I can count.

As I alluded to in my last post, I did something this weekend that I’ve never done before: I volunteered as a judge for a CrossFit competition. I haven’t been so scared about counting since this vampire muppet heckled me from my living room TV.

the count

If you talked to me in the days leading up to the competition, you knew that I did NOT want to do it. Essentially, the job consisted of counting athletes’ reps and ensuring they were meeting movement standards on things like snatches, kettlebell swings, hand release push-ups and sit-ups. It sounds simple, and it kind of is – I’ve been doing CrossFit for over three years; I’m more than familiar with proper form and I count my own reps all the time. But, I convinced myself that once the pressure was on I was going to miscount or piss someone off with a “no rep” call, throw their time and ruin the entire competition.

i said seven

I think that stems from my general tendency to avoid confrontation. (Can’t we just be nice?) Also, my confidence gets wobbly in black and white situations. I was always the kid who preferred essay questions over true/false and multiple choice tests. I generally feel better in the grey area where no one is technically wrong as long as you can back up your thoughts with an intelligent argument. Ask me to say “yes” or “no” with less than a second to deliberate and I start to get hives.

But I’m always harping on CrossFit’s community aspect, and they needed volunteers, so I did it. I made sure I was familiar with all the standards and did a few practice runs with my coach. My stomach was in knots that (VERY EARLY) morning, but I showed up, grabbed a clipboard and managed to get in the zone.

There were three separate events and multiple heats, so I had the opportunity to judge about 10 times. And, halfway through, I realized that I was actually having fun. Turns out I’m capable of firmly correcting someone’s hand placement during sit-ups, calling a “no rep” when it’s warranted and counting! I can count!

wisdomous

So, <insert obvious conclusion about the value of stepping outside of one’s comfort zone>. But, also, FUN can happen in the most unexpected places.

When’s the last time you did something that scared you?

Spring Awakening

Awaken, my friends!

There are signs of spring in New York! The sidewalk snow banks are steadily melting into dirty street slushies. The fragrant piles of frozen garbage are thawing. And crabby, pale New Yorkers from all five boroughs are clawing their way out of their stale apartments and bracing themselves against the sun.

Remember the sun?

I admit that I am guilty of this particular brand of hibernation. And now that I work from home, it’s a bit more extreme. Yes, the total number of times I’ve changed into “real” pants over the last three months may be less than 10 (though I still argue, to my husband’s chagrin, that Rite-Aid jeggings are indeed pants), but I promise you that I have not been inactive.

I’ve actually been quite a busy little wordsmith. Some of what I’ve been working on is of the contest/submission variety and, as a deeply superstitious person, I’ll need to keep those details under wraps. But, I hope you’ll check out:

Also, you should know that I recently purchased this book and have become obsessed with all things KonMari:

978-1-60774-730-7

Expect a detailed, spring cleaning-themed post soon (whether you like it or not).

So far I’ve only KonMari’d all my clothes. Here’s a little before and after action.

photo 1photo 2

I feel approximately 100 lbs lighter.

More soon, friends!

When in doubt, climb a rope

Photo Credit: CrossFit 718
Photo Credit: CrossFit 718

Life lessons I Learned (or Relearned) from Climbing a Rope

  • Anticipate and prepare. This can mean a lot of different things. When it comes to rope climbing, it means packing long socks.
  • Take a second before you start. Take a deep breath, pay attention to your footing, get a grip and have a plan. This can help you establish or reclaim control of a daunting situation.
  • You’re more likely to do something stupid when you’re tired. This is particularly relevant when dangling 15 feet above the ground.
  • It’s great to have support and guidance, but you’re ultimately responsible for yourself. Encouragement and advice go a long way, but when the stakes are high (literally and figuratively) you’ll likely find yourself on your own. This can be a particularly difficult lesson, but the faster you accept it the better off you’ll be.
  • It’s all about your core. AKA guts.
  • Know your limits. Listen to those guts. Only you know how far you can go and still come back in one piece (without burns, rips and twisted ankles).
  • Taking risks is important (and sometimes fun!). It’s scary to push yourself when there’s the risk of getting hurt. But real growth happens when you step outside your comfort zone. And it’s kind of a cool view from up there.

GOATs Reprised

One of my VERY first posts to this blog over a year and a half ago was about GOATs. (As in the things that “get your goat,” not the cute, prancey, furry kind you meet at the San Diego Zoo…though I’ll go ahead and share this photo again because there is happiness making power in a real live goat. You’ll see that I was hot and sunburned with 2nd grade style scraped knees from surfing lessons. But petting a goat still made me smile.)

CIMG1755I’ve been doing CrossFit since August of 2012 and have made significant progress in so many ways. My endurance is stronger, my form is better. I’ve seen my one-rep maxes climb for pretty much every lift and I’ve improved on skills that once seemed impossible like handstand push-ups, rope climbs and double-unders.

But chin-ups…Ugh. I can’t tell you how frustrating it’s been to hang there and jerk around like some spastic weirdo. Month after month, I got nowhere on my own and had to resort to using one of those big rubber bands to sling-shot me and my chin up over the bar. Then, before and after workouts, I started experimenting with jumping from the ground while gripping the bar. At first I jumped a lot to get my chin up over the bar. Then a little less. And soon I just needed to stand on my toes so I could start with slightly bent arms.

Then, this week, on the eve of my 34th birthday, I just did it. I went off to the far end of the gym and, while no one was looking, I did one. And then I was immediately flooded with “tree falling in an empty forest” brand of self-doubt. Did I actually do that? I called over my coach and had her watch me. She gave me a big hug and told me she was proud of me. I did a freakin’ strict chin-up, dude!

It’s kind of a perfect way to start this next year of life. It’s a reminder of all the things you’d expect: certain things take time and failure is part of the process. Of course, of course. But, also, it’s kinda like “Great! OK…so…now what?” It feels amazing to achieve a goal, but how long can I really rest on the laurels of a single chin-up? Or any other accomplishment, big or small. Maybe I’m a total masochist, but I like to maintain some level of restlessness. Otherwise I start to feel stale and like I’m wasting time (aka life).

So, what’s next?

Book #2. I’m recommitting. I’m reclaiming my writing days. Revised timeline TBD.

Also maybe, like, 2 chin-ups.

Question: What are your freakin’ GOATs?

 

 

 

GOATS

This is me with a goat.

I met him a few years ago on a trip to the San Diego Zoo. He was incredibly sweet and patient even though I’m sure he had to be tired of sun-burned tourists pawing at him, offering only meager handfuls of those little food pellets. I remember thinking that if I lived in a big old farmhouse on a few acres (instead of a 1.5 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn) I might get a pet goat.

But, alas, this post isn’t about that kind of goat.

It’s about GOATS – the things that “get your goat.” The stuff that bugs you and always trips you up. I first learned the term at Cross Fit, which I started doing a couple months ago. My coach was showing me how to keep track of my workouts in my notebook. He told me to dedicate one page to goals and another page to GOATS. As a beginner, I didn’t know what my GOATS might be. I mean, Cross Fit is tough and everything seemed hard. But, as I’ve started to build strength and get (slightly) better, I’ve found that I do indeed have GOATS.

At the top of the list: Pull-Ups.

This does not surprise me, as pull-ups haunted me all through elementary, middle and high school. I’m sure most of you know exactly where I’m going with this.

That stupid president’s fitness challenge thing.

I have no problem with this type of test in theory. Fitness is important. But every year it would just sorta come out of nowhere and we’d go from playing halfhearted indoor volleyball to pull-ups, like it was a transferable skill. I remember watching some girls – they were usually the tiny, compact gymnast types – hop up on the bar and crank out 15 like it was no big deal. I, unfortunately, was never a gymnast. Nor was I ever tiny or compact. I was tall and gangly and uncoordinated (I’m still those things) and would just sort of pathetically hang there, desperately trying to flex my non-existent biceps. Eventually my gym teacher would give me a disgusted nod and mark a big, fat zero in his ledger. I’d walk away embarrassed, but mostly relieved that it was over. Time would pass, we’d play some more halfhearted volleyball and I’d forget all about pull-ups until the next year where I’d repeat the same dreadful performance.

So, how are pull-ups different now that they’re a GOAT?

1. You’re supposed to have GOATS. There’s a whole page for them, right? When you’re working towards something that’s really difficult, you’re building strength. And, when you conquer something that was once difficult, you build confidence.

2. Everyone’s got GOATS. Everything’s relative. Even the strongest person at my gym has a GOAT page in their notebook and groans a little when a work out contains a specific exercise.

3. With a GOAT, you don’t just accept that you suck. You don’t ignore the GOAT, pretending it doesn’t exist for a year and then just feel disappointed when nothing’s changed. You work at it.

You feed it little food pellets and scratch it behind the ears until one day it’s working for you instead of against you.

For now, I’m practicing with these giant rubber band things, but I think my muscles are starting to get it. One day soon I’ll do a real president’s challenge -worthy pull-up and we’ll all celebrate. Then I’ll cross it off my GOAT page and move on to the next thing.

Question for the day: What’s your GOAT? (Maybe it has absolutely nothing to do with exercise or fitness.)