I struggle with CrossFit. I mean, everybody does if they are really pushing themselves. But I struggle with admitting that I do wonderful things. I feel like I’m bragging or as my mother might say, “Tooting my own horn.”

I work really hard and I am consistent. I allow the coaches to coach me. I try to keep my form even as I tire. I have a whole host of limitations on top of all the other stuff. I’m old and getting older by the minute. I have a heart rate issue and am limited by the constraints put on me by my cardiologist. Right now, I have a boo-boo and my left arm doesn’t work exactly right. I can’t raise it straight overhead and certain movement hurt what is probably a tear where the deltoid inserts into the humerus.

All in all, it takes a certain amount of dedication to do what I do. Perhaps, it takes stupidity or maybe I’m just crazy. Whatever it is, I am consistent in doing it. I show up, I work hard, I reward myself with bacon and an egg when I get home.

Because I was diagnosed as prediabetic last fall, I have had to modify my eating habits. Due to this, I have lost 15% of my body weight and some of that was muscles. I cannot move the same amount of weight I could last summer. That could also be because I’m aging and slowly deteriorating. Whatever the reason, my back squat is lighter. This is upsetting me and yet, I was squatting 90 pounds yesterday. I couldn’t even deadlift that when I started.

I want to be proud of myself. I should be. I show up and work. But I also don’t want to brag too much lest someone point out that what I’m doing isn’t all that great or world class or what the totally awesome old ladies who show up at the CrossFit Games can do. I’m not that caliber of athlete, but I am working to my own capacity each time I venture out.

How do I manage to get these two conflicting ideas to meld into something that doesn’t sound ludicrous to me or to the world at large?

I know that I am more flexible than I was when I started my yin yoga practice. I know that I’m more flexible than when I started it back up after having a temper tantrum that lasted for months. I can forward fold with my legs stacked and do crazy stuff like touch my head to my knees. The instructor, a woman in her twenties, is far more bendy. I feel bad sometimes when I don’t bend like she does or when I sway in the wind on some of the asanas.

There was a time when I couldn’t even get close to the correct position for these things. With practice and patience I now can. No one wins at yoga, but I’m a CrossFitter and we do dumb stuff like compete with ourselves constantly. I try to win yoga, a completely ludicrous choice. There is no winning in this arena. And yet, I can’t fold as far or hold the poses without wobbling and in some instances, even hold the pose at all.

How do I learn to appreciate the time and effort I put into these endeavors? How do I manage to do that without feeling undeservedly boastful? How do I learn to accept where I am now as the space I should currently occupy?

I want to be better. I want to be better at all the things. I wish I was far more capable than I am. And yet, I do many things reasonably well. I do many things at or above expectations. I should be happy with my progress.

I see opportunities for improvement everywhere. I see the missed stitches when I crochet. I see the stray marks outside the lines when I color. I see the collapse as I try to hold dragon pose for too long. I see the lower weights on the bar or substitute movements for the WOD. I see my failures.

How do I find the thousands of stitches done perfectly, the overall pleasing aspect of the pictures, the perfection of pigeon pose, the mastery of weights lifted with proper form? And then, how do I learn to feel proud of these accomplishments rather than looking for perfection? I have no answers. Another fault.


What does framing do for us? Does it really make any difference at all? How can we go about framing less than stellar things in a positive light and have it fool us?

I keep trying to reframe my performance into a successful outcome. Sometimes I succeed and many times I do not.

Yesterday’s skill was jerks. Two push jerks and then one split jerk at a high percentage of a 1RM. We know that mass moves mass and I have lost nearly 15% of my body weight in the last six months. I didn’t really mean to do that. I liked the first bit and then I’ve worked to keep even more and more from falling away. But, I’m one pound short of that 15% mark. Most of that, I hope, has been useless fat. Some of it has probably been some muscle wasting. I could not move 95% of my 1RM. We were supposed to move 87 to 95% and the weight I failed at was the 87% weight.

How do I reframe that to look successful? I really don’t know. I still got the 65 pounds up once. Then I dropped the bar and couldn’t manage another one with full lockout.

The workout was 30 Turkish get ups and a half mile run. The last time I did a Turkish get up I thought I should increase the weight. I’ve done them without any weight, with three pounds, or five pounds. They jack my heart rate up because that’s pretty much what they do to everybody. The last time was done with five pounds. Yesterday, I did 7.5 pounds. I really should have tried the ten, but I chickened out. I also did my old fart discount of 80% of the reps. My “runs” are always half the distance because I need to walk. But I have been trying to run at least part of the way. Yesterday, after going 300 meters, my heart rate was low enough that I thought I could run it in. And I did. I really ran, too, I didn’t jog or trot. It still wasn’t super fast, but I made it.

I can find a way to look at the whole day in a negative light. I can also realize that I was there. I showed up. Just like always. The workouts are not written for old people like me. The skill part … well, I’m trying to adjust to this whole prediabetic thing and getting my diet and weight under control. My percentages are just off for now. With work, I might get them back or I might just continue to get older and older.

The conditioning portion was pretty awesome. I raised my weight by an extra 50% and I should give myself a pat on the back for that. I did the number of reps I usually do for these types of things, allowing myself to get a good workout without working tremendously harder than the regular people there. And I ran part of the run. Really ran.

It used to just grate on my last nerve that I was always the last one done. Everyone else would have a ten minute workout which was the goal of the damn thing, I would be working for more than fifteen minutes because I would have to keep stopping to get my heart rate to a place where I didn’t die. It took me years to realize I could simply cut the number or reps back, a scaling option. If the workout is supposed to be a ten minute thing, it should be a ten minute thing for me, too. And by doing 80%, it often is (now).

I also scale calories on both the assault bike and rower by half. Distances in meters are usually things like 250, 500, or 1000 meters and then I just row 200, 400, or 800 and can manage the same relatively close times. This is important when we are sharing the rowers and my exaggerated time would throw everyone off. I walk half the distance.

If I could actually RX the workout, it might need to be rewritten because all the other people at the box would be totally under challenged. I’m supposed to scale and athletes my age who don’t have to are simply way more awesome than me. Good on them. But I have to deal with where I am at the gym.

I know I have scaled correctly when my modified score is nearly the middle of the pack. I have scaled too much if I’m the first done or the highest reps. I haven’t scaled enough if I’m way behind in time or reps. I’m not the best person there, but I’m improving in my level of fitness and I think that’s the frame I have to put around my story.

I try. I try really hard. I show up on the days I’m supposed to show up. I do the partner WODs even though they are the most terrifying part of CrossFit for me. I do many things I couldn’t do when I started and so … I guess I’ve won. I wish I could feel like that more often, but no one else is responsible for how I feel about this. It’s what I’m choosing. Dumbass.


A Turkish get up is also a get back down in the exact reverse movements.

We are now a biparticipation family with both of us making our way to the gym each week. Dick has a personal trainer he meets with once a week and on his other trip to the gym, he warms up with us back in the CrossFit area and then when we start our workout, he takes off for the machine part of the gym.

I go to the gym five days a week, taking a rest day on Wednesday and Sunday. I’ve gotten back into doing my yin yoga four to six times a week from twenty minutes to one hour per session. I just use YouTube and follow along upstairs where I have my space all set up.

Dick also golfs three times a week and walks the course, which he had maintained was all the exercise he needed. I knew he was not really getting all the exercise he needed, but going for a nice walk is better than going for a nice sit and watching TV so I let it go. At the end of last summer, there was a deal for a family member to get a special rate to join the gym and I didn’t even mention it to him because he has always thought I was a bit too extreme with my CrossFit stuff.

I did talk about it to someone else and he overheard and thought he might like to try. He went and joined up and had his initial assessment. He was as much out of shape as I was when I went for my first introductory free CrossFit class. He couldn’t do much of anything. He was chagrined to find he was in such bad shape.

That’s the thing. We lose a little bit of our youth each day. We age incrementally. We don’t really notice how much we have lost until we are smacked in the face with it. And then it is “humbling” for us. Inside our heads, we stop aging and we are adult and that’s it and we don’t really remember exactly how adult we are. Sometimes when passing a mirror, it can be a bit disconcerting to see an old person staring back, but we manage to move on and forget how old we really are.

We don’t realize that as we age, it’s not just smooth skin that leaves us. It is all manner of things. If we don’t ever have to try to do those things, we can just muddle through and be fine. But eventually, it catches up to us. We have neglected our physical selves for so long that we can no longer manage a whole flight of stairs or to get out of a chair without giving ourselves a push. It isn’t like we were running marathons one day and incapacitated the next. It is a slow descent into incapacity.

When is the best time to try to keep our youthful abilities? Today is a great day to start, yesterday would have been better. If you can’t do much today because you waited too long, do what you can now and keep at it day after day. If you can’t make it up the entire staircase without using the handrail and struggling, then go halfway up and come back down. Do that five times with rests in between and then call it a day. Tomorrow, do it again. Then keep at it until you can manage the entire flight of stairs. Then keep doing it so it doesn’t go away again.

If you can’t manage to get out of a chair without help, use the help and get in and out of the chair ten times. Then rest (in the chair) and then when you have caught your breath, do it again. Keep this up over time and you will eventually be able to get in and out of chairs without assistance.

When you make it that far, try adding some things to your list of what you need to do to keep moving adequately. I lift weights, but not everyone has to do that. I enjoy it. Perhaps all you care about is getting the groceries into the house. So, practice lifting a full milk jug over and over. You can start with a half gallon and work your way up to a gallon. If you keep practicing, you might eventually be able to get all the groceries into the house in just one trip.

If you are young enough to not have fallen into such sad shape, keep moving now while it is still easier to make gains. The older you are, the slower you body is to respond to this stuff. Taking care of your younger self is something your older self will thank you for, be delighted with, and celebrate as you manage to hold on to the life you want for longer than those who didn’t care for their outer shell.

No one dreams of dying in a nursing home. I’ve never heard anyone say they hoped they ended up in one. The best chance you have for staying out of them is to take care of yourself now. Once it is too late, it will take a monumental effort to overcome the inertia of years or decades.

You don’t have to do CrossFit. It is all scalable and you can do CrossFit, but it isn’t mandatory. What you do have to do is adequate range of motion and some weight resistance. It makes a difference.