Gettin’ Fit with CrossFit

Have you guys heard about Crossfit? I posted about it in my last blog and prior to this weekend, I thought it was a place where only the super athletic went to lift humvees, jump on giant boxes and discuss the newest trends in eating like a cave man. (Remember when I tried the Paleo diet? That didn’t work out so well for me, but then again, neither did anything and know we now it was my craycray hormones. Yay for lab tests!) However, FitBloggin’ did me a solid in that I finally mustered up the courage to try crossfit as I knew I’d be surrounded by crossfit pals like Steve, Alan, Martinus, Erin and Dre. I’m not gonna lie, I was slightly terrified about joining the crossfit cult, but I made it through my hazing and I may now officially be a crossfitter.

Nervous and excited for my first crossfit! Photo by Dre at MissionMeltdown.com

Nervous and excited for my first crossfit! Photo by Dre at MissionMeltdown.com

What happened in CrossFit surprised me, because we only did about 15 minutes of actual exercise with the warm up and actual workout. I know, weird, right?! We started off learning a little bit about how crossfit works from friendly Reebok Crossfit coaches. Crossfit is defined as constantly varied functional movement performed at a high intensity, which means that every time you see the acronym WOD it means workout of the day, and it will always be different. We started warming up with jumping jacks, and then we learned the various types of moves we’d be doing – sit ups, push ups and AIR SQUATS. Now, I can drop it like a squat with the best of ‘em, ‘cuz having a big old ghetto booty works well for squat-pros like me. However, I had never done an air squat, and that’s basically where instead of squatting down half way, you kind of drop your butt cheeks all the way to the floor and squat way, way down, using your arms to propel you. HOLY QUADS. I must never work my quads because everytime I sat on the toilet after the class (TMI, but that’s how I roll), I wanted to immediately stand back up. Burning, burning quads! Thank you air squats for awakening muscles that have been sleeping for years.

Steve demonstrating a perfect air squat with Alyssa following behind. Photo thanks to Dre at MissionMeltdown.com

Steve demonstrating a perfect air squat with Alyssa following behind. Photo thanks to Dre at MissionMeltdown.com

After we learned the moves, we were ready for our WOD – just four minutes of 9 push ups, 7 sit ups and 5 squats. You basically go as fast as you can while focusing on form. I was feeling pretty good because despite my lack of weight loss, I can definitely feel that I’m more physically fit. I think I made it through about five full sets by the time our coach blew the whistle, and by then I had worked up a pretty killer sweat. I stood up, knees shaking, ready for the next part of the workout… and then the coach announced we were done. Whaaaat? The workout was high intensity which was great, but I’m not so sure a 4-minute workout is going to cut it for me. According to my polar I burned about 76 calories, which is great for four minutes, but not great considering my usual boxing or bootcamp torches between 450 to 600 on a good day. I’m trying to keep in mind that this was just an example class so it’s probably unlikely to always be only a four minute workout, but at the same time, cool – crossfit might be great for busier days when you don’t have a full hour to devote to working out.  I know Alan and I were both like “Four minutes?! I wanted more!” Change is possible, folks — the girl who dreaded parking at the edge of the grocery store lot is asking for more cardio. Amazing!

My four minute taste was enough to get me intrigued, so in a few weeks, I’m going to check out Golden State Crossfit with my local fitbloggin’ friend Paula. She lives only 15 minutes away from me! Until then, tell me — what have you heard about crossfit? Would you try it? If you have tried it, do you like it?

 

 

Thailand 20 Tuesday – Week 6

Hello friends! Last night, after another great cardio workout, I thought to myself “I’m going to get on the scale tomorrow and have lost like FOUR POUNDS! Yes! I can feel it!” Well… I got on the scale this morning and I lost a number FOUR… but it was .4. WOMP WOMP. Cue the sad clown music.

Not quite where I want to be after six weeks, but I’m going to try not to be a Debbie Downer…

My initial reaction is to cry, throw things and break the scale. Well, thankfully, I have two very wise men in my life – my husband and my brother. Husband reminded me that I’ve been working hard and looking and feeling better – and I can’t get too discouraged. My brother surprised me with some major wisdom – see our chat below to see what I mean (When did he grow up? In my mind he will always be 12 years old and fishing for crawdads from the neighborhood creek.)

Here’s what I know is working:

1) I’ve been really good about cardio, and I can feel it. I have more energy, it’s not as “hard”, and I’m feeling calmer and less stressed than usual. I clocked in 5 hours of sweaty, hard cardio exercise this week which is major for me. So I have to applaud myself for that. I even mastered 10 minutes on the stair machine last night, which was a big deal for me!

2) I’m consistently tracking on MyFitnessPal and have stayed within my daily range which is 1,600 calories. I’m going to meet with my dietitian next week to see if I maybe need to reduce calories further (I hope not, but think I might have to!). I’m eating lots of veggies, whole grains and lean proteins, and making smart choices when I go out to eat.

3) Here’s a few items of miscellany: I sometimes wonder if I need to go “no brain” on the food and do something like Jenny Craig. What’s the feedback on Jenny Craig? It sounds really, really expensive and I know I’d miss cooking – but I wonder if I need to be on something that’s already pre-measured and portion-controlled. Thoughts? Also, I officially need to take my measurements today. For weeks like this where I’m a grumpzilla after my weigh in, it would help to know if at least SOMETHING is shrinking (and please God, don’t let it be my boobs). I’m waiting to get a call back from the doc about my thyroid test. Could this be a missing link?

There’s also some pressure when you blog about your weight to log in every week and have a glowing success story for your readers. I even thought to myself this morning, “Do I need to fib a little bit? People aren’t going to want to read that I had another subpar week.” Shameful, I know. I think sometimes that I should stop blogging about weightloss since I never seem to succeed with it, and go back to writing about things I’m good at – how the cat got caught in the birdbath, how to talk to people on social media, how to make the best stovetop popcorn ever. And while I let myself have a little bloggy pity party, I remembered that this blog isn’t about writing some fancy, nice happy ending story. It’s not fiction. It’s reality. It’s about my goal to lose weight, and unfortunately, since it’s real life, it’s not always going to be cheery sparkle rainbow unicorn poop. Ya feel me?

So that’s what’s up on Thailand 20 Tuesday. Maybe I should rename to this to Thailand Trying Tuesday. Thailand Torture Tuesday. Thailand TinyLoss Tuesday. Thailand “Sometimes I think I’ll be fat forever” Tuesday. Thailand “I can’t wait to go to Thailand even if I am the same weight” Tuesday. Thailand “At least I’m healthy” Tuesday. Thailand “Is it Wednesday Yet?” Tuesday. Yes. Or maybe something more simple… just Thailand Tuesday. :) Till next time.. I’m keepin’ on keepin’ on. How are you doing today?

A Major Non Scale Victory

Sweaty after bootcamp, but loving my pretty purple “stay dry” tank.

So, on Tuesday I was all pouty because I gained a pound. Tonight, I realized that I’ve foolishly been looking for reward in only one place – the scale. I’ve been trying to do a couple of group exercise classes every week, because it’s the best way for me to get the full hour of cardio in without sneaking off early like I’m inclined to do if it’s just me and the treadmill.

I sweated my butt off in Bootcamp tonight, and about halfway through I realized something. I was winded, sweaty and tired – but I was keeping up. I didn’t need breaks to catch my breath, and I was doing the intermediate moves. I attacked the 45 squats with gusto and didn’t freak out when we did 100 knee kicks in a row. As I started putting two and two together, I realized “Holy crap! This is working! I’M GETTING IN SHAPE!!!”

I’m always amazed at how long it takes to get in shape and how quickly you can get out of shape. It makes sense that I’d be starting to feel some results now as I’ve been back to my old gym since September and working out more than ever. This was exactly the reminder I needed that helps me remember why I need to stay on track and keep pushing. I may not see the number move on the scale, but tonight, I felt great! I left the class drenched and tired, but my endorphins were rushing, my body felt loose and limber and my skin had that pretty pink glow. It’s times like this that I remember that success in weight loss isn’t just about a number – it’s about how you feel.

Sadly, I’m one of these people. “I skipped the french fries! Did I lose weight yet?”

Are you the type of person that expects instant reward when it comes to weight loss, too? Have you had any “non scale victories” lately?

 

Embracing my awkwardness: shaking my booty in Zumba

Fraggle Rock!!!!!

When I was a teenager, it took me awhile to realize that I wouldn’t ever be cool in a conventional way. I would never be the girl who had a sheath of straight, blonde hair that fell in a perfect waterfall down my back, nor would I collect phone numbers en masse. My first two years of high school I remember trying desperately to fit in, to have the same L.E.I. jeans as everyone else, even though mine were a juniors size 14. With my brace face, cowlick curls and curvy hips, I never quite fit the mold. I muddled along feeling awkward until something magical happened in my junior year. With the help of my best friend Katelyn, I learned to let my awkward out. I embraced the dorky music lover inside of me, and started to realize that I didn’t CARE if playing the flute was nerdy or if liking Lenore comic books wasn’t cool.

Rockin’ out with My Ruin at the merch table (I was SO SKINNY!!! Why on Earth did I think I was fat?!)

My parents let me go to heavy metal shows in the city, and I became a little band-aid to a bunch of girl rock metal bands. It was the best thing ever. I bought a BC Rich Warlock Guitar and I had pink streaks in my hair. I drew creepy little monsters in my text books, started to make my own lunches and dated a boy in a band. (I married him. Aww.) My life got much, much cooler but only because I learned to let myself be awkward. The day I embraced myself was the day I realized how liberating it was to just be yourself — to say, I don’t give a crap if you don’t like my cow-print socks or my fondness of Phantom of the Opera – because I do, and I am awesome. Embracing your awkwardness is incredible – and I’ve recently had a mini-renaissance of this feeling from Zumba.

You see, I’m not a dancer. I would never call myself graceful. I bruise easier than a ripe peach on a hot summer day, and I’m constantly tripping over my own shadow. I took my first Zumba class several years ago and was horrified by the shimmying, the shaking, the legs crossing over each other and the sheer amount of dance patterns you had to perform. I went once and never again – because I felt too awkward. Nobody wants to see a fat white girl gyrating to latin music, right? At FitBloggin’, I participated in a group Zumba class. The old familiar feeling crept in – the embarrassment, the awkwardness. The negative thoughts started coming. “I look fat. Everybody’s looking at me. I can’t dance. I’ll never get these steps right. I’m so offbeat… I should just give up.” But, by the grace of Buddha, I shushed those thoughts and kept going. And I had fun. Eventually the little voice waned into a quiet whisper, and I shook and shimmied and tried to dance — and it was fun, and I burned calories.

Awkward and Awesome!

I did Zumba tonight and some of the old familiar thoughts came back as I caught sight of my pasty white arms in the mirror. My tummy clung to my hot pink tank top and I thought “Ugh, I look gross.” But I kept going – and I reminded myself that I’m never thinking about what other people look like when I’m working out – I’m thinking about how tired I am or how I’m going to sneak a handful of chocolate chips out of the cupboard when I get home. And BAM – the negative voices stopped. I danced, I shimmied, and I shook — and I burned calories —  smiling and laughing while doing it. On the way out, the teacher even told me how she loved my smile. That’s right. You don’t smile at the gym if you’re not having fun! Tonight I realized I may never feel 100% confident in my skin, but as long as I can embrace my awkward rather than fight it, I remember that it’s not so bad being me. I can’t dance but it’s not about whether or not I can dance. It’s about working up a sweat, churning up some endorphins, and burning fat. It’s about saying, “I don’t need to be the Zumba Queen. It doesn’t matter if I do the Salsa! Eff the standards of perfection – I’m gonna shake my booty!” So thank you, Zumba — for reminding me how to embrace my awkwardness.

 

Weekly Weigh In #2

I weighed in on Monday morning, expecting things to not go well. Even though I had stayed within my daily 1,600 calories, I couldn’t exercise as much because of homework and work, and my scale at home showed that I was up. When I weighed in on Monday I…

Gained/Lost 0 pounds

So basically, I maintained. I was disappointed, but after a good talk with the nutritionist, we pinpointed some reasons. First of all, I’m not really mindful of salt before weigh ins. I always thought it was just hocus pocus that eating a bit of salt would puff you up, but after chowing down on homemade stir fry this weekend (hello, soy sauce!) and a couple frozen meals, apparently  I was puffy (and sure enough, I’m down a pound this morning. Oh well.) Secondly, my nutritionist thinks I shouldn’t eat the extra calories I get from exercise through the My Fitness Pal app. She broke down the math for me and reminded me that I have a slow functioning metabolism – one that theoretically isn’t “broken”, but needs lots of stoking. We also decided I need to amp up my cardio to 4-5 times per week.

These changes are all pretty significant for me, because they point out the thing I’ve been kind of hoping wouldn’t be true for a long time… and that’s that for me to lose weight, I need to be damn near 100% in my efforts. The last time I lost 30 pounds was my last semester in college – when I was working two jobs, serving as an editor on the college paper, attending classes and constantly riding my bike to and from campus. Weight loss seemed easy back then – because even though I was involved in so many things, I was active. I didn’t sit on my butt all day. Now I sit 40+ hours a week, and then I sit some more, after work, when I do my thesis project or go to class.

The increase in cardio is good – while I’ll struggle at first, I know it will help decrease my stress, get me in shape, and most importantly, it will help rev up my metabolism. I like to imagine my metabolism as a squishy little cartoon character wearing a fuzzy robe and bunny slippers, with a perpetual yawn, curling up inside me next to my thyroid like the ultimate couch potato. I want that little metabolism to sweat and start being more productive, and the only way I’m gonna do that is to stop being my own form of couch potato, and move it to lose it, ya know?

 

One last thing I forgot to mention is I’m moving to bi-weekly weigh ins, because the wise nutritionist thinks it will be better for me to focus on my weight less and my energy and fitness level more. She reminded me that in cases like mine, sometimes you can be doing everything right and your body just takes some time to “prove it”. So yup – next time I weigh in on May 16… 3 days after my birthday!

I’m so glad I have a “weight whisperer” like the nutritionist to help me put some perspective into this challenge of mine that feels like something I’ll never overcome. But I will overcome it eventually – I just have to accept that weight loss is not going to be as simple as driving to the store and picking out a new, size 6 metabolism with a button nose and a love of volleyball. Weight loss is hard – which is precisely why the first three letters of diet are die. Heh. How are you doing this week? How are you feeling? Any revelations about anything?

Torture Machines

One of my pseudo-new year’s resolutions this year was to try more new things. I’ve always been stubborn and comfortable in the routine, so I decided it would be good for my well being to shake things up a little bit. A couple of months ago I bought a groupon for Pilates Plus in Encino. It was expiring this week, so I made an appointment for my first class and headed to the studio on Wednesday evening.

Woman On Pilates Torture Machine. Photo credited to and owned by Info Barrel.

When I showed up, I was shocked to see a small room filled with about 10 large, gigantic machines called “reformers”. I have heard of these Pilates machines, but have never gotten on one and I definitely haven’t ever wanted to get on one. I admit, as soon as I saw the machines, I had the fight or flight instinct and turned on my heel to flee, thinking “Bitches be crazy! I’m not getting up on one of these things!”. Alas, as soon as my head ducked around, the perky instructor said, “Are you Alyssa?”

And so it began. First of all, I knew within one minute that I was WAY out of my league. The machines consist of different handle bars, levers, pulleys and sliding platforms, and I was brand new and nervous about how the machinery worked. The teacher was super sweet and patient however, and had no problem coming over to assist me in all my sweating, rattled glory.

About half way through, I was in physical pain and actually got off the machine and told her I was thinking about ducking out. I clearly wasn’t ready for such a workout yet. “No! Please don’t go,” she said. “Just stay and take breaks whenever you need to. People throw up and faint in my class all the time.” Way to be motivating, right?! However, she did encourage me to stay, so I did.  Unfortunately, in the last ten minutes of class, I started getting the dizzy shakes and tunnel vision and had to ask her where the bathroom was. I had officially overdone it and was dangerously close to passing out among the lithe, lean-bodied pilates goddesses of Encino.

I went home that night humbled and frustrated, fed up with myself that I had let myself get to a weight where I couldn’t do everything I wanted to. As usual, Matt, who is always the calm voice of reason, talked me down and made me realize I wasn’t upset about the weight, I was upset about not being able to do something well the first time around. As I age, I notice I’m becoming more and more grumpy about not being able to do things well right away. I’m a little bit of a perfectionist in other areas of my life, so if I try something new and really, really struggle, I get into a defeatist attitude. It was a good lesson for me – not just about pilates and scary torture machines called proformers, but that sometimes, you can totally SUCK at something, and it doesn’t matter. What matter is that you tried, you put in the effort, and you made an honest attempt at trying something new. I may not be a pilates pro, but I got out of my comfort zone and did the best I could – and that’s way better than sitting at home and doing nothing.

When you try something new and don’t succeed, do you feel frustrated, or do you just chalk it up to being a newbie?