Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful I won't be doing THAT again any time soon!

I didn't have a nice clean paleo Thanksgiving.  Armed with my trusty digestive enzymes, I had stuffing, a couple rolls, and a piece of pumpkin pie, along with all the healthier stuff; luckily I felt ok the next day, but a weekend of sustained, repeated glutening wasn't the best idea... 

Last year I took the liberty of ordering a Bronze turkey from my local organic farm, and Dad was sooo annoyed.  He's the roaster of turkeys in our family, and understandably didn't like the routine being shaken up- he typically would buy a non-frozen commercial bird from the grocery store, and it always turned out great.  So, I annoyed Dad by getting an expensive frozen turkey that came with special instructions.  Dad's former military, so I figured it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission *shrug*  Of course, Dad was so delighted with the turkey that he even emailed the farmer to let him know how great it was, and how it reminded him of the turkeys of his childhood.  Dad ordered a similar turkey from another local farm- this one was a Jersey Buff and was roasted for seven hours. It. Was. Amazing.  This here isn't the turkey we ate, but apparently the father of our bird.

Meet Chip and the farmer

Now here's the non-fun part.  I worked out prior to the feast, and this was the first time I kinda wanted to cry during a workout, and kinda felt like throwing up after.  I typically just go to the gym and do stuff I find fun & avoid stuff I find sucky, but it's time to suck it up so I can actually improve.  I've enlisted a workout buddy who is far more able than me and has been providing bad-ass nasty WODs for the past few weekends.  The prescribed workout was to be 100 dumbbell hang squat-clean thrusters (which I'd never done) with 5 burpees (which I hate with the passion of a thousand suns) on the minute until all DBHSCTs were completed.  Looked extremely tough, but doable. 

Well, my friends, doable it was not.  A few minutes in, I was sucking to the point that once I was done with my five burpees, I only had enough time to do a couple thruster thingies before it was time for MORE burpees.  At least five minutes went by where I did NO thruster thingies.  I quickly became really demoralized and realized that I was so fatigued by the burpees that at best I would finish in several hours, or I would possibly never finish and be resigned to spending the rest of my life doing five burpees on the minute.  That was pretty scary, and my thruster thingies were getting increasingly ugly, so I decided I'd better stop at 50.  Good decision, because I was uber-nauseous at the end.  It probably would've helped if I hadn't wasted energy by stomping around like a frustrated three year old, but I think I need some major work in the stamina department regardless...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I like to Mov it- Mov it

*This article can also be seen at Highbrow Paleo*

A few weekends ago, I participated in a MovNat workshop at Rock Creek Park in DC.  I really enjoyed Erwan LeCorre's presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium, so I was really looking forward to it.  The workshop was taught by Clifton Harski, and he had an assistant instructor named Justin, who is training to teach their one-day workshops. 

It was a great group of people in the class- there were all kinds of body types, ages, and fitness levels, and I definitely noticed that pretty much everyone was in minimalist shoes.  It was a little chilly that morning, so I left my Vibrams at home due to the ol' Raynaud's; I had to chuckle to myself because I used to stick out like a wierdo wearing Vibrams at my gym, and now I was the wierdo in normal shoes! 

So, what can one expect to get out of one of these workshops?  The thing is, as we humans become so advanced that we no longer need to really do anything physical for ourselves, we've grown grossly out of touch with how to move.  Many of us are spending a third of our lives in chairs; with online shopping, work, and school, we could probably live our entire lives on our asses if we wanted to! We've innovated away our instincts, and MovNat is a great way to re-learn skills that came naturally to us as kids, and that mankind used to depend on to survive.

The skills we went over were walking, running, balancing, crawling, jumping, climbing, lifting, carrying, throwing, and catching.  Swimming and defense are also part of the MovNat skillset, but weren't covered in the one-day workshop.  We spent a chunk of time on each skill and learned different techniques for each one, such as various methods for climbing a tree, different ways to crawl in order to safely get up and down hills, etc.  It's all about learning to move in a way that is most efficient, safe and natural, and I learned a lot!  I've always had a fear of going upside-down, and pretty much anything gymnastics-related; doing a ton of forward rolls (even a ninja-style one after hopping off a picnic table!) has made a dent in that.  I've also gotten more efficient with crawling- I've done some bear crawls in my CrossFit workouts, but learned I had been wasting a bunch of energy by sticking my booty in the air.  I even learned what the Smith machine is for- Clifton suggested we use it to do some stepping over/lunging under drills, and I've been incorporating that into my warmups in the gym!

One thing I really liked about the MovNat presentation at AHS was the emphasis on its intangible, unmeasurable benefits, such as courage, self-seteem, etc.  At the workshop, I did some stuff I hadn't done before, and that's always a nice feeling; I was able to hoist myself up on a tree branch (still working on getting the full "MovNat leg swing"), and I found that I can pick up an average-sized dude and drag him to safety!  I didn't succeed in fireman-carrying him, but was pleased nonetheless.

I wish I had a better memory or had taken notes during the wrapup; Cliff talked with us about how he likes to work out when not teaching workshops, about eating well while traveling.  I definitely remember though, that when speaking about overtraining, he stated that most people are more likely to be under-recovering rather than over-training.  Ain't that the truth!  So many are eating like crap, sleeping like crap, and thinking it's all good because they spend an hour on the treadmill every day; if you're one of 'em, you're not doing yourself any favors by prioritizing exercise over recovery.

If you're able to swing one of these workshops, I highly recommend it.  I'm going to work on my leg-swinging and tree-climbing in earnest this winter, and will hopefully be able to attend another workshop next year!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I can has pullup!

For longer than I care to admit, my gym goal has been to do a pullup.  Since I became determined to get decently strong, I've been haunted by gym class memories- taking wrestling over gymnastics because I was too afraid to go upside-down, struggling and failing to climb a rope, and dangling helplessly from a pullup bar when it came time for the dreaded Presidential Fitness Test.  I no longer give a crap about my humiliating volleyball serve, but I'm not giving up on the other things!

If you're a girl, there's really never been any shame in not being able to climb a rope or do pullups.  You'd give it a shot, and the teacher would say "that's ok, most girls can't do it."  Well, once I got into my late twenties, I didn't want to be most girls any more; a few months ago I climbed a rope for the first time, and last weekend I got my first pullup!  I found this article from Urban Gets Diesel to be really helpful; mixing up grips and methods was definitely key.  I used assistance bands, did negatives, partials, jumping pullups, and static holds.  Once I was strong enough to do one with the smallest assistance band, I made sure to do a couple of those every day I was in the gym, and focused less on using the heavier band that allowed me to do a higher volume.  Also, I tried my best to resist the urge to kip; yes, it does make it easier to actually get your chin over the bar, but I've read several sources that state it's safer to hold off on kipping until after you have the strength to achieve a dead-hang.

So keep hangin' in there, babies!  For most of us gals, this is something that takes serious werk; it might take two months, it might take over a year (yes, that's about how long I'd been trying).  You'll feel pretty bad-ass when you get there, and it's always nice to add something to that list of things you never thought you'd be able to do.