CrossFit Diaries, Part Seven – Time to take it up a gear

So it’s now 7 months since I’ve been going to CrossFit consistently and I can no longer call myself a newbie or beginner!! I know all the terms and mastered around 75% of the moves!! However there are times at the box that i still feel like a newbie, there are a number of smaller communitites within the main box itself which seem impenetrable so leave you feeling like a spare part if you aren’t part of any of these groups which is where I’m at!! I’m sure over time this may change…

After my wobble in Feburary I feel more determind than ever to just keep working & pushing myself hard to achive my ultimate goal of becoming as fit as humanly possible.

 So where does it all stack up after this concerted drive to get to my end goal?

Well in terms of body shape, I’ve lost 10lb in weight & 12.5 inches off my body, with the biggest loss off my waist of a whole 4.5 inches!! No wonder all my trousers have been feeling so loose recently!! This demonstrates clearly that what you weigh is irrelevant as my body has got smaller yet the weight loss is pretty low (roughly 1.4lb a month). Although I’m on this journey for myself, a couple of people have commented on how slim I’m looking which is a great boost to confidence & motivates me to continue.

So some firsts to mention: 

I took part in my first in-house competition, I was captain of my team with RIchard B, Toots & Wil being the other members, we did really well on all the WODs & ended up coming 3rd out of 10 teams!! Which I was really chuffed about.

I entered the CrossFit Open, for those who don’t know, CrossFit is a global sport. The CrossFit Open allows all CrossFit Athletes to compete against each other, each week for 5 weeks a WOD is released and you had 4 days to complete & submit your score, thankfully this year they introduced a scaled options for the WOD which meant that I was able to post a score for all the WODS, and 15.5 I was able to do the WOD as Rx.   

I was happy with my finishing position seeing as it was my first open!! It has helped me to identify my weaknesses within CrossFit and the moves that I really need to work on.

I’ve also been pushing hard to get some more personal bests on the board for the weight lifting moves, including clean & jerk, front squat & squat clean.

So where do I go from here? Earlier in the post I said that body weight is irrelevant which it really is however like I mentioned last time it does matter when you have to preform exercises/moves that involve you lifting your body weight which is where I’m struggling the most, most of the moves I can’t do are body weight based moves!! So the obvious thing is to create a calorie deficit (consume less calories than you are using) which would mean that your body has to used interal resources to make up the shortfall and therefore you lose weight. Unfortunately it’s not that simple!! The first thing you need to work out is exactly how many calories you are burning just being alive (known as your basal metabolic rate) and this varies based on your body composition as if you are muscly you will burn more calories than someone who isn’t as muscles are very calorie hungry. So knowing my body fat percentage, weight & height I calcaulated that my BMR was roughly 1500 calories a day, then you need to add on the additional calories you burn during the day be this normal workday activity & exercise. I can track roughly how many caloires I burn during exercise as I use a heart rate monitor & then use the info I get from my Jawbone to workout other calories burnt. So this figure can vary from 2000 calories to 2500 calories on any given day.

Then you need to monitor your food intake to track how many calories you are consuming, but again it’s not that simple as if you consume a high percentage of carbohydrates (an easy energy source for your body) then the body will just utilise these more efficiently & not need to use your stored energy (fat & muscle) to make up the shortfall. So you need to reduce your percentage of carbs & replace with fat & protein. Making sure you are also consuming plenty of fruit & vegetables too.

Getting the balance is the hardest bit and to that end I’ve decided to sign up to the next Clean Eating Challenge the box is running. I don’t ned to gain knowledge on nutrition & eating right as I already have that but what I do need is the accountability of being monitored on a weekly basis. This starts are the begining of May so have the rest of April to get ready for this!

I’ve also decided to up my running & take part in the interval training on offer on a Saturday morning…

Next time the focus will be on the mental side of CrossFit, what your head says or doesn’t say is half the battle of CrossFit, it’s not always the strongest who wins but the one who uses mental strength to get them through.

Until next time, happy WODing!! xx

Advertisements

CrossFit Diaries, Part Six – A reality check!!

January continued to be a good month in terms of getting to the box which was 24 times across the month, i also managed 1 run & 4 lots of intervals which is part of the custom programme I decided to do to help move me forward in areas that I felt I wasn’t progressing as much as I would like, more about that another post.

As well as increasing the amount of times I was getting to the box I really wanted to shake up my diet & food routine, so decided to give up dairy, sugar & alcohol, again more about this later.

I got into a really good routine with 2 visits on a Mon(am & pm), 1 on a Wed(am), 2 on a Fri (am & pm) and then Sat morning too!!

There were times that I didn’t feel like going especially in the evenings, i’m a morning person so doing anything in the evening is a struggle but knew that if I make the effort the reward would be worth it…

And this is where the problem was, half way through the month I had the realisation that I’d into a comfortable routine/zone & that I wasn’t actually pushing myself as much as I could, I was using my injuries as a bit of an excuse not to push hard… I struggled to remember a time when I ached after a WOD, I’m one of those people who quite likes DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) as I know it’s my body telling me it’s changing & adapting and this wasn’t happening so to me I’d got comfortable.

Even with the custom programme I was given I was kind of taking it easy!! I started to question what I was even doing, don’t get my wrong I was loving being at the box & enjoyed the workouts but just felt I wasn’t actually achieving much. When I was pushed I was able to lift more than I thought but this was on the odd occasion and this is reflected in my stats so after 5 months of CrossFit I have made some progress but not as much as I feel I should have, there were again tearful drives home & me feeling extremely old & worn out (I know I’m not old, far from it), if it wasn’t my knee, it was my back and if it wasn’t my back it was my elbow or all three!! I think it’s great that CrossFit reaches across age ranges & that I could be WODing with someone who was 10/15/18 years my junior however for me it just highlighted how far I’ve got to go & yes I do use this as a motivator but if you feel in a vulnerable place it’s hard to swallow, if only CrossFit had been around years ago!!

  • Weight: 13 Stone, 1lb – 4lb loss in total
  • BMI: 30.4 – 0.7 point loss in total
  • Chest: 40 inches – No change
  • Waist: 34.5 inches – 1.5 inch loss in total
  • Hips: 46.5 inches – 1.5 inch loss in total
  • Thigh (R): 26 inches – 1.5 inch loss in total
  • Thigh (L): 25.5 inches – 2 inch loss in total
  • Bicep (R): 13.5 inches – 0.5 gain in total
  • Bicep (L): 14 inches – No change

I know these stats only show half the story as it’s about gains in the box & did achieve a few things, my nemesis double unders was conquered, well I managed to get 3 in a row so is still working in progress but I was buzzed for getting this movement cracked even if I’ve got a long way to go.

I managed to back squat 75kg and clean 50kg & these things I am proud of but, and there is a big but for me it’s not good enough.

Maybe I’m being hard on myself & anyone who knows me well knows that I’m extremely critical of myself & will only see what I need to do better than see how far I’ve come…

I feel I’ve cracked most of the weight movements, overhead squat being the one thing I still can’t do, this is mainly a mobility issue rather than strength issue but the thing that still leaves me utterly frustrated is the bodyweight exercises pullups, toes to bar & burpees!! The main challenge here is my weight, now I don’t want to focus on it as it’s just a number & not what your measured against but I know deep down that I need to shift some if I’m ever going to make significant gains in this area of CrossFit!! Yes I can get strong & I am stronger than I was 5 months ago but my strength to weight ratio will still be out of balance!!

This is where giving up dairy, sugar & alcohol comes in to it, now I would say my diet is pretty good most of the time however I have slipped into bad habits over the years which I wanted to crack, for dairy & sugar I last about 2 weeks!! Alcohol was 6 weeks!! And this is the challenge I love food, don’t we all but it’s more than that for me, it’s my life & my business so I need to find a way where is a happy balance & I gave admit I’ve yet to find this especially with the results I want!!

So as I type this now in the middle of Feb, feeling a little bit lost & not really sure where to turn for help (another thing I’m not good at is asking for help), I’m sure when I’m back at the box in the morning that it will slot into place, fingers crossed it will anyway!!

Sorry less about CrossFit this month but needed to write this stuff down & put it out there!!

Happy CrossFitting, next month will be more about food as I’ve not really touched on it this time!! Xxx

CrossFit Diaries, Part Five – The Kit

Well we are now in 2015 and what a start it’s been, already completed 7 WODs so far so a great start to the year.

So looking back in December again the month didn’t start well as I was still suffering with my knee so decided to take another week off to rest it, during this week I really missed going to the box, seeing the other members & in general the feeling you get when you exercise I noticed that I was less productive in general & pretty mardy!!

In the end I managed 12 CrossFit WODs in December but no runs and my knee is still playing up but I’m determined to carry on, just being careful not to push myself too much or too quickly, probably should have thought about this when I decided I could do dynamic lunges which caused the issue in the first place!!

Anyway, here are how my stats are stacking up:

  • Weight: 13 Stone, 11lb – 6lb gain
  • BMI: 36.4, big increase!!
  • Chest: 39 inches – 2 inch loss (1 inch loss in total)
  • Waist: 35.5 inches – No change (0.5 inch loss in total)
  • Hips: 47.5 inches – 0.5 inch loss (0.5 inch loss in total)
  • Thigh (R): 26.5 inches – 0.5 inch loss (1 inch loss in total)
  • Thigh (L): 26 inches – 0.5 inch loss(1.5 inch loss in total)
  • Bicep (R): 14 inches – No change (1 inch gain in total)
  • Bicep (L): 14 inches – 0.5 inch loss (No change)

The above stats have started to be not very representative of my progress in my CrossFit journey as in December I really did start to see some results in terms of CrossFit moves & lifts or the fact that my clothes are looser!!

Back in July when I first started Crossfit, my 1 rep max (RM) for dead lift was 70kg, in December I made the 100 club by lift 100kg 1RM!! I am really chuffed at this and in other areas I’m also making gains.

I can do a pull-up or a few pull-ups using a black band (this is the thickest of all the bands but when I started I couldn’t even do it with one of these), so the challenge now is to start to work my way through bands to eventually do a pull-up unaided.

Still no progress with double unders but I know I haven’t really been putting the work in to improve these so what can I expect, what you put in – you get out!!

This month I want to talk about the kit we use.

When i first walked into the box I was struck by the lack of machines, I was used to walking into a gym and seeing row upon row of machines be this treadmills/cross-trainers or weight machines.

But the philosophy of CrossFit is:

Machine 2

So what do we use I hear you ask?

Processed with Moldiv

Top (L-R): Rope, Barbell with weight, Medicine Balls (3,6,9kg)

Middle (L-R): AbMat, Kettle-bells (various weights), Bars

Bottom (L-R): Ring, skipping ropes, weight (from 0.5kg up to 20kg)

Processed with Moldiv

Box!! At 3 different heights (L-R) 20″, 24″ & 30″

We also use the standard Concept 2 rowing machines as well as our own bodies, doing movements like burpees.

You wouldn’t believe that such simple pieces of kit can change your body shape & improve your fitness so dramatically but they do. You might also be thinking that you could easily get all this equipment relatively cheaply and set up an area in your garage or spare room and you probably could but the secret/science behind CrossFit isn’t really the kit itself but the way you use it in the form of the WODs & of course the community who help to push yourself further than you thought you could go.

The great thing about all this kit being quite simple is that it is all scale-able, meaning I as a relative newbie can workout next to someone doing the same exercises who has been doing CrossFit for years, which makes it a level playing field so to speak, you’re really competing against yourself more than the other people at the box.

Since the beginning of this journey there have been quite a few highs & lows but I now feel really part of the box, everyone has been so friendly, welcoming & helpful, I’ve started to make friends & feel part of something that I don’t think I ever want to leave. Thank you everyone!!

This has been helped by me mixing up the times I workout, I will always be a morning exerciser & will quite happily workout on my own if I have to but  I have been enjoying going to the evening WOD’s once in a while when other areas of my life get in the way which means I get to meet other members too!

The other thing that I’ve decided to do is get a paid for customised programme for 8 weeks (started 8th Jan) to help me improve some of my weak areas and try to speed up my results, I’m impatient & want to see result quicker than I’m getting. This means upping the number of times I go to box from 3-4 a week to 6-7!!

Doing this I know will put a strain on my body so next month I’m going to talk about one of the biggest passions in my life FOOD & nutrition and what I’m doing to ensure I stay healthy to be able to continue my CrossFit Journey.

Machine

So until next time, stay active & healthy.

Rachel

CrossFit Diaries, Part Four – Lets get competitive

Before I talk about the last month I just want to say a big thank you to all the other members at the box, I posted my last post in our members only Facebook group and the response I got was amazing & very touching with many people sharing their struggles with getting to grips with CrossFit, some of the people I hadn’t even met so the CrossFit Witham community spirit definitely showed.

This was also demonstrated to me one Saturday when I went to box fairly early. Another member was setting up for the WOD and said asked if I was doing the WOD too and he offered to wait for me to do the warm up and we could do it together!! So we got started the WOD involved doing some lifting exercise then 400m run, another lifting exercise, 400m and so on, after 2 of the runs I was puffed out and still had to do burpees, I was struggling and this member shouted “Keep going Rachel” and I actually thought, how does he know my name as I didn’t think I’d met him before!! Then my next thought was I don’t know his name, ARGH!! I know i’m no shrinking violet, but also didn’t think that many people knew me seeing as I felt like I was still a relatively new member & I tend to go to the WODs early in the morning where I see the same people most weeks, I now know his name is Richard Breed (I asked him at the end of the WOD) so thank you Richard for your encouragement.

So November started really well, I had got myself into a good routine and getting to the box 4 or 5 times a week consistently which meant that I was started to see some good results, but then I had to rest for a week, I’ll explain the reason why later…

So the scores on the doors are: Managed 10 CrossFit workouts and 1 run (6.65km)

  • Weight: 13 Stone, 5lb – 2lb gain (no change)
  • BMI: 31.1 – (no change)
  • Chest: 41 inches – 1.5 inch gain (1 inch gain in total)
  • Waist: 35.5 inches – 1.5 inch gain (0.5 inch loss in total)
  • Hips: 48 inches – No change
  • Thigh (R): 26.5 inches – .5 inch loss (1 inch loss in total)
  • Thigh (L): 26.5 inches – no change (1 inch loss in total)
  • Bicep (R): 14.5 inches – 0.5 inch loss (1 inch gain in total)
  • Bicep (L): 14.5 inches – 0.5 inch loss (0.5 inch gain in total)

As well as the measurements above I’m also now going to record my progress with certain exercises we do during WODs, as ultimately, it doesn’t matter about the above as my goal is about getting fit and now that I know most of the exercises I can start to see if I’m making gains in these too. An example of this are deadlifts, when I first started back in July I know my 1 rep max was about 70kg, this month I manged to do 90kg, so over the coming months I’ll keep you posted on some of my personal bests & 1 rep max to see the progress I’m making. This was a suggestion from another member Craig, so thanks Craig for the idea :0).

So this month theme is competitions, When I first started at the box I didn’t know about competitions & don’t really know much now as I’ve not been exposed to them but what I do know is that if you wanted to you could take part in a CrossFit competition most weeks if you wanted to. From what I’ve seen these range from individual, pairs or team competition. Some you go into a ballet to get drawn or you have to take part in qualifiers before hand to gain your place. These are done at you box, videoed and submitted online. The Reebok CrossFit Games is massive in the states, getting national TV coverage!!

My first experience of competition was to take part in the in-house qualifiers leading up to the in-house competition!! I was a little nervous about putting myself forward seeing as I still felt fairly new to CrossFit and didn’t want to let the team I was picked with down as we were randomly selected but I needn’t have worried as the team I was picked with were extremely supportive I was with Suzanne, Andrew & Liam and they made me feel great about what I could achieve & really part of the team. Each week a new qualifier was published and we had to week to complete it below are a couple of examples:

IMG_1705 IMG_1816

In the end we finished 4th out of 10 teams!!

In the final week before the in-house competition I unfortunately injured my knee while taking part in the qualifiers :0( , don’t know what I’d to cause the injury but knew it meant that I was unlikely to take part in the main in-house competition and I was gutted!! But knew I had to be sensible to allow my knee to repair itself so I don’t do more damage.

I decided I’d still go to the competition to cheer everyone on, and I have to say it was an awesome day, the atmosphere at the box was electric with everyone really pushing themselves to the max and the team spirit/camaraderie was clearly evident, I did however feel a little out of it, no other reason that I so wanted to be the one doing the WODS not watching from the sidelines but know that hopefully next time I’ll be fit and well and can take part another time.

IMG_2002      IMG_2050

IMG_2037    IMG_2007

IMG_1994      IMG_2065

The competition was fab and now I can see why competitions are so popular, the sense of achievement was palpable, it also renewed my determination to keep going to CrossFit to achieve my fitness goals, so am looking forward to coming months to continue my progress, just have to hope that my knee gets better and doesn’t cause me any more issues, as I write this I’ve had another week off as it still doesn’t feel write but am hoping to get into the box very soon, the main reasons for this is A: I’m missing it and B: I’m right mardy when I don’t exercise as I feel rubbish!!

Next time i’m going to focus on the equipment (or as some might see lack of…) we use doing a WOD.

I’d love to hear your experiences of competitions.

CrossFit Diaries, Part Three – The Lingo

That’s October done and dusted & it’s been a bit of a tough month!!

Didn’t start off well as I had a cold for the first few days which knocked me off my stride a bit which left me wondering if CrossFit was for me, there has been a few teary drives back home after the WOD/Inter-club qualifiers :0(!! (I’ve thought a couple of times about quitting, but most people who know me know I’m not a quitter & very hard on myself & my achievements)

This is mainly because I’m getting frustrated with not being able to do the things that others can do and yes I know I’m only at the start of this CrossFit journey but it’s still hard to take when you’re always the last to finish, lifting the lightest weight & struggling to do the most basic of exercises which others just do so easily and even harder to carry on when people start packing away their equipment when you are still struggling to do reps/exercises, every time this happens my heart sinks (it’s only happened a couple of times), I know it’s not personal but it smashes the idea I had that CrossFit is a community where everyone is rooting for each other!! I know this might sound harsh (Sorry Adam & George) but it’s true, in every other areas of the box I have found everyone really friendly & very supportive but this little thing really gets my goat as it makes you feel so inferior/rubbish and a knock of confidence!!

It never gets easy, you just get better

Thankfully October did turn around and i managed to get into a great routine of getting to the box & I started to notice that I was making some small gains/improvements!!

I now can do box jumps at 20 inch (when I started I could only do step ups), I can also do a few burpees in a row, one was a struggle in July!! I’m also noticing that slowly but surely I’m getting stronger & can lift heavier weight and my technique is improving.

So before I talk about the Lingo of CrossFit, here are my stats, in October I managed 17 Crossfit workouts & 2 runs (17km).

  • Weight: 13 Stone, 3lb – 1lb loss (2lb loss in total)
  • BMI: 30.7 – 0.2 reduction (0.4 reduction in total)
  • Chest: 39.5 inches – 0.5 inch gain (0.5 inch loss in total)
  • Waist: 34 inches – No change (2 inch loss in total)
  • Hips: 47.5 inches – No change (0.5 inch loss in total)
  • Thigh (R): 27 inches – No change (0.5 inch loss in total)
  • Thigh (L): 26.5 inches – 0.5 inch loss (1 inch loss in total)
  • Bicep (R): 14.5 inches – 0.5 inch gain (1.5 inch gain in total)
  • Bicep (L): 13.5 inches – 1.5 inch gain (1.5 inch gain in total)

So not much change here, I’m a little gutted that the hard work I thought i’d put in over the month would be reflected in the stats but I know that my diet/food intake has been all over the place this month (judging a sausage competition didn’t help, several trips to London & a few pieces of cake!!) and the saying “You can’t exercise away a bad diet” rings true, not that my diet is bad by any means but I know it can be a lot better, so the goal for November is to focus on diet & food to see if I can start to make some better gains than I have this month!!

So now for the all important Lingo of CrossFit

  • The Box – Where we go to do CrossFit
  • WOD – Workout Of the Day
  • AMRAP – As Many Reps/Rounds As Possible – Either as quickly as possible or within a given time-frame
  • EMOM – Every Minute on the Minute – An example – 6 box jumps, 6 deadlifts
  • GTOH – Ground To Over Head
  • STOH – Should To Over Head
  • TTB – Toes To Bar
  • CTB – Chest To Bar
  • HSPU’s – HandStand Push Ups – I’d not done a handstand in over 25 years let alone be able to do a push up, when I tried I face-planted the mat!!
  • DU’s – Double Unders – Skipping where the rope has to go under your feet twice before you land (My nemesis!!! Need to practice more especially as in the workouts if you can’t do DU’s you have to do 3 times as many normal skips)
  • KB Swings – Kettle Bell Swings
  • Deload Week – This is one week a month where the WODs focus less on strength to give our muscles a chance to recover & adapt.
  • Fran, Grace (The Girls, see picture below) – These are standardise workouts which you can work on, great way of measuring progress & a little healthy competition between athletes!!

The Girls

So overall, October has been a mixed bag, but I’m still smiling (just) and more determined than ever to  get the hang of CrossFit!! In Novembers diary exert I’ll fill you in on the in-house competition i’m taking part in & CrossFit competitions in general and as always my progress!!

Until next time, keep active!!

Rachel x