WODies vs BearGrips

If you read my post on hand care, then you know that my favorite kind of grips are no grips. My hands are small and make it hard to grip anything as it is. But in a workout with a lot of pull-ups, or on an especially hot Texas day, it becomes harder to avoid ripping my hands. It really helps to have grips for these occasions. Ones that do their job and don’t make it too hard to grip the bar.

For the past two years I’ve been using WODies grips whenever my hands were too sensitive to go without. I tried not to use them because they did make it hard to grip the bar. The extra material on my palm just made it difficult. They fit well, covered most of my palm and were snug around my fingers, but were just a tad too thick for me.

Recently, I ordered BearGrips. These are so much better. The material is thinner, and softer which is something I didn’t think I’d care about but actually really like. They have two finger holes versus the three that WODies has, but I actually like that they don’t cover my whole palm. Having some skin touch the bar tends to give me a better grip overall. The finger holes are a bit large. For my small hands, that is somewhat of a problem. But I pinned the material in the back and that problem was quickly solved. If you don’t have mini-sized hands this shouldn’t be a problem for you.

One feature that both of these grips have in common is wrist support. Each feels completely different. WODies’ support is definitely stiffer. Personally, I found that difficult when transferring from say pull-ups to push-ups, when my wrist actually needed to bend. However, it did come in handy when pairing pull-ups with overhead barbell movements.

The wrist support on the BearGrips is lighter, but still present. I recently did a workout which paired toes-to-bar and handstand push-ups. I wondered if my wrists would be inhibited when pressing upside down but they were just fine. I didn’t feel like my wrists were restricted when performing the movement, nor did I feel as if they weren’t supported enough.

Overall, I have enjoyed using my BearGrips much more than my WODies. I still tape my thumbs, as I suggested in my post on hand care, just to get a better grip. But BearGrips have definitely claimed a permanent spot in my gym bag.

What to Say to Critics of CrossFit

If you haven’t run into one yet, you will eventually. That person who’s tried crossfit and been hurt, the one who heard of their friends trying it and getting hurt, those who think its a cult and a fad and produces women who are “too bulky.” There are so many things people say about this sport. Sometimes they get under my skin, sometimes they don’t. It depends on how adamant they are about something they know nothing about. So what is the best response to someone who is telling you that you’re involved in the worse thing ever and, particularly for women, that you shouldn’t get “too big?”

*shrug* “Meh.”

This has become my go to response. I used to try to explain myself and show them ‘the error of their ways,’ but if someone is just talking at you and trying to force their opinion on you, they won’t listen to anything you have to say. The best thing you can do is shrug it off, showing you don’t care what they think. They have their opinion and you have yours. You don’t need to change their mind, just like they won’t change yours

Occasionally, someone will ask questions after I shrug off their warnings. Then I find it appropriate to explain myself, saying that bad coaching and carelessness leads to injuries, it’s not a fad it’s a community, and yes I will be getting big muscles because your standards of beauty do not determine mine.

People are stubborn, and crossfit is still relatively new compared to other sports. Not everyone is going to be accepting of it. Personally, I use others’ criticism to move me forward. I’ve heard the all too common, “just don’t get too big. It’s not beautiful.” I was showing a video to a family member, because after asking me to explain crossfit about 20 times, I was fed up and wanted someone else to do it for me. They saw the women, pointed, and said, “don’t get that big.”

I asked, “why not?”

They said, “it’s not pretty.”

I turned to face them, looked them dead in the eye, and said “I am going to get that big.”

Their disapproval lit a fire. I was so angry that they wanted to control something that was so not their right to control. I am the only one in control of my body. Stick to yourself. Leave me alone. So I decided I was going to get as big as my body would allow. That journey still continues because I am a very small person to start out with. But I have made some gains. Loads of gains since I started. And you know what? That family member ended up being impressed.

Criticism is hard to take, especially if it’s from a family member about your favorite sport. But ultimately, if you’re doing something you love and they aren’t supportive, tune it out. Keep your focus on what makes you happy, what makes you a better person. The right people will get on board. The wrong people will be scared of your muscles and will also get on board ;P

My Favorite Moments in CrossFit

I’ve had some bad days at the gym. I’ve walked in angry, hammered out a workout, and walked out a much calmer and more peaceful version of myself. I’ve had fights with friends that totally threw me off, a lot, and the emotions don’t always make sense. But working out helps cleanse my mind, body, and soul of negative emotions so that I can think clearly.

Going to the gym on a bad day isn’t fun. The whole drive there, you’ll be thinking up excuses because you’d rather sit at home by yourself. But sitting alone with your feelings leaves a lot of time to think. And these thoughts aren’t always productive. Sometimes they’re even harmful. You go around in circles feeling sorry for yourself, being angry at the situation, angry at someone else, over and over again until you eventually fall asleep. Or cry yourself to sleep. Waking up the next morning doesn’t feel any better.

If you’re having a hard time, FIND SOMETHING TO DO. Situations and feelings need your attention, but they need focused, rational attention. Being overly emotional may be what got you in trouble in the first place. So go to the gym, go for a walk, listen to music, draw, bike, see your therapist, anything. Anything that will clear your head so that you’re not stuck with your thoughts 24/7. Then, try to think about what was bothering you again. Chances are, you’ll be able to look at the situation and see what was wrong, as well as how to fix it.

Sometimes, once your mind has cleared, you realize your own mistakes. This isn’t fun. When you’re caught up in your emotions, you become very selfish. You’re only trying to protect yourself from harm, but in the process you may make mistakes that hurt other people, and that’s not fair. They shouldn’t have to pay for your runaway emotions. Regardless of why the mistakes were made, now that you’re thinking clearly you can apologize and ask forgiveness.

Whatever you learn about yourself from the workout, good or bad, is progress made. Sometimes it’s personal, sometimes it’s not. But I cherish the moments when I learn things to help me in life. I can be stubborn. Sometimes it takes a knock upside the head or tough WOD to teach me the lesson I needed to learn. Those become my favorite moments.

Handling Stress with CrossFit

When I was 18, I was told that I have an anxiety disorder. I don’t usually call it a “disorder.” I don’t usually call it anything. In most instances, I pretend it’s not there because I’ve learned how to manage it pretty well over the years. But put simply, a disorder is what it is. It’s the most concise way to explain it without giving you my whole life story. Needless to say, I have a lot of seemingly insignificant stressors in my life that I’ve had to learn how to deal with in some creative ways.

Crossfit has been the best way I’ve found for managing my stress. Last week, I was on my way to the gym with my little brother when we were rear-ended while sitting at a stop light. Seriously. How hard is it to determine if the car in front of you is moving? Apparently, very. This is the second time within a year that this has happened to me so I was furious. I believe my exact reaction was “YOU FUCKING IDIOT!” I was sipping on my BCAAs when we were hit and they sloshed all over my dashboard, steering wheel, radio, everywhere. I was pissed. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a big Chevy truck slowly backing away from the dent it’d made in my little Mazda. I knew the damage would be extensive.

Once the light turned green, I headed off to an empty parking lot with the Chevy close behind. My whole body was shaking as I parked and got out of the car. I walked around to the back of my little hatchback and saw that the hatch was no longer usable. It was pretty banged up, bumper included. Everything would need to be replaced. This made me even more angry, and as the other driver got out of her truck, I tried to say as little as possible to keep my anger in check. We exchanged information, I spent the next hour on the phone with insurance, then hit my workout for some stress relief.

The first part of that workout was actually not very fun. I was too stressed. I felt a panic attack coming on, making it hard to catch my breath. But as I kept going, and moved onto the next part which was something more enjoyable for me, I started to feel better. The workout was simple barbell cycling. A snatch complex. By the end of it I was laughing and talking with my brother on the way home like nothing had happened.

Crossfit has that effect for me, as well as for a lot of other people. I can come in angry, sad, distraught, and always leave in a better mood. It clears my head, gives me perspective, and allows me to think through things in a rational way, without my normal emotional chaos. Most of the time, when I have a problem, it consumes my thoughts until I find a solution for it. The problem is, my emotions become so tangled and intense that it’s hard to find that solution. During a workout, my emotions are usually cleared out. Afterwards, I can think so much better and I find the solution I was looking for. Plus, the problem never seems as big as it did before.

Crossfit has just as many mental benefits as it does physical. Your physical and mental health are linked. Don’t sacrifice one for the other. Each is so very important. However you choose to manage you stress, make sure it’s in healthy ways. Don’t settle for short-term relief. Invest in yourself. Invest in the quality of your life. You will be much happier for much longer. I promise.

Summertime is Finally Here!

Summertime is finally here! Which means days at the lake, camping, hiking, and adventuring of all sorts. Summer is definitely my favorite time of year. I’m not a fan of the cold. Plus, for me summer is the season where it is appropriate to be a little lazy. I enjoy lazy days all year round, but feel more justified in the summer. It’s just so much more enjoyable to go about your day not having plans, just doing whatever piques your interest, adventuring with friends on a whim. That’s my favorite. Of course, these adventures usually involve going to the gym. Which involves getting hella sweaty, which requires drinking a bajillion gallons of water.

Hydration

You know you should be drinking water. You’ve heard the “drink half of your bodyweight in oz. everyday and more if you workout.” So why aren’t you doing it??? Summer is a tough season for exercising, especially in this Texas heat. If you want to keep crushing workouts this summer, you will need to help your body do so.

Hydration plays a huge role in keeping our bodies balanced. Water feeds our muscles and organs. Drink too little and they starve, resulting in muscle cramps and organ failure. Drink too much and you run the risk of essentially flooding your body, causing cells to swell and diluting your sodium levels, something else your body needs to stay running. You’d have to drink quite a lot of water for this to happen, but it does happen. Hence, the reason for sports drinks.

Sports drinks have gotten a bad reputation. Some aren’t all that great for you, but the ones that are can really help improve your performance and the way you feel during workouts. Sports drinks serve to hydrate your body, as well as replace your sodium and electrolyte levels. If you’re in the middle of a long, intense workout in the middle of the summer, you’re sweating out a lot of sodium and electrolytes. These drinks will help you get through the workout better than just plain water because you’re refueling your body as you go. Instead of playing catch-up later, you replenish what you’re losing as you go.

Now for a 10 minute AMRAP, it’s not necessary to chug a sugary sports drink. If you stay on top of your water intake throughout the day, you should be fine for ten minutes of work. But if you’re going on, say, a long run that’s going to last you an hour or more, you should bring something besides water with you, or make it a point to stop and refuel somewhere. Kill Cliff is a great option, as are GU energy gels and salt sticks, both popular among endurance runners. You just have to find what works for you. For more reading on hydration and how to do it, here is a helpful article.

Dehydration

Dehydration happens very easily, and some of the signs are very subtle. Some to watch for are: bad breath, dry skin, muscle cramps, fever and chills, food cravings, and headaches. If you’re experiencing any of these, it’s time to start drinking more water throughout your day. Drinking water on a regular basis over the course of your day is the best way to ensure that you are properly hydrated.

Most people simply don’t think about drinking water. They have too many other things to think about during their day. But there are multiple ways to fix this. One is to keep a water bottle with you at all times. Keep it at your desk while you work, take it with you when you go for a drive (I have about three in my car right now), and ALWAYS bring one to the gym. Make sure you always have access to water. I find that this method is very useful for me because I am a very visual person. If I see my water bottle, I remember to drink water.

Some people set reminders throughout the day for themselves in order to remember to drink water. There is an app called Daily Water – Drink Tracker and Reminder that you could try out. You can set goals of how much water you want to drink that day, and it will track your progress. You can also customize when you want to be reminded to drink.

The Bottom Line

Pay attention to your body. This is the easiest way to determine what you need. Your body will communicate with you, you just need to listen and know what to look for. Take care of yourself and you will continue crushing WODs this summer. Good luck!

2 Years

I’ve been doing crossfit for two years now! A lot has happened in those two years. I’ve met new friends, let go of some others, learned new things, re-learned some old things. It’s been a lot to take in. I’ve definitely changed and grown as a person, physically and mentally. The physical transformation has definitely been fun. The mental side of it has been interesting. I’m learning new ways of thinking about things that I’ve never considered before.

Physically

The physical changes were something I was really looking forward to. I was scrawny. I ran, so I was in shape, but you could definitely tell I didn’t lift. Of course, as soon as I started talking about joining crossfit, people cautioned me against getting “too big.” My co-workers, my grandparents, my friends, lots of people. I’m barely over five-foot tall, and currently weigh 120lb. I’m never going to be “too big.” But I ignored them then as I still do. I only cared what they thought about me as a person, not what they thought of my appearance. I was doing this for me, and I wanted to gain muscle. I wanted to be able to throw 200 pounds over my head one day. To be able to do that I needed muscle. So I told them they’d just have to get used to me being a little bigger because that’s the way it was gonna be. After a while, they saw the improvements I was making and how my body changed. Not once have they told me I’m too big. Rather, they brag about my physical fitness to their friends. So to those of you who are afraid of what others will think of your body after you start lifting, don’t worry about them. Do it for you. They’ll eventually get on board.

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I can’t wait to see what my body will look like in another two years!

Mentally

I had to let go of yet another friendship recently. This really caused me to stop, think, and evaluate what was going on in my life. The emotions and questions swirling around inside me were a lot to take. So, as I’d become accustomed to doing, I hit the gym in order to clear my head.

I realized that I’m really bad at letting people go. Even after they’re ready to sever ties, I’m not. I hang on for too long. I don’t know why. I can see that they want to leave, and I’m not necessarily having fun at that point either, but I still try to fix it. This time around, though, I didn’t try as long. It hurt just as bad, but I think I at least saved myself a little heartache.

Having to see another friendship fall apart was difficult. But taught me lessons in the end and mentally made me stronger.

These are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned in my two years of involvement with crossfit. Things I didn’t know I needed to learn. And I’m sure there will be more I discover about myself and crossfit in the years to come. Can’t wait!

You Won’t Always Be Proud of Yourself

I competed in my first RX competition back in February. I placed dead last, but was so proud of my effort. I was battling through nausea and nerves, so at the end of the day I felt it was more of a mental victory than anything else.

Bullshit.

That day was rough. My stomach was all messed up, I didn’t finish any of the workouts, and the weights felt way heavier than they should have. I knew I could’ve done better had my body been performing how it usually does. I also could have been smarter in my approach of the workouts. I went out way too fast on the first one and it just went downhill from there. At the end of the day I felt defeated.

Having a great workout EVERY SINGLE DAY is too much to ask for. It’s not realistic and no matter how much you try it just won’t happen. Some days will suck. Some days you’re not gonna have it and every movement will feel awkward and weird and just plain wrong.

That’s okay.

Working through the days that suck not only improves your physical fitness but your mental fitness as well. It all starts in your head. On good days and bad, your attitude and mental state effect your workout as well as the people around you. Mental toughness is the most important aspect of fitness; hell, of life. If your mental game is weak your improvements will be far and few between both in and out of the gym. That being said, mental toughness doesn’t mean you never have bad days. It means you analyze that shit until you learn something from it.

At the end of the competition that day, I was drained. I was glad everything was over because I just wanted to go home, curl up in bed, and pretend I hadn’t come in dead last in my division. Of course, the way my brain works, I couldn’t help but replay the events of the day. I went through every step and saw where I went wrong, how I could have done things better. I strategized the way I should have before competition day. I also learned that I needed to pay more attention to my body. I wasn’t nauseas because I was sick. I was nervous, and it was that special time of the month. Now, I pay extra attention to how I feel and what I put in my body (90% of the time). I’m finding new ways of making myself a healthier, more capable person, so that I can feel 100% more often.

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This is my favorite picture from that day. It’s the reason I can look back and see that the day wasn’t a total waste. Even though I wasn’t feeling well I was determined to give it my all, and try to have fun doing it. I went out too fast on the rower in this workout, so my legs felt super wobbly trying to snatch the bar. But I had my friends cheering me on and I just tried my hardest to keep the bar moving. So even though I felt like crap, and was unsatisfied with last place, this picture reminds me that I gave all I had to give that day. I just have to make sure my “all” is more next time to stay near the top.

So if you’ve ever finished a workout or a competition and weren’t satisfied with your performance, figure out why you weren’t satisfied and do better next time. You don’t have to always be proud of what you did. If you know you could’ve done better, then do better. Disappointment is part of life and sometimes we let ourselves down. Learn from the mistake and move on. Grow. Become the best you. Don’t lie to yourself and say you’re proud of your effort when you’re really not. Don’t try to fool yourself. This is how people get stuck in one spot and never move forward. Be honest. Don’t hide behind a fake smile.