Thursday, July 31, 2008

Running: Still the Bane of my Existence, EXCEPT...

Well - today I woke up a bit too late to make it in to the 6:45 class, and seeing how being late to work was not an option, I opted to work out at my office.

Like the last time this happened, I stepped onto the treadmill determined to do a 5K (3.1 miles). Unlike last time, I actually succeeded! It helped that there was a TV in front of me so I could take my mind off of the running. I didn't get winded until the last half a mile or so, which was encouraging.

I finished in 26:16. I have no frame of reference as to how good or not this is, but I'm just glad I finished!

I then went and did a few strict chins. Tomorrow I'm going to be trying to hit 12 (kipping) chins in a row - wish me luck! Don't want to force my team into a funishment!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This is News?

I found this article to be, well, amusing. It's too bad the study didn't get to truly measure the effects of short, high-intensity workouts.

The Myth of Moderate Exercise,8599,1827342,00.html?cnn=yes

Obesity experts agree that daily exercise is essential for good health, but whether it can successfully lead to long-term weight loss is a question of much debate. What has become increasingly clear, however, is that the conventionally accepted advice — 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week — is probably insufficient to spur any real change in a person's body weight. A study published July 28 in the Archives of Internal Medicine adds to the burgeoning scientific consensus: when it comes to exercise for weight loss, more is better. It suggests that obese people would have to exercise at least an hour at a time to see any significant difference in their weight. (or 30min of Crossfit!)

The study, led by John Jakicic at the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, followed nearly 200 overweight or obese women ages 21 to 45 through a two-year weight-loss program. The women were given free treadmills to use at home, regular group meetings and telephone pep talks to help keep them on track. Participants were also asked to restrict their food intake to between 1,200 and 1,500 calories per day, and were randomized to one of four physical activity intervention groups based on energy expenditure (either 1,000 calories or 2,000 calories burned per week) and exercise intensity (high vs. moderate). By the end of the 24-month intervention, the women who managed to lose at least 10% of their starting body weight (which was, on average, about 193 lbs.) — and keep it off — were exercising twice as long as health authorities typically recommend and expending more than twice as many calories through exercise as women who had no change in body weight. The biggest weight losers were active a full 68 minutes a day, five days a week (about 55 minutes a day more than they had been before the trial began), burning an extra 1,848 calories a week.

Jakicic and his colleagues originally designed their study to measure whether weight loss could really be achieved and maintained through moderate-intensity exercise, akin to "walking when you're late for a meeting," he says, or whether it was preferable to engage in shorter bursts of more vigorous-intensity activity, "like, when you're late for the bus, chasing it down." The problem was that not enough of the women stuck with their assigned exercise categories for the researchers to gather enough meaningful data. Within a few months, most of the participants had resorted to exercising as much as they chose to. That left researchers with a slightly different data set than they had planned for, but they were still able to associate women's reported physical activity with their weight loss. Indeed, exercise was more strongly associated with weight loss than any other factor, including diet. Overall, the more the women exercised, the more weight they lost.

More than half of the study participants managed to lose at least 10% of their body weight within the first six months. At the half-year mark, however, most of those women relapsed and started gaining the weight back — a discouragingly common phenomenon. "The major outcome of this paper is the maintenance issue," Jakicic says. Once a patient hits her target weight, he says, it's imperative that she stick with her exercise and diet regimen to maintain her new weight.

Still, the underlying question remains: are diet and exercise a reliable cure for obesity? Modern-day obesity researchers are skeptical — achieving thinness, they say, is not simply a matter of willpower. Research suggests that weight may largely be regulated by biology, which helps determine the body's "set point," a weight range of about 10 lbs. to 20 lbs. that the body tries hard to defend. The further you push you weight beyond your set point — either up or down the scale — some researchers say, the more your body struggles to return to it. That might help to explain why none of the women in Jakicic's study managed to lose much more than 10% of their body weight. After two years on a calorie-restricted diet, keeping up more than an hour of physical activity five days a week on average, most were still clinically overweight (though much less so than before). But what Jakicic and other obesity researchers stress is that a 10% reduction in body weight represents a tremendous boon for overall well-being, lowering blood pressure, improving heart health and reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. For the obese, the end goal should not be thinness, but health and self-acceptance, which are more realistic and beneficial objectives. "The women's health was absolutely improved," Jakicic says.

Jakicic, in fact, seems heartened by his findings. "I think the beauty of this study is that we now have a target" — a better idea of how much exercise is needed for weight maintenance. There is, of course, some variation in how people respond. Some of the study participants fared well with less exercise than the additional 275 minutes per week (about 55 minutes per day, five days a week) that the study's author now recommends for weight maintenance. Others needed more. But the keys to success, according to Jakicic, were embracing the weight-loss program fully, and finding a way around the daily obstacles to exercising — that's something he says many of his participants were able to achieve, regardless of their socioeconomic group. So, if you're aiming to lose weight and keep it off, his message is clear: don't slack off. (No shit!)

What do you all think?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Another Milestone!

Today I did something that I thought I was still quite far away from:

I got my first strict pull-up!! I managed to get two today, actually! I am SO excited! I can actually lift my body-weight! It didn't hurt that I was down to about 148lbs this morning, but yeah.

Next up - a ring dip without assistance! And then, MUSCLE UP!

It's good to have goals - right?

Oh - also - Jerry thought I should make it a goal to do 100KB swings without stopping (I got 65 today on the 36lb KB). So - sure - why not? I'll go for this too. My shoulders and forearms were fried from yesterday, so when I'm feeling less sore I'll go for it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A LOT can happen in a year!

This coming Wed, July 23rd will mark my one-year anniversary of joining Jerry's Crossfit Challenge.

I'm not sure if I can adequately put into words how my life has changed since starting Crossfit. I've become a part of an amazingly unique and warm family. I've grown stronger both mentally and physically. My self-image has changed and my confidence has gone up. My life is simply better: both more healthy and more happy. I don't know if I have any more words left, so I will leave you with some before and after pictures. (They go back and forth between before and after).

**Before and after losing approx 40lbs of fat + gaining mucho muscle, 26lb KB "before", 70lb KB "after"; 35lb clean "before", 55lb clean "after"

Ow, my shoulders

Jerry never fails to disappoint for his Sunday workouts! Today was all about the push. I did the express workout, and scaled to 55lbs (65lbs was Rx for women):

9 push-ups
6 ring dips (floss)
3 strict press

AMRAP in 30 minutes
8.3 rounds

The Rx workout was 15-10-5, and boy am I glad I did the express! My shoulders were already getting smoked by round 2!

We ended the class with an extra challenge thrown in - a 500 meter row, and 100 KB swings for time. I opted to do the row.

My last 500m row time was 1:58

This time?


Yes - it was as painful as it looked!

Friday, July 18, 2008


On Sunday, May 4th, I hit Fran as Rxed for the first time - and managed to finish in 14:59. My Dad was in town, and he could barely watch me work out - he kept looking, then walking away, and then peeking in again. For the uninitiated, Fran is:

21 Thrusters
21 Chins
15 Thrusters
15 Chins
9 Thrusters
9 Chins

Men: 95lbs
Women: 65lbs

Today - 2.5 months later, I finished Fran in 12:10!!! I managed to shave 2:49 off of my time! If I keep this up, maybe by October I can get a sub-10!

I am SO psyched.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Crossfit and Tattoos

So - after years of thinking about it, today I got my first (and most likely only) tattoo.

What does this have to do with Crossfit? Well - as I was sitting there, keeping myself still through the burning (it hurt!), I came to the conclusion that if I had not been doing Crossfit, I would not have been able to handle it nearly as well. Crossfit has taught me how to push through the discomfort, to keep going even when I want to stop. That I have the strength to do more than I thought possible. Not only has it built up my physical stamina, but my mental stamina as well. Increased mental strength is the most powerful gift I have received from Crossfit.

Sadly, my tattoo artist has instructed that I stay away from working out for a couple of days (as excess sweat is not the best thing for a brand new tattoo), but I will be back in the blue room on Tuesday!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Running: The Bane of my Existence

I didn't get to bed until late last night, so I decided to give myself an extra hour of sleep this morning and work out on my own.

I'm not so good at pushing myself without a coach and workout buddies, so I ran 2 miles (17:45), and then I went outside and worked the L-sit hold and negative (since I can't do an L-sit pull-up yet). I figure the L-sit is the best exercise for preparing for both of my goals - since it combines core strength (Deadlift) with arm/shoulder/grip strength (pull-up). I plan to do them on my own 2-3xs a week as I move towards my 12-week goals.

Now, back to the title of my post. When I stepped onto the treadmill, it was with the full intention of running 5K (3.1miles). When I pressed "cool-down" at 2 miles, I was not out of breath, or in pain, or in any other way incapable of continuing for another mile or so. I simply wanted to stop and move on. I was bored, impatient, and antsy to just get on with it. I fight against these feelings anytime I run more than about 400meters. Sometimes they lead to feelings of anxiety, when I'm outside instead of on a treadmill (and cannot just stop). Even though running, physically, has gotten much easier for me, these feelings have not lessened. Does anyone else experience this? How do you find your groove?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Deadlift, Locker Room Etiquette, and 12 week goals

Today, for the first time in months, I got to go for a heavy single on the deadlift - I was psyched! If you recall, I hit 200lbs on December 31st, 2007. I had not attempted a max single since then. I have also lost 30lbs since then, but I'm not sure if that makes any difference.

Anyway, I maxed out at 195lbs. Pretty respectable number, considering that I don't work the deadlift nearly as often as I used to when I built up to 200lb. However, I would very much like to break 200! Jerry said my main issue is keeping core tension - which has been a running theme in CF since I began. Look like I'll be working the hollow rocks and ab mat situps on a more regular basis!

I'm participating in Jerry's 12-week challenge, where we break into teams of four and set goals for ourselves. We break them down into mini-goals, and test each week. If someone on your team doesn't make the mini-goal, then there's "Funishment" waiting for the whole team in the form of an extra workout. I'm so excited to get started. My goal is to hit 20 chins by the end of the 12 weeks. I'm on a team with Joel, Steven, and Charlie. I'm considering adding a Deadlift goal as well. What say you? 210lb by the end of 12 weeks? 225lb? I'm not sure what's realistic. Hell - I'm not even sure if 20 chins is realistic, as I've only hit 9 (with the possibility of 10, but I'm not sure if the 10th counted). I also would really like to get one bodyweight ring dip in, but I'm not sure how to break that down into mini-goals. Maybe I'll just work on that separate from the challenge.

In other news, after workouts I come straight to work. We have a small gym with a locker room and showers that I use. There's one woman who is in there from time to time, who seems to enjoy being fully naked. She's a bit... okay... very much on the heavier side - and while I think women can be beautiful at all sizes, you should also have a choice about walking into a tiny locker room and coming face to face with a larger woman, totally nude, bending over and showing off her goodies to the entire world.

Ahem - anyway - so this woman has no shame. Today, as I was standing there in my sports bra and underwear, about to cover up with my towel so I could get in the shower, she steps out of the shower (naked, of course), looks at me, and says "You're getting skinny!". Now, while I appreciate the sentiment, I do not appreciate being blatantly looked at in a locker room while I'm trying to get ready for work. Then she goes on to ask me what my secret is, and I tell her: "No secret, just good nutrition and exercise". I wasn't as nice as I could be - you should've heard my tone of voice, but she had irritated me quite a bit. Asking about my "secret" made it worse. I mentioned the Zone, and another woman came in and started saying how she tried to follow the Zone "roughly" and would eat the Zone bars all the time. I just stayed quiet at that one - I wanted to shower in peace!

Why do people think there's a secret to getting fit? Some magical trick? I'm sure I didn't give her the answer she was hoping for - which was anything OTHER than hard work. I've been getting asked pretty often about how I lost weight, and people always seem slightly disappointed with my answer. I should think people would be excited to hear that it really IS that simple. The opposite seems true, though!

Enough of my ramblings, until next time!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

No pain, no gain - right?

Bruises are sexy, eh? The ones on my thighs are from hang power cleans (dropping the bar down back into the hang), and the ones on my shins are from deadlifts. Our workout today went a little something like this:
15 Deadlifts
12 Hang Power Cleans
9 Front Squats
6 Push Jerks
5 rounds for time

I must say - I really enjoyed this work out. It was extremely hard, I could only get 3-4 front squats at a time, and 2-3 jerks (which I didn't lock out a majority of the time), but I still loved it. I predicted my death in the beginning, but shut up when Katie told me that I should either shut it or scale down. It was the jerks that intimidated me - but damnit, I got through the work out! I must say, there's something extremely satisfying about throwing around heavy barbells. I much prefer workouts like this to the met-con circuits! I hope we hit this one again! Jerry, are you listening? ;-)

Nope - not tired at all!