Category Archives: Becoming Badass

Taking the Shoulder out for a Spin!


Rotator cuff shoulder surgery was June 11, 2018 and I got my final surgeon’s clearance on Dec 7.  It is healed but not at full strength.

Well, it has been an exciting few days as I have achieved quite a few firsts since shoulder surgery doing the strength workouts – goal is to increase weight slowly then if no shoulder pain, increase again.  The mental issue is that there is no prescribed way to go from not doing these to knowing when you can do them and how much weight to use post surgery.  I decided to take the shoulder out for a spin!  I never know if I’m being smart or wimpy with what I do (or don’t do)…. Huge results this week:

  • First time doing Back squat with weights – did 105#, 10 reps (a little challenging)
  • First time doing Wallballs – 150 total with 8# ball.  Very excited about this! Favored right arm a little on catch and push up.
  • Increased Bench press – 75# (easy)
  • First time doing Dead hangs with full weight (no scap pullups yet) – 30 reps.  Needs a good warmup to settle in with partial weight at first – hard to make it comfortable but did it.  Hung from the bar for 2.25 minutes.
  • First time 25# kettlebells 3×12 reps.  Note that early Dec I tried lighter KBs and stopped because I could feel a twinge in the shoulder and now nothing!  What a difference a few weeks makes. patience (not my strong point)

Also, the pose running method started to make more physical sense as I change from a heel striker to a foot ball then heel kiss kind of gal.  I could actually easily do the ball/heel sequence best while running leaning against a wall – this was great as I know what it’s supposed to feel like now.  I also realized that you have to pick up your knees (do proper pose form) to make it work.  Loved that I had a running routine focused on just practicing this (and the sore calves to prove it!!).

Since I’ve been running, I’ve also had some pretty bad lower back soreness (causing me to dread putting on socks in the morning as it’s so stiff) and despite doing a long list of posterior chain mobility, it took this video below to fix it in 5 minutes!!  I’ll be doing all of these daily from now on as well as continuing my other mobility work.  I was working these two painful areas with a lacrosse ball earlier to no avail (as he states in the video!).


It’s also been fun to put myself in different gears for once – for a long time I just run with one speed (and OK, get gassed out during the shuttle runs we do sometimes in crossfit) and my new coach and workouts have me varying pace with heart rate.  Two examples below.  First is when I run pretty easy, then do a few accels.  Second was my pose running practice starting at a lower HR and then moving into a higher one for the end of the run.



I am also back into my strict nutrition plan using the RP templates.  Treating almost all days as light days for now as I try to cut back a little. Have been stagnating at ~140 lbs for a while now.  This picture on my fridge is helping me make the right nutrition decisions….I ate perfectly for 7 months and have been struggling being super strict the last few months but think I am back now.


Meditation:  I’ve been reading this book and starting to practice for 10-20″ a day.

real happiness.jpg

  • First time I was scattered and all over the place – 10 min was very hard.
  • Second time 10″ was a snap and went by quickly with a good idea that came to me
  • Tried 20″ which was difficult and ended up the last 3 min under a blanket by the fire but did the 20″.

Loved the quietness though and sitting in front of my crackleflame log (which Kenny says doesn’t belong in the state of NH).

Following the rules:  This my thing.  I’ve always been good at studying and doing the work.  I was not a good student this week –

  • missed the Monday workout because it was changed from a rest day to a work day and I didn’t read the updated schedule carefully enough.
  • Did the wrong strength workout (turns out the Monday one) a different day so am doing a makeup of the Wednesday one on Saturday.
  • Thought the 10 x 1′ on 1′ off intervals meant 10″ of them not 10 reps so I ended up doing the last 3 on the bike as I wasn’t going back out in the cold rain again.  The cover of this blog is me after the run workout with all my lights, running on icy roads in the cold, cold rain.

Having the time of my life 🙂  Dark night, icy road, cold rain – bring it on!


Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to badass,



Perils of Technology and Cadence vs. Heart Rate – Dec 23, 2018

My first official week of training is complete.  Right in the middle of it I got a really bad cold so was out for 3 days sleeping – trying to convince my coach I am not a slacker…. after the Run and Bike tests, I got a first pass at my target heart rate zones and spent the last two days trying to train in the lower part of the zones.  I totally get it, most people go all out all the time and overtrain so Z2 will seem lower than I think/lower than I normally run or bike.


Endurance Training Zone

Metabolic Training Purposes

per Zone

Perceived Exertion

per Zone


per Zone


Heart Rates

per Zone

Zone 1 (Z1) Recovery, Warm-up, & Cool-down Very light; you feel like you are doing nothing < 61% < 93
Zone 2 (Z2) Extensive Aerobic Endurance Training Comfortable; you feel like you could go all day 61-70% 94-106
Zone 3 (Z3) Intensive Aerobic Endurance Training Manageable; you feel you are working, but you feel no pain 71-80% 107-121
Zone 4 (Z4)

Anaerobic Threshold Endurance Training

Hard; you feel burning in your muscles and chest 81-90% 122-143
Zone 5 (Z5) Lactate Tolerance Endurance Training Very hard; you are in pain and want to stop > 90% > 144


Endurance Training Zone Metabolic Training Purposes

per Zone

Perceived Exertion

per Zone


per Zone


Heart Rates

per Zone

Zone 1 (Z1) Recovery, Warm-up, & Cool-down Very light; you feel like you are doing nothing < 61% < 103
Zone 2 (Z2) Extensive Aerobic Endurance Training Comfortable; you feel like you could go all day 61-70% 104-118
Zone 3 (Z3) Intensive Aerobic Endurance Training Manageable; you feel you are working, but you feel no pain 71-80% 119-135
Zone 4 (Z4)

Anaerobic Threshold Endurance Training

Hard; you feel burning in your muscles and chest 81-90% 136-150
Zone 5 (Z5) Lactate Tolerance Endurance Training Very hard; you are in pain and want to stop > 90% > 151

This is how I did:

Bike – supposed to do an hour in Z2 ~100 bpm at a 90 cadence (right foot) with a few accels into Z3 ~115.  I used Zwift and a NYC course which had some unexpected steep hills so had to change midway through…


HR = 114 avg (vs. target 100 bpm) and I did manage to keep it ~100 for some of the time.  But it had to be so easy that sometimes my w/kg (level of effort on bike) was so low the app thought I had stopped!  I don’t have a good cadence monitor for bike yet but we did metronome for a bit and I was way slower than 90 with right foot.

Run – this felt way further off despite a serious attempt to run slow.  Mind you, I had just watched a youtube video where a trainer who was explaining pose method was making fun of crossfit folks who did their runs in the middle of a metcon almost shuffling out the door.  I really struggled keeping my form OK (knees higher, cadence 180) and my heart rate low.


Avg HR/bpm = avg 123 with max 158. (vs target 104-118/151).  Note fitbit avg = 145, max 167

Cadence per TICKRx 153-157 (vs. target 180).  During accels I was at 180.

Also, runfit app didn’t seem to display right so I eventually gave up and just tried to run slow and relaxed to see what happened in the end.

Conclusions/Lessons Learned:  I need to learn how to run/ride easy and how to use this technology !

StrongerU vs RP Templates and The Domino Effect

fire and fuel

I made a presentation for a lunchtime learning at work called “Fire and Fuel” attached.  I didn’t geek out on details of macros in that but will here.

StrongerU philosophy is simple foods, follow your assigned macros (grams of carbs, fat, proteins per day eating whenever and whatever you want as long as you get within 5 g of the targets).  You have to log everything (I use myfitnesspal), report in weekly to your coach with your sleep, how you feel, what macros you ate every day, weight daily (used to calculate avg weekly weight and compare to week before), and bust/waist/hip measurements periodically.  Coach will adjust you or advise you based on your progress.  Lessons learned after doing this for a year:

A few reflections and The Domino Effect after deciding to lose weight – all kinds of other good things started happening:
  • I think this shoulder surgery will result in me being better than I ever was before (especially with mobility) as I also have my physical therapist as part of my team who will help me with more than just getting my full range of motion (95% back) and shoulder related strength back (next gate to pass before being able to lift heavier weights in Dec).
  •  I am also tracking workouts and splits – I pretty much PR every week which is easy to do starting from where I am!  My running is getting better all the time and actually fun again – has been a while!  Losing 45 pounds can do that
  • Details of when to/how often to eat in general don’t matter – total calories is most important for weight lost
  • Must track macros.  Without the data and consistency, it’s a waste of time.
  • Food is way more important than working out to losing weight – that’s why I was so confused when I started after seeing little progress after a year of crossfit
  • Food management helped me recover way faster – an incredible amount faster actually.  I used to get destroyed at XFit and hope to go 5x a week without issues now.
  • I was overeating thinking I had to eat more while working out and found out I recovered better and it didn’t matter when I cut back
  • Blaming weight gain on middle age metabolism is B.S.
  • Got a fitbit to track activity.  LOVE LOVE LOVE my fitbit to understand activity levels and found comraderie because my family and I challenge every week for the most steps thru the app.  Best feature I didn’t realize I needed was sleep tracking.  I don’t get enough – need to work this still.
  • Power of habit – being active daily vs. setting a target of 3-4x a week (which is easy to postpone).  Got this idea stuck in my thru a Ben Bergeron Chasing Excellence Podcast – a series I love and you should check out
  • I have a lot to learn
  • I feel like I am back to where I was back in 1998 (please tell me you were born then!) when I was in great shape.  Although I think I’m actually better than that now(!!) once I gain back the strength after shoulder surgery – have run further and probably lifted way more thru crossfit than I did then.  There will be no more “I used to” – being able to NOT say that was my main goal.  I have survived middle life and stepmotherhood and come out better on the other side (well, I’m still in middle life 🙂
  • I can’t keep crap in the house or I’ll eat it and if I cheat, I cheat too much so expect to be strict or off; however, my “way off” isn’t really that far off these days.  You can see Monday where I meant to eat one of the belgian chocolates I brought back and ate like 5 instead.  I’ve learned occassional celebrations, etc won’t matter but to make it an exception vs. every day
  • Consistency in workouts and nutrition will get you to badass.  Funny as  I also heard it since then from other sources (ie. great podcast on Tim Ferriss how where he interviews Ryan Flaherty – who coaches folks like Serena Williams and works for Nike now)  (You would like this and it gets pretty technical – I had to look a bunch of stuff up – he ties deadlifts to speed).  Ryan was saying your body will adapt to the stresses based on the shape it is in – so I just need to keep running and doing crossfit while maintaining good nutrition and I will look better.  I am on it and committed.
  • Learning it is OK to be a little hungry – that is like a revelation.
  • It rubs off – some folks I work with are inspired and making changes to their lives as well.  I started a series called “Profiles in Awesomeness” and am interviewing/putting out articles on folks who made changes, why, etc and started a work movement called “Get moving” to help inspire/help others who want to be more active.  We plan to do company races and build community thru that.

RP templates – You put in data, pay ~$100 and download them.  Basic philosophy is also macros but broken up by meal and also with modified macros based on if you have a rest day, light /moderate/hard workout day (ie. more carbs for harder workout days).  Eye opener is that crossfit is considered a light day!

During the weight loss phase, I was at around 1515 calories.  Using the Inbody scan results I got last week, I need 1475 calories/day just to maintain my basic metabolic functions and I am at 24% body fat.  Test results shown below:

weight chart 9-1-18InBody Scan - Nov 14 2018

When I downloaded RP templates, comparison of assigned macros to my last StrongerU macros in grams attached… this explains why it feels I am losing weight again!

StrongerU REST RP Light RP Mod RP Heavy
carb 150 120 125 200 230
fat 60 55 55 55 55
protein 125 125 120 120 120
total calories 1640 1475 1475 1775 1895

It took all last week to get used to the RP templates because of the following:

  • Breaking up my carbs better by meal included changing my breakfast!  this is huge!  I have been an oatmeal, milk, berry, maple syrup breakfast person forever.  Now on light days I am eating egg white omelets with tomatoes/spinach and something I LOVE – wheat toast with butter and a little raspberry jam.
  • Love two meals between breakfast and dinner as I had been scrapping by with an Rx bar – with my long commute, I often don’t eat until 8pm and it is a long time between noon and 8!
  • Changed my pre/post workout so am now slugging a scoop of protein in coconut water instead of an Rx bar.
  • Toast and protein before bread is new but fun as I love the toast.
  • RP meals have a “handful of veggies” per meal excluding peas/corn/corn which count towards carbs – this is a change but easy to do.  My lunch used to be a frozen mix of veg and now I am more selective in what I’m including and adding vegetables to breakfast.

What I don’t like with RP:  lack of fidelity around total grams/day so it is harder to meet the exact numbers (which I know are always an approximation anyway) and tracking of different macros/day makes it harder to program into myfitnesspal.  It also requires knowledge of the following week and a commitment to do what you say every day so you eat all the meals appropriately.  Not a bad thing if you want to have good habits!

Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to badass,



Showing Up

Des Linden  won the Boston Marathon last year and below is a link to a podcast she did with Rich Roll (the source as well for an inspirational video about the Iron Cowboy – man who did 50 ironmans in 50 days in 50 states (but that’s another story)….

The main and significant takeaway I got was the message that you need to SHOW UP.  This means you need to show up and workout on days you want to stay in bed, or are tired, or whatever.  Turning working out into habit and a priority is something I am focused on.  It can’t be trying to fit in 3 days of workouts where you can always say, I’ll skip today but do tomorrow.  Just do it. everyday. (using rest days for mobility/walking and active recovery not couch sitting) and make it something you enjoy.  Ben Bergeron also talks about this a lot in his podcast Chasing Excellence.

Last Wednesday, at 9pm, when I went for a 3 mile run after crossfit workout, all I could hear were the words “Show up” as I literally froze the first 1/2 mile on an isolated road all by myself putting in the time and thinking of Des Linden.

Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to Badass



Addressing Lower Back Pain

Since I’ve been running more, I’m having issues with lower back pain after longer runs – ie. so much that I’m crippled and can’t roll out or anything else my back will spasm.  After talking to folks, I think it is my posterior chain (back, butt, hamstrings plus tight pecs that pull me over).  So I’m working mobility plus a few posture changes.

  • I have a 2 hour commute so while driving, I put a lacrosse ball behind my upper shoulders.  This makes me think about pushing on it, which changes a bent over car posture into one upright.  I am hoping 2 hours a day without slumping will matter!
  • I got a second pair of progressive glasses especially for working at my computer.  I was constantly taking mine off and hunching over to see the screen.  LOVE THEM.  Compromises of middle age!

This is me in my car…


Exercises and massage work:  I am trying to go weekly to see Steph Bedaw at Crossfit Nashua to help me.  She worked on my pecs and upper back and the next day, I did an air squat and felt like I could almost do it upright for the first time in my life.  It was amazing and has given me hope.

On my own, I’m doing a ton of work with lacrosse balls and posterior chain stretches.

  • Hips and butt and back just working the ball everywhere – leaning on it against a wall with leg nearest wall loose and moving.
  • Sometimes just lying on it on lower back and raising arm from side to overhead works it.
  • I work pecs against a crossfit rig lifting my arms up from side in front to overhead.


Frog pose, seated couch stretch (or against wall) and the third which has no name.


Also, firelog seated post below, which my husband did with me yesterday – if this is too hard, put a folded blanket under your butt.  The first is a woman from the internet and the second is me so happy I could finally do it with my legs pretty flat earlier this year – it took awhile to get there.


I did 7.3 miles yesterday in the snow and slush and was NOT crippled, so i take this as progress and will blog at another time about how important it is to trial run all the bad things that can happen so you can always mentally say, “no big deal, I’ve done this before.”  If only we had been taught mobility 30 yrs ago when I was working out in Golds Gym in Chicago alongside the ex Mr Olympia Sergio Oliva!!!  I encourage all young folks to not forget your rotator cuff exercises (ie. use Crossfit Symmetry) and to work mobility after/before every workout.

BTW:  A great resource for stretching is a book called “Becoming a Supple Leopard” by Dr. Kelly Starrett which is focused on resolving pain, preventing injury and optimizing athletic performance.

Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to badass,



You Don’t Know What “A Little” is

A few words on the final weeks prior to what I hope is a final clearance to do all weight training/athletic events again 6 months post rotator cuff surgery (Dec 11 target date).  Nov 6, 2018 I got clearance to finally do banded pull-ups, ring rows with my body weight vs. just using bands, 50% scap pushups.  That night at crossfit I ended up doing around 140 green banded pullups and probably 54 ring rows – I have to say it was AWESOME and the pullups were so easy.  Last time I did those was probably 6-7 months ago pre injury and I also weighed 10-15 lbs more than.  Exciting to find out what I can do for strict pullups once I am totally free!  My record at this age is 1 strict pull up and my goal in a few months is >12 straight strict (to be better than when I was 30 yrs old).

Next PT appointment (still going weekly), I reported in and Jeremy told me “You don’t know what a little is so when I give you the OK, I know what you’re going to go out and do.”  Kenny’s immediate response to my text update was “Tell him you are married to me.  You understand quite well what “a little is.”  Funny guy 🙂

So this week I was cleared for very light weight deadlifts, cleans.  No overhead presses, no sandbag carries, no sled pushes and can increase weight if no pain slowly week by week.  Not sure if it was the 90 85 lb deadlifts (super easy weight) or the 33 box jumps but have a little nudge of ache in my shoulder this week….

Slow and steady wins the race during shoulder recovery.  It is super fun to see huge progress almost every day.  This week while I was doing bicycle abs (alternating one leg down with opposite arm overhead lying on back), I got my hurt hand all the way to the ground repeatedly.  That last 5% motion sure is slow to return but it is coming…

And I’m throwing it out there that my goal is to be as strong as Brook Ence (as so many other women want also – featured at top of this blog) but for now, I’m so very happy still with building up from where I am today.  Pic below is a total roll out of bed moment…


When You Realize You Don’t Know Anything… Always Fun and Easy to Get Better When You’re Not so Great!

There was a time that I was pretty good on clarinet and piano.  Then I realized that I haven’t learned any new skills in years, that I can’t pick up any instrument and improvise with anyone, that I got comfortable with what I was and forgot to really maintain that or improve it.

I have been in the arms of a thousand men around the world dancing.  But as I hold my husband or son in my arms, I realize I can’t teach them the leader part and I think I’ve forgotten more swing out variations than I’ll ever learn in the future!

I was the person in the gym who would help the new folks and make up workouts for others and now I find myself not knowing how to train at all for this 30 mile obstacle course race I want to do next year or being the slowest or weakest at certain exercises during crossfit class.  This is especially humiliating when I used to be great at something – like pullups – and found myself having to use bands for months until I got them back.

Every weekend I used to find myself at the library getting out new books and found it had been years since I really finished one.  I think I forgot to learn as I was so busy moving and changing / learning my way around new jobs.  The ipad didn’t help either as I became lazy just picking a movie.  A few months ago I decided to start reading again and starting AND finishing a book.  I probably had about 30 books partially starting lying around.  They are all in a section in my library now for me to work through one at a time and a small pile of finished books are piling up!  I feel good about that.

“It is never too late to be who you might have been.”  Words I got from a very wise man, Glen Sinclair, my yoga teacher at Sadhana Studio in Boston.