Seven Months in and CrossFit Total

Last attempt at max back squat - 265#

Last attempt at max back squat – 265#

Tomorrow is close to my 7-month anniversary for CrossFit. It’s also the one-year anniversary of the box we work out at, CrossFit I-35 in Overland Park, KS.

We’re celebrating with CrossFit Total followed by cocktails and a cookout, so it should be a lot of fun! Hopefully the Total doesn’t make me too gross to socialize afterward! LOL

We’ve been a little lax on our diet lately. A lot of that is traveling to teach on weekends and the troubles of eating proper when I’m on the road. It can be done, but it’s very tough so it’s easy to default into old patterns. Weight has been pretty steady and I wore a pair of dress pants the other day that I hadn’t had on in 6 years and couldn’t hardly get over my hips for the past 5! LOL

I am in the mid 240’s, but continuing to get stronger, put on muscle and see more veins in my arms, so I’m a good example of the whole reality that you don’t always “lose weight” as you get healthier. I’ve still lose 15 pounds or so altogether, which isn’t a lot, but I’ve put on a lot of muscle and dropped a couple belt sizes, so the numbers don’t tell much of the story.

As far as weight goes, though, I would like to drop into the 230’s by the beginning of August. I think that’s mainly an issue of just buckling down a bit tighter on the diet and being stricter with paleo. It has been hot and humid here and coming home after work and cracking a beer or two has been all too easy! LOL My wife is doing another round of Whole30 again, so that will help. When she falls off the wagon I go right along with her! LOL

 

Killing the Fat Man

Just discovered a series of videos posted by CrossFit HQ featuring Gary Roberts called “Killing the Fat Man.” Dovetails nicely with the purpose of this blog, so well worth checking out. I am excited to watch more episodes. Here is #1:

6 Months In… Now What?

Hello, my fluffy (and maybe not so fluffy, now!) readers! It has been forever and a day since my last post which makes me officially the world’s worst blogger, but hey, sorry! I’m right at my 6 month mark (WOW, time FLIES!) for doing CrossFit and kettlebell workouts and it’s time to check in.

I weighed in on work’s miserable excuse for a BMI machine and there is some info to be gleaned from that. Ignoring my BMI, which is a fairly stupid measure to begin with (for example, my instructor is 6 and a half feet tall, in his early 50’s and 11% bodyfat, you can see every vein in his body, and his BMI is “morbidly obese.” LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL), I have:

  • Lost about 15 pounds
  • Gained some lean muscle. I can see some veins popping up in my arms, and I can definitely feel new muscle where it wasn’t before.
  • Dropped 6.5% of my total body fat.

Now, for most people this is a pretty slow burn, but this is also sustainable for me. There’s a gal at our box who looks awesome and has dropped something like 20 pounds and 12% bodyfat or something ridiculous in 12 weeks. Everyone’s metabolism is a bit different!

I have also been more concerned with form, proper movement, learning the right way to do things, etc than blasting out heavy, bad reps, etc. With the exception of some aches and pains and the one missed box jump where I twisted my ankle 5.5 months ago, I am injury-free and making it to 4-5 WOD’s per week, so that is a stark contrast to some of the folks in my box who’ve been going balls to the wall and have been out for injuries or have injuries brewing because of form breaks they haven’t recognized. I’m OK with the slow burn.

Paleo is going well. Very easy for us.

Been hitting PR’s a lot. Did a 265# squat the other day, which I was happy with. Also did a half Murph on Memorial Day on Monday and finished it in 46 minutes and change with scaled pull-ups and everything else Rx. I thought I’d max out at around 60 push-ups and I got all 100! And we just did a kettlebell workout this morning with a swing/push-up ladder from 1-10-1 (which equals 100 swings and 100 pushups) and I was able to do those, too. I’ve literally done more PU’s in this week than in my whole adult life, if you factor out the CrossFit WOD’s. LOL

So, there are things I am realizing now:

  • To generate more power in certain lifts, I’m going to have to train those things more specifically.
  • To learn skills, you’ve got to work at them. In the near future I’ll be buying some stall mats from Tractor Supply to set up a little low-tech gym in the garage so I can work on some things… double-unders, maybe start doing handstands and working toward HSPU’s, some kettlebells to get workouts in on off days and work on strength, and probably an Abmat.
  • My goal of attaining at least one strict pull-up is going to be tough to get. I HAVE to start working on back strength SPECIFICALLY for this. So, I’ve got a set of gym rings and straps (great, lifetime warranty wooden ones with straps, no tax and free shipping on sale from Muscledriver.com right now, $52!) on the way to start doing ring rows and things.

Overall I am very happy with my progress. I’m getting new skills, I’m building muscle, my pants and shorts are starting to have trouble staying up (lost two belt sizes) so I will be needing to do some clothes shopping soon (which will probably depress me, but oh well), and I feel like I am making progress that is sustainable and creating a new lifestyle for myself.

Chime in on what progress you’ve been making! I’d love to hear about it!

Cheating On Paleo: Not Worth It

We’ve been doing Paleo/Whole 30 for several months now and, for the most part, doing pretty well with it. I’ve always been the cook in the family and we’ve always cooked all our meals at home, so it’s no big deal. We make a big batch of soup or chili on Sunday to use for lunch all week, etc. A little planning is all it takes. And there is a TON of variety as long as you like lots of different meats, fish and veggies, which we totally do.

I was in Austin, TX for a few days to do some teaching, and I fell off the wagon a little. There was a great beer garden/restaurant about 1/2 mile from my hotel called Bangers with 101 taps of GOOD beers (not a single crappy beer on the menu, not a single macro brew, and they even had a kombucha tap, a cold-brewed coffee tap, a micro-root beer and a couple beers on cask) and being a big beer geek, I knew I was going to do some cheating. I actually ate pretty well over the weekend, for the most part, but the beers got my gut all inflamed (at least that’s what it felt like) and I had a bloated feeling that a week later still hasn’t totally gone away (gee, think I might be a bit gluten-sensitive?) as well as a resurgence of heartburn that I haven’t had a single episode of in almost 6 months now.

The point? You can eat whatever you want. If you are like me and trying to lose weight as well as get fitness, you HAVE to choose a diet that works for you, longterm. Most of us who are in this position CANNOT think that we can go back to eating like shit once we reach a goal. First of all, it isn’t healthy, period. Secondly, we’ll blow right back up to where we started in record time. I haven’t put 5 months of daily 5:45AM workouts under my belt to have my stomach going OVER my belt again! LOL

Keep up the fight, my fluffy friends!

CrossFit Accessories That Work

Had a great morning WOD this AM, with skill work on the clean pull with relatively heavy weight (135# for me) and then a 10 minute AMRAP of 10 115# power cleans, 10 115# push presses and 10 burpees. I completed two full rounds + 2 power cleans at Rx weight and it felt great to Rx another whole workout. Very cool to see improvement! My wife laughed at my “accessories” before the workout today and I was decked out in all my glory, for sure, but I’ve found a few things that I think work GREAT and that’s the only reason I use them. It’s certainly not for fashion! LOL

Rocktape Shin Skins

In full disclosure, I teach continuing education courses in Fascial Movement Taping that are sponsored by Rocktape and they did send these to me free of charge. That being said, if I didn’t like them I wouldn’t mention them!

Shin Skins come in “Manifesto,” all black and lime green, but beyond the aesthetics the all function the same. They are basically shinguards for CrossFit! They are snug-fitting Lycra fabric with a lightly padded (think like 3x thickness in the front compared to the back) front side that protects your shins from the knee down to the ankle. The photo shows them in use during a rope climb, but I use them for all the Olympic lifting, deadlifts, etc. If you’ve cheese-grated the front of your shin during a lifting session you know how a little protection can go a long way.

They are a nice bit of extra insurance during box jumps, too, in case you miss a jump you might not hurt yourself nearly as bad as skin to metal/wood. Ouch!

Shin Skins have a little grippy material on the inside of the top and bottom cuff to keep them from sliding down. If you’ve ever worn arm or leg warmers as a cyclist, you will be very familiar with the concept and function of Shin Skins.

They work GREAT and for $50 retail I think they are a worthy investment for anyone who wants to have decent-looking shins from all that working out, instead of scabby, cratered monster legs.

Gym Rat Wrist Wraps

When it comes to wrist wraps there are a LOT of choices out there, and they all seem to be essentially the same thing, so find the aesthetics you like and get some. The concept is simple: a long strip of doubled-over cloth about 3″ wide and 24″ long or so with a knotted string on the end. You wrap them around your wrist, loop the string around the wrap and tuck it under itself. The knot will hold. You can twist and untwist the wrap to tighten/loosen them during the WOD as needed, and scootch them up or down your wrist for more or less support.

These give you extra wrist support for push type movements (pushups, HSPU’s, burpees, bench press, push press, etc etc) and cleans. They work GREAT! There are a million colors to choose from and custom fabric options for people who want to brand their own. They are $20 each and are a worthy investment. My wrists are funky, and they like the Gym Rat wrist wraps, a lot. Very easy to use, as you will see in the video below.

If you decide to order any wrist wraps from Gym Rat, they supplied me with this link (http://gymratwristwraps.refr.cc/RDBB3NV) that will save you 10% off your order. A few bucks is a few bucks!

Buff Headwear

I am a sweat MONSTER when I work out and for months I have just been putting up with it. I was going to buy a few bandanas to use as sweat bands and then I remembered the Buff, made famous by the Survivor TV show. These are made out of Coolmax fabric that wicks moisture away from your head (or neck, or wherever you wear it, and there are a million ways) and they have no seams to chafe. I bought two of their new Half Buffs and one classic full-size one. After using the Half Buff, I think those are the way to go for CrossFit WOD’s. The full Buff is probably better for general outdoor use.

Buff uses some proprietary stuff in the fabric to keep the bacteria down, and I’ve read reports of people wearing these all day everyday on long hiking trips with no funky smells or growths coming out of them, which is pretty impressive.

I’ve just been wearing the Half Buff like a headband and it keeps the sweat off my face completely. I will say that for face-down stuff, like our post-workout stretching, the sweat moved to the front of the headband and started dripping off, which was kind of gross, but at least it wasn’t all over my face, in my eyes, on my glasses, etc. I literally wrung the Buff out after the WOD this morning and sweat poured out. Gross, but cool! Rather than testing how long I can go before the funk sets in, I just rinsed it out and hung it up in the bathroom so it can be used again next WOD.

I wish I’d bought some of these 4 months ago, but better late than never.

Rx’ing Hero WOD’s… What’s Next, The Moon?

Today was a big day for me in term of my gains (or is that “gainz?” LOL) from doing CrossFit. Like my last post said, we’re in the grind… knocking out day after day of working out (4/week, 3 CrossFit WOD’s and one kettlebell workout, which is an ass-kicker every time) and sticking to Paleo/Whole 30 pretty religiously. Now that the Open workouts are done, we’re back to doing regular CrossFit WOD’s on Friday mornings and today’s was The Chief (check the video out below). It’s a 3 minute AMRAP of 3×155# power cleans, 6 pushups and 9 air squats. Then a rest for 1 minute and repeat for 5 cycles for a total.

I did 8 full rounds plus one more power clean at the end. What I am proud of today is that I rx’d the weight, didn’t go lighter and I also did all my rounds of pushups as real, unmodified pushups. When I started at the very end of December I couldn’t do more than 3-4 pushups at a time, certainly not 30 in a 15 minute workout, and I was able to do them all as rx’d. I know 30 PU’s is nothing for a lot of people, but a lot of people aren’t me! LOL

Feels GREAT to rx an entire workout, especially a tough one like The Chief, which honors all the Chief Petty Officers of the Navy who’ve put everything on the line for us to maintain our freedoms. God bless!

Going with the Flow

Sorry for the major lack of posts recently… we’re at that stage where we’re “just doing it” and that isn’t all that exciting, but I do have a report from the front and some perspective on a few things now that I am starting my fourth month of CrossFit.

My wife has lost a LOT of inches, mostly around her waist and she is having to buy all new pants, which is a good thing! I’m starting to see a little more progress around my own waist, but I am continuing to feel more muscle development and “convert” more than lose. Something I picked up in a book recently was to cycle your calories from day to day so your body doesn’t get as stressed out about your weight loss, which might help, although we don’t count calories. In other words, if you know you should be eating 1,500 calories a day, let’s say, the author recommended eating 1,000 calories one day, then 2,000 calories the next day, and mixing it up day to day. In any case, we’re both seeing progress, just in different ways.

Patience: my wife has none. She is extremely impatient about learning the lifts and thinks she needs to build basic “gym strength” to move forward. I’m not sure I agree, but she is going to see a personal trainer a couple times a month that she used to go to a long time ago for more traditional workouts and we’ll see if that translates to what she is frustrated with in CrossFit. Our coach, Scott, at CrossFit I-35, keeps telling her to have patience, but he has had as much luck as I have. LOL I think working out is a lot like being in a new relationship… it starts out hot and heavy and as time progresses things change and calm down a little bit, then you’re into going with the flow like we are now.

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Skills: if you want to get good at certain things in CrossFit and/or defeat your goats, you’re going to need time to practice them. Trying to work on them only when they come up in WOD’s is going to get you pretty much nowhere. If you suck at double-unders, you need to buy yourself a decent jumprope (I have an Rx Jump Rope that is nice because you can progress with the weight of the cable as you get better at jumping rope and doing double-unders, although the RPM ropes are supposed to be good and everyone likes the Rogue and Again Faster speed ropes, too) and work on them for 5-10 minutes every day until you no longer suck at them. If you don’t practice being able to do a handstand regularly and get comfortable being upside-down, you are never going to get handstand pushups, etc. That doesn’t mean you need to buy a $3,000 home gym setup from Rogue (although if you have the discretionary income, why not?!) but you need to have a place at home to be able to work on these basic things, or show up at the box early or stay late, if they let you, and work on them every day you do a WOD.

Eating: we’re paleo now without a cheat day and my wife is doing Whole30 and may do Whole60, which are even stricter forms of paleo that work on the psychological side of our relationship with food. I would recommend trying out paleo yourself. It’s pretty easy in many ways, but the caveat to that is that we cook most of our own meals, don’t go out a lot and haven’t lived out of processed food boxes anyway for a LONG time, so our transition to paleo was a relatively short step. Cutting the gluten out was the biggest stretch for us, but we both feel SOOOOO much better without it that it isn’t that tough. I cheat from time to time and grab a couple cookies at the occasional clinic meeting or have a couple squares of GOOD quality chocolate every day or two, but otherwise we have been doing pretty well with this. I recommend Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution as your entry into this, and I’ll do a separate article on paleo resources we’ve found helpful soon.

Aches and pains: you’ll have to walk that fine line between knowing what is good muscle soreness and ache and what is an actual problem, and it’s not the easiest thing to do. My best advice is have a good manual therapist or chiropractor in your pocket and use them frequently. If you get a chance to attend a Rocktape workshop for laypeople definitely check it out. I’ve had one calf muscle strain (took me out of running and jumping for a week, but I did everything else) and sprained my ankle really early on, which was just bad luck. Otherwise I’ve got a little teninosis in my left knee that I think comes from mechanically compressing it during things like Turkish Get-ups and my biceps tendons where they attach at the elbow have been consistently achy, which is my biggest problem. Working on all of them and doing preventative maintenance, but the prevention is well worth it. See Kelly Starrett’s awesome blog, MobilityWOD.com to learn some things you can do for your own maintenance.

 

Kate’s Story

It just struck me that it has been a while since an update! Minor setback this week… had to do a long sprint through Ohare airport on Sunday night and I think I set my leg up for problems. We did five jump squats during our warmup on Monday and after the fifth one I couldn’t walk too well because I pulled something in my calf. Calf sprains are a bitch, but what can you do?

I couldn’t do the WOD so I swung a heavy-ass 40kg kettlebell and did 16kg snatches and long cycles for the 15 minutes everyone else was doing burpees and overhead squats.

Anyway, today’s homework is Kate’s story. See her site at CrossFit Kate and watch the video below. Check her out around the 3:15-3:30 mark and file this under your personal, “What the ^&%! was my excuse, today?” part of your brain.

CrossFit Games Open Workout 13.1 – 91!

Well, the CrossFit Games are upon us and because of the way the Games work, “anyone” can compete. What that means is you can register, log your scores and see your ranking, but if you are reading this, you aren’t going to be one of the guys or girls we’ll see this summer on TV! LOL That being said, it’s a great way to see how you are doing now, and then compare in a year (although the workouts will be totally different then).

Last year’s Games opener was a controversial workout of 7 minutes AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of burpees. That was it, burpee hell. They took a lot of flak for that, I guess.

This years Open Workout 13.1 (read all the details and see the standards here) is a brutal mix of two of 2012’s season most-hated WOD’s: the burpees and an ascending snatch ladder. In 17 minutes, you do as much of the following as possible, in the order posted, with each successful lift or burpee counting as one point:

Men:

  • 40 Burpees
  • 75 pound Snatch, 30 reps
  • 30 Burpees
  • 135 pound Snatch, 30 reps
  • 20 Burpees
  • 165 pound Snatch, 30 reps
  • 10 burpees
  • 210 pound Snatch, as many reps as possible

Women:

  • 40 Burpees
  • 45 pound Snatch, 30 reps
  • 30 Burpees
  • 75 pound Snatch, 30 reps
  • 20 Burpees
  • 100 pound Snatch, 30 reps
  • 10 burpees
  • 120 pound Snatch, as many reps as possible

As of Friday (3/8/13) morning the best men’s score that has been turned in is Neal Maddox’s 199 (that means he went through the whole thing and pounded out 9 of the heavy snatches! For the women, Julie Foucher (see video link below of the standards for what counts as a rep as well as her whole submitted workout, which is amazing!) and Janine Walinski are tied up at 195. Crazy!

http://media.crossfit.com/games/video/SD/Games2013_VideoSubmission13-1JulieBoz_JF5dR2S69V.mp4

Our gym is going to do each of the Open workouts on Friday mornings. We just did 13.1 and I scored a 91. If I look at the rankings that puts me very close to the bottom of the barrel, but you know what? 91 is better than zero, so congratulate yourself if you even ATTEMPTED this WOD, my plus sized friends!

Here is a video from the MobilityWOD/GymnasticsWOD/EnduranceWOD crew at San Francisco CrossFit giving you tips for how to tackle this workout:

For A Good Time, Call Fran 21-15-9

It has been a while since I posted last, so let’s get caught up… we’re still up to the Paleo diet and that is going fine. I’m not sure how well a cheat day works in Paleo because the point of Paleo is getting the gluten out and blood sugar normalized, so saying “&^$@ You!” to the previous six days once a week may not be wise. We’ll have to reconsider what we do on our cheat days or if we’re even going to continue with them.

This is the time of year that I start traveling a lot to teach postgraduate seminars for other doctors, so I was out this past weekend and I’ll be traveling the next two weekends, too. Paleo is not TOO tough to do on the road assuming you prepare and bring some jerky and nuts with you and then stick to salads when you can.

Today’s WOD was one of the classic benchmark CrossFit workouts, Fran. This is an old workout that CrossFit founder Greg Glassman developed in order to try to replicate the feeling of a two minute gymnastics rings or parallel bars routine. He said once that if a hurricane can be named Fran, why can’t a workout? Hence the name.

Fran is a timed WOD consisting of 21 thrusters, 21 pullups, 15 thrusters, 15 pullups, 9 thrusters and 9 pullups done as quickly as possible. Rx weights are 95 pounds for men and 65 for women.

This was my first Fran and I scaled to use women’s Rx weight and jump pullups. I finished in 9:30. The toughtest part for me was how my wrists feel in the rack position during the squat part of Fran. Of course, if I could do real pullups that would be a huge challenge, too! LOL We’ll see what happens when we repeat Fran in a couple months.

Here’s a video of Camille Leblanc-Bazinet doing Fran. Elite crossfitters can knock it out in under 3 minutes.