my head, at least for the ten minutes until I left to go to Urgent Care.  I was also annoyed that I did not even get a workout in which made me even more so embarrassed. (Have I mentioned how embarrassed I was??)

Anyways, I did have to get stitches (3 of them) but it could be worse. I did not break any teeth. I didn’t crack my skull. It is just a bit of a gash prominently on my forehead that may or may not scar. (Also for the record, I typically cannot hit a target to save my life. You should see me trying to do wall balls. Yet, I somehow managed to hit my head dead center. I aced that one).

So I will probably be known as the new girl who needed stitches from a pull-up, but it also made me realize a few things.

For the first few days after my sweet little injury, I was freaked out about the realization of just how many things can go wrong. Because like any sport, there is always the risk for injury. I have already had my share of injuries, and really wanted to believe I was beyond that. I realized I could either continue to wallow in self-pity and fear what may or may not happen, or I could just get over it. I chose the latter. I knew that it would take more than 3 stitches to keep me away from CrossFit.

Despite how much of a drama queen I may feel like, it has made me very aware of something that I did not really want to admit to myself. I had lost my zest for CrossFit. Over the last few months, I have not been enjoying it. I have just wanted to get in and get out.  I have not really cared a whole lot about what my WOD times have been or how many reps I have done or even how much weight I have used or if I felt stronger than yesterday. And that is no way to be.

The fact that I am still looking forward to going back and becoming a member is very indicative of how much I am in need of a change.  The reputation of their box is astounding and getting a small taste of it has like reawakened the bad ass hidden in me (well I guess re-awaken is up for debate. I am not a bad ass, I just want to feel like one. Again).

I know that when I can get past this little blip (because in due time, it really will be just a blip), in the long run, I will get stronger there. I also know that I am sure to discover my areas of weaknesses and problems with technique that will be hard on the old pride too, but a necessary evil to get better. If I can handle walking out of a box after 15 minutes to get stitches, I can handle anything.  My point? The experiences that leave us humbled are often the ones we need the most.

 

 

7 Rookie Mistakes CrossFitters are Guilty Of

I am coming up on my 6 year CrossFitversary and one thing I know for sure is that I have not perfected it. At all. I know there are so many tips and tricks out there for how to have optimal workouts that do not even necessarily have to do with actually learning the “how” in movements and skills. I am sharing with you 7 common rookie mistakes that we all have made or will make at some point. Let’s change that shall we?

 

  1. CrossFit should never get “easier”.

You may improve at a skill like pull-ups or double unders. You may be able to increase the load you lift, but that does not mean CrossFit gets “easier”. It means YOU get STRONGER, and so you need to always be scaling your workouts UP and challenging yourself.

  1. Ditch those running shoes when you walk into a box.

You would not wear weight lifting shoes to go running so why would you wear running shoes to lift weights? They just are not constructed to be meant for what happens inside a box. I have seen people come in running shoes that I am convinced would actually fly them to the moon.

I found this article (which I recommend reading in full for more details) http://www.mensfitness.com/training/pro-tips/heres-why-you-should-never-lift-heavy-running-shoes.

There is a key point made in the article, “Running shoes and weightlifting shoes are on opposite ends of the footwear spectrum, and those differences impact your performance. The most basic—and most important, when it comes to lifting—is that running shoes are cushiony, while lifting shoes are hard.”

  1. Not taking advantage of an extra few minutes to stretch.

I see this often and it makes me a little nutty. Athletes arrive a few minutes early to a class, and just sit around or socialize. Stop that! Stretch and work on mobility. Even those 2 or 3 minutes of stretching can make a world of difference (and your body will thank you and even perform better).

 

  1. Focusing on going heavy instead of moving well.

Guys (and girls) I get it, your egos may suffer a bit at the beginning. A guy at 180 pounds may be lifting less than a 120 pound female.  And that might hurt a bit. IT IS OK. That will pass. You’ll get stronger faster if you actually take the time to learn how to do movements correctly.

And for those who have been doing this CrossFit thing longer, you are not exempt from this reminder. I always say it is better to go lighter and have good form than go heavy and look like an a-hole.

  1. Mtyh: The strongest CrossFitters are those who have been doing it the longest.

Newbies sometimes think that the number of years someone has been doing CrossFit automatically puts them at the same level as others with the same tenure. For instance, everyone at the 1 year mark should be able to do strict pull-ups, handstand push ups, and Fran under 5 minutes.

Years doing CrossFit is the not the defining factor for how strong someone might be. This would be fake news.

Yes, years may equate to being more proficient or have better form, but it is not universal. In fact, so many people when they start, unlike my point in #4, focus so much on going heavy that they end up hitting a plateau. Because their form is no bueno they aren’t going to get any stronger. And often leads to injury (take it from me) which sidelines people, setting them back a bit.

My point is this. When you start CrossFit, do not worry about how long you’ve been doing it or how long your boxmates have.  Or what you “should” be able to do. Everyone has different time frames and all you should do is focus on yours. That is how you will keep kicking ass. And if you do feel like you are not where you want to be, then use that to light a fire under your ass to set and hit some goals.

 

  1. “It looks easy on paper.”

 

If you ever say this, then it is likely you are going to eat those words. Even basic movements on paper might look easy peasy until you try to do them for time or max reps. Here is a workout I did a few months back that on paper, a lot of people underestimated how hard it would be because the weights were not heavy (and by not heavy, cleans in particular, were scaled downed significantly compared to the weights that they typically are for RX workouts).

 

Seven Rounds For Time:

15 Kettlebell Swings 1.5 pood/1 pood
15 Power Cleans 95#/65#
15 Box Jumps 24”/20”

 

When you go to a box that has solid programming, you learn to TRUST it. In a workout like the one above, there was a method behind it. While the weight was light (and box jumps low), it still was a lot of volume.

 

And when you do have those rare days that are really as easy as they are on paper, trust that it is part of a plan. We all need days where we do not go all out, and it will show in good programming. They make allowances for that to help us recover (and most likely get our money’s worth the next day).

 

  1. ­­­Always CrossFit with the same people.

When you find the people who really push you to workout, yes, they are going to 100 percent keep you coming back. I get that. I mean I am loyal to my 6 am peops because we just have an established vibe and support system happening.

And I get that people often pick a consistent class time based on logistics and schedule. For shits and giggles though, every now and then, try a different class. Or if you are always in the same class and you tend to pair off with the same person, try mixing it up. Share a rack with someone different. Do a partner workout with the person you spend the least amount of time with.

You may be surprised and learn something new from someone different or find you push yourself harder. Maybe you always workout with someone at your same level. Maybe though you could workout with someone who is stronger or faster than you. You will be surprised at how that energy will push YOU to do that much more.

Mix it up.  Get out of your routine and comfort zone with who you workout with. As CrossFitters we might be beasts, but we won’t bite.

 

Ok my CrossFit friends. Change perspective a bit, because really that is all that these 7 are asking of you. And go get it.

CrossFit is So Much More than Workouts and Meatheads

You all know I love CrossFit. Many of you think I am a bit coo coo for cocoa puffs about it. Many of you are intrigued by it. Many of you wish I would stop writing and posting about it. Many of you share my obsession with it. Many of you wish I would stop obsessing about it. The thing is though, CrossFit does so much for me beyond a workout. It is a mentality both in and out of the box. I did a Google search for “CrossFit inspiration” and so many memes popped up that immediately resonated with me. I want to share some of these with you as they really speak to why I, and so many others, CrossFit.

“I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say ‘because of you I didn’t give up.’” There is something about working out in the company of others. I know when I used to do my own solo thing at a gym, I often would cheat myself out of really pushing my limits. I did not even know what I was capable of as I worked out in a bubble.  I doubt I ever would have attempted even doing a pull-up or back squat more than 100 pounds. I had no inspiration to do it. I wanted to be fit and healthy, but I never really appreciated all the awesome, motivating shit fit people do. I got a taste of it when I had personal trainers and found running groups to hit the pavement with. Being around CrossFitters has turned me onto fitness on a whole other level. I have mad respect for athletes of all shapes and sizes because I now truly appreciate how hard it could be. I push myself now so much more than I ever have because of this community who motivate me to work hard. I also would like to think I do the same for other people. Think of how easy it is for someone who goes to a global gym or somewhere that they do not know anyone else working out. Think of how easy and how often it happens that people get discouraged and never go back. With CrossFit, we all have the potential to say a few inspiring, encouraging words to someone to make them want to come back. Working out does not have to be only a self-fulfilling kind of thing.  Make it about others too and what you can do for them.

inspire

“Act like a lady. Lift like a boss.” For someone like myself who is petite, I never want to be perceived as fragile. Sure I appreciate chivalry and manners when it comes to things like holding the door open for me, but I sure as hell never want assistance getting my luggage off the carousel or down from the overhead because someone perceives it to be too heavy for me. There is a balance for me between being feminine (I do love make-up, nails and dresses) and not being delicate or helpless.

act-like-a-boss

CrossFit has made it cool for women to be able to lift heavy and not feel the need to hide it. CrossFit has become an accepted outlet for women to lift like a boss, and more importantly, has enabled us to feel proud of all the muscles we have to show for it. There is so much more acceptance for different body types, and I truly believe CrossFit has played a part in that. Fitness is not just about aspiring to be skinny anymore (and nothing against anyone who is). CrossFit is a showcase for strength (strong is the new sexy as we all know). I know I work damn hard for every muscle I have and so when I see that in anyone else, I have such respect for them. Gains require so much discipline, tenacity and an appetite for constant improvement.muscles.jpg

 

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” CrossFit brings accountability to everyone who sets foot in the box. (Yeah there are some who sandbag but then they wouldn’t fall into this category of doing the seemingly impossible). For most of us, it means doing those last few reps even if we feel like we have nothing left to give. It may mean it takes a few minutes longer than everyone else to finish the WOD. It may mean throwing a few extra pounds onto the barbell even if it causes us intense anxiety. CrossFit is a constant battle between doing what is comfortable and what sucks. Personally, I am elated and humbled every time I do something that seems scary to me (which is almost every day). 95 pound thrusters in a workout is not something I ever expected or strove to do. It sounds scary and impossible, yet I have done it many times. Doing the “impossible” is what keeps so many of us going. It has taught to us to expect the unexpected. It teaches us to not underestimate ourselves, and that is something that extends far beyond the box.

impossible.jpg

CrossFit has taught me so much about myself and others, and I truly believe it has helped me in my personal life as well as professional. ( I have to refrain in meetings to not make CrossFit analogies  to my team as relevant as they are!) Think about your interactions, outside of a box or a gym even. How many times do you  witness people giving up before trying? Or how many times do you see people underestimate themselves? Or perhaps you watch a colleague get steamrolled because they have allowed others to perceive them as weak?  I swear, if people treated countless scenarios the same way they would tackle a hard workout, they may see different results. So whether or not CrossFit is your thing, please, embrace the mentality it offers as it translates in all we do in life. CrossFit builds strength, resolve, and courage in us not just at the box, but in all that we do. Crush life the same way you crush a workout. And on that note, I truly wish you a happy new year. Now, go get it 2017.