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.

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Why Cross Fit (for me)?

I was fit for the first two-thirds of my life (0-28)… and I’m assuming I was a fit baby/toddler/infant. I turn 42 this year so it’s really been the last third of my existence that I’ve let myself go. I played soccer most of my life and would spend weekends with “the guys” playing football on Sundays at a nearby field. It’s really when my job became a career that I started to cut corners on taking care of myself. Snacking rather than cooking, driving rather than running and sitting rather walking. Now I find myself working to undo the damage I’ve done over the last 14 years.

Today marks my 11th week of doing Cross Fit at 5 days a week. Not looking/fishing for kudos… rather, I realized that I managed to commit to this longer (much longer) than any of the other things that I tried… longer than running and longer than regular gym workouts… and I’m not sick of it. I actually kind of love it.

In those 11 weeks… I’ve noticed my endurance go up as well as noticing increases in my strength and agility. Clothes fit differently (the downside is the cost to get new clothes), my back doesn’t hurt and I seem to be more focused at work… err… well maybe less so on Mondays.

The benefits of going are great… I’m back down to a weight I haven’t seen in 14 years. So I wonder why I like this stuff so much. I thought about it and figured I’d list a few thoughts here… guessing some will be consistent with what a lot of Cross-Fitters say… and guessing some of it more my spin. Here goes:

It’s hard

Often stupidly, I’m drawn to assignments or things that are difficult, like cooking difficult dishes, putting Ikea furniture together and trying to fix my dad’s computer over the phone. If Cross Fit were easy, then I’d likely not be drawn to it. I like it when people thing I can’t do something and I prove them wrong. I like the struggle and pushing through it. I check the board every day ahead of the workout to determine what crazy WOD they cooked up for us and then say to myself “Seriously! This is gonna suck” and then I say “#&$@ it… going to own this one”. If it’s not hard, it isn’t worth doing.

It’s intense

So I show up every day at around 6am… class/session starts at 6:30am. The warm up lasts 15 minutes or so and then its 30-45 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training. No stops, no texting, no chit chatting. Just all-out effort until you have nothing left in the tank. Mark down your reps and your time and check if you beat your last scores (PRs anyone?). When you are done, you leave (feeling good about what you just did) and the next crew starts.

Competition

Golf is one of those games where I tend to try and beat my best score (by the way… I suck at golf). When I’m out with my buddies, I’m very focused on trying to beat my best score… but I’m also trying not to end up on the bottom for the day (cause I’d have to buy the beers at the club house). I’ll check the scorecard and make sure I’m keeping pace or try and determine what I need to do to stay ahead. I always tend to play with people who are better than me and I think that makes me “up my game”. Cross Fit is like that as well. As much I as am trying to beat my last time or shoot for a PR… I also work towards staying in the top third of the times or reps. It’s the competition that helps me drive to better results. Constantly with “if X can do it, then I can too”. Although my wife doesn’t Cross Fit, she does workout at arguably one of the toughest boot camps in Toronto (Fit Factory Fitness). I once went with her (pre-Cross Fit) and nearly hurled in the car on the way home. I’m a little competitive with her when it comes to this stuff. She keeps me honest. I think we push each other. She pushes me without being annoying… not sure if I can say the same.

The People

I recall my first day at the Box I go to. I was doing the warm-up for the Cross Fit Bootcamp… and was struggling on the Ring Dips (I was struggling at all the stations)… one of the regulars turned to me and cheered me on while she was between reps. I was struck by how a complete stranger would stop focusing on themselves and give me a little motivation to get through my reps. This seems typical, if not expected and I’ve tried to pay it forward. You end up forging a respect and bond with people the same way you do if you play team sports. The trainers are great and always present to help you fine tune a lift or posture over a routine. They push you because they get to know you and your goals. It’s like having a multi-tiered support system ensuring success.

The Gym (The Box)

Not sure if all Cross Fit gyms are like this but the one I go to is elegantly spartan. It’s literally a warehouse… complete with loading dock and 2 huge garage-like doors. No fluff. No fancy machines. I also love that it’s very close to where I live. It’s around 5kms (3.3miles)… 11 minutes in the car. I’ve seen pictures of a few other Cross Fit gyms and they seem to stay within the same minimalist theme… little waste of space, no unnecessary bells and whistles… very Apple-like.

The Results

11 weeks ago I was a whole lot rounder. I’m starting to get cuts where my abs are. My shoulders and arms are starting to pop. I can run further and faster than before. I can lift heavier than I ever have. Nuff said!

There you have it. Send a comment or post a question if you have any!

Current stats:

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 178 lbs (distance to target is 3 lbs), new target is 175lbs

BMI: 24.8

Fat %: 17.4 (target is 14%)

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

CrossFit: Day 7

So it’s been fun so far, doing the CrossFit Bootcamp… which is what is recommended prior to doing the actual CrossFit sessions at CrossFitTO. Every day they build a program that introduces new routines and this past week has been focused on weights (dumbbells and barbells). I will admit that my entire body was sore after the first week. I couldn’t do a sit up after Day 2 but I’m a lot less sore after the weekend and my body is adjusting. I look forward to the day I can do 10 chin ups without using any bands. Right now I can (maybe) do 3 unassisted.

There is a great mix of people in the class. The instructor (Ryan) takes the time to explain everything in detail and make sure we’re using proper form and technique. We start the class at 6:30am and are done roughly around 7:15am… I love this because it doesn’t give me any time to make up mental excuses not to go… like having a rough day at work or staying at work later than normal. Getting it done early in the morning is also less disruptive to the schedule at home.

My wife and kids and I did go to a friend’s place this past weekend to see their new house. They have no idea we’re a little food restricted meaning no burgers, bread, chips… and of course on a nice weekend people BBQ and those are staples. We ended up having a veggie burger on a whole wheat bun. They were very gracious to break out those options for us. I did have some tortilla chips as well. My willpower broke after staring at the bowl down for 60 minutes. The next day I did see the results as my weight did go up. Got strict again after the weekend and back to 188lbs. Need to continue on the straight and narrow until I hit my target and then loosen up a little (80-20 rule… be good 80% of the time and relax 20% of the time).

I didn’t end up going to BootCamp today as I had a chiropractor appointment. It’ll be back to it tomorrow which means being there for 4 of the 5 days this week and only one day missed from the start. I did move my next chiropractor appointment to a time after work so I don’t mess with my morning schedule.

So my scale seems to be giving me inconsistent readings on the Body Fat % so I ordered some calipers to get a more accurate reading. The results below might change based on what it tells me. If I’m driving to specific results, I might as well be as certain as possible on the numbers I’m getting (and adjust accordingly).

Current stats:

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 188 lbs (distance to target is 8 lbs)

BMI: 26.2

Fat %: 22.0 (target is 18%)

Weight went up! Boo! Getting back on track.

CrossFit – Day One

Wikipedia Definition of CrossFit:

CrossFit describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement,” with the stated goal of improving fitness (and therefore general physical preparedness), which it defines as “work capacity across broad time and modal domains.”Workouts are typically short—20 minutes or less—and intense, demanding all-out physical exertion. They combine movements such as sprinting, rowing, jumping rope, climbing rope, weightlifting, and carrying odd objects; they use barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettlebells, medicine balls, and many bodyweight exercises. These elements are mixed in numerous combinations to form prescribed “Workouts of the Day” or “WODs”. Hour-long classes at affiliated gyms, or “boxes,” typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity WOD, and a period of individual or group stretching. Performance on each WOD is often scored and/or ranked to encourage competition and to track individual progress. Some affiliates offer additional classes, such as Olympic weightlifting, which are not centered on a WOD.

My Day One Definition:

A challenging 45 minutes of exertion leading to lightheadedness and really wobbly legs.

So today was Day One of a 20 day CrossFit Bootcamp. It’s sort of an initiation before they get you ready for the WODs that come later. You get used to the equipment, terms and pacing of the workout. I’d like to say that I didn’t have bad dreams about it last night… it clearly was on my subconscious mind. We did a warm-up that focused on stretching arms and legs and some squats to get the muscles a little loosened up. Then we hit the routine. It was actually not bad for Day One. 15 reps of sit ups and back raises on the GHB machine (something elevated to lock in your legs and allow you to bend). Then we did 15 reps of Ring Lifts (where you try to lift your body weight using rings on ropes… note easy). Then we did the dreaded pull-ups on pull-up bars… again another 15. Keep in mind that for the last two exercises, I did 12 (not 15) and by that I mean 3 followed by a few minutes of rest, repeated 4 times. Lastly we finished with 3 rounds of push-ups (max you can crank out for 1 min), followed by a modified sit-up (max you can do for 1 minute) followed by squats (again… max you can do for one minute). All told a 45 minute investment of time.

The drive home sucked a bit… lots of lactic acid build-up from the body squats and a little lightheadedness. But that wore off and by the time I was driving in to work, I felt fine. It’s back to it tomorrow at 6:30am. I picked the early morning class so it wouldn’t interfere with the kid’s soccer schedules or my wife’s Bootcamp. That just means we have to get a little more organized the night before and get lunches (mostly) ready for the kids. We will end up doing a Fit Test every Friday to assess progress… where you check the number of reps you were able to do and the time it took you to do them. Can’t wait for the first one… the benchmark… should be terrible… the good thing is that it’ll represent me at my worst and it only gets better after that.

Side-note: Don’t bring your forehead down on the rough rubber surface. I have what looks like a rash (likely uber mild friction burn) and had to explain how I got it 3 times before 11am. It looks ridiculous… the only thing more ridiculous is how I got it.

One down and 19 more to go. I wonder how much of a difference it’ll make to my body fat percentage. I’ll likely update the charts a little more frequently to see if it makes a difference or not. We got a book to track progress and I’ll likely end up sharing my benchmark on a future post… along with any progress.

For what it’s worth… the place CrossFitTO  is exactly what I was looking for in a place to go work out. It was spartan and not fancy. People are there to work, people seem very supportive; the people there are all shapes and sizes. During the actual CrossFit class session that was going on, one lady was finishing up some Push Press routine… she was able to crank out one on her last round and the instructor mentioned she had a few more in her… she cranked out to more and was struggling with the third… everyone stopped, began to holler some encouragement and she got the last one up. Then they clapped. Pretty interesting.

By the way… shooting for 180lbs now… not 185.

Current stats:

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 187 lbs (distance to target is 7 lbs)

BMI: 26.1

Fat %: 22.6 (target is 18%)

Status as of May 22

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%)