CrossFit, Does a Body Good!

Some of the Northeast Nasty Girls at the photo shoot

This weekend was amazing! Some of the fittest women in the Northeast came together to participate in a fundraiser for breast cancer.  We are developing a calendar and all of the proceeds are going to Barbells for Boobs. When these calendars are released to the public, I promise that you are going to LOVE them!

As we were doing the photo shoot I was thinking, “Could these ladies be any hotter”? If hotter is an actual word… Really though, what CrossFit does to a body is incredible. Amy Mandelbaum, one of my CrossFit heroines, is more than 10 years older then I am.  I’m looking at her and thinking, holy cow! This woman looks like she’s in her 20s. She looks incredible!! Does CrossFit actually make you look younger?

It surely makes you feel younger. And, it gives you hope about the aging process. Aging can be scary for some. I guess, I have always been a little afraid of aging. I dread that day that I look in the mirror and see that first gray hair, get wrinkles all over my face, and experience all the wonders that come with aging. Mostly, I dread that day that I can’t do the things that I love any more.

Since CrossFit, my view has changed. I look at Lisa Mikkelsen from CFNE and I want to be her. She out ran the men in the sprint at the 2011 games!! When I look at Lisa and Amy, I don’t see wrinkles or any of the wonders that come with aging. I see beautiful, fit women. I want to look like them, not in 10-15 years, now!

Lisa Mikkelsen at the 2011 NE Regionals

CrossFit levels the playing field. Although these women are in the “Masters” age group, they are competitive with people that are 10, 15, 20 years younger. Amy and Lisa may appear older on paper, but they stack up against all of us women that finished in the top in the Northeast this year. Knowing this fact makes me feel so much better about aging.

We were always told things like “you aren’t getting any younger”.  Well, that may be the case. But, who cares if when I am 20 years older I can still do the same things?

These women demonstrate how CrossFit really does do a body good! It may do a body good in other ways too. I overheard my guy friends talking about how CrossFit turns a “seven” to a “ten”. Well, I think the same goes for a guy. He could be a “seven” before CrossFit and then a “ten” after. If we are so mature as to rate people? And, if I was rating my girls this weekend, all these women are 10s!

LP at the photo shoot

Well, maybe Lauren Plumey is an 11? Yes ladies and gentlemen, she is a hottie! She could be the poster girl for how good CrossFit actually does a body.

This weekend I was not only impressed with the bodies of my fellow Crossfitters, but with their generosity and kindness. These ladies are the whole package. All of us have been working hard and dedicating a lot of time towards this fundraiser. We will be releasing sneak previews of the pictures taken at the photo shoot here and there to give you a taste for the calendar. So, keep your eyes peeled. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. And, after looking through this calendar you will truly believe that CrossFit does a body good!

Rachel, Kendra and I playing around on the prowler at the photo shoot

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Why people fall in love with CrossFit?

Me, a while ago, playing around with a medicine ball

When I started CrossFit, I fell in love with it. As a coach and athlete, I see so many people doing the same. Now that I am recovering from my surgery, I realize how much I miss it and why. There are so many reason why I love CrossFit. But, why do other people love it so much? These are just some reason I came up with. Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to hear why you fell in love with what you do.

It’s as addicting as a chocolate bar and post WOD you don’t feel guilty.

You learn that you are stronger (mentally and physically) then you ever thought you could be.

A barbell won’t talk back to you.

When you walk in the doors of the gym, you feel like Norm from Cheers.

It makes you feel beautiful / handsome and gives you a confidence that you can’t really explain.

You don’t have to lock up your valuables at the gym.

You feel like you are invincible, much like a superhero.

With all the sad news on television, it makes your worldwide much more positive. You realize there are a lot of wonderful people out there.

In this community, you know you belong.

It gives you the opportunity to challenge yourself on a daily basis and become healthier in the process.

You like the way your butt looks in your jeans.

If your mood is low, it always makes you feel better.

You meet quality people who you would have never met.

You can go head to head with the Tom Brady’s of CrossFit.

Your energy level increases making for a better quality of life.

You have a healthy avenue to take out your frustrations.

Getting older doesn’t feel so bad anymore. It’s actually called “70 years young”.

CrossFit doesn’t leave the toilet seat up.

CrossFit can’t disappoint you, only you can disappoint yourself.

It’s always there when you need it. You can do a WOD in your house, office, or at a park.

With CrossFit around, who needs a significant other? You could just date CrossFit. The only thing it’s lacking is it can’t hug you back. I guess that’s what the trainers/coaches are for?  And, who hasn’t had a major crush on one of their coaches? I know I have. I now call him my boyfriend.

Brent and I

What’s Your Scam?

I haven’t been out of my apartment in days. I haven’t been able to do much really. My recovery didn’t go as expected. I was allergic to the pain medication and found myself violently puking on Saturday.  I had a rash all over my upper body and my stomach was contracting so hard that I was deathly afraid my stitches weren’t going to hold. My face felt like it was splitting open. I was holding the side of my head in my hand with each contraction staring down into my toilet bowl.

After my day of puking, I discontinued the pain medicine. I was on Oxycodone, the highest form of pain meds you can get. To go from that to Tylenol rendered me useless. The pain was so bad that I almost couldn’t get my student’s grades in. Our grades closed on Wednesday, so I had to finish entering them. Looking at the light from the computer screen was just awful. I felt nauseous and my head was pounding. I just wanted to lie down with my eyes closed. But, even then the pain never went away. It was such a weird pain. It felt like my ear was swelling from the inside out. The pain inside my ear made me feel dizzy and as if I had vertigo. And, the throbbing in my head was terrible. I almost feel like a wimp talking about how bad the pain was, but to give you an idea I’d rather do the Pendleton Triathlon from the Games over and over again then get this surgery.

As you can tell, my experience wasn’t very pleasant. I’m starting to get back on my feet though. I’m doing a few random lunges around my house. Yes, lunges. It’s all I can do without making the pain worse. We all have to start somewhere.

Today, I went for a walk around my block. I walked outside with my boyfriend and this man was standing on my porch asking for the owner of my home. I identified myself as the owner. He was an older gentleman with painter’s overalls.  Right away, I was skeptical. Who was this guy and what was his scam? Why was he on my back porch? This isn’t something I usually find when I walk outside.

You see, my mom is the best and while I was down and out she raked and picked up my entire yard. She did this while juggling taking care of me, a full time job, and the birth of my new niece. She put about 15 bags of leaves and debris on our sidewalk. For two weeks, the waste management company didn’t take it. The bags were getting wet and honestly it slipped to the back of my mind that they were even there.

The elderly gentlemen said he was going to the Dump and saw the bags. He wanted to know if I’d like him to take them. He said he lived down the road and knew that the city wouldn’t take these bags until November 15th. By then, the bags would rot and I would have to re-bag them. I was looking at the man trying to figure out his scam. I stood there holding gauze to my face under my hooded shirt. Honestly, he was right. I needed to get rid of the bags. So, I figured what ever his price I’ll just pay it.

He apologized that he might not be able to get all of the bags in his truck but he’d try. He first needed to lay this sheet over his paining materials and then we could throw the bags in. I looked in the back of the truck and this man didn’t have anything to bring to the Dump. Hmm, I thought? What is his scam? Is he going to charge me an arm and a leg for this or worst is he some type of criminal?

My boyfriend and this elderly man picked up all of the bags of debris and two trash barrels and threw them into his truck. I began talking to this man to see what his angle was. Why did he come here? Why was he helping me? He kept telling me that he would bring the trash barrels back and place them next to my house. I wasn’t really concerned about my trash barrels, but just trying to figure him out.

I realized he was doing this out of the goodness of his heart. This gentleman that I have never met in my life went out of his way to help me. He didn’t know me and he didn’t know what I have just been through, but he extended himself in the kindest way.  He took all of my garbage all the way to the Dump when he didn’t even have anything to bring there himself.  And, yes… he returned the garbage cans.

I was so taken back by this random act of kindness. I was so taken back that I figured I’d share my story. Have you ever extended yourself to a stranger?  Maybe that stranger was going through a really tough time and your act of kindness helped in more ways then you can imagine.

Smiling, Angels & Power Shorts

Have you ever taken the little things for granted? I know I have. I never thought that the ability to smile was such a big deal. We smile everyday without even thinking about it. Nonverbal cues are a large part of our communication and smiling, for me, is part of my self-expression. If you know me, I’m always smiling.

My ability to smile could’ve disappeared with this surgery. Dr. Lin warned me a number of times about the risks; the risks were pretty grave if the nerve was entangled by the tumor. Unfortunately, my tumor was wrapped around my facial nerve inside of my Parotid gland. No wonder I had pain in my face!! This facial nerve controls my ability to smile among other facial expressions. Luckily, Dr. Lin and his team were able to remove the tumor without damaging the nerve.  I can still smile!

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I have a big smile on my face right now. I am so fortunate that my tumor wasn’t cancerous! I am also quite lucky that I can squint my eyes and make my pout-face. Yes, these are all minor things, but things that I have taken for granted until now.

I am so fortunate that I got the tumor out when I did.  Can you imagine if it grew more?  I could have damaged my nerve permanently or made it virtually impossible for the doctors to get it out. I may have a scar, but it’s minor sequel compared to what could have been. 

So many factors came into play that helped me make it through this surgery. I really believe that my health and fitness level aided in the success of this surgery. All of your prayers and well wishes played a huge role in my triumph. Especially, my grandmother’s prayers and all of the angels she gave me. I love positive energy!! The power of positive energy is so much more significant that we can imagine. As well, I had a great team of doctors and nurses at Mass Eye and Ear. And, of course the shorts gave me the super-human powers that all CrossFit girls have. 

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Me, “Stacie Tovaring it” in the hospital

Prepared for the unknowable

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I love weights!! I’m giving this one a big hug because of where it’s gotten me. The weights and functional movements of CrossFit have done so much for my overall health. And, I know that it has prepared me for this new obstacle. I have no doubt that my physical fitness will make my recovery time quicker. Years ago, I used to have “bad” knees, ”bad” shoulders, and a “bad” back. I had some many injuries due to the beautiful sport of gymnastics. Fortunately, CrossFit has rehabbed my body.

I still remember my first CrossFit workout with Danny V, now the owner of CrossFit Full Potential.  He had me do Cindy for 5-10 minutes. I don’t actually remember how long he made me do this workout? I do remember a few things though…

I remember it wasn’t nearly 20 minutes, which is the timeframe of the workout. I remember how awful I felt during and after the work out. I remember my arms shaking on the push-ups and how stubborn I was. I didn’t want to go down to my knees, but I had to for that last round. I remember how out of shape I felt. I think Danny knew that dropping to my knees was a breaking point for me and stopped the clock. I was SO out of shape and so upset with my level of fitness.

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I hadn’t done anything in a year and a half.  When I say that I didn’t do anything, I really couldn’t do anything. I had gotten heart surgery and had complications. These complications made it so I couldn’t use my arms to lift anything without chest pain. These limitations made my job impossible to do. I could no longer coach gymnastics. I couldn’t spot my gymnasts.

I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. The pressure was unbearable! I took the summer off from working. In the fall, I entered into my teaching career. Projecting my voice at school was so trying. I found myself sitting at lunch fighting back tears from the pain in my chest. It was awful!

My first year of CrossFit, I worked on form. I didn’t even know what I’d be capable of with this whole heart issue going on. Working on perfecting my movement patterns caused my body to stop hurting. CrossFit was a lifesaver! I can walk without knee pain, my chest pain is gone and my shoulder no longer aches. How amazing is this sport?

I believe it will help me fight this new obstacle in my way. I know we can’t control what life throws at us, but we can control how we react to it. We can control how prepared we are for these obstacles. I am SO ready. I am in the best physical shape of my life. And, mentally I can tackle anything! We can control the way we deal with these challenges. I will continue to stay strong both physically and mentally. I believe that my positive attitude and outlook will carry me through this experience. 

I wanted to thank all of you for your out pouring of support. I truly appreciate it, and I know that I am going to be just fine. Not only am I prepared for the unknowable, but I have the best support system in the world! I love you all!!

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Sh*t Happens

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Have you ever had your world rocked upside down? Come on, you all know the song from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air? Recently, I felt like Will Smith. A few days ago, I found myself sobbing in my car.  I had just found out that this bump that I thought was nothing was something!

Okay, maybe I was in denial? But, I had reason to think it was nothing. When I brought it up to my doctor, she dismissed it. “I can’t feel anything” were her exact words as she touched my jaw line. I was sick at the time, so maybe it was a swollen gland?

It never went away, so I went back to my primary care doctor a second time. This time they tested me for mononucleosis (mono) and the mumps. The tests came back negative. I was fine. It was probably a swollen gland and my sinuses acting up again. I almost felt like a hypochondriac worrying about this stupid little bump!

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My chronic sinus infections brought me into one of the top hospitals in Boston. I was lying back in the chair with this doctor looking up my nose; you can imagine how fun this was… I decided to ask her about this little bump that showed up months ago. Maybe she would have an idea why it didn’t go away.

When I mentioned it to her, she was VERY concerned. I was sent for a MRI, a biopsy, and to a specialist. Honestly, I still wasn’t worried. I am healthy, so I couldn’t possibly be anything serious. I was about to compete in the CrossFit Games!

The results from my biopsy were inconclusive. They said the cells from my “mass” were atypical. They didn’t know what it was. This information was relayed to me during a phone call from the specialist. I remember feeling like I was hit by a frying pan. My ears were literally ringing. The doctor was explaining that I should get surgery to see what the tumor was. I was trying to collect my thoughts. I couldn’t believe this. I thought I was healthy?

I was trying to focus on all of his medical jargon. I focused intently on the risks because of the complications I had with my last surgery. What I retained was that there was a small chance that it was cancerous and there were a number of risks to this surgery. How I interpreted this was, “you don’t have cancer.”

The risks of the surgery were nerve racking. The one risk that resonated with me was the chance of him hitting a facial nerve. He said that I could wake up from surgery and there was a chance that my face could look different. They could hit a nerve and my face would never be the same. I was on information overload. I wanted another opinion.

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Well, I got another opinion and it was pretty much the same. You have a mass of cells. Hmmm, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear.  Where could I go to hear what I wanted to hear?  Couldn’t this thing just disappear on it’s own?

This is where I really slipped into denial. Surgery was scheduled for December of 2012. I figured this bump couldn’t be that bad if they didn’t schedule me for surgery right away. They actually let me pick the date. I decided I couldn’t do September because I didn’t want to interrupt the school year. I love teaching. And, I really believed in my heart that it would disappear by then. That’s it, I had decided that by December my bump would be gone.

My plans changed rather quickly. One night I started feeling an annoying pain in my jaw, my teeth, and my gums. It was so painful that I thought about going to see my doctor.  I knew in my gut it was the little bump. But, I didn’t want to face that reality.

The following morning I had a dentist appointment.  I brought up this annoying pain to my dentist. And, my world was changed forever. I realized for the first time that I do in fact have a tumor. I have a tumor and it is growing. They confirmed that my teeth, my gums, and my jaw hurt because of this mass. It wasn’t anything dental, and it wasn’t going to just go away. WOW! My denial was over.

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I called the specialist to tell him about the pain I was experiencing. I no longer had the option to wait until December. The risks are higher if this tumor is growing. I have to have surgery in two weeks. I can’t even begin to tell you how scared I am. I have had about eight surgeries in my life but this one scares me the most. Why? Why is this so damn scary? Is it because I could wake up looking differently? That’s scary to me. I kind of like my face… Is it because of the complications I had with my last surgery? That wasn’t any fun! Is it because I thought I was SO healthy and was blindsided? I eat the right foods, I am supposed to be one of the fittest people on earth, but I have a tumor. How did this happen?

Don’t ignore any signs from your body. Whether it’s a small pain in your knee, an ache in your wrist, or a little bump on your neck. Our bodies give us signs for a reason. Our bodies are machines, but they are smart, delicate machines. I put my body through the ringer and it responds. It always just works. This time it is different. I realized that I can eat as healthy as I want and I can work out multiple times a day, but sh*t happens.

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