Friday, July 10, 2015

I may have been paranoid, or I may have just saved my own life....

About a month or so ago, I was getting ready to take a shower and noticed a red mark on my back by my love handles.  (Yup, I've totally got those) It looked like I had scratched myself while getting dressed.  It was roughly the width of my fingernail and it just looked like it could have been a spot that I hit while pulling on my pants, or even putting on a shirt. The weird thing was, I had no recollection of doing that.  I thought something like that would have at least hurt somewhat and I would remember it, but I didn't.  So I shrugged it off and went about my daily business.

Well, let's fast forward back into real time, you know like you do on your cable box? (Well, but when will THEN be NOW? Points if you can identify what movie that's from...tehehe....) Anyway, back in the now.... last week I started to get sick.  I felt a cold creeping on.  The acheiness,  the sore throat, swollen glands, you know, the general icky feeling you get as you're getting sick.  I was really tired and in general just not feeling great.  I got through the weekend and on Monday thought, "Well, I feel gross.  I'm going to take as much cold stuff and liquid as I can and go to bed as soon as I get home." I did as I said I was going to do, and was in bed by 5:30pm.  I woke up the next day feeling loads better and thought, "Ha! I showed that cold who's boss!" I went into work that day, and left that day nearly crawling.  I was wiped out.  

The next day I was scheduled off from work but had a meeting to attend.  I went in for the meeting and to get a few other assorted odds and ends done. Again, I started the day out just fine, but could barely stand up by the end of the day.  I just couldn't seem to hold things together.  I went home and went to bed.  Yesterday, I woke up and thought, "Gosh, this house is filthy and I need to clean." So, I loaded up the dishwasher for a run, vacuumed around downstairs, and started to clean the bathroom.  About an hour into all of this, I got so tired I had to stop.  I came into the bedroom to lie down and immediately fell asleep for the next 3+ hours until it was time for work.  

As I was getting in the shower yesterday, I just happened to notice that that same spot from a month ago still had a mark, only this time, it didn't look like a fingernail scratch.  It was no longer red, but it was oval.  The middle was pretty much faded back to skin tone but the outside was ringed with red.  I immediately started searching for online pictures of something similar because it just looked odd to me. I tried to dismiss it as nothing, but it really started to nag at me. I did some google searching and low and behold, it looked identical to some tick bite photos.  What if I had been bitten by a tick and just hadn't realized it? The timeline fit.  I had been hiking on Roosevelt Island outside DC while I had been on staycation a little over a month ago.  I had gotten sick with flu like symptoms that definitely involved some joint pain as I was getting up in the mornings, and the fatigue I was experiencing was beyond just the regular, "I work two jobs and I'm tired" kind of fatigue.  I suddenly became much more concerned.

I went to work as planned yesterday, and when I shared my paranoia with some of my coworkers (one of which has an advanced case of Lyme disease) they immediately told me to go get it checked.  They didn't think I was being paranoid at all.  So, I hunted around this morning for an urgent care center that would take my insurance and luckily discovered that one that just opened about a quarter mile away did.  So, I went first thing this morning.  I expressed my concerns to the nurse who weighed me and took my blood pressure, and the doctor who saw me asked a series of follow-ups based on that.  After seeing the mark, he immediately said that it looked suspect and put me on a 2 week run of antibiotics and requested a tick borne illness panel.  

Now, it may come back that I have a wicked cold that has just been tearing me apart, and the tick panels come back negative. In truth, I'm hoping that this is what happens.  But, it may also come back with a positive identification for Lyme disease or another tick borne illness.  If it comes back negative, hoo-ray! I'll take a cold any day.  But if it comes back positive, then I will thank my paranoid self for speaking up.  Lyme disease is one of those things that not too many people are talking about, but it definitely can have a serious impact on people's health.  My coworker went undiagnosed for over a year.  And in that year, the disease took away her strength, her energy, and her ability to do things that normal people like you and I do every day. I'm hoping that I don't have to experience anything like what she is going through, and I am thankful that, if it does in fact turn out to be Lyme disease, I will have caught it early enough to treat it.  So, the moral of this story is, sometimes you need to listen to your own gut, even if you think you may be being paranoid.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

You don't do WHAT? I don't think we can be friends anymore.....

The other day I wrote my first blog in a really, really long time.  I know I'm a little rusty and my humor and usage of Katieisms is a little off, but give me some time to get these old wheels greased back up and things will be back to normal in no time.  As I get back into this whole blogging thing, it only makes sense to talk about my life now and how CrossFit fits in there, not what CrossFit used to be for me.  And there are some things that I'm going to put out there in that spirit of full disclosure that may sound.... odd if you've been a reader of my blog.  Truth be told, I've taken so many hiatuses (hiati??!?) from blogging that I'm not sure any of my readers from the way back then still exist.  But if you are still here, and wondering what in the hell I've been up to with my life, you may find things are vastly different these days.

The other day I wrote a blog about not being dead.  Shocking I know that I was writing a blog, but yet I wasn't dead.  (This blog is just chock FULL of rocket sciency type stuff folks) It seems to be the consensus of the masses that CrossFit is just, well, it's EVIL and if you try it, well you're going to like, rip an arm out of the socket and just, die a slow and horrible and painful death.  Ok, ok, fine.  They may be a SLIGHT  exaggeration from the articles (HEY, artistic license ok????!?!?!) but you get the point.

Truthfully, I think one of the reasons that I was able to leave CrossFit and still come back after roughly 7 months has to do with my attitude towards CrossFit now, and in particular to how many days I work out.  I'm going to confess to everyone now, that I only work out three days a week.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Yup, you read correctly.  Three days.  Not five, three. Now, if you need to go unfriend me on Facebook because you just can't be friends with me anymore, then please feel free.  While I am an uber competitive person, I'm tired.  I love CrossFit, but I'm tired.  My body physically feels tired by the end of the week.  Hell sometimes it's tired at the beginning of the week.  I have learned that the key to my longevity and my continued success with CrossFit is to only go three days a week.  I would like to work my way back up to four, but even after a year of being back at CrossFit, it's hard for me to do.  See, I've been listening to my body more and more these days.  And my body has been saying, ENOUGH.

As I've gotten older, my stress load has gotten heavier, my work load has gotten heavier, and quite honestly, my desire to be that bad ass chick killin' it at the gym has decreased.  Now, does that mean it's gone? Oh hellz no, but it does mean that I no longer see a point in falling asleep at midnight, waking up at 0400 to go try to get a workout in, then going and working a 14 hour day.  I've learned that that is actually counterproductive.  The amount of stress that I'm putting on my body by doing that is actually undermining the work that I'm putting into my health and fitness.  Making myself go to the gym five days a week is actually not good for my body, and it's not good for my head either,  which whether you want to believe it or not, is a HUGE part of your fitness.  Going to the gym five days a week turns CrossFit into another job, another stressor... and it stops being fun.  It stops being about health and fitness and my journey towards being a healthy individual.  It turns into something completely and totally different, and something that isn't positive.  It turns it into, "Ok, how can I squeeze this in?" and "How much time can I take to relax after the wod before I have to run out the door and get home so I can shower and get to work?" It stops being about the camaraderie and the fellowship, and literally, for me anyway, becomes a walloping stress on my body because my body just can't figure out how to possibly get everything in.

I'd love to come five days a week.  I love the people who coach me, and I love the people I work out with.  But the truth is, that just isn't in the cards for me right now and that's ok.  If it's not in the cards for you either, that's ok too.  I think the one thing that we lose sight of in CrossFit is the fact that, this is not a sprint.  Health and fitness are lifelong goals. The more stress you put on yourself to get to these goals RIGHT MEOW, the less fun it's going to be.  The more like a job it's going to feel.  At least that's what happened to me.  I love working out three days a week.  I enjoy going.  I still get a good sweat on, and I am still pretty doggone strong, which I love.

Having said that, am I as strong now as I could possibly be? No.  Am I as fast now as I could possibly be? No.  But, I will say that I enjoy CrossFit more now than I used to going five days a week.  It's easier for me to go to the box now than it was before.  I also don't feel as beat up and abused as I did when I was going five days a week.  See, when I jumped ship out of teaching last year, I wound up in a job that's actually much more physical than teaching.  I actually work in a grocery store.  I can tell you that it's critical that I'm able to move and lift and function.  I can't afford to be so sore from workouts that I have to sit or not walk, or not be able to carry.  It's important.  Five days a week would honestly cripple me.  I think four would be feasible and even better for me, but I'm working my way back up this ladder. For awhile, there were some weeks where two days was just all I could manage.  But the important thing is, I went.  This is a marathon.  I want to be healthy and have a great relationship with my food and my body for the rest of my life.  I don't want to get so focused on the short term goals that I get there and then go, ok that was great.  And I'm done.  Unfortunately, health and fitness don't work like that.  They are constantly in flux, and constantly require attention and care.

So what's the point of all of this you ask? My point, you see, is that your CrossFit training should be about you.  Screw the white board, and screw the main site. Yes, yes, blasphemy, I know.  But here's the deal.  There is only one name, and one number on the board that matter, and that is yours.  For me, in order to maintain a long lasting relationship with CrossFit, I can't burn out, and I can't turn this into another job.  Believe me, I KNOW that HQ says 3 on, 1 off.  I know that.  I know that the white board is always a source of inspiration, but it's also a source of negativity sometimes.  Don't let these things take over your thoughts.  CrossFit is about you, your health, your fitness.  And honestly, if it doesn't fit into the 3 on, 1 off mold, then eff it! I'm learning, God but it's so slow, that the only person who can take care of me, is me.  I have to find something that works for me, and right now, it's three days.  As I said earlier, I'd love to add a fourth day back, but, quite honestly, it's hard.  But regardless of whether or not I get four, the point is, do your own thing.  Don't worry about what the sites and the white boards say.  Do what is going to continue to help you on the path towards your health and fitness goals, and screw everybody else.  (Not literally, I definitely meant figuratively) As Aerosmith says, "life's a journey, not a destination, and how high can you fly with broken wings?" If you're constantly injured or tired from trying to wod everyday, cut back.  Do you and find what makes you happy.  The relationship you are in with your health and fitness is the longest one you will ever be in, so make it a good one.  Make yourself happy.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

According to, well, EVERYONE, I should be dead by now.... but, good news, I'm not!

I can't tell you how many times I see articles swearing up and down that CrossFit is bad, and that it causes more injuries than any other sport.  Not to mention, it's helping to pave the way for some very lucky doctors' children to go to college! Thanks CrossFit! Ugh, every single time I see one of those articles it makes me want to start punching the computer screen.  Ok, well, maybe not that.  I would have to pay to replace it, and yeah... about that.  But, you get the point.  It makes me angry.  According to all of those people, and all of those articles for that matter, I should actually be dead.  No, seriously!

According to all of these people, there is no way that someone could do CrossFit for a long period of time.  According to all of those articles, the injuries will get me, and I will realize the evils of CrossFit, and decide that there are far better uses of my time out there, because CrossFit is bad.  I don't really want to ruin all of, well, we'll just keep calling them "those people's" day, but.... I have a very deep, dark secret I want and NEED to confess to the world.  Are you ready? Of COURSE you are.  You were born ready..... deep breath... here we go..... I'VE BEEN CROSSFITTING FOR OVER 7 YEARS! (almost 8).

Wait, wha? Yeah, you read that right...... 7 flipping years.  There was a minor hiccup in there with that whole foot surgery thing, but that actually was not a direct result of CrossFit.  That was a direct result of me not having an arch in my foot and doing a lot of walking for the past x number of years.  But back to my point here.... 7 years is a long time.  And here's the thing I don't get.... if CrossFit is so evil, if CrossFit is just going to lure me down the dark and dangerous road to rhabdo and injuries and totally ruin my life..... uh, why has it not ruined my life and killed me yet?

My relationship with CrossFit throughout the years hasn't always been rosy.  We've had our ups and downs just like any relationship would, mostly due to work and schedule related issues, but in the end, it's never broken me.  Have I had injuries? Legitimate ones? Yeah.  In 7 years, I've had 3.  3 injuries that actually required the care of someone smarter than me.  1 of those injuries actually wasn't really even CrossFit related, but CrossFit was more or less the straw that broke the camel's back.  I had tried to move and set up my classroom the week before the competition.  Is it any wonder my back was really sore after the weekend? Of course not! I'd spent the whole week prior using improper form to lug around boxes of crap, not to mention desks, chairs, and other assorted classroom items.  It's sort of a no brainer.  I should have pulled out of the competition and I didn't, so I don't blame CrossFit for that one at all.  The other 2 were honestly more my fault than CrossFit's.  It's true.  I'm a stubborn individual.  And I paid the price for that.

Now, before everyone goes around shouting, see! She did get injured, also understand that while these injuries did require some attention, they were not life-threatening, nor did they actually keep me from working out.  They also happened at competitions where I was away from my home box, and my inner "Just DO it!" kicked in.  So before anyone accuses my coaches of not watching me, understand that this was something different entirely.  These injuries were minor dings and tweaks that required a little working around.  I had to get creative sure, but at the end of the day, I could have done the same damage to myself in my classroom alone as I did in the gym.

So what's my point? My point is, if I listen to everyone else out there, the naysayers, the "fitness experts", the bloggers, the article writers, and the self-proclaimed couch experts, I should, for all intensive purposes, be dead.  CrossFit, in this length of time, should have debilitated me to the point where I shouldn't be able to move or enjoy life.  So in other words, dead.  But I'm not.  SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! NO WAY! Yup, way.  I'm not dead.

So what does that mean exactly? Well clearly, this must mean that I'm a freak of nature with extraordinary athletic prowess. Really? I'm over here rolling on the floor at that one.  It couldn't be farther from the truth.  Ok, so then, I must have a private doctor who helps me every day? Seriously, do you have any idea how much that would cost? I don't know if you all know this or not, but uh, I'm not Dana Torres.  Well then clearly, I must be lying.... nope, not at all.

So this begs the question then, of why am I not dead? Because I said so! Kidding, but I've always wanted to use that as a legitimate answer to a question.  I don't have kids so I may never get to use that one.  I had to... But back to the matter at hand... me being dead, or not rather. Why am I not dead?

I think that my story illustrates what a lot of us have known for a really long time.  CrossFit, when done as it's intended, isn't a bad thing.  CrossFit can be an important, and long lasting, part of your life.  CrossFit can be a tool of your health and fitness.  And when I say your health and fitness, I don't just mean for your body, but for your mind too.  The story of the past year of my life is an interesting one, and maybe some time I'll get around to writing about it, but I know that without CrossFit in my life, there are times when my mental fortitude would have probably broken.  I know that there were times were I treated what I was going through much the same way I treat those difficult wods in the gym.  I put my head down, gritted my teeth, and found a way to just keep moving.  Without CrossFit in my life, I'm not sure that that strength would have been there.

Now, this doesn't mean that CrossFit is without risks, absolutely not! But any CrossFitter or coach worth their salt will tell you that the key to longevity in CrossFit is acknowledging those risks, and working to minimize them.  And THAT is exactly what I've done.  I am absolutely not super human, and I am by no means rich enough to provide myself with daily personal care from an advanced team of doctors.  What I have done is talked extensively with my coaches about what I've got going on in my life.  They know and understand that my schedule is insane.  They know what the limitations are for someone like me who is working out the number of days I work out, and they are quick to tell me if they think I'm out of line.  I've taken rest days when I'm tired, and I've stayed in bed on some days rather than coming to the gym because I understand the inherent risks and long term affects of working out when your body is suffering from sleep deprivation.  I've changed my diet, and I've developed the attitude that what I can do on any given day is simply what I can do.  These things have enabled me to be able to continue to CrossFit, despite the fact that, according to everyone else, I should be dead.  There is longevity to be found in CrossFit, without a doubt, and I'm living proof.... literally.