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Archive for March, 2013|Monthly archive page

When One Door Closes: The End of the Open and New Beginnings

In General, Training on March 28, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Well, it’s officially that time– when I must graciously (gracefully?) (gratefully?) bow out of the CrossFit 2013 Open. I knew this was an inevitability when I signed up. Eventually, in order for the events to be competitive, they’d need to raise the weights to something respectable for women like Annie and Kris and Talayna– something that would try the limits of my pitiable strength. For the record, I almost predicted 13.4 exactly — admittedly, I thought it would be 13.3, but I definitely speculated about a clean-and-jerk/toes-to-bar infinity ladder. The weight for this ladder, unfortunately, is 95lbs. I’ve cleaned 95 lbs less than ten times in my life. I’ve jerked it once. I’ve never jerked it directly following a clean, and the last time I cleaned it, I weighed 108, it was just before the powerlifting meet, and I was a tad heavier than I am now (and avoiding all metabolic conditioning like the plague). It seems to me ridiculous that someone as small as I am can shed muscle, but my body never ceases to surprise with its strangeness.

Anyway, after the workout was announced, I decided to go in today to see if I could even manage my former 1rm. Admittedly, I’m a bit beat up from deadlifting 215×3 (PR!) yesterday, but still… I stalled out at 90lbs and that took everything out of me. I’m not going to ask a judge to sit and watch me try (and likely fail) to clean 95 for seven minutes just to stay on the leaderboard. The members of our lovely community have asked me if I’m going to attempt the WOD, and they’ve expressed their condolences that I won’t be able to participate, but while I appreciate their compassion, I really don’t find it necessary. It’s not a big deal to me. I knew this would happen– I don’t feel left out, and… most importantly, I’ve fulfilled my goal of the Open: participate without psyching myself out, without worrying about disappointing anyone, without investing too much in the competition. It was just fun. That said, I’m also disappointed with where I am right now. Last fall, when I cleaned 95lbs, I wanted to be able to Rx Grace by this spring… which obviously hasn’t happened. I take full responsibility for that backsliding… I didn’t take into account how returning to metcons would deplete my muscle gain– in fact, having never made that shift (metconning to strength training to back again) I didn’t anticipate how my body would shift and adapt.

So… I have an announcement that I’ve been keeping under wraps for a bit. For an experimental period– at least the month of April, I will be working with and individual coach via distance-training. I have my reservations because of the limitations of distance, but she’s a professional CrossFit athlete and coach and Level 1 seminar staff member whom I respect greatly. In fact, she was my first-ever CrossFit hero. And the opportunity to work with her was too great to pass up. She’s also willing to work with me so that I can still participate in some of the box’s WODs, which was vital to me– I want to remain a member of this community, and she understands that impulse. For April, she’ll be programming my strength work, some skill work, and my nutrition, and my conditioning will remain with the box’s programming. It’s not optimal, but I hope it will work and allow me to grow as an athlete and future coach– to learn from one of the best– and still remain a constant at LionHeart.

If I can be blatantly honest.. I’m terrified that if I fall short here it will be a sign that I’m really as hopeless an athlete as I think I am… that even with the guidance of one of the best, I’ll still go nowhere. But… I look forward to this opportunity, and I’m doing my best to quell the insecure little squeaky Jo inside my head. This is an incredible opportunity… and one I need right now. I’d like to stop overanalyzing my training… I need to learn, once and for all, how to eat like an athlete and not like the asthmatic, entirely sedentary kid I used to be. And by experiencing this side of the coach-to-individual-trainee relationship, I’ll hopefully also be better and more capable of becoming a coach in the future.

As for how my Zone diet experiment went? Meh… it was definitely interesting. I know more about how my body responds to different foods in different proportions. I still feel like the prescription given to me was too little food. I didn’t lose weight on it, but I didn’t gain either. Admittedly, proportionately, I was/am stronger. I have a 3/4 bodyweight press and a bodyweight bench now. My deadlift is well over 2xbody weight– approaching 2.5 I’m five lbs short of a 1.5xbw back squat. However, the numbers themselves are pitiful because my weight is so damn low… and while I’m sure there’s a way to tweak the Zone to help me get up there, I don’t think that’s what I’ll be trying next. I’ve since abandoned the Zone and returned to drinking almond butter from the jar. I’ve put on a few pounds that seem to be sticking around… though I’m not any stronger yet for it. Mostly, I’m just biding my time until I start with my new coach April 1st. I intend to follow her prescription to a T– if there’s anything I can do in this world, it’s “homework” ;).

Oh! Since I won’t be participating in 13.4, I’d like to brag a little bit about the awesome people in my life who have and will. The Cookie Monster, despite having only been to a CrossFit gym a handful of times in his life (though having strength trained¬†all of his life) did a very respectable 60 reps this morning– and it was his first time ever trying toes-to-bar. Coach Zebrapants, our resident firebreather, beasted out 105 reps, which I’m confident will be very competitive for our region. And I want to wish a special good luck to the Mega-tron, who will be attempting this WOD with a 1rm of 105… which means the clean-and-jerk portion will achieve new levels of suck. In fact, I think we hit our 95lb clean PRs on the same day last fall… clearly, she’s outpaced me, and I’m damn proud to see it happen.

Good luck to the rest of you as well. Be safe, have fun, and stay awesome ūüôā

Blessings Small and Large

In General, Training on March 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm

In a recent post, I discussed my mixed feelings about participating in the CrossFit Open. I still do not at all regret it, and am enjoying myself. My favorite part of the Open, however, has most certainly been the opportunity to act as a judge for other participants. I so adamantly acquired my Level 1 Certification in March because I wanted to be able to judge during these five weeks, and it’s been a profoundly rewarding experience. I’ve counted reps for firebreathers and for beginner athletes, and the experiences have been equally inspirational– as well as educative. I feel that I can grow as a coach from working with the truly competitive athletes, honing my eye for movement patterns as I count their reps, practicing my motivational abilities as I push them just to their threshold capacity. But working with less competitive members also gives me the chance to analyze hindrances in their movements, and to counsel them through the¬†suck of 150 wall balls. I also feel just so lucky that I get to witness their discoveries of their own inner strength.

For 13.3, I counted reps for a ridiculous robo-boy who could divide his wall balls into sets of 50. I also judged for another, so admirably devoted member, who eventually broke her reps into sets of two. What we love about Crossfit, of course, is that it can humble anyone. Robolegs and Miss Resiliency fought equally hard for each rep. The former needed to slow down. He had the power in his legs and the engine to toss that ball up and down for eons, but he kept missing the target in haste. MR needed the encouragement to get back up– the confidence and faith in herself that she could rise from the bottom of the squat and heave those fourteen pounds back up her chest, even if she had to do it in one or two slow, grinding reps at a time. I’ve witnessed many remarkable things in CrossFit– seeing MR exceed her personal goal of 75 reps for 13.3 definitely ranks high on my list.

At minute 12, when she sank to the ground at the count of 76, I remembered that¬†that’s what the Open is about– an inclusive event for athletes to gather and celebrate their individual levels of fitness, to challenge and exceed personal boundaries, to be inspired by one another’s will and determination. I’m just glad to be a part of it.

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. It’s been a weekend of madness. The Cookie Monster visited and we had a whirlwind weekend of awesome, trying to balance together-time with English-department-time and some quick gym-time as well. The best news? CM is officially becoming part of my State College reality this coming fall! He’ll be starting his MA in English literature (we’ll have to forgive him for not choosing a more exciting specialization– like creative writing or rhetoric… ūüėČ ). Athletically, CM is my polar opposite– a football veteran with a long history of strength training. So while I have him on burpees and bodyweight-ninja-funness, he can out-squat many of the stronger athletes at our gym. I hope, sometime between all the English homework next year, we’ll be able to learn and grow from one another’s strengths and weaknesses. I’m also counting on him to remind me to return to the English realm every now and again– as I may have to do for him. Regardless, I’m sure it’ll be an adventure, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

That said, I’m behind on just about everything and must return to lesson-planning and rhetoric research and somewhere in there writing a short story. Thank you all for reading. A better update soon, I promise. Until then– lift heavy, love profusely, and run only if something’s chasing you.

So grateful for everything,

– The Jomad

At Large Nutrition: Pre-Workout Review

In General, Training on March 19, 2013 at 6:20 pm

[This review was not solicited nor endorsed by At Large in any way whatsoever… I just like to brag about Chris Mason’s company since he doesn’t do enough of it himself ;)]

I’m extremely cautious about what supplements I take– largely because my stomach’s so sensitive and reacts poorly to most brands out there. Generally, I hope that my diet is well-rounded and solid enough that I don’t need supplements. I take fish oil, protein powder (non-dairy), and BCAAs. However, because my schedule has forced me into some awkward workout times when I’m either tired or fresh-out-of-bed, I wanted to try a few pre-workout formulas to see if they helped me get the most out of my WOD. It’s not that my workouts have been suffering– just that, if I’m trying to get in and out of the gym quickly and I’ve already had a long day, sometimes I wish I had more energy to put into that last stretch.

Today, I tried my first 1/2 scoop of At Large’s Pre-Workout, and the difference was¬†so substantial. I’ve been afraid of a lot of pre-workouts because they contain ingredients that may make you feel flushed or antsy or otherwise uncomfortable. They come with this litany of warnings and side-effects (beware of tingling, hallucinations, or radioactive urine)– and I almost always experience the “sometimes” side-effects. However, the ingredients for Pre-Workout are dead simple– caffeine, citruline malate, l-carnitine, l-tartrate, and amino acids. For me, the caffeine dose of a half scoop (perhaps a little less than half) was perfect. I got an energy boost without feeling like I was going to jump out of my skin. I just wanted to throw the bar through the roof. It was a max effort upper body day for me, and for the first time in my life, I strict pressed 75% of my bodyweight. Now, (I’d hope) there are a lot of factors involved, including the amount of attention I’ve been paying to my training and diet lately, but I’m also glad that I felt good enough to hit that PR.¬†

After that, we did a 16 minute AMRAP of 50 single unders, 5 burpees, 10 sit-ups. You know I haven’t been training longer WODs for a while, but my energy remained consistent for all 16 minutes, and I was watching the clock to monitor my pace. I consistently maintained a 45-second round for all 16 minutes. It was actually the damn 10-seconds of transition time that slowed me down (disentangling a jump rope takes too damn long!).

Anyway… I apologize for using the blog to speak about a specific product. I usually avoid such things; I’ve actually turned down a couple review requests from companies because I didn’t want to use my website to pimp their merchandise. That said, I want to support At Large because Chris himself stands for a lot of what I love about the CrossFit community. He’s very active in the CrossFit world as well as powerlifting and strength-training domains. He uses his many years of experience, training, and expertise to help others– in all fields, even those outside of nutrition. I’ve never seen him push his products on anyone. And he does this without asking for praise or recognition.

So I want to brag a bit about his products for him. The Pre-Workout formula is great for anyone who’d need a boost before their workout, or who wants to see if s/he can push harder. Beyond that, I think my fickle digestive system is testimony to the quality of his ingredients. His is the only brand of BCAAs I’ve tried that doesn’t give me terrible heartburn for hours afterwards. It sort of makes me worry what other companies are putting into their products that I can experience such a difference.

Chris is the first one to admit that supplements aren’t a substitute for food. There’s nothing a supplement can do that a quality diet can’t. But we live in an imperfect world and sometimes we fall back on other resources for the sake of convenience– and I’m pretty damn grateful that At Large provides me with the means to do so.

Thanks for everything, Chris!

There’s No Crying in the Squat Rack

In General, Training on March 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I signed up for the CrossFit Open on the very last day you could submit scores for 13.1. I’ve vacillated all year about whether or not I would participate this year– knowing that I’m not at the level that I’d hoped to be, knowing that this is a hellish time of semester when all my deadlines compound and I should be working on seminar papers as well as preparing my students for their final assignments. But in the end, after seeing so many members of our box participate, knowing how I always want to be an active member of this community, I really couldn’t refrain.

Last year and this year, still, I have conflicted feelings about the Open. The pros and cons seem rather evenly weighed.

Negative: The competitiveness.

I understand that for many sport is about competition, and that this is a positive, driving factor. I also understand that competition does stupid things to otherwise smart people. I, myself, handle athletic competition poorly. The pressure often makes what was once a fun activity more of an anxiety-laden stress-fest. So when I decided to sign up for the Open, I told myself my personal goal for this event would not be numbers or lifts or Rx’d– it would be to participate and enjoy the events, and not give a damn what numbers I or anyone else put up.

My own demons aside, though, I also dislike the way competition brings out the ugliness in people. Has everyone seen the stratospheric score of 420 that Danielle Sidell posted for 13.2? Yes, that’s a high score. Yes, that’s many reps above former champion Iceland Annie. But I’m actually surprised by how readily the CrossFit community attacked Sidell for posting her score. I want to look at this with perspective: Sidell is a seasoned CrossFit athlete. She’s had a solid history in the sport, and has regularly held her own against icons like Gretchen Kittleberger and Christy Phillips. I very much so doubt that she and her gym would make up a score and slap it on the CrossFit page– and even if they were to make up a score, they probably wouldn’t divine one so high that it would beget immediate speculation. I’d admit that… when moving that quickly, she possibly had questionable reps. But look at the demo video with Annie Thorisdottir and Lindsay Valenzuela. I’d say that a number of Annie’s deadlifts don’t look fully extended. If HQ is willing to publicly condone those lifts, then we’ve already admitted this is an imperfect judging system, that some movements will slide. Moreover, at Sidell’s level–barring something catastrophic– she’s going to regionals. Whether she got 420 reps, or 400, or 350, she’s going to land in the top 60 in the region and compete again. So… honestly the shitstorm that people are stirring up is pointless.

But even moving beyond the elite athletes, the way everyday individuals get caught up and overburdened by the competitiveness saddens me. I’ve read about a startling amount of injuries this year– wrist, elbow, and shoulder tweak/pulls from the burpees and snatches in 13.1, and a number of torn achilles from the box jumps in 13.2. Also reports of injuries from beginning athletes that should not have been attempting the shoulder-to-overhead weight. People attempting movements they aren’t prepared to do… in the name of competition– one they oftentimes never had a chance of winning.


Positive: The community

But while some people get caught up in the numbers and scores, there are others that remember that CrossFit thrives by camaraderie– that this was once something built upon inclusiveness. There are boxes like CrossFit Costa Mesa who take this as an opportunity to emphasize participation rather than achievement (see article here)– whose “competition team” is made up of any individual willing to put in the effort rather than only those capable of putting up the numbers. I was also profoundly moved watching Derick Carver’s 13.2 video— not only by his will and determination, just to participate, but by the spirit of enjoyment and enthusiasm I see in his cohort. Don’t get me wrong, I’m blown away by Sam Briggs’s 383-rep video. I so admire and respect the effort that she and other top-tier athletes put into their training. But… I also love that the Games can be about more than just the top performers. It can be about the indominitable spirit of all CrossFitters– what we all share is that ridiculous will to perform burpees and snatches on a Saturday morning. And love it.


For me, personally, I’m happy to say that I’ve stayed out of my own head thus far for the Open. 13.2 was an interesting one for me. My score is not anywhere near competitive. I’m sure most girls can hit that number in their sleep. But the shoulder-to-overhead weight is 75 percent of my mass, and it’s my strict press 1rm. I didn’t realize until after I finished the WOD that… last year, I sat out of a similar workout (12.4, possibly?) because the push presses were 75lbs and I couldn’t clean that weight to my shoulders. So… the fact that I was still holding a bar at the end of those 10 minutes– I’ll take that as a win for this year. Perhaps by this time next year, I’ll worry about the rounds that go with that weight.

But that leads me to another misgiving I’ve had about this year’s Open: the programming. I understand that the weight can only go so low because already Annie and Lindsay were throwing around those 75lbs as if it were a PVC pipe. Fine. But it makes no sense to start the WOD with the shoulder-to-overhead then. They’ve scaled box jump standards this year to allow step-ups. This makes sense for two reasons: 1) torn Achilles happen way too often from top-to-top jumps, and 2) this means that less conditioned athletes can at least complete the movement for a score. However, if they can’t Rx the shoulder-to-overhead weight, they can’t get to the box jumps, to even put up a score. There are discussions on the forums right now by numerous affiliate owners who have women who tried fruitlessly, for ten minutes, to clean 75lbs and wound up with no score. If you can’t post a score for one workout, you drop off the leaderboard and can’t post scores for any of the remaining workouts (at least by last year’s rules). You also cannot post a score of 0. This makes no sense to me. I mean… I, for one, would have been content to do the WODs on the side– to not bother paying HQ $10– and compare my scores on my own. But assuming that people do get a sort of participatory joy of seeing themselves on the leaderboards, why not let them continue playing? Rearrange the workout so that it’s box-jumps, shoulder-to-overhead, deadlifts, so that the poor athletes can at least put up a score of 15 and get their money’s worth and finish out the Open.

I think then at least affiliate owners would feel better encouraging athletes to scale that weight when they need to. Right now, you can’t scale 13.2 without dropping out of the Open. But there are athletes who haven’t cleaned that weight before, who have no business trying to put it overhead… and then we get back to that competitive spirit that drives people to unwise decisions.

So… I guess I’m torn. I’m enjoying the Open. I love the way it brings people together– I love seeing our Box come together and support one another to push through the suck. I love seeing athletes strive beyond their limits– when they are prepared to do so. I just would have also liked to see more consideration from those in charge of the whole thing… if we programmed just a little differently, we might be able to foster more community, more inclusivity. In the end, the true competitors, the firebreathers, will go on to Regionals and the Games and they’ll triumph and we’ll enjoy pigging out in front of our TVs betting on who’s going to break another CrossFit record this year. But until then, why not live these five weeks in the spirit of Derick Carver? For many of us, the podium is not the endgame…

I forget which CrossFit athlete said it, but someone has an excellent quote along the lines of: “I’m not a superstar. I’m just good at exercising. I get paid to be good at exercising.” Those of us that aren’t there? We’re just exercising– and we’re paying to do it. And it’s supposed to be fun and it’s supposed to be stress-relieving, and it’s supposed to be about wellness. So don’t get down about those last five reps that could have been. Sometimes we have bad days. But, if a bad workout is the worst part of your day, you’re already ahead of so many people. I know I’m a drama-queen about my own training all the freaking time. In fact, very shamefully, I have to admit that Scotchy witnessed a terrible moment of mine two weeks ago… when I failed to squat my old 10-rep-max. I’m pretty sure I cried when that bar hit the safety rails. CRIED. In a fucking squat rack. And later that day I just felt freaking silly. I failed to move a certain amount of pounds up and down. Yeah… for me, it means I want to reassess my training and perhaps figure out where I go from there. But… it shouldn’t ruin my day or even my morning. I was uninjured when I walked back out of that squat rack, and I could come back the next day and continue trying to get better. That should be all I need. It’s just exercise ūüėČ

Of Scars and Healing

In Food, Rhetoric, Training on March 7, 2013 at 4:17 pm


There are two quotes about scars that I really love:

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There’s a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,
as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds…
– Jane Hirshfield “For What Binds Us”
And one recently quoted in a CrossFit magazine:

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.

 Ernest Hemmingway

One of the many highlights of my recent trip to Houston was that I got my first tattoo. I’ve planned this one for years now. In the first months of my CrossFit career, our box programmed the “Filthy Fifty,” which starts with fifty box jumps. On box jump number one, improperly warmed up, my hips refused to fire, my knees did not rise, and I crashed shin-first into the corner of a box. As a silly, stubborn Jo, I proceeded through the workout anyway. I tipped the box to its scaled height, finished the next 49, rounded out the jumping pull-ups, whirred through the kettlebell swings and walking lunges and knees to elbows and push presses, back extensions, burpees, and double-unders. And finally, ¬†after the WOD, sweat-dampened and panting, with my adrenaline finally draining, I realized my leg felt wet. I was bleeding through my shin sleeve.


Poor Jefe helped me peel the sock from my leg– and half my shin came with it. We cleaned up the wound, studied it, and decided meh… I could afford to not go to the hospital. Wrong.


Silly Jo went home and tried to apply liquid bandage on the injury. Silly Jo quickly discovered three facts: 1) Liquid bandage stings like a motherf***er; 2) Liquid bandage is not made for large wounds; 3) Liquid bandage congeals and solidifies very quickly. I left the strange, translucent caulk in my injury for a few days, but was troubled by the fact that the wound never stopped bleeding and had started to discolor. I tried removing it with nail polish remover, with soap and water, with rubbing alcohol and every other solution found via the internets. Eventually, out of frustration, I carved the remaining bits of solidified bandage out of my leg with an xacto knife. The scrape never stopped bleeding.¬†Two weeks later, I went to university health services, whereupon they informed me that the wound was infected, that I needed antibiotics, and that I should have gotten stitches when the injury first occurred. For the next two months, I needed weekly or biweekly visits to the hospital to treat the and inspect the wound. Since then, I’ve had a darkened scar on my shin.


Anyway… this particular vignette of Jo’s stupidity is symptomatic of one of the repeated ways in which I screw up. When my IBS problems first started in New York, I refused to see a doctor, or to admit that I was sick for so long that I let my body waste away while I worked myself to skin and bone. By the time my box-jump injury healed, I’d only started to gain back the weight I lost with those six months of digestive illness, and I liked the idea of tattooing over my scar– of commemorating the process of healing, of reminding myself that sometimes I screw up and hurt myself and I need to be responsible for the process of recovery.


Since then, I decided I wanted the image of a CrossFitter performing a rope-climb up the scar. The Cookie Monster was also planning on getting a tattoo during my Houston visit, and I happened to love the linework of the artist he picked, so I contacted Chris Sparks of Article 91, and he promptly drew up a design for me. The process itself was entirely bearable. The parts directly on top of bone (skinny girl + shin tattoo = lots of bone) sucked a little. But… when you’ve hand-carved plastic bits from an infected injury over that exact same area, a few needles aren’t that bad.


Anyway, that relates to a recent small revelation I’ve had. I’ve been a bit frustrated with my recent plateau. My lifts have stalled out and my maxes have stayed where they were half a year ago… at best. Some of them have dropped. As a blind stroke of luck, I contacted a very prominent professional CrossFitter/CrossFit coach (one of the Level 1 Seminar staff, as well as a general superstar and totally sweet human being), and she wrote me back and offered to look over my nutrition and give me guidance. Again, I’m stunned by the generosity and¬†approach-ability¬†of the CrossFit “elite.”


I sent her a bunch of questions (being me) and a diet log and she wrote back with a recommendation for a zone-paleo protocol (as she follows) and gave me a block prescription based on my training schedule, weight, height, and bodyfat estimate. I’ve resisted the zone for a really long time because… well, I hate the amount of time and effort it takes to weigh and measure, and I’ve assumed that… being a recreational CrossFitter, I don’t need to be that precise with my diet. Which I don’t. But unfortunately, I also just plain suck at feeding myself appropriately for my activity levels. Even with my IBS under control, my hunger cues are frequently wonky, my stomach gets screwy anytime I’m busy or stressed, and I react abysmally to dairy and don’t do well with much gluten, and if I accidentally ingest too much of either, it takes my system a week to process food normally again. So… basically, my body’s a fragile bitch.


When I told Zebrapants that I’d stumbled into wonderful, free advice, he told me to weigh myself the next morning and again in two weeks to gauge progress and to adjust accordingly. So… for the first time in a while, I stepped on the scale again this morning. 100 lbs. Which… to me tells me I screwed up again. Since I’ve been following the box’s programming more, I know I’ve been lifting less and metcon-ing more… but apparently haven’t kept track of what that’s done to my body composition. The weight loss, of course, explains the corresponding stall and drop in my lifts. I’m actually lucky they didn’t drop further.


Anyway, when I received my Zone block prescription, I thought it didn’t look like much. I plugged it into an excel sheet and figure out my daily meals and wondered at the fact that it didn’t look that different from my usual meals, except with fewer spoonfuls of almond butter. However, yesterday was my first day actually on “the Zone.” The day started easily. I weighed and measured everything, and it all felt consistent with my usual experience except that I couldn’t let myself snack anymore. However, then I wound up trapped on campus for the entire afternoon, surrounded by archival materials for one of my seminar papers. My professor had left me in his empty office with the instructions to lock up after him when I left, so I couldn’t run home to eat, and I couldn’t leave his office empty. I then violated one of the bigger rules of the Zone– and one of the specific pieces of advice given to me by the CrossFit coach who’s been so kind as to answer all my emails: don’t go more than 5 hours without eating. I worked as late as I could stand it before going home to eat, and realized that I still had nearly half a day’s worth of food to fit into the last three hours of my day. On a normal day, I would’ve just eaten dinner, shoved down a few spoonfuls of almond butter and collapsed into bed. But because I’d been tracking everything, I sat down and diligently consumed three meals until I crossed all my blocks off the list. Then I slept. Of course, that’s not at all ideal, and still a far cry from how I’m supposed to be eating, but it helped me realize what I’ve been doing wrong. The last few months, I’ve been getting busier and busier. Trying to balance teaching, student-ing, CrossFit-ing, a long-distance relationship, family, and friends both near and far, I wind up with long afternoons and evenings when I don’t eat until I get home at 9:00 or 10:00pm. By then I just shovel down what I can and crash. So while my days usually start well and balanced, I end up at a deficit by sheer nature of the fact that I have these gaps in the middle of the day when I don’t slow down to feed myself. It’s aggravated by the fact that it’s hard for me to find quick pick-up-and-go items that are dairy and gluten free. SO! New resolution: carry food on self. Feed self while out and about. Stay in “the zone.”


I still feel silly measuring and weighing everything, but I hope this’ll teach me to take better and more consistent care of myself. I hope it’ll help me break my plateau, and I feel comfortable and confident knowing that both this generous knowledgeable¬†CrossFit expert and Coach Zebrapants are willing to help me reevaluate once I’ve given this an earnest effort and see how to progress from here. Also, I’m hoping that after a good period of doing this, I’ll have a better innate sense of how much and how often I should be eating and I can be more lax about things… and won’t need the scale for every meal.


I’m learning that healing and recovery is a process… but not one that I have to undertake alone. I’m grateful for the supportive people around me who’ve helped me pry bloodsoaked socks from my legs, who will help me tally my almonds so that I’m eating enough to grow, who will listen to me as I weep over a failed clean or a frustrating seminar paper, or a troublesome student. Inevitably, we will fall, we will scrape and break and shatter. But hopefully we come back together stronger, wiser, more resilient than before.

Thinking Outside the Box

In General, Training on March 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Aryan Barto is a very chill, very enlightened, very large titan of CrossFit awesome.

I have returned from Houston– to the land of too much work and insufficient time, but one populated by enough wonderful WODpals that it’s all worthwhile. The trip was wonderful, rejuvenating, and everything I need to reinvigorate me for my work, my work¬†outs, and my life in general. While I was in Houston, the Cookie Monster took me to Behemoth¬†CrossFit — the gym owned and run by the Barto brothers. Unfortunately, Aja Barto was out of town to represent Rogue at the Arnold Classic, but I got to meet Aryan Barto, who was just exemplary of everything I love about the CrossFit community– how willing everyone is to embrace newcomers, how humble and down-to-earth even the elite athletes are, how they dedicate their lives to CrossFit out of a very human impulse to just reach out and help others. I was rather lucky that the workout of the day was bodyweight-centric (a partner AMRAP involving kettlebell swings, box jumps, burpees, and dumbbell shoulder-to-overhead), so obviously the Jomad was comfortably in her element for the metcon. However, there were many things that Behemoth also conducted differently– some of which I’d love to borrow and implement as a coach someday.

Apparently, Saturdays at Behemoth are dedicated to partner WODs and team-building activities. I love that. I love that this is a day about the collective, about getting to know one another as much as it is about improving yourself. Behemoth is a bit quirky in that its facility is housed by a larger, multisport warehouse. This means that their “warm-up” consisted of shooting hoops, and playing “knockout” (which I haven’t played since… possibly elementary school?). But in the spirit of all things CrossFit, they smiled at me goodnaturedly when I bumbled through the rules, and they patiently explained to me how to play. The workout of the day was actually a commemoration of two members’ birthdays. Apparently two individuals were celebrating their dates of birth this week, and they each named their favorite and least favorite movement, and Aja compiled them into an AMRAP. The equipment was a bit new to me– the box was a little lower, the kettlebell lighter than the one I would have chosen. I only ever WOD with dumbbells while at home, so that movement was new, but the spirit of the workout felt familiar. The members of Behemoth reminded me a lot of the community we have at Lionheart– where everyone wishes you well, everyone’s pushing to his or her individual limits and willing you to do the same. There’s no allowance for ego or petty competition. It’s about bettering yourself while contributing to the whole. I enjoyed it a lot. Poor CM (Cookie Monster) had to put up with a bouncy Jo for the rest of the morning as I rode that adrenaline rush.

Anyway… I think there’s so much potential in CrossFit. It¬†can be so much more than a sport. It’s a perspective– a way of seeing and living life that celebrates and enjoys physical wellness. The Saturday class at Behemoth is not about putting up the most rounds or getting the fastest time on the board (there was no board); it just seemed like a group of buddies getting together for a a bit of sweat, hard work and a good time.

Though Lionheart gained way too many new perks by moving to its new facility, I do regret that we no longer have the space to play dodgeball there– that was a fantastic way to gather our community and just hang out for a small chunk of the weekend. I’d like to think of more opportunities to “think outside the box” though, and find more creative ways to engage with one another. I’m also reminded of the weightlifting classes at East Valley CrossFit– an hour and a half of time when members just came in, and there was a series of lifts on the board, but people moved at their own pace, with plenty of rest, and coaches walked around to troubleshoot technique and form. Other CrossFit gyms offer focused classes on gymnastics or endurance. I would personally like to improve my kettlebell skills and hope to visit a gym sometime that has specialty classes for that– or a facility that specializes in kettlebells. Anyway, there are just unique ways to focus and play. The other thing is– it can be that– PLAY. Adopting fitness as a lifestyle extends way outside the gym itself. You can go hiking and explore nearby landmarks. You can meet up with a buddy to shoot hoops or go for a bike ride. Unfortunately, I was laden with a bunch of last-minute assignments before I left for Houston. The Cookie Monster was wonderfully accommodating and put up with me having to mutter at my computer all weekend, but we also took a quit 3-minute break for a double-under race. Perhaps if I ask sweetly, next time I can coerce him into a burpee-off ;).

The first workout of this year’s Open will be announced in less than seven hours. I’m all for the competitive spirit of the Games, but let’s also approach this season with the reminder that this is a sport fueled by camaraderie. My favorite part of watching the Games is seeing how the CrossFit elite cheer one another to the end. It was inspiring last year to see each competitor drop from the last pull-up after a brutal weekend of physical activity, after a nightmarish cluster of Elizabeth, Isabel, and Fran… and still every stay on the field, applauding each competitor until every last one finished.