Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Vacation WOD #2 - Morristown

Back to Morristown I went for my first WOD since last Friday (4 days off inbetween).  There were easily 15-20 people this time, but everyone was able to find their own space to make the WOD work.

After some PVC stretches and talk about form, the warmup was:
(2 Rounds)
5 Air Squats
1 Bergener Warmup (45-lb bar)
10 Overhead Squats (" ")

We then did some minor pullup work to stretch out the shoulders, and then got set for the WOD.

WOD (as RX'ed):
(3 Rounds)
4-Minute AMRAP, 1 Minute Off
6 Clapping Pushups
8 Snatch Balances (95 lb.)
10 Lunges in Place (95 lb.)

I scaled the weight to 65 lbs. for my first two rounds.  Got through 3.5 rounds before I basically hit the wall.  I don't know if it was the extra day or two off vs. what I'm used to, or just my inability to really get the snatch balances happening with weight of any significance...but I felt like I was chasing it the whole time.  I was actually happy to crank out an extra half a round once I completed the third...

Either way, I showed up, which is saying something I guess, but it definitely wasn't me at my best...maybe next time...still very happy to keep it going during vacation.


Monday, December 27, 2010

The Bitter Truth

As an obese person I look back on my life and see pockets of time where I was super-excited about getting healthy.  There are four specific periods where I went through weight loss of any significance, and each time I really felt I nailed this health thing hard.  The positive part of each of these "healthy" periods was the inclusion of fairly strenuous exercise.  For someone who is largely inactive for the majority of my life, I can look back on these exceptional periods and be proud that I gave my body a break, if even for a little while.  But when I examine my methods when it came to my diet, my efforts were pretty disastrous.

First there was the method of limiting my fat intake to 10 grams of fat per day.  I can only remember this number of fat grams as arbitrary, but it seemed to hold my focus long enough for me to lose 30-40 pounds.  Once that weight came back, there was the time I lost close to 80 pounds eating almost nothing but foods that required more energy to digest than they supplied my body with.  The greatest hits of this disastrous mixtape were cabbage (often sauerkraut) & grapefruits.  This along with a restricted diet that was fairly bean-centric at best, but imbalanced to the point of ridiculousness.  So that weight came back, and while the third healthy period wasn't as successful diet-wise, I had a steady and dedicated Bikram Yoga practice which increased my body's flexibility (and continues to do so five+ years after I stopped) and had me feeling truly my best and healthiest, ever.

More recently I decided to become more scientific and logical about my approach to health, and thanks to some web research and a good amount of luck I've come across some life-changing things.  One of them is Crossfit.  Another is the Paleo Diet.  And one other thing has sent such shockwaves into my daily awareness of food intake, I would view myself as irresponsoble if I didn't share it with you.  Below is a YouTube video of a presentation by Dr. Robert Lustig (professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at UCSF).  It is called "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" and I cannot say enough about how life-changing it has been for me. The lecture delves in huge detail into the poison that is Fructose, the horror of the US diet, and how high-fructose corn syrup has infiltrated the American diet to a debilitating degree. Those even mildly curious with the source of the obesity epidemic should absolutely take the time to see this video.  Please spread it is truly amazing.

This video allowed me to train myself about the choices that I'm making for me and my child.  It really provides the framework necessary to go out into the world and actually succeed in subverting the allure of the American Diet.  I feel like for the first time in my life I've entered a healthy period that is balanced, informed, and the most natural approach to fitness I've taken yet.  It feels really great to be taking a steady course toward changing my life for the better. Tools like the ones mentioned above are only the beginning.  I look forward to finding more useful information and sharing it.  Feel free to share some of your own.  I'm absolutely all ears...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Vacation WOD #1 - Morristown

Happy Holidays everyone!

Got back into it today after two days off.  I would likely have taken those days off even if it wasn't vacation time...the "12 Days" WOD really had me limping around...sore coccyx, sore legs, sore lats, and some tight wrist pain that I've been able to work through with an occasional locust pose

I'm out of the city for ten days so I found a CF gym closer to my home.  I have to say Crossfit Morristown has a damn good thing going on.  A nice, big space with plenty of room to do high-volume metcons and stuff like we did today with teams.  If they had an early enough class during the week I would opt to work out  here at least half the time, but it just won't work out with my morning train schedule into the city for work.  So fear not Black still get all my money...

Here's the Warmup:
Three Rounds
200m row
10 box jumps
5 pullups (ringrows)

While the warmup doesn't seem like much I realized how far I have come with Crossfit.  I huffed and puffed my way through it, but I was on top of the reps and really pounded through the warmup well...kind of felt like I was actually strong enough. I got used to the mindset of always chasing I really felt like I was on top of it.  My rowing form has come a long way too.  Felt great and I was ready for the WOD...

Boy was I thrown off by the team WOD.  Here I was coming in off the street, ready to do today's WOD that was posted on the national site.  I even watched a video of a European woman pounding through the WOD with some good pointers and was TOTALLY ready to throw down some deadlifts, hang power cleans and push jerks. NEWP!  Not so fast...

There ended up being seven people in the class, so the WOD went like this: The timing of each exercise was determined by the amount of time it took one person to complete a 240-foot sled pull with 135 lbs (men) or 90 lbs (women). The length of the room was 60 feet, so you would pull one length of the room, touch the window, turn around for another length, touch the wall, then two more lengths to complete the rotation.  While the person is pulling we each did one of the following:

Dumbbell hang power cleans (55lbs - I scale to 25/20)
Pullups (Scale to ringrows) - 285
Stone shoulder (30 lbs)
Abmat situps - 298
Pushups - 364

After someone completed the sled pull you would move onto the next exercise in the rotation.  After the rest rotation you pull the sled.  We kept an aggregate count of reps as we each rotated, so since I started on stone shoulders and did nine reps, I told the next person "nine", and if they did ten, they would tell the next person "19" so we each built upon the main team count for each exercise.  Only three numbers were recorded: Pullups (285), Situps (298), and Pushups (364).  While the quantity of my reps likely didn't touch the other people's, I feel like I really held my own on form and efficiency.  It seems my leg strength, combined with my recent gains in upper body strength are helping to make major strides for me at Crossfit.  I kicked ass on the sled pulls for sure.

I like the team WOD approach thrown into the mix.  I look forward to a few good workouts in Morristown this week.  More to come soon....


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


This one fucking leveled me.  Plain and simple.  I gave it everything I had...all while scaling five of the exercises.  Here's the WOD as RX'ed:

12 Days of Crossfit

One Handstand Pushup

Two Rocking Pistols, One Handstand Pushup

Three Ring Dips, Two Rocking Pistols, One Handstand Pushup

Four Walking Lunges, Three Ring Dips, Two Rocking Pistols, One Handstand Pushup

Five Medball Cleans, Four Walking Lunges, Three Ring Dips, Two Rocking Pistols, One Handstand Pushup

Six Box Jumps, Five Medball Cleans, Four Walking Lunges, Three Ring Dips, Two Rocking Pistols, One Handstand Pushup

Seven Knees to Elbows, Six Box Jumps, Five Medball Cleans, Four Walking Lunges, Three Ring Dips, Two Rocking Pistols, One Handstand Pushup

Eight GI Janes, Seven Knees to Elbows, Six Box Jumps, Five Medball Cleans, Four Walking Lunges, Three Ring Dips, Two Rocking Pistols, One Handstand Pushup

Nine Wallball Shots, Eight GI Janes, Seven Knees to Elbows, Six Box Jumps, Five Medball Cleans, Four Walking Lunges, Three Ring Dips, Two Rocking Pistols, One Handstand Pushup

Ten Sumo Deadlift High Pulls, Nine Wallball Shots, Eight GI Janes, Seven Knees to Elbows, Six Box Jumps, Five Medball Cleans, Four Walking Lunges, Three Ring Dips, Two Rocking Pistols, One Handstand Pushup

Eleven Barbell Thrusters, Ten Sumo Deadlift High Pulls, Nine Wallball Shots, Eight GI Janes, Seven Knees to Elbows, Six Box Jumps, Five Medball Cleans, Four Walking Lunges, Three Ring Dips, Two Rocking Pistols, One Handstand Pushup

Twelve Kettlebell Snatches, Eleven Barbell Thrusters, Ten Sumo Deadlift High Pulls, Nine Wallball Shots, Eight GI Janes, Seven Knees to Elbows, Six Box Jumps, Five Medball Cleans, Four Walking Lunges, Three Ring Dips, Two Rocking Pistols, One Handstand Pushup.

My Time:  48:54
Scaling (with some help from Sara):

Scaled HSPU to Pike Pushup
Scaled Ring Dips to Jumping Ring Dips
Scaled Pistols to "Ass on the box" or whatever you call it...
Scaled Box Jumps to step-ups
Scaled GI Janes to 4 burpees then 4 ring dips

This was absolutely sick...LOVED it!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Going "Nutts"

I saw yesterday's WOD online and memories of "Filthy Friday" popped into my head:


For time:
10 Handstand push-ups
250 pound Deadlift, 15 reps
25 Box jumps, 30 inch box
50 Pull-ups
100 Wallball shots, 20 pounds, 10'
200 Double-unders
Run 400 meters with a 45lb plate

With all of the shoulder press skill days last week and back squats last Friday, I was ready for a serious  metcon.  Problem was this was yesterday's WOD...and CF NYC hadn't posted the Monday WOD yet.  So I look to see what's in store for us in the Crossfit main site (NYC abides by the national site's WODs), and lo and behold we were scheduled to do back squats the same as last Friday, five sets of three.  I remember this guy Elliot from the class before me doing a previous day's WOD sometime last month, which I thought was very cool.  But I wouldn't imagine I'd break off from the pack to do it myself so soon after that.

So I emailed myself the WOD (scaled of course) in case Kevin was cool with my doing "Nutts" instead of more back squats.  I was psyched when Kevin was completely cool with it, so I went about setting up my stations.  Here's what I scaled to:

10 Pike Pushups
185 pound Deadlift, 15 reps
25 Step-ups, 24 inch box
35 Ring Rows
70 Wallball shots, 20 pounds, 10'
120 Double-unders
Run 400 meters with a 25lb plate

I could have tried the box jumps, as my knee has improved, but I'd rather not get back to where I was so quickly.  I decided to do step-ups, but in retrospect I should have done at least 10 of the box jumps to just try and get back into it.  Next time I'll push myself more.  Frankly the step-ups were pretty damn tough toward the end...two feet high is no joke...

While I've maxed higher than 185 on the deadlifts, I haven't done 15 in a row before, so I played that one cautiously as well.  I got through the ring rows quicker than any set I've done yet...I can feel the strength building.  I really want to do pullups!  Wall balls were super-tough, but I did them 10 at a time, and before I knew it I was done.  I did 120 single-unders, about 5-10 at a time, with the longest stretch being 18. After 120 though I felt like I should do more since it called for doubles, so I asked Kevin and he said to work on doubles.  I spent a few minutes trying, and someone gave me some solid pointers, but it just wasn't happening today.  I grabbed the weight and ran out the door to finish it off.  Coming back up the stairs was a bit of a kick in the balls to finish off the WOD, but I made it, and it felt great.


Was this WOD tough?  Absolutely...was I COMPLETELY spent the way I was after Filthy Friday?  No.  But I'm happy I was able to do this WOD, and I look forward to the next metcon.

I can feel the progress...good stuff!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting Bitch-Slapped by the Back Squat

Yuk...seems my shoulders had a different idea of what was going to happen today.  I need to really work on getting comfortable in the low-bar position...had no idea how painful it would be for my shoulders.

Today was another skill day, focused specifically on the back squat:

back squat 5-5-5-5-5

The weight wasn't an issue, but my form sucked just enough to hold me back on this one...

95 - 135 - 155 - 175 - 175

We warmed up with some great stretches, and Sara introduced me to the "death stretch" for my quads, which is pretty damn amazing..definitely going to incorporate that one into my morning routine...made me realize I rarely stretch my quads at all...not good for the amount I pound them on a daily basis (even without Crossfit in the equation).

I think it's best to throw some low-bar warmups into my morning routine before class.  I really need to get my shoulders into a comfortable spot so I can focus more on weight and form next time and less on how much my shoulders are holding me back.  It probably didn't help much that we had Shoulder Presses on Monday, then Shoulder Press, Push Press, and Push Jerk on Wednesday...

Either way a not-so-gentle reminder that I have a long way to go here...but I'm feeling great after four days at Crossfit this week.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

WOD 2010-12-16 "For Load and For Time"

So basically I view every pullup as a weighted pullup.  When you tip the scale at over 300 lbs that's just the way (weigh?) it is. So when I see "weighted pullups" on the WOD I just think "Pullups".  And when I think pullups I think ring rows, because I don't have pullups yet, even with the widest support band.  I'll get there, but I need to challenge myself more on the ring rows (lower to the floor, more reps at a time).  Today I took some steps in that direction, even if the result was a bit sloppier than normal.

Warmup - Three rounds of:
10 Kettle Bell Swings
10 Good Mornings

Today's WOD:
Three rounds of:
10 Weighted pull-ups
30 Back extensions

My time: 8:20

I'm happy that my time came in under 10 minutes, which Sara said was required.  I really got after it on the back extensions.  The last 15 or so were tough, but I was able to crank them out five at a time.

Already psyched for tomorrow


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jerk...ME ON!!

I've never attempted the Push Jerk before, so I was a bit apprehensive coming into today's WOD, especially because we did Shoulder Press on Monday.  Here's the WOD:

Shoulder press 1-1-1-1-1 reps
Push press 3-3-3-3-3 reps
Push Jerk 5-5-5-5-5 reps

We started with a warmup of two rounds of Samson Stretch, 5 "centipedes" (I think that's what Jeff called them...pushup then walk your legs up to your hands), then 10 kettle bell swings.  Then we partnered up and hit the racks.

Here are my weights:
Shoulder Press (x1) : 65 - 85 - 85 - 90 - 95
Push Press (x3) : 95 - 115 - 115 - 125 - 125
Push Jerk (x5) : 95 - 95 - 115 - 115 - 135

During the Push Jerk Sara observed my form and said it looked like it was way too easy for me, so I gained some confidence, tried more weight, and after it was done I feel like I left some weight on the table.  She says it looks like I can push jerk 165 no problem.  I guess I'll wait until next time to find out.  But I'm more than happy with where I got today, and I have to say especially for my first time I absolutely killed it on the Push Jerk sets.  I was able to tweak my form, and with some help from Jeff adjusted my grip position, and I got some really explosive reps in where I felt I was really able to get the weight up there. 

A side note on GHD situps...I was kind of bummed to miss yesterday, but I also didn't feel comfortable with going from zero GHD situps to a WOD with 90 of them.  Until today I didn't even attempt going past parallel.  So I did five of them to get the feel for the full motion.  Some guys helped me with form, and I was able to adjust and do 10 of them.  I paused after each one because the feeling was similar to what I felt when I did forward rolls a few weeks back...kind of dizzy.  The guys explained that its important to not tense the abdomen on the way back, so to bend the knees and relax on the way down, then explode up using your quads.  I look forward to throwing a handful of these into each of my morning warmups to get more comfortable with them. 

That's it for now...Peace...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Press Your Luck

I like when the main Crossfit site says "rest day" because it's always a "skill day" at the Black Box. We always focus on a particular exercise or a family of them, and really nail down the form so we can use them efficiently in future WODs.

10 PVC Shoulder dislocates
10 PVC shoulder rolls
20 walking lunges (with twisting to opp side)
10 GHD situps
10 hip extensions
10 pullups (sub ring rows)
2 mins double unders (sub singles)

Today's WOD was the shoulder press.  Five sets of five reps.  I've done a bunch of push press so far, but it's amazing how different an exercise the shoulder press is because you're not creating momentum from your hips to get the weight up.  You just get the bar above your head, lock out and repeat.  Check out this video of the shoulder press, push press, and push jerk observed side by side.

I started with a good test weight, since these were my first shoulder presses.  95 lbs. felt good, and I knew I could do a bit more.  Here are my stats:

Reps    Weight
5          95
5          115
3          125
5          105
5          115

We did a "cash out" of 30-20-10 double-unders and situps.  I'm still nowhere near getting a double under, so I did twice the RX'ed number of single-unders.  I counted up to 18 at a time that I'm able to do, which buries the max of two I was able to do just over a month ago.  Anyway I got through the cashout in 6:35...

Solid WOD to ease back into Crossfit after a much-needed weekend rest for my aching muscles.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Poor Me...

This is real pain.  This is no fuckin joke. I am hurtin HUGE after yesterday's WOD. Sitting down, standing up, stairs...holy shit the stairs. It's just so brutal. I told my boss the other day that I think Crossfit has helped me tap into the pain of my ancestors. At this point anything's possible.

In fairness to the situation I pushed myself harder than ever yesterday, so I get it, but man I now know why they call it the Dirty 30.  It's hard to imagine getting to the point where my body can handle the Filthy 50...

Can someone go upstairs and grab me the Advil?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Recovery Nutrition

Back in the spring I subscribed to the mainstream weight-training philosophy behind muscle recovery. Throughout the course of the day you should take in one gram of protein per every pound of bodyweight. I bought chocolate protein powders from GNC, ate protein bars throughout the day, and ingested quite a silly amount of protein, all in the name of building muscle and helping my body recover from my workouts.

Now with Crossfit and Paleo I'm confident that I'm getting significant protein from the meat and nuts, so I'm not nearly as militant about protein shakes. However, within 30 minutes after any WOD I typically find myself drinking an excellent organic protein recovery drink known as Orgain. This has 16 grams of protein, sourced from organic whey. Though its ingestion is a departure from Paleo, it's pretty widely known at this point that post-workout it's crucial to have at least 8 ounces of a drink that has a 3:1 carb to protein ratio. Frankly a ton of sites, blogs, and discussion posts recommend straight-up chocolate milk as a recovery drink, because it maintains the ideal carb-to-protein ratio for ideal muscle recovery.

Here's some of the science behind that 3:1 figure (feel free to skip the next paragraph if you're about to start snoring): The sugar in the chocolate (a very popular flavor in these drinks) causes an insulin spike which primes your muscles for ideal protein intake. The carbs act as a vehicle for the protein to travel efficiently into your muscles to achieve optimal recovery of tissue that has been broken down during your workout.

Since chocolate milk still has the typical hormone and inorganic content found in whole milk, I prefer an 11-oz carton of Orgain. I still get the proper ratio of carbs to protein for recovery, and though it's not Paleo I'm still consuming an organic food. The optimal timing of the recovery drink is within the first 30 minutes after your workout. It's tough to hit that timeframe after a Crossfit WOD, since it's tough to move quickly while showering and changing. I need to start keeping some Orgain in the fridge at Crossfit.

Typically along with the Orgain (which I drink right there in the store) I get a fresh fruit cup and bring it to the office, where I drink 32 ounces of water and eat the fruit cup. By the time I'm done with the fruit and water I'm overcome with the most euphoric feeling. It feels so great to be feeding my body the fuel it needs to optimally recover from the intensity of Crossfit.

I have a lot more to learn, and I certainly can make more tweaks to my observance of Paleo, but vs. where I was a few months ago my nutritional habits are a dream come true!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Scotch Night

So here we first departure from Paleo in over a month. Every month a "scotch club" gets together in my area to sample different types of scotch whiskey. I've skipped the last couple but tonight it was combined with a 19-man dinner with good people in a cool restaurant. So "fuck it" I said...while I stuck to it with the food (fantastic grilled chicken over warm arugula) I sampled two mighty tasty scotches, and I couldn't feel better about it. Better because I know it's a momentary indiscretion, and just because the majority of my intake is Paleo doesn't mean I can't have controlled departures while still hitting my fitness goals.

So here's to a successful cheat...good people, great scotch, and still high from my completion of today's WOD, which was the toughest I've endured yet...

rock on...

Filthy Friday Crushes My Soul here's the WOD as RX'ed:

For time:
50 Box jump, 24 inch box
50 Jumping pull-ups
50 Kettlebell swings, 1 pood
Walking Lunge, 50 steps
50 Knees to elbows
50 Push press, 45 pounds
50 Back extensions
50 Wall ball shots, 20 pound ball
50 Burpees
50 Double unders

I scaled to "Dirty 30" (i.e. 30 reps of everything vs. 50). I had no intention of doing jumping pullups at all, but Sara had me on the box doing them in no time. I was excited to have a WOD with kettle bell swings, as we didn't even do these during Elements. Since my knee is still bruised and a little tender, I scaled to step-ups for the box jumps.

I cruised through the first three exercises like I actually had business being there. I was surprising myself with my pace. Wall balls WERE my favorite exercise, but today, with them smack in the middle of the WOD, they tore me down the time I got to the burpees I hit the wall. But rep by rep Sara was on me hard to finish. Somehow I found a way, and before I knew it I was done. 35:15!

This is truly an incredible experience. I am so psyched that I'm actually finishing these workouts. I cut a new hole in my belt yesterday, and I'm officially one shirt size smaller. It's the only way I'm measuring my progress. I still haven't stepped on a scale since I started. I just need to keep plugging away...

The knee shows signs of improvement...I'll still wear the brace next week, and I'll keep it to three WODs, or maybe see how I feel by next Friday...I don't want to push too hard, but this Crossfit experience is damn exciting.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Come in from the Cold" - WOD 2010-12-08

Three rounds for time of:
Run 400 meters
15 Pull-ups
50 Squats
15 Pull-ups

Scaled running to rowing 500m (hurt my knee last week)
Scaled pullups to ring rows
Completed two (2) rounds


Last 11 ring rows were with crowd support...thanks made all the difference!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The "Deads of Winter"

This is not Reis, in photo or form...
Today was a benchmark day for the deadlift.  Sara said she should be able to call us on any random day at 3 in the morning and ask us our deadlift max and we should know it automatically.  I'm just getting into the competitive aspects of Crossfit, as every workout is my benchmark (since it's always the first time for every exercise).  I remembered that my first deadlifts after elements were at 135, which was a super-safe weight at the time, but I've been super-cautious with weight since I have no desire to overdo any of this.

So I started with 135...we did two reps per round for ten rounds.  Here are my increments:


I absolutely could have pushed past 215, which is kind of the point of the WOD, but I'm happy settting a new benchmark, and I know by the time deadlifts surface again I'll have a better idea of where to start. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

WOD 2010-12-02

5 rounds of:

500m row
7 thrusters @ 95lbs


Pants that were tight last month are loose today...feelin great.