It is remarkable, and a touch alarming, how quickly nasty habits can reseat and take control of our lives.

The gym is starting a new fitness/lifestyle/nutrition challenge tomorrow and it could not come at a better time.

I have been wrestling with my nutrition for months watching the needle on the scale creep up week by week. I have, over the years that I’ve been involved with Crossfit Durham, come to understand that the number on the scale should not be the defining element of my life and I embrace that…within limits. I have slid well beyond those limits.

I know that when everything is in alignment, then I’m living my life weighing in around 220#. I consider that my ‘ideal fighting weight.’ Right now, I am a long way from there, but that’s ok.

I sincerely am not overly concerned about the number on the scale. I can accept that when our son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in April everything sort of spun out of orbit for a while. I’m not upset with that.

What concerns me most is that once he was stable, and clearly at that point diet/nutrition became a central topic in our home, I slipped back into the ‘phantom calorie’ habits that used to plague me when I was at my all-time heaviest.

Back when I was closing in on 300#, I used to hit drive through windows commuting home from work  and then sit down to dinner with Erin when I got in. I’d do it multiple times a week. Most week days I’d hit the same drive throughs on the way to work. I’m still a fiend for a Burger King Sausage Egg and Cheese Croissant. I figured, ‘what the hell? The calories don’t count, if no one sees me eat them, right?!”

This time the excuse was different, but the pattern was the same. Since mid-April I have had a RAGING insatiable sweet tooth. The justification has been, “well, I’ll just have this now in the car, because my son shouldn’t have this and I don’t want him to feel bad.”

I’ve been hitting the local doughnut shop twice a week after working out at the gym in the morning. Stopping at the local milk shake shack, or just grabbing candy at the check out counter at the grocery store any time I went shopping unaccompanied. Each time, I kept telling myself, ‘tomorrow, I’ll clean this up.’

Well, tomorrow has arrived.

 

 

Today, for the first time in a long time, we got to test 1 rep max lifts for the deadlift and the overhead squat. I was VERY excited to be testing these. My all time PR’s for these lifts haven’t simply had birthdays…at this stage, they’re both old enough for preschool!

I was successful at 185# for the Overhead Squat with misses at 205# and 200# in that order. The 205# was never going to happen. It was a wreck from the moment I tried to press it out off my shoulders. On a PERFECT day, I might pull off that 200#….maybe. The most I have ever successfully pulled off is 195#.

Deadlift – I pulled 365# with good form and returned it to the floor gently. I got greedy and went after 390# in the hopes of setting a 5# PR and besting a record that’s stood since 2013. It BARELY left the floor.

I’ve been mulling those results over all day with mixed feelings.

Of course I’m disappointed that I didn’t achieve any new PR’s. We train to get better. That’s the goal.

When I take a step back and frame it up a bit, then perspective shifts.

-) I got within right around 5% of my all time best on BOTH lifts today. I only missed when I chose to challenge myself and go beyond my known boundaries.

-) While I’m 3 or more years older than when these PR’s were set, I’m clearly not any weaker. Does that mean all this exercise is holding Father Time at bay and I’m getting better/stronger because my strength is not deteriorating over time? Don’t know about that. It’s comforting to think so. Is it an appreciable amount of time? Crossfit age brackets are built in 5 year increments. While it hasn’t been more than 5 years between these PR’s I have ‘advanced’ an age bracket.

-) My training, as it always has been, remains very broad and diverse. I’m doing main room programming mostly, while still dabbling in MovNat and tinkering with a bit of Gymnastics. So dedicated ‘lifting’ hasn’t been part of my focus for any length of time.

Am I rationalizing, trying to justify a let down? Maybe. I don’t know. At the end of the day, I know this. I’m satisfied with the effort; pleased with (and grateful for) the time spent with friends even if I’m not thrilled with the results. So it was a good day. Now we’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.

 

So Monday is Memorial Day. A number of Crossfit boxes around the world will be performing the traditional hero WOD Murph over the weekend or on Monday itself.

For the unfamiliar, the workout consists of:

Run 1-Mile
100 Pull ups
200 Push Ups
300 Air Squats
Run 1-Mile
*Wear a 20# vest, if you have it.

Murph is a curious thing. There are lots of benchmark WODs. There are dozens of hero WODs which commemorate the lives of service members, LEO’s and first-responders who have given their lives in their service. Murph is different. It’s more than a WOD in the Crossfit community. It’s a phenomenon.

Maybe because its bodyweight this is one of the Hero WODs that lots of us attempt  solo (with or without a weight vest), way before we’re really ready. That’s what I want to talk to you about. I want to make the case for finding yourself a battle buddy.

As a 6 year Crossfit and retired Army vet, let me offer a few thoughts from each perspective.

In Crossfit, we talk all the time about the community. Here’s a great chance to exercise that community. Grab your favorite lifting buddy and split this joker up. Or better yet! Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know and partner up for this beast! 2 miles and 50, 100, 150 reps of each exercise is PLENTY of work for us average Joes and Janes. It’s also plenty of time in which you and your partner can forge a bond.

I promise, if you grind through this one together, you may not be fast-friends when it’s over; but you will be comrades. You will endure a physical and mental battle together. When it’s done you will feel like brother(s)/sister(s)-in-arms. I have completed Murph once as an individual two years ago. I can’t tell you my time. I do however have very clear memories of each person and the WOD all the years I partnered with someone.

Here’s another consideration – remember to check your ego and don’t allow one work out to derail the rest of your goals! Unless you’re the type of athlete that’s crushing WODs as prescribed every day, Murph solo will punish you….for days. Don’t lose a week of training because you shred your hands on the pull ups and demolish your quads and glutes on the air squats. Share the load and play smart. Train to train again another day soon.

In the military, you don’t do anything alone. Just keep that in mind as you grind through this WOD and coax your battle-buddy along. Just as they are going to do for you somewhere around Round 7 of 10 and you’re both 25 minutes into this thing and you’re still not sure you’re going to make it to the finish line. You’ll get there…if you stay together and pull each other through to the other side.

Oh, and in that spirit of working together – on the run – especially that second mile….stay together. I mean really together. Unless your partner threatens you with bodily harm and demands you charge on without them, don’t put on an all out sprint and dust your battle buddy on that last 100M. Poor form. Stay together and cross that finish line side by side. It means something. Trust me.

So there it is. My take on the monster Murph. What are your thoughts?

A while back I posted on Facebook how adjusting to a type 1 diabetes diagnosis is very much like adjusting to life with a newborn in the house.

Basically,
-) You spend a few days in the hospital making certain everyone is healthy and getting your bearings while being trained on how to manage the situation at home.
-) Eventually they discharge you and as a parent your first reaction is, “Wait! Are you sure we’re ready for this? We don’t really FEEL ready for this.” But you basically are.
-) We’re living our lives on a roughly 4 hour feeding schedule again
-) Not sleeping through the night any more.

Now with the arrival of our son’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM), those similarities continue.

The CGM tracks and reports on the glucose levels in the interstitial fluids in his body every 5 minutes. We’re only a couple of days into it, but he seems very satisfied with it. It’s a remarkable tool. One of the features Erin and I appreciate most is that there is a downloadable app that allows C to share his readings with us via our cell phones. As long as he makes the information available to us, we can log into the app at any time and see how he’s doing. Additionally, there are alarms built into the system so that if his blood sugar levels rise or fall beyond set “safe” levels we all get notifications on our phones. All of this has made for some interesting dynamics as we continue to redefine normal and maintain balance in all of this change.

Both Erin and I have admitted to each other that we both have to work very hard to not leave the app open on our phones and observe his glucose levels in a continuous stream. This functionality would really allow folks to take helicopter parenting to a whole other level. Fortunately, Erin and I are not by nature those types.

I confess The first day that I logged in around the time that I knew he would be eating lunch at school. I left the app open for roughly 30 minutes because when I first logged in I could see that he was trending low. The resolution came later than I expected, and it was a bit of a tense wait on my part; but I’m not precisely clear on when his school lunch hour is. Despite my nerves, in pretty short order, I could see that his sugars climbed back into the safe range and leveled off. Clearly, he had eaten and injected and was in complete control of his situation.

I heartily patted myself on the back for resisting the urge to text and ask when lunch would be and was he paying attention. He’s thirteen. He’s got this. And if he doesn’t, within a certain margin of error he needs the latitude to explore, experiment and sometimes make mistakes. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy to sit back and watch as a parent.

The more direct parallel to the newborn phase is in the night time alarms. Our cell phones have now become our ‘baby monitors.’ Back when the kids were infants, particularly as newborns, I recall only ‘mostly sleeping’ with that monitor in our room. You know how it is. You sleep and you mostly rest, but one ear is always tuned to the monitor. There’s always one small percentage of your brain and consciousness that never truly surrenders to sleep as it maintains vigilance for any signs of distress. Same thing here.

I’m sleeping, but it’s a very light sleep. It’s as if my mind is anticipating that inevitable low sugar alarm which requires a trip into his room with a juice box for a quick infusion.

Please know, I’m not complaining. I’m extremely grateful for the technology. In the grander scheme of things the system affords Erin and I a very real sense of security and confidence to allow C beyond our reach. This extends his sense of normalcy in that he’s not under our stare or in our care 24/7. So he appreciates it. Mostly, I’m recording these observations for my own amusement out of a sense of curiosity.

Hi gang. Sorry to have been absent so long. Didn’t really mean for that to happen. Please excuse me. My wife lost an aunt and a cousin (separate events and both natural causes) at the start of the month and made a 1300 round trip to attend services for them. Then came our son’s type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Followed by the passing of my aunt a week after Easter. I think it’s fair to say that April has been a challenge. Fitness blogging hasn’t been a big priority.

Honestly, the first part of the month there wasn’t much to write about. Once the Open was over, I intentionally stepped away from organized Crossfit to recharge. I was going to the gym, but working on the side doing my knee rehab and playing with some MovNat stuff. I was feeling nicked up and barbelled out. So I wanted to rebuild and reload and tinker with whatever amused me, not what was programmed on the white board. I get that way every now and then.

I thought I was going to go back to the gym after a two week hiatus, but it was Spring Break, Erin was in Michigan with our daughter. The boy and I were home alone. It wasn’t necessary to wake up at 6 to make a 7 am workout. Besides, for the first time in months I wasn’t limping. I thought, “you know what? This feels great. I think I’m just going to enjoy how this feels for a couple of days.” Then the diagnosis came down and we spent two days managing our house while the boy was hospitalized. So a two week break became three.

I’ve been back on CFD’s main room programming now for two weeks and feeling pretty good. I’m not going to post WOD by WOD. No one needs that.

I will say that the first day back we had a METCON of light power snatches and slam balls! It was just about the perfect METCON for me coming off of all of the stress April had handed us so far. I have always said that slam balls are my favorite exercise/movement and I have always joked that they are not exercise, but therapy. On that day, I relished every single rep. I came into the gym tired, worn and emotional and left with a grin on my face and laughing with my friends again. Partly it was the workout. Partly it was being back with the tribe among friends. The combination was absolutely rejuvinating!

Other workouts have not gone quite so well, but I’m not worried. I’m willing to cut myself some slack in the box while we still try to work out the new household normal.

I do however HAVE to get my diet and rest back on track. The rest is tricky. Partly it’s a matter of difficulty getting to sleep. Partly, it’s a matter of the required 2am blood sugar checks with my son. Even if I could fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, I’d still only be getting a four hour nap interrupted by a 30 minute break, then a 3 and a half hour nap. That’s not ideal, but it will level out soon.

The diet IS within my control and I have to fix that. Need to own up to the fact that I’m making poor choices there and stop it. It’s not easy, but I’ve done it before. Need to do it again.

Now that things are getting back in order around the house, perhaps the writing bug will bite again. We’ll see.

So Wednesday, while my wife and daughter were out of town, I check out of work early and take my son to his routine annual physical late in the afternoon. It starts out normal enough: height, weight, vision check, blood pressure, temperature, ears, nose, throat. All business as usual. They ask him if he can provide a sample for urinalysis. He says sure and complies. They do a finger stick for a blood sample. Start asking the basic questions. Everything is cool.

The nurse leaves for a few, comes back and says, “the results of the blood test aren’t right. We need to do it again.” The boy is not thrilled. He’s not great with needles and really kind of despises the finger prick, but obliges. Nurse goes out with the new sample…doctor comes back a few minutes later and says, “so I need to do a third finger stick, but I figure now I need to come in and explain why. His blood sugars are way beyond normal and not safe. I need to do one last test to verify them and then it looks like you guys need to go direct to the ER to start treatment for Type 1 Diabetes.”

“SAY WHAT?!?!?!”

Just that quick after a third finger stick and a blood sugar count closing in on 400 and we’re off to the ER.

It is at this point that I call my wife, who’s been driving for 6 plus hours already and say, “Hey, when you get about 30 minutes out from home call my parents. They’ll meet you at our house and look after M (our 8yo daughter) for the night. You’re going to need to meet me at the Duke Pediatric ER. C is being admitted for Type 1 Diabetes.”

There’s an awkwardly long pause and then….”really?!?!”

“Yeah, Babe. Really.”

“Uhm, ok. Thanks. See you soon.”

With that it was off to the hospital to get the boy checked in, assessed and admitted.

So now we’re sitting in the ER running more tests and flushing his system with an IV and it’s explained to us that ‘basically we’re just trying to work out whether he can go to the regular Pediatric Ward or the ICU?

Now my mind has gone straight to ‘What the Ever-lovin’ holy-F are you talking about!!!”

It was at this point I had to ask. “OK, please walk me through the flow chart of the decision making process here. Because we have gone from going to a routine phyical with what we thought was a very healthy young man showing no external signs of any illness to a life altering diagnosis and a possible night in ICU?! Someone explain to me how we got here.”

The staff was fantastic at explaining the logic. Basically it all came down to, if his blood sugar levels settled to an acceptable level after the IV, then they would admit him to the regular pediatric ward because they would not need to test him as often through the night. If they felt his situation warranted hourly checks, then he would go to ICU.’

Fortunately his numbers settled pretty quickly.

By 10 PM he was out of the ER, admitted to a room in the pediatric ward, and Erin was settling in for a night in a hospital recliner.

The assessment process was pretty interesting and borderline amusing if the situation wasn’t potentially so grave.

Everyone at the hospital kept asking, “so this was caught during a routine physical?”

Us: “Yes.”

Them: “He hasn’t had any symptoms?”

Us: “What are the symptoms?”

Them: “Frequent urination, dehydration, losing weight, belly pain, lethargy…”

Us: “No, we some times joke about how he’s something of a camel. His hydration seems normal. You can see his vital results, he’s growing and gaining weight. No pains and as for lethargy he’s a straight A middle school student involved in three academic clubs and a member of his track team. No. Lethargy is NOT a word we would ever apply to C.”

Them: “Wow. So this is really kind of out of left field for you guys, eh?”

Us: “Well, we’ve gone from a presumed perfectly healthy son to a young man with a life altering and potentially life threatening condition. So, yeah. From the Fucking warning track deep!”

Erin and I both knew one of us would be staying the night with C. We couldn’t see leaving him alone and scared and frankly, no one was going to separate us from him at that point. You might wonder how after a full day’s travel she drew the short straw and spent the night rooming in with him. It was her choice.

I was pretty certain who it was going to be, but I had to make the offer.

I looked at Erin and suggested, “I can stay with him. Do you want to go home tonight?”

“Not really,” she answered. So, decision made. I went home to the house and the dog.

That pretty much sums up the first night of a two night hospital stay and the treatments and education that followed.

Some observations from that first night:

1) After mouthing an initial “oh, FUCK” at me in the pediatricians office, C was an absolute champ about everything that followed. At one point in the ER, after we had both sat mulling over our own thoughts. He turned to me and said, “The doctor said about 1 in every 300 people has type 1. That means if I have it, no one else in my school has to have it. That’s cool. I can handle this.” I promise you. My thoughts were not nearly so noble.
2) Since that moment he has been absolutely on top of this whole thing. He’s a science guy and mathematically inclined. He’s diving right into counting carbs, figuring out insulin doses based on blood sugar readings and administering his own shots.
3) The finger sticks for the blood sugar readings are a challenge, but he’s facing it head on. We can’t ask for more.
4) While we’re all still a bit shell-shocked how everything changed so fast, we are grateful that this was caught so early. As it was explained to us typical cases endure longer hospital stays because the first priority is getting people out of the dangerous acidotic stage which develops once symptoms surface. After that, folks spend a day or two in the hospital getting educated, and demonstrating that they can manage the situation and the processes involved.

We never had any symptoms. C was never really acidotic. So his stay was really about ensuring that he was stable, which happened very quickly and then it was on to the education process.

We keep swinging along the emotional pendulum from “Why us” to “we are so lucky!” It’s making us a bit dizzy. Consider the following:

1) C was born in January. That’s when we normally do his annual physical. We missed it this year and only now got around to scheduling it. If he’d had that physical in January, then we never would have caught this until his condition was much more advanced.
2) The physician has NEVER done a urinalysis or blood test like this for him before. I don’t know why she chose to this year, but again, we’re eternally grateful that she did.
3) We’re so grateful for the care we got at Duke. It has been phenomenal.
4) Our family, friends and everyone near and far have been amazing. The outpouring of love and support has been wonderful. We do not take it for granted and we appreciate all of it.

It’s going to be a winding slippery path for all of us I suspect, but we’ll manage and navigate it together. We’re going to be just fine.

If we’re connected on FB, or you know me directly, you’re aware that I coach the kids program at CF Durham. Also, if we’re already connected, then you have heard much of this in pieces over the weeks of the Open. However, I want to get it all together in one place now. So here we go.

For the first time at Crossfit Durham we integrated our kids into the Open and IT. WAS. A. BLAST.

The first thing that needs to be explained is that this wasn’t my idea. As the Open was approaching I was tinkering with the ideas about modifying Open WODs in regular kid’s classes each week. But integrating them into the main room Open WOD sessions was not the plan. So how did it happen? Fair question. The answer is it was our Intramural team captain’s idea.

It started with the War of the WODs back in January. I posted pictures on FB of Caleb’s events. Tom reached out saying, “Caleb has the heart of a warrior. We need him on our Intramural team!”

I answered, “He can’t be. He doesn’t qualify. He’s not old enough to register.”

Tom’s response was, “I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, he’s on our team.”

When Tom makes that kind of statement, there’s only one right answer, “Ok. I’ll figure something out.”

So that was the spark.  “Ok. So if we got the kids in the Open, what would that look like?”

The goal was to keep everything as close to the rules/expectations of our Intramural competition, partly for simplicity’s sake and partly to make the experience as close as possible for the kids to what adults experience.

So the basic framework became:

-) Once Open WODS were announced on Thursday, I would take until mid-day Friday to figure out and announce the kid modified equivalents.

In addition to WOD structure, it included recommended weights, and some basic movement standards. This gave kids who might not make the scheduled Saturday WOD the ability to make a WOD up on their own time. Just like the adults.

-) Kids joined Intramural teams with their parents (the exception being kids who attend my classes, but their parents aren’t gym members)

-) Kids had the same opportunity as adults to complete the WOD and submit scores to me NLT than 8pm the following Monday.

If they completed the WOD and submitted that score, then they earned the same participation point for their team, just like a grown up. Kids were welcome to participate in all team “Spirit Point” opportunities at their parents’ and team’s discretion.

-) The box performed the Open WODs between 8:30am – 12 pm each Saturday. The regularly scheduled Kids class takes place at 10 on Saturday. So once I had all the kids onsite I notified the gym owner and would take one heat’s worth of time to familiarize the kids with the WOD, movements, standards and warm them up and practice a bit. Then, depending on the week, the logistics of the WOD, and the number of kids present, we either integrated the kids directly into a heat with grown ups, or ran a kids only heat on the main gym floor.

I can’t overstate how absolutely blown away I was by the positive response in EVERY direction.

The Kids:

Every kid FAR exceeded any expectation I had of them for doing the WODs themselves. They truly stepped up to every challenge laid out and crushed the workouts. Normal CF Kids classes take place outside or downstairs, anywhere but the main CF room floor. We do this to avoid the noise and distraction of the main room WODs. Saturday adult classes are always packed and loud and kind of overwhelming. So the kids’ class is always somewhere away from that. How would the kids respond to the competition style environment of the Open WODS and the sheer volume of it all? There was only one way to find out. Frankly, they all seemed to thrive in the spotlight.

It was curious actually. The first week, most of the kids wanted work stations in the back of the gym away from the front of the spectator area. In all of the following weeks, that wasn’t an issue. Kids took lanes/stations where ever there was space. No one seemed to shy away from the front of the room.

The Open also pushed the kids in terms of my expectations in the WODs themselves. In normal Kids classes, there’s never been a WOD that ran longer than 7 minutes. For 17.1 we used the 20 minute cap and rep scheme and only modified the weights used and the kids DOMINATED that WOD. They may not realize it, but standard class WODs are about to get much more challenging. 😉

Parents

Parents of participating kids impressed me ensuring that kids got their WODs in when they traveled for Spring Break; or they had schedule conflicts at home. They messages asking for clarification on movement standards, score submission deadlines, and more. It was really cool to see just how deeply and authentically everyone bought in to the process.

Some of the kids who take the CF Kids class have parents that aren’t members. Those parents usually drop their kids and come back at the end of class for pick up. That’s fine. But I warned them about the Open and encouraged them to stick around and watch their kids perform. The ones who did were stunned at what their kids accomplished. That was a trip to observe.

The Community

Athletes who aren’t parents and don’t have kids at the gym may have impressed me most. Each week, there was somebody stepping up to judge/coach a kid who needed a scorer, coming up to me before or after a heat asking, “what do you need? How can I help?” That was fantastic and critical to helping everything run smooth. The spectators were amazing as well. They were cheering the kids on through every rep, offering high fives and great jobs after the WOD and just making all the kids feel like full members of the community. The kids definitely enjoyed that.

They were being treated and spoken to as athletes, with no modifiers. People were talking to them as equals who went through a shared experience and the kids really appreciated that interaction. It was really fun to watch.

Couple of notes for next year:

  • Need to figure out what to do with points for unaffiliated kids. Those kids whose parents aren’t members, weren’t directly assigned to Intramural teams. We tracked those WODs in case we decided how to incorporate those ‘points’ into the Intramural event. In the end, those weren’t counted in the scoring. Finding a way to integrate those kids, and their points, directly into the competition could be fun.
  • Kids Only Heats All Open – for the first two weeks, we integrated the kids into heats running side by side with adults. For the last three weeks we did kids only heats. From a coaching/safety/command and control aspect, I think I prefer that. It’s just a bit simpler.
  • Kids Spirit Challenges – Next year I will declare a ‘theme’ for one or two weeks and encourage kids to wear costumes, if they choose.

I said before that this year’s Open was one of the most gratifying personally and professionally in which I have participated. The kids’ involvement and the response to it is definitely a huge part of that feeling. So “thanks” to one and all.