Living the Cooler Life

Our refrigerator started making a really loud humming noise on Saturday morning. My 8 year old has since described it to his father as sounding like a lawnmower. I started to dismiss his description until our 10 year old said she didn’t think that was a bad description. Then I started wondering if I’m deafer than I realized.

It was hard to not notice the lawnmower sound in the middle of the kitchen. I did what every other normal grown adult would do in that situation. I turned that puppy off and on and when it stopped making the noise called it a victory and ate breakfast. Then I went for a walk. 
Pretty sure the freezer and fridge aren't supposed to be the same temperature.  Not a good sign.
When I got back, the noise had returned. So I did what any normal grown adult would do in that situation. I yanked that puppy out from the wall and unplugged it for awhile. In my head, the fridge just needed a little rest before it got back to work. When I plugged it back in, no noise again. I called it a victory and took my kids to see the new Muppet movie. When we got back, the fridge was giving me an error message and was clearly nowhere near as cold as it should be. 
You know you are in trouble when the temperature readings have become letters instead of numbers.

My husband was out town. This is unfortunate. Mainly because I know next to nothing about appliances let alone how to fix problems with appliances. Therefore, I was forced to consult Google. Much like googling random medical issues will lead you think you are dying, my googling mostly had me convinced we’d be shopping for a new fridge soon. But I did detour onto a few pages that claimed the back of my fridge might just have a lot of dust and crap in it. So there went an hour of my life dragging a shop vac in the house and climbing behind the fridge to blow dust all over my clean kitchen floor. Google is a lying whore and that did not magically fix what was clearly a more serious issue.

Sadly, by this time it was 4:30 in the afternoon and it was Easter weekend. No one but me was going to care about that refrigerator until Monday. Cue the coolers.

We have a giant freezer which came in super handy for shoving crap in. Obviously the whole freezer section of our fridge got shoved in there. But for that matter so did plenty of stuff from the fridge section, too. I went through the fridge doing an actual “can I freeze it?” assessment. As an example, my assessment determined Lunchables might turn out okay in the freezer. Turns out, I was right. Toss that thing in your kid’s lunch and it’s just the right temperature by lunch. My 8 year old would like you to know his ham slices were a little colder than he would prefer. I would like you to know he eats lunch early and no one cares about his ham temperature preferences anyway. It wasn’t frozen and the crackers were absolutely fine. Work with me here.

I’ve discovered that my household is clearly addicted to condiments. The majority of what I had to shove into the coolers were condiments. Why one household needs 7 bottles of salad dressing is beyond me. My husband’s pickle and mustard collection was also impressive.

At one point we were operating two large coolers and one small one. It was beautiful. That’s if beautiful means super annoying because daily ice runs are annoying. Monday I took the small cooler to work with me. Instead of filling it with ice again, I just shoved it all in the fridge at work and then brought it home with me again that night. Someone mentioned at work that a half drunk gallon of milk was odd to find on Monday morning. I told them to stop judging me. My husband brought home a smaller fridge he had at his desk at work. It was like a gift from heaven. That’s if a gift from heaven makes you feel like you are living in a dorm in college again. But we have successfully shoved a whole lot of stuff in that little fridge and it’s awesome. We’re down to one large cooler only and the fridge. Important stuff goes in the fridge. Less important no one will die if it goes bad stuff goes in the cooler. That means the butter for my morning toast is in the fridge and the fleet of salad dressing is in the cooler.

The current set up.  I'd post a photo of the 3 cooler set up but I was too busy freaking the hell out at the time.  And , yes, the set up includes putting the cooler up on a chair.  Less bending and stooping while you dig through the ice.  If you were living the cooler life you'd understand that was a popular innovation we came up with.
Every meal since has been something out of that fridge to empty it as much as possible. Leftovers were the first to go. Scrambled eggs for breakfast. Pizza to use up the dough and half empty sauce jar even though we only just finished eating the leftovers from the last time we made it. I do not care if anyone is tired of scrambled eggs. Eggs were on sale at the grocery store three weeks ago and we stocked up. That’s the cooler life. The cooler life also includes shoving egg cartons made of cardboard into the cooler only to have the ice melt and get the carton wet and then the carton slowly starts to disintegrate. Then you find yourself with little bits of egg carton on your salad dressing as you make everyone start every meal with salad to move the lettuce along.
Monday we finally got the call about fixing our fridge. Too bad the call was to let us know they’d be coming Tuesday between 8 and 12. Too bad my mother who was supposed to open the door for the repair guy suddenly announced the next morning that she had a doctor’s appointment at 10. Naturally, that meant the repair guy was at our door at 10 on the dot. No heads up phone call to let us know he was on his way so we could meet him.

While standing on our front porch, they called my husband to make him aware of the situation. He immediately had visions of extended cooler life in his head and told them he was jumping in his car and don’t leave. He said he’d be there in 15 minutes. Apparently, the repair guy didn’t care and left shortly thereafter. So then my husband had nightmares of extended cooler life in his head and called the company and convinced them to send the repair guy back. Except then he didn’t come back so apparently he’s a big fat liar. So then my husband called again and it’s for the best there were no small children in the vicinity for that phone call because odds are there was cursing involved when they told my husband the repair guy couldn’t come back.

My mother called me at 11:30 on her way back from the doctor. She asked what the status of the fridge repair was. I told her the guy was there at 10. She was delighted and asked if it’s working now. I told her the repair guy decided not to break and enter into our house and left since no one was there.

We are rescheduled but have to wait another two days. In the meantime, my hacked off husband called someone else and they are coming today. My hacked off husband also let me know that he’s prepared to not cancel the rescheduled appointment and will just let that repair guy ring our doorbell for 10 minutes again. I guess that’s repair service karma. The goody goody in my soul is pained by even the idea. But the goody goody in my soul is also confused about when it became acceptable to issue an 8 to 12 window and not provide a courtesy heads up phone call to tell you they are on their way.

Some guys at work have been doing some fad diet they read about online that involved counting carbs. They’ve been trying to get me to do it, too. I was forced to explain to them Monday morning that I’m living the cooler life currently and that I’m not prepared to do any food related branching out right now. Cooking out of coolers is enough work. Every ingredient requires digging through ice to locate it. Not to mention you have to be able to locate stuff based on the top of the container not the side and everything seems to look alike. It’s like a fun scavenger hunt that’s light on the fun but heavy on the scavenger. Not to mention, pretty sure “counting carbs” is diet code for “limiting your carbs” which is code for “less carbs entering my body” which is code for “crabby as hell.”

The cooler life is not intended to be carb less. It’s also not for the faint of heart.


A tent free weekend in my future

On the downside, it’s been 6 days since I exercised last. On the upside I successfully did not snack after dinner last night and am down another .4 pounds this morning. And that’s despite the 2 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts that were sitting in my kitchen this morning. Holla.
I lifted the lid and smelled.  No more.  No less.
I’m so very glad it’s Friday. As always. I have big plans for the weekend that include my pajamas, my pajamas and my pajamas. Sadly, my Italian Stallion husband will be leaving my general vicinity for over 24 hours. I will be forced to hog the entire bed in his absence. I will also be forced to pay attention to our 2 annoying dogs who will be in Italian Stallion withdrawal. I swear they stare at me the entire time he’s gone silently asking where the hell he went and if he's coming back.  I'm pretty sure they blame me and call me names, too.

I may agree to get dressed long enough to take my children to the movies over the weekend. Or not. We’ll see how I feel.

I mostly know I’m going to feel better than I did last weekend. Because last weekend I got stuck on a Girl Scout campout despite feeling sick and puny.  Even in my sick and puny state, I could tell my daughter was equating my attendance at this campout as a testament to whether or not I love her.  Therefore, it was to the campsite this sick and puny female went! Then we had 18 mile an hour winds that did this to the side of our tent:
How to turn a 4 man tent into a 2 man tent.
We still shoved some hot dogs and popsicles in our faces, hiked around and told ghost stories.  My kid naturally passed out 3 minutes after she finally laid down at 10:30.  My kid was still passed out while I was laying in my sleeping bag trying to figure out how I was going to last another 9 hours with a headache laying on the hard ground listening to the 18 mile an hour wind whip our tent around.  I decided a trip to the bathroom might restore my life energy.  I'm so glad I did.  I discovered that three tents had caved in and the supports literally cracked.  While a 4th one was beginning to come apart, us parental types did the math and concluded 12 people and a small Chihuahua in a crate were not going to fit in my 4 man tent that was the last one standing with any space left.

We threw our crap in our cars and hit the road. The girls had already had lots of big fun and didn’t care a bit that we were leaving. In fact, they thought our middle of the night flight from the campgrounds was part of the adventure. I, on the other hand, like to think the universe broke those other tents so I could sleep in my own bed that night.

So any weekend that will not include tents collapsing around me is bound to be a good one.  In other news, I took my 10 year old to the doctor recently and had my first opportunity to field questions about whether or not she’s on birth control or if there’s any chance she’s pregnant. Um. Yeah.

So, to their credit the kid was going to have X-rays and those are standard questions before X-rays. To my horror though, there was an actual form to fill out and they asked me if I wanted to fill it out for her. She’s 10. Please hand me the form and stop talking lest this kid look up from her iTouch and want to get nosey Rosie on me.

Apparently this form becomes mandatory at 10 years old.  It asks all sorts of crap about menstrual cycles, hysterectomy and possible pregnancy.  I prefer to not think of this child anywhere near a menstrual cycle.   This kid is volatile on a good day. I do not look forward to running into her on a wings day.

At least the doctor’s office had the decency to provide ridiculously oversized shorts for her to wear because who doesn’t love taking amusing photos of their children while killing time.
It 's the least they could do after having the nerve to post a sign on the back of the exam room door telling me to refrain from using my cell phone in the exam room and don't let your kid play with the rolling stool.  Can't have it both ways, people.  Either we start rolling that stool around or we get busy texting people wacky photos of the balloon shorts. 
We're rebels like that.  And by rebels, I mean we decided they wouldn't be able to hear us texting photos from the nurse's station.  And if they can't hear you, I think we all know that means it's okay.


Maintaining is hard, too

I weighed myself four days ago and was 159 pounds. That is 15 pounds heavier than I was in May of 2013. That is not good.

In the year since losing 60 pounds, it’s been interesting to learn that losing weight is hard. But keeping it off is hard, too.  It's a different hard.  A hard that can sort of creep up on you.  A hard that can let you get comfortable and loosen the reigns on the habits that got you there.

I’ve kept exercising since losing the 60 pounds.  But I found myself slipping up to 148 pound range.  Then I kind of settled there and considered it a nice maintanable spot that I'd bounce around depending on what I ate the day before. It felt like a good weight for me. Maybe I just say that because I was wearing baggy size 8 jeans and I finally trained my brain that I wear a size medium not an XL.

Then I started training for a marathon. It burns a lot of calories and definitely put some muscle on my legs. Muscle weighs more and my size 8s were still baggy so 148 to 150 still felt pretty good. But as marathon training went on, the long runs got longer and the valley of hunger it created got deeper and deeper. It took a lot of food to fill it up. And filling it up felt really necessary to having enough energy to finish the marathon. So in the final weeks before my marathon, I gave up even guesstimating calories or thinking about it.

I focused on eating healthy stuff so there was lots and lots of fruit, eggs whites and whatever my family was having for dinner that night. I just did the best I could to get me to the finish line. I weighed in after my marathon around 152. I didn’t beat myself up over it. The pride of having finished a marathon made it a lot easier.

But with the marathon done, it was time to return to business as usual. I did fine for awhile. Then I was sore from Crossfit. Then Crossfit was just plain discouraging. And then I gave it up. Then I started at a gym which was exciting. And then I started feeling really, really tired all the time. And then my brain decided it didn't want to function properly anymore. And that’s depressing. And then I became convinced that I’m just plain sick and under the weather. And then the gatekeeper of my waistline went completely off duty and all kinds of crap went down my pie hole. And then I started wearing my size 10 pants to work instead of my 8s. And my size 8 jeans still fit but, gee, they were a lot less baggy. And then I weighed myself and the scale read 157.6 and then I about flipped out. 
The worst possible photo of a scale.  Numbers you can't read and large albino white feet.  It says 157.4.  I took a photo of it because I thought I was busy hitting rock bottom that morning and ready to get back on track.  Shows how much I know. 
But apparently I didn't flip out enough enough because then I sucked down some more Cadbury Mini Eggs and Dr. Pepper and a whole lot of other crap.  And then I weighed myself the next day and the scale read 159.

And then the world shrank to tunnel vision and those numbers were all I could see standing in my bathroom in the dark early morning hours. And then I was still standing on the scale 30 seconds later long after the numbers faded to black. And then I stepped off that scale and felt big, huge and out of control. It especially sucked to feel big, huge and out of control on top of feeling sick. But maybe feeling sick brought it home. Maybe it helped convince me I needed to get it the hell together. I don't know. But what I do know for a fact is that I left that bathroom that morning knowing that’s not who I want to be.
I even started thinking about joining a Weight Watchers meeting. I’ve never gone to a Weight Watchers meeting in my life. After I had kids, I used Weight Watcher points and lost the baby weight. But I did it all online. I never went in person. Then I lost 60 pounds on my own without any Weight Watchers. So it seemed slightly wacky that I would suddenly require meetings to lose 15 pounds. I don’t want to say I have a tendency to overreact. But let's just say I’ve successfully convinced myself to hold off handing over my credit card until I give it a few more days.

This morning I weighed in at 153.4. So I’m already down 5.6 pounds. The tunnel vision is letting up a little.  But weigh ins like that are the ones that lead crazy people to think losing 5.6 pounds in four days is real. It’s not. It’s a lot of water weight that this female right here lets go of every single time she puts down the Dr. Pepper bottle and stays out of the Whataburger drive thru line.

I’m always amazed when people do a 10 day cleanse and are impressed when they lose 6 pounds. Duh. You dropped 4 pounds of water weight just from not eating crap. On top of that, you probably consumed less calories than you burned so you dropped some actual weight that way, too.

But losing an actual pound is equivalent to burning 2500 calories. And this female right here did not burn 13,000 calories over the last 4 days. I’ve mostly sat on my butt behind a desk at work and stayed upright long enough to cook dinner and wash some dishes. I count it as a victory that I successfully didn't freak the hell out when we ran late for soccer. It’s the little things in life. Especially when you don’t feel great.

But I’m back in the saddle and heading in the right direction. It's a start. And I'm happy with that.


I left the house in mismatched shoes

I was in a stall in the bathroom at work this morning and looked down and realized I had two different shoes on. Running shoes no less. And, no, the dress code for my job is not typically running shoes. But my back was stiff when I got up this morning. I figured it could use some good support all day. Running shoes it was. I regularly get made fun of for it. I regularly float out there vague references to medical issues.  We all regularly lose interest and move on to other topics to discuss.  
L is for loser.  Right here. My pants normally hang over the laces so it's not as noticeable.  But still.  Who leaves the house like that? 
Except it was dark in the bathroom when I got dressed this morning.  I chuck all my tennis shoes in a bucket instead of stacking them neatly and I own 3 pairs of the exact same style of shoe in different colors. While picking two shoes out of the bucket this morning, I managed to pick 2 different ones and left the house wearing them and went to my grown adult job.

There is no better sign that I am not having a good day than looking down and seeing shoes that don’t match. Seriously. How do you convince yourself you are operating on all cylinders while looking at that? You don’t, that’s how. Because you are in left field.  But not even far enough in left field because other grown adults can still see you and someone is eventually going to notice the mismatched shoes and then you will feel exponentially stupider.   And you already felt really, really stupid.

A week ago, I drove my family to dinner and was the last one out of the car. I left the keys in the ignition with the car running. We went in, I shoved fajitas down my gullet and then we came outside to a running car. Better than coming out to an empty parking spot. But only slightly better. Because it’s pretty demoralizing. I know from experience.

Sometimes I feel like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get it all done. Then sometimes I see the mess the chicken with the head cut off is creating running around like a lunatic and it's not good. 

I spent the rest of the day at work in my mismatched shoes hoping my son’s soccer game would get rained out. Normally I hope for stuff like that so I can avoid having to get off my lazy butt and do anything. Today, it’s because I need to get on Amazon and order myself some Ginko Biloba.

Lately, I’ve just been off my game. Too many things to do. Too many little things to try to keep track of. Shopping lists left at home. Remembering volleyball games at the last minute. Running late for appointments. Forgetting phone calls to return. One tiny little brain trying to get too much stuff done. I can only have so many sticky notes on my desk with lists of stuff I need to get done.

Last night, I successfully registered my kids for 3 weeks of a summer program I know they really, really like. Since it’s April, I was mentally patting myself on the back all morning for getting on top of summer stuff so early. But I was mentally patting myself on the back while wearing mismatched shoes. There is something so tragically ironic about that I wish I were living a reality show and there was a camera to zoom in on my face as I stare at my mismatched shoes. Although I was in a bathroom stall at the time, so maybe the zooming in could wait until I came out of the stall.

You know, like maybe the camera could be there as I dramatically open the stall door. Then I could be washing my hands while I look suitably shocked and simultaneously horrified. Then I could segue to looking disoriented like maybe I’m realizing I’m developing some sort of early onset dementia. The music could build to a dramatic crescendo as it cuts to me rushing back to my desk to Google the symptoms but hiding the Google search from coworkers walking by because I’m not emotionally ready to talk about it yet. It would be very after school special only starring a grown up working mother wearing a wrinkled shirt and possibly no deodorant since she may or may not have forgotten to put any on that morning.  Luckily, my office is freezing but let's all agree it's still not good.  

Yesterday's problem was a headache. The best known cure for a headache is 29 graham crackers, a Dr. Pepper, some Fritos and 3 small bags of Cadbury mini eggs. So naturally I shoved all of that in my face and went to bed early. Today, my friend the scale reported what a total failure I am and have been for the last month.  I also overslept for working out. And I forgot to mail something to someone.  And I forgot a phone number I need at home.  And the list of my deficiencies goes on and on.

So, pretty much everything is coming up aces and I should definitely buy a lottery ticket.  

Let's call it a wash and try again tomorrow.  Sigh.


My Year of Muscle: I did Crossfit 4 times and lived to tell about it

I started my 2014 year of muscle at the end of February with a Groupon to a Crossfit place near my house. Me and my Groupon hit the basic Saturday morning introductory class.

I was a nervous mess but felt better when we started with a 400 meter run (Apparently meters is the preferred terminology in Crossfit because I googled it and that’s ¼ mile.) Mostly because I at least knew I could do that. So it bolstered my confidence. Then my confidence got bolstered even higher when I managed to finish ahead of a 2/3 of the intro class. Granted 2/3 of the class seemed like they had not been exercising regularly prior to buying their Groupon. But still. I take my victories where I can find them.

Then we headed inside to stretch and do some pushups. From there we moved on to some instructions. First up, let’s learn to squat. This should be called “Let’s learn to free fall onto the toilet.” Because that’s what I have to tell you about my thighs for the rest of my time in Crossfit. It’s like Tom Petty is singing to me every time I go into the bathroom. And I’m pretty sure all we did were 20 of them. That’s how weak my thighs are as I begin the Year of Muscle. It’s like I’m held together with scotch tape. I had no idea.

Next up, we got a PVC pipe and learned how to lift a barbell in a variety of ways. First up, a deadlift. That means lifting the barbell from the floor to roughly waist high. You lift with your hips not your back though. Mostly what I learned was that my back needs to be straight and that I need to remind myself to bring my shoulders back. That’s according to the coach. According to the girl directly to my left that had no doubt rolled in via a Groupon, too, I should stick my chest out.

Next up were cleans. That sounds very weight lifter intimidating technical jargon. It basically means getting the barbell up off the floor to right across in front of your collar bone. You also switch your hand position when you get close to the top. You are also supposed to dip your knees a little. I’m told I’m supposed to do all of that in one smooth sequence. To experienced weightlifting machines, it’s probably like breathing. Unfortunately, I lack coordination and could not grasp the sequence of events. My lack of coordination successfully drew the instructor’s attention and got me some one on one time. It was mostly him confused that I could not bend my knees and switch hand position at the same time. Either I made some progress or he got tired of explaining. But at least we moved on other things.

Next up, pull ups. To demonstrate, some humongous monster leaped up to the bar and cranked out like 10 in quick effortlessly perfect succession. I’m pretty sure I’m the worst student in the class for openly laughing out loud while watching. Not because the monster wasn’t good at them but because we was so good at them. It was nuts. And I feel slightly bad calling him a monster because he was really nice and friendly and when he jumped down he made a point of assuring all the horrified ladies that we’d be able to do one too in 6 months or so. I didn’t realize “or so” had such a loose open end to it. Because I predict now that “or so” in my case would be way longer than 6 months.

The intro class had guys and girls in it. Guys then hopped up on the high bars.  Girls got a shorter bar with a little step or 2 big round weights stacked up in place of a step. We practiced swinging back and forth holding on to it with a our feet still supported.

Then it was on to wall balls. That’s where you get a really heavy medicine ball, throw it as high as you can up the side of the wall and go down into a squat as you catch it when it comes down. I predict I will hate walls balls far more than I will ever hate the pull ups I cannot do. Mostly because wall balls involve more squatting. And not just any squatting. Deep squatting. Me and the scotch tape thighs were horrified at just how deep I was supposed to go. I tried cutting corners not going so low but then the 14 pound wall ball was coming right back down that wall at me and those extra 14 pounds in my hands pushed me down deeper into the squat. Holy crud. The scotch tape in my thighs was ripping and fraying.

And then it was done. There was talk about class schedules. There was talk about how you can’t out train a bad diet. And then I went home.

My thighs didn’t immediately communicate to me how tired they were. So naturally I took a 4 mile walk and tried jump roping. My husband had been talking about “double unders” and I googled them and then became convinced I should practice them. “Double Under” is Crossfit talk for jumping rope only you are jumping up once and getting the jump rope to go around your body and under your feet two times. Normally you’d just jump once and the rope goes under your feet once. See where they get the name? See how it sounds easier than it probably is?

By the next morning, the scotch tape thighs were shrieking at me and I was in bathroom free fall mode. It was nuts. I foam rolled. I stretched. I whined. It sucked.
We had ice and snow and the entire universe was shut down for the day. I took it as a sign from the universe that the scotch tape thighs deserved an extra day of rest.

But the next morning I was up and out the door. And here’s where I get a little annoyed. I’m reading a book about Crossfit right now and I’m learning a lot. I’ve also googled the hell out of a lot of things. One of the things the book and most Crossfit websites mention is special classes for newbies. The book refers to it as “on ramping” and it’s to get you up to speed. Some places call them elements classes to essentially teach you what you need to know. Most have you go to a certain number of sessions or for the first month.

The Crossfit place Groupon brought me to doesn’t have that. Apparently, my intro class was it. The owner/coach had named two time slots that are the more newbie classes but he was mostly mentioning that there were more coaches at those sessions. But he said you could come to any. So I believed him because those 2 times didn’t work for me. One is right when I have to be getting my kids ready and to school in the morning. The other is during soccer/volleyball/piano/dance lessons time. I wanted 1 class time that I could go to consistently. I picked an early morning one that fit my life. Because my kid related duties are non negotiable. Picking a Crossfit place with convenient class times is significantly more negotiable.

So I go to this early morning class. It wasn’t a super huge class but the rest of the room was clearly very experienced. I was disappointed not to see any of the 2/3 of the intro class that I had successfully run faster than. But such is life in the wee morning hours. I’d introduced myself by name to the coach during the intro class. I’d even referenced my husband who goes there and worked in that I am new and clueless. I figure I’m going to stick right out in this experienced class. I’m not looking forward to it but I figure this must be how this works.

First up, some jumping jacks, we swing our legs around a little and then we stretch our backs. Then he writes the workout for the day on the board. In Crossfit that’s called a WOD. That is not pronounced the way it looks. It’s pronounced “Wahhhh.” Here’s exactly what he wrote on the board that day:

Bench 5-5-5-5-5
Power Cleans touch and go EMOM for 5 mins
Add 10 lbs every 5 mins
20 push ups x 5rds

At no time did anyone take me over to the board and explain what I was reading. But I guessed that bench meant bench press and I guessed that the dashes between the 5s meant doing the move 5 sets of 5 repetitions. I’ve done roughly that sort of thing at home with my little barbells. Except these are just guesses based on what I’ve read. And we didn’t go over form on a bench press at the intro class. And we didn’t talk about safety with the barbells or how much they even weigh. And we also didn’t talk about how much weight to start with or what weights the plates for the barbell come in or even what weights the barbell itself comes in. So there was hesitation and doubt in my soul.

Once he was done writing it down he went to his computer behind the counter. Everyone else in the room starts moving stuff and putting round weight plates on the end of barbells. I am standing there unsure where to head or what to do. My running buddy bought a Groupon too and she was standing there with me. And we just kept standing there figuring he would be over to see about us seeing as how he knows we are brand new. Except he didn’t. After standing there looking clueless for 15 seconds I actually took several steps towards the counter and asked him what we were doing. He then said bench press 5 sets of 5.

When we didn’t immediately get moving he must have realized more would be required of him and he walked us to one of the benches, centered it between the thing and told us what to do. He said we should spot each other and then my running buddy started and he walked away. We did just the bar by itself with no plates on it. We asked someone next to us and they said that bar by itself was 45 pounds. Another girl came late and ended up joining us and she was adding 30 pounds to the barbell for her turns. She tried to convince us we could too but she was wrong. I successfully convinced her I was working on not dropping the bar by itself on my teeth.

Next, power clean. I did not learn this from the white marker board. I learned this from someone else because I did not understand the board. That’s mostly because no one explained it. But that was the theme for the day so why should that be any different.

We started with a lighter barbell that someone tipped us off to that was laying against the wall. It wasn’t the end of the world to lift but my utter lack of coordination reared its ugly head again and I was not getting my knees to bend while I was flipping my hand position. The coach did not come over to assist us in starting this move. The girl we’d shared the barbell with showed us a couple times. Then after doing a couple a guy walked over from the opposite side of the gym to tell me I needed to bend my knees. I thanked him and attempted to not feel like the biggest loser on the planet.

Then the coach took another short break from behind the counter staring at his computer. We had the exact same conversation we’d had during the intro class. He kept trying to explain to me why bending my knees would make it easier. I kept trying to take a deep breath because I don’t need additional explanations about why I need to bend my knees. Intellectually, I understand the need for the bent knees. My coordination just isn’t there yet.

He stayed for two rounds. Then his computer withdrawal kicked in and he had to get back behind the counter.

Next up, 5 sets of 20 push ups. Right. Except we already did 20. And now we’re going to crank out 100. Yikes.

I immediately start doing girly push ups on my knees. Because I’m a girl. Because it’s only day 3 of my year of muscle and I haven’t gotten to regular ones yet. Because this is literally my first day at Crossfit and people she cut me some freaking slack. Except some tool on the other side of the room doesn’t care about any of that and starts calling “No knees.” I assume he called it several times. I even think maybe he was trying to be helpful and teach me the ropes because it was the same guy that had come over to tell me to bend my knees.

But, see, I was busy giving my pathetic girly push ups everything I had because I knew 100 was going to kill me. So I was pretty zoned out and didn’t realize anyone would be trying to shout at me. But he wasn’t going to let that stop him so he walked across the room to explain to me “No knees. It’s a gym rule. You don’t have to go deep but you can’t use your knees.”

My running buddy immediately switched to regular push ups whereas I stared at him in confusion. Because the one thing I felt like I grasped well was that you do girly push ups on your knees to work up to real push ups.

According to Google, in Crossfit they call that “scaling.” They set a workout for the day. You do the best you can to do everything. But if there’s stuff you can’t do, you scale the harder move down to something easier that you can do. So for pull ups, they put the little step under you. Because if they didn’t you’d just be there dangling. For bench press, the WOD may be a certain weight. But if you can’t lift that much weight, you lift less weight.

Well every Crossfit 101 website Google has taken me to says scaling for a push up is to do it on your knees until you work up to a real one. In fact, there’s even a name for it. They call them knee push ups not “girly push ups.”

So when this tool was standing over me telling me not to do them on my knees I had no idea what to say. I mostly wanted to just go home. Because how stupid and out of place is it necessary for me to feel on my first day?

To be helpful, the tool then said if I couldn’t do it I could help myself up. He was generous enough to then get down on the floor next to me to demonstrate what that meant. Again, because I guess he thought he was helping me. But it was essentially letting your stomach rest on the floor and sort of rolling up lifting your stomach off the floor last. It left my lower back hurting. More than my chest even. But once I started attempting his modification, he went back across the room to his spot. So it was worth it.

Naturally the coach was behind the counter staring at his computer during this. A nice guy next to me must have read shock and awe on my face. Either that or he sensed that I was on the verge of crying. So he told me quietly, “It’s okay to do them on your knees your first day.”

Another guy repeated that, too. And then I look over and I’ll be darned if I don’t see over in the corner the girl that shared the bar with us doing push ups on her knees. Seriously. That female wasn’t on her first day either. If you want to regulate on someone, how about her? Or if you are that militant about the rules, how about the whole freaking room? Or how about just shutting the hell up and not making people feel like outcasts?

And then we were done. No one actually announced we were done. But we figured it out and I put my coat on and got in the car. I cried on the way home. My optimistic hopes felt dashed.

I’m amazed I even regrouped enough to go back again. But I decided the problem must have been that I didn’t go to the 2 classes that were suggested for beginner. So I decided that must be the secret! I need to go to the right class! Off to the afternoon beginner class I went!
This is the face of a woman headed to a beginner class! Because that's secret!
The beginner class that is supposed to have more trainers. I can confirm there were more beginners in it. And I can confirm there were more trainers in the room. There were roughly 24 people in the class. Many of them were very new. 1 girl was on her 2nd week. Another girl was on her 3rd class. 1 trainer walked around the room guiding people. I definitely saw him helping people more than the guy from the first class. I’m told there 1 was one other in the room riding a stationary bike. The class started with 2 others in the room but they both left shortly after the class started. So, for the most part, 1 trainer for 24 people and most are newbies.

I liked having more clueless newbies to commiserate with. There’s always a feeling of comfort in not being the only idiot. But I did not like having to go in the evening. I am away from my children all day while I’m working. I view my time in the evening as time with them. So I felt like I was doing it on their time. They were in their pajamas when I got home. That further reinforced for me that it’s not how I roll on the regular. But I figured I needed to learn a few things so I tried it out.

The coach came out from behind the counter to announce the start of things. His comment about scaling was to say “Scale it to your ability.” We did a 400 meter run. Then we did some squats, some push ups and some deadlifts. I love how I just wrote that like I know what a deadlift is. Right. I totally researched it that morning on Google hoping I might feel less like a twit if I went in knowing what to expect. I even practiced at home in my bathroom like the total dork that I am.
Why, yes, that is a broom handle serving as my pretend barbell.  Note for future reference, those buckets don't make the pretend barbell sit as low on the ground as the real one does at the Crossfit place.  Future pretend Crossfit workouts in my bathroom will need to use something lower to be more authentic representations.
Keeping your back flat like a table seems to be key which you achieve by being sure you are sticking your butt out and pushing your chest out and shoulders back. Google also gave me the helpful tip of standing with the bar centered over my feet and the squatting enough that my shins sort of touch the bar before I start going up. I did not suck at deadlifts so that was a victory for Google and being a dork. I managed to deadlift 85 pounds and not die.

Then our WOD (workout of the day) was alternating Sumo Deadlift High Pulls (SDHP) and burpees. First we did 20 of each, then 15 of each, then 10 and then 5 and then the non robots in the room imploded from exhaustion. Because for anyone playing along at home that translates to 50 burpees and 50 sumo things.

My friend Google had explained that Sumo Deadlifts High Pulls were like a deadlift except that you have your feet wider apart like a Sumo wrestler and then you lift the bar all the way up to your chin. I sucked at it and kept forgetting to put my legs far enough apart. I used the 45 pound bar by itself and by the last one I could not lift it all the way up to my chin.

Burpees are burpees. That’s what the coach actually said in the room no less. Google says they are squatting, putting your hands to the ground, leaping your feet back so that you go to a push up position, leaping your feet back up by your hands and then leaping straight up. I say burpees are hard. Me and my scotch tape thighs didn’t do any leaping and there was nothing fluid about it. I stepped my feet back and forth one at a time, I did not do a push up when I got to the push up position and I stood up and then once I was upright I’d jump up with my arms up. So, basically, I was a complete mess. And I barely got through them.
Meanwhile, around the room, every clueless newbie in the room finished every single part of the workout ahead of me except for the 400 meter run. I finished the run in the first ¼. But everything else I was dead last. We did lunges across the room and back. I was last. We did push ups. I’m still down there and everyone else is standing up.

I normally would not care. Except there were people that couldn’t even run the 400 meters. There were people walking the 2nd half of it. There were several people that flat out just looked out of shape. I’m not saying that in a mean way either. I could care less. Because this girl right here has been way more out of shape and way more overweight than any of them. So I feel them and I know we all start somewhere. But it’s an observation I make because I’d like to know how the hell they cranked out 50 burpees and 50 sumo things ahead of me. There’s no way. There was some number fudging going on in that room. Had to be.

Finally, we did 5 sets of 10 toes to bar. I laugh just thinking about it. Toes to bar means you hang from a bar by your hands and try to lift your feet up to touch the bar by your hands. No really. It apparently requires a strong core. Sadly, my core is not strong. Sadly, my core lives in the Whataburger drive thru and is comprised of 96% marshmallow. For those of us with marshmallow cores, you mostly attempt to lift your knees to your elbows. I also found it challenging to get used to hanging from the bar that long. It’s hard on the hands. Naturally, I forgot my weight gloves that day. I’m nothing if not an expert at bad timing.

The coach mentioned to another girl that you could lay on the floor and try lifting your legs off the floor if you couldn’t do it. The experienced people offered to get right up there and crank them out. The newbies congregated to one side slowly dying. There was more widespread number fudging and I was the last girl desperately attempting to bring her knees up.

I guess he ran a timer while we were doing the WOD. I guess some people checked their time when they were finished. I have no idea. I also have no idea why half of them would need to check their time because they didn’t actually complete the assigned exercises in that time what with all the number fudging so I don’t really understand the point of even noting the time. And no one else in the room notes anyone’s time either. There’s no board where they write down your time or anything. I guess I could keep track myself but I was is an exhausted haze.

I took my scotch tape thighs home to rest. The next day I discovered I could not get my left hand behind my back. The pain built up and next thing I knew I couldn’t even pull my pants up with my left hand. I was doing everything with my right hand for 3 days. I totally blame the Sumo things. I also totally decided I needed my left hand to work so no more visits to Crossfit that week.
One of the reasons I'm convinced it was the Sumo things is that apparently it's easy to hurt yourself doing them.  So easy people make little graphics joking it must be from that.  Great.
Week 2 of Crossfit hit a snag when I turned my ankle on a 10 mile long run. I stupidly tried to push through it on Tuesday by running and lived to regret it. I decided to pretend I’m a reasonably intelligent grown adult and rest it for the rest of the week. I felt like a lazy bumpkin. And part of me felt like I was just avoiding the Crossfit place because I hadn’t been impressed with it.

Despite that I set my alarm and got up at the crack of dawn to start Week 3 off right. We started with a PVC pipe holding it and moving it behind our back up and over and to the front of our chest. Then 15 push ups and some stretching. Then we figured out our 1 rep maximum for clean and jerks. According to Google, a 1 rep maximum means figuring out the maximum amount of weight you can successfully lift for that specific move. In this case, the move was a clean and jerk. I did not have the luxury of Google to explain what the clean and jerk is though. Someone else in the class then explained that it’s basically getting a barbell up off the floor and up over your head with your arms straight. I’m supposed to bounce a little getting it up to my shoulders. And I’m supposed to kind of get up under it to push it up over my head from there. I mostly suck at it. The coach must have immediately identified my inability to master any move and made a beeline for me as we’re starting it. Can’t believe it took him this long to catch on but bully for him. He and I agreed that it’s about getting a feel for it and once I get it I will suck at it less. His way of saying that was, “I’ll be able to do it without thinking.” I did a lot of thinking about it that day though. Ugh. And, for everyone keeping score at home, my 1 rep maximum turned out to be 55 pounds. That is more than I would have expected so go me.

Next up was 10 rounds of 10 wall balls and 10 hang jerks. So that essentially meant 100 of each doing 10 of each at a time.

Hang jerks mean you hold a barbell just below your waist and you essentially get it up over your head. Then you bring it back down to your waist, take a deep breath, and then do it again. Wall balls are where you stand a foot from a wall with a giant ball in your hands. You throw the giant ball as far up on the wall as you can. It will then touch the wall and fall back down to you and you will squat and then stand back up and throw the ball again as you stand up.

It doesn’t seem too tough until you pick up the ball and realize it’s 12 pounds. The standard for girls is supposedly 14 pounds. The standard for girls can suck it. Because 12 gets pretty dang heavy when you do 100 of them and you’re hanging and jerking, too. And let’s not speak of what the scotch tape thighs thought of the squatting involved in wall balls. When I went to the intro class, the guy told me I was supposed to get really low in the squat. Like so low that crack whore showing me had my butt nearly to my feet. I made the conscious decision not to tear any scotch tape by getting super crazy. I went down until I felt it but not crack whore butt to the feet deep. By my third round if wall balls, my brain had somehow convinced me we only had to do 5 and I was high on life thinking I was still feeling pretty good and almost there. Then I read the little marker board again and I was trapped in an outer ring of hell with 7 more rounds to go. The scotch tape was fraying wildly by 100.
I was also using a bar that was 35 pounds and slowly trying to sap my will to live. The coach must have seen my will to live dribbling down the side of my neck and dripping on the floor. So he brought over a 20 pound bar he’d been hiding in a back room for when losers like me come to town. Either that it was against the wall and no one ever mentioned what the hell it was. Such sweet relief. There’s something you never think you’ll say about a 20 pound bar.

I’m nothing if not consistent so of course I finished the workout last again. People were actually leaving to go home and literally half the class had exited the room by the time I flung the last wall ball up and another ¼ of the class was by the door drinking water and getting their car keys out.

And that’s the last time I went to Crossfit. Stuff came up the rest of Week 3. And then the next week was the last week of the Groupon anyway and I knew there was no way in hell I was going to pay $100 a month to keep going to a place with such craptastic customer service. The cheapskate in my soul tried to tell me to get my money’s worth out of the Groupon. But it was $35 which is pretty bargain basement and maybe there’s a reason for it.

So that’s what I concluded. I’m not selling Crossfit down the river based on one crappy place.  My husband loves it too much to be so quick to dismiss it.  But I have decided to cleanse my palate a little so I’ll forget how annoying that place was. I’m thinking it’s time to set foot in a gym. With actual equipment. And weights.

Is it weird to be 39 years old and be intimidated by joining a gym for the first time? Does it make me a loser that I think I may need to Google gym etiquette so I don’t accidentally become the annoying gym idiot people hate?
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