May 2019


I have completed nine of my ten personal training sessions. I bought a package deal and was hoping to switch things up a bit and get out of my defeatist/defeated attitude.

I have learned a few things by doing this.

  1. I am in control of my attitude.
  2. I am not in competition with the entire world.
  3. I’m not in bad shape considering … being a human being.
  4. I really like working in a class filled with my people.
  5. There are many other paths to fitness.
  6. I like the one I’m on.

Jack has been both patient and particular. I have a new set of cues going off inside my head when I approach a movement.

I have had fun with the sled, something I’ve never before done. I have used the sled, but always on blacktop/asphalt and it is much different on carpeting or whatever that stuff is.

I have avoided the GHD for years, but did something similar out in the air conditioned part of the gym and didn’t die or fall off. I will gather together all my courage and attempt something on the GHD the next time it appears on the white board.

It is perfectly okay to say “I can’t” when it is something I can’t do. It is not okay to say it when it is something I don’t want to do or when it is something I’m simply unsure of, but if it has been tried and I can’t, I can’t. This isn’t defeatist, it is reality.

I really enjoy CrossFit. I like the group setting. I like the variety. I like the support. I like the satisfaction of completing some grueling workout and still being alive. I realize this isn’t for everyone, but it is something that I enjoy. I wouldn’t have ever guessed that a decade ago. I hated exercising in any fashion.

Because I know this now, I would encourage everyone to keep trying this or that form of movement until they find something they can actually enjoy. It makes a world of difference. You can’t keep slogging along when you hate the activity. There are way too many options to settle for that sort of self defeating choice. If you don’t like what you are doing, do something else. There are tons of other options available.

No matter what sort of exercise you finally find suits you, you need to care for your body outside of that realm. You have to stretch and tend to sore muscles. You can either get a massage, use a foam roller or other assistive device to massage the soreness yourself, do stretching exercises like ROM WOD or yin yoga, and then most important of all, you have to eat right and get enough sleep.

You do not need a certain number of ounces of fluid in your day, but you do need to listen to your body. If you feel thirsty, drink something or eat something like fruits or vegetables (these things are filled with water). Thirst is a sign to imbibe. Listen.

Trying something and not liking it doesn’t mean it was a failure. There are lessons even in our greatest defeats if we look for them. But simply not liking something isn’t a defeat. It is simply a lesson. Learn from it and seek your bliss elsewhere.

It’s important to keep moving as much as you can for as long as you can. Once you lose it, it is very, very difficult to get it back. Hold on to your health. You need it.

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When you cheat, who loses? There are many ways to cheat. You can steal the answers to a test. You can miscount your reps, you can put yourself on some diet and have something innocuously called a “cheat meal”. But then what?

When you are studying a subject and cheat on a test, what did you actually learn? When you head off to the gym and work really hard, but get tired and so call your nine reps as ten, who got stronger? When you have a cheat meal, do the calories or non-nutrition just evaporate?

When you set a goal for yourself and then fudge on the results, shaving a rep or two here or there or a piece of pie now and again, what happens? When it is your own goal, and you cheat, did you win?

I can’t say I’m really fond of a lower carbohydrate diet. I would love to have the cake, pie, and cookies of yesterday. But I am really fond of my toes and I would like them to still be attached when I eventually die.

Once again, someone asked me if I was going to cheat on my diet while I am on a fantastic European river cruise this summer. I don’t really even know how to answer that question. Cheat who? It’s me. No one else really cares if I have 125 or 400 carbs in a day. It is only me and my toes who give a damn. Of course I could cheat, but how would that help anything?

When I go to the gym, I see people who do not do the full range of motion and then there are some people who seem to have forgotten how to count. I scale everything and so don’t have any room to talk except – I scale before the WOD starts and then I actually do what I said I would do because if I don’t, who is failing to get stronger or better? The coach certainly has no skin in my game. She is already incredibly strong.

The idea of cheating when the game is with yourself is simply ludicrous. If you set up goals that are impossible to reach and then cheat in order to feel good, wouldn’t you really feel better if you set up goals that are merely difficult to reach and you finally get there? Sure it might not be as far, but you really did whatever it was you told yourself you would do.

If you want to think of yourself as a kind person, you need to actually be kind. You can’t cheat your way into that after you have been rude to the waiter, cussed at the other drivers on the road, and then slammed your way into the house. That’s not how it works. You have to make the choices that line up with your beliefs and goals.

If your goal is to lose some weight, you can have cheat meals until the cows come home. But it won’t help you meet your goal. If your goal is to back squat a certain weight, you have to practice back squatting with full range of motion and adding the plates on the bar correctly.

If you truly want something, you have to earn it. You can’t cheat your way to success. There is no glory on that path. Your lies (even if they are not spoken) catch up to you. Your clothes haven’t gotten loose and your back dip isn’t a back squat.

Cheating isn’t the answer for real goals. I don’t even understand how it can make you happy in the short term. Having eaten your way through the entire pantry, how do you tell yourself you are living your best life? Knowing you are skimping on the truth cannot lead to real happiness.

Life is hard. It’s hard for everyone. Still, it’s so much more thrilling when you really do meet the goals you set for yourself. Every time I look at my bare feet, I see all ten toes smiling back at me.

It’s worth it. No. That’s not the point. I am worth it.

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The relentless pursuit of happiness is untenable and damaging. We are not and cannot be eternally happy. There is no such thing as a constant state for us because life is a roller coaster of myriad events, some of them good and some of them not. To seek out eternal, constant, and continual happiness can only lead to defeat and less happiness.

The constant barrage of self help items telling us that affirmations will help us gain a great sense of happiness can also lead to a greater amount of unhappiness or at least angst. When someone is admonishing you to repeat either aloud or to yourself something that you know is worthwhile but definitely not you – you are faced with cognitive dissonance, not a state of fulfillment or happiness.

I am not in control of my life. I’m in partial control, but there are things coming at me from all different directions, some of them beneficial and some of the deleterious. I am not able to control more than a few aspects of my existence with any sort of guarantee. I live a large life – often leaving my house. When that happens, I’m at the mercy of every person and event that I come into contact with during my outings.

Constantly preaching a gospel of happiness is the same as scrolling through Facebook and seeing everyone else’s highlights. So and so may have been able to go out lunch with several friends today and had both a great meal and great service while you were stuck at home with a bologna sandwich eaten alone. Your Facebook friend may, in fact, have his/her bologna sandwich tomorrow while you are out doing something noteworthy.

No one lives a life of constantly noteworthy moments. Even the rich and famous have their less than stellar moments. All of us are attacked by a cold virus and laid low by some critter too small to even see. All of us have bad hair days. All of us have times of ennui, boredom, and even crap.

We need to embrace the idea of “good enough” because even for the best of us, good enough is all we get. So if you are lucky enough to live a life of good enough, celebrate. Your bologna sandwich isn’t the same feast as steak and lobster, but if you had steak and lobster every single day, it would also become just the same old thing.

No one wins every time. Even the most famous have had setbacks and lost battles, sometimes even losing entire wars. That doesn’t determine their fate. It isn’t how many times you are knocked down, but instead, it is how many times you get back up. And after a debilitating setback, only a fool would be relentlessly happy. There are times when unhappiness is a time to reflect. It is a good time for TAS – Think, Adapt, Survive.

With many of the affirmations presented to me in either guided meditation or meditative yoga classes, I’m left appalled. I’m not that thing – whatever that thing may be. I’m not in a position to either lie to myself or somehow manipulate the truth and so I’m left even less happy than if someone hadn’t tried to cheer me up with their eternal positivity.

I’m a multi-faceted person and some of my facets could use a little polishing. They don’t shine. Some are even a bit cruel or subversive. Many of my facets are filled with love and light and I am many wonderful things. But I am not all the wonderful things. Neither are you. We are, each of us, human. That being said, we are frail and fragile and full of faults. Not even one of us is perfect. There are times when we are not in a position to succeed. There are times when our failures are magnificent. This is okay, because, sometimes when the sun, moon, and stars all align, we are brilliant and successful and gloriously happy. Embrace those moments and know that “this, too, shall pass” and you will be back to the grimy humanity we all share.

There is no need to be happy all the time. Just like there is no need for the sun to shine all the time. We need the dark nights, we need the cloudy days and rain, we need the entirety of our varied world.

You are enough. That’s probably the only affirmation you really need. You are enough. There is no real need to heap on more than that. It is enough. And so are you.

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We have another new person at the gym. We get them in regularly. They stay for a class or two and then after a week or so, they drift off to something else or nothing at all. I don’t really know what they do, but they don’t show up anymore.

The young man who seemed chagrined to not be able to do as much as the old woman wasn’t there this week and I don’t remember seeing him last week, either.

A young woman has started and seems near tears most days. She also seems determined to figure this crap out. I was geographically close to her as we were doing snatches. Snatches! This is the most complicated of all the Olympic lifts. There are so many different parts to the flow of the bar and it is, quite honestly, unnatural.

Coach was helping her individually as the rest of us powered through the five sets of two at 95% of our 1RM. I, of course, had the lowest weight on my bar (except for this new person) and am obviously the crappiest lifter we have. And yet, I was throwing 55 pounds up over my head with a touch and go between the two lifts.

And there she was trying to get the hang of the movement with a PVC pipe. Between the skill and the WOD portion and I went over and talked to her. She confessed that it was all so confusing and bewildering and it seemed like sheer chaos. I agreed. It is all those things, until it isn’t. Once you learn the hook grip, the first pull, the shrug, the hip extension, the snap to get the bar overhead, and if you are graceful enough the squat in which to catch it – it becomes routine. It is muscle memory that gets you from the ground to overhead.

I pointed out to the young woman that we were all new once and all struggled with not only this lift, but all of them. When you are learning something new, you don’t already know it. That’s pretty much the whole point. And when you don’t already have the muscle memory, you have to think through each part of the movement. It is difficult, until it isn’t. And only then can you begin to load some weight, making it difficult all over again.

The reason all this stuff is rewarding is because it is conquering the challenges involved. The first challenge is to actually learn the vocabulary and what it means. To clean or a snatch means something different outside the box. A jerk is also not the same outside as inside. Learning what the words mean is like learning a different language. That, too, takes time.

Then, you can finally read the board and understand what all the letters up there mean and you feel like some sort of champion. But of course, there’s more. You have to actually learn to do the things. You have to learn the lifts. You have to learn the moves. You have to practice. And to do that, you have to keep coming back.

Once you are at this point, you have either decided to commit to this path, or you have surrendered to inertia and I never see you again.

But, I did learn the language, the skills, and have the determination to return again and again. Because of that, I’m the oldest person in the box. I’m not the best person there. In fact, there are many thing I still can’t do. One of them is understanding why saying I can’t do a pull-up is a bad thing. I can’t do a pull-up. I’m working on it. Still. Probably forever. But I used to not be able to do a ring row and now I can do those easily. I don’t struggle with pull-ups. I simply am unable to hoist my own fat ass up there. I simply can’t do them. Maybe someday. Maybe not. But even if I never manage to accomplish this feat, I do them band assisted with relatively good form. So there is that in my favor.

Having a list of things I need to scale doesn’t mean I can’t do CrossFit. What it means is that I’m out there, scaling appropriately while I pick up new skills, add more weight, or just manage to survive.

The only way to not be the new person in the gym, is to keep showing up until some other newbie walks through the door. If you last long enough, you, too, can be one of the regulars. It’s a nice feeling.

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What I really want to eat is a huge piece of fresh baked German chocolate cake with some pecan/caramel/coconut frosting piled high on top of it. What I eat is low carb yogurt. What I really want is a plate filled with butter drenched pasta but what I eat is a salad. What I really want to do is revert to a year ago when eating wasn’t a problem.

But here we are and it is. So I read labels and count carbs and hope that my A1C doesn’t climb even higher. It isn’t like I can eat nothing and usually it is just a bit more annoying. But it is always a concern for me, something I watch daily and think about each time I grab some food.

In the wild past I could eat a whole watermelon over the course of a week or bowls and bowls of cherries. I could consume a pineapple over a few days or mindlessly eat several plums or a bunch of grapes. Now, each of those “healthy” foods is just a bowl of carbs and need to be limited. The watermelon or pineapple will spoil before I can finish them. I know that because the grapes and strawberries do.

I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing wrong, but a friend went on a cruise and ate home made ice cream every day and went out to eat and selected wild things from the menu and then had an A1C come back much lower than the last check. I count and watched and limited my carb count to 100 a day or less and I dropped one tenth of a point. And I’ve dropped 15% of my body weight which is, according to legend, supposed to drop the count all by itself.

I’m already tired of this. I’m tired of watching everything I eat. I’m tired of not eating the things I would love to enjoy. I would love a small bowl of Talenti mint chocolate chip ice cream drowning in Velvet Fudge Sauce. Instead, I eat sensible, healthy stuff.

I don’t know what to do with all this angst, anger, disappointment with a lackluster body, but here I am. I know I could ignore it all and eat whatever crossed my mind, and then I would have to deal with greater things later. Boy, am I going to be mad if some texting teenager rams into me in the next few weeks and I could have had the cake and ice cream.

On a happier note, I’ve been going to a personal trainer and it is far different than just going to CrossFit and doing a WOD that is written for Everyman or everyone else but me. Jack has tailored each session to meet what I said were my goals. So I’m doing many different things and finding some of them far more challenging than I thought I would. Damn.

Yoga has gotten progressively easier as I continue to practice five times a week. The bending stuff is more bent and the poses are more stable, allowing me to sink into the stretch better. I have to tell myself that I’m not supposed to be CrossFitting yoga and remember that there is no prize for forcing myself into some ridiculously ouchy thing. This is for my benefit, not a punishment.

I do miss CrossFit on my personal training days because it is fun to workout with the same group of people I’ve been hanging out with for over a year. Luckily, I’m still there three days a week. There has been no Saturday stuff for the last couple weeks because there have been events off site where many of our athletes were participating and our coaches were off supporting them. I don’t know if there will be a workout this weekend. I hope so.

I know right now my biggest concern is food. I have never really had to worry about food before and quite frankly, it’s both boring and stifling. It is confining and such a stupid thing to fret over. I have enough of it, which is more than many people around the globe can say. But still, I want that cake.

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