Sunday, March 1, 2015

Attitude is Everything

That workout was NEVER going to be easy.

It is inevitable that there is going to be stuff you are not good at.  Stuff that will push you to your limits.  This is what you train for day in and day out- this is no different than the workouts you walk in and do every.single.day!

You got a PR?!  Well way to go!! It finally clicked!  Maybe your coach's cue rang in your head and you finally got it that time!  Maybe the adrenaline was rushing so hard it finally blocked your fear of pushing that weight overhead.  Maybe you were just ready because your hard work and training for hours and hours was about to pay off.

You didn't get a PR?, Well, way to go- you finished anyways!! No one can PR every single time they do a workout, that would be way too easy and boring.  There are still plenty of things to be positive about and grateful for.  Maybe you didn't make that PR lift, but maybe you raised the bar an inch higher than last time, maybe you felt your hips carry through for the first time.  You are now one attempt closer to the PR you so desire.  You are one step closer to being where you want to be, but you can't get there if you don't try.

Walk away from that non-PR and when someone asks you how you did, you put your chin up and you find something positive to say, "well I got less than my PR, but you know the bar felt lighter today", "I didn't die", "my hand didn't tear".  Who would you rather strike up a conversation with, someone sour or someone upbeat?

I'd like the share a small story from last year when I did the crossfit open.  This happened, it's embarrassing, but true, and I hope the same thing will not happen to you.

I got really mad after my 14.2 WOD. Here’s the thing, something happened, out of my control, and I got messed up and I couldn’t break through it. Guess what, I spent the rest of the night angry about it- I mean angry, so angry that my head felt like it was going to explode.  
Why was I mad? Because I knew I could do chest to bar pull ups better than last year, and my score did not prove that to me. It caused me to wonder, "how did I improve?" You know what, one WOD is not a testament to my whole year’s worth of training. We are going to have good days and we are going to have bad days.

I was eating dinner Friday night right after the workout and boy did I want to be alone, I didn’t want to hear any more whining and complaining from my kids- I just wanted silence and to eat my dinner while it was hot. I told Maeve (age 2) that I wanted to eat alone, she looked at me and said “Mommy I want to eat alone too”. Then, she proceeded to pull her chair as close as possible to mine and sat as close to me as she possibly could- so close I could not even move my arm. It made me laugh because she had no idea what she had said and went about her normal business of trying to eat as close as possible to me. 

The whole situation shed some light on the fact that getting mad over a bad workout- was so silly and if you can’t laugh about it, what can you do. The more time you spend doting about it, analyzing it, excusing it, isn’t going to change the fact that it happened and it is what it is. You cannot change the past, but you can let it help you change the future.

So, I did get better at chest to bar pull ups, in case you were wondering. Maybe my score did not show it, but since last year, I was able to use a normal grip while doing it and kipped through five in a row, can you say PR?!!! Looking at all the possible movements we have in crossfit and how you are going to get good at ALL of them is a very daunting task. Projecting a year in the future and how you will master something the next time it comes around seems easy, just an hour here, and an hour there. Well, a year passed and I really did not put in much extra work outside of the normal WODS. Maybe I am not as smooth with them, but I was stronger, faster, sleeker than last year, that’s for sure. 

“If you can brag about a low 4 minute mile or a high 400 bench press, you could also be a lot fitter. (No one has both).” -Greg Glassman

Right?!

So, I’ve gotten a little better at a LOT of things and that’s where I want to be. Last week, I had to give a testimonial at church. I was baffled for weeks about what I wanted to write, when it hit me. We are all finite. Someday we will no longer be here and what do I want to leave behind?  I want to leave behind memories, I want to affect people, to encourage them, I want to leave behind spirit. I’ve been on a kick of getting rid of stuff so I can have more free time to have fun doing stuff rather than taking care of stuff. I came across a HUGE pile of medals I had won in various races between high school and now. I decided to throw them away. At the time I won them, they meant something and made me feel special. Now, I find that they are just taking up space. Each of my kids asked to keep one- a while back one of my neighbors came up to me bewildered and asked me when I was in the Olympics. I was like “WHAT?!” I had never been in the Olympics. She said, “Oh your son brought your gold medal to school for show and tell.”

Remember what you may shrug off as a bad performance may be a great one in someone else's eyes.  It's all about perspective.

Here’s the deal, we’ve all had accomplishments in our past and by looking at us now, no one really knows- but us, right? So, maybe you mess up a WOD or don’t do something you know you can do, don’t sweat it because it’s going to be in your past and no one is going to walk up on you on the street and ask you “how could you not have finished that last round”. You are the one who makes the choice to react a certain way or to let it go. Let it go, there's always another new WOD ready to be posted tomorrow- Focus on the big things- your friends, your family, your health.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The CrossFit Open Is Coming

So, there's some excitement in the air at the box. The CrossFit Open is coming in about two weeks. It's funny when someone asks me why I care or why I'm doing it. Friend: You pay $20 to do 5 mystery workouts and you know you're not going to make Regionals and you're going to put your body in extreme duress for anywhere from 5-15 minutes? Me: Didn't you pay $30 to run a 5K over and over again last summer, what's the difference? Here's one main difference: The CrossFit Open only shows up once a year, it's like Christmas for cross fitters.

Let me stress this again:  $20 for a 5 week fitness test/competition that you get ranked and scored.  I've done several team and one individual competition last year, you're talking $60-100 for each one.  This is bargain city!

Let me set up a scene that happened to me last year: I had a class Thursday night (WODs are posted at 7PM on Thursdays), and I secretly had my phone on my lap hidden under my notebook so I could keep hitting refresh because darn it all, it's 7PM according to my iPhone, and Apple doesn't lie, so where was the workout, what is it, why isn't it posted yet? My heart was pumping, was it going to be something I could do, please don't be overhead yet, I want to rest my shoulder one more week.  Finally, the actual workout popped up, I could do it,- there I was in class planning "how will I do it, how will I do my best,". That night, driving home, I'm running through a playlist, get in the house, don't even care if the kids ate, I've got a million things to do to prepare for this workout, like make a playlist-most importantly, also yes, choose an outfit because how will I be successful with snatch without my snatch shirt.  Then, Dave drops a bomb, "I have soccer"- buzz kill, now I am hustling to get my kids in bed so I can make a playlist with upbeat music that makes people want to rip a tree out from its roots and toss it across the street with one fell swoop- pick out my magical PR outfit and get to bed before 11. Now it's AMRAP search and download on iTunes!! I put all my WOD clothes on to save time in the morning, jump into bed, and I couldn't fall asleep, I kept thinking, how many snatch should I do at a time, I wonder if my double unders will be fluid, it literally felt like I was a kid so excited the night before Christmas and couldn't fall asleep- I literally resorted to counting sheep (and it worked).

Let's pause for a second. Rewind, Wednesday night, I worked, I came home, put the kids to bed, did dishes, switched the laundry, checked my email and Facebook, watched Cake Boss, and fell asleep. Compared to Thursday, my Wednesday was super boring. One thing I love about the open is it adds some excitement to our lives, gives us something to look forward to, something to get our heart rate up, something to keep us guessing. In life, as we get older, I feel like these moments become fewer and further between. I love the fact that even on a daily basis, CrossFit gives some excitement to my life, be it when I'm dropping in at another box and I don't know the WOD, or I'm repeating another WOD, looking for an improvement, testing one of my maxes, trying something new, attending a class with people I don't normally WOD with,  there's always something different and it keeps me coming back for more.

Forward to Friday: opened box, warmed up, drank pre WOD drink late- who cares if I pee my pants, not this girl, WOD's about to start, got my outfit on, wrist wraps tight, sneakers are tied tight twice, hair is secured, I set on my music nice and loud, walk up to the bar, my heart is pumping, I'm kind of sweating already, almost out of breath before the clock starts, this is it, the next ten minutes it's me, the bar, and the jumprope, nothing else matters... errach insert record scratch forward to the first 5 seconds of the WOD... I keep messing up my double unders, instead of focusing on my rope, I'm listening to all the other ropes moving still and I'm jammed up, I start, get two, jam it up again, my heart is in my stomach, in my head, for the first time in crossfit, I say to myself "just quit, do it again later". I kept going.

That's right, I kept going. The entire WOD I was out of breath, it was unbelievable to me, I have pushed through some 25 minute WODS and not felt like that, not even in the sprint ones like Grace or Fran had I ever felt like this. Honestly, I kept defeating myself in my mind, over and over again. I kept telling myself "who cares, just drop the bar, you aren't going to Regionals, just get ten double unders, who cares". 

I'll tell you who cares,.... I DO!!! I care, I realized I was trying to perform to meet someone else's expectations, when really do people have expectations for me?- NO, they don't. CrossFit isn't about you vs. me it's about me vs. me, it's about me being happy with me and me being the best I can be. Do I think I was the best I could be that day?-... heck no!!!!

“Sometimes it takes a wrong turn to get you to the right place.”
― Mandy Hale,

I took a wrong turn, I kept beating myself up through the WOD. Normally during a WOD,  I keep repeating to myself that I'm not just a mom and that who says having kids has to set you back, or that I'm small and who says you can't be strong because of your size.  No, I'm not going to Regionals, but I want to end the WOD knowing I tried the best I could, I pushed as much and as hard as I could, and that I feel successful.  Having this opportunity to put yourself on the same level playing field as everyone else, it's exciting. It's eye opening, and puts things in perspective. 

Remember this: No one else cares how you do as much as you do, it's you against you.  If you leave feeling satisfied, everyone else will too. Leave your fears of what others might expect from you at the door, come in and give it your best shot.

"We are practicing not weightlifting but commitment. Commitment spawns success. Only by redoubling our efforts do we best succeed. Expecting success to motivate our efforts is the loser's gambit." -Greg Glassman

I am motivated this year to do the open by the things I could not achieve last year.  I am excited to approach each and every workout with my best foot forward, I'm not looking for Regional status, I'm looking for 1 rep, 1 second, 1 pound, 1 more positive thought, even 1 breath to show me that yes, all my hard work this year paid off and I am a stronger better version of ME!   I am motivated by what I struggle with to train hard for what I want to achieve.

This week, set your mind straight. Don't say "I can't do that." Instead, how about, "I'm going to find the strength."

Hey Crossfit Open 2015 I'm not afraid of you, but you should be afraid of me!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Celebrating PR's

PR- Personal Record

What do you consider to be a PR?  Is it a number, a value, a weight, an accomplishment that has a measurement, an ability, an action- I consider it to be all of these.

Today, at crossfit, one of my friends did something she had never done before.  When you enter your score in our system, if you achieve a higher weight, you get a gold medal next to your name.  This is nice for a coach to see to show that the programming is effective and that people are getting results.

I'm not going to lie, it is nice to see a gold medal by my name.

Back to my friend, she was upset because she had never done this movement before (PR right there) and so her entry was new and did not get a PR since there was no previous record to measure against.

The coach said "you don't need a fake yellow measure to tell you that you are doing great!"

I loved it so much.  Seriously, the little yellow medal only shows up for weight lifting numbers, and for benchmark wods.  It does not show up for the following:

- you committing to join.
- you signing up and showing up
- you showing up before the sun rises day after day
- you showing up when the thermometer doesn't even tip 0'
- you showing up the morning after a blizzard
- you sweating profusely through your clothes because you are working as hard as you can
-you willingly admitting and modifying movements you are not yet capable of, but still participating with 110%
-you never ever ever quitting
- you gasping for air, but still moving
- you completing a task you were not capable of before
- you reaching a range of motion once unattainable

The gold medal does not show up for lots of things, but here's what does.  Shouts, cheers, claps, jumping- that's what!  Sometimes we don't need a gold medal to be near our name, we can let everyone else know by our reactions.  I tend to do a cartwheel when I do something I once could not do before.  The gold medal is not watching you day in and day out, but I'll tell you who is, your coaches and your wod mates- we are there for you, we notice things and we recognize things the gold medal knows nothing of.

I can see the determination in your face when you are pushing hard, I can see your frustration when you are trying something that is difficult, I see your excitement when you surpass your own expectations, I see the glow in your skin, I see the confidence in your stride, I see the gains in the muscles you are starting to build, I see the progress in your movements, I see the sweat angels you leave on the floor- I do not let these things pass me by as the gold medal so often does.

The gold medal is cool and can make you feel special, but so can you.  When you get a PR, whatever it is, even if it's not quantifiable or measurable, I better find out about it by your reaction, I better hear you scream or see you do it.  I want to feel the vibes shooting through the room.

What you are doing every day you show up, you are working towards that numerical PR, you are striving for that gold medal.  That gold medal pales in comparison to the rewards you are getting every day.  You are being rewarded with a healthier longer life because of a better, stronger, more confident you.

Focus on the work, sweat, range of motion, and just the bigger picture.  The work you are doing is never unnoticed.  We see it all and we are damn proud.  One of the best parts of my job as a coach is being able to cheer someone on and to celebrate PR's, big, small, tiny, minuscule, it doesn't matter.  Show up, sweat, fight, grunt, breathe hard, push through, carry on, and you will always have a gold medal in my eyes.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

How Do You Define Yourself

A while ago, some of my friends and I crossfit used to joke around about being defined by our performance in a workout.  One of my friends moved into the city and started to workout at Crossfit Defined and I begged her to get me a shirt.

I got the shirt this past weekend and decided to break it in today since we were doing a workout that previously I could not complete very well.  I did not want my past experiences to define my current ones.

I am not defined by my workout, I am defined by the hard work I put in.

I am not defined by a failure, I am defined by how quickly I get back on my feet.

I am not defined by my placement on the whiteboard, I am defined by the effort I personally put in.

I am not defined by how I measured up against the person next to me, I am defined by how I kept pushing on.

I am not defined by my time, I am defined by how I felt.

I am not defined by comparing myself to others, I am defined by comparing myself to me.

I am not defined by the plates on the end of my barbell, I am defined by many hours of practice.

I am not defined by a number of reps, I am defined by meeting standards and ranges of motion.

I am not defined by a medal, a trophy, or a first place, I am defined by my own personal success.

I am not defined by my fear, I am defined by committing to what I'm doing.

I am not defined by one rep, I am defined by doing it again and again.

I am not defined by something I can't do, I am defined by the determination that someday I will.

I am not defined by being first or last, I am defined by working as hard as I can each and every day.

You are the same!  You are defined by your hard work, you are not defined by a pull up, a muscle up, a perfect snatch, or a top score on the whiteboard.

Keep showing up, keep working hard, keep defining who, what, and where you want to be, and slowly and surely, you will get there- it may take a week, a month, or a year, who cares-- I will still be there working hard right by your side.  I will be there to celebrate your hard work with you.

Today, I walked into the box, hoping to get 1 rep at 100#, I had already decided that I would only be able to get 1, if that.  At the beginning, I warned everyone not to panic if they heard me scream because I was going to scream with joy, really loudly if I got the 100# snatch.  After I screamed, I proceeded to get 14 more reps.  I felt good and powerful and strong- I will no longer fear the 100# snatch.  Throughout the whole thing, I kept telling myself "you can!  Commit!  You can do this!  you work very hard! Keep going."  I would not let any negative thoughts get in my head and define how my workout was going to go.

Define yourself with positivity, hard work, and max effort and the possibilities are endless!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Letter to My Son on Technology

My oldest son and I have a journal that we write letters to each other in.  I started it a while back because I want a way for us to have open communication and I don't want him to ever be afraid to tell me something.

I've always struggled with his use and abuse of technology.  It started with the WII, then Xbox, Kindle, Nintendo DS- he gets obsessive about video games, and talks non-stop about them and wants to play ALL THE TIME.  I've had incidents where he has snuck them at midnight, took them to school against my permission, hidden them in his room, and I feel frustrated.  It doesn't help that at school, they allow kids to have them out at lunch and they also use technology frequently for classwork and presentations.  I get it, technology is a must at school because you will need it to advance in your careers, but where are the classes at school educating the kids on real and true dangers of internet scams and predators, let alone the effects it can have on your physical and mental state?

I have been struggling to set limits with him.  I hear other parents voicing the same concerns, but I oftentimes don't hear about how they handle it.  At any rate, I'm hoping I'm not alone with this, and thought I'd share a letter I recently wrote to him in our journal.  I'm not perfect and can't always find the right words, so please don't be judgmental.

Dear Nathaniel,
I have to tell you something- growing up is hard.  You want to be older and always wish to have privileges.  But what you don't realize is that with those privileges comes responsibility.

Sometimes our responsibilities get in the way of our fun.

I remember being a kid and wanting to be tall, wondering what my kids would look like, wishing I would have no homework, wanting to sleep past 5:50 AM, wanting to watch whatever movie I wanted, wishing I could stay up late, and many more things.

Let me tell you, now that I'm older, I take all those wishes back.  I have a job where I have to get up at 4:05 AM now, I don't like staying up late because I'm tired the next day and I can't afford to be tired, I have kids but I'm so busy that I barely even get to spend time with them, I don't like watching the forbidden movies because they leave gruesome thoughts in my mind, and boy would I love to have homework now because it means I get to learn.

Life is a gift, live for now, and don't wish to grow up too fast.  You will miss out on things you are truly meant to enjoy such as unending love and time with your family, a free place to stay, someone to do your laundry shopping and cooking, no financial responsibility, a free education, and so so much more.

I did not have to worry about technology when I was growing up.  I do not understand all the pressures you may or may not face.  As a kid, I used to wonder about technology and things that seemed like they would be cool- now these things exist and I find them to be nuisances at times.  Don't get me wrong, I love computers, iPads, i phones, etc, but not when they take the place of real people.  It is really cool the things that we can do with technology, I love being able to text and get an instant response, or have my phone with me in case of emergency (not having to look for a working pay phone), being able to FaceTime family from far away, and even being able to watch a show and skip the commercials.

But, call me old fashioned, nothing will take the place of the excitement you feel when you open the mailbox and see a colorful handwritten envelope addressed to you.  A computer generated game of scrabble is fun, but will never take the place of sitting down at the table playing the board game with another human being.

There are so many positive ways technology helps us- it's in hospitals, banks, and schools.  But, then comes the bad, people are having wrist problems, neck problems, eyes, and brains get affected from too much screen time.

I want you to use technology and enjoy it.  I want to see you benefit from it.  But, I need to make sure that it does not consume you- it is powerful and offers so much that sometimes it can be difficult to stop using it.

I grew up without it- and now I am living with it.  I have seen life in both ways.  I see all the good and the bad from it.  My job is to teach you how to live your life with it and without it.

You are 11- with or without technology, you would have restrictions--it's part of growing up and learning to be responsible.  I'm sure you will make mistakes, which is how you will learn - but my job is to keep you on track and help you make good choices, even when you don't understand.

I have seen and heard of too many people losing big things (their money, their identity, and even their life) because of being foolish with technology.  There are bad people in this world and many of them are on the internet lurking and waiting for innocent people.

My job is to teach you how to be cautious, leary, and have a good sense of judgement.  When you see a pop up, get an email from a stranger, or friend request from an unfamiliar person, I want you to know how to handle it.  When you start driving, and you get a text, I want you to pull over to read it or wait until you reach your destination to look at it.

You are my son and it is my job to teach you how to be able to limit yourself on technology.  I expect you to prioritize homework and real life demands over video games and surfing the internet.  I want you to grow up to be a successful, well rounded adult.

I am the parent and it is my job to set limits and keep you safe.  You many not understand now, but someday you will thank me.
Love, Mom

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Power of Your Name

The other day, I read a truly powerful post from one of my favorite blogs and she's also the author of one of my favorite books that has been so inspirational to me this last year.

Hands Free Mama is the book by Rachel Macy Stafford

The blog is handsfreemama.com.

The post is about how we gravitate towards using our kids' names in a more negative manner than positive.  I sat for a moment and realized how perfectly timed the reading of this post was for me.

Just the day before, I was pretty upset with my daughter- I instantly wanted her attention and caught myself starting to say , "Nathaniel"- that is my oldest son and he is the one who I most often need to correct or stop from doing something.

This was a powerful moment for me because I realized it was so ingrained in me to get upset with him that even when I got upset with the others, his name just rolled off out of habit.

A few months ago, I committed to writing cards to my kids and placing them in their lunch boxes, as well as just randomly placing them at their chairs in the mornings.  I used to not give my kids' cards on their birthdays because I thought they were a waste of money since they gave them a quick glance and put them down.  But that quick glance, I realized, is enough to commit those words to memory.

I started writing them cards, because written word is meaningful.  Words carry with us.  I know how I feel about my kids and I realized that maybe they didn't always assume that I loved them all the time, no matter what.  I write them cards to let them know they arere special and that they mean something.  I want them to hear my words when they need them.  If they are having a bad day or feeling bad about themselves, I want them to be able to dig down and remember that I told them they were important and special.

Life is hard, especially for a kid, but it's a lot easier, when you have some positive words ringing in the back of your head.

One thing I used to love as a kid was stuff with my name on it.  I had a very favorite decoration for my room that I got in Boston as a little girl, and it was a pennant flag with my name on it.  I used to practice writing my name in cursive all over everything too.  Names are important and they do make us feel special.

After reading that article the other day, it reminded me of how excited my kids get when I give them something with their name on it- a lunch plate, a notebook with their name, personalized notecards, stockings, a card- it's all meaningful to them in their little confused hurried world.

Most recently, I've been making canvases for their bedrooms with their names on them and something special.  I've only completed two so far, but the look on my oldest son's face when he saw his and realized that I made it for him was priceless. I want him to read that everyday and know it's true.

For every bad reaction that causes you to use your child's name, find a good way to counter it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Unicorns

Have you heard about the unicorn that walked into the crossfit box?

It PR'd every lift every time.  It made the top score on the whiteboard, every.single.time!

And, yes, in case you were wondering, it's sweat was glittery and rainbow colored and smelled like perfume.

If only unicorns were real, or if only that were me.

Actually, I'm OK with not being a unicorn and I'm OK with not PR-ing every day or being on the top of the whiteboard every day.

Some days you can walk in and nail the lift- your form is legit and the Earth's gravitational pull is aligned with your movements- there is no stopping you.  Then, there are other days, you come in and you feel like you never heard of a snatch or a clean, let alone have been practicing them for TWO YEARS!

In all honesty, we are just going to have days, days where that bar feels exponentially heavier than the last time you picked it up.  Days when your butt feels so sore, the phrase "below parallel" makes you want to barf.

Some days your knee hurts or your shoulder or your wrist.  It's always on the days when you need to use them too- "oh my shoulder hurts, um yeah those 5 million clean and jerks are gonna go up like butter!"

These are the days your body is speaking to you.  Obviously it can't speak English, but it can speak pain or pleasure.  Learn to know that pain- is it soreness or something more- you should know.  If it's something more, your body is warning you.  Figure out what is causing that pain and work on fixing it.

Maybe you just started lifting heavier and your body isn't used to it, back off on the weight some times.  Maybe you have knots galore all over your body and you just don't make the time for mobility- make it!  Maybe you have been getting by with bad form and now it's taking a toll- take a video- we all have smart phones- watch it and even ask your coach to watch it- maybe there's something you need to fix.

You're not going to feel 100% all the time.  But you can use the feeling of not feeling 100% to figure out what you can do differently.  Just because you're sore or feeling pain or your numbers haven't been going up, doesn't mean you're a toad.  It means you need to sit down and evaluate what your body is trying to tell you.

Every rep, every second you're moving, every time you walk through the door, PR, top or bottom of the whiteboard, you are working- you ARE accomplishing something.  Stop getting mad that you're not a unicorn- go buy a costume if that will make you feel better.

You are not a unicorn, but you can train like one.

You are not a unicorn, but that is ok, because you are awesome NO MATTER WHAT!