Why all the writing?

As I start this new goals process, I have to wonder if I’m over-sharing with the world. Ultimately there’s only a small set of folks who might even be remotely interested in my progress. And I could just as easily just write this in a personal journal and never let anybody know.

59-seconds-book-coverSo why do it? Why do all this writing?

First, because that seems to be my modus operandi. I’ve been a writer for a long time. Growing up the kid to two English teachers, I suppose it was inevitable. But my love for language, creative storytelling, and clear expression go way beyond that these days. It’s just a part of who I am.

Second, and I’m taking this directly from 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman, it helps me process things and hold myself accountable…

… From a psychological perspective, thinking and writing are very different. Thinking can often be somewhat unstructured, disorganized, and even chaotic. In contrast, writing encourages the creation of a story line and structure that help people make sense of what has happened and work toward a solution. In short, talking can add to a sense of confusion, but writing provides a more systematic, solution-based approach.”

59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman p.19

And lastly, if it helps one other person by letting them know that they are not alone, then it’s better shared and in the world than stuck in one more dusty notebook or journal.

So if you get tired of my over-sharing, I apologize. It will ebb and flow during the duration of this challenge. But feel free to ignore me or un-friend me or delete me from your feeds. I definitely understand. In a world of too much information, I may fall into the “noise” category more than the “signal” category.

If not, welcome to the journey and I hope something I relay along the way helps in some small way.

Thanks.

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6-APR-2015 Update

Morning folks… Thought I’d write up the weekend, today, and offer a bit more commentary here…

Ommmmmm….

My day started at 6am by heading downstairs for some meditation practice for the first time in forever.

A while back I purchased an online class from AWAI (American Writers & Artists Inc) – Meditation for Writers. But I didn’t get very far – only a couple of days in – before “life got in the way”. Now that I’m taking more time to focus in the mornings, I should be able to work my way through at least the morning portion of the class. We’ll see how it goes. Today was “Day 1” of the class.

I have not yet started my project of reading the book – 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman. But it has moved a few times over the last few days. 🙂 (Here’s a review over at the Wall Street Journal.) I will eventually get to it. Promise!

Meal Planning…

Yesterday I did actual meal planning for the week. Not the full week, every meal – just evenings – but here’s what we’re doing…

  • Monday, 6-APR – Ground beef taco meat (salads)
  • Tuesday, 7-APR – French cut pork chops w/roasted burssels sprouts & apple slaw (Cavegirl Cuisine)
  • Wednesday, 8-APR – Crockpot Crazy Easy Salsa Chicken Mexican Pile-up (Mealfit)
  • Thursday, 9-APR – Spaghetti sauce and spaghetti squash (my recipe)
  • Friday, 10-APR – Bell Pepper Nachos (Mealfit)

Here’s my recipe for spaghetti sauce if you’re interested:

Paleo Spaghetti Sauce (Fitz’s recipe)

IMG_1273
Looks something like this and is very yummy…
  • 2 Tbsp. olive or coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil when hot then add onion & garlic; sauté until tender.  Pour into dish, set aside (or just leave in and add the rest).  Using same skillet, cook ground beef until starting to brown, drain off any grease. Combine ground beef, sauteéd vegetables, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chili powder & cumin.  Simmer until beef is cooked through, sauce is hot & slightly thickened.

Works great in the crock pot all day as well – just toss all the ingredients in in the morning (beef on bottom, everything else on top) and let cook 4-8 hours. Mix a few times or at the end of the day.

My family eats it in a bowl by itself, over spaghetti squash, or over baked sweet potatoes.

Today’s Workout

Here’s the workout: April 4, 2015 (@ Crossfit Continuum’s website).

Had one meeting and then headed to the box for an 8:30 WOD with Coach Drea. The class included Jana, Jennifer, Emily, and Mike – a great group of folks. And Mike’s little girl was very cute – she wanted to participate in the whole workout. 🙂

We started with a 400m run in the sunshine, then did some entertaining leaps, high knees, hops, and bridges to get things moving prior to the actual workout…

  • 5 rounds of 20 box jumps (30/24″), 20 med-ball sit-ups (20/14#), and 20 Good Mornings.

Prior to actually starting the clock we did some stretching and I used a 30″ box for part of that, deciding quickly that today was not the day to try and jump it. Then while practicing before the WOD discovered my body didn’t want to do 24″ either, so I went to a 20″ box and did a combination of about half box jumps and half step-ups. The rest was as prescribed.

Not too bad for me – 18:05. Jana, Jennifer, and Mike were done well before me and Emily was done a little bit after, but we all kept chugging along. It was a good Monday workout – getting the body moving without killing it outright on the first day of the week.

Diet Notes

This weekend was entertaining. So Friday I went to my goals meeting with Coach Drea… then I went home, wrote it all up here, got a shower, and went to have lunch on my day off at Dion’s. I had a delicious 6″ meatball sub on wheat bread with a fruit cup, a chocolate chip cookie, and two large glasses of sweet tea. Not the most “healthy” of meals.

We then followed that up with dinner at Jose Muldoon’s… Usually I do a Pollo Topolobampo, but lately I’ve been on a fajitas kick – so we split a bowl of Aztec Queso with a ton of chips and then split a big platter of chicken fajitas. I had 3 little tortillas. Again, not the most healthy of meals.

Saturday morning we went to the team WOD and I actually had a paleo-ish breakfast with a piece of Rudi’s bread as toast and a couple of fried eggs on top. We skipped lunch, as we went to my eldest’s soccer game. After we got cleaned up we went to a movie – Home (very cute) – where I proceeded to drink more than half of a giant vat of root beer and consume a box of Red Vines. We then finished it off by a trip to Saltgrass Steakhouse for some Tenderloin Cobb Salad (w/Honey Mustard dressing). So at least the dinner and breakfast were somewhat healthy.

Sunday morning we had Paleo Pumpkin Pancakes, eggs, and bacon, and headed to do Easter brunch/lunch with my family in Denver. We ate all sorts of not-so-healthy things there like a Honey Baked Ham, two types of sweet fruit salad, deviled eggs, and so on. Definitely tasty, but not very healthy.

When we got home, we grilled some chicken and had that with some sweet potato fries. So not too bad again at the end.

Friday morning I weighed 225#. By the end of the weekend I was back to 228#. We’ll see where we’re at by the end of the week…

Will the meal planning help out during the week? Will we fall apart again over the weekend? We shall see…

Saturday Team WODs

Team workouts are always interesting.

It took me a long time to get up the gumption to go to one for some reason. From outside they always seemed to include the best athletes — a crowd I don’t really feel I fit in with. And then… I attended one. Since then I’ve been hooked.

Sometimes they’re partner WODs. Sometimes they’re groups of 3 or 4. But the goal is always to work together to get through. And if there’s one thing the crossfit community can do – it’s work together. Cheering one another on is nothing out of the ordinary for crossfit – so I don’t know why I was intimidated in the first place.

April 4, 2015 Team WOD

Today at Crossfit Continuum we invited new blood into the box. Bring a friend. Stay for a workout. 😉

I got to work out with my wife Evelyn and my eldest daughter Mickey. My youngest helped out with the Crossfit Kids WOD before ours. Perhaps next time I’ll try and convince some of my friends to join us.

This one though was a doozy. Coach Jimmy managed to program a workout with no barbells and nothing on the rig. Translation: A Whole Lot of Burpees.

Yes, that’s right. I said burpees.

We started out with a love-to-hate warm-up as a group. As we listen to the song “Roxanne” by the Police, you do jumping jacks until they sing the word “Roxanne” and then do a burpee. It’s three minutes of torture in the guise of entertainment. 😉 If you know the song at all, you know at the end they say that word a ton.

Did I mention that there were a lot of burpees today? :p

Over the course of the next hour plus, in teams of four, we tackled more of those suckers. 🙂 A newer member to our box, Emily, joined us for this lovely WOD. And she did great!

Saturday, April 4, 2015 Team WOD
Saturday, April 4, 2015 Team WOD

The first part of the workout was 3 rounds of – 25 burpees, 25 kettle-bell swings (53/35#), and 25 box jumps (24/20″). And the first 25 burpees had to be done by everybody in the group as a buy-in. Everything else could be broken up among the team. I used a 53# kettle-bell and did step-ups on a 20″ box.

Then one team member runs 400m and grabs a bean bag.

The next part was 3 rounds of – 25 kettle-bell thrusters (53/35#), 25 jumping lunges, 25 burpee box jumps, and 25 partner candlesticks. I used a 35# kettle-bell for the one-armed thrusters, and somehow we got through the rest.

Then another team member runs 400m to grab a bean bag.

The third part was just one round of 100 goblet squats (53/35#), 100 wall balls, and 100 partner GHD movements or banded good mornings. Goblet squats I could do with a 53# kettle-bell and I used a 20# medball for wall balls. Though Ev and I started with partner GHD on the floor, I moved to banded good mornings for most of it.

Another team member run.

The last part was another one round chunk… 100 partner leg tosses, 150 push-ups, and 200 kettle-bell sumo deadlift high pulls (53/35#).

And one last run before the team runs off to find a “flag” (think flag football) hidden somewhere in the complex like an Easter egg hunt.

Jimmy really outdid himself on this one. 🙂

Our team wasn’t dead last and completed everything in about 70 or 75 minutes I think. So we did ok. 🙂

As always, it was fun – and the camaraderie was awesome. We had new faces and old with us, so it was a good time.

Hopefully the new folks didn’t get scared off! 🙂

Great work everybody!

Goal Setting, part 2

Yesterday I talked about one of the goals – improving my overall endurance during workouts. But there’s two other pieces to discuss… improving my appearance and my mental focus.

#2 Improving Appearance

So what does this mean, exactly?

11002630_797819586966991_8027583679734968057_n (1)
Taken by Mike Anderson during Kiana’s WOD on February 17, 2015

When I started crossfit in February 2013, I was way overweight and out of shape. I went through my two weeks of on-ramp weighing around 250. Just a few months prior, I weighed 262. (You can read more here in another post.)

With my wife and family’s support and the support of my new friends and trainers at Crossfit Continuum, I have made huge strides towards general physical fitness and overall health. Weight-wise during the Whole30 challenge in the fall of 2013, I got down to 198 pounds at one point (October 2013), which was uncomfortable for me. It didn’t feel healthy.

According to the BMI chart, for my height and gender I’m supposed to be down around 165 or 170. And honestly, I’ve not been that light since I started college 27 years ago. When I left college I was around 185/190 and that is in the “overweight” category. And at 225, where I’m at now, I’m in the “obese” range.

Now, I definitely don’t have a model’s physique, but I’m not obese.

I’ve made huge gains in my chest, neck, arms, and legs. But I still have a bit of a “beer belly” left. So that’s what we’re going to focus on over the next few months.

I would like to get (and stay) around 210/215 pounds. And that will require some changes to my diet. That averages to about a pound a week. My problem won’t be losing the weight if I stay on a somewhat strict paleo approach – my problem will be keeping it to a pound a week. I tend to not eat enough when we go this way, so it’ll be an interesting process.

But as far as measurements go, we’re hoping to go from my current 39.75″ waist down to a 36.75″ waist – a difference of 3 inches – over the next 90 days. I’m not sure if we’ll get there, but that’s the goal. 🙂

#3 Improving Mental Focus

Words illustration of a person doing meditation
http://www.dollarphotoclub.com

All of this will require adjusting my brain a bit and changing my schedule so I have a bit more time to address a key part of the equation… meal planning. Though I love my wife very much, she’s a force of nature and we don’t often have time to sit down and plan out evening meals for the week. We try. And sometimes we succeed, but more often than not we fly by the seat of our pants with work, soccer and school schedules.

So we’re going to try doing two things going forward… I’m usually the first person up in the morning at 6 am and my morning routine has been to start the coffee and head down to work (I work from home as a computer geek and my “commute” involves heading to the basement to my home office and logging in).

Instead, we’re going to do two things in the first 30 minutes of my day:

  1. 3x a week, we’ll build in 10 minutes of meditation each day. And during that meditation, among the things I can try to do is visualize hitting my other goals for this 90 days.
  2. And spend time doing meal preparation. That could be putting stuff in the crock pot or dicing things up for use later in the day or just actually coming up with a “plan” – but something needs to be done, so we’ll squeeze this in.

Will this work? I’m not so sure, but something definitely needs to happen. Without a plan, we’re constantly playing catch-up.

And we’ll add one other bit to this – reading a book. Yes, if you know me – you know I *ALWAYS* have at least one book going – sometimes 2 or 3 – so this isn’t a stretch. But I have this book – 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, written by Richard Wiseman, that’s been sitting on my desk for 2 years. It has the dust to prove it. And I’m going to whittle my way through it over the next three months.

What’s next?

So as you can see, I have some work to do. But I’m in good shape to succeed at all of these tasks.

There will be much more going up here, including recipes, workouts, etc. And regular checking in.

My next check-in with Coach Drea is the 8th of May, so we’ll see where we’re at then as far as measurements go. 🙂

Until then, wish me luck and thanks for your support!

New Effort – Goal Setting!

It’s been a very long time since I’ve written here, so I figured it was about time to kick off a new effort.

Today starts a 90 day period of measuring some goals with regards to crossfit, appearance, diet, etc. Right before the July 4th holiday we’ll wrap it up, so we’ll see how it goes. 🙂

I worked with Coach Drea today to set up the goals, but let’s set the stage before we talk about them.

Where are we today?

I’ve been getting to Crossfit Continuum in Colorado Springs pretty regularly over the last couple of years. I average 3 or 4 workouts a week, which is pretty solid. And I’ve seen steady gains in my strength and mobility over that time.

What I haven’t really seen has been an increase in my endurance. I do OK when one or two movements are involved, but add in running or rowing or throw in a list of movements and somehow my mind and body stop communicating. I’ve also noticed that as I’ve continued, my knees and hips have become cranky – so I’ve had to do more with mobility and stretching even during my rest days.

And diet-wise, we’ve slipped over the last few months. We restarted some relaxed paleo this week and when I weighed myself Monday, March 30, I was at 228.8. At one point a year ago doing Whole30 I managed to get down to 198. And I’ve put a couple of inches back on my middle as well.

So what are the new goals?

dartsIt boils down to three main goals:

  1. Improve Endurance
  2. Improve Appearance
  3. Improve Mental Focus

So let’s go through these one at a time. Today we’ll cover the first one.

#1 – Improve Endurance

Rep Count

Do you ever get stuck mentally on a number when you’re working out? Mine is 5. I can consistently bang out five reps of something, but run into issues when I try to get beyond that. It happens, but I always find myself falling back to the 5.

So when my brain says “stop” I’m supposed to push 2 more reps out. Instead of my usual 5-7, shoot for 7-9 or more.

Rest Strategy

Here’s where a lot of extra time filters into my WODs. The rest time just builds up – I’ll have longer and longer waits between getting going again. Or my stroll from one station to the next will take just a little bit longer each time.

So Drea gave me these guidelines:

  • for WODs of 10 minutes and under, give myself no more than 10-15 second breaks. Count to 10 or 15 and at least get one rep in – because usually if you can do one, you can do more than one
  • for WODs of 20 minutes+, give myself no more than a 15-20 second break.

Row Intervals

And lastly, add a bit more endurance work each week. Two times a week throw in an 8-minute EMOM, alternating:

  • 15 calorie row
  • 8 burpees

It sounds awful, but we’ll give it a shot. 🙂

Eventual Goal

My eventual goal is to build up so I can conquer the Incline in Manitou Springs this summer. I’ve never attempted it because it’s a daunting challenge. But this summer we’re going to give it a shot.

Tomorrow…

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the other goals we set out. Thanks for reading!

Lurong Challenge 2014, Week 5

Wait… What happened to weeks 3 and 4?

I had every intention of writing one of these each week, but as you can see that has not happened. 🙂

A couple of interesting observations about this Lurong Challenge.

First, a busy family life and scheduling insanity has definitely reduced the effectiveness of the challenge this year vs. last. As a family we have not had the time to do meal planning with running to school, soccer, and whatever other events creep up each week. As a result I feel like I’m falling down in the food part of this challenge. (Even though I purchased a membership to MealFit from Thomas Cox, we have not taken advantage of a single meal plan yet.) We seem to fly by the seat of our pants every day and as a result there’s been quite a bit more cheating this time around.

Second, I think the workouts themselves have been awesome. Not sure if that’s because I’m in better condition now than a year ago or not, but I suspect that’s a big part of it. Though I’ve torn my hands repeatedly over the last few weeks (and still need to invest in a new pair of gloves), I have enjoyed them even if I haven’t always kicked butt at them. The challenge is just that – a challenge. And I feel more physically able to take on those challenges skills- and strength-wise this time around.

I’m not sure I’ll do the challenge again, just from a logistical standpoint. But I do appreciate the chance to adjust my diet for the better even if I’ve been inconsistent.

Has anybody else been struggling this year vs. last? Or are you doing better this year?

Lurong Challenge 2014, Week 2

I’m guessing you’re wondering where I talked about week 1, and I actually skipped it. You really don’t want to hear me moan and groan about the things we dropped from the diet again. 🙂 That said, I did want to talk about a couple of things I’ve noticed.

lurong-challenge-logoThis is the third reboot of the “paleo lifestyle” in the last couple of years. We’ve done a few things, from the Whole30 challenge to the Lurong Challenge and each has served as a bit of a “reset”. Each time we do this, it seems to get a little easier to shift away from the bad habits that creep in over time.

My biggest bad habit was a major coffee addiction. I can’t drink coffee without creamer, so really it was about the creamer more than the coffee itself – but it’s all tied together. It’s funny how I was never a coffee drinker until dropping soda from my diet. As a result, I started drinking a few cups a day. Right before we started the challenge I was up to two POTS of coffee a day, which was ridiculous.

no-coffeeWithout coffee over the last week, I’ve actually not been too bad. I drink a lot of iced tea now, which is my fall-back (unsweetened, but various flavors and always a mix of caffeinated and decaf tea bags). So it’s less really about the caffeine and more about the constantly drinking something with a bit of taste to it. Water gets old after a while. Unfortunately, we’re going through a gallon of iced tea a day as a family (my eldest is just as bad as I am). So I’m not sure we’re turning the corner on the caffeine addiction… but it’s a process.

Back to my point though… Last week I felt great even though I was doing a bit of detoxing. Body was sore after workouts (crossfit WODs Tues, Weds, Thurs, and Fri, plus yoga on Monday) but not overly so. And other than being really tired in the afternoons (more a matter of balancing out some things diet-wise) I physically felt stronger and had more in the tank for each workout than I expected.

We cheated on Sunday for a friend’s birthday and went to P.F. Chang’s for lunch. Had all the usual suspects – Chiang’s Spicy Chicken, some crab & cheese-stuffed wontons with plum sauce, a little egg drop soup, and we split a piece of blueberry cheesecake three ways. That was Sunday. Today, I’m not feeling quite as “energetic” – go figure. So the diet does make a big difference in my performance and overall feel.

That said, I’m still going to cheat once a week. It’s a given. 🙂 It’s a reward for being “good” and it’s just one meal, so the transgression passes pretty quickly body-wise usually. 🙂

The second thing I’ve noticed is that even though this is a competition in some sense, it’s not the Crossfit Games-level of competition. It’s just a WOD. And I am so much happier for that little fact.

crossfit-logoUltimately I am only competing against one thing… myself. And I’ve come a long way in my almost 2 years of crossfit. I’m stronger, faster, and generally I think a more well-rounded person with the physical activity I get at the box every week. It offers that social outlet and at the same time provides a much needed escape from the desk (and my brain), letting my body get out and play for a while.

But when I did the Crossfit Games workouts (especially the last one), the stress of the “competition” aspect really got to me. I was comparing myself against everybody else, when what I needed to do was focus on the only thing that mattered – doing my best and fighting through the workout. DNF really irks me. But when I climbed into that weird space in my head where I was never good enough or fast enough and focused on negatives (I suck. I can’t finish. I shouldn’t even try.) I was lost before I started.

The clock and the crap going on around me shouldn’t matter. It’s JUST A WORKOUT. And so far I’m keeping that mindset as we work through the Lurong Challenge this year. I may get a little cranky in a few weeks when we redo the first three workouts to see if we’ve improved. But I need to forget about previous weeks and just stay in the moment.

(Note to self – start working on meditating.)

It’s very funny how little things like diet and mindset make a big difference. 🙂

So how am I doing so far in the Lurong Challenge 2014? Not too bad. I gained about 30 pounds between my lowest point in the challenge last time (197#) and where I was when I started (207#) and am already down 6 pounds in a week (down to 201#).

Workout 1 — got to 124 reps on level II. Half of that was my row for calories – ended up with 65 calories. 17 pull-ups. 25 back squats. And 17 push presses.

Workout 2 — got to 66 reps on level II. Made it through the 65#, 75#, and 95# snatches and almost got one 135# done for round 4, but ran out of time. Takes me a while to flip weights and we were adjusting weights between each round.

We’ll see how workout #3 goes in a couple of days. I am just happy to have snuck in workout 2 on a Monday (usually a challenge).

So if you’re doing the Lurong Challenge – how are you doing so far? Are you having more issues with the stricter diet or the workouts? Curious minds want to know!

A site about my crossfit journey…