New Programming Cycle! – by Coach Matt

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Constant progress is the goal of all of our cycles!

We began a new cycle this week!

Much of the cycle was based on requests from our members. This cycle will feature some strength and skill work during the week, and some longer, more challenging workout at the end of the week and over the weekend.  

Here is a breakdown:

Monday: Partner Workouts

A favorite pastime in the gym, partner workouts are a method of maximizing skills and stamina to achieve success as group, which means having a solid game plan and putting in 100% effort when it’s your turn to go. Partner workouts can be intimidating if we are placed with people we feel are better than us, or if we are supposed to split reps equally on our weaker movements. Just like any workout, scaling and modifying are encouraged in order to complete the workout successfully. As for intimidation, rest assured your partner and team want you to succeed! On the other hand, partner workouts can also feel like a rest day if we don’t feel challenged enough. But if you are truly giving 100% and don’t feel challenged, consider what 100% means to you and whether you could give more or scale the WOD upwards. Finally, partner WODs are ultimately meant to be fun and build community, and are a great opportunity to get to know your fellow gym members.

Tuesday: Olympic Lifting

Olympic lifting is a lifetime skill – no matter what level you’re on, there is always room for improvement. Fine-tuning a small thing here or there can result in major differences. This cycle will feature complexes. That means we will be stringing multiple movements together in a single sequence. This is to help you build efficiency in your movements, grip strength, and overall strength.

Wednesday: Gymnastics

Gymnastics is one of the bases of CrossFit programming. How well do you move and control your own body weight? We will put that to the test every Wednesday. This gymnastics cycle will focus primarily on building strength. You will see circuits with a emphasis on quality and controlled movements.

Thursday: Squats

Becoming a better squatter will help your overall fitness in countless ways. It will also transfer to improvements in other parts of your programming: Olympic lifting, deadlifting, and practically any other movement that involves lower body and core. This squat cycle will focus on building strength through high volume at medium weight.

Friday: Open Workouts / Girls & Benchmark Workouts

Carrying over from last cycle, Friday’s theme will remain the same.

Repeating workouts (such as CrossFit Open workouts or the benchmarks like the Girls) allows us to compare our current self to our past self to help identify what progress we are making and where we need to focus our time. One of CrossFit’s main tenets is constantly varied fitness, so we can’t repeat workouts too often – otherwise we are just getting better at that specific workout! However, if we can retest a workout once a year or so, we should be able to see definite upward trends. Hopefully we complete the workout faster or heavier or – the best of both worlds – both!

Saturday: Cardio

Saturday’s theme will feature medium to longer endurance-based workouts. They will feature cardio machines and lighter weights. Intensity will be high, loads will be low. Here’s a great chance to challenge and improve your physical and mental endurance. The test in the beginning and end is a 2k Row!

Sunday: Hero WODs

Named after fallen soldiers, these are often some of the most challenging benchmark workouts you will find in CrossFit programming. We will pick up some good data here and be able to revisit some of these workouts in the future. As always, form and quality takes precedence. Scale your workout appropriately so you are safe.

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The Open, Part 4: Scaled or Rx? – by Coach Fedde

The first workout for the Open will be released next week. Anticipation is building for what Dave Castro has in store for us.

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What’s my choice?

For each workout, you will be able to decide if you want to complete it following the Rx standards or the Scaled standards. Rx tends to involve heavier weights and more advanced skills and Scaled involves lighter weights and more straightforward movements.

You do not have to commit to Rx for all Open workouts or Scaled for all Open workouts. But you do have to commit to one standard for all of the movements within an individual workout.

How do I know which one I should choose?

Rx means challenging but Scaled does not mean easy. All versions of the Open are challenging. All versions will test your fitness. No matter the version, if you work hard, you’re guaranteed to get a grueling workout in.

Some know going in – “Rx, here I come!” or “Scaled, all the way baby!” But if you’re on the cusp, here are a few things to consider:

Weight and/or movement – Do you have the strength and skill to complete multiple reps of each weight/movement in Rx?
Stimulus – Will you be able to move through the Rx workout or will you get stuck on a weight/movement?
Pride – How important is the Rx distinction to you?

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One side of the coin – the scoreboard

It may seem an obvious limiter if you know you cannot complete a certain weight or movement in a workout as written. However, some Open workouts contain heavier weights or more difficult movements halfway through or near the end of a workout. In fact, sometimes the workouts are built so that most people will not reach the end unless you are very proficient in the earlier weights/movements. Therefore, you may be able to get through most of the work without worrying about the harder stuff later on.

With the hype and energetic atmosphere of the Open workouts, some people find they can do more than they thought they could. The Open is a time when many athletes get that first muscle-up or hit a snatch PR – which can be an awesome feeling to share with your judge and other gym members cheering you on!

A sticking point for some may be the pride of completing Rx. From a scoreboard perspective, one single rep of Rx will always beat 10,000,000+ reps of scaled. For that reason alone, some people would rather complete only a few reps of an Rx workout in order to place higher on the Open scoreboard. It’s not going to be a good workout… but you’ll get a better placement.

The other side of the coin – your experience

Before getting caught up in scores, reps, weights, and times, ask yourself, what do you want to get out of your Open experience?

If you choose an Rx workout that is slightly above your ability, will you be content with making continuous failed attempts at a weight or movement you know you cannot do?

For some this is fine and they enjoy the challenge. Others may feel dejected and frustrated. We never want you to feel dejected and frustrated during any workout, Open or not.

Do-overs!

For most, Open workouts are one-and-done events. If you push yourself hard enough, you might not want to ever do the workout again. But, here’s the cool thing about having multiple days to complete the workout and submit a score – you can do the workout as many times as you want. So, if you lock in a great time on a workout under the Scaled standards and want to go for Rx, give yourself a rest day and then come in during open gym and give Rx a shot.

What if I am unable to complete either version?

Injury, illness, strength, mobility … whatever the reason, you have a couple of options:

  • Complete as much of the written workout as you can, record your official score, then stop or continue the workout with additional modifications as needed.

  • Take a zero, shake it off and get ready to score the next week. Don’t let your ego impede the fun – volunteer to judge another athlete and cheer your Saberfriends on!

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Do what’s right for you

The Open is a learning experience for many of us in what we are capable of both mentally and physically. Whatever workout option you choose, we will be there to support you. Whether this is your first Open or you are a seasoned veteran, we look forward to sweating it out with you!

What?! You still haven’t registered?!

You can sign up for the Open through Monday, 2/25/19, but don’t waste any more time! Register at https://games.crossfit.com/ and go to https://goo.gl/forms/8qCN8BKG5Xbm8uid2 to sign up for the Sabertooth intramural.

Up next …

Advice on how to prepare so you can fulfill your athletic potential.

The Open, Part 3: Logistics at Sabertooth – by Coach Fedde

You know what the Open is and why we love to take part. But, how’s it going to work with all of the judges and stuff? Here’s the plan …

Sign up

After the workout is released on Thursday nights, we will post a Google Spreadsheet online with heat times. Regardless of whether you are registered online for the Open, if you plan to work out in a class on Friday, you will need to sign up for a heat.

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Athletes

Each athlete will sign up for a specific heat time. It will list a warmup, briefing, and warmup time. If you miss your warm up and/or briefing, you will likely be shuffled to a later heat. Just like in a regular class, the warm-up and briefing are essential to a successful workout. Don’t miss it!

There will be a spot in the heat signup to indicate if you need a judge or not. If you are registered online, you will need a judge. If you do not have a judge we will not be able to validate your score. If you are not registered online but would still like a judge, we will try to accommodate you.

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Judges

We will use that same Google sheet to have people sign up to judge. Anyone can be a judge for the Open. Judging is a vital role in the Open – it helps us manage classes and it is a great way to get to know and encourage your fellow gym members. Coaches will help facilitate finding and distributing judges as needed.

Judging in the Open is not as scary or intense as it sounds! It’s mostly just lots of counting! This is a great chance to try it in a low pressure situation. As mentioned earlier, if you want to study up, CrossFit offers an online judges course: https://oc.crossfit.com/course?id=21

But I want to compete AND judge!

If you can stick around to judge a heat before or after your workout – please do! Judging can help you prepare for the workout and working out can help you prep to judge. Just be sure to allow buffer time for your warm-up, recovery, a comfort break, and any clothing changes.

What if I need a judge and I can’t make it on Friday?

There won’t be formal judge scheduling beyond Friday nights. If you want to do open workouts during open gym on Sunday, you’ll need to recruit a fellow gym member or a coach to judge you.

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Scorecards, movement standards, and briefings …

Every Open workout is released with a video of movement standards and a paper scorecard that we will have available. The movement standards video is very thorough, and these standards will also be covered during the briefing before each heat. The scorecards are helpful for judges to keep track of reps and movements.

We highly recommend athletes and judges take a look at the video explanations of the workouts before you come to the gym.

Announcing a TWIST!

New this year, we’re layering a intramural competition on top of the Open. When you sign up (free if you’re officially registered for the Open, $15 if you’re not), you’ll be put on one of two Sabertooth teams. The two teams will face off to see who can get the better overall scores in the Open. Workouts are more fun when you have teammates cheering you on and when you have teammates to cheer for.

Haven’t signed up yet?

Don’t waste any more time and go straight to https://games.crossfit.com to register for the open and go to https://goo.gl/forms/8qCN8BKG5Xbm8uid2 to sign up for the Sabertooth intramural.

Up next …

Advice on how to choose Rx vs Scaled in the Open. Stay tuned!

The Open Part 2: Why Do It? – by Coach Fedde

Last week we explained what the Open is. Today we are sharing thoughts from some Sabertooth coaches on why they participate in the Open.

Coach Fedde

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Coach Tim gives Fedde a final pep-talk before Fedde’s first-ever Rx workout, 17.1

I get excited about the Open for a ton of reasons. I get amped by the excitement in the gym and across social media, by the enormous leaderboard, by the challenging workouts, and by being judged (yeah, they’re keeping you honest, but they’re also cheering for you).

Each year I’ve gone into it thinking – “yeah, I totally push myself on the daily.” I come out thinking – “Uhh, nope, I can push a little harder now and then.”

When it’s all done, I’ll have new knowledge of how it feels to work harder and I’ll have a really concrete list of skills and goals to work on for next year. And, when I reflect on what’s the one biggest event that’s driven me to level up – it’s the Open.

Coach Wayne

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I started competing in the CrossFit Open in 2015 and have genuinely looked forward to ‘Open Season’ every year since. The CrossFit Open is a great opportunity to build community, test one’s fitness and overall capacity, explore areas of improvements / weaknesses in one’s fitness, and, by-and-large, have a lot of fun with our CrossFIt community.

As an athlete, I love to challenge myself mentally, physically, and spiritually. Thus, I am the type of a person who will typically perform an Open Workout more than once (sometimes three times). Why? I like to get a feel for the workout once, strategize, and then do it again. More so than not, I will improve on a workout; sometimes exponentially. This said, I am not saying you need to do each of the Open Workouts more than once. However, it can be fun to test and retest within the time allotted to submit an Open Workout Score.

Coach Kayla

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Kayla relaxes after her first Open workout, 18.1.

I did the CrossFit Open for the first time last year, after I had been doing CrossFit for about nine months. I was SO nervous to sign up! The idea that I had to do the workout exactly as written and not be able to scale the weights or the movements to what I thought was best for me was daunting. As it turns out, the Open was one of my best experiences of 2018.

The excitement in the gym during the Open was electric. The community was heightened. The workouts pushed me way outside my comfort zone. And every week I pushed myself a little bit harder than the week before.

I’m registering for the 2019 CrossFit Open because I know it will light another fire under me, I’m excited to see how I’ve progressed since last year and I can’t wait for all the Sabertooth friendship.

How do I register?

You can register for the Open at games.crossfit.com. It’s just $20 to register, and you’ll be coming to do the workouts anyway — so why not give it a try?

Other questions?

Ask a coach! As with all things CrossFit, most of us could talk all day about it.

Up next …

On the next post we will talk logistics and about how Friday nights will work at Sabertooth because it’ll be a little different from your normal class. With all of the moving pieces (equipment and judges), whether you register or not, we’ll need folks to sign up for specific class times.

The Open 2019, Part 1: What is the Open, anyway? – by Coach Fedde

 

Welcome to the Crossfit Open 2019 at Crossfit Sabertooth!

If you are one of the twenty-seven Sabertooth athletes who participated in the Open last year, you know roughly what to expect. We’re glad you’re with us this year!

If you have never done the Open, you may be wondering what all the hubbub is about.

Over the next few weeks we will share posts about what the Open is, why we do it, how we will do it at Sabertooth, and some strategies for completing a successful Open.

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What is the CrossFit Open?

The Open is a global, individual CrossFit competition. Athletes complete a series of five workouts spread out once per week between February 21 and March 25. The workouts are released on Thursday evenings, and athletes have until the following Monday evening to do the workout and submit their scores online to a worldwide leaderboard.

Hundreds of thousands of CrossFitters all over the world participate every year. For the elite athletes out there, it’s one way of qualifying for the CrossFit Games. For us mere mortals, it’s just for fun.

Just like in a regular CrossFit classes, the movements in the Open are many and varied and always a surprise.

How do I register?

To register, visit the official CrossFit Open website, games.crossfit.com.

The registration fee is $20. Your registration allows you to post your workout scored on the worldwide leaderboard and save your results to compare your performance year after year. You can register anytime between now and the first workout deadline (but why wait?).

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When do I complete the workouts?

Most Sabertooth athletes will complete the workouts during our normal Friday night classes. But, if a Friday doesn’t work for you, you can complete the workout during open gym, with a judge, over the weekend. We’ll share more on logistics in a future post.

Wait… A judge?

Anyone signed up for the Open will be assigned a judge when they do their workout. It is the judge’s responsibility to ensure that you meet the movement standards and help you accurately count and record your reps, times, and weights.

We can always use more judges. No formal training is required to judge. That said, if you want to go above-and-beyond, for $10 you can take an online judging course to prepare.

I don’t want to compete, but still want to work out on Friday, so…

A lot of people enjoy this more competitive atmosphere, but submitting scores and being judged is only required for people who have registered and paid the entry fee. If competing in the Open this year isn’t your thing, you’re still fully welcome to come to the gym Friday nights and join in on a good workout and if you’d like, help judge athletes who are competing.

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Cool. Wait… why would I do this?

As you’ll read in our next post, there are many reasons to sign up for the Open. For some, it’s a competition. For others, it’s a way to experience some new and challenging workouts.

Ultimately what we love about the Open at Sabertooth is how it brings the community together.

Other questions?

Ask a coach! As with all things CrossFit, most of us could talk all day about it.

Brand-new to CrossFit?

Yes, the Open is for you too – but sign up for your free intro session ASAP so you can get your foundation courses completed before the Open starts!

Meal Plan Monday: Healthy “Lasagna” – by Vern

Sadly, I lack the ability to take Instagram-worthy food pictures.

The next time you have a hankering for cheesy tomatoey goodness, try this recipe! It’s very substitution-friendly – you can add cheese, remove cheese, add vegetables, take away vegetables, substitute protein, etc.! This gives you about six hefty servings and reheats exceptionally well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 4oz fresh goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1lb grass-fed beef
  • 1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese of your choice
  • 3-4 medium-sized zucchini and/or yellow squash
  • Italian spice blend to taste
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Prep:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 and grease a 9×13 pan.
  2. Chop broccoli into tiny pieces. In a large mixing bowl, mix broccoli, goat cheese, and yogurt. Add the egg and mix again.
  3. Brown the meat. Chop the onion and garlic and saute, add to the meat, and sautee until fragrant. Add the tomatoes. Stir in any Italian spices, salt, and pepper you want.
  4. While the meat is browning, thinly slice the zucchini/squash into medallions. This is your “noodle” layer.
  5.  Start layering! I usually start with the zucchini medallions, followed by the egg/yogurt/broccoli mixture, completed with the meat mixture. Depending on the size of your pan, you can get 2-4 layers of all of the ingredients.
  6. Bake, covered, for approximately 25 minutes. At that point, take off the foil, sprinkle cheese on top, and bake until browned and bubbly – usually another 15 minutes.
  7. Eat in bowls! I call this “lasagna,” but it’s more of a gooey casserole.
  8. Enjoy 🙂

 

New programming cycle introduction – by Coach Tim

One thing you’ll notice if you’re new to CrossFit is that we break up our year into six-week cycles, focusing on different movements and skills each day of the week. Why do we plan these programming cycles?  Cycles give us the opportunity to build a skill from the bottom up. For most skills, we don’t just do the movement. Sometimes we break it into its most basic parts and other times we intentionally put ourselves into positions that may be our natural sticking point in order to strengthen and overcome the part of a movement that most challenges us.  This method allows our bodies to adapt to the different stimuli of the movement in a controlled environment, which prepares not only our muscles, but also our tendons and nervous system to help us break through plateaus.

Now let’s discuss our next programming cycle here at CrossFit Sabertooth:

Monday: Bench Press!

Bench pressing is great way to increase weight and stability in the upper body, which helps us with movements like pushup, dips, and other pressing movements. Benching is not just for the bros! It carries over into many other aspects of fitness. Bench presses can be hard to fit into workouts due to space and spotting constraints, so we are excited to implement more bench press as we now have more benches and portable squat racks.

Tuesday: Chippers!

Chippers are typically a longer workout, with multiple movements and high rep schemes – think 50+ reps per movement. These workouts require not only efficiency, but also completing movements with the compounding fatigue of the prior movements. This type of workout builds mental toughness and challenges our ability to create a strategic game plan to both pace and push ourselves.

Wednesday: EMOM Barbell Cycles!

If you weren’t already aware, EMOM stands for Every Minute On (the) Minute. This is a time-structured workout that usually has a defined number of reps to be performed every minute for a defined number of minutes. As soon as the reps are completed, the rest of the minute is time to rest. Using the EMOM format allows us to practice reps while forcing us to recover – both physically and mentally – before practicing the same reps again. We will use EMOMs to practice efficiently moving the barbell through multiple reps to gain confidence and familiarity with the olympic lifts at light to moderate weights.

Thursday: Partner WODs!

Partner workouts are a method of maximizing skills and stamina to achieve success as group, which means having a solid game plan and putting in 100% effort when it’s our turn to go. Partner workouts can be intimidating if we are placed with people we feel are better than us, or if we are supposed to split reps equally on movements that we are not strong in. Just like any workout, scaling and modifying are encouraged in order to complete the workout successfully. As for intimidation, rest assured your partner and team want you to succeed! On the other hand, partner workouts can also feel like a rest day if we don’t feel challenged enough. But if you are truly giving 100% and don’t feel challenged, consider what 100% means to you and whether you could give more or scale the WOD upwards. Finally, partner WODs are ultimately meant to be fun and build community, and are a great opportunity to get to know your fellow gym members.

Friday: Repeats!

Repeating workouts (such as CrossFit Open workouts or the benchmarks like Girls or Hero WODs) allows us to compare our current self to our past self to help identify what progress we are making and where we need to focus our time to keep progressing. One of CrossFit’s main tenets is constantly varied fitness, so we can’t repeat workouts too often – otherwise we are just learning that we are getting better at that specific workout! However, if we can retest a workout once a year or so, we should be able to see definite upward trends. Hopefully we complete the workout faster or heavier or – the best of both worlds – both!

Saturday: Gymnastic!

Gymnastics can be described as any bodyweight movement we use from air squat to pull-ups. These type of movements helps us build body awareness, control, and balance. Furthermore, gymnastics training help produce strength gains without requiring an external load. You’d be surprised how difficult maneuvering your own body can be, despite how easy professional gymnasts make it look.

Sunday: Squats!

The squat is to the lower body what the bench press is to the upper body. We work not only our legs, but also our core in order to keep our body rigid and controlled. Back squats tend to be one of the heaviest lifts we will ever perform, apart from the deadlift. If we are talking about absolute power, back squats are an essential part of that conversation. Front squats have the added complexity of the front rack position which places even greater challenges on our core to keep the body upright. Front squats are especially helpful in relation to the olympic lifts. Finally, overhead squats are an exercise in shoulder and core control. While this will not be our heaviest squat, it is a great indicator of our mobility and stability. There are a plethora of variations on the squat so we should never get bored with this movement.

If you have any questions about why we chose a particular movement for a particular cycle, ask any of the coaches! And, of course, if you’re new to CrossFit Sabertooth, head to https://linktr.ee/crossfitsabertooth to set up your own free intro session. 

 

Do The Hard Thing: depression edition – by Vern

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Duckling, modeling Mom’s favorite shirt.

16.2 million. That’s how many adults in the United States have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Another 1.7 million people have been diagnosed with dysthymia, or chronic, persistent, low-level depression. And another 5.7 million adults have been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder, or seasonal depression related to changes in seasons. The most disturbing part of these numbers? They’re just the official, formal, clinically-assessed diagnoses. Researchers have estimated that up to 66% of adults in society have undiagnosed depression, and that number continues to rise.

What this means: if you are struggling with feelings of depression – lethargy, apathy, sadness, mood swings, exhaustion, insomnia, weight gain, weight loss, or any of the other laundry lists of symptoms – you’re not alone.

Me? I’ve got anxiety. I exist in a permanent state of crawling-up-the-wall, jumping-off-the-roof nervous energy. I very rarely get depressed. When I do, it’s a doozy. And it’s been a doozy of a December.

I play Words with Friends, and I’m super competitive about it with my friend Lee. We usually have at least three games going at a time, and we’re about 50-50 on wins and losses. I realized I was depressed when, about a month ago, I was staring at my screen, and thought, why am I even looking at this? Why does it matter? What’s the point of games? What’s the point of life? I give zero f***s. In that moment, I realized with sudden clarity that I’ve been feeling that way about everything.

But there’s hope. I’m starting to feel better, and here’s what I’ve done to get through it.

  • See a professional. 

Can we talk for a second about how much the stigma against mental illness sucks? It sucks a lot. People joke about shrinks and therapists. My public defense clients say they won’t see anyone for their PTSD because they “don’t want to be a p***y.” We use “crazy” as an insult, make fun of ourselves for being “OCD,” and laugh at the guys on the street who hear voices.

But that’s wrong.

There’s no shame in needing help, y’all. This is a common analogy, but I’ll use it anyway. What do you do if you fell down the stairs and snapped your ankle? Would you just ignore that pain because only wusses go to the doctor? No way. You’d get yourself to the clinic ASAP, and get everyone to sign your cool cast.

Having something misfiring in your brain is no different. There is no shame in getting an evaluation and, if necessary, starting medications with a doctor you trust. Hey, maybe you can have your friends sign your prescription bottle.

Plus, when you take ownership of your mental health and refuse to be embarrassed, you give the people around you the permission to do the same.

  • CROSSFIT!

I mean, this is a CrossFit blog. You knew this was coming.

This is where “do the hard thing” comes in. Sometimes doing the hard thing means pushing yourself to the very edge of your physical capabilities and doing something amazing – rowing a marathon, PR’ing your snatch, putting in hours of strenuous work to get that first ring muscle-up.

And sometimes “do the hard thing” means just. showing. up.

When I was feeling the worst, about ten days ago, I didn’t skip CrossFit. Instead, I showed up to the gym, and did something. One day I simply rolled out my back. But I was there. Another day I did a heavily-scaled version of a workout that I normally could Rx. I didn’t give a damn about pushing myself to lift any heavier. But I was there.

I didn’t walk out of the gym feeling like the world is sunshine and unicorns. But on those darkest days, I pulled the only thread I could grasp, and I knew – even if I didn’t feel it – that I’d done something good for myself and my mental health, and built one more step on the staircase out of the apathy.

Plus, exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy!  Don’t just take it from Elle – the Mayo Clinic agrees.

  • Self-soothe, my dude.

Sometimes life is like a doctor’s clinic. It’s well-organized, repetitive, no crises. But sometimes life is an emergency room and needs to be triaged. You have to fix the heart attack before you can check the sprained ankle.

I’m on a group text thread with two other women, Mags and AJ. We have all faced some form of mental illness, and because there is no shame in talking about it, we are very open with each other. Mags has a mantra: “self-soothe, my dude.”

What this means is that you can give yourself grace to not be perfect. Sometimes life is really, really hard. Sometimes you just don’t have it in you to take care of yourself, and you know that you’re either going to get ragingly drunk on an entire bottle of whiskey, or take a four-hour nap.

Out of those two options, take the nap. Self-soothe, my dude.

Sometimes you have plans with friends, but you are so strung out with anxiety that you know you’ll snap if you try to leave the house. You’re either going to have a terrible evening and feel worse when you come home, or cancel your plans and sit at home and color for two hours.

Out of those two options, take the coloring book. Self-soothe, my dude.

Self-soothing means giving yourself grace in difficult times. It’s finding the least damaging option that will soothe your soul in that particular moment, and taking it. It’s not an excuse to let your life fall apart; if you’re always canceling plans and sleeping through the day, see #1. But sometimes, my dude, you just need to self-soothe.

  • Reach out!

If you’re not feeling great, don’t isolate yourself. Reach out to someone. A friend. A family member. Someone you trust. Heck, reach out to me – I don’t bite. Sometimes it’s just really nice to have someone listen to you, and say, hey, I still like you. (To my friend who said this to me at CrossFit Sabertooth last week, thank you – you know who you are!)

This advice is what’s gotten me through several bad weeks. I’m not feeling 100% yet, but going to CrossFit, self-soothing, and being honest with my friends has made all the difference from the last time I felt depressed.

How do I know I’m feeling better? I just found out that Lee is cheating at Word With Friends (using the “word radar” and “letter swap” tools is totally cheating, amirite?!). And I actually care about that again 🙂

At CrossFit Sabertooth, we’re passionate about helping you live your best and healthiest life, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Click here to set up your own free intro session!

A Tale Of Two Meets – by Vern and Maddie

Today’s blog post is two different impressions from the same meet, last week’s deadlifting competition at Solcana Fitness. Special thank you to CrossFit Sabertooth member Maddie for sharing her thoughts and feelings following the meet.

Strength in Discomfort, by Vern

Twelve months ago, the most I’d ever deadlifted was forty pounds. Six months ago, I pulled 225 and thought, hey, maybe I can do this strength training thing. Four months ago, I signed up for a deadlift meet – my first performance event since a college piano recital. One week ago, I was throwing up in the bathroom at work, every nerve on edge, cursing whatever it was that convinced me to leave the safety of my comfort zone.

Here’s the thing about being Vern: I talk a good talk, but have a hard time walking it. I act impulsively, sign up for events on a whim, and find some reason to cancel them (whether “I have a broken arm” or “I need to do the dishes”). But this was different. This time, I trained, and even if I came in last at this deadlift meet, I was going to do it. Maddie and I both signed up, along with my awesome friend Shannon (a powerlifter who just qualified for Nationals!).

I wrote last week about doing the hard thing. I’ve written about edgework – pushing yourself well past the edge of your discomfort to set a new baseline of strength, resilience, and power. Last Saturday morning, I hollowly repeated those words as I woodenly forced one foot in front of the other into Maddie’s waiting car.

For goodness’ sake, I acted like I was going off to war – not to a deadlift meet with two close friends at a super-friendly gym where my Sabertooth friends would be cheering Maddie and me on.

But here’s the thing about feelings: they’re real, whether they’re justified or not. These feelings sucked. No matter how many times I asked myself WHAT I was so afraid of, my hands still visibly shook – and if I hadn’t put on blush that day, I might have been mistaken for a corpse.

Walking into Solcana, I had tunnel vision. I dropped my snowboots by the door and robotically took gear out of my bag, following Shannon like a lost puppy. I didn’t even have the energy to be embarrassed when I stepped on the scale in a bra and underwear – I was too busy staring at the carpet-covered wooden platform of deadlifting death. Shannon programmed a warmup for me, and she and her own coach insisted upon changing my weights for me while I literally danced around the warmup room to shake off the jitters and shakes.

After an hour, I finally put on my brand-new belt and got in line. I distracted myself by complimenting all of the women around me, as friendly (and overbearing) as a drunk girl in a college bar bathroom.

And then – as quickly as four months of hard training had passed – it was over.

I nailed all three attempts. I didn’t die. In fact, I laughed – laughed out loud, as I turned around on the last lift and saw all three white lights. My lifts were smooth, with perfect form. I hit a new PR of 140kg/308 pounds, and could easily have lifted 142.5kg. I wasn’t sore, wasn’t tired, and wanted nothing more than to keep going, lifting the bar again and again.

I rode the high of the meet for the rest of the day, and when the positive feelings faded (quickly replaced by seasonal depression, the subject of an upcoming blog post!), I was left with accomplishing my ultimate goal, what I hope remains my ultimate goal for the rest of my life: I learned. I experienced. I pushed myself. I forced myself to do something incredibly uncomfortable – because I knew that no matter what the results were, it would be worth it, and I would have a story to share and a memory to catalogue.

Because that’s the point of all of this. That’s the point of CrossFit. That’s the point of life. It’s not about being the best for the sake of being the best, or getting that lift you’ve been wanting, or seeing those six-pack-abs show up. If you rely on those things in and of themselves to make you happy, you will always be disappointed when you get them. Instead, it’s about the journey that you take to get there. It’s about treasuring the experiences you see, taste, smell, touch, or hear, and finding meaning in every ordinary day.

Sometimes life is awesome, and things go your way, and you can enjoy and exist in the positivity of that experience. And sometimes life is about finding beauty in defeat – but either way, it is about living.

Beauty in Defeat, by Maddie:

I could feel the bar slowly prying my fingers down. I stared straight ahead and willed my fingers to hang on, I knew I had screwed up. I pulled too fast and didn’t take the time to make sure I had evenly grasped the bar in both hands before I pulled up. I swore at myself in my head, my confidence that I had this pull vanished and as soon as the referee put her hand down, I was defeated. I didn’t need to turn around and face the screen to know I hadn’t made my final deadlift, but I did anyway. I quickly left the platform and waded through the sea of fellow lifters patting me on the back.

“You did great!”

“You almost had it!”

“You were so close!”

Their well wishes all blended together and became white noise. I forced a smile and shrugged my shoulders, hoping that no one would see that on the inside I was crumbling. It had been my first powerlifting meet, centered around the one lift I knew I had the skill and technique for, the one lift that made me feel like I belonged in the lifting world….and I failed.

From the time I was little, I had a competitive streak. Maybe it was being the third girl in a family of five, or maybe it was something else, but I have always been competitive. As a result of my competitiveness I ended up equating self-worth and feeling like I belonged somewhere with winning. Logically, I know that’s totally ass-backwards and that winning or losing has no impact on whether I am valued by friends and family, but I still feel like it does. Even after years of competing, not always winning and not always losing, I still feel like I have to be among the top to ensure everyone knows I belong here.

It was only after leaving the venue and driving Vern back to her place that the fog of defeat and mopey-ness that I had inflicted on myself began to clear. This was not the first time we had this discussion of me feeling like I didn’t belong in the lifting world because I couldn’t get one thing. About a month and a half before the meet, we had attended an Olympic lifting seminar with some other friends and while things were clicking for them and they were making awesome progress, I was not. I felt all the same things then as I was feeling after the meet; shame, embarrassment, jealousy, anger, defeated, etc., all swirled in my head.

When we got to Vern’s place she said something that stuck with me the whole way home.

“Go home and self-soothe, take your time and wallow.” She stated bluntly,  “But, when you’re ready, I want you to look back and re-evaluate how you did today.”

As I drove home I really started to try and reframe my experience. I thought about how far I had come in just 9 months when I first started lifting and how I was now lifting 100lbs more than I could when I started. I had made a new friend, Shannon, who showed me so much kindness in holding my hand throughout the meet and in her coach Jason, who coached without hesitation or even being asked. I had seen Vern’s smile as she made it through and PR’d, when only 3 hours before she was so nervous she wanted to back out. I had an amazing cheering section of friends from my box, CrossFit Sabertooth, there, friends like I have never had before.

As I sit here, typing my feels vomit out for your reading pleasure, I can feel the weight of not being enough slowly lifting from my chest. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still hearing the negative thoughts in my head, but they’re harder to hear now. I know that there will be more defeats that I will have to grapple with, but I also am realizing that the cliché of learning from failure is true. I am now prouder that I failed that last lift, because it humbled me again and has ignited a spark in me to work harder and train better so that at the next meet, I won’t fail (maybe). That’s why there’s beauty in defeat.

Do The Hard Thing! – by Vern

First, that’swhatshesaid.

I tried to avoid it. I really did. 

Now that that’s out of the way, we’re going to talk about one of the core concepts of CrossFit and life: doing the hard thing. Taking the longer route. Going the extra mile.

A few months ago, we told you that in any given workout, you are only operating at forty percent of your physical capacity. We encouraged you to push your limits and find your edge, because as we always say, growth only happens at the edge of your comfort zone.

In the coming weeks, we’re going to talk about ways you can push yourself in your physical workouts and your WODs, including some tips and tricks that our coaches and members use to push themselves further when they’re gasping for breath and their legs are bursting with lactic acid.

Cole is one of the people we’ll talk to. Dude is a MACHINE!

Today our focus is more broad. How can you push yourself in your day-to-day life? How can you change your mentality from one that avoids discomfort to a mentality that actively seeks and embraces discomfort?

One phrase. Do the hard thing.

Whenever you are faced with a decision, think about which one is easier, which is more difficult, and which will push you, whether physically or emotionally.

You need to get home and don’t have a car. Should you take a Lyft home, or walk a mile? Do the hard thing. Walk a mile.

You need to go to work. Should you drive there, or ride your bike? Do the hard thing. Ride your bike.

You have a paper due in two weeks. Should you watch television or work on your paper? Do the hard thing. Write your paper.

You’ve got the sugar cravings and really want a giant slice of cake, but you know that you have a competition in the morning and the sugar crash will hurt your performance. Should you give in, or walk away? Do the hard thing. Walk away.

You work in retail and you walk past a merchandise table that has been attacked by the monster that is Holiday Customer. Should you keep walking by, or stop to straighten the table? Do the hard thing. Straighten the table.

You’re unhappy with something in your life – from the weather to your unfriendly neighbor. Should you complain, or refuse to speak out of frustration? Do the hard thing. Speak positively. Even if it feels like you’re faking it, refuse to ruminate upon and vocalize those complaints.

We are independent beings, faced with infinite choices throughout the day. The Do The Hard Thing concept applies in every area of your life, in every choice that you make – and will force you to be more mindful of your actions and motivations.

As you consistently practice Doing The Hard Thing, you will notice your worldview changing, shifting, expanding. You will develop inner strength and a higher discomfort tolerance. You will start to crave new experiences. You will notice your five senses more and will live a fuller life. You will start to see life as an adventure, not merely an existence!

So try it. Start small – go do your dishes or laundry (can you tell I’m coaching myself here?). Make dinner instead of ordering it, take your dog on an extra-long walk, and roll out your painfully tight calves. (Still coaching myself.) Whatever it is, do it with gusto, and confidence – because you are mindfully choosing to get out of your comfort zone and Do The Hard Thing.

Let us know how it goes!

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This post is inspired by two things: Coach Matt (we both had the same idea, but the title and some examples are his!) and CrossFit in general. CrossFit Sabertooth is one of the places that I learned how to Do The Hard Thing, and if you’re new to our community, we’d love to welcome you and help you get out of your comfort zone too. Head to https://linktr.ee/crossfitsabertooth to set up your own private intro session.