Fitness on track – now derailed

If you knew you would not be physically able to exercise for a time, what would you do?

I was informed late last week that I now have to undergo surgery this Friday. One week notice. For something that shouldn’t have happened, but I am an anomaly. It’s my lot in life. It just is. I am angry, I am frustrated, I am incredibly annoyed.

Postpartum recovery was on track – now derailed

I recently started to feel strong and feel like I’m getting stronger each day postpartum. My daughter is 11 weeks old and each time I attend CrossFit I’m able to increase the weight used, increase the repetitions of exercise and shave seconds from workouts. I am getting faster when I run as my body sheds the last of the extra pregnancy weight and muscle replaces fat.

This surgery will require some recovery time – the doctor said about two weeks before I can even begin to run again! For me, this is a torture sentence. Exercise is my drug, it is the thing I turn to for sanity, perspective and some semblance of control in this new life with a newborn. And now I have to cut that out again to fully recover from this necessary but invasive and annoying surgery.

“There are moments in life when it is all turned inside out--what is real becomes unreal, what is unreal becomes tangible, and all your levelheaded efforts to keep a tight ontological control are rendered silly and indulgent.”  ― Aleksandar HemonLife is a constant choice

So, what have I chosen to do with this week? Work my butt off! Knowing that I can’t exercise for a few weeks, I’ve put even more focus and energy into the WODs I can do last week and this week. I’ve increased the weight, not held back thinking I’ll add 10 more pounds “next time.” And you know what, my body and muscles have responded positively. Now I know I could have increased weeks ago. But I also know that the adage of mind over matter rings true. My mind is determined to get all the exercise in pre-surgery that I can. To work my muscles, continue to increase metabolism, try to harbor all the happy endorphin I can this week. Maybe I can stock pile them for the recovery weeks coming up.

I could spend this week being physically angry at the situation, and trust me on some level I am. But I’ve decided to channel the anger into exercise allowing myself to enjoy the purity of physical movement and revel in the strength of my own arms, legs, posterior chain and core.

I only have control over how to react to the sentence of no exercise until recovered, no control over the situation itself. This is going to be tough for me. I was just beginning to feel like we had a routine established that allowed me the time to exercise and was beginning to lose the last of my pregnancy weight. Now I’ll lose another two to six weeks of progress. I’ll have start back over pending the surgery goes flawlessly as does my recovery. C’est la vie.

Has this happened to you? How did you cope with the situation?


Hello my name is Anna, and I’m addicted to…

I’m addicted. I know this because I constantly feel a deep-seated yearning for the thing I am addicted to. When I don’t indulge in my addiction I can become unhappy, grumpy, sluggish, easily frustrated and annoyed. But the moment I satiate the addiction I am better able to function, am much more enjoyable to be around, and generally a better person.

My addiction? Exercise.

Thankfully I’ve always been addicted to fitness. My mother tells me I was doing push-ups within weeks of arriving on the planet. I spent most of my formative years participating in gymnastics. From the time I was four years old for about a decade I was attending classes multiple times a week and even got to a level where I was competing consistently. I have always found joy and happiness through running. I participated in track and field in middle school, and cross-country in high school.

One of my career choices, the Army, has forced me to maintain a particular level of physical readiness. Luckily, I really enjoy exercising, so maintaining a level of fitness has never been a problem for me.

Gratitude For Who I Am

I know that I am blessed with the ability to exercise. I am eternally grateful that I have instilled in me a desire to run, push my body to its physical limits, and recover quickly. I am also very thankful that for the duration of my pregnancy I was able to continue to exercise through attending CrossFit classes an average of three times a week.

Per the advice of my doctor, I had to allow my body to recover from labor and delivery for, technically, six weeks. At a little over five weeks post-natal, I couldn’t wait any longer! I had felt good for weeks, strong, ready to get back into a level of fitness that would satisfy my addiction. I indulged in a few short runs and many long walks while recovering, but had reached the point where that wasn’t enough.

Modify as Possible

Being a new mom, essentially attached to and utterly responsible for the welfare of a tiny human leaves less options for exercise than pre-baby. Sure, I can do some yoga while she naps, hold her while doing weighted sit-ups with she as my weight grinning as I hoist her overhead, push-ups while kissing her soft cheeks each time I lower myself to the ground where she’s looking up at me. But to really quench the burning desire of my exercise addiction I need to be able to focus on the repetition at hand, to lift the bar with both hands and perform a full squat or watch the clock tick off the seconds to the next work session of a tabata.

Healthy Addictions

Addiction does not necessarily always constitute a bad thing in my opinion. People can be addicted to a healthy lifestyle. People can be addicted to very unhealthy habits. Both of these can cause some sort of chemical reaction in the brain. I can identify very real physical and mental and emotional changes in myself when I am exercising and when I am not exercising.

I am very thankful for the ability to live a healthy life that includes exercise, and for the innate need to engage in physical activity. Like many other addictions, I must keep myself in check; making sure I do not overdo the physical activity to a point where I am unable to engage in exercise again the following day. Moderation in all things.

But damn it feels great to be back in the Box!

Pregnancy and Crossfit – Two Peas in a Pod

Exercise devotee managed seven months of pregnancy sans workout modification

But it finally happened. I needed to modify a crossfit workout. For the most part I had been able to perform the WOD (workout of the day) with a lighter weight than the prescribed amount for the workouts. But it’s evident that I am now at the point in this pregnancy that a couple movements need to be modified to accommodate not only the growing baby bump but also the plethora of physical changes that go with it.

(Photo by Jessica Schroeder, CrossFit Sandstorm Coach)

(Photo by Jessica Schroeder, CrossFit Sandstorm Coach)

I guess I lasted pretty long though; seven months of pregnancy without needing to alter a body-weight or barbell or kettle bell weighted exercise. The coaches and I chose to change one exercise at a time to identify what the cause of my discomfort may be from.

The movement we began with an alternate for was kettle bell swings.  A few days prior we completed a kettle bell swing, 400m run and double under jump rope conditioning workout. Today was a kettle bell swing, goblet squat and 400m run workout. Coach Jim modified the kettle bell swings to sumo dead lifts. This was a new lift for me in terms of hand position and feet position but by no means a foreign movement for my body or muscles. Following this workout I didn’t have all of the same recovery aches as I had with the kettle bell swings. Modify as needed.

I’m an incredibly competitive individual; both internally and with those around me. I don’t want to need to modify; but I’m glad to know there are adaptations in crossfit so in order for everyone of every ability level to exercise together and get something great out of it. I may not be going as hard and heavy and pushing myself as much as I usually do, but that’s because I have baby on the brain and in the belly!

First and foremost, I must insure she’s safe. A close second though, I need to make certain I’m not getting injured so that I can continue to exercise. Getting injured to a point where I have to stop completely, lose the momentum and lose all the benefits of exercising three to five times a week would be devastating for me.

I love to exercise! I love crossfit as a regimen! I love to run!

But overexerting myself at the expense of not being able to do another workout tomorrow is not an option. I suppose being able to alter an exercise in order to get a really good workout in is just as beneficial as pushing past your limits, potentially sustaining an injury and thus not being to exercise the next day.

A 500m row before a series of 30 wall balls. Anna in the front, husband Kevin behind. (Photo by Jessica Schroeder, CrossFit Sandstorm Coach)

A 500m row before a series of 30 wall balls. Anna in the front, husband Kevin behind. (Photo by Jessica Schroeder, CrossFit Sandstorm Coach)

I really appreciate all the coaches at CrossFit Sandstorm taking the extra time with me to modify the written workout and showing me multiple substitutes for exercises. The further I get along in this pregnancy the more I notice I have to change and alter what I usually do. That’s all okay, I understand.

I understand at this time I won’t be as limber as I was pre-pregnancy. Nor is my body as strong as it was in the same ways as it was. But I also understand that it’s doing this amazing thing on its own and all I have to do in my brain is go ahead and let it do the most natural thing of all and support it in creating this little girl. I also have to keep eating right, not overindulge my maple donut fetish, and making sure that I keep up the exercise regimen that I do have even if that means cutting back on weight, or altering movements.

I dread getting to a point where I have to sit on a couch or, heaven forbid, be on bed rest. So I will continue to attend classes at CrossFit Sandstorm. I will continue to let the coaches know when I need some sort of modification or assistance from their expertise and understanding of how the body works. I will continue to appreciate the knowledge the coaches have in being able to help all ability levels walk into the Box, do the same workout as the rest of the athletes, scaled and modified as necessary.

I love being able to walk into a Box and not be judged for being pregnant, not be put off to the side like some fragile delicate thing. At the same time, I am cared for, watched over with an extra set of eyes to make sure I’m not pushing too hard.

Here’s to continuing to perform thrice-weekly WODs (workout of the day) for the duration of the pregnancy and long after our baby girl is crawling and walking and running on her own. Cheers!