Friday, September 23, 2011

Not Done AWing

yeah, okay. totally not done with yesterday's session of attention whoring.

SO. Last night was sumo deadlifts for a peak of 3, followed by a heavy-deadlift-and-metcon burpee.

I'm not as strong with sumo deadlifts as I am with conventional deadlifts, and I could feel it in my form - back rounding some, letting the bar drift out, that kind of thing. That, plus I'm still feeling a little "meh" from being sick earlier this week. So - 135, 135, 155, 155, 175, 195, 205.

This is where having a coach really makes a difference. Erin had me repeat all kinds of sets that I otherwise would have considered too light and "fine" - and at the end, when it started to get pretty heavy and I thought I was done, she was the one who said "I think you have 205 in you." And duh, I did.

And then she said something crazy - that I should do the metcon RX'ed.

OK, look. My conventional DL max is 230. Doing five sets of five at 185 seemed a little daunting on its own, let alone alternating them with burpees with no rest. I was thinking I'd do it at 155 or 165, but RX' I said I'd think about it. And while I was busy "thinking about it" she had already put an asterisk next to my name on the Not going to say no now.

And WHAT THE FUCK HOLY SHIT I DID IT. It was really tough - after the first set of 5 I couldn't rep them anymore, so I was doing 1 or 2, then dropping the bar. And it took me 8 minutes even (most people, appropriately scaled, finished between 3:30 and 4:30ish). But...I was one of two women to do the metcon RX'ed the entire day. The other was Cassie, who is pretty much my lifting idol, has a max DL 110 pounds OVER mine, and killed my time by three freakin' minutes.

I'll take that ANY DAY. (Of course, I was so fried afterwards that gymnastics was a complete joke. I tried handstand walking and either couldn't get it up (heh) or would get up and then collapse. Rolling pistols weren't super-successful either. But I think metcons like today's are crucial to my short-term goal of hitting 250 for my max by the end of 2011.

And now it's Friday, which means it's steak night. AND it's a rare casual day at work, which means I'm in jeans. (I could add a little piece here about how I'm in jeans I haven't been able to fit into pretty much since I bought them in the fall of 2009, but that seems unnecessary. Oh well.) Happy weekend all!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Balance, yo.

Carrot sticks and 77% dark chocolate courtesy of Sook Hee's Produce in the Comcast Center. Side of to-do list courtesy of life.

I've had a really good couple of weeks, fitness-wise. First, let me start with an unapologetic, attention-whore, self-congratulating remark: I CAN TOTALLY TELL I'M LEANING OUT BECAUSE MY GODDAMN PANTS FIT BETTER.

And really, it's so much more obnoxious than that. Because today I am wearing a pair of chinos I bought late last spring, when I'd dropped some el bees doing P90X. I regained said el bees during a period of baking obsession last fall (which I am sure is a complete and total coincidence, and not in any way causally related). Thus, these chinos, while wearable, were definitely bordering on uncomfortably snug.

THEY ARE LOOSE. Not like, too big loose, but comfortably loose. And every time I put them on, I'm like "haha YAAAAY my pants are loose!" But that's not it. Legitimately, all day long, I think to myself "heh...heh...these pants fit AWESOME." When I stand up, when I sit back down, when I lean over to put shoes on, when I walk downstairs to buy carrot sticks and chocolate.

So, you know, that's good stuff. But I'm getting stronger, too. This week's recaps:

- Friday: Lynne. I benched for the first time since at least 2007 or 2008. Back then, I was doing (I think) 65 or 75lbs for sets of eight. Friday, I used 90lbs for the metcon, which was 5 rounds of max bench presses followed by max pull ups. I thought I took a picture of my sets, but I guess not - can't recall with total accuracy, but I did something like 7/11, 7/11, 7/10, 6/10 and 5/9 - with 90lbs and the average band.

- Sunday: gymnastics. Muscle-up work. Once I get a pull up, I think these will start to come together for me. Metcon was redonk.

I started getting sick this weekend, and I could really feel my weakness in the handstand holds. Normally I can do 60 seconds without too much of a problem, but after the first round on Sunday my shoulders started to collapse between 40 and 45 seconds each time. That meant 4 broken handstands, which meant a cashout of 40 burpees. I did them in sets of 10 and knocked them out in about 3 minutes, which is SIGNIFICANT improvement over that time I did 50 burpees in 4:05 and legitimately thought I was going to pass out afterwards.

(AW moment: post-metcon, while I was regaining my composure, Sammy told me she noticed how my body composition was changing. The words "your back looks ripped" may have come up. AW AW AW AW. )

I took Monday off from the gym and spent the night on the couch drinking broth and playing scrabble. It helped my recovery tremendously.

Tuesday - ring dips, peak set of 3. I'm still using bands to assist but am getting stronger. Light band - 1/2 light band (one strap only) - mini band - 1/2 mini (complete fail) - 1/2 mini (one rep, then fail). Metcon: 3 rounds of 1min max ring dips (LB), 1 min ring rows strong arm, 1 min ring rows weak arm, 1 min row for calories, 1 min rest. Score: 151 (total reps + total calories). Not too shabby. Stayed for gymnastics; worked on kipping pull ups and kipping for handstand pushups. Between the metcon and my cold, I was definitely feeling fatigued, but my kip is getting better. I will throw a goddamn party when I get my first bodyweight pull up.

Wednesday - sandbags, double-unders. Goal: get a sandbag off the ground and overhead any way you can. 40-50-60-70 (couple attempts). Sandbags are awkward to clean and not easy to control overhead - both times I did the 70lb bag, it fell backwards off my hands at the top, since I couldn't keep a grip on it when cleaning. Metcon was awesome: 5 rounds for time of 35 DU's (I scaled to 10) and short loop run. I finished in 14:59. Runs felt strong, and by the end I was stringing DU's together "unbroken" (meaning "without stomping on the rope or getting the rope stuck in my hair," not "DU after DU after DU without fail or interruption") with singles in between. Wish I'd thought of that in the beginning - I would have shaved off a BUNCH of time.

Um and also PhillyGuy got Sophie a new toy. It's a stuffed hedgehog.

Or her doppelganger. Whatever.

Friday, September 16, 2011

95% vs 100%

(Credit to Crossfit 1Force for the awesome disclaimer.)

Recently, I read an article shared by a CFCC member about the "chronic almost-achiever." Short version: are you the type of person who constantly gives 95%, but almost never truly gives 100%?

It really struck a chord with me. Because, um, hi, that's me. Do you know why I prefer running mile repeats to racing a 5K? Because while it's pretty tough to run a fast mile, it's REALLY tough to run 3.1 fast miles without taking a lil' rest in the middle. I rarely do anything to the point of actual failure...whether it's pull ups or a metcon or whatever, I'd much rather take a quick rest when [my forearms start to give out, or my wrists start to get sore during bridge-ups, or box jumps start to get tough, or insert whatever other signal of discomfort is appropriate] and jump back in when I feel a bit recovered. And my diet. I mean, I JUST wrote a post about how I'm happy to be eating Paleo about 95% of the time - but seriously I eat fruit for breakfast EVERY DAY and and AND have a Larabar for "dessert" after lunch. I am not giving 100% when it comes to cutting out unnecessary sugars, even if they do come from peaches and dates.

But, really, am I ever going to get my body fat down where I'd like it to be, or get a bodyweight pull up, or have burpees not completely suck ass, if I keep at it like this? Using pull ups as an example - I've figured out that my weakness is in my forearms/grip. My back is sort of strong, and it's never THAT hard getting out of the bottom. If I'm going to fail in a pullup, it's when the bar is about eye level, when the work shifts from my lats and biceps to primarily my forearms (or at least that's what it feels like - perhaps there are other muscles at work in the last few inches of a pull up, but whatever). SOOOOO...I should be doing lots and lots of pull ups, since, well, that's the only thing that's going to make me better at pull ups. And I should be doing lots and lots of them WHEN IT GETS HARD. (TWSS.)

I am definitely a 95%-er. And this week I've tried to keep that in mind - am I really, REALLY giving this everything I have? Maybe it's helped, maybe it hasn't...but as long as I keep focusing this way, I'm hoping to narrow that suck list WAY down. (TWSS TWSS TWSS.)

And I had eggs for breakfast instead of fruit TWICE this week. I rule.

This week's workouts:

Monday - squat cleans, peak of 2. Learning a new movement was tougher than I expected that it would be. This will eventually be a strong lift for me, I think, because the movement is very, very similar to stunting in cheerleading, which I was good at. So far, it's a lil' ugly since I'm still figuring it all out. 45-65-65-54-54-64-64-74. I would like to up this to at least 100lbs by the end of this strength cycle. Metcon (which I was dreading, since Sunday's thruster/wallball duo left my quads screaming): 3 rounds for time of 50 air squats, short loop run. My quads were like jello at the beginning of every run, but it wasn't so bad. 9:34.

Wednesday - sandbag thrusters and a metcon I consider Sandy Fran's cracked-out cousin.

4 rounds for time of short loop run, 15 sandbag thrusters (80/50), 15 pull ups. Crossfit gods must have sensed my still-screaming quads and had mercy on me - we were able to do this as a partner workout. Talia and I killed it with a great strategy of each doing three reps at a time. We never got too tired and had plenty of short rests throughout.

16:46 with 40lb sandbag, average band for me and light+mini bands for her.

Thursday - missed out on sumo deadlifts (sad face). Gymnastics was AWESOME: back extension rolls, bridge ups to kickover, back limber. Sammy suggested that the next step might just be back handsprings, which would just make my little heart explode with happiness. Finally, FINALLY got a back extension roll where my arms cooperated in pushing up. Metcon: 7 rounds of 7 bridge-ups and 7 inverted burpees. Even ending my inverted burpees in a donkey kick (not even CLOSE to a handstand), this kicked my ass. 17:57. PhillyGuy asked me what a bridge-up looked like when I got home and my shoulders were so shredded I couldn't even do one.

Tonight is BENCH PRESSES (?!) and Lynne (5 rounds of max bench presses (RXed is bodyweight but I'm pretty sure I won't even be close) and max pull ups). This should be interesting.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Can you call this "fusion?"

Part imitation-PF Chang-lettuce wrap, part taco.

Chicken, corn, mushrooms, onions, and a whole lot of cumin and chili powder. With a salsa blanket, chillin' in little romaine lettuce boats. These were quite messy to eat, but tasty nonetheless.

With a side of Scrabble. PhillyGuy and I play at least a couple times a week. He always seems to get 7-letter words. I get GBAAAST. Quite unfair.

Yesterday, I went with a bunch of CFCC'ers to the grand opening of a new crossfit affiliate in south Jersey - Crossfit 1Force. They're down in Deptford, near where I went to college. Naturally, I took a bunch of pictures, and naturally, I put them all on my laptop and deleted them from my phone...BUT didn't upload them to picasa, so now that I'm posting from work, I'm SOL. Oh well.

Anyway - 1Force. is. AWESOME. The space is amazing - a high-ceiling warehouse/garage style setup with a massive floor. They have shiny new equipment, a pull up bar with varying heights, a buttload of bars and stacks and stacks and stacks of plates. AND they let us play around with everything and led us in a killer 9/11-themed metcon, AND then we got to watch our coaches and some incredibly strong members do the official 9/11 throwdown workout. AND AND AND we had a paleo feast afterwards, with ribs and chicken and pork and copious amounts of Frank's Red Hot.

As we used to say on the Knot (yes, I frequented that website when planning my wedding oh-so-long ago), TPIWWP (this post is worthless without pictures). I know, I know. So let's just recap the rest of my workouts from this week, huh?

After I left off the other day:

- Thursday - KB skillwork and front squats for a peak set of 3. My form is slowly improving, but I seriously need to focus on doing things RIGHT instead of just being like, "ok imma lift some weight now." 65-85-85-100-110 (!). For a set of three, 110 is a 5lb PR for me. I've done 115 for two but failed every time I've attempted it for three. Soooooo I'll take it. Metcon: Tabata american KB swings. Went RX'ed at 1 pood; 85. The high score of the day was 118 and I seriously do NOT get it.

Stayed for gymnastics. More muscle-up work - GOD this highlights how weak my upper body is compared to my lower body. I have got to work harder on this. I suppose I need to get pull ups first, huh? I did this metcon also, because it seemed fun AND to get the extra muscle-up practice. AMRAP in 15 minutes of 4 jumping muscle- ups, 5 tuck ups, 10 rocking hollows. I did 7 rounds even. I also learned that my body simply does not know how to do a tuck jump unless I do it cheerleading style with the arms and everything. I am sure I looked amazing and not like a jackass AT ALL.

Friday: some brief(ish) skillwork on the good morning and the ab wheel rollout. Which was just fantastic because my abs were quite sore from the 70 rocking hollows I did on Thursday night. Metcon: 3 rounds for time of 600m run (twice around the short loop), 50 good mornings (25lbs), 25 ab wheel rollouts. I scaled the rollouts with some band support, which made all the difference in the world, but sweet jebus did they hurt anyway. My goal was to finish in 21 minutes, but I made it in 21:24...which was sort of frustrating, because I had WAY too much gas left in my tank at the end of the third run. Bah.

Sunday: 9/11 tribute WOD at Crossfit 1Force. AMRAP in 9:11 of 9 DLs (225/155), 11 wallballs (20/14), 9 bar-facing burpees, 11 dumbbell thrusters (35/20), 9 wallball slams (20/14), 11 parallel jumps over bar (1 each side = 1 rep). I went RX'ed on all but the DL's, which I scaled to 135 at the advice of Erin. I completed 1 round + 40 reps, or through the thrusters in the second round. I was SHOCKED at how tough the thrusters were, and how many times I missed reps on the wallballs (by not hitting the wall at all - so, so embarassing).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Make This Chicken

I know it's not really much to look at, but this chicken is fucking delicious.

And it's so, so simple.

Make this rub:

2.5-ish tsp. salt
4 tsp. paprika
1.5-ish tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. thyme
1.5 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper

(adapted from this recipe. I decreased the salt and increased everything else to make a little less than double the amount in the original post. as with most rubs, you can screw around with the proportions to taste.)

(also, please note that I do not, in any way, endorse that forum's reference to "the Neanderthin diet." seriously??)

Pour the rub and a buttload of chicken thighs into a large ziplock bag. Mix it around to coat. I used about 15 chicken thighs and everything fit nicely into a gallon size freezer bag. Let the entire mess sit and marinate overnight.

In the morning, dump into a crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (I think 6 would have been sufficient, but my crockpot is not flexible and forces me to choose between high for 6, which I think may have dried it out, and low for 8, which was completely fine). You don't need to add any liquid, since the thighs are much juicier than breasts and will produce more than enough in cooking to keep everything nice and moist.

Once this is cooked, give it a stir with a spoon and watch it shred to pieces. Per the original recipe inspiration, this rub would be amazing on a whole roast chicken, though I think I would steer clear of crockpotting a whole chicken (I like the skin to be a little crispy). I used boneless chicken thighs, but I bet bone-in would deepen the flavor. I would NOT substitute chicken breasts - if you are scared of the fattier cuts of chicken and insist on using breasts, grill them instead, or add some kind of liquid (orange juice maybe?).

To give you an idea of quantity, fifteen chicken thighs was about 4.5 pounds total, and yielded enough pulled chicken for PhillyGuy and I to have nice big bowls for dinner last night, PLUS leftovers for three days' worth of lunches for me.

I cannot say it enough. This chicken is fucking delicious.

Recent post-total Crossfit workouts:

- Monday: Sandy Fran. 21-15-9 of thrusters and pull ups. This is a classic Crossfit benchmark workout typically done with a barbell. Instead, we used giant canvas bags of sand. I used a 40lb sandbag and the "average" band. To say that it is awkward to clean a sandbag from the floor is a vast understatement. Also, to say I suck at pull ups is similarly a vast understatement. 13:40 (to give you perspective, a good Fran time is under 5:00. Plenty of people finished Sandy Fran in under 7-8 minutes on Monday). My thrusters were actually fine, once I got the bag up, but after my first five pull ups, I could not string together more than 2-3 at a time. My last three reps took me an entire minute. GAH.

- Wednesday: Christine. Another benchmark workout, and I could not be less thrilled to share my name with her. 3 rounds, for time, of 500m row, 10 deadlifts with 50% max (115), and 21 box jumps (20"). At 18:19, I was the last to finish in my heat by a good couple of minutes and I do not think I could have finished a second sooner. I hate Christine for the same reason I hate racing 5Ks: you need to sprint the ENTIRE time and you never get to hit your stride.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I killed my goal for the total.

By 35 pounds. (And no, that's not my bar.)

Squat 165. Deadlift 230 (!!). Press 75.

And then I went to costco and restocked on protein and veggies, since I was down to about a quarter of Friday night's rotisserie chicken and a head of romaine.

Now that I have 9 pounds of chicken thighs, 4 pounds of steak and an entire smoked salmon, plus those 24 figs hiding in the back...I'm good for a couple days.

More on the total later. I need to do something about the tumbleweeds of dog fur that have gathered in my corners before they turn on me.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Prepping for the Total

I am stupid excited - today is the Crossfit Total.

Essentially it's your chance both to find out your true max on three basic lifts (strict overhead press, back squat and deadlift), and to set up some baseline numbers. You have three attempts at each lift, with your heaviest completed lift in each combined to reveal your score.

I dig lifting. I dig finding out what I can do. I'm somewhat conservatively shooting for 435, basing this on a 225 deadlift, 75 press and 135 squat. I do not think 135 is my true max for a back squat, but my form has been awful this week with much lighter weight. Even with a piece of PVC, I find my chest sinking down as I squat. SO...while I think, from my prior squats, I could do more like 155, I'm not going to cry if today's not the day for that. I'd rather focus on doing it right and improving the weight later.

ANYWAY. While in the back of my mind I believe I should hit 450-460 today...I am focusing on making my press and my deadlift heavy, and my squat good. And I am stupid, STUPID excited to both do this myself, AND to watch everyone else kill theirs.

To prep for this, I spent last night hanging out with my dogs, watching Bradley Cooper run around Philadelphia-dressed-up-as-New-York in Limitless, and eating the majority of a rotisserie chicken.

Sophie acted coquettish in the hopes it would make some chicken come her way.

Cosmo reluctantly settled for a bully stick. Neither was impressed by Bradley. Whatever.

I got a buttload of sleep - I don't care if being in bed at 10pm on a Friday night makes me a loser. I only stayed up that late for the dogs' sake, to be honest - I could have crashed at 9 or 9:30. This was a brutal week.

After the pups and I took our usual Saturday morning jaunt, I decided to forego my normal routine of chilling in bed with my laptop in favor of getting down to business with breakfast.

I used kitchen shears to cut two strips of thick-cut bacon into small pieces, directly into the pan. After the bacon started to render, I added half a package of sliced mushrooms and, once the mushrooms were mostly cooked, tossed in a couple big handfuls of baby spinach.

I scrambled the entire mess up with three eggs, some salt and pepper, and called it good.

This paleo thing has been pretty good for me. I truly don't miss bread and dairy at all, though that may be because I give myself a couple of meals a week to eat whatever the F I want. Sometimes that means having Conn's potato chips for dinner.

(As far as I know, they only sell these in the Wheeling, WV/St. Clairsville, OH area. We always had them at my great-grandmother's house when I was a kid, and while I'm willing to bet they're not ACTUALLY that good, the fact that I only get them once a decade, when coupled with the nostalgia factor, makes them FUCKING AMAZING.)

Sometimes that means having a pizza for lunch with my boss. (We tried Serafina at 18th & Sansom this week. I had a pizza with prosciutto and an egg. It was underwhelming.) And pretty much every week, it means I slowly eat a bar of dark chocolate (either 70 or 85% cocoa content) a couple squares at a time over the course of the week.

But in general, I feel good and I am noticeably leaner. If I dialed it in a little more I bet I would shed this fat pretty fast, but I'm liking this whole "hey this takes no effort at all" business.


How's your Labor Day weekend going? Picking up anything heavy? Performing any other feats of fitness?