Crossfit Nutrition/Weight Loss

Beginner Two Months In – My Lessons Learned After Two Months of CrossFit

So next week will mark the two month point of my CrossFit experience. Really, it’s not been a legit two months though, because the first couple of weeks was Intro and Fundamentals, and then during the first month of actual WODs I took quite a bit of time between workout days to recover. So keep that in mind as you read my thoughts on the experience so far.

Starting Stats

When I started CrossFit, I weighed 191lbs. At the time I expected that my ideal body weight would probably be somewhere in the low to mid 180’s. Still some belly fat but not a “gut” by any means. My man boobs were “A cup” size. (I’m exaggerating for the purposes of humor).

Recap of the Experience

I’ve written some posts during the process, especially in the beginning, describing in excruciating detail how the Intro and Fundamentals sessions went. Refer to those posts for the gory details. In a nutshell: the Intro was a horror, the Fundamentals was really challenging and exposed my serious physical weaknesses, but was encouraging and fun.

The first proper WOD I did, which I forget now what it was, was really, really hard. Then the next WOD was an absolute breeze. What do I mean by “a breeze”? Well, it was harder than any workout you might get at a typical gym’s Pilates or Spin class or some shit like that. But it wasn’t a situation where mid-way through the WOD I was gasping for air and wondering if my heart rate was so high that I might die.

Then, there were a series of WODs that were mostly like the first one – very freakin difficult. But, like everyone says, there’s something addicting about CrossFit. So I kept going back for my twice a week sessions.

My Lessons Learned (and Suggestions for Other Out of Shape, Forty-Somethings Looking to Try CrossFit)

  1. There is no “looking to try CrossFit”.

    I think you’ll find that, after the intro baseline, you’re either all in (mentally, at least) or will parrot what a lot of “personal trainers” and non-CrossFit gym rats parrot and say stuff like, “It’s too much.” or “Kipping pullups? What a joke!”, etc.

  2. Seriously consider your recovery time between WODs.

    Twice per week was the way to go for me. I just now switched to 3 times per week and am not sure I’m totally ready, but I’m gonna give it a go as my recovery time is greatly improved now. I can actually function the day after an intense WOD now, whereas a month ago it took 2 or 3 days of lethargy and soreness before I felt good again. I was seriously worried that I couldn’t continue, it was so bad.

  3. Don’t forget to bring a bottle (or two) of cold water.

    Trust me. You’re going to need it. But I guess that’s obvious.

  4. Introduce yourself to everyone, and make friends.

    I seriously think that one of the benefits of being the slowest and weakest guy in the session is that everyone is happy to see you walk through the door – because they know they won’t be the slowest or weakest that day! : )


    Not only the weights, movements, etc. but most importantly, your intensity. I know this goes counter to the CrossFit mantra but if you’re like me then believe me, just making it through a WOD at the wimpiest (is that a word?) of intensities is going to leave you gasping for air and sore. I know they do me.

  6. Ignore #5 above and ATTACK the WOD.

    I’ve never gone into a WOD not looking to kick its ass. I know it will kick mine. What I really meant by #5 above was to pace yourself. I didn’t pace myself the first few weeks and as a result I was dead 1/3rd of a way through each WOD. I try not to do that anymore but it’s hard when my version of “seriously intense” in terms of weight and speed is nowhere near most of the other folks in the box doing the same WOD. But it is what it is.

  7. Pick a schedule/time and try to stick to it.

    I have a very flexible work schedule. With young kids involved in all sorts of activities and a spouse that works weekends/evenings sometimes, I was in a routine for a while of just showing up to CrossFit at different times. Since it’s the same WOD no matter when you show up, I figured it didn’t matter. But after a month of that it hit me that everyone seemed to know each other and the reason for that was that most people show up to the same time slot. I also found that certain time slots had all the “in shape” people and I prefer working out with the slow/weak people like myself : ) I’ve found a time that has a good mix of slow and super fit people and will stick to that for a while. Believe me, these WODs are so tough that the camaraderie of getting through them around the same group of folks is a real team-building thing and worth it.

  8. REST!

    I made a great decision a few weeks ago and bought an iPod Nano to use during my evening walks at the local track. Love the Nike+ Fitness app. Problem is, I literally walked over 35 miles this past month!!! I could show you my Nike+ page to prove it. That was WAY too much and, looking back, I think it did more harm than good. While “active recovery” is great, walking 4 miles at a time at high speed is not a good idea for my body when I’m still recovering from the prior day’s WOD. Your mileage may vary, but for me, a rest day needs to be a rest day. Walking long distances is not rest for me…maybe in a few months it will be.

  9. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks.

    The best tip I got was from a fellow CrossFitter who had been doing it about 2.5 years. After introducing myself and chatting a bit, mostly with me whining about how weak and slow I am, he told me he still couldn’t do an unassisted pull-up, but could deadlift 400lbs.  He emphasized that everyone was good at some things and bad at others. To just keep at it. That really encouraged me a lot. But what really helped was the next point he made – to not give a shit (my interpretation, not his actual words). Or, at least, don’t beat yourself to a pulp. He then pointed out a guy who sometimes will stop, mid-WOD, and go take a shit! LOL. Then he comes out of the can and resumes his workout. He doesn’t care about his time. He doesn’t worry what everyone else will think. The fellow then looked me dead in the eye and said something to the effect of, “You don’t strike me as a guy who gives a shit what his PR on the clean and jerk is – am I right?” I replied, “I don’t care about that. I just want to be fit.” He agreed that that’s what it’s all about for older guys like us, who have weight problems, etc. He said to take it easy and just push enough to not kill yourself but to get a good workout.

  10. Work on your Mental Toughness

    This is the thing that you may not expect when starting CrossFit. I think I and every other newbie expects their strength and overall fitness level to increase. And if you’re the type that worries about your PRs on lifts, etc., then maybe that needs to be your focus. But for me, the hardest thing has been my mental toughness – pushing through a WOD even though I have nothing left to give, my heart is pounding through my chest, the constant sweat is burning my eyes (bald guys like me don’t have nature’s mop on our heads to help impede the sweat…and no, I’ll not wear a 70’s style headband). A couple of weeks ago, after doing all the prior WODs with a constant “Can I make it? This hurts! Oh fuck, I can’t do another round!” etc etc etc running through my mind during each WOD, it hit me that that was holding me back some. My mental toughness was what I really needed to focus on. And sure enough, it has helped me greatly to focus on NOT focusing on this shit during a WOD. Yesterday’s WOD was a grueling one where I had to scale almost everything and even then it was a bitch. And even though I was hurting and wanted to quit, I had learned over the past couple of months that quitting just isn’t an option – so why even entertain the thought? So I just keep saying to myself, “Just keep going and before you know it it will be over.” Over, and over, and over. Try it.

Ending Stats

I’m sorry to report that my weight has gone up as a result of CrossFit. I’ve been holding steady at 197lbs for the past month. But I assure you it is not fat gain – I don’t measure but if I did I’m certain that my body fat percentage has gone down at least a couple of percentage points since starting CrossFit. My body is much tighter, leaner, with some actual muscle definition starting to show through. Especially in my shoulders. In fact, I snapped some pics of myself just prior to starting CrossFit, and will post a before/after in a couple of more months to show the tangible gain. I am *really* hoping that my weight will start going down again, but if it stays at 197 and I keep getting truly leaner while more muscle defines itself then I will be content.

But, as in all cases, what matters most is not how one looks but how one feels. And I feel pretty darn great the last couple of weeks. It took a while to get my body acclimated to getting the shit kicked out of it during these WODs, but I feel like I’m over that hump now. And I feel great.

Fitness Technology

iPod Nano and Nike+ An Excellent Tool for Low Carb Fitness

This week I logged a ridiculous number of miles just walking. Why? Well, even though exercise is overblown (no pun intended) for weight loss, there’s no doubt it’s great for you for other reasons. One of those reasons, for me, is it clears my mind and gives me an opportunity to listen to music and/or podcasts. And it beats sitting around wasting away life Facebooking or doing other stupid shit (like blogging!).

One of the other reasons I like to walk is it allows me time to listen to podcasts. I’m a podcast junkie. One of these days I’ll write up a list of the podcasts I listen to, which include some awesome low carb and paleo ones, but for this post I wanted to write up my opinion of the iPod Nano that I bought a couple of weeks ago and have been using quite a bit since. I have found it to be very useful and motivating. My understanding is that this version of the Nano has been around for quite a while now, so there are surely tons of reviews from tech sites and teenagers out there on the web for you to get the specs of this thing, but I bought it to use while walking (with the occasional sprint sessions), and listening to podcasts while cleaning, doing the dishes, etc. around the house.

iPod Nano Review

In a nutshell: it’s been a great purchase.

Fitness Miscellaneous Ramblings Suggested Sites

Article About the Lack of Evidence Correlating Exercise with Weight Loss

Just wanted to post a link to an article that discusses the lack of evidence to support exercise as a cause of weight loss. My own n=1 testing/experience confirmed this for me. That said, as I’ve repeatedly said, exercise is good for you and you should do it unless you are obese and trying to lose weight and it causes you to eat more, as it does many of us.

With my weight at a point where I’m happy with it, I exercise every day, or at least try to. I just know that it won’t help me lose more weight and, in terms of pure pounds, it actually increases weight for me as I gain muscle. An excerpt from the article:

Thin people exercise a lot compared to overweight people, and assume that they’re slim because of all the exercise. Meanwhile, overweight people tend exercise much less, and we all assume that explains their bigger waistlines.

The truth, very likely due to genetics, is that the body composition of both groups explains the exercise habits, not the other way around. 

Fitness Miscellaneous Ramblings

Making the Transition to Minimalist Shoes

So, probably like a lot of you, I was pretty skeptical about the whole minimalist shoes thing. Apparently a lot of people think Vibram Five Fingers are “gross”, “disgusting”, or “give me the skeevies when I see people wearing those!” I don’t get that at all, but I’ve heard it a number of times. Not in regards to my own shoes – I don’t have a pair. I kinda wish I did but I doubt they’d fit my wide feet right and, even if they did, I’m a ‘one pair of primary shoes’ guy – I like to have one pair that I put on in the morning and don’t take off all day, which includes work, exercise, play, hanging out, etc. I typically work from home or out of the local Starbucks, but most days I do go into the company’s office to attend an in-person meeting or two. And walking in there with Vibram Five Fingers would probably not be a good idea. It’s a fairly progressive culture (though seemingly quickly regressing lately…), but not that progressive. I’d quickly become “that goofball with the toe shoes.”

The Compromise

About six weeks ago, after wanting something Vibram-like for quite some time, I was determined to just get a pair. I looked online but with my wide feet, typically requiring a 2E width, choices are slim and trying them on wouldn’t be an option. I narrowed the choices down to:

1. Merrell Men’s Trail Glove Barefoot Running Shoes

 2. New Balance MR10 Running Shoe

I wound up purchasing the New Balance ones because they were in stock at my local mall’s New Balance shop, and they were on sale. As is usually the case, they didn’t have my size. Why is it so hard to find size 10.5 or 11 2E? I wound up going with the 11.5 size they did have. They are too long, but fit pretty darn good.

The Transition

I have to admit…the first couple of weeks these shoes weren’t all that comfortable. I would put them on in the morning, just to walk around and wear them during the work day (my work day does not include doing anything physically demanding aside from sitting in a chair and typing on a laptop). By the end of the day my feet would ache a bit and, if I left them on all day I found that my feet felt ‘sprained’ for lack of a better description. Not good. Not horrible though – not so much that I wanted to ditch them. But not as comfy as the Brooks running shoes I was wearing for the last year or two, which are as anti-minimalist as you can get, with a big ass heel height. They’re like stilettos for runners.

I’d been thinking it was time to ditch the shoes and just admit that minimalist shoes weren’t for me, when I had to run to a CrossFit session and forgot to change to my Brooks before leaving the house. I wasn’t concerned because that day’s WOD was the bench press so I figured not much on my feet. I was wrong – the warm-up started with an 800m jog. Fortunately for me, it truly was a jog – the rest of the athletes didn’t bust out and sprint it like they usually do and, in fact, for the first half I led the pace which was cool. And halfway through it hit me – I’m running easier and more comfortable than I ever have. It felt good. My feet felt great. Must be the shoes! : )

Truth be told, I did notice that my feet were getting used to the minimalist design the week of that workout, and since then my feet have been feeling stronger, and the shoes are now downright comfy. I’m not going to bother putting on the Brooks anymore and will continue to use these.

Would I buy them again? No. As much as I really am starting to love the feel of minimalist shoes, I don’t particularly like the looks of these New Balance ones. The heel is abnormally fat in the center, which is in keeping with the minimalist design but looks a little like those goofy ass Skechers ‘Shape Ups’. I will however definitely stick with minimalist shoes going forward. So I’m going to keep going with these for another month and then, if all continues to go well, order some new ones with an even thinner heel. Who knows, by then I may throw caution to the wind and go with the Vibram Five Fingers!

I have NOT run long distances with these shoes yet. I plan on trying that within the next few days, but I am a horrible runner and 800m is actually a pretty far distance for me without stopping, so I am confident that these shoes will work for longer distances without causing any issues.

If you are new to the minimalist shoe hype, then here’s some more for you – check out the commercial video below. It’s a bit on the cheesy side but it’s worth a watch. As I said in the beginning of this post – I was kind of skeptical about the minimalist shoe hype, but I’m quickly becoming a fan.

Fitness Miscellaneous Ramblings

Glad I Ditched My Gym Membership

This post is a jumbled mess, stream-of-consciousness thing. With so many new subscribers and emails from folks (even a guy at work stopped me today and said he’d heard the podcast!), I feel obligated to write today so here it is….

Glad I Quit My Old-Fashioned Gym

So a few months ago I was in a weird place in terms of fitness. I wasn’t doing anything consistently to stay fit. With my primary goal being to get fit this year, I was not actively making progress towards that goal and was bummed. I had a gym membership with a good gym, but it was a little on the pricey side (as far as your typical GloBo gyms go). So I switched to another that was much cheaper, but after a few visits I realized I just didn’t want to workout in a traditional gym anymore. Knowing that I would gain more benefit from something like Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Fitness approach, I ditched my membership and decided to do playground workouts, etc. It was a great decision, as I don’t miss my gym membership at all. In fact, once I canceled my membership was when I stopped being passive about reaching my fitness goals and became actionable.

The Usual Suspects on the Treadmill

I knew I needed to seek out a real program and commit myself to it, versus doing what the majority of GloBo gym members do: show up and get on a cardio machine for 30 to 45 minutes and maybe do some weights using those goofy machines. That wasn’t working for me. It can for some (not the cardio though, as evidenced by 99.99% of the ‘skinny fat’ people on those machines everyday). So I quit the gym and joined a new one – the free one right outside my front door…

Playgrounds, High School Tracks, and My Backyard

I started with the basics of air squats, push-ups, situps, planks, walking, and some strength training. I was proud of myself for leaving the confines of the gym and trying to ‘program’ my own workouts instead of simply following the chronic cardio crew. And that’s when I quickly realized that I just did not have the motivation to push myself consistently to the point I needed to, or the knowledge of HOW to work out effectively. I knew WHAT to do. That’s all available for free on the internet. But doing compound lifts such as back squat, or bent-over barbell rows, by watching a youtube video didn’t work for me because I am extremely inflexible (physically!).

That’s when I knew I needed something more structured, some personal training. I flirted with the idea of doing a one month kettlebell training class. Kettlebells are awesome and someday I’d like to focus on them. Now just wasn’t the time. I also considered doing yoga, as I loved the Saturday morning yoga classes that my now old gym used to offer (even though I was usually the only guy in the class, which was kind of awkward). After thinking about it for a week I realized that I needed to go all in and try CrossFit. I’d been wanting to do it for a while but didn’t have the balls. It takes balls, too. I give anyone who walks into a CrossFit box immediate props for just having the balls to show up. Most people don’t/wouldn’t ever try it. Last week I noticed an overweight married (I assume) couple show up for the free intro session. They looked to be in their late-forties/early-fifties. They looked a bit nervous and I could empathize with them. But I also was quietly rooting them on and hope they stick around. And not just because I’m tired of being the weakest and slowest in the box : )

So far, so good. While my previous posts have outlined the difficulty of sustaining even a measly two CrossFit workouts per week, a lot of that has to do with me pushing myself during non-CrossFit days. My latest enjoyment is going to my local high school running track and doing a combo of walking and sprinting. I quickly find out that wasn’t a good idea when the next day’s WOD is 30 front squats at 85% of my max. It also doesn’t help that I have been helping a relative with a major kitchen/dining room remodel, which included tearing up tile and hardwood floors and then laying down a boat load of laminate flooring. Those bullshit ads that claim anyone can install a laminate floor are bullshit. I must have done 1000 air squats yesterday while installing that floor. My calves were burning by 1pm and, after going another 6 hours straight, my thighs were even worse.

It hit me today that, with the summer months in full swing, I am really glad I ditched my gym membership. For two reasons:

  1. I would have never joined CrossFit. No way I could afford both.
  2. I prefer doing constantly varied movements, and CrossFit, in just a few weeks, has taught me what real workout intensity is. And I could do all of it outdoors, at the local playground, at the local high school track, my yard, etc. It’s all there and free. I would lose the great benefits of being a CrossFit box member, which include personal coaching and the group atmosphere, which I assure you is 100000x better than what you might find at any other gym/fitness center.

If I’m not still doing CrossFit come winter and the cold season, then I’ll certainly be enrolled in some sort of short-term training like kettlebells or yoga, or possibly just buy some winter athletic wear and embrace the cold and go it alone. Either way, I urge everyone to consider ditching the gym and trying something new. Commit to a baseline program such as Primal Blueprint Fitness, and supplement with short-term courses such as Kettlebells, Yoga, MovNat, etc. Or, if you truly don’t need personalized coaching/programming, then go it alone but do it outside. Cus let’s face it, odds are your local neighborhood is an even better ‘gym’. And it’s free.

And besides….those people that get their workouts by simply hanging from the monkey bars at those NYC playgrounds are just badass.


Have you been working out on your own? If so, what do you do, and where do you do it? Leave a comment below!


First Month Beginning CrossFit And My Primary Weaknesses So Far Are…

In CrossFit, you’re technically not supposed to prepare for a specific workout. It’s probably even ‘cheating’ to some extent even looking at what the WOD is going to be in advance. I always look at what the WOD is going to be before I go, but I’ve been good at not cherry-picking. I promised myself I would never do that and I haven’t yet.

My Primary Weaknesses So Far

In the title above I say “Primary” because, to be honest, I’m weak at everything. I lift less weight (MUCH less), my technique sucks at all skills, I am a slower runner, etc. Now that I think about it though, I CAN do a handful of strict pullups unassisted. Apparently not everyone can when they start. And my rowing is okay for a beginner. Aside from that, I’m screwed.

This past week the two WODs I did (I’m still on a 2x per week membership) were focused on olympic lifts. One was the jerk. The other WOD focused on the front squat. In both of these WODs I found that just getting the technique down has been really challenging. The front squat came together after the first 10 reps or so, once I got my grip position sorted out. My hands/wrists were still aching, but it wasn’t too bad. The jerk never came together for me. And other skills attempted during prior weeks, such as double-unders, are a pipe dream. When I tried those I could barely string together a decent series of single-unders. And struggling with it took the wind out of me, which made it that much harder to do the stuff that’s supposed to be harder, like the handstand pushups (or stinkbugs, which is what I had to scale to) or whatever follows the double-unders in the WOD.

My body isn’t recovering quickly enough to do CrossFit 3x per week. That is my ultimate goal. Mentally I want to do it now, and I’m half-tempted to go for it, but my concern is getting injured. When you hit 40 years of age and you’ve never done any real athletics since your early teens, you can’t get delusional and think you can just jump in there with a ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude. Well, attitude is good but this shit is too damn hard on my body to just push through it more than I already am. It’s tempting, when I walk into the box and look around and everyone is so buff and lifting tons of weight. But some of these dudes are the type that will ride their mountain bikes home from a vasectomy. They’re badasses. I need to work up to that…slowly.

So my solution? I’m going to beat the system! Well, not quite. Looking back over the WODs I’ve completed so far, a few things stick out at me as clear problem areas I need to focus on:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Olympic Lifting Technique
  3. Skills


Today, along with a bunch of other errands I need to get done, I’m going to do what I’ve been meaning to do for a while now: go to Home Depot and buy a section of thin diameter PVC pipe. Same as they have at the box. For me, I think it’s important that I start using it as a stretching tool to get my shoulders opened up more. While I need flexibility work on my arms, hips, legs, etc., and especially my wrists (they are *really* abnormally inflexible), doing shoulder separations (commonly referred to as “Pass-Thru’s”) may help.

I’m not kidding about my wrists. I took an introductory squash lesson about 10 years ago and the instructor kept telling me to cock my wrist while holding the racquet. He grabbed my hand and pushed back and when it wouldn’t go any farther he proclaimed, “You have the most inflexible wrist I’ve ever seen in 20+ years of coaching.”

Here are my hands when stretched ‘back’ as far as possible. Not even close to perpendicular to the arm:

And you thought I was kidding.

Now you try the above with your wrists, pushing back as far as you can, and compare the results.

Ideally I think I’d benefit from yoga, but I can’t afford to do both yoga and CrossFit, and I’m not one to roll a mat out in my family room and follow along to one of those yoga OnDemand tv shows.

Olympic Lifting Technique

Another big problem, particularly with the two very complicated (for me) olympic lifts has been my total inability to just physically memorize the movement, let alone worry about lifting real weight. I really didn’t expect so much technique would be involved in this. The lifts look so simple when others do it, but I’m finding it’s not as easy as it looks. And apparently it is a learned skill. I found this video of the snatch that seems to underscore that it is a learned skill and not simply something where you just need to know how not to injure your back. There’s more to it.

Coach Mike Burgener Teaches the Snatch


Another thing I did this week was to go out and purchase a speed rope like this one:

Click to See Prices on Amazon

It was cheap at my local sporting goods store ($6), and if you have an Amazon Prime account you can get them for as little as $2 on there with free shipping. My local sporting goods store had some $15 ones that looked nicer but I took a chance going cheap and it definitely was the right choice as this rope is plenty sturdy. While I certainly won’t be doing double-unders any time soon, I can practice the single-unders so that I won’t have to worry about expending all of my energy during a WOD fumbling and tripping over a jump rope.


With all that said, the absolute biggest problem is that my cardio is just not up to snuff. After yesterday’s pre-WOD warm-up (200m run, followed by burpees, followed by broad jumps and spidermans), I was sweating like crazy and out of breath while everyone else looked fine. Gotta add aerobic conditioning to the list….

Would love to hear from other CrossFitters, especially those new to the sport. Leave a comment below. Do you work on skills/technique outside of the box?



June 4, 2012 – Survived Another WOD!

So I made it through another WOD and was able to finish it. Heavily scaled down, slow, but finished!

Yesterday’s WOD was really tough (seems like they all are!):

Warm Up

These warm-ups crack me up. Literally. By the time they’re done I’m huffing and puffing and thinking there’s no way I can do a WOD afterwards. But somehow it’s working out okay so far.

Here’s what the warm up entailed:


Finished My First CrossFit WOD and Lived…Barely

The timing was just not right. : (

I really wanted to do my first CrossFit Group Session and WOD with the coach that guided me through the CrossFit Fundamentals course, as I figured she would be able to scale the WOD for me without hesitation and would know what I know/don’t know in terms of lifts, my form (or lack thereof), etc.

But my Fundamentals coach wasn’t doing any sessions today. So I signed up for the 4:30 session, coached by the fellow who administered the Baseline WOD to me last Monday. I knew I was in for pain. Alas, I just jest – he turned out to be a very helpful coach, and within minutes of the session starting, he knew he’d have his hands full helping me…

So I show up 15 minutes early. I walk in and there are about 10 people standing around in the ‘foyer’ (the actual workout area/’box’ is behind a glass wall/doorway and the ‘foyer’ contains some side-rooms, t-shirt/swag stand, and check-in desk. The reason everyone was hanging out in the foyer instead of warming up inside was because there was a CrossFit Kids session in progress, and apparently non-parents aren’t allowed in there until they’re done.

So I look around while waiting, and immediately notice that every freakin person in there, waiting to go in for the same session as me, was absolutely ripped. We’re talking natural ripped – not steroids/ Schwarzenneger. Both men and women. Most in their mid-20’s max. A couple older folks. All were in impeccable shape. I was nervous.

Just then, I notice an obese lady waiting too. I was thrilled, figuring I wouldn’t be the slowest and weakest in the session…until the CrossFit Kids session ends and her kid comes out and they leave.

The Warmup

So we go inside and the coach, an exhuberant fellow, guides us through a warm-up consisting of:

  1. 400m run
  2. Those bend-over to touch your toes then walk-out your hands to push-up position, do the push-up, then walk your hands back, keeping your knees as straight as possible for as long as possible.
  3. Spidermans (these are a very difficult stretch, where you pose on the ground like Spiderman)
  4. Some arm circles

I was already pretty nervous about this whole thing. And my gut was still grumbling from the big-ass sweet potato I ate too quickly a couple hours prior. So I was already short of breath by the time the 400m run was over, and I started to sweat. The run wasn’t very long so I would have been fine had I not been so nervous or had an upset stomach.

Then, with the warm-up complete, the coach talked us through today’s WOD:

W.O.D. 5.31.12

5 Rounds for Time…
5 Hand stand push-ups
10 Hang power snatch (115/75#)
20 Double unders
Truth be told, although probably not in the spirit of CrossFit, I did look on the WOD blog earlier today and knew that this WOD almost couldn’t have been a worst first one for me. I’m sure there are many harder ones, but push-ups (let alone handstand ones), then one of the more complicated olympic lifts, and then double-unders: jumping rope so that the rope goes around TWICE for each jump. I hadn’t jumped a rope much ever in my life.
The coach spent a good deal of time talking us through how to do the Hang Power Snatch correctly. I followed along and felt like I knew what I was supposed to do, but as I found out during Fundamentals, knowing what to do and doing it are two different things. He must have sensed that I was clueless and asked me if I had tried these before, which is when I told him this was my first class and I’d never done any olympic weightlifting. He then had everyone practice a bit – by this time there was at least 15 or 20 ‘athletes’ there, and space was pretty darn tight. Especially when you consider everyone’s throwing down the weights when done, jumping rope, etc. I’m surprised more people don’t get hurt – I felt like I almost hit the coach once when doing a rep of the power snatch.
During the practice reps, I stuck to the bar only. The coach came over and worked with me for a few minutes and then told me to stick with just the 45lb bar and focus on form, and if he saw it was too light for me he’d add some weight during the WOD. I knew there was no way I could handle any weight on the bar yet…
After that, the coach urged everyone to really try to do the Double Unders and not wimp out. I got the sense that a lot of folks don’t bother and just go for standard ‘single under’ jump rope.

Starting The WOD

Next thing I know, it’s “3-2-1-GO!”.
First up is the handstand push-ups. The coach had mentioned that there were 3 levels of ‘scale’ if you couldn’t do the real handstand PUs – first was to use a lumbar-looking pad thing that rests under your head. I don’t get how that scales anything – looks to me it just makes it so if you fall you won’t crack your head as it’ll just bonk onto the padding of this thing. He then said the next level of scale is to do a “Stinkbug” – basically a push-up in the pike position. Last option for scaling was to use a box to support your lower body.
He came over right away and told me to do the Stinkbug style. I did alright with them the first round of five, though they were much harder than regular pushups. I then went to the power snatch and struggled at first but eventually got the hang. The coach spent quite a bit of time with me at that point. 10 reps, plus add 4 or 5 more that he said weren’t right so I re-did, and it was on to the Double Unders. I really screwed myself with these. I should have just ignored his plea for everyone to really try the Double Unders and just do regular jump-rope. But, like a buffoon, I was attempting the Double Unders. And I’m lucky I didn’t Double Over…Eventually, I was able to do a real Double Under once every 2 or 3 tries, but only for a single jump. I’d then lose momentum and trip. And this constant struggling to do them really took a lot out of me, particularly as the rounds continued.
By the time round 1 was finished, I was toast and I knew it. I was sweating like a pig, and gasping for breath. Still, I pushed on. Once in a while the coach would come over and try to inspire me. The first couple of rounds he did. By the third round, I was in a daze. Not truly dizzy or sick or anything. Just spent. Fortunately, I had the discipline to just keep going, but with a healthy dose of leaning over and taking breaths, short pauses.
I finally get to the 3rd round. I look around and see that half of the people are already done. I remember thinking, “These fucking people are freaks of nature!” To put it in better perspective – I was the ONLY one I noticed that didn’t have the prescribed 115lb (men) or 75lb (women) on their bar.
By the end of the 3rd round, doing the jump rope and still trying double unders every 5 or 6 revolutions (a major mistake), I was so drained I wasn’t sure I could finish. But I knew there was no way I was quitting. No fucking way. I asked during the Intro session if there was a portable defibrilator on site and the coach said there was and they were trained on how to use it. I wasn’t that bad today but it crossed my mind.
The coach comes by and asks me what round I’m on. I tell him 3. He tells me 4 will be my last, as there is a 20-minute time limit. I didn’t argue.
The 4th round (for me – most everyone else was done) starts and I am doing the box-assisted handstand pushups. I’m hurting bad. I could barely get on/off the box. I stumbled through the pushups and then did the power snatches. The coach kept coming over and checking my form and this round he kept saying I had it down, but I could tell it wasn’t great. I was too weak by this time to do it right. On to the Double Unders and by the 20th single revolution, after some failed attempts at true double unders thrown in, the coach tells me to quit trying double unders and just do single. I forgot to mention that if you don’t do double unders you have to do 60 single jump rope revolutions. I got on a roll and, maybe it was knowing the pain was almost at an end, I nailed the final 20 jumps in a row.


With the WOD done, the coach had us put the equipment away and then he led us through some stretches.
With the session over, he came over and asked me if I was okay. I said yeah and he replied, “Are you dizzy?” LOL. I was so weak I couldn’t laugh. But I could tell he was concerned as I was so spent by then that I couldn’t muster any emotion in my face to let him know I was okay. He told me to hang out a bit after the WOD before getting into my car but I had to get home to take my son to baseball, so no chilling out and watching everyone else put themselves through torture for me.
I got home and then went to the baseball field with my son and was still sweating like crazy, still recuperating for about 45 minutes. I then decided to walk (there is an excellent walking/running track at this park). I figured it would mitigate soreness and I felt like moving (believe it or not) anyway. I walked for about 40 minutes and started to feel great. Humiliated at how weak I was, and how poorly I felt I did on the WOD. But then it hit me – I’m 40 years old, in the best shape of my life, and I’m CrossFitting. I’m a fucking CrossFitter. A sorry excuse for one, but one nonetheless.
The coach told me, after I assured him I was okay, that “it gets easier.” I don’t really believe him. My competitive nature will just make me push harder. At this point I could give a shit about time or points (all CrossFit workouts are timed or scored). But it will bother me if I’m not at least completing the workout with scaling. Today I only finished 4 of the prescribed 5 rounds. Not cool. I will keep pushing and hopefully within a month or two I will be at least getting through the complete workout, even if scaled heavily.
Next WOD will be Saturday. And wouldn’t you know it – I just checked tomorrow’s WOD (it is posted at 10pm precisely the evening before) and it plays to all my ‘strengths’. Oh well. Hopefully the luck will be with me for my next WOD, which will be Saturday.
Tomorrow’s WOD –
W.O.D. 6.1.12
AMRAP in 20 Minutes of: (AMRAP = As Many Rounds As Possible)
10 Chest to Bar Pullups
20 Pistols (10R/10L)
30 Box Jumps (24″/20″)
Teams of TWO with ONE person working at a time
Coaches Note: 
The workout can be broken up in any way.  Athletes can alternate rounds or break up each individual round as they see fit.  If a three person team needs to be created, the rep scheme should be 15, 30, 45 with two people working at a time.

Completed CrossFit Fundamentals Course – I’m Officially a CrossFitter!

I ‘graduated’ from CrossFit Fundamentals today, after a lengthy 1.5 hour session this morning.

Very proud of my accomplishment, particularly considering the past year’s difficulty with figuring out and dialing in the proper nutrition for these types of workouts. It is a very difficult and individualized thing to ascertain the right balance between physical activity and food intake to maintain both peak performance and bodyfat at the desired levels. I’m only just beginning but I think I’m on my way. After just a week of CrossFitting I’m already noticing more muscle definition and some loss of belly fat.

Crossfit Primal/Paleo

CrossFit on a Low Carb Paleo or Primal Diet

      “If you are going to do high-intensity exercise, you should eat the carbohydrate that goes along with it.” – Matt Lalonde

<UPDATE – 05.28.2012 1600>


Notice that the one reply mentions that Mat Lalonde eventually came to the conclusion that carbs were necessary to sustain CrossFit workouts. I will look for the podcast that the thread mentions to confirm, but in the meantime, I am going to either increase my daily carb intake or do carb ‘refeeds’ a couple of times per week to ensure I don’t ‘bonk out’ doing CrossFit.


<UPDATE – 05.28.2012 1600>

I found the podcast in which Matt discusses the ramifications of going low carb while doing CrossFit. You can listen to it here:

The relevant section where Matt speaks to when he finally ‘bonked’ (my term to describe it, and based on his telling of what happened to him, an understatement) starts at 44:07. Key summary:

    • “If this article had been a published piece of scientific literature, I would have retraced it….it was foolish, stupid, and naive….and no one should attempt what I did…”
    • Was seeing results improve, but after writing that up “I completely crashed”
    • A workout consisting of rowing and sumo-deadlift high-pulls caused him to fall to the floor and go into and out of consciousness. He realized his brain was running out of glucose.
    • He composed himself and quickly went to the nearby Ben & Jerry’s and picked out 3 pints of gluten-free ice cream. He ate all three right at the counter “in a matter of minutes…and I could feel my body soaking up the sugar”

Bottom line from Matt – “Don’t do that.” “If you are going to burn carbohydrate, eat carbohydrate.” He recommends starchy stuff like yucca root, peeled potatoes for this. “If you are going to do high-intensity exercise, you should eat the carbohydrate that goes along with it.”

As for me….once I heard this you know what I did? I went to the local store and bought a pint of Ben & Jerry’s “Everything But The…” (Kitchen Sink), gave 1/3rd of it to my wife, and then ate the rest in anticipation of tomorrow morning’s CrossFit. And, so long as I am still seeing the muscle definition/toning as a result of the super-intensity CrossFit, I will continue to indulge in a super-sugar treat like this once a week if I feel it’s necessary : ) Otherwise, it’ll be a mashed large sweet potato (with butter, heavy cream, and cinnamon) per day to supplement.


So I’ve finished week one of CrossFit and, so far, am experiencing some amazing changes already. I’m very surprised to see a ‘V’ shape starting to form from my chest/arms down to my ‘still-10-extra-pounds-around-it’ of gut. The strength training from the two sessions, which admittedly weren’t really full WODs even, have been enough to stimulate some serious and noticeable changes in my body already and I’m really stoked about that. Yesterday I did 50 air squats consecutively (was easier than I thought it would be), as well as some shoulder dislocations. I’ll continue to do that through this weekend minus Monday, so my body is well rested for Tuesday’s CrossFit session. I gotta admit, if it’s not obvious already – I’m already obsessed with CrossFit and I haven’t even done a group WOD yet. I have my final Fundamentals personal training session on Tuesday, which should be a real monster of a session since my coach is fixing to fit in Fundamentals 2 and 3 into a single session. From there, she said I would be ready to join the group sessions for WODs. I don’t think I’m ready, but what the heck.

Back to the topic of this post. A very important topic that has never been answered fully. At least not that I can find. Conventional Wisdom on diet/nutrition/fitness is dead wrong on most things, so I can’t turn there for any legitimate, research-backed advice on this simple question:

Can I Do CrossFit While Continuing on a Low Carb Paleo/Primal Diet?

With the exponential increase in physical activity that something like CrossFit (or P90X, etc.) incurs, is a low carb paleo (or primal) way of eating still ideal? I know it’s ideal for the day-to-day, and I know it works for active weight loss if one restricts carb intake appropriately. And for those not looking to lose weight, I know that a Paleo/Primal diet will result in that person feeling better overall, with more energy.But what about when one decides to make the jump from a reasonably fit (for a 40-something year old) person to a hardcore athletic training program such as CrossFit?

Do I need to carb-load before or do carb refeeds or just generally increase my carb intake daily to supplement?

Or do I up the fat and protein? Or just the protein? Natural gluconeogenesis, theoretically, should be enough to replenish my glycogen stores without adding any extra glucose (i.e., sugar aka carbohydrate) back to my diet.

This article by Mat Lalonde is the best source on the subject I’ve found:

CrossFit On a Low Carb Paleo Diet: Mat Lalonde Reporting

The summary:

I felt a little sluggish for the first two weeks and CrossFit metcons really kicked my butt. It seemed like I had to work twice as hard only to come up a few seconds, sometimes a few minutes, short of a PR. However, my energy levels returned between the second and third week of low-car paleo eating. At this point I felt no energy slump in the afternoon (a problem I had previously) and I was having much less of a problem matching my PRs on CF metcons. Most important were the noticeable increases in strength and loss of body fat around the abdomen.

Mat goes on to say:

So where to go from here? I’m going to keep this up because I know I’ll be healthier in the long run by consuming fewer carbohydrates. Does this mean that post workout carbohydrates are bad? Absolutely not! In a situation like the CrossFit games, with multiple workouts throughout the day, PWO carbs are essential. Replenishing glycogen stores takes approximately a day on a low carb diet whereas wolfing down some mashed sweet potatoes will get the job done in a few hours. In addition, the fact that fat slows down gastric emptying probably means you don’t want to be eating a whole lot of it during competition. Easily digestible protein and carbohydrates are still the way to go in a games setting. However, I think my experiment highlights the fact that PWO carbs are a powerful tool that should be used sparingly under the right conditions. Avoiding a carb load after a workout will allow you to hold on to the insulin sensitivity you gained from exercising. This is a huge boon, especially for clients who are trying to improve their body composition.


I urge you to read the full article! It’s well done and gives the proper context.

My Conclusion (For What It’s Worth)

So what does Mat’s experience tell me? I need to stick it out for a couple of weeks eating the way I’ve been eating for the past year and a half, which has been successful for me and, most importantly, I *feel best* day to day as a result of.

But last night I went out to eat with my family with the sole purpose of doing something I haven’t done in months – eat a high-carb, junk food meal. Thinking it would ‘replenish’ the glycogen stores. It resulted in a shared appetizer of nachos piled on with cheese, peppers, chicken, guacamole, etc., one of those big ass cheeseburgers with fries, a ‘Kolsch’ beer (I think Rock Bottom Brewery’s beer generally sucks, and this one didn’t change that opinion) and then a kid-sized TCBY  Greek Yogurt (garbage worse for you health-wise than straight-up ice cream). Felt like shit afterwards (physically, not mentally – I know I can absorb meals like that without issue). Very sluggish, and my heart was racing as a result of the influx of sugar from the carbs. We ate at ~7pm and my heart didn’t stop until ~10pm.

And, quite frankly, the meal wasn’t all that good. I only ate half the fries. When you eat healthy, consistently, for as long as I have now, stuff like that loses its appeal. Especially the fries. The burger was decent.

So, I’m gonna try to stick it out and hope that, after a couple of weeks, my body will adjust to the rigors of working out hard and legit while still eating healthy. I just want to avoid getting on the hamster wheel – eating bread, rice, and other poisons only to *have* to workout just to mitigate the effect. That’s not a way to live, but unfortunately it is Conventional Wisdom’s prescription – eat shitty food under the pretense of ‘Healthy Whole Grains’, etc., and then burn it off on a treadmill. How’s that working out for ya?

I’ll be sure to post often as I continue through the CrossFit experience. Jumping into it has reinvigorated my focus on sharing my story via this blog.