It’s like this.

This is the Tune Belt I use. Love it, but read the post for the warning!

Quick version: I’m an idiot.1

Longer version: I was in Tampa visiting my mother and went to her condo’s well appointed workout room, including industrial strength treadmills. No one there but me. View out the window of the pool and a very pretty tree2. I’ve got my Tune Belt on my arm, my earbuds in and my exercise mix playing with the volume turned up to the point just before it inflicts pain.

Now my treadmill in my home is nice, but it wouldn’t stand up to constant running and has a very laid back traction surface, one that doesn’t seem to be all that interested in doing its job. It also is a little narrower than the bad boy I was using that oh-so-fateful day. So if I do stupid stuff on my home treadmill, I usually brush some portion of the side of my body against the arms and can correct.

This kind of rasp. One for horse hooves.

This monster treadmill I was using was great — like getting to drive an old car with far more cylinders than you’re used to. “This is bad ass,” I thought, perhaps not consciously, but I was pretty pleased with myself. I’d been consistent with my exercise routine during this entire visit. And now I’m working out in what would be my fantasy home gym, all by myself.

What I didn’t take note of was that the embrace of this bad boy was several inches wider than the one I had at home, and the tread on the sucker looked like a rasp. If treadmills had bouncers, this treadmill would have its arms crossed outside the trendiest treadmill bar in town.

And then the fateful moment occurred: “ABC” came up on my mix.3

Maybe it’s because the Jackson Five’s tune hit the top of the charts in 1970. I was nine. When we got back to the states4, one of the last cartoons I gave up was the Jackson 5ive5, and it was the theme song.  For those of you who didn’t know Michael Jackson was born a poor black child, here is a video from back in the day, purportedly from the Ed Sullivan Show:

Whatever the deal is, I cannot seem to keep from dancing (badly) whenever that song comes on. It goes from audio processing in the brain straight to the movement center without consulting the part of my brain that says, “Whoa, fella, slow down.” So I started dancing within the wide arms of the treadmill and caught some part of my foot on the non-moving portion of the dance floor, sending me to my knees.

Mostly my left knee. The bad one. It’s probably a good thing I had on my yoga pants; even so, I ended up scraped by the bite the treadmill’s surface gave me, holding me down a few seconds while I processed what had happened and how the hell to get my knee detached from rotating blades6.

It didn’t bother me all that much at first; I iced it and by the next day had a big C-shaped bruise circling my knee. Bruise? No big. But when I went to see Stephanie, queen of the physical therapists, she said it was a lot looser than it had been and that I may have sprained my ACL. It’s not gotten much better since I saw her a couple of weeks ago and I’m guessing she’s going to tell me to get it evaluated by the doc when I see her next week.

I’ve been through a scaled down grief cycle and am back at acceptance. Every setback makes you want to throw up your hands and say “Why bother?” But not doing it means there’s no chance; you can’t win if you don’t play. So after enough of a pity party, and a couple of workouts I cried through, I’m back on the upswing, even though icing my knee is the order of the day and I’m going to have to rebuild it.

Too bad you can’t order bionic parts off Amazon.

1. If you’re familiar with Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, think a zero for bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
2. Think it was an oak, but my knowledge of Gulf Coast Florida’s flora is limited.
3. Just finding it on YouTube has me dancing at the keyboard.
4. I’m a military brat. Our family lived in Japan at that time.
5. It was cancelled about the same time I gave up Saturday Morning Cartoons. Yes, boys and girls, there was a day when cartoons were restricted to just after school and Saturday mornings.
6. Shocked by the exaggeration? I’m from Texas;  hyperbole is practically mandatory.
 
 

 

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No, I’m not talking about equipment. I’m talking about AWESOME graphic design.

You’ve probably seen Carly Söderström’s work if you have liked any CrossFit-related Facebook pages. I have been trying to track down this designer since I saw the infographic she did explaining the fundamentals of CrossFit; unfortunately, it wasn’t attributed.

[Note to graphic designers: Get your website name on your graphics and watermark the bloody things so you can earn what your creativity deserves!]

Everything on her gallery is gorgeous, and she is does have a storefront for her posters and such at http://www.crossfitgeelong.com.au/store/#!/~/category/id=0&inview=category3441185&offset=0&sort=normal.

Go, enjoy! Lust away!

 


Crystal Mayhue, a 35-year-old massage therapist and SAHM (Stay-at-Home-Mom), balancing her part-time business with raising two young sons and  hanging out with her husband as well as CrossFitting, contacted me about her CrossFit experience. I loved what she had to say, and want to pass it along to you.  Crystal, you now have the floor (or screen…whatever):

From Crystal’s Pinterest board

I started CrossFit recently and I am so addicted. I refer to myself as “Chunky Girl Works Out.”

I started referring to myself as “chunky” after my first pregnancy. I’d developed a serious B12 deficiency which triggered a case of RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) of epic proportions. The baby came and the RLS never went away. Baby number two was also a fan of B12. Lets just say RLS is here to stay.

As a result, I am constantly sleep-deprived which has resulted in weight gain. I would never have called myself an athelete, but I spent years weight training and doing cardio. As long as I kept an eye on what I ate and made sure I was physically active, my curvaceous body was kept in check. The minute the RLS hit and sleep was something I could not accomplish, the curves turned to “CHUNK”! I even have a Pinterest board (http://pinterest.com/massagemomma/chunky-girl-works-out) named for it.

I waited two years to get into CrossFit for many reasons. I found out about CrossFit by way of Facebook, of course. I had reconnected to an old high school friend and she was always talking about going to “CrossFit.” I asked her about it.

I have what I lovingly refer to as “Exercise A.D.D”. I get bored so easily. I find running boring so I started doing mud runs like the Warrior Dash and the Merrell Down & Dirty. I got bored weight training on my own so I started taking BodyPump.

So, when my friend tried her best to explain the beast that is CrossFit, I was very intrigued. I turned to Google to find out more. Thirty minutes into my research I knew that sooner or later I was going to start CrossFit! The idea that it was mix of cardio and weight training and could happen indoor or outdoor and then you throw in kettle bells and a garage type atmosphere … I was in Exercise A.D.D heaven!!

One of the reasons for delaying my first CrossFit experience was “Super Fit Girls + Super Ripped Guys= WTF stares at Chunky Girl Works Out.” I had the itch to try it so bad I even had thoughts of setting up a backyard CrossFit.

I turned to my dear friend Google and his girlfriend Pinterest to see what it would take to create a “box” in my own backyard. I found I could do it on the cheap. But, honestly, I still didn’t totally grasp the whole of what CrossFit was and felt like I needed more instruction. And, quite frankly, I run a house and family and I am constantly in charge and making decisions. Sometimes I just want someone to tell me what to do and how to do it so I don’t have to think about it. I know, sounds lazy. But I’m a Mom, a wife, and I have a part-time Massage Therapy business. I don’t want to have to come up with my own workouts. I want someone to tell me what to do for once.

I have two boys. Very. Busy. Boys! My oldest will be seven in November and is in the first grade. My youngest is four and now attends all day PreK at the same elementary school as my oldest. I was overwhelmed at what the heck I was going to do all day. The idea that my baby was going to start school totally knocked me down. I knew that I was going to have to find something to do that would excite me or I was going down for the count.

We are a “traditional” family, I guess you could say. My husband works and I, for the most part, stay at home with my kiddos. The idea that I was no longer going to have my little buddy to take care of all day still brings me to tears. So, I set my sights on CrossFit. I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to see if it was as awesome as I had made it out in my mind to be.

So, I found a CrossFit box and signed up.

Finding a CrossFit box in my area wasn’t easy. When I first looked into CrossFit, there was nothing close to me. One day, I happened to be talking to a nurse in my doctors office  and she mentioned she did CrossFit. She raved about her box. She said the coaches were awesome and the members were like family and that she was in the best shape of her life. So, I went to the official CrossFit website and looked it up. Two CF boxes had opened in a somewhat close proximity to my home.  I only visited one of them. My nurse was so passionate in talking about her CF box, CrossFit of Locust Grove (Georgia), that I never doubted that it was the one for me. When I met the owner, Todd Springer, I was impressed with how he continually talked about CFLG being a family.

I started on a Monday morning. There were about twelve people in the class. There were men and women ranging in age from early twenties to late forties in a spectrum of fitness levels.

The first day I almost puked because I knew these people were going to die when they saw Chunky Butt walk in. But, you know. I have never met people more eager to help and guide and cheer a person on. I have belonged to many gyms…Gold’s, local athletic clubs, YMCA…. never have I ever had people so willing to help me catch on and want me to succeed.

The first person to speak to me, other than Todd the owner/coach, was a very fit, thirty-something woman. During each part of the WOD she made sure I knew where the equipment was, showed me what to do, and gave me encouragement. I was shocked. I tell you, I spent hours at my local Y before anyone ever even spoke a word to me. But, during a WOD that consisted of way too many push ups and box jumps, I had people that I had only laid eyes on that day telling me not to stop, to push through and that I could indeed finish the last round.

Since that first day I have attended morning, afternoon and evening classes. Each person I come in contact has been as helpful as the first. We have a Facebook group for members. People are always posting about getting together to go to events, or telling another member how great they did during the day’s WOD or just posting life stuff. They are family. We are family.

I have been apart of CrossFit of Locust Grove for two months. And, when my Dad was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, the outpouring of understanding and compassion from my CrossFit family rivaled that of my church family. Sometimes when you are mad at the world and feel like you have no control over anything—you just need to drag a tire across pavement, do a hundred burpees and seventy-five squat jumps and then hear someone tell you just how beastly you are because you finished.

CrossFitters, for the most part, really seem to have a passion for athleticism and really want for others to feel the same euphoria they do when finished with a WOD.  But, believe me, I know the fear of walking into a crowd of super fits….YIKES!!…..but I strongly urge everyone that is curious about CrossFit to visit their local box. The outpouring of support and  camaraderie that you get being apart of a CrossFit family far out weighs the nervousness you feel when walking into your first CrossFit class.

You can contact Crystal Mayhue by email at massage_momma (at) att (dot) net.


 

It’s often said that information is power. But in our everyday lives, information is more likely to be a source of pain and

private school punks

Private school punks, keeping it secret? (Photo credit: pugetive)

conflict than of power. I’ve been thinking over the distinctions, so please indulge me in some hair-splitting.

Confidence: Someone else’s private information shared with you for you to help them.

Secret: Your private information that you don’t share with either someone who can help or someone directly affected by the information.

Gossip: Spreading private information to increase your image of “being in the know” or to damage others. In some Christian circles, it often wears the label of prayer request (seen this happen too much to be able to let it go).

Private information: Information that a reasonable person would not share with acquaintances or strangers, such as the pin number for your debit card, hemorrhoids,  or your sex life (unless, of course, you’re an adolescent male — it’s my understanding that in some cultures, it’s almost mandatory, although often fictitious). Broadly, you could characterize these as financial, health, relationships and other random embarrassing facts. Or, more succinctly, any information that could damage your finances, relationships or reputation if shared with the wrong people.  Once it’s in the news or you’ve made the mistake of posting it online, it gets harder to say it’s still private.

Keeping confidences is healthy. Keeping secrets is not. Gossip is destructive. Having healthy boundaries about with whom you share which confidences is wisdom.

It’s fairly easy to figure out which is which by asking yourself the following questions:

Am I dying to share this information? It’s probably a juicy confidence and, particularly if you learn of it in the course of helping someone, you should not share it.

Do I think I might die (literally or figuratively) if someone in particular or people in general found out this information? Then it’s probably a secret, and keeping these kinds of secrets can destroy you or others involved. The first presentation I ever went to about incest referred to it as “the family secret.” and I’m sad to say that my experience in working with victims of sexual abuse, particularly incest, it’s often true that everyone in the household knows, but they don’t want to speak it, as if saying it makes it more real. Find someone you can trust to keep your private information safe and tell them.

Sometimes the “secret” is innocuous to most people, but the insistence on keeping it secret gives it disproportionate power. One of the Big Secrets in my family was that my grandmother was older than my grandfather. I still don’t see what the big deal was, but they didn’t want anyone to know. In this case, the secret was transformed from private information into a secret because of the power conferred upon it.

Does sharing the information provide help to the person whose information it is? If not, then it’s probably gossip, particularly if it’s something that would damage the reputation or standing of the person in the shared community. If it’s private information that was given to you as a confidence, stand on your tongue before sharing it with anyone without the individual’s permission.

EXCEPTION: If the example can be used to help others and can be described without giving any information that could identify the person to whom it applies, then it may not be gossip. My main experience of this is in the context of legal education; often explaining a situation helps clarify the problem.

If you’re asking why this is showing up in a blog mostly dedicated to fitness, motivation and CrossFit, you’re not alone. I’m not entirely sure why I’m including it here. I can come up with a justification (perhaps that people sometimes are emotional or become emotional working out and so you may learn information you should keep confidential). But, if I’m honest, it’s because it’s been on my mind, it’s important in all walks of life, and I felt compelled to write it … and it wouldn’t fit in a Facebook post.

 


Today I’m turning over the blog to Rick Martinez of Transition Possible. As the daughter of an Air Force fighter pilot, the niece of an Army Ranger and Green Beret, the cousin of an Iraqi War vet from the Coast Guard, and the mother of an EOD tech, living in a world populated with active-duty servicemembers, reservists, retirees, veterans and their dependents, I know too many individuals and families who bear a heavier burden than the average American for the various armed conflicts our country has been involved in. No matter how you feel about the politics behind the conflicts, the intrinsic honor and sacrifice of our servicemembers are not diminished nor tarnished by performing their duties. 

My name is Rick Martinez and my mission is Transition Possible. I am a retired Army nurse, an entrepreneur, the head vision-keeper of the Fitness Porvida movement, the owner of two CrossFit gyms and the founder of an organization that allows us to support and celebrate our nation’s heroes. It’s my moral obligation and I believe it is one that we all have.

Picture from Transition Possible

The parents of SPC Tracy Willis, who was killed in action in 2007 in Afghanistan. Transition Possible held a fundraiser in Willis’s honor and named the WOD “Tracy. “(Photo Credit: Transition Possible)

Transition Possible’s mission is four-fold:

  •  To positively impact the lives of our nation’s heroes
  • To encourage them to continue living and achieving through sport and functional athletics
  • To show the world that the warrior spirit can thrive no matter the circumstance
  • To bridge the gap between wounded heroes and citizens

As I post this, we are one day away from the launch of the world’s first non-profit whose vision is to create mentorship and leadership programs through which wounded heroes and adaptive athletes can find a new path or career in the world of sport. Think entrepreneurial boot camp for heroes.

On Saturday, October 6, 2012, in San Antonio, Texas, we will host the Warrior Summit II, which will bring together the nation’s best coaches, U.S. Paralympians and adaptive athletes to prove that CrossFit can be for everyone. In the evening, we will be hosting a special fundraiser (tickets available here) with keynote speaker Kyle Maynard — an ESPY-award winning athlete and one of the most motivational individuals in this world. “An Evening with Heroes” will celebrate adaptive sport and our nation’s heroes and will raise funds to support Transition Possible.

Why does this vision, this launch and this cause matter?

Let me share Mike’s story:

How a daisy-chain IED is set up. (Photo credit: GlobalSecurity.org)

Mike Gallardo is a Tribe Member and he is an amputee. His dream was to become an elite trooper, “Delta Force,” he says, to serve his country. The events of February 7, 2008 had a different path for Mike. That’s when his platoon was hit by a daisy-chain IED. That’s when he, for lack of better words, became broken.

Folks, that’s when Mike’s hopes and dreams were radically changed because he made the choice to serve. To protect us. Mike came to us some time ago, buy us I mean Fitness Porvida, and it was evident that though broken physically, mentally he was not bowed. He attacked the program and embraced CrossFit as a means to a new end. The Tribe was his new platoon.

Mike Gallardo at work … or play? (Photo Credit: Transition Possible)

The WODs were his new mission.

But where does it go?

How does that fulfill a destiny?

Even more, how does that offer a life of fulfillment where a man can support a family, start a career and be a productive citizen?

Mike was integrated into the Tribe (as we call it at Fitness Porvida), accepted as a regular Joe and soon he started a 90-day internship pilot program to test the efficacy of making a coach/trainer a viable career option.
Here are his words:

The internship helped me in many ways people can’t see. It has helped with my PTSD because I did not like to be around lots of people. The Tribe made me feel at home and that I can trust people once again. It helped with my TBI because before I could barely remember my own birthday, now I can remember over 50-100 members names. It also helped me be a little more organized because I have to plan my day and keep a daily planner for my tasks.

WOW!

Soon after, Mike was offered employment as a coach at Fitness Porvida. He’s one of the finest coaches
we have EVER had. In his words,

Fitness Porvida has been very helpful because they have set me up for success. They helped me make goals for myself and accomplish them ahead of time. They helped me become a good coach, but they still are in contact with me to make me a great coach. Not only did they treat me with respect, they treated me as part of the family.

Now imagine doing this ten-fold, folks

Transition Possible exists to make this transition possible.

Today it’s Mike.

Tomorrow … well … tomorrow depends on you.

Be a part of making the transition possible.

~ Rick Martinez


While I live in what’s arguably the most militaryoriented major metropolitan area outside of the D.C. area, nothing blew up. I had to hit the ground for internal reasons.

Over the last week my workouts have been limited by cold sweats and light-headedness. The fatigue has been bad enough that I’ve had several days when I fell asleep reading for pleasure, which almost never happens (technical or high-concentration reading is a whole ‘nother kettle). This presents a problem when you need to  keep working out as consistently as possible, but you want to, well, not die in the attempt by falling and hitting your head on hard and pointy things, like the edge of a weight stand.

My current issues were brought on by a combination of ridiculously high pollen counts, fluid behind the ears and a possible reaction to the flu and TDAP shots I got. Your causes may vary, but the solution is the same. Know your limits, but go to them.

That’s when I go to the ground: WODs built around things I can do on the floor. Here’s my list of options; please suggest any others.

The Concept 2 Model C, no longer in production.

Rowing: Up to 20 minutes; I use the rower to the right. Upside: It’s a great all around workout, and you’re sitting down, so it’s pretty easy to avoid any real problems (although I’d keep the area clear on either side if I’m particularly unbalanced). Downside: It’s a great all around workout, so you can be exhausted pretty quickly. If I get all 20 minutes in on a bad day, I feel like I did a good job.

Sit-ups: 3 x 10. Upside: Yes, they’re better at working your hip flexors than your abs, but you’re still on the ground. Downside: If you don’t have someplace to hook your feet (see our contraption, below right, attached to the garage wall), you’d do better with crunches.

Push-ups: 3 x 10. Upside: Great for those arms. Downside: If you’re overweight and/or you’ve got a disproportionate amount of fat deposited on your derriere, you need to either do “knee” push-ups or be very careful to keep your abs tight (stomach to backbone) so you don’t overload your lumbar spine. (You can also substitute planks.)

The sit-up do-hitchy welded and well-attached to our garage wall.

The following exercises were given to me as physical therapy exercises, but they are still valid as core stabilizers, and when you just need to lie down while working out, they’re better than nothing.

Theraband chest pull: 3 x 10. Grasp the theraband appropriate to your strength (probably yellow, red or blue) in each hand, extend your arms full length (you may need to adjust your grip; you’ll want the bit between your hands not to sag at all) and parallel to your chest. Pull your hands apart until they’re at your sides (you look like a “T” at this point). Usually this is done standing, but you can do it lying down.

Straight leg raises: 1 x 20 each side. This, like the preceding, were given to me as physical therapy exercises, but they are still valid as core stabilizers. Upside: My quads still find them challenging because I have a built-in weight set. Downside: None I can think of. Boring?

Hip adductor raises: 1 x 20 each side. I can’t seem to find one that matches the one I do. Lie on your side and cross the upper leg over the under so that you’ve made a triangle with your leg and the floor with your lower leg as an anchor of one corner. Raise your lower leg, keeping it in a straight line with your back as if you were standing on it. (If that torques your knee, you can use a pillow or rolled towel to prop up the top leg. You just need to get it out of the way.

Supine bridging: (It’s about 3/4 of the way down the page)1 x 20 each side. I use an 8 lb sand-filled fitness ball between my knees.

Abdominal squeeze and your friend, the hip flexor: 3 x 1 minute each. Lie on your back, pressing your lumbar into the ground, with your knees up and feet braced on the ground. Put your arms to your sides, and when you start the clock, pull your belly button into your  spine (well, try). Focus on pulling in tighter each time you exhale — but don’t hold your breath. I alternate these with each leg doing its abductor/adductor workout. You straighten out one of your legs, and then lower and lift your knee to the ground, still trying to keep your ab tight and without losing control of the leg. Don’t rush; form and control are more important. Do these for a minute per leg.

I then conclude with a bunch of stretches: gastroc, supine hamstring, supine piriformis, upper trapezoid and thoracic mobilization.

I’ve got more I can do on my back on what Gary has dubbed “the scaling machine,” but more on that in a future post.

 

Breathe. Exhale. Inhale.

Posted: September 26, 2012 in CrossFit, Exercise, Motivation

Exhale

Exhale (Photo credit: roychung1993)

Everyone keeps telling me to breathe lately.

When I’m learning a new form and concentrating, Gary tells me to breathe.

When Stephanie is working on a particularly sore spot during a physical therapy session, she tells me to breathe.

When I have a meltdown, as if I’d turned into a special effect that puddles up and slides under the door, Neesa puts her hand on my shoulder and tells me to breathe.

When I have difficulty reading something I wrote because I’ve carried it all inside long enough that it chokes me like the proverbial fishbone, Anne and Maureen both have told me to breathe.

“Exhale on the push,” says Gary. “Inhale on the way back. Breathe.”

Stephanie told me a while ago that the body thinks it is helping you when you hold your breath during pain or exertion. Apparently your body thinks it is under attack and reacts to “help” you. Or the breath-holding may activate the flight or fight (or freeze) response.  I’ve read both theories.

It’s amazing what the body does on automatic pilot, trying to help you out.

It overreacts to innocuous small particles, thinking it’s helping you, but really flooding you with histamines that have nothing to attack.

It swells your tissues to immobilize injured parts, but causes pain and additional damage by doing so.

It releases a flood of neurochemicals to get ready to run or punch someone out. And if you don’t get those chemicals out, and you keep encountering stress, they build up. And they affect your brain chemistry. And then you can end up like me, a tossed salad of syndromes and symptoms that will make you miserable but won’t kill you.

So why do we have so much trouble believing the mind can make your body sick?

I believe my body knew for years I was accumulating emotional injuries and trying to ignore them and the coping strategies that were slowly making things worse, even when I was not able to fully articulate the problem. So it finally shut me down to the point of reclusiveness. Perhaps it knew what it was doing. Or maybe God did. I don’t know, I can only speculate. But it seems like a lot of things had to happen to get me to the point of converting to the belief that exercise was necessary.

And now I’ve figured out some more of the puzzle of my life. I don’t need to just write here; I need to write out a lot of the pollution in my mind. I’ve known it before; I just didn’t believe it enough or was too afraid to pick up the pen. I think I’m over that.

Foo Fighters perform a song. “Monkey Wrench,” that has a line that always seems louder than the other lyrics when I hear it, perhaps in part because the lead singer (and the writer of the song) pretty much screams it:

I still remember/every single word you said,/And all the shit/ that somehow came along with it!

Pretty much captures the feeling that almost everyone has about some pain that enters their lives, whether brought on by words or actions.

We all need tools and teaching to overcome our collective and individual past. For me, the tools I needed were exercise and writing. The former was difficult and avoided because I never was any good at it and always subject to ridicule; the latter was easy and avoided once it came under attack — it was no longer a refuge, but yet another place on the firing line.

But thanks to some very good people and an excellent method, I’m better now. May you find your tools as well.