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.

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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!

_____

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.

(The) Winter (Open) Is Coming! – by Coach Matt

November 25, 2018, will mark our first-ever Sabertooth Team Open. You’ve seen our posts about it on the Sabertooth Cave and Instagram, but we’ve never done anything like this before, and many of you have questions about it.

Here are some of the concerns that might be holding you back from signing up:

  • Some of you may be hesitant to sign up with concerns about whether or not you are qualified, fit enough, strong enough, etc. Perhaps you are worried about holding your team back.
  • Some of you may be traveling for a portion of the time the Open is happening.
  • Some of you may not trust your ability to stay consistent with your workouts and fitness over the holiday season.

This picture has nothing to do with the open. We just like it.

Does this resonate? Read on!

The Mission of the Sabertooth Open:

  • To enhance member experience by building camaraderie and community.
  • To demonstrate how competitions can be enjoyable.
  • To provide members a means to keep consistent in training over the holiday season.

Let’s break it down further. Why are these things important?

Building Camaraderie:
We are passionate about community here at CrossFit Sabertooth. We aren’t just about fitness; we’re about relationships. And the best way to make progress in your goals is to have friends support and encourage you along the way. We need workout buddies to keep it fun and to reach out to us when we are lacking motivation. The Open is a way to expand your support group and make new friends!

Competition can be enjoyable:
I remember my first speedskating race: Grand Old Days 8k Inline Skate, 2004 – the nerves, adrenaline, and fear I had during the moments before that race. I also remember taking a turn too sharp, crashing, and finishing nearly last place.
The best part was that after it was all over, I couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. I couldn’t wait till the next race, to train harder, practice my turns, and take another shot at doing better next time.

If you have never competed before, you may not want to deal with the stress that comes with performing on “race day.” But try to remember something “hard” you have done in the past. Public speaking, writing a research paper, meeting a work deadline. Chances are good that, after the task was complete, you felt a sense of pride and accomplishment.

The Open should be viewed in the same light. It doesn’t really matter where you and your teammates finish in the ranks. Simply the fact that you pushed yourself to finish something hard will be a reward on its own.

Ed. note: Confirmed.

Stay consistent over the holidays:
The holidays can be a dreadful time for your fitness: Sweets around every corner, parties every weekend, traveling, and busy schedules make it easy to put fitness on hold. It’s no wonder so many people feel guilty after Jan 1st and come in crowds to sign up for gym memberships.

Why not avoid the slump altogether and just commit to staying consistent?

Three teammates depending on you AND cheering you on should be encouragement enough.

Our promise to you:

During the Sabertooth Open, all of us coaches promise that:

  • You will be supported by your coaches and teammates.
  • You will be challenged in your workouts but not beyond your abilities.
  • You will be happy you signed up!
  • But what if I’m injured? What if I’m traveling?
  • If you are traveling but can still make 3 of the 4 workouts, go ahead and sign up. We will sub in a teammate for you for the week you miss.

    If you have limitations due to an injury you are rehabbing, talk to a coach. Depending on the limitation, we may be able accommodate it with movement substitutions.

    Okay, that’s all pretty cool. But is there another reason I should join?

    YES! Aside from earning the chance to win awesome prizes, you will be helping with an incredibly important goal: raising funds for an AED in our gym.

    At least half of the money raised via registration will go toward the purchase of an AED. Our members’ safety is our most important concern, and we want to make sure that we have an AED and trained operators at all times the gym is open. We prefer to save lives by regular exercise, but want to be prepared to save lives via electrical shock as well.

    Okay, you convinced me.

    AWESOME! Register here by 11/21!

    See you at the box,

    Coach Matt

    What I Learned at My First CrossFit Competition – by Vern

    If you follow our social media account and have a pulse, you know that we hosted Saberspook 2018 last weekend. Nearly forty teams competed in Scaled and Rx divisions, battling assault bikes, burpees, box jumps, cleans, split jerks, front squats, ring muscle-ups, double-unders and more.

    I was privileged enough to compete in the scaled division and it was a truly awesome experience. This was my first competition, and I learned three major things about CrossFit. Of course, I knew in my head that these things were true before Saberspook, but there’s a difference between intellectual knowledge and actually feeling something, y’know?

    1. I learned that CrossFit really is for everybody and every body. 

    One of the things that got me hooked when I started CrossFit is the variety of body shapes and sizes in every box. You simply cannot look at a person and tell whether they are fit, and CrossFit confirms this. A very thin woman might be able to hoist 200 pounds overhead, while a fat woman (like me!) can deadlift almost twice her body weight. I love not being able to judge a book by its cover.

    One of our competitors – Mighty Maria – was only slightly taller than the bar over which she had to hoist 100-pound sandbags. She had a huge smile on her face when she walked up to that bar for the first time and absolutely slayed that workout.

    There are many facets of our bodies that we simply cannot change, like our height and overall shape. CrossFit competitions render those unchangeable characteristics irrelevant. There’s no such thing as a disqualifying body, and because functional fitness incorporates so many different movements, there is also a “wheelhouse workout” for every body. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, an athlete is an athlete, no matter how big or how small.

    2. I learned that community is more important than winning. 

    CrossFit competitions might as well be a Care-Bear convention. Though we’re technically competing against each other, everyone is invested in seeing their friends and community members do well, and the camaraderie amongst your fellow athletes brings a contagious smile to even the most serious game-face. The loudest cheering at Saberspook came not from spectators there to watch individual people, but from the athletes themselves, screaming their support for fellow competitors from every gym.

    Derek and I knew we weren’t gonna win any medals, but hoped for best costume. And who were we cheering for during the costume contest scream-off? Beauty and the Beast, that’s who. Because these people were awesome, and camaraderie is more important than competition.

    Beauty and the Beast. They were beautiful and beastly.

    Pictured: the exact moment I realized I hit someone with my Nerf bullet. Sorry dude.

    On a serious note: people with news apps on their phones found out during the competition that a terrorist was assassinating people in Pittsburgh. It was a brutally stark contrast between the happiness and joy inside our box and the terror outside. You need the former – strong community, encouragement, and support – to combat the latter.

    This photo of Kayla and Billy warms my heart and gives me hope for the world. #friendshipgoalz

    3. I learned the value of pushing your limits – especially when it’s scary.

    Pushing your limits is hard, yo – and also the most important thing that you can do as a human and an athlete. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: growth and change only happen on the edge of comfort.

    Several of our members signed up for this competition knowing that they struggled with a certain movements in their chosen division. They all put in extra hours at the gym to work on that sticky movement in the weeks and months leading to Saberspook. Some of those people were able to conquer the movement, some weren’t. And you know what? They ALL did the right thing by pushing themselves out of their comfort zone regardless of the outcome. After all, what if the person had signed up for the easier division (or not signed up at all)? Then there’s a ZERO percent chance that they would master the elusive movement. They banked on the higher chance, and committed themselves to nervousness, discomfort, and personal growth.

    Your turn. How did your Saberspook experience pan out? What did you learn?

    For more information about CrossFit Sabertooth, to see pictures from Saberspook, to sign up for a FREE intro session or simply to say hello, click here!

    It’s Nutrition Challenge Time! – By Vern

    Hey Saberfriends! If you’ve been in the gym or on our social media in the last few weeks, you’ve seen posters advertising our Fall Nutrition Challenge. This challenge, which starts tomorrow and is run by Coach Tim and Coach Fedde, is filled with an awesome group of people who want to make long-term changes in their health. Why do we run these challenges? Why should you pay attention to your diet?

    1. Because food is fuel, not the enemy. Here’s the thing. Our society is fixated on food. Some of that fixation is good – relaxing and creating a home-cooked meal, bonding over a dinner with friends and family, supporting small local farmers and butchers. But some of that fixation is bad. As a nation, the average size in the United States is growing larger, while the diet industry (currently worth $66 million) continues to grow with us. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results, and clearly something has to change.

    One of those changes is reframing food as fuel, not an enemy to be maliciously stared down. That lasagna was not put on earth to torment you. When you reframe food as simply the gasoline in your CrossFit engine, you naturally make choices that reflect that. Maybe it means having a big plate of roasted broccoli AND a piece of lasagna. Maybe it means making your own lasagna that fits your macros. Either way, it’s something that makes you feel excited, not guilty.

    2. Because everything is easier in community. Our challenges involve counting your macros and tracking your food intake. Let’s be honest. That’s not thrilling stuff. But when your friends are doing it too, and you can share your favorite recipes, complaints, successes, and struggles, even the most tedious part of nutrition becomes more fun.

    3. Because that’s how you get the GAINZ, bro. Physical activity is awesome, but it’s not the base of the CrossFit and fitness pyramid. There’s a saying out there – “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” Unfortunately for the processed food industry, it’s true. If you’re serious about having more energy, sleeping better, feeling better, and getting stronger (all non-scale victories!), you have to take an honest look at your food intake and see where you can make changes that will fuel your body, not fight it.

    When you see the nutrition challenge members in the gym, give them a high five and ask how it’s going! Missed the signup? Don’t worry – we also offer personal nutrition coaching, and will have more challenges in the future.

    Party on, dudes.

    Myths about CrossFit competitions and why YOU – yes, you! – should compete! By Vern

    If you’ve been doing CrossFit for any length of time, you’ve seen and heard about competitions. There are The Games, of course – but on any given weekend (especially in the summer!) you can find a competition hosted by a local CrossFit box. (Related: CrossFit Sabertooth is hosting the SaberSpook Throwdown on October 27!) Here are some common misconceptions about CrossFit competitions, and a few reasons why you should take the plunge and sign up.

    Myth 1: I’m too fat/skinny/weak!

    Nah, bro. Like CrossFit itself, CrossFit competitions are for everyone! Sure, there are minimum movement standards, and some competitions are more difficult than others (for example, the scaled division in Granite Games is not the same as the scaled division in SaberSpook). But that doesn’t mean you have to be jacked before you can compete. It means you need to find a competition with movement standards that reflect your overall abilities. There are more than twenty CrossFit gyms in the Minneapolis/St. Paul immediate metro area, with a competition to suit every fitness level.

    Myth 2: I have to be competitive!

    Nope. Busted again. Even at the highest levels, CrossFit competitions are some of the friendliest events you can find. Athletes cheer each other on, whether in direct competition or not. The whole box erupted in cheers when this athlete got her first muscle-up during a competition at Sabertooth!

    Myth 3: I have to be able to do [insert movement here]!

    Okay, so this one is a half-true, half-false kinda situation. You don’t want to sign up for a division where you know you can’t reach any of the movement standards, because you are setting yourself up for injury. But if you reframe your definition of winning, you don’t have to be able to do everything.

    Example: Our members Corndog and Kayla recently competed at the Calypso Cup at CrossFit Calypso. They registered for the division that would challenge them, knowing that they could reach all of the milestones except one – toes-to-bar. To them, “winning” meant competing and trying as hard as they could. “Winning” did not mean finishing in first place.

    Corndog and Kayla worked relentlessly to get toes-to-bar before the competition, and just couldn’t do it. They finished last in the workout that had that movement. And you know what? The world didn’t end. In fact, they did well enough in the other events that they would have placed if they’d had the toes-to-bar movement.

    Growth only happens at the edge of comfort.

    By reframing their definition of winning, Corndog and Kayla challenged themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally. Growth only happens at the edge of comfort, and they are both stronger for pushing themselves past that edge.

    Also, on the practical side: for many partner competitions, only one of you needs to be able to do any given movement – you can split it up as the standards allow.

    20180822_175859.jpg

    Example: this guy is Vern’s partner for SaberSpook and he’s doing ALLLL the pull-ups.

    Truth: it’s a fun weekend filled with camaraderie, personal bests, challenges, and growth.

    One of our members, Tricia, recently took the plunge and signed up for SaberSpook at the end of the month. Now, Tricia has been battling a demon ever since she started CrossFit, and that demon is named Box Jump.

    We all have our fears that threaten to cripple us (personally, I can’t handle holding a handstand!). Tricia is physically more than capable of doing a high box jump, but has struggled to get beyond the fear that comes when we stand in front of the box and imagine ourselves clearing it.

    Tricia found out that SaberSpook has an event with box jumps, took a deep breath, and got to work.

    In the last week, she has gone from not being able to comfortably do a single box jump, to easily hitting 16″ jumps and consistently making the required 20″ jump.

    We have a saying here at Sabertooth – #exerciseyourdemons. By signing up for SaberSpook and committing to compete, Tricia has finally started to master her fear.

    Similarly, our member Maddie signed up for a Strongman competition last summer. Maddie is strong and powerful, but didn’t know whether she could hack it at a competition. She faced her fears head-on and got a personal best of 20 reps of 245-lb deadlifts.

    What are you waiting for?

    Life lesson: you will never feel fully ready to take any scary plunge. Whether it is buying a house, getting a dog, or signing up for a CrossFit competition, you will always have lingering anxiety. Face that anxiety down, find a competition, and sign up today. Remember, growth only happens at the edge of comfort – don’t hamper yours!

    As always, if you’re brand-new to CrossFit (or an expert athlete), you are welcome at CrossFit Sabertooth! Head to https://linktr.ee/crossfitsabertooth to learn more!

    Get HOT! – by Vern

    When is the last time you put any real thought into the most important part of your workout – the warm-up?!

    If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about it too much. You coast half-heartedly on the assault bike for a few minutes, maybe do some casual rowing, stretch while chatting with friends, and call it good.

    amy

    It’s okay to go with the warm-up flow in CrossFit classes, where our coaches – especially coach Matt! – incorporate intense warm-ups in every WOD. When you come to open gym, though, it’s important to create a warm-up that is specific to your workout. A good warm-up will have several components.

    First, you need to…wait for it…get warm! Get on the bike, get on the rower, get on the ski erg and get that heart rate up. A good way to ease your body into the warm-up is to use intervals. Do at least three minutes of cardio, breaking up each minute: thirty seconds easy, fifteen seconds medium-intensity, and fifteen seconds of sprinting.

    Once your body is warm and you’re breathing heavy, it’s time to warm up your muscles. Dynamic stretching is a great way to do this! Lunge and twist, spider-man walk, bear crawl, broad jumps – anything that combines muscle engagement with muscle mobility.

    After dynamic stretches, take your warm-up a step farther and do movements that specifically activate what you’re working on. Let’s take squats as an example. If you jump straight into a squat workout without a proper warm-up, your hamstrings and quads will likely take on most the work because your glutes haven’t been activated. Try this next time you squat heavy, as part of your dynamic stretching:

    • Ten bridge holds (3 seconds each)
    • Ten single-leg bridges, each leg
    • Ten fire hydrants, straight back
    • Ten fire hydrants, to the side
    • 100-foot monster walk
    • Ten jumping squats

    By doing a glute-specific warm-up, you’ve activated your glutes and are allowing them to help your quads and hamstrings to lift that heavy weight.

    tl;dr: Get HOT before every workout! Now it’s your turn – what are your favorite exercise-specific warm-ups?

    Experienced CrossFitter? Brand-spankin’-new to CrossFit? Elite athlete? Couch potato? No matter what, you’re welcome at CrossFit Sabertooth! Click here to set up your own free, personalized intro session. 

     

    Something is Better than Nothing, Part II

    Hey Saberfriends,

    Last March, our former coach wrote a blog post called Something Is Better Than Nothing. In the post, Chris talked about his and his wife Lianna’s difficulties in keeping up their fitness routines after becoming parents.

    You should read that post. It’s pretty awesome and has great tips for working out when you literally only have five minutes at a time because you’re prioritizing other parts of your life, like shelter, water, and keeping a tiny human alive.

    I want to take the idea a step further today. What if you’re going to the gym regularly, but aren’t seeing the results you want? There are two things that might help you when you’re facing the discouragement of a plateau: one practical, and one philosophical.

    Practical: review goals and invest in personal training.

    Did you know that we offer personalized training and programming at CrossFit Sabertooth? Each coach has their own strengths, and would love to help you meet your goals within that area – whether it’s powerlifting, gymnastics, olympic lifting, nutrition, endurance, or all of the above.

    If you’re new to CrossFit, your first step is to head to http://www.crossfitsabertooth.com/free-intro to set up your own free, personalized intro session. (Reminder: CrossFit is for everybody and every body, and you don’t have to be fit to start!)

    If you’re a current member, chat with a coach to set up a free goal review session. You’ll sit down in a private meeting with a CrossFit Sabertooth coach to discuss your current goals and set up a concrete plan on how to achieve those goals. (This is super helpful, by the way. It helped me change my goal from “be an Olympic figure skater despite being an overweight 33-year-old who has never worn a pair of figure skates in her life” to “hit an 80-lb squat snatch by the end of the year.”)

    Then you can work with a coach on personalized programming. We have a variety of options to fit every goal and budget! You can ask a coach to simply program one workout per week for you, or you can get workouts for every day and meet one-on-one for extra guidance.

    Here’s my own shameless plug: I’ve been working on Olympic lifting with Coach Tim for four months, and though my PR hasn’t increased, we have started the transformation in my form that will allow me to lift much more in the future. Check out this before-and-after:

    Being stuck at the same weight brings me to the second part of your plateau transformation.

    Philosophical: live this mantra: something is better than nothing.

    Here’s the thing: there is a strong link between your mental fitness and your physical fitness. When you are discouraged, depressed, anxious, and stressed, your body can release too much cortisol, and this can cause myriad problems. It can weaken your immune system and cause you to be exhausted, bloated, irrationally hungry. You can have trouble regulating your temperature, and easily gain weight. All of these things hamper your goals!

    Try this. Try shifting your mindset away from “I MUST hit that goal” and toward “It would be cool if I did, but something is better than nothing.”

    This doesn’t mean you’re giving up! It means that you reframe your definition of success and redirect negative ruminations. “My *%*$&*% bench press is the same as it was six weeks ago!” becomes “Wow, my bench press is the same as it was six weeks ago – imagine how much less I’d be able to lift if I hadn’t been working on it for six weeks!

    This isn’t easy, and you might feel like a saccharine-sweet Pollyanna the first few times you try it. But if you keep working on reframing your negative thoughts and redirecting your ruminations, you can literally halt the overproduction of cortisol in its tracks.

    NOTE: If you struggle with a persistent mental illness – particularly depression and anxiety, which affect nearly 20% of the U.S. population – you won’t be able to simply talk your way out of cortisol overproduction and serotonin reuptake. Your first step is to meet with your doctor and a therapist. There is no shame in obtaining treatment for an illness, especially if that illness is invisible to others! 

    Between working with a coach and trainer and reframing your negative thoughts, you CAN get back on track with your goals. If you’re new to CrossFit Sabertooth, set up your own free intro session HERE. If you’re a current member, schedule a goal review session HERE. If you are happy with your programming, but want advice on getting in a better headspace, feel free to reach out to to a coach or a gym regular! I have personally struggled with discouragement, depression, anxiety, cortisol overproduction, disordered eating, and debilitating injuries, so you are more than welcome to contact me if you’d like to chat about how personal training and the something is better than nothing mentality have transformed my own life.

    Keep on keeping on, Sabertoothers!

    – Social Media Dudette Vern

    Sunday Showdown: athletes speak!

    Every month at CrossFit Sabertooth we have an awesome event: the Sabertooth Sunday Showdown! Athletes volunteer to compete against each other, and spectators donate $5 to watch and cheer. 100% of the proceeds go to an athlete-picked nonprofit, and Sabertooth matches the first $100 raised!

    On September 30, 2018, athletes Mariah and Maddie will compete against Kayla and Courtney AKA Corndog, and the proceeds will benefit Minnesota Endo Warriors. This organization helps raise awareness and provide advocacy to women living with endometriosis. This Showdown is personal for these athletes – two of the four have been diagnosed with endometriosis, and a third has a mother with the disease.

    We asked the athletes to give us a sound bite about why they decided to compete in this particular showdown!

    Kayla

    “When Sabertooth first started Sunday Showdowns, I thought the concept was awesome but also really intimidating. We’ve had some amazing, super fit athletes compete and I didn’t think that I could measure up to what they had done! Thanks to the encouragement of my gym friends (3 of whom I’ll be competing with at the Showdown!), and a lot of consistency in training, I’m feeling more confident in my abilities and want to show that EVERYONE can do CrossFit!

    As someone who has been diagnosed with endometriosis, I’m so excited that the showdown will benefit MN Endo Warriors and that we’ll be able to bring more awareness to the disease and show that you can still live a healthy, active, strong life! Endometriosis has kept my body from being able to do a lot of things, one of them being conceive a child. But when I do crossfit, I get to celebrate and enjoy what my body CAN do, instead of what it can’t. So let’s do some burpees! (Just kidding. Really. Let’s not do burpees.)”

    Mariah

    “I’m doing the showdown for Endotrometriosis because my  mom had it.  I am who I am because of her.  I’m doing a showdown because I can!”

    Maddie

    The CrossFit community and especially the people at CrossFit Sabertooth have really given so much to me. I wanted to do the showdown so I could pass the goodness on, as well as to truly test how far I’ve come, especially fighting and recovering from nagging injuries all year.”

    Corndog

    I wanted to do a showdown after going to the first one this spring, but I did not ever really feel like anyone would want someone like me on their team. Kayla and I did the Memorial Day Murph together, and quickly found out how much we liked working out together. I got excited about potentially partnering up and after a week of inspiration at the Crossfit Games, we decided it was time to put ourselves out there.

    We are blessed to workout with and compete against Mariah and Maddie who are willing to compete for Endometriosis Awareness, a disease which affects both Kayla and I both inside and outside the gym. Endo is a disease that makes me feel like “I can’t…” over and over again, but I am excited to compete because I can, and I am tired of letting it stop me becoming who I want to be. My uterus may be raging, but I am ready to throw down. Let’s do this.”

    I WANNA GO! What are the details?

    See below!

    Jump-start your day by saluting the sun!

    We’ve all heard the benefits of having a morning routine. In a perfect world, you will wake up at the crack of dawn and have four hours to work out, make coffee, bullet journal, read the news, meditate, shower, clean the car, scrub the toilet, bleach the grout, vacuum the ceiling, read a book, write poetry…

    But if you’re anything like me, your morning routine consists of hitting “snooze” as many times as possible before showing up to work like, “dress code? what dress code?”

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    Actual footage of the author. (Credit to Universal Pictures.)

    If you’re looking for a happy medium between Morning Superhero and E.T. in drag, try adding a Sun Salutation to your morning routine!

    The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) is one of the most well-known yoga sequences, and is a fantastic way to stretch sleepy muscles, open up your chest, work your core, and get healing blood flowing throughout your entire body. Moving with intention in the early morning will help you set a great foundation for the rest of the day, whether you start your day with CrossFit or intravenous coffee (or both, we don’t judge).

    The best part? The sequence is fully scaleable to your ability level, and a single Sun Salutation can take as little as one minute (if you are more ambitious, you can practice a yoga mala of 108 Sun Salutations!).

    Beyond the ability to scale, there are myriad similarities between CrossFit and yoga. Both are a practice, a journey, built on community engagement. Both require balance, strength, and mobility. Both are moving meditations (if you don’t think CrossFit requires meditation, try doing a marathon row!) and require both focus AND a clear mind. Yoga and CrossFit are perfect complements, and the Sun Salutation is a perfect beginning sequence.

    For added benefit, match breath to movement for each of these poses, and practice Ujjayi Pranayama: the Breath of Victory. To do this, pretend that you are fogging up a mirror in front of your mouth, but then close your mouth. Keep that same breath pattern, breathing slowly in and out through your nose, with a constricted throat.

    STEPS:

    (1) Start in Extended Child’s Pose (Utthita Balasana). Touch your big toes together, extend your arms in front of you, touch your forehead to the ground, and sink your butt toward your heels. Sit here for several deep breaths.

    (2) On an inhale, come forward into tabletop pose. Your shoulders should be directly over your wrists, and your hips over your knees, with a neutral spine. Stay here for a few breaths.

    (3) On an inhale, open up your chest into Cow Pose (Bitilasana). Fill up your stomach, lungs, and throat with breath, while stretching your front line.

    (4) Exhale into Cat Pose (Marjaryasana). Arc your back, engage your abs, and force all of the air out of your body. Repeat Cat and Cow as many times as you like.

    (5) Inhale to a neutral spine. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). The key here is NOT to force your heels to the ground! Instead, your goal is to have a straight and strong back in a triangle position (not an arc!). Pedal your feet to loosen up your ankles, and don’t worry if you can’t straighten your legs.

    (6) Look forward on an inhale, and exhale into Forward Fold (Uttanasana). Keep your legs bent if necessary – the key here is to feel a gentle stretch through your hamstrings and lower back.

    (6) Inhale, and slowly rise to Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Keep your feet together or just slightly apart, push all four corners of your feet into the ground, and flex your legs, abs, and chest to make your body straight and strong. Keep your shoulders lowered away from your ears, and raise your arms above your head with your pinkies turned in.

    (7) Exhale into Forward Fold (Uttanasana).

    (8) Take a deep inhale into Standing Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana).  For this pose, your back should be straight and strong, like you’re at the bottom of a Romanian Deadlift. You can place your hands on your thighs or below your knees for added leverage to keep your back straight.

    (9) Exhale with control through Chaturanga Dandasana. Place your hands on the ground and step back into a plank pose. Lean slightly forward so your shoulders are directly over your wrists, pin your externally-rotated elbows to your sides, and lower into a half-pushup. This is considered the most physically challenging part of the Sun Salutation, and if it is too difficult, feel free to drop to your knees or skip the Chaturanga entirely and move directly from plank pose into Downward Facing Dog, skipping the next step.

    (10) Inhale into Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). Flip your feet over so the tops of your feet press into the ground, and press upward. Unless you have large legs, the only points of contact with the ground should be the top of your feet and the palms of your hands.

    (11) Exhale into Downward Facing Dog.

    Congratulations, you’ve just completed a Sun Salutation! When you become familiar with this sequences, feel free to add to it as you want – side stretches, back stretches, and core stretches.

    If you’re skeptical of the benefits of a Sun Salutation, I challenge you to try five of them every single morning for the next two weeks. You will notice an immediate difference in how your body feels as you go about your morning, and with regular practice, you will also notice a difference in your mental state.

    Happy Salutations!

    (Bonus picture: Duck the Dog helping with lighting tests!)