Awesomely Average

For some reason, I’ve been fearful of writing lately. After some refection, I think I understand why. The fear comes from perfectionism. Not that I’ll fail, but that I won’t be perfect. Exceptional. That I’ll end up in the dreaded average. Who wants to be average? I either want to be amazingly inspiring, or so horrendously ill equipped that my cautionary story of How I Attempted Exceptional and Failed Spectacularly is a source of future amusement. Does it really need to be one or the other? I used to say, “epic good, or epic fail!” in jest, but now it’s become more of a life motto than an amusing meme. What is up with my avoidance of Average? So far all it’s doing is preventing me from living life and doing what I enjoy.

There’s nothing wrong with average. It’s comfortably in the middle. It’s unassuming. It’s where the power can lie in wait, recharging for the next surge. Average gets stuff done. It’s still progress. Average sets the standard. As David Letterman said, C’s still get degrees.

Our culture wants to reward the overachievers, the “greatests,” because they’re an inspiring story. And it’s super fun to be the winner on top of their game. Everybody loves a winner, and the prizes are fabled to  be great, even if the prize is “Congratulations! More work!” But the average is also rewarded – with lack of resistance. You just move forward to the next step. If I’m an average parent, my kids still grow up right. If I’m an average employee, I am likely to keep my job. If I’m an average powerlifter, I can still move and lift heavy-ish things. Average can still keep me moving forward without all of the effort and stress Exceptional requires.

Of course I don’t want to get stuck in a rut. But average isn’t a rut if it’s just a place I’m hanging out in for a while as I catch my breath and my bearings. Nor is it complacent; eventually I’ll get bored of Average and want a challenge. And then Exceptional will take the stage, and we do the dance again.

Average. Moving things progressively forward since the first caveman looked at his cave painting and said, “Meh, good enough.”

Advertisements

Mind Your Own (Body) Business

I’m 5’0″ and currently I weigh 154 lbs.

IMG_1766
PC: Zachau Photography

I’ve always carried more weight on my frame than the BMI calculations for my height would recommend. The only time in my life I was in the “green zone” on the BMI calculation was when I was in college, racing bicycles competitively and barely got down to 128 lbs from riding 20-25 hours a week and restricting calories. Oh, and I was bulimic. And severely depressed. But obviously I was healthy, because I was fitting into size 6 jeans for the first time in my life, right?

Today, I am the heaviest I’ve been, aside from my pregnancies. And I couldn’t be happier about my body. Because now it’s not about what I look like; it’s what I can do with what I got that I find fulfilling and puts me in awe on the regular. It’s taken decades of hating myself because I didn’t look like what others told me I should look like. It’s taken months of self-care, soul searching, and paying attention to myself. It’s taken getting my depression under control and accepting that I am a good and worthy person who deserves health and is healthy. It’s taken owning my choices, and making those choices based on what I believe to be good for me and what I want, and not what others or the media tells me what I should be doing. I’m rocking my own road and living my own life, just like what my blog byline says. I am not perfect, but I make progress, and I am happy to do so.

IMG_1905
And doing yoga on the beach in a swimsuit and giving zero effs about it

My only wish is that others can be happy and comfortable with their bodies, doing what they love and loving what they do.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that still struggles with the concept of “beauty at any size.” The “right,” socially-acceptable body structure is so closely tied with morality that we have a culture that supports, or at least turns a blind eye to, body-shaming. We look at people that are “too fat” or “too thin” (because that is totally an objective measurement, right?) and immediately judge them. It’s okay to leave a mean comment about what I think they look like. Clearly, they don’t realize how they’re being perceived. They must not care about themselves. How stupid/sick they must be, to not know what they need to do to look “normal”? Just put down the fork/eat a sandwich/stop lifting because you look too bulky. Because I am offended and concerned about how I perceive the way you look, and now I make it your problem.

I must confess, I am a former fat-shamer. I would see overweight people and think, “how could they not care about their health?” Because clearly that was the only logical conclusion. And of course, their health is totally my business (sarcasm level at an 11 right there). Never mind the decades of terrible diet advice the public has been fed. Or the fact I know nothing about this person or their life, how they might be working a full-time job and caring for an aging parent at home, or how a bad knee or lack of accessible physical activities that are varied and enjoyable might make fitness extremely difficult. What, you mean not everyone wants to slog it out on the elliptical 30 minutes a day, five days a week?!? Shoot me. (And if you love the elliptical, that is awesome and you keep doing you!)

And especially with females, body-shaming women just promotes the objectification of women. Because society dictates that as a woman, it’s my duty to look a certain way so I am attractive and pleasing to the eye. If I’m too fat, or too muscular, or too tall, or too thin, or not whatever is considered “right” to look today, it’s uncomfortable for others to look at me, and I’m not holding up my end of the bargain on being a woman. This type of thinking puts me in so much rage I’m just going to end this thought here with a big load of baloney. Because this is such baloney.

 

CMeU8x8WEAEdIcr
RAGE!!

 

Finally, there’s the “health” argument. The argument that if you’re over- or underweight (especially overweight), then you are unhealthy, and that’s wrong because your lifestyle will cause others pain down the road as your body gives out and others have to take care of you, either financially or with caregiving. To which I have one comment:

MY HEALTH IS NONE OF YOUR G*DD*** BUSINESS. AND YOUR HEALTH IS NONE OF MY G*DD*** BUSINESS.

Bob Harper, most notably known from his work as a personal trainer on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, recently suffered a heart attack. He’s an extremely fit person, and he almost died from a heart attack that nobody, least of all him, saw coming. Meanwhile, a Dutch study came out that people that are considered “overweight” on the BMI scale actually live longer lives than “normal” weight people. I cannot possibly know a person’s health history from their pants size. Fit-looking people might have cancer, and overweight people could go on a 12-mile hike and hike circles around me. I don’t know, and what’s more, IT’S NONE OF MY G*DD*** BUSINESS ANYWAY. Neither is it yours.

A couple years ago, Noelle Tarr from Coconuts and Kettlebells wrote a post that broke the internet in the paleo/health-sphere when it was featured on the Whole9 blog, called “Why I Don’t Want Six-Pack Abs.” She received an alarming amount of criticism from this post, from people who argued that if you don’t have a six-pack, you must not be working hard enough, and if you don’t want to work hard for your physique then what are you doing? SMH. This just illustrates my point that our culture is way too looks-obsessed, totally ignoring the person underneath the abs. Obviously with the personal measurements I gave in my opening sentence, you can be assured that I do not have a six pack. I have no desire for the work it takes to get one. Because those are my priorities, and this is what makes me happy. If you prioritize the diet and training it takes for your abs and are happy with it, again, that’s awesome and you keep doing you! But it is so not me, and the work it would take would make me miserable. That doesn’t make me lazy or unworthy or weak. It makes me different. Which is totally okay.

We are all on our own journey. Sometimes that journey takes us to a health-focus, sometimes it doesn’t. That is no reason to shame or hate on others. You are not bad because you don’t do what I do or think how I think, and the same goes for me. Be kind to yourself. Then be kind to others. That is how the world is supposed to work, I think.

Go make it a great day.

Shoutout to Steph Gaudreau’s article on Stupid Easy PaleoMind Your Own Body: An Open Letter to Body Shamers” for inspiring me to finally get these thoughts out that I had been keeping silent for way too long. And if this content speaks to you, check out a free pass to Steph’s Women’s Strength Summit May 15-21!

 

The Same 24 Hours

I am a bit crazy. I know this. Most people that know me personally know this. And the past week of crazy has been no exception.

So, my whole family has been out of town for two weeks, leaving me all alone at home and left to my own devices. Okay, I still have Olive and the fish to care for. But basically I just have to worry about me. For two whole glorious weeks!

At first I came up with huge lists of all the things I was going to accomplish. Clean the whole house and actually keep it clean! CrossFit every day! Hang out with all the friends! Read all the books! Maybe even watch that new Netflix series everyone is talking about!

You know what happened? None of the above. Because I still have the same 24 hours in a day as I did before, just with less distraction and small human chasing.

I did take Olive on a lot of walks, and I started trail running a bit (OMG the first time I started running on the trail with Olive, she looked at me like I just invented Christmas: “what, we’re going to run?!? For real?!? Sign me up, let’s go BEST DAY EVER!!!”), and I have some big projects coming up that I got started on, but the normal daily routine really didn’t deviate too much. Which leaves me with the big realization that when it comes to time management, I am my own worst enemy.

My schedule, they way I structure my day, and my life choices in general is 100% in my control. Sure, stuff might come up, but overall I get to choose what I put in my day, and how I react when things go off-plan. Without having my family around to distract me, I had to face the music that I’m not running late because of packing school lunches and cleaning mashed sweet potatoes off of various surfaces. I’m running late because I am still trying to cram too many activities into an already richly-scheduled day.

This brings me back to some advice my boss and mentor gave me when I started my first “real” job out of college: there will always be more work to do. No matter how late you stay or how many to-do list items you scratch off, there will always be more waiting for attention. The sooner I can accept the fact that I will never be “done,” the sooner I can stop making myself crazy for all of the unfinished business I have yet to attend to and enjoy the other things in life.

 

I think the next stepping stone on the path to happiness for me is really accepting and embracing the fact that I will not be able to do all the things, and that’s perfectly all right. For now I can do the one thing that needs to be done, do it the best I can, and move on. Maybe that’s something for me. Or it could be something for someone else. There is no law that says everything has to be done every day or else certain doom will result. That’s just the one I make up in my own head. Let good enough be good enough, and take time out to enjoy the journey.

Go make it a great day!

Get After It (In Your Own Special Way)

Monday morning I was scrolling through Instagram while procrastinating on getting out of bed. It was the dawn of the new week, and I was feeling “a case of the Mondays” come on. It would be another week of my richly-packed schedule, catering to the demands of job, small humans, and whatever my body decides to throw at me this time (a resurgence of hamstring tendonitis and mild depression? Sure, why not!). To put it mildly, I was not wholeheartedly looking forward to getting out of bed.

I happened on a post by Katrin Davidsdottir, two-time Crossfit Games champion and Fittest Woman on Earth.

img_1742

The caption caught me. “Don’t understand the ‘ugggh’ feel that is generally put on Mondays .. I get such a ‘get after it’ feel”

How great would it be to wake up Monday morning and feel like “heck, yeah! Get after it!”

WHO DOES THIS?

Predictably, some of the comments reiterated my sentiment – “Easy for you to say, you get to work out all day instead of work a 9-5!” “Sure, tell me that when you have several small children to look after!” “Not all of us can be as lucky to travel around and live their dream.”

Wait, what?

First of all, let’s remember that social media is a highlight reel, not real life. Sure, Katrin gets to work out for a living, but she’s probably always sore and something is always hurting. She gets to travel a bunch, but that’s more time away from friends and family. Even the pressure of being the reigning “Fittest Woman on Earth” is probably tough some days, feeling like you have to always perform and live up to others’ expectations.

Despite a grueling training schedule, travel demands, and the stress of being a celebrity CrossFit athlete, she posts that she gets up Monday to “get after it.” This is drive. This is positive attitude. And anyone can do this.

Despite the pressures of my 9-5, feeling like I never have enough time for my family, and the stress of modern life, there is no reason I can’t find the joy in this life I have built for myself and wake up feeling ready to conquer the day. It’s just a mindset shift. And if something isn’t working for me and I’m unhappy, it’s my responsibility to figure out what I can do to make myself happier, whether it’s changing my outward circumstances or changing my inner dialogue on how I view the world around me.

Don’t fall down in the victim mind trap. However it seems like, when it comes down to it you control your life and you control your destiny. Wake up committed each morning to “get after it” even if you overslept and missed your 6am WOD and now you’re running late for your early meeting and your toddler just painted the wall with the contents of her diaper again and you ran out of bread to make your preschooler’s sandwich for lunch again so he’s getting rolled up turkey and a handful of tortilla chips because at least it’s food and dammit we are out of coffee again WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME SO NOT FAIR … but you know that this is just a moment in time and things are actually going pretty good and everyone will get where they’re trying to go eventually. Grab a Starbucks on the way to work, crank up the Kansas oh so very loud, and embrace the fact that you are indeed getting after it in your own special way!

Go make it a great day! xoxo

Monday Mindfulness: Be Here Now

Back in 2010, when I was still racing bicycles competitively, I attended a cycling workshop hosted by professional cyclist Giana Roberge. During one of the clinics, we were working on some pretty intense drills to work on building our stamina during power moves such as time trials and climbing, where you need to be throttling it at your absolute max for a long time. To red-line your power output like that is just as much a mental exercise as it is a physical one. The entire time you are fighting with your brain to keep mashing the pedals, while your whole body seems to be screaming that you need to stop. One of the things Giana suggested to help keep us motivated during this time was to identify a manta or phrase that we could repeat to ourselves during the effort that was inspiring and could distract us and keep us focused to push our limits. Her suggested phrase was, “be here now.” All that exists in this moment, right now, is for the pedal to get one more powerful turn, for my lungs to get in one more good suck of air, for me to pull myself out of the saddle just one more time. Do not think about the discomfort, about how I could be just sitting at home watching Netflix right now, or what I plan on doing when I get home, or anything that could distract me from giving it my all right now. Be here now, in this moment, giving it everything, because that is all that matters.

Six years later, and I am still repeating that phrase to myself, although it’s morphed to take on new meanings and manifestations since being on the bike. I say it to myself before I go into an important meeting, to focus on the content I have prepared and to not guess or predict what my client’s reactions will be. I say it to myself in between reading my toddler bedtime stories and tucking her into bed, so I can savor the short moment of one of the “good parts” of parenthood and not rush off to continue my own activities for the evening. Most recently, I say it to myself when I start planning to-do lists and big, overachieving projects I know I don’t really have the time or energy to initiate let alone actually complete.

Often I have felt in a goal-achieving funk. In the past couple years I’ve had to deal with a lot of Life Stuff that has taken up a good chunk of my time I used to spend working on my hobbies and goals. I feel like I haven’t had the focus or energy to put into the big, hairy goals I want to make happen next in my life. The other day I was looking for a book when I stumbled across some of my old planners from several years ago. Out of curiosity, I opened a couple to see what my long-term goals were back in the day. Out of habit, I always jot down my current 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year goals in the back pages of my planner, just for inspiration and visualization on days when I feel a little demotivated. Imagine my surprise when I realized that almost every 1- or 5- year goal I had written down – run a marathon, complete my family (2 kids!), work as a professional consultant, live in a big city, buy a “forever” home – I’ve done. These things just seemed to happen in my life at the time that seemed right, there was no “project plan” or obvious hard work or muscling it up that occurred to manifest these things. At some point I realized it was something I wanted to do, I wrote it down, and just kept working hard on the stuff I knew how to do. And magic happened, and I didn’t even realize it, because I was so focused on my plans for the future; I almost missed the “now.”

That’s not to say I didn’t work or plan for these things. But from the moment I dreamed up a goal, I had absolutely no plan or idea how I would make it work. It’s just something I knew I wanted. Then when time was right and opportunities presented themselves, I figured it out. But all the while, I was still planning and organizing the future, without stopping to look at the current. I forgot to “be here now.” And it stressed me out, making me feel like I cannot get it together and I did not have enough focus to make things happen. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. I just was too focused on making it happen rather than allowing it to happen, trusting that if I continued to work and act in a way that made me the person I wanted to be, the things I wanted to experience would come along shortly. Time and again, things have worked out for me when I least expected them to, and I can trust in that pattern.

Life has taken me on some really crazy detours, but they have always brought me around to the place I’m meant to be in the end. I’m starting to let go of my control-freak nature and just allow and trust things to go where they need to go as long as I’m doing what I feel like I need to do. Some would say this is sort of “let go and let God sort it out” sort of thinking. I see it as reducing the amount of crap I keep thinking about that I can’t control anyway, which frees up some brain space for just the crap that is in this moment. To “be here now” and let go of all of the stress, worries, and fears that Later might bring. Letting go of that control is sort of scary at first, like I’m just going to tailspin into the Land of No Forward Progress and Complacency, as if that’s a real thing. But the opposite is true. When I can truly let go and enjoy the moment, I feel as if the possibilities are endless. I have the capacity to do anything, without all of the weight of worry and control on my back. To “be here now” is such a feeling of freedom in this moment.

Why I’m Taking a Social Media Break (not just because I’m nuts)

My brain doesn’t work. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Literally, my brain does work somewhat spectacularly. I don’t have to think too much about breathing or beating my heart, I can usually remember my kids’ names, and I can probably out-daydream anyone I know, except perhaps my sister Amanda. But as most moms can tell you, after kids your brain sort of goes “poof!” and suddenly trying to remember spare details of life such as where you put your purse or that you have an important meeting 9:00 Monday morning just doesn’t happen. Even stuff that occurs routinely, like Wednesday is trash night, just escape me. From who I was before having kids, this has been by far the biggest adjustment to try and deal with, the fact that my brain just can’t keep up with my life anymore.

Or can it?

Sleep deprivation is the most likely and most-cited culprit in Baby Brain. I mean, we are not made to function on four broken hours of sleep a night for months on end. Squish took a while before he was sleeping through the night enough to give me a decent rest. Buttercup, however, was one of those miracle babies that settled into a solid, predictable schedule right off the bat and was sleeping through the night in just a few months. I’ve had over a year of not really feeling like “oh I have a baby” is a justified excuse for poor sleep, since my own choices are now affecting how much time I get in bed more than my tiny, demanding humans. Finally owning up to this fact, I began do my best to get to bed on time, practicing good “sleep hygiene”,  and sleeping in if I feel like I need it. The past four months I’ve really improved my sleep, averaging 7:30 per night. While I have noticeably more energy and vast improvement on my overall mood, my brain still feels spacey and not really like it’s on it’s game.

Now that Whole30 has given me a good template for my diet, I’ve been more active with CrossFit, and my sleep is under control, so with the main factors of cognitive degradation under control I started exploring more options on how I can improve my mental performance. I was flirting with the idea of a social media detox of sorts, maybe doing a “SocialMedia30” of sorts where I abstain for a month. My totally inspiring bestie Alexis just embarked on her month media-free, which put the bug in my brain even more. But 30 days without social media is a bit drastic right? I mean, it’s not just a way to distract for me; this is how I share pictures of the kids with my grandma and stay in touch with friends that live abroad. Clearly I don’t misuse my online connections, do I?

There’s really only one way to find out: that dreaded “awarenes”.

Curious, I downloaded the Moment app, which tracks your phone usage. You guys, I’m spending on average about 2 hours a day on my phone. Two. Hours. I couldn’t believe it. I complain so much about not having time, about wanting to cram 30 hours into a 24 hour day, and here I am spending two hours a day on Facebook or who knows what.

And it’s not just Facebook. It’s Beyond the Whiteboard app where I record my CrossFit workouts and compare myself to my gymmates. It’s My Fitness Pal and the Up app that syncs with my Jawbone, where I load my sleep, food, and exercise data … and compare myself to the other users in the community and browse blog posts. It’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Yelp, my Feedly blog feeds, all of the apps that I don’t really need, but I find myself checking ever day, just because they’re there. And that’s not it. There’s all of the newsfeeds I subscribe to through email, with article links and other “healthy” tips that jam up my inbox and feed my brain with data.

What if I don’t have Baby Brain? What if my recent decline in cognitive abilities is because of the barrage of media consumption I subject myself to on a daily basis? Thinking about it: when I had Squish, the only social media I engaged in was Facebook, and I had just found out blogs were a thing. I don’t remember spending my free time sitting on my phone, except to put together a new iTunes playlist or read emails. Now, I am consistently turned onto all the things that are supposed to “connect” me. Connect me to whom? Not my Grandma. And then there is all the IM: the texting, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts. I’m constantly getting pings and notifications and reminders, and my brain cannot turn off.

Maybe I don’t have Baby Brain. Maybe my brain is just done with all of this extra stimulation.

The final straw was when I read this Fast Company article about the brain that I ironically ran across in the latest email newsletter from Dallas Hartwig. And it blew. My. Mind. The article, titled “Your Brain Has A “Delete” Button—Here’s How To Use It” took what I knew about your brain and sleep – as in, you need sleep for your brain to work – and took it a step further to explain how your brain uses sleep to “clean up” stuff, and more importantly, describes that your mindfulness and the things you focus on tells your brain what to clean up and what to repair. So when I’m looking at Instagram 326 times a day, I don’t remember what was decided on in that budget meeting I lead last week, but I do remember that funny meme or the wicked workout that <insert CrossFit Games athlete I follow> did yesterday. Because that’s what I’ve told my brain is important information to retain. Clearly important facts!

So I’m going to give this social media detox a shot. I’m going to go 30 days social media free, and see if/how my cognitive abilities improve. Here are the rules I am going to follow:

  1. No apps on my phone, and no apps in my phone web browsers. I’ve deleted the apps from my phone and web browser bookmarks.
  2. No email newsletters. I’ve either unsubscribed from all email newsletters, or have set up a gmail filter to mark them as “read” and move them to a special folder to read after my experiment, if I am so inclined.
  3. No reading blogs, articles, or online journals, but I will post here if I am so inclined because I sort of view my blog as a journal rather than social media. However if I find I’m posting more often as a substitute for real social connection, I’ll take another look at that rule.
  4. No podcasts. This will be a hard one; I love podcasts on my commute! But I know that if I listen to podcasts, I’ll probably start to crave online social interaction since many of the podcasts I listen to I also follow on social media. So better safe than sorry, and I’ll find other ways to amuse myself driving over the bridge. Like call my Grandma.

In addition to reclaiming my brain space, this social media detox will give me the opportunity to reconnect with the humans in my life, in my  real life. If you don’t know me in real life, please don’t take this as “Emily doesn’t care to know you anymore.” On the contrary, I’d love to get to know you better! Feel free to email me, and let’s connect! And if you do know me in real life, call/text/email me, and let’s connect without a screen in between us (except for my SoCal/East Coast babes, we might need to Skype! Skype is totally okay in my book), preferably over coffee or hiking mountains.

To be clear, I don’t think social media is bad. I think it is useful, purposeful, and an easy way to connect with people. But just like birthday cake not inherently “bad” and is useful and purposeful in the right setting (celebrating a birthday!), so is social media. It is a tool, not an activity. And just like I use a Whole30 to adjust my attitude to birthday cake (totally worth the splurge on birthdays, but not on, like, Tuesdays), I want to use this Social Media Break to identify the role social media has in my life and how I engage with it.

I am super pumped to get two hours back into my day. Wish me luck!

Now that I’m off to do something not social-media related, go forth and make it a great day!

IMG_0623

Rough Week

It’s been a bit of a rough week over here. Life stuff is rolling along smoothly as usual, but the news lately has been wretched. Along with the National stories of horror (eff you too, all news from Florida) I’ve found out quite a few people have passed away recently. Some I knew personally, some were family and friends of friends, and some were community leaders who inspired me. Then the Warriors lost game 6 of the playoffs. The bad news just kept rolling in all week.

So when I woke up before my alarm this morning, I knew a bit of self care was in order before I headed to work. I knocked off a session of Headspace meditation, then once I saw what a beautiful, sunny day it was, I took Olive to our favorite trail.

happy dog

I started writing a bit more about my thoughts on this week’s events, but it got super deep and woo-ish super fast, so we’ll keep it light by saying it’s the weekend, yay! Let’s go out and do cool stuff. Play a game, get dirty, laugh hard. Ponder life’s mysteries, give really good hugs, and frolic. Live life the way it was meant to be lived. That’s the best legacy and memory we can make for anyone. And go make it a great day.

Lessons Learned

First off, let me just say we need more love in the world. I’ve stepped away from a lot of social media and news the past few months because I simply can’t handle it. There is so much hurt and destruction and it’s all stupid. But even if I remove Facebook from my phone and stop reading news articles, I still hear about stuff. It can’t be ignored. People still suck. Which sucks, because people also have such a capacity to be really, really awesome. So let’s focus on the awesome. With enough light we can obliterate even the darkest of darkness. /rant

Okay, onto my self-centered, petty musings!

So, I’ve learned something new recently. If I announce that I plan to do or am doing a Whole30 on my blog, I will not finish it. The Whole30s I’ve successfully completed happened when I hardly breathed a word on the blog, or I would wait until like Day 20 to mention it. But I posted last week that Hulk and I were doing a Whole30 together. And then we went away for the weekend with friends to the cabin in the middle of the woods that’s off the grid with no wifi or internet. I consulted our friend over menu options, and bought a ton of Whole30 food to share, so I thought we would be good. But then we get there, and it’s vacation, and the kids are all in bed and the adults are playing board games and hanging out on the patio, and why not a cocktail? It feels festive. It’s just one. Ugh, terrible decision. Totally not worth it. But as guilty as I feel, at least I can chalk it up to a learning experience. Next time, stick with the program!

The other think I’ve learned lately is that I will always regret sleeping in and not going to CrossFit, but I never regret getting up early to go to the gym. Even if I barely got any sleep and I’m exhausted, I never regret going first thing in the morning. I can always try to catch a nap when I get home, or sleep in tomorrow. Just something to keep in mind when I try to hit that snooze button at 5:15am.

Part of my June Whole30 was to also give up coffee for the month. I figure since I was up to about 5 cups a day, it was about time to give myself a Caffeine Holiday. Although I didn’t stick with the Whole30, I learned that I really don’t miss my morning coffee all that much. It’s really nice having one less thing to do in the morning, and not spilling coffee all over my pants in the car, and washing out travel mugs with that gross stale coffee smell. I miss the taste and the ritual of a hot cup of coffee in the morning when I’m working at my desk planning my day, but for the most part once I’m focused on work I don’t even miss it. I thought about replacing my cup with a tea or hot lemon water. Which I can do if I want. But I really like not having to fix myself a hot beverage of any kind in the morning. My laziness has no bounds, apparently. Once the month’s up I’ll probably indulge in a cup on weekends, maybe, but I do not want it to become a morning habit again. Because withdrawal. *shudder*

That’s all I’ve learned for now. Go make it a great day!

Dealing with the Mental Stuff

I’m not even sure where to start today. I guess this blog has quickly turned into my CrossFit training blog. I am totally okay with that. In fact, I’m going to work on a Progress and PR page so I can track my stats. Because what good is doing something if you can’t measure and compare it to death? Even competitive yoga is a thing. Americans have that tendency.

I still need to report back on the Spring Fling Competition from a couple weeks ago; it was fun, but sort of a reality check that I wasn’t expecting, but should have. After the competition, I became sort of discouraged. There were a lot of factors. One, I’ve been watching Regionals intensely, and I perhaps shouldn’t compare myself to Kara Webb or Rebecca Voigt just yet. Two, I’m still feeling all banged up and I can’t run without intense hamstring pain. Three, although I had quite respectable scores for a beginning CrossFit athlete, I can’t help but wish I somehow magically performed better. I seriously did everything I could in my power to perform at my best, and can’t say I would change anything. Normally I would be happy with what I got, but, I guess it sort of bummed me out to land exactly where I expected to, rather than walking in and blowing expectations out of the water.

And then Friday’s workout happened. Even though I was still feeling super banged up and sore, I went anyway because the workout looked soooooo good:

Conditioning round for time:

  • 10 strict presses
  • 15 overhead squats
  • 20 push presses
  • 25 front squats
  • 30 push jerks
  • 35 back squats

Super fun, right? Rx was 37kg. I showed up at the noon class about 20 minutes late because I got tied up in a meeting that ran over. I didn’t really get a warm-up in, so after some quick mobility I jumped into the weighted lunges that were the strength portion, squeaked out my 5×10 reps, then loaded up for the WOD. There were a ton of people in the class, and since I got there late all of the women’s bars were gone. My options were a men’s bar or a junior bar, and since there were OHSs in the WOD I decided to go for the junior since it would afford a better grip, and I could always put more weight on the bar.

“Could” is the key word. I didn’t. I only loaded it to 20kg and did the WOD from there. I grabbed more plates, but I decided not to use them. My OHS sucks, and I really didn’t feel like my shoulders were ready to go by the time the WOD was. At least, that’s my excuse. In truth, I was tired, sore, and a bit mentally worn out. I didn’t want to fight myself to push. And my lack of fight scared me. How am I supposed to be competitive if I have off days?

What made my pity-party even more deep was I worked next to the girl that won the women’s division Sunday. She Rx’ed it, and we finished in nearly the same time. Literally throwing down twice the weight I was. And when it was done she chatted with me and said, “I thought you were going to put more weight on.” Not in a bad way, just a conversational, curious way. I felt the shame train just plow me over. Good lord, I am such a joke. Who did I think I am? I’m not good enough to compete, to be an athlete.

I was in a funk all weekend. Finally, while bottling the latest home brew, Hulk probed at what was troubling me and I spilled. I didn’t want to talk about it because I felt like I was just being a big baby, and I should just recognize that it was all in my head and get over it. But I also knew better, and as Brene Brown says in “Daring Greatly,” the best way to confront shame is to share it. So I told him how I want to compete but I’m still a beginner, and I don’t feel “good enough,” whatever that means. I shared how lousy I felt after the WOD on Friday, knowing I should have done more but didn’t. I worried if I was training enough or too much, what should I be doing and not doing, how do I keep my “aging” body performing when I have so many issues that now require attention (gone are the days where I could stay up until 2am drinking then show up at the start line for an 8am bike race the next morning; now I need a solid warm-up or my hamstrings hate me).

Hulk, being an ex-professional cyclist, is my best resource for sports training and performance advice. He might not know CrossFit specifically, but he gets it. “Actually, I am proud of you,” he told me. “You took it easy because you didn’t get a warm-up in and you were already feeling sore. A lot of athletes push through that, and that’s when injuries happen. It’s good that you know your body that well.” Also, while I’m not exactly a pro, he said I do have a sense of what I’m supposed to be doing and what my body needs to perform. “Just get out of your own way,” he reassured me. “You’re doing fine.”

He went on to say that newer sports medicine studies (I can’t reference which ones) are indicating more of a “less is more” approach to training. Where instead of overloading at 100% max session after session, you don’t train more than, like 80% of max, then when you compete you go all out. This allows the body to properly recover and rebuild, so you’re not too depleted to tax it during the competition. I think the research was done on swimming, but it’s interesting to explore more.

So I took Hulk’s advice and took some time off from the gym until I fell rested, both mentally and physically. I’ve been taking Olive on a lot of walks at the park, and trying to remember to do my PT exercises. My heart is totally ready to go back, but my legs feel very tight. I’m going to try and get a massage done at the most fantastic therapeutic massage place in SF and see if that helps. I’m also going to find a chiropractor and get some body work done. It’s time I start taking care of myself physically for all of the demand I’m putting myself through, and we’ll see how that goes.

And it’s time to start another Whole30. Because, ugh, why not. That, and inflammation.

So a minor bump in the road for the mental life of an aspiring athlete. I’m sure this is the first of many to come.

And I owe a competition report for the Spring Fling! It was pretty awesome.

That’s it for now, go make it a great day!

IMG_0425

Pre-comp Jitters

Tomorrow morning I participate in my first “real” CrossFit competition, the Spring Fling (assuming the Open doesn’t count).

I am experiencing an uncharacteristically large amount of pre-competition jitters. So instead of going to bed I’m going to stay up and write a blog post about everything I’m worried about and how I don’t really need to be worried about it.

Worry #1: I will wet my pants or poop in front of everyone

Okay, this is not something I am really worried about. It was supposed to be a spark of humor to get an otherwise heavy discussion going. But now that it’s out there, do I really need to be worried about this? Uh oh. Now it’s on the list. But now I remember that I’ve done this already while in labor, so I don’t care anymore. Whew, moving on …

Worry #2: I don’t know how to Athlete

Back when I was cycling, I knew how to rest, how to fuel, and how to recover for bike races. I have no idea what I’m supposed to do for a CrossFit competition. I went to class on Friday because the WOD sounded super fun, and now I’m sore and wondering if that was a bad idea? But there were other people there that were doing lifts and stuff, should I have been practicing clean and jerks? How do I know what weight to start with when I don’t know my max effort yet? Should I bring food? What kind of food? What do I do if I’m halfway through the workout and my hamstring is about to snap and I want to quit to avoid injury? Is this something I should do, or should I “push through” in a competition setting?

At my first bike race, I had NO IDEA what I was doing. But I did have Hulk there, telling me when to warm up and for how long, when to eat a bar, and what to do after the race so my legs didn’t crap out on me. And even then I was still learning how to race and compete. This is no different. It’s my first competition, and this is my opportunity on learning as much as I can about how not to go into a CrossFit competition. I will do my best with what I know now, and I’ll learn the rest tomorrow. And the first lesson I have discovered is maybe I should have talked to one of my coaches about the questions about preparation and fueling, oh, I don’t know, maybe a little bit before the night before the competition? Lesson learned.

Worry #2: I will come in last place and suck so horribly I embarrass my self and no one takes me seriously

You guys, I am not very good. I am not very strong, I have rather less than stellar cardiovascular capacity, and I will probably not make the 16 min time cutoff for the chipper in Workout #3. I maybe will make it through the box jumps, and that’s a big maybe. Maybe. I am afraid of going out there, totally plastering myself only to come in last and have everyone look at me like, “What the hell is she doing here? Maybe she should go back to baking muffins or something.”

Okay first of all, do you know how many races and triathlons I came in dead last? A lot. Like, I lost count of how many. Did I care? Okay, yeah, a little bit, but I knew I lost fair and square, so it really wasn’t a big deal. Other women were fitter than me and put more time and effort into training, good for them and they clearly bested me. I’m out there to have fun and see what I can do. I’ve only been doing CrossFit for five months, so just competing is an accomplishment in itself. Everyone starts from somewhere.

And if anyone questions what the hell I am doing here and suggests I go back to baking, well, I might suck at CrossFit but they suck as a human being. And I have a big smile and an even bigger middle finger for them …

Worry # 4: I can’t do numbered lists after my bedtime because I get the numbers wrong

If I can’t do a numbered list, how am I supposed to count my reps?

Worry #5: I go too big or too hard and injure myself

My hamstrings have really been bothering me this week. I noticed it a couple weeks ago, and I know it’s due to me sitting too much and not activating all of my legs enough. I started doing the PT exercises I was prescribed a while ago when I was going in to physical therapy for my hamstring issues, but I haven’t been consistent enough for it to make a difference yet. During the WOD Friday I was in a lot of pain, just hoping I could finish. I did all of my PT and stretches this weekend, and I’m hoping it’s enough to get me through Sunday. But if not, I’ll start to really suffer during the chipper, with all of the hip action from the kettlebell work. I’m worried about getting injured and being out for weeks all because of one workout I was too stubborn to throw in the towel when things got dangerous.

All I can do with this one is listen to my body and be honest. If I really think things are bad, I need to stop. I know I’ll get support from my coaches for quitting before things get worse. On the flip side, I need to not use the fear as an excuse for pushing it if I can do it. If things are hard just because, duh, this is hard, then I need to get over it and do the work. Be as prepared and informed as I can be, and use the best judgement I can in the moment.

Okay, I’m done ranting. Thanks for listening, and go make it a great day!