J is for Judy

I met J is for Judy in nursing school. We were classmates. From the very first moment I met Judy she had me in stitches laughing. Judy is just one of those people that you just want to be around. If you could imagine doing a program in nine months that normally takes people two years you may start to understand the stress that nursing school had on us. Always overwhelmed, tired and annoyed at our program there was a lot to talk about. Judy had a way of taking these nuancies of nursing school and making them a laughing matter. Her frank honesty, slight cynicism  and humor made school a whole lot easier to get through.

After nursing school Judy moved to Las Vegas and I stayed in Virginia. Some how we both found CrossFit, Paleo and Blogs. I urge you to check out her blog J is for Judy. You won’t be disappointed. On her website you will find unique, easy and tasty Paleo recipes, adventures in CrossFit and product reviews. She also includes life adventures to include her experiences as a military wife, dog owner, and much more. Lastly, every week you have the mid-week mixer to look forward to. This is where she shows you how to make a completely new mixed drink using fresh ingredients. Um…how can you not check out her blog!! To entice you even more I often my find myself in a fit of silent giggles reading her blog. Her slight inappropriateness and blunt honesty won’t  disappoint. What are you waiting for go check it out for yourself: J is for Judy

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P.S. Her name isn’t really Judy 😉

Beauty and the Beast

The reason that I decided to give CrossFit a try almost a year ago today was mostly aesthetic. I was not really getting the results that I wanted from my personal trainer and the classes offered at the gym. The main reason I was not getting results is that I was not going to the gym on a regular basis. It was not fun. I remember every “body pump” class I went to that I would look at the clock almost every five minutes to see “how much longer.” When you dread doing something…..well you don’t do it.

When I started CrossFit I was in awe at how sore and short of breath I was even after a ten minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible). At first my motivation for going to CrossFit was that I knew it was going to be a good workout and that I was inching one step closer to my aesthetic goals. I knew that I was going to work hard the whole time. When I had a personal trainer I knew how to hit a topic that they enjoyed talking about, hence distracting them from the task at hand (I was a master at that). At CrossFit there is no talking during the workout. There is a timer, a task and competition. Nothing makes me work harder then competition either with myself, the clock or others.

As I started to attend CrossFit more and more it started to become less about how in shape I was going to get but what I was going to be able to do. It started to become more about how much weight I was gonna clean or how many ring rows could I do in a row. Then something crazy happened. I stopped worrying about how I was looking all together because I knew that I was working my butt off, I was going to the gym consistently and I was getting better. CrossFit has gotten me to not only go to the gyms on a consistent basis but to want to go. CrossFit has not only given me fitness but also self-confidence. I know I am not alone in this transformation by this video that I found on NClab

Check out this AMAZING and INSPIRATIONAL video below:

Ocean Salt

I love everything about CrossFit. If that is not obvious, then this must be your first time reading this blog and in that case welcome ;). Oh by the way….I love CrossFit. I have never sweated so much working out as I have in CrossFit.  Prior to CrossFit, upon returning from the  gym, my husband used to joke with me  if I had even been working out or if I had just gotten coffee instead because not only would there be no sweat but I would barely have a hair out of place. Now a days I am not only drenched with sweat after a workout but literally dripping. I love it!!! I feel like the sweat is my reward for working so hard.

Here comes the only draw back to CrossFit. Since I sweat so much my skin has been on a rampage ….boo!!! I have not had break-outs on my face since I can remember until I started CrossFit. Not cool….so not cool…..I have already been through those awkward teenage years….no need to re-live them.

Clearly I am not giving up CrossFit so I must find another way to solve this problem. A head-band may be an option but I have not gone there yet. I have though found a wonderful facial scrub. I have only used it twice but it has made such a noticeable difference I wanted to share it with the world. In trying to eat non-processed, natural foods it only made sense to try and use natural soaps and lotions. So far, I have experimented with products from the bath and body shop called LUSH. They make soaps, shampoos, lotions…you name it from fresh ingredients. All products are in a recycled bottle and all products have an expiration date (because they use fresh ingredients). I haven’t bought a product that I didn’t like. The items can be a bit pricey but everything lasts for a good amount of time. My only complaint is that some times that staff is a little too helpful. Sometimes I just like to browse in peace.

Anyways, I went to the store last week in hopes of finding a natural miracle to help with my skin…and I think I did. It is called Ocean Salt. It is a face and body scrub that is absolutely divine. It is not an every day wash maybe like twice a week but it has already made a remarkable change in my skin. You can feel the sea salt exfoliating the instant you put it on. My skin is silky smooth afterwards. Plus it smells like the ocean air and I love the beach!!!

ocean salt ocean salt inside

Double Under Flailing

I am terrible at double unders!! (double unders are where the rope passes under your feet twice during a single jump) Every time I see them on the workout I cringe a little. I try to take a positive approach and see it as an opportunity to practice and become better but in my hearts of hearts I am always wishing that they weren’t part of the work out.

I find double unders incredibly frustrating. Unlike everything else in CrossFit…the “try harder” attitude gets you no-where.  To be successful at double unders you have to be relaxed and kind of go with the flow.  You have to find a rhythm.  Of course I want to continue to get better at CrossFit which means that I must get better at double unders.

About a month ago my mom who also does CrossFit offered me the opportunity to go to a double under workshop at her gym. Of course I jumped on this opportunity. The closer it got to the workshop the more excited I became. Over the course of the weeks leading up to the class I had come to the conclusion that the reason I had not mastered double unders is because I was missing some “special cue or step.”

I was sure that I would learn the secret to double unders at the workshop. The cost of the class also came with a jump rope. This also further convinced me that my lack of double under proficiency was not my fault but rather I lacked the proper equipment. (mind you I had already spent money to get a customized speed rope) I  was convinced that this workshop was going to be a magical experience and that by the end I would be a double under master.

When arriving at the workshop we were handed a pink plastic jump rope. Although the jump rope was pretty it looked like I could have bought it at the dollar store. My optimism for the class was not swayed. At this point I was convinced that I was a double under flail because of some special step that I was missing. To my grave disappointment there was no special step, hint or cue. Over the course of two hours we went through a series of drills, techniques and skills to be practiced in order to get better a double unders.

Through out the class my frustration and the frustrations of others (they must have had the same thoughts about magically obtaining double under mastery in less the two hours) increased. At the end of the two hours I was no closer to obtaining double under mastery then before the class.

This class unfortunately or fortunately confirmed what I inherently knew.  The only way I am going to get better at double unders is by practicing double unders. This is really the secret of life. If you really want to excel at anything you have to be willing to put in the work. I think in society now-a-days we are too quick to think that there is somehow a quick fix to everything, be it weight loss, business success or what not. The truth is success only comes to those who not only work hard but work smart.

So until the double under fairy blesses me with magical double under skills I am left with taking some extra time at the end of each class to practice. After all practice makes perfect.

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Yes…yes I am…when it actually happens.

speed rope

Um definitely….

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The goal!!

I hate running…..

I hate running….always have and probably always will.  I also don’t care for the rower or double unders. I mostly dislike double unders because I am not any good at them. I like to call them my personal whipping. Without fail every encounter that I have had with double unders has left numerous red welts on either side of my shins.  For those of you who do not know what double unders are,  it is a form of torture where you try to pass the rope under your feet twice with each single jump.

I know those of you out there that “run for fun” are saying to yourself that I just have not given running a chance. Not so my friends not so. To my credit I have many running events under my belt to include both 10-milers and a single marathon. The marathon was the worst birthday present I ever gave myself. The marathon that I ran was on my birthday and I literally spent the whole day doing something that I often dread doing!!

Of course I was thrilled when I learned that most CrossFit workout’s consist of 200m or 400m runs with the longest that I have ever run in CrossFit is a mile!! What what!! This does not mean the God of Aerobic torture has not visited me at CrossFit. I struggle with workouts that are strict cardio meaning that they do not include a weightlifting or bodyweight component. Just thinking of an all cardio workout makes my lungs burn!!! I love going to CrossFit but the motivation lacks just slightly when I see an all running, rowing or god forbid running and double under combination!!  One thing that keeps me going is that I want to get better at CrossFit all around. Sometimes this means pushing through things that we prefer not to do. While I do not look forward to these cardio workouts I relish in any gains that I make, be it one or two seconds faster then before.

One of things that always motivates me to go to these WOD’s is a blog post by CrossFit Rook. The full post is the Ten CrossFit Truths but what really struck home with me is truth number 8:

“8) The WODS you hate are the WODS you should not miss. Yesterday was a perfect example for me. Nicole. 20 min AMRAP of 400 meter runs and AMRAP pull ups. I hate both, hence I hate Nicole. Don’t skip the stuff at which we suck, as we would never get any better. ” 

While I never want to run a marathon again I do want to get better at CrossFit!! This means going to those all running, rowing and double under filled WOD’s. Who knows maybe these WODs will become my favorite one day. Hahaha………..or maybe I just won’t dread them. One step at a time 😉

nike-running-sucks-tshirt_thumbClearly I need to own this shirt!!!

quote-nike-suckLove it!!!

Tape it up!

I knew that I loved CrossFit the day that we did the Hero WOD “Murph“. Hero WODs (Work out of the day) are normally brutal workouts that commemorate someone that gave their life for our country. I love the Hero WODs because I think that they optimize what is CrossFit. They are about community. They are about pushing yourself to the limits both physically and mentally.

CrossFt is definitely a physically intense sport but it is also a mentally intense sport. Anyone can push themselves to do more when it is easy. They question is will you keep moving when your lungs and legs are burning and all you want to do is quit but you have only finished half the workout. How about then?? What will you be saying to yourself to get yourself through the workout? It is in these workouts that not only the physically tough but mentally tough excel!

The first time I completed the “Murph” WOD will have a special place in my heart because it is the first time in over five years that my hands “ripped”. There was a time where my hands were rough and calloused from hours and hours of gymnastics practice on the bars. Up until December when I started CrossFit my hands were baby-soft. The day I did “Murph”, I got a rip in the middle of the workout. I remember I was tired, sweaty, sore and loving every minute of it. I love the challenge of pushing my mind to finish the workout and getting my body to follow.

Since this workout we have done many workouts that involve an excessive amount of pull-ups. With pull-ups my addiction to chalk becomes obvious. This is an addiction  that evolved in my gymnastics days. I LOVE CHALK. I like the way that it helps me grip the bar better as well as helps me focus. I use the time to get chalk as a moment to re-focus on what I am doing and take a small breather. Unfortunately, excessive chalk use leads to excessive rips….woops. So I thought I would teach everyone how to make tap grips. Tape grips are a cheap easy way to protect your hands. Tape grips can be reusable….not forever but at least for a couple workouts. I see lots of people with both leather and dowel grips. At this point I don’t see a need for them. I very particular about my grips and how they fit and feel. I think if I had them I would waste more time putting them on and adjusting them then anything. Also, I feel that the more CrossFit I do the tougher my hands will get on their own and the less rips I will see. Plus…the more pull-ups I do in a row means less chalk…and less rips.

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My hands after the Hero WOD “Loredo” which involved a total of 144 pull-ups!!!

HOW TO MAKE TAPE GRIPS

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Choose sports tape that you can buy at pretty much any store or CVS. You want the tape to be 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches wide

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You want to tear off two pieces that are about twice the length of your hand. Take one piece and fold the sticky portions towards each other so that the tape is now half the original width and  that the sticky portions of the tape are on the inside.

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Now take the thin piece of tape and fold them so they lay next to each other like above. This should create a little hole near the top that will be for your finger. I test the hole that I create by placing it on my hand to make sure that I am leaving myself a big enough hole for my finger.

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Now take the second piece of tape that you measured off at the beginning and line it up with the back of the folded tape piece that you just made. Make sure to leave room for your finger and then fold the tape over the front up to the finger hole.

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It should look like this when you are done.

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I wear the tape grip over the middle finger. This is the portion of the tape grip that is re-usable.

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Next tape around your wrist and you are ready to go!!

Epic Fail…..

Ever since I stopped gymnastics I have had a healthy fear of hurting my back. I have no idea where that fear came from. Since developing this fear I am anxious about anyone touching my back or picking me up. (I am 5ft nothing and often times people think it is fun or cute to pick up the tiny person….I have no idea why). This fear has followed me to CrossFit.

Before joining CrossFit I had never really done any of the Olympic lifts before except maybe the back squat. The idea of the Olympic lifts made me really nervous when I first started but I have grown to be more comfortable and like them. Part of the affinity that I have towards the Olympic lifts is that I am relatively good at them for just starting out. This is thanks to my background in gymnastics, my core and just good lifting genes. My 50+ mom deadllifts over 250lbs. Ask me to run a mile though and I am out. I was not built for that kind of aerobic activity which is why I love the CrossFit workouts because most of them consist of very little pure aerobic activity.

My healthy fear of my back helps keep me tuned into my body and focused on what I am doing. On one rep max days I try to never push myself to my absolute max. It is my max with good form. If I feel a twinge in my back or that I am doing it wrong then I am done. In the WOD’s that are mostly lifting based I try to use a weight that I feel is challenging but I can still have proper technique for the entire workout.

So why am I sitting here talking about my back you say……well I broke a couple rules two weeks in a row. The first was last week. We were doing a crazy hard WOD and I was trying to Rx it. The weight felt a little heavy so I chose weights on the bar so I could strip down to a lower weight relatively quickly if need be…..and halfway through the workout when I felt my form falter I should have done that but that little thing called pride kicked in. All the ladies in my class were doing the workout Rx and I didnt want to be the only one that didn’t. So I pushed through and only had a little soreness in the left side of my back to thank for it. No biggie. The next day I contemplated taking the day off to rest but it wasn’t a lifting workout….so I persevered mainly because I love CrossFit….in retrospect I probably should have just taken the day off.

Fast forward to Tuesday……I was working a baby shift at work (8hrs) and contemplated going then not going. So I rushed out at 0715 not quite giving myself enough time for the tremendous traffic that is Northern VA/DC. So I was late….I hate being late. I rushed through the warm-up as well as my warm-up for front squats which oh by the way was the same thing that made my back sore the other week. On top of the that I was coming off of night shift. My body hates everything about night shift. It hates preparing for night shift and also coming off of night shift. It does not matter if I work one night shift or three, my mind and body is confused for about a week. I am nauseated, tired and foggy.

Having known that front squats is what made my back sore the week before…..I was focused like a laser beam on technique, core and body posture. Then on the 3 squat of the last set I let myself relax….big mistake. Instant pain exactly where I was sore the week before. The positive note is that I stopped right there. I did not push through….which may sound easy but it was super hard for me to do. I hate stopping in the middle…it feels like quitting but it was the right thing to do. SO….what have I learned from this experience……..

  • I LOVE CrossFit. I almost had a mini-melt down in my head because I couldn’t finish the WOD and because I knew that I was going to have to take some days to rest. Lucky for me some of those rest days involve my family visiting from out of town to keep me busy.
  • Warming-up is as important as the work-out. (this statement alone lets me know I am getting old. I have been known to skip stretching before and after working out because “it’s a waste of time”)
  • Don’t let pride push you down!! Had I been truthful with myself and stripped about 5-10lbs off the bar mid-work out last week I probably would not be writing this post. I still would have gotten a good workout and been pushing myself to be better without the possibility of getting hurt.
  • Sometimes I think that since I am lifting weights and not “flipping” around my focus on what I am doing is not as important but that is totally wrong!! When you are moving heavy weights you better be thinking about what you are doing at all times!!!
  • A set-back is not a forever-back. I think one of the reasons that I get frustrated with a set-back is that I think it is going to keep me from reaching my overall goals and that is just not true. Missing four or so workouts to get back to a 100% is not going to make a difference in the long run but constantly being injured will. I need to change my perspective and take advantage of this time.
  • What has really inspired me of this week is Lindy Wall – She fractured her L-5 vertebrae and was told that she would never squat again. This year she will compete in the CrossFit. Talk about amazing….check out her story
  • I was totally proud of myself for not pushing through the work out….so unlike me and I know it made a big difference. In the same breath I probably should have taken off from work. I have a very physical job and I went the day of and the day after I hurt myself and…..I made it worse. I just hate calling out of work because when the team is short everyone suffers but I also have to remember to take care of myself.
  • Technique, Technique, Technique…….

My promise to myself is that I am going to let myself heal, not let pride push-me down, focus on my technique at all times and come back better then ever. Oh yeah and I am going to make this damn front squat my best lift. Here is a picture in honor of the damn front squat that knocked me down but not out….

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Front-Squat

I also like this picture because one day I will also have abs that look like this……