Tag Archives: Health

It’s Crossfit–You Have to be a Little cRaZy

aqua exercise

It’s hard when someone says, “How’re you doing?” because sometimes I just stand there trying to think of what to reply. I don’t want to lie, but I also don’t want to spontaneously vomit my sour garbage on some unsuspecting person who is only making a friendly greeting.

So, I stood there like a bird who bumped a little too hard into a window when our coach answered (for me): “Good. You’re good.”

It was a command, so I guess I was good.

And really, I was good because I was at the box with my son and my friends.

The happy fuzzy feelings of camaraderie would soon be replaced by physical torment, but that’s why I was there–to work it all out with kettle bells, which was the instrument of torture for the day.

Actually (and don’t tell my coach) I love kettle bells. I’m not great with them, (my double snatches are horrid) but I guess I like being able to HOLD the buggers, since they are equipped with those convenient handles.

If I have to file a single complaint about our box, it’s the limited quantity of 12 kg kettle bells. There are a couple sets of bulbous Smurf-blue ones (which I DON’T love) and one more compact set that leaves flakes of metal on your skin. I might buy my own, paint them with rainbows and flowers and bring them with me.

I grabbed the flaky kettle bells (before anyone else could get them, as they are highly sought after), when my friend Steffi said, “Are you crazy?”

Another good question.

I’ve heard that before: marathon running, Crossfitting–don’t those endeavors take a touch of craziness that soon becomes so incredibly normal you think everyone else is crazy for NOT doing it.

Then I took a good look at the board.

4 sets

20 KB swings; 20 KB cleans; 20 KB squats; 10 front rack KB lunges; 10 KB jerk or press

Then 15-15-15-10-10, then 10-10-10-10-10, and finally (the easy round) 5-5-5-10-10.

The penalty for setting them down was 20 pull-up burpees and immortal shame. Shame I can handle, burpees of any sort–not so much. I would do ANYTHING to avoid burpees.

I grabbed the 8-kilogram kettle bells.

I KNEW that I could at least use the precious, flaky 12s for one round, and thus, I would feel that I’d challenged myself (something I’m trying to do this year).

I did the first two rounds with the 8s and then picked up the 12s, incredibly THANKFUL for Steffi, the voice of reason. I respect her opinion because a) she’s been doing this for a while, and b) I’ve seen her squat. You just have to listen to someone who has really great form.

That said, I also remembered how I had made it through difficult WODs in the past, and I knew I could do one round with 12s without penalty. The real bitch about the penalty is that even if you do the burpees, you still have to finish the kettle bell round. So why put those suckers down at all? I would rather have both my arms fall off (fingers still gripped to the handles, of course) before I would drop those kettle bells.

For the amount of love I have for kettle bells comes an equal and opposite amount of hatred for burpees.

It’s all about a healthy balance.

While I was slogging it out in round three, Rob stole my 8kg kettle bells, which meant, I HAD to use the 12-kgs for the last round.


But it was only 5 more, right?

Crap. Again.

This is going to sound straight out of a cheesy karate movie, but when those last five bastard push-presses got really hard, I thought of a situation that had been stressing me out. I literally thought: If I can do this, I can make it through anything. 

I also thought a few bad things.

It was a therapeutic WOD.

Many people don’t understand Crossfit–they think it’s the same as any other fitness class, which you take for a while, but then stop when something new comes along. Someone had the nerve, or just plain ignorance, to tell me: “I think you’ll do it for a while, but then you’ll quit.”

My answer, from which I refrained verbalizing, was one of my favorite quotes from Pride & Prejudice:

“You think that, if it gives you comfort.” 

Crossfit is my therapy. It’s where my friends are. I want to be Crossfitting when I’m 90, not listening to people bitch about their bad health during aqua zumba.

Crossfit is for my longevity, but it’s also for the here and now.

And right here, right now, I need a little bit of something crazy to keep myself sane.

Why You Should Not Crossfit


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.

Stop Feeding Your Baby Crack


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:


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.


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.


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.

Coach Humor

Crossfit isn’t just about the body; it is also about the mind.

Your coach, in his endeavor to be increase your mental acuity, will test to see how closely you were paying attention, which usually ends up with everyone laughing.

For example: a 30 second hollow hold (with a kettle bell) that turns into something closer to two minutes.

I was a little distracted coming into class yesterday, and when I saw we were doing 8 rounds, I thought, “Oh, crap! I’ll never remember which round I’m on!”

When I first started Crossfit, I would constantly lose track of reps and sometimes muddle along until everyone else had finished and call it good. At LEAST I can keep track of my reps now.

But rounds…those can be a different story.

I don’t know if it’s because my brain is 40 years-old; or if I wasn’t focusing; or if the local anesthetic from my dentist appointment earlier had gotten to my brain; or if eating a pint of pineapple-coconut Haagen Dazs (yes, the entire 600+ calories) right before class wasn’t proper fuel; but I was a little bit off yesterday.

During the sprints, Sibylle and I passed each other, and she called out, “What round are you on?”

“I don’t know!” I answered.

“Five? Six?” she asked as we made the u-turn and passed each other again.

“I forgot!” I called.

So she asked Mickey, who can’t be more than 19, and thus has no excuse to NOT know what round he’s on.

When I reached my station, Sibylle said, “You’re on round 7.”

I felt like I’d won a prize. Only one more round!

I was glad SOMEONE had been paying attention.

But during the Simple Sets, my brain shut down for good. While I vaguely remember Rob saying these were 30 second holds (or ‘Hollow Robs,’ as we call them) I wasn’t looking at the clock. I was just listening to Rob’s voice saying “Hold…Hold…Hold…”

It was the longest 30 seconds ever.

I looked over to see that Sibylle and Mickey had set their kettle bells down and were laughing.

Susi (Rob’s wife, who I’m convinced is really a SuperHero, she just chooses not to reveal her true power to make us all feel better) told me to say something bad about him.

But I’m the kind of person who likes to formulate her thoughts, and remembering a picture posted on Rob’s facebook page, I thought I would write up a blog instead.

So, here is an undated photo of Rob, stolen from his facebook page.


I can’t be certain, but I think it was taken during his days as a laboratory experiment. I’m glad he escaped the evil scientists and found Crossfit, because he looks a hell of a lot better now.

And now, it’s time to prepare myself mentally for another WOD.

I’ll be paying closer attention this time!

The Tough Get Going

no smoking

What do you do when life gets tough?

Do you run or pray or meditate?

Do you smoke or fight or drive your car too fast?

There was a time when I could gauge how tough things were in my life (consciously or unconsciously) by the distances I would run. Sometimes I would release the stress into the air along with my sweat and tears, but other times, problems rode piggyback the whole way.

I still love a good 2 to 3 hour run; but Crossfit has been my therapy of choice these past eleven months.

At first I only went twice a week, but a couple of things happened at once: 1) my running trails turned to ankle-deep mud and 2) I realized the box was my safe place.

We all need a safe place to go: a place that is healthy, where people are encouraging, and where you can blow off steam and not think about anything except the next rep.

The only time someone yells is to say, ‘Tighten up!’ or ‘Stolz Sein!’ [Be Proud]; and it’s never derogatory, but it always makes you try harder.

As I was talking with another Crossfitter after class, I realized that many of us come to Crossfit not knowing it will become our safe place–a place we need to keep ourselves sane.

For many of us, our box, with its dripping ceiling and random divots in the floor, feels like home to us–and I wouldn’t change it for anything. A shiny place wouldn’t feel the same.

This is not to say that I’ve forfeited home life for the box. My kids will tell you that I’m a much better, less stressed-out Mama because of Crossfit. They encourage me to go [sometimes vehemently] because with Crossfit, I can be the Mama I’m supposed to be. The one with energy, vitality and an optimistic view of life.

Funny how tangible, iron weights can lift the intangible weight from our minds.

I am thankful for every day I get to go to Crossfit. It’s making me stronger, in many different senses of the word.