Category Archives: Becoming 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…

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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.

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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.

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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,

Laura

 

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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…

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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.

BEING SMALLER – May 2018

You can do it. I am 51 and have been at it since Nov 2017 – lost 42 pounds and am determined to never say again …”I used to” as I can be my best self right now. Last night I fit into every old and favorite piece of clothing I have and hadn’t worn in over 10-15 years – it was AWESOME! I had been looking for guidance like this for two years being frustrated with working out hard (crossfit) but not making progress. Other benefits: Post crossfit workout recovery is ridiculously better than before (and I wasn’t eating unhealthy at all – just too much), my breathing issues have gone away, my sleep is better, and I don’t feel sick anymore or have headaches.

Keep the faith. Took two months to see scale changes although I lost inches and felt better right away. My weight plot is attached. I’ve been pretty strict the whole time with <5 days where I went “crazy” overeating which now is like 500 calories over plan 🙂

Next step is getting leaner and stronger, having my rotator cuff surgery in June, which gives me the opportunity to work legs/abs and to perhaps start that book I’ve been thinking about…

One important lesson learned is the criticality of habit. I am a Bergeron fan and he had a podcast about the importance of doing things every day – finding what’s important to you and focusing on it. Now I try to be active every day, and am throwing out the “I will go to the gym 3x a week and I can always go the next day” mentality to being active daily. Try and replace bad habits with good ones and get that fitbit to understand what you’re doing for activity levels and sleep – one thing I love about it is that little positive message it gives me when I put it on after my shower:)

Clean eating, honest reporting and en route to badass with my man, Josh Citron of StrongerU- thank you.

 

 

“Impatience – Nov 2017”

I want it now.  I want the body I had at 30 and I don’t want to wait years to get it back.  I was at crossfit for a solid year and made a ton of improvements, then married the man of my dreams and started a new job.  It all went awry.  Tonite was my first day back for a long time and as usual, the warmup kicked my butt.  I keep telling myself that this time, I won’t try to keep competing with the youngsters even though I USED TO do more pullups than they do, an strictly, not the kipping crap.  Age has improved some things…. my deadlift, my patience, the number of scarves I have (world class collection) yet don’t know how to wear, the number of lotions and little chocolates in my bedside table (found a bouncy rubber eyeball in there the other day also), and my knowledge that the place to start building a life is where you are right now.

I’ve been thinking about shaking things up a bit.  I am 51.  Have been in the arms of thousands of men dancing, traveled around the world yet still don’t feel I have found my voice – in a blog like this or musically.  I’d be so proud if I could pick up my clarinet or piano and just play with someone else.  Silly I know as when has that ever been the case…. but something original I mean.  Isn’t it Ok to just try and have fun without being great?  the benchmarks I set for myself are so high I frustrate myself about achieving them.

BTW – note added Sept 2018:  Found this draft post I forgot to publish and a few months ago had a redo of that warmup and completed it without any rest.  I’m pretty sure it was jumping jacks with a burpee every time a certain word was said in Thunderstruck…

Thinking Bigger – Aug 2018

My nutrition coach, Josh Citron, gave me some sage advice that I took to heart.  He told me that when he is looking for encouragement, he turns to others accomplishments and sent me links to two videos, which have totally inspired me to think bigger.  Both were about people who did things that totally blew me away.  I had no idea there were 100 mile races, or the Iron Cowboy that did 50 ironmans in 50 days in 50 states (the thought of one ironman to me is such an awesome accomplishment), or several marathon type races over several days in rugged terrain (Barkley Marathon)…..

I added these links below along with a recent podcast from Ben Bergeron where he emphasizes doing what you are afraid of and not following feelings – waiting to “feel like” going to the gym, etc.  Facing fear – the title of this blog.

So because of that, I’ve found an athletic coach and athlete extraordinare, Gary Lombardo – to help me improve (plenty of opportunity there) and to be the best physically I’ve ever been at the age of 52.

I love being at the bottom – being the worst at something and getting better so it should be a good year.  I intend to blog through this process – writing has been another personal goal of mine.  Can I still do it?  I have only done hundreds of powerpoint presentations the last 30 years…. I wonder if I have anything to say.  Reading and writing will be a part of this journey as well and I will share books and my thoughts about them in future posts.

A few weeks ago I was given permission by my surgeon and physical therapist to run and I immediately did a 5K at Mine Falls in Nashua.  Fell and face planted in gravel (feature pic of this post)

– luckily on my good side else I’d be having my shoulder surgery again.  I was scared doing that race – not because I hadn’t run that far recently but I just hadn’t done anything like that in a long while.  Doing things I am afraid of gives me a sense of accomplishment as well as proving that most fears are unfounded and that without putting yourself out there to be vulnerable, you won’t discover things about yourself or meet others that truly inspire you.

 

 

http://www.richroll.com/podcast/iron-cowboy-2/

 

 

Finally appreciating the journey – Jan 2018

I had enough.  Saw my friend, Steve Lebel, on facebook looking fantastic and was first in admiration, then thought my current state is bullshit – how did he do it.  I used to be the person people admired at the gym and now found myself 30+ pounds overweight and not active.  Ever since the slow decline starting back in 2004 (and stint in sales…), I’ve had very brief periods of trying to manage nutrition as I once did but never with enthusiasm and had found it difficult to work by myself at the gym.

Falling in place in pieces:

Back in 2004 timeframe, I had bad rotator cuff issues which made it difficult to raise my arms parallel to the ground, needed stretching and found yoga at an awesome studio that opened up on my block in Boston, Sadhana under the mastery of Glen Cunningham, and started to repair that.  Through those years I realized I need to start building community where I live and once I had some silent thoughtful time, realized I needed more of that – craved it.

Then as my neck/back issues continued making it impossible to move my head to the side, I hung out with the chiropractor, who one day knowing I used to be a lifter, recommended Crossfit.

When I moved to Hollis, NH in 2011, I visited the Crossfit gym and joined and have participated in spurts ever since – sometimes long spurts like 10 months in 2016 – frustrated that I could go regularly, eat “well” and still not lose weight or make the gains I wanted in the gym.  Recovery was hard and my aerobic capacity still lacked and I dealt (still do) with breathing issues like wheezing during hard activity – started taking Fluticasone and Flonase to help as at one point, I couldn’t even take a deep breath.

I had reached out for help to the Crossfit coaches, other crossfit gyms, etc and did not get good response.  Steve Lebel was using a nutritional guidance program called StrongerU so I signed up and it has a philosophy I believe in.  Watch and manage what you eat – weight it, know how many grams of fat, protein, carbs you are ingesting.  Gave guidance for what is healthier to eat (which I already knew) but had flexibility in that you just had to make your macros, report in weekly, take pictures, get a scale and work with data.  Iphone and apps like “Myfitnesspal” make this infinitely easier than when I tracked this by hand in excel back in 1998!  Just as back then, when given instructions (weekly), I have absolutely no issues following the rules.  I joined Nov. 1 and am in week 12:

  • Have felt infinitely better since I cleaned up my diet.  My motto is “Clean eating, honest reporting, and working on Badass.  NOT drinking and snacking and sitting on the couch.”
  • My recovery after crossfit is 100x easier
  • I started going back to crossfit the 2nd week of Nov and have been going 3-4 times ever since making gains and feeling better with less weight on me
  • Took a month until the scale started showing improvement – persistance!
  • Bought a fitbit at first to monitor my daily activity, then realized the value in measuring sleep, and can track runs, pacing, etc.  My family focus has improved as I have weekly contests with my sisters!
  • I’ve lost 12-15 lbs in 12 weeks and feel great physically and mentally.
  • I started a book group with like minded women from crossfit to talk about mental toughness, what makes people successful, etc – first meeting next week.

Finally, I am patient with myself, happy to believe in this process and to enjoy improving and learning and being able to say that now is my best self, no more “I used to….”