How To Suck At Life

Wow, it sure has been a long time since I posted any content here.

No, I didn’t die. Obviously. Because here I am writing to you.

But, lots of other stuff happened.

My favorite aunt, who was like a second mother to me, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, struggled with it for three years, and passed away.

My mom was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. She had major surgery, chemo, and radiation, and, thank God, is cancer free today.

And there’s still the fallout from my Dad’s sudden death way back in 2005. That upended my life and I never really found a solid foothold with that until very recently.

I emotionally ate through all that crap, and gained back all the weight I had lost in the previous years. I’m now heavier than I have ever been in my whole life, and I’m pretty pissed off about it.

But, on the bright side, I lifted fairly consistently and heavily throughout all of that, so I also retained quite a bit of strength. I worked with a few great trainers, and a few bad ones. I learned a lot about what type of training is best for my body, and I’m hoping to apply that knowledge in my long road back to health.

Good.

Onward.

One of the things I learned is: I feel great working out and lifting every day IF it’s the right kind of lifting.

Kettlebells every day? No. Injuries galore.

CrossFit every day? No. See above.

Martial arts every day? No. See above, again.

Bodybuilding/Powerlifting every day? Yes. I feel like a million bucks.

I will admit, I bought fully into the CrossFit “bodybuilding sucks” propaganda. I snickered at the dummies doing curls and using the cable machine. Meanwhile, I couldn’t bend over because my back hurt from doing deadlifts for time, or do a simple push-up because my shoulders were jacked up from doing 100’s of burpees and overhead kettlebell swings.

With all that in mind, today I started a cycle of Dan John’s “Even Easier Strength.” I recently read Matt Perryman’s Squat Everyday book, and having had the epiphany that I can actually lift every day and feel great, I decided to run a cycle of one of the greatest lift every day programs there is: Easy Strength.

My first workout today was:

Stretch – 5-10 minutes

Deadlift 2×5

Overhead Press – 2×5

Seated Cable Row – 3×5

Barbell Hip Thrust – 2×5

Farmer’s Walk

Short, brisk walk outside with the dogs.

And that’s it for today. I started with really, really light weights and will work up to heavier as I go along. The idea with lifting every day (unless I’m doing a bodybuilding split) is to never, ever struggle with a weight. All lifts are easy, or relatively easy, anyway. No grinding out 99% 1RM deadlifts. Naughty, naughty.

I would also like to point out, before the kettlebell and CrossFit and Beach Body haters come around, that I’m not saying those types of workouts are wrong or stupid. They just don’t work for me without making me a creaky, grumpy, exhausted, binge eating excuse for a human being. I think every one has a different type of program that works for them. So if you think CrossFit is the bee’s knees, and you can honestly say you thrive on it, then good for you, go for it!

I’ll just be over here, doing my lateral raises and lat pulldowns, cheering you on.

I Got the Burpee Blues

Clean & Jerk – Week 2, Cycle 2

3 reps @ 70% – 73##
3 reps @ 80% – 83##
3+ reps @ 90% –93## – 4 reps

Conditioning Workout:

For time:
burpee box jumps 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
dual kettlebell clean + press 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

18:32

I got the workout from Melissa ‘Melicious’ Joulwan’s blog. Unlike Melicious, I do not like burpee box jumps. Burpees, yes. Box jumps, yes. Burpees and box jumps smushed together? No.

I used 20# dumbells for the clean & press and a 16″ box for the damnable burpee box jumps. Needless to say, it sucked. I couldn’t get into a rhythm on the burpees and I just flopped and flailed around. I actually stopped at burpee #7 in the first round and seriously considered stopping. I didn’t. I sucked it up and kept going. After it was over I felt like I wanted to curl up in a little ball and suck my thumb for about 10 minutes, but then I got that awesome sweaty satisfied post-workout glow. Love that.

Still no weight loss, no change in body fat % either. Depressing. I’ve tried eating more, eating less, eating less carbs, more carbs. Nothing makes a difference. I was so depressed this morning I actually had about four spoonfulls of Ben & Jerry’s I found in the back of the freezer. Oh well. Whatever. The world isn’t going to end.

Then I did the clean & jerks and I immediately got a confidence booster. They felt great! I looked back at my log and I did roughly the same weights on Week 3 of Cycle 1 (three weeks ago) and they definitely felt lighter today. I also noticed that the farmer’s walks from two days ago were stronger as well. It’s almost like this linear progression thing works!

So, I many not be losing weight, but I am getting stronger. I guess one out of two ain’t bad.

My Legs!

Clean & Jerk – Week 1, Cycle 2

5 reps @ 65% – 68##
5 reps @ 75% – 78#
5+ reps @ 85% – 88# – 5 reps

Rest a few minutes and then:

Complete three rounds for time of

10 box jumps @ 14″
7 push press (50# 1st cycle, 60# 2nd cycle)
200m run
Rest three minutes and repeat for a total of 2 cycles.

Holy cow, I’m out of shape. This one smoked me. It was supposed to be a total of 4 cycles but I knew I’d never make it through that much. Probably not the smartest thing to be doing before squat day, but thinking has never been my strong suit.

I had my Rehband knee sleeves on for the first cycle and my legs cramped up big time. I shucked them off for the second cycle and it felt better. Not enough circulation, apparently. I also didn’t go heavy enough on the push presses so I upped it 10 pounds for the second cycle. Still probably could have gone heavier on those.

Still on the low carb diet and feeling good. I gave up on the scale. The scale can go screw itself for all I care. Stupid machine.

My diet is not ideal, but it’s the best I can manage under my current circumstances. I am helping my family out on the ranch during calving season (the time of the year when all the baby calves are born.) We are a 60 mile round trip from the nearest grocery store, which is a small-town mom and pop outfit. It’s hard to keep fresh food, so if it’s not frozen or dehydrated it ain’t happening. I eat lots of ground beef (obviously), steak, roast, pork chops, ham, chicken, eggs (we have chickens too, so these are fresh and free range), bacon and sausage.

A typical day looks like this: 

Breakfast – 2 strips of bacon, 3 pork sausage links, scrambled eggs with ham & cheese

Lunch – 2 brats or 2 smoked sausage links, cheese

Supper – steak, ground beef, pork chop or chicken; lettuce salad w/blue cheese dressing, cheese, boiled egg and bacon

Snack – either nuts, dried cranberries, deviled eggs, summer sausage or a Larabar

I know, too much processed meat and too much dairy to be considered really Paleo. But, it’s all I have and it’s better than eating Oreos and Pop Tarts for every meal, which is what I pretty much did from October to April. In case you are wondering what happens when you do that, I gained 15 pounds and felt like crap.

On CrossFit and Globo Gyms

I stumbled on CrossFit in 2007. At the time, I was deeply involved in martial arts and looking for something to get me into better physical condition. I had taken up running and body building type weightlifting workouts four years before after my weight ballooned up to nearly 200 pounds (I’m 5’2″.)

I lost a lot of weight, but I also lost a lot of ligaments in my knees. Running didn’t agree with my body. A lot of running really didn’t agree with it. The same old weight lifting workouts bored me to tears.

Then one day a running blog I frequented had a story about Catra Corbett (aka Dirt Diva). Intrigued, I visited her website, where I found a picture of her and some friends tossing around gigantic medicine balls. “CrossFit” it said. I googled, I found the HQ site. I was blown away. I had never seen workouts like this. I had never even imagined they existed, let alone that anyone besides elite world class athletes would ever do them. I don’t remember the WOD (Workout of the Day) that was posted that day, but I’m pretty sure it had 100 pushups in it. 

100 pushups? At one time? People do that?

The next day I attempted the WOD, which was “Elizabeth”. 21-15-9 reps of cleans and ring dips. I used a five pound medicine ball and did the dips off of a chair. I didn’t even last four minutes. As I lay on the floor in a puddle of misery and sweat, I thought “This is it!”

I plumbed the depths of the HQ site and found a gold mine of fitness information. I learned about cleans, presses, push presses, push jerks, snatches, deadlifts, squats, muscle ups, pull-ups, box jumps. I did the WODs. I watched the videos. I was hooked. 

I plugged away on my own for almost two years, then an affiliate opened in my town. I reveled in working out with other people who loved it as much as I did. Then, three months ago the affiliate closed. I was back to the local globo gym to fend for myself.

The biggest difference (besides the lack of good equipment) that I noticed? The camaraderie. CrossFit cannot be beat for camaraderie. The only thing that comes close in my opinion is martial arts. At the CrossFit box you work, sweat and bleed shoulder to shoulder with your fellow classmates. People actually care whether or not you show up. They care when you deadlift five pounds more than you did two weeks ago. They stay and cheer for you when you are finishing a workout.

The globo gym? No one gives a shit about you, to put it bluntly. Heck, even the people that work at the front desk don’t give a shit about you. You can come, you can go, whatever. Everyone has their headphones on, watching TV mindlessly while they trudge along on the treadmill. It’s a shock to go back to that after having the close relationship with people at the CrossFit box.

Yes, I know that CrossFit is not perfect. I agree with a lot of the criticisms of it. I am familiar with the Couch Thread and I do think they have some valid points. If I had to pick someone to learn from, I would definitely choose Greg Everett over Greg Glassman any day of the week.

However, there are also a lot of good things about CrossFit and I do think they have changed the world of fitness in good, and profound way. I also think that a lot of the people who have a beef with CrossFit have a bad case of sour grapes. Can’t do the WOD? It must be stupid!

Having said that, I do think they have some problems they would be wise to address. For one, the lack of any kind of cycle or purpose in the training. For another, the lack of emphasis on strength training (which can go back to the issue of cycles or programming.) And of course, the cult-like, do not question my authority way the whole organization is run. Paleo is pseudo science? Yeah, right. Eating ding-dongs or Big Macs in the correct Zone proportions sounds more like pseudo science to me, and I’m not that smart.

I would not consider myself a CrossFitter anymore. However, CrossFit is a major tool in my toolbox. I would say that I am a seeker. To paraphrase Bruce Lee, “take what works, discard what does not.” A lot of CrossFit works, some of it does not. I will be forever grateful to CrossFit for introducing me to so many things I would have never learned about fitness other wise. Filthy Fifty? Never again. Elizabeth? Most definitely. Sled pulls and box jumps? Yes! High rep, high intensity Olympic weightlifting? Not so much.

Now, if I can just get someone at the globo gym to high five me after I hit a PR.

I won’t be holding my breath for that one.

Morning Metcon + DJ40 #2

This morning:

AMRAP in 7 minutes of:

5 strict push-ups
30 unbroken jump rope skips

(If skips are broken, count starts over at one until 30 consecutive are reached.)

8 rounds + 5 push-ups

All skip sets were unbroken except one where I snagged my toe with the rope, but it was on rep one or two so no big deal. Push-ups sucked. I’ve gotten really weak on these. If I was better there I could have got a lot more rounds.

The whole day was spent feeding cows, shoveling snow, chopping ice and generally being fantastically sick and tired of winter.

Tonight:

Dan John 40 Day Program Day #2

Deadlift: 2 x 5 (153#)
Press: 2 x 5 (50#)
Pullup: 2 x 5 (reps 1 & 2 strict, 3-5 kipping)
DB Swing 25 @ 30#
GHD situps x 10

My anxiety level is high, as we have a judo belt test coming up in under two weeks. I’ve missed every test for the last year, and most classes for the last three months. The weather has just been crappy, and I’ve been needed here. Not really anything I can do about it unless I either learn to fly or learn to control the weather. Since I’m not going to become Nathan Patrelli or Storm from X-Men anytime soon I just have to make do. 

I tried a solo practice for a while. I filled some feed bags with pea gravel, duck taped them up tight, and stuffed them in an old backpack. It worked great for slams and throws, such as Ippon Seoinage and Morote Seoinage or even a crude hip throw. Things were peachy! Until… the backpack disintegrated. 

Bummer. Looks like I’ll be a brown belt forever.

Sadists

I tossed and turned all night, unable to sleep. I dozed on and off fitfully, mumbled some angry words when the alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. and I drug my carcass across the frozen tundra to the box. What did I spy on the white board? Rowing. Three rounds of rowing interspersed with some other exercises I didn’t pay attention to in my shock.

I said to myself “Self? Didn’t we just do a crapload of rowing YESTERDAY?”

Since it was way too early in the morning and I was sleep deprived I actually answered myself.

“Yes.”

“Maybe we didn’t read that right.”

“Nope, it says row 1000 meters, 500 meters, and 250 meters. And, uh, some other stuff.”

“Maybe we’re not awake and this is a nightmare. Has the alarm gone off yet?”

“Fraid so.” 

“Are these people sadists?”

“Fraid so. Now suck it up buttercup.” 

So I did. 

Row 1000 meters
21 push-press, 42#
42 abmat situps
Row 500 meters
more push-press
more abmat situps
Row 250 meters
more push-press
more situps

Time: 15:17

I don’t remember the number of sit-ups and push-press the sadists required us to do on the last two rounds. I do remember it was 42 on the first round because that is an odd number, and I don’t mean odd as in “not even” but odd as in “that’s weird.” 42? Why not 47? Why not 36? Is 42 the square root the fraction of pie or some such thing? It gave me something to think about while I was doing them anyway.

I didn’t really hit my stride until round three, probably because I didn’t warm up. At all. I just sat down on my rower and waited for someone to say go. I was cranky. I was tired. I was cold. They were expecting me apparently, because my name was already on the whiteboard and a bar was loaded for me. I also figured that a 1000 meter row was pretty much the same thing as a warm-up anyway.

I didn’t check the damper setting when I started rowing and it was set a couple notches higher than I like. I was already rowing, and I’m too short to reach up and change it without unstrapping my feet, and I was too tired and pissed to mess with that so I left it. I just sat and glared at the little lever, hoping I could bend it with my mind.

“I hate you, damper setting 5.” 

It’s only taken me a WHOLE FREAKING YEAR to figure out which damper setting I like.

Looking back, I suppose it could have been worse. There could have been thrusters and flutter kicks involved.

If that was the case I probably would have went to the corner and sucked my thumb for three hours.

That would have really messed up my time.

Oh Yeah, Now I Remember What a Metcon Is

Catchy title, huh?

I drug my lazy butt out of bed at 5:45 to go to Dakota CrossFit. I would like to point out that this is 4:45 Real Time, also known as Mountain Time. Anyway, it was a metcon this morning.

AMRAP in 20 minutes of:

15 walking lunges
10 push-ups
Row 200 meters

I got 8 rounds plus 15 lunges. All the push-ups were strict.

This is the first metcon I’ve done since December 31 and it went surprisingly well. The lunges sucked, but lunges always suck. It’s one of the laws of the universe.

Law of the Universe Number 345: Lunges suck.

See? I told you.

As I’ve just definitively proven, the lunges sucked, but the push-ups and rowing were not too bad. I was surprised. I chalk it up to my meat-a-tarian diet. Carbs make me weak, meat and fat makes me strong. I have no other explanation because the only workouts I’ve done in the past two weeks have been some deadlifting and pressing, and not much of that.

So, GO MEAT!

Judo tonight. Pretty laid back class. We have a test coming up and we went through the throws, pins and takedowns and the breakfalling kata. We had some new people so we went through them very deliberately and broke it down step by step.