Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Life Isn't a Valid Excuse to Miss Out!

Good old' Michael Port strikes again, writing this short & sweet post reminding us that life doesn't get in the way because it IS the way. He basically says, how can we use living life as an excuse to be excused for missing life? Like, "sorry I couldn't be there but life got in the way." I know I've said that before and having to take a good look at the phrasing I totally get how this makes no sense.

Another place I see this happen is in my business of coaching & personal training.

"Sorry I missed my session, life got in the way."

"Yea, I stopped going to the gym. Life got in the way and I couldn't make it."

Seems like life may be the Grand Interrupter! But that sounds terribly negative doesn't it, like life gets in the way of fun and is something you're forced to deal and contend with on a daily basis. How about we stop that and instead choose to respect and revere life by giving it attention? What if life was this amazingly positive and beautifully creative event (hint: it IS an amazingly positive and beautifully creative event) and all things fell into it. Anything negative was simply a catalyst for positive change or to create an opportunity you may not have seen otherwise? Kind of like how you can't see the stars at noon.

What if?

Nuh uh. It IS!


With fittest intentions,



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fail Please: Improve By Leaving Your Comfort Zone

We're all admittedly trying to get better, in everything it seems. Every day someone posts in FaceBook an update that they're cleaning up their Paleo diet...again. Every day someone posts how they can't wait to get back to the gym, or how they PR'ed...again. It's great! But sometime I'm going to need you to fail. On purpose. Let me explain.

I'll never forget coaching a WOD and mid-way through I stopped at one woman & quickly reminded her to drop under the power cleans she was doing (instead of struggling to muscle it up to her shoulders). Even though she knew I was trying to help, she yelled, "But I can't DO them if i do them RIGHT!" I laughed pretty hard but haven't forgotten that.

The Trouble

We've got some strong people in this community and we all get excited to see how much we can lift. Sometimes we can muscle (ie force) more weight than we can finesse. You know, you see someone that can pull and wrench a heavily weighted bar up their shoulders for a "clean" but they can't properly squat clean the same bar because they lack the form and balance to move and receive the bar correctly at the bottom of the squat.

Left: slight early arm bend, hips open. Right: no triple and early arm bend. Both got job done, but not ideal! It's nice to be strong eh?
Next you'll see the same person adding weight to the bar because, well, they "got" the last one so it isn't their max right? Um, wrong. This is where I'll be asking you to fail. On purpose. For the sake of all your future lifts.

What happens is we see the workout of the day on the board and get stoked, "I can so do this sub 10min...those power cleans will get tough but I just have to get it done." And so "just getting it done" becomes our primary goal. If your body knows it can get the work done, when you're exhausted, form is likely to revert back to the old incorrect "adrenaline only" method. So all the pointers you'd learned and have been drilling, because they aren't habitual yet, drop to the wayside in favor of "just getting the work done". Truthfully, you can't turn off the Lizard brain that controls this type of fight-or-flight approach to lifts in WODs. What you DO need though is the awareness and humility to remain in control and not allow Lizard to take over.

What To Do

Yeah, I asked you to fail a lift. What I mean is that we are so well trained now to get the work done that I'm re-phrasing the assignment. Find the weak spot in your lift, whether it's lack of speed under the bar, inability to stick the bottom of the squat clean, or not hitting triple extension. Do some lighter lifts focusing on HITTING whatever it is you need to. DARE to fail in order to progress!

*check the pic, correct individual start positions. Due to varying body proportions they look quite different on first glance, but look at the angle of their femurs!
So if I'm working to stick the bottom of a squat clean let's say, I'll start light and make sure that I STICK each rep. If I don't, maybe catch it a little high or lose balance at the bottom, the the rep doesn't count. Do it again. If I have a tendency to short change the triple extension and pull under the bar without opening my hips, I'll put some lightish weight on the bar and start drilling making sure to HIT that triple. I will likely screw up & miss it many times. Sometimes I'll hit the triple but miss the lift because my timings all off (because trying something new). Sometimes I'll get so excited about getting under that I'll forget the triple again. Do it again. This is why we call it practice :)

We all come together at the gym with different backgrounds (football, track, dance, gymnastics, channel surfing), different muscle imbalances, different body proportions, different favored learning techniques and so on. So we all learn and translate our lessons slightly differently and we all end up doing our lifts a little differently. In each class then, we end up with a ton of shades of each lift or movement. My job (our job as coaches) is to get you to YOUR most ideal form, taking into consideration limb length and flexibility etc etc. What YOU need to do is dare to have a worse time today so that you don't continue to add glass bricks to your ceiling with each incorrect lift you engrain into your being.

An Olympian Olympic lifter once told me that form is everything because "your muscles will NEVER lift these weights you want to lift." You have to exploit lever angles and technique. If you insist on doing the lifts wrong (ie just muscling weights) there will always be someone that was willing to develop form that will pass you.

So please, I'm asking you to fail. Dare to fail so that you may learn and learn so that you may kick ass!

With fittest intentions,


Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Voices of Chalk & Chi

If you follow me on FaceBook or on Twitter, you will see that there are two voices talking to you. Chalk and, well, Chi. Let me introduce them both to you now.

Chalk is the muscle head, if you will, of the two. Chalk enjoys lifting things up, putting them down, well-meant smack talk and getting her butt whooped on a good work out. If the workout involves snatches she's most happy even though a shout or growl of frustration doesn't signify despair for her either. You will find her with chalk on her hands, on the bar, on the mat mixed with a little sweat and maybe a chalky handprint on her butt. She's a little messy, but that's just Chalk for you.

Chi on the other hand is a little quieter. Chi likes to contemplate stillness as it relates to movement and is more likely to get distracted by a flock of birds flying by than Chalk is. Chi enjoys long walks on the beach, mud between her toes and can meditate her way out of a paper bag. Chi says, "thats because the paper bag doesn't really exist anyway you know." Did you know?

So these are my coaches. Some people claim to have a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. I have Chalk reminding me to keep moving and that I'm strong enough to complete any task. On the other shoulder I have Chi here to remind me to live in the now, and right now I can do any task.

I can learn valuable lessons from both schools of thought and approach. Thanks to these two i can hope that these two will lean on and strengthen the other thereby creating a necessary balance in my health and in my life.

Even though I don't always like what they have to say at exactly the time they have to say it....(ie, "REST dopey!")


With fittest intentions,


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Paleo Rules, Flour Drools!

I'd like to claim that I eat Primal/ Paleo about 98% of the time. My indiscretions include dairy, the occasional heirloom potato, rice or nut crackers and chocolate. I've completely give up beer, but wine and tequila still make the cut. Once a year, on my birthday, I treat my taste buds to cinnamon buns because they are one of my most favorite foods. Know what ties them as a favorite food? Oven roasted sweet potato with pastured butter and a crack of sea salt. Yea I know, I get made fun of for that, but it's true.

ANYhoo, yesterday was my Annual Cinnamon Bun Day and I did indulge, while they were delicious but they also helped remind me why it was that I choose to eat Primal the rest of the year.

Check it out, isn't that cute? My mom made it look like a birthday cake!

I had two cinnamon buns for "lunch", and calculated it to be roughly 650 calories and about 92 grams of carbohydrates. !!! Yes, that's crazy. Practically half of my day's calorie allowance AND more carbs than I typically eat in like, two days! Afterwards, feeling very full and sugared up, I went to the beach. Because isn't putting on a bikini exactly what you want to do after you've eaten two MASSIVE sugar bombs?

My blood sugar felt so erratic that I felt drunk. Literally. Drunk. Two beer buzz drunk. From sugar. Gross. I couldn't keep my eyes open after blood sugar crash and I fell asleep at the beach for awhile. I was wondering if I was even going to feel well enough to go to my birthday dinner! Haha, nah I'm tough, I can do it ;)

But here's the pisser. I ate, lets say, 40% of my daily calories at noon and was woozy and STARVING by 4. If I'd eaten 650 calories worth of chicken, avocado and cucumber I'd have been set until 7. At least 7! It's no wonder that folks eating Special K for breakfast are sad and hungry by mid-morning. Then the marketers of diet pills and diet snacks are encouraging you to eat another sugary snack while simultaneously suggesting that your will-power is wimpy. So now they're hungry AND degraded...what a great combo!

Thankfully my parents took me to a fantastic new restaurant in our area that specializes in local food (as in, from their garden out back) patured meats and really fresh seafood. It was an amazing place and I left slightly jealous that no matter how I will ever sauté my zucchini it will likely not taste as good as that which I'd just eaten. Just so you understand, this was my dinner:

That's pretty Paleo no matter how you slice it. So my two birthday meals were on opposite sides of the spectrum and the first made me realize just how lucky I am to have found Paleo when I did. One meal was mass-produced (though still organic it was still flour, sugar, butter etc.), tan and white and relatively "one note," as they say. My proper Paleo meal however satisfied me in more ways than the cinnamon buns did. I wasn't sick afterwards, the zucchini was picked literally 100' from the kitchen and the lobster was brought up from the piers that very morning. This meal was a rainbow of colors that had nothing to do with dyes; yellow squash, dark green and white zucchini, red onions, the red of the lobster and tannish of steamed clams, the fresh cucumber, lime green zebra tomatoes and red lettuce that was in my salad. I would take this over cinnamon buns any day of the week my friend!

Actually, I may just do the lobster next birthday and start a new tradition!

In summary, carbohydrates from flour and sugar at stupid, damaging, injurious and unsatisyfing. Meat, vegetables and fats however are delicious, pretty, satisfying and deliver mucho bang for your buck; proverbially, mentally, physically and financially.

Find your truth!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Walk/ Run, Go As You Will!

As much as I love Olympic lifting and Metcons, there is always room in my week for a good walk. One friend of mine constantly gives me shit about walking, "what, are you 80 now?" No matter how much crap I get about walking "not being enough exercise" I'm going to keep on. Why?

What the heck makes you think that walking isn't good for me? What the heck makes you think that I think walking will improve my deadlift? Seriously folks, don't I get a little credit? I don't feel the need to hit-it-hard or not at all. Walking makes me happy and that's the best thing about it. Too much digital simulation at work and my eyes get all freaky and I start getting palpitations. My remedy is to go get into the woods. Walk, run, walk some, run some, it doesn't matter. I just plot a course and then follow my feet, however fast they go.

I also take pictures along the way, so really I CAN'T run the whole way without missing some great things like this little guy:

I went for a walk this passed Saturday after my brother rejected my oh-so-kind invitation with, "are you freaking nuts? I don't want to even sit on the porch for five minutes let alone go walk!" He's delicate. Or sane, however you want to look at it. Any way, I had a lovely time! I chose a four mile round-trip tree-shaded trail. Although it began as a walk, i ended up running nearly the whole way which, for anyone that knows me, is pretty amazing. I just felt so good (insert cliché Forrest Gump reference here)!


Pretend, though almost real, Post-Run Text Convo

Anti-walking friend, "How long did it take you?"

Me, "I don't know, less than two hours...ish ish."

Anti-walking friend, "siiiiiiigh."

Me, "Really?! How long have you known me? I just like to go hug the trees."

Anti-walking friend, "I can't believe I talk to you."

Me, "Go stuff your siiiiigh."


So go walk if you like. Or jog. Do what makes you happy, there's something beneficial to that I hear ;)

~ michelle