My One-year Crossfit Anniversary

It’s been a year since I joined a CrossFit “box” and I can definitely see results, not just physically but emotionally as well.

I’d been doing a boot camp class for about seven years until August 2013 but was getting bored. Even though I put 100% effort into my workouts, I was looking for a way to kick them up a notch. I’d heard about CrossFit and had happened upon a website called SealFit, which I was following. Then I heard that a box had opened in town – in fact, it was just down the street from me – but was never able to check them out due to my work schedule.

Finally, I was able to connect with the coaches and sign up. If I hadn’t been in a boot camp class for six or seven years before then, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it. Even with my boot camp experience, my stamina wasn’t all that great. I look back – even to the early days of boot camp – and can see how far I’ve come.

Seven years ago, I was doing pushups on my knees with my hands on dumb bells because my wrists hurt. Today, I’m better at pushups but still have to drop to my knees sometimes. They are tough! Probably one of my least favorite exercises (all the more reason to do them!)

Looking back on the log I’ve kept since I started CrossFit, I can see improvements in everything, some bigger than others. I’ve learned to not mind wall balls and have worked up to a 14# wall ball, consistently hitting an 8’ mark. My front squat has gone from 55# to 85#, a PR in July. My deadlift is 90# (probably could have pushed it up another 5# during the most recent WOD).

The most exciting PR so far is climbing the 16’ rope! That was a rush.

Reaching the top of the 16' rope at Iron House CrossFit.

Reaching the top of the 16′ rope at Iron House CrossFit.

But there’s so much I need to improve. I hate Thrusters and Shoulder to Overhead. I’m very weak in my left shoulder, the result of a car accident 30+ years ago, and I’m stuck at 50#. And double unders? Still can’t get more than the occasional one but I sure am fast at those singles.

Physically, I’m stronger. I know that. My band-assisted pull-ups aren’t as difficult to do (goal: minimum 6 strict pull ups). But it’s the emotional strength I’ve gained that has been the best thing.

I’m proud of myself for reaching my goal of completing the Hero WOD Murph (aka “Body Armor”) in under an hour. It was a real confidence booster.

Memorial Day 2014 - 52:04

Memorial Day 2014 – 52:04

That was the first time I felt not only like I was making progress, but that I really was part of the community as well.

Since then, I haven’t looked at the WOD and thought, “How am I going to get this done?” Because I know I can. It may take longer than I’d like and I will often struggle. But I have a different mindset after completing Murph. I’m willing to take on more challenges such as trying standup paddle board yoga. And I’ve signed up for a Fitathlon in Eureka MO in Nov.

CrossFit isn’t for everyone but it appeals to my high intensity personality.

What about you? Have you tried CrossFit? What has been your experience with it?




Fitness News Round-up: 12-13-13

It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re browsing the Internet so I’ve rounded up what I think are a few interesting bits of fitness news for you.

This first one is from NPR. The trillions of microbes living in our guts is a growing field of research. Those of us suffering from IBS, Crohn’s disease or other intestinal problems welcome this new info.

Chowing Down On Meat, Dairy Alters Gut Bacteria A Lot, And Quickly.

As lifespans get longer and as more and more people take charge of their health, scientists are finding that a numerical age might not mean much any more. They’re now looking at other measures such as health, cognitive function and disability rates.

Redefining Old Age for the 21st Century

A small pilot study has found that changes in diet, exercise and stress management may result in longer telomeres, the parts of chromosomes that affect aging. The study shows that it’s never too late to make a change. You can read this fascinating study through the link below.

 Change Your Lifestyle, Change How Your Cells Age

America’s Health Rankings, which releases information about the healthiest and least healthy areas in the United States on an annual basis, came out with its top 10 states. Beautiful Hawaii tops the list.

Hawaii Tops 2013 List of Healthiest States

And finally, it’s about time.

FDA Moves To Phase Out Widespread Use Of Antibiotics In Meat

Fitness News Round-up: 11-29-13

It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole when you start browsing the Internet and lose track of time so I’ve rounded up what I think are a few interesting bits of fitness news for you.

This first article is by yoga teacher Katie Hill, who shares with readers insights into yoga.

5 Things Every Yogi Needs to Know

I love this post by Brynn Harrington at Wellfesto. With such an emphasis in our culture on girls looking pretty and being a princess, the focus here is on the so many other benefits of exercise than being able to fit into a smaller size dress.

10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out

My aunt, who is about 90 years old now, is Italian and grew up in hilly Turin. She’s lived in the US most of her life but kept her old-country diet. Up until about a year ago, when she had a heart attack, she walked daily and has always had a positive outlook on life. I’m sure these habits have contributed to her good health and long life.

Exercise, Diet Improve Longevity For Older Women


Fitness News Round-up: 11-20-13

It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole when you start browsing the Internet and lose track of time so I’ve rounded up what I think are a few interesting bits of fitness news for you.

With Thanksgiving and holiday parties just around the corner, this is a good time to read up on mindful eating. Follow the link to find out what is mindful eating and how to do it during the holiday season.

How to Master the Art of Mindful Eating.

I recently signed up for the newsletter from International Association of Women Runners and this article was in the first newsletter I got. Too often research is based on male subjects but what’s applicable for men isn’t necessarily so for women. I’d like to see more research on post-menopausal women too.

What do you think? Does gender an age make a difference in research results?

How Different are Women Runners From Men?

There’s an argument for letting children do strength-training. This article is an arguments for continuing (or starting!) strength-training when we are well into our senior years.

Strength Training Helps At Any Age: Even For 90-year-olds

Fitness News Round-up: 11-15-13

It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole when you start browsing the Internet so I’ve rounded up what I think are a few interesting bits of fitness news for you.

This first item caught my attention because I’ve decided to sign up for yoga teacher training next spring. Be Well Now, the yoga center I write a monthly newsletter for, is offering the training by a well-known St. Louis teacher. While my intention is to teach and add it to my future ‘toolbox’ of skills and training, I also decided to sign up because I want a better understanding of anatomy and physiology and a deeper connection with my practice.

You’re Never Going to Make a Living as a Yoga Teacher (And Other Things Nobody Tells You at Yoga Teacher Training)

Vanishing caloric density. That’s the term scientists use to describe “melt in your mouth” sensation that tells your brain you haven’t eaten enough, so you keep on eating. Junk food companies are masters at this and five other ways of creating cravings for the junk.

What Happens to Your Brain When You Eat Junk Food (And Why We Crave It)

Want a glimpse into the future? The American College of Sports Medicine’s annual survey of fitness trends is out. Now in its eighth year, the survey was completed by 3,815 health and fitness professionals worldwide. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) made it’s debut on the list as well as made the top of the list. More than just a list of exercise types or classes (i.e, Zumba) it also has such trends fitness programs for older adults and kids and worksite wellness programs.

Fitness Trends 2014: 20 Popular Workouts For The Year Ahead



Why Does Exercise Make Us Happier?


brain exercisingI’ve struggled with depression for years. Most of the time I just felt flat. I had what doctors used to call dysthymia and now called Persistent Depressive Disorder. Twice I was so deeply depressed that I was suicidal. For years I didn’t trust myself to be around guns and refused to let my husband have a handgun in the house. Talk therapy didn’t always help. For a very short time in the 1990s, I was on a mild antidepressant.

Eventually I decided I didn’t want to be on any medication. It was about this time that I started working out fairly often and once I hit 50, it became a regular habit. It was when I joined  and attended regularly a boot camp class that met three times a week that I found exercise was better than any antidepressant for me. Now, I can’t go a day without some sort of exercise or a run to rev up my endorphins.

Once I started exercising regularly, I learned it was feel-good endorphins my brain produced that was making me happier.

According to an article by ere’s what happens when we exercise:

If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and like things are clear after exercising.

At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, are released in your brain. Your endorphins main purpose are this, writes researcher MK McGovern:

“These endorphins tend to minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain, and are even associated with a feeling of euphoria.”

So, BDNF and endorphins are the reasons exercise makes us feel so good. The somewhat scary part is that they have a very similar and addictive behavior like morphine, heroin, or nicotine. The only difference? Well, it’s actually good for us.

Admittedly some forms of depression and other mental illnesses can’t be managed by just exercising. But even if you are on medication, I encourage you to get some form of exercise, even if it’s just a daily walk. The benefits are just too many to discount.