Scaling options for the elderly

This year is my 47th. My husband and I are probably the two oldest members of our amazing Crossfit ‘Box’, but I want to tell you why we don’t give a crap.

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We both struggle with injuries and ailments, and my own thyroid is apparently on a kamikaze mission to destroy my gym performance, but I am a stubborn bugger, so I have made a point NEVER to miss a session of Crossfit. Like, ever.

There are days when we workout side by side with the people we used to be; the twenty-somethings with all the time in the world and the energy to match, but oddly this is not off-putting. The beauty of Crossfit is that we’re all in it together. The ‘elders’ of the gym are supported and encouraged by the youngsters, without a single ‘are you alright dear?

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If you’re reading this and you’re in the ‘Masters’ category (a delightfully polite way of describing geriatric Crossfitters), then you will understand what I mean when I say that I NEVER want to accept a scaling option. In my head I am still the same girl who tried out for the England netball team and turned the boys’ heads in my red dress. In my mirror, sadly, I am not. But this does not stop me wanting to be the best I can be. My strength continues to improve and my WOD times are respectable. I keep on keeping on.

Since my first records began in 2012, I have improved my performance as follows:-

Deadlift – from 70kg to 115 kg (1 rep max)

Back squat – from 40kg to 70kg (5 rep max)

Push Press – from 25kg to 50kg (1 rep max)

I can ‘double under’ (now a verb apparently) and the elusive pull-up is getting closer. More importantly, the stubborn little fecker in me says ‘no’ to picking up the lighter kettlebell, so I can (pretty much) RX most of the WODs, which gives me great personal satisfaction, even if I take a little longer than some to get up when I’m finished.

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I have been Paleo for almost 2 years now, and this has certainly had a positive impact on my performance. Sadly, the thyroid has negated some of this benefit, but I remain optimistic of a re-appearance of my much-missed Mojo at some point before I die.

But actually, the single most valuable thing about Crossfit has been the friends I have made. The remarkable men and women with whom I share this journey will be the subject of another post, but suffice to say that they make the struggle a right good giggle.

If you’ve ever thought about Crossfit but are intimidated by the poster-boys or the YouTube video of heavily pregnant powerlifters, don’t be. The Crossfit environment is packed with athletes from all parts of the age spectrum, enjoying the way their bodies respond to the rigorous torture they are inflicting upon it….no, more than that, addicted to it, and keen, like me to act as ambassadors for those who want to get involved. 

So make a New Year’s promise to yourself and find a Box near you. You’ll never look back.

paleo crossfit

Post-op fitness

Hello Trog Blog, ‘sbeen a while!

In truth, I’ve just been a little too busy to blog here, but it feels like a good time to write a quick post.

After surgery and 6 weeks in a plaster cast, I emerged, withered and sore at the end of June. The good news was that I managed to stay ‘clean’ with my diet for the whole period, achieving the impossible at my age – I didn’t really gain any weight. Phew.

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Apart from the initial two weeks when I was limited to sitting with an elevated leg and in severe pain, I managed to get back to the gym immediately. It’s quite amazing what you can do on one leg.

It’s now about 8 weeks since the plaster came off and I’m finally back to full WODs. I am running (carefully and even more slowly than usual) and have managed my first sets of lunges and box jumps in the last couple of weeks. It feels good.

There is no doubt that I have lost, in this order:-

1. Flexibility – my foot is like a rod of iron and my ankles are refusing to rotate fully

2. Strength – the squats I lifted with ease are now feeling much heavier to me

3. Fitness – having been an impact-free zone for so long, I must accept that it’s also going to feel much harder now I’m back to aerobic exercise again.

That said, I am determined to get back to full fitness, lose the remainder of my body fat which is stubbornly protecting my middle, and finally master the unaided pull-up this year. Age is just a number.

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Crossfit Boys

Time for an update on my amazing kids, methinks.

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They have both embraced the Crossfit mentality with gusto and I could not be prouder of the efforts they both put in the gym each and every week.

This is George (the one with the awesome jump). He has just become a teenager and is, as a result, very conscious of his own body, its changes and his desire to become the best man that he can. He has adapted his diet significantly in order to take part in the family’s effort to turn Paleo.

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Whilst George still eats the occasional sugary snack, he has virtually cut out grains from his diet. Gone are the morning cereals or toast. No longer does he queue at the school canteen for pasta at lunch time, but takes a healthy, protein filled packed lunch. He has even started to eat his vegetables!

As a result, he has managed to negotiate the tricky puppy-fat/pre growth-spurt period of the last year with fantastic results. He has grown upwards and inwards. He is super-lean and agile, and now tackling heavy lifting. That’s my boy.

Ollie is just 6 years old and has developed a mean squat.

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It’s been notably more difficult to wean a child of this age away from biscuits and sweet snacks, so I have to confess that I haven’t pushed him too hard. He has a bad apple ‘habit’, but it’s better than chocolate, so I let him feed it.

Ollie has grown in flexibility and stamina, and has learned a new skill – skipping!

I cannot recommend highly enough that you introduce your kids to the sport of fitness. Get to your local Box and demand a kids’ class.

We are a Crossfit family in the fullest sense, and I rest easy at night in the knowledge that my boys are learning skills and habits which will serve them well in the fullness of time.

paleo crossfit

paleo crossfit

Acutorture

There are few words to describe my first experience of Acupuncture, but amongst them are:-paleo crossfit

Fudge

Ship

Bollards

Ouch

I was reliably informed by the charming elderly Japanese lady who tortured me that the ‘normal’ kind of acupuncture would not help me with my problem (very painful joints in my foot), but that she could ‘unblock’ me (nothing to do with my bowels as far as I know. No real idea what she was unblocking to be honest…presumably my chakras or summat) with a different kind of therapy.

I agreed in that naive kind of ‘this should be a lovely relaxing hour on a bed’ way, and as I settled on to the bench at the point of no return she remembered to tell me that it was going to hurt like buggery (my words, not hers).

She proceeded to ‘bleed’ me repeatedly by stabbing me, rather like an angry child with a voodoo dolly of the school bully. In her innocent looking hand she held a fat pin, not unlike those that a diabetic might use for blood tests, until the skin gave a little ‘pop’ and the red stuff was drawn. Over and over again up and down my legs, toes, around my ankle 20130211-171331.jpgbones and on the soles of my feet. This latter manoeuvre was so despicable that she asked me to cough every time she stabbed me, to fool me in to thinking that I was not in agony. It was particularly pleasurable in the areas where there are no fleshy or fatty deposits, which to be honest, on my feet is pretty much all of it. Just skin, bone and a serial stabber.

No pretence here, no twinkly music or the sounds of a Caribbean shore 20130211-171343.jpgto drift off to, just a butt-clenching white knuckle ride of terror and the smoke from what now appeared more and more like an opium den.

I was charged £100 for this tremendous experience, and sent off with a polite smile and the request to come back for at least 4 or 5 more sessions. Whaaaaa?!!

My first phone call was to the British Association of Acupuncturists to check that she was registered. She was.

My foot, of course, is predictably no better. Even if we look beyond the bruising and the join-the-dots abuse to my surface flesh, pains still lurk within.

Assuming I live through 4 more sessions, can someone please tell me whether this is going to fix me?

 

“Keep up the low fat diet, dear!”

I have not weighed myself for several weeks, so I hopped on the scales this morning out of curiosity. I was feeling confident, since I have just become reacquainted with my old friends, Mr and Mrs Hipbone.

These days I am way more concerned about the inches and my shape, rather than the number on the scales, but it was good to see that both were moving in the right direction.

I weighed in today at 11 stone, 5lbs, which is a further 5.5lbs loss, and almost a stone and a half in total.

Belly reducing – check; buttocks tightening – check; old jeans fitting – check. Amazeballs.

paleo crossfitOn the negative side, I decided to get a health check from the doctor. Whilst my blood pressure and cardiovascular disease tests were all good (a relief since my Mum died from a major heart attack), my cholesterol results came in at 6.4. Shitty bollocks. Panic set in for a tiny moment. On the face of it this was definitely not so good. A score under 5, according to the NHS, is considered ‘healthy’. Oops. I began to question whether my new diet was actually causing me long term damage, and more importantly, what would it be doing to my two precious kids?

I went to see the nurse who reassuringly advised me that it was all fine since my other results were so very good, and that my risk of developing any kind of life-threatening illness was in the ‘very low’ category. She smiled at me and told me to “keep up the good work, you know – lots of exercise (tick) and a nice, healthy, low fat diet (ahem) which you are clearly already doing.”

I felt better but not altogether convinced (funny, the NHS has a habit of leaving you wanting..) so I turned to my CrossFit coach for advice. He directed me here. Blimey this guy is a genius. I read some stuff and then I read some more stuff. Cholesterol, it seems is not quite as simple as ‘they’ would have us believe. Look, I’m no professor, so I’m not even going to try to explain the science to you here (and if you’d seen my O level biology results in 1983 you’d understand why that’s probably sensible), but if you have any qualms about Paleo, saturated fats and cholesterol, just take a few minutes to read. I am sticking with it.

Thankfully the nurse left no question mark at the end of her sentence, so I felt it wise not to inform her that I had been eating a high saturated fat diet for 7 months. God knows what I might have done to her blood pressure….

Body update – eating fat, to lose fat

paleo crossfit

Waiting for passing strangers to give me sugar cubes, Summer 2011

Today I weighed in at 11 stones & 10lbs. That’s now a total weightloss of 13lbs.

Waist 32″, Hips (at widest round bum) 41″, thigh 24″, Neck 13.5″. Can’t vouch for the accuracy of these as I could only find a metal builder’s tape measure, but let’s just say that my clothes are MUCH looser than they were 4 months ago.

On my last update I weighed 12 stones dead. Since then I’ve been on a two week holiday and had a couple of regrettable wine related incidents, so I am pretty happy with that. Still eating 100% ‘clean’.

Here’s a pictorial progress chart. No prizes for noticing that my hair seems to be shrinking at an even faster rate than my body is diminishing……

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April body shape. Work to be done here.

Trog Dad is like a teenager again. He’s now lost well over 2 stones and is wearing shirts that have been sat in the closet for almost as long as the years I have known him. (Still going grey though, mwa ha ha). The two Trog kids are both also looking leaner. Trog Baby may only be 5 years old, but is built like a brick shit-house. Trog Teen is developing a beautiful lithe shape, with broadening shoulders and zero puppy fat. Lock up your daughters, ladies, the Trog boys are on their way…..

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June 2012 body shape. Shrinkage evident.

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July 2012 body shape.

I was watching a programme on TV last night about two guys who were chefs, trying to lose weight. I found it a very frustrating watch. Their favourite meal was English breakfast – bacon, sausages, eggs, the works. They decided to try to make a ‘low fat’ version of the dish. I watched them as they took a pair of scissors and cut the fat off their bacon, sprayed the frying pan in sunflower oil (!) and poached their eggs instead of frying them. I wanted to scream “Nooooooo!”

I found myself wondering whether I was holding a secret that belonged to a tiny club of the world’s lucky few, or whether I was completely deluded about the benefits of Paleo. Is it me?

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August 2012 body shape. Looking better.

The most noticeable difference in the traditional dieting methods I was witnessing on TV and the Paleo lifestyle we’ve adopted was the fact that both guys were struggling with cravings. Preparing a steak sandwich for his son almost tipped one of them over the precipice, and they were constantly salivating at the idea of pies, bread and roast potatoes. Trog Dad and I, sat in front of the TV, exchanged a glance and both observed, “Wow, we don’t get any of that hunger stuff any more.”

Hell, something’s working here.

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We three.

The Great Burpee…

From the moment I started Crossfit, one exercise has been a clear favourite – the Burpee. Sometimes something just feels so natural that your body just seems to fall effortlessly into its metronomic rhythm. And so it is for me with the burpee…

Adding 50 of these babies to any workout will make sure it’s a real crowd pleaser, and I for one like to use them as a great way to cool down. In fact, so committed am I to the potential life extending benefits of this exercise that I have decided to share some top tips.

One: as with any fast movement, make sure you don’t have anything loose flapping around. Personally I like to make sure my belly is well strapped in – went down too quickly once and winded myself really bad…

Two: this isn’t strictly in the book, but I find it a great way to get into the prone position is to drop to your knees first, then finish the move with some sort of grunt to make sure you release all/any air you have managed to get into your lungs. I find shouting “Bollocks” really works, but “Shit”, “Christ” or “Help” will probably do the job just as well.

Three: once in the prone position, take a few moments to admire the floor and the relative comfort it affords before you attempt to do battle with gravity and pull your legs in the general direction of your head. I find counting to 10 at this point helps to maintain an appropriate pace, or alternatively, wait for one of the instructors to shout at you in their usual encouraging way, telling you to keep going in case you had forgotten (?)

Four: As your legs finally get into something approaching a squat position, or what I fondly refer to as the ‘Froggy’, make sure you control any urge to let rip with your rear end (I think we all know what I am saying)

Five: The jump. Easy to go too high on this and waste time which isn’t going to get you on the leader board, so just high enough to get a piece of paper under your feet. If you haven’t got a piece of paper to hand, ask a friend to shout when you’re high enough, and then stop going up

Six: Finally, whilst you try to steady yourself for the next rep and take in some much needed oxygen, look down and admire the sweaty silhouette you will have left if you followed step three properly and ask you self this – is it getting smaller? No, then get your lazy arse down for another one and stop complaining!