Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The B@tch About Wall-Balls Is...

If you've been following the CrossFit Open, then you're aware that the world just got slammed by 150 wall-ball this past week. Yea yea, there was some stuff that came after those wall-ball, but I'm not going to discuss the double-unders or muscle-ups.

First actually, I wanna give props to everyone that did this WOD. Some of the workouts (think 13.2) automatically remove some newer athletes because the weight of the first movement is already over their head (no jerk pun intended). But anyone signed up for the Open can get into the wall ball! This means that folks that don't usually go Rx could jump right in with their big dawgs. It's exciting to be able to go head to head with your fellow athletes and on the same playing field!

Oh wall ball, you are so innocent looking! And you're so light (respectively)! When athletes are accustomed to seeing "95#", "135#", "185#" on the whiteboard, seeing a "20#/14#" next to the movement can seem pretty darn do-able! For most of us that don't have muscle-ups or even double-unders, the challenge of this workout is simply to get through and survive 150 squats & throws! People bravely fought this single movement for twelve whole minutes, but at the end I saw far too many tear-stained cheeks.

It's apparent simplicity and seeming "do-ability" is exactly what makes this Karen-based WOD so emotionally devastating. Let's review a couple Karen issues:

"I can do 100 squats easy, how bad can 150 wall ball be?"

"I usually scale to the lower target, how bad can that extra 12" be?"

"I've only used the 10# ball to the 8' target before, but I've got at least 125 reps on this Rx."

Unfortunately, after the clock began athletes started realizing that extra 12" makes an enormous difference, that extra four (or six) pounds suddenly comes back down a lot faster than anticipated, and when you've got 10 no-reps under your belt and you're not three minutes in yet, the long dark tunnel of time and fear starts to open up before you.

It is a long. Dark. UGLY. Tunnel. And it leads no where good.

Here's the thing you need to remember though. Even though the numbers with the wall ball are seemingly small (9', 10', 14#, 20#) you can't think numerically low weight = easy movement. Let's think about snatches for a comparison. Would you rather be able to do 30 snatches at 35# or 5 snatches at 125#? To complete either is substantial work, wouldn't you agree? So look again at the wall ball.

Would you rather be able to do 150 wall ball at a scaled height and weight or would you like to be able to try your hand at going all out Rx?!

By choosing the latter and getting 10 reps, 30 reps, 70 reps, you are DOING SERIOUS WORK! You should be proud that you had the balls (no wall ball intended) to step up and go Rx, to see what happens, to see what it feels like, to stare down that long ugly dark tunnel that tries to suck you in and shout "F* YOU WALL BALL" into the dark. Let the echo bounce around in there a couple times so that YOU can hear it and know you REALLY meant it!

With fittest intentions,



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thank You Serendipity

We all are familiar with the idea that should we meet someone that there is a good solid reason for that. However we usually think of it as it applies to the people we end up actually knowing closely; friends, coworkers, boyfriends, girlfriends, in-laws, close acquaintances even etc. There's a good reason though for us to expand our spheres of influence! What if we chose to influence each person we made contact with each day? What kind of ripple effect would THAT cause? A lot of blogs and articles I've been reading lately all have this theme of increased worldwide interconnectedness, happy "chance" meetings, coincidences etc. All of these pose the question, is it just us? Some say the world is getting smaller, due to technology, but it stands to reason that it is each of us that is simply becoming more aware of others, our environment and our relationships within and between!


Some days you wake up and just don't want to face the day: without getting out of bed you already know its going to be a bad day for you and anyone that crosses your path. You feel disconnected and solitary. Other days you are much more gregarious, happily seeking the company of others. Have you ever then, ever had a day when you felt like you were literally connected with everyone you meet? Somehow you know exactly what to say or what to do to help whomever you're dealing with at that exact moment?

I started thinking about this yesterday as I was training one of my clients and she told me it was "uncanny" how well I was in tune with her. This particular lady is 90 years old and we are currently working on developing balance and strengthening her connection to her body so that she can walk with a more natural gate and not with the "elderly sway." You know what I mean! During our session she happened to mention, "it's like you know ahead of time what I'm going to ask you." I asked what she meant and she replied that it always seemed to be that when she was doing an exercise, if she happened to notice a sensation somewhere I always managed to move her to an exercise or a drill that addressed that particular issue even if she hadn't brought it up.

The difference between those three types of experiences I described above is simply our perception! We are all connected, always connected. We can shut ourselves off or open ourselves up: that is always our choice. Take yoga, a class typically ends with the teacher and students each declaring "namaste" to the other. The meaning is "the light within me recognizes and bows to the same light within you," but the whole moment is about gratitude and oneness, the teacher is the student and the student the teacher. We are all interconnected: tricky part though is being aware enough to stay in touch with it!

I love "namaste" and it is an easy enough concept to employ at all times. I wrote about a similar topic a while back about how we can enrich a stranger's life by reaching out to them emotionally. What I mean by this is to be present enough to give your cashier a sincere greeting and maybe compliment their earrings, thank your service person at the restaurant or oil change place, make eye contact with someone and genuinely smile, hold the door etc. I wrote about how we can help change the course of someone's day just by reaching out in some small way, sort of saying, "I'm human, you're human. You're not alone, we're all in this together and we'll all be okay!"

One day this week I was at a diner counter reading a book, I ordered only coffee. I sat there a good two and a half hours when my waiter asked if I'd close out because he was leaving for the day. My bill was two dollars and I had a five in hand. Who in their right mind would tip 20% on a $2.00 bill?! Right, I'm no cretin, so I gave him the rest of the five. I'm not sure I've seen any person over the age of 6 that excited over $3.00. Whatever it was, I don't know if he had a rough day or week or what, but there was something about those three dollars that made him really happy. As he remarked, "a 150% tip?" I knew that had been the exact right thing for me to do and all I had done was not save a dollar. Small gesture, enormous response!

All of this also applies to people you already know! How many times have you been acquainted with someone, maybe at work or at the gym, and after a year of knowing them you find that they live on your street, or their kids are friends with yours, or you have some friends in common yourselves? If you've been withdrawn you may not see the myriad of connections between you!

I firmly believe that all of our meetings, all of our acquaintances, all of our seemingly inconsequential run-ins are in fact, substantial. The connection may not be apparent now, and it may never BE obvious to you, but if it happened then it changed something somewhere. So it's kind of fun to wonder, what can i do for this person and how/where in the world will that change me? Did a person in line at Target indirectly plant an idea in your head that will manifest 10 years down the line? Will you let the soldier in line behind you at the grocery store know that they are appreciated by buying the milk and eggs for them? Maybe you hang out with someone one night and your conversation inspires you both to pursue a previously latent talent. There are so many ways in which we can connect with others that I can't even begin to illustrate effectively!!

I personally enjoy looking around for ways to connect with people. As I promised, I'm still working on my pledge of trying to raise the vibrational frequency of at least two people a day by bonding with them in some small way.

So what's the point of this? I guess I would like to inspire you today to be present in your own life and to be a positive proactive force in this world! You may be rewarded with a million-dollar idea, better & more creative sex (did I keep your attention from drifting off?!), a promotion, better workouts, a free coffee, a sense of well-being, a happier home life, truer friends, you just won't know till it happens!!

It's like a big game of people lottery! Get out there and find a winning combination :-D

With fittest intentions,


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Beauty in the LIKELIEST of Places

I feel like this week has been especially beautiful. Not for the reasons you may imagine though. Anyone from New England knows that it's been dreary here; cold, upsettingly wet (seriously can't we have snow over ice cold rain?), overcast & gnarly...so I haven't really been given the chance to wax poetically about fluffy piles of snow in bright sunshine here!

So maybe the weather hasn't been my cup of tea, but the human spirit has inspired me lately. So here are just a couple stories of what I saw this week...maybe it'll help you consider beauty in a different way and therefore make it more visible :)

<b>Last week </b>I noticed kindness at Starbucks. An elderly couple, the wife in a wheelchair, was unable to get a table because the one remaining seat in the house was along a bench tucked in behind crowded tables. Just as they got their drinks together and were hobbling out (I hate to say hobble, but really they really weren't terribly mobile) a young woman jumped up and quickly offered them her corner seat so that they could sit. She gathered her belongings and wedged herself into the bench seat without an ounce of irritation or concern. The couple was touched and so was I.

<b>Saturday I went</b> and judged for a small CrossFit competition. What made this fun was that it was designed primarily to give new CrossFitters a little experience competing. Anyone that's done one before is aware that there are jitters involved, concerns about fueling (when, what, how much?) and also TONS of excitement! Beauty was defined that day by the tired and sweaty athletes that refused to give up, accepting my cues when needed and pushing through! One WOD was that a team of four must complete 300 burpees for time (of course with a movement standard). For one team, a teammate fatigued a little quicker than the others and was repeatedly struggling to hit the standard. I could SEE in his face that he would not let his team down by either making them pick up the slack or by letting his reps get taken away for incompletion. He was FIGHTING and it was gorgeous. His teammates, instead of getting upset or impatient that his reps were slightly slower supported him and banded together to cheer him on. They finished together and that was truly beautiful teamwork.

<b>The next day </b>I coached an Olympic Lifting class at my CrossFit box. The Open is coming soon and I want all my athletes to get in a little extra work with the snatch before it starts. I had stayed out late the night before and had woken with a bit of a headache, but coaching always cheers me up and rejuvenates me (cheesy? Why yes!! But TRUE!). Afterwards someone came up to me and said, "it's amazing how much improvement you can see in them from just the beginning to the end of class." My response, "YES! It's the best! It's so satisfying to see the change people can make when they're REALLY interested in what they're doing!" Joy is a beautiful thing...and joy works better than ibuprofen anytime :)

So these are everyday expressions of beauty that I know you are also exposed to: generosity and kindness, determination, courage and joy.

<i><b>You can stand at the edge of a river, but with your eyes shut you will never see it. So it is with Life; it is a constant stream sparkling with generous expressions of beauty. It is up to you to open your eyes and see them!</b></i>


With fittest intentions,



Friday, January 11, 2013

10 Ways to Stick To Your Goals!

Being forced into making a New Year's Resolution is not much fun for most of us. I think making a goal at a particular time that has nothing to do with when YOU actually feel ready to embark on a new project isn't all that wise. Now some people need that external motivation to get moving towards a goal, but notice how many people fail their resolutions? Maybe because resolution sounds so big, so odious, so unreasonable.

The article I linked before, Livestrong's article entitled "10 Steps to Succeed at Your New Year's Resolution to Lose Weight," really just gave 10 steps to achieve any fitness goal from any time of year! Let's look at a few of them.

Step 1 is to make your goals measurable. As a trainer I hear this one a lot.

Me: Okay, so what do you want to achieve? What do you think would be really neat if you could do, 5 push-ups, a real pull-up, run a mile without stopping, what?

Client: I really just want to be fitter and more toned and feel better.

Me: Okay, so how will you know when you're fitter and more toned? So you wake up one day, you come into the gym and you say, Michelle, I did it! I noticed it when....

Client: I don't know.

Me: *sigh*

So let's use the term objective instead. If you don't have a specified objective then how will you know what to do with your gym time? For instance, when you go grocery shopping for dinner you have an objective to buy the makings for meatloaf for dinner. If you don't have a clear objective you may end up walking out with some tomato sauce, some ice cream, a couple bagels and some zucchini. When you give yourself the broad goals of being "fitter and more toned" I can pretty much guarantee that you're going to choose some oddball combination of junk to do at the gym that will give you only 1) discontent, 2) boredom, 3) aggravation, and 4) junk for results.

Dare to dream, my friends! When I ask what some one wants to achieve this crazy thing happens. First, their eyes light up for a SPLIT second before they look away and this cloud drops down over the light. That's when they say something lame and generic, "I don't know, get fitter I guess." In that first instant I know all these amazing ideas sprang up: pull-ups, running, push-ups, figure competition, wake boarding, skiing, slinky dresses and then SLAM! The door of doubt comes slamming down on all that. Somewhere they were taught those were crazy ideas, or that they were so hard to achieve it wasn't even worth trying to. Now shutting off those dreams, THAT'S what I call crazy!

You know the phrase, "shoot for the moon so if you fall, you fall amongst the stars." Shooting for the tree line just isn't going to cut it, I'm telling you this because I care! So I'm going to ask you again, what do YOU want to achieve?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cholesterol is NOT The Bad Guy!

You're officially off the hook if you love your coffee with grass-fed butter, hurrah!

Yes, you read that correctly. Whenever someone says to me, "I'm sure this is bad for me. It's so high in fat and cholesterol" I respond, "cholesterol is NOT the bad guy you know." Here's a short article explaining why...seriously it'll take you 3 minutes to read it!

Click here to read why Cholesterol is GOOD for you!

With fittest intentions,



Saturday, December 15, 2012

We Need Moments and Acts of Kindness

Along with everyone else in the nation, and I'm sure the world, I am horrified to think of the atrocity that occurred yesterday in Newtown, CT. I can hardly find words to even begin this post, I mean, what can I say that would even begin to describe how i feel about how the deaths of an entire Kindergarten class, their schoolmates, teachers and Principal? I guess I don't need to get detailed because I'm sure you, reader, feel just as saddened and horrified as I do.

My brother's girlfriend's birthday party came on the heels of this attack. Kind of a rough night to have a party, but it was for the best. After all, when something makes you keenly aware of the love you have for your friends and family I believe it best to go spend quality time with them. The party went well and it also allowed me some time to observe my 2.5 yr old nephew. While I was watching his sweet little face light up as he took in all the Christmas Lights on the gigantic tree, my heart broke to think of all the cold beds in the Newtown area that night.

Facebook blew up yesterday with updated statuses commenting on the news; prayers, best wishes, expressions of horror and so on. A lot of people were saying, "what is going on with the world? There are so many shootings lately, like in the last few years it seems to have become this gruesome trend!" Sadly they're right. Here's the thing though, if we want to see change in the world, we need to be that change. We can't just sit in our homes and be horrified at the news and then say, "gosh I hope I get home safely from the mall today." To act like victims-in-waiting is NOT a proactive mindset at all! If we want our world to be a friendly more loving place, we need to be friendly and more loving.

We all know about the butterfly effect, or the domino effect. The idea is that one small drop in the pond here will create a ripple which will expand and travel outwards effecting many other things, both foreseen and unforeseen. As the common phrase goes: A butterfly flaps its wings in Tampa and there's a storm in Taiwan. So why wait for a ripple of terror to hit us when we can CHOOSE to drop a boulder of kindness into that pond?

So I am taking action by pledging to do someone a kindness today. Two someones. I will buy a coffee for the next person in line. I will insist that the person behind me at the grocery store with a crying baby go before me even though I only have small basket. I will make an exchange genuine by taking it away from the superficial niceties, away from "how are you?" "Good, how are you?" "Good." Instead I will comment admiringly on his tattoo, or her hair, or earrings, or boots...it doesn't matter what as long as that person can feel that they were just recognized as another human being, not simply as a service person. If someone is surprised or shocked, then clearly my act of kindness found a needy home. We can't know what our affect on any one person will be, so dole out the kind acts without judgement. I will not limit my acts to people that look like they'll appreciate or understand.

If every one of us gives a moment of kindness to just two people today, I believe we can take back the affection that we felt for our communities. Going to the mall or store will become a happy opportunity to find someone that needs a moment of kindness instead of being laden with apprehension. Sure it may seem a little awkward at first, but change isn't always easy, but that certainly doesn't mean the change isn't worth having! Aren't you a CrossFitter by the way? Wasn't becoming a CrossFitter difficult? Days of being unable to take the stairs didn't stop you did it? Aren't you a yogi by the way? Wasn't finding the time to practice and learning to breathe into poses difficult? But that didn't stop you from seeing the value in what you were doing and therefore from quitting did it?

This is my pledge. What are you doing today?

With fittest intentions,



Friday, December 7, 2012

Seriously, Could You Laugh Occasionally?

Life is a serious business. Kids, work, house, car, taxes, workouts, food, world news....it can all add up to stress! You may not even realize it but, as adults, we spend more time stressed and less time laughing or smiling. You're running errands or working to beat a deadline and so hours may elapse between the rare giggle or grin. You may not think this is you, but when you read the following you may be surprised.

"The average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day, a 40-year-old, only four." -Published on June 21, 2011 by Dr. Pamela Gerloff in The Possibility Paradigm

THREE HUNDRED vs FOUR!! Ok, so huge difference but why does it necessarily matter? It matters to your health! Some studies have shown that laughter can boost your immune system, lower and/or help regulate blood sugar and help relax people so they can then sleep better. Some doctors don't think the studies are conclusive enough, but I don't think anyone out there is going to say, "DON'T laugh, it'll make you worse." [Well, unless you've recently had some particular surgeries/ailments in which the shaking from laughter can aggravate an incision site or sore area.]

You can read one of the many articles (this one from Mayo Clinic) on this topic HERE.

Here is a fun Laughter Game you can play. (I never win this!)

  • Get two or more people to play.
  • First person says, "Ha" once. The next person says, "Ha" twice, and so on.
  • As long as you say your correct number of "Ha"s, there's no rule about HOW they need to be said. Loud, slow, deep, high, squeaky whatever.
  • Good luck!
  • P.S. Kids will kick your butt at this game, and they will love it!

With fittest intentions,