CrossFit: one month in

Actually, it might be more – I’m starting to lose track.  All these big, bulging muscles of mine are distracting my brain and affecting its memory function.  KIDDING.  Seriously, though – I am starting to see some definition in my upper body, which is AWESOME.  I’m still doing weenie knee push-ups, but I can do more than I could a month ago.  I still have to use a box to jump up to the bar for pull-ups, but I can get my chin higher now.  I’m using more than the training bar for split jerks, overhead squats, etc.  Psyched.  I do think my big goal right now is do 10 “real” push-ups and 1 pull-up.  That day that I can do 1 pull-up….I’m going to be grinning my head off all day.  Can’t wait.

Bad news:  I have not lost a pound.  Good news:  I have GAINED new confidence & toughness.  Yesterday, I went for a RUN.  R-U-N.  I never run.  I hate to run.  It wasn’t a CF day though, and I felt like I should do SOMETHING, so I decided to run, despite the fact that it was 90 degrees and ten kinds of humid outside.  Despite the fact that I never, ever run.  Did I already say that?  I ran a route through my neighborhood that was just under 2 miles.  Not a big milestone, I know – but I didn’t stop or slow down even once.  Heat?  Pfft.  Aching legs?  Please.  After doing  WODS in the box on 90 degree days, I know I won’t die.  I have learned how to persevere; that no matter how much it hurts or makes me feel like I’m going to puke, I will actually be fine.  This is a good lesson to learn.  Who knows what other barriers  – mental or physical – I might break?  It’s going to be fun to see how this plays out in other parts of my life.  I’ll let you know.

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CrossFit: 101 is Finished, Time for Real Class.

I showed up for my first “real” CF class last night.  One with very buff people, all looking at a white board & writing in notebooks.  No idea what they were doing, but found out that the workout of the day (affectionately called WOD in CF parlance) is written on the white board, warm up and all.  We are to warm up on our own, with class beginning in 10 minutes.  Got it.  Did it.  Then noticed everyone was setting up bars.  Wait, what is this?  How do they know what to do?  Back to the white board – ah, Split Jerks today.  I set up my rack, nervous because we hadn’t covered Split Jerks in 101.  Man, guys AND girls were setting up big plates next to their bars in anticipation of lifting a LOT.  I grabbed two sets of weenie plates and set beside my trainer bar.  Ugh,  Hopefully no one notices me.

Jessie, our coach for the day, says “Hi Everyone!  Let’s welcome Kelly, it’s her first class!” Nowhere to hide.  Oh well, at least if I do anything wrong, they’ll know it’s because I’m new.

Split Jerks – learned’em, rocked’em.  Then we did 4 rounds of push-ups, front squats, then box jumps.  Some people were doing vertical handstand push-ups.  I was doing weenie, girly knee push-ups.  But not really, because I have no upper body strength. I squeaked out a few.  Ugh.  Squats:  “prescribed” weight for women was 135#.  I maxed out at 45#.

Despite my low weights, I still felt like I worked hard, and that’s the point, right?

I knew I would be sore today, but I did NOT anticipate feeling pain beginning in the middle of the night.  Oh no.  That does not bode well for tomorrow, when I will back “in the box” (at the CrossFit gym).  I’ll report back.

Until next time —

CrossFit Journal: I Committed. Now I Have to Show Up.

This is either an accounting of my final days before massive injury, or a journal of success.  It could go either way, because it is official:  I have joined a gym program called CrossFit, where the point is to be part of a community of people all trying to improve strength and cardiovascular fitness.  I had to mull it over for two months before taking the plunge.  Why?

Because I thought I might hate it.  It IS hard, sweaty work, after all.

Because it’s expensive.  $110 a month*  to spend just on ME seems indulgent.

However.  I am the clichéd middle-aged working mother, and exercise hasn’t been a big part of my life in many years.  I had a brief love affair with yoga, often going on my lunch break at work, until I started to feel guilty because I was gone more than an hour.  The classes after work got me home to my family too late, I felt.  The guilt thing again.

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This is NOT me.

Many would look me up and down and say, “Are you kidding?  You don’t need to exercise that hard.  You look fine.”  I admit that I look decent in clothes.  I only weigh 5 lbs more than I did in high school (thank you Mom for the great genes). BUT:  I am unfit in every way.  Little to no cardiovascular endurance.  Low upper body strength.  Mushy and dimply from waist to knees.  Watching my parents age, especially my dad, gives me pause to consider the benefits of maintaining strength.  Plus, dammit, I’m still young enough to be vain about my appearance, and looking good in jeans matters to me.

And so….I joined.  You begin CrossFit by going to CF101 classes at first, where you are taught exercises/lifts  with focus on proper form.   The coach explains it, shows it, then we try it.  He watches us all and corrects us.  I was encouraged that I didn’t pass out my first class.  Yay for me.  Second class, I was clearly the oldest AND the weakest in the class.  Boo for me. My pride suffered a little that day.    It can only go up from here, and I’m going to focus on my progress without measuring myself against 20-something girls with tight buns and men with enormous pecs.   I just need to be patient.  Slow and steady and consistent.    Despite the fact that the staff is (of course) super buff, they are also supportive – rather than pushing me (or anyone) to take on heavier weights, I’m encouraged to stay with what is comfortable for now;  perfect form trumps amount of weight or number of reps.

I think I’ll survive.

I have before photos, and I will track that progress (privately) once a month.  I just remembered I should take measurements of body parts, too.   Let’s agree that I will not share my beginning weight/measurements, only the progress – the inches lost or gained,  the increased weight of certain exercises, the speed of reps.   I’m not only making myself accountable to readers; hopefully I am sharing knowledge along the way, with a little self-deprecating humor.  Stay tuned.

I’m on the Outside: What is a Personal Relationship With Jesus?

I’ve been going to a new church lately, a non-denominational Christian church.  I love the constant message that we are to live like Jesus.  I love that the church gives at least 50% of all tithes to organizations that serve the poor, both locally and internationally.  I have met really amazing people, and my husband and I have become part of a “small group” that meets weekly to further discuss what is being taught at church.  It all feels vibrant, real.  What I don’t get is the “personal relationship with Christ.”  I’ve believed in Jesus for most of my life (except the questioning and rebellious teen years), at least on an emotional level.  My brain still tries to understand it, but that’s no easy task, to believe what cannot be proved.  Yes, there is much historical proof of Jesus’s life and crucifixion outside of the Bible.  Yes, I’ve read of written reports about his disciples who courageously, almost maniacally  spread the word of this new faith despite constant persecution.  This also leads me to believe that He was, in fact, resurrected.  I can’t think of any other reason the disciples would have undergone such radical change in behavior, from and heartbreak and disappointment at Jesus’s death to spreading His word at their own peril.

It’s believing that I am forgiven because of his death.  It’s believing that he took on my sin, before I was even born.  I want to believe this.  I try to believe this.  In my heart I do, but my brain isn’t playing nicely with my heart.

I suppose this is why I don’t feel that personal relationship with Jesus that so many in our church (and across the world) hold so precious.  I can imagine Jesus wrapping his arms around me when I am sad; I can use my imagination to think of him as a friend.  But I don’t think this is what people mean when they talk about “accepting Christ.”  It seems that it is a transformational event that happens.  I want this, but it eludes me.

What about you?  Do you have a personal relationship with Christ, and how did that happen?  I’d love to hear your witness.

Boudoir Photography: A Personal Account

Twenty years ago, when my husband and I were first dating, I made the daring move to contact a local photographer known for taking “risque” photos of women.  I wanted to have a Christmas present that would be very unique and a bit daring.  Mission accomplished!

Recently, he mentioned that he’d like a reprise of that photo session.  The very next evening I attended a gala that included a silent auction, and like a beacon amongst other entries was a gift certificate for Hotel Boudoir.  Serendipitous, no?  I bid and “won” the photo session with Greg Perez of Hotel Boudoir, whom I contacted the next day.

He offered to meet with me to discuss what I hoped for in my session and to get to know each other before the session, but I passed; I’d done this before, after all, and wasn’t feeling anxious about it whatsoever.  Instead, we emailed back & forth, sharing images & ideas.  Once a date was set to meet at a local, upscale hotel, I was very excited to see how the photos would turn out.

Therein was the problem:  I was focused on the end result, not the process, which would entail two hours of me scantily (or barely) clad, posing for a man I’d never met.  In the session 20 years ago, that was no big deal.  I’d been on the dating scene and thought nothing about baring skin, especially when it would be for a professional.  This time was different, and it didn’t hit me until I stepped into the hotel, texted Greg that I had arrived, and waited for him to come down the elevator to bring me up.  I was nervous.  Clammy palms and all.  Then he stepped off the elevator, and I see that he is young.  And cute. (Inward groan.)  Last time, I was with a photographer who hailed from the West Coast,  had a huge ego, and called all the shots (literally).  That was in a studio, with him and his female assistant.  This time?  Just me and Greg.  In a hotel room.  And he’s young and cute, and I am in my 40s with stretch marks, c-section scar and none too fit.  Also, there was the small detail that I hadn’t bared my body to anyone but my husband for over 20 years. I was the epitome of self-consciousness at that moment.  Seriously, the sexy drained right out of me.

This is where the importance of finding the right photographer comes in.  Greg recognized my nervousness (which is likely common) and steered the conversation to more neutral topics, asking what kind of music I liked, then playing it on a streaming site.  We talked about music and concerts and bands we enjoyed.  He told me a bit about his commercial photography.  Then we looked at photos that either of us had picked out and discussed whether to try them or not. In the beginning, the poses were more cute than racy, with Greg making suggestions in a gentle way.  Always “What about…..?” or “Can you do….?”   This patience, kindness and professionalism helped me to slowly loosen up and begin to trust him, then I could be a bit more daring and provocative in posing.  That’s what I was there for, after all!

Spoiler alert, for those considering a boudoir session:  there is definitely an intimacy created when sexuality is being expressed in a trusting environment, and that is a turn on.  I had not felt that before, likely because the other photographer was a moody, arty guy, kind of ordering me around – and there was another female in the room.   This time, I had to take a quantum leap in trust, being alone with a man while wearing sexy lingerie.  Don’t be afraid of that intimacy and sexual tension; it’s part of the magic.  It will come through in your photos, in the look on your face and your body language, making for the kind of photos your partner will pant over.  I want to stress that there was never the slightest hint of inappropriate behavior, either in word or action.  I know some women deliberately choose a female photographer out of fear of judgement, or fear of inappropriate behavior, but I wonder if I could have gotten the type of photos I wanted, that expressed the kind of look my husband is used to seeing, with a woman photographer.

The waiting for proofs:  I was excited and also a little anxious, wondering if my husband would be taken aback that I had posed that way for another man – even though it was on his behalf.  THAT was wasted worry; he was THRILLED with the photos.  It took him over two hours to choose the 20 he wanted to have, with me having to help with the whittling of the last 4 or 5.  Definitely a testament of Greg’s skills, both in making me feel safe and sexy, and in his keen eye for just the right light, the right filter, the right pose.  He captured so well the playful, sexy side of me that my husband adores.  Another client of Greg’s described his style this way:  “He has a strong sensitivity to what is on the other side of the lens.”  I concur. Some photos were more erotic than others, and the hubby picked a couple of those, too, but mostly he chose ones representing the “real” me.  He was happy to see that Greg had captured his “beautiful, luscious wife” in such a way (his words, not mine!)

I would highly recommend a boudoir photo session, no matter your age, size, or perceived imperfections.  Of course I think you all should call Greg Perez of Hotel Boudoir. You will end up with photos that capture the sensual YOU that is always there, hiding beneath the “work” self, or the “mom” self, or the “caretaker” self.  It is truly a gift for you, and if you  have a partner to share them with?  All the better.

I’d love to hear about your boudoir session!  Did you find it intimidating?  Fun?  Naughty?  I look forward to your comments!