Just blogging


The oddest things have kept me going. Once, I was ready to quit CrossFit because I was simply tired of being so crappy at it. But I had just bought $60 worth or pre-workout protein mix and without a workout to go to, what else would I do with it?

So I figured I would just quit when the bag ran out, except by then I had gotten past my grumpiness. My crappiness remained, but what do I expect? I mean, I’m old and weak and feeble and I work out with people in their late teens and early twenties all the way up to the mid forties. There are occasionally people in their fifties.

And then there is me. Crappy me, stumbling on, dragging my slow and weary ass to yet another class to be beaten up by my own beliefs that I should be better at this by now even though obviously, I’m not.

Well, I am better than when I started by orders of magnitude. It’s just that I’m not as better as I once thought I would be. There was a time when I believed I would get a pull-up. If I ever do, the shock might kill me. Without a pull-up in my toolkit, chest to bars are out of the question as are muscle ups. But, ring rows are good. I’m all over those things.

I used to think I could just work hard and stuff would happen. I didn’t take into account all the things in my life that make this dream an unreality. First of all, I know there are times when I could push harder at the gym. Sure, it would take me longer than everyone else and it would embarrass me to hell and back, but I could in theory do all the things and just get home in time for lunch.

Then there is my diet. I love to eat and I love coffee and chocolate and way too many things that aren’t really in line with muscle building. I do love a good salad with egg and chicken, ham, or tuna added, so there is that to be thankful for. But I don’t count my nutrients and go crazy with the diet monitoring. I am a bit picky at times, but not totally unreasonable in what I will or will not eat.

My heart is a muscle. That’s all hearts are. It would stand to reason that all this working out crap would strengthen my heart muscle just as much as my biceps, traps, and lats. If I actually look at my work load today as opposed to what I did five years ago, my heart has gotten stronger. It’s just that it is still 65 years old and behaves like it way too often.

My issues keep me from being the superstar my head would like me to be. Each time I’ve considered quitting there has been something not allowing me to give up. Maybe it was protein pre-workout mix. Maybe it was dogged determination. For whatever reason, I kicked ass today. Again.

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Comparison is not always the thief of joy. Sometimes it is the reason for joy.

I’m usually the poopiest, weakest, least able athlete in the gym. I work out with people young enough to be my children – or grandchildren. I work out with people who have been at it for quite some time, or even just long enough for the young to accommodate to the rigors of CrossFit.

Today, there were three new women in our class. They were unsure of themselves and unsure of the process and simply intimidated by the entire thing.

Karen was a mess. This statuesque woman was winded by the warm-up and mumbling as she moved next to me. She could “feel the burn” in her legs after just a dozen air squats or less. She was in trouble with her expectations and reality clashing. I remember that.

I told her I couldn’t finish my first workout and just sat on the bench and cried, and yet here I was.

And in fact, there I was today, being my own poopy self, slogging along with low weights and high heart rate.

We did the skill first which was bench presses and Karen did great with that and was very pleased with herself, as well she should be. I did pretty damn good for an old fart and possibly even just simply pretty damn good. At least, I did the best I could.

The WOD was:
3 RFT
50 double unders
20 push-ups
10 box jumps 24/20

Last week, in a fit of exhaustion, I dropped the dumbbell after my 90th dumbbell snatch when time was called. And it bounced back and hit my right leg. I had been taking Bayer Back and Body, which is aspirin, for a few days before this stupidity. I have a huge bruise on my lower inside right leg covering about half my leg below my knee. It hurts. Jumping wasn’t going to help it. I opted for no double unders at all.

The scale for double unders is 2x single unders and I did do that the first round, but then my heart rate was so high it was just stupid. Masters scaled Open rules let me just do single unders for the double unders and that is what I did for the next two rounds. I did the push-ups as allowed in the Open and I did only 18” step-ups because coming off the 20” box hurts my bad knee and I only do that in a competition. I can, but it seems dumb to hurt myself.

I was in the first heat because we had too many people for the number of boxes available. Karen was in the second heat as were the other two new people. They wanted to watch how it was done before doing it themselves. And Karen and another new person struggled mightily with single unders. Apparently CrossFitters hold the jump rope different. I didn’t realize that until I watched them with theirs.

Karen was just a mess with the push-ups and couldn’t manage even all the scaling options Laura gave her trying to find something possible. She eventually had her on a raised 24” box and Karen still struggled so I went to her as she tried over and over (Laura had moved on to help someone else) and I showed her where putting her hands might help.

As I watched the new people struggle, it hit me right between the eyes how far I had come. I do everything scaled. I have to stop and get my heart rate back down to what supports life. I can’t do so many things that I’m often oblivious to all the things I can do – the great strides I have made over the years. Today, my not really “good enough” bench press was nearly one third heavier than my original deadlift. I did a total of 200 single unders without ever missing a jump. My push-ups were adequate and I did all 60 of them. My step-ups were with full extension at the top. I did all the things. I was tired when I finished, but as I reflect on what my journey has been like, I have to say I’m pretty proud of myself. I didn’t quit. I hope the newbies find this same satisfaction with results that will soon send them whizzing past the old fart.

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I have “met” some wonderful people via my blog postings. They comment and then I read their stuff and after a while, it seems like I know them.

When I began, I was crushed by my ineptitude. Not that I’m ept now, but I’m not crushed by my lacks. But in the beginning, I wavered. And Warrior Girl, Lifting was my savior. I don’t know how she found me, but she did. And her encouragement made a world of difference.

The seeds we sow with a kind word or gesture yield amazing crops. It is now years later, and Elizabeth is still my hero, still urging on those around her, still making the world a better place. And I still get to be a small part of her adoring fan base.

I’ve recently found another CrossFit blogger who is struggling with the whole CrossFit conundrum. Fish Eye Farm posted today. “The Internal Dialogue” was not what I was expecting. I know what my internal dialogue is like and I was rather expecting to see something like that. It wasn’t. It was a post about how helpful it is to have those you are with cheer you on, give you the praise you have earned, and encouragement to continue.

“Good job” while you are considering all the options associated with just dying right then and there makes a world of difference. Hearing your name called out while you are deciding if you have enough power to lift the bar one more time actually gives you the power to lift the damn bar.

The encouragement, the camaraderie, the reaching out of your WODmates and coaches to offer the one thing they can give you – their support – allows you to move past the wall, get in more reps, not die in the process, and succeed.

That is so much better than the internal dialogue I have with myself. Inside my head, there is clamoring and shouting of “you are too old for this shit” and “just give up” and “why are you doing this” and most damningly “you can’t”. And then one small “Go, Patti” from the outside and I’m back in the game.

I know CrossFit is difficult for everyone. It is certainly difficult for me. And yet, I’m there. Over and over again. Even as I mutter about how I’m too old for this shit, I’m thrilled with the idea that too old or not, I just did it. I did the snatches, I jumped the rope, I lifted the kettlebell, I did modified where I had to, but once given my scaling options, I followed them with good form and integrity.

And after more than five years of CrossFit and over a year of  yoga, I have the flexibility to pat myself on the back. So I think I will.

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I am a creature of habit. I believe we all tend toward the habitual since it is easier when we don’t have to think or decide and we can just keep doing what we’ve been doing. But this is not the way to have one’s best life.

Most of my life I did not have a dog. Then we got one, then we had two, then back down to one and many years later, after a long and seemingly happy life, LC went to doggie heaven and we were down to no dogs again. It has been six years since LC died.

We lived in Ohio when first Trip and then LC joined our family. The house we lived in there was totally different and the dogs came to live with us as puppies which is totally different than old dogs. In Ohio, the kitchen wastebasket had a lid and it kept the dogs out.

Trip moved out when Joe did since he was Joe’s dog. LC stayed with us because she was my dog. She was cute as could be with very short little legs but somehow, even without her big friend, garbage not properly locked away was too tempting. So when we moved to South Carolina and into a different house design, we opted to put the lidless wastebasket inside the pantry behind a closed door.

And there it has stayed for the last thirteen years even though LC moved out six years ago. For years we have had messy or sticky hands and had to open the door to throw something away. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve washed off the doorknob, but it is at least 4.7 million – I’m sure.

Last week, there was something stinky in the trash and when I opened the door in the morning, it hit me. And what I was throwing out was a bag that had contained shrimp so more stinky stuff. I really didn’t want that in with the food so I took the wastebasket out of the pantry. And then I tripped over it so I stashed it between two pieces of furniture right there and it fit perfectly.

Why hadn’t I done this a long time ago? Well, mostly, habit. We put it there when we first moved in to keep the dog out of the trash and to keep her from making messes. But there hasn’t been a dog here for years and still, sticky hands struggling to get to the trash and messes to clean up was “the way”.

Last week, we opted to leave the wastebasket right there between the pieces of furniture and then there was another habit rearing its ugly head. We kept opening the pantry door even though we didn’t have to. It has taken days to break this habit.

Not to brag or anything, but I have been successfully throwing out the trash without opening the pantry door first for nearly 24 hours now. I’m sure the next time I’m really tired or on autopilot I will again open the door only to see no trash in there. I’m not sure how long it will take to completely get over this habit, but the grip has started to lessen.

Doing things the same way as you have always done them is so easy in the short term. But as your circumstances change, the old way may in fact not be easier at all.

We are getting used to this little upset in our routine and it’s really rather nice.

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Today I was volunteering my time and energy to help clean up the gym where I’ve been working out. I like to help when I can. So I was on the road heading towards the place when I saw humanity working just like it usually does.

I was heading west and had to stop for a red light. I would like to point out that no one ever likes to stop for these things but we all do because it is the only way we can safely share the road. We follow the conventions along the way allowing us to travel quickly without dying.

The light has a rather long cycle and if you miss your turn, you wait for minutes before it is your turn again.

Approaching toward the still red light, but unseen by us drivers, was a siren. It was getting closer and closer, still unable to be seen but the Doppler effect in play. We all knew it was coming. Then, there was the fire engine coming towards us.

The traffic heading east gets a green light first so the many cars wanting to turn left can go on their arrow. Their light turned green as the fire engine neared the intersection.

Not one single car even inched forward. Not even one horn was blasted. Every single car in all three lanes stayed still allowing the fire engine to make the turn onto the road and rush off to whatever emergency it was heading towards. Only after the fire engine cleared the intersection did any other cars move.

This is how it is supposed to work. Everyone is supposed to realize that when there is an emergency, we all give a little bit of leeway to the first responders and hope like hell if we are ever the person waiting impatiently for help to arrive that others will also follow the rules and allow help to get there sooner.

Most people are good most of the time. We see so much horror and harm and hate on the news that we tend to think we are living in a world of abject terror. In fact, we are living in a world filled with people who stop at red lights and people who wait for emergency vehicles to hurry on to their emergencies. We live in a world where the news panders to our fears and we have to remember that what we see daily around us is far more accurate than any news, fake or real, portrayed for our viewing pleasure.

The reason these horror stories make it to print and/or airwaves is because they are out of the norm.

Stay strong out there. And remember to always be nice. Someone is probably watching and smiling.

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We are acutely aware of bullying in this country. We are appalled when we hear stories of people mistreating others and taking advantage of some real or perceived status. We cringe at the thought of the poor, bullied underdog.

And yet … how often do we speak to ourselves in this very manner?

I’m pretty well known for underestimating my abilities in CrossFit. I often mumble things like “I suck” or “I’m too old for this” or even the most damning “I can’t”. In point of fact, I can and I do. I do many things people half my age cannot do let alone people of my own rare vintage.

When I tell myself things like “I’m a freaking badass” or “I can’t believe I managed that” or even the rare whoop of hard-earned prideful success, I manage to do better.

Our self-talk has power over us. The things we repeat to ourselves over and over have a way of proving themselves true. This self-fulfilling prophesy can work in either direction. So why are we so often full of self-condemnation?

Is that we are afraid if we self-praise instead someone will come along and pop our over-inflated balloon? I know that’s one of my fears and yet no one has ever said anything like this to me (after I stopped getting report cards from school and my father’s insistence that I could have earned an A+ instead of the horrid and lowly simple A).

Certainly no one in the CrossFit world has ever spoken to me as evilly or as cruelly as I speak to myself. And yet I know in my heart of hearts, I get up and go and try my hardest. My weights are low but my form is good. And so far, I keep signing up for CrossFit when I’m the oldest person in the room. At this location, I’m not the oldest person in the building anymore. But the other old farts have enough sense to not come back to our area.

And there I just did it again. A more positive way to acknowledge my accomplishments would be to say that other old farts are not brave enough to come back to our area.

I really have no way of knowing if they are brilliant or fearful. I know that CrossFit scares the crap out of me. I know this place’s policy of not posting the WOD the night before and having to walk in blind each day is even more frightening. And I know that regardless of fright or stupidity or any other possible excuse, I show up anyway.

Life at the box has a way of smacking you in the face with cold hard facts. The iron doesn’t lie. It doesn’t care if you are cute or smart or talented or can sing an opera aria. If you can’t pick up the weight, it just stays on the floor – inert. You only get what you earn. Caveat: you can cheat at the full ROM or the count or something, but you still only get what you earn. What makes its way to the white board is immaterial.

Facing this honesty has made me both more brave and more timid. I’m less likely to stand back and let the world railroad me. But I’m also exceedingly aware of my limits.

Once you know yourself, you are free. Free to risk. Free to stay safe. Free to fail. Free to succeed.

Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Speak to yourself with the same gentle understanding you afford others. You know you aren’t really either as good or as bad as you sometimes think. Offer yourself the benefit of the doubt, learn from your mistakes, and move forward in a stately manner.

For the love of all the gods, stop bullying yourself. You have done nothing to deserve that.26229932_1632476263457913_9182457454532323938_n

I know a lot of world class worriers. I am, possibly, a gold medalist in the arena myself. Worry is one of my strong suits. I excel at it. Unfortunately, it does me no good at all. It just is part of the whole “I want to control everything” aspect of my life.

You see, I want to control everything and I don’t. I am often unable to even control myself, the one thing I actually do have some control over. So all the stuff that is beyond my control is really beyond me. And yet, I worry about it.

I worry that the past should have gone differently. I said something wrong or did something wrong or think I might have said or done something wrong. Especially at three AM. That is the very best time to worry because there is literally nothing else to do. It’s free range worry time.

I worry that the future will hold unwanted events. I actually know that the future will hold unwanted events and I don’t want them. So I worry about that.

I also can worry about a scheduled event and play out in my head exactly how it will go. It never goes exactly how I think it might and all my brilliant repartee of the night before is lost to the world. I had it so planned out and then reality came along and ruined it.

I worry about important things, of course. And if there aren’t enough of those, I worry about unimportant things. I worry about how much I worry.

Worry has never done a single thing for me. Well, a single positive thing. It has kept me awake half the night and made me tired and cranky and less able to deal with reality the next day. That is something worry is really good at.

Worry is the fear that life will not turn out perfectly. Spoiler alert: life doesn’t turn out perfectly because there is no “perfectly” to life. Life is a mess. It is chaotic and random and no matter how good the plans, they go to shit as soon as reality starts. Because our plans don’t include just us and the other people in the events had their own stories all set up. They did not, do not, cannot match our stories.

The best way to counteract an attack of the worries is to clear one’s mind. The practice of meditation can help. It helps more if you practice not at three AM, but in a meditation session during the day. Learning to release the thoughts, to just observe them and not interact with them, is a key part to learning the process of meditation.

And then you have to practice it. Not just at three AM, but routinely. Set a time to meditate, even if only for a few minutes a day. The practice of practicing to empty your mind and let the thoughts drift away will help with the panic of three AM worries.

It probably won’t make them completely go away. We love to worry. It feels like we are doing something to solve our problems. We aren’t; but it feels like we might be.

The best way to face a new day is rested and with a clear mind. This is not the result of endless worry loops in the middle of the night. Learning to calm yourself, follow your breath, disengage from the worry, and let it all go is the best recourse to an attack.

But if you can’t manage it right away, don’t worry. With practice, it gets easier. I promise.

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