An Update on Sleep

Earlier this year I wrote about some of the strange sleep remedies I’ve been trying. After a little success, I thought I’d post an update.

Sense from Hello

Screenshot_2015-12-07-08-55-51I’ve been looking for a simple sleep tracker that I don’t have to wear on my body and found “Sense” by Hello. This has three components:

  • An in-room sensor
  • A “clip” that pins to your pillow
  • and an app

Essentially movement on the pillow is tracked by the in-room sensor (which also tracks things like noise, light, temperature, and humidity), which then uses Bluetooth to communicate with the app, which sends data back to the Hello servers for analysis.

Now, I won’t say that it’s perfect, but it does give me plenty of data to look at. I like seeing when I go to bed and when I get up, for instance, as well as when I toss and turn overnight. I’m usually up a couple of times and the sensor tracks that fairly well.

The “Sleep Score” is bunk as far as I’m concerned, but it’s nice to have a bit more data to play with.

Soothing Sounds

I’ve also added a new element over the last few weeks – a playlist from Amazon Prime Music that I play over our Amazon Echo internet-connected speaker in the bedroom. (I’m a huge fan of the Echo – we own three of them, one for each floor of the house now.) I play nature sounds (ocean waves, wind, etc.) for a few hours to help tune out my brain a little.

That seems to have helped.

10ml_72DPI_Good-Night_1024x1024Soothing Scents

And we now have a few “diffusers” for essential oils at the house. I’ve been doing a combination of DoTerra’s Lavender and Edens Garden’s Good Night Synergy blend (like DoTerra’s Serenity). I’ll be shifting over to Serenity when I run out of the Good Night blend.

Soothing Concoctions

ProductImage1And lastly I’ve been playing with Doc Parsley’s Sleep Cocktail.

This concoction purports to adjust your brain chemistry slightly to aid in a deeper sleep. One word to the wise – it is a tad bit expensive at about $2 a packet for 30. But it’s been having a good effect, so I’ll continue with it as long as I see results.

The Results…

I’ve tried each of these separately and in different combinations, but when I put them all together I have something I haven’t had for a long time… Actual dreams. That I remember.


That means… SUCCESS!

Is it perfect? Heck no. It’s a messed up conglomeration of things, but I have had more success with all of these tools used together than I have in a long time. And my dreams are just as messed up as I remember, so that may be a double-edged sword.

We will continue to play, but I wanted to update folks on the journey…



Saturday Team WOD

After doing Karen on Wednesday (150 wall balls for time), I have to say that my body and I weren’t really on speaking terms. It didn’t want to move for a while and I ended up skipping Thursday and Friday at the box to give it some time to cool off.

As it is, I was still moving a little slowly this morning. But we got up and headed into Crossfit Continuum for the morning team WOD. Though Ev had to work, I took the girls with me and we would see what was in store for us…

20151205_110236Coach Clare had an easy little warm-up – a little 400m run (it was sunny and felt pretty good this morning) and then 15 reps of a few things like PVC pass-thrus, squat-to-stands, and so on. And then we talked about the workout itself…

In teams of 4 or 5, we were to tackle…

A buy-in of a 4,000 meter row divided up among the team.

Then 5 rounds for time where each member rotated through the various movements for a minute each…

  • Box jumps
  • Push-ups
  • Med-ball sit-ups
  • Row for calories
  • Chest to Bar pull-ups, regular pull-ups, or ring rows
  • and a 1 minute rest

At the end, the cash out was a 200m Buddy Carry… everyone had to get carried at least once. 🙂

I got to work with Emily, Margaret, and Clara today. I’ve not worked with Margaret or Clara before so it was nice to meet some new folks!

We each rowed 1,000m to start and then the madness began. We had a plan when we started, but I think I threw things off because I forgot the “rest” period in the AMRAP in my first two rounds. That said, the ladies did amazing and outdid me at every turn, so I really didn’t have too much time to think about it.

I scaled a little with step-ups on the 20″ box, med ball sit-ups with a 14# medicine ball (should have used a 20# but figured it was ok), and regular kipping pull-ups. We also had an obstacle – the rower battery is dying so it would reset and take about 30 seconds to get through the set-up menu when it died.

At the end, Margaret carried Emily and I carried Clara and then the three ladies worked together to carry me. It was quite entertaining and I’m hoping that some of the pictures that Coach Clare took turn out. 🙂

We had a great turnout… The girls got to work with Kaila and another gal who happens to teach at AJ’s elementary school. Monica, Daniel, Caleb, Megan, and Brent worked together and Emily, Elizabeth, Larry, Jamal, and Stacy worked together. Clare just wandered around cheering folks on and keeping folks moving. 🙂

When it was all done, we also saw a few folks coming in for the Advanced lifting class that was after the team WOD. So it was a good day.

Now I’m tired. 🙂

Great work everybody and thanks for carrying my heavy self more than a few feet ladies!

Karen is a Five-Letter Word

I’m going to preface today’s post with this…

Anyone who thinks that doing Fran and Karen in the same week is a good idea should probably have their head examined. 🙂

We did Fran on Monday, then a funky back squat strength routine yesterday, and now Karen today. My body is going to file for a cease and desist order if I keep this up.

20151202_102952Thankfully I wasn’t alone. We had Coach Bill leading our merry band and the 9:30 class included: Lyle, Elyse, Lori, and Danielle. We started with a short 250m row, then moved to a 30 second handstand hold, wall ball shots, front squats with a med ball, ankle rolls, knee hugs, pigs-on-skates, and a few grasshoppers. That was just to get us moving a bit before the main event.

Karen, if you don’t know, is one of the named “ladies” of Crossfit. It involves doing 150 wall balls for time with a 20# or 14# med ball. A wall ball is essentially a front squat where you push your med ball to a 8′ or 10′ target on the wall at the top. Now imagine 150 of them!

20151202_102950Honestly I did ok for the first 80 or 90 wall balls and then started slowing down. My quads were burning and it only got worse. The first 100 wall balls were done in about 10 minutes. The last 50 took more than 6 minutes.

I finished in 16:21.

We had other folks who finished in around 8 minutes. They were flying. I wanted to stop at 10 minutes. I don’t like pain. This was muscle agony in my quads. I felt like I was going to fall over.

I did appreciate all the encouragement. As the last man standing, I was cheered on by the rest of the class. And I did get some nice comments about the fact that my mobility has improved from Bill. I was getting a full squat at the bottom and full extension at the top.

So that was nice at least. I just don’t want to do it again. 🙂

Other folks this morning finished in 7-8 minutes, which is crazy. I don’t know how they did that.

So here’s the only bad thing about Karen today. We have to do it again later in the month… A ‘retest’ to see if we improved any.

At this point, I think “Karen” can take a flying leap. 🙂

Great work folks! And thank you for all the encouragement!

Back Squats For Days

Yesterday, Fran and I had it out. She won this round. Life goes on. End of story.

Today we did something we haven’t done before on a strength day – lots of reps with lower weights mixed in with heavier attempts. It was interesting. And I like back squats, so I was all in.

Got there for an 8:30 WOD with Coach Drea. My wife Ev had the day off, so she joined me, and we also had Todd, KC, Mike, Ashley, Maria, Sam, and Lyle. Plus Danielle came early for the 9:30 class (and she was joined by Larry and Andrea for Coach Bill).

Found this great image here…

So we started with a “Death by Kettlebells” warm-up. This is where you do an increasing rep scheme with 1 kettlebell swing in the first minute, 2 in the next, 3 in the one after that, etc., until you get to 10. In-between the KBSs you work through a mix of other movements… 5 burpees, 5 jumping pull-ups, 5 thoracic high fives, 5 squat-to-stands, and 5 roll-to-candlesticks…

It was a morning where the warm-up definitely got us warm!

Then we started the workout, which as I said was a bit unusual for us.

  • Back Squats: 1-10-1-20-1-30

Start with a heavy 1 rep, then do 10 reps at a lower weight, then do another 1 rep, but heavier, and another 20 reps at a lower weight than the first 10 reps, then do another 1 rep, but heavier, and end with 30 reps at a lower weight than the last 20…

400px-Squats.svgLike I said, it was an interesting rep scheme.

I worked with Lyle, who is a great, younger guy who looks like the traditional pictures of crossfit athletes. Thankfully today he and I were on the same page as far as weights went.

He went a little heavier than I did for the one-reps, but we stayed at the same weights for the 10-20-30…

For me, it went:

  • 1-reps = 245, 250, 255 (actually 252.5 ’cause we forgot a plate, but it was ok)
  • 10-20-30 reps = 155, 135, 115

I’m pretty happy with the results. The multi-rep sets were tough! My one rep (set back in May) is 275, so this was pretty good for me.

Thanks Lyle for hanging with the older guy. 🙂

Meanwhile my wife managed a new one rep max of 175#! Woot! She’s now doing Fran with our friend Danielle, so we’ll see how that goes.

So not a bad day. 🙂

Tomorrow is Karen… 150 wall balls for time. I’m not looking forward to it, but should be ok I hope. Shooting for 10 minutes or less.

b.fatpadRight now I’m treating my right knee with a little kindness. The “fat pad” below the kneecap is inflamed and unhappy at the moment. So I did some ice and now I’ve put some Deep Blue (like Icy Hot) on it. We’ll see if we can get it to be a little less angry.

Ice + Heat + Ibuprofen = win

Hope everybody has a great day!

Fran is a Four Letter Word

There are days I like going to crossfit and then there’s days I don’t. Though today hasn’t been a bad day overall, it wasn’t a great day for me at the box.


Let’s start at the beginning. We’ve been doing this “In the Zone” challenge at Crossfit Continuum. I did ok with it in October – not great – but ok. And kind of ignored it in November. That didn’t stop it from happening, but let’s just say I saw some gains along with my losses.

Back on November 9th we tested with Fran. I did it Rx in 16:49, which was awful. Lots of room for improvement, right?


Back to today…


dunce1Arrived in time to watch the 8:30 class finish up… Lori, Mike, Casey, and a new gal were wrapping up Fran with Coach Drea. Turned out I was the only person in the 9:30 class, so I got some good 1-on-1 time with Drea. Even got to see Jimmy, which was a nice bonus.

Warmed up with a 500m row, 10 one-armed kettlebell thrusters with a 35# kettle-bell, 10 thorassic high fives, 10 roll to candlesticks (yay -not), 10 squat to stands, and 10 wall balls. Then warmed up with some light thrusters, kipping, and pull-ups on the bar.

Then it was time for Fran. This is one of those named workouts in crossfit that is somehow fitting that it’s four letters and begins with the letter “F”. I was swearing up a storm.

Fran, if you don’t remember, is:

  • 21-15-9, Thrusters (95/65#) and pull-ups

And though I finished thinking I was improving on my time (somehow I had a 20 minute time in my head, but didn’t look), I actually slowed down even further. 17:45 was my new time for a Rx fran. That’s nearly a minute slower than last time (16:49).

A full 56 seconds. Might as well be a minute. Ugh.


And then we took measurements… I’m going the wrong way here.

  • Chest: Old – 42, New – 43.25 (+1.25)
  • Waist: Old – 40, New 40.5 (+.5)
  • Hips: Old – 40.75, New 41 (+.25)
  • Body fat: Old – 21.9%, New 22.1% (+.2%)
  • Wt (bad scale at box, but still…): Old – 219, New 225 (+6 lbs)

The Chest measurement is good… the rest, not so much.

I’m not a little guy, but I think I was about 232 at the beginning of the month according to my home scale and I was back to 234 at the end of the month. It’s not a big slide, but it’s a slide I’d like to stop.

Reset Time

I knew that November was going to be difficult. I always struggle with diet leading up to Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) and this year was no different.

But I’m resetting again. Time to drop bread and alcohol for a couple of weeks to see where that gets me. I’m still not a fan of the Zone diet, but I can work on ensuring that I eat better nonetheless.


Snowy Team WODs

Though I didn’t make it to the workouts on Wednesday (150 wall balls after doing wall balls on Tuesday wasn’t in the cards for my knees) or Thursday (weather and worry about my family doing a 5k in slick conditions), I knew I had to make it in for a Saturday workout. (The box was closed on Friday.)

Thankfully the whole Fitzy clan was able to make it this morning. Coach Stacy was there to get us going and we had a small, hearty crew who showed up to partake… Elyse, Emily B, Todd and a friend, Margaret, Elizabeth, Stacy, Kelly, and Bill all worked out with us.

We had some time when we got there, so it was time for some couch stretch and pigeon stretch, in addition to some dead hangs to try and loosen up backs, shoulders, and the rest.

20151128_110037Then we did Stacy’s “PVC pipe” warm-up like we did last Saturday (“Snatch the PVC Pipe from my Hand” details it nicely) before dividing up into teams of 4 (or 5) for the day’s fun. We had a lot of fun, even with the 2 burpee penalty when the pipes fell, so it was a good warm-up again! 🙂

Bill got there a bit late, so we conscripted him today as an honorary Fitzy. 🙂 Though we were in groups of 4 or 5, the movements were split up a bit.

The first part we broke into “guys” and “gals” and did:

  • 20 pull-ups (split-up, one partner does pull-ups while the other holds a 225/135# deadlift)
  • 60 wall balls (20/14#) (split-up, one partner does wall-balls while the other hangs from the bar)
  • 60 toes-to-bar (split-up)
  • 60 box jumps (24/20″) (split-up)
  • 60 toes-to-bar (split-up)
  • 60 goblet squats (split-up)
  • 4 rope climbs (pretty much each team member does one)

And then at the end, everybody hops on the rower for the “cash out”:

  • 4,000m row (split-up)
  • 40 pistols (split-up)


I worked with Bill while Ev and the girls worked together. And I modified a few things…

  • toes-to-bar quickly became knees-to-elbows)
  • 20″ box jumps
  • rope climbs were from lying on the floor to standing and back down again
  • pistols were to a 20″ box
  • and we did a 5,000m row since there were 5 of us

All in all, not too bad. My grip was giving up early on… who knew hanging from the bar for a few seconds would be that difficult! 🙂 Rough in spots, but fun as a team event. 🙂 Thanks Bill for being an honorary Fitzy!

Now the girls are off doing their thing today and I have a quiet house for a few hours. Might be time for a nap!

PRs and Box Jumps

Yesterday involved box jumps and handstand push-ups. What would today’s workout have in store for us? Well, it’s Tuesday and lately that means deadlifts and bench press. 🙂

My lovely wife went to the 6am class and started things off with a couple of PRs… 265# for deadlifts and 100# for bench press. She did awesome and warned us that we weren’t going to like the workout after the PRs. She was right. 🙂

As I’m still enjoying my vacation with the kids, I went with the girls to the 9:30am class with Coach Isaac. Ashley and Todd were finishing up when we got there. We were joined by a fun crew of folks… Maria, Sam, Connie, Mike, and Chad. Isaac had his hands full. 🙂

We started with a short row or run (250m/200m) and some easy stretches… Spider-man lunges, knee hugs, squat-to-stand (like the Gorilla yoga pose but you start there and then stand up to stretch your hamstrings) and a few other things.


DLgripwidthWhen that was all done, we split out to do our deadlifts first. I worked through this progression:

  • 225#
  • 275#
  • 295#
  • 315#
  • 335# (old 1RM)
  • 345# (new PR)
  • 365# (couldn’t get all the way up)
  • 355# (new PR)

So I ended up with a 20# PR and hit 355#. I’ll take it. I even used the switch grip today and that made a big difference.

My goal next year is to hit 400#, so we’ll see how long it takes to get me there.

Bench Press

20151124_110048(0)I worked with Chad and Mike and we alternated spotting each other as we worked through the progression… I got through…

  • 135#
  • 185#
  • 205# (old 1RM)
  • 215# (new PR)
  • 225# (fail)
  • 220# (new PR)

So that’s a 15# increase in my PR, hitting 220#.

Not too shabby! I’m still shooting for a body weight bench press (we won’t talk about my fluctuating body weight this month, because it’s a moving target that’s moving UP 😦 ), but we’ll see how long it takes to get there. I’m closer!


It was 4 rounds for time…

  • 21 box jumps (24/20#)
  • 18 wall balls (20/14#)
  • 15 kettlebell swings (53/35#)
  • 12 burpees

Fortunately, we managed to be mostly out of time by the point that we got here. So Isaac was nice and said we should shoot for 3 rounds but get in a minimum of 2 before we were done.

box1I did 20″ box jumps, used a 20# med ball, and a 55# kettlebell. Did I scale? Hell yes. 24″ jumps still scare me, but after two days of doing them I think I’m going to have to reconsider.

I did two rounds and between the box jumps and wall balls, I was fried. My left hip was mad. My right ankle was mad. I almost biffed hard on the first set of box jumps, but got through it. And I got through the second set somehow… But man was I happy to be done.

Other folks managed to get through 3 and 4 rounds, which was awesome. 🙂

The Girls

So I’m constantly amazed by how my daughters do at crossfit. They are both amazing athletes on the soccer field and that competitive nature translates beautifully into the box.

20151124_110053Mickey is 14, almost 15, and a force to be reckoned with on the field. I’ve watched larger girls bump into her and fall over, so I know she’s solid in the muscle department.

Today she managed to get a 75# bench press and a 170# deadlift, plus she got through 3 rounds of the post-PR workout in 16:32. She’s kicking butt.

And then there’s AJ, who is 10 going on 11. She is our little goalie (and has been playing up a year with older kids because of her ability for the last few years) and scares opposing offenses. 🙂

She managed today to do a 55# bench press (her first time ever doing bench press) and deadlifted 145#.

Both girls upped their PRs.

So I’d say the whole family had a good day at crossfit. 🙂

Have to offer a big thanks to Chad, Mike, and Isaac for all the encouragement today. It was a fun day, even if the third part of the day knocked me on my butt. 🙂

Apparently they were a little tired too because after lunch they both wanted to snuggle with the big dog on the couch…

Hope everybody has a great day!!


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