In the Middle of Things

My friend Jennifer recently asked when I was going to update this blog again, and the answer I had at the time was, "Unknown, because I'm not certain what I have to say?"

Everything in my head pertaining to fitness and health is kind of a big scribble right now.  And rather than hide and say nothing, I'm going to try to unpack it.  It's going to be messy.  But it's where I'm at, and the truth, they tell me, is powerful.

So here it goes: I'm struggling with post-partum body issues.  I thought that I'd made my peace with my post-partum shape, but as it turns out, that was more a surface-level peace, because clothes shopping was really triggering, along with the gym, and seeing pictures of myself, and on and on.  I was okay as long as I didn't think about it.  But that can't really work long-term.

The culturally expected thing to do about that is to try to lose weight and get in shape.  Before I dismissed that entirely, I wanted to do a deep dive into what that might look like.

I thought about going Paleo again, because I'd had success with it in the past.  For a moment, I even considered Keto, because the results reported by friends have been crazy.  But my partner's friend is having to do a very low-carb diet in order to reverse his diagnosis of Type II diabetes, and after watching him do it, my partner reported back that it takes a whole lot of planning, energy, and willpower -- to do the research on what foods you can eat, read labels, ask lots of questions about ingredients, and default to the safe things at restaurants.

I think that back in 2012-2013 I had that kind of time and energy.  I was also skating 3x per week and didn't have much else going on other than that.  I didn't have a kid.  I had a lot of time.  I don't have those things now.  It's worth noting that I do meal plan and prep on the weekends, and I've been pretty good at making plant-forward, healthy breakfasts and lunches this year.  I feel good about that.  But taking it to the next level, committing to another Whole30, or Keto, or even a pretty primal set-up takes a lot of resources -- resources I don't have at the moment.

The reason I don't have those resources is that I'm working on a pretty big project right now, and I've shelved nearly everything else in order to work on it.  I'm also a working parent with a very clever, sweet, feisty two year old.  So time and energy and effort are limited.  I'm lucky if I can get to CrossFit two times a week at this point.

That's the other part of it, by the way: I don't have a lot of time for exercise right now either.  I used to make it to CrossFit at least 3x per week.  I'm struggling to do that now with the daycare schedule.  The times don't line up quite right, and every time I have to leave CrossFit early, I feel really shitty about it.  It seems rude?  I don't know.  Everyone is super understanding at the gym, but I feel terrible about it. 

And then I have to rush through traffic to get to my kid on time, because the gym is further from her daycare than my work is.  So my compromise has been to work out at work's exercise room on Wednesdays when I have to pick her up.  I'm lucky enough to have a partner who retrieves kiddo on Mondays and Fridays, so I can hit CrossFit then, and that will have to be good enough for now. 

I feel like a huge traitor for even having these feelings at all.  I've worked so hard to be body positive, to make peace with my body as it exists, right now.  A lot of the time, I feel pretty okay about it.  But the weight I've gained around my middle from having a baby has literally changed my shape.  I used to be more of an hourglass, and now I'm more of an apple. 

I know that this is part of the wild changes of life, of pregnancy and childbirth, of being a mama.  I know that my body will never be the same, and I wouldn't want it to be, because I have her, and she is everything.


Still, it would really help if clothes fit better/differently, and if gaining the weight hadn't shifted me solidly into plus size clothes.  I think being on the edge of straight sizes can be challenging in this very particular way: because it feels like straight size clothes should be in reach.  But they're just out of reach.  And you think, oh hey, if I dieted, maybe all that would be accessible to me.

I'm not trying at all to equate that mental gymnastics with the very real oppression and discrimination fat people face every day.  I recognize the thin privilege I do have in being a big size 14/small size 16.  I still have access to a lot of things that larger people do not.  And maybe it's stupid to even care about this at all.

But there's still that horrible small whispering voice in the back of my head, saying "If only.  If only."

Daring Greatly - My First CrossFit Competition

A few weeks ago, I did something previously unthinkable: I participated in a CrossFit competition at my gym.  Before anyone freaks out, this was a "just for fun" deal - and there's no Rhabdomyolysis in my future or anything like that.  But it was a big deal for me, because I was pretty dang terrified of the whole concept.

I don't love being looked at and judged, especially when I'm getting down to the sweaty business of working hard.  I do CrossFit for me, as a challenge for myself alone.  I like beating my own PRs and times, but I'm not really about competing against others.  My perfectionism often gets in the way of enjoying such pursuits, because if I don't do as well as everyone else I beat myself up about it for days.

You have to understand, sometimes even the "fun" things are hard for me because of this fear -- fear of failing, of looking stupid, of being embarrassed.  Even within the context of our gym, with people I know, I was feeling the fear intensely.

But my training partner really wanted to do it, and my coaches talked me into it.  For one thing, we would be signing up for the "Scaled" version, not the "Rx" version, meaning the movements and weights were well within my reach.  And if my Plantaris kicked up, I could figure it out along the way. 

Mostly though, my partner reminded me, the victory was in showing up, in facing my fear to try something new, to compete, to see how we stacked up. 

In mentally preparing for this challenge, I was reminded of this quote:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
— Theodore Roosevelt

This quote really hit my gut.  It moved my hand on the board to sign up.  Ultimately, I figured, even if I look stupid, even if everyone thinks I'm weak or fat or ungainly, even if I can't do any of the movements and the competition is a wash, I'm still showing up.  I'm daring greatly.  And there's honor in that.  Showing up engenders respect. 

So how did it go, you might wonder?

Well, actually, we came in 2nd.

Team Finish, on the podium.  From "Daring Greatly - My First CrossFit Competition"

Team Finish, on the podium.  From "Daring Greatly - My First CrossFit Competition"

I totally didn't think that would happen.  But, we both busted ass on the Thrusters, the first movement, positioning ourselves in 1st place.  Then we came in 2nd place on the second movement, a MetCon with jumping pull-ups, box jumps, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, rowing, and wall balls.  It was the last movement, a relay with sandbag cleans as a buy-in, that we fell behind, but you know what?  I can live with that.  Running and jumping are the movements that take longest to come back after a calf injury -- the fact that I was running at all during a competition is magic.

I'm so glad I showed up.  It's changed the way I think about CrossFit.  I realized that I let fear guide me a lot of the time, and that it's a waste of energy.  I need to try new things, and try hard, and keep moving even when it's really difficult. 

I noticed this week too that I've stopped fronting in a lot of ways -- I don't complain, I don't go light on weights, I've stopped apologizing for myself.  I show up and do my work.  And that feels really damn good.