I miss my friend.

One of the most prominent reasons I had for wanting to start to come to terms with my need to completely control my food and exercise was that it affected my relationships. The depths of my eating disorder were pretty dark and it ended up being sort of like panning for gold when it came to friendships. Many, many people (quality people that I love, even) slipped through the cracks because it became too deeply depressing or frustrating to see me prioritize trying to control my body again and again and again. People sloughed away as I grew thinner and more unable to interact in normal social function, especially around food.

It was sad to see these people go certainly, but what hits really strongly is the people who managed to stay. Although I would never ever re-live the experience of the emotional and physical bullshit that having an eating disorder gave me, I am totally amazed to see the resulting strength of my love for the people that stuck with me through that experience. Not everyone gives second (and third and fourth) chances and the fact that many people in my life have is amazing.

When I very first stopped eating and sleeping as a result of some intense life-stuff my friend Galina showed up on my doorstep with the intention of tucking my ass into bed. Disaster compelled me to ignore my very base level needs and that was exactly the point when I needed someone to step forward and assist me because I had stopped being willing to try to put one foot in front of the other. Galina was not a person who was without her own struggle by any means but she showed up with Tylenol PM to knock me out and she made me laugh and that shit is deep and real when you feel like you have nothing.

It has been almost five years since then and I have lived in other cities and other time zones since. I am not exactly the type that is great at long distance keeping in touch but Galina was a friend that you don’t necessarily have to speak to to know that she’s there and you’re still close and that when you do hang it will be awesome. She was a role model for me in terms of what type of friend to be because she listened and was reflective and that was it. You didn’t need to make the right decisions for her to think you were excellent.

Galina thought I was awesome when I was definitely my least awesome.

My friend Galina died yesterday and I don’t know how or why or anything really except that I am very sad. I am often weary of writing memorial-type posts because they come off as cliche or insincere to those who do not know the person and I find them often unrelatable. Plus, what does losing my friend have to do with fitness anyway?

I guess what I have to say is this:  I am really lucky to have a community of people that prioritize strength in a multitude of ways. I am really lucky that my body is not the first and foremost thing on my mind anymore, even when I am struggling with how I feel about it.  I am lucky to have had the help of my virtual bootcamp team to turn exercise into a positive and quick part of my day that doesn’t control every single other faction of my life. I am lucky to know that I wont abandon people to be a slave to food intake/output anymore and that I wont have to let my friends take leaps of faith that I will someday be better to them again. I am lucky that I get to be a good friend to those around me right fucking now and that people like Galina helped show me how to do that.

I wish I could have lived in the same town as her during a time when I was experiencing all this luck. I don’t have any illusions that I could have fixed anything necessarily but I could have  shown up to be a friend, which would have been good enough for me.

I’m gonna miss her.



Working out with a dude I love.

Every day that I do a travel CrossFit workout I am surprised. I am in to week three of my virtual bootcamp and so by this point, it seems like there wouldn’t be any real big shockers, right? But pairing me being the creature of intense habit that I am with a workout that is different every single day is not only keeping me on my toes physically, but also shredding me mentally! It’s awesome to be pleasantly worked by a task that seems relatively simple in it’s description. Yesterday’s workout was a great example of this.

My virtual bootcamp spreadsheet said I was to do ten rounds for time of ten walking lunges and ten pushups. It wasn’t until about halfway through my workout that I realized that this simple wording had tricked me into doing 100 pushups in about fifteen minutes time. Upon that realization shit got real, and real fast.

I scale my pushups, which is hard for me to suck up and do because I am full of pride and want to believe that I do not need to do such bullshit. As I’ve mentioned before, I had been doing the Insanity work out for some time, which involves a shit ton of pushups, which I did on my toes. When I began to do CrossFit style workouts I was given the information that push-ups don’t count unless my chest hits the ground. Not once did my beloved Sean T. give me this info so it has added an entirely new element to my push up workouts.

I have tried modifying by using my knees but I have found that I feel like I am building much more arm strength if I simply elevate the ground by pushing up from a counter, table, or chair instead. In yesterday’s workout I used my kitchen counter and sanitized it thoroughly upon finishing. My housemates are so generous.

In addition to using that modification to help me get through the workout I also used my date as a coach. I have had a definite history of getting actually angry very easily while exercising. I have sort of had a rule that I cannot discuss important things or hear critique while working out because it is literally the one time in my life where I might potentially fly off the handle and tell someone to fuck off. I have had multiple experiences where a lady’s day at the gym or a sweet afternoon run with a partner turned into me apologizing for being a total piece of shit after conversations got a little too deep. Whoops.

ANYWAY,  my partner LOVES to critique my form while i toil through workouts and it must be a special mix of bravery and foolishness for this to be true. Last week during a workout of 60 squats, 60 burpees, and 60 jumping jacks he had finished well before me and was offering words of encouragement. In between gasps for breath and tears I shrieked “DONT LOOK AT ME” as on-lookers probably watched in horror. I am so graceful.

Yesterday’s workout was the first time I think I actually accepted that I needed the help of another. I had never actually done walking lunges and I have a theory that because I have very long legs they are more difficult for me to do. (It takes longer to get to the ground! ) I was very nervous that my form would falter when I got into the 70, 80, and 90 portions of the move but his watchful eye confirmed that my form was correct til the end, which was awesome.

The pushup portion of this was pure hell to my noodle arms and toward the end I really wholeheartedly, honestly wanted to quit. I stopped being able to keep count of how many reps I did and how many circuits had passed. At one point I clawed at our backdoor to try to puke outside and literally couldn’t figure out how to open it. (For the record, almost every time I do these work outs I think I am going to throw up but so far I never actually have!) During these moments it was really awesome to have someone tell me to stop, recover for five seconds and give three or four more. I am pretty lucky to have someone willing to watch me workout with just enough compassion to tell me breathe it out but also keep me going. Its a pretty unique balance to have someone both love you and push you to do what you think you cannot. Maybe that’s what works in our relationship too, huh?

So I did it. My time for the whole thing was 15:02, which pisses the part of my brain that likes even numbers, but I shall survive. Today is a REST DAY which I will gratefully celebrate by going to get a mani/pedi. We can’t be all work and no play, can we?

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Knowing that you have a 100 burpee day on the horizon is kind of nerve wracking.

When I saw that I was going to be doing so many reps of this exercise that I pretty much hate I immediately knew that it needed to be a mind over matter type of situation. I had done a circuit that included a total of sixty burpees just a few days prior and if I had let my sore body tell me what I could and could not do I am almost positive that 100 burpees would be on the list of the latter. Let me tell you, burpees tear me a new one.

What sucks most about this particular exercise is how sloppy I feel doing them. If I was a pro I would be able to pop down, hit the floor, glide back up, and add a perfect little clap up top to cap each one off. Instead I am not a pro. I am a lady that is new to doing burpees and consequently  I sort of feel like a porpoise flopping around on dry land, wondering where the fuck all my air went as I (again and again and again) smack my stomach to the floor and try not to put the move so much into my back that it is prohibits me from doing any more.

My body begins to say “hellllll no” within four or five burpees so having 95 more to do after this point is a huge exercise in will. I am not generally one to spend a lot of time basking in self love, in fact being kind to myself is really something that I struggle with. In order to get myself through the process of a lot of these work outs I have had to take a crash course in talking nicely and being encouraging as if I were cheering on someone else. By burpee number 30 I was kind of wrecked. I wanted to puke, my heart was jackhammering, I was covered in sweat and sawdust, and I had visible bruises on both knees. I really (REALLY) wanted to sit the rest out and instead I began talking out loud to myself. Had any of my housemates had an ear to the basement door they almost certainly would have heard “You are doing it, you totally got this. Only one more set of ten and you can rest. You are stronger then 100 burpees”. I had to believe what I was saying too, because in order for quitting to not be an option, I had to feel like there was a chance in hell I would finish. Without some sort of confidence in my ability I wouldn’t have kept trying.

So, I did it and I feel okay. I am proud of myself for committing to something unfamiliar to me. With these exercises I am dedicating myself in a multitude of ways. I am showing up every day to do the workouts set out before me, despite them being uncomfortable and despite me being not as good at them as I am with other sorts of exercise.

I am committing to keeping the time spent exercising short and hard and letting the extra time I have be space for other activities in my life. As hard as it is to get through 100 burpees, it is even harder to let myself believe that I don’t need to do more in order to be spending a prescribed amount of time working out. I am unlearning many many years of rules and regulations I had set out for myself as a direct result of struggling with an eating disorder. I am letting myself have new goals. Its physically wracking and its emotionally wracking too. But hey, I did it. Awesome.

and for those who don’t know what a burpee is, here is a video. This guy is like a fucking ballerina of physical fitness!

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If you want self-esteem, do esteemable things.

I have gone through many exercise phases. I started with an hour of ellipticizing every day  (which now sounds like complete torture to me!) and then graduated to spin classes multiple times a week, running, yoga, kickboxing, hikes, long outdoor bike rides and most recently the Insanity workout. For a spell of time each of these felt very satisfying to me but once I hit a mental place of boredom I was unable to actually psych myself up to give enough effort for these workouts to continue to feel as good as they initially had.

I was most surprised when I started to get bored with Insanity. Committing to about an hour a day for the sixty days of the program was not tough for me initially when the routines were fresh and surprising but these days I find that I am naturally able to check out and not get as much out of them as I would like. This is absolutely not a fault of the workout (I love the program and love Sean T. and will probably never have much negative to say about either of them!) but I need to watch out for mental complacency with any workout program I am interested in. Enter Crossfit and my friend Ramsey .

I began reading Ramsey’s fitness blog sometime back and was really inspired by the confidence her workouts seemed to give her, her frankness about what the experience of trying to strengthen and tone her body was like, and the commitment she possessed while maintaining a level head about the process. Reading her words made me want to give Crossfit a try immediately but when I saw the pricetags of official Crossfit gyms I was a bit dismayed. It’s not that I believe the cost isnt  worth it (most folks who do it seem very happy to spend their cash in this way!) its just that I literally do not make enough to support such a habit. I had almost given up hope when Ramsey’s schedule had a shift that made it impossible to get to the classes she had been going to. When she suggested a virtual CrossFit bootcamp a bunch of people hopped on board, and I was one of them.

The switch up in my routine is challenging in so many ways. First off, for almost half a decade my workouts have taken up at least an hour of my days. These routines run from five to twenty five minutes so far and it is really surprising how my mind tricks me, telling me I am “not giving enough”. When I first hopped onto the bootcamp train I was adding the workouts into my Insanity routine and was immediately feeling terrible! It was just too much for my body. I decided to try to go by the schedule exactly how it is (adding in a warm up and cool down stretch) and trust that my body will know what to do with the shift. The second challenge of these work outs is that they are incredibly difficult. The focus on form and speed is very emphasized and after the short short sets I am totally worked, unable to speak and sometimes trying real hard not to hurl. I am sore in ways that I havn’t been for a really long time and needing a solid seven or eight hours of sleep at night even more then usual. CrossFit work outs are really amazing in the way that they function and I am really curious to see what will come of using my body in such a quick and fast way.

Someone once said this to me: “If you want self-esteem, do esteemable things”. I think this is a really smart and simple idea and really relates to exercise and food stuff. My goals for this workout change are varied and range from really broad to really specific. First I would obviously like to really hone in on gaining strength by being super honest about my form and really genuine about giving all I have to my workouts- no mental malaise holding me back.

Aside from this, I have physical goals. The first has to do with nutrition: I have had years of terrible stomach issues and I want to find ways to eat that support the serenity of my gut and the strength of my muscles. There are changes that I know I can make (lessening my consumption of raw nuts and nut butters, cutting out carbonated beverages, nixing cauliflower especially when its raw) that seem simple but are actually really challenging for me. I want to use this lifestyle change to focus on body welllness in all regards, including my stomach.

Second, I think its semi-controversial to say that I am not 100% happy with the way my body looks. I am a feminist, I believe that every one should be proud of what they got physically. Despite this, I can be really harsh on myself in ways that I am not toward other people. I have been very underweight in the past. It took me a really long time to eek up to a body that is healthy and I wish that I could just look in the mirror and feel proud of that successful struggle. While I do know that I look much much better then I probably ever have I see room for toning and tightening of my body and want to say that without it being too terrible or huge of a deal. I have a toning goal, which feels like a weight loss goal but actually isn’t because of muscle to fat weight ratios and all that. I want to feel more confident walking around in the world.

Lastly, I want to be able to work with this exercise program and challenge myself to having the best nutrition possible as gracefully as I can. I want to acknowledge the humanness of my process, have focus and dedication, but also not lose my mind trying to become a ripped mega-she-hulk. Physical fitness is very challenging for me because I go off the deep end really easily. The most esteemable thing I can do to have self esteem about my body is to maintain a sense of compassion. I’m working on it, I swear!

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