If I had a nickel for every time that someone asked me about CrossFit
making them "too muscular" or "too bulky," I'd definitely have enough money to buy a Sodastream
and a new printer (just two of the items that are on my current "to buy" list).
Seriously, ladies, what's wrong with getting a little stronger? A little more muscular? With being able to carry your groceries, your child, your moving boxes (fun!) without having to stop and take breaks? Nothing--nothing is wrong with it!
But, as you probably know, this is a concern for a lot of women. Remember when I was worried about my wedding dress not fitting my "big" back and shoulders
? See--it's a concern. But it shouldn't be, and getting too bulky definitely shouldn't be a reason to stay away from a new fitness regimen (like, for instance, CrossFit), if it's something that you want to try.
So, on our second episode of Malebox
, Ben talks CrossFit
and bulk. As you'll see, Ben likes a strong lady (wink, wink), and he thinks that other men do, too ;)
Also, he explains that CrossFit doesn't make you "too muscular"--and diwhy this is a common misperception about the exercise program.
You can watch here or on my YouTube Channel
. If you have any questions that you'd like Ben to answer on our next Malebox installment, email me!
[I convinced Ben to be on Mat Matters again! And he's much less nervous this time around!
This week on Mat Matters
, my husband, Ben, and I discuss the proper alignment for push-ups--both the yogic version of push-ups, chaturanga, and the more fitness-oriented version of push-ups that we're all familiar with (and for the most part, hate--or is that just me?).
If there's one thing that I think *almost* everyone does wrong in their first few yoga classes, it's chaturanga. I spend half of my classes just reminding people to pull their elbows in towards their ribcage, and I still see it happen non-stop. I believe that one of the reasons for this is what we discuss today--the fact that no one knows how to do a regular push-up correct, either! And that most of us have been doing them wrong since we first learned them back in gym class...
So, I decided to bring in my resident fitness expert, Ben, to teach us about push-ups. Although he claims he's not an "expert," I would argue that he is, as he's been CrossFitting for 4 years now, and has probably spent many more hours watching coaching videos than most coaches have (trust me, I know! I've bitched about it for years!). I'm so glad that Ben decided to join us again, and watch out--I think he really enjoyed doing it this time, so he may become a much more regular guest in this video series ;)
PS. For a more in-depth discussion of chaturanga and the mechanics of a chaturanga vinyasa, check out this post
Yesterday, I read an article offering a different perspective on a saying that I really love (and have mentioned on the blog a few times before), “Strong is the new skinny.” I definitely recommend reading the article, as it brought up some great points about this concept, but if you don’t get to it, here’s the basic premise:
The author, Kim Shand, believes that as a culture, “Strong is the new skinny” isn’t necessarily a good thing for us. She states that with this slogan, we are just replacing one unrealistic standard, “skinny” with another, “strong,” again setting ourselves up to focus (and obsess) on the outside of our bodies instead of the inside. Great observation, right?
It’s a beautiful article that really hits home when it comes to body image, and made me think a lot about my own love of the phrase “Strong is the new skinny.” As someone who has struggled a lot with body image throughout my lifetime, I found this article to be both extremely insightful and important, yet I also feel that her observations differ slightly from my own experience.
When I first saw the slogan “Strong is the new skinny” on a t-shirt at a CrossFit competition, it felt empowering. I felt like this slogan was saying that finally, it’s okay if you aren’t skinny. In fact, it’s better than okay; Being a strong, powerful woman is much more important than being skinny!
And for me, that was a wonderful new message to hear in our society; I’d never heard it said in that way before.
As a woman who has spent much of her life hating her body, wanting a shape that is unrealistic for her frame, and putting her body through hell to try and attain it, hearing “Strong is the new skinny” felt wonderful. Not because it meant that I could shift from being obsessed with being skinny to being obsessed with being strong, but because it said that there is more than one “ideal,” that there are other ways to be, and that strong bodies should be celebrated just as much as skinny ones are. That was something I could get behind.
And yet, I completely understand what Shand, and other authors who have come out and said something similar about our new obsession with strength, is saying. Everything can be taken too far, and in our culture, we tend to do just that. But here’s another place where I differ slightly with Shand’s take on the subject--and in particular, on it's relation to our yoga practice—she thinks it's a problem that students come to her classes to get more definition in their arms, and I don’t.
In the past few years of teaching, I’ve been extremely inspired watching students come to the mat. Yes, many start yoga because they hear that Jennifer Aniston practices, and that she owes her sculpted form to yoga, or because they want to lose weight or become stronger, but I’ve found that quickly, these students’ get much, much, more from the practice.
Although it took a while to get here, I’ve come to have an attitude of, “Hey, whatever gets you coming back to the mat.”
More often than not, yoga quickly teaches students more than just how to stretch before a run, or how to increase flexibility so that they can lift more at the gym. The practice itself holds great life lessons and power, so I’ve come to be fine with those students who start practicing for superficial reasons, as I think that eventually, they’ll find more where that came from, and hopefully, learn to accept their body as it is [and
gain a sense of both inner and outer strength].
I started practicing because I was injured from running and the doctor said that I couldn’t do any other physical activity. You’ve probably heard me say this before. But guess what? I didn’t start practicing for the healing qualities, for the mindfulness, for the spirituality of the practice, I started practicing because I was obsessed with staying fit and thin, and I wanted to keep exercising in I whatever way that I could—injury of not—in order to ensure that I didn’t gain weight.
Fast-forward to the present, and yoga has flipped my world upside down. I'm now a teacher, and my primary goal for practicing is not to be strong or skinny. I practice because I can’t imagine not practicing, because yoga has changed my life and my relationship with my body, and because it has offered me a sense of peace, self-love, and acceptance that nothing else has ever given me. That is the new skinny.
Acceptance is the new skinny. Self-love is the new skinny. Curves are the new skinny. I think any of these words could replace the word "strong." For me, what matters is that there is a new skinny--that there is something out there besides skinny, and that women are invited to embrace it. That’s a *beautiful* thing to hear.
This video says all that you need to know about why I'm [finally] giving up flip flops--forever
Not because I'm some amazing "athlete" and "athletes don't wear flip flops," but because I want my body to function as optimally as possible (and feel as good as possible)--and I think that proper alignment starts with the feet (read more in my "Lets Talk About Feet, Baby"
Oh, and if you're not familiar with him, the creator of this video is Kelly Starrett
, THE go-to guy for all CrossFitters seeking mobility help (and my #1 fitness/online crush). You can learn more about his "mission to get you guys to stop destroying your feel and ankles" on his blog, here
I hope you'll join me in giving up flip-flops this spring! Or maybe just working to reduce the amount of time you spend wearing them...?
PS. Notice that I didn't say cute strappy sandals with backs of some sort...just flip flops ;)
CrossFit couples counseling: Sledgehammer Strikes. Ben on the left, me on the right.
In our household (er, apartmenthold), the term "CrossFit Widow" is thrown around a lot. Mostly by me. Well, only by me. But, I've found that this term perfectly describes what I've gone through in the 4+ years since my husband, Ben, has been doing CrossFit
--and especially in the 2+ years that he's been doing it more competitively.
Here's the thing: I love CrossFit.
I really do! I think it is super fun and it's an amazing
workout and a perfect yang to yoga's yin and all of that (read more about why I do it here
)--but my love for CrossFit has NOTHING on Ben's love for it. I go to class, workout, come home, and I'm done. Ben goes to class early to do an extra-long "mobility session," then he does class, then he stays after class for 30-40 minutes doing something extra or working on a specific skill, then he comes home, and proceeds to watch CrossFit videos on the iPad all night. Or if he's not watching a video, he's reading a CrossFit blog, or the CrossFit journal, or checking out other CrossFit gyms and what workouts they're doing, or writing down workout plans for the next 6-weeks, or recording what he did that day.
Our apartment is covered in little scraps of paper with weekly workout schedules on them. We have a set of kettlebells in our dining room (no joke! picture below!), we have a rowing machine in our bedroom (no joke, picture below!), and the corner of our living room is filled with an abmat, "slamball," medicine ball, foam roller, etc. (again, picture below). He also recently asked if I thought we could fit a squat rack and a few weights in our 975 sq. ft. apartment. Ha!
So yeah, I call myself a CrossFit Widow. At times, it feels like I've lost him completely to his love for CrossFit. Maybe I'm being a *bit* dramatic, but CrossFit IS
the other woman in his life, and I know that I'm not the only person out there who feels this way.
Therefore, today I've compiled a list of 10 tips for others who may be in the same--or a similar--boat. I hope that by sharing the things I've learned over the past 5 years, I'll be able to save some of you from the many disagreements that we've had over our CrossFit love triangle...
A How-To Guide for CrossFit Widows/Widowers: 10 Tips for a Better Relationship
1. If your partner does CrossFit (or starts doing CrossFit) and you don't already do it, start. Even if you just go every once in a while, understanding CrossFit and being able to talk about it with them will do major things for your relationship. I can't imagine what would happen if I didn't do CrossFit (no conversation at the dinner table?). This will save your relationship! And I'm only half-kidding when I say this...2.
Every once in a while, watch a CrossFit video with your partner. It makes them really happy when you do this.3.
If your partner wants to buy equipment that isn't *too* expensive and fits in your home, let them. Honestly, it's one more reason for them to stick around/workout nearby, and it can be a really fun way to do workouts together. 4.
Learn the names of the previous CrossFit Games
winners. If you don't, you'll often feel very left out of conversations with friends (or, won't understand when your partner names his/her equipment after people...).5.
Cheer them on when they're doing really well, but when they're not doing well or are frustrated, don't cheer them on. I learned this the hard way.6.
Always "ooh" and "ahh" at all of their tales of PRs, amazing newly-acquired skills, pictures on blogs, and big muscles (hehe!). They love it and it brings you closer if they can constantly talk about CrossFit around the house. 7.
Take lots of pictures of them doing CrossFit. Post them in a public place. CrossFitters LOVE seeing pictures of themselves lifting weights or jumping on boxes. 8.
From the beginning, set up parameters re: how long a workout can last on the weekends. Say, "please be back in 2 hours so that we can spend time with each other." Trust me on this one--if you don't do this, their weekend workouts will often take up the entire day. This is not a joke, it has happened to me many, many times. 9.
Buy them CrossFit Reebok
gear. It makes them really happy and reminds them that you're around, and that you'd love to hang out with them whenever they're done CrossFitting ;)10.
Whatever you do, don't out-CrossFit them. I've never done this, so don't know what would happen, but if I became even more into CrossFit than Ben, I think the world would explode. I wouldn't dare try it (and honestly, really don't want to).
So there you have it! hope my fellow-CrossFit Widows/Widowers find this helpful!
If you're looking for more CrossFit relationship advice, check out my past post, "10 Ways to Prepare Yourself for Dating/Marrying/Becoming a CrossFitter."
What. A. Weekend.
Even though I didn't compete in the SuperFit Games,
I was so exhausted when we got home last night that I honestly felt like I did. Kind of lame, I know, but honestly, I was just extremely
worn out from all of the yelling/cheering, fingernail-biting, early wake-up calls, rushing around from event-to-event to see everyone, and loud music/intense energy/adrenaline pulsing throughout the building the entire weekend.
If you've never been to a CrossFit
competition, I have to tell you that there's really nothing like it. It's wild to watch so many people push to (or even past) their physical and mental limits time and time again over the course of a weekend. Every year the weights get heavier, the competitors get stronger, and my yelling gets louder--but there's always a similar, basic love of the "sport," the competition, the thrill, connecting everyone who travels to Charlottesville for the SuperFit Games.
So anywho, instead of waxing on about the competition for hours, this year I thought I'd just share some of my favorite snapshots from the weekend. Hopefully, these images capture a bit of the spirit of the trip...
Whew. Now back to reality, right?
Oh, and if you were wondering, all of the guys that we were cheering for did FABULOUS job. Ben set a PR in almost every event, and I was very, very proud of him ;)
I hope your weekend was also full of excitement, adventure, and whatever is is that you're passionate about...
On Christmas Day, Ben and I went to my old high school track for an outdoor workout. Since we didn't have any weights and Ben is seriously training for an upcoming competition, he decided to use me as his weight--something he's wanted to do ever since one of his good friends took pictures of himself doing "Wife Squats" on his honeymoon last year. So, Ben designed the following CrossFit-esque workout: 3 rounds of:
10 strict chin-ups
10 wife squats
10 wife lunges
40 meter wife piggy-back shuttle run
Everything with the word "wife" in front of it was done with me, his up-for-anything spouse, on his back (in the manner of the image above). Needless to say, this workout was crazy. We alternated rounds, so I would go from being on his back for much of his round, to doing it on my own, to getting back onto his back--which is much harder than it looks in the picture. As you can see from the image above, the entire experience was story-worthy, and Ben demonstrated his "wife squats" for the family later in the day on Christmas. Of course my Dad, never one to be left out of a crazy experience, jumped on for the second round, allowing Ben the chance to show off with some "Father-in-Law" squats, as well. It was quite the show!
So anyways, after posting the above image on Facebook
, one of my clever friends shared the following video with me, offering it up as a new "sport" for Ben--The North American Wife Carrying Championship
Can you believe it? This is real!
It's like a Tough Mudder
with your wife on your back! And they've figured out an amazing method of "wife-carrying." I think this is utterly hysterical and hope that Ben and I will get a chance to compete some day ;)
Image via www.dailymail.co.uk
I hope your day is full of laughter and support--literally and figuratively...
So cool! CrossFit DC
(my CrossFit box and Ben's home away from home) is featured on the CrossFit Main Site
today! For those of you who don't know, this is a big deal in the CrossFit world :)
You can check out the video here
(sadly I can't embed!) and view a screen shot of Ben (aka Sebastian) finishing the workout below. Congrats, everyone! You rocked it and definitely put CFDC on the map.
And if you've ever asked me what a CrossFit workout is like, this
will give you a great idea...
I get asked about CrossFit
about 2-3 times per week (especially since the NPR story about it
aired in DC...). What is it? Why do you do it? What kind of stuff do you do in class?
And although I'm not going to answer all of these questions here today, I did want to share the main reasons that I enjoy this crazy, addictive workout, in a list I'd like to call, "The Top 5 Reasons Why I CrossFit." If you, too, are a CrossFitter, then you'll probably be able to relate to these items (and if you're not, you should give it a try!)...The Top 5 Reasons Why I CrossFit 1. It's the best workout I've ever gotten. Hands-down.
Where else will you be sweating profusely after the warm up, and then continue to workout for another 1.5 hours? Where else will you do a workout that includes suicides, a partner wall-ball burpee, or box jumps? Where else will your normal hands turn into claws after gripping two 60lb dumbbells for a just a minute (while doing Romanian Deadlifts)?
After an intense CrossFit workout, I'm spent for the day. My legs are jelly, I'm starving, and all I want to do is sleep. It wears me out physically and makes me sore to the bone--in the most satisfying of ways. I can feel myself getting stronger every time I go to class, and that's a really gratifying, empowering experience.
Looks a little like yoga, doesn't it?
Yes, my shirt does say "Strong is the New Skinny." I'm obsessed with this slogan ;)
2. We do things like "The Squat Cycle," and "The Smackdown."
While being an amazing workout, it's also super fun--we did the CrossFit Open
, a local team CrossFit competition (the "Smackdown"
), and are now doing a "Squat Cycle"
together--all in the name of improvement, fun, and fitness (I know, I sound like a total dork!). These events also give us goals to work towards and ways to track our improvement, which both help to motivate and keep us coming back ;)
Ben squatting (as a part of the Squat Cycle) a few week ago...
My "Smackdown" team.
Ben's "Smackdown" team.
3. Tire flips.
Now that I've done them, I'm obsessed with them. What am I talking about? Check out this video of a recent workout that we did at CrossFit DC
. To fully understand what I'm talking about when I say that CrossFit is the best workout ever, please note that we did this workout AFTER doing a really long (and exhausting) warm-up, and about 45 minutes of heavy back squats (yes, this means squats with a barbell full of heavy weights on our backs). Needless to say, we were a *bit* tired when we started this team metcon...
4. The community. I've met some of my favorite people in DC through CrossFit. We do partner and team workouts together, we get together for the holidays (NYE, Memorial Day, July 4th...), we go out to eat together, we head to the pool for "recovery days" (aka, sitting in the pool or on a towel talking about CrossFit) together--and the best part? We all like to live healthy lifestyles, so you don't feel bad going home to go to bed early, or passing on drinking, or ordering something healthy to eat, or leaving early to go do yoga...
5. Because it makes Ben so. darn. happy. I mean, will you look at this guy?
Have you ever seen someone so happy to be working out?
Ben's first CrossFit ice bath (don't ask why he wanted to wear my malas...).
Guess what? CrossFit DC
was featured on the radio
here in DC yesterday (and again this morning), and Ben and I make an appearance in the story! It's a fairly short segment, but I think it's really well done and that it's lots of fun to hear a bunch of my CrossFit friends--and my coaches--on the radio. The other cool connection here? The story was done by one of my fellow Tranquil Space
yoginis, Emily Friedman. Totally unprepared, I just walked into class last week, and there she was with all of her equipment! It's a small world here in DC--especially in the fitness community ;)
Anyways, if you haven't heard the story yet, you can take a listen here.