CrossFit War: Hate the Player or the Game?

June 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

Don’t hate CrossFit, hate the CrossFitter– or something like that. I know I’m late to the volcanic eruption Erin Simmons initiated. If you didn’t read her opinion article about why CrossFit isn’t for her HERE it is. Erin Simmons is a former track athlete, fitness enthusiast, and aspiring fitness model with a bangin’ bod. She doesn’t need CrossFit, whatever she is doing is working just fine for her.

At first glance, her article complemented my beliefs about CrossFit culture: unsafe workouts, rushed training program, and cultish. A Physical Therapist friend of mine lead me to Erin’s article, and like many that came before hers, I agreed. unnamedAs a Pilates instructor, I see people drag their feet into classes because their PT told them Reformer Pilates was the next step to recovery. The next step to getting them back to putting their balls to the walls doing the very thing that injured them in the first place. Going along with the article, I lamented: people getting injured in CrossFit will keep me and my PT friend in good work for a long time coming. This was a gross generalization on my part. Like an adorable Pitbull you cannot ignore, the rebuttal came from the CrossFit side.

Same FB thread, same circle of HS friends, an Army guy based in Europe for the past few years defended his favored fitness regimen. The community he gained through CrossFit in a foreign land should not be condemned. Always the athletic type, CrossFit had allowed him to push past barriers in his own fitness. He took accountability off the coaches, trainers, and organizations and put it back on the user. Pretty much, you can get injured doing ANYTHING. And that’s the truth, Ruth.

Yes, there are bad coaches in the “box” or bad eggs in the basket or whatever bad apple analogy you want to go with. Consider, when you “take up” running on a whim, you don’t have a certified someone coaching your every step. Or you’re doing the squat challenge you got off Pintrest, you don’t have a butt official. If you listen to your body, if you have good body awareness, and are knowledgeable of proper form, you will be just fine with little to no guidance from peers or the internet. Unfortunately, some people are just not born with body awareness. Believe me, if you have not been blessed with natural control, balance, and rhythm all is not lost, but seeking help isn’t a bad thing. CrossFit might not be something you should rush into, unless you find attentive coaches. In this case, avoid all bad apples.

In my limited experience at a “box” there was little to no classic instruction of any kind. The workout is written on the board and everyone does it. It’s like a high school gym class if the students actually gave a shit. The exercises are reminiscent of Olympic training. It’s like an Olympic Phys Ed class. Now, call me crazy, should someone with poor body awareness be lifting anything besides their baby without proper instruction or supervision? Should someone who has never worked out in their lives be working out like an Olympian? Probably not, which is why most “boxes” won’t let you lift in your first session. That doesn’t stop them from throwing you a 25lb weight and telling you to relay sprint across and eroded concrete lot. Even the most athletic body can trip up with the adrenaline of friendly competition and attempting a new feat.

I thought I was going to break my neck. I can do a triple pirouette and balance on five toes with my leg in the air, but navigating potholes in a sprint with 25lb extra junk… feel free to call me a pussy. With every exercise, I kept looking around the room, searching for some instruction. Was I doing this wrong? Was I lifting with my back by mistake? Will I be able to walk the next day? Is there a trick I’m not getting that will take it out of my hip flexors/shoulders/low back?

Okay, CrossFitters, de-ruffle your feathers, please. Admittedly, I have felt the same way in a Pilates class, proving further that it’s not all on CrossFit.  The instructor was pushing the class so hard and so fast that I was muscling through my reps instead of going at my own speed to maintain form. After an hour of being yelled at, I was almost in tears walking out the door. The next day I felt soreness in all the wrong places. These are two examples of the dangers of No Coaching and Bad Coaching.

Some companies will throw just about anyone in the ring to teach/coach/instruct. I landed my first fitness job when I was 20. I was originally hired to teach a Hip Hop Cardio Class. As a white girl and classical dancer, the class didn’t go so well, so they asked me to try kickboxing instead. So I rented a Tae Bo video and copied the workout. Ballerina gone bad ass. Literally, that was my instructor training. I have the former Blockbuster Video to thank for that. Oh and I also had teaching 3 year olds on my resume too. With the kickboxing class going well, my employers asked me to do an Ab Lab, which was perfect because I really loved to work on my own. When the Ab Lab gained popularity, I was asked to incorporate light weights. I’m not proud to say that I did it because I wanted to keep my job, but they shouldn’t have allowed me to teach and lifting. I wasn’t qualified. You can go though a 4 hour training cert online and be accredited, so I’d technically say I had more experience teaching, but it still made me feel uneasy.

Now, after years of teaching and proper Pilates Certifications and others, I’m confinement in my ability to properly train even the most feeble bodied. If I don’t know how to train or modify for an injury, I will always do my homework to get it right. I encourage my clients to listen to their bodies, and pay attention to which muscles are working. I cannot tell you how many times a day I say, “relax your shoulders,” even to the most athletically blessed people. It really needs to be a bumper sticker.TRX-690x645

Clearly, you can get a hard body, or kickstart your regimen after a “hiatus” without coaching, but it never hurts to have someone in your ear telling you to pull your abs in and track your knees. To be honest, if you love CrossFit, I don’t want to see you in my Pilates class. You are not going to be happy there. I want you to stay doing what you love well into your 90s. Can you gain body awareness and athleticism from cross training with Pilates? Yes, it can benefit performance in any sport, but I’m not here on a Pilates agenda.

You owe it to your body’s future be accountable for your needs. Me, I enjoy the constant meticulous instruction of yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, HIIT and other group classes, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t incorporate heavier weights (for future bone density) and more cardio (for heart health). If you enjoy the CrossFit atmosphere, do your thing. P90x, barre classes, marathon running, power lifting can all illicit injuries unless you are honest with yourself, your trainers, and your peers. No one will ever push you beyond your threshold into injury. No one wants to see injuries. If you aren’t sure, you should always ask. If you think you are doing it wrong, ask. If there is no one to ask, find a different exercise to do in the meantime and then go ask someone.

Don’t be shy with your health. The CrossFitters aren’t shy about their health, Erin Simmons isn’t shy about her health, and I’m not shy about mine. Do what works for you, but do it right, do it safe, and don’t be shy if you don’t think it’s right for you. It’s a big wide world of fitness and activity, go out there and get some good endorphins, look good naked, and have a blast every time you do it.

****On a side note, I was a little turned off by the heated, malice laced replies that popped up from the CrossFit community like THIS ONE and THIS OTHER ONE. It’s fantastic people are passionate about fitness in our food obsessed culture, however, I didn’t think Erin’s letter was as particularly bashing as her headline. She had a bad experience at CrossFit and it wasn’t for her. I also had a bad experience at CrossFit and it’s not for me either, but I would have liked to see CrossFitters exercise more grace under fire. We get it, injury can happen anywhere doing anything. Bottom line: Whatever you are doing, do it properly and encourage the same of the others around you. I wished that would have hit that harder instead of heated defense.

****Always welcome to take Pilates at HIP Studio in Hermosa Beach, CA. Every trainer will give you an intense workout, with impeccable instruction. I’ve searched far and wide to find a good home. If the CrossFitters are going to promote their “boxes” I’ve got no shame in promoting the studio I love.

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My Boobs Hurt

May 13, 2014 § 1 Comment

Previously posted: Oct 24, 2011 but still relevant today. 

Ladies, back me up. Those few days when the PMS is at its peak: bloating, break-outs, mood-swings, cramps etc, it’s distracting. Like at any moment… red tide. It’s a scary time. Some gals get more of one symptom than another, we’re all different but the hormones are the same.

My body’s symptom of choice is the great swell and sore of the sweater puppies. Seriously, I look like a cartoon character days before my monthly visitor. Va-va-va-voom. If I weren’t so cranky it would be a great time to take my car into the shop. Crash test dummy right into these airbags. It’s the week I double up on sports bras at the gym and go for low impact exercises. I got to strap ‘em down or they will take over. Despite arousal from others elicited by these firm melons, I feel bloated and gross so the only touch I desire is a mammary massage. But if he can get off on that, be my guest.

But why do the hooters hurt so much? I know most things that swell up are also sore, side effect of inflammation. The question is: what are these hormones doing in there to cause the swelling like clockwork every time I have a bloody mary? So I did some research and I got some answers.

My best definition was found on Medline Plus, an internet service provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. I’m a fan. Here’s what I found:

“Breast tissue often feels dense [duh] causing a persistent sense of breast fullness [more than you know] with dull pain and tenderness [exactly, yes!]. During the menstrual cycle, estrogen production increases and peaks just prior to mid-cycle. This causes enlargement of the breast ducts [whoa there, the ducts are enlarging?]. Premenstrually, progesterone peaks near the 21st day (in a 28-day cycle) and causes growth of the breast lobules or milk glands [excuse me?]. Premenstrual breast tenderness and swelling probably occur to some degree in nearly all women. Symptoms severe enough to cause concern or limit function may occur in many women during their childbearing years [oh shit, that’s me, they even raised my insurance premium because of it]. The rate may be lower in women taking birth control pills [diaphragm all the way, bitches]. Risk factors may include family history, a high-fat diet, and too much caffeine [whoops].”

So there you have it, your jugs are just getting a work out in case a baby wants to happen. Do you think boobs get disappointed when they realize nothing was conceived? Like they look at each other and shrug, “All that work, Alice, month after month. She’s tricked us again. I know she’s doing the deed, I got the word from Mary down there.”

The other one keeps faith, “One of these days she’s gonna slip up and do something stupid. Just watch, Gayle. Then we’ll really be in business.”

Yeah, I just named my boobs Alice and Gayle. It’s fine. They are pretty awesome just as they are: working hard, or hardly working.

Evolution of Your Emergency Contact

April 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Different stages of life can be marked by who is going to care enough about you to get their ass off the couch in the middle of the season finale of The Walking Dead to retrieve you from the hospital if you so happen to get something stuck inside your ear. Or worse. Kidney stones, heaven forbid.

Emergency contacts are essential at every stage of life. Just as you grow and change so do your emergency contacts. In my little life I have been to the emergency room for a broken wrist, getting an earring back stuck inside my ear, a kidney infection, an ovarian cyst disguised by abdominal pain and deadly gas (seriously, I think I killed a cat), a hematoma in my right tit, and hives the size of dinner plates. There may have been more, but those are the outstanding ones. Most of these instances I’ve had the pleasure of a trusted escort. In the case of the cyst on my lady bits and the tit hematoma an emergency contact needed to be called.

It’s a funny thing, staring at the blank spot on whichever form you obediently fill out. Who can you call? It almost laughs at you in times of transitions, defining you and who cares for you in that single moment. You can tell a lot about a person’s life by who they list as their emergency contact.

emergency-contact

 

Ages 5 – 18: You’re listing your folks, legal guardian, or whoever is paying your bills. No one else you know can drive. And if they can, they don’t want to be anywhere near a hospital or know how to act calm in times of crisis. Plus, know one else really has that good of a tally of your wildest poops from the past 6 months.

Ages 19-23: Still listing your parents, huh? Better be at least living in the same state. My cyst situation made a call to my mother, who was a 13 hour car ride away. That lesson was learned the hard way, especially because the episode resulted in emergency surgery. Fortunately, I was 22, old enough to consent, but young enough to want my mommy and a stuffed animal. This is when you start to contemplate the practicality of your chosen urgent caretaker.

Ages 24-26ish: “Hey roomie! What’s your phone number again?” This bestie has held your hair when you’ve had too much Jameson, they will definitely come get you from the hospital bringing your favorite yoga pants and a variety of trashy magazines. My unfortunate boob bleeding called for my roommate. Actually she was my ex-roommate at the time, but nonetheless fulfilled her duty  by driving to Beverly Hills past 11 on a school night just to keep me company before I went into surgery. That’s a good contact.

Ages 27ish-29ish: “Dear boyfriend I have been dating for a consecutive several months, can I put you down as my emergency contact? PLEEEEAASSSSSEEEEEE?!” This is a gamble. And it’s a dead give away that he’s in the trial period when you have to scribble out the first number you wrote because you don’t actually have his number memorized. Also, if you find out he’s still putting his sister down as his emergency contact… he’s just not that into you. In some cases this boyfriend turns into a fiancé or a different boyfriend all together. If you are co-habitating with a romantic partner, he had better come running to your side in a medical emergency. Otherwise you are wasting your youth on him. Also, that’s one phone number you should work on knowing by heart.

Ages 30ish-30somthingish: It’s probably your husband, or spouse, or maybe you say “partner.” However you label it, you are probably discussing very intimate things about bodily functions with them. This person should really be completely up to date on all physical and mental ailments and triumphs. This might be the first time someone has been this aware of  your current health history since your mom helped you blow your nose.

Ages 30somthingish-40somethingish: This is where the divorce rate comes into play. You start listing sisters, brothers, mothers, and trusted neighbors again. “Thanks for letting me borrow your lawn mower again. So you don’t really travel that much, right?”

Ages 50something and beyond: The whole thing comes full circle and you are listing your kids again. Even if you get remarried, you can count on your kin the most, partly because you might not be so sure how long your spouse is going to last with that bad eye. And if your kids live close by, you can bother them all you want. They can’t escape you, and in some cases maybe they do have a catalogue of your finest shits from the past month.

Our lives fluctuate and these ages are just simply based loosely on my half assed observations in data entry, but I think we can infer that becoming someone’s emergency contact is a big deal, especially if you break up with them, but still list them as the go-to. Don’t forget to update these things or you could be left in the lurch on crutches when your ex leaves you stranded upon discharge.

The good thing is, we are at our healthiest when our emergency contacts are the least reliable and transient. Go forth 20-somethings find those few friends who will pick you up from the emergency room when you have a bladder infection spread to your kidneys. Who’s going to come with cranberry juice and your body pillow in tow? Does that special gentleman caller have the potential to push fluids while you recover from a wicked lower intestinal disruption? Who can you trust to dress a puncture wound? Who will drop everything to rush to your side when you get three stitches? Life is a series of tests and trials. You can’t go it alone.

FWD: For Your Health

April 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

First Posted March 21 2011

Remember before email when it was the dreaded chain letter? You actually got it snail mail and somehow the threat of bad luck seemed more real that way. But it was such a pain in the ass to replicate then send to 10 people. Even in the emerging world wide web there was the hazard of the chain email, seven years bad sex and all that junk if you didn’t send it to fifty people you knew in 19 seconds, but if you did in under 4 you’d get a kiss from your crush.

I think now the internet has moved past puberty, with the exception of Facebook (forever young, Mark Zuckerberg and whoever practices Farmville). Sure there is still the occasional Failblog pictures forwarded, but for the most part I’ve noticed a nice shift in email since the boom of social networking. Educational, inspirational, thoughtful stuff that I’m compelled to pass along. So, without further ado, I forward onto you something Miss P. forwarded to me. Don’t be afraid, it’s for your health!

FWD: They Teach It at Stanford

“I just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was on the mind-body connection – the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman, whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.

At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.

Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But their feelings? Rarely.

Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health. He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.

There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged—not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking!

So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo let’s toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it’s very good for our health.”


The Big O

March 26, 2013 § 1 Comment

First Posted March 7th 2011 

Oxytocin. Have you heard of it? They say it’s the cuddle hormone. It triggers labor pains, it’s also the reason why new moms love their babies so much even though they look like little alien things from another planet. Men produce far less oxytocin than women, which is why we occasionally cry at fabric softener commercials. Guilty as charged. Oxytocin levels rise as bonding encounters increase: touching, caring, experiencing an orgasm, experiencing multiple orgasms etc. You’re hooked, you’re attached, you want to glue him to your hip and feed him chocolate.

I don’t like to admit this, but I’ve had a couple of boyfriends who I have absolutely hated the first time I met them. I hung around them for one reason or because I was forced to and they literally grew on me, we were feeding off each other’s oxytocin. It’s funny how quick shameless office flirtation leads to sex. Bam, I am hooked.

Riddle me this. I’m not a hugger, so when I get a surge of oxytocin from sex I am in love with this doofus. I have hormone-goggles on. I was broken up by the Polar Bear because I was finally getting the oxytocin I normally deprive myself of when I don’t let my hairdresser give me a hug. This is why people tell me to get a cat! If I had a pet I would feel sufficiently cuddled. And if I were sufficiently cuddled maybe every casual relationship wouldn’t feel like an arranged marriage. Or every guy who just isn’t that into me wouldn’t seem like he’s the last man on earth with a good pair of testicles.

But damn it feels good to be in love, or think you’re in love, or just be high on oxytocin. Maybe I will get a cat.

Roughage

October 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m doing a pretty serious detox this week. Raw food, salt water flushes (maybe a colonic), crazy concoctions only a mad man could come up with. I’m just not feeling my witty self, please forgive.

I am doing this in the name of research, good and other financial reasons. I’m reviewing the cleanse. So we will see. I will forward the link to you with all the gory details.

Until then I’ll be drinking my elixir and staying close to the bathroom.

Happy Halloween!

Fruit of your Loom

July 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Naturally we lose the winter weight in the summer months, not only for Facebook pictures in our bikinis, but also because we are more active and food is fresh. Farmers Markets are brimming over with some of the best fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only are they delicious but packed with hidden benefits. July is the best time to put these few at the top of your shopping list.

Nectarines:  Ah, the peach without a jacket. California grows over 95% of US nectarines. These 60 calorie wonders are close to home and ripe for the picking. This fruit contains good ratio of minerals and electrolytes such as potassium, iron, zinc, copper and phosphorus, making it a great post work-out snack.

Other nutrients include: beta-carotene, vitamin C, lutein, potassium, and fiber.

Cherries: Not just your average berry. That rich red color that makes this fruit the most sensual of them all comes from cherry anthocyanins. This powerful pigment has not only been shown to be one of the richest in antioxidants but also carries an anti-inflammatory component. Need help relieving muscle and joint soreness? Get your cherries now! Cherries have a short growing season that is peaking right this moment.Other nutrients include: beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber and melatonin, which has been found to help regulate the body’s natural sleep patterns, aid with jet lag, prevent memory loss and delay the aging process.

Eggplant: Eggplant is great anytime but it’s at it’s best right off the vine around late July. However, it’s not just fiber I’m raving about. There is current eggplant research showing the presence of phenolic compounds known to act as antioxidants in our bodies. On top of that the eggplant’s deep purple skin contains antioxidant rich anthocyanins. When choosing an eggplant for your table, make sure to grab one that’s firm and heavier than it looks.

Other nutrients include: fiber, Vitamin B6, folate, niacin, and thiamin as well as potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Fennel: Seen widely as an herb in Mediterranean dishes, but some varieties now grown have a bulbous stem that can be considered a vegetable. Fennel has been used in some cultures to aid eyesight, increase breast-milk production in nursing mothers, and promote digestive health. Enjoy fennel raw in a salad, cooked as a stir fry or try pickling them.

Other Nutrients include: potassium, vitamin C, and fiber.

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