Whaddaya know – it IS like CrossFit! I was worried about nothing. Two puzzles down (I scaled down to the easy ones), the first in 14 minutes, then the second a new 10 minute PR. I am SO gonna tackle double-unders tomorrow morning.
We’ll lead into this one with a small health update. Even though we’ve been hitting single digit temps and lower, my Raynaud’s is staying quiet. Granted, I’ve been as cautious as usual with the gloves and such, but I’ve noticed my fingers actually being quite cold at times without having the Raynaud’s kick in. I imagine some of the positive progression it is time, but I’ve also read here and there about how lifting weights, specifically squatting, works wonders on the central nervous system. And as my family at CFNH can tell you, squatting is one of the few things I don’t suck at 🙂
One side effect that still persists is my lingering brain issues. Specifically word recall. That’s actually what got me to fire up the blog and write this post. I got home and was looking in the fridge when I saw what appeared to be a package of salmon. My first thought was “Oh – salmon.” Then I realized that this assumption could be wrong, since it appeared to have some sort of rub or something on it. Being ever correct and proper, I thought “It might not be salmon, so I should say it’s the generic word for salmon to be safe.” And that was all I could come up with. The package either contained “salmon” or it contained “generic word for salmon.” After standing there for a minute or so, I thought to look at the package. It identified the contents as “tuna” and immediately the word “fish” finally popped into my head.
This is my life. This is why this blog is called “Lethological.”
The other day, I decided I was going to apply CrossFit philosophy to the problem. All this time, I’ve been doing a lot of sudoku puzzles. Sudoku puzzles are like squatting for my brain – I can just tear through those suckers. Then it finally occurred to me that one the chief tenets of CrossFit totally applied to this situation: if you want to get better, you have to do things that are uncomfortable. Sudoku puzzles are logic and my logic kicks some serious ass. What I need are some brain double-unders. What I need are crossword puzzles.
While I’ve done crosswords in the past (pre-cancer), I’ve never been a crossword fanatic. Of course, once my brain started misfiring, I made sure to avoid crosswords like they were hyperbole (which I avoid like the plague). So it was time to suck it up and start filling in little boxes with little letters. And for the first time, I understand the feeling a lot of beginning CrossFitters feel when they look at a WOD (workout of the day). I’ve never really feared any of the workouts we’ve done, though I’ve certainly dreaded my fair share. The distinction there is, I may dread having to go out in the snow to take out the trash, but I don’t fear it, since I’m relatively certain I won’t get eaten by a polar bear.
But now that I have my little book of crossword puzzles, I have yet to open it up. Why? Fear. Fear of what I’ll find. Fear of failure. Fear of discovering just how much is missing. Fear of what my brain’s become. I made sure to get a book that has a lot of easy puzzles to get me going, but in a way that makes it worse. What if I can’t even do an easy puzzle?
Hell with it. Grip it and rip it, right? 3, 2, 1, go.
I was putting together a big long post on the mental game in Crossfit and it really started rambling there after a bit. And if I think it was rambling, it would probably be incomprehensible to you guys. So instead, let’s focus right now on negative affirmations.
The important thing to remember at all times is the power your brain has over your body. I’d imagine it varies from person to person, but I know my brain can really mess me up physically. And not just by all of those “A Five Guys burger would be soooooo good right now” thoughts it keeps repeating. For instance, several times in the past when I’ve decided I really need to play hooky from work, I’d get myself sick. When you call your boss, you have to be sure you sound good and sick. I’d get so deep in the act, before I’d realize it I’d be really sick. And as we all know, nothing’s worse than being sick on a sick day.
I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.
– Emo Phillips
Knowing this power my brain has beforehand has already proved astoundingly useful in my life. I’ve never been that good at all of that positive affirmation Stuart Smalley stuff. The closest I can get is by limiting my negative affirmations, which can be quite a task in itself. I even have a good concrete example right here of how this all works for me.
NOTE: If you’re one of my cancer homies, you can zone out ’cause I’m going to tell that story again.
So yeah, Crossfitters – I’m a cancer survivor. Hodgkin’s lymphoma, stage IVB – about as advanced as that cancer can get at diagnosis time. Once I was diagnosed, I had one primary rule that I stuck to: I didn’t want to know any side effects of anything that was being given to me. Luckily, I had my wife Barb right there (wave to the crowd, honey), so she became the Holder of the Side Effects. You see, as much as you might want to, you can’t completely ignore your symptoms when you’re in chemo. You may think that your fever’s no big deal, but that might just be a precursor to something really bad happening from drug X.
So the way it worked was like this. We go in to see the doctor and he goes into what I’m going to get and what’s going to happen. The second half is where I tune out (let’s hear it for ADD!). He hands me the sheet with all of the side effects (“The ones in this column are normal. The ones in this column you call me about. The ones in this column, you race to the ER.”) and I hand it right to Barb. She kept them all in her notebook and when I felt something weird, I’d ask her about it.
“Honey? I feel kinda queasy and I can’t see the color orange anymore.” Barb would pull out her notebook, run through the lists. “Nope, those are normal.” “Okay, hand me that baseball.” “Those are oranges, honey.”
Not only did I have very few side effects and hardly any of the “bad” ones, I started playing roller hockey in the middle of the first chemo regimen while I was still working full time. That’s not to say that that first hockey game wasn’t worse than any WOD I’ve done so far, but it got easier. I only quit once they started talking stem cell transplant.
Granted, later on, even not knowing the side effects was enough to keep things from happening. Some of those chemo regimens can be quite draconian. But still, I didn’t seem to have as many problems as the rest of my cancer buddies did.
So what you can glean from that rambling is this. Did I ever say anything about thinking positively? About telling yourself you can do it? About how having hope in your head and a song in a heart will get you through anything. No, I didn’t. At least I don’t think I did. Who can remember? The key to this is, you don’t have to think positive. Just don’t think negative.
“Ugh. Fran is today.”
“I’m still sore from the last one.”
“Has it been twenty minutes yet?”
“Wait, we’re supposed to do how many reps?”
They don’t seem that negative on the surface, but this kind of thinking just eats away at your brain. As soon as you feel one of these thoughts bubble up, do whatever it takes to stuff it back down. Find something sparkly to look at. Ask yourself what you really expected to happen when you showed up at the box that morning. Or, if you’re really feeling like a mental badass, take a tip from the second fittest woman in the world, Annie Thorisdottir. She looked like a mental case about half the time, because here she is, pushing a wheelbarrow overflowing with sandbags, and she’s frickin’ smiling.
Kettlebells? Smiling. Double unders? Smiling. Handstand push ups? Frowning. Oh wait – she’s upside down. Smiling.
Why the hell is she smiling? Did she not read her Icelandic to American Pain Dictionary to understand that you’re not supposed to do that sort of thing. Maybe. According to her, it’s kind of like how you’re supposed to smile when you talk on the phone if you’re in customer service. Try it right now. Smile. Aside from feeling stupid, smiling at your computer for no reason (and looking a little goofy, I might add), did you feel how smiling changes your whole posture? It may be subtle – try it again. This time, with a flower pot on your head.
Sorry – after getting everyone to smile the first time I was a little overcome with my power. But can you feel what I mean? It’s just that little extra bit of oomph that could mean the difference between a clean box jump and a no rep. Or horribly scraped shins, a busted nose and a thrown out back if you exceedingly clumsy.
So that’s your assignment for tomorrow’s WOD. Do whatever it takes to quell the negative thoughts and try to smile during the WOD. Or, you can kill two birds with one stone – smile during the WOD and think about what the people around you are thinking when they see you smiling, you psycho.
Many people who get involved with Crossfit equate it on some level with Fight Club. It’s hard to blame them when you see the places they overlap. You’ve got a group of people meeting in out-of-the-way places, punishing their bodies over and over, rebuilding their bodies, their minds and their entire outlook on life. Not to mention the fact that the first few workouts, you’re going to feel like you were on the losing end of a lopsided fight.
First off, for my readers who don’t do Crossfit, 98% of this post will make no sense to you. Crossfitters and the brave non-Crossfitters, read on…
Aside from being a genius, many people often bring up the fact that Albert Einstein was a major proponent of Crossfit. Of course, in the finest tradition of what passes for journalism in 2010, “many people” means me. But rest assured, I have it on good authority (me again) that all of my facts are sound.
“Let the bodies hit the floor.” – Albert Einstein
The most notable of of Einstein’s accomplishments achieved during Crossfit (aside from his sub-2 minute Fran time – the man was an animal) was his Theory of Crossfit Relativity. From what I’ve uncovered in my Einstein/Crossfit research, the theory was developed during a workout much like the one we had today at CFNH:
4 minute AMRAP
3 Cleans, 115/75
6 CTB Pull ups
rest 3 minutes
4 minute AMRAP
3 SDHP, 115/75
rest 5 minutes
4 minutes to get a max OHS
Einsetin noted that during the AMRAP phase four minutes appeared to slow down, lasting approximately ten minutes. Yet during the rest period, time was accelerated – three minutes actually lasted about one minute and five minutes around two and one half. The most intriguing finding was in the final part of the workout. His previous findings would seem to indicate the last four minutes would be, if not ten minutes long, at least substantially longer than the actual four minutes. Instead, time once again sped up. The final round of work was a subjective two minutes long.
After making a substantial sweat angel on the floor for one minute (ten minutes in real-time), he crawled over to his journal and wrote down the start of what would be his most famous equation: “E=mcowww” Or, in layman’s terms, “Energy equals mass times the speed of light raised to the power of how much I hate AMRAPs.”
Then, being a true Crossfitter and Man of Science, Einstein puked.