Rough Monday, but Surviving!

Some days are tougher than others. The body doesn’t want to move. The brain won’t wake-up. Whatever the reason, Mondays are usually days to kick off the rust and get back into gear. Today was no different.

garfield-mondayMade it in for an 8:30 workout with Coach Drea today and there were a few of us – Jed, Dave, Abigail, and Matt. We tackled an intriguing array of movements for the warm-up, including a weird cross-body set of movements with a dumbbell or kettlebell that involved a lot of twisting and single arm movements.

Something tells me that the difficulties some of us had (*me* cough cough) doing partner Russian twists with a medicine ball on Saturday may have something to do with it. Twisting and turning in different ways was more than a challenge – it turned out to be downright painful going one way (right to left across my front) vs. not as awful the other (left to right), though I was passing the med ball over my right shoulder to Jonathan, rather than around my right side.

Anyway… warm-up aside (we were all groaning pretty good by the end), we then started warming up with some PVC squat cleans and clean & jerks, talking about the workout.

  • 12-minute AMRAP
  • Performance:
    • 115/75-lb. squat snatch, 1 rep
    • 115/75-lb. clean and jerks, 3 reps
    • 30 double-unders
  • Fitness:
    • 75/55-lb. hang snatch, 1 rep
    • 75/55-lb. clean and jerks, 3 reps
    • 50 single-unders

Warming up with 75# felt ok. I tried for 95# and my squat snatch was… um… underwhelming. I think my shoulders are still fried from last week. So I stayed at 75#.

1th9hbAnd, even funnier today, Drea asked me to do 30 seconds of double under practice. Normally I would say sure, but I couldn’t even string more than 10 single-unders together for some reason until about round 4 today. It was weird.

So I stayed with Fitness level, but stuck with squat snatches instead of hanging snatches. I aimed for 5-6 rounds (Drea said to shoot for 8), and managed 6 full rounds plus 4 — I picked up my rope just as time went out.

Squat anything with an overhead bar — like overhead squats or snatches — is always a challenge. That should have been easier than it was, but I’m happy with the results. I kept moving, despite fumbling through single-unders and taking my time on the lifts.

Great work 8:30 class!


Change is the only constant

This is going to be a slightly different post than I’ve written for a while. Not because it’s about nutrition or change instead of my crossfit journey, but because it’s a bit more personal than most.

At the box, I give myself permission to try and be a better version of myself most of the time. I am challenged by coaches and other athletes to push beyond the mostly self-imposed limits I feel constrained by. Some days I succeed. Other days I fail. But I never fail to learn more about myself and others.

georgebernardshaw1 (1)

But I haven’t really allowed myself to accept that I have changed as a result. Going all the way back to before kindergarten, I have struggled to find an athletic bone in my body. I was usually the kid chosen last in PE. I was only on the basketball team in junior high because I was good at getting in the way. My parents were both gymnasts and athletes and I just didn’t fit that mold for some reason.

I have always been the guy watching, waiting, and listening at the back of the room who only occasionally perked up to offer something to the conversation. And sure, that’s ebbed and flowed a bit through my life, but I have always tended to be the wallflower rather than the center of attention.


So when I started seeing progress in crossfit, I played it down. Sure, I’ve been writing about every workout since I started 5 years ago. But I’ve never really owned the progress of all that sweat and hard work.ย I minimize every accomplishment. It comes with the territory of how I see myself.

Accepting compliments has always been an impossible task. “Great work, Brian!” usually gets translated as “you could have done better” between my ears. And I used to bristle at compliments until I learned to say what folks wanted to hear: “Thanks!” It was usually accompanied by a sheepish grin.

thankyou4Somewhere in the last few months, I began to realize that response wasn’t enough. Some days I actually feel like I’ve earned the praise, which is a nice change. And I only feel a little guilty for feeling pride in the changes I have seen in myself.

It’s not like I’m becoming a superstar or anything, because that’s ridiculous. It’s the antithesis of what I want to be.ย But I want to accept a new image of myself as a competent, kind, and energetic person. That would be a nice change, don’t you think?

So thank you. Thank you to friends and family at the box and beyond it. Thank you for your kind words and compliments in recent months and past five years. I appreciate all the positive vibes and am better for it. Definitely better.


Team WOD Saturday!

Somehow I managed to get through an entire week of crossfit and decide that one more workout was good. It’s amazing to feel sore and yet still good enough to do six of these things in a row.

Team WOD today. We had a great turnout for Coach Drea… Shaun & Stacy, Nick, Marino & Deana, Monica, Lara, Tim, Jonathan, Caleb, Bri, and a handful of others. We did the standard warm-up for the week and then added in some medicine ball work — deadlifts, shrugs, power cleans, front squats, and squat cleans — before diving into the day’s workout.

Apparently it’s going to be Valentine’s Day for a while this month. ๐Ÿ™‚ Today’s was a two-part WOD…

  • valentineScore Type:: Rounds and Reps
  • Tunnel of Love, For time:
    • 1000m rowย (Partner 1 rows, Partner 2 jumps rope, double or single unders. Every time there is a break in jump rope, both partners must rest 15 sec. Switch on the row every 500m)
  • Then, Roses are Red, Violets are Blue,ย 20 min AMRAP
    • 50 Partner Med Ball Russian Twists (Partners are seated back to back and must keep feet elevated off the floor while rotating ball to one another.)
    • 40 Partner Med Ball Sit-Ups (Partners must perform reps facing one another. Ball must touch the floor on the ground behind the head on the way down, and must be handed or tossed to the partner to perform the next rep.)
    • 30 Med Ball Cleans (Partners may break up the reps as needed.)
    • 20 Wall Balls (These are partner wall balls. 5 burpee penalty each time the ball drops to the floor.)

Drea must have thought the medicine balls needed dusting, because I think we had them all pulled off the shelf for this one!

Jonathan and I partnered up again. We finished the first part and sat down to start the 20 minute AMRAP at the 5:30 mark. Lots of single unders and I think I had to break 2 or three times. Jonathan only really broke once on the jump rope, so it went a bit faster.

And then the fun began…

Our Russian Twists Looked Nothing Like This. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m pretty sure that we cheated on our Russian twists with a medicine ball. Back to back, we alternated directions a few times but the best way seemed to be where he’d pass to me on my left (which I’d catch under my arm), then rotate across my torso, and then use my right arm to toss it over my right shoulder (and his left shoulder). That was the most efficient way we did it.

But we definitely didn’t keep our feet off the ground and it got out of control a few times where it went skittering off in some random direction when we didn’t quite get the exchange right. We laughed a lot. Jonathan said he was getting dizzy from the side to side towards the end (we were going pretty fast to get through our last round). But for me, it was definitely a good burn for my shoulders.

From there, we did the med ball sit-ups.

med-ball-partner-sit-upsHonestly these got crazy in our third round because I was almost doing a one handed basketball toss before I came all the way off the ground. I think Jonathan caught it in the head a couple of times!

Again, we laughed our way through this. Our last set, we definitely did more than 40 reps but we didn’t want to get up to start our med ball cleans. ๐Ÿ™‚

Then there were the med ball cleans. I mentioned those, right? Not awful, but definitely not one of my favorite moves. We made it through ok.

And lastly… partner wall balls. If the ball dropped, we were supposed to do burpees. I’m happy to say that except for one bobble where I had a bad bounce of the wall and Jonathan had to move quickly to intercept, most of our wall balls went without too much difficulty — and there were no burpees to be had. Huzzah!

In the end, when we got to 25:30, we had done two full rounds plus 90 (or more) reps. We definitely kept moving. And laughed a lot. That’s why I keep going back. ๐Ÿ™‚

Great work everybody! Fun workout! Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

More squats!

Apparently this week was squat week. Air squats today. Squat cleans yesterday. Air squats Tuesday. Overhead squats Monday. I think I’m ready to do diddly squat for a little bit. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I couldn’t stay away. ๐Ÿ™‚

Made it in for an 8:30 class with Ev today. We were surprised to not only find Coach Bill, but Coach Jimmy! Plus Dave, Logan, Matt, and Abigail. Jimmy actually worked out with us and Bill coached, so that was fun. Haven’t been in a class with him in a while!

jumping-frog-clip-art-hopping-frogStarted with the weekly warm-up and added a few things:

  • Low and slow air squats with a dumbbell
  • Wall hip stretch (back on floor, butt on wall with knees bent above you)
  • Couch stretch
  • Bear crawl
  • Frog hop
  • Deep squats hanging onto the rig (at bottom, move to stretch ankles and hips)
  • Maybe another one or two things

We were all groaning, popping, and cracking as we went through the warm-ups. But we were also giving one another a fair amount of grief. You know — the usual madness. ๐Ÿ™‚

When we were done with that, we went over the movement standards for the workout. Good squat vs. bad squat. Ring push-up variations. And knees-to-elbows variations.

Air_SquatsThen it was off to the races…

  • 3 rounds for time of:
    • 60 squats
    • 30 knees-to-elbows
    • 30 ring push-ups

Let’s start by saying that my hips are still fried from this week. There are some spots in my left inner hip that really didn’t take too kindly to doing another nearly 200 squats to finish out the week. But eventually it warmed up enough to only cause a little grief.

I did start with every intention of doing two sets of 30, but that quickly fell to 20s, 15s, 10s, and even a few 5s. Had to slow them down to focus on getting all the way upright, since I was leaning forward quite a bit.

Then there’s the ring push-ups. I did a few. I did the first set of 30 — 10-5-5-4-4-2. After 10, I was on my knees. In the second round, I did two on the rings and shifted to regular push-ups on the floor. Even those I ended up dropping to my knees on. And pretty quickly it was sets of 2-5 on the floor just to get done.

look-at-scaling-featAnd then the knees-to-elbows. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever actually touched my knees to my elbows in my life, unless it’s while I’m sitting in a chair. Hanging from the rig, it was a hot mess. Though I got high enough for many reps in that first 30, it very quickly fell to just doing knee raises.

Meanwhile, Abigail was FLYING through air squats. Dave was moving right along (he’s come a long way in a short amount of time). Jimmy was zooming through his knees to elbows. Ev was chugging along. Everybody was hopping.

Tired now. Definitely tired. But I’ll probably be back tomorrow for team WOD. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Great work everybody! Have a great weekend!

My Hips Don’t Lie… They’re Mad

Some weeks you seem to find a theme to the workouts at your crossfit box. This week I think Dave nailed it this morning when he said it was a leg killer. He’s not wrong.

Made it in today with Ev for an 8:30 class with Coach Bill. Lara, Dave, and Logan joined us today as well. We started with the weekly warm-up as we chatted about the workout and some of the other things coming up. The Open figured prominently into that discussion, funny enough. ๐Ÿ™‚

When we were done with the regular warm-up, we moved on to some clean and press drills with a PVC pipe and then an empty barbell before we added weight. Even before I got there this morning, I was planning on scaling to 135# at least. And when I added weight, even 95# squat cleans felt heavy — so I stayed there.

Funny enough, it wasn’t the barbell that was the biggest problem today. It was the burpee chest to bars. Going from the ground to standing, jumping to the bar, and pulling to a chest to bar was a bear.

Captain David Lyon

Our workout was “The Lyon,” named for Captain David Lyon, who was an Air Force Academy grad and based at Peterson – so a home town hero. He lost his life after an IED attack in Afghanistan in 2013. You can read more about the workout, and Captain Lyon, at the Crossfit Mainsite.

  • The Lyon
  • 5 rounds, each for time of:
    • 165-lb. squat cleans, 7 reps
    • 165-lb. shoulder-to-overheads, 7 reps
    • 7 burpee chest-to-bar pull-ups
  • Rest 2 minutes between rounds.
  • Ideally, use a pull-up bar that is 6 inches above your max reach when standing.

Front-squatThat’s the Rx version of this workout. I definitely would not be able to pull that off in any reasonable time frame and cleans from the ground have been a challenge in the last week or so. (155# power cleans last Saturday just about did me in.)

So my scaled version became:

  • 95# squat cleans, 7 reps
  • 95# strict or push press, 7 reps
  • burpee chest-to-bar pull-ups, 7 reps (until the last few reps where I switched to jumping c2b)

How’d it go? First two rounds went ok, and then the wheels came off. First round went great and I finished in right at 2 minutes. That didn’t last long. I think we were in the 3-4 minute range for rounds 3 through 5 for sure. And it was the burpee c2bs that were the limiting factor.

survived-didnt-dieNot sure what to say there other than the fact that — YAY, I GOT SOME C2Bs! — and burpees are awful in every context. I did the first three rounds unbroken with the barbell and started breaking the cleans into smaller sets after that, but always tried to do my shoulder-to-overheads unbroken.

Ev did hers in 20:13, starting with a 75# bar and dropping to 65#, but doing jumping c2b the whole time.

Took me 23:54 to finish. Definitely a tough one to just keep moving through.

I have to say that this week has really killed my hips of all things. Sure, my knees aren’t happy either, but my inner hip on both sides is just fired up for some reason. Need to find some stretches to start relieving the tightness soon!

Thanks Bill for pushing and great work 8:30 class! Good work on this one!

A Workout Too?

Yeah, I know — two posts today. Weird. But in addition to it being the last day of the nutrition challenge, I managed to sandwich a workout into my crazy day (meeting this morning, picking up a kid, meeting this afternoon).

Got in for the noon class with Coach Bill today… Drea and Noah were on their way out and Nick and John joined me for today. We went through the week’s warm-up and then talked about the movements for today, focusing on the kettlebell snatch mostly.


The workout was pretty quick:

  • As many reps as possible…
  • Performance:
    • On a 12-minute clock, 4 rounds of:
    • 1 minute of #35/25 kettlebell snatches
    • 1 minute of sit-ups
    • 1 minute of lunges
  • Fitness:
    • On a 9-minute clock, 3 rounds of:
    • 1 minute of single arm kettlebell swings #25/15
    • 1 minute of sit-ups
    • 1 minute of lunges


The trick with this one was to keep moving.ย  There is no built-in rest, so you had to catch breath where you could.ย When we were talking about it, Bill mentioned that the sit-ups were the worst part and we all kind of laughed about it. They really were the worst part! I simply couldn’t get my breath in the 3rd and 4th rounds, so I got slower and slower.

I used the 35# kettlebell, did my sit-ups with an ab mat, and did stationary lunges (one side and then the other) to a yoga mat. Bill suggested doing as many snatches as possible with one side before switching, to avoid unnecessary time going back and forth, so that’s what I did. And it worked for a while. I know I had a couple of wonky ones in that last round, but my left arm worked better than my right for a change.

Sneaky workout! Managed to get through 264 total reps at least. I think I screwed up my counting at the transition points, dropping a rep or two here or there. But I did keep moving.ย Now my hips are a little ticked off, but it was my core where I felt it the most at the end.

Great work noon class and thanks Bill — it was a fun one!

Nutrition Challenge Update, January 2018

On November 26, I started something different at the encouragement of Coaches Nicole & Drea. That became a seed for change in my life, so I want to talk a little bit about it.

Since even before starting crossfit in February 2013, I have danced with nutrition changes. I started at 262 pounds in October 2012. With minor changes, I dropped to 248 by February of that next year when I walked through the doors at Crossfit Continuum.

preview1-Over the next few years, we tried a few things. Whole30 was a success and I worked all the way down to 201 lbs before the end of 2013, but it didn’t last. We have stuck to a mostly paleo diet, but definitely managed to go off the rails over and over again. Lurong Challenge. Whole30. Zone. Nothing really managed to stick as far as a lasting change.

Let’s fast forward to November 2017 and some conversations with Drea and Nicole about nutrition. I was back up to 228/230 by that point and the scale was definitely not going the right direction. Time for a change.

I think one of the key points of that change came during a nutrition seminar Nicole gave. She described alcohol as poison to the body and something popped in my brain. Poison. A harsh word. Dangerous even. And definitely an eye opener for me.

It’s not like I’d ever consider myself an alcoholic, but I had definitely succumbed to the habit of a drink every now and then. And eventually that habit turned into every night. Not a lot, but enough.

food-big-salad-800pxThe weekend after Thanksgiving, I agreed to follow three key ideas for Nicole.

  • More veggies
  • No alcohol
  • Less sugar

Simple enough, right? During the nutrition challenge at the box, we added two more key ideas:

  • Sleep 7.5 hours a night
  • Drink at least 64 oz of water each day

So let’s look at some numbers.

  • November 26, 2017
  • Weight: 230.6#
  • Body fat percentage: 32.2%

scaleBy the time we started the nutrition challenge, I’d already seen some changes and added a few more measurements:

  • December 1, 2017
  • Weight: 227.7# (down nearly 3#)
  • Body fat: 31.7% (down .5%)
  • Waist: 42.5″
  • Chest: 45.5″
  • Hips: 41″

Now, what made this nutrition change a bit easier, despite Christmas and New Years’ in the middle, was that it wasn’t penalty based. Previous challenges were focused on the number of days you cheated. This challenge focused on the days you did things right and that perspective change made a huge difference.

Did you have to be perfect every meal? Every day? Heck no. But if you went off the wagon, just start again the next day. Easy. Much more forgiving than focusing on the negatives — it allowed us to focus on the days we did things right.

And we were tracking enough bits and pieces that maybe you didn’t get in your 5 cups of veggies every day, but you hit your water goal or maybe kept your sugars in check. Great! Just get back on track the next day and keep chugging forward without dwelling on the negative.

Someday-2-1024x896I won’t say I’ve been perfect, but I didn’t have to be. And before long, habits changed for the better. Even if I slipped here or there or decided I wanted some gluten (usually a flour tortilla!), life was ok. It wasn’t the end of the world.

Today marks the end of this nutrition challenge, but I’m going to keep going with the habits we’ve created.

As far as the changes that have happened? Some good ones I think:

  • January 31, 2018
  • Weight: 216.9# (down nearly 14#)
  • Body fat: 30.2% (down 2%)
  • Waist: 40″ (down 2.5″)
  • Chest: 45″ (down .5″)
  • Hips: 40.5″ (down .5″)
  • Total inches lost: 3.5″

And I don’t feel like I deprived myself of much during that time either.

Some other fun facts:

  • check-list-hiCaffeine-wise I’m down from drinking Advocare Spark and half a pot of coffee with creamer every day to just one Advocare Spark each morning. Every now and then I’ll have some tea and some days just cry out for coffee, but for the most part my caffeine intake has dropped dramatically. (Keep in mind I used to drink 6 Diet Dr. Peppers or more each day in 2012.)
  • Who knew that roasted broccoli (broccoli florets tossed in olive oil with fresh garlic and a bit of salt and pepper, then roasted at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes) were addictive? I certainly didn’t.
  • Drinking 64-128 oz of water a day and working from home means I test the plumbing in my house regularly. Geez. Who knew?
  • Though I can’t say I feel any stronger, I feel like my endurance and mental game at the box has improved. I’m definitely faster in some ways too.
  • Being lighter has made certain things easier as well, such as chest-to-bar pull-ups, handstand push-ups, and even running to a degree.

Long story short, I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

I want to thank our coaching staff at Crossfit Continuum for getting me started on the right path and keeping things going with the challenge. For me, it’s been another in a series of life changing events that begin and end with crossfit.

Thank you and congrats to all the other folks who have seen amazing change on this journey!!


A site about my crossfit journey…