In Which I Get Open Fatigue … but then I Get Over It

The CrossFit Open is great fun but I personally think it’s about 2 workouts/weeks too long.

With all the hype – Castro certainly makes sure you get value for money as he releases a clue on the Wednesday before the Friday morning reveal which builds nerves and anticipation and fear and wondering – it can all feel a bit all encompassing. I realised this week that I’m feeling a bit of Open fatigue because I had started to forget what regular CrossFit was all about, and I was definitely missing it. With the Open it has felt to me like I’ve spent half the week waiting for the WOD, and then the other half recovering from it. For me, there is a lot of pressure on the one WOD and after 3 weeks it is possible to forget that normal CrossFit isn’t like that.

One of the reasons I really enjoyed 18.3 is because there were zero expectations. I only went in to do 1 rep, and I knew that I would go no further than the second set of skipping so I had 14 minutes to do 200 skips and 20 overhead squats which even for me meant that I could take my time, joke with my Coach about not doing the Muscle Ups for fear of embarrassing him, and generally have fun. And it’s not that regular CrossFit is EASY because it so is not, but it is a little less pressured. You push harder to put your best on the whiteboard, but it doesn’t feel as important. Some days you are at maybe 75% and that’s OK, because turning up and being 75% is better than not turning up and being 0%. You don’t get that with the Open, it feels as though you have to give 100% which is tough (for me anyway) because what if you’re just not up for it? And with all the hype and activity it generates, the world can seem smaller and as though it revolves purely around this one WOD a week. You know sometimes when you’re ill and you feel like you’ll never breathe normally again, well sometimes the Open can feel like that.

So I had a bit of an Open strop, but then I came across a different perspective. The Open is not the thing. The year that you’ve trained before the Open – in the fun, inclusive, ‘relaxed’ way that you have – is the thing. The Open is just a point in time at which you measure yourself to see how successful your training in the past year has been, and where you might want to look next year. Already, just 3/5ths of the way through I’ve realised that I’m 2 workouts up on this time last year – this means that I am willing to try more new things and that I can do more. I’ve realised I’m 6000 people fitter than I was last year. And I’ve decided that I’d like to put toes to bar on my goal list for next year. It doesn’t really matter how well you do in the Open because it is just a reflection of what effort and time you’ve put in during the year. For me, because I’ve only been really consistent for the past 3 months I’m super chuffed with where I seem to be landing, and I’m excited about next year because if I can make so much progress with only a few months of really consistent training, I want to see how far I could get with a full year of consistent training.

So we measure ourselves and we take the opportunity to make new friends and new connections and learn things, about ourselves and our comfort zones and our abilities, but then we get back to the normal old, happy, familiar, fun, inclusive Crossfit and we start working for next year.

18.4 – come on then.


In Which I Realise That Scales Are Useless

These two pictures are taken pretty much exactly 1 year apart.

The me on the left is from 2017, having just completed 17.1.IMG_20180310_191148 (2)

The me on the right is yesterday, having just completed 18.3.


Last night I was told that “weight lifting will make you put weight on”. I then found this selfie from 2017, just after I’d nailed burpee box step overs and thus 17.1. Having just taken the traditional selfie post 18.3 – almost exactly a year later, I thought I’d put them together and quite honestly I was shocked at what I saw.

I record my weight pretty religiously, so I looked back at how much I weighed on that day in 2017. 1kg more than I weighed yesterday!!! I double checked because I was so shocked.

Some folks at work have been commenting on how much weight I’ve lost, or “are you disappearing before our very eyes”. I brushed it off because I knew the scales weren’t moving that much. Seeing these photos I now understand what they were seeing.

This has proven a couple of things. What with the scales pretty much refusing to budge significantly, I’ve wondered at times why CrossFit “wasn’t working”. It has obviously changed my shape pretty remarkably. Someone else told me yesterday, on seeing these photos, that I look like a different person, and they’re not far wrong.

The other thing is that the scales are not really a very accurate measuring system for health. I’ve got a whole load of years of conditioning that says that they are the only measure, so I doubt I’ll dump them immediately but I’m definitely going to take some measurements and photos to track progress, because that seems to be a more honest reflection of where we are.

In Which I Smashed 18.3


When I woke up at 1.16am on Friday morning to check out what Castro had in store for 18.3 I was pretty devastated. I’d formed a bit of a pact with my Coach that I would complete all 5 Open WODs this year, but just a couple of evenings before I’d said that I was really hoping it wasn’t a skipping workout because I don’t skip, thanks to impact sports hurting my dodgy kneecap. Not only did this workout have 800 skipping moves in it, it had chin over bar pull ups. There was not a lot looking good for this workout, and I was really, really sad when I sent a note to my Coach the next day saying “I’m out.”  I was offered the possibility of turning up and just doing 1 rep so that I could submit a score but I didn’t like the idea. I mean, if you turn up and something happens that mean you can only get 1 rep, that’s all cool, but to purposely do that seemed not so bright. A little negotiation lead to an agreement that I would tape my knee to within an inch of its life and stop the workout the minute I felt pain.

Friday night saw a lot of rolling and laying on hard balls, as well as using an awful lot of tape shoring up my knee. The morning came and I was still really unsure, and definitely nervous, but my son and I set off to the box. Something pretty incredible has happened there over recent times. Whenever I used to train in the PMDD days, I used to get really, really anxious upon entering the gym. I was terrified turning up for triathlons, etc. I still get nervous before a big session like an Open workout, but the minute I walk in that door and smell the familiar smell and see all the people doing their things, it all melts away and I just can’t be nervous anymore. Having spent more than a year constantly making excuses as to why I couldn’t go, I’m really, really happy that RCFR has become my happy place and I love pulling up outside knowing that inside there is only good. cofAnd today was my 100th WOD so it has special meaning for me too, it shows I’ve stuck with it and I can’t even say how glad I am that I have!

I judged someone else on their attempt and chatted to people who were asking if I was attempting today. “Yes, I’d say, but I might only get 1 rep because skipping normally hurts me”. In my head, I countenanced an idea that I would maybe get 1 round down, so 100 skips in 14 minutes. This would have been a massive achievement, but I remember in 18.1 being told not to set a target but just to work til I was told to stop. I also didn’t want to be upset if it was going to be an early bath for me. So eventually, it was my turn. Coach P was going to judge me, and just as we were getting ready we agreed once more that I would stop if I had pain. He asked if I had a bar for the 20 OHS that came after the first 100 skips, and I joked that I doubted I would get there, but it was there if I needed it. I felt calm and ready, and then 3-2-1-Go!, and I started skipping. I was counting myself and I was really surprised to get to 25 unbroken. Eventually, after a couple or 3 minutes, I had done 100. I was really chuffed because that had been the goal that I hadn’t allowed myself to set. Next up was 20 overhead squats at 15kg which I did fairly easily. Then it was back to skipping, and I did another 100 reps. The next round was the pull ups and I don’t have anything near them so I stopped the workout there at 10.59. I’d gone in to achieve 1 rep and had landed 220. cof

I’ve posted before about how I don’t usually enjoy Open workouts the way I like normal Crossfit, and I think that is because I normally scale the scale on the whiteboard, which you can’t do in the Open so the Open sessions are normally a big push for me. This one was too but because I knew that I wouldn’t get past 220 reps anyway I took my time, joked and laughed with Coach P throughout, took time to sip water, etc. When I finished I was so delighted and smiley and knew that I’d done an amazing thing. My knee, the one that wasn’t taped, was twingy, but not too bad, and I just felt so glad that I’d done it. Coach P asked if I was happy and I said I was really proud of myself. Today I was prouder than when I did the Blenheim Palace Triathlon, and actually prouder than I’ve ever been in a sporting thing really – and the reason is because all I had was pure pride. No sense of “could have done better” or “everyone else is better”, just a certainty that I’d done fantastically well and I’d achieved something significant for myself. More than 12 hours later now I still feel the same. This picture with Coach P was taken just after the class and you can see the beaming.


Today I started to believe that completing all 5 Open WODs will be possible. We obviously don’t know what else is coming in the last two workouts, but I’ve already learned hanging knee raises, and I’ve done 199 more reps of skipping than I thought I would.


3 down, 2 to go!

Looking Forward To 18.3

Having conqeuered 100% of the Open so far, thoughts turn to 18.3 and specifically my attitude towards it on a couple of different fronts.

Firstly, I have reset my expectation of how I will feel post workout. One of the things I absolutely love about CrossFit is the huge endorphin rush that I get post WOD. For both Open sessions this time I haven’t really experienced those, only more of a sense of “I could have done better” or “Meh”. I’ve wondered why this is, and then it clicked. The Open is a test. Just as I said in my earlier post 18.2 & 18.2a Reflections, an Open WOD is an adult PE exam. In a regular class, you can scale the movements and the weights to suit you. I certainly avail myself of this throughout the year, and therefore I always leave the session with a nice glow that I have achieved something good for me. With the Open, the standard is set and there is no making it suit you. You can either do it RX or Scaled but that’s it. Typically, Scaled is above the standard that I would normally work to in a class.  Therefore it is HARD, and therefore I don’t enjoy it as much and I have a much stronger sense that I haven’t lived up to what I wanted to be able to.  So the Open WODs don’t make me as happy as a regular class, and whilst 5 weeks seems like a long time, I need to remember that it isn’t forever. At the moment I’m doing 1 OPen WOD, 1 PT and 1 regular session per week so I’m not getting as much of the regular CrossFit endorphins as I might usually. In many ways I’ll be glad when the Open is over. However, it did make me think that if I can push myself for the Open, why can’t I push myself for the classes? I’ll revisit this post Open!

On the other hand, I was considering today what the 18.3 movements might be, and I realised that there is really only skipping that MIGHT stop me taking on the workout, as far as I know. Last year there were lots of movements I couldn’t do – jumping pull ups, lunges, hanging knee raises, double unders. This year, there is really only skipping – because it hurts my maltracking knee – that would stop me. THAT is  a sign of progress, either in my ability or my confidence, or both.

I shall be awake at 1am anyway – have been for the last 7 Open WOD annoucements – to hear the news …

18.1 Reflections

Last year, the first workout of the Open featured a move I didn’t think I could do – box step overs. Coach P told me to come to the gym in the morning a little earlier, and he set me up to step up onto a box and then get down again. I COULD! And I did!

The first workout of the Open this year featured hanging knee raises. Another movement that I couldn’t do. I messaged Coach P and said I couldn’t partake. He asked what the main restriction on the movement was. My response was “I’ve never hung from a bar before, I’m scared of heights, I’m scared of dropping and I don’t think I’ll hold my weight. But apart from that, not too much!”. Once again he asked me to come to the gym a little early. He set up some plates under a low bar so that I could stand on them and reach the bar, then he had me step off the plates. I edged my feet closer to the edge of the plates, and it felt very very frightening to be stepping off to hold my own body weight. But I did step off (very gingerly), and I didn’t fall off. He started to build me up through moving my feet a little bit before we got to hanging knee raises, but I felt like I could do it, so I did. 8 reps just like the workout required, and I did them unbroken. I was so happy that once again I had discovered something I could do!

I didn’t know I could do this!

I was due to the do the attempt the next evening, with a new CrossFit friend that I’d encouraged into the Open as my judge. Unfortunately, the two low bars were taken so I was told that I had to use the high bar. They had to set up 8 bumper plates for me to get to the bar, and 3 plates to get up the top of the 8 plates! Despite being told it was the same thing, this was significantly outside of my comfort zone. I’d spent all day visualising me on the low bar, where I knew I could do it, and then suddenly I’m forced to use a bar that seems way higher and I obviously have much further to fall if I do drop off. I told the Coach that I wouldn’t bother doing the workout because it wasn’t worth the anxiety that I was facing. Thankfully my Crossfit friend and judge helped, putting a few more plates out and being really very kind and encouraging, and I started the workout. The WOD was a 20 minute AMRAP of hanging knee raises, 10 DB clean and jerk (10kg), 12 calorie row. I had experienced all kind of anxieties through the day about how far I would get, and for some reason I had got into my head that I wanted to get 5 rounds done. Coach P had talked me through that and just said “Work until you’re told to stop. Don’t worry about scores or rounds.” I found the DB C&J’s really, really easy and I worked very hard on the rowing, pulling stronger than I ever had before. My judge commented on how strong my rowing was. I finished the workout 20 minutes later with 163 reps completed, and very happy.


We are having a box competition with us in teams, and I won 10 points for #teamfrodo for “Spirit of the WOD” for attempting it, and getting through with a movement that I only learned I could do the day before.

It was a fab atmosphere in the box and a great start to the Open. That’s the thing about the Open, every year it pushes you to try something or re-test something and for me on two occasions now I’ve discovered that I can do way more than I give myself credit for. It’s worth the $20 entry fee for that alone!

18.2 & 18.2a Reflections

This one looked simple on paper. 12 minutes to complete 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 DB squats (20kg total) & bar facing burpees, then find a 1RM clean in the remaining time. I was happy to scale, which means I could do the burpees by stepping back, stepping in and stepping over the bar. How hard could it be to do 1 squat, 1 burpee, 2 squats, 2 burpees? The fact that it was 110 reps in total seemed to escape, and, buoyed by my conquering of 18.1 I had no doubts about attempting this WOD.


I have quite possibly never been so deceived by a WOD that looked simple, and maybe it was my confidence going into it that made it hurt even more? Check your ego at the door, so they say, likely for a reason! I didn’t think I’d finish the squats/burpees but loaded weight onto the bar just in case I got the lift.

As it was, I finished the 9th round – 90 reps (45 squats, 45 burpees), so I was 20 reps short of being able to try the lift.

It’s fair to say that I was humbled by this workout. For something simple, it really demonstrated to me just how unfit I am and just how far I still have to go. It had me questioning whether I had made any progress at all in my last year of training, and I was starting to wonder why I was bothering.

Then a couple of things occurred to me that demonstrated that I have indeed made progress, even if I found that workout impossibly tough.

Firstly, just before the 3-2-1 Go! went, the Coach who was judging me said “It’s just laying down and getting back up again”. This really resonated with me because I’d heard those exact words before, in 2014 when I started exercising for the first time since school. My trainer at the time wanted me to do burpees, but knew that if he called them by their name I would claim that I wasn’t capable and would likely panic and walk out. So he said, in the first fitness test I did with him, “All I want you to do is get on the floor and get back up again, as many times as you can in a minute”. So in the intervening time I’ve gone from not even being able to hear the word “burpee” without flipping out to hearing Castro announce the workout and think “Yes! Something I can do!” Progress!!

Secondly, Coach reminded me afterwards that the Open is meant to be hard. It’s a test. A post on Facebook from another member of my box reminded me that we are all doing the Open for different reasons. Some repeat the workout two or three times to better their score, some are doing it to RX everything, some are doing it just to be part of the party. My funk yesterday after 18.2 was caused by me getting my ‘Why’ all mixed up. I was beating myself up because I found a hard workout hard. But this morning I was thinking about how the Coach described it as ‘a test’. I was stood near some school girls waiting for the train and started to think about PE and exams and tests. When I remember that I basically opted out of PE at school at about the age 12 (and the teachers didn’t really seem to mind), what I am now doing is entering myself in for a PE exam once a week for 5 weeks, in the Open. I’ve gone from doing everything I possibly could to avoid PE to voluntarily putting myself through 5 tough physical exams – that sounds like progress to me. So that’s my ‘why’ and I should get less fussed about how I deem my performance in any given workout and celebrate that I’m doing it at all. At some point my why might change and I might start re-doing workouts, or aiming to RX, or something else, but for now I must be pleased with the fact I’m able and willing to take part.

I’d also arranged some PT sessions to help me prepare for a CrossFit competition. We discussed what we would be working on, and again I found it hard to hear the list of things I’m really bad at – notably fitness in this case! But when I switch the attitude from “I need remedial classes because I’m so awful at this” to “I’m choosing to put some extra effort in to improve my performance at this thing I enjoy doing” it’s a really powerful switch of perspective. First session tomorrow, I’m apprehensive and nervous but excited.

I suppose I was upset yesterday because I’ve been getting increasingly confident at turning up and enjoying CrossFit, but suddenly I hit this insanely difficult workout so I felt like there had been no progress.

Then I remembered that in a regular class there is the RX weights/movements, the scaled weights/movements and there is then what I do, which is 95% of the time a progression or two away from the scaled session. For example, RX would be Toes to Bar, Scaled would be hanging knee raises, and I would do Toes to KB on the floor. Or the RX weight would be 60kg, scaled would be 30kg, and I would do 15kg. Movement standards are encouraged but not enforced during regular classes and we work to our own levels. Of course, the Open is a different game. You HAVE to do the workout as written whether scaled or RX, and this is something that I almost never do in normal classes. No wonder it’s hard then, and this is why the Open pushes you. I reflected today that I’m happy I can take part in the Open, and I absolutely love the atmosphere in the box and the community spirit which is at an all time high. However, I shall also be glad when it’s done and life returns to normal where you push yourself but not to the absolute limits like I have in the Open. Then it’s another year to prepare for the next Open.

Overall ranking

I have tended to avoid Leaderboards because comparing myself to others isn’t really that helpful.

However, this evening I decided to compare me to me, and whilst the numbers of participants in the Divisions have changed, I’m taking my move from 24,498th in the world to 18,713th as progress. The year wasn’t worthless after all, and progress has been made.

Crossfit open progress

Last year I did 17.1. This year I did 18.1.

Last year I did not do 17.2. This year I did 18.2.

I’m already ahead, just on the number of ‘PE exams’ I’m entering myself for year on year!

I hope that 18.3 is something that I can do / attempt – I’ve still got a chance of getting through all 5 workouts and I’m really excited about the possibility. Now THAT will be progress!

Three Reasons Why CrossFit Is Different

See? Happy.

Week 3 of my goal to turn up to CrossFit consistently 3x a week and I’m doing well. One more session to go this week and that will be 9 in a row. I’m very pleased and feel in control of making the right decisions.

Chatting with a friend tonight we were talking about the things that make us like CrossFit. It made me realise a few things that are pretty special about it, and why I think I’ve found my thing and my place.

Incidentally, it may just be that my box is completely brilliant. Reebok CrossFit Reading, and the people who make up our community, is certainly having a fantastic impact on me but I also get the sense that it is representative of the broader CrossFit community. I do think the coaches are the best though, and just ignore my sample size of 1 (Training in a different box is one of my year’s goals and then I can truly compare.)

I’m not self-conscious at CrossFit: BCF (Before CrossFit) I once refused to do an exercise because it showed off my flappy arms, and I certainly often would hold back from working hard because I worried about being judged for being out of breath, red, sweaty, etc.  The constant thought of how I looked or how I was being judged stopped me ‘relaxing’ enough to work hard.

Recently the WOD included burpees, and I couldn’t find a space in the line so the Coach said just do it here. “You want me to flop about like a dying fish in front of everyone?” I asked without thinking. I was reminded by both Coach and another member that once that 3-2-1 clock went, no one would have the time not interest to even notice me. They were right, and I think it’s this that means I don’t feel the need to be self-conscious. I can just work hard without worrying and that means I get a better workout.

I do not feel judged at CrossFit:  Possibly related to the point above, but I never feel judged at CrossFit. I don’t get the sense that people see me and think “Oh, there’s the fat one” or “There goes the weak one”. They might see me and think “sometimes she has to do different things because she has dodgy knees” but I don’t get the sense that there is any judgement in that. I truly feel just the same as anyone. Our fitness levels are vastly different but we are all united by our just being there to get a little bit better, and enjoying the sort of training we do there. I used to be certain that I would never be comfortable putting up my score on a whiteboard with all the others, but now I not only don’t mind it but I quite like it. I like the sense of accomplishment when recording my score on the board, and I actually quite like the fact it’s just really very much managing with data, which of course I would in my line of work. There is no judgement about your time/score is fast/slow/high/low, it’s just a number. I didn’t really understand the point of the whiteboard before I started CrossFit, but there is something about it that I can’t quite define that makes me want to push just a little bit harder so that I can write my best number on there. Not a number that compares well with others, but that is my best. I push hard for an extra couple of reps because of the whiteboard.

Everybody cares, and nobody cares: “Nobody cares” is really a reflection of both the points above, but at the same time that people are too busy to notice you when they’re in the pain cave with you, and at the same time as they don’t care what weight you’re lifting or how quickly you’re doing something – they really care about you. A few times now I’ve been last in a workout and I’ve had a couple of folks really cheering me on, and there is often a round of applause when you finally do finish. Now that sounds really patronising and in a previous life I would have absolutely HATED it, but the genuineness and meaning with which it is done at CrossFit makes it just a lovely thing, there is nothing sanctimonious or patronising about it. And I know that because sometimes I’m not last, and sometimes I am the one who is shouting encouragement to others, and I am not thinking “Poor old you, you’re last”. I am thinking “Come on you, you are awesome!”. People are genuinely wanting to encourage you because they know how hard you are working, because we all work hard even though we are lifting different weights or doing modified versions of exercises. And when the high fives come, they are genuine because they know what an effort you made to get there, because they made the same effort. There is a huge range of ability and fitness levels, yet we are all going through the same hard work when we train together and the high five for the first to finish is no different than the high five for the last.

Week Four, I’m coming for you!




In Which I Accept This Isn’t Really Me … And Then Refuse To Accept It.

I have been coming up against a bit of a trouble with my CrossFit of late, namely that I’ve been struggling to turn up. This is a problem, since sitting at home thinking how much better it is to crochet rather than Crossfit burns pretty much next to no calories, does nothing for my mood and generally makes me sad.

This week I’ve used something that I think might be pretty unique to the Crossfit community: the power of the group. We have a closed Facebook group for our box, and, sick of my excuses about why I could not possibly turn up to train last week, I thought I’d tap into it for a bit of accountability. I posted to the entire gym membership that I was struggling with being consistent in turning up, and that I wanted their help in making me accountable. They just had to read the post, that was enough. I published the times that I would be training (3x this week, as I should), and I even put a 33 burpee penalty on myself for each missed class. 99 burpees is more than I care to consider so no way will I not be turning up this week!! I got some nice comments from members saying well done me for being so out there with my struggles, and looking forward to seeing me, etc. I am going to post a photo of me there on each of the 3 sessions this week and upload them to the group as evidence. There are no Crossfit police, of course, just a load of people who are all trying to be better thems, and who all want nothing more for you than you to be a better you too. We all have our struggles and we all were beginners once too so I feel well understood. The power of the community is something that has been written about in terms of ways to create habits and stick to things, and Reebok Crossfit Reading has it in spades, which is just another reason that it is the right place for me to train right now.

And so we hit Tuesday, and my first session of the week is scheduled for tonight.

Typical post Crossfit face. Errrm what just happened? And yay!

Along creeps in the familiar mild anxiety, and the seeking for reasons why training tonight is a blinking bad idea and to be avoided at all costs. I know I can’t not turn up (see above) and I started thinking about the excuses I used to make to not attend PE at school. They were creative! And then I realised, I think I have this expectation that I should be some super keen fitness freak who would sell their own grandmother to get to the gym. I guess because before, in PMDD times, nothing would have kept me from the gym (because it was the only way I was surviving, honestly), I now have this expectation that I should still be that keen and look forward to it and not have this anxiety and mild dread. I know that I enjoy it when I’m there, and I know that I work hard when I’m there, and I know that I LOVE the Class A endorphins that hit me at the end of each session, but I dislike the thought of it, and given a choice, I would probably mostly choose not to go. I also know that the more I go, the less this sense of “do I have to?” because the last positive experience is fresher in the mind.

Push Press Then I thought back to a conversation I’d had with my adopted Coach. He’d pointed out that all I needed to do was turn up. I don’t need to look forward to it, I don’t need to be dancing with joy at the prospect. I don’t need to be signing up for extra classes or be at the front of the top of the rank of “CrossFit fans”. I JUST NEED TO TURN UP.

If I stop beating myself up about the anxiety and the dread and the seeking ways out, which let’s face it are likely all habitual responses based on years of negative exercise experiences from a young age, and I just turn up then the chances are I will start to enjoy the whole process – from signing up to a class to turning up to leaving – just a little bit more. I think I have this false view in my head that I’m in some way failing if I’m not setting big goals to be amazing in the gym, or that I should really be one of those people who just love this shit. It’s all rubbish, all I actually need to do is lift the pressure and turn up, do my best, leave, and repeat.

Today I think I realised that this stuff isn’t something I naturally really enjoy right now. It’s not really me. I’m cut out for crochet and reading and cooking and working and lots of other things that are not CrossFit. I don’t really see myself ever wanting to compete at it, I don’t really see myself ever excelling at the sport, nor do I especially want to.

One of the Reebok Crossfit slogans is #bemorehuman. Well, for me, that means being a human that doesn’t really like the thought of exercise that much. Likes doing it, but gets scared about it. That’s OK, I’m human.

BUT I refuse to accept that because this isn’t really ‘my thing’ that I won’t do it. It’s good for me. It’s good for my body, composition and bone density to name but two important and relevant factors. It’s good for my brain because it makes me feel accomplished and proud and happy and buzzing. It’s good for my family because I’m setting an example to my son about exercise, sport, and health. It’s good for the social side of me because I meet and chat to lovely people.

The only way this becomes bad for me is when I don’t turn up then spend a week beating myself up over the fact. So I’m not going to do that anymore. Best way to avoid sadness about not turning up: turn up.

The more I build up positive experiences with the amazing support of my fellow box members and Coaches, the more I’m likely to start noticing that I do enjoy it, and at some point the concept of NOT turning up would be unquestionable.

Until then I just need to turn up.

Back At It…

Goodness, you blink and suddenly it’s 8 months since your last blog post!

In the intervening time, I’ve graduated with a Distinction in my Masters in Applied Management. I don’t really understand now how I fitted in all the studying now that I don’t have to any more, and in many ways I really miss it.

cofI have replaced study with crochet and am really pleased that I’ve managed to stick with a weekly Crochet-A-Long blanket, and it’s now 14 weeks big!

Having tracked my first 100 days at Crossfit, I am now well beyond a year of membership! Pretty unbelievable, and I can’t see it has been an easy ride. It’s entirely possible that I haven’t been more than I have been. In many ways it was making me anxious, yet I mostly enjoyed it once I was there, although it was far too easy to cancel off the classes. Then, a few weeks ago I watched a YouTube series called “Killing The Fat Man” and it really resonated with me. Gary Roberts was overweight and unfit, plus middle aged, when he started CrossFit and the series followed him as he trained. He talked about “accomplishing something for me” and “changing my life”, and it occurred to me that in the whole past year I had been feeling like a pretender, someone who wanted to do CrossFit but didn’t really belong there, who wasn’t fit enough or good enough to really deserve to be there, working hard. Weird, I know. So the next session I went to I really stopped noticing anyone else and what they were doing and focussed purely on what I could do, and working hard – for me. I appreciate that my “hard work” is a warm up for someone else, but then my “hard work” is also unthinkable for many. I trained three times that week and it may well have been the first time in a year that I’ve been that consistent. Last week, an 80 hour work really got in the way and I was disappointed that I couldn’t get there, but the diary looks clearer this week and I’m going to get back at it. sdr

In fact, the lad and I trained today. He has been enjoying Fit Kidz, which makes me so happy to see him setting up a positive relationship with exercise, and I’ve been using the time to row. Last week I did 7500m, which is the furthest I’ve ever rowed, and today I set out to do 10km. When I think back to my attitude and self-talk when I started all this fitness/health thing back in 2014, the difference to today is just immense. Today, another parent was rowing next to me. We were both on a 10,000m countdown and I was a whole 3500m slower than him – almost 25 minutes I think. Not only has that not impacted how I rate myself on that workout afterwards (good, well done), but it didn’t change my mindset during the workout either. Sounds like a tiny thing, but for me that is fairly huge. I just thought about how we were both working hard, and I happened to be slower. I also clearly remember thinking “We have both rowed exactly the same distance” which is the truth of the matter. No one is better or worse, and using other people’s strengths as a way to measure a weakness in me is just insanity. I’m thrilled that it seems like I’m pretty much over that!

I have been reading “Stick With It” by Dr Sean Young – it talks about how to change lasting change. “Community” creates a very strong basis for sticking with something long enough to create a habit and I can definitely say that Reebok CrossFit Reading has a great and strong community. It is really helping me – whether it’s the coaches who are supportive, understanding and lovely, or the banter on the private Facebook group. Bizarrely, it would be easy to think that CrossFit is only for those who are already fit, but I’d argue that if you find the right ‘box’ (aka gym) then this is a good option for folks like me who might have had a dodgy history with fitness. The coaching, the fact it is completely and utterly adaptable to your own fitness and skills level, the community – all of this means that it is actually a really good choice. In general, CrossFit is great no matter who you are!

I did this!

My nutrition has also been more miss than hit this year, and I think I’ve put on about 3 stone of the 5 that I lost back in 2014. I’ve tried WeightWatchers and Slimming World and I’m now confident in saying that they just don’t suit me. On Slimming World, the diet is pretty much low fat, low calorie but that leads to an increase in sweeteners/sugars – for example, MullerLight yoghurts are ‘free’. In an attempt to make the diet easy to stick to there are also no foods that are forbidden, within a daily allowance, so I was eating a Curly Wurly every day, not because I needed to but just because I could.

After a few weeks, I found myself with a great deal of joint pain and even went as far as making an appointment with a physio. Then I realised that all the processed low fat food, not to mention the sweets and chocolate, I was eating was causing inflammation so I cut it out and within a week all the pain was gone!

This reminded me that food is fuel, and can even be thought of as medicine. I still want to (re) lose the weight and get back to my lowest and smallest, but I also want to do it the right way for me. I’ve been following a program called 131 Diet which is an anti diet – in that there are no food plans etc, only information and routines to help you find out what works for you. We are all individual with different reactions to different things, so this makes sense. It is also largely ketogenic (high fat, low carb), which is what I tended to be eating when I started out in 2014. I felt amazing during that year – there were points at which I felt I was literally buzzing with energy, had great mental clarity and felt great. IMG_20171203_194709_265These are all things associated with being in ketosis. I’ve done a load of meal prep today and have to say from my little testings, this type of food tastes completely amazing. I’m very excited about feeling great and starting to see the effects. And it’s really easy – when I started this before I was amazed at how the sugar cravings just stopped overnight with the introduction of enough healthy fats.

I’m not sure how I will continue the blog. It’s great for accountability and I have always wanted it to be helpful to others – either those with PMDD or with bad starts in life with regards to exercise, or the overweight who were trying hard to lose weight or just anyone who might be able to take anything from my story. It is also great for me to keep documenting where I am and look back to see progress. No promises, but I’ll see how it goes.

Here’s to a well fuelled, sweaty, successful week ahead!


The next phase

So apparently it’s 2 months since I last posted, and that means that my first 100 days at Crossfit are over.

And I’m still there.

I’ve actually had a reasonably recent uptick in motivation for a couple of reasons, and I’m doing really well at being committed, turning up when I said I would, working hard, keeping going and eating clean.

I posted before about being sad that I’d put a fair amount of my previously lost weight back on, and that trend continued. I dallied with Weight Watchers very briefly, but didn’t really trust the low-fact nature. On a recent holiday I read a book about The Zone Diet, and also Robb Wolf’s new book “Wired To Eat”, which is based around Paleo. Both are closely linked to ‘clean eating’ which is the method I largely used back in 2014/2015, and it reminded me of how great I felt when I was strictly clean eating. I clearly remember almost buzzing with energy at one point I felt so good. And stuff’s happened since then but it worked and so there really is no logical reason that it wouldn’t work again.

“Wired To Eat” explains why we are hard programmed to over eat today’s hyperpalatable foods, and prescribes a 30 day Paleo reset to kick the habit of sugar, refined carbs and other foods that can be problematic (Bread, I’m looking at you.) After this, you test your reaction to different carbs by trying one sort at breakfast one day then testing your blood sugar levels 2 hours later. Carbs that elevate your blood sugar beyond a certain point are to be avoided, but there may be others that you react well to. The 30 day reset thing is also thought to help significantly with insulin resistance which my Consultant suggested that I might be suffering from. And I’d done it before, so why couldn’t I do it again?

So I got back from hols on Monday night, having ordered a load of healthy stuff, and started in earnest on Tuesday. I’ve lost 1kg this week which is a great result and reminds that THIS WORKS!

A pal from the gym has been posting photos of her food on Instagram as a way of staying accountable, and I thought why wouldn’t I use this blog in a similar way? It’s actually the first time since my operation (and for a while before) that I have felt so committed and capable. At the height of my successes ‘before’ I used to say it wasn’t hard, I wasn’t using willpower but I just didn’t want the bad stuff. And this week has been a little bit similar to that – except for I can be a little balanced so I’m totally ON IT without being obsessive this time around. Win win! So despite my high levels of motivation, I thought documenting the process of this next 45 days or so might be useful for a number of reasons: maybe someone out there is looking for information about Paleo/Primal/Clean Eating/CrossFit/losing big amounts of weight and this might help. It also helps me to look back at what I’ve been up to when it comes to explaining results (either good or bad). And I kind of thought why would anyone be in anyway interested in any of that, but then I decided to publish it anyway. I’m planning to post weekly.

IMG_20170421_204958Macros for the Zone Diet (which makes a load of sense) are 40% Protein, 30% Carbs, 30% Fat and I’m kind of combining those macros with the food choices of Primal – because I’m keeping dairy in for now, and I’m not adverse to the odd new potato, etc. If I find that I’m not losing weight/feeling good I will look again at it but I’m sure I’m OK with dairy so for now it stays.

I haven’t done bad this week, and I enjoy the fact that fat is not demonised.

I’m really impressed again at the quantity of food that I can eat. IMG_20170421_205116Food cooked from scratch, protein in every meal and carbs from veg/salad/fruit. Really it’s just nice food. A couple of days I’ve had a spinach protein smoothie for breakfast and it’s lasted well all morning. Salads for lunch, either with tuna or salad, and meat/veg/salad for dinners. It might be easier because of the nice spring weather lends itself nicely to salads, but even if that is the case I’ve got loads of time until it’s warm stew and carb season!

I did elect to have a McDonalds McFlurry this evening with my family as a Friday night treat. It followed a healthy beef stir fry, and I suggested it only after I’d checked that my macros could take it and that I had the ‘spare’ calories. Not the healthiest choice, obviously, but the strictness that I had before wasn’t entirely healthy either. I still struggle with the concept that sugary, processed ‘treats’ are thought of as such, and really they’re not. I wanted to get out with my family after a week at work and it provided a good excuse. It has led to an evening of wanting chocolate/more sugar, so maybe it should be avoided, but wanted to try being balanced about all of this.

One bad day to learn from this week. I commuted to London so didn’t take my normal prepared food. I was sure that Pret would have the right things for me. Well, £19.95 later I had brought a number of different options for breakfast because I was STARVING by the time I got there and then discovered near the end of day that my macros that day were a bit up on fat. I discovered this in Crossfit that evening, having had only 20% carbs and 500ml water all day I found the workout ridiculously tough. I mean, Crossfit sessions are typically tough anyway but my deadlift weights were down and I just knew I was down on energy. I also took a med ball to the nose, and then to the chin – my wall ball game was clearly not on point! I had a cracking headache and every time I bent down it throbbed. It might have been silly to train that day, but I had committed to going and I still burned calories. And apparently the med ball on the nose thing is quite common, so I’m not alone.

Next week brings more of the same. I’m planning at least 3 Crossfit WODs and an Open Gym session in which I’ll be doing my second training session for the 5/3/1 powerlifting program by Wendler. A coach at Crossfit recommended it and I really like that in each workout you do (1 a week per lift – I’m focussing on Deadlift and Strict Press) you aim to a set a Reps record. I like that it’s not all about the 1RM (as such) but encourages you to add reps as a measure of your strength. Each cycle (4 weeks) you add weight and progress that way. It sounds really cool. There’s also wisdom that says focus on the inputs rather than the outcomes. In my case this means focus on turning up to the gym, getting stronger, eating well, drinking enough water. If I do all of that, the weight loss will follow. In my job as a Continuous Improvement professional I do nothing but advise people of this sort of thing, so should be easy to apply to myself.