Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Spartan 300 Food Log

Next week I begin the Spartan 300 Challenge, which involves some serious food logging. To help keep me organized and accountable, I will be publishing my Spartan 300 Food Log on Google Docs and giving my Coach, my team, and all of you all access to view it.

Since I will be Zoning during the challenge, I will have to count Zone blocks daily. I'm sure I will get direction on how to change up my Zone blocks during the challenge, but for now I've set a target of the following daily blocks: 12 protein, 10 carbs, 20 fat. This is the formula I've been following for the past 3 months with good result. I'm betting that I will up the protein and lower the fat just a bit during Spartan - maybe resulting in a 14-10-18 block day. We'll see.

At any rate, I encourage you to keep me honest and track my progress. I'll post weight and body fat next week when I get that measured. At the end of the challenge, we'll see how far I've come! Yay, challenges!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Just a spaz!

GOOD NEWS for me! My shoulder isn't injured, per se, it's just a muscle spasm in my shoulder.

Dr. Kyler advised a few more treatments next week, but cleared me to start using my shoulders during workouts and lift some weight. Obviously, if it starts to bother me, I should take it easy and ice it. But, I'm happy that I won't be stuck with the "lunge circus" for weeks (I'm not sure my booty could take it).

Active Release Treatment therapy is miracles. Fah reals. Feels a little like death while you're being worked on, but I feel great now.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shoulder Rehab

After a few weeks of going through a vicious cycle of CrossFit WODs >>> Oly Lifting >>> overuse >>> Trigger Point therapy >>> ice/heat/rest >>> feels better >>> CrossFit WODs >>> Oly Lifting >>> overuse...and so on...I am still experiencing shoulder pain. Not just when I'm lifting, but all the time. To make matters worse, my fingers have gone numb a few times when I sleep. "NOT GOOD", says the doc.

After deep tissue massage and TP Therapy failed to alleviate the pain, I decided to take this old clunker of a body in for some professional work. My first ART (active release therapy) session Dr. Kyler Brown at Austin Sports Therapy was this morning. Let me tell you, ART is miracles (yes, that's a reference to the Insane Clown Posse).

After 30 minutes of intense diagnostic therapy, my range of motion had greatly improved and pain had subsided. Yay! The doc gave me the good news that I didn't have an acute shoulder injury requiring more intense (and expensive) treatment, rather I was suffering from a rotator cuff sprain (anatomy lesson below).

A few weeks of regular ART sessions, daily rehabilitation exercises, and rest from overuse, and I should be good as new. Easy, right?!

Unfortunately, CrossFit workouts incorporate a lot of exercises that require engagement from the shoulders and the assisting back and neck muscles. All of which I am receiving treatment on. So, it looks like the week off from classes couldn't have come at a better time for me. Once I get back to classes on May 4, I'll have to work with my coach to change up my workouts to accommodate.

I've been advised to lay off the cleans/snatches, pull-ups, shoulder presses, and long distance rows. That leaves me with lots and lots of lower body and core work. This is what my fellow gimp, Lyssa, refers to as the "Lunge Circus" and "Squats, squats, and more squats" in her blog posts about the special workouts she gets to do while her shoulder injury heals. On the bright side, my ass and legs will get some much needed focus. Perfect for the short shorts and sundresses I am so eager to wear!

As a side note: I'm hoping that this won't affect my performance at the benchmark workout of the Spartan Challenge on May 8. Fingers crossed that I'll be able to perform at my best. This is why rest/rehab now is important for better performance when it counts.

Gimpy signing off...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

CFC Boot camp is RELENTLESS!

A few years ago I was introduced to CrossFit Central through a co-worker of mine who had been doing the boot camp workouts. I went to one of the free UTB workouts with him (boot camp-style workouts held monthly "Under the Bridge" at Mopac near Austin High) and instantly fell in love with the workouts. It was exactly what I needed - a good ass-kicking! And, the coaches were cute - BONUS! :)

The next month, I started attending the M/W/Th LCRA bootcamp at 6:30 p.m., led by Coach Zach Thiel. Little did I know that I was in store for much more than a great workout - I was embarking on a journey that would change my life forever....

I must admit, the first few months were pretty rough. I remember being so sore from air squats that I could barely sit down (flash forward to now when I'm taking Olympic Lifting classes for fun and regularly performing front, back, and overhead squats with serious weight - ha!). I stuck with it and saw some great results - I looked and felt great and was really enjoying working out with the group.

Then, I went on hiatus. Maybe I was burnt out, maybe I was trying to save money...I can't remember why I left now. Needless to say, that was a bad idea. Over the course of the next 8 months, I gained back all the weight I had lost and was feeling like crap. (This was all pre-Paleo when exercise regulated my weight.)

One day I picked up a copy of AustinFit Magazine and saw a photo of CFC Coach Crystal McReynolds. I knew at that point what I had to do...train and eat like the best to be the best. So, I dove back in, head-first and haven't looked back since. It began with M/W/F 6:30 a.m. boot camp at Deep Eddy w/ Coach Crystal, which led to women's indoor CFC workouts about 2 months later. That was 8 months ago and I'm happy to report that I've stuck with the indoor workouts and am seeing awesome results. 

Why am I reminiscing? Because it helps to remember how far you've come and appreciate your journey. And, because I want to give the CrossFit Central Relentless Bootcamps a HUGE shout-out for helping me get to where I am today.

I encourage anyone interested in getting in shape to try out the boot camps. There are locations all around Austin at times that are convenient (view em all here) And, it's not a wimpy workout - it's legit! Case in point: I returned to Zach's LCRA boot camp last night (as seen in this photo) and was reminded of how tough it was! A 6lb. med ball doesn't seem like much until you've pressed, swung, and wall-balled it a million times. Ouch! Shoulders are on fire today...

Come to the UTB workout next Saturday and give it a try. I promise you will have fun and get a great workout! Visit http://www.crossfitcentral.com/ for more info on the free workouts held each month.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Outside the Box

A few weeks ago, I began doing my own CrossFit workouts at the gym in my building on M and W nights. I typically go around 6:30 or 7:00, after the evening rush.

After a few workouts on my own, I've made a the following observations:

1. I see a lot of people lolly-gaging around. Seriously people, let's get a move on and get the heck outta there! It shouldn't take 2 hours to lift weights...and, don't think that I didn't see you watching Dancing with the Stars between sets...oh, yea, I caught that.

2. Most people favor the nautilus-type of machines versus the free weights. This is good for me, not so good for them. They'd be getting a lot stronger if they incorporated free range of motion exercises into their routine. But, I'm not there to train them. I'm there to train me!

3. Rowing is for weird-os. I think 3 people in my building use the C2 Rower; me, and 2 other CrossFitters who live there. Again, good for us, not so good for them. The rower provides a way better workout in less time than the eliptical trainers, treadmills, or recumbent bikes. And, let's be honest, recumbent bikes are stoop! I always make it a point to tell my friends about the C2 and let them in on what CrossFitters already know - rowing is an awesome workout.

4. Power moves like burpees, thrusters, and box jumps get the most attention. Yesterday, while I was doing  25# DB Thrusters, a trainer and his client commented on my intensity, "damn, we are impressed. You're really getting after it!" Yes, yes, I am. I offered this in return, "join me!" They chuckled, but I was serious...Another friend asked what I was doing and why I looked like I was about to barf. All I could muster out was "burpees" and got right back to focusing on my WOD. He said, "they should call em barfees" and I agreed.

5. Fellow CrossFitters know CrossFit etiquette. They don't interrupt you during your WOD, or ask to use your equipment mid-workout. They know you'll be done in a matter of minutes. So, they can wait, or jump on that rower that no one is using and bust out a 1000 meters... If someone is wearing headphones, moving really fast, and is timing themselves with a stopwatch - try not to bug em. :) Other gym-goers will not understand this, so I have to remember to be patient with them.

6. It is good to get out of the "box" and push yourself on your own. Reagrdless of all the things that might bother me about working out on my own at my personal gym, I really enjoy learning how to push myself more. Moving faster and lifting heavier is easier when you've got a great coach and a your entire class pushing and supporting you. When you workout solo, it's just you and the voices in your head. This is when mental toughness really matters. Being accountable and pushing yourself to the limit is what CrossFit is all about. Sometimes you may need to get out of the box to discover that for yourself.  

And perhaps the most important observation:

7. Time away makes my time at CFC even more special. Yes, it's true. I appreciate the time I have with my coaches and fellow clients and look forward to oly/power lifting with barbells and pullups more than ever before!

Do you do CrossFit workouts outside of the "box"? If so, what are your observations? Sharing is caring.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Goals for April

In exactly 30 days, I will begin the Spartan challenge and complete the benchmark workout. I will have new goals to set for the 8 weeks of the challenge, so for now, I'd like to set interim goals that I know I can accomplish (two of which will help me with the Spartan workout).

30-Day Goals:

  1. 20 pushups from toes consecutive (I have 10 on a good day now)
  2. 10 kipping pullups consecutive (I have 2 in a row right now)
  3. 25 doubleunders consecutive (I have to rotate w/singles now)
Pushups: I'm doing them everyday on my own and trying to complete them from my toes in class. This month, I have decided to not go to my knees at all. I may not finish the WOD, but at least I'm getting stronger. See this blog post from CrossFit Watertown, entitled "Get Off Your Knees". TRUTH!

Pullups: I need to practice these more on my own, outside of class. I can get in at least 3 days/week of pullup practice after class and maybe one more day at AHS track. I need to work on the push away from the bar and relaxing my shoulders in the catch at the bottom. Don't want a shoulder injury...I think I know how to do it, I just need to continue to practice.

Doubleunders: After getting my first one a few weeks back during a WOD, I haven't practiced stringing them together and making the movement more fluid. I do this donkey kick and jump way too high right now, using up too much energy. I got some tips from the Again Faster crew on how to correctly perform doubleunders. This video was really helpful. I will keep these tips in mind when performing DUs.

Double Unders from Patrick Cummings on Vimeo.

Lucky me! DUs are in tonight's WOD. Practice time!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nutty no more

I've been on the Paleo nutrition plan for 6 months now and can say that I am a successful convert. I have more energy, less inflammation, don't get sick as often, and am not suffering from IBS symptoms any longer. Some people think my diet is crazy, but it really works for me and I don't feel deprived at all! My body thanks me by performing and looking better. Who could ask for anything more? :)

At any rate, about 3 months in, I made a change to increase my daily intake of fats to help power me through my day. This included cooking with coconut oil, eating avocados, drizzling olive oil on veggies (after they are cooked!), and eating nuts (almonds, walnuts, almond butter, and hazelnuts mostly). My nut consumption went from being fairly low - I treated them like a treat - to being an almost daily staple in my diet.

What began happening was strange...when I would eat too many nuts or too much almond butter I'd have stomach aches similar to how I felt when I used to eat grains: bloated, full, almost nauseous. I'd even get headaches sometimes. I'd often over eat nuts in the evening, and it made it difficult to sleep. I started to journal what I was eating and how I felt and noticed that it must be the DAMN NUTS!

I've never had a known allergy to nuts, but by consuming them almost daily, I could have been over-doing it and perhaps my body was telling me to cut it out. It's amazing what you can learn if you just listen to your body!

So, from now on, I'm kicking the "almond-coconut- sun-butter" habit and going to eat raw nuts sparingly. Maybe only 2-3 times per month as a treat. I will get my healthy fats from avocados, coconuts, olives, and their oils.

As I said about the purple band in a previous post: Almond butter and its evil cohorts coconut butter and sun butter are dead to me, DEAD TO ME!

Monday, April 5, 2010

2010 Fight for Air Climb for Nana

A few months ago, my grandmother Donna (or "Nana", as I call her) was diagnosed with lung cancer resulting from years of smoking. Nana, pictured below on the far left with my Aunt Jaimie, Papa Rex, Uncle Rex, and my mom at my Papa's 80th bday party earlier this year.

She had been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for about 2 months and was responding to treatment. Then, about 2 weeks ago, she came down with pneumonia and a broken vertebrae, forcing her to have back surgery. Today Nana is recovering in a rehabilitation center, but cancer treatment has ceased until she is healthy enough to start it up again. It is an awful situation and I am tremendously saddened than my grandmother and my family are suffering. Especially since her disease could have been prevented if she would have stopped smoking sooner, or never started at all.

Lung disease isn't only caused by smoking (although smoking is the most prevalent and preventable cause).  You probably know someone who suffers from chronic lung disease. It could be a family member, a young child, a co-worker, a neighbor or maybe even you.

Here are some quick stats from the American Lung Association:
  • Asthma, emphysema, influenza, chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer are all forms of lung disease
  • Over 35 million Americans have some form of lung disease
  • Lung disease is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • 1 in 7 Americans will die from lung disease
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths
  • Lung cancer kills more women each year than breast cancer
  • Over 20 million Americans suffer from asthma
  • Asthma is the #1 reason kids miss school
  • Over half of the population of the U.S. is breathing unhealthy levels of ozone and particle pollution
This is why education, research, advocacy, and clean air initiatives are so important!

On Saturday, May 15, I will join hundreds of Austinites (and some of my fellow CrossFitters) to raise funds for the American Lung Association and the fight against lung disease by participating in the Fight for Air Climb. This unique race will challenge me to climb 30 stories (60 flights) in a race to the top of the Frost Bank Tower in downtown Austin. It is a big challenge, but I know I can do it. Since I am doing this as a tribute to Nana, I've given myself a goal of a sub 10-minute time. She's a veteran and tough as nails, and if I can motivate her to keep that fightin' spirit by running my ass up that building, I'm happy to do it.

I have seen firsthand the damage done by lung disease and I am dedicated to raising awareness and living life smoke-free. I encourage everyone to do the same.

For more information on this event, to donate, or join my team, click here.