It’s getting real up in here

July 2013

July 2013

Whenever I go to the gym, run a race, or see people trying out new diets (ahem, “lifestyle changes”), I wonder what the impetus is.  Do these people Crossfit to lose weight? To get stronger (duh)? To work on their butts? Do my friends eat Paleo so that they can get leaner? Or maybe they are thinking about the long term health benefits of changing the way they eat.  I don’t really care what the answer is because it’s none of my business.  I just know that for me, exercise and nutrition have played so many different roles in my life and I am once again seeing their evolution now that I am a mother of three, just scrambling to keep my head above water many days.

The background on this somewhat totally rambling, TMI post is this: during pretty much every minute of my 20’s, I had an eating disorder.  I vascillated between bulimic and anorexic although I never looked thin like the celebrities and models whom everyone labels as anorexic.  I know exactly when/why it started in college, but that’s not something to get into here.  The only salient point is that I became bulimic for a number of reasons, one being that I loved food more than I loved myself. I loved the way donuts and ice cream and cookies made me feel. But then I hated gaining weight. So being the brilliant college student I was, I figured purging was a way to get the best of both worlds: eat a lot and not gain weight.  Oh wait. As any bulimic will tell you, you definitely do not lose weight with binging and purging.  In fact, you may (I did) gain weight. And you feel GROSS.  You also feel like you are deceiving so many people around you, including your loved ones.

Right before my senior year of college, I decided the bulimia thing wasn’t working for me.  I needed to find a different way to get control because bulimia made me feel out of control.  So I switched gears. I started counting calories and stopped drinking (Uh, I mean, I was only 20 so actually I made the decision not to start drinking when I turned 21 in the fall).  I lost a LOT of weight because I was swimming 4 hours a day, doing one hour on the ellipitical between practices, and subsisting off of chocolate chip scones, frozen yogurt, and salad.  I allowed myself 1300 calories per day but I was burning close to 4000. The weight melted off and I tipped the scales at 116 before the season started. I think my weight at weigh-in was 136 the year before. But I got a lot of positive reinforcement because I swam faster.  And my back fat was gone, so of course I was thrilled about that.

After graduation, I didn’t have all the hard core swimming to keep my weight in check.  So back to bulimia I went. My bulimia peaked while in law school.  The stress of studying and being away from my friends and family, the feeling of not being even close to the best but actually being below average when everything depended on your class rank… I just could not handle it. Things got so bad during law school that I considered taking a semester off to go to some really expensive recovery facility to deal with my eating issues. The cost was just too huge of a deterrent. I knew I was going to develop some serious health complications from my bulimia if I didn’t stop.  I decided I wanted to start running again to see if that would give me some of the self esteem I had lost after college.  I also thought it would help me lose all the weight I put on from my binges.

Picking up long distance running in 2005 was the first turning point in my eating disorder. I had something to focus on besides “where am I going to get my next meal… which will end up in the toilet?” I began to feel better about myself. I ran a half marathon after 6 months of training and was pleased that I ran under an 8:00 mile pace for my first half marathon.  A few months later I ran a half marathon around a 7:20/mile pace. My grades improved significantly.  The problem that lingered is that I continued to be bulimic, but it was more like “bulimic light.” As long as my training went well and I had a good run, or a good race, I didn’t rush out to buy ice cream and other junk.  But if I had a bad day or missed a run for some reason, I backslid into my old eating habits.

This pattern pretty much continued even after I became a real grownup, with obligations like law school debt, a car payment, and a mortgage. It wasn’t until I became pregnant with Super Girl that I had a wake up call.  I could not, I would not, do anything to harm this baby just because I was too ignorant or scared to deal with the underlying issues that contributed to my eating disorder.  I needed to make smart choices for myself and this child.  I continued eating biscuits and ice cream, but instead of just using it to stuff down my feelings and anxiety, I ate it to enjoy the way it tasted.  I ran during my pregnancy because it made me feel strong and empowered.  Yeah it burned calories too but I don’t think it’s a crime to run an extra mile because you had an extra scoop of Ben and Jerry’s.  Nobody is perfect.

I never really lost that focus on my weight and body image though.  I was determined not to gain more than 30 pounds and I “accomplished” that goal with Super Girl and Super Toddler.  The number on the scale was so important to me as it had been for years.  So even though I wasn’t bulimic anymore, I still cared so much about a silly number.  After I had them, I was frustrated my body didn’t just snap back to a version of me that never existed anyway.  Some Gisele Bundchen-esque figure with a 36 inch inseam and tiny waist.  I didn’t lose any sleep over it but I tried diets here and there hoping that I could get to my “ideal weight” of 130 pounds.  Never happened.

During this pregnancy, I really lost site of nutrition even though I was lifting and running a lot during the first two trimesters of the pregnancy.  I had so much anxiety because I didn’t know how we could handle three kids.  Also, I was worried I would have post partum depression again, as I did (really really badly) with Super Toddler.  So I ate my feelings, my old crutch.  I would joke with people about my Bojangles Baby, and I still do from time to time- okay, yesterday.  I rationalized that if I was working out that hard, I could eat whatever I wanted. I had been making that argument for YEARS.  I think it goes back to my swimming days in my teenage years when we quite literally could eat just about anything and never gain an ounce because we were burning so many calories each day.  But eating whatever I wanted wasn’t healthy for me or the baby.  And again, it was just a way I dealt with stress, as it always had been.

I watched the scale creep higher and higher each week.  When I delivered Super Girl, I had gained 38 pounds.  Wowzers.  I officially weighed more than Super Dad the last three weeks of my pregnancy.  And I delivered 3 weeks early.  So yeah, that’s kind of scary.  After having her, I have been focused on slowly getting back into my workouts because I was on bed rest for the last 6 weeks of the pregnancy.  But on the other hand, I would get so frustrated that the number on the scale has not just dropped by double digits every week.

I finally had an epiphany last week after Super Girl got on the scale three days in a row and asked me what her weight was.  She had been seeing me do it.  It broke my heart.  She wants to gain weight because she will be a “big girl,” but I don’t want the number to be something she obsesses over when she is old enough to care.  I don’t want her staring in the mirror examining her stomach or “Cabbage Patch Abs” as I call mine half-jokingly. I don’t want her to think that exercise is a means to an end of keeping her weight down or getting boys to like her.  I want her to feel empowered by sweating, the way I do every time I go on a run or finish a Crossfit workout.  When I was doing a WOD on Saturday, I felt strong even though it was only my second time back since Super Baby was born and I was lifting a lot less weight.  I felt hope for how much stronger I could get with each passing week.  I felt like my daughters would be proud of me not because of the number on the scale, or how my thighs don’t touch, or how much definition I hope to one day have on my stomach, but because I work out to be a better mom to them and a better wife and just a badass who loves herself.

I am not 100% comfortable with my body and I don’t know that I ever will be, but I’m getting there.  Being a mother has helped me realize that I can largely overcome the insecurities and issues that led to my eating disorder, because I would never ever wish that kind of torment on my children.  I just want them to see that eating and exercise do not have to be rewards or punishment, and that they can be strong and happy no matter what the number on the scale is. And that’s as real as it gets folks.

10 weeks

Wow, so I have been going to CrossFit for 10 weeks now, and my goal is to keep at it for another 10 weeks in this pregnancy.  I was able to work out until 34 weeks with Super Toddler, before going on modified bed rest for my blood pressure.  With Super Girl, I ran 3 miles the day before I was told my blood pressure was too high and I needed to be induced (39 weeks).  So if I can make it to 34 weeks again- great.  If not, I am pretty proud of the progress I have made and am glad that I am doing something to offset my terrible eating habits this pregnancy.

I know that most CrossFit enthusiasts are into the Paleo lifestyle, and I am all for it, in theory. For some reason, this baby just wants CARBS. All. The. Time.  At the beginning it was because my morning sickness was so bad, the smell of anything other than bread made me sick to my stomach.  Then it became a convenience thing.  It is just so easy to eat carbs.  But the thing is, it’s really easy to just munch on an apple or banana.  So I am not trying to make excuses.  I am just a chubby kid at heart and I know I need to be more conscious of how I am fueling my body and the baby.  Christmas, New Years, and last week’s (AMAZING) trip to Disney World did nothing for my attempts to eat healthier.  But this week I have been craving healthier choices, in addition to continuing to crave Lindor truffles, Cheez-Its, and biscuits.  I have cut out my Bojangles runs and pizza, and added in fruit for dessert every night. Baby steps right?

Anyway, enough about food.  I’m getting hungry again. At the 10 week CrossFit mark, I have seen a lot of strength gains.  I finally hit a body weight back squat (70 kg- yikes yes, that’s what I weighed two weeks ago).   I know that there are a lot of people who can do 2x their body weight or more but I don’t consume enough protein or lift  enough that that is gonna happen any time soon. I have no idea what my deadlift one rep max is but tonight we did 7 x 2 and I did 80 kg on my last few sets. So I don’t know if that is any good.  My front squat leaves much to be desired but given that I have a large round mass pulling me forward, in addition to the weight sitting on the front of my shoulders, I am not setting my goals too high or trying to push myself too hard.   I still HATE snatches.  I am fairly certain this is a combination of my not being able to keep the bar close enough to my body and my fear of going to heavy overhead on account of my prior shoulder surgeries. So really, not too concerned there.  It’s not like I am trying to compete in any competitions so if I can’t snatch, no biggie.

Pull-ups are still non-existent although I am down to one green band for high rep sets and one purple band for lower reps. We did clap push-ups during last night’s WOD.  Wow, those sucked. I couldn’t figure out why they were so hard, until I realized that every time I try to explode off the ground high enough to clap, I have this giant baby bump pulling me back down toward earth.  That’s the reason that I could only do two at a time before breaking right? Deload pushups are still not so bad, although going all the way down to the ground is getting a little awkward.  My stomach hitting the ground before my chest makes regular pushups easier though 🙂

Running is really not that bad yet.  I am doing it in much shorter spurts than with my other two pregnancies though.  My longest run the last month has been 3 miles and I can stay at around an 8:15 pace.  I just run around the neighborhood because I am at that point where I need to have access to “facilities” in a moment’s notice.  Sorry, TMI. On Saturday, I did the “bleep test” during Endurance class.  Basically, it’s a 20m shuttle run.  The first round you get a lot of time to do the 20m.  You can basically speed walk.  There are several runs in that first round.  Second round is faster, third even faster, etc. etc.  We did the test about 10 days earlier but before that, the last time I did the test was when I was pregnant with Super Toddler.  I managed to get in 9 rounds and 3 runs on round 10.  Only one female in the class beat me.  People were looking at me like I was crazy.

Actually, people look at me like I am crazy at almost every class.  It felt good to do so well during the bleep test but it was also a little frustrating because I of course had to hold back.  When non-pregnant, I go until I want to barf.  That is probably not the healthiest approach to exercise.  But I am obviously not going to push myself to that point while pregnant.  So I really have to listen to my body and stop before I get even remotely close to that point.  I may still be red in the face but I pay attention to my breathing and the rest of my body, and pull in the reigns when anything starts feeling off.

I am really so happy with the community I have found at Athletic Lab.  The coaches are all really motivating, and the people I work out with are like-minded and supportive of one another.    The coaches make sure I am not overdoing it and offer modifications for things I can’t do, like handstands.  They also know that pregnant women produce relaxin, which causes the ligaments to loosen and makes you super flexible.  But because you feel more flexible, you can overstretch and get injured, or squat too deep and hurt something else.  So knowing that I am in good hands every time I step into the gym is a good feeling.  Also, with the other two pregnancies, I just kind of felt like the running I was doing was to be able to say that I kept running.  It was really uncomfortable at times and I took A LOT of bathroom breaks.  With CrossFit, I feel that I am accomplishing something every time I take a class and I leave with a smile on my face.  And some major pit stains.  I may be singing a different tune when I am as big as Shamu but for now, I am going to savor these last 10 weeks (or longer if possible).

 

Halfway!

Wow, so I felt like I was just writing about finding out that I was pregnant with Superbaby.  Now, we are halfway to my due date.  And yesterday, we found out Superbaby is a girl! I was secretly hoping it was a girl because I can’t wait to take newborn pictures with her in a cute pink crocheted hat with a giant pink flower on it.  I totally missed that opportunity with Supergirl, so I need to make up for lost Kodak moments.  

Anyway, I figured I should update on my progress with my new Crossfit venture.  I am finding that I am getting stronger and much more comfortable with the exercises every day. I have been Crossfitting four times a week on average. I throw in an endurance workout on one of those days, where we do about 2 miles of running and hill sprints or other anaerobic exercise too.  That said, I can see a moment coming in the very near future where I will have to modify a lot more than just pull-ups. I remember a moment when I was pregnant with the other two where I stepped up to a box for a box jump, looked at it, and just said to myself “this is not happening.”  It wasn’t like I had to try and fail.  I simply knew there was no way I would clear the box.  That day is imminent. 

I also know that a day is nearing where I will not fit in any of my pants, INCLUDING my maternity pants.  I am trying to convince myself I am getting a Crossfitter’s butt, from doing tons of squats. The problem is, I am pretty sure I see cellulite and stretch marks on the backs of my legs, so it’s actually more likely that my diet, which I call “Survivor finalist who has returned home and is living out Groundhog Day, feasting on junk food 24/7 every single day,” is making me fat.  I know I whine about this to Superdad all the time, but then I do nothing about it.  Buying funfetti flavored protein powder and mixing it into pancakes isn’t helping. It’s just making my muscles AND fat bigger.  So, I have that working against me.  I may be getting stronger, but I am growing exponentially and I probably need to stop the insanity.  Does anyone want to send me some healthy and delicious meals that my man chef Superdad can make for me? 

Another random musing that is sort of funny: the other week some older lady at Crossfit, who I had only seen once before, asked me “so, what kind of restrictions did your doctor put on you during your pregnancy?” I thought it was a very passive aggressive way of saying “back when I was of child bearing age, you basically were on bed rest for 9 months, and I think you’re being irresponsible.” What did she expect me to say? “Oh gee, yeah my doctor said I should just do some light walking and curl 3 pound dumbbells, but I decided to completely ignore him.” 

Okay, to wrap up, I thought I would post some of my favorite and least favorite workouts.  You will see a pattern here.  My favorite workouts inevitably involve kettlebell swings or burpees.  I know right? Most people hate burpees.  Maybe I like them because I am short so I can get down to the ground faster.  Also, my favorite workouts are the ones where I can actually do the prescribed workout.

7 Rounds for time…
10 Super Deload Burpees
15 Plate Thrusters (15kg/10kg)
20 KB Swings (24/16kg)            

40 Hurdle Facing Burpees — as in, do a burpee, then jump over a hurdle.  These actually really sucked.
40 MB V-Ups (5/4kg)
40 Goblet Squats (24/16kg)
40 MB Catch & Release (5/4kg)   — 12 minute timecap

* Total time was 6:50.  

3 Rounds For time…
40m Farmer’s Walk (R) (24/16kg)
10 KB Swing (24/16kg)
10 Goblet Squat (24/16kg)
40m Farmer’s Walk (L) (24/16kg)

15-14-13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 reps of
Deload Pushups
V-Ups
KB Swings  — 15 minute timecap

*This was today’s workout.  I finished it in 12:26.  Deload (hand release) pushups are not so awesome when your big belly starts hitting the ground, so I will probably have to modify to knee pushups in a few weeks.  

Least favorite:

Every Minute on the Minute for 12′
5 Pullups
7 V-Ups
9 Burpees

*Pretty much the worst thing ever.  So every minute, you have to do all those exercises.  I of course had to use a band for my pullups.  So I had to get in and out of that band, jump off the box, then do the v-ups and burpees, then get back on the box and in the band before the next minute came up.  I got about 5 seconds of rest each round, but made it through all 12 minutes.

15 minute AMRAP of

40 jump rope contacts (DU or single)

30 plate thrusters (15 kg)

20 medball v-ups (4kg)

10 burpee pullups

*Ok no, this was the worst thing.  Mainly because a) I can’t jump rope to save my life and b) I cannot do a pullup.  Even though they were jump pullups, where you do one burpee, then jump up to do a pullup, then do that again 9 times. And do as many rounds of all that crap as possible.  It was frustrating because I wasn’t really aerobically taxed, as I kept having to stop during my jump roping.  I really really need someone to teach me how to jump rope.  I am SO BAD.  Also, my burpee pullups consisted of a perfectly executed burpee, then me jumping up to the bar and miserably trying to raise my body 2 inches toward the bar.  I wanted to cry when I read the workout online the night before, and I wanted to laugh and cry during the workout. But I guess it would have been worse if I had just skipped it because I was afraid of failing?

Well, that’s it for now.  It’s taking a bit more out of me to recover from workouts, although I am not getting quite as sore anymore.  I have become frenemies with my foam roller again.  We hadn’t seen each other after I stopped marathon training, but the foam roller has become just as important to me as stretching and staying hydrated.  It’s also super awesome looking now that Supergirl has decided to cover it in princess stickers!Image

4 weeks

I just finished my fourth week of Crossfit so I thought it was time for an update.  In four weeks, I have done a lot of different exercises and there are also a lot I haven’t done because the workouts didn’t line up with my schedule.  So I am just going to run through my initial and current thoughts about the exercises I have done.

Pistol squat: First time through, I realized that my right leg is significantly stronger than my left, and I am also much more flexible on that side.  Like, I can actually perform a proper pistol squat on the right side, but the left leg I can just barely get to 90 degrees.  And my left butt cheek was really sore for three days afterward.  Second time through: same problem. Guess I need to head to yoga.

Pullups: A staple in almost every workout. I couldn’t do one unassisted pullup before starting crossfit and I am pretty sure I still can’t. I haven’t tried.  But, I can tell I am getting stronger because my assisted pullups are faster, and I can actually feel myself using my back muscles instead of just my arms.  As I get larger and larger in the coming months, I am fairly certain my increasing strength will be quickly outpaced by my changing center of gravity and the difficulty one encounters when doing a weighted pullup.  Guess this just means I will be able to kip 20 pullups in a row once I drop this baby. Said me, never.

Pushups:  So, I have been doing pushups wrong for the past 25 years (that’s right, I did pushups as a toddler). I had my arms all wide and flared out, but the Crossfit way is more of a tricep pushup.  Okay, so that’s a lot more difficult.  I could do about 3 of those pushups when I first started and I can do 10 now, so that’s progress.  I typically will just do a knee/”girl” pushup if it’s a workout with over 50 pushups total.  I’d rather have full range of motion than do a wimpy 2 inch unmodified pushup.

Tire Flips: Let’s just say, my back doesn’t like these.  I did them with Ironman champion (participant) Sherman Lee Criner for the first time last Thursday and it probably didn’t help that we were outside and I had running gloves on because it was an outdoor endurance workout and it was freezing.  Tonight, we did 4 sets of 6.  I did two sets then decided that I would have to substitute something else or just use a partner, because I am either going to throw my back out again or the baby is going to fall out.  We don’t see tire flips that often- two workouts in the four weeks I have been there- so I’m not really concerned.

Kettle Bell Swings: I pretty much kick ass at these.  The first time we did them in a workout, the Rx called for 16 kg bells.  That 16 KILOGRAMS, as in 35 pounds.  When I have previously done kettle bell swings, I used a 20 pound or maybe 25 pound bell.  16 kg is a big jump in weight, but after two workouts I felt comfortable with the weight and now if I see kettle bell swings, I get excited. It’s pretty much the only exercise that I don’t have questions about my form.

Power clean and hang clean: I pretty much suck at these.  I have zero flexibility in my shoulders and elbows.  So when I go up from the power position and have to whip my elbows around to rack the bar on my shoulders, it takes like 15 minutes.  Not really, but it’s definitely not awesome.  My max has improved but I think that is largely due to improving my form (marginally) and using my legs instead of my arms.

Back and front squats: I prefer this type of lifting to the cleans.  It helps that my legs are like tree trunks.  The previous back issue has had me hesitant to lift too much, and fear of the baby falling out at some point also keeps me from going beast mode on my lifts.  I have just been working on form and again, have had a good improvement in my max.  I will probably not lift too much more in the coming months simply because I want to protect my back (and my front).

Push press, thrusters, snatches, other upper extremity movements: Nothing too exciting here. Have done them in the past to some degree so it’s just been a matter of moving up from 15 lb to 20 lb to 25 lb dumbbells or increasing load on the bar if the workout doesn’t call for dumbbells. But also I am protective of my right shoulder with these overhead movements.

Box jumps:  I have always been awful at these because I have about a 16 inch inseam.  I will probably switch to step-ups in a month or so, for safety reasons.

Turkish Getup- These aren’t so bad.  I have only done them twice.  Granted, maybe I didn’t loathe them as much as most people because I only used a 10 pound dumbbell instead of an 8 kg kettlebell.  Again, I’m working on my form here.  Also, getting up from the ground is not going to get any easier as the months progress.

HSPU (hand stand pushups): Haven’t done them.  Never will, unless I get a shoulder replacement.

Farmer’s walk: Who invented these things?  Can someone explain the purpose?  Walking 40 meters with a pair of 24 kg kettlebells just seems like an exercise in who has the strongest hands?  Oh, I guess that explains the purpose- to increase grip strength? And to help me understand how Jessica Simpson felt walking around when she was 40 weeks pregnant with her first child?

Rowing: I enjoy rowing because of the endurance aspect.  I am not very tall so I feel like this is a disadvantage, but I can still generate some decent power and don’t get winded too easily. Haven’t seen much of a change because I have only rowed a few times.

Sled push: I am not terrible at these.  Again, tree trunk legs.  Also, low center of gravity.

Burpees: Love burpees, always have.

Double unders: Not happening.  Y’all, I can barely skip rope.  I think my record is 52 skips in a row without getting tangled in the rope.  It is SO sad.  I need serious help.  Like a Sylvan Learning Center for jump roping.

Wall balls: First time, I thought “this is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.”  The target was at least four feet higher than where I was hitting the wall.  The second time I thought “this is the second worst thing to ever happen to me.”  The target was at least three feet higher than where I was hitting the wall.  The third time I thought “this sucks, but it doesn’t make the top 10 worst things to ever happen to me list.”  I got within a foot of the target, I think.

Other things I have never done: muscle ups and rope climb.  I can assure you that there is NO CHANCE I will complete a muscle up in the next two years.  My goal is to do two unassisted pullups before 2015.  I am pretty sure you have to be able to do more than 2 unassisted pullups to do  a muscle up, so I will push that goal to something I want to accomplish before 2017. Rope climb- not doing this one until after the baby comes out.

There are other exercises I am leaving out but whatever, my hands are too tired from doing those damned farmer’s walks tonight.  Other random thoughts: much to my sister-in-law’s satisfaction when she accompanied me to a workout last week, most of the women do NOT wear sports bras and booty shorts.  Only the women that I see doing the “advanced team/elite” workouts at 6am wear this attire, as well as knee socks.  If I had those abs, butts, and back definition, I would wear the same thing.  Speaking of the elite team that has their own special club and workouts, this one chick can throw a 16kg kettlebell over her head, one-armed like it is a bottle of yoohoo.  I think she overhead squats my current body weight. Which by the way, has increased significantly over the past four weeks. Please someone tell me it is because I am getting shredded and have way more muscle mass than I did in October.  I find this highly unlikely given that I have not changed my diet other than substituting salsa eggs and oatmeal for my morning Bojangles.

Okay, enough rambling.  What are your favorite Crossfit workouts or exercises?  What do you least look forward to?