I’m not getting any younger. Being old is hard work. You have to fight to keep whatever it is you already have. And trying to get more is far more difficult than when younger.

My goals include working out with CrossFit type WODs four times a week. I do a yin yoga practice on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and meditate on the days I don’t do yoga. This stuff is helping keep me flexible, strong, safe, clear, focused, etc.

I’ve been doing CrossFit longer than yoga and there are days when I just CrossFit the shit out of my yoga practice. I catch myself in the act and alter my behavior so I can yoga during yoga. I have found that after so much yoga, there are times when I yoga my CrossFit WODs, too. I then have to remind myself that CrossFit is CrossFit and yoga is yoga and when they meet, I must adjust my sails.

I want, above all, to be perfect. All the time. I realize this is both ridiculous and impossible, but there it is. I cringe with each mistake. I cringe when I don’t keep the bar in close on a lift. I cringe when my body doesn’t fold in a pose. I cringe when I find a typo. I cringe when dinner doesn’t turn out the way I planned. I cringe and cringe and cringe and then wonder why I have a stiff neck.

Meditation is extremely difficult for me. I’m busy thinking about being perfect and the whole point of meditation is to not think, especially about being perfect and then I get caught in this loop of wanting to be perfect at a time when perfection is not even a pretend goal.

Using a guided meditation helps some, but my mind still wanders into the path of oncoming traffic and I wish desperately to be perfect at this. I would like to be perfect at something. Okay. I want to be perfect at everything.

My quest for perfection has oftentimes negated the sheer joy in living. This is most clear for me now at the gym when I should be so grateful to be able to do all the things I’ve worked so hard to attain. Instead, I want more and miss the joy of getting this far up an eternal mountain. There is no top to this journey.

Stop and smell the roses. At least notice there are roses and they are beautiful. I love the smell of lily of the valley, maybe I should stop and smell that.

I’ve been keeping a journal of things for which I’m grateful. It helps to keep me focused on the here and now and realize how precious it is. It is perfectly imperfect. I should allow myself to cherish it, mistakes and all. Noticing how often I’ve chosen wisely and done good. Not all the time, of course, but often enough to give me something to be thankful for.

I’ve risked enough to make the mistakes, be imperfect, learned new things. Gratitude makes even the imperfect better.

26733836_1639013972804142_5351605328274336518_n

Advertisements

Anyone who has followed my CrossFit journey knows I lack confidence and can get myself into a tailspin in a matter of nanoseconds. It hasn’t changed with a new gym and this past weekend I was again a mess. I’m still doing CrossFit things, just not under the CrossFit banner. And I’m still woefully lacking in confidence.

In fact, it’s worse than normal right now. I have to appear in front of a bunch of new people and be inept and inadequate even after five years of trying. In the last month, I’ve not suddenly turned younger and more powerful. I’m still just as old (and getting older by the minute) and just as feeble (and losing ability in all facets as I age).

This is terrifying. My old friends who worked out with me on a regular basis all knew the things I needed to modify. I didn’t have to advertise my special needs. My gym IEP was already on the books. (If you don’t know what an IEP is, it’s an Individual Education Plan written and on file for special need students.)

So here I am. Old and feeble and scared half to death when walking into any old place. Even my old home used to scare the living crap out of me and they knew me there. I was like Norm walking into Cheers. I didn’t have to explain myself. But now, I still don’t explain myself, I just wish I could.

The thing is, after five years of doing this crap, I actually look pretty damn good. I know about hook grips, when and how to pull, violent hip extension is part of my vocabulary, I know the mechanics of the lifts. What I don’t have is the power. I also, due to the aging process, lack a fair amount of balance. And then there is simple ineptitude. I never was really athletic. I grew up a bookworm.

I avoided partner WODs for a very long time because I wasn’t brave enough to inflict myself on anyone else. But in the last year, after a bunch of cajoling and nearly losing my mind a few times and some tears and wishing I could disappear right away, I finally got to where I was showing up regularly. I can’t make myself do that right now.

It is taking every ounce of my courage to take my old fat ass to the new gym. I don’t think I really look my age, although that may be vanity. But I want to advertise that I was not like this when I was the age my kids are, the age my gym mates are. I was able to run and play with the kids and not get winded just thinking about it. I am embarrassed and ashamed to be this old. I never really intended this to happen.

But I would regret not showing up (see yesterday’s blog). And so I strap on the pretend courage, act like I’m not quaking and shaking and fearful and near tears. And I drive myself to the gym. And like every other time over the last five plus years, I do something. Not very much, but more than I used to and more than if I had stayed home. I really deserve a medal of some sort. Probably tin.

26230440_1638134149558791_3536685077710144290_n

My life as a CrossFitter and now as a gym rat has been one disappointing failure after another. I am not supposed to utter the phrase “I can’t” but there are so many things I still can’t do. Some of them are things I don’t wish to do. I’m not climbing a rope. I’ve lived 65 years without this ever being a functional movement I needed to master. All I need to do is be 15 feet up and my arms give out and fall. At my age, broken bones are serious business.

I also can’t do a hand stand push-up mostly because I can’t even do the hand stand. I mean, the arms again. I’m weak and if I lose the strength to hold myself up, I can break my neck. History has shown this is a really bad idea. It is again, one of the things that has not limited my life in the past. I’ve never really needed this as a functional skill.

I can’t clean my bodyweight. I can’t even back squat my body weight. I can’t do a pull-up. I can’t and can’t and can’t. And yet, I keep showing up.

That’s how I win. I started CrossFit when I was 59. I had a few months before I would turn 60 and I so wanted to have weights on my weight for a back squat. All I needed was to 1. Learn to squat,  2. Acquire some balance, and 3. Get strong enough to actually do it. I really could not squat when I started. I dipped in a forward accordion fold. But with lots of practice and buckets of tears, I got a 27# back squat a few days before I turned 60.

The guy next to me was squatting 225# and yet, I was thrilled with getting my goal. Today, I can back squat over 100# and when I asked Chris, he had not kept pace, not being able to still do nearly ten times my weight. So there.

It isn’t because I’m really good at this stuff. I’m obviously not. But regardless of how crappy I am, and I’m crappy when compared to other CrossFitters but absolutely fabulous when compared to the general population, I keep going.

I have cried. I have questioned my sanity. I have hurt myself. What I haven’t done is quit. Every time I really consider the possibility of quitting, I think of how bad I will feel in a couple months. I will regret not trying. I don’t ever expect to clean my body weight. In all honesty, I don’t ever expect to get a pull-up (although God knows I’ve tried). I refuse to even try or care about climbing a rope.

My failures are spectacular when compared with all the other highly successful gym rats out there. But my successes are my own and cherished. I have weights on my weights for all the stuff. And I keep showing up. Without regrets. Tears maybe, but no regrets.

23518855_1446426302144445_4098102782368220509_n

Grand Circle Cruise Line focuses on travel for older Americans. That’s me. However, there are many far older Americans as well. This is both a blessing and a curse.

I’m a CrossFitter and not a particularly good one when seen in my natural habitat at CrossFit Summerville. I’m their oldest person. I am usually working out with a bunch of 40 somethings – or younger. I am slow and weak in comparison. I’m also there, something no other old farts in this part of the world seems to have accomplished.

I’m used to being last. I’m used to being weaker and slower and simply not as much, whatever that might be. I’m the oldest person and it sorta sucks. However, I’m pretty damn awesome. I do things other people can’t, even people far younger than me because I go to the gym and I try. Or as Yoda might say, I do as there is no try.

On the cruise ship, I was one of the younger people and definitely one of the fittest. I was fast and strong and able to climb cobblestone roads and ascend mountains in a single bound or something. I was able to surpass the 80 somethings like they were standing still, rather like the 40 somethings do with me daily.

My years of CrossFit and my time with yoga have made me strong and flexible. I didn’t get tired or need to sit down every time we passed a bench or a possible place to sit. I was able to keep up with the many different terrains and the steep hills and the climbing and the walking and all the various physical tasks.

I’ve been home for two days now and I haven’t yet gotten back to the gym. My circadian rhythm is still over in a time zone six hours different from where my butt is sitting. Well, it might be part way back over the Atlantic by now, but I’ve been having a hard time with the time difference.

On Wednesday, I did not set my alarm since I really, really needed to sleep. I woke at 1 in the morning – the time my body had been waking up for two weeks or 7 AM in European time. It took me two hours to fall back to sleep and then I was too tired to move much during the rest of the day. I had laundry to do and grocery shopping to get done and things to do to get back into my normal life in South Carolina without room service or chefs or any of the pampering I had so enjoyed while away.

Today, I could have made an 8 AM class, but there isn’t one. I knew better than to try to get up at 5 AM for a 6 AM class. That was smart since I was up at 2.30 AM again still trying to reset that circadian rhythm thing.

It was also colder in Europe. For the last ten days, I had been wearing my coat and gloves and bundling up again the wind and very occasional rain. The sweltering ⁰F 85 here in South Carolina is killing me right now. The idea of working out at noon or one of the late afternoon classes is enough to make me weep. So I’ve not opted for that nonsense either.

Today, I had a massage scheduled. For the first time in five years, it could be a relaxing massage. There was a bit of tenseness from a 10 hour plane ride and dealing with the TSA, but nothing at all like what I usually am like after moving a bunch of iron. It was peaceful rather than painful.

Right now I’m still strong from all my time in the gym without any of the day to day pain associated with all the time in the gym. I still have the benefits without paying a current price. It is supremely tempting to stay home and not hurt anymore.

And then I remember all the people who were bent, twisted, crippled by years of sitting and doing nothing. I passed them by, safe in my CrossFit body. Strong and able and not nearly the mess these others were in. The price I have to pay to keep this, is to keep doing the stuff I’ve done.

It would be nice if there were some easier way. But the sad fact is sitting is killing us all. We weren’t built to sit all day. We were built to move. We were built to fight for our survival. We were built for action. And because of that, I have my alarm set and I will be at CrossFit tomorrow morning. I will have to scale it back a bit so I don’t hurt myself after all this time off. I will be the last to finish and have the lowest weights and generally suck. I will follow the WOD with some yin yoga. I will stretch and move. I will be back.

With all this work, I should be able to enjoy many more cruises, climbing cobblestone roads to magnificent castles, twisting and turning through the narrow passageways, enjoying the experience of seeing the new and different.

IMG_2257

Zooming my way across Europe.

IMG_2619

Me and the grape vines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2619

It would be so easy to quit. Quitting takes zero effort. I could quit CrossFit and yoga and everything would stop aching and hurting.

While on Sistercation, I noticed one day that nothing hurt. Nothing. My calves weren’t aching. My IT band went back to unnoticeable. I didn’t have trouble with my lats or triceps or any particular part of my body. My everything was pain free. No strain. No ouchiness.

In addition to this pain free status, I could still hold my balance, pick up crap, move freely and without injury, and do all the things I couldn’t do easily five years ago. My body still held all the benefits of CrossFit and yoga without all the actual effort of doing anything.

I came home and got back into my CrossFit and yoga routine. And the intermittent strains and aches and pains returned.

I just had a massage yesterday and Jose worked really hard to get rid of the built up accumulation of my active lifestyle. I really hurt my shoulder/scapula a couple weeks ago with an overhead carry WOD. It’s finally fixed.

Then last night was my regular yin yoga class and we did lots of deep stretches with props (most of the session was with bolsters and it was really lovely). In yin yoga, the idea is to sink into poses so that the connective tissue and fascia and all the tightness have time to release and relax and the musculoskeletal system can achieve previous flexibility and whatnot. It isn’t like vinyasa or flow yoga.

Today’s CrossFit WOD had kettlebell swings and toes to bar, which I sub out as knees to elbows(ish). There were also goblet squats with the kettlebell. And so, right now, my hands are on fire and my quads and lats are letting me know I did a bunch of work.

When I first started CrossFit, I couldn’t have done anything I did today. My kettlebell swings were done with lighter weight, I couldn’t squat below parallel, I couldn’t raise my knees to even my waist. I was unable to do the things I did today – not with ease or panache or grace or anything, but did them nonetheless.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars on CrossFit over the years, not counting clothing or equipment or protein powder or any of that stuff, but just on membership. And I still can’t do a pull-up or HSPU. I can’t climb a rope and I hope I never do. I’m really paranoid about falling from that height and breaking my hip. I’m an old woman and Grandma never recovered from her broken hip.

So it is my own fault I don’t climb ropes. It’s also my own fault I don’t have a pull-up or HSPU or any of the other things I complain about. I’ve not earned them. Paying dues isn’t a magic formula for success. You actually have to do the work to get the results. Certainly my age is a factor in all this, but so is my attitude. I have to take responsibility for my failures. Which allows me to take credit for all my successes – so it works out.

There are things I do outside the gym that when I stop to think about it, are absolutely amazing. My balance is so much stronger, my strength is much greater, my ability to do many of the things Little Old Ladies can’t do is simply awesome.

So, even though it is sometimes tempting to quit and return to slugdom, I’ve worked too hard to get to where I am right now. It certainly wouldn’t take five years to get back to taking every jar into the other room to be opened or carrying in only one or two bags of groceries at a time.

It’s isn’t a daily reward anymore. I don’t make leaps and bounds of improvement on a weekly basis. I can’t see the incremental tiny growth, but looking back I can see the results.

It’s like aging. I don’t feel any older than I did yesterday. Aging is constant and incremental. I am certainly older than I was five years ago and I know this when looking back. Each moment brings me closer to my next birthday, a marker we need to remind ourselves that time moves on.

Some days it seems like I’ve put in a lot of effort for not much gain – until I look back and see exactly how far it is I’ve come. Quitting is seductive because it is monumentally easy. And quite frankly, if I could quit and remain right here, I probably would. But quitting is going to make me slide back down the mountain and I’ve worked so hard to get here that I do believe I will just have to keep going, strained IT band and all.

b80927867665e4f557ab32595e851236

Adult to child: Just do your best.
Adult to child: Is this really your best?
Child to adult, hesitantly: Yes.

Just do your best. We say this to kids all the time. It’s onerous. How many times as adults do we not do our best? Can you really NOT cook a better meal than the ones you have been preparing all week? When was the last time you really cleaned the house instead of just getting the surfaces? How much television have you watched instead of [fill in blank]? Is your career path on course? How many times did you check social media at work this week? Is that really your best?

We do our best on occasion. But not all the time. It would be exhausting. I make decent meals much of the time, but other times I honestly don’t feel like it. We don’t have to have gourmet food three times a day.

The house is reasonably clean. The laundry is done often enough. We aren’t going to have the health department come in and condemn the place. But it isn’t spotless and probably never was.

Life is imperfect. Doing one’s best all the time is perfection and we are not capable of perfection. I’m not sure it should even be a goal. If everyone were perfect, whatever that might mean, we would all be the same. It is our imperfections which make us unique individuals. I’m odd in this place and even weirder in that one and when you sum up all the ways in which I miss the mark, it creates me.

When I CrossFit, I’m not the best. I’m often not even anywhere close to my own best. I’m tired and cranky and the WOD contains crap I struggle with. But by struggling in my own crappy manner time and again, by listening to the coach who points out the errors in my form, I can improve to something better. But I will never get to best, at least not consistently because that would be perfection and … humans aren’t perfect.

When I do yoga, I strive to get myself tied into the correct knot and because I do yin, I then try to hold the pose and melt into it. Sometimes this is simply impossible and sometimes it is merely a struggle. But because I’ve been doing this for months, my poses look more like they are approaching the way the masters says to contort oneself. But in yoga, acceptance is more important than prescription.

I’ve been meditating. My mind is far less chaotic and I can focus on my breath for longer and longer periods. There was a time when I couldn’t even sit still for a few minutes. I can now. It isn’t the best, but it is better.

I rarely have the strength or stamina to do my best. But I can often do enough. Perfection is unattainable. But enough can be enough. If you let it.

6a00d8341c74ba53ef01156f16b11d970c-600wi

I have been in a tailspin. CrossFit is hard – for everyone. And for most of the CrossFitters out there, there is some goat, some odd thing that is particularly difficult. Most of the run of the mill people who dare to put it all out there are dealing with some sort of limitation.

I know a guy who has been to the games three times. He works really hard and is amazing. I know CrossFitters who are young enough to be my grandchildren and they can whiz past me like I’m standing still. In fact, because most of the people I work out with are young enough to be my children, they all whiz past me like I’m standing still.

Inside my head, I’m still 35 instead of being the mother of two adults both older than that. Inside my head I’m capable and don’t have either a cardiologist or a retinologist or any specialty doctors at all. Inside my head I can still do things just like all the other athletes I work out with over and over again.

But then, outside my head I’m old and feeble and have both a cardiologist and a retinologist and grandchildren and receive a pension and get daily mail telling me how to register for Medicare. I’m old and I’m not getting any younger.

The reality of my life and the dreams inside my head are not matching. And I’m not really at all happy about that.

It’s been five years. I’ve been at this for five long, grueling years. I’ve dripped sweat and frozen my ass off. I’ve been bruised and pulled muscles and hardly been able to move for two to three days. I’ve tried. I’ve really tried. I’ve done a few “Get a pull-up in six weeks” programs, running them for months and I still can’t do a pull-up. Inside my head is someone shouting all the things I can’t do. Even after five years of showing up consistently and really working hard I have this long list of failure.

It’s enough to make me cranky. Okay. Crankier.

Today, I made a list of all the things I can do that I couldn’t do five years ago. I didn’t even mention learning things like how exactly one does a clean and jerk or a snatch, the proper way to grip the bar and float under it or how to do any of the Olympic lifts themselves.

My list has twenty things on it from ass to grass squats (I couldn’t even get down to a 20” box when I began) to lunging without a cane (as I needed five years ago). I have weights on my weight for all the lifts (with a full snatch still looking horrible no matter how light I try to make it, but I actually can manage it – sorta).

I have trouble celebrating my accomplishments because they seem so meager. I do this crap and it is always a lighter weight or fewer reps or some modification because I’m an old, feeble woman.

I don’t ever think about how many people can’t do what I do because I’m surrounded by people who not only can, but whiz past me like I’m standing still. It is disheartening to work so hard and never feel good enough. (I’m the only person who has ever mentioned I might not be good enough.) I have no idea how to give myself the permission to scale back and still consider what I’ve done to be a success. I don’t know how to be grateful for all the hard work paying off and the ability to actually manage, in some fashion, to get out there four to five times a week.

I’m astounded each time someone says anything positive to me because all I ever see is what still isn’t there. I wish I knew how to stop that.

20264625_832783806889729_3736845516202595652_n