I have been struggling with CrossFit of late. Each and every WOD defeats me before I even walk into the box. I can’t do them. Ever.

It’s been five years since I began this nonsense. When I started, I was in really bad shape. I could do nothing at all. Well, I could walk around and I could cry a lot, but that’s pretty much a list of my accomplishments. It’s all scalable and I kept showing up and I worked through strains and bruises and aches and pains.

I don’t know what I expected exactly, but at some point within five years, I really thought I would be adequate. I really thought that by now, I would be doing things as written. I would be able to do the weights and manage the moves. I looked at all the things that tell me how to get a pull-up in just six weeks and I’ve done them for months at a time. I still can’t do a pull-up.

I can’t even really do a decent push-up. Or a handstand, which leaves a handstand push-up out of the question. I can’t do the weights as written. Hell, I can’t even run. I can’t do anything. And I’m defeated. Every single Olympic weightlifting move is minimal weights on the bar, laughable weights.

Maybe it’s just this one area that’s a mess. But wait, no, there’s more.

Although I’ve been doing yoga consistently for less than a year, I still can’t do any of that shit, either. I can’t manage to get my lead leg anywhere close to parallel to the front edge of the mat when in pigeon pose. My knees don’t work in child pose. Anything one legged has me being a wall sucker since I don’t have any balance at all. My warrior pose looks like a field of wheat blowing around in a tornado.

I’ve been trying to meditate. I can sit still for minutes on end. My mind, however, it around the globe and time travels to past and future rather than staying in the present moment. I focus on my breath and in the other part of my mind I wonder about anything else at all, both mundane and inconsequential. I drag my thoughts back to my breath only to have them running off into some other direction. I sit still while galloping across the universe unable to stay present in the here and now.

Maybe I should look to other areas of my life for success. I made four new shirts yesterday. It wasn’t entirely successful. I colored yesterday and no matter how fine the point on my pencils are, I can’t manage to stay inside the lines, a task we all learned in kindergarten. My culinary skills are such that we had a roasted chicken from Harris Teeter yesterday for dinner.

I’ve lived here for more than a decade and I do have some “successful” acquaintances, but even after all this time in this space, I don’t have a single friend. There is no one to go out for coffee or go shopping with. I don’t talk about those things because I don’t do those things. I’m isolated in a neighborhood of over 800 homes.

There is a chance today of a world renown event. Today is Solar Eclipse Day. There is rain in the forecast.

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I know it is up to me to live a healthier life. I need to do certain things to make the most of the time I have here on Earth. I need to first and foremost, eat a healthy diet. This is probably the hardest part for me and for everyone else on the planet. Our food sources are crap. The most chemical shitstorm foods are the ones that are routinely on sale. Sugar is being added to everything, even food that doesn’t need it. Our grocery stores are filled with “food products” instead of food and we are fighting a losing battle against people who trade our collective health for a profit.

I do the best I can and stay mostly out of the cereal and cookie aisles. I mostly stay away from boxes or bags of chemicals disguised as “convenience food” because while they are, in fact, convenient, they aren’t really food.

There is a maxim in the fitness world about drinking water. This is not based on any science at all. Neither the WHO nor the CDC have recommendations for how much anyone should drink because if you eat real food (fruits, vegetables, meats) they all contain varying amounts of water. So if you eat a bunch of watermelon, you really don’t need to drink as much water. Water is the second most necessary item (after air) keeping you alive. To believe that there isn’t a natural mechanism to help you maintain homeostasis on this front is ludicrous. If you are thirsty, drink. If you aren’t, it’s okay.

The next thing I need to do is get adequate sleep. This used to be no problem. And then menopause began and I haven’t slept right in over a decade. I can fall asleep easily but I can’t stay asleep. I’m unsure how to fix this. If you over hydrated and have a specific gravity for your urine of 0.0000001 you will be up all night peeing. This is not a good idea since sleeping undisturbed is important to overall health.

Another key aspect is exercise. I’ve got this covered adequately. I do CrossFit four to five times a week and back in February I began doing yoga. At first, it was once a week, then it was twice a week, and now it is six or seven times a week. And herein lies the problem.

When is the best time to do yoga? I have to CrossFit first thing in the morning because if I don’t I make up excuses and find myself not showing up. So, I’m there early before my brain kicks in. I also don’t want to take two showers in a day, and if I waited until early evening, then the whole when to shower thing becomes a problem. All in all, first thing in the morning really works for me.

But when to yoga? I have been doing yin yoga, which is pretty good just before bedtime as it leaves you relaxed and ready to fall asleep. But, and this is a big but, I have to remember to get started earlier than I have been because I don’t really have enough time to get in an hour yoga and get to bed and then wake up early enough to get to CrossFit. Another issue is that even a vinyasa class leaves me a bit too jazzed to fall asleep immediately.

Doing a flow class, at least for now, is not anything I’m interested in. I do CrossFit for exercise and I do yoga for my stretching/releasing tension and my soul. Flow is about exercise on a yoga mat. I prefer to exercise with a barbell.

I could do yoga in the afternoon and get in a vinyasa yoga time and it could be longer, but then I’m back to the whole shower thing again.

I can make as many excuses about exercising as I can about eating non-nutritional food. But my real question is, when is the best time to yoga? I know there are whole sun salutation things, greeting the day with a yoga practice. But I’m in the gym without a mat and squatting with a barbell at that time. I don’t think I ever salute the sun, but I’m already busy.

There are so many choices in life. I hope I’m making at least some that are beneficial.

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I have been doing CrossFit for almost five years now. That makes me a CrossFitter and I would love to bravely say, I’m pretty good at it. Not because I’m really all that good at it, but because I keep showing up and letting other people boss me around. Others, including coaches and other athletes, have more faith in me than I have in myself.

I have muscles. Really. I’m an old fart with muscles. I don’t quite have six pack abs. I can’t do a hand stand push up. I can’t do a pull-up. I can only clean and jerk half my body weight. I still can’t deadlift 200#. I can’t run a mile. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. So what on earth would make me think I’m any good at this?

I show up. Even when I’m scared to death. I show up. When I can’t do a single thing as written, ever (okay, I once a did a WOD RX, but it was supposed to be fast and light and for me it was slow and heavy, but I did it RX) I still show up. I scale every damn thing, all the time.

And as bad as I am today, I’m so much better than when I began. I would love to see every old fart in the world join me in this adventure. Not because then I might be able to be better than someone for once, but because it improves life outside the box. Really. Even when I occasionally injure myself, I know I’m stronger and more able and more confident and more awesome just because I do CrossFit on a regular basis. The feeling of empowerment is worth every drop of sweat. I can do many things that people half my age cannot. Really. With all the stuff I can’t do, I still do many not-at-all-old-lady things four to five times a week.

I’m killing this CrossFit thing. I’ve failed my way to success. I am good. Even though I know some people might judge me by different standards which would not be as kind or as generous. I have learned so many things by showing up and failing. I’ve mostly learned not to give up and to give myself the chance to succeed.

I’ve tried yoga a few times before. I hated it. Loathed it. Really, really disliked it. But I really like Cindy. She has been my CrossFit friend since I first started. She is a positive influence, a lovely person, and now a certified yoga instructor.

Back in February, while she was still learning to be a yoga instructor (and three years into her own yoga practice), she started to have a yin yoga class on Fridays after we were finished with CrossFit. She hadn’t been making too much time for CrossFit since she was so consumed with yoga. I made a deal. I would yoga, if she would CrossFit.

So I’ve been doing yoga once a week since February. Except, back in April, she was getting closer to graduation and wanted to practice some more and needed guinea pigs and began a Tuesday evening yin yoga class. I really like Cindy. She is a good person. I love that she is chasing her dream and taking all the steps to make it happen, not just wish it were so. I came to her Tuesday evening class, too.

Then in May, to get people used to coming to yoga classes, all of them were free for the month. Dick started to come with me. It has greatly helped him in his mobility which has allowed his golf game to improve. He is more flexible and has more stamina on the golf course, making yoga worth the time and effort. So we both go on Tuesdays and I still go after CrossFit on Fridays.

Twice a week makes a difference. Danette started at CrossFit about a year ago. She usually comes to Cindy’s yin yoga classes too. She also signed up for and does a nightly ROM WOD from an online subscription. It’s been intriguing. Her mobility is quite improved after her nightly stuff, which is a combination of yoga poses as well as stretching.

I decided to try using You Tube to search for yin yoga stuff and lo and behold, there were a half million hits. This week, completely broken by the yoga world and now a more than transient yogi, I’ve been doing a nightly yin yoga before bedtime. I’m getting better at setting up my home space and allowing myself the luxury of surrendering to the space yoga provides.

However, I’m a CrossFitter. Any time the instructor/You Tuber says “if available” I CrossFit that shit and give it a try because in CrossFit there is a need to prove you can at least freaking try. This is not the yoga path, but it is the CrossFit path. I sometimes have to back out, but at least I know I’m not holding back in my practice out of fear.

I’m a CrossFitter. I do yoga. They actually do go together.

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I am a perfectionist. I don’t live up to my own standards, but I’m still a perfectionist. I would love to be able to do what I expect of myself.

I wish I could do more or better at CrossFit. I’ve wished this the entire time I’ve struggled to improve micrometer by micrometer. I’m pretty freaking awesome now, but even so, I would like more. Always, there is more and always I am not in possession of it.

I know one of the things I don’t do is mobilization. When I get sore enough, I work on getting rid of the soreness. I know, I absolutely know, that mobilizing for just ten minutes a day, regardless of how I feel, would improve my overall well being. I don’t. I did when someone gave me a point or two for it. But after the points went away, so did the behavior.

I’ve tried rewarding myself, but that didn’t work at all. First of all, I have no real way to do that. When I want something, I just go out and buy it. I don’t have a way to make it rewarding, other than just feeling better and apparently that isn’t enough.

I get a massage every three weeks. That is helpful. If I was a Powerball winner, I would get a massage once a week. I don’t even play the lottery, so this seems like not much of a chance.

What would be beneficial for me is doing yoga. I’ve tried. Honestly, I’ve tried.

Like CrossFit where everyone is welcome and it’s all scalable, yoga is a judgment free zone. Except in my own head, where it has never (even for one nanosecond) been a judgment free zone. Inside my head, I’m judging. I judge myself harshly, more so than any outside person does.

CrossFit has a scoreboard. Some boxes don’t insist on writing your raw score on the board. Mine does. My old lady score goes right up there with the 20 something male athlete’s score. Two numbers, no explanation, no anything. Just raw scores. Mine is worse.

In yoga, another place to safely practice well being, there is a correct way to breathe. It is not the way I’ve been breathing for 64 years. So, I don’t even breathe correctly.

I don’t know the terminology. I don’t know the basics. I don’t know shit. I’m not expected to and no one, other than me, is finding it offensive or passing judgment.

I struggle with the problem of wishing I could do things and the knowledge that beginners always suck at stuff. Inside my head, I’m supposed to already be expert. I’m supposed to be flexible, know the jargon, do the poses without problems.

In actuality, I’m not that flexible, know next to none of the jargon, and my only good pose is holding a coffee cup and contemplating what sort of snack I’m interested in.

The way for me to get stronger, is to show up for a CrossFit WOD and do that thing, whatever it is and no matter how scared I am. I know this. And even after more than four years, I struggle to keep plugging along.

Starting something new is frightening. I can’t even breathe right.

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I keep trying to like yoga. I don’t. It is just one more thing I’m not able to do with any panache, skill, or even adequacy. I can’t even sit in lotus position. I’m not flexible enough to do the really beginner light stretch relaxation yoga. I tried. It was a nine minute video. I quit before it was done.

Yoga is supposed to be a beneficial way to stretch and relax and find peace. I stress and find my toes are about to crack off and my balance is enough to make me fall over and crack something on my nice yoga mat which offers no padding whatsoever.

Just relax into your breathing.

I hear that but it makes not even one whit of sense to me. I breathe simply to get air to my hemoglobin and have no idea how to relax into it. I’m lucky I’m still breathing, all things considered. If I focus on my breath, I get short of breath and start panting like a lizard on a hot rock. Or I get so light headed that I become dizzy. If I don’t pay any attention to my breathing, I seem to get along okay as I’ve not yet died of hypoxia.

Put this hand here and that foot there and bend backwards and kiss your ass. Relax.

I cannot do this. I’m precariously balanced, my ass is not happy with the gentle love, and if I was able to do anything else at this point, it would be to gently strangle the asshat who just told me to relax. And then stab her at least 75 times with a rusty a knife.

Empty your mind.

My mind worked really hard to fill itself up with mostly useless trivia. I have gathered together a repertoire of useless facts and can spew them out with wild abandon.  I have been accumulating these precious tidbits for decades upon decades and they do not easily abandon me, unless I’m playing a trivia game. While I am twisted into a variety of pretzel shapes with my toes cracking off is not the time for my mind to empty itself.

Stand on one foot and turn yourself into a corkscrew.

I cannot even just stand on one foot straight up. The twisting around after attempting to balance on one foot with the ankle wobbling around like a whirligig is not going to end well. At my age it is recommended that there be grab bars installed in the bathtub to help get in and out. It is not a good idea to make me fall over and crack my head open, but that may in fact help to empty my mind. So perhaps that is the plan.

Yoga is relaxing.

No it isn’t. It is brutally hard work for the stiff and unbalanced. I have not got a snowball’s chance in hell of actually doing the poses with full concentration let alone in a relaxed state. Sipping coffee and reading a book is relaxing. Yoga in contorting around in various attitudes from flat out on the floor, which has the benefit of not being able to fall over, to completely upright.

Yoga feels good.

Well, when you stop. Of course, slicing your arm off with a butter knife feels good when you stop, too. Something with the benefit of being great when it is over should be confined to CrossFit, something I’m already having enough difficulty sucking at. I do not need another arena in which to be a total failure.

So, I’ve tried to like yoga because it is so wonderfully relaxing and health inducing. But all I find is that I’m unable to manage it, I get stressed out beyond all reason, and the only part I like at all is when I stop.

I think maybe yoga isn’t for me.

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I met Cindy for the yoga class at CrossFit Summerville on Saturday morning. I’m the klutz in the class and can’t manage most of the work. It is amazing to me to watch other people manage to twist themselves up like that. I used both a block and a PVC pipe for balance on some pose that has a name, but I have no idea what it is. I just know I was trying to fall over even with extra support.

The most important thing I learned came at the end of class. Karen had put lavender scented wet washcloths in the refrigerator and passed them out at the end of class so we could cool down. It was heavenly.

We went to a party on Saturday afternoon and I ate way too much great food that might not be considered healthy. We had five different desserts to pick from and I picked all. That’s just the way I roll and now rolling is appropriate since I’m rounder. Again.

Yesterday we went coffee mug shopping. I need something to keep my coffee warm while I drink slowly. Both of our thermal cups were falling apart. We looked and found what we thought would work. It does if I just cut off my nose or smash it into the top of the cup. Neither of these are as pleasant as they sound.

This week at the box is retest week to see how much we have progressed in eight weeks of doing Wendler. I assumed I would progress zero because I’m so old that eight weeks is something like one-quarter of one percent of my lifetime and that is just a blink of an eye.

We had a visitor from Texas today. Kat was still out. Betsy was coaching. And then there was me. Pitiful me. Betsy was going to start with a run and then realized that I wasn’t up to showing the visitor where a real turn around place was because I cheat and don’t go that far. We rowed.

We did a bunch of other stuff and then were declared warm enough to get on with our day.

Today’s WOD as written:
Baseline Testing Week

Determine a 1RM Press – maintain proper, strict form.

Determine a ME Ring Dips – proper strict form. Carefully note any scaling for comparison.

Determine a ME Pull Ups – hollow body & strict form. note scaling for comparison.

Determine a ME Tabata Air Squat – record the lowest number of reps in any of the rounds and total reps.

Post your scores and any PR’s with a previous record for comparison.

I looked back and actually read what I had written for the first week. I was disgusted at the time and just wrote it in a word document and didn’t post stuff online because I was considering just quitting the whole thing, taking my marbles, and going home. I’m so sick of being weenie. I still am, but I’m not quite ready to quit yet.

But when I read the original thing I typed up, I found that I did not get a 54# strict press. I tried twice and failed. My one rep max for this was 52# and I figured all my numbers on 54#, not that it really matters. But today, I again tried at 54# – twice – and failed twice. I got the 52# up but that was it.

I had to go back and really read to see what that other stuff was. I did the ring dips with a blue band and got to 15. Today, I got to 10 and then 13 but couldn’t make my old number. Part of the reason was I was wearing a golf skirt and the damn skirt part kept catching on my thumb as I gripped the ring. A better outfit would have been good. Probably not enough to really matter.

Then the damn pull-ups. I used a green band. The first time I got 7. Today I got 9. We have been doing an awful lot of pull-ups. An awful lot.

The Tabata air squats were done last time with 8 each round and on the last round I did more for a total of 69. Today, I did 9 on each round for a total of 72 and I was making moaning noises like DeWayne as I finished. He had already come in for open gym and he approved.

The other thing I purchased while coffee mug shopping was a pack of white washcloths. I had a wet cloth (no lavender scent included) in a plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator before class began. At the end of class, it was nice and cold and I dabbed at my sweating face, my neck, cooled my arms and legs and generally enjoyed the bliss of coolness. Brilliant.

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On Tuesday evening I went back to Yoga Loft and did another Restorative Yoga class. It was quite different than the first one, which was as advertised. Last week, the instructor said each time was different.  We ended with this quarter-moon, banana type pose which is probably something that would benefit my disparate height. I’m shorter on one side than the other and this pose to the left was very different than when done toward the right. I suppose that means something.

I came home from class and peeked at the WOD for Wednesday. It was another hero WOD. I’m beaten. I’m crushed. I’m sore and tired and cranky. I posted something on Facebook and Kat said she was not going to be able to make it to class. The more I thought about it, the more I disliked putting myself through another hero WOD.

I looked back. The last seven WODs have all been – at least for me – well over 15 minutes of work. There have been no sweet little seven minute AMRAP things. Just laundry lists of slugging through and proving I have the stamina of Hercules and the brains of Tweedledum. I have proven that to myself and anyone else looking. I was simply too beat up to go. It is all scalable. I am not supposed to cherry pick. They are not supposed to kill me. I stayed home.

I worked on some mobilization and did absolutely nothing else. I rationalized my lapse in many ways. On Tuesday, we had gone to Fort Moultrie and walked around the historic national park for an hour and a half. It was beautiful and interesting and the ocean, as always, was both calming and invigorating.

I needed the rest and recovery. I was a mess after just 100 push-ups and so adding the pull-ups and squats made me even more of a mess. I can walk forever so that part didn’t really do anything other than eat up time. But I had already had 46 minutes of working out for the week which was enough for two days.

And I simply didn’t want to go and do another hero WOD. And I didn’t want to do another long WOD. And I stayed home and sat around and felt guilty, but not enough to go to either open gym or the noon class.

Last night was a wine tasting and it was really nice. I got to see some old friends and meet new people. I also got to catch up on some gossip, the total reason for any social occasion. I ate too much but only had one glass of pretty good wine. It was called Casanova. How romantic.

Then I had to do interval training today. I hate to run. I can’t do it well and nothing I try seems to improve the overall suckiness of the event. My heart rate is too high consistently. No matter how slowly I walk during my rest phase, my heart rate doesn’t come back down. I box breathe. I have to remember to walk even slower than a normal pace. My heart rate remains high.

After the first 30 second run my heart rate was 117 and it never got below 100 again. By the end of the third run it was over 130 and after the fourth run was never lower than 130 again. That’s two minutes of running with six minutes of not running and my heart rate was still way too high. By the seventh run, it was over 150 by the end and was still climbing for about ten seconds after I stopped running. It would take between 40 and 50 seconds just to get back down to where it was when I finished my run.

I got back to the house and sat for about four minutes and my heart rate was finally under 100 again. I am at a loss of what to do to get this one muscle to work better, more efficiently, and without slowing me down so much.

As I was running, which was really jogging, I kept thinking of the slogan: It’s not your legs that are tired, it’s your head. Keep moving. My legs were never tired. My head wasn’t tired. My heart was trying to kill me. If I ran until my legs were tired, I would fall over dead or with a heart attack or maybe just passed out.

They keep saying you will pass out before you die, but I’m not sure which order will happen when the “athlete” and I use that term loosely, is my age. Although, at my advanced age, I have far more collateral circulation and should I have a heart attack, I have a much greater likelihood of surviving it. But I’m pretty sure it would really interfere with my training, so I try not to go there.

Someday, I may get a heart rate compatible with exercise. I’m getting close to three years into CrossFit and I haven’t gotten there yet. I wonder if I can be the crappiest CrossFitter for the longest time ever. It might be a goal I can reach.

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