Archive for July, 2013

In a Fog

I’m sick with a cold. BOOO. I took yesterday off which helped a little, but the problem with sick days is that I go stir-crazy fast. Especially because we STILL don’t have a working computer and we don’t have cable. Which means that I spent half of yesterday sleeping, a quarter of yesterday watching two of my favorite movies from college (Blood Diamond and The Constant Gardener), and the other quarter cleaning out our food pantry which still had boxes of pasta, cake mixes, and other things that we’ll never eat again and haven’t touched in a year.

Our now very empty pantry!

Our now very empty pantry!

For example, see below picture of the ingredients in a can of tomato soup from Campbell’s. It’s just tomato soup. I don’t understand why it’s necessary to add all of those terrible things.  And don’t even get me started on the can of cream of mushroom I found buried in the back that I bought from Aldi under the “Fit and Active” title (hint: if you want to be fit and active, you should not eat any of Aldi’s Fit and Active food.)

tomato soup

Anyways, I’m back to work today (hooray for lunch breaks at my desk when I can write up a quick blog!) and I’m pretty foggy. I downed some Alka-Seltzer cold meds this morning and while I can breathe now, a little, I’m still pretty tired. I have a feeling I’ll be in bed early again tonight.

I don’t really have a meal plan for you because we’re already half way through the week.  Oops!

Sorry for all of the whining. I’m miserable when I’m sick. Also, I miss CrossFit and being able to breathe. And I’m bummed because I missed the Filthy Fifty WOD yesterday which I have never done and it’s a benchmark.

On a happier note, my friend Peanut just sent me a picture of a cat on a motorcycle via Facebook messages to help me feel better. And this is why I miss CrossFit, because friends tell me they miss me and send me cute pictures.

Hoping to get back at it tomorrow.

What do you do when you have a cold? Do you go stir-crazy on sick days?


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First, let me start by saying I read a blog called “The Art of Manliness.” Yes, that’s right, I read a blog called The Art of Manliness and I’m not ashamed to admit it (ok, I’m a little ashamed).

Now that you’re done laughing at me, I read a really good post several months ago about finding your Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms (or: “N.U.T.s”).

Yes, I’ll that sink in for a second so that you can now continue to laugh, that this post is about finding my N.U.T.s.

All sophomoric humor aside, this was really a great blog post. Not just for men, but for anyone. He lists what I believe is his thesis at the beginning of the post:

N.U.T.s are the boundaries that define you as man, those things which, if repeatedly compromised, will gradually—but assuredly—turn you into a pissed-off, resentful man who will likely blame others—especially your wife—for your unhappiness.

Your N.U.T.s are uniquely yours. They reflect who you are as a man and the man you want to be. Compromise your N.U.T.s, and you’ll compromise yourself. Compromise yourself too often, and you’ll become an extremely unhappy man, husband and father.

How true is this?! There are things in all of our lives which are essential to who we are. These items, when infringed upon, turn us into different people. There are some non-negotiable, unalterable terms that are easy for me to identify. One easy one is sleep! If I’m continually getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night, I am a much different person. Another easy one to identify is not having time to myself. If I feel like I don’t have any time to myself, I can be very irritable with those around me and am not the person I want to be.

So, a while ago, I started thinking about what my N.U.T.s really are. Here is a short list:

  • At least 5 nights a week I have to get 7+ hours of sleep. And for every night I get less than 7, I need a night where I get more than 8.
  • I need at least 2-3 nights a week where I have nothing scheduled.
  • I need to be on at least one competitive sports team at any given time.
  • I need to be thinking and using my brain regularly, and intensely.
  • I need to eat healthy at least 5 days out of the week (6+ is ideal, but not essential).
  • I need to make time to exercise, at least 5 times a week (including sports).
  • I need to spend enough quality time with Meg, at least two uninterrupted blocks of time each week.
  • I need to have quality time with friends, at least one-two events each month.
  • I need to follow up with anything I commit to – I have to follow through on what I say.
  • I need to have organization for my personal belongings – everything must have a place and everything in its place.
  • I need to be able to say “no” to external requests without feeling guilty or pressured.
  • I need to not be tied to possessions or money. I need to be able to give things away.

It’s a working list, but it’s a start. Obviously some of these non-negotiable items are constantly being negotiated. I’m not perfect on all of them, and I don’t think the purpose of this list is to be perfect, but rather to identify what is essential to making me who I am. What is essential to making me the best person I can possibly be.

What is surprising to me is how important exercising regularly is to me. Three years ago that wouldn’t have cracked my top 100. Today it is one of the most obvious ones I can think of. In fact, lately, with work picking up, I’ve found that when I have a week where I only get to exercise 2 or 3 times, my work itself actually suffers! By working too much, or by not making the appropriate amount of time for exercise, relaxation, and for these other components, the quality of my work decreases.

But all of these have an impact on my work, and my personal life. When I’m not meeting most of these, then my interactions with others at the office are worse, the quality of my work decreases, and I can’t think clearly or make the same sound decisions I can otherwise make. If there’s one thing this exercise has taught me, it’s that when you’re busy with things and obligations, you’re not actually doing others a service if you’re violating your own non-negotiable list. Because the product you are delivering becomes sub-par, and the product of you becomes sub-par as well.

What’s on your list? Have you made a list like this? How do you stick with it?

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CrossFit Update:

So yesterday I RXed Christine which make me really freaking happy because as it turns out, I suppose I HAVE gotten stronger.

For those of you who don’t know, Christine is 3 rounds of 500 meter row, 12 body weight deadlifts, and 21 box jumps.

The last time I did Christine I used 80 pounds. This time I used 145. Last time I finished in 14:48 — this time I finished at 15:46. So, although I was a minute slower, I also was using 65 more pounds.

I decided that next time I do Christine, I need to do a juice cleanse so I can lose weight. (Totally kidding, juice cleanses freak me out!!) MAN 145 pounds is a LOT OF WEIGHT. Especially after rowing. That first time I picked up the bar after I got off the rower, I double checked to make sure no one added plates while I was gone. It felt like a million pounds. And then I had to step up a few times on the box jumps because I almost bit it after the deadlifts. Also, my rowing is terrible and I need to work on getting faster.

But yet, despite all of that, I still RXed a named WOD!! 🙂 Hooray!

Gratuitous Ryan Gosling meme. Because I rowed 500s and would have liked a bubble bath.

Gratuitous Ryan Gosling meme. Because I rowed 500s and would have liked a bubble bath.

Reaction to Bob’s post yesterday:

If you haven’t seen Bob’s post from yesterday, go read it. It’s a good one, and an honest one. And I think anyone who has lost weight (even a little bit) and tries to keep it off can empathize. It’s hard work, maintaining, and it’s overwhelming to think that you’ll have to do this the rest of your life.

I remember once when I was in Weight Watchers we were talking about maintenance. I hadn’t reached my goal weight yet, and the leader was talking about how she had been a lifetime member for 10 years. She had kept the weight off that long. And then she said something that terrified me.

Every day of those 10 years has been a struggle. I continue to count points. I continue to say “no” to food I want.  I continue to reassure myself that my health is worth the determination and motivation I have to muster up every single day to eat healthy and exercise.

I remember thinking then that I couldn’t ever return to my blissful ways of eating whatever I felt like eating, whenever I wanted, if I wanted to keep the weight off.  That was an incredibly sad thought — but then, I realized a sense of empowerment.

I don’t HAVE to choose healthy foods — I GET TO choose.  And those choices lead to either gaining back weight or keeping it off. It’s in my control.

But that doesn’t mean the choice is easy. And like Bob, I wish I could just eat pizza and beer and watch TV. And it is a CHOICE, every day, to eat a salad instead of ice cream, to head to CrossFit instead of sleeping, and to drink water instead of a margarita (mmm….).

So I guess I’m reiterating what Bob said yesterday, but adding my own positive slant to it. You make the choice. You have the control. And it may be monotonous, and boring, and overwhelming, and frustrating, and terrifying, but it’s still up to you and how you handle it.

How do you manage to maintain?

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I am not a runner, but I found this comic about running long distances fascinating. A lot of what he wrote in the 6 part “comic” really hit home for me, and resonated in my own fitness journey. But nothing stuck out to me more than his concept of “The Blerch.”

The first part of his 6 part comic is all about The Blerch. I’m going to give a summary, but I really can’t do it justice, so I really encourage you to read it on The Oatmeal itself (link again here).

The Blerch is his metaphor for all of the negative thoughts that try to slow him down when he runs, or the thoughts and feelings that make him want to stop. In a nutshell, here is his description: “The Blerch represents all forms of gluttony, apathy, and indifference that plague my life.”

He starts by talking about how many runners believe in “the wall” that you hit when you feel defeated during a race. He states that he doesn’t believe in a wall, but instead his “wall” is The Blerch. The encouraging thing about this is that he says walls cannot be moved or conquered, but The Blerch can be silenced and beaten.

Here’s where his metaphor really starts to hit home for me though. He talks about how he grew up a fat kid, and he says that in a way The Blerch is also his former self. And that one of the reasons he runs is because he is “terrified of becoming that kid again.” He ends the first part of his 6 part comic by saying that deep down he knows that some day The Blerch will catch up to him, and he will become it again.

This has been haunting me for the last several days.

So much of that is true for me too. There are a lot of reasons I exercise (it’s good stress relief, I genuinely enjoy CrossFit style workouts, I love seeing the progress I’ve made, I like feeling stronger and faster, I want to get better at sports, etc.). But if I’m honest with myself, there is one big, over-arching reason above all else: fear. I am afraid of becoming the fat guy again. I like my life the way it is now, and I like my new-found athleticism and fitness, and I am absolutely terrified of losing it all and reverting back to the way I lived the first 26 years of my life.

This is the Blerch that I am running from

This is the Blerch that I am running from

And I feel like it’s a valid fear. Like I said – I lived the first 26 years of my life that way. Obviously it is what I know, it is what is comfortable, and you might argue it’s my homeostasis. If left to my own devices, I prefer to eat chocolate, pizza, beer, and ice cream and sit on a couch watching Sopranos reruns. The Blerch is alive and well with me.

This is one of the images that scares me

This is one of the images that scares me

Every time I want to hit snooze on my alarm clock. Every time I want to grab pizza and beer for dinner. Every time I want to skip exercise in favor of watching TV or relaxing. I’m not saying that these things can’t be enjoyed in moderation – but it’s always going to be a struggle for me. And that’s the depressing part of this – is that I will always have to fight The Blerch. Ten years from now, when I have a scoop of ice cream, I will have to fight the urge to have a second scoop. Twenty years from now, when I hit snooze because I want a little bit more sleep on a particular day, I’ll have to fight the urge to do the same thing the next day.

So that’s why I exercise. That’s why I eat paleo. That’s why I stepped on the scale this morning, to track how far away The Blerch is from me. I fight with The Blerch every day. But the thought that The Blerch may some day win, and I will return to that lifestyle, just haunts me. So, if I seem a little crazy to you, or if you think I’m being too strict, or too hard on myself, this is a little insight into my psyche. I’m just scared.

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Hooray for a weekend at home! I cleaned the bathroom top to bottom yesterday as well as straightened up the family room and put away some clothes that have been hanging out in my clean laundry basket for over a week. And today I was super productive and prepped quite a bit for the week ahead. I’m really excited about this week’s meal plan — so many delicious looking things. I’m trying a bunch of new recipes, too, which makes it exciting.

Since I post the meal plan each week and talk about prepping, this week under each day I’ll also share with you what I did to prep for the week ahead so you have an idea of what I do in advance to save me time during the week.

The disaster that happens on our counters when we prep. (Don't worry, I clean it all up afterwards)

The disaster that happens on our counters when we prep. Note the white paper in the center — that’s my meal plan. And the coffee — necessary for chopping veggies. (Don’t worry, I clean it all up afterwards)

Today: Gazpacho with Lemon-Garlic Shrimp

  • Since this is today’s dinner, I made the gazpacho.  The shrimp is thawing out in the fridge.
  • Also — we’re skipping the toast to stay Paleo

Monday: Chicken Cobb Salad (sans blue cheese) with dressing borrowed from this recipe.

  • Made the dressing for this (doubled it so we had throughout the week)
  • Also grilled up chicken (lots of extra for lunches during the week as well)
  • Fried up some bacon (may have had a strip to make sure it tasted ok!)
  • Hard boiled the eggs

Tuesday: Steak on the grill with Paleo Risotto (subbing in asparagus for peas) & roasted broccoli

  • Made the cauliflower into “rice” using the food processor

Wednesday: We’ll be over at our friends’ house for dinner.

Thursday: Grilled salmon and zucchini salad (could you tell I just got my new Cooking Light magazine last week? haha!)

  • No prep here because the recipe is so short.
  • Lots of zucchini at the market this week = why I chose this recipe!

Friday: Sausage, peppers, onions.

  • No prep here either because it takes less than 15 minutes to get this cooking.

So that’s the meal plan for the week.  For lunches, we’ll be having salads with chicken for the protein and the avocado dressing or balsamic & olive oil.

Are you trying any new recipes this week?


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I haven’t been doing my monthly goal updates for a while, but it’s over halfway through the year, so it’s about time I check in on them.

Physical Health Goals

  • Complete a half marathon

Unfortunately I don’t think this one is going to happen this year. My plan was to really start hitting my training hard this month to get ready for a half marathon in Rochester in September. My glute had other plans. I’m a little too far behind the 8-ball now, and I still can’t really run for more than a few minutes without causing pain. Unless I can find a half marathon in Rochester in November/December (unlikely, and even if I found one – who wants to run 13.1 miles when it’s 13.1 degrees?), I think I’ll have to push this goal to 2014.

  • Maintain my goal weight/body fat %

I’m not sure if I’m going to hit this one or not. I’m still about 5 pounds away from my goal weight (I think I’ve settled that sub-190/sub 15% body fat is where I want to be), but I have yet to actually see that number on the scale. I’m close, and I’ve been close for a little while now, but I have a little more than 5 months to get there and keep it. I have come a long way on learning how to maintain my weight though, and learning how to eat in a way that I can still enjoy life and not deprive myself, but at the same time not be a glutton. So I’ve learned some skills, but I’m still not quite where I want to be. Jury’s out on this one.

  • Be able to do unassisted pull ups for all WODs

I’m well on my way for this one. I haven’t had to use a band for a while, and I’m still working on building strength so I can keep stringing them together. I feel like my “kipping” is getting decent, but I know I need to keep working on upper body strength also. I can’t rattle off a hundred of them yet, but I did 50 unassisted (in sets of 5) for our half-Murph in May. I’m feeling good about this one.

  • Rx Murph

Well, I need to be able to do 100 pull-ups, so that is the biggest thing standing in my way. I’ve been working on my push-ups too (need to do 200 of them), so that will be another hurdle. I still think I’m well on my way to do this – and I would love to be able to get this done this fall.

  • Complete a muscle up

I don’t know where I am with this one. I’m definitely lacking the strength to get myself up high enough on the rings. Even though I can do some unassisted pull-ups, I can’t do chest to bar pull-ups on the rings yet. So, hopefully as I keep working on my strength for pull-ups this will come too. I’ve been working on the technique a little bit, but it’s relatively useless if I don’t have the strength to even get my chest to the rings. The jury is out on this one, but I’m still hopeful.

Relationship Goals

  • Focus on strengthening my marriage

It’s hard to measure this, but personally I feel like our marriage is definitely getting stronger. It has been a good year so far for us so far, and I feel like we’re getting stronger and closer together constantly.

  • Develop new friendships

I don’t think I’ve made a lot of progress on this one. I have had so little free time that any social time I spend I want to spend it with my closest friends. I’m making an excuse there, but basically I haven’t done what I wanted to on this one yet.

  • Be more open with those around me

I think I’m getting better at this a little bit. At least writing on the blog has helped me open up a little bit. I don’t know though – what do you guys think?

  • Write one hand-written note per month

I’ve failed on this one. I really liked doing it when I did it, but for whatever reason I kept forgetting to do them, and then it started to feel a little disingenuous because I wasn’t sure if I was writing it because I wanted to, or because I was trying to fulfill an obligation. I want to keep doing this, but probably not as a goal.

Personal Goals

  • Learn something new

I haven’t learned anything new in terms of theory or education/academics, but I have learned how to play a new sport (albeit, not well). So I’m counting this as a partial win so far.

  • Read more

Nope. Moving on. . .

  • Be more generous with time and money

Yes – I definitely think I have been better with this. We have been donating on a regular basis, so I feel really good about that. And I haven’t volunteered as much as I’d like to (see above for my lame excuse about not having time), but I am starting to volunteer a little bit with a new non-profit that Meg is involved more heavily in. I’m helping them by leading some focus groups before they officially launch and start their service. This was a good opportunity for me, personally, because it allowed me to volunteer and donate some of my time in something that I am familiar with (part of my job involves market research), and it was an obligation that had a limited amount of time on it (once the focus groups are done, I’m done). This way I didn’t feel trapped by feeling like I was signing up for a year or more of regular volunteer work, but hopefully will be a good stepping stone into a more concrete/ongoing volunteer position.

  • Make advancements professionally

I have made a lot of progress since January professionally. I have the same job title as I did 6 months ago, but my responsibilities have grown and I feel really proud of the work I’ve been able to do and contribute. I don’t want to get into all of the details, but I definitely count this one as a win.

  • Strengthen our financial health

This is another win. We haven’t done anything groundbreaking, but we are slowly strengthening our savings, making good choices in our spending and investing, and at the same time I still feel like we’re able to enjoy what we have. I feel good about this one too.

So, that’s where I am so far. I feel pretty good about it at this point, but I still have a long ways to go on a few of them. What about you? How are your 2013 goals going?

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To be honest, I’m not sure I really care about lifting really heavy weights. Is that wrong? Does that make me a bad CrossFitter?

Part of it is that I’m scared I’ll hurt myself. Honestly, I am super clumsy and awkward and I’m a bit afraid to take risks. I know I need good form first, but even when my form is good and I’m confident about my lift, I’m still afraid to hurt myself.

But part of it is that I’m not really interested in the weight lifting part of CrossFit. Sure, I feel like a badass when I clean & jerk (my measly) 85 pounds. And there is some small power in knowing that I could almost deadlift Bob.  And yes, it’s nice to be strong for once in my life and have some definite muscles. I like that.

But the reason I love CrossFit ISN’T because of the weights persay. It’s because of the metcons. It’s because it’s a great workout. It’s because I do something different EVERY DAY. It’s because I challenge myself to do better, every day, no matter what. And it’s because I love the people that I work out with, that I sweat with, that I swear with, and that I cheer with, day after day after day.

But here’s the thing: because I don’t really care about lifting heavy, I’m not consistently increasing the amount of weight I’m capable of lifting. Or maybe I’m not trying enough, I’m not sure.  All I know is that compared to a year ago, I’m not lifting a significant amount more.

I still do Overhead Squats at 45 pounds -- and this was in October

I still do Overhead Squats at 45 pounds — and this picture was taken in October

It bothers me, a little. But mostly because I compare myself to others who have started around the same time I have, and they are consistently lifting more than I am.  And then I feel a little crappy because I feel like I should be striving to lift more, too.

Comparing myself to others will ALWAYS be a bad idea. Because my fitness goals are probably very different than other people’s fitness goals. I just want to be healthy and to be able to carry a bag of dog food. And that’s OK.  But when I see other people doing way better suddenly it’s not ok, and I feel like I have to do more so I can keep up.

So then I have to remind myself: maybe it’s OK that I’m not increasing my weights. Maybe it’s ok that I’m maintaining my fitness instead of constantly getting better and stronger. Because, like the ideal of beauty — it’s all in the definition you give.

And if I’m ok with it (other than comparing!!) then it should be ok. Right?

Then why do I still feel a little bit like I should care more about lifting heavy?

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