October 2018


Ever since I learned there was such a thing as a Partner WOD, I have been terrified by the beast. I hate them. They scare me more than anything. I know, always, I suck as a partner. I’m the oldest person in the gym. I have issues. I’m not very strong. I’m not very fast. I’m not very anything except determined. And the “real” athletes are far superior to my feeble self. I never pick a partner. I let the last man standing get stuck with me.

Since the beginning, people have planned around that. They know I won’t ask anyone so they quickly pair up and the last idiot left gets stuck with me. You need to plan better, folks.

Laura heard someone complaining about getting stuck with an inferior partner. She says this happened in an evening class and didn’t refer to me, but I totally understand the problem. Getting stuck with me can ruin your day. Getting stuck with another inferior person would have the same effect. I get it. Laura didn’t like it.

She got the Red Bag. We draw lots and we match up and that’s your partner. No buddies working out together all the time. Each time, you get your number and pair up with the other person with that number and that’s your partner. Too bad. Make it work.

And here I am. Partnering up with people who know me from Saturday partner crap and have watched how limited I am in everything. Still, no one has sighed audibly or rolled their eyes that I could see. They just accept their fate and I feel sorry for them.

We have been doing this for a few weeks and it is working out okay, but the regular folks who have their besties for partners aren’t really liking this new thing.

Let me tell you why it is a good idea. Changing partners gives you a different workout. Those who are stuck with me get to shine in areas where I might not be able to do anything at all. They have to manage their time/efforts to match someone unequal to their skills. That is a new skill to master.

This week, I have been paired first with Kylie and then with Jason. Both of these people are incredibly strong, talented, able to do the things, and RX everything all the time. And then there is me. And yet, they managed to let me feel like a full participant in the workouts. I held up my end as best I could with a scaled version of shit, while they did their RX version of the shit.

We got reasonable scores, but these powerhouses were unable to get the best score on the boards because, quite frankly, I’m not ever a best score on the board type of person. I try. I try really hard. It’s just that I’m sixty-five and have a host of issues, a list of doctors, and I’m on Medicare for God’s sake. I can’t keep up with the youngsters in their forties. Hell, I got a kid in his forties.

And both of the superior athletes didn’t die when they were stuck with me. They coped. They worked around my limitations. They worked with me to make sure we both had a good workout. They let me feel like a full partner.

This is why it is good to change partners. You learn to work with and around a variety of people and make your workout a joy to share. It’s not always sunshine and roses. You don’t always get your best friend to partner with. Sometimes you are stuck with the old lady. That makes your strategy for the day change. Or at least it should.

I feel bad when the Red Bag comes out because I know I ruin someone’s day. They would never have picked me for the workout. And yet, I hope against hope, that I’m not too disappointing and that they can manage to work around the feeble old lady who tries as hard as she can while they zoom around and past and do awesome things.

We all have our challenges and if you think it is annoying to have me as a partner, you should try having to be me for every single workout I do.

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Anyone who has watched my progress with CrossFit knows that I fear the whiteboard. It scares me and intimidates me and makes me feel like I don’t belong. Apparently, I’m not the only person who feels this way.

Someone linked to this blog post about the whiteboard. It says in part, “You look at the scores for the day and you zoom in on a few people that have the fastest times or the heaviest lifts. At that moment, your assessment of your own performance starts spiraling.  You decide, at that moment, that you are not fast enough or strong enough and, in your mind, that’s an automatic failure.” It goes on to say why you aren’t.

I not only often feel like a failure, but like an interloper or pretender. I don’t belong here. That nagging voice is always telling me that I really don’t belong here. I’m not like the other people. I basically, as a data point, suck.

I’ve written about the humiliation of the whiteboard and I have wondered what in the hell Glassman was thinking when he instituted this policy. I have always just assumed that he was getting back at all the smart kids from school who got better grades and now that he was in charge, the dumb jock would show them all.

When my score goes up on the board, it never has an RX after it. I mean really. If I can RX a WOD, it was poorly written. They don’t really write them for me. This coach can’t leave the blank space after my time or rep count alone but likes to add an S or M or sometimes MOD after it. Like I’m somehow more scaled or more modified than just not RX, but super crappy. This alphabet crap doesn’t go after all the scaled people, but it seems especially important if I have gotten a respectable number up there.

I don’t know why this upsets me so much. By the time these people are my age, I will have died of old age and won’t get to see how they make this work. I can’t make it work. I can only manage to get in there and do amazing things for an old fart.

But apparently even the young and super fit people are killing themselves over a score on a whiteboard. They will cheat or misrepresent their efforts just to get a better number on the board. They will miscalculate the weight on the bar or mess up with the rep counts just to be able to enhance their score.

As Carma once told me when I asked why she was doing more reps on a Tabata when it wouldn’t go for her score, “My body knows.” I try to remember that as I struggle with all the athletes young enough to be my children. Or grandchildren.

I know, intellectually, that I have done amazing things in the last six years. I went from not being able to do just about anything to being able to do many of the things adequately. I’m still not climbing a rope ever because it is too dangerous. And pull-ups are probably just a dream – not even up to a hope. But, I have consistently showed up with a willing spirit and tried to do the things with correct form and real counting.

And then the score has to go on the board because Glassman thought it would be great to humiliate everyone but the very best of the day. That squiggle on the board can suck all the fun out of a really hard WOD. I tried my damnedest and because I’m old and have an ever growing list of doctors and diagnoses, I don’t get a nice squiggle. I get, if not the worst score on the board, at least one of the worst.

I try to just enjoy the process. I try to appreciate all the hard work. I try to rationalize my different situation from all the kids I’m there with, and sometimes I succeed. Then there is the rest of the time. When I feel like an interloper and a failure.

At least I know I’m not special in that concern. Some of the other less than the best athletes are suffering the same way. Even some of the best are not at their best every single day.

If the premise is that CrossFit is for everyone and it can be scaled to meet the needs of each athlete, what’s the purpose of the whiteboard? And why add the insulting, demeaning, belittling extra S or M or MOD to it? I’m trying for God’s sake. The number looks bad enough without the extra letters added.

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Going to the gym is one thing, but eating the right foods for the rest of the day is an entirely different beast. Now, with even one more thing to worry about, diet-wise, I need to plan carefully to be able to keep my body fit and healthy.

Today’s workout was stunning. I read it and figured, well, I won’t get far.

The 12 minute AMRAP was toes to bar and double unders with a progressive ladder. There were 6 toes to bar and then 12 double unders, 12 toes to bar and 24 double unders, 18 toes to bar and 36 double unders, etc. The toes to bar increased by six each round and the double unders were twice the toes to bar.

I was hoping against hope to get the 18/36 round completed. I can’t do toes to bar, but I can do hanging knee raises. When I began, I could barely hang from the bar for more than five seconds. I eventually could bend my knees slightly. And then I got a bigger bend. Today, on the first few I could get my knees to or close to my chest but as the minutes dragged on, I was content to get them all at least waist high.

I also realized I was an old woman and did single unders instead of any double unders today. Even so, I was having trouble getting them perfect and missed several. So, it wasn’t like I wasn’t working.

Both hanging knee raises and jump rope spike my heart rate, so I wasn’t very confident about this at all. I figured I would just spend all my time sitting and box breathing. But to my surprise, I did better than expected.

I did the first round without stopping and even got back to the bar and did the 12 hanging knee raises (albeit with a break) before I had to sit. After the jump rope, I had to sit a bit before getting to the 18 hanging knee raises and I looked at the clock and far less time had elapsed than I had anticipated. By the 18, I was able to do six and then had to do three sets of four, but I never had to sit down. I could just pause, regroup for a bit, and jump back up to the rig.

I finished as far as I thought I would get and there was still quite a bit of time on the clock. After the jump rope, I had to rest again and then there were 24 hanging knee raises to get through. I managed by breaking them into smaller and smaller sets. I got the jumps in and amazingly there was still some time on the clock. In fact, there was enough time that I got another 24 hanging knee raises in.

For the math people out there, that meant I got 84 hanging knee raises done along with 120 jumps of the rope in twelve minutes. I really had no idea I could manage such a thing. My hands were on fire and my right shoulder was complaining. But I got so much farther than I thought I could manage.

Now, on to the food portion of the day. I come home from the gym absolutely starving. I could chew my own arm off some days. So I need something rather instant. And I have a system.

I keep cooked bacon in the refrigerator. I don’t buy the pre-cooked because I’m cheap. But my husband fries me up two pounds of bacon at a time and I get two strips after the gym. I fold a paper towel, hide the bacon strips inside, and microwave it for 30 seconds. I then get my egg heated up. I do this while my half an English muffin is toasting.

Today, I finished off my last of the eggs so I had to bake some more. This is the planning that is so essential to my diet.

First, I had to buy a larger muffin tin because when I tried this with a regular muffin tin and even fewer additives, it was too small. So, I bought the bigger size and it is perfect.

I spray the pan with nonstick spray crap because I like the dishwasher. I then shred some spinach and put some in each cup. Next, a diced cherry tomato goes into each cup. Then I add slivered green onion and diced mushrooms if I have them (today I did). I top that with shredded cheddar cheese. I learned that if I think I’m going to add the salt or spices to each egg, I won’t. I will forget at least one so I put the salt and spice in each cup separately. Today I added rosemary. Last week I added basil. Chives are also good.

Of course, if you want to add other stuff or delete some of the above items, that would work as well. I made this whole thing up so I made it the way I wanted it.

Next, I whisk together a splash of milk and one egg. I tried all six eggs at once with more milk and then found it was really difficult to divide the liquid between the six cups I make and do it evenly. So, although it is more difficult and time consuming, it works much better for me to do one at a time. After whisking it, I pour the single egg into a cup and go on to the next. The veggies rise to the top on their own.

They bake at 350⁰ F for about 25 minutes. I’ve never eaten one straight out of the oven and have no idea if they taste better then. They are puffed when they first come out of the oven. As they cool, they shrink down. I let them cool slightly and then remove them from the pan. I cool them completely before storing them in an airtight container.

I heat them for 30 seconds in the microwave, one at a time, for my breakfasts in the coming days. They are delicious and they keep me from eating something less healthy just because I’m so damn hungry after the workouts. I find the one egg, two strips of bacon, and half the English muffin keep me happy until the next meal is due.

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Getting ready to bake

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Straight out of the oven.

I am a creature of habit. This is especially true of me in the morning. I’m a lark, but I’m not fully awake until after I’ve had enough coffee. Because coffee spikes my heart rate, I only have half a cup before I go to the gym. So, on gym days, I’m not really awake when I show up. I get there and do stuff and that wakes me up. When I get home, I finally get my full cup of coffee.

When things aren’t the same in the morning, I’m startled and it makes my morning not go well. Today, I was startled. You see, I was getting low on toothpaste and so I bought another tube of the stuff. I like to be prepared. Today was the day to start the new tube and … things went awry.

I’ve been using gel toothpaste for quite some time now and the new tube, while the same brand, was not the same subtype. It was some foamy stuff. I noticed the cap was different, but that didn’t mean anything to me. I noticed it looked a bit different on the toothbrush, but it was early morning and I did not have my glasses on or my contacts in.

I have one of those fancy ass toothbrushes that time your use into four sections lasting thirty seconds each. For two minutes my mouth was having small fits. It was saying to my brain, “What the hell is this stuff?” and “What’s going on with this foaming monstrosity?” and “How did this crap get here?” and “What are you doing to me?”

Finally my two minutes was up. I have used this foaming type of toothpaste before and I’m sure it will all be well in a few days when my mouth finally figures out this is our new normal. But for today, it really set me off in the wrong direction.

Saturday’s workout was tire flips along with push-ups and step ups and then rowing, running, and a farmer’s carry. We were in teams and the girl team, of which I was a part, did 250 tire flips. We flipped the tire back and forth between us and one person was out doing the rowing, running, and farmer’s carry for part of the time. That means we each did somewhere less than half the flips and I probably did around 100, give or take.

I was filthy when I got home. It was the dirtiest I have ever been after a WOD. It was muddy and gritty and wet out there in the tire flip land. I was just a complete dirtball when I got home. But in all honesty, it was a fun workout.

I was rather concerned about my legs because Friday’s WOD was heavy front squats for the skill and then a bunch of air squats and double unders for the conditioning part. After all the tire flips, I thought my legs would be toast. My legs were fine. My arms were toast. My forearms screamed at me all day, through the night, and while I was trying to brush my teeth, which didn’t help matters up there.

All I really wanted for today’s workout was nothing overhead. Today’s skill was overhead squats and the workout was burpees and overhead squats. So much for not overhead.

I got home and took my shoes off and made my breakfast and then, when walking in my bedroom and/or bathroom, there was gritty dirt all over the place. There were a few lumps of dirt and small stones and all manner of unpleasant things to step on. I finally figured out that my shoes must have been filthy after that workout on Saturday and all the dirt dried and when I put my shoes on this morning and then walked around finishing my preparations for going to the gym, I was scattering dried dirt everywhere. So, I’ve had to clean that mess up as well.

Now, all I have to see is if my legs hurt enough tomorrow to take my mind off my arms. That, and hope my mouth gets used to the new toothpaste.

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I am getting a handle on my not disease. And I’m figuring out what to eat and still have an acceptable diet full of foods I can love.

After being on medication for more than a week, it dawned on me that I should warn the coach that if I fell over now, it might not be my heart but could be my blood sugar. She did not sigh audibly. It hasn’t seemed like too much of a stress on my workouts.

On Sunday I ate three decent meals, had a snack and was not at all hungry during the entire day. I logged in my food as I was getting ready for bed and noticed I had consumed fewer than 1000 calories for the day. I had an egg and fruit for breakfast; salmon, sweet potato (half), and broccoli for lunch; my normal salad for supper; and a bowl of cheese popcorn.

I think because my blood sugar isn’t spiking and then insulin output being wonky, I’m not always hungry. I have to watch and make sure I’m eating enough. Monday’s workout was more difficult as I had very little reserves. Either that or the split jerks were just hard. Could be either.

I’ve lost three pounds in two and a half weeks without trying. I’ve watched my food intake without being too crazy. I didn’t have birthday cake because it wasn’t worth the carbs for a store bought cake. And it wasn’t my birthday. But I have had one piece of Suzin L chocolate every day. I’m not giving that up.

I used a low carb/high fiber tortilla to have a chicken salad sandwich and then when that didn’t taste horrible, I used them for both of us to have a cheese crisp (tortilla topped with taco sauce, shredded cheese, and crumbled bacon and on mine, a few diced cherry tomatoes and then baked until the cheese melts and the edges are crisp). It’s like a Mexican pizza.

I made cream cheese (low fat) and sour cream with a whole bunch of chopped green olives (stuffed with pimento) dip. I love this stuff. Usually I have it by the ton with lots of crackers, but I measured out a bit and had it with celery sticks. It still tasted good. When I had a carb reserve left at the end of the day, I took my eight crackers and had it with crackers and that was its normal tasty treat. What I noticed most about that was if I hadn’t counted out the crackers, I would have continued eating for a very long time.

I’ve had pasta twice in three weeks and had only a half serving of the actual pasta and had other things on the table to go with it. It cut my carbs back but let me have a meal I enjoy without going over the top on the carb count.

My workouts are staying in line with what they were before I got here but I seem to be more diaphoretic which is a medical way to say I’m sweating like a whore in church. The insomnia went away after about a week on this new pill. So that was a big relief.

Getting a handle on this whole mess is making me feel a little bit more in control. I don’t want to be too crazy about it, but I also want to keep my eyesight, brain, toes, and all the stuff in between. So I’m trying to behave responsibly.

All in all, I feel like I need to watch this and keep track of my intake all the time because it is easy to think that stuff doesn’t have “that many” carbs in it. When I saw a piece of crappy cake, not even really good Kaminsky type cake, had 62 grams of carbs, I knew where my basic problem resided. I have always built my restaurant choice of entree on the dessert menu, making sure that dessert was a thing. So I have to come up with some other plan.

Yesterday was my three week anniversary for all this mess. I feel much less stressed now than I did just that short time ago. I’m sure that my new normal will become normal. I don’t know when that will happen, but I’m confident that it will.

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Expert advice is invaluable. The internet is not an expert. It is full of conflicting advice, even from reputable sources because we are each individuals with unique responses to outside stimuli. In other words, we are all special. Isn’t that cute?

My son contacted a friend of his and she gracefully said she would speak with me. Lindsey is a Registered Dietician. I really needed to speak with one even though I used to be a Registered Nurse. It was long ago and in ICU/CCU everyone is either not eating at all or on some very special diet. Otherwise, they get transferred out. In OR, we didn’t feed anybody.

I know very little about diets and what I did learn over forty years ago has been updated, modified, and changed beyond my recognition. I really needed an RD.

I spoke with Lindsey for less than fifteen minutes and feel like I have had a monumental paradigm shift. I’m not sure why the doctor didn’t know better and give me a number to shoot for, but she didn’t. I stressed and looked and researched and got more and more confused. Lindsey gave me a concrete thing to strive for. I now have a target that I can either hit or miss, but at least know what the target is.

She also helped me to understand some of the more vague concepts I held about food and nutrition. I feel like this gigantic boulder has been lifted. Not that anything is any more or less difficult to actually achieve, but at least I know what I’m trying to do.

Today is a big test. I’m going out to eat. I have no idea how this is going to work. I usually have a hard enough time finding something I like since I’m such a picky eater to start with. Now I have a new layer to put on top of that. I’m sure I can manage it, but this is my first time on this adventure. I have always planned my meal around what I was going to get for dessert. Now, I get nothing.

It’s not that I can’t have dessert, it’s that restaurants charge a huge price for a piece of cake or pie and the food isn’t the really expensive part (as far as I can tell) because they serve these huge pieces of the cake or pie. I have a little package of those individual cakes you can make in a mug. I looked. Each one is 62 carbs. That’s more than I can afford to eat for dessert. And I’m sure the restaurant’s serving will be bigger.

I’m sure that I will eventually figure out the entire process and not have to think so hard about each meal and what to substitute for the 42 carbs in a serving of pasta (which is also about half the amount of pasta a restaurant serves).

I have been buying foods that increase my protein intake since I’m hoping to build muscle. I never looked at the carbs because I didn’t have to. Now, I have a bunch of stuff that isn’t going to fly in my new world.

I also have to worry about something else at the gym. On Tuesday, I came home with a noticeable headache. I didn’t know if it was from low blood sugar or low caffeine. I ate and had coffee and it went away. I had burned through 598 calories on Tuesday. I don’t know how I did that. Today, I came home feeling fine. I had burned 517 calories, which is my normal amount.

I had the same pre-workout drink on both days. I might have to monitor this a little closer. I have to monitor everything a little closer right now.

There are a couple things I refuse to give up. The first is real milk in my coffee. It amounts to 3-4 carbs per day and I hate almond milk’s grit and taste. So I’m willing to work with that little extra zip in my coffee because it is one of the things I enjoy a lot.

The other is my chocolate. I have one piece of chocolate (right now it is from Suzin L and I have almost two pounds of that left from the summer). I have no idea how many carbs are in that one piece and when I get to Those, I will only eat half a piece a day. But after that runs out, I have other really good chocolate. I can make a serving last for a week or even two. But I want that sweet taste once a day. Again, I’m willing to cut out something else so I can have my treat.

My meal planning is more difficult while I adjust things. But now I know what I can manage per meal and it is going to make a huge difference in my ability to make that meal.

This new normal isn’t of my choosing. My body betrayed me. We are going to have to have a serious talk.

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