Monthly Archives: December 2013

Why You Should Not Crossfit

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1) Crossfit is hard. Why be uncomfortable?

2) You’ll look stupid. Even if you perform a move correctly, who wants to be outdone by someone twice their age and half their size?

3) Crossfitting is extreme. It’s only for pro athletes and former Olympians.

4) You’ll start using ‘Crossfit’ as a verb–or worse yet, a gerund (see #3).

5) You’ve already tried insane workouts, and you didn’t get six-pack abs in six weeks; in fact, you got injured–Crossfit is just the same as all of those other fads.

6) You’d prefer something fun and pain-free, like Zumba.

7) Your hands will get dirty.

8) Squatting is obscene. (Someone might see your butt).

9) You’ll need to invest in a new wardrobe. Places that were too snug will be too loose, and places that were too loose will be too snug.

10) You might start looking sexy (see #9), and who needs that kind of attention?

11) You might start feeling sexy, and who needs that kind of pressure?

12) You might become more driven, energetic and focused.

13) Your athletic body and new mindset will cause all sorts of problems in your current relationship (see #9-12).

14) Your old friends will send you links to online quizzes, to see if you belong to a cult. They may even host an intervention for you.

15) You won’t be able to hide anything from your new friends–you’ll have to be yourself.

16) You’ll stop believing myths about Crossfit.

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Use the Force

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I need to write, but I’m finding it hard to collect my scattered thoughts this morning.

I want to write about relationships and love and pain and grace, but these lofty ideas are competing with squats.

Squats win.

After nearly one year of Crossfit, my squats are finally looking good. I know I’m doing them right because of the way my po feels as I sit here and write this.

Crossfit is not about lifting, it’s about feeling.

While it’s good to have the master there to tell you if you look like a Jedi, eventually, you have to take off the goggles and just use the force.

There is a feeling, a sensation, a mindset that tells you everything is right. The weight might be heavy, but once you let go of the distractions and feel the movement, then you can take your shot, and watch the whole damn thing blow up.

Some people are naturals, while others of us need a little more work.

One year.

I’ve been at this for one year, and I’m excited about back squats.

While there’s a lot of work ahead of me this year (especially if I want to turn into a mountain mama marathon machine), I have to remember the work I’ve accomplished, and how I’m already where I never thought I’d be.

It’s a good place.


Love and Bullets and Happy Holidays

Gun club

I once had a dream when I was pregnant that someone tried to harm my child, so I bludgeoned him to death with a club.

My pregnancy dreams were notoriously violent.

As the holidays approach, I tend to think about the people I love, those I can hold tightly and those I’ve had to let go–and ponder this nebulous feeling/idea/emotion: love.

We need more words for ‘love’ in the English language because one pitiful monosyllabic word cannot possibly encompass all aspects of it.

It is ferocious and wise; unwavering and temperamental; it is boisterous and quiet; fragile and strong; ferocious and gentle; it is rapturous and painful.

In my life lately, love seems to be mostly painful.

However, I’ve learned a valuable lesson because of it: to truly love a person, you need to love them exactly as they are.

If you can look at a person packaged in all their ‘faults’ (or things you perceive as faults) and not only take a bullet for them, but also grab the gun and beat the perp until he can’t stand up, then you are loving someone unconditionally.

But what happens if someone you love wouldn’t take a bullet for you–and you both know it? Or worse yet, what if YOU get tired of taking bullets?

I wish I had an answer for this.

Love CAN be the thing that makes you walk on air. I understand this intellectually, but currently, I can’t envision it.

The only thing I can do is to put on the kevlar and go out and keep loving and being loved where I can.

No matter what.

My kids love me fiercely; and I can’t think of tougher friends than the ones I’ve made at Crossfit–not just physically (though they WOULD be handy in a fistfight or zombie apocalypse) but it also takes that certain mindset, which motivates you to stand up when the weight is so heavy it bruises your shoulders. These kinds of friends love the real, honest me–and they never ask for what I can’t give. Now that’s unconditional love.

If you are blessed enough to be with people this holiday season who would take bullets for you and/or beat someone to death for you, wrap yourself up in it until the painful, achey kind of love subsides.

I wish you a happy holiday. 

Joy.

Love.

Peace (if applicable).

And friends who kick ass.


Generations

momandme

Imagine this: within the span of a few short years, you go from using a cane, to a walker to a wheelchair. Your tremors become so bad that you can’t write your name legibly or feed yourself with a fork.

The years go by, and eventually your husband can no longer lift you from the wheelchair to the bed, so (after attempting to hire help, which never worked well and was too expensive) you divorce, to save him from losing the business you had worked for YEARS to build; and you go to a nursing home.

You have half a room, one dresser, and a hospital bedstand on wheels. You wait until your roommate dies so you can have the bed by the window.

You are 49 years-old.

You live there for 23 years, and then someone else gets the bed by the window.

Now imagine being that woman’s daughter.

You are the one who handles her finances, or lack thereof. You take her to medical appointments. You take her out for shopping and fun every week, even though it’s exhausting for you.

You have her come stay with you during the holidays, and though you wish she could live with you full time, you know that you can’t take care of her, because you’ve started ‘walking into doors’ and ‘tripping over rugs.’

You tell people you have bad knees, but some of them suspect the truth: you have MS like your mother. You manage to hide it until your mother passes away.

Then you start using a cane.

Then a walker.

Then a wheelchair.

You are in your fifties.

By the time you are sixty, you feel blessed that you can still stand up, walk on a limited basis and use a fork without stabbing yourself in the eye. Your handwriting is atrocious, but it always was anyway.

You are determined to not be like your mother, so you work with hand weights and you make yourself keep moving, even when you feel like you’ve had the 24 hour flu for ten years.

You try every drug, legal and experimental, and travel the world to pursue cures. But the disease is chronic. It is progressive. And eventually, it may take your life.

Now imagine being that woman’s daughter.

You hold your breath during your twenties, waiting for your legs to suddenly stop moving, or for your eyesight to randomly fail. But it doesn’t happen.

You get married and have your babies and wait for your thirties to be over, so you can breathe again. You have an MRI, and there’s no sign of the disease.

No cane.

No walker.

No wheelchair.

You turn forty.

If you wonder why I run marathons, why I Crossfit, or why I make the food choices I do, the answer lies very close to me. When you feel with your heart what MS does to a person, you don’t take anything for granted.

I have a choice about my health.

My mother and grandmother didn’t.

I thank God every day that I can go to Crossfit. I make the time for it, because I have that privilege.

If my mom needs to lean on my shoulders, they are strong enough.

If she falls, I can lift her up.

No worries.

Because on this day, at this very moment, “It’s all good.” 

*quote from Coach Rob

Stop Feeding Your Baby Crack

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I’m about to offend many of you and possibly hurt your feelings. But if you were giving your kid sleeping pills before the WOD, I might take you aside and say, “Dude, don’t you think that could hurt her?”

I am not a doctor, so this rant is completely unscientific. But I am a mom of four kids, so I feel like I can tell you this with all love:

STOP FEEDING YOUR BABY CRACK!!!

It is ironic that people will spend months or years training to lift their own body weights, but they won’t take the time train their kids to sit still for more than 60 seconds. Apparently, a “good” kid is one who sits zombified in the corner with his own little flatscreen.

No, that’s not a well-behaved kid. That’s a kid on heroin. A well-behaved kid can sit in a corner for an hour and entertain himself with his own imagination AND stay out of the way of people lifting heavy weights.

Wait…what about toddlers, you say?

Toddlers are a breed of their own. And guess what? They’re not supposed to be QUIET. They are loud, screaming terrors who will exhaust you before they’re even awake in the morning. But is that any reason to give them a flat screen?

When you toss a baby a flat screen, you create an addict, and you fall victim to LAZY PARENTING SYNDROME. Which is harder to do: train a screaming kid or toss a sedative into the playpen?

Yes, a screaming kid is going to annoy people, but you CAN work through it.

Toughen up, buttercup!

If you can deadlift 115% of your body weight, you can handle a 20 pound toddler! 

I promise!

While there’s no “proof” that screen time is related to ADHD, you can look around you and know right away which kids get a LOT of screen time, and which ones don’t. Seriously. My kids get 1-2 hours PER WEEK, maybe 3-4 if they’re sneaky [*teenagers not included, as they are on their own now].

When my kids were babies & toddlers…NADA. I was afraid to let them watch Baby Einstein for an hour. By the time my kids were 3, I could reasonably expect them to sit still anywhere–from a seat on an international flight to a restaurant with cloth napkins and candles.

How?

Work. Hard, difficult, gut-wrenching, grueling, sweaty, exhausting, emotionally-taxing work.

When we moved to Germany, I had 4 kids under the age of 6, and I found that during car rides, my kids fought MORE when they had personal video game gadgets. That’s because the video games encourage you to tune out the world around you, and overcome obstacles in the virtual world. And when anything gets in the way of achieving those false goals (like a chatty sibling), it creates tension and frustration–not exactly good qualities when you’re on a 12 hour car ride to Tuscany.

The thing that inspired today’s rant was an article someone sent to me about an infant seat that is equipped to hold an iPad above your baby’s head, which I thought was akin to child abuse.

Please, people. You’re harming your baby’s brain. Stop feeding them crap! If you Crossfit, you should inherently know the value of having tangible goals, of working your body to improve it. So why is inundating your child with a false reality ok?

What to do instead?

Give your kid a big, thick, heavy rope.

  • When she’s a baby, she’ll drool on it.
  • When she’s a toddler, she’ll stumble over it a few times before learning to climb over it.
  • When she’s a pre-schooler, she’ll try to drag it around.
  • When she’s school-aged, she’ll play tug-of-war with it (if her friends can lift their side).
  • When she’s in high school, she’ll teach the kids she babysits to climb it.
  • When she graduates, she’ll want to take it to college…
  • …but you won’t let her because you’re hoping you’ll be able to let your grandkids drool on it someday.

Is the rope scratchy? Will she fall? Will she (gasp) hurt herself?

Maybe. But it’s better than a lifelong diet of brain damaging stimuli.

Afraid to use the words ‘baby’ and ‘rope’ in the same sentence? Get her a ball.

A big, heavy med ball.

She’ll drool on it. She’ll push it around. She’ll pick it up.  She’ll break your Polish pottery with it. She might even piddle on it during potty training.

But she’ll be strong.

She’ll be like you.

Crossfit is not about muscle. It’s about grace, flexibility, perseverance and using what you have to leverage things that are difficult for most people. Parenting is the most difficult job you can have, but if you put in the effort, you’ll see the results.

Eventually.

Hang in there, friends. Don’t let iPad be your baby’s little addiction. Make her a Crossfit addict instead. 

*For more info on tactical parenting, you can read the book I co-authored: The Gypsy Mama’s Guide to REAL Travel with Kids, available in hard copy through Lulu.com or digitally (ironic, I know) through Amazon.com or download directly from Uncommon Childhood.

Stuffed

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Four days of no Crossfit is 3 1/2 too many. And now that we’re about a week post-feast, I can fit back into my spandex, but it was touch and go there for a while, and I started the hunt for the perfect sweatpants, just in case.

The day after Thanksgiving, we did go to the pool, and I did wear my size small bikini, but I felt like a BIG, FAT SLUG. It was a feeling that lasted through Saturday’s eight-mile run, Monday’s WOD, and lingered until yesterday’s great CWOD. Even though I was slow yesterday, I think I sweated a LOT of the slugness out of me. 

The hard part about holiday eating is simply the “it’s only once a year” mindset. Because if it’s only once a year, you’d better eat AS MUCH AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN before the cucumber and lettuce hammer falls once again.

If you have a gluten problem, like me, then you also feel obligated to eat the entire gluten-free apple pie your daughter baked, because she went to so much trouble. And as for the gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake…I made that PURELY for the kids.

Okay, that was a lie. But it’s only once a year, right?

vintage thanksgiving (11)

No. The once a year thing has got to stop. Because in addition to the pure wrong-ness of binge eating as much fat and sugar as possible within a 24 hour time frame, it can really throw off your healthy-eating groove, and launch you into a toxic hunger death spiral. Pretty soon you’re bloated and craving sugar popcorn while you online shop for sweatpants.

I need balance in my life in all areas. I think it will be FINE to have Mandeln nuts at the Christkindlesmarkt, but maybe I should have the kleine Tüte and not the grossen. Maybe I CAN have some pumpkin cheesecake on Christmas, but not half the pie.

This will be a battle. In addition to the traditional German foods that emerge from hibernation this time of year, my mother is visiting for the holidays, and she will bring family recipes that have been part of the holiday season since Eve baked the first sugar cookie.

I hate to seem finicky about food, but too much dairy makes my hands ache; too much salt makes my knees hurt; too many grains make me bloated; a little gluten feels like I’ve swallowed nails; and too much gluten knocks me out faster than a shot of Rohypnol.

I am THE world’s worst dinner guest!

Or maybe I’m the BEST because I bring my own food? 

The point is: when I throw off the health fetters, I’m harming my body. I’ve got to really focus on how I’m fueling my body–even if the entire house smells like freshly-baked cookies.

The path leading to the holidays is dangerous–go with caution!