On Heartbreak and Staying the Course

Hello friends,

Last time I checked in, I was embarking on the nutrition challenge. For the first week, I cut out gluten (no problem). In the second week, I cut out sugar and alcohol (OK, this is a challenge). During the third week I cut out dairy. And last, legumes. I've done the Whole 30 before, so this wasn't a complete shock to my system. What I wanted to do was take control of a big area in my life, which I have successfully done.

So starting last week, we're allowed two cheat meals per week. This is where you have to be deliberate and intentional. I was hoping I could do this during baseball play-offs. My Tigers were already in the ALCS. Great! But I also knew I had a big party coming up (the 18th) and I also planned a dinner out with someone I adore (Monday night). So my cheat meals were taken up last week. But, instead of eating sugary, heavy things and drinking by myself watching baseball, I shared that time with friends and didn't overdo it. So that sounds like success on my part. 

So for my second week with cheat meals, I wanted to plan one tonight during Game 7. I wanted to get Cafe Yumm takeout and drink some hard ciders while watching my Tigers. But last night, the heartbreak happened.

My team, who I follow religiously, squandered their best chance at winning a World Series. 

They haven't been quite right for a while. The best hitter in baseball, Miguel Cabrera, has been playing injured since August. His power has been gone. Our starting pitching has been beyond excellent, phenomenal actually, but they can't do everything. 

It was actually a very close series, closer than it looked. If a few calls had been made differently, if some catches had been made, if some hits had gone a little farther, the outcome would be different.

But it's not.

The thing about baseball is that it's such a long season. 162 games. This team had all of the expectations riding on them the whole year. They were supposed to win. But when it came down to it, it just couldn't happen this year.

I may have had tears in my eyes as I listened to the final broadcast of the year of the Tiger's announcers. I may have felt true heartbreak for a team that I love so much. I just didn't want the season to be over yet.

But there's always next year. 

And in that year, I hope that we find some more dependable relief pitching. I hope we find a good hitter and player in left field. I hope Prince Fielder finds a good sports psychologist so he can work his shit out. And I hope the core of the team remains the same, because they are one of the most exciting teams in baseball.

And me, I'm sticking to the challenge. A lot of people have been shocked that I've been able to keep up with it, but I'm not.  I've been more deliberate in my food choices, although I'm aware of the mistakes I make (too many tortilla chips, not enough veggies). Savor my cheat meals and go for the good stuff. And just keep moving forward. It's all we can do.


The Things We Can Control

I've been quiet for a while, I know. It hasn't been the easiest summer, but I am hopeful that things will get better.

And it's in that spirit that I've committed to another Nutrition Challenge. I've been doing CrossFit for over 4 years now. So why should I do another challenge? I know how to eat right by now, right? (yes) I took the Whole 30 seminar, right? (yes) You know how important food is to your overall well-being, right? (YES!)

There are a lot of reasons for this. I'll get to the superficial one first. 

So, I'm currently nearing my pre-CrossFit weight. I know this doesn't mean much. It's distributed differently and concentrated more in muscle than fat, but still, I know there's a lot of room for improvement. So here I am pre-CrossFit
My hairdresser back then really liked to cut my hair short. I know better now.

Eh, I can do better, and I knew it. So this is me now.
Damn I look relaxed. That's what Lake Michigan does for me.
OK, this is pretty good, I'll admit that. But I've fluctuated a lot in the past couple years, and honestly, it's time for some stability.

So that's the superficial reason. I can look better and I know that. 

Next reason - I haven't been the best at CrossFit lately. I get frustrated. I get tired. I'm not lifting as much as I should.I'm skipping workouts because I don't want to do them.  I'm not really motivated to do well. I'm the first to say, "It's just exercise!" But every now and then I see glimpses of what I used to be able to do and I get excited. Nutrition is the biggest factor in our athletic performance. By far. There's not anything that comes close. So it's time to get that in order.

And the next - Terrible food makes you feel terrible. It's not rocket science. If you eat a lot of carbs and sugar and not a lot of veggies, you're going to feel like shit ... physically, mentally, emotionally. I need to be sharper. I need to have more energy. This is the easiest way to get there.

And the most important reason...I posted last week that there are so many things in life that we can't control, but what we eat is one that we can. And it impacts so much of our lives. It effects how we feel, how we sleep, how we function in the world. So why not actively try to feel better through food? 

I used to be terrified of flying. Like, it was bad. I would mask the fear with alcohol or Xanax, or both. But was that doing anything for the fear? No. I was still afraid every time I had to fly. But the last few times I've flown, I've decided to just sit with the fear. I try not to think about it. I sit on the plane. I listen to the sounds of take-off. I realize we're above the clouds and we're going to be OK...and I'm fine. I still don't love flying, but I'm learning to just sit with that fear and deal with it. Now I'm even more grateful for seeing the world from so high up.

Control the things we can. Accept and sit with what we can't. That's why I'm doing it this time.



Nostalgia has gotten the best of me many times in my life. Even though I've tried to approach events with a better perspective lately, it still comes in and often leaves me wistful. I know I should live in the moment. I know this.

Epic Relay was a couple weeks ago. Last year, I had so much fun. I couldn't wait for it this year. And it was fun this year...just different. I didn't feel that same excitement that I did after the race last year. And it made me realize that I can't keep trying to recreate things the way they were so I can feel the same way. I just need to look at them for what they are and find joy in the moment.

I did have fun. The running hurt. I was in much better running shape last year. My calf tensed up a lot. It was hot...again. But I got craftier and made some stuff to add some sparkle to the race.

My new motto. Stolen from Carleen Lessard, who apparently stole it from Shit Yogis Say.
And I got to hang out with these people. Really, they're some of the best people.
Anyway, I felt all sorts of physically terrible after the race. My calf really felt like a rock. I took some Epsom salt baths, and rolled out, and rested. Now it's fine. My shoulder actually hurt too, but that's an ongoing issue. I finally got a massage on Sunday, and although I need that all the time, I feel like it made a world of difference. I get lazy about recovery. I'll try to let things heal themselves, or go in with the mindset that if I ignore it, it will go away. It doesn't. Recovery is good and necessary and I only have this one body to take care of. It's up to me.

This month marks my 4 year CrossFit anniversary. It feels funny to reflect, since the first 2 years were so vastly different than the last 2, both personally and physically. I was a completely different person when I started. My progress was slow the first two years, which I feel was a combination of well, me, and the environment the gym was. There weren't a lot of people really trying to get better at a lot of things. The coaching has improved so much too.

2 years ago, I was at a very big turning point in my life. I made some really, really difficult decisions. My life became a lot more challenging. But, it was all for the better. I'm more confident in myself and in my writing. I'm learning to trust myself. And I'm almost 100% sure that I'm OK on my own (not that I want to be forever.) I also became slightly obsessed with CrossFit during that time (substitute one thing for another, I guess). And then I got way too into it and I got completely burnt out. So the past 6 months or so, I've just been trying to have fun with it. And it's getting better.

Also, lately I've felt like I want to do new things. I'll always have CrossFit, but there's so much more. So if there's a new trail or a new beach or a new activity, I'm in. Why not?

I'm not sure where I'll be in the next 2 years. Sometimes, life changes so quickly. If you had met me 4 years ago, you wouldn't even know it was me. I guess I just keep getting better. And I'm sticking to that plan.


Just Go

A friend recently sent me a message after seeing one of my pictures saying that I looked happier, more natural. True, my life has seen a lot of change lately, mostly for the better. New people, new places. I try to be cautious, although maybe it's not always for the best. Anyway...

I spent last weekend up at the North West Regional, working for the Media team. It was an exhausting, but fun weekend. And as much as I feel like I sometimes get burnt out on CrossFit this past year, I felt re-energized coming back. I worked out more than normal last week. I tried to work more with my right arm, since I'm tired of it not working. It'll all come back. I know I've gotten stronger in recent months, but I need to work on getting faster.

I've had a lot of trouble running lately. I just don't find any joy in it. I want to like it. I want to like it SO MUCH!  But it just doesn't do it for me. This has been frustrating me since Epic Relay is coming up and I will run and ideally, I'll run better than I did last year. I have a lot of motivation to do better right now. Not only is the relay coming up, but I have gained a little weight and I need to get it back off (I know 99% of that is eating. I know.) I did fine running Bark in the Park a few weeks ago, but that was a race. On my own, I just give up. And with a friend, we just end up talking.

So this morning I got up and just started running. I just ran around my new neighborhood. My goals are low these days - no matter how far I'm going, just keep going. That's been the problem lately. I just stop. But I thought about one of my most favorite athletes competing last weekend. When I talked to her after she won Event 4, she said all that was running through her mind was "Just Go." So that's what I did today. It felt like I ran 10 miles, even though it was under three. It felt like I was sprinting, although my pace was slower than usual. But I ran. No walking today. Just go.

And as much as things have been better lately, and I've been happier overall, maybe it burns even harder when things go wrong. Yesterday, I had a terrible afternoon. Really, really bad. And it got much worse when I couldn't find something that's irreplaceable to me. It's the most valuable thing I own and I can't find it. I started hyperventilating yesterday looking for it...my notebook I carry with me all the time, with so many of my ideas and so many of my very personal thoughts.

Deep breath. I'll find it. I will find it. Prioritize. Cover the bases. Make it happen. Don't make all the good disappear just because of one afternoon. Be grateful for what I have - my friends, my family, my health, my talent - and just breathe.



To say that I've become more self-aware these past few years is a gross understatement. I've become more open, honest, and possibly more annoying. Whatever. It's fine.

I've been working on my writing this morning. Writing some of the really hard stuff. But depression isn't easy. Our past isn't easy. Admitting to feeling certain ways isn't easy. But it's what people connect to. And it helps.

Two resources right off the bat: first, this was posted and reposted a bunch yesterday. It's one of the most accurate descriptions of depression I've ever read. http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html

And this is one of the best TED Talks I've ever seen: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

There's a lot to take from both of these. And I'll even tie it back to CrossFit (eventually). This is a really condensed version of what I'm writing about.

I spent most of my teenage years hating everything. That's what a lot of us do. I hated the small town I grew up in. I hated that there was so much going on in the real world and I wanted to be a part of it but I was stuck in this town. I hated feeling helpless and lonely. 

This has been a recurring feeling in my life. My dad died in my early 20s and I was shattered. I didn't know how to move forward after that. I was stuck feeling that it was all so unfair and ...I was so angry and so sad. And I got used to feeling that way. 

Then I would get into relationships where I would get comfortable...and lazy...and lose myself. I got used to feeling a certain way, although I always knew there had to be a better way to feel. I just didn't know how to get there.

Finding CrossFit was big for me. It forced me to challenge myself physically and mentally. And emotionally. And I found some of the best people I've ever met in my life. And especially over these past two challenging years for me, I've used what I learned there to do something I never thought - I've become more vulnerable.

To paraphrase Brene Brown in the TED Talk above, when we try to numb the bad feelings, we're numbing all of the other feelings too. 

And that's no way to live.

It's a good thing. I feel like I'm willing to fail. I'm willing to be open to new things - not just in the gym, but with writing, with relationships, with the things that matter. I'm willing to not get it right and to learn from it. It is not easy, but it feels a lot better.

This could mean taking a big step back from our former PRs and working on form...or stay mindful to an injury...or make the connection between eating and performance or feelings or everything. All while keeping in mind that we will make mistakes and we will learn. But the most important thing is to try.


Keep Moving Forward

Yesterday, I spent my morning helping out with the Eugene Marathon. We set up a cheering section behind ECF and watched the very first to the very last runner pass by our station. We were set up just before Mile 19. I can't even fathom getting to Mile 19 on my feet. It's beyond my realm.

In addition to cheering, I ran with a friend who decided to run her first and only marathon. I ran from mile 19 to 23 with her. I've known her for years; she started CrossFit before me. She is athletic and determined. She's also a wonderful friend. When she arrived at our station, I knew something was wrong. She stopped to stretch for a few seconds. We started our slow jog and she stopped again. Her calves were seizing up. And she still had 7 miles to go. I sensed her frustration and stuck with her as we made our way through these difficult miles. Keep moving forward, I would say. Her time was slower than she wanted, but she finished. She finished a freakin' marathon.

She kept thanking me for being there for her. For me, it wasn't even an option. Of course I was going to run those miles with her. I can't even wrap my mind around finishing a marathon. And my friends have been there for me through the worst. They've seen me at my worst. Whatever I can do is the least I can do.

Our cheering section wrote on the bike path 'One Step At A Time.' As the last marathon runners/walkers made their way through, an old man emphasized and said these words. It's all we can do really. We can have big goals and big dreams, but there's only one way to get there. Keep moving forward, one step at a time.


Reflections on Running

Hello CrossFit blog. It's been a while.

It's been a strange year for me. Still not in love with CrossFit like I used to be. Still getting some PRs (once in a while (like today)), but still hard on myself. Then the whole Boston Marathon bombing got me thinking (and it might take a while, but this will come back to that).

I've been hard on myself because I had great intentions at the beginning of the year. I wanted to get in the best shape of my life. But my mind wouldn't let me. I had to spiral a little more before I could get on the right path. As far as CrossFit goes, I try to remind myself that it's just exercise. No need to get upset about anything. (I know some of you might be able to identify with that) 

So now I'm hard on myself because I'm a little thicker than usual (I tried telling myself that the weight was muscle. It's not all muscle.) And it's frustrating when it happens because I know what work I have to do to lose the weight.

I have the tools. I know what I should eat. I know what I shouldn't drink. I know the habits that bring out the worst in me. I know I should run (Epic Relay is in 2 months). I know that the gym is there for exercise, but for many of us, it's so much more. It's seeing people I care about. It's getting a hug just for being there. It's sharing in the joy of our accomplishments. It's a lot.

I still don't like running. I know I have to run in the next couple months for various reasons. Train for Epic. Lose the weight. But my real motivation should be that I know it makes me feel better. I know this. I just don't enjoy the physical activity of running. But I know the rewards.

When I moved to Eugene, nearly 6 years ago, I decided to start running (I had never run before. Ever. Not even a little). I heard it was track town, so I was like, hey, what the heck? I did the couch to 5K plan. Did some 5ks here and there. Just tried to be more active than I was.

Then I started CrossFit. My running got better. A 10 minute mile wasn't good enough anymore. I started doing 10Ks, which I really liked. I even did a half marathon, which was the worst I've ever felt. So I reached my limit. But I kept running because it did make me feel better. And I met some awesome other runners. And I PRed on my 5K last year. And I did Epic Relay, which is one of the most fun 30ish hours I've had. Running is such a solo activity, yet so many people are there to support you. It's a time to think about life, push yourself to do better, and maybe be your best person.

When I heard the news out of Boston today, I kept thinking of the runners who put so much time into training and then running in the Boston Marathon - that's the best! And to have to readjust and finish after that happened. I can't imagine.

I've been bitching a lot the past few weeks because I know I've gained weight and I know I have to start running. Seeing what happened today, no more bitching. I can do better. And I can get back to my old PR-ing self.

So right now, I'm trying to remember these things. It's important to remember that we are given this one body and one mind and it's up to us to take care of them. And when you can't convince yourself that you're worth caring for, we need to remember that someone loves us, even if it doesn't always feel like it.

I see a lot of inspirational quotes and words of wisdom every day. But for me, what I really need to remember is that I'm lucky to be here and I'm lucky to be as healthy as I am, despite my bizarre inexplicable injuries and my wild mood swings. The rest - the PRs, the joy - that's all just extra.


Doing the Best with What You Have

I'm approaching this year's Open mainly as a fan. I know that it pushes people to do more weight than they normally would and work harder than they normally would. We've had a great turnout for the Open at Eugene CrossFit and I've seen some awesome PRs.

For me, my shoulder is still bothering me. And honestly, it's more in my biceps. Pushing weight overhead hasn't been in my workouts for a while, so I knew that I wouldn't be comparing my scores to anyone else. It's frustrating.

So for the first workout, the burpees and snatches, I tried the 45# weight when it was announced. It felt...weird. I told my coach before the workout that I would try 75#, but if it didn't feel right, I'd stop. And honestly, this is where technique comes in. It took a couple tries, but I snatched 75#. Then my coach told me to be more explosive - don't use my arms. I did one more rep and called it good for that one. I was feeling it. Obviously, I can do that weight (I didn't get all 30 reps last year but I got 20+), but it's not worth it to hurt myself.

And so this week when the WOD was announced, my heart sank a little when I saw that shoulder to overhead was the first part of it. This is not smart for me to do. I tried 75# on Thursday and it felt...bad. It felt bad. So I approached today the way I would tell someone else to do it: just get one round in, grit your teeth through that pain, put up a (small) score for the Games site, and sub something else and continue the workout. And that's just what I did. I did my 5 reps at 75#, which hurt, and continued with the deadlifts and box jumps, adding in pull-ups as a sub for round 2 on. I got a good workout, and really, that's all it's about. I got 207 reps, which is what I figured I'd get anyway if I wasn't injured. 

It's hard. This is the time of year where you want to do your best and see how well you can do. But sometimes the movements just don't work with the injuries we have, so we have to do something different. That was not easy, but I know it was the smart thing to do.

I just wish there was a double under buy-in for one of these WODs. Come on, HQ!


The Cruellest Month

T.S. Eliot wrote that "April is the cruellest month." I disagree. It's January. January is terrible. You've gone through some sort of holiday break, only to be greeted in the new year by work and cold. It's dark. Here it's grey. And this year, it's especially cold (with no snow. If it's cold, there should be snow.) For me, I have personal reasons for not liking January, but let's not get into it here.

I know how I get, and I know I need strategies to help me avoid a total collapse. I try to read. I try to get my writing done. I disappear into the movie theater. I say 'yes' to every plan or event anyone invites me to. I cannot sink into that terrible hole I know is there waiting for me.

I will also go to the gym. Obviously, since that's what this blog is about. I've been doing a lot of strength type stuff lately, but I know I have to get back into doing met-cons. I need to have a timer going and I need to feel my heart racing. I did the Dirty 30 last week and it was ....awful. Just terrible. Nowhere to go but up, right?

When I got back from the Midwest, my modest goal was to get into the best shape of my life. I started eating more vegetables and avoiding the sugar/bread stuff. I've been a little lax on that lately. I may have had a warm brownie at Starbucks today (it was soooo nice). And I may have had a Yumm bowl, or 4, in the past week. Pull it together, Robin!

So nothing really gets done without goals and a plan. I'm f-ing certified in goal-setting, damn it! 

So what does getting into the best shape of my life mean?

  • Physically, slimming down a little, especially in my midsection and thighs
  • Emotionally, being at peace with my life (OK, that's too lofty)
  • Mentally, setting and reaching manageable goals with my writing

So how do I do this?

  • Keep going to strength, but also try to do 2-3 regular WODs a week. 
  • Run about 5 extra miles a week
  • Row (intervals)
  • Let my arm/shoulder heal
  • Less screen time
  • Turn off email/fb when I need to write
  • Take one day at a time. Do what I need to do. Don't be so hard on myself.
These are vague - they are more specific in my head and on my real list. During certain times of the year, it takes more work than it should to just get out of bed. But I know these times pass. Just showing up, in life and at the gym, is most of the battle.