Life Updates

I often get overwhelmed when attempting to write a new post – I forget that they don’t always need to be planned or predetermined.  Plus, I think even I was exhausted after reading that last workout recap!

School starts again next week. Thankfully, I am attending a school much closer to home this semester, but the classes will be more difficult than before. I’m really hoping I can get into a good routine and just power through to December. I’ll keep you all updated on how I’m balancing workouts, working fulltime, stayed properly fueled, and oh yeah, having a social life. This will be interesting!

My workouts have continued to look like much of what I posted two weeks ago. I’ve started Olympic Weightlifting again and couldn’t be happier. So much to learn, but I love it. I’ve tried to keep up with the two-a-days, but my body is definitely yelling at me to stop, or at least take a break! Things will slow down a bit as I figure out when and where I’ll be able to get in workouts during school, but I wanted to see if I could push it until that point and take advantage of the extra time I had. But, I think slowing down is going to come a half week earlier than anticipated as I’ve been having some shoulder pain (in my OTHER shoulder) probably due to going too hard too soon. So I’ll work on alleviating that and getting back to 100%.

For the most part, operation eat a sh*t-ton has been going well. I’ve had plenty of energy for my workouts (even the two-a-days!), and if for some reason I didn’t eat enough the day before or prior to my workout, I can definitely tell. And you know what? The weight on the scale still hasn’t moved, even though I eat rice daily and indulge in my vice-of-the-moment (okay, last three months) – a gluten-free zucchini muffin with cream cheese frosting (from Outpost, the local co-op) – more than I’d like to admit. I’ve been getting stronger and I’m seeing the definition in my muscles coming back, which is always a plus!

A few more notes on the workout front (without boring you with a full recap) – we had to max on lifts last week, and while I by no means think I lift my best in the morning, I was pretty happy with the results. Monday we snatched on the platforms (love!) and after making a very toe-sy 90lbs and missing the first attempt at 95lbs, I finally made it. I’ll take it! This was also without hardly any coaching (my first time back in Oly class and working out with Murph was that night), so although I have a long way to go, I am optimistic that number will match my old PR sooner than later! After maxing on snatch, we moved on to front squat. Unfortunately, I ran out of time, but I did hit 145lbs, and it felt pretty good. Wednesday we were supposed to max on clean and back squat, though we only made it through the clean before we ran out of time. I worked up to 130lbs – unfortunately this felt pretty heavy, but my body was pretty taxed that morning. I think it’s time to regroup, take it easy, and then get back to it in September. I’ve got a lot of work to do :)

Weekly Workouts

My workouts from last week!

 

Monday 6am

Strength – Performance

Snatch from hang, snatch from floor – work up to 80-85% of 1RM

I worked up to 65lbs. Maybe it was because it was Monday or because I’m that weak, but this felt heavy enough. Adam Sullivan spent a good chunk of time coaching me, but it wasn’t anything new – I wasn’t extending enough and pulling myself forward. I definitely felt this as I caught quite a few on my toes.

WOD – Fitness

3 Rounds

10 DB Snatches (5 on each side. For each snatch, perform 2 OH lunges.)

10 Pull-ups (or 15 ring-rows)

400m Run

I used 30# for the dumbbell snatches. After each snatch, you did two lunges, holding the dumbbell in the overhead position and I did the 15 ring-rows instead of pull-ups. No idea what time I finished this in, but ring-rows take me awhile since I go deliberately slow and controlled to make sure I use my scapula.

Tuesday 6am

Strength

3 Rounds of

8-10 Back Squats

Hip Extensions

Hollow Holds

I worked with my friend on this who can squat way more than I can. We did the first set at 105, then the second set at 125, and the third set I think I only did 4 reps. Squats just don’t feel good, especially at 6am!

WOD – Fitness

EMOTM 15

10 Kettlebell Swings

5 burpees

I used 25lbs for the kettlebell swings because I didn’t want to mess up my shoulders so early in the week. But even 25lbs was enough to seriously fatigue my shoulders along with the burpees! I took the eighth minute off to stretch them out, but I was finishing rounds at about 45 seconds.

Tuesday 6pm (CrossFit Football)

Strength

6×2 Clean Pulls from floor

I worked up to 165lbs for these.

WOD

12-9-6-3

Deadlift (at clean pull weight)

Ring Dips (or parallete push-ups)

Time Cap: 6mins

I used 165lbs and did the parallete push-ups, which I thought were way easier than regular push-ups. I finished in 5:05.

Finisher

3×1:00 row with a partner

One person rowed for one minute, then there was a 15 second transition while person two got on the rower. You then rested while person two rowed. Each person rows three times.

This was a good little burner after those deadlifts and clean pulls! I was really happy with my performance during football. It felt good to move some heavy weight for once (other than squatting), and Coach Troy said my cleans and deadlifts looked great.

Wednesday 6am

Strength – Performance

Power Clean + Front Squat + Squat Clean

I worked up to 115lbs for this complex. The power clean felt labored and I caught it pretty low on my chest. It just didn’t feel right, but I can’t remember the last time I power cleaned heavy – I’ve been all about the squat cleans! The squat cleans felt much easier, but I have a feeling I’m still not opening up as much as I could. I feel like I get a good pull, but I think I’m short-changing myself and missing out on moving even heavier weight.

WOD – Performance

20 Russian Kettlebell Swings (70/55)

10 Box Jumps (30/24)

Rest 2 mins

Row 500m

50 Burpees over erg

I used 45lbs for the kettlebell swings and these were pretty easy. The box jumps always take me time at that height cause I really need to think before jumping so I don’t fall on my face!

The row was fine, but the burpees felt endless and I started to really feel out of shape. I guess I don’t quite have my fitness and endurance back on the longer workouts.

Wednesday 7:30pm (BrewCity CrossFit)

WOD

3 Rounds of ME for 90 seconds of each movement. Once you drop the bar, ball, or bell, you rest the remaining time.

Wall Balls (20/14)

Hang Power Snatch (95/65)

Ball Slams (55/35)

Overhead Squats (95/65)

Kettlebell Swings (55/35)

I wanted to do this Rx, and I think any other day, I would have been able to, but not as my second workout of the day. I did 55lbs for the snatches and overhead squats, 14lbs for the wall balls, 25lbs for the ball slams, and 35lbs for the kettlebell swings. I felt like I was letting Jeremy, the coach, down as I stopped short of the 90 seconds on every round, sometimes much sooner than the other three in the class. But by the end of the first round, I had a system down, and tried to be consistent with my reps on each movement for the remaining two. My final score was 216. I may have looked scary after this one. I was out of breath, sweating profusely, had chalk all over my hands and inner thighs, and my knees were burning red from the pain-relieving cream I had applied just before the workout.

Finisher

6-minute Tabata Mash-up

Russian Twists with Med-Ball

Med-Ball Sit-ups

The worst part was trying to hold up the ball during the twists! All in all, it was a great workout at BrewCity.

Thursday HOLY REST DAY

Friday 6am

Strength – Performance

5×2 Front Squats

Handstand Holds

Ring Dips

I worked up to 135lbs on the front squats and they felt pretty good. For performance we were supposed to try to push away from the wall on the handstand holds. For a long time, handstand holds scared me and I couldn’t even kick up to the wall, but now I think they’re fun! I was able to push away from the wall for 3-4 seconds, which I was happy with. I just did 2 ring dips each time because I didn’t want to burn out my shoulder, and I was happy enough with knowing I could still string a couple strict together.

WOD – Performance

EMOTM 15

2 Snatches

After the week I put myself through, I was happy this was the Performance WOD. I took it easy and did working sets at 65lbs, trying to work through my issue of not opening up enough on the second pull. We’ve been snatching a lot lately and I just can’t get the hang of it. I’m hoping once Murph gets back he can give me some cues that will help clean it up.

Saturday REST DAY

Sunday 10am

Beach WOD!

This was a fun partner workout and I’ll try my best to describe what we did. For 6 rounds with a partner, 20ft crawl unders (where one person forms a bridge and the other crawls under then forms a bridge for the other person, etc.), 10 jumping squats, 20ft wheelbarrow walk, then 5 ground to overhead (with a stone) each.

The wheelbarrow walks were the worst in the sand! I did this with Cari and I think the stone we found was around 15-20lbs – not very heavy at all. Afterwards, we played volleyball for a couple of hours which was actually really fun.

What a great week of workouts! Physically, I’m feeling pretty good, albeit a little sore from Sunday’s workout. I haven’t gone this hard since last summer and it feels SO GOOD. I hope I can keep this up for the next few weeks before school starts!  I’ll post soon about nutrition for the past week.

Eat more, make gains

I’ve known for awhile now that eating more means more gains, and I preach the heck out of it to Murph. I had even created a meal plan for him centered around hitting a lofty daily calorie goal. Truth is, if you’re lifting heavy, or crossfitting hard, you need to eat more than you think. Food fuels us for workouts, helpa us recover, and provides all the macro- and micro-nutrients we need to keep our muscles, joints, and hormones (among other things) running well.

Yet, I haven’t exactly been following my own advice. Conventional wisdom still gets the best of me and my past still affects my thinking about eating a lot and subsequently gaining fat, not muscle. But in truth, if you eat the right foods and are working hard enough, you should be fine (barring any other hormonal issues, i.e. hypothyroidism).

For the next couple of months, I’m going to experiment eating more. For the first few weeks, I’ll keep track of calories, just to make sure I’m getting in enough.

This is what yesterday looked like:

6am CrossFit

7am Protein Shake (chocolate protein powder, 2% milk, creatine)

7:30am Green Tea from Starbucks (China Green Tips, hot)

9:30am Breakfast-Ground Turkey, Kale, Mushrooms, White Potatoes, Olive Oil

2:30pm Lunch-1 can of sardines mashed with 1 whole avocado and salt (I know I should eat carbs – I brought mashed sweet potato – but the sardines and avocado really fill me up!)

7:00pm Dinner – About 6-7 ounces of ground beef mixed with onion and garlic and a cup and a half of rice with a tablespoon or so of butter. It’s been a staple lately, as it’s very easy to make, but it’s soo good.

I use My Fitness Pal to track calories. I’ve set a goal of 2,400 calories for myself, though this should be a rest day. For a training day, it should be more around 2,724 calories. (So I would have been good if I had had that serving of carbs at lunch!)  I’ll try hitting this consistently for a week to see if I need to readjust. My measurements aren’t anywhere near perfect, but my estimate is that my day totaled 2,419 calories. As for macros, that’s ~24% carbs, ~53% fat, ~25% protein. Ideally, I’d like to have a better balance – around 30% from carbs, and 30-40% from protein, so I’ll work on that in the next few days.

The only real benchmark I have is my 1RM deadlift that we found last Friday, which is 205. This was at about 6:15 in the morning, so who knows if that number could be more at 6pm, when I am more accustomed to moving that much weight. But, it is what it is.

Overall, it is hard to say whether my food intake has affected my performance in the gym. My squats have felt horrible lately, but I have been squatting at least twice a week for the past… eight months, without more than a week’s break. Which is good, I need to keep squatting if any of my other lifts are going to get better, but I feel I’ve hit a huge plateau  and I’m trying to figure out if that’s from fatigue, lack of sleep, lack of calories, or lack of mental capacity.

Physically, I am happy with my weight, and I think my body is too. It hasn’t fluctuated anymore than 4lbs one way or the other in about a year. However, I think I have more muscle to gain and a bit of fat to lose, and this should keep me at about the same weight, if not add a few pounds. As long as I’m not noticeably gaining fat, and the numbers are going up in the gym, and I’m comfortable in my body, then I don’t care what the scale says.

The injury (#2)

Recovering from an injury sucks. But not listening to your body is even worse.

Let me back up here.

Eight months ago, I tweaked my elbow attempting ropes climbs in a CrossFit competition. At the time, I didn’t quite have the footwork down and ended up using my upper body and sheer thigh grip strength (yeah, it’s a thing) to somehow complete those five rope climbs. Not gonna lie – I was pretty pumped! I had overcome my fear of heights, finished those rope climbs, and took second place in the competition. But a few days later, I had this lingering elbow pain, which I attributed to the rope climbs. Well, it never went away. I stayed away from rope climbs and movements that might irritate my elbow, but otherwise it was business as usual, getting ready for another competition three weeks later. I had massages and was told to rest, but I resisted. Not competing wasn’t an option – it’s what I lived for. Thankfully, the pain subsided during the competition (or rather adrenaline took over), though I noticed my grip strength wasn’t there in my left arm during a deadlift-knees-to-elbow WOD. I pushed all of that behind me after I won my first CrossFit competition. Nothing could stop me now!

I did take it easy after the competition – my body needs more time to recover than most – and then focused most of November on starting the Hatch squat program. But I still did WODs here and there, and was convinced this elbow pain would eventually dissipate. Plus, I had been looking forward to starting an Olympic lifting class twice a week mid-December, and I wasn’t going to let a sore elbow stop me.

The evening of December 2, 2013 was cool and muggy, making the thick air resemble late spring rather than deep in the throes of a Wisconsin winter. So naturally, the WOD included running, along with weighted jumping squats and chest-to-bar pull-ups. I love when WODs include running. For some reason I feel fast, and am usually at the front of the pack. This was no different and I cruised along the first 400m and back in for the set of squats. Almost immediately, I could feel my foot protest in agony. Each squat, I let out a yelp, hoping this would help me to finish the set and mask the growing pain. I did strict chest-to-bar pull-ups using a band and concentrated on what I thought was good form, then flew out the door for the next run. My foot (which was injured over a year prior) felt particularly vulnerable in my New Balance Minimus’ that night and was not happy when I returned for the second set of squats. I can’t recall how many rounds I got or was supposed to get, but I was in pain. That was it, I said, I need to take time off from WODing. My elbow hadn’t even been the catalyst, though it certainly wasn’t feeling 100%, but I knew I needed to rest my arm too.

I continued on with Hatch, though, despite my foot taking quite some time to recover (I was later told that I had probably just severely bruised it, not re-fractured the bone), and I insisted on starting Olympic lifting. During the class, snatching felt fine, but it was the clean and jerk that bothered my elbow, particularly the jerk. While the pain seemed to be localized around my elbow, it also radiated up into my shoulder, under my armpit. I continued to get massages but was frustrated that no matter how much I “rested” or how many massages I received, my elbow didn’t seem to show any signs of improving.

Finally, after two months of pain, I went to see a physical therapist. After much prodding and poking, I received a diagnosis: tendinitis in the shoulder. My elbow hurt because I compensated for the weakness in my shoulder by using my biceps and forearms instead of my scapula. Yet, he didn’t tell me to rest. He told me to take it easy, not do anything that caused pain, and gave me a bunch of exercises. On I marched, determined to be okay to compete in a team competition in mid-February and be completely back in business by the 2014 CrossFit Open.

I snatched, cleaned (sometimes omitted the jerk if my elbow hurt), squat, and did a modified WOD here and there. At my weekly PT appointments, things would get better one week, but then even worse the next. This cycle continued for three months. I honestly felt like I was taking it easy. After awhile, I did no other upper body movements other than the Olympic lifts, and thought this would help. But the pain persisted, and the inflammation in my shoulder refused to subside, so much so that my PT threatened a cortisone shot twice. On the second threatening he told me finally to stop all upper body movements. No barbell work, no dumbbell work, no burpees (DANG.), no deadlifts, nothing. (And so then I proceeded to burn out on squats, but that’s for another day…)

squat

For almost two months, I did nothing but squat, abs, and shoulder rehab. It was so hard to watch others lift, but I knew that after seven months of not seeing any improvement, it was time to completely heed my PT’s advice, or else (literally). In late May, I got the ‘OK’ to start using a dowel, to do banded pull-ups, and push-ups and finally on June 3, I was cleared for all movements!

Since then, I’ve worked from a dowel to a training bar, to a 35-pound bar, and finally to putting some weight on in the past two weeks. And it.feels.so.good. Any WODs that I do are very deliberate and slow, hyper-concentrating on form. I am more aware of my scapular positioning in all movements and continue to strengthen those tiny muscles that were neglected for too long. It has been a long and rough road to recovery, and there is still much to come, but damn, it feels good to lift again.

Moral of the story? Listen to your body. Seriously! Had I stopped and rested when I should have back in October, this process could have been much shorter. Eight months of pain?! Eight months of frustration, and eight months of worrying that I’ll never feel 100% again. I wasted a lot of time and strength resisting rest, and it’s going to be a few more months AT LEAST until I am at the level I was right before the injury happened. Let me tell you, I PR’d my squat a couple of times though. Balance, people! :)

I’m not afraid of rest days anymore. I’m not afraid of eating enough to let my body properly recover, and I take all the steps I can to ensure I can get restful sleep. These are just a few preventative things we can all do, but don’t start until it’s too late!

EDITED TO ADD:

As this post was written back in mid-June, a few things have happened since then of note. I have started the Hatch squat program again and I am working up to 4 WODs a week! I was a last-minute alternate at the BrewCity CrossFit in-house team competition last weekend, and my team ended up winning! (Recap to come!) That was just the boost of confidence I needed after feeling slow and out of shape in recent workouts. I still have a long way to go, but it feels so good to be back at it.

A new beginning

I’ve started and stopped this blog many times before. I wasn’t writing with a purpose, I was just writing. I was unsure of what I wanted in life and my blog reflected that – it was called “Untitled: Forever searching for the perfect title.” Roll your eyes all you want (I know, I know. No excuses, but I always loathed having to put a title to something), but that pretty much sums up how lost I really was.

I’ve been through a lot in the past two years (really the past nine), but I’ve come out feeling more driven, more determined, and more focused on what I want than ever before. Funny how that happens when you’re truly passionate about something.

I’ve blogged about random things in the past – what I ate while trying to clean up my diet, adventures as a newbie in CrossFit, and future plans that were still mostly unknown. That’s all fine and well, except it didn’t even hold my attention, much less gained any readership (not that I was trying).

Yet I don’t like the idea of saying outright, “This blog will be about XYZ,” because that’s too rigid, and it may change as I move from one step to the next on my path to becoming an RD. I know that I enjoy talking about real food, and why we should eat it, about CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting and fueling for those sports, and my journey to grad school. I am not an expert on any of these things, so I suppose this blog will be about working towards that. Let’s see where this takes us…

Back to School, Back to School…

It’s official: I am now a part-time student!

I took the math placement test (finally) and basically bombed it, to be honest. Most of the time I had been studying for college level math, thinking that is what would be on the test. Nope! There were two sections: Elementary Algebra and Arithmetic. Talk about trying to remember the basics! I felt really stupid not knowing some of those questions that should probably be easy. Needless to say, I tested in to Pre-Algebra. Not exactly what I wanted, but now that I think about it, if for some reason I had tested in to Intermediate Algebra I would have been SO lost! This way I can work my way up again, even if it means taking (and paying for) an extra class.

So! I will be taking pre-algebra and Intro to Psychology for the spring semester. The Psychology class will be online so I don’t have to drive out to the school more than once a week. Let me tell you, it feels so good to have something in place, a path to follow, and a goal to reach for.

Switching gears… It has been a month since I’ve been back in the gym full-time. During my lunch hour I get in a good, sweaty incline workout on the treadmill, then head to CrossFit after work (not all days are two-a-days). It has felt SO good to get back in the gym and get in a hard workout! Not to mention doing CrossFit workouts as they are written on the board – no modifying! (Unless there is running involved.)

I got semi-custom inserts for my shoes that I wear everyday to work (even though they make me look like a dork) and that I wear when I run on the treadmill. I have been wearing my Nikes (without the inserts) for CrossFit workouts because they seem to give me better range of motion. My foot has been feeling fine… but I’ve come to realize (with the help of the physical therapist I saw to get my inserts) that it’s my ankle that is now the problem. It is (or was at the point) so much weaker than my left. I just didn’t think of that at all while I was wearing the boot! I was given some exercises to do, which I’ve been forgetting, but I feel that all of the activity I do at the gym and CrossFit aides in strengthening my ankle. Squatting has been hard. I seem to be overcompensating for my weak angle and my form is just atrocious! Which tells you something because I used to have perfect form (if I do say so myself). But, it seems things are looking up because…

Last night we did “Fran.” AND found our 1RM for thrusters. I knew that would happen – he always seems to program thrusters as the strength whenever we do Fran. Ugh.

But! I worked up to 85lbs on my Thruster, which is definitely a PR (I’m not sure I’ve ever found my 1RM before). And I PR’ed on Fran, too! I used 50lbs for the Thrusters (the past two times I’ve done Fran, I’ve used 45lbs) and a blue and skinny red band for pull-ups. I finished in 8:40 which is over two minutes faster than my previous time with more weight! Woohoo! Something must be working…

I plan on hitting the gym today and tomorrow during lunch and hopefully CrossFit both nights too. I heard we are doing another benchmark workout today… I wonder “who” it will be…

Just Google It!

Google is an amazing tool.

Let me back up here.

I was at wit’s end with not being able to make a decision regarding school. I didn’t know who I could talk to about my dilemma — becoming an RD without fully subscribing to what the ADA preaches. Then it dawned on me: maybe I should just Google it.

Duh.

I Google everything. Perhaps this is why I am so indecisive to begin with. I’ll tell you that it certainly doesn’t help. Anyway, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this before.

So I typed in “paleo RD” and found a bunch of different sources. I think just seeing the results page got me excited. There really are others out there who feel just as conflicted as I do! I read through some of the sites and became more and more encouraged.

This made my decision much easier, and finally gave me that push to say “just do it.”

I am going back to school to become a Registered Dietitian. (!!!)

Unfortunately, I still have that math hurdle standing in my way. I still need to take a placement test (in a little over a week!) and hope to God that I pass into something more advanced than elementary math (I’m not joking.) Three years out of college, and probably more than five or six without so much as looking at an algebraic equation will scare the shit out of you. (Or maybe just me.)

The plan is to take the test on Thursday, December 20. I need to study as best as I can beforehand, but it’s hard when all you have is a practice test. I wish they gave you a list of concepts or something to study instead. After round 1 (and not even completing all of the questions) I’m batting 50/50, at best. Not so good.

I think taking an oblivious approach to math is the best way to go about it. If I don’t, I would become extremely discouraged. RD is not all about math. It may be a lot about chemistry, but chemistry is not math. This should be my mantra for the next week (and the following six months…)

Wish me luck!