"All things in life worth doing are done with the hips"

Dealing with My Feet

I’ve been staring at the blank page trying to figure out how to start and organize my feet.

Background

I’ve beaten them up a lot over the years. 18 years of ballet, with about 5 years of pointe in there, made my genetic propensity for bunions even more extreme. I have crazy callouses on my toes and toe knuckles from this that seem to never forget. Then years of judo. You can see in videos of pics how flat footed I am during randori, but I never had any issues with that because I was using my feet in so many different ways that they were able to stay strong and flexible.

I started having problems when I began doing strongman. I had done competitive weightlifting for about 7 years, and had never thought much about what my feet did in my shoes. I wasn’t really moving around much, so I’m sure I was squatting and lifting on collapsed arches and rolled in ankles. But I never felt the effects of that since I wasn’t really moving around much.

Plantar Fasciitis

But starting strongman, suddenly I’m carrying hundreds of pounds and trying to scamper it from point A to point B as fast as I can. 200 lbs sandbags, 150 lbs kegs, 500 lbs yokes.

And I started having horrible heel pain.

I would have to get out of bed really carefully. I’d have to do a few knee bends and calf raises before heading down the stairs.

Tried rolling out the calf, stretching, wearing arch supports in my shoes, and nothing seemed to make a dent.

Then I read this article.

A switch flipped in my head.

I needed to stop doing things TO my feet, and start doing the right things with my feet.

1) Focus on standing and walking.

I have pretty flexible arches. I have a great point, great foot articulation. But as with many cases of hyper mobility, I didn’t control it correctly and I let my arch collapse. When I walk, despite keeping my toes forward, my ankle ever so slightly rolls in and my arch flattens out.

There is a reason this is the prototypical foot imprint image.

I’m having to relearn how to walk anyway, I might as well take a fully ground up approach. So I start working on focusing the pressure of my steps on the outside of my feet and ending on the base knuckle of my big toe, never letting the arch touch the ground. For the first 1.5 weeks of doing this my arches would actually get TIRED! Like that achy sensation you get in your quads when hiking up hill, I was getting that feeling in the underside of my foot. I figured this was a sign I was on the right track to strengthening my feet.

After 2.5 weeks of this, my heel pain has disappeared. I’m at about 5 weeks out from making this change and I’m not having to work or think nearly as hard about this new habit.

2) My toes are sardines.

Between my genetic predisposition and years of pointe shoes, I have some gnarly bunions. Particularly on my left foot, since that was my preferred balance side. It’s at the point where doing a lunge with the left foot back is painful because I’ve lost a lot of toe flexion. My mom had to have surgery to fix her bunions as they kept growing and eventually pushed into her second toe and cause a lot of pain walking.

You should be able to draw a line from your heel along the bones of your feet, and out your toes.

My first step, that I took four years ago, was to get wide toed shoes. I live in my Reebok Nanos and Reebok powerlifting shoes. I can spread my toes and wiggle them around. But simply changing how much room they had only meant that they are no longer being crushed, not that they will ever return to normal.

That’s where my two styles of toe separators come in.

a) Daily toe separators

Every day I’m wearing my sports shoes, I’m wearing this toe separator (image is link):

In-shoe Separator

The first week, after a few hours, I had to take it off because my feet would get so annoyed. But again, I’m about 5 weeks into using it and I barely even notice it AND my left foot is feeling less and less pain during lunges. Having this on has the added benefit of keeping me more aware of my feet and reminding me to walk like I described above.

b) Yoga Toes to bed

Since healthy feet need all of the toes to be able to spread apart, at night I started wearing YogaToes (image is link):

YogaToes torture device

This one is a pretty extreme stretch for my feet, and I certainly can’t walk in them, hence wearing them in bed. I have no idea how long I wear them, because at some point in the night I must rip them off and I find them either in my hands or on my nightstand. Never the less, it’s better than nothing, and maybe, just maybe, if I give it long enough, I’ll someday wake up with them still on my feet.

So all in all, I’ve achieved two things I set out to improve: eliminate my heel pain and stop lunges from being so painful on my toes. My ultimate goal is to avoid having to get the foot surgery that my mom and many dance instructors of my youth eventually had to have. Only time will tell with that one.

Trying New Things: Renaissance Periodization Diet Templates

There is no denying that Renaissance Periodization has had some incredible success with athletes and weekend warrior types of all flavors. I’m seeing more weightlifters and powerlifters with abs, and I’ve stopped seeing so many people #cleaneating and #waroncarb flag flying. They’ve done a lot to educate people in the CrossFit and athletics realm on whats important in the nutrition hierarchy.

At United Barbell, there is a significant contingency of people who are either doing personal coaching or following the RP templates. And many of them have had great success with it.

I’ve done nutrition coaching. I worked one on one with Joy Victoria, a great experience you can read about here, here, and here.

I’ve done a lot of nutrition experimenting. I’ll try on the latest fad that seems to have shown some success for a handful of acquaintances. I like to think of myself as pretty open minded with things. When I did Paleo, I noticed that I did lose body fat, but I also lost a lot of energy and strength. Being hot but weak is a no go for me. I tried keto and various forms of keto cycling, which kept me from gaining weight, but my training went flat and my overall body composition eventually went to shit.

I decided I’d follow my normal curiosity and try out the RP templates for myself.

I was able to use a discount through a strongman group I’m a part of to get the templates for $89. You give them your height, weight, gender, and out pops a series of excel documents to cover the intensity of your training (none, light, medium, hard), tabs for the phase of the diet (base, cut 1, cut 2, cut 3) and a couple documents outlining how to use them all and answering common questions.

I gave myself a week to jot down some ideas for meals to fit the meal-by-meal macros. Made a grocery list. Sunday I had 15 containers (one breakfast, two lunch each day), a new protein regiment, and a new dinner planned for when I got home.

Days 1-3 I followed okay, but it was actually pretty stressful. Not stressful in the normal “oh this is so different and I hate change” way, but stressful in the “my whole approach to my schedule for training is going to have to change to accommodate these meals.” I was having to rush around way more to get my training in so that I could eat around training at the “right” times. Smaller, more frequent meals meant that at no point did I ever feel like I had actually eaten a meal.

And on Thursday it all fell apart. You see, I usually train from 2-4, doing my heavy shit, then I teach at 4, take class at 5 (which I find FUN!), and then teach again at 6. How the hell am I supposed to eat a small meal before and after that? I basically ate both lunches at noon, did my training and class, drank my protein during the 6pm class I teach, and fuck it.

This is basically exactly what I was doing when I worked with Joy.

And even though I KNOW better, I felt like I had failed to a certain degree. And all the energy used to force the eating regime for three days came back at me on Friday when I did a big, off macro breakfast at Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe, then turned my left over planned meals into a burrito with extra cheese and avocado. Then there were cupcakes at the gym that I DID NOT SAY NO TO.

No fucking regrets.

So what went wrong?

For me, and I really think for the vast majority of people, too many changes and too much detail and/or complexity is the death kneel for real habit change. I’m someone who’s pretty good at making big changes when I really want something (something my fiancé wishes would rub off on him), but even I have my limits. When things are too detailed and I can’t see the use in all the detail, or I’ve experienced something easier that works well, too, I’m just not going to be able to stick with it.

I had great results with a much more relaxed approach to nutrition. I was able to eat around my schedule, rather and schedule around my eating.

What are some good resources for us “normal” people?

If you’ve been burned by a lot of the fad diets out there, or maybe you’ve never done a diet before but you know you need to make some long term changes, I highly recommend Georgie Fear’s Lean Habits book. This book is primarily geared towards the non-fitness professional or non-athlete. It comes from a place that wants to educate the public on the why of nutrition in whatever scientific depth you’re willing to go for it.

If you’re an athlete and have a sort of crazy schedule (a lot of competitive athletes run their life training others and are all over the map), I would suggest working with Joy Victoria or checking out Eat to Perform coaching. They’re going to start you off with a basic plan that you can fit to your life and adjust from there instead of starting with complexity and adjusting back.

If you’re a professional athlete or a professional of any sort that has a schedule that more amenable to your own whims (work from home, flexible start, stop, and break times) then you probably will have far less trouble doing the RP style templates. It’s not hard to make all the food, it’s not hard to take it with you. But you have to have the schedule flexibility to implement it, or risk feeling like you’re constantly failing.

My Head is a Confusing Place

For a good portion of the day, I’ve been glued to my Facebook feed watching as the results roll in from The Arnold Strongwoman World Championships. It’s been both exhilarating and gut wrenching to follow.

I was supposed to be there competing again.

I took 2nd in the middle weight women’s division last year.

The competitor in me, she’s still there. And she thinks that next year I’ll be right back in the saddle, competing alongside these other amazingly strong women.

The 2016 Women’s Middleweight World Champions

But part of me, the part that has been competing in SOMETHING, from dance to judo to strongman, is glad I’m not putting that stress on myself right now. I’m not rolling my bank account right up to empty to compete in another national or international level meet. That I have time and energy for business, family, and friends.

I’m watching the Instagram and Snapchat videos, the Facebook posts and feeling incredibly jealous that I’m not participating. I was in the best shape of my life when I went to The Arnold last year. People loved to watch me train and perform. I used the strength I acquired to inspire women around me to compete and train hard themselves.

My first unsanctioned strongman contest.

And yet, competing causes so much anxiety. It’s overwhelming and I often wonder if it’s still worth it. I put so much pressure on myself to be better: better than others, better than my last performance, better than above average. And it’s almost worse that I seem to accomplish this is many areas, as it perpetuates that cycle. And as I get older and other things tug at my attention, it’s an impossible standard to constantly hold myself to.

In addition, I’ve realized that I have a hard time, a near impossible time, separating my competitive mentality from my ability to have fun with competition. I see others able to juggle it, fighting hard on the platform, then joking and conversing with the very people they’re trying to beat. As I get better and move up the ranks in a sport, I lose my ability to balance that.

This means that I lose out on a lot of the competitive experience. I miss out on potential friends and connections. I want to make sure that I can be a part of the community and be helpful in it’s growth long after I’ve quit being competitive, but with my binary mindset (you’re here to compete, not make friends) it’s not going to happen so well.

Can’t we all be winners? Like this cat?

There is no way I would have taken a step back without something this dramatic happening to me. Now I’m really analyzing what role competition should hold in my life. Right now I’m standing on the edge of a new endeavor that I can’t wait to talk more about, that I know will consume A LOT of my time and energy. So that decision is probably already made for me in a round about way. I’m not ready to give up competing completely, but it’s definitely time to release it’s hold on all things in my life.

Exercise Should Not Be Punitive

The other day, in the midst of a 70lbs kettle bell swing workout, I look around and notice the faces of the people around me. Doreen, who is training for her first strongman competition, is red faced. Dianna, in the depths of an Ido Portal leg workout, lets her mouth hang open as she catches her breath. We all have these looks of pain, but I also know we’re all having the time of our life.

One of the things that I love about CrossFit is that legions of people have found a way to train that let’s them feel like athletes. They’ve taken their sights from bicep curls and scale weight to Olympic lifting and athletic performance. It’s introduced swarms of women to the wonders of weight training, and through these initial swarms, shown that women can be strong, powerful, and confident without be “manly.” Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

All Athletes

You don’t have to do CrossFit to achieve this. I personally have found movement joy through dance, capoeira, circus arts, and a variety of similar-to-CrossFit but not CrossFit strength sports.

But something still makes me sad. And that’s when I hear people talk about their choice of exercise like it’s a penance that must be paid for their lifestyle.

As though training is a punishment for other choices you have made. Usually in reference to food and drink choices.

“I went over board at dinner yesterday, so I need to hit two classes today.” “Our company party is coming up, so I need to work extra hard now to make up for it.”

Besides the fact that fitness doesn’t really work that way, what I hear are people that work out based on the extrinsic motivation of “OMG I’m gonna get fat.”

Often, the people that workout from a place of fear, or a mentality of “should,” are the people that don’t really see changes year to year. But they keep going out of fear that if they stop, their carefully constructed health castle of cards will come tumbling down.

They wonder why they don’t look or perform like their coaches or trainers. But what they haven’t connected to is that (usually) their coaches don’t look the way they do because of some external push, but because they honestly love to move and train.

This guy is obviously in a hate fueled war with his car.

Josh Hillis says, “You take care of what you love.” Your pet, your car, your golf clubs. This same mentality applies to your body, too. Rather than working out to defeat your body, as though it’s some enemy waiting to ambush you with fat, think about training (and eating for that matter) as the treatment your body deserves. That jog to your body is like the waxing of your car.

The body acceptance movement isn’t about being stagnant. It’s not about being unhealthy and fine with it. It’s about starting from a place of self acceptance and working WITH your body and your psyche to get to where you want to be, as opposed to starting a war from a place of frustration with your body.

So find movement that you enjoy. That might be CrossFit or weightlifting, but it really doesn’t have to be. Maybe it’s Barry’s Bootcamp or a run around the neighborhood, maybe it’s circus classes and adult dance classes. Get moving, get sweating and find something that makes you smile from ear to ear because you just did something awesome.

mini me update

Basically, nothing is happening. Here is what I’m doing:

  • I’m taking the CrossFit classes at San Francisco CrossFit four times a week with minimal substitutions.
  • I’m eating between 1750 and 1850 calories Monday through Friday and started being more careful on weekends, but not tracking.
  • I’m basically following the rules of “eat until satisfied, but not to discomfort” and “feel hungry for about an hour before eating again.”
  • I’ve added in about 30-45 mins of lifting outside classes since I can and I need to re-groove my movement patterns.

After all this, which has been going on for about three weeks with increasing intensity on the exercise end, I’m still sitting around 170 lbs. More accurately, I start the week around 174 and then end the week around 170. Presumably because of water weight from going off diet over the weekend, and I slowly lose that as the week goes on.

So here is what I’m going to do moving forward:

  • Switching from full fat half-n-half to fat free. I drink so much coffee so that one simple switch will cut about 100 calories a day.
  • Lowering fat and increasing carbs. Now that I’m more active and working at a higher intensity, this ratio needs to adjust accordingly to accommodate fueling and recovery.
  • Being more aware of my weekend eating. This past weekend I did an okay job at not eating to discomfort, so I’m going to put more effort into that front.

And now for the complaining fest:

This sucks.

I’m eating 1,000 calories less on a day to day basis than I was before my accident. That’s a lot of food! I was able to eat until I was stuffed at every meal and I was holding steady at a lean 180 lbs. Eating that much during the week makes eating out less special, so I was never of the mindset that the weekend was a time to “let it slide a little.” I was always stuffed, and never felt the need to chase that sensation.

So to cut my caloric intake so low and see no movement on the scale is very disheartening.

It’s no wonder people give up so fast. My changes weren’t even that big: I’m still eating the same basic things just in smaller portions, so it’s not like I’ve had to make any big changes in my mentality towards meals and exercise. I can only imagine the frustration that someone else, who is suddenly changing the types of food they eat, the volume of food they eat, the frequency they eat, and how much they have to move around.

Next week the ManFriend and I go to Paris for a week. For that time, I’m going to go on a diet hiatus and hit it again when I return.

Fear of weights

Now that I’ve been working in CrossFit gyms for the past four years, I’m somewhat buffered from people who don’t do some sort of barbell training. Most people who come in are eager to grab a barbell, throw some weights on, and start putting in work.

But occasionally, through introductory sessions, stories through friends, or interactions with people not currently into barbell fitness, I hear stories and excuses that often boil down to some level of fear and intimidation.

I’m not going to get into why you shouldn’t worry about squats hurting your knees, or why you’re not going to to hulk up overnight. Those articles have been written about ad nauseum and are all over the internet. Instead, I’m going to touch on my experience of conquering the fear of weights.

That’s right. Yours truly, someone whose placed nationally in Olympic lifting and placed internationally in Strongwoman, once had a fear of weight training.

In fact, I was even scared of the machines!!

I was pretty sure this would happen with the lat pull down.

In college at Texas A&M University, I gained weight like most freshmen do. I wasn’t dancing 3 hours a day. I could eat whatever I wanted when ever I wanted. Soda was easy to come by and I didn’t have my mom trying to restrict my consumption of that sugary nectar. It was when I went home for Thanksgiving break that I realized that I gained about 10 lbs. Winter clothes that I was going to bring back with me didn’t fit so well.

So from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I did what any girl with a ballet background would do: attempt to “move more and eat less.” I switched from regular soda to diet soda and I started to jog the track at the recreation center, sometimes hit the cardio machines, and then finished up with crunches. Obviously.

All this did was stop my weight gain. A month later, when I moved back home for winter break, I hadn’t lost any weight and my clothes didn’t fit any better than before.

Right here I’d love to say that I jumped on the internet and read about how weight training burns more calories during and after the workout than jogging does. I wish I could say that I conquered my own fears, stepped up to a barbell and just started doing the work. But that’s not at all how it went down.

But I don’t want to look manly…. oh wait. That’s me over a decade later.

Instead I just vowed to eat less and run more.

It wasn’t until I met a guy who was an avid weight room attendee did anything change. sigh Yes. It took a boy to get me into the weight room, holding my damn hand the whole time.

He started me off simple enough. He explained each machine and what part of the body it focused on. He explained the typical bodybuilder split: Back/Bi day, Chest/Tri day, Leg day. I even hated leg day, too. Eventually I felt confident enough to go on my own, following the split and choosing the machines to fit. 30 mins on the cardio equipment, 30 mins on the weight machines.

And I started seeing progress! I didn’t have a scale in my dorm, but I could tell that fat was coming off, clothes were fitting better, and seeing some shape show up on my arms and legs was intoxicating. Seeing the numbers I could handle for sets of 10 slowing moving up was amazing.

But I still couldn’t go into the free weight section. That place was SCARY.

The equipment didn’t have little signs showing you how to use it and what part of the body it worked. The people in there were predominantly boys who wore scowls on their face, shirts with the sleeves cut off, and drank water from gallon jugs. There was the odd girl in there, but they seemed to be of either extreme: super jacked, or super gym bunny. I was neither.

So scary!

So once again, I had to have my then boyfriend literally hold my hand into the free weights section. And, of course, my first introduction to free weights was the bench press. I think I was able to start with a couple of ten pound plates on the bar for a set of ten. And that was tough. And terrifying.

But I didn’t suddenly hulk up. I did continue to lose body fat and see more definition. THIS is what it means to get toned! I get it now!

The beefy, bulky, manly arms of a girl who lifted free weights 3 to 5 times a week!

This whole process, of jogging endless loops around a track to finally lifting free weights and appreciating the results, took me about 9 months, give or take, to really embrace weight training. To not question the process, to not fear hulking up, to not worry about what others are going to think of me. It was probably around the 9 month point where I finally realized that everyone was too involved in their own journey (not to mention their own reflection) to give two shits about what I was doing.

So learnings that I would pass on to people who are even considering adding a form of weight training into your routine:

  1. No one is watching you. Everyone is too involved in their own journey.
  2. Get someone to guide you. Be it a trainer or athletic friend, have someone show you the ropes.
  3. Don’t listen to arguments against it. Only you can find out how your body will react to it.
  4. Just do it already!

Leg Update - Barbells!

I was cleared to go back (carefully!) to barbell training yesterday!

I was so happy and excited for that, as I was really expecting the worst. When my leg still looked SO VERY BROKEN at the 6 week mark, and then the doctor told me that tibia fractures often take 6 months to heal, I was hoping for some level of remodeling, but still visible fracture line. We’re at 4 months right now. Well, technically as of Saturday, it will be four months to the day. But who’s counting?

Day of Accident, 6 Weeks, and 4 Months

What I find fascinating is (1) how long the fibula (skinny bone) is taking to remodel and (2) how much more lined up the fibula is now compared to the 6 week mark. I have a few theories on that.

After I started walking with a cane and doing more intense rehab and mobility work around the gym, there were a couple of times I felt a grindy pop from approximately where my fibular fracture is. It didn’t hurt, but it did give me the heebie-jeebies. And I didn’t think much of it because from what I’ve heard, bone setting movement is supposed to hurt like a MoFo.

But then I see these last x-rays, and I’m thinking that perhaps what I was feeling WAS the fibula moving itself into a better position. After all, even though people tell you that it’s “not weight bearing” it does work to allow the ankle it’s full range of motion, some muscles connect to it, and it helps distribute weight during motion.

So I’m getting pretty good at setting my own bones.

That would also explain why it’s so far behind in the healing process. If I basically broke up the callous each time it moved, it would have to start over again. The callous formation now is far more progressed than it was at the 6 week mark, but it’s still obviously just callousing.

ANYWAY!

The physician’s assistant that worked with me (aside: I seem to always have a better time interacting with PAs over MDs. They’ll actually take the time to fully assess you, talk to you, and think through questions you have.) said that I should be good to start around 200 lbs on the barbell, and progress about 10% every two weeks as tolerable. Always as tolerable.

So I did some celebratory clean and jerks at 133lbs right afterwards! Yay!

Project Mini-Me: Harder Than I Thought

So one week of deficit is in the books. The scale didn’t really move much, though I didn’t expect it to. Intellectually and experientially, anytime I or someone else has done a deficit with the intention of sustained weight loss (so no water manipulation, drastic cuts, or cleanses), it takes a couple of weeks for the deficit to actually show up on the scale. So I’m trying to hold judgement until February 1st before I make any changes to what I’m doing.

Starting Point

And that leads me to point number one: The emotional side of trying to make a change. Again, I’m in a good position with more in-depth knowledge about what’s going on with the body in the case of a diet and how quickly I should expect to see changes based on what I’m doing. I understand that there is almost always some lag time between when you make the needed steps towards a goal and then seeing the outcome of those steps. For many people, that lag time is a serious impediment to sticking with a program.

Think about how many people give up on their New Years resolution about two weeks into it. You can see the results in how gym attendance drops off sharply around that third week of January. There is even a term, Blue Monday, for the third Monday in January considered the most depressing day of the year. Partially because people have realized that they’ve given up on many, if not all, of the promises they made to themselves and they’re right where they were when December ended.

Anyway, here are some things I’m having to do differently from before:

  • Measuring out my half and half for each cup of coffee
  • Smaller wine glasses so I don’t over pour.
  • Smaller plates and containers in general.
  • Paying attention to when I eat my meals to avoid long periods (more than an hour) of hunger.
  • Be aware of mindless snacking when food is around. Smaller calorie goal means a smaller buffer zone.
  • Controlling my eating on the weekends. I’m no longer in a “natural deficit.”
  • Switching out my half and half for fat free half and half….

Smaller containers means less food gets doled out.

With that last point bringing me to another rough impediment to making habits stick: peer pressure and back handed smack talk.

Not only does it take 2-3 weeks for a person to see results of habit changes, that whole time they’re trying to be “good” they’re navigating a minefield of people ready and willing to sabotage their efforts. Everything from that coworker who brings donuts to work and acts insulted if you don’t have “just a little,” to that friend who goes on about eating whatever they want, to the partner who will complain about the healthy dinners or the “nuisance” of having to eat something different from you.

I noticed this when I switched my normal coffee creamer to using fat free half and half. The calories for each serving are WAY lower, and I’m trying to control my fat intake along with my over all calories. (Actually, I’d just rather my fat come from avocados and salmon instead of half and half.) Now, I work at a gym and you’d think we’d all be trained in ways to encourage a person in their fitness goals. But you’d be very wrong. Instead I’ve had more than a couple of people scoff at my fat free creamer and talk about how much they love all the fat in their diet.

Again, I’m secure in my goals and process. I know where I am, where I’m trying to get to, and what it takes to get there and how my chosen route works for both my body and my psychology. But most people are treading unknown waters and all it takes is one off-hand comment like this to make those waters even more difficult. And seriously, those off-hand comments usually worm their way into your psyche better than a straightforward “just do this” often does.

Ignore the naysayers as best you can. Find support with your trainer, coach, or in a group with similar goals.

How I've Approached Rehab so Far

I’ve been going it alone for my leg rehab. I decided that I’m surrounded by excellent physical therapists at San Francisco CrossFit who can help guide me. Frankly, I’m glad I went through route, because I’m sure that a typical PT would have held me back more than pushed me forward. Having been an athlete for so long, I’m well acquainted with my body and what different types of sensations and pains can mean (sketchy pain versus the inevitable pain of progress).

This is the general progression formula I’ve gone with, and each level might last anywhere from one week to one month:

1) Two legged efforts
Passive range of motion (a) —> Active/loaded range of motion (b) —> Speed (c )
2) Single leg efforts
Passive range of motion (d) —> Active range of motion (e) —> Speed (f)

Now for some suggestions for each level. NOTE: I am NOT a physical therapist. I’m just explaining what has worked for me so far, and I’ve had a lot of guidance from my coworkers. If you’re rehabbing something, please talk with a rehab professional before following along what I’m doing here.

a) Two leg, passive range of motion

  • Sitting or laying down, used a belt or band around foot to pull leg in and then relaxed out. The other leg served as a tensioner, supporter, and guidance.

b) Two leg, active rang of motion

  • Using rings or a bar to lower myself to a box squat, starting high and working lower over time (shins vertical, strong emphasis on hip hinge)
  • Eventually, bring the box back up, remove the assistance, and start “knees forward” squatting to the box
  • Stand on the edge or a plate or box, using a pull up bar to help, drop the heels down and press up to the toes

c) Two leg speed

  • Kettle bells swings, Russian height, starting light (vertical shins, emphasis on quick knee extension)
  • Wall balls, to a box, starting light (“knee forward” squat, emphasis on ankle and knee flexion, explosive extension)
  • Feet together jumps, starting on a 10lbs plate, jump back off and rebound back on. Work up in plate height/ stack height

d) Single leg, passive range of motion

  • Same as (a), but now without the assistance of the other leg

e) Single leg, active range of motion

  • Using rings or a bar, lower myself on one leg down to a box, starting high and working it lower over time
  • Standing on the edge of a box, lower my leg down the side until the heel just touches the ground and press back up. Start low and work higher.

f) Single leg speed

  • (just started this) Rolling pistols onto the bottom position of bad leg. Eventually I’ll grab something to lift myself up
  • (not here yet) running and skipping
  • (not here yet) Single leg rebound jumps from the top of a plate

And of course I’ve done things not listed here: rowing, biking, assisted lunges, stupid dances. The main point is that I found a safe, effective progression and then I LISTENED TO MY BODY. Like I mentioned, I could stick at one level for weeks, and other levels I moved through really quickly. It was hard to anticipate what my body would accept easily and what would take some coaxing to accomplish. And there were plenty of times I tried something (like jumping) and immediately said “That was a BAD idea!”

And as always, be kind to yourself.

Rails and Kettlebells

I’m going to delve more into the Dan John 10,000 kettle bell swing challenge.

But first, I want to talk about the importance of contingency plans.

It was a rainy Thursday night. Kristin was driving home from a pretty damn good day, when BLAMMO! Traffic stopped. She watched the light at the intersection ahead run through three cycles while only moving about two car lengths forward.

Few things get me as enraged as getting stuck in traffic. It’s not even necessarily the traffic, but the idiotic things that other people do to try to sneak their way ahead. Dealing with other people driving is like reading YouTube comments. It’s the worst.

It ended up taking me one hour and 15 minutes to get home. A trip that usually takes 30-40 mins. I was angry, frustrated, and very hungry. And I went off the rails.

I dove into a bag of shortbread cookies while I was getting out my dinner supplies.

I ate pre-cooked chicken in spoonfuls directly out of the bulk container while microwaving my dinner portion.

I downed my nightly glass of wine way faster than normal and HAD to refill it.

It ended up being about 600 cals of excess food and drink all said and done. I could have avoided that by not having those damn cookies around (left overs from the holidays) and possibly having some sort of protein granola bar stashed in a drawer to reroute myself towards. It wouldn’t have completely stopped the excess food intake, but it would have mitigated it some.

Also, I didn’t go and “punish” myself by doing more exercise the next day or cutting down on proportions. I just went on with my bad self. Back on track.



Now on to the 10,000 swing challenge. The idea is to do 10,000 kettle bell swings in a month. I’m going for 500 a day Monday through Friday, and I take Saturday and Sunday off. Now, as you can imagine, doing just swings 500 times straight through would be horribly boring, here are the main ways I break it up:

Big sets:
Sets of 70 swings (with one set of 80 at the start or end)
Alternate with two upper body moves, a push and a pull.

All swings, HIIT style:
Minute on, minute off, as many swings as you can until you reach 500

Longest EMOM Ever:
Every minute on the minute for 30 mins
17 swings and 2 pullups (or dips, or whatever)

Favorite EMOM:
In two sessions, over 20 mins
Min 1) 25 swings
Min 2) 10 push ups/ 10 strict toes to bar
Min 3) 25 swings
Min 4) 10 ring rows/ 5 strict pull ups

Each week I’m taking the weight up 4kg, starting conservatively. After all, this is part of my rehab process. So on week 1 I used the 12kg bell. Last week I used the 16kg. This week I’m using the 20kg. The first week was the worst as far as soreness went. My legs had gotten used to being relatively lazy. Week two was bad on the forearms, the bigger bell also has a thicker handle.

So far, yes the swings get boring, but its some sort of structure to base my training around. I love the 2 session EMOM because I can pick four accessory moves, and I sandwich my rehab work (single leg squats, steps ups, hips circles, glue bridges, sled drags, single leg RDLs) between the two sessions.

Feels good to feel some sort of progress!