Seriously, Double-Unders Are Hard!

So my last post was around a month ago… and I talked a little about the O-Course. I’ve almost forgotten how hard that was and that means I might be ready to try it again. There seems to be some interest at work to form a team that is willing to do the Warrior Dash, Spartan Race and Tough Mudder. I’m game for all three… but I’d be lying if I told you I’m super excited about running a race where the only thing that stands between you and the finish line (after a ton of running) are live electrical wires… don’t even ask me how you’d train for that. I was always taught NOT to stick your fingers in the electrical outlets.

So the last month I’ve been able to stick to my 4-5 day a week sessions at CrossFit. It’s turned into a solid habit where I now ponder doing a weekend class or attending some of their skills sessions on stuff like Weightlifting, Pull-Ups and Pistols… yesterday I missed my morning class because I was home sick. By 4:30pm I was feeling better and decided to go do a session rather than miss it. Really enjoyed it and felt like the right thing to do. Someone needs to tell me the difference between a habit and an addiction… not which one I’m experiencing.

Four weeks ago I hit my first double under after trying for a few weeks. A double under is when you are skipping and are able to rotate the rope around twice in one jump. This means you need to spin the rope quickly and jump a little higher than normal. After practicing daily during the warm-ups, I was able to string together a few more. Now I can do 5-10 where you do a double, skip normal, do a double…  I was stoked! I went home and told my wife and kids about how happy I was that I finally hit one. I even showed them, on the front walk, with a skip rope we had around. I went back inside and my 8 year old son, Cooper, grabs the skip rope. After practicing for 10-15 minutes, he managed to hit a double under. My wife laughed. Cooper asked me when he can start coming to CrossFit with me. Sigh! Guess I’m going to have to up the stakes and get those doubles going unbroken! That goes on a long list of stuff I want to be able to do like; hand-stand push-ups, pistols, muscle-ups and a 95lbs thruster. Sooooooo many things I suck at!

You might have noticed that I’ve stopped with the charts and graphs. Reason is that I’ve hit my target and now I’m really working on getting stronger. That means dropping body fat% and trading a pound of fat for a pound of muscle. Sounds easy… but it isn’t. This is slow, but then again, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Next week I’m off to Paris with my wife (no kids… grandparents coming up to watch them). Found a CrossFit gym near our apartment. For what it’s worth… if you plan to go to Paris for more than a few days, get an apartment. We are using a company called Cobble Stay. They are great and have places all over the city. I’m saying right now that I will be eating baguettes, cheese and croissants. I will drink red wine. I will likely need to work it off when I get back… some things are worth the sacrifice! Least I’ll be able to walk a ton while I’m there! Looking forward to getting away for a week.

Sitting at the Big Kids Table

Last Friday marked my last day of CrossFit Bootcamp (Monday marked the start of the Regular CrossFit class) … which means 12 weeks of 5-day-a-week BootCamp workouts is done. For clarity, I repeated the BootCamp three times (each is 4 weeks long).  A lot of people do the 4-week BootCamp once then move to the Regular CrossFit class, a few people do the Bootcamp twice, fewer still do it three times. I went three times because I know I needed to form a habit. After 3 months of getting up early every weekday, I’ve managed to establish something of a routine… I think it’ll be a routine that’s hard to break. I also felt I needed some time to try and get in better shape and keep up with the CrossFit regulars. The added benefit is that over the last 3 months, I’ve gotten to know 3 classes worth of people and a handful of them now are regulars and show up at the same 6am class I go to. The CrossFit BootCamp introduces you to a lot of the CrossFit terminology and a lot of the main non-weightlifting-type of workouts. We do a ton of lunges, GHD work, Kettle-bells, box jumps, running, pull-ups, sit-ups… you get the picture…makes it easy to hit the ground running with doing the Regular class.

Last Friday also marked my last BootCamp Fit Test. So what were the results? My time was 11 minutes and 55 seconds… down 55 seconds from 4 weeks prior.  Oddly enough only two of us were there that day. Kind of odd since it was like only two people showing up to graduate.

Now that I’m doing the regular CrossFit workouts (sticking with 5 days a week), what’s the difference you ask?  The focus on As Many Reps/Rounds as Possible (AMRAP) during a fixed time or a fixed number of rounds/reps in as short amount of time as possible is common across both. The warm up (around 15 minutes) is different and incorporates burpees, ring dips, pull-ups along with stretching. After that there is always a weightlifting component where we do 2-3 focused lifting routines. Lastly we have the option of Strength and Conditioning Stream or a more focused Weightlifting Stream… I tend to always go for the Strength and Conditioning Stream because there is a good mix of stuff. I’m guessing people get to choose because they might want to focus on different aspects of their fitness or maybe they are prepping for a competition.

Today’s WOD (Workout of the Day) had us doing the following (can also see it here:

High hang clean 3×3 @ 50%-65% 1RM
Bench press 3×5 reps @ 73% 1RM

Rest 5 minutes

Complete the following for time:

  • Run 800m
  • 40 Push-ups
  • 20 Box jumps
  • Run 100m
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Run 100m
  • 20 Burpees
  • 40 Pull-ups
  • Run 800m

I tend to have the most problems with the weightlifting. Not due to the weight. Weight can always be scaled or adjusted… but more around the terminology and the coordination of the lift. Bench press is easy… pretty straight forward. The High Hang Clean is a different story and requires a little hop, deep squat, elbows out, loosen hand grip and then driving upwards to a standing position. It sounds easy but it’s not yet second nature… but it’ll come with time. Thinking of getting one of those narrow PVC pipes and practicing. It’s like trying to do Double-Unders… at some point it’s just gotta click (hope its soon!).

Glad it’s the weekend! Tomorrow I might be hitting the yoga session at CrossFit but not before I go to the market with one or both of my sons. One is an early bird and one isn’t. They both love the Peameal Bacon Sandwich they have there. See below… that’s the spot… Carousel Bakery. I also need to load up on some veggies and fruit and maybe something to grill!

$5.25 buys you a piece of deliciousness.

Fit Test Round 2

Gah… I was wrong about my time… the time I had to beat was 13:08 and I came in at 12:50… which was great. Now I need to shave off more time… my last Fit Test is 2.5 weeks away and I will be trying hard to get less than 12 minutes. A couple of guys in the earlier class (pretty fit) killed the test and came in around 10 minutes. It’s the walking lunges that kill me… 20 in the first round isn’t bad… by the time I hit 12 on the second… the legs stop cooperating. Burpees and box jumps are fine… though after the walking lunges… I need a second before I can jump. A couple of people clipped their ankles on the boxes and went over them in an earlier class.

So the workouts are going smoothly and are part of my weekday routine. Now I need to focus on stretching and food. I had been stretching 5 times a week to keep the lower back loose but then backed off as I wasn’t getting any pain… now it’s starting to tighten up ever so slightly so I need to go back to the regular stretching routine, especially after days with a lot of sitting or meetings.

I saw my chiropractor last Thursday and he was amazed by the changes in my morphology. I pretended to know what he meant and then went home to look up what it means. In essence, he was surprised by the changes in my “shape”. I was clearly taking up a lot more room on his table 4-6 months ago and now I’m not. Since the “change in shape”, I’ve also had less need to go see him for adjustments to my lower back and now go see him only once a month.

Food -wise… I have been looking over several sites with Paleo recipes and links to books or other material. I would characterize my eating habits as 90/10 Eat Clean. I drink water and green tea more than anything else…. way more. All the foods are non-processed with lots of lean meats and vegetables. Not much, if any fruit, after 4PM.

Paleo is close but differs in a number of ways. But they don’t allow legumes (beans), grains, dairy and a few other things. There is a great guide on this that can be read here. It’s not for everyone… like anything it takes a little time to get used to it. I can try anything for 30 days. I think the thing to keep in mind is the 80/20 rule… give yourself some space to enjoy a dinner out or grab some Five Guys with the kids. Just maybe sub in water for the Coke.

Some of my favorites are as follows (this list will likely change or grow as I get more into it):

Paleomg.com

This site is run by avid Cross-Fitter Juli Bauer. Tons of great stories and recipes. She has a solid following based on the comments and feedback I’ve read on the site. One of the sites I regularly visit for all things Paleo and Cross Fit.

NomNomPaleo.com

Came across this one just a few weeks ago. Great recipes AND a fantastic App for the iPad. I downloaded it and it has great stuff like shopping lists and recipes. I’m using my iPad more and more to store recipes and cookbook material so it’s all in one handy place.

I don’t yet have any Paleo cookbooks… but I intend to get this one:

Food Bible

It’s supposed to come out early August and I’m pre-ordering it from Amazon. I can be accused of judging a book by its cover, because that’s how I selected it… I’m a sucker for good branding and packaging and the cover sets the tone for some intriguing content… like meal plans and lots of recipes. This book will soon be my go-to for recipes.

Stats coming by end of week… not much has changed… except for Body Fat %… that’s a good thing.

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Fit Test Results and Another 30 Days

Fit Test Results + another 30 Days

So it’s been a while since I last posted… my bad! That’s more a function of how busy things have gotten.

So let’s do something of a chronological update. When I last left off, It was Day 16 of a 20 Day Bootcamp…

Day 20 of Bootcamp: Fit Test. I had an Old Time of 11:38 and my new time was 12:27… I swear I must have counted the first round incorrectly and either shorted a series… because I killed myself on the test. Good news is that I have another round of boot camp to do better.

Day 21 of Bootcamp (first day of Round 2): Big class! There are around 12 people in this class. Last class we started with 8 and dwindled to 5 by the end of week 2. There are some folks in this class that are pretty fit… a couple of guys look like seasoned weight lifters.

Day 34 of Bootcamp (yesterday):  Yesterday was a quick workout… called the “LumberJack 20″… 20 Deadlifts (@115lbs), Run 200m, 20 KB Swings (@20kg), Run 200m, 20 Walking Lunges, Run 200m, 20 Pull Ups, Run 200m, 20 Box Jumps, Run 200m… time was 12:48… first guy to finish… felt good about that.

Day 35 of Bootcamp (today): Tabata! I also like Tabatas… was 4 rounds of 4 minutes… 20 seconds of max reps followed by 10 seconds of rest (8 rounds x 4). We started with Pull Ups, and then went to Push Ups, then Sit Ups then Squats…50/64/70/92… not bad… should have done better on the squats.

Tomorrow is supposed to be terrible. I recall this workout from last time and I almost kept driving when I saw what they were doing… going to suck it up and own it tomorrow… but it’ll hurt. I think I almost puked the last time. One week and I get to do the Fit Test again! Looking forward to those results… now that I can count!

I missed last Friday as my wife and I decided to take a trip to Chicago… the kids were away visiting their Grandparents so a getaway was in order… was a blast… great food, no itinerary… didn’t go nuts on deep dish pizza while I was there. I did end up going to Xoco and it was great… fresh, fast food. It’s one of the 3 Rick Bayless spots and just next door to Frontera Grill. We went to fancier places but the food here was outstanding (and not pricey). We also went to the Publican for brunch… it’s located in the meatpacking district and the bacon there is something you MUST order… best bacon I’ve ever had. The other two spots we went to, based on recommendations were GT Fish and Oyster for great seafood and a great vibe… and we also went to Acadia. Acadia was the swankiest of all the spots and the cocktails there were pretty killer!

Oh yeah! I hit my target weight at the end of the last boot camp. WTG ME! I think I can still shave off a few pounds and am now aiming for 175 lbs. I also have a new target for Body Fat %… and it’s 16%. Those new targets should keep me in check!

Current stats:

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 180 lbs (distance to target is 5 lbs), new target is 175lbs

BMI: 25.1

Fat %: 19.5 (target is 16% 18%)

Hit my target! But now I have a new one.

CrossFit: Day 16

Last two days of CrossFit Bootcamp have been fun and challenging at the same time. Yesterday we had a partner workout consisting of Push-ups, Sit-Ups, Kettle Bells and Rowing… you definitely didn’t want to let up because your partner would have to do extra reps… today it was Squats, Kettles (or 200m run… which I opted for) and Pull-Ups. Friday is the Fit Test where we compare our weak week 1 results with our week 4.

I think I’ll be signing up for another 30 days of Bootcamp. I’m not nervous about starting the straight-up CrossFit class… but I like the Monday-Friday expectation of the Bootcamp and I could use another month to tweak my endurance, strength and cardio. I feel that I need to go 5 days per week since there is a 5-day-per-week expectation in the BootCamp… with CrossFit, I think I could end up talking myself out of sessions… one more round of the BootCamp and then I think I’ll ready for a 3-day-per week CrossFit commitment.

The weight has been coming off nicely… mostly due to a bout of nausea this past Friday and Saturday. I took Friday off to go on a day trip with my wife and I was miserable… by the time we got back, I was feverish. I spent the entirety of the next day in bed. Sunday I recovered and spent one hour, in 2 sessions, stretching since I tightened up a lot from Friday onwards.

I did cheat on the eating thing yesterday… was going nuts for a Club Sandwich (with fries and gravy) from a little place down the street… and I caved. I will say that after I was done, I was ho-hum about it. I did feel overly full. Cravings are gone. Guess my innards are adjusting to eating mostly healthy stuff. Tonight I have grilled chicken, quinoa and salad.

This CrossFit BootCamp has actually been a blast. I like the gym (no nonsense and no frills), the instructor means business without being a jerk and the crew that comes out is a supportive bunch. They work hard and are all good natured. There are twin sisters in the class, both runners and one of them is getting married in 2 weeks. Talk about commitment to getting in shape for the big day (and she’s already pretty fit). Virtually all of them are in better shape (stronger, faster or more endurance) than me… but I’m closing the gap. It feels good knowing that this Father’s Day I’ll be in better shape (and lighter) than I’ve been since before I had kids.

My two young sons notice mommy and daddy going to the gym for their work-out… I like that they see this as normal. One has soccer tonight and the other tomorrow night… I’d like them to think of me and my wife as role models for them when it comes to this stuff… focus on health, positive attitude and achieving a goal…. Speaking of goals… I’m now 4lbs away from my target of 180. I’m thinking that I should probably hit that number in 3 weeks (maybe 2). My immediate focus is killing that Fit Test on Friday… and leaving everything I have on the gym floor.

Current stats:

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 184 lbs (distance to target is 4 lbs)

BMI: 25.7

Fat %: 21.0 (target is 18%)

SOOOOOOO.... CLOSE

Eating Clean(er)

Not sure if I had mentioned this in previous posts but I LOVE FOOD. All my jobs prior to working in Technology, was working in kitchens. Even after moving away from those jobs and into a career, I always held that love of food. I like trying stuff and then trying to replicate it at home. Sauces, salads, combinations… the whole thing. Typically this takes time and means some research, shopping for groceries and then throwing on some tunes and chopping, dicing, pouring and measuring. LOVED THE PROCESS! But then kids and a busier schedule come into the picture and since you don’t have an overabundance of time, you cut corners and the process gets sacrificed for convenience. More stuff in boxes and jars. And not that I have an issue with it (pasta is great and there are some fantastic sauces out there like RAO’s) but in my case, 10 years of shortcuts added up to too many pounds.

So the mantra from mid-January 2012 onwards has been around caloric deficit and trying to eliminate most processed foods. And it’s worked well… but I kind of stalled out at around 194-193 lbs or so. I think my system was looking to create some sort of equilibrium with body fat percentage and overall weight.

My wife (who goes to a hardcore Boot Camp) is part of a 30 day Eat Clean Challenge that her trainers have put together… I figured I’d try it as well. This challenge takes things a little further with the eating discipline. No dairy, nothing that is made with more than 5 ingredients, no coffee (I don’t drink coffee anyways), no pork, no red meat. Mostly you’re stuck with fresh fruit and vegetables and lean proteins like fish and chicken or turkey. We started a week ago and it seemed to help get over the plateau effect.

What I like about this is that it forces me to get back to the process of cooking creatively and finding interesting stuff to cook. I’ve been using Quinoa, lots of fish and fresh vegetables a lot. Made my own hummus (since it’s easy) and last night we had Buffalo Chicken wraps (minus the blue cheese) that had a recipe posted on SkinnyTaste. It’s a great site and I’ll likely be using it to full effect for some time to come. One week down and 3 more to go before we’re done with the Challenge. I’m planning what to eat as a reward the day after the Challenge is done. Dreams of Butter Chicken, Burgers and nachos dance in my head… washed down with a Coke that comes in a bottle… which will swiftly wreck my innards… oh well!

Preview of next post: Dumo takes on Cross Fit.

Current Stats:

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 191lbs (distance to target is 6 lbs)

BMI: 26.6

Fat %: 23.5 (Target is 18%)

10lbs and 10 Things I Think I Know

So a week ago I had hit a milestone of 195 lbs. It’s great and I’ve been hanging around 194-195 for a solid week or so. I’ve managed to keep my calories and the type of calories in check. Even in the face of a few dinners out.

I managed to get out running twice last week. I needed new runners and picked up a pair of Nike Zoom Structure Triax+ Running Shoes. Since I’m a sucker for stats, I also picked up the Nike+ SportWatch GPS. A splurge but it does some pretty cool stuff. The band has a built-in USB connection that allows you to upload the run data into the Nike+ website, where you can track your runs, pace, goals, etc. I used to use the Nike+ attachment for the iPod but you need to calibrate the sensor with a set distance while walking and running, which is a pain. The watch has built-in GPS that does that for you and it also displays the route you took on a map along with pace at any point in the run and distance. Pretty slick!

So my wife went to a nutrition session this weekend that her Boot Camp puts on. And she (along with 14 others) have signed on for a 30-day challenge that revolves around eating the right stuff (as defined by one of the trainers). I’m going to do it with her. For a few reasons; one, I want to be supportive and it’s easier when someone else is doing it with you and; two, I want see what it can do in 30 days to help me lose those last 10 pounds. Will it reinforce what I’m currently doing? Will it focus more on fat percentage? We’ll see… I plan on charting it somehow. I think I need to lose 23 lbs of fat (and gain 11 lbs of muscle) to stay at 185 with an 18% fat percentage.

Now on to 10 Things I Think I Know… which pays homage to Peter King, renowned NFL writer who writes for Sports Illustrated.

  1. Bar Vespa is just an overall great place for Italian that the family can enjoy. We went there with the kids on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed dinner. The waitress was great! Food was delicious. I’ll be back!
  2. SportChek needs to do a much better job at staffing their sneaker section, especially the kid’s sneakers. We went to 2 stores on Saturday and same story at both… lots of parents with kids, no sales folks anywhere to be seen (likely avoiding that part of the store) and lots of frustration. I won’t look for kid’s shoes there anymore. I won’t be back.
  3. Making the right choices seems easy… it isn’t. I cannot state how important it is to know your goal, see it written or pictured every day to reinforce what you want to get to. Motivation is EVERYTHING. The mind is a powerful thing. It can help you push through that last set, last mile or last meal… it can also be the thing that tells you to give up or sacrifice. Motivation seems to snap it back into shape.
  4. I like Yoga. More than I thought I would. I also found out that my location is closing in September. I bought 20 more classes to use up (can buy some more later). I am looking for a place to go beyond September and there are some options near home. My wife also planted the idea of trying/joining a Cross Fit class in September. By then I expect my back to be 100%, my cardio to be closer to 5K than Couch and I expect to be at 185lbs or so and maybe 20% body fat. There is a Boot Camp as prep for Cross Fit that starts in May… maybe that should be my goal.
  5. Rick Astley will never do any of the following:
    1. Give you up
    2. Let you down
    3. Run Around
    4. Desert you
    5. Make you cry
    6. Say Goodbye
    7. Tell a lie
    8. Hurt you
  6. The Cincinnati Bengals had a great draft this year. I watched the first 5 picks over 3 days. Glad things worked out with Sanu. Seems fated and I don’t doubt they’ll bring up his Draft Day ordeal in the regular season after his first pro catch. I’ve been a fan since 1984 and it’s been a very, very, very frustrating relationship. I’m psyched about this upcoming season. I think the issues of the past are fading away quickly, that they have a great core of talent. Team focus. Who Dey! I will see them in a Superbowl again (just hoping it’s never against the 49ers).
  7. Things that grow are probably good for you. Things that come in a box probably aren’t as good for you. I should really keep eating more of things that grow and less of things that come in a box. Even though things in a box are really tasty.
  8. I love my job. It’s hard. A lot is expected. I work with great people who work hard. I cannot imagine working at a place that only expects you to bring your “B” game and thinking that’s good enough. Zero chance to suffer mental atrophy. That said…
  9. I need to book more time off. The last 4 trips to somewhere outside North America have been through work, with work people. Need to get somewhere nice with my wife, unplug and enjoy not having a schedule and seeing things I’ve always admired in books or movies.
  10. You need goals. Work goals, life goals, fitness goals and they need to be audacious. At the end (whenever that is), I want to see accomplishments and not dwell on regrets.

Current Stats:

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 194lbs (distance to target is 9 lbs)

BMI: 27.1

Fat %: 24.2 (Target is 18%)