CrossFit Level 1 Seminar Review

 

Panorama CrossFit TNT

Pano of CrossFit TNT

I spent the first weekend of April (2014… I know people are going to be reading this important document in the distant future… LOL) outside of St. Louis, MO taking the CrossFit Level 1 Certificate Course. The room was full of mostly super-fit, mostly young (to qualify this, I’m 39, but even the people who were older than me there were fit as heck) people, most of whom were planning on beginning to train others in the CrossFit methodology. Being 14-15 months into my CrossFit career as an “athlete” (I use the term loosely, LOL) and having been sedentary and way out of shape for the greater part of my life I felt a little like a fish out of water, but the course was great, the instructors were awesome and the other participants were fun to be around. If you need to read more than that then here we go…

The class is a full weekend, 9-5 both days. As a teacher at the graduate level as well as an instructor of doctors and healthcare providers on the post-graduate “circuit” it was obvious to me that a tremendous amount of work has gone into these seminars and no aspect of the course is left to chance. Every minute of every day is used and I could tell that the entire thing was well-orchestrated, workshopped, rehearsed, debriefed and refined. That’s what you would expect from a weekend seminar that costs $1,000, and they deliver!

The format of the course is a mix of lectures, demos and breakout sessions in relatively small groups. I didn’t take a full count of our class but I’d guess that there were around 60 people there and there were a total of 5 instructors. Our instructors were Steve, Nick, Natosha, Dustin and Hollis. More on them later. The carefully planned and timed lectures and breakouts keep the course moving along at a nice pace and each chunk was no longer than an hour, so it’s a good way to keep everyone focused.

Giant Pukie at CF TNT

Giant Pukie at CF TNT

The lectures aim at deciphering and simplifying some of the somewhat heady “philosophies” behind the CrossFit methodology. For example, anyone can say that CrossFit is “highly varied functional movement done at high intensity,” but fully understanding that and breaking down the importance of each element is another thing altogether. That’s what the lecture elements of the course aim to do and I think they did so remarkably well. Lectures covered the basics of what CrossFit really is, how it defines fitness, why tracking performance in everything from diet to WOD times and weight of lifts is important, etc. It really crystallized and clarified the idea behind CrossFit a lot for me. I never found myself doodling, getting bored or drifting off during any of the lectures, so their timing of the course worked great for me!

Steve had a GREAT sense of humor and timing in his lectures, Natosha was just perfection in her positions and movements and was as great of an instructor as she was a model, Nick and Hollis were super down-to-earth California guys (in the best of ways) and Dustin had to sleep at O’Hare Friday night because of flight problems. He showed up a couple hours late on Saturday with a big smile on his face and didn’t miss a beat. Everyone’s attitude and energy was super positive. Dustin’s going to Regionals and watching him work out during the lunch hour both days he demonstrated all 10 aspects of fitness like the definition was written for him specifically. The staff made the seminar great. The best planning and curriculum in the world doesn’t make up for an average or below-average delivery and these guys killed it.

The course is set up to basically alternate about one hour of lecture with practical hands-0n stuff. After Steve’s first lecture, Nick went into lecturing on the squat series (air squat, front squat and overhead squat), going into detail on proper setup and execution as well as common faults. Natosha did a fabulous job of demonstrating ideal positions and movements as well as each of the common faults. The seminar staff will tell you to not take notes and simply watch during this part, and I fully agree with their advice. ALL of the setup, execution, points of performance, faults and corrections are in your Training Guide already. There are a fair number of test questions that ask you what’s being demonstrated or corrected in a picture, so if you were scribbling notes (that are already in your guide) while you should’ve been watching the demos, you’re going to miss out.

After the demo session for each series, we’d break up into small groups of less than 14 people and workshop everything. Each breakout session was 45-60 minutes and you get a chance to work with each of the four instructors while Flowmaster Steve kept a watchful eye over the whole proceedings. Your groups are pre-arranged and everyone wears a nametag, which is nice because you don’t have to break the ice by asking people their names, and the instructors call everyone by name all the time. These extra touches are worth it.

Marcia killing it in front of all her fans (photo by Natosha Willhite)

Marcia killing it in front of all her fans (photo by Natosha Willhite)

The squat breakout with Nick was tough! My legs were Jell-O afterward and I was picked for “squat therapy” in my group, which was tough but rewarding. I have more work to do on my squat than I thought I did! Nick was a great coach, being both demanding and rewarding at the same time. He has it down to a science! I did manage to strain an adductor or hip flexor during this, and it hurt to flex my hip all weekend, but it didn’t affect the rest of the experience. Squatting was fine and the rest of the movements were minimally hampered by my “injury,” so that was lucky.

On the subject of injuries and abilities, they ask at each breakout if anyone is injured or needs scaling and they take it seriously. Also, all the WOD’s are scaled appropriately in the true spirit of CrossFit, so don’t think for a minute that an injury or an inability to perfectly execute a movement will make you unable to participate. I was worse at some things than others and way better at some things than others… everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

The lecture/demo/breakout format was the theme all weekend. On Saturday we did the press/push press/push jerk series with our group being led outside (I got a bit of a sunburn, which is a nice feeling in the Midwest during the first weekend of April) by Natosha. She broke each movement down and we pressed our PVC pipes about a million times. The whole class got together for kipping pull up and snatch instruction so we could see how to keep a large group moving. Hollis did a good job teaching snatch progressions and basically running us through the Buergner warmup.

We had some social time after the WOD and it was a cool way to end a hard day and get people chatting and having a good time. Met some cool CrossFitters and then I headed to my hotel. I had a good dinner and spent an hour or so going over some key points in the Training Guide again, reviewing the lecture and demo material and reading the homework Steve gave us. I was wiped out, but feeling good.

After a solid night of sleep I was ready to go on Day 2. My leg was pretty sore if I tried to flex my hip, but after all those thrusters and everything else we did on the first day I wasn’t too worried about it.

Day two was much like Day 1, alternating interesting and concise lectures with demos and breakout sessions. We did the deadlift, sumo deadlift high pull and medicine ball clean breakout with Dustin, who is as fast and coordinated as he is strong. Every instructor embodied the CrossFit definition of “fitness” for sure.

CrossFit TNT St. Charles, MO USA

CrossFit TNT St. Charles, MO USA

The large group sessions trained the muscle-up (yeah, right) and snatch and it was good stuff, followed by watching several participants accomplish their first muscle-ups ever!

The second day’s WOD was more of a challenge in that we split into groups with one person being athlete and the other person being the coach. Counting reps, rounds and coaching movements all at the same time was tough, but it was a good introduction into how complex running one athlete can be, much less keeping your eye on a larger group. The point wasn’t to be perfect, it was to show you how coaching athletes is tough work and needs mindfulness, presence and a careful eye.

We finished up the second day with the exam and some closing remarks after the nutrition lecture and a few more things.

My closing remarks:

  • CrossFit has worked really hard to develop an excellent seminar. They have the timing and logistics nailed down and they are obviously going above and beyond on choosing instructor staff and training them well.
  • The instructors embodied fitness both physical and mental. They were approachable and fun yet professional at all times and led by example as to what a confident and knowledgeable coach should act like when working with athletes.
  • The information was very digestible and easy to handle for me, but my background is probably somewhat atypical. If you don’t have a background in movement and health, lots of anatomy, etc then you will have a tougher time with it, but it’s still packaged in a way that someone with basic knowledge can get a lot out of it and not feel too underwater.
  • Don’t come into the experience expecting you’re going to leave as a master coach, and the instructors will tell you this themselves. This is the basic information you need to get started training in the CrossFit paradigm. Programming, mastering movement, mastering interpersonal skills, etc all take a lot of effort and work and that’s all on YOU to do, which is reasonable. My suggestion would be to co-instruct some classes or minimally start with a small (SMALL) group or individual training at first and then work your way up as you prove to yourself that you are doing a good job.

A New Look

The “Greyzd” theme was cool for the past year, but I wanted to give the site a fresh and updated look, so I hope you like the new theme! All the sharing buttons (share frequently and generously!) are still there, you just need to click the title of the article to see them, and then share away!

I’m going to try to post a LOT more frequently than I have been, too. Next post will be a review of the CrossFit Level 1 trainer seminar, so stay tuned! I should have it posted by Easter.

Keep Your Chin Up

Courtesy of The Fontana Studios

This past weekend I was in Portland, OR for work, but I was able to spend a couple hours in the city and it was a PERFECT weekend! After standing in line at an ice cream shop (Salt & Straw) for the better part of an hour (worth every minute of it!) I spotted this mural as I was walking back to my car. It’s part of the Forest for the Trees mural project which you can read about here (http://ffttnw.com).

It’s a good reminder for a lot of reasons, especially when you push yourself hard whether it’s in working out, just plain work, relationships, or whatever. I’ve always found it very easy to focus on the negative, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. In a class of 40 doctors I may have two who leave me negative comments while 38 have rave reviews. Guess which ones I focus on and let beat me up? Or you work out on a day where you feel so-so and your score gets worse compared to the last time you did the WOD. Most people would be in bed or binge drinking or whatever it is they do to get through a tough day and here you are WORKING OUT! Yeah, you didn’t set ANOTHER personal record, but you still put the work in when you didn’t have to, right?

It’s easy to beat yourself up. Lots of people struggle with that and if you’re like me it can become a lifelong battle of you against yourself. While I do believe it’s ALWAYS important to do your best in everything you do and always to put 100% in, sometimes you have to balance that with just a LITTLE attitude called “DGAF” (Don’t Give A F#$!) when it comes to the little bumps in the road. We can work on our mentality WOD together, how’s that sound?

Post your own struggles and how you’ve been able to get through them to inspire the rest of us and keep your chin up!

How the CrossFit Open Leaderboard Scores Work

A bunch of people have been scratching their heads about how the CrossFit Open leaderboard scoring works because it is somewhat (LOL) confusing and mysterious. Here is how to interpret all those numbers you see on the leaderboard. Let’s use the current (as of 3/19/14… happy birthday to me, by the way!) women’s individual leaderboard as our example:

Women's Individual Leaderboard games.crossfit.com

Women’s Individual Leaderboard games.crossfit.com

OK, so all those numbers confuse even the brightest people, so don’t feel bad if you scratch your head every time you look at it! First of all, the first number to the far left of the athlete’s row (left of their name) is the athlete’s ranking according to whatever filter you’ve applied (here we’re looking at worldwide rankings). Samantha Briggs is in first place, so that number is “1.” Kaleena Ladealrous is #2 in the world for individual women, so she has a “2” over by her name. That part makes sense, right?

The number in parentheses next to the ranking is a little tougher to figure out, but that is the athlete’s total number of points, and you want this particular number to be as LOW as possible. This is the same way the actual Games points are calculated, too, where lower scores = better.

So, how are “scores” calculated? They are the sum of your ranking from each workout (in this case, since we’re looking at the Open, then the score is the sum of your ranking from each Open WOD). We’ll come back to this in a second.

Let’s jump over to the Workout columns. There are two numbers in each Workout column. In Samantha’s case, she has “1 (472)” for Workout 01, “27 (274)” for Workout 02, etc. The first number in each Workout column is the athlete’s ranking for THAT WORKOUT. The second number, in parentheses, is the athlete’s number of reps for that workout. So, in this case, you want the number in parentheses to be as LARGE AS POSSIBLE. Hence the confusion for the overall leaderboard.

So, when we look at Samantha’s Workout columns, we see that she placed 1st in the world in the first workout with 472 reps, giving her a ranking of 1. In the second WOD she did 274 reps which ranked her 27th in the world and in the third workout she placed fifth in the world with 187 reps.

That gives her rankings of 1, 27 and 5. When we calculate her POINTS, then, she has 1 + 27 + 5 = 33. Hence the “33” in parentheses next to her name.

So, the individual reps are really just there so you can see how much you suck compared to professional CrossFitters! LOL The real numbers that matter are the POINTS, which are simply your rank in each workout added up. Again, LOWER POINTS = BETTER.

I hope that clears up any confusion you may’ve been having!

2013: The Year in Review

If 2013 has shown me anything it’s that I do not have the time and dedication to keep up with regularly posting to blogs! LOL Then again I have a full-time job and a significant portion of my weekends are taken up by post-graduate education of other clinicians that I do, so when I do have a moment at home I usually don’t occupy it with more writing/working! Sorry! But, here is a requisite year in review post, for any of you who are on the edges of your seats waiting for my words! 🙂

2013 has been a landmark year for me. For this first time in my almost 39 years I have discovered that I actually CAN stick with a regular exercise program, but it obviously has to meet some conditions. This is, literally (and I mean literally, not figuratively) the first time in my life I have exercised regularly. I even did a Christmas Eve WOD and a day-after-Christmas WOD this year and I’ll do the same next week for New Year’s. With few exceptions, I managed to do four workouts per week (three CrossFit and one kettlebell). That’s DAMN good for a fat, out-of-shape, de-trained exercise-hater like myself.

What I learned is that all the stuff people say about the “community of CrossFit,” getting into a routine, tracking and logging things, etc are all true. The scheduled “class” format of CrossFit has been instrumental in my consistency, first and foremost. Also biting off the WODs at 5:45 AM and not giving myself a chance to talk myself out of the work has been critical to my success. A side effect of this is that the 5:45 group is pretty dedicated, so you work your ass off with the same people every morning and you get a bit of a guilt trip from them if you don’t show up. It takes a lot of the “self-discipline” out of it.

I’ve made some good new friends through CrossFit and I’ve seen that it is a welcoming community of dedicated, friendly people, no doubt. It’s also super-competitive, so I learned that judges get fucked over at every competition no matter how good of a job they do. LOL If you no-rep an athlete they are SHOCKED that they are anything but perfect and you’ll catch Hell at the end of the event. If you DON’T no-rep someone then SOMEBODY ELSE will give you Hell for it. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, but I found judging and doing hospitality and stuff at our big competition this year was a lot of fun, all the same.

Some other things I learned: first and foremost, CrossFit is NOT a weight-loss program. I haven’t weighed myself in months and judging by the way my clothes are fitting I know I’ve gained back most of the weight I lost earlier on (which was never more than 15 pounds, by the way). That being said, we haven’t stuck to a good diet in months, either, so there’s no one to blame but me on that one.

All that being said I have added a TON of strength and muscle to my body with the workouts this year. It’s just hidden under all my insulation! LOL So even though I haven’t technically lost any weight, I’ve changed my body composition quite a bit and people who haven’t seen me in a while comment on how much better I look. That works for me, for now. 😉

I set some goals at the beginning of the year: be able to do a great squat, be able to do 24″ box jumps during WOD’s, be able to do one pull-up. The first two are done, although squatting is something that is probably improved throughout your whole career. That pull-up is still eluding me, though. I can get about 80% of the way there, so it’s just that last little bit that I can’t dial in. I haven’t used my rings at home much to train my lats and back to do the pull-ups, though, so if I don’t hit it this year I am going to knock it out in the first quarter of 2014.

I surprised myself by hitting one of my 2014 goals already, though! LOL At our last Total I got a 1RM deadlift of 365 pounds and I told myself I would get that to/over 400 pounds in 2014. We had a workout a couple weeks ago that involved establishing a 1RM for the deadlift and I surprised myself by pulling 400! It used every single muscle fiber in my body but I did it with proper form and it was a VERY cool feeling to do something that powerful at this point in my life.

My goals for 2014 are as follows:

  1. Keep up the consistency. Now that I’ve made it a year’s habit, I think that keeping up the work is going to be pretty easy since we’re locked into the lifestyle now.
  2. Focus on nutrition and consistency of diet. This is the BIG one I want to work on this year and get sorted. 2013 was the first year in my life I consistently exercised. Can 2014 be the first year in my life that I eat well consistently? You can teach an old dog new tricks.
  3. Handstands – I can do most of a wall walk but that last 20% or so scares the shit out of me still. It’s just a matter of getting over the fear and getting used to being upside down a few times, then I’ll be able to invert all I want.
  4. That damn pull-up.
  5. I am going to start doing more ring work… push-ups, working on dips and that sort of stuff to really push my stability.
  6. Endurance. I still crap out pretty easily in kettlebells and WODs. I feel like my muscles fatigue pretty fast and I have pacing issues, like I can knock out Round 1 of a 5 RFT WOD fast, but then I’m grinding for the other 4. LOL Lung capacity and endurance need help in 2014, so I need to try to find the time to doing some longer, slower work once in  while.

That’s about it. Fat guys (and gals) CAN CrossFit without killing themselves and they CAN develop fitness. I’ve proven it. Now for the hard work! LOL

Review: Fubarbell Seminar

Diane Fu Courtesy of Hella Life

I got the chance to attend one of Diane Fu’s Fubarbell seminars recently and since there are no other reviews of her seminars online currently, I figured I should be the first to do it!

For those who are looking for the bottom line and don’t like to read lengthy reviews, here is the edited version: if you have an opportunity to attend one of Diane’s seminars, then go. Now for those who want to read a little more in-depth…

The seminar was August 25, 2013 just north of Kansas City and was held at CrossFit 816. I stumbled upon this seminar a few months ago and was the third person to sign up for it. $250 to attend an 8-hour seminar on Olympic weightlifting seemed like a good deal to me, particularly considering that Diane is a “known entity” through her work with Kelly Starrett at San Francisco CrossFit. Looking at her website it would appear that she started teaching weightlifting seminars in March 2013. As the word spreads, it looks like she is getting quite busy and in a short period of time, which is a good thing! I was completely unable to find any third party information out about her seminars, so it was a minor leap of faith to attend. I did run into one person on the CrossFit.com forum who recommended I seek out a “real weightlifting coach” (of course, he recommended himself) instead of going to Diane’s seminar, but I’m not a big believer in the idea that just because you’ve done something for a long time you are necessarily good at it or even doing it right, so I ignored what I think we’d all agree was a bullshit comment.

Diane is new to the seminar teaching circuit, but she has a good pedigree in weightlifting training and she is a full-time weightlifting coach through her business, Fubarbell, which operates out of San Francisco CrossFit. Diane proved herself to be a good communicator and teacher, too, which is where the rubber meets the road in this game for me. Has she been to the Olympics? No. Can she teach people to lift? Yes. Questions answered.

So, enough of that and let’s talk about the seminar. CrossFit 816 did a nice job hosting it, providing a great lunch for us from PaleoFit Meals, too. It was a typical super hot and humid August day in Kansas City and, as you would expect of a warehouse/light industrial location the box heated up and got pretty swampy pretty quickly, but that’s life in the midwest for you and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it other than drink water and have fun! The box had a variety of bars, plenty of weights and a few lifting platforms for those who wanted to make their shoes sing! I got to use a Rogue Beater Bar (or something similar to it, which has a 31mm diameter grip) for the snatch instruction portion and it was VERY illustrative to me after almost 9 months of using a standard Rogue Bar (28.5mm grip) how a couple millimeters makes such a HUGE difference in something like weightlifting.

Photo Courtesy of Hella Life

Diane spent the first two hours or so lecturing. The lecture included her background story on how she came into the CrossFit world and then transitioned into full-time weightlifting, her background with Kelly Starrett (mobilityWOD, etc fame) and her coaching at San Francisco CrossFit through Fubarbell.  She didn’t spend a lot of time tooting her own horn, so the majority of the lecture time was spent on the why’s and how’s of weightlifting for a CrossFit audience. Why bother? Does it have a positive effect on other activities? Should CrossFitters spend extra time mastering the lifts and if so, why? Etc.

In terms of the how’s, I’m sure weightlifting can get extremely technical at the hands of a biomechanics geek (good Lord, I can’t imagine what a nightmare I would make it! LOL) and I have full confidence that Diane could’ve lead us to esoteric corners of lifting theory and lever arms and, hell, maybe even math and physics, if she’d wanted to. Coming from someone who teaches 12 hour continuing education seminars to other doctors, restraint and editing are two things we all struggle with and Diane did a fantastic job with that, especially on the didactic part of it.

She communicated well both verbally and through visuals making good use of a whiteboard to draw on. Diane started with a model of the foot, explaining where the area of support is as well as where “no mans’ land” is relative to going outside of the area of support. From there she explained the ideal USA-style weightlifting bar path, the “s curve,” and why it is the ideal bar path (sparing us the controversy of what other countries strive for while also highlighting the fact that there are different regional styles and the point is to lift the heaviest object the easiest way possible). To highlight common lifting errors Diane drew some common bar path errors and we discussed why they happen.

From here it was time to get rolling on the hands-on portion. Diane started with a brief mention of flexibility and stability, but this was obviously a Fubarbell seminar, not a MobilityWOD seminar, so she went straight into the main problem areas for lifters and we had a nice mobility session that lasted about 30 minutes or so. She showed a nice thoracic spine extension partner mobilization (and no, unlike what a few people said, that will NOT replace your need for a chiropractor! LOL), a banded ankle mobilization (that felt awesome), a basic hip mobility routine (that was done unbanded but could easily be adapted with a band) that also felt awesome, and a banded wrist stretch.

Once we were done limbering up we went into the snatch setup and progression which also doubled as a warm-up.

Diane is a big proponent of “top-down” learning. In other words, she recommended learning and mastering these lifts starting with high hang snatches (in the power position) to above the knee, below the knee (low hang), to shin, finally to the floor. The reason for this is that a lot of the problem new lifters have is putting it all together, so breaking the lifts into components and adding to the complexity in steps only makes sense. Diane also said that for some reason getting the bar around the knees is a steep part of the learning curve for adults, so the top-down progression helps groove “muscle memory” and proprioception without having to deal with what is the hardest part of the lift for many people.

Photo Courtesy of Wellnessfx.com

We spent probably an hour or so lifting while Diane circulated the room and watched and coached each lifter.

We broke for lunch for about an hour and then there was a little digestion/chalk talk time going into the additional things the clean and jerk require on top of the basics from the snatch then we got lifting again. Again, we went through progressions first, primarily for the jerk, learning how to properly do the split jerk and recover from it, paying careful attention to foot position, etc. Being a chiropractor with advanced movement observation training as well as MobilityWOD junkie, it was cool to see how Diane bypassed a lot of specific coaching on biomechanics simply by telling us what she wanted us to do. For example, Kelly Starrett can make “knees out” and torque of the knees and hips a four hour talk, but simply by telling us where she wanted our feet to land Diane accomplished the same thing without having to go into the detail of why. I think this is important to note for beginners.

Anyway, we did about an hour or so of open clean and jerk lifting, again with Diane circulating the room, and then finished the seminar with Q/A and some tips for box owners/coaches who want to program lifting.

All in all it was a great seminar. I have close to 900 hours of butt time in continuing education seminars, and this is my first non-profession related seminar. That being said, the principles of what makes a good/bad seminar of this sort are very similar and Diane killed it. Plenty of activity, she maximized her lecture time, and as much personal attention as one person can offer 23 athletes. For the first time since picking up a barbell in December of 2012 I was able to finally go into a full squat with the clean and did much better on my snatches, too. She really connected some dots for me and gave me a path to follow to improve my weightlifting more. That’s pretty awesome for 8 hours!

Photo Courtesy of Fubarbell.com

Of course, keep in mind that this is an 8-hour seminar. It’s one day of lifting. It’s not going to turn you into a super lifter and then you lie around on the couch, which I’m sure you understand. You have to use the information and put together lifting program if you want to progress. The snatch and C/J hadn’t come up in any of our WOD’s at my box for 1.5 weeks after the seminar and today we did high hang snatches and C/J’s as well as a metcon containing squat cleans. It took me a while to get back into the groove of things and of course I was super rusty compared to how I felt at Diane’s seminar. You can’t attend a one day event and then be ready for the Olympics a week later! LOL

Diane Fu’s Fubarbell seminar was a worthy investment of my time and money and I’m excited to know that she’ll be back to KC in the Spring, so I’ll probably attend a second time and keep on working on these awesome lifts. Check out Diane’s Events page and if she isn’t coming to a city near you contact her about setting something up. She’s awesome!

Pros:

  • Diane’s a good communicator and made good use of auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning
  • Diane was able to summarize what is pretty advanced material into an effective one-day bite
  • Diane busts her butt on Facebook, Instagram and writing articles for sites like Hella Life, so there is plenty of support material out there to deepen the principles learned in the seminar

Cons:

  • It’s only one day! Once you get a little taste of Diane’s teaching you’ll want MORE!
  • It’d be nice to have a packet of notes available. I PERSONALLY prefer to take my own notes during a seminar, but it’s always nice to have them available afterward in case you missed something.

Pink for Paige

Courtesy of Pink for Paige

We attended our first “charity WOD” on Saturday (neither myself nor my wife are the owners of stacks and stacks of 5K run t-shirts, LOL) and it was a great experience. The event was called Pink for Paige and if you missed it you can still donate whenever you want. You can read more about Paige here, but long story short, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called retinoblastoma when she was four months old. After surgery that took one of her eyes, a follow-up appointment a couple months later revealed new tumors in her other eye. Laser treatment and chemotherapy followed and she was in remission in March. In June, another tumor appeared and the family’s only option now is to pursue a promising type of therapy that requires them to travel to New York frequently. Knowing the struggle this puts on Paige’s family financially, her CrossFit family at CrossFit Adamant in Olathe, KS threw the Pink for Paige event and it was a huge success!

Courtesy of Pink for Paige

We showed up and the line of athletes was out the door. I think we both got pretty nervous being one of a handful of bigger people floating in a sea of extremely fit and good looking people who were mostly younger than us. My wife actually said she wasn’t going to do the workout because she was that intimidated, but luckily we ran into one of our 5:45AM workout friends from CrossFit I-35 and she convinced Krista to go for it. They had so many people there that they changed the WOD from 13 minutes to 8 minutes, which was met with a lot of cheering and high-fiving from everyone in the crowd! They broke everyone up into about 10-12 heats for the challenge.

I did Level 2, which was an 8 minute AMRAP of 3 deadlifts at 225#, 6 wall balls with a 20# medicine ball to a 10′ target (actual target rather than the wall we use at CrossFit I-35, which I think I liked better) and 9, you guessed it, burpees. I completed four full rounds and the deadlifts and one wall ball throw of the 5th round. I was happy with that. The burpees were killer, as usual, and I think because the triplet involved such short reps that people tended to blow up a bit faster than if it had been paced different (i.e. 40 burpees in one shot instead of 9 at a time).

CrossFit Adamant did a great job hosting the event and I heard they raised over $10,000, although I haven’t confirmed that. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a Saturday morning, and the $35 donation from each of us to participate was well worth it. Krista even won a Garmin GPS running watch as a door prize, but because we aren’t runners we’re going to sell it and donate whatever we get back to Paige’s family.

I encourage you to check out Paige’s page linked above and if you have something to spare for her family this is a great way to spend your dollars. All the money goes straight to the family, so it doesn’t get any easier or cleaner than that.

 

Quick Lessons, 8 months In

Sorry I’ve been such a lazy blogger. Trying to get more regular with things, especially the more people comment and tell me they are reading or gaining something from this! Keep up the great work, everybody!

Just a quick post today about some things I’ve learned over the past 8.5 months of doing all this stuff, or lessons that are important and need to be shared again…

1) Form is everything. If you don’t have the basic form for the exercise, don’t add the intensity or weight yet. If you can’t do a good air squat, what makes you think that doing 30 squats in a row with 200 pounds on your shoulders is a good idea? Master form first, THEN start adding intensity/weight. Always.

2) Scaling isn’t just about weight, it’s also about intensity. A lot of CrossFit WOD’s are designed to redline you for the duration. Look at Fran. People (not me) can knock this WOD out in 2:30, easy. LOL Let’s say you can do an unscaled Fran, but it takes you 18 minutes to do it. You should scale. The point it a fit of max effort, not a grind. We know the obvious scaling is for weight (“Gee, I can’t overhead squat 200#, so I’ll do 95# instead…”) or the movement itself (“Gee, I can’t do a muscle up, so I will do ring dips instead…”) but don’t forget to scale for intensity, too.

3) Weight loss comes from diet. Strict paleo probably won’t work for a lot of you if you are doing 4 WOD’s/week like we do. You have to have some carbs in that diet with this much exercise or your body will hold onto fat like a tourist clutching their fanny pack on a crowded subway! That being said, that doesn’t mean you can do a 7-minute AMRAP in the AM and spend the rest of the day stuffing your face. 100 grams or less of carbs is probably your goal and some of those should be starches, but choose wisely. Sweet potatoes, root veggies, etc are your best bet. Stay away from gluten and all the sweet, sugary stuff that got us in this place to begin with, right?

Along with the diet thing, it’s easy to eat too little. Less so if you are having some starches, but when I was doing strict by the book Paleo I was underfeeding myself for months on end. 

That’s it for now, my fluffy friends. Have a great rest of the week and I will try to be better about posting more regularly!

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!