That little voice never ages!

Molly Hogan, an 82 year old cross-fitter from Boston said in a recent interview, “You know that little voice inside that talks to you? It doesn’t age!”

From my own experience, I’d say she is spot on. Even though I’m now in my sixties, I never fell like I’m sixty. I think and speak and interact with people as if I much younger. Like thirty years younger. Every once in a while though, little reminders yank me back into reality.

Like when I need an extra day of rest between workouts. When I was younger, I would pound out the miles running, sometimes working out ten or more days in a row. I can’t do that anymore. Every two days, I need to recuperate.

Or when I suddenly realize I’m the oldest guy in the room. By a lot. I forget that when people look at me, they see an old guy with lots of gray hair. Most of my workout buddies see someone the same age as their parents!

My kids always want to be sure I’m OK. I feel like I did when I was their age, but they have begun to consider me someone to keep an eye on if I’m alone or driving late at night or on a ladder doing some painting. I appreciate their concern. I forget that I was concerned about my parents in the same way.

It’s cool that part of you never ages. It’s that little voice!

I want to be that kind of encourager

Time was running out and I just couldn’t do any more reps. It was one of those volume workouts that included a run, followed by fifty burpees, and then fifty wall balls. Repeat and repeat and repeat. I don’t remember how many rounds I had done, but the 14 pound ball suddenly felt like it weighed 50. Time hadn’t yet run out, but I was done. A voice next to me said, “Come one, I’ll do them with you.” We did about ten more together.

I want to be that kind of encourager. I’ve never been to a CrossFit class, home or away, where I didn’t get a fist bump from the coach and at least two other people. It didn’t matter how I though I performed that day. I was there, I made it through the workout, and that’s what mattered.

I had just finished my presentation. It didn’t go as well as I hoped. Even though I thought I had practiced enough, I felt like I could have done better. But when the evaluations came, every comment was, “I really liked this…I enjoyed the way you did that…I love how you included this…” Yes, there were suggestions on ways to improve. But they made me feel like mine was the best they had heard all day.

I want to be that kind of encourager. In both of the training classes I took to teach in the Good News Clubs, I always came away with the kind of encouragement that made me believe I could do this. I could effectively teach these kids.

It is far too common to hear nothing but complaints and criticism. Encouragement, however, is that rare jewel that accomplishes so much more. It motivates me to keep going, to try harder, and to do better. I’ve got to believe it has that effect on others, too.

So I’m going to learn to be that kind of encourager.

Another box.

Okay, so I’ve been doing CrossFit since last October. That means I have a whole three months experience under my belt. It feels like I’ve been doing this a lot longer, but I guess I’m technically still a newbie. I’ve been pretty good at showing up four or five times a week. In just that short period of time I’ve learned a lot of skills and I’ve developed a lot of strength and stamina.

When I took my recent trip to Springfield, VA to visit my dad, I decided to drop in on a box right near my brother’s house where I would be staying. (Dropping in means you are visiting another affiliate other than your home location.) This was a big step out of my comfort zone. At CrossFit Hammock Beach, I know the coaches, many of the other members, and generally what to expect each time I go. I had no idea what I’d encounter at another location.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that CrossFit West Springfield was just a few blocks from my brothers house. Their website made it very easy to sign up and pay for a few workouts and digitally sign a waiver. However, now I was committed.

First, it was snowing when I arrived. I’ve been a FL resident for over twenty-two years. I can’t remember the last time I saw snow! I would not soon forget this day.

When I walked in, I saw a familiar assortment of racks, barbells, rings, ropes, rowers and assault bikes. An open gym time was still in session, so people were working on various skills. Background music was punctuated by the sound of heavy bars being dropped after lifts. Someone met me at the door, learned that I had already signed up, and directed me towards a place to change.

After I was dressed to workout, I reentered the room and met the owner/general manager, Ryan. He was friendly and enthusiastic about the box, pointed out the four o’clock coach, and told me they’d be assembling at the white board in just a few minutes. The room was set up differently than what I’m used to. The racks were all in the center of the room, surrounded by open areas. It was supposed to get pretty cold that night, so they had cancelled some of the evening sessions. This meant that the 4:00 and 5:00 times would be unusually crowded.

My group at 4 numbered more than twenty people. I don’t think the coach, Matt, expected that many. He briefly explained what the days skill and fitness workouts would be, then set us free to work on 5×5 press jerks, increasing weight as we went. He did not lead us through any warmup, stretch or teaching. All the weightlifting skills are new to me, so I stay light as I work on my technique. 85 pounds was plenty. There were many there who were working with upwards of 300 pounds. I felt like these folks were a bit more advanced than most of my friends at home. I learned some just by watching them. From the banners on the wall, I knew that teams from this box had been in regional competitions over the past few years.

Since we had so many there, they changed the workout in the moment. It was a partner workout consisting of a 1500m row, 90 deadlifts, 70 burpees over the bar, and fifty push jerks. A guy who was similar in skill, Carlos, pointed to me and we partnered. He was fine with 85# on the bar, so we were good. “Three, two, one…” and we began. This felt familiar as we traded off 250m rows, and then ten reps on the other exercises. He was able to pull a little better on the rower, but died on the burpees. I can fly through those. We didn’t quite finish under the 18 minute cap, but it was a good workout.

When I came back the next day, it was even colder. No snow, but how holy cow, it was about 15 degrees! Walking in was less intimidating, and the coach on Wednesday was Will, whose style was a little more like what I was used to. Good warm up, good teaching, and then some skill work: handstand walks. No, I can’t do handstand walks. But there were some there who practiced walking the length of the floor and back. I and most of the others walked my way up the wall and back down, developing arm and shoulder strength. I had never worked on that before, so I got to do something new.

The fitness part of the workout was 25-20-15-10-5 double unders and situps, followed by 5-10-15-20-25 walls balls (14#) and kettlebell swings (44#). Since I haven’t mastered double unders yet, I did twice as many singles, but could handle all the other skills. These all felt very familiar, and I enjoyed the challenge of a modified “Annie.” On this second day, the group seemed more diverse in experience, skill and age, and I was both encouraged and an encourager.

Even though I am not the best at any of the exercises, I felt like I knew what I was doing and enjoyed visiting another box. I realized the importance of talking to and encouraging others in the workout. I wanted to buy a t-shirt but there was nothing in my size. Boo.

I’m going to drop in a few times when I’m in Dallas next week. I expect to encounter the same mix of knowing what I’m doing with learning something new. I’ll let you know.

A little paleo, anyone?

paleo picAs we were joining CrossFit Hammock Beach my wife and I accepted the paleo-diet challenge offered by the owner/coaches. Six weeks of eating like an ancestral hunter-gatherer caveman. We ate healthy already, so how hard could it be?

The biggest adjustment was eliminating grain from our meals. I was used to making a sandwich, smearing peanut butter on a slice of bread, snacking on tortilla chips, cereal for breakfast, and preparing pasta and rice as side dishes. I cut all that out and switched from peanut butter to almond butter, too.

Another adjustment was not drinking alcohol. A beer a night, a little bourbon here and there, or a glass of wine with supper were part of our routine. We hopped on the wagon for six weeks.

We were already mostly dairy free. Just had to cut out cheese. I already drank my coffee black. We had already stopped buying food with added sugar, so that really wasn’t an adjustment. I hardly ever drank soda, so nothing changed there. We cut way back on oranges and bananas, easy to grab snacks but a little high on natural sugars.

To tell you the truth I didn’t think it was really that hard. I like to cook and I like to cook with fresh ingredients. Most of our suppers were already just a salad with a grilled piece of meat. My only cheat along the way, if you could call it that, was a bite of cake after my grandson’s baptism and a glass of red wine at a family birthday celebration.

The big question: did it make any difference? Did I feel different? Did I look different? Did I perform better, especially learning new skills at CrossFit?

Here’s what I noticed:

  • I pay much more attention to what I eat. I used to grab whatever, not really thinking about it. Now I think about everything I eat.
  • I need to eat more. Without any breads or chips to temporarily fill me up, I’ve increased all my portions of meats and veggies and nuts.
  • I’m not sure if I lost weight overall, but I know my pants all fit looser at the waist. My muscles seem more defined, but that may also be a result of the challenging workouts I’ve never done before.
  • I didn’t really have any health issues coming into this, so I can’t comment on any changes like that.
  • More energy? Maybe. That’s hard to say. I don’t remember feeling worn out before.
  • I might be sleeping a little bit better. Either that or the WOD wore me out and I was in bed earlier.

The biggest difference for me is probably psychological rather that physiological. I know I’m not eating as much junk and that alone makes me feel better about myself. Plus the fact that I was up for the challenge.

I’ll know more when I weigh in and get measured next week. I’ve saved room for desserts at Thanksgiving, of course, but I’ll continue this plan. I think that it takes more than just six weeks to feel the full effect of eating this way. I’ll let you know how things turn out. I’ll probably start writing about some of the recipes and products we’ve found along the way that work for us.