Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eight Pounds Down - How Am I Doing It?

It's no secret that I am really Type-A. It's also no secret that I have a tendency to choose one focus and become involved 100% with it. I've had a history of about 8-10 pound weight swings because I seem to have the ability to focus on EITHER fitness OR food. Never both.

I'm lucky that when I gain/lose weight, I don't look too much different. Or maybe I'm wrong and no one has the nerve to tell me so. Anyway.

Clearly this year has been the year of the half tri. It was all I thought about, cared about, trained for. And as a result, I gained weight. Biked for 3 hours and ran 10 miles? Eat a pizza. Why not?! Yeah, no. And thus, I found myself miserably out of shape after my race (One day, I will shut up about the half. Today isn't that day.)

I had a few half hearted attempts: I tried to go back to my 100% clean diet. Fail. I tried calorie counting. Epic fail. I put it off one day, then another day, and the more I did that, the more I put off getting back to off season training. Fun fact - off season training is not actually code for "sit on your ass." The more you know.

I finally admitted that perhaps I was going about things wrong. Perhaps I had no idea what I was doing. Perhaps, it was time to put my negative experience with nutritionists behind me and seek out help. If working with Coach T could keep me in line on my training, perhaps if I found someone who was equally as awesome in nutrition, they could keep me in line on my eating.

I use Twitter to find Coach T, so science says I could find a nutritionist in the same fashion.

Thankfully, the people behind Fatfluential responded to my cry for a nutrition specialist with experience with endurance athletes and introduced me to Christine.

I sent her an honest email:
"I am, for better or worse, a little type A when it comes to training and planning...but I lack much experience in the way of nutrition. I've done the calorie counting thing until I realized that (surprise!) lean cuisines are NOT particularly healthy for ou and my mile times began to suffer. I did a really strict diet...until I realized that I was letting my diet direct everything I did and was totally miserable."
I got the response that made me commit to 6 months of counseling with her:
"Type A people know how to set goals and follow through, it's just a matter of knowing which goal to set with nutrition. There is so much conflicting info out there and some of it works, but most of it doesn't." 
I just wanted someone to cut through the bullshit. And Christine did. I need someone to hold me accountable, and Christine does. She actually tweeted at me to put down a donut. Brave. It doesn't hurt that she is an accomplished endurance athlete. I felt like she knew what I was talking about even though I am no where near as badass as she is.

We talk every other week for an hour - but her twitter presence will strike fear into my heart when I think about a cookie that I don't really want. Our conversations have built from the foundation up - what kind of fuel produces what results? What does my body want? Why? How am I incorrectly interpreting what my body says it wants? And dear God, what do I eat?

We started super simple. Half of my lunch/dinner became greens over night. Magically. I lost some weight. Then we went about bringing grains down. Funny, I feel not-so-bloated and not-so-tired.

I made "nutrition tiers." Essentially, I have three "levels" of my eating habits. The vacation/celebrations level - I can have 2 "splurge" meals, but I stick with my half-greens and hydration. I have my "main" diet, where I have 1 splurge meal a week and am dedicated to my greens being at least half of my diet and I try to keep grains at 0-2 per day. For my super clean/race week/getting sick diet, I cut out all splurge meals and stick with 0-1 grains a day. And I drink the left over water from making my greens. Trust me, it just tastes like strong tea. It's not so bad.

I've been bad about starting my food journal since getting laid off, but that is something we're starting, as is a breakfast experiment that I promise to start doing as well.

I've hit my 1 month goals:
- 5 pound weight loss (I wanted to feel "not puffy")
- Go-to list for cravings - sweet? and orange and 10 dark chocolate chips, salty? celery and hummus or a little peanut butter
- Have an "off-season" training diet

My three month goals are already in reach:
- 10-15 pound weight loss
- Modify diet for "beginning of season" training
- Reduce eliminate cravings

The moral of this story is four-fold -

First, greens are golden. Even if you're going to splurge, if you eat the greens, you'll eat less of the splurge food, more of the greens.

Second, it takes two weeks to "want" to stick with the diet, but if you can make it past the first two weeks, the diet propagates itself. I found myself craving greens.

Third, it IS possible to lose weight while training. Absolutely possible. My training has gotten exponentially better. I sleep better. I WANT to train more.

Fourth, Christine is the best person in the entire world.

When I stepped on the scale today, I was totally blown away. Down 8 pounds. I literally got off the scale, checked that it zeroed out, then stepped on it again. I even did basic math using my phone because I didn't believe 8 pounds. But I did it. And man does it feel good and sustainable.

Keep me accountable readers. I don't want to be back where I started ever again.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Dream Gym

I referenced my dream gym in a recent post and since I'm unemployed, Type-A, and apparently have an amazing network...I figured I'd go ahead and tell you about my dream gym in hopes that maybe one of you knows a bored billionaire.

I loathe corporate gyms. Why? Because they hire anyone. Sure, that guy at the front desk is really nice, but does he actually care what you do at the gym that day? Nope. He cares that he has two baskets of towels to roll before his shift is over.

I want to have a gym that behaves like a community. I know it's possible. I've seen it happen with my tri team, BodyPump, the GW GroupEx staff...and it's alive and healthy at my Crossfit gym, and I'm confident that this isn't because of the activity - it's because of the staff.

You see, a lot of gyms see running and owning a gym as a money maker. What if we stopped thinking about profits and started thinking about gyms as life changers (eww how cheesy was that?) But truly. Think about it - would you rather go to a gym with all the machines and stuff and friendly staff or to a gym where all your friends hang out, who want to know where you were last Tuesday, how that big project turned out at work? I know what I'd choose any day of the week.

At my dream gym, the entire staff is full time (if they want to be). Fitness is their life. And the people who would want to work there would want to know who you are, what you're trying to accomplish, and what's going on in your life.

When the Real World moved into DC and disrupted my quiet street, I was irritated, but when they finally moved out, I dreamed of having the money to buy that massive house and turn it into a gym.

In reality, what I need is a two part gym:

The Dirty Side
If I have a dream gym, Chadd is clearly a part of that picture. Ninja warrior stuff all over the place. Nothing says awesome like an adult jungle gym. The space is nearly identical to what you need for Crossfit. So, that's an easy add. Put an indoor 400 meter track around it for track practice. Epic. I can see so much awesome happening at the same time in this space.

The Svelte Side
I can't give up my love of Spinning and my budding interest in yoga. I'd have a spin studio and a yoga loft (yes, loft. Yoga District is killing it with their beautiful space in Dupont. Serious zen). On top of that, let's go ahead and put in the VERY basics (mats, balls, bosu, weights, a couple cardio machines), but hell no, we are not using weight lifting machines. More often than not, those encourage terrible form and injury. Three training studios - rented out to trainers who want to have a home for their services.

The Pool Side
Obviously. And I'm going to ensure that Victoria oversees it and the Masters program.

The Dream Extras
Trainers: Trainers will greet you when you walk in, ask you what you're working on that day, if you'd like help with anything, and will be easily accessible when you want to talk to them. Trainers will be on the floor at all times - and included in your membership. You get a monthly, free one-hour workout with a trainer of your choice.

Membership Levels: Tiered membership levels allow for drop-in rates, passes, area-specific, and all-inclusive. No contract.

Nutrition: Nutrition is the most ignored part of every gym. In a fairy tale world, I'd convince my holistic health counselor (info on my resources tab) to move to DC and run the nutrition program. The gym would have a full demonstration kitchen with frequent cooking classes, nutrition seminars, and specialized counseling available - once a month, one hour sessions included in your membership.

Clubs: Clubs are so underrated. Remember how awesome it was to be in a club in high school or college? Triathlon clubs (clearly, I'd convince Coach T to take over this part), Running groups 5k to marathons, yoga groups, you want it? We'll start it.

Social Events: Why can't a gym have a happy hour? Club mixers? Competitions? Clinics? Let's do it.

The Name

Definition: an activity, situation, or way of life 
regarded as irresistibly engulfing

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hashtag, Eating My Words (The Crossfit Story)

After a many month dedication to all things 7[2].3 related (yes, 72.3, I had an extra 2 miles on my bike course), I have been burnt out on all things swimming, biking, and even running.

Related: in a crazed state, I bought a Living Social deal for a month at Crossfit Dupont. Why? Chadd has recently taken up Crossfit to supplement his Ninja Warrior training and really enjoys it, so I agreed to try it for a month in some sort of reparation for being absent for so many months of training. The results were surprising. In fact, I did not expect to be writing this blog post.

I know, I know. I'm sorry.
As many of you know, I've always been fairly "anti-box" - not because I think there is something wrong with Crossfit - but because most people who are *seriously* into Crossfit had a thing against those of us with a penchant for endurance sports. And frankly, I have no time for those people. I didn't even have time for those people who were pro-endurance sports while I was training. And have you ever had to deal with a Crossfit Bro? Spare me. Those are the guys who made it their purpose in high school to tease me for being less-than athletic (how you like me now, assholes.)

But Chadd has loved it, assured me that the coaches knew what they were talking about, and that it would be, at the very least, a challenge.

Game on.

I signed up for the foundations class - a 2x/week for 3 weeks course on appropriate technique and basic movements. Class was great, I knew after a couple of the intro courses that this would be a good fit for me...but then I skipped for about a week due to attack of the angry ankle and too much work. But, I finally manned up and after the hurricane kept me cooped up for 2 days, Chadd and I went to a Tuesday night workout which looked like this:

- 3x5 Squats

- 150 pushups*

*For every time you have to rest without being in pike position, sprint down and back on the basketball court

Dear.God. Yes, I did the push-ups on my knees. And when that started to fail (somewhere around 120), I switched to the belly-ups. I did a lot of sprints to stay loose (maybe every 25?) But I did it in around 9:30.

Because this was so much fun, I decided that because I had to stay late at work and miss track on Wednesday, that I'd just go right ahead and hit up Crossfit. WHY NOT? (wait for it....wait for it....)

Power Clean and Split Jerk

- 50 Ball Slams
- 50 Double Unders* (or 100 extra high jump ropes if you are a like me and can't link double unders)

*Every time you break on double unders, do another 5 ball slams or 10 more if you are doing singles.

So. I was already in some pretty brutal pain from what felt like a couple billion pushups. I knew I was in trouble when I started to feel faint during the warm up on Wednesday. Yes, the warm up. Around ball slam 30, my vision went dark in places. Warning sirens are going off in my head. I am 2 minutes into this workout, y'all. In my mind's eye, I saw this headline:


It took me 4:09 to do Wednesday's workout. Guys. Less than 5 minutes (not bragging about this time, making the point that it only took 4 minutes and 9 seconds to bring me to destruction). I was sure I was dying. Yes, I ordered the Humble pie over here.

I woke up the next morning and I couldn't lift my upper body. My arms would not support my weight. Putting on clothes was impossible. Getting my contacts in? Y'all, I couldn't touch my face.

It is Sunday night and I can still feel soreness hiding in places through my upper body. It's seriously awesome.

I was practically high on Wednesday night when I got home.

Though I knew I would not survive a Thursday morning workout, I still hit refresh a billion times on the CFD page to see what the workout would be. We call this "signs you may have a problem."

Yes. I am very well aware that I made a 180-degree change on my opinion of Crossfit and because when I'm wrong, I try to admit it, you have this blog post.

But why do I like Crossfit so much? Here ya go:

1) I'm a masochist. The faster I can reach my physical end and the more often I can be sore from a tough workout - the better. It takes me multiple hours with my sportz to hit that kind of pain. Crossfit? Apparently, 4 minutes.

2) I love working out with Chadd. As someone so aptly put it, "So...the point between a half Ironman and Ninja Warrior is...Crossfit?" I guess so. And I love it. Chadd and I never get to work out together on something we both enjoy. Even mud runs are compromises to some extent. I've spent a lot of lonely hours at the gym or training in the past year; to spend some time together is wonderful.

3) I suck at it. Stay with me here. I love seeing something that I didn't think I could do, and then doing it. Or working my ass off to do it. I have a slightly "disturbing" past with this type of thing. Never done a road race? Let's sign up for a marathon! New to triathlons? How about a half IM! I am addicted to fear. And as Coach T says, fear is a powerful motivator. I know Chadd is grateful that this was the new fear endeavor instead of a full Ironman (for now).

4) I used to do this. Kind of. Before I was primarily obsessed with endurance sports, I was a personal trainer and a group exercise instructor. BodyPump was a huge time suck, but it was a lot of fun. I do enjoy weight lifting and body mechanics. Abdominal surgery just made me forget how much I had enjoyed it.

5) New Friends! Everyone has been really nice. The girls get to workout together and, clearly, this leads to talking. The girls have been really supportive and friendly and it turns out, a fun number of them are also runners. Commence blah blahblah running marathon blahblah running blahblah which races blahblahblah let's run together blahblahblah.

So. I take it back. Crossfit isn't evil. Or, maybe it is, but it's the right kind of evil. Though, if I ever say "GET AFTER IT" in regards to my workout without irony, you have my permission to punch me.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Living the Dream Life - Unemployment

Last year, about this time, I woke up, went to work, put in a full day, and right before I was about to go home, I was called into my boss' office and laid off. The Friday before Thanksgiving. I cried a lot, ate a pizza, then spent two plus months unemployed. And it wasn't that bad.

Yesterday, about this time, I was called up to the COO's office. I saw HR in the room and knew instantly what was about to happen.

"Your position is being ended...It's not a performance issue...Our overhead is simply too...We looked everywhere for a contract position for you...You aren't the only person we have to have this conversation with..."

I got laid off.

And a surprising thing happened. I was relieved. And I was seriously stoked that I wouldn't have to commute over an hour each way any longer.

I actually spent the majority of my time comforting other people while I was cleaning out my desk and sending files to my coworker.

"Really, I'm going to be fine. It's not like I'm dead or have cancer or something."

While I drove home yesterday, I thought a lot about how I would handle being unemployed again. Whether it's for a few days, weeks, or months (god forbid years...)...I knew I couldn't do what I did last time. I did a lot of what I am going to call "productive wallowing." I stayed at home, avoided the gym, but I churned out applications like you wouldn't believe.

I have no idea how much weight I gained, but it was an amount that is fairly embarrassing for only being unemployed two months. My mile time was probably abysmal.

I made a few preliminary decisions on how unemployed life will be this time around.

Every Sunday I will set a calendar for the business week. It will include the following:
- Lunch with a friend
- Workout Schedule
- Set-Aside job application time
- One new "DC" activity

Becoming all consumed with job applications is the wrong way to go about this. This next job needs to be a good decision - both in terms of what company I join and what the position is. I want to spend at least five years at this next job - not 8 months. I want to love what I do (so...hey...anyone want to hire a race director? Or sponsor my gym idea?)

What IS a good thing is all the time I have to work out. I tweeted something the other day where I pinned for the day where I could work out all day as a top priority. And they say dreams don't come true.

My [fitness] goal for the next 30 days is two-fold:
1) Dedicate myself to getting to a good baseline for running - track practice is required, as are any other runs that Coach puts on my schedule

2)  Not suck at Crossfit - this is a post for a future date, but Chadd and I have been doing crossfit together and I totally suck at it. I love it, but I suck at it. Talk about a humbling experience. My half ironman seems like a joke compared to some of the workouts I've done (Did you know that if you do 150 push ups, you see Valhalla? Try it sometime and find out.)

So! With that, I fully embrace my unemployment for some dedication to fitness.

But, seriously, if you want to fund my gym, I'm all ears.