WOD, write, repeat

In fitness, there are no short cuts. It involves immense discipline and hard work — Mahesh Babu

For the third time in the five-and-a-half years I’ve been doing CrossFit, I participated in the 2019 CrossFit Open Games.

This is a masochist’s version of having fun. And when you look at the number of people who participate in the Open. There are a lot of folks who could fall in the category of masochistic.

‘No pain, no gain’ as the saying goes.

I managed to survive the five weeks, although the 86 (out of a possible 105) thrusters I did in the last Open WOD (workout of the day) really did a number on my shoulders. I didn’t injure myself but I certainly pushed them. Nothing a chiropractor or an osteopath couldn’t help resolve. For now, the foam roller and Tylenol are my best friends.

For about the 90% (I’m guessing here) who participate, the Open is about seeing where you are fitness-wise. A gauge to measure yourself from when you started CrossFit or from the last time you participated in the Open.

Since I participated in two previous Opens, it was a great barometer to track how far I’ve come since I started doing CrossFit. I’m pretty proud of my progress. I will never be competitive enough to make a serious run at a title but that’s not the point.

It has always been about being as physically fit as possible to participate in life. It’s about doing the little things that everyday life asks of you. Carrying groceries. Climbing stairs. Vacuuming. Shovelling snow off the driveway. Mowing the lawn. Gardening. Playing with your kids. Participating in an impromptu road hockey game. Activities we naturally assume we can do until we can’t.

My goal has always been to grow older as gracefully as possible and if that requires throwing the occasional punch, then so be it. I’ve been throwing punches most of my life but now, my punches are stronger and quicker.

I have to admit it’s a real kick to know how much stronger I am now than I was five years. I could RX the odd workout but that’s never been the goal. Being able to RX a workout is a happy side effect from taking care yourself and becoming stronger.

I have small, manageable goals and I have dream goals. Do enough small goals, I might actually achieve some of those dream goals. I surprised myself with one dream goal that had never been on my radar. Toes to bar. Google it. You’ll see. It never registered as a goal for myself yet here we are. I’m not there yet but it’s not unreasonable to think that I could get my first toe-to-bar before the end of the year. It’ll require more core and upper body strength than I have right now. Quite honestly, I might be gunning for it. We’ll see how it goes. I still have to manage my expectations and avoid injuring myself. That’s always a bummer.

Before I continue, I have to apologize for the fact I missed last week’s expected new blogpost. I warned you that I was busy and that writing a weekly blog wasn’t a priority anymore because I’m ramping up my writing commitments and goals.

I thought going bi-weekly would be manageable. Apparently, it’s not. I’ll aim for every two-three weeks. I mean I should be able to yap about something after all that time in-between, right? Oh well, we’ll see. I really can’t let this blog go dormant like so many blogs like mine have done.

Speaking of writing, I’ve come up with four writing projects to tackle this year. And it doesn’t include that writing bingo I signed up for last week. I’m not going to talk about the bingo thing unless I feel like it. That one is about having fun and challenging myself.

I’m trying to dive into that writing life I need so much. There’s still separation pains from the other commitments I’m trying to extricate myself from. I’m not the one having the pain but I can see the other parties trying to make it my pain. If that happens, I’ll just make myself persona non-grata for awhile. To be honest, with four (let’s be real, it’s five) projects which I plan to complete this year, persona non-grata suits me just fine. The community of online writers I’ve found myself in have been great. There’s one writer I’ve been bouncing ideas with lately, and she’s been great. She cheerleads everyone but she’s also a really good writer and a lovely artist. She’s pretty chuffed about what I’ve got planned.

Again, I’m going by instinct with these projects but it nice to have a sounding board.

I’m really happy about my up-coming writing projects. It makes creative-me want to party all-night or something like that. Given how thrilled I am to try and juggle these projects, I’ll probably forego the partying in favour of getting down to the business of writing. Typical.

Organized chaos

Masochism is a valuable job skill Chuck Palahniuk 

Masochism isn’t just a valuable job skill. It’s valuable for life. 

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a masochist when it comes to things I do for fun or things I am passionate about. I might even consider myself a masochist when it comes to matters of the heart which is why being single will always seem to be the best option for me. But enough of that.

This past weekend, I participated in my first CrossFit competition. It was held at the box I go to and it was a friendly competition between two boxes. Even though there were prizes up for grabs, the whole intent of the competition was to have fun. 

Let’s be honest, I had fun. The movements in the WODS were not unfamiliar. But man, when you put certain movements together, something is bound to happen and your body will, at some point, bitch at you for all its worth.

There were three WODs – four if you managed to score well enough to make it to the finals. Thank god, I didn’t make the finals. I might be a masochist but my body is only willing to put up with so much. 

Out of the three WODs, the second WOD was the most taxing. It was pretty much a cardio-centred WOD. For those who love cardio, easy peasey. Although, I didn’t hear anyone say they loved that one all that much. That WOD burned. Every major muscle group burned. You could call it a full-body burn. I don’t ever remember my thighs burning the way they did after I was done. Throw me into a tub of ice, why don’t ya.

The third WOD was easier to move through because it was about muscular endurance. I tolerate that quite well. As I frequently tell/joke with my fellow CrossFitters, I ‘turtle’ my way through WODs. I just tell myself to keep moving regardless of how slow I may be going.

I won’t bore you with the specific movements that are associated with the WODs. All you need to know is that I’m kind of sore. 

But there is one very positive takeaway from doing the competition. My right shoulder survived the workouts. And judging by the muscle soreness, I engaged the proper muscles that protected and prevented the shoulder from going sideways on me.

That is huge. But that doesn’t mean I can get sloppy. I can’t get sloppy because it’s too easy to injure myself again and undo the work I’ve been slowly and diligently putting in.

Participating as an athlete in a competition isn’t the only example of masochism I willingly inflict upon myself.

Writing can be like that too. Yeah, I guess it can be painful. But I think it’s a necessary kind of pain. It’s not the kind of pain you back away from. It’s kind of pain that can be managed and be pleasurable depending where you are in the writing process. But I think you could say that about anything you’re passionate about.

It’s becoming quite clear to me that any sort of down time between major writing projects has me crawling out of my skin. I had mentioned in the last blog that I discovered an online community where I could examine ideas and concepts that I hadn’t really explored in my fiction writing yet. I get to play in my sandbox free from judgement, free to experiment, free to be curious. I get to do this while reminding myself why writing/storytelling is one of the things I love to do and need to do. And it will also be a reminder to me how much fun writing can be and should be despite the moments things don’t want to come together harmoniously. 

One of the things I worry about is, intentionally or unintentionally, losing or tamping down the passion and the fun that comes with creating stories.

Built into the process of creating something is the joy of discovering something about your characters and learning what makes them tick. Within that same process, you discover a lot about yourself – what makes you tick, what are the kinds of risks you’re willing to creatively take into order to tell a story the way it should be told.

I love discovering things about the characters I work with. I love discovering things about myself that had always, for one reason or another, had been lying dormant waiting for the right moment to awaken and roar with ferocity.

The masochistic part of writing is not the act of creating. The masochistic part is trying to juggle two or more projects and spend time at any given moment with any of these projects and keep the momentum with each one moving forward.

For whatever reason, I’m bound and determined to master this particular form of organized chaos.

So, here I am, with a nice little pile of projects to play with. And I couldn’t be happier.

Now, if I could only get my writing life and my actual life to live together in harmony. 

Encouraging steps

Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want mostAugusta F. Kantra

It’s a given that anything you want out of life requires discipline… along with persistence (aka stubbornness), drive and an absolute belief in yourself and what you know you can do.

Oh, I forgot to mention that patience is a must. If you don’t have that, you don’t have anything worth keeping.

When it comes to staying healthy and getting physically stronger, discipline, persistence and all that stuff comes into play. It doesn’t apply only to creative endeavours. I haven’t yapped about anything related to health or fitness in awhile and I think it’s time to yap about it now.

It’s been over five years since I started CrossFit and I haven’t thought about leaving it yet. The fact that I’ve stuck with it this long is a bit of surprise. Yeah, there’s no way I would go back to a traditional gym. It’s not the way for me.

I’ve come a long way from when I first started. I’m not RX’ing a ton of stuff but that’s not my personal goal. It’s not my endgame when it comes to my health and fitness goals. I simply want to be the fittest — mentally and physically — I can be. 

And I can honesty say that I don’t think that I have ever been at my physically strongest as I am now. As I said before, I’m not RX’ing a lot of stuff and I think that’s because of my hypermobility. Yeah, I’m more flexible than the average bear. And that creates a unique set of issues. I think it’s more common for folks to be strong but not flexible than vice versa. I’m vice versa. 

That means I have to approach movements a little more carefully. I’ve lost count on the number injuries and visits to physiotherapists over the years. Unfortunately, I’m used to it. I don’t care for it but I’m used to it. 

It’s a little bit of a double-edged sword, I think, when it comes to pushing yourself and trying not to cross the line of injuring yourself. Most of the time, you don’t realize what you’ve done until a few hours after the incident. Then your body starts rioting with barbwire-covered bats and pitchforks. Fun times.

The main reason I’ve been thinking about my fitness level and goals is that it’s been a year since I started adding physique work with my CrossFit workouts. Now, when I say physique work, I’m talking about working and strengthening the smaller muscle groups so they can better support the larger muscle groups inside and outside of the box/gym. I also believe strengthening the smaller muscle groups will help protect and support my occasionally loosie-goosie joints.

I think when most people hear the word ‘physique’, they think bodybuilding. You’re not wrong to think that. But that’s not why I’m combining it with my WODs. Any physical transformation that takes place is secondary to me getting stronger and encountering fewer injuries. That’s my endgame.

I will admit my arms never looked as toned as they do now. They will only be more defined as I slowly continue to increase the weight. To be honest, I really like the combination of WODs and physique work. The combination is helping me reach personal bests or PRs (personal records) more often. Whenever I’m not injured, that is. Yeah, that’s something I don’t think I’ll be able to avoid completely.

When I get injured, the important thing is how I manage the injury and the rehab that I need do in order to get back to where I left off. And that usually takes awhile. More specifically, anywhere from six months to a year if we’re talking about my shoulder. Fuck, I hate shoulder injuries.

Despite the injuries, I’m still stronger now than I’ve been at any point in my life. That says a lot. Some of the movements that were a tricky for me have gotten better. Sometimes to the point that maybe I can progress to the next level. That progress is because of the physique work I’ve been doing. Without it, my progress would still be moving at a snail’s pace. I’m okay with moving at a turtle’s pace quite frankly. Turtle speed is good. Better than snail.

As a result of recent progress with some CrossFit movements and the reinforcing of others, I may have a new technique goal I didn’t think I would be pursuing. Was it a surprise? In a way, yes. But I shouldn’t be surprised because of the work I’ve been putting into physique in the past year.

Recently, I had a short chat with one of the coaches at the box. She wanted to know if I was noticing results from adding physique work to the WODs since it had been a year. My answer was ‘yes.’ But I think I’ll always err on the side of caution when it comes to increasing weight for lifts. I simply want to stay away from injury for as long as possible. Who doesn’t? 

Our short chat resulted in a couple of slight alterations to my physique work. I’ve already started to notice that my mindset has changed from the adjustments. It should be interesting to see how it will go. 

Baby steps but definitely encouraging steps.