Thursday, February 13, 2014

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. –Chinese Proverb

Spartan Shape-Up 2.0, Day 4:

I'm sitting here drinking an abundance of water (so. thirsty), after a wonderful 60 minute massage that the man in my life got me for Valentines day. It was pretty great... it hurt. so. good. Walking in there today, my muscles were a bit stiff and creaky - but it was earned stiffness. Not just the kind you get from sitting around in a chair. Huzzah! This is progress.
Further, I saw this massage lady about 5 weeks ago (Christmas present massage, yes!), and she told me today that she can see that I've gained some muscle and strength - particularly in my quads and hamstrings. GOOD LORD, because there's nothing a T-rex needs more than MORE LEGS.... but, hey, I'll take the gains wherever I can get them. (and more muscle gain=more calorie burn= faster weight loss!)

Allow me to tell you the next chapter in the how-I-got-sore-but-earned-it, this week.

Monday's WOD at Crossfit was awesome, but after some KB swings and deadlifts and such, I'd earned a day off of that sort of thing for a bit of rest. Tuesday was going to be a run day for me, but Life got in the way and it just didn't happen. However, I rallied, and on Tuesday, I found myself back at CrossFit Waterbury for the lunchtime WOD.

(...because this cracks me up.)

A note about lunchtime workouts: I highly recommend them, if you can manage it. I've found that I start my day, get working, and just about the time I need a break, it's lunchtime and I head to my WOD. After that  break and some movement, I feel energized, accomplished and ready to sit back at my desk and tackle the next thing. Good times!

First, we did some Skill Work on Rope Climbs. As many of you know, I have yet to get up an entire rope climb (there was that one time I got halfway up a dry rope, before a workout and not tired...) and it is one of my long-term goals. In theory, I know how to do it - I've watched hundreds of Spartans beast through it, I've watched videos from Navy Seals on the technique, and yet... it eludes me. This is supposed to be a more leg-based activity, if you're doing it correctly, but I've still yet to get it.
Through some patient coaching and demonstration from Robyn, I went for a few solid attempts. Still not there. I can execute the maneuver, but when I go to stand up on my S-hook rope, I slide.
Although, I did learn a new technique for "learning" purposes. Start sitting on a box, put your feet in position, then stand up. This more closely simulates the action you'll be doing when you're actually climbing - bringing your knees up as high as you can, gripping (not pulling) with your hands, and then standing to bring your hips to the rope. I -still- can't really do it.... YET.  You just wait. :-)

Next, we headed on to the WOD:
For Total Working Time:

10 power cleans (55#)
15 Burpee Box Overs
20 OH Walking Lunges (10#)
40 Double Unders or 80 singles
REST 3 Min.
Rest 3 Min.
REPEAT (for a total of 3 rounds). 

So, my total time came in at 23:23, and I was pretty sure the Burpees were going to kill me. Burpee Box Overs, for those that haven't yet experienced this new kind of hell, are ugly.  You do a burpee, stand up, Jump Onto and Over box. That's One. Burpee on the other side of the box.... stand up, jump on box and over.... that's 2.
Fat Chick Syndrome (you've all heard me talk about FCS before?), gets really inflamed during this sort of task. Burpees kill me, cardiovascularly. I'm panting and sweating like I'm about to die (clearly this means I must do more). As such, refusing to quit, I am forced to do them slower. There are points (we've all been there, with The Burpee), where I'm laying on the floor, working on getting up, and start beating myself up over the fact that this would be SO MUCH EASIER if I wasn't the fat kid. Enter FCS. I have spent a lot of the last few years working to change this thought pattern, or at least channel it differently. Now, I get angry and push through. There was a point, during the second round of these burpee box overs, after a particularly sharp pang of FCS, that I pushed a few out quickly and had that dreaded, "am I gonna throw up right now?" moment. Luckily, I moved through that as well.
I guess that's the key to these ugly movements.... JUST. KEEP. MOVING.  It can't go on forever. If you keep chipping away at it, it'll be done. Then, you will feel awesome.
Thankfully, there was an excellent cheering section at CFW for the WOD that kept the positive mojo flowing. Definitely helps!

I was happy that I beasted through the power cleans with some efficiency. I try to remember things like that when I am feeling particularly weak (like while doing burpees). For instance, I might say to myself.... "Hey, so these burpees suck really bad because our spare tire is WAY too big right now... BUT, I owned those power cleans...."  Whatever gets you through, right?

Over Head Walking lunges are not a great favorite of my t-rex self. While the lunges are that bad (although, nothing is that great, after burpees and box jumps...), using my wimpy arms to hold something over my head, arms locked out, is not pretty. However, it had to get done, even if it meant doing two, taking a 3 second break to breathe, and getting back to work.

Here's the moral of the story, BlogLand. It may not be pretty, you may not feel athletic, it may not be as easy as it once was..... but in order to see the results, you have to do the work; as slowly as necessary, as scaled as necessary, as sweaty as necessary.... but you must keep moving.

Tomorrow, I think I'm going to take an easy run to stretch the muscles back out (I'm not sure what is more sore, lingering Crossfit achiness, or the aftermath of a rigorous massage?).... because this weekend is Adventure Weekend with the Man. We're trying SNOWBOARDING!!!! (stay tuned for that update).

Monday, February 10, 2014

“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don't sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late. - Lee Iacocca”

Spartan Shape Up, 2.0: Day 1

Dear BlogLand,

The time has come. I'm well again (screw you, mono!), I'm cleared of all weird injuries and healing issues (screw you hip and ankle!), and there are no excuses left.

I've been "trying" to get back in shape and get back into the routine for the last month or so.... since that moment where I stepped on the scale (Jan 1) and realized EXACTLY how bad the holiday reckless eating had become (bad. real bad.). We all know how "trying" goes though... "trying" isn't exactly "doing." Trying means that I've acknowledged that there is a problem that needs to be fixed, I have a loose strategy on how to do it, but I haven't quite 100% committed to the arduous task of correcting the situation. However, in that last month or so, I have used that time to take a really thorough self-inventory and figure out where the mental blocks are now, how I can best over come them, what my goals are and where my priorities lie.
One thing that I have learned is, as one of those lucky sort that get to Work From Home (yes, sometimes in yoga pants, allllllll day!), I'm a social person and I desperately need to leave the house on a regular basis and see people. For all my best efforts, instituting a totally at-home workout plan (while cost effective...) was never going to be very successful. I'm a person who loves a group atmosphere, the energy of a crowd and the outside motivation of "other people" to help push me a little harder than I'd go on my own. Struggling to figure out how to make that happen, the solution fell in my lap:

CrossFit Waterbury opened, 12 minutes down the road from me. CrossFit is a activity (sport?) that was instrumental in getting my spartan-self shaped up the first time around, as it is constantly varied, fast paced and has a friendly-yet-competitive atmosphere that I found worked well for me. Also, it's probably the only time a person of my fitness level can do the same workout as that superfit guy.... thanks to the wonders of being able to "scale" each movement to your ability level.

CrossFit Waterbury, boasted a super convenient location (right on the main road!), a cool space (garage doors! yesssss!) and some super friendly, encouraging and supportive owners (Shea! Robyn! woot!). The stars have been aligning, BlogLand. No more room for the excuses that I've been setting up for myself.

The test subjects... there I am! center, back row
So, I took the leap. I suited up all my extra squishiness into the familar spandex and lyrcra, and joined them for their promotional (free!!) week of classes.

Blogland, it's great to report that I had a fantastic time. It's been quite a while since I had *fun* working out. But I did. I chatted with all the other scared newbies, swapped stories about our goals and journeys ahead, and - most of all - felt part of a small community of awesomeness. SOLD.

That feeling of "I-Can" was reignited in me, where I had lost it for the last few months. I'd spent a lot of time at home, feeling out of shape, Fat (yes. I use the F word), defeated and discouraged. What I'd found at CFW was a reminder that I CAN do it.... even if I have to do my push ups on a box, or lift something lighter, or go a little slower. Baby steps are still FORWARD steps.

With that, I ponied up my hard-earned cash and grabbed a membership, so I was ready to go today, on Day 1 of their official opening. Here's how it went:

I hopped in for a lunchtime WOD, which Robyn was leading. I admit, I'd scoped it out last night when they posted the WOD, and was... *gasp* looking forward to it! It was a WOD that would play to my strengths (heavy stuff! Yeah!), and work out some of my weak areas... (t-rex arms, boo!).

After some hip mobility work, which felt AWESOME for a desk jockey (all-day chair sitters... do yourself a favor.. STRETCH!) like myself, we got into the first part of our WOD:
Front Squat: 10-8-6-5-5-5 

Starting out light, I practiced my form with the 35# bar to do that initial set of 10. Although squatting is a strength of mine, front squats require some shoulder mobility to perfect that rack position, that I don't yet have. A few suggestions on keeping my elbows up, and I was on my way.  Time to add some weight. I threw on a couple of 10# plates, leaving my total only at 55#. I say "only" because historically this isn't much weight for me. BUT, I'm trying to make good, sensible decisions as I come back to training. I haven't been very active, I have a (theoretically recovered) hip injury that will need to get stronger, I needed to work on that form, and there was a good number of reps there. So, sticking with my 55#, I felt solid working through my ladder sets, keeping my damn elbows up.

Next, we moved onto the first half of the main WOD:
6 Min AMRAP (as many reps as possible):
Odd Minute: Burpees
Even Minute: KB Swings (25# KB for me)

I died inside. It probably looked like I was dying outwardly, too. LOL. Burpees for me, like many Spartans and non-spartans alike, are the enemy. No matter how much practice I have, they continue to suck really badly. Further, when you've reached out-of-shape-again, they suck particularly badly. Nonetheless, I panted and sweat-puddled my way through them, one minute at a time. I was reminded of something a veteran Spartan told me once - "You can do anything for one minute." So, I did. I used the KB swings as my anchor (I like those!), and powered through them, as best as my body could handle. Needless to say, my cardio has some room for improvement, but I logged a solid 87 total burpees and swings in 6 minutes. I also logged several "*pantpantpantnotquitedead* stops" . At some point, I'd love to get through this without having to pause for air.

With 2 minutes for us to catch our  breath, we moved on:

WOD, Part 2:
AMRAP, 6 mins.
4 Deadlifts (75# for me)
6 Push Ups (tall box, for me)
8 Toes-to-Bar (.... knees to 90 degrees for me!)

So, another example of a great scaled WOD.  Deadlifts are something I can do pretty easily, and in retrospect, I should've made these a bit heavier. However, I was still recovering from burpee death and all my brain could handle was Yes.Light.Good.
Further, this T-Rex hates pushups, because I'm quite sure my arms are going to fall off, so I chose to use a box here, instead (maintain good push up form, but relieve your arms of the evil weight!).
Last, toes to bar is a little challenging with a good-sized mid-section in the way, so I went with Knees up as high as I can for some core work.

On we went. I felt awesome plowing through DL's and overall, this wasn't too bad.  I logged 5 solid rounds in 6 minutes, which I was happy with. I was able to keep moving right from one to the other, without a lot of lag for OMGIMDYING breathing in between movements.

Home now, my leg muscles are reminding me that it's been a while since we've done much squatting, swinging or really.... ANYTHING.  I fear that tomorrow and the next day could be a bit challenging when I try to walk up the stairs in my house.... however, I'm going to take that as an affirmation that I did something. I kept trying, and I showed up. VICTORY.

Dear BlogLand.... we begin the journey to fitness, again... but, dare I say... I'm looking forward to it?

“The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”